Monday, June 29, 2015

City of Melbourne Open

With a quickish draw in the final round, I secured first place in the City of Melbourne Open at the Melbourne Chess Club. I have to admit that I'm pretty happy, as this is my first win in one of the Monday night events at MCC in my 10 years of playing there. In some respects I was lucky to be playing Malcolm Pyke in the last round, who has had an overkill of chess over the past couple of weeks due to his participation in the Victorian Championships. He was telling me that he's had a tough weekend personally as well, so a short game suited both players tonight. Malcolm is off to sunshine next week, where I hope he can get some much needed relaxation along with whatever sightseeing he finds to do.

The final round of the tournament was spoiled somewhat by the non participation of a number of players. There were 6 forfeits today which is completely ridiculous. If a player knows they can't play a round, they should tell the arbiter before the pairings are produced. If the reason for being unable to play occurs after the pairings have been published, then it would be decent to let the arbiter know so that they can inform your opponent.

So I finished first with 7.5/9 only half a point clear of IM Mirko Rujevic who won his last round game to finish on 7/9. FM Jack Puccini finished third on 6.5 despite being held to a draw by Simon Schmidt, who has been playing excellent chess recently as can be seen by his strong placing in the Victorian Championship. Sharing 4th place on 6/9 were Richard Voon, Simon Schmidt, Tristan Krstevski and David Lacey.

There weren't really any upsets tonight, except for the lack of players, but the rating prizes would have been decided.

U-1900 leaders were Richard Voon and Tristan Krstevski 6/9
U-1750 leader was Roger Beattie 5.5/9
U-1600 leaders Natlie Bartnik 5/9

Those were all excellent performances. The tournament was played in excellent spirits, and was run well by IA Kerry Stead.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Glen Eira Chess Club

The Second Qualifying tournament of the year has finished, and the club is taking a short break. It was a good tournament for the girls as Sarah Anton came first with Rebecca Strickland second. Both players qualify for our end of year Championship. Third place went to our Dutch visitor J.J Nuitjen, but unfortunately J.J. will be heading back to Europe soon, so the third qualifying spot goes to young Daniel Poberezovsky. Daniel has had a good period of chess recently, scoring 4/7 at the Victorian Open, so it was a just reward that he got the third qualifying place.

That means with 2 tournaments down we have the following 6 players qualified for our end of year Championship:

FM Domogoj Dragicevic
Carl Gorka
Avto Frodiashvili
WCM Sarah Anton
Rebecca Strickland
Daniel Poberezovsky

The third, and final, qualifier starts on Friday July 24th and runs for 7 consecutive weeks. Besides the usual club members, IM James Morris has said he is a definite starter for this tournament, which will liven the event somewhat. James is defending champion at Glen Eira Chess Club, so it is good to see him back again!

Daniel Poberezovsky resetting the black pieces at the Australian Junior Championship in January 2015. Across the board is fellow Glen Eira member, Alistair McCutcheon

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Morse and Endeavour

I can't say I'm a TV addict. I've gone long spells of my life without watching any TV at all, and have now become pretty selective about what I watch. One of the series I have always enjoyed is Inspector Morse, based on the novels of Colin Dexter. John Thaw plays a convincing lead character steeped in culture but haunted by his past.

So it was with anticipation that I awaited the series about Morse as a younger man, Endeavour. It is still steeped in culture which comes into stark contrast with the reality of the crimes committed. What I really like is the intelligence of the script and the references to the earlier series of Morse about his later life. Many factors about the older Morse are explained in Endeavour, such as his limp which was acquired as a result of being shot.

There are also echoes between the series, and one that I found excellent was at the end of series 2 of Endeavour, where Morse and his Chief Inspector are awaiting their doom in the form of a trap set by their adversaries. While awaiting the arrival of the "bad guys", young Morse starts reciting a poem. The poem, by his favourite A. E. Houseman, is the same poem he recited while awaiting his doom as the older Morse in the original series. It is little touches like these that make these series so beautiful to watch.

