Monday, March 11, 2013

Ballarat round up.

The finale of the 47th Ballarat was truly spectacular. Going into the last day, 3 players were on a maximum 5/5, IM James Morris, FM Chris Wallis and Brodie McClymont. In the 6th round Wallis beat last year's joint winner McClymont, while Morris was held to a draw by Luke Li. This set up the final round pairings of Morris-Wallis, while McClymont played fellow Queenslander IM Stephen Solomon. The best that the board 2 players could hope for was second place, and Brodie secured that with a powerful performance winning against top seed Solomon. This left the top board game in progress with the winner taking the title. Morris played for the win, taking an Isolated Queen's Pawn and active play, and it payed off after Wallis misplaced his pieces. So IM James Morris adds to his already impressive set of titles with an outright win, and a first prize of $1500. This left FM Chris Wallis in joint second with Brodie McClymont, and they were also joined  by Karl Zelesco and Yi Liu.

Further down the field there were both success stories and disappointments, but this is nothing to do with the tournament which was again organised excellently by the Ballarat Chess Club and run ably by the arbiters Gary Bekker and Jamie Kenmure. There were a few issues that need pointing out, but to my mind these were fairly minor. The playing conditions were pretty tough. The temperature was in the mid 30's outside, and with no aircon to speak of, it seemed even hotter inside. Players were not looking to work their way up the boards but were eager to play on boards nearest the fans that had been strategically placed around the venue. In the final round a player complained of headaches shortly after the round started and offered his opponent a draw on move 1! After consulting the arbiter whether this would cause a penalty if accepted and discovering not, the player agreed to the draw offer. The arbiter did mention the moral obligation of the players to them, but without penalties the players were well within their rights to take that draw. Hopefully the headaches will pass, and I'm sure that the prize money that both players secured through this draw would ease those pains!

The other main issue was the pairings and the tournament management system being used. Apparently I misunderstood the arbiters in one of my previous posts when I said that they had not been provided with the SP master file. They had been provided with a draft SP file, but they were not allowed to use it with the Tornelo tournament management system. So the arbiters had to use Swiss Perfect to create the draw and manually input data to tornelo to display events online. This, of course, created an extra amount of work for the arbiters which to their credit they pulled off, though not without some hiccups. The pairings that were displayed on tornelo were often incorrect until updated manually which sometimes caused players to think they were playing someone when in fact they were playing someone else. There was also a fair deal of criticism of the draw based on the data in tornelo, though some of that data was not correct. To be fair to players, once that was explained to them they accepted it and things ran pretty smoothly and in a friendly manner.

Ballarat has got to be one of the most enjoyable tournaments on the calendar. The Ballarat Chess Club members are very welcoming, and it is always strong and with a good sized field. This was the 47th edition and the organisers know that the big 50 is coming up. I talked a little with Patrick Cook who said they were already talking about the upcoming 50th even though it is 3 years away. They have some big plans and hopefully it will go off well, much like the 50th Doeberl last year. Patrick then reminisced a little about Ballarat chess history. For instance, I didn't know that the first Ballarat chess club was formed in 1856! It would be older than the prestigious Melbourne Chess Club (1866), except it hasn't run continuously for all those years. Patrick also seemed to think the first Australian chess tournament had been held in Ballarat, though he wasn't 100% sure. He was completely sure that the current Ballarat chess club in 2013 was holding it's 48th club championship and that one player, fellow weekender organiser Kevin Perrin, had played in all 48! An absolutely amazing feat, Kevin, and 2 more for you to get to the magic 50 championship appearances!

Ballarat Chess Club's Patrick Cook

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