53rd Club Championships 2018

2018 Club Champion: Heath Gooch

A Group

Final Round and New Champion - Heath Gooch

And so we come to the last round of the 2018 Championship, and just like last year it will all be decided by a single game! But first, let’s get the other games out of the way. Patrick Cook versus Robert Bailey was a Benoni. Patrick blundered a pawn right in the opening, and Robert took advantage of his demoralised, indifferent play to score his 1 st Championship victory over the 8-time Champion.
Cassandra Barnett faced Kent Baden in a Grunfeld. Black won a pawn with a neat combination in the early middle game, then a rook in the endgame, and finally polished White off with a nice combination at the end.
Jamie Brotheridge took on Kevin Perrin in an English. White expanded on the Queen side, and seemed to have a slight edge in a tough and complicated game. Black picked up a pawn in the middle game, but White regained it in the endgame and seemed set to pick up another. Instead, Jamie went for a faulty pawn push expecting to gain an unstoppable passed pawn. However, he discovered to his dismay that he had played into a lost ending, and Kevin quickly wrapped up the full point.
Harrison Harrison met Rodney Jacobs and with a bizarre opening decision gave away the exchange on move 4! The game became very sharp and complicated in the middle game and reached an endgame with Harrison having 2 passed pawns for the exchange. The pawns became increasingly dangerous and Rodney was forced to give up a Bishop, but to no avail as Harrison went on to score a memorable win.
Ruari Coffey versus Rob Loveband was played earlier.
The Championship game: 2nd seed Heath Gooch versus top seed Bas van Riel. Black, needing a win, went for the French, Winawer, and ignored Heath’s early draw offer. White gained a slight edge with the exchange of Queen’s, and kept the position safe and seemingly unassailable. Bas kept plugging away and late in the game (and night!) conjured up a passed pawn. According to Heath, Bas was now winning, but he stumbled at the crucial moment, and instead fell into a losing endgame which Heath finished off with his trademark technique, to become the 2018 Ballarat Chess Club Champion.
So Heath Gooch is our deserved Champion for 2018, Caitlin Barnett is 2018 Reserves Champion, and Justin Goodison is ‘C’ Group Champion, making a trio of juniors as our Champions! Congratulations to all three players.

Reserves Champion Caitlin Barnett. Kent scores a reputable 5 points in his first tournament. Shaking hands.

Round 10

Top seed and nominal tournament leader Bas van Riel took on the floundering Patrick Cook in a French Defence. Bas played the rare Chigorin variation (1.e4 e6 2.Qe2…) which resulted in a slightly unusual position. A slip in the early middle game gave Patrick a material advantage which he set about trying to convert. Late in the middle game Patrick missed a nice idea by Bas and his advantage evaporated and the game fizzled to a draw.
Kevin Perrin faced Heath Gooch in a Caro-Kann. The game was tight throughout and seemed headed for a draw, but in a moment of inattention in the endgame Kevin dropped an important pawn. Heath’s powerful technique made him pay, and Kevin slumped to another defeat.
Robert Bailey met Ruari Coffey in a Sicilian. White went for the razor sharp Morra Gambit, a favourite of Rodney Jacobs. Black kept the extra pawn throughout a tough game, but White kept just enough play to obtain a draw.
Defending Champion Rob Loveband faced danger man Harrison Harrison in a weird Modern Defence. An interesting and unusual game resulted, and a drawish looking endgame was reached. Just when the draw looked likely, Harrison went pawn hunting, only to find himself in a lost position thanks to Rob’s imaginative play.
Rodney Jacobs met Cassandra Barnett in a mainline Grunfeld Defence. A complicated game was the result, but in the middle game White picked up the exchange. Rodney kept his advantage into the endgame, where Cassandra’s passed pawn was never enough for equality. White’s technique proved too strong and he collected the full point.
Kent Baden faced Jamie Brotheridge who surprised us by playing the French Defence . Kent played the Exchange variation (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5…) and after Jamie’s unusual response the game quickly resembled a Queen’s Indian Defence. The players reached an equal endgame, but then Kent managed to win a pawn and displayed excellent technique to win a fine game.
Meanwhile, 2 postponed games have been played. From Round 7, Ruari Coffey took advantage of Patrick Cook’s indifferent play to win, while from Round 6, Heath Gooch overcame Cassandra Barnett for another win.
So, going into the last round, Heath Gooch leads with 8/10, ahead of Bas van Riel on 7.5/10, and they will play each other for the title next Thursday!
As mentioned earlier, Caitlin Barnett has triumphed already in the Reserves tournament, while the C Group was finalised last Thursday. An exciting tournament resulted in a 4-way tie and the rapid play-off proved to be equally exciting with Justin Goodison winning to earn a place in next years Reserves Championship.

