Thursday, July 14, 2011

Another Day at the Victorian Juniors

What makes a chess tournament important? Well in global terms, the best players may be playing, or at least an interesting maverick. Or perhaps the tournament is of historic importance, such as a World Championship match. I have just seen a report for next years match on the chessbase site stating that the match will be played in the Champion's home country of India. This gives an interesting contrast to the last match played on the challengers home soil!

In local terms, the issue of what makes a tournament important is more complicated and may be different for each individual. At the Victorian Juniors, it is plainly evident that the players fighting on the top boards, in with a chance of winning a title, are fully focussed. Some players who are playing in their first State Junior Championship are relishing the experience. However, there are a group of players in the field (and no doubt many who didn't enter) for whom this is just another tournament, and to some extent a tournament that is not particularly exciting compared with the big adult weekenders, and even some local club tournaments. This is an issue that needs to be addressed and it may be that I will be hassling some people to answer the question, 'what can we do to make state title events more attractive?'.

Today, the tournament is reaching the pointy end. The number 1 and 2 seeds meet on the top board in the first game of the day, and it looks as if the top seed James Morris will prevail. There is a jostling for positions behind James, with Matthew Cheah and Sam Gluzman fighting above their weight. By the end of the day, the fight for age group titles will also be more clearly drawn.

Once again live games are being broadcast by Box Hill Chess Club the hosts for the event. Once again, the games are over running. There is still one game going from the first round of the day, and the second round was due to start 10 minutes ago. I have it from the arbiter that the second round will start at 1.30pm, a half hour late, but the game still going has some play left in it.
White has less than 1 minute and had to cope with the move 49..Nxf3 unleashing an attack on his queen along the long diagonal. Kyle Gibson as white responded with 50.Qc1, and black's knight jumped away having won a pawn. The game continues, black is also down to 5 minutes now, so nerves will be a big factor in who wins this game.

It is now 1.30pm and the game is still going, albeit in its final stages now. White has succumbed to the time pressure and is material down. The game should be over soon, but the next round is now going to start well over 30 minutes late. There is a lot of hanging around for the kids here, and a lot of nervous energy being used up. I really do believe that organisers have to consider their scheduling when multiple games are being played in a day. Well, let me eat my words. Zach Loh won material, then lost a piece when he played a double check, which wasn't in fact a double check anymore! Kyle was then an exchange up, and it was heading to a king and rook v king and knight ending, when Zach allowed his knight to get skewered. An amazing game, but both Kyle and Zach looked thoroughly exhausted, the round has over run by an hour and the boys are going to be made to play in 15 minutes. Not much of a break!

 Board 1, Michael Chan (left) against James Morris
 Sam Gluzman faces us and his opponent, Karl Zelesco.
 Matthew Cheah (left) and Max Chew Lee both punching above their weight.
 Alana Chew Lee (left) against Denise Lim
 Boys in blue and girls in pink!
Freak out your opponent by wearing the same top!

There isn't too much time between rounds for some players, but Maling Road is 5 minutes away, and well worth a visit for great coffee, good food, and award winning hot chocolate. It may not be brain food, but it certainly is soul food!

Walking around the hall, there is always a few interesting positions to look at. I wonder who will win this one?

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