Joseph Chow, Victorian Junior Champion, AGAIN!

The Victorian Junior and Under Age championships were held this year under the auspices of the Victorian Junior Chess League, and it was an immediate success. In total 98 players participated in the tournaments, by far the highest ever in a individual junior event, in Victoria. Titles were awarded in age groups from Under 8’s through to Under 18’s. The tournament was divided into 3 sections, a combined Under 18, 16 &14, an Under 12 & 10 and finally a Novice section. Cash prizes were awarded for title winners, and 2nd and 3rd in the Under 18’s tournament. They were the largest prizes ever in a Victorian Junior tournament, and thanks has to go to the VJCL and to Chess Ideas for guaranteeing the $1000 prize fund.

It started on Wednesday the 10th of April, and the first round was far from uneventful, with both the top seeds dropping points. As it progressed, Joseph Chow emerged as the clear leader and after Chow defeated Cordover in the sixth round the tournament was all over. The fight for second was very interesting, with Cordover just managing to sneak ahead of Baltatgis to snatch second place. Michael Chow made a late run to equal the score of Baltatgis and give him the Under 14 title.

It was great to see two players that were eligible to play in the Under 12’s playing in the Under 18’s section. Both Sasha Soloveychik and Denis Bourmistrov will benefit from their
experience and surely go on to be the winners of many titles in the future. Both scored 50%.A small field participated, which was disappointing but may have been due to the last minute change of dates from those published in the Junior League calendar. A disappointingly small number of girls were playing, so few that the title of Junior Girls’ Champion
was not awarded. Something will have to be done to get more than 2 female players to the State titles. Hopefully next year we will hold a separate Girls’ tournament. Only 21 players in the combined Under 18’s but still a very strong field.

There were 3 Australian Champions in the field. David Cordover, the top seed, and Australian Junior Champion. Michael Chow, the Australian Under 14 Champion . And Denis Bourmistrov, the Australian Under 10 Champion. Also former state champions and national title holders participated. Even with such a strongline up there were still at least 3 notable absentees. Michael Kagan, Victoria’s highest rated junior and the reigning champion, Edward Khoze, the Australian Under 16 Champion and Sam Low, the 3rd highest ranked junior in the state were all not playing. With a small field such as it was, and 9 rounds every top player was going to get to play every other top player. So a tough tournament was in store.

Joseph Chow

Joseph won the Junior Championships two years ago and then shared first place with Cordover and Kagan last year, finishing 3rd in the playoff. He seems to always save his best and
most consistent chess for the state championships. A lesson can be learned from Joseph. He prepares carefully for each opponent, takes early nights, and concentrates for 100% of the time during his games, rarely, if ever, leaving the board to stretch his legs. This approach coupled with careful checking of each move to ensure a blunderless game means that in a very
inconsistent field, namely juniors, he can score very highly. Joseph raced to a score of 6/6 which put him in a virtually unbeatable position. In that time he defeated McDonald, Saw and Cordover. Finishing on 8/9 he only lost 2 half points, to his brother, Michael, in round 7 and to Zeve (2nd seed) in the final round. A well deserved win for Joseph. Joseph has now won the title twice and has one more year left to play in the Junior Championships. Will he be able to make it 3??

David Cordover

As top seed and the current National Junior Champion a lot of people saw David as the favorite for the title. He was runner up in the past few Junior Championships and with the absence of last year’s winner, Michael Kagan, this was quite an opportunity. However it was not to be. The tournament was over for David before it started. In the first round he lost to
George Baltatgis, the 11th seed. As all the top players were going to get to play against each other any loss to a lower ranked player was automatically more costly. After that however he defeated 5 of the top 6 seeds to finish in second place for the umpteenth time. His only other loss was to Joseph Chow in the 6th round. The game was very anticlimactic, as if David has won that game then he would have been equal with Joseph going into the last 3 rounds. David was not only outprepared, but blundered drastically (mate in 2) just when it was getting interesting. However, the loss gave Joseph a one and half point lead over Baltatgis, and a 2 point lead (with 3 games to go) over Cordover.