"How Clear, How Lovely Bright"
XVI More Poems 1936
A. E. Houseman

How clear, how lovely bright,
How beautiful to sight
Those beams of morning play;
How heaven laughs out with glee
Where, like a bird set free,
Up from the eastern sea
Soars the delightful day.

To-day I shall be strong,
No more shall yield to wrong,
Shall squander life no more;
Days lost, I know not how,
I shall retrieve them now;
Now I shall keep the vow
I never kept before.

Ensanguining the skies
How heavily it dies
Into the west away;
Past touch and sight and sound
Not further to be found,
How hopeless under ground
Falls the remorseful day.

Victorian Chess

We're getting close to the finish of the 2015 Victorian Championship. This year was a strange mixture of 3 very strong players, GM Johansen, IM James Morris and FM Chris Wallis and somewhat of a drop off to the rest of the group. It was still a pretty decent field for a tournament which deters players by its schedule. The tournament is played at multi venues, on different days over a number of weeks which makes it hard for people with regular routine commitments to sign up for. Another factor against the tournament is the rule that players may only take one postponement from the published schedule.

Saying that, the tournament has some positive features. The multiple venues can be good for clubs in showcasing them to players and spectators. While playing at a single venue might be convenient, it is also exclusive. The postponement rule also seems to have been waived this year, with a number of players not having their games at scheduled times. This was one of the main reasons that I didn't play, so maybe from next year I'll just enter and rearrange my games as I need!

The tournament has been dominated by IM James Morris who drew with GM Johansen in round 1, and then won his next 5 games including victories against his next nearest competitors. James was then held to 2 draws and sits half a point clear of the field with a game in hand. Johansen and Wallis are in second and joined by FM Domagoj Dragicevic who has had a pretty good tournament including draws against the top 2 seeds. However, with only 2 rounds to go (plus a few postponed games!) Morris looks to have the tournament virtually sewn up.

This will be good news for James after his somewhat disappointing showing at the Victorian Open at the MCC a few weeks back. A last round loss to IM Kanan Izzet cost James the tournament and dropped him to =3rd place as IM Ari Dale tied for first with Kanan. The event was played at the MCC and attracted a decent sized field of over 80 players. There were some notable performances. Carl Dingfelder played well to finish on 4.5/7 tying for first in the under 1700 rating group with Rad Chmiel. But for me, the results of the tournament were from Ruicheng Wang (1075) and Daniel Poberezovsky (801) who both scored 4/7 tying for first in the under 1400 rating category. I'm particularly proud of Daniel who I've worked with and who is a member of my local Glen Eira Chess Club.

The late winter season sees a number of events coming up. While the clubs continue their programs, weekenders will be played at Croydon  (Croydon Chess Classic 11-12 July), Hobson's Bay (Best in the West, 5-6 September), and Noble Park (Noble Park Classic 19-20 September). So the next couple of months promise to be a good time in the Victorian Chess calendar.

Final round of the Victorian Open, IM Morris-IM Izzet nearest the camera, FM-Puccini smiling in his game vs IM Dale, FM Zelesco, head in hands vs Sylvester Urban, while behind Karl Zelesco sits FM Jordan-Dmitry Partsi. In the far corner, Paul Bearup in the hat vs Miodrag Milojevic while Cameron Yung is just about to move in his game against Zach Loh

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

City of Melbourne Open: Penultimate Round

Going into the penultimate round of the City of Melbourne Open at the MCC I was leading the tournament by half a point from Hoai Nam Nguyen and we paired to play. We had previously met in the final round of the club championship when I'd been half a point ahead of Nam. In that game, Nam won, and jumped ahead of me in the championship finishing =2nd to my 4th. As for the current event, the player in the lead of the event has succumbed to the pressure and been beaten continually since round 4. So I was very happy to break this run, and win my game against Nam to take a one point lead into the final round.

