2011 Victorian Country Chess Championship
Eighteen players turned up to Swan Hill last weekend for the Victorian Country Chess Championships.
Stewart Booth & Nigel Barrow, equal first, share the trophy
It was great to catch up with some old friends and also see some new faces – juniors Heath Gooch and Brody Tanner from Mildura being able to compete for the first time due to the location, and also a doctor from Swan Hill, Depankia Chakroborty. It was also good to see Ben Kersten from the Geelong Chess Club, who surprised everyone by arriving at the venue on his bicycle! (Thankfully, he hadn’t ridden the 400km distance – he’d just ridden from his accommodation).
Beggs, Murray, Watson, Booth, Cook, Barrow, Perrin, Gamage, Wijesuriya
The surprises started in round 1, with three draws on the top four boards. Former Ballarat Club champion, Joel Beggs agreed to a draw against top seed Stewart Booth, when it appeared Joel had the advantage. Last year’s co-champion, Russell Murray, was held to a draw on board 2 in an exciting endgame against Geelong Chess Club president, Ben Kersten, while Ballarat player, James Watson, secured a draw in a tough struggle against Bendigo Chess Club champion, Leigh Healey.
Ben Kersten (black) concentrates hard against Leigh Healey - while Terry Mills takes on James Watson
Round two saw an interesting position on board one between Nigel Barrow and Max Mollard with both players’ queens en prise, while on board two, eleven times Sri Lankan women’s champion, Vineetha Wijesuriya, demonstrated fine endgame technique to overcome Patrick Cook.
Booth takes on Wijesuriya. Russell Murray (foreground)
The third round saw Wijesuriya take on Barrow in a game with both players advancing pawns on the king side early on. The resulting position wound up favouring Nigel, who was able to trap one of Venieetha’s bishops and simplify into a winning endgame. On board two, David Schepisi looked to have Stewart Booth on the ropes, at a critical moment late in the game, David overlooked a chance to capture one of Stewart’s rooks with his knight (which would have left him the exchange for a pawn ahead), only to have Stewart turn the tables and win the endgame. On board three, Russell Murray seemed all but lost when down in material against Kevin Perrin but managed to conjure a perpetual check with his queen, while on board four, Joel Beggs overlooked Max Mollard breaking a pin to win a piece - (it wasn’t a “safety pin”!) Thumula Gamage also had a good result, drawing against Patrick Cook.
Chakroborty v Czuczman - They've only played a handful of moves, contrast the advanced stage of the junior game next to them!
The fourth round game between Nigel Barrow and Stewart Booth finished in a draw after some original play from both sides, while Russell Murray eventually overcame Max Mollard after reaching what seemed a very even queen and rook endgame.
David Schepisi v Terry Mills
Round 5 saw Russell Murray pressing extremely hard for victory against Nigel Barrow, Russell took up a lot of time early and rejected a chance to win the exchange in time pressure (a second player who didn’t play knight takes rook!). This allowed Nigel to later force queens off and go into a winning endgame several pawns up. On board two, Stewart Booth gained victory over Vineetha, while Leigh Healey moved into contention with a win over Patrick Cook on board three.
Watson v Schepisi
The final round game between Nigel Barrow and Leigh Healey petered out into a draw, after Healey forced the trade of queens and rooks early, simplifying into a minor piece endgame, with neither player being able to break through the pawn chain. The resulting draw gave Stewart Booth a chance to tie for equal first, but he had to overcome stiff resistance from Russell Murray. Material was even, but Stewart had a space advantage, and gradually forced Russell’s pieces back. In the last game to finish, Stewart eventually managed to break through on the king side while Russell’s bishop was restricted to the queen side.
Heath Gooch takes on Depankia Chakroborty
Meanwhile, Vineetha Wijesuriya defeated David Schepisi to tie for third, while Joel Beggs overcame Ballarat compatriot, James Watson, to take the Reserve’s title.
James Watson unleashes a home brew variation against Russell Murray's Caro Kann. Ben Kersten contemplates his move in the background.
Overall, this turned out to be a fun and memorable tournament – special thanks to Stewart and Gaye Booth for use of the venue and catering services. Thanks also to all of the competitors for helping to create a friendly and enjoyable atmosphere.
Joel Beggs, Russell Murray, James Watson, Stewart Booth, Patrick Cook, Nigel Barrow, Kevin Perrin, Thumula Gamage, Vineetha Wijesuriya
Kertsen v Gamage. If you stare at the position too hard, it all becomes a blur!
Kevin Perrin employs the English opening against Max Mollard, while David Schepisi seems to like Vineetha's blue outfit
Kevin Perrin takes on David Schepisi's Alekhine's Defence, Stewart Booth ponders his position
Leigh Healey v James Watson
Max Mollard takes on Russell Murray's Caro Kann, while Stewart Booth takes on the absent photographer.
Mills v Chakroborty.
Nigel Barrow evaulates Vineetha's agressive pawn thrust
Patrick Cook employs the Larsen attack against Ken Czuczman, while Joel Beggs and James Watson prefer a Sicilian
Russell Murray takes on Keven Perrin
Russell Murray tries the Budapest Gambit against Stewart Booth, while Leigh Healey considers Nigel Barrow's original opening move.
Russell Murray v Ben Kersten
Simon says 'put your hands over your mouth'!
Terry Mills v Brody Tanner
The final game still going, long after everything else has been packed up
The last game to finish - Rusell putting up stiff resistance against Stewart
The start of Round 5, Max Mollard needs some sustenance to overcome Ken Czuczman, while Terry Mills was unable to hold out Kevin Perrin
Vineetha & Max wonder who turned the lights off (actually, the camera flash didn't go off).
Vineetha contemplates her move, while Dr Booth causes a headache for Dr Schepisi.
Vineetha Wijesuriya counterpunching against Nigel Barrow on board 1
Vineetha Wijesuriya, equal 3rd, 4 points.
Youth versus experience - Thumula Gamage holds Patrick Cook to a draw, whilst Ken Czuczman's gains the victory over Brody Tanner.