The 49th Ballarat Chess Club Championship in 2014 proved to be a wonderfully dramatic event, with a 4-way tie, before Rod Jacobs ultimately triumphed. This year’s 50th Championship has all the ingredients for an equally dramatic tournament in celebration of 50 years of local Championship chess. No less than 6 previous Ballarat Champions grace the field.
Top seed is Bas van Riel, returning to the fray after a long break, his last appearance was in 2003. A strong positional player and holder of 6 Ballarat Championship titles, he will be a real problem for the other players if he has scraped off the rust.
2nd seed is man of the moment, Kevin Perrin, playing his 50th (!!) Championship. Winner of 7 previous titles and unlucky not to add to them in the previous 2 tournaments, his vast experience and absolute commitment give him a real chance for a dream result in his 50th tournament.
3rd seed is defending Champion Rod Jacobs. An aggressive, attacking player capable of destroying anyone, he showed he has fine positional technique as well, in last year’s play-off.
4th seed is 2013 Champion Rob Bailey. A professional chess coach, he is very solid with a deep understanding of the game and will be tough to overcome.
5th seed is 8 times Champion Patrick Cook playing his 31st Championship tournament. The “drawmeister” is a tough positional player capable of ‘turning it on’ when he wants to.
6th seed is newcomer Harrison, a revelation since joining the Club, he won the Spielvogel Memorial 2015 (his first ever tournament!) and did well in the Begonia Open 2015. Difficult to pin down, he displays real middle game imagination, and could be a genuine “disturber of the peace” in this Championship.
7th seed is Rob Loveband, 2 time Champion; if he’s in form, his imaginative, jaunty style could place him highly.
Jamie Brotheridge has been a contender for most of the past decade, but the top prize has eluded him. Ambitious and always aggressive, he can be a real handful.
Jonathon Yates hasn’t matured yet, but is still capable of beating anyone, as he demonstrated in the past 2 Championships.
Daniel Healey is another solid player, quite unfazed by reputations; he will have a say in the final standings.
James Watson is back after a year away. Probably the most under-performing player in the field, he could prove to be a dark horse contender.
James Eyre has claimed his spot as John Baynham Reserves Champion 2014, and has steadily improved since last year. He won't be over-awed by the occasion.
So, a full field of 12 players has lined up for the Andy Miitel Ballarat Chess Club Championship 2015,our 50th of the modern era.
The Reserves Championship has 10 players this year, an excellent turn out. At least 4 players might be considered favourites: Chris Segrave, Tim Cummons and Bjorn Lategan all played in the 2014 Championship tournament, while Tom Oppenheim just missed out on winning the 2014 Reserves, going down to James Eyre in a play-off. Add to that Michael Tausz, another newcomer to the Club, and we have the makings of a tough event to compliment the 'A’ grade tournament.
Before the start of play, the Club was visited by a journalist and photographer from the "Ballarat Courier", for a story on Kevin Perrin’s exemplary Championship career. In addition, the Club members presented Kevin with a commemorative medallion to mark the occasion of his 50th Club Championship, and the Champion and Reserves Champion from 2014 were presented with their medals. With the ceremonies out of the way, play commenced.
Kevin Perrin faced James Watson in a Benoni. White got his move order slightly wrong and soon had an awkward position. Eventually, he managed to extricate himself and reach a playable position before a further inaccuracy cost him a piece for a pawn and nebulous threats. Black consolidated and went on to win comfortably.
Rob Bailey met Jamie Brotheridge in a Caro-Kann Defence. It was a tough, even theoretical duel, with neither side gaining much of an edge. Black seemed to run out of ideas, and let his guard down; he offered a draw, only to be pole-axed by White’s response, which won Queen for Knight. Black limped on in a daze for a few more moves before resigning after dropping a rook as well.
Patrick Cook took on Harrison Harrison in something resembling a Queen’s Indian. Black managed to lose the exchange and 2 pawns inside 8 moves, before settling down. Despite winning back the exchange later, the material deficit proved too great, and White won handily.
Bas van Riel versus James Eyre was an Open Sicilian with castling on opposite wings. Black was never able to get an attack going, and found himself being pushed off the board. White, in a dominating position, won a pawn, then a piece, to register a comfortable win.