The top 2 seeds of the event, FM Jack Puccini, and IM Mirko Rujevic both won to stay within a point of me. I was sitting next to Jack who played the Najdorf against Mehmedalija Dizdarevic. Dizdarevic chose 6.Bg5 and Jack sacrificed a pawn to completely unbalance the position. The game was sharp, with play on both sides of the board, and somehow Dizdarevic found himself with an advanced passed h-pawn, much like in the Poisoned Pawn variation of the French Winawer. A blunder cost him that pawn, and then the game. Meanwhile the veteran IM Rujevic, was playing another veteran in Richard Voon who had been having an excellent tournament. Mirko won, but was "lucky" according to Richard. I can't say I saw much of the game, just a mess of a middlegame at some point. Whether Mirko was lucky or not in the game, he won which he does more often than not.


7/8 Gorka
6/8 FM Puccini, IM Rujevic
5.5/8 Schmidt, Cannon, Nguyen
5/8 Dizdarevic, Pyke, Voon, Lacey, Krstevski, Yu

It has been a good tournament for juniors David Cannon and Tristan Krstevski and Bobby Yu who find themselves among the leading places. David is the highest placed player below 2000, while Tristan is leading the under 1900 category with Richard Voon. Bobby is the current leader in the under 1750 category.

The rating prizes are all based on FIDE ratings which means in the under 1600 category the leading score is 3/8 with 7 players sharing that score. Simon Dale, Tanya Kolak, Zhi Xin Guo, Natalie Bartnik, Tanya Krstevska, Edwin Zou and John Beckman. It makes for an interesting final round!

I was very happy with my endgame.
39.Be4! Forcing an exchange of queens which will stop any counterplay black has. White's 2 bishops will dominate this endgame with pawns on both sides of the board. 39..Qxd2 40.Bxd2 Nc5 41.Bd5
Not only do white's bishops dominate, but black's king will not be taking part in this game. 41..b6 42.Be3 Nd7 43.Bc4 h6
As in all endgames, both sides seek a way to bring their king into the action. 44.Kf2 Kh7
My next move was my favourite move that I've played in the tournament so far. 45.Bf7. This effectively stops black's king from entering the game while white's king is ready to move to the queenside to help the bishops attack black's pawns. After this, as we were both playing on the increment, Nam couldn't find a way back into the game, even if there is one, and about 10 moves later, he resigned.

Here's the game, which might give some players inspiration for a crazy line to play against the Sicilian Sveshnikov. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Typical Sunday

You go into work on Monday and it's always the same question.

"How was your weekend?"

The answer:

"Went out Saturday night, then had a typical Sunday".

But what is a typical Sunday? Get up late? Big breakfast? Afternoon stroll? Sunday sport? Roast dinner? Family meal? Get ready for the working week? I thought I'd try to sum up a typical Sunday for me.

First and foremost my Sundays are a time to spend with my wife, Caroline. That is typical for me, in whatever way we choose to spend it. Today, for instance, we went to the South Melbourne Market to stock up on food for the week, then it was housework, mainly washing. So a pretty boring Sunday when it boils down to it. Is this typical?

A typical Sunday for me involves being with Caroline
Last Sunday we went for a day out, driving to Phillip Island. It has been some time since I visited Phillip Island as a tourist, and I vividly remember a day out some 9 or 10 years ago, not long after I'd emigrated. We spent some time retracing our steps. Our itinerary:

Late breakfast at San Remo
Beach walk at Woolamai
Trip to the Nobbies
Views of the Southern Coast
Tea at San Remo before leaving

We arrived in time to see Pelicans being fed at Sam Remo before having coffee and a quick bite at Bean'd. I have to say, that the coffee was probably the best I've had outside of Metropolitan Melbourne.
Late breakfast at San Remo
One of the beauties of Australian landscape are the varied beaches and seascapes. Phillip Island's southern coast has great surf beaches, like Woolamai and rock features such as the Nobbies and Pyramid Rock.

