Thursday, July 7, 2016

Chess Near and Far, quick and slow.

Having not played chess for a bit, I've sort of dropped off following the chess scene. However, it is a huge week for chess internationally, and it's time to catch up a bit on what has been happening at the MCC, my local club.

Monday night is FIDE rated chess night at the MCC. The last tournament was the City of Melbourne open which finished with a dramatic last round. FM Domagoj Dragicevic had been leading the tournament by half a point going into the last round, but was held to a draw by junior Ray Yang. This allowed FM and top rated player Greg Canfell to catch Domagoj with a last round win over another junior talent, Tristan Krstevski. With his final round draw, Ray Yang was able to remain in third place equal with Vishal Bhat and Mehmedalija Dizdarevic. Tristan Krstevski's loss still left him in a strong equal 6th with David Cannon. These junior performances are a great boost for the future of chess at the MCC, and hopefully these players can make the transition to the wider Victorian and Australian top level, that previous MCC juniors like Ari Dale and Jack Puccini have done.

With one big tournament gone, another soon takes it place, and this Monday the MCC starts the 7 round Malitis Memorial. I was thinking about playing, but I will give it a miss and observe the happenings. The tournament is following the format of last year. The top 8 players will be arranged into a round robin, and everyone else plays a 7 round swiss system.Current entries confirm that the top section will include IM Mirko Rujevic, and FM Greg Canfell, but the final make up of the event will probably not be known until the actual start night. That can be a tough thing in a round robin, basically turning up without any preparation and then finding our you're playing a very strong opponent. It is the same for everyone, so that even things out, but elite round robins are about putting in top performances which involves preparation, so it feels as if this tournament in a 6 round RR with a single round of random chess.

You can sign up for the Malitis Memorial on the MCC website, or by visiting the club.

The MCC also runs faster time control events, with Allegro (what most people would call Rapid) and Blitz tournaments integrated into the weekly schedule. The Allegro events are run as 7 round 15-0 swiss tournaments and the turn out for these events has consistently been reaching around 40 players recently. There are players of all levels, from newcomers to chess tournaments to Masters, and in fact the last tournament had 2 IM's in the field of 39 players. Allegro tournaments run on Saturday afternoons at 2 pm (best to get there early, or the event starts later) and are a great introduction to chess, and can become addictive.

Personally, I'm more like ex World Champion, Mikhail Botvinnik when it comes to fast chess. When interviewed in 1989 he said:

"Yes, I have played a blitz game once. It was on a train, in 1929"

However, I am aware of the vast amount of players who enjoy fast time controls, and the MCC provides for them too! Tuesday night is blitz night, and this is still trying to establish itself like the Allegro. At the moment there are less than 10 players regularly showing up, which is a shame as blitz is a way of sharpening our game, especially when there are some strong players to contend with. The blitz tournaments start around 7 pm on Tuesday nights, and it would be really good if this event could build to about 12-16 regularly playing.

While there is no shortage of chess locally for those willing to make a little effort and get to the club, there is also a mass of chess about to be happening in the international sphere. My favourite place to watch games is the chess24 website, who not only show live games, but have excellent reports about tournaments and chess news. And good news for Australia is that there is a super GM elite event being played in China at a time zone to suit us. The Danzhou event features current world number 9 Diren Ling (and number 1 blitz rated in the world!) along with 8 other players over 2700, and Women's World Champ Yifan Hou. The tournament starts about the same time I will post this blog, at 4.30 pm AEST.

Then we get the following events following in short order:

Dortmund (Kramnik, Caruana, Vachier-Legrave) Saturday 9th
US Junior Ch (Jeffrey Xiong heads an impressive field) Saturday 9th
Benasque Op (8 2600+ players) starts today
Warsaw Op (25 2600+ players) starts tomorrow


Bilboa Masters:

Carlsen, Giri, Nakamura, Karjakin, So and Wei Yi - what a field, what a tournament! Starts next Wednesday, 13th July.

(the busy European summer chess schedule makes things hectic for chess at this time of year. Already in progress are the Women's GP event in Chengdu and the Polugaevsky memorial)

So I guess what I'm saying is that it's a great time to watch, learn and practice your chess! Enjoy

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