Tuesday, May 6, 2014

City of Melbourne Open

The Melbourne Chess Club started its second Monday night FIDE rated tournament of the year last week. Unfortunately, I had to miss the first round due to work commitments and took a half point bye. My work is pretty full on at the moment so this may not be the last bye I have to take. The tournament has a reasonable size of field of about 35 players, with some pretty decent players at the top, though no master level players. Including myself, there are 6 players over 2000 in the event and it looks a very open event.

There have already been a number of upset results. In the first round Geoff Cook (who more often plays a Box Hill Chess Club so it's good to see him at the MCC), Alex Kaplan, Tanya Krstevski and Ben Frayle all picked up draws against much higher rated opposition. The second round last night saw even more upsets. Marko Grabovac (who plays more often at Noble Park Chess Club) and Simon Dale (after Ari and Finley Dale have completed the "How to Beat your Dad at Chess" course, the Dad now starts to make up ground again!) scored draws against higher rated opposition, but there were upset wins as well. Not to be outdone by his Dad, Finley Dale beat an opponent rated 200 points higher than him, as did stalwarts Richard Voon and Felix Wyss. But perhaps the biggest upset of the night was again by Geoff Cook who overcame a 300 point rating deficit to beat Justin Penrose.

The tournament is beginning to shape up, with 6 players on 2/2 Puccini (perhaps favourite for the event), Dean Hogg (from Hobson's Bay Chess Club), Richard Voon, Felix Wyss, Paul Kovacevic and Finley Dale. I managed to win my game last night which puts me on the group half a point behind the leaders, but in these early days it really is open to anyone who makes a good run.

I thought I had a tough draw as black against Tom Kalisch. When in form, and with the initiative, Tom is a pretty scary player to be against, and apart from that he can play almost any weird and wonderful opening. As it happens, he played a c3 Sicilian, but got things a bit wrong allowing me to get a monster knight on d5. That was after an interesting move choice early on.
In this fairly standard position the main moves are:

Tom chose a move that has only been played once before, and it confused me. 7.Na3. Now I was thinking this can't be good, and why can't I just take that knight with 7..Bxa3? I then started getting worried about my lack of defence on the dark squares, especially d6, so I rejected the immediate capture, though it must surely be the critical response. Instead I played 7..d6 which is a novelty in the position!
I was looking at moves like 8.Nb5, 8.Nc4, 8.Bg5, 8.Bd3, 8.ed6 when eventually Tom played a move that I had half considered but thought little about which was 8.Bb5+. After 8..Bd7 Tom played passively with 9.Qe2, but after the game he showed his flair for invention.
Something I had considered was 9.Bg5 when I was ready to block with 9..Be7. We looked at this position and Tom said he was considering playing 10.Rc1!? in this position which was certainly nothing I'd looked at.
He showed this and I was amazed. What a beautiful move which works against 10..Bxg5 11.Nxg5 Qxg5 where black doesn't win a piece as white has the fantastic 12.Rc8+
Of course, black has other moves instead of 10..Bxg5, such as simply 10..O-O, but it was a joy analysing positions like this. Certainly one major attraction to club chess, compared to online chess, is the joy of post game analysis which both educates and entertains using the ideas of a chess game as the basis for the conversation.

Anyway, I've plenty to work on before the next game, which is next Monday, in this most open of tournaments.

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