The 2012 Ballarat Chess Club championships, the 47th, attracted a field of 19 players, split into 2 tournaments. The ‘A’ grade, for the Andy Miitel Memorial shield has 9 players.
The field is headed by the defending champion Rob Loveband, aiming for his 3rd title in 4 years . Rob has developed into a formidable positional player and was clearly the player of the year in 2011, winning all four Grand Prix events.
2nd seed is Wineetha Wijesuriya, making her debut in this event. 11 times Sri Lankan women’s champion and Olympiad representative, she will be a tough opponent for everyone, after winning the Spielvogel Memorial at the start of the year.
3rd seed Patrick Cook, 7 times champion of the Club, remains dangerous, despite slipping back in the Club rankings over the past few years. He can quietly sneak to the top of the table if other results go his way.
Likewise Kevin Perrin, also a 7-time champion of our Club. Vastly experienced, he is quite capable of beating anyone in the field on his night.
2-time champion Peter Miitel has close to the best technique of anyone in the Club, and poses a serious threat to the top seeds.
Jamie Brotheridge has yet to win the highest title, but his aggressive style and strong second place last year, suggest this could be his chance.
Rob Bailey, now an experienced and sought after junior coach, brings a wealth of knowledge to the field, and cannot be treated lightly.
Chris Segrave has a solid, well-thought out repertoire, and is tough to beat. The title contenders cannot afford to meet him in his comfort zone.
James Watson, winner of last year’s Reserves title, is ambitious and increasingly dangerous, he will have a say in who wins this year’s title race.
So, a good field promises a most interesting tournament.
The ‘B’ grade, for the John Baynham Memorial shield, has 10 players, with Tom Oppenheim top seed closely followed by Thumula Gamage. The Reserves title is likely to be fought out between these two contrasting players : Tom Oppenheim’s ultra-attacking style versus Thumula Gamage’s considered positional play. Also worth keeping an eye on is young Jonathon Yates, a fast improving junior benefitting from professional coaching.
List of Players
Top seed Rob Loveband had the bye, but with Rob Bailey requesting a postponement, the defending champion met Kevin Perrin in advance of round 4. A Semi-Slav, the game was an even struggle in the opening stages, but White quietly, almost imperceptibly, gained control of the centre, and made his positional advantage count in the endgame.
Wineetha Wijesuriya met ambitious junior James Watson and played a Catalan-type game. Black held his own until he went pawn hunting in the middle game and found his Bishop trapped. Despite a tactical oversight by White, Black was never able to free his piece and was overwhelmed in the endgame.
Patrick Cook faced Chris Segrave in another Catalan. Black dropped a piece early and never recovered; White smoothly converted to an efficient win.
Peter Miitel met Jamie Brotheridge in a Slav via an English. Neither player seemed to be in a combative mood and they agreed a draw in just 12 moves!
The top 2 seeds met this round in a most important clash. Rob Loveband took on Vineetha Wijesuriya in a London/Colle type system, something that seems to be Vineetha’s specialty! The game slowly evolved into something like a Sicilian with chances for both sides. In a positional struggle, Black gained an edge and ground out an impressive win.
Rob Bailey versus Peter Miitel was a Semi-Slav. Cautious and accurate play by both players kept the game even, though tactically interesting, and a draw was duly agreed.
Chris Segrave took on Kevin Perrin. What began as a Sicilian was cleverly turned into a King’s Indian Attack by White who gained some pressure for his inventive play. He failed to follow up with any endeavour and was punished in the endgame by Black’s superior technique.
James Watson faced Patrick Cook in a Nimzo-Indian. White’s inaccurate handling of the Opening gave Black a pawn, then a faulty combination increased Black’s material advantage, and a final error resulted in Black winning the White Queen and the game.
Jamie Brotheridge had the bye.
The big clash in this round was Patrick Cook, seeded 3, versus Rob Loveband, seeded 1. Predictably, the no. 3 seed relied on his trusty Larsen’s Opening. Black played positionally and carefully, although the game was not without tactical interest. After initially declining a draw offer, Black offered one himself a few moves later which White accepted.