World famous surf beach at Woolamai
Eastern view from the Nobbies
Pyramid Rock
It was a beautiful crisp winter's day, with great views and enough sun to warm the day up. It takes less than 2 hours to drive to San Remo from where we live in Elsternwick, and many of the coastal walks are easy with boardwalks to help the environment. At the Nobbies, little penguins and other wildlife live on the coastal lands, so these are protected and people are only allowed to walk on designated areas. We didn't stay for the Penguin Parade, nor visit the wildlife sanctuaries on the island. We were content to see wallabies, fairy wrens, Cape Barren Geese, Pelicans and a Nankeen kestrel. Unfortunately we only had phones with us, so didn't get wildlife photos, but it was wonderful to see these great creatures.

Now, let me think back to the Sunday before that. Oh yes, that was dominated by a 17 km run in my training for a half marathon in July. And the Sunday before that? I can't remember, but I'm guessing it was another typical Sunday.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

City of Melbourne Open: Back In Front

It's been a real struggle for anyone to hold on to the lead in the City of Melbourne Open at the MCC. First I led after 4 rounds and was beaten by Mirko Rujevic. Mirko then took the lead and was beaten and leapfrogged by Jack Puccini. Then Jack sat on board 1 but was beaten by Nam. It seems that leading players on board 1 are having a hard time of it this year.

The seventh round of the City of Melbourne saw few upsets, a few draws against the ratings and Roger Beattie's excellent result against Efrain Tionko. I managed to win a game that I was fairly happy with against David Cannon. David played well and could have gone into a very level endgame, but decided to complicate the game instead, unfortunately to his own disadvantage. My win takes me back to the sole lead in the tournament with 2 rounds to go, and I have to say I'm very happy with my play. If I carry on at this rate, I could even see myself back at 2200!

Before the round started I was in the joint lead with Jack Puccini, but Jack was beaten by Hoai Nam Nguyen who jumps above him into second place. Jack drops to equal third with a group of players: Mirko Rujevic, Mehmedalija Dizdarevic (a good win against 2200 rated Neidmovic), and Richard Voon. A further half point back are David Cannon, Simon Schmidt, Justin Penrose and Shanon Vuglar. With only 2 rounds to go, I'd say the top places are being fought over by this group of players, though those behind could jump many places with 2 final wins.

In my game against David Cannon, I think this was a key moment. David, as white, had a chance to play for an equal endgame by 29.Rxd4 Rxd4 30.Qxd4 Qxc5 31.Rd1 g6 (I'm not saying these moves are forced, but I remember thinking about this line over the board and wondering whether I'd have any winning chances, but probably not)

I'd be fairly happy with this position as white against a stronger player. It is easier for the white king to enter the game, and white's pawn chain on the king side sits on dark squares, opposite to black's bishop. Black does have a majority on the queen side, though I'm not sure how useful that will prove for quite some time.

David, however, didn't enter the above endgame, refusing to take on d4 and trying to build complications.

Going back to the first position, he played 29.Rc1? Qe4 30.Qa5, but had probably missed that his c-pawn is pinned, and black can play 30..b6.

This completely throws back white's pieces and black's d-pawn now becomes a major passed pawn. The game continued 31.Qb4 bxc5 32.Qa5 Rcc8 33.Ba6 Rb8 34.Rxc5 regaining the pawn, but leaving the back rank that bit weaker.
 White's pieces are all stuck on the far queen side of the board, while black's passed d-pawn has little to stop its march forward. 34..Qe3 35.Kh1 d3 (passed pawns must be pushed, even in middlegames)

Now David played 36.Bb7 A move which stopped me in my tracks! Of course, the bishop can't be taken because of Qxd8#, but I found a plan to defend d8, and thus win the bishop. 36..Qe2 37.Re1

37..d2 (Giving up a queen but getting one back straight away, an done that will be defending d8!) 38.Rxe2 d1=Q+ 39.Re1 Rxb7

A nice picture to end the game with, black is threatened on d1 and d8 but neither can be taken and black is simply a piece up!

