Friday, 31 January 2014

2014 WOM Australian Women's Masters

Over the past week, some of Australia's best female players have been battling it out with a number of highly-rated foreign opposition at the Melbourne Chess Club in the second Australian Women's Masters.
The event was the brainchild of Jamie Kenmure & Gary Bekker & this year they definitely improved on last year's event. This year the event became a 12-player round robin (up from an 8-player round robin last year), which featured a number of foreign players, with the possibility of players earning a coveted Women's International Master norm.
The tournament also received support from the FIDE Commission for Women's Chess which goes to show just how significant the event was, even on a worldwide scale!
I was involved in the event as the Bulletin Editor (you can find them at the bottom of the News Page) & went to some of the social gatherings that were organised for the tournament.
Overall I thought the tournament was a great success, although no-one scored enough points to achieve a WIM norm (other than the winner Irine Sukandar, who is already a WGM). The players were all very friendly & enjoyed the tournament, as well as the various activities that had been organised ... and most are keen to come back next year if they can!

For my thoughts on the state of Women's Chess in Australia, I think it is easier just to use part of my Editor's Comments from Bulletin 1 of the tournament:

Unfortunately Women's chess in Australia has been largely forgotten over the last decade. The title of Australian Women's Champion has not been awarded since 2003, as the requirements for its awarding as part of the the biennial Australian Open have not been met! The Victorian Women's Championship was resurrected in 2012, having not been run for a number of years previously. Although the tournament was a success, it has not been run since! The Dorothy Dibley Shield was an interstate women’s and girls teams event that was started in 1990 and ran until the mid 2000s, but it has also not been run for around a decade!
Although there are still a number of women and girls who play tournament chess on a regular basis, there are very few dedicated events for women. The biennial FIDE Zonal tournament is one of the few events solely for women that are run with any regularity, however the Zonal is shared amongst countries in Oceania and it has not been held in Australia since 2009.

You can find out the full results & see more information about the event (including the planned schedule for 2015!) on the Official Website, but I thought I should finish this post with a few photos from the event - both chess-related & non-chess!

One of the many collages put together by tournament photographer Anjali Bhatnagar
Tournament participants at the Prize Giving
Pre-tournament at Rosebud beach
Mid-tournament at the Giant's Chair at Mount Dandenong
Mid-tournament post-round dinner
Playing room at the tournament
Pre-tournament at Cape Schanck
Pre-tournament at Cape Schanck
Tournament runners-up with organisers: WFM Otgonjargal Sengeravdan, WFM Margit Brokko, FA Jamie Kenmure, IA Gary Bekker, WFM Tuuli Vahtra, WIM Heather Richards
Tournament winner WGM Irine Sukandar at the Prize Giving

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Australian Chess Championships - new Champion Crowned!

The Australian Chess Championship at Springvale has now been run & won, with Sydney International Master Max Illingworth taking out the title with a score of 8/11 after defeating FM Anton Smirnov in the final round. Second place was shared between GM Tu Hoang Thong, IM Moulthun Ly & Karl Zelesco, all on 7.5/11, after they defeated their final round opponents (IM Stephen Solomon, IM Igor Bjelobrk & GM Darryl Johansen respectively). A further five players tied for fifth place on 7/11.
The Reserves was already decided prior to the final round, with FM Doug Hamilton the winner, but a sleepless night (largely spent trying to figure out the Brilliancy Prize for the Championship) meant he was not at his best for the final game & he lost to Kevin Sheldrick, meaning he finished the tournament with 9.5/11 & was a most popular winner of the event! Oladoyin Fasakin finished in outright second with 8.5/11 after winning his final round game, while Mark Grabovac, Kevin Sheldrick & Milenko Lojanica finished in a tie for third on 8/11.
At the Prize giving, the prizes for the 2013 ACF Grand Prix were awarded, as well as the annual ACF awards. Bobby Cheng won the Steiner Medal for player of the year, Ari Dale won the Arlauskas award for junior player of the year, while the Koshnitsky medal for chess administration was awarded posthumously to Andrew Saint (the award was accepted by his brother Alex & father Bruce).
The Mayor of the City of Greater Dandenong, Jim Memeti was at the closing ceremony to award prizes to the winners (photos from Official Website thanks to Mike Loh)

Reserves winner FM Doug Hamilton receiving his cheque from Mayor Jim Memeti

Australian Champion IM Max Illingworth receives his trophy from Mayor Jim Memeti

I also took some of my own photos during the final round:

Max & Anton before the beginning of their game

Doug Hamilton looking relaxed playing a concentrated Kevin Sheldrick on top board of the Reserves. Although Kevin won the game, Doug won the tournament!

