The 11 round Australian Championship and Reserves tournament have now had 5 rounds, and will be entering the second half of the tournament tomorrow. Kanan Izzat continues to dominate the Championship field and is the only player on a maximum score in either tournament. Kanan holds a 1 point lead over a somewhat surprising duo of youngsters in second place. Sitting on 4/5 are Luke Li and Karl Zelesco, both still at school! A group of 5 players then sit on 3.5 including giant killer Jason Hu who has drawn with Max Illingworth earlier in the tournament, and today won against Darryl Johansen! Besides that the field is shaping up to about what was expected, with I guess the bad start of Max Illingworth, who regained his winning ways today. Funnily enough, if Max wins again tomorrow, he will probably jump back into the top half of the field.
The biggest disappointment today was probably that of Justin Tan, who apparently lost on time after not pressing his clock correctly. I'm not sure what happened, but I'm guessing he tapped the clock lightly, and the lever didn't go down properly. Anyway, Justin didn't notice that he had mis-hit his clock, and ended up losing the game. Still Justin sits alongside Max and a good run could catapult them back up toward the top.
The Reserves remain tight at the top with no one reaching the maximum 5/5. There are currently 5 leaders on 4.5: Clive Ng, Kris Chan, Alex Jule, Patrick Gong and Michael Kethro. There are then another 32 players within a point of these 5, so it is way too early to tell what is happening here. In the last Reserves tournament in 2014, there were also no players on 5/5, but Doug Hamilton then went on to win his next 5 games and wrap up the tournament with a round to spare. I wonder if we'll see another performance of that type?
There have been a fair few visitors to the venue, and today GM David Smerdon, among others, popped in. There are commentaries happening live while the games are being played. These are being run by a group of strong IM's, Robert Jamieson, Guy West and Leonid Sandler, but as the players finish their games, they will also hang around to watch some commentary, with GM Papin seeming to spend quite a bit of time in the commentary room after his games have finished.
The top games are being broadcast live, and the Championship games can be found at the chess results server not long after they have finished. Arbiter Kerry stead is doubling as data input specialist, as he also did at the Australasian Masters. Along with Peter Tsai and NY Wong, the arbitration team have run things very smoothly, and I don't know of any issues that have arisen during the event. The rules have been explained very clearly, so I guess that helps.
I will be looking at my own blunders later on, but for now, here was the shortest win of the first 4 rounds, and it highlights the issues that plagued defending champion Max Illingworth for the first
part of this event. Even Max himself will probably admit to this game being one of his worst losses for quite some time. But maybe it was the kick he needed as he bounced back to win today! The winner of the game, FM Dusan Stojic is also apparently bouncing back to form I'm happy to say. A few years ago, Dusan was Victorian Champion, 2300+ and seemingly heading towards the IM level. Then he worked his guts out at the 2014 Australian Championship as an organiser, and played at the same time. He had a terrible tournament from a playing perspective, which is no big surprise when taking into account how much work he was doing before and during the event. His poor result seemed to shake his faith a bit, and he was a bit slow to recover his momentum, but results have started to pick up for Dusan again, and hopefully we'll see him jumping back to where his strength really belongs. This is how you beat a 2500+ player who plays a dubious opening system.