Last week-end was the Labour Day long week-end in Victoria so like many chess players I ventured off to Ballarat for the 49th Begonia Open Chess Championship.   In conjunction with the main tournament Chess Kids ran a two day chess workshop for around 25 keen young chess players followed by a 7 round allegro tournament on the Monday.

The Victorian Champion, Kanan Izzat, was a run away winner scoring a perfect 7/7 and was a very worthy champion.  Following a point behind was James Morris then Ari Dale and Stephen Solomon on 5.5 points.  I was mainly following my students including 7 year-old Atlas Ballieu who was playing in his first adult event.  He scored half-a-point from his 5 games but was very competitive and came away totally enthused about chess.  I had fun playing through some of the games with my students and trying to persuade them to stop attacking and taking things.  Eventually the message will get through!

Next year the Ballarat Chess Club is planning to have a very big event to celebrate their 50th anniversary and already are planning to invite Nigel Short to play.  Short you may remember challenged Kasparov for the world title back in 1992 and visited the Ballarat Open last year.  I had a long chat with the arbiter Gary Bekker and the organiser, Kevin Perrin, and tossed around a few ideas to promote the event next year.  They want me to play, as a six time winner of the Ballarat Open, but that maybe a step too far for me at the moment.  I think they have a better chance of persuading GM Darryl Johansen to play as he has won the tournament no less than 13 times!

One of the good things about the tournament is that the leading games are available on the internet then on Tornelo.  I played through all the games and found quite a few interesting positions to use in my chess lessons.  For today’s puzzle let me show you a position from one of IM Stephen Solomon’s games. Solo is always good to watch as he has a very strong will to win and often converts losing or drawn endgames into victories.  In the position below Solo is down the exchange for a pawn but he has a solid position and chances are probably equal.  It’s White’s move and he has to choose between 1.c3 chasing away that annoying rook, 1…Rd6 2.Be4 with a good blockade or 1.Rf2 with the idea of 2.Bf5 and eventually pushing his passed “h” pawn.  Your task is to advise him which plan to adopt.  Unfortunately Solo got it wrong and lost the game.  Perhaps you can do better.


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