52nd Club Championships 2017

2017 Club Champion: Rob Loveband

A Group

Epilogue

So, this exceptionally strong “Andy Miitel Memorial” Ballarat Championship has come to an end and was a triumph for Rob Loveband who played the most consistently strong chess throughout to win his 3rd Championship title. Reputations meant nothing to him, and he was justly rewarded for his creative ideas and brave decision-making.

The “John Baynham Memorial” Reserves Championship was won in emphatic style by young Cassandra Barnett with the astonishing score of 11/11!! Ambitious, confident, and hungry, she has earned her spot in next year’s Championship tournament.

The “C” grade tournament was won by Cassandra’s youngest sister Chantelle Barnett with an equally emphatic score of 7/7! With classy technique and a solid opening repertoire, the future looks bright for her, and she can confidently take her place in next year’s Reserves Championship.

Catch-up Round

Only 3 games remained unplayed after the scheduled 11 rounds, and 2 were duly played the following week. Patrick Cook versus Peter Lumsdon, from Round 4, was a Queen’s Indian Defence. A careful manoeuvring game was the result, with both players respectful of each other’s strengths. Predictably, Patrick offered a draw on move 23, but Peter wanted more. However, after a further 10 moves Peter himself offered a draw in an unusual endgame with just 4 Knights plus pawns on the board. Kevin Perrin versus Jamie Brotheridge, from Round 11, was also a Queen’s Indian, and also a manoeuvring game. A clever tactic gave Jamie a pawn in the middle game, and a later oversight by Kevin gave him a piece and the game as well. Robert Bailey versus Ben Naughton from Round 1 was not played and was declared a forfeit for Robert.

Last round: Round 11

The last round, and as luck would have it, the Championship round! Rob Loveband versus James Watson would decide the title, win, lose, or draw. Rob, needing only a draw, played the flexible English Opening, a good choice. James responded with a symmetrical structure and managed to win a pawn early. Rob regained the pawn in the middle game, whilst also carefully trading all the minor pieces to reach a basically drawn ending. James, hoping for an edge, kept the Queens on the board, but then succumbed to the pressure and blundered the Queen catastrophically, to hand Rob his 3rd Ballarat Chess Club Championship.
Heath Gooch met Rob Bailey in a Sicilian, Moscow variation. Rob was unable to cope with Heath’s strong technique and the 2013 Champion suffered another vexing defeat.
Ben Naughton faced Rod Jacobs in a Scandinavian. Once again, the stronger player prevailed, and Ben crashed to his 10th defeat in 10 games!
Peter Lumsdon versus Bas van Riel was a French. Peter essayed an unusual line, but gained little from it, and Bas gradually applied the screws. This prompted Peter to muddy the waters with some tactical operations. Sadly, Peter missed the opportunity to crown his inventive play with a spectacular rook sacrifice that would have won the game. Instead, Bas was able to clean up and finish the tournament on a high note.
Patrick Cook met Harrison Harrison and couldn’t believe his eyes when Harrison gave away his Queen for Bishop on move 4! Undaunted, Harrison played on and created the kind of awkward position he has become renowned for. This prompted Patrick to return the Queen to reach an ending the exchange and 2 pawns to the good. Harrison continued resisting, but then fell into checkmate in the middle of the board!
Kevin Perrin versus Jamie Brotheridge was postponed.
Meanwhile, 2 postponed games were played at the Clubrooms earlier in the week.
Heath Gooch versus Kevin Perrin, from Round 7, was a French, Winawer variation. Unfamiliar with its intricacies, Kevin didn’t play the most forcing lines and was gradually outplayed by Heath’s very strong technique.

At the same time, Bas van Riel met Patrick Cook in their Round 8 game. Also a French, Winawer, this was in Patrick’s comfort zone and a real fight was the result. Black eventually reached an endgame a pawn up with Bishop’s of the same colour. After declining a draw offer from Bas (!), Patrick showed excellent endgame technique to score his 1st Championship win against Bas since 1991!

