Tuesday, 27 November 2012

ChessKids National Schools Finals Day 2

Yesterday afternoon I again stopped by the ChessKids National Schools Final to see how the kids from Penleigh Essendon Grammar were doing. For the most part, the kids did very well. One of the big differences about this event and the average school event is that rather than only having a handful of students who play regularly at chess clubs in the event, as you would have at an ordinary schools competition, you have a large portion of the field who are regulars at clubs like Box Hill, Melbourne, Noble Park & other chess clubs around Melbourne. It also shows how much difference playing at a club makes, as these players are used to playing against tough opposition, have faced difficult positions & have in general just played more chess than those who have played the vast majority of their chess in the school environment.
With this in mind, the PEGS kids did very well. The girls team finished 3rd overall in a tough, but disappointingly small girls competition. The top scorers in the team all scored 4/7, which is an excellent effort in such a competition. The boys team also fared well, coming 5th overall out of 13 teams & collecting the trophy for finishing second out of the Middle Years teams, just 1.5 points behind Melbourne High (who had the very experienced Allen Yu leading their team). Once again, the top scorers for the team all scored 4/7 & even those who may not have had the best tournament still managed at least 2.5/7.
There were few surprises at the top end of the tournaments, with Glen Waverley taking out the Secondary competition (with 5 kids who are all regulars at chess clubs), with Bobby Cheng winning the individual tournament. Greythorn won the primary section, with both Enoch Fan & Tristan Krstevski scoring 7/7, while Deepdene won the girls section, with Alanna Chew Lee scoring 7/7.
As far as an overall impression of the tournament goes, there were three things that stood out for me that ChessKids had done well - the venue at Queen's College was excellent, with a large, bright room, with a separate area for parents & teachers where they were could be out of the playing area, but still able to see the games in progress. The lectures & coaching in between games is something that helps add something to the event & make it much more than simply a chess competition & gives all students something to take from the event. The third thing that was done well was simply that all the ChessKids staff were wearing their blue tops with the company logo, so that it was easy to identify who the arbiters & organisers were, particularly with so many parents & staff at the event. That's not to say that the event was without negatives, but these were the things that stood out for me that separated this event from other school events I have attended in recent years.
Of course I took a few photos while I was there ...
 The outside of the playing hall
 The fantastic surrounding buildings of Queen's College
Trophies for the winners
The winning team from Glen Waverley Secondary
With the PEGS kids after the tournament. Boys: Vincent, Chenuka, Adam, Joseph, Aby & Dion. Girls: Rhianne, Ashleigh, Carole, Amber (front), Kate & Jaya. Well Done!

Bob Brooking Round Robin Round 2

Round two of the Bob Brooking Round Robins saw a number of clear leaders emerge in some of the groups. James Morris leads Group A with 2/2 after another comfortable looking win, this time against Malcolm Pyke. David Beaumont leads group B with 2/2 after escaping from a difficult position against Justin Penrose. Group C has Michael Addamo, Peter Fry & Jim Papadinis all sharing the lead on 1.5/2. Gary Bekker & Anthony Harris share the lead in Group D with 2/2, while Michael Hain is the sole leader in Group E with 2/2. Although some of these leaders were the pre-tournament favourites, there are a few surprises in there, particularly Michael Hain leading group E after beating the pre-tournament favourite Jason Chew in round 2.
My own game in round 2 was like many other games that I have played throughout my chess career ... a promising start becomes a good middlegame, and I then proceed to stuff up an attack, miss a defensive move by my opponent & lose horribly. I played the opening a bit unusually, but managed to win an exchange fairly early. I then played aggressively & got a good attacking position, but rather than exchanging some more pieces off, I saw some ghosts & missed a strong continuation, so rather than playing 28.Nxd4, I went for the complications of 28.Qg5, which allowed black to have connected passed pawns in the centre. This made my attack need to be precise, so although Ng3 would have been better, Nf4 was also OK, but Qh5+ needed to be played before f6, as I missed the defensive resource Qc5, which turned the game around & made the central pawns a real threat.

The game of the round in the A group once again sees James Morris playing very logical chess to slowly dismantle Malcolm Pyke's position.

