Friday, May 4, 2012

Being the top seed....

Last Monday, a new tournament started at the Melbourne Chess Club. The weekly FIDE rated events which happen on a Monday moved into the second event of the year with the start of the City of Melbourne Open. The tournament has attracted about 30 players which is a big drop off from the Championship. Much of this was lost from the top of the field. In the Championship I was rated 6th whereas I am the top seed here and a number of other strong players have opted out. This is no doubt influenced by the Victorian Championship and Reserves events which also started this week and which see a decent MCC turnout.

I have to admit that I haven't been the top seed in a tournament very often, and I don't think I've ever been top seed of an open swiss event. I'll tell you all at the end of what it felt like, though my plan is to take things one game at a time. One of my own personal reasons for competing is to test myself against the very best of players, so it is a disappointment that there aren't some big guns to aim at. But saying that, there are a lot of strong players in the tournament and every game will be tough as the field is fairly closely packed, at least in rating terms.

The first round already saw 2 draws, though the average difference in strength between players was lower than usual. So, for instance, John Dowling was only rated 200 points above his opponent Felix Wyss and with the white pieces Felix held John to a draw. My opponent, Paul Kovacevic, is rated 1860 FIDE, and he found himself in the second half of the draw! So all told, it's a fairly level field with no outstanding players to pick a winner from.

The first round started typically late as late entries were being processed and some who said they might be playing didn't end up showing, though the organisers tried to contact then to give them every chance to play. n fact, there are late entries accepted up to round 3 so we might see a few players join in. It was a strange feeling when the arbiter offered the choosing of colours to me, I think it's the first time it's happened to me. Anyway, I managed to choose the black pieces and settled in for a tough night. My opponent played  a strange Catalan with an early Nc3 and I think that it was fairly easy to equalise. I then managed to win a pawn and go on to hold the game.

The second round coming up this Monday already sees some fine contests. I have Richard Voon who is never an easy opponent, though the board 2 game seems to be the one to watch with unrated (though obviously strong) Laurent Michaille playing against former club champion Malcolm Pyke.

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