Wednesday, March 28, 2012

MCC Championship bunches at the top

At the start of round 7 there was a clear leader in the MCC Championship, Dusan Stojic on a perfect 6/6. In the seventh round he faced an in-form Guy West, who won their game and duly brought himself back on level terms with Dusan. It was a combative opening choice by Guy that threw Dusan.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Bc5 5.0-0 f6
What sort of a move is that? If I was Dusan my thought processes would be something like this:

Has he blundered?
Is this playable?
Can I take on c6 and then on e5 followed by a queen check on h5?
What is his intended plan?
What should I do?

I guess Dusan thought much of this and eventually decided to play the game much like he would any other Spanish. However, it became clear that Guy had a plan of action while Dusan didn't really play the position.

This is a tough break for Dusan, but typical of Guy's combative style. I remember when I first had to play Guy in the 2005 Australian Masters. I had some time to prepare, but after looking at his games I soon realised that he could play almost anything against me, so genuine opening preparation went out the window. Instead I focussed on when he plays well and when he doesn't, and it seems to me that Guy is excellent at finding his way through messy positions, and is more than happy to use his pieces to compensate for a small material loss (mostly a strength, but sometimes a weakness). Since then I've tried to fight for the initiative every time I've played him and play the openings on my own terms, so that hopefully he is fighting through my mess, rather than me fighting through the mess he created. To an extent it has worked for me, as I've drawn a few and lost a couple against him, which is by no means a bad result for me against such a strong opponent.

I was in the group behind the leaders along with Mirko Rujevic, Domagoj Dragicevic and Richard Voon. The only winner out of that group was Domagoj who won against Richard in a Grunfeld which saw a number of early piece exchanges leading to an endgame which was better played by Domagoj. This puts Domagoj just half a point behind Guy and Dusan with 2 rounds to go, and I'm almost certain that the winner will come from one of these three players. Mirko drew with Chris Wallis in an interesting French with opposite sides castling. I thought Chris had an initiative, but maybe it wasn't enough for a full point. I drew with Pano Skiotis in a game where both of us had chances to claim an advantage, but neither of us took our chances. I played a little sloppily in the late middlegame, underestimating my opponent's plans, while he played too slowly, and left himself with little time to try to convert a small endgame advantage.

So Mirko and myself are a full point behind the 2 leaders and really can only hope that the players above us slip up, and then we can possibly come equal first if we win our last 2 games which is in itself a big ask. We are joined by Ari Dale and David Beaumont, who are both playing well. French visitor Laurent Michaille has also joined the group on 5 points. There are also a load of strong players just below us who could pull themselves into a high finish if they win their last 2 games. Thanks to Guy the tournament is still alive but who will win it? I'm not prepared to bet against any of the top three players who are all playing excellent chess at the moment.

The top boards for round 8 are:

1. FM Dragicevic (5.5)-FM Stojic (6)
2. IM West (6)- Beaumont (5)
3. Dale (5)- IM Rujevic (5)
4. Gorka (5)-Michaille (5)

There are 2 rating prizes, which are both based on FIDE ratings, an under 2000, and an under 1800. I'm not sure where unrated players will fit into this. Currently, Ari Dale is leading the under 2000 with 5, though Richard Voon, Gary Lycett, Paul Kovacevic, Karl Zelesco and Bosko Mijatovic and all within a point of Ari. The under 1800 has Roger Beattie and Brad Ashlock sharing first place at the moment, but almost anyone who finishes strong could take out that prize. So there is much to play for across the boards int he final 2 games!

No comments:

Post a Comment