Monday, 26 November 2012

ChessKids National Schools Finals

Yesterday I decided to drop in to the ChessKids National Schools Finals, which were being played at Queen's College in Melbourne University in the city. I was mainly there to see how the kids from Penleigh Essendon Grammar were doing, as I have been coaching there this year & the kids have been very keen to learn & have all improved over the course of the two terms that I have been coaching there. Having said that, an event such as this is very much a step up from what the kids are used to, so it would definitely be a challenging event for them. The first day was tough for the kids, but they all managed to win at least one game from the four that they played today, with Ashleigh Craig being the standout with 3/4 on day one! Hopefully things go well for them on day 2 & they can finish with a proverbial wet sail!
The event itself is being held in a very nice venue, with a large, bright playing hall being the main focus. There was also a large analysis room available for players, which was also very nice. An extra touch that ChessKids offer at this event are lectures by some of the ChessKids coaches between rounds, so that the event is not just a chess competition, but also an opportunity for all the kids playing to learn more about the game & take away more than just seven score sheets & some memories, but also hopefully some skills and insights from some other coaches, which should lead to a better understanding of the game.
Below are some photos from the event
The main playing hall in between rounds
 The smaller playing area for the girls even that becomes a lecture area between rounds, this time Anthony Hain is showing kids a game.
 The analysis room between rounds, with IM Robert Jamieson giving a lecture.
 The main playing hall from the viewing gallery where parents & teachers were ushered to before the round started, leaving the playing area for players & arbiters only.
 The analysis room mid-round, with plenty of games being looked at by players & coaches.
Here is a brief clip from one of Robert Jamieson's lectures, where he is looking at the game Zelesco-Illingworth from the 2012 MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender, and explaining how Karl missed an opportunity to draw the game against Max. 

Saturday, 24 November 2012

MCC Allegro Championships Day 2

The answer to yesterday's question was no, as IM James Morris continued his winning ways on day 2 of the MCC Allegro Championships, eventually taking out the tournament with a very impressive 12.5/13! Jesse Jager, who had lost to James in round 4, managed to win his remaining games & finished in second place on an impressive 12/13. Michael Baron finished 3rd after having a disappointing tournament by his standards.
The final cross table & a list of prize winners is available on ChessChat.
The concluding stages of the Baron v Morris clash yesterday from round 5
Play underway during day 2 of the Allegro Championships
 After the tournament, some of the players decided to play blitz on the street out the front of the club!

MCC Allegro Championships Day 1

Day 1 of the annual Melbourne Chess Club Allegro Championships saw 32 players participating, with many MCC Allegro regulars looking for their chance at the $200 first prize on offer! The obvious favourites were FM Michael Baron (now sporting an allegro record 2794 rating!) & IM James Morris, who have between them won almost all the allegro events held in recent years!
These two were not to have things all their own way, with Jesse Jager claiming an upset win over Baron in round 6, after Baron & Morris had drawn their round 5 clash. Tony Tosevski was perhaps the best performer on day 1, with wins over Luke Li & David Garner, but will he be able to keep this good form going on day 2.
A cross table after round 7 is available on ChessChat, but the big question for the day will be if anyone can stop James Morris from claiming yet another title in 2012.
Below are some photos from the event

Monday, 19 November 2012

Bob Brooking Round Robins Round 1

Tonight was the first round of the annual Bob Brooking Round Robin event at Melbourne Chess Club, which sees players split into groups of 6 by rating & then playing a round robin against those players. The format of the event makes for a very competitive event, with all games being (at least theoretically) very tough.
The tournament itself is named after Bob Brooking, former judge at the Victorian Supreme Court, as well a former President of Melbourne Chess Club. He has written an interesting history of Melbourne Chess Club in two volumes, Care for a Game & Play On, which you can read about on the MCC website.
As for the event itself, there are 30 players in five groups this year, with the top division being particularly strong, with 2 IMs & all players rated over 2100! I'm on double-duty, playing in division 2, as well as acting as the tournament arbiter, but I will definitely have to be at my best if I plan to win my division, with Sylvester Urban, David Beaumont, Justin Penrose, Omar Khaled & Richard Voon all looking to spoil these plans of mine!
Full results, as well as the draw for future rounds, can be seen on ChessChat.

The best game of the round in the top division was an efficient game by IM James Morris against Karl Zelesco, where James left Karl with a bad black squared bishop & gradually improved his position until an exchange could further increase his positional edge.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Melbourne Chess Club Open Round 9

Just when it looked like everything was settled, round 9 threw everything up in the air, with plenty of surprises! At the top end of the tournament, the big surprise was board 1, where Mirko Rujevic managed to win a piece against Guy West & Guy instantly resigned! The drama continued on board 2, when David Beaumont found himself a bishop ahead in an ending against Dusan Stojic! More drama was had on board 4, when Richard McCart demolished Peter Fry's customary 1.b3 in 20 moves! Just when it looked like David was ready to secure the win, he blundered & allowed Dusan's pawns to race up the board, and seeing no salvation in sight, resigned! This gave the tournament win to FM Dusan Stojic, a point clear of IM Guy West. These two were followed by four players who finished on 6/9 in a tie for third, Ari Dale, Mirko Rujevic, Carl Gorka & Richard McCart. Another surprise of this final round was that across 14 boards of play, only board 14 saw a win for the player with the white pieces!
Final results & cross table are available as usual on ChessChat.

