|MCC Championship group photo (Simon Dale MCC facebook page)|
I guess in 100 years time, the members of the MCC will look at this photo on the walls of the club, and smile at the way people dressed or the lack of beards and moustaches in the early 2010's!
After the group photo, the action got underway. The early part of the game looked as if the seeds on the top 4 boards were not going to have it their own way. I seemed to have a comfortable position against James Morris on 1, David Cannon looked to have Guy West on the ropes on 2, Vishal Bhat had a great looking position against Jack Puccini on 3, while Thai Ly had created a mess against Mirko Rujevic on 4, which appeared to be a winning mess. However, as is often the case, the stronger players don't lie down and get taken out without a fight, and only one of the top 4 boards saw the seed go down. Vishal Bhat continued his excellent form with a victory against Jack Puccini, while Thai Ly took a draw against Mirko, not a bad result, but maybe Thai in retrospect could have fought for more. David Cannon and myself both ended up losing to our worthy ex champion opposition.
So James, Guy and Vishal now sit on top of the tree with 3/3 with Thai and Mirko on 2.5 joined by Ari Dale, Marcus Raine and James Watson. There is then a big group on 2/3 led by Jack Puccini. It was good to Bob Krstic join the tournament. Bob was the 2001 Club Champion, and has represented Australia at the World Seniors over the past few years. You can see him in the photo above sitting by the left hand corner of the chess table.
The fourth round brings throws up some very interesting pairings at the top. Morris-West is the top game, and will be one of the top games of the tournament. But then giant killers Bhat and Watson take on Dale and Rujevic respectively. Raine-Ly and Hain-Puccini should also be exciting games, so it is a round worth waiting for.
So far in this Championship, Thai Ly is coming up with the most exciting games of the rounds. In the third round he had the tough ask of facing IM Mirko Rujevic, who has been having a fairly good run of late. Mirko is an unbelievably resourceful player, but he can get into some tricky situations. Like in the following position, which came from an Italian where white sacrificed his d-pawn early on.
Thai was white, and if you believe analysis engines, he is winning, but it is very double edged. Stockfish favourite move here is g3 protecting the h4 knight, but who wants to open their king any more than needed. So Thai forced a draw with 19.Qd8+ where Mirko has to take 19..Rxd8 and white would take a perpetual with 20.Rxd8+ Kg7 21.Ne8+.