Saturday, June 30, 2018

Box Hill Chess Club Championship

The final round of the Box Hill Chess Club Championship was played last night, and it was a very close affair. The event was split into two divisions. There was a 10 player round robin championship event, and a Swiss open reserves event. The winner of the reserves qualifies to play in the following years championship.

I was playing in the Championship and was low on confidence and will power at the start of the tournament, but seemed to have played myself back into some sort of form by the end, so I was happy to compete. The Championship was very close with only 1 point separating the top 7 players. There was a 3-way tie for first place between IM Leonid Sandler and FM's Domogoj Dragicevic and Luis Chan on 6/9. I finished half a point behind along with John Nemeth, while a further half point back were FM Eugene Schon and Kris Chan. Nobody went through the event unbeaten and all players showed both the strengths and frailties of the 2000-2300 band of players, and having to play late on a Friday night after a week's work.

I'm not sure what will happen with a 3-way tie. I don't know if the Championship is shared, if a tie break system is used, or if there is a playoff. There was no tie in the Reserves, with Brendan Zou winning another competitive event. Brendan went through the tournament unbeaten, taking 2 draws, and a half point bye in the middle of the event. Brendan has made big improvement in the past 2 years, and is now a 2000+ strength player, so he should be a good addition to the Championship field next year.

I didn't get to see too much of the other games as I was putting a lot of effort into my own. So I'll show my best and worst moments from the tournament!

This was my endgame as White against FM Domaogoj Dragicevic. I had played for this sort of position thinking (correctly), that my outside a-pawn must guarantee me a winning advantage. What I had failed to consider in the immediate lead up to this position was that there is still a lot of play in this position, and I'd missed a couple of chances to make my win a lot easier in the previous few moves, which must have given Dom some hope. Here as White, there is only 1 winning move, and after some thought I was bale to find it! This was my best moment of the tournament, and I'll give the game at the end of the article.

Now for my worst! I had been playing a tough game against FM Doug Hamilton who had thrown a lot in my direction and I'd managed to find a way to equality, but nothing more, and perhaps I was the one who was fighting to hold the position.

I saw the continuation 1.Ke3 Bd6 2.Nb4 as a fairly natural way the game would go with neither side really able to make much progress. I hesitated and looked again, and again, convincing myself that my knight would go to b4 after he played Bd6, and I hesitated again, thinking through the same thing, and then picked up my knight and put it on b4!! 1.Nb4?? Doug took my f-pawn, then my g-pawn and I then should have resigned straight away, but I played on for a few moves more out of shock than anything else.

Anyway, besides the errors, I enjoyed the tournament Box Hill's venue is absolutely fantastic. Congratulations to all the winners, the arbiters, IA Peter Tsai and Kyle Gibson, and to Box Hill Chess Club for making this a great event to play in.

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