Next week will be the penultimate week, and I'm guessing I'll be white against Nam on board 1. Can I break the sequence of results seeing the leading player on the top board lose?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

City of Melbourne Open Round 6

It has certainly been an up and down tournament at the MCC. Round 6 saw another change in the lead of the City of Melbourne Open as the leader IM Mirko Rujevic was defeated by top seed, FM Jack Puccini. I was busy struggling on board 2, but was aware of the tension on top board, and as soon as the game is published it will be a great one to look at. The game opened as a Scotch which Jack most definitely knew better than Mirko. Mirko used a mass of time to try to stay in the game and was on the defensive for essentially the whole game. The game drew a big crowd of players as everyone felt the tension, especially as Mirko was playing with very little time at the critical stage of the game. At one point, I heard an almighty crash of the clock, turned to see Mirko returning his arm from hitting the clock and the clock showing 35 seconds, after his 30 second increment was added. Once Mirko started playing quickly, Jack's time started to reduce and both players found themselves below 5 minutes. In the end, Mirko succumbed to the pressure and blundered to allow Jack to win and leapfrog him in the tournament standings.

Jack is on 5/6 and is joined by me, Carl. I beat Simon Schmidt in a fairly unconvincing manner. I have played Simon 3 times, to my memory. Once we drew, when either of us could have won, another time he beat me when I blundered in time trouble in a game either of us could have won, and this time I won after he blundered in time trouble in a game either of us could have won. Sounds like a fair spread! Mirko drops to third place on 4.5 and is joined by Hoai Nam Nguyen who beat Eamonn O' Molloy, and David Cannon who beat Justin Penrose. I have no idea about the pairings on the top boards for the next round, as Jack, Mirko and I have all played each other.

Leading Standings:

5/6 Puccini, Gorka
4.5 Rujevic, Nguyen, Cannon
4   Nedimovic, Schmidt, Dizdarevic, Lacey, Voon

A large group of players sit on 3.5 led in rating by Malcolm Pyke. I think with 3 rounds to go, anyone below 3.5 will be struggling to reach a top finish, but of course there is plenty of time for a strong finish for all players.

Again, there were some upsets this round with Tanya Kolak's victory over Tom Kalisch, and Natalie Bartnik's victory over Alex Kaplan being the pick of them. There will be three rating group sections. There are 13 players above 1900, so perhaps under 1900 will be the first section. Then there are 10 players unrated or below 1600. and I'd guess somewhere in between like an under 1750. Richard Voon is currently the best of the under 1900 players while Bobby Yu's 3.5 with a rating of 1695 is excellent. I'm sure the MCC will note the rating groups soon, and the final 3 rounds will be crucial in determining these prizes.

Next week there is no game as the club is hosting the Victorian Open. The tournament is limited to 92 places, and thre were already over 80 before the round of sixth round of the City of Melbourne Open last night. So if you are interested in playing, I'd enter quickly.

My own game against Simon Schmidt started fairly uneventfully as a Classical Scheveningen. The game carried on with not a lot to tell between the sides, until I gained a little niggling initiative. I thought I was doing ok until I misplayed things letting Simon get some pressure and the freeing break, f5.

I think both of us had missed tactics based on back rank mates during the game which is fairly disappointing. Simon now played 32..fxe4 to which I replied 33.Bxe4.

I was fully expecting Qxc4 when I was resigned to defending an endgame a pawn down. I felt I would be able to hold it, but it wasn't a pleasant prospect. But here Simon played 33..Nxe4? taking the 2 bishops, but leaving white with a huge knight on d5. This was really the turning point of the game, and I think it dawned on Simon relatively soon that his position was uncomfortable. With both of us playing on the increment it proved a case that the easier position to play (mine) prevailed
A few moves later I was able to win a pawn because of back rank threats:
40.Bxe5! wins a crucial pawn, and as white already has a pleasant position, I guess it could be counted as a winning advantage. I was able to convert and find myself back at the top of the standings. It should be noted that Simon came into this game off the back of a draw with GM Darryl Johansen in the Victorian Championship. I wish Simon all the best in the rest of his games.