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Round 10

Top seed Bas van Riel met Kevin Perrin in a Queen’s Indian Defence. A long, slow positional battle ensued. The game was quite even for a long time, but Kevin eventually fell to Bas’ subtle play.
Jamie Brotheridge faced Patrick Cook in a Semi-Slav, and played the rare Exchange variation. He gained some pressure from this innocuous line, and late in the game Patrick gave a pawn to gain some play. In a rooks and pawns ending Patrick claimed a draw by three-fold repetition. Jamie wasn’t convinced but eventually accepted that he couldn’t win anyway.
Harrison Harrison ventured another of his Surrealist Openings (1.h4 e5 2.e3…) against Ben Naughton. The game quickly warped into a sort of deformed Larsen Opening. Harrison won Queen for rook, with a passed pawn to boot, in the middle game. But Ben did not despair and fought back to reach an ending with 2 rooks plus 2 pawns for his Queen. Sadly, he blundered away a rook and crashed to yet another defeat.
Rodney Jacobs met Heath Gooch in an important clash. A Caro-Kann Defence, the game was a sharp theoretical duel. Heath grabbed a hot pawn in the middle game, and then picked up another to seemingly have the edge. But when he castled King-side straight into a vicious attack, he was asking for trouble against Rodney. Heath proved unable to cope with the deep tactics and Rodney scored a great win, denting Heath’s title prospects.
Robert Bailey took on tournament leader Rob Loveband in a French, Steinitz variation. After castling on opposite wings, Black created a weakness in the White position. White gave up a pawn trying to create some play, but Black simply kept the pawn throughout a long positional struggle and made it count in the endgame.
Defending Champion James Watson faced Peter Lumsdon in a Queen’s Gambit Declined. Another theoretical duel between 2 knowledgeable opponents was the result. In the early middle game Peter missed an important tactic and was forced to give up his Queen for rook and bishop. This was all James needed, and he went on to score an efficient win and stay in the hunt for the title.
Meanwhile, the postponed round 3 game James Watson versus Patrick Cook was played. Patrick left his usual French Defence at home and opted for the Modern instead (1.e4 g6). James quickly turned it into a King’s Indian Defence and gained the exchange in the middle game. He neatly avoided some pitfalls and scored a convincing win.
So, with 1 round to go, the title race is now between the leader Rob Loveband and James Watson a half-point behind. As luck would have it, these 2 will play each other in the last round.

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Round 9

With the tournament nearing the end, every result is becoming crucial, especially for the leaders.
James Watson, still in with a big chance, faced top seed Bas van Riel, who has suffered some setbacks. A Dutch Defence, Staunton Gambit was played and Bas kept the pawn for a long time whilst simplifying the position. James collapsed late in the endgame to revive Bas’ chances.
Peter Lumsdon met Robert Bailey in a Sicilian. Peter chose the Closed variation and a tough positional battle ensued. It looked very even throughout, until Rob managed to push through a pawn on the Queen-side late in the endgame to score a very nice win.
Heath Gooch, another of the leaders, took on Harrison Harrison, still in with a chance himself. After 1.e4 h5?!, Heath’s logical and unpretentious play won him a pawn quite early. He seemed to be heading for another win, but Harrison, ever inventive, succeeded in pushing forward a King-side pawn majority and creating real problems for Heath. A timely draw offer by White saved him! Harrison accepted, not realising that he was, in fact, winning!
Ben Naughton, struggling at the bottom, faced Jamie Brotheridge in a Caro-Kann. The game was very even right into the endgame, and Ben appeared to be on his way to a draw. A slip gave Black a pawn and although he laboured somewhat, Jamie was able to eventually win.
Rob Loveband, the nominal tournament leader, took on the always dangerous Rodney Jacobs with the English. Rod made it a reversed Sicilian and a real fight resulted. Rob successfully restrained Rod’s attacking flair and managed to win the exchange late in the middle game. Excellent and accurate endgame play then gave Rob a fine victory and real chances of grabbing the title.
Patrick Cook faced his old rival Kevin Perrin in their 33nd Championship encounter! A Dutch Defence was played and a lively game was the result. Early in the middle game, Patrick spotted a nice tactic that netted two pawns and from there he was quite ruthless in hauling in the full point, denting the veterans chances of adding a record equalling 8th title to his legacy.