C Group Winner: Justin Goodison

Justin Goodison has emerged at the top of the C Group after winning an exciting double round robin playoff between the top 4 players. Peter and Justin finished up on equal scores leading into their final match of the 6 x 15 minute game playoff. They were just ahead of Dan and Sasha after Dan defeated Justin in the first game.
In the Consolation event for the other C grade players, Dylan Worthy finished a clear winner and played some very fighting chess after struggling in the prior games. His good result of 3.5 out of 5 signals that he has found the confidence to be a strong contender for the C grade title next year. Other players in this section were Kalen, Karthik, Selwyn and Gustav.

Justin reaches across in the final game to checkmate opponent, Peter Wang, as coach Rob Bailey looks on with interest

Championship Round 9

Harrison Harrison took on Robert Bailey, and came up with a new opening oddity with 1.Nc3…2.e3…3.Nce2. With logical play, Black punished this eccentricity, and White quickly found himself in a tangle and dropping pawns. Black carefully kept the advantage through the middle game and into the endgame to score an excellent win.
A resurgent Jamie Brotheridge faced Rodney Jacobs in a Queen’s Gambit Declined. In a very complex game, White pressed hard, but Black resisted despite dropping the exchange along the way. A tough, theoretically drawn endgame was reached, with Black seeking safety in a rook versus bishop ending. The game went ‘til midnight!, with Jamie showing fantastic technique to score a memorable win.
Patrick Cook met Heath Gooch in a dry Semi-Slav. After 18 moves of exchanges and manoeuvring, Patrick predictably offered a draw, which Heath dismissed with a wry smile. Excellent technique won Black a pawn in the middle game, but White traded down to a rook and pawn endgame with all the pawns on the same side of the board. Heath conceded the draw after 47 moves.
2017 Reserves Champion Cassandra Barnett faced 2017 Club Champion Rob Loveband in another Semi-Slav, this one not so dry. White came out of the opening even, but in a wild middle game tactical skirmish dropped material. Cassandra resisted as only she can, but the deficit was too great and Rob eventually hauled in the full point.
Kent Baden versus Kevin Perrin was a Scotch Opening. An interesting game ensued, but Black missed a continuation on move 20 that would have given him an advantage. Shortly after, Kevin dropped a piece and his position crumbled, emphasising his run of poor form.
Ruari Coffey took on top seed Bas van Riel in the latters’ favourite King’s Indian Defence. White reached the middle game with equality, but then, after a series of exchanges, Black emerged with an advantage. After gaining a powerful centralised Knight, Black went on to outplay White in the endgame to score an important point.
So, Bas van Riel now leads alone with 7/9, ahead of Heath Gooch on 6/8, Harrison Harrison on 6/9, and Rob Loveband on 6/10.
In the Reserves, Caitlin Barnett has secured victory with 9/10, well ahead of Tom Oppenheim on 5.5/8.
One other game was played during the week in advance of Round 11. Ruari Coffey met Rob Loveband in a Caro-Kann. After interesting middle game play, a drawish position with Bishops of opposite colour was reached. However, Queens and rooks were still on the board, and a sequence of poor moves by Ruari threw away the draw and handed Rob the full point.