With the excitement of the final round, I thought I needed to include two games form this round. The first is Peter Fry v Richard McCart, which sees Richard McCart play an excellent attacking game, and although there may have been quicker ways to finish the game off, the game as played was also pretty convincing!
The second game was the dramatic board 2 clash between David Beaumont & Dusan Stojic. Although Dusan appeared to have a reasonable position for much of the middlegame, it was David's central pawns that more than made up for the exchange he was down, ultimately leading to the ending with an extra bishop. The ending is won for David, but there are a few tricks that need to be navigated, with the winning line involving allowing Dusan to promote a pawn, but David would also have promoted a pawn & would have a reasonably straightforward win in an ending with Queen, bishop, pawn & king v Queen, pawn & king.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Victorian Blitz Championship & Chess Victoria AGM

Sunday saw an eclectic gathering of people at Melbourne Chess Club, initially for the Victorian Blitz Championship in the early afternoon, and then later in the afternoon for the Chess Victoria Annual General Meeting.
The field for the Victorian Blitz Championships was a small but very strong one. Of the 19 players, there were 2 IMs & 2 FMs, with 10 players rated over 2000 ACF! The titled players ultimately dominated the event, establishing themselves as the top 4 from round 5 onwards, with only the order changing in the remaining rounds.
Ultimately it was James Morris who took out the event, with a very impressive 11.5/13, only losing to Bobby Cheng & drawing with Michael Baron. Baron & Cheng shared second place with 10.5/13, with Michael being the only player to go through the tournament undefeated. Leonid Sandler was 4th with 10/13.
Full results are available on ChessChat.
I also took a few photos & videos during the day.
Playing hall with games underway
 Top boards in action - this time in round 3
 Richard Voon was among the spectators during the day
  Top boards underway in the final round
 Other boards during round 13
IM James Morris making a short speech after being awarded the first prize
I also took a few videos throughout the day, which can be viewed on my YouTube page.
Below is the most exciting of them all, the round 6 clash between IM James Morris & FM Michael Baron, which had a controversial finish!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Chess Victoria Primary Open Final

Friday saw the final of the Chess Victoria Primary Open Schools competition played at Box Hill Chess Club. 110 players, representing 22 schools from around Victoria participated, including many of the best primary school players in the state. The semi-finals the previous week gave some indication of the teams who would likely be fighting for first place, however with the finals being played using a team swiss format rather than an individual swiss, this was sure to favour teams that could score highly across multiple boards.
Greythorn Primary got off to a fantastic start, winning their first three matches 5-0 to lead by 3.5 points & this was to prove to be an unassailable lead throughout the day, although by the conclusion of the day, this lead was only half a point! Greythorn managed to win all seven matches throughout the day, so deserved to be the winners, although the Mount View team almost caught them by the final round, finishing with two 5-0 results in the final two rounds. Deepdene were also in contention throughout the day, but never quite caught up to Greythorn & ultimately finished third.
Outstanding performances were achieved by Enoch Fan (board 1 for Greythorn) & Hamish Jones (board 4 for Mount View), who both scored a perfect 7/7! A number of other players also scored 6/7, most of whom won board prizes (although there were a number of board 2 players who scored 6/7), which are included in the full results on ChessChat.
As with the other winners, I would like to wish the Greythorn team all the best at the Australian Schools Finals in Canberra in early December.
Full results are available on ChessChat.
Unfortunately my phone died during the event, so I only have photos from the early rounds
Top 5 boards in action
 Lower boards in action
 Plenty of teachers, parents & coaches watching the games in progress

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender - Day 5

The final day started with the big question being could anyone stop Max Illingworth? There was also the related question of who would win the other prizes (whether Max took first or not).
Round 8 helped answer the first question, with Dusan Stojic unable to stop the Illingworth juggernaut  while Karl Zelesco held Stephen Solomon to a draw and Luke Li held Andrew Brown to a draw on the other top boards. This left Max a full point clear of the field to guarantee him at least a share of first prize. As is now expected in such an event, there was also the usual share of upsets, with John Beckman, Tristan Krstevski & Amelia Mendes all recording wins against higher rated opponents. David Beaumont's game with David Lovejoy almost made it into the fifth hour, before Beaumont finally broke through Lovejoy's dour defense to secure the win just before the start of the Melbourne Cup.
Once again the hotplate was fired up in between rounds for sausage sandwiches, while a large crowd
gathered around the TV to watch Green Moon take out the biggest horse race in the country.
The final round of the tournament saw MCC favourite David 'Firegoat' Beaumont pitted against Max Illingworth, with a draw being enough to secure outright first prize for Max. However Max had other ideas, and with valuable rating points also on the line, did what he had done in most of the previous rounds & demonstrated excellent technique to bring home a full point & win the tournament with an outstanding 8.5/9, with a 2700+ performance! This tournament should also improve his rating by around 18 points, to put Max over the 2400 mark, as well as placing him very close to (if not inside) the top 5 active players in the country! Stephen Solomon completed a final day nightmare for Dusan Stojic (who played Illingworth & Solomon back-to-back) by winning his game to secure second place. The final two games to finish were the ones that decided the other placegetters, with Andrew Brown beating Mirko Rujevic to take third, while Luke Li beat Justin Tan to take fourth place. There were surprisingly few upsets in the final round, although both Tristan Krstevski & Ray Yang managed to beat higher rated opponents. Rating division prizes were won by Chris Kolak (U2000) & Tristan Krstevski (U1600).
The top 4 were definitely the class of the field over the course of the weekend, although Karl Zelesco & Jason Chew were the best performers outside the prizewinners.
Full results, final crosstable & list of prize winners can be seen on ChessChat.
Numerous games from the tournament can also be seen on the MCC website.

Elizabeth Warren on the BBQ, which proved popular with players between rounds. A big thanks to Elizabeth, Tom Narenthran, Andrew Saint & others who were able to take on cooking duties over the weekend.
Final round underway, with Illingworth-Beaumont on board 1
IM Max Illingworth receiving his first prize cheque from MCC Treasurer Andrew Saint
Max delivering a his winner's speech, where he thanked the players & organisers, as well as downplaying his performance somewhat, saying he had a few things that went his way to help him win the event.

The game of the day was the final game in the tournament to finish, with Andrew Brown demonstrating precise technique to win a tricky ending against Mirko Rujevic, who always fights hard in his games!

Monday, 5 November 2012

MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender - Day 4

Day 4 of the MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender saw Max Illingworth retain his lead going into the final day, but not without a huge scare in round 6 against Andrew Brown! This allowed Stephen Solomon to gain some ground to be half a point behind Max after winning both his games yesterday, while Andrew Brown in a further half point behind in third place.
Round six saw a few upsets, with Ray Yang, Vladimir Zacharczenko, Elizabeth Warren & Regan Crowley all recording wins against higher rated opponents. The top board was almost one to join the upset category, with Andrew misplaying the ending which allowed Max to scramble a draw.
The afternoon round saw Max play a nice game to retain his lead, while Stephen Solomon beat Luke Li to move into outright second place. On other boards upset wins were recorded by Andrew Brown, Vladimir Zacharczenko & Carl Loucas.
Coming into the final day's play, Max Illingworth, Stephen Solomon & Andrew Brown are the players to catch, although with plenty of others hot on their heels, there is plenty to play for on the final day!
Results & Pairings are available on ChessChat.
The game of the day sees Max play his 'Get out of Jail Free' card against Andrew Brown in round 6. After achieving a fairly level middlegame, Andrew managed to find a way into a better rook ending & just when he seemed to have the win in hand, sacrificing his rook for Max's last remaining pawn, he misplayed the ending & allowed his passed pawns to be stopped. The computers (and Mirko Rujevic, among others) suggested that a queen ending with an extra pawn on the sixth rank should have been enough for Andrew to win, although there was also some chances in the line Andrew chose if he has played accurately.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender - Day 3

