Thursday, 28 June 2012

Gold Coast Open 2012

By Moulthun Ly

The Gold Coast Open for this year, brought in one of the highest turnouts ever in the event with over 50 players entered into the open division. It's always great to play this event each year, since its right after the  end of semester. Also I've surprising missed out on playing this on numerous occasions before, which involved our earlier trips. Looking through the list of players, I noticed a lot of strong 2200-2300 players which would make life extremely difficult, in a small 6 round fide event.

Many of whom comprised of our Olympiad team, which I very much look forward to playing along side. I managed to hold comfortable advantages in my first two rounds and converted fairly convincingly. The first real test came in the 3rd round against Chris Wallis, I chose a interesting f4 line of the french after inspired by Nakamura's recent game. Although instead of 0-0, I played a fairly dubious bxf5?! after which i found it very difficult to win. Although after my opponent played an equally dubious Kd7?! I managed to explode open the board and with both sides down to 30 seconds, I managed to break through decisively before his pawns could get rolling.

Next up was a game I looked forward to, being on the black side against GM Zong-Yuan Zhao. Although it came in round 4 when both were tired and ready to call it quits. Still we played, and white solidly held some advantage with the positional pawn sacrifice e5! Although some later inaccuracy allowed black to equalize and consolidate the position and with no active plan for either a draw was quickly agreed.

The first game the following day, was against Max Illingworth. Where like Ian Rogers pointed out "was the most boring game in the entire tournament" but i would go as far to say in my life. Although the only one to blame for this is me, who "initiated" the eye-rolling exchanges after missing a very simple move from black to equalize. Well this meant I had no choice but to go into the last round with all guns blazing. Of all the people to get in the final round was Andrew, who had been on a roll for over 10 games straight. After a bad opening line, I found myself in unknown territory. However a somewhat unprovoked exchange by White giving up his bishop gave me breathing room. The 2 bishops quickly showed their worth and went on to win a long difficult rook endgame.
This left Zong-Yuan clear and deserving winner on 5.5/6 and myself closely behind on 5 level with several other players. It seems it ended abruptly, a few more rounds would have made things quite interesting indeed. The results can be seen on

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

2012 NSW Open

by Andrew

This year's NSW Open was held over the long weekend of the 9th, 10th and 11th of June, and attracted a near record-breaking 139 players (87 in the Open, 52 in the U/1600) from NSW, ACT, QLD, VIC and WA. Even a few overseas players played; most of whom also came for the Asian Amateur and Asian Seniors Championships held the week before. The field was also very strong, with 1 GM, 4 IMs (all but one of whom have previously been Australian Champions), 2 FMs, 1 WIM, 2 WFMs and 25 players rated above 2000. This year's prize pool was a whopping $11,100 all up, with a particularly large $1000 first prize for the under 1600 division. I was ranked 8th in the Open on FIDE ratings and was expecting to get a score of 5 or 5.5/7, a typical result for me in 7-rounders in the past year.

Rounds 1 and 2

My first round was against Jamie-Lee Guo (1800), in which we got into a roughly equal endgame where my opponent missed a bishop fork I had to win a piece. In the second round I was White against Levi Descallar (1922) and it was quite an entertaining game that started as some sort of Cambridge Springs Variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined, where at one stage, my space advantage appeared to be overwhelming...

After 19.e4
...but after a couple of clever pawn breakthroughs from my opponent, I suddenly had to worry about the safety of my king. Luckily I was able to bring my knight to f1 where I was completely safe from any tactics or checkmates, and the rest was clear sailing.

Round 3

The next day was 3 rounds, which is always tough when playing full-length games (even when playing 60/10). I knew from experience that if I could get through this day relatively unscathed, then I should be okay to handle the rest. In Round 3 I was Black against Arthur Huynh (2022). The game was a well-known line of the King's Indian in which my opponent went for a less direct method of attacking on the queenside. Soon after, my opponent took a pawn that allowed me a timely pawn push to break through on the kingside, and with mate threats and threats to win a lot of material, my attack prevailed.

Position after 18.Nxa7?

18...g3 19.hxg3 fxg3 20.Be3 Nxd5! A typical motif in the King's Indian once the pawn has reached g3. Other knight moves also work. 21.Qd2 (21.exd5 Qh4 22.Re1 Qh2+ 23.Kf1 Qh1+ 24.Bg1 Nh4 and the threat of Qxg2# is unstoppable. 21... Qh4 22. Rfe1 Bh6! 0-1

Final position.
Round 4

Round 4 was my first match up with one of the heavyweights, 3rd seed IM Gary Lane (2394), who had recently had excellent back-to-back performances at the Doeberl Cup and Sydney International Open. I was on the White side of a Moscow, and my opponent opted for a perhaps somewhat dubious line which, while it did fix up his queenside pawns and weaken my kingside pawns, allowed me an open f-file and very active pieces.

Round 5

After 4 rounds there were two of us on 4/4, myself and IM George Xie (2408). I was lucky enough to have the white pieces again, as George was due for a Black, and being the higher-rated player, got it. The game began as a Queen's Indian and George quickly deviated from theory and played the strange looking Ncb4 on move 10. The game soon got quite wild and lots of pieces came off, with me emerging an exchange up in a R+N against B+B ending. After a while I managed to liquidate into a N vs. B ending a pawn up, where my well-placed knight on d4 dominated his white-squared bishop.

Day 2 had finished. And what a relief, I thought - the worst was surely over...

