Monday, June 25, 2018

Victorian Chess Championship 2018 Round 2

The second round of the Victorian Championship was played yesterday and showed how tight this event will be as half the games played finished in draws. There are now only 2 players on 2/2, FM Luis Chan and myself.

When I say half the games played, there were a couple of postponed games, and 3 players took a half point bye this round. In the first round 5 players took a half point bye and the question has arisen as to whether we should allow byes in a Championship event. In the previous format, when the tournament was a round robin, there were no byes, but players could rearrange games as the draw was all prearranged. Now with the Swiss system in place, the pairings only come out a few days before the round so it is more difficult to rearrange with a specific opponent. But saying that, the round dates and times are known and so players should have some idea of whether they'll be able to play games or not.

My personal feeling is that the tournament would be better off as a round robin without byes, even if that meant I didn't qualify to play. However, as a Swiss event I don't see a problem with players being allowed to take byes, and I know the move to the Swiss format was partly due to Chess Victoria's funding of the event. There used to be 2 or more round robins running as Championship, Reserves etc, but it became harder to find players to enter these events as the Victorian chess calendar became more packed with club and weekend tournaments. These round robin tournaments were excellent. I played in both Championship and Reserves sections, which were competitive and great for learning about preparation and working on your chess in general.

In the second round, 8 games were played yesterday though I didn't get to see too much as I was grovelling as Black against Milenko Lojanica and having to work hard to cause him some problems. This paid off as Milenko failed to take advantage of promising positions, and the game finally equalised, and then I was able to take an initiative which my opponent seemed oblivious to. Instead of going in to deep defence he continued to try to play actively and his position fell apart.

Even though I was hard at work at the board for most of my game, I am still able to see a lot of games after the round because Box Hill Chess Club have now got 6 DGT boards displaying live games. I remember getting up after about 20 minutes and having a brief look at the openings of the games, then again about about 45 later. But the next time I got up to stretch, some games were already finished! FM Luis Chan won to go to 2/2, but it was a tough game against David Beaumont, with an interesting ending of rook and 4 vs rook and 3 which would be worth looking at in some detail.

There is a large bunching of players just behind first, led by top seed FM Domogoj Dragicevic who won comfortably. The game that most interested me from an early stage was Canfell-Dissanayake which started as Caro but soon turned into a crazy opposite side castling position. Black's king looked ominously placed at times, but he held on and in the end Greg Canfell had to take a repetition draw.

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It is early days in the tournament and a 3 week break before the next round means that the event will really only start properly from round 3, when the games will be played each week, and most of the players will be playing rather than taking byes.

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