Peter Miitel took on Chris Segrave who turned an English into a Slav. Solid play by Black kept it equal into the middle game until he carelessly dropped a pawn. Thereafter, White’s superior technique won him the game.
Jamie Brotheridge met Rob Bailey in a Benoni, something of a specialty of Black’s. In a dynamic position, White gained a slight edge early, but Black traded material to reach the safety of an equal ending and a draw was agreed.
Kevin Perrin faced ambitious junior James Watson who offered an Alekhine Defence! White “declined’ and the game morphed into a strange amalgam of the French and Sicilian. Black gained space in the middle game and White drifted, seemingly without a plan. Black took over the initiative and went on to win a fine game.
Vineetha Wijesuriya had the bye.
Another important clash was played this round when Vineetha Wijesuriya took on Patrick Cook. In a Slav, White gained the type of position that proved so effective last year against her opponent. Wanting to avoid a slow death, Black opened up the position and freed his Bishops. A dynamically equal game was reached and Black carefully traded pieces until a drawn ending was agreed to be so.
The only other game played on the night saw James Watson take on Peter Miitel (game below) in a strange Reti/Double Fianchetto with b4! In a manoeuvring game, Black happily grabbed material with his Queen until “lightning” struck out of the blue and he found his strongest piece trapped in the wide open spaces of the middle of the board. He resigned in astonishment.
Chris Segrave versus Jamie Brotheridge was postponed; (congratulations to Chris and partner on the birth of their second son, Patrick!)
Kevin Perrin versus Rob Loveband was played in round 1.
Rob Bailey had the bye.
Game of the Day
Try to guess White's last move 25. He started weaving the net on move 19.
Only two games were played on the night.
Peter Miitel met defending champion and top seed Rob Loveband. Unsurprisingly, it was an English, and Black chose a symmetrical set up. Not much happened in this manoeuvring game, the players never really straying from equality and the game was duly agreed drawn.
Jamie Brotheridge faced ambitious junior James Watson in another English. Black gained an advantage from the opening stages, but neglected his development and was soon material down on the Queen side. White ruthlessly subdued any Black hopes from there and went on to score the full point.
Kevin Perrin versus Vineetha Wijesuriya, and Rob Bailey versus Chris Segrave were postponed. Patrick Cook had the bye.
The postponed round 4 game, Chris Segrave versus Jamie Brotheridge, was played during the week. A Sicilian, White played well early to gain an edge, but failed to make the most of it, allowing Black to get on top and grab the full point.
Rob Loveband faced aggressive Jamie Brotheridge in an important showdown. White opted for a Queen pawn opening without c4, and Black responded with a Queens Indian set-up. The position eventually resembled a Larsen! Black relentlessly built up a space advantage in the middle game, but White’s position was solid enough to warrant a draw offer. Black, with 2 bishops versus 2 Knights, declined, and he tried to make something from nothing before stumbling into a lethal Knight fork that cost a rook. A terrible tragedy for Jamie.
James Watson met Rob Bailey and was confronted by the Dutch, Leningrad variation. White won a pawn in sharp middle game play, but Black had strong King side pressure which he converted into a winning attack.
Vineetha Wijesuriya versus Peter Miitel was a Semi-Slav. Black offered an early draw, which White declined after a long think. She seemed to be gaining an edge on the Queen side, but Black defended carefully and the game was indeed drawn.
Patrick Cook faced his old rival Kevin Perrin in their 27th championship encounter!! White chose his old favourite Larsen (1. b3) and Black responded with caution. Neither player was able to gain a decisive edge, and after each declined a draw offer, the game was drawn anyway.
Chris Segrave had the bye.
Peter Miitel met Patrick Cook in an English. The two players seemed to have a lot of respect for each other and when Peter offered a draw after just 7 moves !, Patrick accepted after lengthy thought.
Jamie Brotheridge faced undefeated Vineetha Wijesuriya. Black adopted the Pirc (1. …d6) in response to Jamie’s 1.e4. In a tough struggle, neither player was able to gain a substantial edge, and the game was eventually drawn.
