Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Scene Is Set

With 3 rounds to go, the scene is set for amazing finishes in both the Australian Championship and Reserves tournaments. In neither tournament have we one player who is breaking away.

The Championship has a group of 8 players that are all within 1.5 of the lead. Bobby Cheng and Kanan Izzat sit on the top of the tree on 6.5/8 with Karl Zelesco and Vasily Papin half a point behind. Luke Li and James Morris are a further half point back, while Anton Smirnov and Justin Tan are on 5/8. With only 3 rounds to go you'd have to imagine the Australian Championship title will go to one of these players. This is a great sign for the future of Australian chess as the oldest Australian player out of this group is James Morris at 21 years of age.

The older generation are having a tough time of it in the Championship with Greg Canfell the best of the 30+ (lol) age group on 4.5. It will be interesting to see what effect this tournament has on selector's views when we come to Olympiad team selection!

The Reserves is even tighter with 11 players within a point of the lead, and a further 12 at 1.5 behind. Kris Chan and Patrick Gong lead with 7/7 and will play tomorrow. This should be a great game as a draw won't help either of them. Vishal Bhat and Donato Mallari are half a point behind, and also face off. There will be a lot of pressure around the top boards of the Reserves, as a loss now will put anyone out of contention (maybe the leading pair will have one more chance should they lose). It i always good to see strong performances, and the 2 that currently stick out to me are both on 5.5: Hughston Parle rated 1640 ACF has only lost once to Tom Narenthran (1980) while has wins against 3 1800+ players; Rebecca Strickland rated 1522 also has only lost once to Axel Ahmer (1972) while has 3 wins against players rated 1775+. Rebecca's tie-break is very bad however, as 2 of her male, adult opponent's withdrew soon after they lost to her. I hope there isn't any long term effect to their male egos.

It is a pity that some Reserves games aren't published, or that the top board isn't broadcast live. So I'll just have to post one of the most entertaining games from the Championship. Here's a diagram of the final position of the game Choong-Schon, probably the most amazing draw of the tournament. The game ended with a perpetual in a position where white was 2 rooks down but threatens to win one back with his pawn on e7 while black's king has run into semi open space near the middle of the board..

The game had ended with the perpetual Kb6 Nc4+ Kb5 Nd6+ Kb5 Nc4+ etc. A fair result in such a biazrre position and after such an amazing game. I hope Yita reads this and can explain what he spent about an hour thinking over one move before taking the perpetual.


  1. The Man & The Monkey look set to pounce!

  2. As pointed out by Shade Slayer on Chess Chat the Choong-Schon game pretty much followed Topalov - Kramnik 1996.