Championship Round 8

Heath Gooch faced Ruari Coffey and played the venerable Scotch Opening! Black missed a chance to grab a pawn in the opening, before he felt compelled to give up the exchange in the middle game. Thereafter, Heath’s classy technique kicked in, and he picked up a couple of pawns as well, forcing Ruari to resign in a hopeless endgame.
Top seed Bas van Riel took on tournament leader Harrison Harrison and began with the cautious 1.g3… Harrison took a few moves before we saw another “Harrison Special”, and suddenly White got into the spirit of things, with a strange position on the board. Bas managed to win a pawn in the middle game, before blundering away the exchange! White shrugged that off, however, and from then on played an exemplary game, winning more pawns to establish a winning position. Harrison collapsed surprisingly quickly.
Robert Bailey met Cassandra Barnett in an open Sicilian. Sharp theoretical play followed with dynamic equality being maintained throughout the game. White turned down a draw offer, but was simply unable to gain an advantage and eventually conceded the half point.
Defending Champion Rob Loveband versus uncompromising Jamie Brotheridge began as a King’s Indian, before quickly switching to Jamie’s usual Grunfeld Defence. White played a series of inexplicable moves in the middle game that left him with a very difficult position. From then on, Jamie was quite ruthless in exploiting his advantage to score a fine win.
Kevin Perrin versus Patrick Cook and Rodney Jacobs versus Kent Baden were postponed.
So, going into the home stretch, Bas van Riel and Harrison Harrison jointly lead with 6/8, half a point ahead of Heath Gooch who has a game in hand.
In the Reserves, Caitlin Barnett finally conceded a draw (to her sister Chantelle), but is a full 4 points ahead of Kiki Dunn, Tom Oppenheim, and Chantelle Barnett, and has already won the title!  Congratulations to Caitlin. 

Championship Round 7

This was another fighting round of chess, with some strange things happening on the board!
Rodney Jacobs took on veteran Kevin Perrin in a Sicilian, and launched his favourite Morra Gambit. Hand to hand combat from both players ensued. With time trouble looming in an even end game, Black missed many drawing opportunities before being mated.
Kent Baden faced defending Champion Rob Loveband in a Caro-Kann. The game was over very quickly as White suffered a catastrophe in the opening, losing his Queen to a wicked pin.
Jamie Brotheridge met Robert Bailey in another Sicilian and it was a real slugfest. In an unbalanced middle game, White gained the advantage before a series of hideous blunders by both players, and when normal service resumed White was simply lost and Jamie resigned.
Bottom seed Cassandra Barnett versus top seed Bas van Riel was a Dutch Defence. Energetic play by White in the opening bode well until an unsound piece sacrifice in the middle game put her on the back foot. White then dropped the exchange to be a full rook down for no compensation. After later losing the Queen as well, resignation was prompt.
Tournament leader Harrison Harrison met his immediate challenger Heath Gooch, the only remaining undefeated player. Harrison returned to his surreal ways in the opening with 1.h4…2.g3…3.h5…Heath was unfazed and simply developed normally, but in a moment of inattention in the middle game picked up his Queen, only to realise that he loses a pawn for nothing. Touch move applies, and after a few more moves Black resigned in disgust.
Ruari Coffey versus Patrick Cook was postponed.
So Harrison keeps the lead with 6/7, a point ahead of Bas.
In the Reserves, Caitlin Barnett is running away with the tournament on 7/7, with Kiki Dunn a distant 2nd on 4.5/7. 

Championship Round 6

The vastly experienced 7-time Champion Kevin Perrin took on tournament newcomer Ruari Coffey, who played the rare Nimzowitsch Defence (1.e4 Nc6). White snapped off a pawn in the Opening with an old trick, and kept it throughout a complex game. At the end, Ruari overlooked a one move checkmate in a probably lost position.
Patrick Cook, 8-time Champion, playing his 34th Championship tournament, faced tournament leader Harrison Harrison. Black surprised everyone by leaving his opening experiments at home, and played a normal King’s Indian Defence. After reaching the middle game with equality, Harrison proceeded to outplay Patrick to achieve a winning position. White then rolled the dice without much confidence, sacrificing his Queen, only to discover that he had accidentally checkmated his opponent! As Rob Loveband noted, in a reference to Patrick’s disaster the previous week, “Fate turns on a dime”.