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Round 8

Harrison Harrison wheeled out another Surrealist opening against Rob Loveband (1.c3 Nf6 2.a4 d5 3.f3…). Rob quickly obtained an imposing centre and in middle game operations gained a piece for two weak pawns. Black later simplified to an easy endgame win with passed pawns on the a and h files, while his extra piece took care of White’s sole passed pawn.
Rodney Jacobs faced Peter Lumsdon in another Morra Gambit, although Peter declined  the pawn offer. The game was very sharp nonetheless, and Rod managed to win the exchange for a pawn in the middle game. After interesting play, Peter resigned when faced with an unstoppable Queen sacrifice leading to mate.
Robert Bailey took on defending Champion James Watson in a Spanish, a rare opening in this tournament! With simple and logical play James won a pawn in the middle game and quickly reached an endgame still a pawn to the good. Rob resigned after blundering a rook instead of regaining the pawn as he had thought.
Jamie Brotheridge met Heath Gooch in a Queen-pawn opening. Classical and logical play by Heath won him the exchange in the middle game, and when Jamie’s attempts at counter play resulted in the loss of another exchange, he resigned.
Kevin Perrin met Ben Naughton in an English Opening (“playing the English against an Englishman” as Rob Bailey aptly noted!). Kevin’s vast experience prevailed and Ben sadly remains at the bottom of the table on 0 points.
Bas van Riel versus Patrick Cook was postponed.

Round 7

Robert Bailey challenged Bas van Riel’s favourite King’s Indian Defence with the fearsome Bayonet Attack. And it was an uncompromising battle between two well-armed opponents. White went for rapid Queen-side expansion, with Black quickly launching a King-side attack. White’s attack petered out, while Black crashed through for a convincing win.
Defending Champion James Watson met Rodney Jacobs in a Tarrasch Defence. White gained a positional edge early, and tactical operations netted a pawn and the exchange to set up a completely winning position. Some less than optimal moves by James gave Rodney a saving chance, and he grabbed it to force a draw by repetition.
Peter Lumsdon versus Harrison Harrison featured another opening oddity (1.e4 Na6?). Classical play by Peter left Harrison with a cramped position, and Peter reached a winning position with further logical play. But he failed to put Harrison away, and Black was able to bamboozle White and somehow snatch victory!
Ben Naughton faced Patrick Cook in a French, Exchange variation. Despite its drawish reputation, this line has hidden pitfalls for the unwary, and Patrick is well versed in its subtlties and won a pawn in the early middle game. The rest, as they say, was a matter of technique, and Patrick won despite an endgame inaccuracy.
Heath Gooch versus Kevin Perrin and Rob Loveband versus Jamie Brotheridge were postponed.
Meanwhile, the round 5 postponed game, Rodney Jacobs versus Bas van Riel was played. Rodney essayed his favourite Morra Gambit against Bas’ Sicilian, but found Bas to be very well prepared. It was a tough fight that ended abruptly when Rodney missed a critical threat that forced him to give up his Queen to avoid mate. He resigned a few moves later, to give Bas another high class win.

