Saturday, December 27, 2014

Australasian Masters

The Australasian Masters tournaments took place between December 13th-21st. There were 2 events, both 10 player round robin tournaments, one qualifying for GM norms and the other for IM norms. The question was would any of the Aussie hopefuls score the required points for a norm.

Anton Smirnov deep in thought against Vasily Papin

In the GM tournament, things didn't start too well and only 13 year old Anton Smirnov held a realistic chance of scoring a norm. This would have been a remarkable achievement, but saying that, Anton went into the final round joint first with top seed  GM Murtas Kazhgaleyev needing to win his last game against GM Vasily Papin for a GM norm. Unfortunately for Anton and his Australian fans, Papin won the game, thus meaning Anton missed out on a norm and a famous tournament victory. The tournament was won jointly by the 3 visiting Grand Masters, Kazhgaleyev, Papin and Rustam Khusnutdinov. Anton Smirnov finished half a point behind and though he may be disappointed, he has an incredibly bright future ahead of him. The other Australian players were also young with all the home grown players under 25. They all had good moments, but none were firing all the way through.

GM Kazhgaleyev checks out the position of GM Khusnutdinov
The IM event was dominated by Kanan Izzat, who has left his home country of Azerbaijan to study in Australia. For the years he will be here, it will be Australia's gain as besides being a strong player, he is also a very pleasant young man. Kanan finished a point clear of IM Igor Bjelobrk and Yi Liu who had a very good tournament and who will be considered one of the favourites for the Australian Under 18 title in January. Eugene Schon was half a point back on 6/9 and topped the 2300 mark somewhere through the tournament so is now an FM. The rest of the field played averagely, sometimes good and sometimes bad.

Eugene Schon sneaking some refreshment on his way to the FM title
I would just like to point to an experience of mine in the tournament. During the second half of the tournament I had to play the 3 IM's in the event in consecutive rounds. My mind set was not positive going into these games. It was almost as if I gave these players too much respect and made poor choices because of this. I guess we all have a limit as to how well we can perform, and at the present moment I felt that Izzat was out of my league. That is a very defeatist attitude and it caused me to play very badly, make bad choices and play my worst game of the tournament. However, I'd lost this game before I even sat at the board. A similar sort of thing happened against Igor Bjelobrk, though I put up a better fight here. I felt that Igor was right at the limit of my capabilities and gave myself little chance to get a result. Actually, I managed to get an ok position, but then took an eternity trying to come up with plans, and eventually, just played a series of bad moves. I was also apprehensive against Mirko Rujevic and asked for a draw when I was probably a little better.

To be honest, it was a little humbling finding myself so short of confidence, although not to be unexpected after the lack of work or practice I've put into chess. Are there any ways for me to remedy this? Well, actually there are, and quite simple things such as playing a little more, analysing regularly and working on a narrow but solid repertoire. At least then I should be able to maintain my level. So those will be my new year's resolutions, but of course, resolutions are there to be broken, so we'll see how I go with them.

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