Bas van Riel, top seed and 7-time Champion, met uncompromising Jamie Brotheridge and played the English Opening. A tough, gritty game ensued, with neither player gaining an edge. Late in the game, in a drawn position, Bas stumbled, dropping the exchange, and in trying to avoid that, then walked into an unusual checkmate.
Robert Bailey versus Kent Baden, another tournament newcomer, was a Philidor Defence. Kent knows it well, and by the middle game the position resembled a Sicilian and was pretty even. White played the subsequent Queen and Rook endgame excellently and grabbed a pawn. Kent didn’t panic though, and managed to draw with a timely perpetual check.
Defending Champion Rob Loveband met Rodney Jacobs in a Queen’s Gambit Declined. A tough, positional struggle was the result. Late in the middle game things became lively, with the players trading tactical blows. Rob missed a difficult to see mating opportunity, but then profited from a rare tactical slip by Rod and won his Queen and the game.
Heath Gooch versus Cassandra Barnett was postponed.
So, after a particularly bloody nights chess, Harrison remains in the lead, with Heath Gooch a half point behind with a game in hand and the chance to grab the lead.
In the Reserves, Caitlin Barnett leads with 6/6, followed by her younger sister Chantelle on an unbeaten 4/6.

Round 5

Defending Champion Rob Loveband took on veteran Kevin Perrin and played an odd Queen pawn opening that quickly resembled a weird Larsen Opening. White managed to win the exchange early on, and had little difficulty making his advantage count.
Cassandra Barnett faced Patrick Cook who played a Nimzo-Indian Defence. Black quickly gained a decisive advantage from the opening, picking up the exchange and a pawn. White resisted stubbornly, and late in the game Black was poleaxed by a lethal tactic that saw the 8-time Champion crash to a vexing defeat.
Rodney Jacobs versus Robert Bailey was a Sicilian, Morra/Alapin hybrid. A grand scale theoretical duel between two players familiar with the territory was the result. The game was quite even until Black inexplicably dropped his Queen in a bizarre case of chess blindness and immediately resigned.
Kent Baden met top seed Bas van Riel in another Open Sicilian. In a battle between two players with classy technique, White gained some space, but Black’s experience eventually prevailed.
Jamie Brotheridge versus Heath Gooch was a Caro-Kann Defence. Black’s calm, logical play in the face of White’s aggressive intent resulted in Heath winning a pawn late in the middle game. White’s resistance then quickly crumbled and was followed by a dispirited resignation.
Tournament leader Harrison Harrison met Ruari Coffey, and yet another “Harrison Special” was the result, with 1.d3…2.a3 the start of the game.  Ruari got into the spirit of things, and a strange game was played, culminating in a tactical blaze in the late middle game. When the smoke cleared, Harrison was winning, and he made no mistake. So the top of the table remains unchanged, with Harrison on a perfect 5/5, and Heath Gooch half a point back.

Round 4

Kevin Perrin, the doyen of Ballarat chess, faced tournament leader Harrison Harrison who played a weird French/Pirc hybrid. Kevin set about trying to gain an edge and made some progress. His pressure was never quite decisive though, and late in the game in time pressure he dropped a piece and the game.

Ruari Coffey took on Cassandra Barnett and surprised everyone with the Nimzo-Larsen (1.Nf3…2.b3…) and a tough positional struggle ensued. The game remained quite even well into the middle game, until Black allowed a fatal pin in a moment of inattention. A further tactical oversight left her position untenable and Cassandra promptly resigned.

Heath Gooch met Kent Baden who played the Philidor Defence (1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6), a rare guest in chess these days. An unusual middle game position was reached, and White managed to win a pawn and disrupt Black’s pawn structure. From there, Heath’s powerful technique forced a smooth win.

Top seed Bas van Riel faced the very dangerous Rodney Jacobs in a Scandinavian (1.e4 d5). A full scale battle of heavyweights was the result. Late in the game, Black lost momentum, and after a speculative attack failed, found his position crumbling. Loss of material and resignation followed.

Robert Bailey faced defending champion Rob Loveband who tried the Sicilian Dragon against an expert! The result was almost predictable. White launched the aggressive Yugoslav attack and overwhelmed Black’s meek response with a series of powerful thrusts.

Patrick Cook versus Jamie Brotheridge was postponed, but was played the following day at the Public Library. A Benko Gambit was played (already a surprise!), and a lively battle was the result. White kept the extra pawn well into the late middle game, and seemed poised for a win. Imaginative play by Black regained the pawn, and in the endgame, a combination of a strong centralized Knight and White’s exposed King enabled Jamie to win with a quick attack ending in checkmate.