Rod Jacobs faced Daniel Healey in a Morra Gambit. White was typically aggressive, sacrificing material for an attack. Black stayed calm giving back material, and a position was reached with White having passed pawns on the a and b files. He didn’t need them, as he soon had a powerful battery of 2 rooks running amok along the 7th rank, and quickly finished off his opponent.(For a thorough look at the Morra; check this ebook pdf.)
Rob Loveband versus Jonathon Yates was postponed.
In the Reserves, Michael Tausz defeated Sean Macak; and Michael Schreenan was very lucky to win against Sasha Jacobs. The other games were postponed, but from round 4, Yuri Hoashi versus Tim Commons was a win for Black.
Top seed Bas van Riel met 2nd seed Kevin Perrin in a battle of old rivals. A French, Rubinstein variation, the game was quite even well into the middle game stage. At a crucial point, Black mishandled an exchange of material and found himself in a lost endgame, and White had no difficulty in converting.
Harrison Harrison took on Rob Loveband, and the opening is, well..., indescribable. Unlike in Round 1, Harrison did not shed material, and once into the middle game, he had a decent position. Black seemed a bit confused and gave up piece for pawn, then later dropped another piece in trying to find counterplay. White won comfortably from there.
Jamie Brotheridge faced his old foe Patrick Cook in a French Tarrasch. White was well armed, and the 1st ten moves were rattled out instantly. Black eventually made one of his infamous “psychological” draw offers, and was surprised when White accepted after a long think.
Daniel Healey versus Rob Bailey was an Open Sicilian. White made his intentions clear early, adopting the English attack against Blacks Najdorf. White castled Q-side and hurled his King side pawns forward. Black coolly left his King in the centre and beat off the attack, before going on to win a fine game.
James Watson took on the defending Champion Rod Jacobs in a Tarrasch Defence. Black gained open lines at the cost of doubled, isolated f pawns, but was never able to whip up one of his characteristic attacks. White calmly and precisely converted his positional advantage.
James Eyre versus Jonathon Yates was postponed.
Before the start of play, a new Club Member, David Gleeson, was slotted into the Reserves tournament, which will create a bye in that event. With several players away, Sean Macak versus David Gleeson was played and was a comfortable win for Black. Yuri Hoashi went down to Michael Schreenan, despite the game being played with the wrong colours (the result stands). Sasha Jacobs was no match for Chris Segrave, and from round 6, Tom Oppenheim versus Tim Commons was a marvellous win for Black.
Kevin Perrin faced James Eyre and played the Scotch! Black kept things pretty equal with careful and solid play, until he walked into a mate in 3 in the middle game.
Defending Champion Rod Jacobs took on top seed Bas van Riel in a Pirc Defence. A complex positional game resulted, with both players trying for an advantage. Black eventually broke through and snared the White Queen, prompting immediate resignation.
Rob Bailey met James Watson in a Benko Gambit. White tried a side-line to the main variations, but simply dropped a pawn, giving Black a firm grip on the position. The struggle raged on into the endgame, but Black never let go of his advantage, and finished the game off with a nice combination.
Patrick Cook took on Daniel Healey in a King’s Indian Defence. White laboured to gain an edge and eventually won a pawn and set about trying to win the ensuing endgame. Black never despaired, and appeared to be gaining material himself when White typically offered a draw. Black accepted without hesitation.
Rob Loveband met Jamie Brotheridge in a Grunfeld Defence. Black won a pawn in the early middle game and disrupted Whites development to boot. After winning a second pawn, Black had a virtually winning game but rushed his play and blundered a Knight for nothing, whereupon White inexplicably offered a draw! Black accepted after lengthy thought.
Jonathon Yates versus Harrison Harrison was another “Harrison special” that eventually resembled a conventional opening; the Pirc. White used oodles of time in gaining a positional edge, when an incautious move by Black gave White a winning material advantage. Black fought on with all his imagination, but was not able to save the game.
In the Reserves, Tom Oppenheim defeated Michael Schreenan, Chris Segrave went down to Michael Tausz, Bjorn Lategan overcame Sean Macak, Yuri Hoashi lost to Anna Yates, and David Gleeson was defeated by Tim Commons.
James Eyre faced Harrison Harrison in what would be an unusual Queen pawn opening, except the unusual is usual for Harrison. The game resembled the Tarrasch Defence to the Queens Gambit. Black won a piece in a tactical skirmish in the early middle game, and had no difficulty winning the game from there.