Ladislav Zeve

It was a welcome return to junior chess for Ladislav after he missed the National titles. He was probably attracted by the high prize money and the fact that he was still ranked in the top 5 in the state. A little bit rusty and it showed. His first two games were drawn against lower ranked players, Fainshraiber in the first and then Miyazaki in the second. Neither are weak, in fact both are extremely dangerous opponents, but consistency is the key in junior events. Zeve was very unlucky in the fourth round to lose to Cordover. This exciting game was totally winning for Zeve, but unfortunately he didn’t count on Cordover’s fighting spirit and great swindling abilities. Maybe he didn’t see any games from the Australian Junior? Zeve didn’t really dent any of the top seeds and finished with a disappointing 5.5 points. As the second seed it was expected that he do a bit more, but lack of practice was his downfall.

Joel McDonald

As Joseph Chow saves his best chess for junior tournaments Joel saves his worst for the junior events. He has not finished in any top or title winning positions in quite a few years. His underperformance against juniors is clearly shown by the difference between his Australian rating, of 1755, and his Junior rating, of 1547. Joel played average chess, and again his VJCL rating will stay the same, even though he is a far stronger player than his rating reflects. His games were lost more on blunders, or mistakes, rather than getting outplayed. He had a very strong position against Michael Chow in the penultimate round but then a blunder allowed Michael to show his tactical prowess and checkmate Joel.

George Baltatgis

The biggest upset of the tournament happened straight off. 14 year old George Baltatgis defeated the top seed, David Cordover, immediately to pose himself as a genuine threat to the top seeds. George is rated a lowly 1413, and as 11th seed created quite a murmur. George continued on his winning way for the next three rounds, drawing with Michael Chow and taking out Alina Fainshraiber and then Joel McDonald (the 3rd seed)! George then lost in a close game to Joseph Chow. In the 6th round he defeated Geoff Saw and then followed up with a draw against Zeve (2nd seed). In 7 rounds George had played the top 6 seeds, and scored a magnificent 4.5 points!! In his penultimate game howeverhe slowed a little, drawing with Ogada-Osir but then winning his final game against Hiroshi Miyazaki. His final score of 6.5/9 snared him the title of Victorian Under 16 Champion,and the respect of every top junior in the state.

Hiroshi Miyazaki

This was Hiroshi’s first ever chess tournament outside of Scotch College, and he proved himself already a worthy adversary. Finishing on 4 points he could probably have scored considerably more. Perhaps his inexperience and nervousness was a problem. In the Lightning Championships he defeated Geoff Saw to tie for 2nd place. However in the 3 way playoff
he finished 3rd behind David Cordover (1st) and Geoff Saw (2nd). It is clear from his good performance in the lightning that he can go on to be a very capable player, with just a little
play. His first Junior League rating is 1400, which is very good for a first ever tournament.

Final Scores:
Under 18, 16 & 14.
8.0 Joseph Chow
7.0 David Cordover
6.5 George Baltatgis, Michael Chow
5.5 Geoff Saw, Ladislav Zeve
5.0 Joel McDonald
4.5 Ibrahim Ogada-Osir, Sasha
Soloveychik, Toby Hopf, Andrei
Kovalenko, Denis Bourmistrov,
Tom Haines,
4.0 Narelle Szuveges, Domagoy
Drajicevic, Alex Chingarev,
Hiroshi Miyazaki,
3.5 Alina Fainshraiber, Christopher
2.0 Murray Lynch,
1.0 Raf Kaplan.

Under 12 and 10’s Championships

The Under 12’s championships included the Under 10 players as well. The rate of play was half an hour each for the entire game. This faster time control allowed the youngest, and
most inexperienced to blitz out a number of moves very quickly but not have to wait a long time for the top players to slowly and carefully finish their games.

Nobody was sure who the favorite was going to be as many of the players are very talented. The tournament was based on VJCL ratings as most of the players had already received a rating. Top seed and eventual winner was Dima Onufriechuk.

Eight year old Sam Chow was in the running for a long time but lost some unexpected games to finish as the Under 10 Champion.