Rob Bailey took on Rob Loveband in a French defence! Black showed that he isn’t a “Frenchman” and misplayed it, handing White an advantage. White wasn’t able to make much of it, and Black gradually equalized and the game was duly drawn after a lengthy struggle.
The luckless Chris Segrave met James Watson who played an Alekhine! Somehow, White turned it into a Kings Indian attack, but was unable to make much of it. Black successfully marshalled his forces and overwhelmed the demoralised Club vice-President.
Rob Loveband met Chris Segrave in a Caro-Kann, Black’s specialty. Black played well in his comfort zone and reached a seemingly rock solid position. He neglected his King safety, however, and White spotted a spectacular and quite beautiful mate.
Vineetha Wijesuriya versus Rob Bailey was a battle of the coaches! A mainline Dutch Leningrad, the game was worthy of these two experienced trainers. A complex Queen-less middle game was reached, with each player trying to gain a decisive edge. In a game that probably should have been drawn, Black collapsed in time pressure to hand Wineetha an important point.
Kevin Perrin faced Peter Miitel in an open Sicilian. White couldn’t resist a piece sacrifice to get at the Black King early in the middle game and the rest of the game saw Black holding on, and gaining more material, in the face of White’s fierce attack. Incredibly, Black’s nerves failed him, and he offered a draw when a bishop and rook up! Even more incredibly, White declined! And very shortly after rued that decision.
Patrick Cook versus Jamie Brotheridge was the traditional grudge match between these two. Black played the Grunfeld (as expected by White) but ran into some nice preparation, which netted White a pawn and big positional advantage from the opening. White never let go of his grip, and finished off his opponent with a King march that resulted in mate.
Round Eight Results
Officially the last round of the championship, but with several important games postponed it was unlikely that the title would be decided on the night.
Rob Bailey took on the nominal tournament leader Patrick Cook in a French. Black prepared an unusual sideline of the Winawer variation and an interesting game with chances for both players ensued. The players castled on opposite wings and launched direct attacks, but it was Black who landed the killer blow first to score an important point. This left Patrick top of the table with 6/8 and awaiting other developments.
Chris Segrave met Wineetha Vijesurija. If Wineetha could win both her remaining games she would be champion, and Chris was not expected to trouble her. White played his specialty, the Zukertort Attack against Blacks Kings Indian set-up and a lively manoeuvring game resulted, with Black close to gaining a decisive edge. White refused to cave in and late in the game spotted a winning mating combination and thus scored the biggest upset of the event as well as scoring his first point. It also dashed Wineetha’s title hopes, handing Patrick his 8th title, the Club record.
Jamie Brotheridge faced Kevin Perrin in a 2.c3 Sicilian. In a sharp Opening phase, White left a piece en prise, which Black, somewhat distracted at the time, failed to spot. Having been let off the hook, White went on to win a good game.
James Watson versus Rob Loveband was postponed.
Peter Miitel had the bye.
The remaining 4 postponed games were played in good time this year, despite the title having been decided.
From round 1, Kevin Perrin versus Rob Bailey was a Sicilian Najdorf. White showed a glimpse of his true strength and won a fine game.
From round 5, Rob Bailey took on giant killer Chris Segrave in a sort of uber-Queens Indian with b5. White won a key pawn in the middle game and made it count.
Also from round 5, Kevin Perrin versus Wineetha Vijesurija was a Sicilian Dragon, and once again Kevin showed his real self in winning a strong game against the 2nd seed.
The last game, from round 9, saw James Watson face defending champion Rob Loveband in a Semi-Slav. Black was lumbered with a weak isolated Queen pawn early on and White gained a good advantage. In a complicated middle game, White recaptured with the wrong piece to hand Black a winning edge, and Rob made no mistake in making the most of his good fortune.
So Patrick Cook won the title for a record 8th time to become the “Champion of Champions”, finally eclipsing Kevin Perrin who held this unofficial title for an amazing 32 years!
Patrick Cook, undefeated, took the title by a 1/2 point for his 8th tournament win, a record!
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.