Archive for the ‘Chess Tournament Report’ Category

The Australia Day long weekend is a popular date on the Australian chess calendar as on that date many of Australia’s top chess players head to Ballarat for the Ballarat Begonia Open.  The 52nd incarnation of this tournament!

This year the tournament boasted 4 grandmasters (Smirnov, Zhao, Ly and Johansen) plus IM’s Morris, Ikeda and Solomon heading a field of 131 players.  I stayed there for the whole week-end to support my students who were playing and I even found time to visit the begonias and take some beautiful pictures.

Ian Rogers doing the game commentary.

One of the best things about the tournament is that GM Ian Rogers is on hand to supply commentary on the games in progress and regale us with stories from the past and present.  His opening knowledge and memory is really astounding.

The finish to the tournament was spoiled a little when outright leader, James Morris, going into the last round ahead of a pack of 5 players, instead of being paired against GM Anton Smirnov, which would have been a great game to watch, was paired against the lowest player in that pairing group.   In the finish there were a couple of quick draws on the top boards and James and Anton ended up sharing first place on 6/7.   Each player took home $1875 for their efforts!   Ian explained to his audience how FIDE had adopted this bad pairing system some time ago and had not yet gotten around to changing it.

IM James Morris, = first with Anton Smirnov.

For today’s puzzle I have chosen a position from one of Zhao’s games.  The thing about good players is that they either analyse deeper than an average player or look at more candidate moves/ideas and this is one of the ways that they beat their opponents.  I was in the analysis room watching Zhao’s game and he made a quick move in time trouble and we all gasped as it appeared that he had made an obvious mistake.  A couple of moves later Zhao’s opponent resigned as the grandmaster had looked that little bit deeper than the rest of us and seen a cool winning tactic.  Let’s see if you can find it.  Black to play and win.

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Archive for the ‘Chess Tournament Report’ Category

Last week was a very big week at Chess Kids culminating in the RJ Shield Finals on Sunday and then the National School Finals on Monday and Tuesday, all played at Melbourne University’s Queens College.

There were 60 players in the RJ Shield Finals with Shawn Zillmann emerging victorious on 6.5/7 followed by Gavyn Sanusi-Goh and Oliver Cordover finishing in second and third places on 6 points.  Shawn played excellent chess, drawing with Oliver and defeating the defending champion Gavyn.  The Warm-Up Tournament had 83 players and was won by Victor Sun and Akshayan Manivannan both on 6.5/7.

RJ with Shawn Zillmann – winner of both the RJ Shield Finals and the Primary School Finals.

The National Finals were contested in three divisions with teams from across Australia and New Zealand competing for the titles.  As always, Melbourne High dominated the Open Secondary scoring 23.5/28 from Mazenod on 18 points.  David Cannon scored a perfect 7/7 for Melbourne High.

The Middle Years event was also won by Melbourne High with 23.5 points from three teams tied on 20.5 points in second place.

The most exciting event however was the Primary Competition where the result was in the balance until the final game had finished.  Atlas Baillieu from Geelong Grammar was battling Shawn Zillmann on top board and needed a draw for his team to win the tournament but again Shawn came out on top scoring 6.5/7 to be the highest scoring player.  This left Geelong Grammar tied on 20.5 points with Doncaster Gardens who retained their title on count-back.  A mere half point further back on 20 points were Balwyn North and Tucker Road with Balwyn North securing third place on count-back also.  You can’t get much closer than that!

Instead of a puzzle today I think I will show you a whole game from the State Primary Finals.  It is full of tactics, blunders and missed opportunities.   Black gets an overwhelming attack but somehow manages to go astray and ends up losing.   See if you can spot the mistakes both players make and come up with some winning moves.

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Archive for the ‘Chess Tournament Report’ Category

Two weeks ago saw the State Finals of the Chess Kids Interschool Competition with the winning schools being as follows:

PRIMARY: Doncaster Gardens Primary 30.5 points.

JUNIOR: Melbourne High 28.5 points

JUNIOR PRIMARY: Wooranna Park Primary 22 points

Doncaster Gardens – Primary School Champions

The finals were played at the Hungarian Club in Knox and it was great to see the large playing hall filled with so many keen chess players over the four days of the tournament.

On Friday, after the Interschool events, I again had a busy day at the Chess Kids Chess Academy which is being run on Fridays during Term 4 as a trial before the official launch next year.  Approx. 24 kids attended with coaching being provided by 4 International Masters and a Women Grandmaster.  In the morning seasons we first met with our mentor groups and went through anything of interest.  I chose to show a game from the Interschool Competition then we did a Chess IQ Test.   This was followed by each coach taking a group in their special subject – my subject is “strategy.”  After lunch we held 3 simuls with James, Julia and I each taking on a small group of kids.

I enjoyed my simul games and even found a pretty finish in my game against Aaron.  Play through the game and stop before White’s 17th move to solve the puzzle.

