Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chess Catch Up

It's been a while since I wrote about chess so it's time for a catch up. This is all going to be local gossip, so Im not getting into how badly Kramnik played last night, and it would be fairly ridiculous of me and this little blog to criticise the play of one of the all time greats of the game. Especially the way I've been playing! The tournaments I was playing in have both finished. At the MCC, the City of Melbourne Open finished with Malcolm Pyke as clear winner on an impressive 8/9. This was a whole point clear of Dean Hogg while Jack Puccini finished outright third on 6.5. However, the most impressive performance for me was that of Roger McCart who finished in the pack on 5.5 in equal 6th from a starting ranking of 26th. I finished in the same group on 5.5 which was somewhat disappointing, though there were some good moments.

There was a brilliancy prize contest which was somewhat surprisingly won by a long positional game. The game was a pretty good game, but it was hardly what I'd call brilliant. I'd have preferred the second place winner which was won by a nice game culminating in a sacrificial attack. Anyway, the games are posted here and you can decide for yourself which was more brilliant.

At Glen Eira Chess Club I came equal first in the tournament with Jerzy Krysiak after missing the last round. This was good enough to qualify both of us to the end of year Championship where we'll be joined by WCM Sarah Anton who finished on 4/7 and went through on tiebreak from David Cordover. The field for the end of year Championship now has 6 of the 9 players, IM James Morris, Carl Gorka, Rad Chmiel, WCM Sarah Anton, Rebecca Strickland and Jerzy Krysiak. There is one more qualifier which starts next Friday 18th July and runs for 7 consecutive weeks. The final 3 qualifiers will come from this tournament which promises to be the strongest of all, as 2 2000+ players have expressed an interest in joining the event. As it is the last chance to qualify for the $1000 Championship final, there may yet be more strong players induced to join the field.

Apart from tournament chess, there are some other interesting things that I've seen. I've heard rumour that one of Melbourne's biggest chess club's, Box Hill, are going to have to move premises. Box Hill are a powerhouse of chess administration and their tournaments generate good numbers of players. They have organized many tournaments on behalf of Chess Victoria including the Victorian Open and Victorian Junior Championships for a number of years. When I first came to Melbourne Box Hill Chess Club was located in Box Hill, but they moved closer to the city a few years later. They have been at Canterbury for a number of years and hopefully they will be able to continue on at their current location, or they will find a new home. Melbourne needs as many clubs as possible and the loss of even one club will be hard felt in the chess community.

And while we're on the subject of the Victorian Junior Championships which has just recently concluded, I'm wondering why there is no under 18 title any more? The under-18 Championship has to be the state's most prestigious junior title and it is disappointing that Chess Victoria feel the need to dispense with this event. I can understand the reasoning. Fewer players seem to be willing to take part in the event making it unprofitable to run, but that hardly justifies axing it. Really, in the worse case scenario, why not merge the under 18's with under 16's and 14's and give the titles to the highest finisher in each age group? That's what has happened with the girls championships for as long as I've been in Australia. To finish this rant on a positive note, congratulations to all the age group winners from last week and especially to under 16 Champion, Max Chew Lee who could consider himself this year's Victorian Junior Champion.

Finally, it was sad that the Australian Chess Magazine folded last year. To be honest, I would not like to be a chess magazine editor at the moment as I know most are having a hard time making ends meet. A combination of free online resources and cheap chess programs have made it difficult for chess magazines to survive, and some of the most respected chess periodicals, including Informator and British Chess Magazine have had to revamp their products. Well into this comes a new Australian publication, 50 Moves. The online magazine boasts an impressive array of Australian talent in its contributors but will it survive? How will the magazine brand itself? Will it appeal to a niche Australian market where subscriber numbers will be low, the problem the Australian Chess Magazine had. Or will it push into the global market where competition is so hot that even 2700 led publications, such as Chess Evolution, have struggled to push into the market.

Young South Australian talent, Fedja Zulfic, seems to be the driving force behind 50 Moves Magazine, and I wish him and the team all the best in making something that works. I urge all readers to get behind this because Australian chess is in need of some promotion, and analysis and comment from the top players needs a forum. I get paid in a couple of days and $40 will be going straight to this enterprise for an annual subscription. I just hope enough people get behind it to make it worthwhile!

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