At the start of the 4th round there were still 5 players on 3/3. As the lowest rated player who hadn't floated down, I dropped out of the main group and played someone on 2.5. The top 2 pairings saw FM Stojic playing FM Wallis in a repeat of the 2010 Victorian Championship play off, while Beaumont played IM Rujevic. Both these games were still in progress when I left and I couldn't tell which way they were going to go, but in the end Stojic and Rujevic both won.
I joined them on 4/4 with a very nervous game against the giant killer of the tournament so far, Anthony Harris. I must admit I had some butterflies before the game. I wasn't sure how the game would go, and didn't really prepare. Once the game got under way, I went for a Noteboom which I know quite well. I was lucky because Anthony seemed to be a bit out of his depth in this tricky opening and I found myself 2 pawns to the good after about 15 moves and just needed to play carefully to convert the advantage.
So 3 players will be on maximum points going into round 5, but the pressure is mounting from behind. The first game from the top tables to finish was IM Guy West's victory against John Dowling. Guy seems to have gone with the flow the last 2 rounds and taken the game to his opponents. I'm not sure if his policy was to play a little safe in the first couple of rounds and wait for mistakes that never happened, but he is now certainly throwing pieces around and playing creative, tactical chess. On boards 5 and 6, there were interesting matches between established strong adult players and talented juniors. The adults scored half out of 2! Domogoj Dragicevic was looking to attack Karl Zelesco, but my brief glance at their game made me feel that he really didn't have enough to justify this. When I left he was a pawn down, but the game ended a draw. Malcolm Pyke seemed to have a decent position against Ari Dale, and I have no idea what happened to allow Ari to win this game. Unless I'm misreading this game badly, Malcolm could easily have been on 4/4 but let good positions slip 2 weeks in a row.
Outside of the small room there were 2 postponements and 2 forfeits amongst the games. Being a club tournament, allowing postponements (and byes up until round 7) lets more people participate who might not play if the event was strictly set on certain dates. So it was a bit disappointing to see forfeits, though of course, sometimes these are unavoidable. At the top end Pano Skiotis and Gary Lycett jumped up to 3/4 while at the other end, young Oscar Pearce scored his first win, so congratulations to him!
After the 5th round there will be a week break so as not to clash with the Ballarat Weekend event. So I guess it is quite important to try to get to this break in a good position which will happen to me whatever the result of my next game as I would have been more than happy with a 4/5 start. I think 4/4 is my best start to the Club Championship, and I know that whatever the draw throws up at me the next one will be tough. I'm guessing that I'll have another black, this time against Dusan Stojic who is also due white. The alternative is that I float down again, when I'd probably have to face Guy West but I don't think this will happen. Whoever I play, it will leave an amazing game on the other top board. If I play Dusan then the IM's should have to face off, with Mirko Rujevic white against Guy West. Otherwise, Dusan and Mirko might have to face off, but a great contest seems guaranteed!