Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ballarat the Final Day

Obviously I can't speak for everyone, but I'm sure that I wasn't the only person playing in the tournament who was eager to reach the finish line. I woke up on Monday morning feeling a bit tired, but ok. By the time I had arrived at home in Melbourne later that day, I had a thumping headache and felt thoroughly exhausted. I ran out of steam on the final day. I think I had reached the limits of my endurance about half way through the 6th round.

Round 6 started with 3 leaders, but finished with 2 leaders. The top board game between Alistair Cameron and Patrick Scharrer finished in a win for the Italian FM. He was joined on 5.5 by Domagoj Dragicevic who beat IM Stephen Solomon in the 6th round. Both the leaders had played about equally tough fields (actually, not overly tough), both had given up just 1 draw to talented juniors, (Dragicevic to Cameron in round 5, Scharrer to Justin Tan in round 4) and both had played and beaten just one player higher rated than them, coincidentally an IM for both, during the tournament (Dragicevic beat Solomon in round 6, Scharrer beat Morris in round 5). They had both efficiently taken care of the other players they had faced. A big group of players started half a point behind the leaders, but only 2 could win their games, Chris Wallis and Brodie McClymont. So going into the last round, the major honours would be fought out by these 4 players. I played against another talented young player, Yi Liu and seemed to get a promising position. However, I couldn't find a good plan (perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I didn't really find any plan!) and the game drifted to a draw. There was one point of interest about my game, from my point of view. I played the first few moves pretty quickly, but suspected that my opponent might have done some preparation for my favourite Noteboom. So I avoided this and went for a more conventional Semi Slav, taking the risk of playing into my opponent's repertoire. However, it seemed that Yi was just as lost as me, and after about 10 moves we were just playing chess.

Round 7 was horrible for me. I had to play an opponent who I find particularly difficult, FM Dusan Stojic, and after maybe half an hour I began to develop a headache. I offered a draw early on, following an exchange of queens, but I'm guessing Dusan saw this as a sign of weakness and played on. He was right, and I didn't really put up too much resistance, dropping a pawn, and then another until I finally dropped a whole rook. A shame really, as it was a bad way to finish what was otherwise a pretty good tournament for me. I'm not 100% sure, but I think I'll be picking up about 10 rating points for the tournament mainly thanks to my win against Solomon.

A quick draw ont he top board guaranteed a share of first prize to Dragicevic and Scharrer. They were joined by McClymont who beat Chris Wallis in the final round. Guy West was the highest placed IM, in joint 4th along with FM Bobby Cheng, FM Dusan Stojic and Justin Tan. As Guy is the only one of these top 7 players aged over 30, it perhaps demonstrates that weekend chess tournaments are the realm of the young.

Here's one of the nicest wins from the event, by IM Guy West in round 1.

I must say, I enjoyed the tournament, but if I play next year (and I will almost certainly play next year) I will definitely consider taking a bye on Saturday night turning the tournament into a 2 rounds per day event.

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