The FIDE-rated 2011 Melbourne Chess Club Cup Weekender was held over 5 days from 28th October - 1st November. The tournament didn't attract as many players as previous years, but a number of 2000+ players participated, with GM-elect George Xie being the top seed. Rounds 1-7 of the tournament were held at the Club, on Leicester Street, Fitzroy, with the last two being held at the Fitzroy Town Hall. I stayed with Elizabeth Warren, who was a player in the tournament and a member of the organising committee.
|Chess graffiti in the alleyway outside MCC.|
My first game finished fairly quickly after my opponent neglected an important pawn push in the opening and allowed me to gain a lot of space and attack his king. My second round was quite nice; my opponent played an interesting sacrifice in the opening, giving up his knight for my two queenside pawns. Eventually I got my pieces into play and the advantage of having an extra piece became apparent. The game ended with a succession of sacrifices - which this time all happened to be the best move.
|Analysis area at MCC (also known as the blitz and transfer area).|
Round 4 I played the up-and-coming junior Savithri Narenthran, who had drawn with Mirko Rujevic in the first round. The game was a Grunfeld in which I got a decent attack on the kingside but didn't consider for very long a good attacking plan that I had, and instead chose a way to give back any advantage I had and let her get all her pieces into the game. At one stage I was quite worried about a move she could play that would probably leave me significantly worse off. Instead she chose a sacrifice that would have been perfectly sound had I taken it, but I moved another piece instead and created an unstoppable mate threat around her king.
22...Rxd4? (22...Qe6 and White is in trouble) 23.Bf6! Bxf6 24.exf6 (creating the threat of Rh8+, followed by Qh6+ and Qg7#) Rxe2+ 25.Kxe2 Qe6+ 26.Kf2 1-0
N.B: The report on the first 4 rounds was written 1 year ago. The report on Rounds 5 - 9 has been written by Andrew a year later.
Rounds 5 and 6
I was Black against Sylvester Urban in Round 5, a strong local player. The game was a (believe it or not) Sveshnikov that went into a sideline I didn't know well. At one stage I played a strange move which allowed him an opportunity to have an advantage but he chose a different move. A few moves later the game became complicated with me saccing a knight for three pawns and decent counterplay. The counterplay proved to be good enough to secure the point.
In Round 6 I played local IM James Morris as White. The game was a 7.Bb5+ Gruenfeld. I had a decent space advantage for most of the game and at one stage made an interesting decision to sac a pawn for play; soon after which I could have been a fair bit better had a played a normal move. It turned out that I had enough positional compensation to make good use of my pieces and keep his at bay. Before too long (partly as the result of time-trouble) his kingside defences broke down and, facing a significant loss of material, Black had to resign. This was my favourite game of the tournament, and can be seen below.
My Round 7 game can only be described as miserable. Playing top seed George Xie as Black we got into an opening that he had beaten me several times before from. I failed to find a decent plan after he played a line I had not prepared for, and my pieces (rather embarrassingly) became tied up in knots, which was when I had to admit a very early defeat.
Round 8 was against Justin Penrose. I was slightly better after the opening and we headed straight into a queenless ending, with R+R+N each. My pieces were much more active for most of the game, and I ended up winning an exchange. However I became confused about how to proceed while in time pressure and went for a line that should only have drawn - in fact, after another mistake it should have been winning for him. Following blunder after blunder for both side, my usual luck kicked in towards the end I was able to force a pawn promotion.
|In the midst of a blunderous endgame.|
Black now played 53...Rb8? (53...Rb3+ and Black is looking very good). 54.Rxb2 Rf8 55.Rb7 e5 56.Kc3 e4? 57.Rb5+ Kd6 58.Rxf5 +-
My position in the tournament was looking pretty good after Round 8, as I was on 6 points and pretty much guaranteed at least a bit of prize money. Playing White against FM Bobby Cheng, a win would get me outright 2nd and earn me $750, a draw would get me third place ($500). Disappointingly, I wasn't able to take either of these, as I was outplayed in a Stonewall where Bobby had a good space advantage on the kingside. He was able to infiltrate and I was not able to put up much resistance, and so he came outright 2nd with 7.5/9 - a commendable performance. George Xie took first place very convincingly with 8.5/9, and six people shared 3rd place (one of whom was me). Overall not a bad tournament for me - a certain improvement from my mediocre run in Europe. Though it was disappointing to fall away at the end.
1st: IM George Xie (2440) with 8.5/9
2nd: FM Bobby Cheng (2346) with 7.5/9
=3rd: Morris, Solomon, Brown, Rujevic, Garner, Tan, with 6/9
Next year I would have the opportunity to play in this event again and improve on my performance. Would it be the case? Find out soon in my upcoming post: MCC Cup Weekender 2012!