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Archive for the ‘Chess Tournament Report’ Category

There was a chess event a couple of weeks ago that I haven’t reported on yet, and which has received little publicity in Australia the “2017 THE FIRST CHONGQING “THE BELT AND ROAD” INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL TEAM CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP”.

This was in fact a 7 round team event for players U12 from 14 countries with the Australian team being Oliver Li, Michael Jiang, Gavyn Sanusi-Goh and Shawn Oliver.   Australia came a creditable 12th in this very strong tournament with Oliver scoring 4 points, Shawn 3 and Gavyn and Michael 2 points.

The day before the tournament the boys played in a simul against a 2700 rated Chinese GM which strangely the organisers stopped after the allotted 1.5 hours play with the games still in progress!

(Above). The Australian Boys playing in the simul.

It must have been a fabulous experience for our players, seeing and playing against some of the best juniors in the world, and will hopefully inspire them to keep improving their chess.


For today’s puzzle we move to the other end of the age spectrum with a nice win by 75 year-old Doug Hamilton in the Box Hill Open.  White has just played 21.Rb1 ….. how does Black exploit this mistake?

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Archive for the ‘Chess Tournament Report’ Category

This week has been a big chess week for me as the Victorian Youth Chess Championships have been on at Parkdale.

On Monday the U/7 Championships were played and won with 7/7 by the boy with the impressive named of Tiger Zhao.

The U/9 Championships were won by Liam Flanagan with 6/7 and one of my students, Gavyn Sanusi-Goh also scored 6/7 to win the U/11 title.  It was fun giving a lecture to the kids about Australia’s next grandmaster, Anton Smirnov, aged only 16 years, and showing one of Anton’s games where he crushes his opponent just by demonstrating a better understanding of where to place his pieces.

The great thing about this event is that we have 4 titled players (three IMs and one WGM) on hand to go over the kids’ games after they have finished playing.  Hopefully it’s a great learning experience for them and today also we have Kanan Izzat giving them a lecture at lunchtime.

Daniel, Gavyn and Alistair with their trophies.

All the players had the opportunity to go over their games with a coach and hopefully pick up some useful tips.   There were quite a few really interesting tactical games and the coaches were often able to point out tactical ideas that the players hadn’t considered.   I found a forced mate in 5 moves for Daniel Gusain, the U13 Champion, that he missed for example, and Kanan found a nice idea that Shawn Zillmann missed in the position below.  Black played Bf7 how should White reply ….. can you see it?

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Archive for the ‘Chess Tournament Report’ Category

I spent much of last weekend in Altona as a spectator at the “Best in the West” Chess Tournament.   This popular annual event has changed venues and is now played at the more spacious Altona RSL which is good news for the parents and spectators who can get a good meal at the RSL without leaving the building.   I foolishly tried to go to a restaurant for one meal, but after 10 minutes without being served, I walked out and returned to the RSL.

The top seed for the tournament was IM James Morris who comfortably scored 5/5, despatching his main rival, Greg Canfell, in the final round.   I had a number of students playing, although without great success, but it was enjoyable catching up with their parents and talking about chess.  One of the more interesting players in the tournament was David Cordover, playing in his first rated event for 12 years!   David started slowly, eventually grinding out a win in a long rook and pawn endgame in the first round, then in the second round he faced talented junior Oliver Li.  Oliver built up a commanding position out of the opening but David’s “street fighter” instincts stepped in and he was able to complicate the position and outplay his young opponent.  A similar thing happened in the fourth round when David faced the highly rated Dom Dragecevic and was rapidly dropping pawns.  Somehow he managed to stir up an attack, missed forced mate in 6 moves and entered the endgame a whole piece ahead.  Unfortunately David was worried about losing on time – “I’ve never played with this increment thingy” he noted – and so offered a draw in an easily winning position.   In the end he finished undefeated on a respectable 3.5 points.  A respectable result for a retired chess player!

When I was not watching my students blunder I watched James Morris on the top board to see how he was outplaying his opponents.   James also is a great “street fighter” and you may like to see if you can finish off Regan Crowley as James did in round 4.  It’s White to play in the diagram – he has a piece for two pawns but Black has a strong passed pawn on b3.  What should James play?

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Last weekend was the Queen’s Birthday long weekend so I spent a lot of my time visiting the Melbourne Chess Club in Fitzroy to watch the Vic Open Chess Championships.  The tournament has a big field of 92 players but unfortunately few of Victoria’s top players decided to play.   By contrast there were a lot of strong juniors playing, including some of my students, and a visiting WGM Julia Ryjanova who I had not seen play before.

The winner with 6.5/7 was IM Stephen Solomon, a former Victorian who has been living in Queensland for many years, followed by David Canon on 6/7.  Solo beat Ryjanova in the last round to secure top spot.  Strangely last Friday I went to Serpell Primary school for their weekly chess lesson only to find Ryjanova there (as a new Chess Kids Coach?) plus IM James Morris and myself.  Is this a record having 3 titled players coaching at one school?

It was fun watching the games at the Vic Open and a big thanks also to Thai Ly for posting a lot of the games on chess chat for people to play through.   One of my students has a bit of a problem at the moment in that he keeps agreeing to draws in won positions.  I received an email from his proud father to tell me that he had just drawn with an 1800 player by perpetual check after he had been losing the game early on.   I played through the scoresheet and, sure enough, instead of taking the perpetual check he had a winning line available instead!   This is the hard part about teaching chess …. trying to persuade your students that when they find a good move they should look for an even better one.  It’s must be a common fault as it happened twice also to Solo on top board in the Vic Open.  Perhaps you can do better.  Have a look at the diagram below.

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Archive for the ‘Chess Tournament Report’ Category

Today I feel like a bit of a rant.  On Sunday I went to the RJ Shield to watch my students play and record some of their games.   It was a good event with a stronger field than usual with Gavyn scoring 6.5/7 to secure first place from Shawn and Oliver on 5.5/7.

Gavyn (first) and Shawn (second) in the May RJ Shield.

And my rant?   WHY CAN’T PEOPLE SEE TACTICS?   Take the first round for example.  One board 1 Daniel is coasting along a piece ahead against a player rated 650 points below him when he makes a move that leaves a Rook en-prise with check.  Result….. Daniel loses.

Round 2 …. the number 3 seed, Shawn, is coasting along a piece up (but in time trouble) when he makes a move allowing mate in one move!   His opponent thinks.   He thinks some more.  Finally his hand hovers above his rook and he makes a rook move instead of Qxg2 mate!  Shawn is moving quickly, facing a probable loss on time, when his opponent makes a huge blunder allowing Shawn a back-rank mate in two moves.   Shawn ponders for a few seconds and instead plays QxQ+ allowing the game to continue with his opponent winning on time.

Even the tournament winner, Gavyn, was not immune to missing tactics.   Simple things like he can take a free rook on d1 with his queen (a good move) but an even better move is to first play Qe2+ forcing White’s King to the back rank and enabling Black to take the rook with check and keeping the initiative.   The tactics are all there but players are not stopping to look for them.   Gavyn won the event because he played carefully and did not make any big blunders (other than perhaps missing a few better tactics for himself).

In the final round I was recording the game between Daniel and Gaby where Daniel played the English opening and Gaby had a B on c5 and a B on e6 and a N on c6.  The obvious move for me was White playing d4 attacking the B on c5.   When the B moves White can play d5 skewering Black’s pieces on c6 and e6 and winning a piece for White.  Did the players notice this tactic?  Yes …. but only on the 4th opportunity White had to play this winning move.

Why all these blunders and missed opportunities?  To be a good player you have to be good at tactics and to find tactics you have to look for them.  Not some of the time … not only in attacking positions … but every single move.  Something I will clearly have to work on in my chess lessons.

One of the reasons that kids miss tactics of course is that they move too quickly.  Take the position in the diagram for example.  It’s a pawn ending so there shouldn’t be much to think about ….right?  Wrong!  The players blitzed out some moves and Black lost.  He could easily draw if he studied this position for a while to discover the drawing idea.  After the move he played White himself had a winning reply but he didn’t look for it and quickly went chasing pawns.  Perhaps, dear reader, you can do better?  First find the drawing move for Black.   Then find White’s winning move against the move that Black actually played.


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Last Sunday I went to watch the RJ Shield Tournament at Mt.Waverley.  Some of my students were playing so it was a good opportunity for me to watch their games and see how they are progressing.

I came away very disappointed!  Juniors, it seems, don’t like thinking/analysing and often choose their moves simply based on the desire to threaten something.  Have they analysed their opponent’s possible replies?  Have they looked around for tactical ideas?  Probably not.

My observing got off to a bad start when I watched the round 2 game on board 2.  White played the Fried Liver attack which his opponent clearly didn’t know.  White had won a pawn and exposed the Black King but it was Black’s turn to move.  He chose 6 … Nd4 attacking the white queen on f3 and White quickly replied 7.Qf7#.  Oh well.  Next round I switched to board 1 in search of a better game.  Again I was soon disappointed.  By move 6 White had blundered a pawn and 3 moves later his opponent, the top seed, had blundered it back …. but of course White missed this 2 move tactic.

For round 4 I went back to board 2 as two of my students were playing each other.   By move 7 White had blundered a pawn and 4 moves later he blundered a second pawn.  Black now had a won game … two pawns ahead with no weaknesses in his position, so what did he do?  Did he complete his development and use his extra pawns to keep White’s pieces out?  Of course not.  He started making one-move threats which White easily got out of.  Then he allowed White to open up Black’s Kingside.  White blundered allowing a one move piece skewer … but of course Black didn’t notice.  Soon Black found that his N was trapped and he was a piece down with a totally lost game.  What a turn around!

There was one redeeming moment when I went back to board one where White finally produced a good game which he concluded with a nice tactic.   Let’s see if you can find it.  White to play and win.

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