Friday, 22 June 2012

Victorian Championships Round 10

We now have a winner of the 2012 Victorian Championships! Congratulations to International Master James Morris, who now has an unassailable lead after drawing his round 10 game against David Hacche. I believe James now becomes the third youngest Victorian Champion in history, behind Bobby Cheng & Ian Rogers.
The tournament is also coming to a rather exciting finish. Almost all of the previously postponed games have now been played (only the Zelesco-Cheng game from round 8 has yet to be played & will be played later this weekend) & the leaderboard has separated into a number of closely fought groups.
The fight for the minor placings is well and truly on, with any of 6 players potentially finishing as high as 2nd place, with many of the contenders playing one another in the final round. Stojic & Levi will be looking to move closer to 50% & potentially catch the loser of the Zelesco-Cheng game if it is decisive, while Garner, Stevens & Hacche will all be looking to avoid the wooden spoon!

Current standings
Morris 8.5/10 
Goldenberg 7/10 
Dragicevic, West 6.5/10 
Sandler 6/10 
Zelesco 5/9
Stojic, Levi 4/10 
Garner 2.5/10 
Stevens 2/10 
Hacche 2/10 

Domagoj Dragicevic appeared to gain a slight edge of out a fairly tame opening against Guy West, and was clearly better around move 20, however as has become a regular feature of this tournament, West managed to turn the tables & found himself in an unusual rook ending, with four passed pawns racing down the board (two each)! Ultimately the game turned out to be a draw with precise play by both players, although the players who had finished their games early (most notably James Morris) were keenly analysing the possibilities as the players continued to battle on. 
Karl Zelesco employed an unusual line against Igor Goldenberg's Caro Kann defense & appeared to be holding his own for much of the opening. Igor managed to manoeuvre his queen towards Karl's king & created a number of threats, which Karl stopped, however after some exchanges the resulting rook ending was slightly better for Igor. Unfortunately for Karl, he was unable to hold the rook ending, with Igor creating a passed b pawn, which was enough to take the point.
Although a draw ultimately secured the Championship for James Morris, he did not have it all his own way against his former coach David Hacche. David employed one of his 'sit & wait' Modern Defenses, allowing James to occupy the centre with a number of pawns before trying to undermine them & create weak squares later in the game. James managed to briefly win a pawn in the opening, but David found the necessary tactics to win the pawn back a few moves later. After a series of exchanges, the players found themselves in a double rook ending with five pawns each. James had two passed pawns on the queenside, while David had a solid pawn structure & a central passed pawn. James attempted to push one of his queenside pawns, but David defended accurately & was on the verge of capturing one of the pawns when James bailed out with a check, threatening a repetition & a draw offer, which David accepted.
Dusan Stojic played the type of chess he has become known for (but has often been absent during this year's Championship) against Tristan Stevens. He held a slight advantage out of the opening against Tristan's Accelerated Sicilian Dragon & did not let go for the entire game. Tristan's attempts to unbalance the position ran into a number of tactical shots from Dusan, which saw Dusan pick off a number of pawns, before finally targeting Tristan's king in a queen, rook & minor piece ending to secure the point.
Eddy Levi again showed a side of his play that is not usually seen, this time against Leonid Sandler. Eddy achieved a slight positional edge out of the opening & rather than seeking tactical complications, he slowly improved his position, aiming to exploit the weaknesses in Leonid's position. Faced with a devestating knight check, Leonid sacrificed the exchange to try to alleviate his problems, but this did not help & Leonid resigned when faced with a hopeless ending at least an exchange down. 
As usual, results are available on ChessChat.
Full results & tournament crosstable are available on the Chess Victoria website. 

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