Monday, July 30, 2018

Victorian Championship Round 5

The State Championship crossed the half way mark this week and has become very close at the top. Four players now share 1st on 4/5: FM Luis Chan, FM Greg Canfell, John Nemeth, and myself, Carl Gorka.

The leaders, Chan and Nemeth played out a tense, but brief draw. The position where a draw was agreed would have been risky for either side to play on. The most fascinating position was on board 2 where FM's Dragicevic and Canfell were playing. I got up to walk around at one stage and saw this position:

I couldn't work out who was better here. Black is 3 pawns up, but his king side is paralysed, an amazing position. Later, Greg was able to untangle and won the game.

Following on from my loss of an exchange last week, I decided to sacrifice the exchange this week, gaining two pawns in the endgame. The computer engine doesn't like my decision, but practically, I think it was quite good and difficult to react to. FM Eddy Levi needed to activate his pieces, but was unable to do so, and I won.

This is where I sacrificed the exchange by Rxe6. White is already a pawn ahead, and wins the c5 pawn. White's central connected passed pawns are a long term worry for Black, which is what I was counting on.

The results of these 3 games left 4 players in first with probable pairings of Canfell-Chan and Nemeth-Gorka next week. Half a point behind is Milenko Lojanica who took on David Beaumont's Dragon in aggressive style. David sacrificed an exchange but it wasn't enough. There are then a further 4 players another half point behind, and all of them have floated up or down recently, so I have no idea what the pairings will be! FM Dragicevic stays on 3/5 and is joined by Brendan Zou, Himath Dissanayake and Bill Jiang. I will stick my neck out and say that the winner is going to come from this group of players with only 4 rounds to go. The rest of the field are tightly packed with everybody on at least 1.5, so a strong finish from anybody will guarantee a good place. But 7/9 seems like a outright winning score to me which is why I think anyone of 2.5 or below will not be the new Champion.

Himath Dissanayake scored the biggest upset result of the day beating FM David Hacche. The game wasn't on the display boards, but there was an early trade of queens on d8. I thought David had equalised as Black untangling his position, but Himath was able to win some material and I guess he held on to win.

There are byes allowed through till round 7 which could further disrupt the pairings, but it is settling into an exciting finish.

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