Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Australian Junior Championships: Major titles resume

Can you spot white's threat? Upsets happen, and this one came from the Under 12 Championships where one of the top seeds was taken down by a player rated 600 points below them. However, it shows how tough and competitive these events are. Of course white threatens Qd8 mate, which was stopped by the check 27..Qe5+. This is fine, but as a spectator alarm bells are ringing as focus can easily be lost at the under 12 level. White blocked with 28.Be4 and, yes you guessed it, black decided to win himself the pinned bishop. The game tragically finished 28..d5 29.Qd8# 1-0 Cholan-Yap Australian Under 12 Championship 2013.

After the excitement of the problem solving and lightning events yesterday, the main events began again today. There are titles to be decided for U-18, U-16, U-14, U-12 in open divisions and every age group in the girls only divisions. In fact starting with the girls tournaments, there has once again been a low turnout for the girls championship and even at 11am when the chess was due to start, there was still some debate as to what format was going to be used. In the end there are just 2 tournaments, an U-18 (20 players) and an U-10 (14 players) though I believe there will be champions in all age groups from U-18 down to U-8's. In fact, I don't know this for sure, but when I do I'll confirm it. The older girls started their event today, while the younger ones start on Friday and use the 3 games per day format. It is a bit difficult to tell who is competing in which age group, and I know some of the girls were disappointed that they didn't end up playing their preferred time control as the U-18 and 16's were due to play 90+30 while the U-14 and 12's were to play 60+30. In the end the older girls missed out and the 60+30 time control has been used. So far there have been no top seed casualties, but they all start to meet tomorrow for the main sorting of these events.

The boys tournaments which started today are the U-14 (35 players) and the U-12 (63 players) making them 2 of the biggest sections of the Championships. Both these events look amazingly competitive and I am hard pressed to pick a winner in either section. The format of 2 game per day for 4 days and 1 game on the fifth day will also lead to stamina issues toward the end of the tournaments, or even on the second games of the day. Already there were a number of players who didn't look so good half way through the afternoon game. The top seed in the U-14's, Rishi Dutta was held to a draw by Gary Lin rated 300 points below him, for example. In fact, in this section there are only 6 players on a perfect score including, ominously, both the Willathgamuwa brothers. However, it is early days yet. Actually, there is another (much) younger brother who will have 2 great role models if he decides to take up chess!

The under 12's is the biggest tournament in terms of participation and with 15 players rated over 1000 there is tough competition. Top seed is David Cannon who has been a junior champion before so knows what it takes to win the title. David started with 2/2 but the real fun starts tomorrow when the players rated above 1000 all begin to meet.

The under 16's and 18's resumed their events today. Punala Kiritipige was pulled back to the field by top seed Oscar Wang in the under 16's. There are now 2 leaders (Punala and Oscar) followed closely by surprise package Andrew Mather who is playing about 500 points above his 1312 rating to be on 3.5! Clint Therakam was also back to giant killing ways again today and he is one of 3 players a further half point back on 3. The top 3 players in the U-18 all won today and lead the field, Nakauchi 4.5, Yi Yuan 4, Yi Liu 3.5. It looks like one of these 3 will take the title and the top 2 play tomorrow.

Leader of the under 18's, Gene Nakauchi has played some very interesting ideas. Today against Jack Puccini he came up with an exchange sacrifice which caused his opponent no end of headaches.
Nakauchi as white played 25.Nxb3 and after the recature 25..Nxb3 had no hesitation in sacrificing the exchange with 26.Rxb3. Gene's queen side initiative and that massive protected passed pawn on b6 proved too much for Jack to defend.

Again the team at Gardiner Chess are doing a great job, as is arbiter Charles Zworestine and the Tornelo management system is working well at quickly updating results and storing the games that the kids themselves are putting into the computers.

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