The fight for second in the Reserves was intense. Derek Yu against Marko Grabovac in front, with David Beaumont against Oladoyin Fasakin behind.

A souvenir for the club - a chess board signed by participants in the Championship

A crowd gathers sensing an upset in the Zelesco-Johansen clash

Tournament winner IM Max Illingworth with his trophy

I also managed to get a few brief interviews with some of the players after their final round games, talking mostly about the event & their performance.

Karl Zelesco, who finished in equal second place place

IM Moulthun Ly who finished in equal second place

IM Aleks Wohl shares his thoughts about foreigners in the Championship, the DoubleRoo Chess Academy & the tournament generally

New Australian Champion IM Max Illingworth talks about the tournament, his support team & his plans for the rest of 2014.

To finish off, some of the more spectacular games from the tournament. With both a Brilliancy Prize & Best Finish Prize on offer, players had plenty to play for even in the final rounds!

Brilliancy Prize winner in the Challengers - Alanna Chew Lee (round 3 win against Manny Chua)

Brilliancy Prize winner in the Reserves - Max Chew Lee (round 11 win against Enoch Fan)

The runner-up in the Brilliancy Prize for the Championship (judge Doug Hamilton commented that if the prize was for Best Game rather than Brilliancy that this game would have likely won the award) - IM Igor Goldenberg (round 9 win against IM Aleks Wohl)

Winner of the Brilliancy Prize in the Championship - IM Andrew Brown (round 4 win against Jason Tang)

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Australian Chess Championships - the finish line in sight

The Australian Chess Championship at Springvale is almost over, however picking a winner is still not easy to do! In the Championships, IMs Max Illingworth & Igor Bjelobrk lead with 6.5/9, with seven players behind them on 6/9 & a further three on 5.5/9. Obviously the final rounds are critical for the determining final placings, so expect some hard fought chess over the final two days!
The Reserves is much more clear-cut, with former Australian Champion FM Doug Hamilton dominating the field! He currently leads with 8.5/9, with Marko Grabovac (the only player to not lose to Doug) in second place on 7.5/9. There is then a further gap to three players on 6.5/9, so it is down to five, although Doug is the solid favourite, with Marko the only player able to overtake Doug, while the others can only hope for a share of first place at best.
The Challengers finished off yesterday, with Noble Park Chess Club's Calixto Dilag taking out the tournament with an impressive 7.5/9. Second place went to Zhi Lin Guo, while third was shared between Mark Stokes, Carl Loucas & Alanna Chew Lee (who was also awarded the brilliancy prize).
 Equal third place in the Challengers - Alanna Chew Lee, Carl Loucas & Mark Stokes, flanked by Noble Park Chess Club's Domagoj Dragicevic & Dusan Stojic
 Dusan Stojic presenting runner-up Zhi Lin Guo with her cheque!
Challengers winner Calixto Dilag thanking his family for his support during the tournament.

Photos courtesy of the Official Website

FIDE Official Laws of Chess

12.6 It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner whatsoever. This includes unreasonable claims, unreasonable offers of a draw or the introduction of a source of noise into the playing area.

Throughout the event there have been various issues raised, largely in relation to this law of chess ...
Do you do any of these in your own games??

Do you sometimes go barefoot?

Do you play with your hair?

Maybe you're one of the many foot tappers ...

Maybe you are a pen clicker ...

Do you pull faces at the board?

How would YOU deal with these issues if you were an arbiter?

