Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blunders at Doeberl

Easter in Australia is the time for the traditional Doeberl Cup tournament held in Canberra. I say traditional because this tournament has now reached its fiftieth edition and there was also a book released over the weekend chronicling the history of the tournament. Doeberl started as a long weekend tournament and in fact the one time I had played it, it was a 7 round tournament over 4 days. Now, under the direction of Charles Bishop and his O2C company, the tournament is a 9 round norm achieving monster. This year the field for the Premier included 8 Grandmasters and 13 International Masters, and you had to have a minimum 1900 FIDE rating to enter. There were 3 other events run alongside this over 4 days and 7 rounds. These were under 2000, under 1600 and under 1200 limited rating events, and all were well attended and hard fought.

I played in the Premier and was seeded 42/79. I had an ok tournament scoring my expected score, and winning against a strong player. However, I also lost to a lower rated player than me (although I doubt he's any weaker) and made a number of weak moves throughout my games. I think it is a pretty good therapy and learning experience to examine these howlers. It's important to admit your weaknesses in an attempt to eradicate them. So here was my tournament.

In the first round I was near the top of the second half of players and subsequently was paired with a huge rated opponent. Gergely Szabo was ranked fourth and finished equal first in the tournament. I was playing ok against him, probably a little worse, until I had a complete brain faze:

In this position as white I had to move my light squared bishop, but where? My first thought was back to e2, but then he has Rbc8 and his rooks are very threatening. So what about g4? Ok, that sounds good....but hold on, look at all checks and captures! What about Bxe4 and after he recaptures I have Rfe1 skewering both his bishops. Cool, I'll do that! 1.Bxe4?? Bxe4 2.Rfe1 f5 3.f3 Rbc8 and I can resign. The worse thing is that I'd looked at this and just thought I'll take his bishop, he takes my bishop and I take his other bishop. Oops!!

In the second round I played Ian Rout and won, though not convincingly and then I had my best game of the tournament against WGM Irine Sukandar. In the fourth round I played FM Chris Wallis who I'd recently lost to in Ballarat. I got another reasonable position until I decided on a bad plan.
This had been a fighting game up to this point. As black I'm worse, a pawn down, but by no means lost. However, I played the tempting 1..Bd4?? which loses to 2.Re8+ Kf7 3.Rf8+ Ke6 4.Re1+ (the move I hadn't counted on) 4..Kd6 5.Rd8+ resigns as I'm losing a piece.

In round 5 my opponent forfeited as he had to withdraw from the tournament due to illness, and in round 6 I scored a draw against IM Andrew Brown, though perhaps I threw away good winning chances. Then in rounds 7 and 8 I played horribly. This was the penultimate day and I lost both games. The first mistake I made was playing into variations that gave my opponent's an initiative. In round 7 I was facing FM Igor Bjelobrk who had sacrificed a pawn to reach the following position:

I am white and I have an extra pawn on d5. If this pawn goes, then I am clearly worse. A typical plan would be Nxf5 and then Rd1, or more subtle is just Rd1 straight away. Then I may be able to unwind with Ba2, b3/b4, Bb2 and Rac1. However, I chose 1.h3?? thinking that after 1..Nbxd5 I would have time for g4. At the last moment I saw that black can take on e3 and I'm completely busted. I carried on with 2.Nxd5 Nxd5 3.Bxd5 Qxd5 4.Nxf5 Qxf5 but didn't last much longer.

In the next round I faced the current Australian Junior Champion Alistair Cameron. I had a tough position before I just gave away a pawn for nothing.
This was a Noteboom gone wrong so I decided to try a tactical way of exchanging pawns. My thoughts were running something like this. If I can give up my a and b pawns for his c and d-pawns, the game must be level, or perhaps he will have a slight advantage. So how to do this? This implementation was where things went wrong! 1..b3?? 2.Nxb3 and it was here that I realised that my planned 2..Rb4 would fail to 3.Qxb4 axb4 4.Rxa8 with mate to follow.

I finished the tournament with a none too easy win against Ari Dale and ended on 4.5/9. This was ok for me, but nothing fantastic. However, it has inspired me and I will be playing more chess and working on my game. It was a great event to be a part of, and rubbing shoulders with such strong players is always an uplifting experience.


  1. Kramnik once missed a mate-in-one as well as many other dumb blunders. You did ok.

  2. I was generally happy with my tournament, but looking at one's worst moves is a great learning experience :)