Only 18 players in this tournament and only 3 of them were under the age of 10. Matthew Doidge was the second, and Allan Birch did very well to score 2 points in his first ever tournament!

Andjelija Zivanovic finished equal with Dima Onufreichuk with 7/9 but was marginally behind on countback. Andjelica took home the Under 12 Girls trophy and prize-money was shared. Unfortunately she was the only girl in the entire tournament.

In third place was Sasha Grossman who is also infrequently seen around the chess clubs. A pleasing 4th place was Richard Saw, who finished equal with John Nemeth. Both these players
started only recently at Waverley Chess Club and the competition there seems to have done something very good for them!

Channel 9 News came down during the first day to take some shots of the top boards in progress. It was shown that night for about a minute. It isn’t much publicity for chess, but it is more than any other recent chess tournament has received and was great that some of the younger ones got to see themselves on television.

Final Scores:
Under 12 & 10.
7.0 Dima Onufreichuk, Andjelia Zivanovic,
6.5 Sasha Grossman,
6.0 Richard Saw, John Nemeth, Sam Chow,
5.0 Lincoln Butter
4.5 Julian McDonald, Paul Leong,
4.0 Christopher Tze, Warren Howden,
3.5 James Doidge, Matthew Doidge, Nicholas Van Duyn,
3.0 Cameron Flemming,
2.0 Allan Birch, Iain James

Novice Tournament
The tournament organisers were pleasantly surprised to have 59 entries into this Novice tournament. It was expected that many would play in the Under 12’s Championships so only 40 were catered for. However a large number of players showed up on the day, and numbers reached near to the legendary 100 player mark. This time we missed out by 2, certainly next time we will break the 100 mark. The venue became a little crowded because of the large numbers but hopefully none of the participants was unduly affected by the slight delay that occurred as furniture was re-arranged to accommodate the eager kids.

Leon Leontyev won this novice tournament very convincingly with 7/7. His nearest rival was George Mirmelstein with 6 points. Again Anthony Dean and Shannon Abersteiner finished in the prize-winners’ list along with a new face, Eben Rojter.

The two top girls showed that they are at no disadvantage because of their sex, and both scored 5/7 finishing in =4th place overall. Lucy Gowdie took out the the trophy on countback, but Samantha Tyson was eligible for the Under 12 trophy and won that, ahead of the Boy’s under 12 winner, Samuel Butler.

So even though there was a shortage of girls in the state title events there was no shortage in the Novice section and the girls that did play performed at a very high standard. Really the tournaments shouldn’t be called “Novice” any more because there are players in them that are not really able to be classed as “novices” any more. However the RJ Shield will continue, and the success of them will continue to depend on the number of new kids that we get each time. It certainly looks promising.

Novice Tournament
7.0 Leon Leontyev
6.0 George Mirmilstein
5.5 Anthony Dean
5.0 Shannon Abersteiner, Eben Rojter, Lucy Gowdie, Samantha Tyson, Samuel Butler, Julien Buhagiar, David Fletcher, Ray Morris,
4.5 Naeeme Huque, Andrew Lewinsky, Andrew Butler, Emily Rothfield,
4.0 Tom Sullivan, Mark Leong,
Timothy Chan, Abigail Ogada-Osir, Tim Fazio,
Justin Shearer, Ashley Pettit,
Alex Chu, Michael Papier,
Saun Lim, Galadriel Scott,
3.5 David Mendes, Bryce Barber,
Kate O’Dwyer, Julian Waksberg, Braham Cohen,
Eliot Schulberg, Chris Bell,
3.0 Olivia Saaroni, Alice Turner,
Richard Lander, Sam Rudstein, Adam Mrocki,
Christian Richardson, Daniel Portelli, Demian Hobby, Irina
Grossman, Daniel Mirmelstein,
2.5 Thomas Dreyfus, Kylie Amoore, Stuart Thomas,
Sasha Tsykin, Andrew Cullen, Dwayne Stojecevski,
2.0 Katrina Fine, Vincent Sinn,
Alvina Chu, Liam Doidge,
Avi Waksberg, Anthong Lang,
1.0 Lachlan Spring, Bridget Spring.