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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