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Australian Chess Championships - the run home

The Australian Chess Championship at Springvale is entering its final stages, with the Challengers to finish today, while the Championships & Reserves have 3 rounds left to finish.
The Challengers sees Calixto Dilag in the lead with 7/8, while Zhi Lin Guo & Mark Stokes are just behind on 6.5/8. The winner will be one of those three players, with top board being Dilag-Guo, while Stokes plays Alanna Chew Lee. I haven't really been following the games in the Challengers closely, but I think any of these three would be deserving winners, although there is also a good possibility of a tie between two of these three players. There are plenty of rating & other prizes for the other players to play for, so I'd expect lots of drama in the Challengers today!
The Reserves has seen former Australian Champion FM Doug Hamilton in dominating form to be clear first on 7.5/8 a whole point ahead of his nearest rivals, David Beaumont & Marko Grabovac on 6.5/8, with Milenko Lojanica a further half point behind on 6/8, with a huge group of players on 5.5/8. I'd expect the winner to come from the top 4, but someone has to slow down Hamilton if it is to be a contest, with Hamilton having already played his closest rival, drawing with Grabovac & defeating the rest! Today Hamilton has black against Colin Savige, while Beaumont & Grabovac fight it out for second place. Grabovac has definitely been improving recently, but if Beaumont is playing his best, I don't think he is quite yet good enough to beat him. However if Beaumont is off his game, Grabovac has every chance to continue his fantastic tournament (he has yet to lose a game).
The Championship is much closer, with the top 14 players separated by only a point! GM Vasily Papin & IM Moulthun Ly share the lead on 6/8, with GM Tu Hoang Thong & IMs Bobby Cheng, Max Illingworth & Igor Bjelobrk all on 5.5/8. The remaining rounds should prove very exciting, with the foreigners (ineligible for the title) adding a minor complication to the Championship title race.

Plenty of spectators gathered round the live broadcast boards to see the finish to the Illingworth-Cheng clash

From the Reserves, Doug Hamilton at his attacking best against Derek Yu

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Australian Chess Championships - the middle bit

The Australian Chess Championship has continued over the last few days & has now seen the first 7 rounds completed. Apologies for the lack of updates here in the last few days, but things have been rather busy from my perspective & unfortunately blogging is a bit down the list of priorities.
The schedule adds to the workload for arbiters, with day 4 being a double round, with rounds starting at 10am & 4pm. The 'rest' day is anything but, with the ACF national conference (starting at 9:30am) immediately followed by the Australian Blitz Championships (which I was chief arbiter of), which is then followed by an ACF executive meeting, which finished around 9:30pm. Added to that is my hour commute from my home to the venue each day (and another hour long return trip each evening), which mean that most of my work has to be completed at the venue & I don't really want to stay at the venue longer than I need to.

As far as results are concerned, GM Vasily Papin, IM Moulthun Ly & IM Bobby Cheng lead the Championships, FM Doug Hamilton is leading the reserves & Calixto Dilag leads the Challengers, but there are plenty of others who are following close behind & looking to catch up & overtake these leaders before the tournaments finish. For full details, see the Official Website.

Anyway, over the final few days, I hope to be able to get some interviews with people involved in the tournament, similar to my earlier interview with tournament organiser Dusan Stojic. I'll try to get players from all events if possible, but suspect my main focus will be on those in the Championship. I'd also like to get some content about the people who are behind-the-scenes, but are vital to the running of the event. I'll see how successful I am in doing this in addition to my other tasks.
I've also got a few ideas about future blogs during the Championship, outlining some of the issues faced & how I dealt with them ... whether they were handled correctly or as best as possible might be a slightly different story though ...

Anyway, as a quick comparison, here are two photos I have taken from the arbiter's table - the first during a round of the regular Championship & the second towards the end of a round of the Blitz ... see if you can spot the differences ...

The Blitz provided its usual share of thrills & spills, with GM Tu Hoang Thong winning the event with 9/11. The title of Australian Blitz Champion was decided after a three-way playoff between IM Bobby Cheng, FM Anton Smirnov & Brodie McClymont. They each played one game against the other, with Bobby scoring 1.5, Brodie 1 & Anton 0.5 (the only win was Bobby over Anton & the other two games were drawn). Full results can be found of the Official Website.

In addition to my arbiting duties, I had my camera handy & took a few photos during the tournament:

I managed to take a number of short videos during the blitz championships, mostly concentrating on the higher boards: