Yesterday was Melbourne Cup Day so of course everyone was either at Flemington or having a party and watching the race from home.  That is of course unless you are a chess player!

Some chess players were at the Melbourne Chess Club playing in the MCC Hjorth Open (named in memory of IM Greg Hjorth) whilst others (like me) were home following the live games on the internet.  The tournament was dominated by Australian Champion Max Illingworth who (like Julius Caesar) came, saw and conquered scoring a perfect 9/9.  In a very creditable second place was IM James Morris who took one bye and lost to Illingworth but otherwise won all his games.

The tournament supplied me with a number of interesting games and positions to use in my lessons.  Max won partly because he didn’t make any big tactical blunders.  The same could not be said for many of the top players.  One IM fell for a two-move back rank checkmate and blundered a whole rook in an earlier game.   I thought that Luke Li played well, but missed a couple of tactics and blundered his rook against Max in an otherwise even position.  James is always great to watch as he somehow manages to generate tactics from sterile, or inferior, positions and can outplay most people when things get messy.  Ari’s play was disappointing.  Even though he is an IM he seems to only have one plan …. to attack … even in positions where no attack is justified.  In one game he hadn’t castled and was behind in development so came up with g4 and a kingside pawn storm.  His opponent (named Max) just developed his pieces and made Ari’s attempt at attacking look silly.

One of my students, Sam Trewin, played and he had a very good event scoring 4 points including two draws with 1900 players even though he is only rated in the 1500s.  I look forward to seeing his games at our next lesson, but meanwhile perhaps you can help me with one of the games from the tournament.  I know that Chris Wallis has a reputation for being a “nice guy” and indeed he was nice to Rujevic, agreeing to a draw in a slightly better position.  However he was even nicer to Greg Canfell when Chris (as Black) decided to repeat moves and have a draw against Greg.  Would you have played on in the position below?  If so how would you try to win?   That is today’s puzzle.  (Black to play).


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