I always thought as a swiss system event moved through the rounds, so the games become more even. But there wasn't one draw in the fifth round last night. The tournament started with an announcement for the winner of the Brilliancy Prize for the last event, the ANZAC Day Weekend tournament. This was won by Justin Penrose who had already won a Brilliant Game Prize earlier this year, for the best game played in 2015 at an MCC event.
The tournament then got underway and to my mind, it looked competitive on nearly every board, so I was most surprised to see no draws. Hobson's Bay players Tony Davis and Dean Hogg suffered losses to slightly lower rated opposition in the shape of Ray Yang and Peter Fry respectively, but these were really minor upsets. Richard Voon and Simon Dale also won against the rating, with Simon's result probably being the best of the night, Bryan Shanks being quite strong although a bit unpredictable.
Again, I didn't see much of the action as I found keeping focus on my own game was hard enough. I did notice one thing around me though. Lower rated players were succumbing to playing bad moves without seeming to put in an effort to find a challenging alternative. This is something that I've noticed in many of my students. They seem to believe that they have no chance against some players, so they turn up, but don't really make an effort and lose almost without putting up a fight. In my opinion, players are only going to progress if they ignore the opponent and their rating and put 100% into every move of every game. Be hurt by losses, even to much higher rated players, and drive yourself to come back next time and play better. Work hard at all the games you play, but especially your losses. It's a basic discipline, but one that will pay dividends over time. Don't let your higher rated opponents push you around on the board.
And talking of high rated players, the City of Melbourne Open now has a single leader. FM Greg Canfell, newly arrived from NSW, is the only player on 4/4 after a win against David Cannon. It is great news for strong juniors like David that the MCC has another strong titled player regularly participating, as that will give them the chance to practice and improve their skills at club level against quality opposition. It may also encourage other strong players to join events. The other FM in the tournament, Domagoj Dragicevic, also won and is on 3.5. The clash of the tournament is therefore set up for the next round as these two strong players will meet. The other players with Domagoj on 3.5 are juniors Vishal Bhat and Ray Yang and ex club champion, Malcolm Pyke. The field is definitely thinning out with only 6 players on 3/4 headed by David Cannon. There are 2 new players to the club on 3/4, Francesco Facchin and Nethaji Rathalinganham both of whom are fairly unknown quantities to us at the MCC, but obviously talented individuals. Earlier in the tournament I noticed Nethaji playing a very nice game against Tom Kalisch, while this round I saw Francesco play an equally nice game against the fast improving Anthony Harris.
It will be the 5th round next, so we will be over half way in the tournament, and anyone with hopes of a high finish who is not within a point of the lead will have to start winning games, myself included! And looking at the draw for the next round, there seem to be a number of closely matched contests across the boards. But if this round is anything to go by, that will be no guarantee of equal encounters leading to draws! The tournament has been unbelievably hard fought, with only 9 draws in the first 4 rounds.