Wednesday, 6 July 2011

2011 Gold Coast Open

By FM Max Illingworth

This year’s Gold Coast Open was held at the Gardiner Chess Centre from the 25th to the 26th of June, with IA Charles Zworestine as the Director of Play. The tournament was divided into three divisions: Open, Under 1600 and Under 1000, which gave players of all strengths a shot at some prize money. This tournament (a Class 5 in the Yulgilbar-Think Big Australian Chess Grand Prix) attracted a record entry of 124 players, which included a number of interstate players. 

Charles hard at work. He looks as shocked as we are.

The top seeds in the Open division were (in ACF rating order): Local IM Stephen Solomon, GM Darryl Johansen of Victoria, yours truly, IM Andrew Brown from the ACT, Victorian IM James Morris, and FM Gene Nakauchi, all of whom were rated over 2100. With a large number of titled players spearheading the field, the tournament was guaranteed to be hard-fought. 

This was the first serious tournament that I have travelled to on my own, which proved to be quite an experience for me. I flew in to the Gold Coast on the Friday morning, and spent most of the remainder of the day at the Gardiner Chess Centre, studying some of Graeme’s books (thanks Graeme!) and talking to some of my friends who were also at the centre. I was dropped off at the Wallaby Hotel, but I couldn’t get too comfortable there – I had to check out the next morning! 

As I am a night owl, I found it difficult to wake up at 6.30am on Saturday morning, but i somehow found time to eat breakfast the next morning at Cafe Cino before being picked up by Graeme from my hotel. I am very grateful to Graeme who picked me up and dropped me off during the event, and to Fiona who made sandwiches for me so that I didn’t have to worry about food between rounds. 

After three rounds, there were four players on 3/3: Stephen Solomon, myself, Andrew Brown and Queensland junior Yi Liu. Not far behind them on 2.5/3 were Darryl Johansen and James Morris, who had just drawn an interesting contest.

[Round "3.4"]
[White "McClymont, Brodie"]
[Black "Brown, Andrew"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B33"]
[WhiteElo "2083"]
[BlackElo "2292"]
[Annotator "Andrew Brown"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8.
Na3 b5 9. Nd5 Be7 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. c3 Ne7 12. Nxf6+ gxf6 13. Bd3 Bb7 14. Qe2
d5 15. Nc2 Qb6 16. O-O-O Rd8 17. Rhe1 Rd7 18. f4 ?! (D) {Falling right for Black's trap. 18.exd5 would have been fine here.}

18...f5! {Black should be better after this, but it is not yet easy to secure a comfortable advantage as White has much more active pieces and a lot of pressure down the e-file.} 19. exf5 e4 20. Nd4 exd3 21. Rxd3 Qd6 22. Qf2 Kd8 23. g4 Kc7 24.Rh3 Kb8 25. g5 (D) 

25...h5 ?! {Saving the pawn, but making White's job of pushing his pawns through easier.}26. f6 {I had found this move an intended to play 26...Ng6, thinking that after 27.f5 Qf4+ 28.Qxf4 Nxf4 I should be fine... What I didn't realise initially is that after this White can play 29.Rf3 Ng2 and 30.Re2 trapping my knight.} Nc6 27. Nxc6+ Qxc6 28. Qd4 (D)

28...Rdd8? {Wasting at least one, probably two tempi, as the rook stands better on d7 where it protects the f-pawn and keeps the e1 rook from infiltrating immediately.} 29. Re7 Rhf8 30. Rhe3 b4!? {Creating some counterplay.} 31. Kd2 Rc8 32. f5 Qb5 33. Qf4+ Ka8 34. Qxb4 d4! 35. Rd3 dxc3+ 36. bxc3 Qc6 (D)

 37. Qd6? {White blunders in time pressure, allowing Black to infiltrate and take back the initiative.} Qg2+ 38. Ke1 Qxg5 39. Qb6 {Black has to play precisely from here because of all the mate threats arising around the Black king.} Qc1+ 40. Ke2 Qh1! 41. Rdd7 Qxh2+ 42. Ke1 Qh1+ 43. Kd2 Qg2+ 44. Ke1 Qg3+ 45. Kd1 Qf3+ 46. Ke1 {And the rest is easy.} Qxc3+ 47. Kf2 Qc2+ 48. Re2 Qxf5+ 49. Kg3 Rg8+ 50. Kh2 Qf4+ 51. Kh3 Qg3# 0-1

In the last round on the Saturday I was able to take advantage of Yi Liu’s time pressure to convert a marginally better position into victory. On the other hand, the game between Andrew and Stephen could have gone either way, but it was eventually Stephen who prevailed in the time scramble. This left myself and Stephen in the lead on 4/4, and Darryl and James, who beat Brodie McClymont and Gene Nakauchi respectively, on 3.5/4. 

