Tuesday, February 23, 2016

MCC Championship - A Clear Leader

An absolutely electric fourth round in the Melbourne Chess Club Championship saw a surprise player take the lead, some amazing results and some great games. The lead of the tournament was unexpectedly taken by talented junior Vishal Bhat.Vishal didn't even know whether he'd be playing in the tournament the day before it started and now, 4 weeks later, he is the only player on 4/4 after his third round victory over IM Ari Dale. It was a truly crazy game that could have gone either way, and had just about everything in it, opposite castling with a rich middle game, a wild major piece ending leading to a pawn endgame where both sides promoted, and after another exchange of queens, Vishal was left with a won king and pawn endgame.

Vishal heads the field because the board one clash between IM's James Morris and Guy West ended in a draw. James seemed to have the upper hand, if not a winning position, but Guy was able to create a perpetual. They are joined on 3.5/4 by another IM, Mirko Rujevic. I don't know which of these illustrious players Vishal will be playing next round, but it will definitely be one of them.

I'm in the group of players on 3/4 after a tough and not altogether convincing win against Tristan Krstevski. While I was struggling to prove any sort of advantage in my game, I saw the neighbouring boards making things look easier. FM Jack Puccini got a dream black Sicilian position against Anthony Hain, while Malcolm Pyke played a beautiful strategic Benko/Blumenfeld/Benoni (sorry I don't know enough about these things to differentiate) type thing against Anandaram Jothibabu. Beisdes Jack, Malcolm and myself, Thai Ly and Marcus Raine are also on 3/4 after they played quite an eventful Scotch. Thai won a pawn, and when I looked I thought Thai would convert. But evidently not, and Marcus held on for the draw. One final player is on 3/4. David Cannon lost a piece on move 7 against Tom Kalisch, but Tom couldn't find a way through. The game was the last to finish on the night with, quite remarkably, David the winner.

There's too much for one quick blog post to show, but I have both the top board games, and they're both worth seeing. This 150th Championship is starting to throw up some very exciting chess.

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