Round 6

Bas van Riel brought a touch of the 19th C to the Club when he played the Kings Gambit against Ben Naughton. Ben cleverly declined the gambit and kept things even well into the middle game. Bas used a lot of time and he invested it wisely, eventually winning the game.
Patrick Cook took on the nominal leader Heath Gooch in a Slav. Patrick, unusually, couldn’t resist giving a piece for 3 pawns in the early middle game. The rest was a superb display of technique by Heath, who calmly and accurately snuffed out all Whites attempts to make something of his passed pawns.
A resurgent Kevin Perrin faced the last undefeated player Rob Loveband in an English that very quickly became a Nimzo-Indian. White won a pawn early, and with accurate play picked up the exchange as well. Black tried to set up a blockade, but a timely return of the exchange in a deep combination gave Kevin another brilliant win, and ended Rob’s unbeaten run.
Jamie Brotheridge versus Peter Lumsdon was another English that transposed, this time to a Slav-like structure. White picked up a piece for 2 pawns in the middle game, but Black had pressure on the White King as compensation. In a tense game, White blundered into a lost Queen and pawns ending trying to relieve the pressure.
The opening of Harrison Harrison versus James Watson is indescribable. James simply made logical moves and a rather chaotic middle game position was reached. Black pressed and punished Whites loose play. Only loss on time prevented James from delivering an elegant mate.
Rod Jacobs met Robert Bailey in a delayed Morra Gambit. Both players were well armed, and a tough, tense, theoretical duel ensued. Typically, Rod sacrificed a piece for a couple of pawns and the initiative. Later in the game, the players reached a very unusual position with every square on the e file occupied by pieces or pawns! After some calm and deft defensive play, Rob executed an aesthetically pleasing finish to score his first win of the tournament.  

Round 5

Robert Bailey, languishing at the bottom of the tournament, took on Harrison Harrison in a Pirc Defence that quickly went feral. In no time at all, White gained an imposing centre. Looking to press his advantage, White sacrificed a pawn in the middle game, only to discover that he’d merely lost his edge. After a long and difficult endgame, White resigned with seconds left on his clock in an apparently lost position, only to discover that the game should be drawn!
James Watson faced Jamie Brotheridge in a Grunfeld; no surprise there. White won a pawn in the opening, picked up another in the middle game, and then polished Jamie off with precise endgame play.
Rob Loveband versus Patrick Cook was a French, Winawer. White went for a positional approach, but was then unable to resist a piece sacrifice to open up the Black King for a seemingly irresistible mating attack. Black missed the hole in the combination, but still managed to survive, and an engrossing game resulted. White prevailed after some brilliant endgame play and remains undefeated.
Peter Lumsdon met his old rival Kevin Perrin in a Scandinavian Defence. In a tough positional encounter, neither player seemed able to gain the advantage, but Peter continued to press and appeared to be gaining a decisive edge, before great tactical alertness by Kevin won a piece and his nimble Queen snuffed out Peter’s last chance. A great win by the veteran!
Heath Gooch faced Ben Naughton in a Scotch. White gained the 2 Bishops in the opening, but not much else due to stiff resistance by Black. After reaching a Rooks and pawns ending equal, Heath managed to win a pawn and gained 2 connected passed pawns, which he pushed through to win efficiently.
Rodney Jacobs versus Bas van Riel was postponed.
Meanwhile, the postponed game Harrison Harrison versus Bas van Riel from round 3 has been played. It was another weird “Harrison special”, with a very early Ra3. Simple play by Bas gained him the exchange, but Harrison never gives up, and Bas was unable to convert his advantage, eventually accepting a draw after a lengthy game.

Photos: Rob vs Pat for a difficult win, Peter fell to Kevin's tactics, and the Barnett girls continue to do well.

