Monday, July 23, 2018

Victorian Championship Approaches Half Way

We have now had 4 rounds of the 2018 Victorian Championship and no one has made a perfect score. The tournament is led by 2 players, FM Luis Chan and John Nemeth who are on 3.5, with a group of players half a point including top seed FM Domagoj Dragicevic, FM Greg Canfell, and myself, Carl Gorka. Interestingly, we are the 5 highest rated players, and I wonder if we'll still occupy the top 5 spots come the end of the event?

Most of the rest of the field are in the 1.5-2.5 area and any of these could still finish high with a good score from now. In fact, it is going to get tough at the top as the highest rated players are all going to have to start playing each other. The big game of round 4 saw top seed Dragicevic playing second seed Chan. The game was hard fought, and I thought that Domagoj had an advantage out of the opening, but the game ended a draw. Meanwhile, I thought third seed, John Nemeth was being held easily by Bill Jiang in an Exchange Spanish, but as often happens, pieces get exchanged and White has an extra king side pawn that is more valuable than Black's queen side majority. Bill blundered a further pawn on the king side and resigned. Greg Canfell very efficiently dominated Thomas Feng on the White side of a French, while I struggled against Marcus Raine before he exchanged down too much leaving an endgame where I had dangerous connected passed pawns in compensation for an exchange.

Box Hill Chess Club were showing games live and though they have 12 new DGT's they displayed the top 6 games. I think they are having some technical issue, but hopefully all the games will be transmitted by the end of the tournament. There were some interesting games lower down the boards with a big shout to Regan Crowley for scoring the upset of the round beating Milojevic who out rates him by nearly 200 points. As with lots of young players, Regan can be very dangerous but just needs to gain some consistency to spring forward.

My game was an up and down affair. Early in the middlegame I won a pawn, but then almost immediately lost the exchange. I had compensation, but didn't use it and Marcus took advantage of this. Then in the endgame Marcus seemed too eager to trade pieces, leaving m with dangerous connected pawns which he didn't deal with and I was able to win the game. But let me give hope to anyone playing me in the future. This is what I missed!

In this position I had planned the natural Rd3, but decided to look for something better. I came up with the idea of Nd4 stopping Black from developing their bishop and guarding f5, as I'd seen that my opponent might want to play Ne3-f5 dislodging my rook. Of course there is a flaw in my thinking!

After Black plays..Ne3 I will have to move my Rf1 and then Black has Nc4 which I'd conveniently not thought about when I played my last move. :D My central knights and strong passed pawn gave me compensation, but Marcus neutralised it, and really should have won, and definitely shouldn't have lost. I will be working this week not on opening preparation for my next game, but on calculation exercises which make me think about what my opponent wants to do!

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