Tuesday, March 6, 2012

MCC Championship Round 5

The 5th round of the MCC Championship brought us the match up we've been most looking forward to with both International Masters, Mirko Rujevic and Guy West playing each other. These 2 stalwarts of Melbourne chess (and Victorian and Australian chess) must have played each other dozens of times, and at the MCC their encounter usually plays a big part in determining the tournament winner. This time Guy won. Mirko didn't seem to play with his usual vigour and found himself in a late middlegame being squeezed for space. In the end Mirko lost on time in a position that was far from lost, but certainly difficult for him.

This is Mirko's first loss of the tournament, and usually that would mean that the 2 IM's had taken out everyone else and were meeting on board 1. However, Guy had drawn twice early in the tournament and his victory only enabled him to catch up with Mirko. Meanwhile, the board 1 game saw me playing black against FM Dusan Stojic. I didn't play too badly in this game, but in the end Dusan proved too strong outplaying me from a slightly better position. This leaves Dusan the sole leader of the tournament on a perfect 5/5, while I drop down to join the 2 IM's West and Rujevic on 4/5. We are joined by FM Chris Wallis who took advantage of David Beaumont's Benoni, Sylvester Urban who beat Ari Dale after Ari suicidally castled queen side in a Benoni, and Pano Skiotis who won the longest game of the night against Gary Lycett. The winner of this tournament is likely to come from this group of players, though Dragicevic and Voon on 3.5 could theoretically still challenge, and Karl Zelesco could join these 2 if he wins his postponed game against Michaille. I'm going to stick my neck out here and say that anyone on 3/5 or under will not win the tournament. However, a good run by anyone will see them finish in a high position.

There were some terrific underdog performances this round. Marcus Ogden held Malcolm Pyke to a draw, and Gary Bekker held Justin Penrose. Actually, I thought Brad Ashlock was going to hold Dragicevic, but Domogoj kept fighting and Brad made a heart breaking blunder in the endgame that cost him the game. The upset wins came from young Finlay Dale who beat Kevin Brown, and Paul Kovacevic who beat John Dowling.

The tournament is now taking a break for a week to avoid clashing with the Ballarat Weekend tournament. The next round will be on Monday 19th March and I'm finding it very difficult to predict who I'll play. Dusan has played me and Chris, and Guy probably won't float up again. Mirko and Pano are the wrong colours for Dusan so I have a feeling that the lowest rated player on 4/5, Sylvester Urban, may find himself floated up to play Dusan. Now personally I don't see this as being in the spirit of the swiss draw, but I would understand the logic of it. About the only thing I can predict is that I will be white, as I've just had 2 black's....probably!

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