Archive for December, 2014

It has been a big chess week for me starting with the RJ Shield and Tera Finals on Sunday at Melbourne University.

Greg Umansky scored 5.5/7 to be the surprise winner of the RJ Shield whilst the winner of the Tera Finals and $500 cash was no surprise.  IM Ari Dale scored 6.5/7 but did not have an easy time of it.  My student Sam Trewin managed to sneak a piece off Ari, declined a draw offer and entered an easily won ending but the pressure of having a winning game against an IM is not easy to handle.  Sam had only about 3 minutes left on the clock, managed to lose a pawn and then blundered back the piece … but a very creditable effort none-the-less.

In the following round he had a strange game also against 3rd seed Kris Chan.  I watched the start of the game but Sam blundered a rook for nothing about move 8 so I moved on the look at other games.  When I returned a few minutes later Sam had lost his second rook also, but this time it was a sacrifice for a winning attack starting with Bxh7+.  Kris cleverly staved off mate wit a queen sacrifice but it was still clearly better for Sam.  Alas, a couple of inaccurate moves allowed Kris back into the game and Sam lost again.  At least he is now getting good positions against strong players … so the wins will come with a bit more experience.  Sam did however have the consolation of being the second most improved player in Australia on the ACF’s December rating list.

Another pleasing result for me was the “warm-up tournament” for players not in the RJ Shield Final and who may be playing the next day in the Nationals.  This event had 20 players and my student Matthew Zillman (seeded 5th) had an incredible result with 7/7 and a gain of 110 rating points.  After the tournament I asked him what had caused the great improvement in his form?  He replied that he had decided to do what I had been teaching him to do …. just play safely and wait for his opponents to self-destruct!  Well done Matthew.

On Monday and Tuesday we had the National Schools Finals and, as usual, it was a cake-walk for Melbourne High who scored 27/28 to win the Secondary title.  Northcote High, led by Jack Puccini, won the Middle Years Final but the big result for me was the Primary Finals where Doncaster Gardens came from behind to win their first ever Primary title in a nail-biting finish by half a point from Wooranna and Valkstone.  Their top player, Xhi-Xin Guo won the final game with two seconds to spare but the result was especially pleasing as their chess organiser at school, Sue, is retiring next year after 15 years running school chess and doing an outstanding job.  A fitting send off for her!

The following day I had to give a private lesson to two very young boys from Geelong Grammar who are quite promising players.  I showed them my favourite teaching game, against Darryl Johansen, which I have been using as a lesson for around 40 years now.  The game ends with a nice overload combination so when we got to that position I asked the boys what White should play. In the blink of an eye Atlas Baillieu reached out and grabbed the White rook and played Rxa7!! solving the puzzle in an instant!  No-one has ever found the solution that quickly before!

Naturally I have a wealth of interesting positions to show you from last week and have chosen one from the game between Daniel Poberovsky and Kris Chan.  Black is a pawn ahead but his pieces are poorly placed.  What should he play and how should White reply?  I’ll give you a hint … Daniel should win, and cause a big upset, but like Sam he missed his chance.  Hope you can do better.