Harrison continues to lead with 4/4, half a point ahead of Heath Gooch.

Round 3

Robert Bailey met veteran Kevin Perrin in a French, Winawer. Kevin played an old, slightly unusual line. Robert responded by sacrificing a pawn for rapid development of his pieces. He profited from Black’s hesitant middle game play, and a quick King side attack forced a quick resignation.
Defending Champion Rob Loveband took on top seed Bas van Riel in a Closed Sicilian. After castling on opposite wings it appeared that an uncompromising battle was in store. In a nervy middle game with a lot of manoeuvring, White picked up a pawn, then another and seemed headed for a win. Black managed to push a dangerous passed pawn, and the game was later agreed drawn in a very strange position, Black having 2 pieces, White 4 pawns!
Rodney Jacobs versus Heath Gooch was a Caro-Kann. Rod played his favourite, very aggressive King side pawn push. The result was a wild tactical fist fight. Rod tossed in a piece sacrifice for good measure, but dropped his Queen at the height of the battle, and promptly resigned.  
Kent Baden faced Patrick Cook and walked into the lion’s den, playing a French, Tarrasch against the club expert! He proved himself to be more than able, and played very strongly and accurately, prompting Patrick, typically, to offer a draw. There was some amusement when Kent enquired how long he had to think about it, but, after some thought, played on. Black soon found himself almost in zugzwang, and only a nicely timed pawn sacrifice to free up his Bishop saved the draw.
Jamie Brotheridge met Ruari Coffey who played a kind of Blumenfeld/Benko Gambit hybrid. White kept the pawn and a feisty game ensued. Early in the middle game, Jamie missed a lovely tactic by Ruari and fell to a disastrous defeat.
Cassandra Barnett faced Harrison Harrison, and after 1.d4 Nf6, the game swerved off into Harrison’s now usual Surreal chess world. Cassandra was unable to cope with Harrison’s strong positional sense and tactical eye, and eventually succumbed.

Round 2

Heath Gooch faced defending Champion Rob Loveband in a French Defence, Steinitz variation. A tough, even positional battle ensued, and it remained more or less equal until White picked up an important pawn late in the middle game. In the resulting rook and pawn endgame, Heath’s excellent technique enabled him to score the full point.
Patrick Cook met Rodney Jacobs and played a quiet, unpretentious Catalan-type game to avoid any of Rod’s razor sharp preparation. Early in the middle game, Patrick sacrificed a piece for 2 pawns, thinking he could quickly regain the piece with advantage. Rod immediately found the flaw and in a lengthy game eventually broke Patrick’s stubborn resistance.
Harrison Harrison took on Jamie Brotheridge. The books say his first move, 1.c3…, is the Saragossa Opening, but thereafter it was entirely Harrison’s own invention. Once into the middle game, the position resembled a Queen’s Indian. Jamie then went astray in a tactical melee and shed material before resigning in disgust.
Kevin Perrin faced Cassandra Barnett in an Open Sicilian. Cassandra played well and kept it equal until inexplicably handing the exchange to the veteran. Kevin made no mistake from there and hauled in the full point.
Ruari Coffey met mystery man Kent Baden in a non-descript Queen Pawn Opening characterised by careful manoeuvring. Kent managed to win a piece for pawn late in the middle game and showed high class technique in the end game. Ruari resisted in a hopeless position until move 90, before resigning a move or two before checkmate.
Top seed Bas van Riel faced Robert Bailey who feinted a French Defence before quickly switching to his usual Sicilian. The game remained even well into the late middle game, until Bas conjured up a nice idea that netted a piece and the game.

