It was good to see a few more players enter the Melbourne Chess Club (MCC) championship bringing the number up to 39. This is still a bit disappointing compared to last year's total of 46, let alone the heady numbers of 2011 when we had around 60. Compared to other clubs it is also not a good sign. Currently Box Hill Chess Club and Noble Park Chess Club have FIDE rated tournaments running. Box Hill have a very respectable 64 players in their Autumn Cup, while Noble Park have 47 players for their Club Championship which is about a 10 player increase over last year. Should this be a worry for the MCC committee? I certainly think they should be asking why numbers are dropping for the club's flagship event. It may be unrealistic to maintain numbers in the 60's (though it may not), but I would have thought a field of at least 40 should be the yearly target.
The committee should not be too concerned over the quality of the field. 13 of the 39 players are rated above 2000 FIDE which means it is going to be a strong performance by anyone to win the championship. There is a live game being transmitted each week and yesterday was a great fight between IM Guy West and David Beaumont. David played a Sicilian but Guy didn't go into the Open systems. Guy had to use all his strategic skill to aim at weaknesses in David's position. In the end David couldn't hold out, and Guy took the full point. Guy is joined on 2/2 by FM Chris Wallis, FM Dusan Stojic, Ari Dale, and Justin Penrose who took the scalp of IM Mirko Rujevic. Justin played the Centre Game and he and Mirko played an absolutely wild game which can be found on arbiter Kerry Stead's blog.
Paul Kovacevic followed up on his excellent win last week with a draw with ex club champion Malcolm Pyke. These 2 are half point behind the leaders where they are joined by FM Dragicevic, Urban, Michaille, and Drew. Of course there is a long way to go, but it is always good to have points in the bag. Next week is teh last chance for late entries, so hopefully someone will enter and bring the total to 40 which would seem the minimum for respectability. I had intended to go to the club this week but events were against me. I will do my best to visit the champs next week.