Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Vikings Weekender 2011 - Day 1

by Junta

The Vikings Weekender, the third biggest tournament on the nation's capital's calendar, was held over the weekend (Nov 19-20).

This 7-round Swiss with the familiar Australian weekender time control of 60 minutes + 10 seconds / move was promoted to a Class 2 (ACF rated) event on the Grand Prix for the first time this year, attracting some strong players at the top - three IMs (Xie [NSW], V.Smirnov [NSW], Brown), one FM (Ikeda) and three others rated over 2100 (Mandla [NSW], Melrose, A. Smirnov [NSW]).

Round 1

The lower rated players are outrated by up to 1000 points or so at the start of these Swiss events, but several upsets usually occur, and this event was no exception - one of these was scored by an ex-junior who was Board 1 on my primary school team when we represented the ACT at the nationals 11 or 12 years ago.

Like the large part of once active Canberra juniors, he had drifted off the scene as college and university studies had got in the way of chess, but having completed his studies and a friend taking up playing, he had made a return. Another player who had come out of hibernation was an Australian Junior champion from the early 70's - it's great to see people like these come back and play again.

The top seeds won comfortably, with the exception of myself - as a dedicated time trouble connoisseur from my pre-teen years, I often exhaust most of my hour in the first 20 moves in this time control, and blitz from the middlegame - I hadn't been able to convert my slight advantage until my opponent blundered when down to his last 10 seconds also, in the last game to finish.

Round 2

Things went better for me this time, as the two bishops had their say;
I was satisfied to find a strong move here, 15.Bd4-b2 (Idea Qd1-d4), Houdini's first choice also. 1-0 (27)
It seemed like the top seeds would cruise through the round again, but as the games finished one by one, the Board 1 game between Xie (2460) and local player Sengstock (1723) had reached an intriguing endgame: Xie had sacrificed the exchange in the middlegame to reach an endgame with White having the two bishops, active king and an one or two-pawn advantage against Sengstock's rook, bishop and weaker pawns.

As more than a third of the 56 tournament entrants crowded around the table, Black defended brilliantly in serious time trouble to slowly whittle away the material, and a big upset draw was scored - White couldn't make any more progress.

Round 3

Following the top seed's draw above, the 2nd and 3rd seeds also dropped half points this round - Vlad Smirnov was held to a draw by his ever improving 10-year old son, Anton, while I was in big trouble on the next board against local veteran Grcic. A lapse of concentration in the opening resulted in making one pawn push too many, and White's 9.Qe2+ forcing ...Nge7 guaranteed my king would not be on time to board his scheduled flight to g8. White soon had a big advantage - down to my 10-second increment very quickly, I made a desperate draw offer, and to my relief he accepted after some thought - in the analysis we quickly established that White was probably just winning at the end.

(show chess board)(hide chess board)

As the 4th-6th seeds survived to win, the leading scores after Round 3 were:
3  - Brown, Mandla, Melrose
2½ - Xie, V.Smirnov, Ikeda, A.Smirnov, Grcic

Round 4

A couple in the leading group, Mandla and V.Smirnov, took half-point byes - playing four games in one day can be quite demanding, so the players were allowed to take a half-point bye (or two perhaps, for good reasons) on the first day. There was some controversy after last year's event when one of the tournament winners had taken two half point byes in Rounds 4 and 5, so the rules were modified this year.

Board 1: In the clash of the leaders, Brown beat Melrose in a typically strong 1.d4 game from him, against a Nimzo/QID hybrid setup.
Board 2: Xie outplayed Grcic.
Board 3: Although getting in time trouble in the middlegame after trying my hand at the "beginner's" Giuoco Piano as White, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d3 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Na4 etc., I managed to win against Anton.

The game ended: 36...Qd5? (...Qc5 += or ...Qb6 were better) 37.Ng6 Rf6 38.Rxf5 1-0

The leading scores at the end of the first day were:
4  - Brown
3½ - Xie, Ikeda, Mandla
3  - V.Smirnov, Melrose, E.Guo, Ng, Ali, Zulkifli, Press, Litchfield

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