Thursday, March 24, 2016

MCC Championship David and Goliath

The chess community in Victoria have been very fortunate to see some great events. There was the 50th edition of the Ballarat weekend tournament over the long March weekend. This great event had an extra special field headed by GM Nigel Short, and with most of the elite of Australian chess competing. Nigel gave lectures and simuls in both Ballarat and at the MCC

In the wake of these activities, and just prior to the Easter Doeberl Cup, we had a round of the Melbourne Chess Club Championship. The tournament had so far been dominated by the 2 IM's, James Morris and Guy West, with the unlikely performance of young Vishal Bhat. These 3 players stood on 5/6 and something had to give. In the David and Goliath clash, young Vishal produced another amazing giant killing feat by winning against Guy West. Vishal thus stays at the top of the table with James Morris, who also won against Eamonn O'Molloy. Both of them are on 6/7. I find myself in outright third after a win against FM Jack Puccini leaving me half a point back on 5.5/7. I think that Vishal will have to play against me in the next round, while James has played most of the players around him.

Guy remains on 5/6 and is joined by Tom Narenthran, but James has played both of these so he will have to drop to the next score group where a very select group are sitting. IM's Ari Dale and Mirko Rujevic, FM Jack Puccini, ex-Champion Malcolm Pyke, Thai Ly, Eamonn O'Molloy and James Watson, while we await the result of Hain-Dizdarevic to see if either of these players can join the group.

The upset of the round, was undoubtedly the win by Kevin Brown against another ex-Champion, Bob Krstic (taking aside Vishal's win over Guy). There are also to be 4 rating prize groups, but these rating groups have yet to be identified and this was to be based on 60 players playing. But with only 45 players, it may be there will only be 3 rating groups, I'm not sure what the MCC committee have decided about the prizes. I'd be guessing that some division of U-2000, U-1800 and U-1600 would be appropriate.

My game was somewhat of a revelation, a reminder that I used to be considered an attacking player. A lot of the games I show here in this blog involve endings, and these tend to be the positions that I enjoy the most. But against Jack Puccini, I was able to use some preparation that I'd done for the Australian Championship in January. I knew the positions out of the opening roughly, and to be honest, the game played itself, though it was quite a nice finish. I've submitted it for the brilliancy prize, which is a first for me!

This position came from a Sicilian Scheveningen, and I don't think I'd have hoped for a more promising position for white in an open Sicilian after 18 moves. White's bishops are dominant, the f-file is an active line of attack for white, while black's forces are split by the d-pawns. Black's king looks very shaky here. Jack played g6 to blunt my light squared bishop, but that allowed me to triple on the f-file without any resistance.

A fabulous white position with great piece coordination. It is difficult to believe that this position isn't good for white. The tripling on the f-file induced Jack to defend with 20..f6, but that created more weaknesses on e6 and g6, and I shifted my pieces around with 21.Qh3 Kg7 22.Rh4 [Doubling on the h-file] 22..Rh8 [Defending h8] 23.Qe3

White's last queen move attacks black's dark squared bishop, and the h6 square. There isn't a good defence, though perhaps 23..Ne5 might offer the most resistance. Jack chose the natural 23..Rae8 developing his rook while protecting his bishop.

After a bit of thought I was able to finish the game with a sacrifice. 24.Bxg6.

I guess there were different ways to win, but it is always nice to find a sacrificial attack. Here, black can take with pawn or king, but both lead to mate. Jack played 24..hxg6 where there followed 25.Rxh8 Kxh8 26.Qh6+ Kg8 27.Qxg6+ Kf8

After I played 28.Be3 Jack resigned as there is no defence to the threat of Bh6.

So this is the game I have submitted for the brilliancy prize of the MCC Championship 2016, and it sets me up with a top of the table clash in the next round. There is no play this week due to Easter, and I wish the very best to all MCC players at the Doeberl Cup in Canberra, including my opponent in this game, Jack Puccini.

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