Tuesday, May 5, 2015

City of Melbourne Open Round 2

Yesterday was the second round of the City of Melbourne Open at the Melbourne Chess Club. The tournament grew to 44 players, there being only 40 players in the first round. All these late entries were given half point byes for the first round, which was a bit generous, but a sensible policy encouraging more participation. There is still time to join this tournament up to round 3 which is next Monday, though whether entries will be accepted after the draw is published on Thursday, I'm not sure. Also, I don't know whether these new entries will receive half points for the rounds they missed.

Round 2 produced more upset results, the most notable being on board 2 where David Cannon beat number 2 seed Ljubisa Nedimovic. To be honest, David is pretty strong and like most juniors can play well above his rating, but also sometimes, can play a bit weaker. David is joined on 2/2 by top seed Jack Puccini, Carl Gorka (me!) and Malcolm Pyke. So the tournament is already spreading thin at the top end. There is a large group of players half a point back, including Jack Shanks who upset Mehmedalija Dizdarevic. Jack joins his brother Bryan, and 9 other players on 1.5.

Sarah Anton was one of those players on 1.5 and she benefited from her opponent's mobile phone ringing. This was ridiculous, as it happened after only about 5 minutes of the game and arbiter Kerry Stead's warning to switch off mobile phones was still running round my head. I am now so concerned about phone forfeits that I don't even bring my phone into the venue, or if I have to from now, I will leave it with the arbiter.

The other upset winner was Natalie Bartnik who overcame a 500 point rating difference to beat Gary Bekker. Gary has been somewhat of an upset causer himself, so he will now know things from the other side.

My experience from round 2 was one of endurance. My game was the longest of the night, and the longest I remember playing at 114 moves. The big problem was my time management. I spent quite a time over some fairly standard moves. This meant that I was left with very little time from about move 35 when the game started getting interesting. I played some fast, and not particularly critical moves until my 46th move when I dropped to 1 minute on the clock. I stayed at under 2 minutes for the next 50 moves, and it is not an experience I'd really like to repeat. Playing on the increment is stressful, and there is no time to stretch, get a drink, go to the toilet, etc.

I managed to win the game, though there were a few hairy moments.Here's how you turn a winning advantage into an even position!

As white I instantly played 51.Qa3, the second best move according to Stockfish which gives white a +3 advantage. Richard played 51..Qxb5 when I was able to bash out the moves 52.c6+ Kg8 53.c7 Re8.

Now, white has a number of winning moves. I chose a move that isn't best, but still wins, 54.c8=Q [54.Ra8 and 54.Nd6 are much better] 54..Rxc8 55.Ne7+ Kg7 56.Nxc8.

So here Richard played 56..Qc4 forking my bishop and knight, and to my embarrassment in the 40 seconds left to me I had a complete brain fade. It was as if I'd succeeded in combinational terms, and it was time to relax, regroup and go about winning. But with only 40 seconds left, I didn't have time to relax.

In this position the obvious move is 57.Bf5 moving one attacked piece to protect the other. The less obvious, but stronger move is 57.Qc5! defending everything. With seconds left on my clock and brain death still an affliction, I gave up my knight by 57.Qb2?? going from +5 to = in one fell swoop.

The moral of the story has to be to mind one's time, and to play with a purpose from the start, and for every move. There is no time for relaxation, and every move is important. I doubt I'll be finishing near the top of this event if my time management remains so poor.

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