Monday, January 17, 2011

Australian Junior Championship Diary 3

The new shorter format of the Australian Junior tournament means that after just 3 days we already have some age group champions. So congratulations go out to all the under-10 players who tried their hardest, and played their best, but especially to the winners:

Under 8: Kevin Willathgamuwa
Under 10: David Cannon
Under 8 Girls: Jody Middleton
Under 10 Girls: Denali Durden

The play in all of these was fiercely competitive but the under 10 championship was a particularly tough field so many congratulations to David Canon. All these tournaments were played with 3 games a day over 3 days, so it became somewhat of a battle of endurance for these youngsters.

Here are a few interesting positions from the first couple of days.

Defending Champion, Bobby Cheng, in the first round as white here played the stunning 21.Nf5!

Black is a piece up against higher rated opposition, but there are threats to the king. So what should black play? 29..Kh8 threatening 30..Rf5 looks ok. Black unfortunately threw away the chance of an upset by playing 29..Kg7? running into 30.f6+ when to prevent mate, he must give up a rook.
In the under 16 Championships, 2 of the top rated players met in round 2. Alastair Cameron as white has a comfortable position against Nathan Hibberd and has a number of good candidate moves, though he couldn't resist playing 17.Nexg5 and after an almost forced sequence of 17..hxg5 18.h6 Bh8 19.h7+ Kg7 20.Rh5 f5 21.exf5, the following position was reached, where black has a choice of 3 captures on f6.
 The post mortem analysis suggested that white has good chances whatever black chooses, but 21..Kxf6 is the most tenacious. Black is under a lot of pressure and will have to defend accurately, but there is no knock out blow. However, black played 21..Rxf6 [21..Qxf6 loses to 22.Rxg5+ Kf7 23.Ne5+ Ke8 24.Rg8 Kd8 and now both 25.Qa3 and 25.Ng6 are both winning] 22.Rxg5+ Kf7 23.Rg8 with a winning position. The threat of 24.Ne5 is just too strong.
And just because I love endgames, I couldn't help but put the following position in which was reached in a game in the under 10's championship. White to move actually played 50.a5 following the dictate that "passed pawns must be pushed", but forgetting that "free pawns may be taken"! After 50.Rxh4 white would be winning because the black king is cut off along the rank behind white's pawn, while black's rook currently doesn't have checking distance. Never mind, the result turned out the right way, and white still won this game although theoretically it is a draw after 50.a5!

Tomorrow is a rest day from the main events while the ever popular lightning tournaments, and the problem solving take centre stage.

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