Round 6

The next day I was Black against Australian No.1 GM Zong-Yuan Zhao (2542). The opening was quite dodgy for me, and I wasn't keen on being on the backfoot the whole game and getting slowly outplayed, so I ended up saccing a knight for two kingside pawns in the opening to try and get some long term pressure. Zong-Yuan was able to consolidate and fend off all my threats, and before too long got to swap off his knight for my light-squared bishop, which was really the only piece keeping me in the game. I thought about resigning after this, but since the position was quite blocked up and his kingside pieces were in slightly awkward positions, I decided to play on. I held on for as long as I could, keeping the same material imbalance until the endgame. Zong-Yuan gained more space and with his move 44.a6 I could only move my queen and rook, but he had overlooked a remarkable trick I had to save the game.

After 43...h4!?

44.a6?? (44.Ng4+-) Qd1+! 1/2 -1/2 (45.Rxd1 Rg1+! 46.Kxg1 stalemate) (45.Nf1 Qxf3+ -+)

So, with that very large dose of good fortune, I was still half a point in front of the pack with 5.5/6.

Round 7

In the last round I played IM Stephen Solomon (2386) with White, which meant I had got the top four seeds in the last four rounds. I was pretty content with a draw, as I would get at least equal first and $1200, but of course for Solomon a draw is almost never on the agenda - this case being no exception. We swapped off queens early and I had slightly better pieces but it was hard to get a clear advantage. I gained some space but this ended up weakening my pawn structure and he was able to get all of his pieces out quite quickly after a tactic. It was looking fairly drawish but then I misplaced my knight and soon found I was on the backfoot. Luckily I was able to swap off some pieces and reach an ending with my passed b-pawn still on the board, which gave me compensation for his kingside majority.

The game was very close to ending in a draw by repetition, but Solomon avoided this, making a few concessions which allowed my to push my b-pawn up the board very quickly. In the resulting endgame I was an exchange up for a doubled pawn, and although there were some doubts as to whether it should have been winning, I knew I would no longer lose. After about 45 moves in this endgame I had managed to cut his king off from his pawns and bring my king around to take them all. And after that he had to admit defeat.

So, with 6.5/7, I emerged as the sole winner of the tournament, winning $1600! I was exceptionally lucky to draw the game against Zong-Yuan, and also lucky to get three Whites against the 3 IMs that I played. But I did feel as though I played good chess each game, and I didn't feel like I had to rely on tricks and "bluffing" as much as I have for my past successes, which I think is a really good sign for me.

Some interesting statistics from this tournament:
  • This year I scored 6.5/7 and performed at 2789 (gaining over 40 points!)
  • Last year I scored 3.5/7 and performed at 1882 (losing over 40 points!)
This is the first time...
  • I have won the NSW Open outright
  • I have won any grand prix tournament outright
  • in 1.5 years, from a total of 22 tournaments, that I have performed at over 2300.
  • in my life (so far as I can tell) that I have got through a (FIDE, ACF or rapid) rated tournament without losing a game.
  • I have posted in 8 months
This was the second time...
  • ever that I have given a speech at a tournament, (the first was this year's ACT Championship) and I believe this was only my second opportunity ever to do so.
This was the third time...
  • in four years (2009-2012) that an ACT player has won the NSW Open (go ACT!)
This was the seventeenth time...
  • I have stayed at Charles' place for a tournament

For a while my results have been pretty mediocre. My Europe trip last year wasn't very successful, and in other tournaments such as last year's Young Masters, and the Queenstown Classic, I performed below my own expectations. I don't expect to get results like this consistently - I know luck played quite a part in some of those games - but it is nice to have some confidence back in my chess.

I am very excited to be going to Greece for the World Juniors in August, which Fedja will also be playing in, and winning this money makes getting there a lot easier. (It would have been a long swim.) Before that, however, is this week's Gold Coast Open, which promises to be a very strong event (probably even stronger the NSW Open!) with GM Zong-Yuan Zhao and several IMs and FMs already entered (Junta, Moulthun and myself included) - and live commentary by GM Ian Rogers!

So stay tuned, and expect more posts soon.

Friday, 8 June 2012


by Junta

Hello after another period of inactivity. I'm in the middle of the university exam period so I'll be giving the NSW Open on this long weekend a miss, but I'm planning to play in the Gold Coast Open for the first time in two weeks' time. It's a 6-round FIDE-rated swiss (with a gruelling 3 rounds on the Saturday).

In May the chess world saw Anand defend his world champion title in a rapid playoff after the 12 classical games ended level. Gelfand prepared excellently and he had Anand on the ropes throughout the even match, but wasn't quite able to convert at the decisive moments. It was great to see him receive a hero's welcome upon his arrival back home to Israel, covered in this ChessBase article.

The Candidates tournament (a double round robin! revised from the knockout format of last year) to determine the next challenger to Anand is scheduled for March next year, with the 8 qualified players (in seeding order) being Gelfand, Carlsen, Aronian, Kramnik, Radjabov, Ivanchuk, Grischuk and Svidler.

And of course, the year's strongest tournament, the annual epic, Tal Memorial tournament has commenced in Moscow today. With an average FIDE rating of 2776 and all of the live rating top 5 (Carlsen, Aronian, Kramnik, Radjabov, Nakamura) playing, it couldn't have come at a better time for university students.

An innovative idea for the drawing of player numbers was seen yesterday as the 10 monsters battled it out in a blitz round robin. Being a big fan of Alexander Morozevich, I was delighted to see that he won this side event with 6.5/9 (on tiebreak from Carlsen) and a 2943 performance, pocketing €5000! Photos and all games can be seen in this ChessVibes article.

Games start at 9pm AEST.
You can watch the (live) games in a cool viewer @ this link:
There is great live commentary (with quality video) by Ian Rogers every round from this page. Press conferences with the players can be watched on the RCF's video page here.