Tuesday, May 12, 2015

City of Melbourne Open Round 3

The 2015 City of Melbourne Open at the MCC has started in a strange way. After the first 3 rounds only one player has moved to a perfect score. This shows just how competitive the field is, and how open the tournament really is. The favourites for the tournament were IM Rujevic, and FM Puccini, but Mirko was held to a draw in the first round by Rad Chmiel, while I beat Jack last night. Third seed, Nedimovic, has disappointed and lost his last 2 games to sit on just half a point, courtesy of David Cannon and Damien van den Hoff. However, I'd be guessing that no one feels out of the running yet, especially with only one player on 3/3.

And that player is me. I ran my luck a little in the first 2 rounds, but played pretty well last night. There were only 3 of us sitting on 2/2. Besides Jack and myself, Malcolm Pyke had won his first 2 games, but lost last night to Hoai Nam Nguyen. I'm no expert, but it looked as if Malcolm had a difficult position out of the opening. Malcolm is spreading himself a bit by competing in the Victorian Championship as well as the City of Melbourne Open and I wish him well in that. Nguyen is joined on 2.5 by Rujevic, Simon Schmidt, Efrain Tionko, Justin Penrose and David Cannon. I'm struggling to anticipate my next opponent as there are players who have already floated, and there are colour preferences to consider. I'll just accept that I'll be playing one of these players, and I'll probably be white.

There were more upsets in this round with wins for Natalie Bartnik against Tom Kalisch and Bobby Yu against Gary Bekker, though Damien van den Hoff's victory was probably the upset of the round. There will now be no more late entries and the field is set at 45, a very reasonable number for this traditional second tournament of the year. Let's just hope the tournament stays as competitive as it has started, and that upsets continue to happen!

My game saw FM Jack Puccini follow a method of development considered good for white against the Antoshin variation of the Philidor. Yes, I know that I said I was going to stop playing the Philidor for a bit, but a combination of a busy lifestyle and laziness have meant that I had nothing else to play. Saying that, I have put some work into the Philidor, and wasn't surprised by Jack's choice.

I don't consider myself an opening's expert, but I'd been looking at exactly this position a few before the game. When Jack played 12.b3 here, I'm almost ashamed to admit that I knew it to be a novelty in the position. However, novelties only apply to databases, and I'd seen this position before. In fact the position only became new to me after a few more moves:
I'm not sure I'd have played 15..Nc6!? if I hadn't analysed the move before. It looks as if white can take on d6, but black gets good play and full compenstion starting with 16.Bxd6 Rad8. Jack plunged into a 34 minute think leaving me ahead on the clock for the first time in the tournament! The position remained tense until the following position.
The position is in the balance with both sides looking to gain a winning initiative in their respective attacks on opposite sides of the board. Moves for white worth considering might be 20.g5, or 20.Rhe1. However, Jack retreated with 20.Bc1? handing me the initiative, which I didn't relinquish. 20..Nb5 21.g5 but this is too slow.
21..c4! This counterattack was probably my best move in the tournament so far. Jack dropped his bishop back to f1, as taking on f6 is hopeless as black just recaptures on f6 with a winning position. The remainder of the game just saw my black pieces moving towards white's king until Jack resigned with mate imminent.

It was a well played game, but still not one for the brilliancy prize. At least I don't think so!

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