Saturday, 10 January 2015

Australian Open - Day 8

Today I was white against Canberra junior Michael Kethro & after my usual transpositional options, played the white side of a Modern Benoni. I used an idea from game 8 of the Anand-Gelfand world championship match & played the manoeuvre Ne2-c3, with the idea of keeping the queenside under control & preventing the thematic b5 pawn break. Kethro responded with the usual kingside play, though the move 11... f4, although thematic, seems a little premature with the white king still in the centre. Once I was able to play 18. a5 & 19. Nb6, I had a nice bind on the queenside, which made it difficult for black to develop their queenside & stifled any counterplay. Kethro exchanged pieces to go into a double rook & bishop endgame, however my space advantage meant that something would have to go seriously wrong for me to lose the position, in spite of having doubled b-pawns. Kethro's 35... g3 seemed to practically put an end to his kingside pressure & allowed me to continue doing what I wanted on the queenside. Although I had some pressure, I was not sure I would be able to win the game, however just as Kethro was about to reach the time control, he played the horrible move 40... a5. This gave him an additional weakness on the queenside to defend & I was able to improve the position of my pieces, before pushing my central passed pawns to gain a winning position, before Kethro dropped an exchange and resigned.

In the final round I am black against Bernard Chau, which again is a winnable game if I play well.

More photos to finish today ...

Playing Michael Kethro in round 10
Playing Michael Kethro in round 10
The playing hall during round 10
Top boards in action

As for the main tournament, GM Ni Hua from China has locked up first place with a phenomenal 9.5/10 to be two points clear of his nearest rivals, IM Bobby Cheng, who he plays in the final round & GM Zong Yuan Zhao, who are both on 7.5/10, with six players a further half point behind them.
In the Minor, Queensland President Mark Stokes has also locked up first place in the event with 9/10 so far, to put him at least 1.5 points in front of second place (minor round 10 results are not yet online).

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