Day 3 finally saw an outright leader emerge in the tournament, with IM Max Illingworth beating fellow Olympiad representative Stephen Solomon in the morning & the Luke Li in the afternoon to be a point clear of the field on 5/5.
Round 4 saw a fairly convincing win on board 1 by Max Illingworth over Stephen Solomon, while Luke Li beat Domagoj Dragicevic to join Max in the lead. Karl Zelesco played a nice tactical game to beat George Xie, while other upset wins were recorded by Jack Puccini, Alanna Chew Lee, Marko Grabovac & Ray Yang. Dusan Stojic also played an interesting game against Chris Kolak, giving up his queen for three minor pieces & ultimately the three pieces were enough for Dusan to secure the win.
In between rounds, a sausage sizzle was enjoyed by many of the players.
Round 5 saw Max Illingworth take the outright lead with a win over Luke Li in a topsy-turvy game, where Luke won a pawn in the early middlegame, but Max generated counterplay, before reaching an ending where both players had two rooks & a knight each. Max managed to get his rook active & Luke was unable to find a suitable defense. Karl Zelesco continued his good start to the event with a win over Dusan Stojic, while Mirko Rujevic got some measure of revenge against Jason Chew, after Jason had surprisingly beaten him in the MCC Open a few weeks earlier. Most other games were won by the higher rated player, although Tanya Kolak did manage a good win over John Wildes, while David Lovejoy, David Beaumont & Matt Radisich were able to hold their higher rated opponents to draws.
Results & Pairings are available on ChessChat.

I have decided to include two games of the day in the absence of photos.
The first is Karl Zelesco's round 4 win over George Xie, where various tactics on the d-file worked in his favour to win a piece, which he duly converted to a win in the ending.

The second game is the top board game from round 5, which saw Luke Li win a pawn reasonably early in the game, before Max Illingworth generated counterplay with his rooks & knight. Ultimately Luke was unable to find a suitable defense & Max won the game to take the outright lead.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender - Day 2

Day 2 of the MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender saw the top seeds start to meet, with results not always going according to rating, with only IMs Stephen Solomon & Max Illingworth, along with Luke Li being the only ones to emerge from the day on 3/3.
The club also hosted a number of other events simultaneously, with junior coaching in the morning & a small allegro event in the afternoon meaning all players were in the main playing hall for today's games.
The morning round was not without surprises, with Sylvester Urban beating Dusan Stojic, Jason Chew beating John Wildes & Ben Frayle beating Paul Cavezza. However the game that had the most interest online was the clash between MCC regulars David 'Firegoat' Beaumont & Richard 'Uncle Chop Chop' Voon, with the Goat taking the victory on this occasion!
The afternoon round was also drama-filled, with Luke Li beating George Xie after George's rook was surprisingly trapped early in the endgame. Jason Chew continued his good recent form with a win over Max Chew Lee, while a number of games were drawn, including Urban-Dragicevic & Kolak-Beaumont near the top of the field.
Results & pairings are avaialble on ChessChat.

The main playing area, filled almost to capacity
 The top boards in somewhat unusual surroundings
The game of the day was Luke Li's win over George Xie, with was decided when George's rook was trapped on the b-file in the early endgame & Luke demonstrated excellent technique to finish the game off.

Friday, 2 November 2012

MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender - Day 1

The first round of the MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender saw 37 players ready to go on Friday night (with a few others joining the tournament on Saturday morning). The tournament is one of the strongest seen at the club in recent years, with 5 International Masters & 2 FIDE Masters playing & the top 15 seeds are all rated over 2000! There are also some interstate players participating, with players from Queensland, New South Wales & the Australian Capital Territory battling against some of Melbourne & Victoria's strongest players.
With the standard Swiss pairings pitting top half against bottom half, most matches saw a rating difference of 500 or more points. You would expect all games to be won by the higher rated player, however Tristan Krstevski managed to hold David Beaumont to a draw to be the exception to the rule, while the other top seeds all won. Many of the games were not as one-sided as the ratings would suggest, with Savithri Narenthran pushing Max Illingworth for over three hours, while Gary Bekker missed a possible drawing idea at the end of his game against George Xie.
With so many strong players in the event, round 2 sees a number of fascinating matchups already, including Ari Dale v Stephen Solomon & George Xie v Justin Tan on the top two boards, so if the top seeds are going to finish at the top of the field, they will have to work hard for their points!
Round 1 results are available on ChessChat. Pairings for future rounds will also be posted in the thread.

Main playing hall with games underway in round 1
 Top boards underway in round 1, including Solomon-Wildes on the DGT board!

The most interesting game from round 1 among the top boards was the board 2 clash between Gary Bekker & George Xie, with the International Arbiter putting up a good fight against the International Master. Unfortunately for Gary, in the final position he did not see that 47. Bxd4 gives white good drawing chances, as the passed c-pawn ties black's king or bishop down in defense, while an exchange on h5 leaves black with a potentially bishop & wrong coloured rook pawn ending. Without these resources, the position is indeed winning for black & Gary saw that after any other bishop move (to c1, f2 or g1) that black's idea is simply to play d3-d2 & then bring the king in to secure the victory. As a result of these thoughts, Gary resigned, missing a fantastic opportunity to possibly draw against an International Master (or at the very least, make for a very long ending, which is tough to win).