Round 4

Harrison Harrison took on runaway leader Rodney Jacobs in an almost conventional opening! In something resembling the Colle system, Rodney sacrificed a piece for 3 pawns right in the opening stages. A messy game ensued, with unfathomable tactics, until Black blundered his Queen in a winning position.
Top seed Bas van Riel faced newcomer Heath Gooch in a Caro-Kann. In a theoretical discussion, the game remained quite even, with Black solving all his problems. Late in the game, Bas missed something and dropped a pawn. Thereafter, Heath converted his advantage in a smooth display of technical chess.
Ben Naughton versus Rob Loveband was an open Sicilian, and proved to be a real fight! White was doing well until a few unfortunate ideas late in the middle game resulted in a rapid collapse.
Kevin Perrin met aggressive defending Champion James Watson in a Danish Gambit Declined! James couldn’t resist sacrificing a piece for a couple of pawns plus an attack. Kevin survived, despite his exposed King, and took advantage of several errors by James to record a major upset win.
Jamie Brotheridge played the English against Robert Bailey and applied a lot of pressure to Black’s position, eventually winning the exchange and making it count, to inflict more misery on the 2013 Champion.
Patrick Cook versus Peter Lumsdon was postponed.

Round 3

Rodney Jacobs met Jamie Brotheridge in a Caro-Kann. White launched into a sharp, aggressive line and a fascinating tactical shoot out was the result. After trading blows toe-to-toe, Rodney emerged a rook to the good when the smoke cleared and Jamie resigned.
Rob Loveband versus Heath Gooch was a Semi-Slav. In a theoretical duel, neither player strayed far from equality, and the game petered out to a draw.
Peter Lumsdon faced Ben Naughton in a main line Spanish. Ben avoided any opening catastrophe, but Peter’s knowledge and experience eventually gave him a material advantage which he duly converted.
Robert Bailey played Kevin Perrin in an English Opening. This was a surprise, since it is one of Kevin’s specialties, and Robert has not been known to play it. In a positional struggle, Kevin began to worry about his position and offered a draw. Robert declined, but immediately made a disastrous move, and resigned in disgust without waiting for Kevin’s reply!
Harrison Harrison versus Bas van Riel, and James Watson versus Patrick Cook ere postponed.

Round 2

Kevin Perrin faced Rodney Jacobs in a Tarrasch Defence. In a hard fought game, the 2 protagonists reached the late middle game more or less equal, but a faulty combination by Kevin left his position in ruins and Rodney pocketed the full point.
Bas van Riel met Rob Loveband and the game began as a Benoni, before quickly morphing into something like an English. Bas was unable to get much of an edge, and Rob quietly kept improving his position before profiting from unusual tactical ineptness by Bas and going on to score a big upset result.
Patrick Cook versus Robert Bailey was a Nimzo-Indian. Predictably, Patrick offered a draw impossibly early, which Black dismissed. He soon regretted that decision when a poor move gave Patrick a material advantage and firm positional grip that he never let go. White went on to score a smooth win and notch up another victim of “Patrick’s Curse”.
Heath Gooch versus Peter Lumsdon was a Scotch. After Queen swap and piece trading, a very drawish looking end game was reached. Heath had other ideas, though, and in a display of high class technique was able to put great pressure on Peter’s position, which he converted after Peter’s attempt at counter play failed.
Ben Naughton played James Watson in a Scandinavian. It was short and brutal. After donating a piece on move 7, Ben then stumbled into a mating set up and resigned on move 12!
Jamie Brotheridge took on Harrison Harrison in a non-descript Queen-pawn opening. After a great deal of piece shuffling, they reached a Rooks and pawns ending with Jamie a pawn to the good. Uncharacteristically, Jamie did not blunder it all away with a hasty move, instead he stayed focused and scored an impressive victory.

Earlier in the week, the postponed game Jamie Brotheridge versus Bas van Riel was played. In an unusual QGD/Tarrasch hybrid, Black managed to grab a pawn. Jamie kept fighting and was eventually rewarded with a hard fought draw.