Round 1

Defending Champion Rob Loveband met 8-time Champion Patrick Cook and played the English. Patrick went for the sharpest response and the game reached a position of dynamic equilibrium, whereupon Patrick reverted to form and offered a draw. Rob thought for 20 minutes before accepting.
Rodney Jacobs took on new-comer Ruari Coffey in an odd Queen’s Gambit, Exchange variation. White managed to win a pawn in the early middle game, and in the course of the game picked up more pawns while exchanging most of the pieces. The resulting endgame was easily won.
Robert Bailey faced Heath Gooch in a Caro-Kann Defence. A heavyweight theoretical duel in the Panov-Botvinnik variation ensued. It remained equal until White won a pawn with a neat tactical operation late in the middle game.  Short of time and unsure how to proceed in the King and pawn ending that followed, Rob consented to a draw.
Kent Baden met Harrison Harrison who played a sort of Owen’s Defence, almost conventional by Harrison’s standards! Black picked up a pawn early in the middle game, and strong, careful positional play eventually gave him the full point.
Jamie Brotheridge faced Cassandra Barnett who surprised JB by playing the Grunfeld against the local expert! A complex middle game battle was the result, with neither player straying far from equality. Cassandra’s courage was rewarded with a hard fought draw.
Bas van Riel versus Kevin Perrin was postponed but was played 2 days later at the Public Library.  Kevin showed his versatility by playing the Petroff Defence. Bas won the exchange in the middle game and seemed headed for a routine win, but a timely counter attack by Kevin reversed the assessment. Black regained the material and White was forced to bail out to a draw.

Prologue

The 53rd Ballarat Chess Club Championship is another strong tournament in the tradition dating back to 1966. Due to the large entry, the event is once again split into three group: the ‘A’ group for the “Andy Miitel Memorial” championship title; the ‘B’ group for the “John Baynham Memorial” reserves title; and the ‘C’ group for a yet-to-be-named title.
Top seed in the ‘A’ group is Bas van Riel, a formidable all round player and winner of the title on 7 previous occasions. He first won the title in 1981, and most recently in 2015, a remarkably consistent record and deservedly goes in as tournament favourite.
2nd seed is Heath Gooch, playing only his 2nd championship tournament. He finished 2nd at his first attempt last year, and with a solid, well trained positional style he could go all the way this year.
3rd seed is defending Champion Rob Loveband. An imaginative, highly creative player, and completely unafraid of reputations, he could well add another title to his current 3.
4th seed is Rodney Jacobs, winner in 2014 after a four-way play-off. Rodney likes gambits, and always comes to the board well-armed with deeply prepared weapons. If he’s in form, he could win another title.
5th seed is “The drawmeister” Patrick Cook, playing his 34th! Championship, and winner of a record 8 Championship titles. Very solid, difficult to beat, and coming off a good victory in the 2018 Spielvogel Memorial tournament, he might just rouse himself to grab another title.
6th seed is Harrison Harrison, possibly the most original player ever to play at the Club! He has already invented several dubious openings, but if he survives into the middle game, his positional and tactical vision is quite strong. He is a chance for the title this year.
7th seed is Jamie Brotheridge. A feisty, confident player, and an expert in several openings, Jamie has finished highly on several previous occasions. The Championship title has so far eluded him, but he can never be ruled out of contention.
8th seed is the incomparable Kevin Perrin playing his 53rd !! Championship. Winner of 7 previous Championships, he has vast experience and also cannot be ruled out of contention.
9th seed is 2013 Champion Robert Bailey. A professional chess coach (several of his students are playing in the ‘B’ and ‘C’ groups!) he has great chess knowledge and could win another title if results go his way.
10th seed is Ruari Coffey, playing in the Championship for the first time. He won’t be over-awed by the occasion, as shown by his strong 2nd place in the 2018 Spielvogel Memorial. Not a favourite, the other contenders will have to be careful of him.
11th seed is Cassandra Barnett, promoted as the imposing winner of the 2017 Reserves title. A confident and improving player, she has earned her spot in the 2018 Championship group.
12th seed is newcomer Kent Baden. An unknown quantity, except that he has shown himself to be a capable player in his brief time at the Club to date. It will be interesting to see how he fares.
The ‘B’ group is headed by Ian Boyle, returning to the Club after several years away. A sharp, attacking player, his style is similar to that of 2nd seed Tom Oppenheim. Their clash will be worth watching, and may even decide the title! Anna Yates is the other serious contender. The beneficiary of professional coaching, she has been improving steadily over the past few years, and this could be her year. Also worth watching out for are Kiki Dunn, Caitlin Barnett, and her sister Chantelle Barnett, promoted from last years ‘C’ group.

The ‘C’ group will take up the rest of the entries and will be played as a Swiss tournament.

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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.