Friday, January 10, 2014

The First Winners

The Australian Chess Championship continues in Springvale, though yesterday I didn't stay long to see the action as I was still feeling pretty weak. A shame, as it was an action packed day. It was the final round of the Challengers tournament, a 9-round swiss for players rated below 1600. Before the round started there were about 8 players still in contention for a top 3 finish. In the end the board 1 match Calixto Dilag-Zhi Lin Guo ended in a draw which gave Calixto the title on 7.5/9. He could have been caught by Mark Stokes, but on board 2 Mark was beaten by Alanna Chew Lee, which pulled her up to equal third with Stokes and Carl Loucas who also won his last game against Jamie Kenmure. This was a great little tournament that I hope becomes a permanent feature at Australian Championships.

2014 Australian Challengers:
1. 7.5/9 Calixto Dilag
2. 7/9    Zhi Lin Guo
3. 6.5/9 Mark Stokes, Alanna Chew Lee, Carl Loucas

Zhi Lin Guo and Alanna Chew Lee laughing before the final round

2014 Challengers winner, Calixto Dilag
While the Challengers was finishing, carnage was happening in the Championship with both the leaders going down, and a big change in the standings. Max Illingworth beat Vasily Papin with the black pieces to leapfrog into first place on 6.5/9. He was joined in first by Igor Bjelobrk who gave Bobby Cheng his second successive defeat. Papin is just half a point behind the leaders as was the other overnight leader, Moulthon Ly who also lost. Moulthun lost to Darryl Johansen who joins the group on 6/9, as does Stephen Solomon, Anton Smirnov and Tu Hoang Thong.

IM Cheng-IM Goldenberg Round 10

IM Lane-Zelesco Round 10

All that happened yesterday, and the situation clarified somewhat today. IM Max-Illingworth drew with Vietnamese GM Tu leaving Max in first place on 7/10. Max is joined in first this time by 13 year old FM Anton Smirnov who defeated IM Igor Bjelobrk on board 2.

Championship Standings (before the last round):

1. 7/10 Illingworth, Smirnov
3. 6.5   Tu, Papin, Johansen, Bjelobrk, Solomon, Ly, Goldenberg, Zelesco

The title will come from these players, though the players just behind can still claim a high position. One controversy was the withdrawal before this penultimate round of Brodie McClymont. I don't know why the talented young player from Queensland withdrew but it threw the tournament organisers, and created a bye. As far as I know, this withdrawal was not sanctioned by the organisers so Brodie may face some punishment for this action. Hopefully for chess in Australia and particularly Queensland, the ACF will not be too hard on Brodie, though his future behaviour at tournament will have to be good.

The Reserves event has been wrapped up with a super performance by FM Doug Hamilton. The veteran, and 3 times Australian Champion has powered to 9.5/10 and now cannot be caught. This, of course, adds fuel to the fire concerning whether Doug should have been admitted to the Championship (see Alex Wohl's blog, for a more detailed take on this subject), and the validity of the 'equal proficiency' clause for admitting players into the Championship. I'm going to stay sitting on the fence regarding this issue, but I will say that Doug's weakness tends to be in tournaments that have many games over a short space of time nowadays, whereas the one game per day is much more to his taste. His understanding of the game is as good as most of the players in the Championship field, even if his calculation and energy levels may not be as good as they once were. I'm not saying here that he should have been selected for the Championship, just that it is a shame that he wasn't in the event. Anyway, the rest of the Reserves field is playing for the minor places with the standings before the last round being:

9.5 Hamilton
7.5 Beaumont, Fasakin, Grabovac
7    Sheldrick, Yu, Burke, Lojanica
6.5 Hain, Holland, Schmidt, Girgin, Chew Lee, Fan

Where's Brodie McClymont?

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