Round 1

Defending Champion James Watson took on newcomer Heath Gooch in a sharp Slav Defence. A tough, theoretical battle, White eventually won a pawn in the late middle game, and won surprisingly quickly from there.
Rodney Jacobs faced Patrick Cook in a French Tarrasch. Both players went for the attack in an interesting game. Black, thinking his opponent was going for a perpetual, allowed a fatal pin and sacrifice, and Rod’s attacking prowess gave him the full point.
Harrison Harrison met Kevin Perrin and wheeled out the rare van Geet Opening (1.Nc3…). From then on the game got stranger!, with the Knight quickly moving to the K-side and the a, b, c, and d pawns all launching themselves forward! Black set up a Dutch type structure, but was overwhelmed by White’s imaginative play.
Peter Lumsdon versus Rob Loveband was a French Classical. Peter played the dangerous and dynamic Alekhine-Chatard Attack. Rob avoided the sharpest lines, and a long positional struggle ended in a draw.
Jamie Brotheridge vs. Bas van Riel and Robert Bailey vs. Ben Naughton were postponed.

Prologue

The 2017 Ballarat Chess Club Championships is the 52nd in a long line dating back to 1966, the 1st of the “modern” era. 36 players have entered in 3 sections, a fantastic turnout that bodes well for the future of chess in Ballarat.

The ‘A’ grade Championship tournament for the “Andy Miitel” Memorial Shield is a 12 player round robin. Top seed is 7 times Champion Bas van Riel. A formidably strong all-round player, anyone with title aspirations will have to find a way to deal with his deep knowledge and powerful ideas.

2nd seed is the defending Champion James Watson. Ambitious, confident, and always probing for the advantage, he is clearly a major contender for the Championship title again.

3rd seed is newcomer Heath Gooch. Not much can be said, except he is young, has had professional coaching, and tournament experience. He will have a say in the title race.

4th seed is Peter Lumsdon. A strong player who rarely blunders, Peter has been floating around at the Club for 5 decades, off and on. If results go his way, he could finally win the title that has long eluded him.

5th seed is Rodney Jacobs. Winner of the unique 4-way play-off in 2014, Rodney’s Tal-like attacking vision make him extremely dangerous and quite capable of winning another title.

6th seed is 2 time Champion Rob Loveband. A strong, flexible player with a wealth of ideas, he, too, will have say in the title race.

7th seed is the record 8 times winner Patrick Cook. One can never tell if the “drawmeister” is switched on or not. If he is, his strong, Petrosian-like positional style could gain him yet another Championship medal.

8th seed is the “surreal” Harrison Harrison. Harrison is capable of anything, both at the board and in any tournament, and after his heroics in the 2017 Begonia Open, he may well win his 1st title.

9th seed is 7-time winner Kevin Perrin, playing his 52nd!! Championship tournament. With such vast experience, and an undimmed love of chess, who would dare write off his chances for a record-equalling 8th title?

10th seed is Jamie Brotheridge. He is aggressive, knowledgable, and has been close to winning before. His chances are not negligible.

11th seed is Robert Bailey, winner in 2013. A professional chess coach and solid positional player, he could rouse enough strength to make another bid for the title.

Bottom seed is Ben Naughton, bravely making another showing in the top division after last year finishing last, he cannot be taken lightly.

The ‘B’ grade Reserves Championship for the “John Baynham” Memorial Shield is also a 12 player round robin. Tom Oppenheim, Isaac Stolk, Anna Yates, Cassandra Barnett, and Miguel Marbella, promoted from last years ‘C’ grade event, are all real contenders, and promise an exciting race for the title and promotion to next year’s Championship tournament.

The ‘C’ grade event (so new it doesn’t have a name yet) has 12 players in a 7 round Swiss, with room for new entries if required. It is full of promising youngsters who will no doubt feature prominently in future years at the Club.

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News

The A grade plays for the Andy Miitel Championship trophy, and the B grade for John Baynham Reserves title. Andy Miitel was a former club president who was instrumental in revitalising and reconstituting the club in the mid nineteen sixties after the club had become somewhat moribund in the early sixties. John Baynham was an important club administrator in the late sixties and early seventies.