Round 3 saw me win another game, this time against another junior, Gary Lin (ACF 1413, FIDE 1712) in a Symmetrical English, though again, not without a lucky break or two. I think Gary was surprised by my opening choice, as he took well over a minute to play his first move & had used 8 minutes to get to move 4 (6 minutes down on the clock, plus 2 minutes worth of increment). I was a little worried about the symmetry in the position, with the mirror-image staying in place until move 14, but as I had white, I was trying to figure out a way to get the first check in that could somehow break the symmetry to my advantage. Gary decided to break the symmetry voluntarily on move 15 with Nxd5 & I thought this lead to a good position for me, particularly when Gary retreated his knight to e7. Of course I had overestimated my position (as I sometimes do) & missed a possible tactical shot that Gary also missed in the game. 20...Nxd5 would have had me in a spot of bother, as things seem to work tactically for black & if I decide to avoid the tactics, then I am simply a pawn down, which in a symmetrical position is less than ideal! As the game went, I also overlooked the Nxd5 idea on the following move, only noticing it after I had played 21.Qd2. Gary, however had not & after a few minutes thought, he played 21...Nxd5, which looks strong at first sight. The extra move, however makes a significant difference & I can maintain an advantage with 22.exf5. Gary's best defense here seems to be Qc6, although Re8, Nc7 & Ne7 are all assessed fairly similarly by my chess engine. Luckily for me, Gary had quite a long think & managed to come up with 22...gxf4, which loses on the spot, although I initially didn't see the obvious second move in the combination & spent much of the time while Gary was contemplating his reply to 23.Qg5+ looking at the line 23...Kf7 24.Rxf5+ Kxe6 25.Re1, which also looks winning, but it is far more complicated than the simple solution I found in the game.
Full results for the round are on OzChess.
With a few upsets & draws on the top boards, I think I'll probably get black against top seed Luke Li in round 4 on board 1, though I wouldn't complain if things worked out somewhat differently!