[Round "4.1"]
[White "Brown, Andrew"]
[Black "Solomon, Stephen"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D31"]
[WhiteElo "2292"]
[BlackElo "2413"]
[Annotator "Andrew Brown; Fedja Zulfic"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bb4 6. g3 $6 c5 7. e3 Nc6 8. Bxc4
Nf6 9. O-O cxd4 10. exd4 O-O 11. Be3 Bxc3 12. bxc3 b6 13. Ne5 Bb7 14. Nxc6 Bxc6 15. f3 Qd7 16. Bd3 Rac8 17. c4 Rfd8 (D)

18. Ra3! {Supporting the bishop and making room for the queen on a1, where it will back up the a-pawn and the d-pawn simultaneously.} Bb7 19. a5 b5!? {I didn't expect this move to be very good, but it turns out to be quite tough to deal with.} 20. cxb5 Nd5 21. Bf2 Nb4 (D)

22. Qb1 (22. Bxh7+ Kxh7 23. Qb1+ Nc2 24. Rc1 (24. Ra2 Bxf3 25. Rxc2 Be4 26.
Rxc8 Bxb1 27. Rxd8 Qxd8 28. Rxb1 Qxa5-+) 24... Be4!! {F. Zulfic}) 22... Nxd3
23. Qxd3 (D)

23...Bd5! {Now White can no longer hold onto the extra pawn...} 24. Ra4? a6 25. Rb4 axb5 26. Ra1 Rc4 27. Rxc4 bxc4 (D) {Now Black is already slightly better, with a strong bishop and a a rook to become more active shortly.} 

28.Qe3 Rb8 29. a6 Qa7 30. Qa3 h5 31. g4 $5 Rb3 32. Qd6 Qa8 33. a7 Bxf3 34. Bg3 hxg4 35. Ra5 (D)

35...Bd5?! (35... Rb1+ 36. Kf2 Rb2+ 37. Kg1 Rg2+ 38. Kf1 Be2+ 39. Ke1
Rg1+ 40. Kd2 c3+ $1 (40... Rd1+ 41. Kc3 Qf3+ 42. Kb4 Rb1+ 43. Kc5) 41. Kxc3
Qf3+ 42. Kb2 Qb7+ 43. Kc3 Rc1+ 44. Kd2 Rd1+ {with mate to follow. F.Zulfic; A.Brown}) 36. Rxd5! exd5 37. Qb8+ Rxb8 38.axb8=Q+ Qxb8 39. Bxb8 (D) {Even after this, Black is still winning: the pawns will always overpower the bishop in this ending.} 

39...g5 40. Kf2 Kh7 41. Ke3 Kg6 {I stopped writing at this point as I was too short of time, but there isnothing to stop the king infiltrating, whereupon White will have to sacrifice his bishop in order to stop the g-pawn or the c-pawn from promoting.} 0-1

Once Round 4 had finished, Graeme dropped me off at my next hotel, the Outrigger Resort at Burleigh Heads. Unfortunately my mobile phone battery died while making a call, but my mum was able to make a wake-up call to my room to make sure I wasn’t late for my big game against Stephen Solomon. After waking up at 6.30am again, eating a paltry breakfast of six eggs (there wasn’t much else), playing through games on TWIC for 20 minutes and checking out, I was driven to the venue by Graeme. 

Paltry or Poultry?

Unfortunately for me, in my game against Solomon, after uncorking an opening idea I had prepared, I managed to blow a fine position very quickly with some stupid moves. My exchange sacrifice turned out to be a good idea, but I didn’t follow it up well and soon found myself facing a decisive attack on the kingside. Solomon was now in the clear lead on a perfect 5/5, but only a half-point back were Darryl Johansen, who defeated Andrew Brown after the latter’s pawn sacrifice didn’t go according to plan, and James Morris, who won swiftly against surprise packet Michael McGee. 

In Round 6, Darryl Johansen and Stephen Solomon agreed an early draw, where Darryl and Stephen both thought their positions were inferior! Stephen was still leading on 5.5/6, but this result gave me the chance to catch Darryl on 5/6 with a win over James Morris, where I botched my theory but still won convincingly after his strategic blunder. Joining Darryl and I on 5/6 was Yi Liu, who had just won against WIM Alexandra Jule in a complicated game. 

So at the end of the day, the final round pairings saw Stephen Solomon being paired against his student Yi Liu, Darryl having the white pieces against me, and James facing Alex Stahnke, who had just scored an upset win over Jonas Muller. My game against Darryl was a short draw where neither of us were better at any stage, and James won clinically against Alex, but the Solomon-Liu game was a very exciting game.
Yi seemed to be better in the early middlegame, and showed great fighting spirit in knocking back a draw offer from Stephen, but eventually Stephen was able to activate his pieces and start a mating attack in the endgame to win the game, and with it the tournament with an impressive 6.5/7. Sharing second place were myself, Darryl Johansen and James Morris.  

Although I didn’t play as well as maybe I would have liked, that didn’t spoil my experience by any means. I made several new friends, won some money, enjoyed playing and really appreciated the hospitality of the Gardiners! After the event I had dinner out at a nice Indian restaurant with a group of people, stayed at the Gardiners house on the Sunday night and was able to discuss chess with Darryl for a few hours. 

I am definitely going to play this event again next year, provided university commitments don’t get in the way!

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