Jamie Brotheridge met the dangerous junior Jonathon Yates in a fairly standard Spanish. Early in the middle game, White made the strange decision to burden himself with doubled, isolated pawns on the e file, and thereafter struggled to find any kind of initiative. The game was eventually drawn.
Daniel Healey versus Rob Loveband was a Petroff. Black made the bold decision to sacrifice a piece to expose the White King in the early middle game. White got into the spirit of things and wild complications ensued. When the smoke cleared, Black resigned in the face of an overwhelming material deficit. A big upset result.
James Watson took on Patrick Cook in the same line of the French as seen in Rd.2 between Jamie Brotheridge and Patrick Cook. White was well armed, and simply crushed the 8 times Champion with a direct mating attack.
Bas van Riel versus Robert Bailey was a Semi-Slav Defence. Black needlessly dropped a pawn in the early middle game, but didn’t panic, and appeared to be regaining the lost pawn. White, playing on Black’s time pressure, complicated things and was rewarded when Black misplayed the position and dropped a piece.
Kevin Perrin faced defending Champion Rod Jacobs and played Bird’s Opening (1.f4... a rare bird, indeed!). White slowly and carefully built up a promising position, and on the point of victory, misplayed a winning combination to crash to a vexing defeat.
In the Reserves : The Round 11 game Tim Commons vs. Michael Tausz was a draw, as was Chris Segrave vs. Anna Yates. Bjorn Lategan was defeated by Tom Oppenheim, Sean Macak lost to Michael Schreenan, and David Gleeson overcame Sasha Jacobs. (Yuri Hoashi vs. Tim Commons was played earlier and was a win for Black).
Defending Champion Rod Jacobs met 2014 Reserves Champion James Eyre, and not surprisingly it was a Morra Gambit, a favourite of Rod’s. Black went pawn hunting early, and in the ensuing tactical melee was pushed into an awkward position for his trouble. He kept calm, though, and gradually disentangled himself before being outplayed by Rod’s superior technical ability.
Robert Bailey faced Kevin Perrin in a Dutch! White gained space on the Queen-side, while Black pushed on the King-side. Black crashed through first to score the point.
Patrick Cook versus Bas van Riel was a Grunfeld, a surprise for White who was expecting a Kings Indian. White kept the intiative and seemed close to gaining a decisive advantage late in the middle game, but after the Queens came off, Black offered a draw. The “drawmeister” accepted after some thought, overlooking that he could win a pawn at that point!
Rob Loveband played James Watson later in the week due to Rob’s absence on the night. A Scandinavian (1.e4 d5), it was a messy fight, with White having the best of it. He eventually won a pawn and gained the Bishop pair and set about trying to win the endgame, but then walked into an extraordinary 1 move mate in the middle of the board!
Jonathon Yates took on Daniel Healey in an Alekhine Defence. The game was very even throughout, with White unable to gain an edge and eventually reached a Rook and pawn endgame. Black handled it well, and a draw was ageed.
Harrison Harrison versus Jamie Brotheridge saw us treated to another indescribable “Harrison special” : 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.a3 g6 3.Ra2??!!. This led to a complicated middle game in which Black won a pawn, then a piece, before losing focus, returning the material and blundering into a lost endgame.
In the Reserves, Anna Yates was unable to cope with Tom Oppenheim; 2013 Reserves Champion Bjorn Lategan suffered a shock loss to youngster Yuri Hoashi; Tim Commons dealt with Sean Macak; David Gleeson proved no match for Michael Tausz; and Michael Schreenan was unable to handle Chris Segrave.
2014 Reserves Champion James Eyre faced Jamie Brotheridge in a King's Indian Defence. This resulted in a complicated middle game. Black managed to gain 2 pieces and a pawn for a rook in the tactical melee, but White did create some threats. Jamie traded to an ending with 4 pawns for the exchange, and made his material advantage count. Another vexing defeat for James Eyre.
Daniel Healey took on Harrison Harrison in another weird Harrison 'special';. Black seemed to want to put all his pawns on the 6th rank, and eventually succeeded! (Fortunately for the viability of chess, they weren't all there at the same time). With his typically solid and thoughtful play, White gained an advantage in the middle game, and should have consolidated by winning a pawn. Instead, he seemed to run out of ideas, and allowed Harrison back into the game, then completely collapsed to hand Harrison another win.
Runaway (co) leader, James Watson met Jonathon Yates in what began as a Reti, before settling into a Semi-Slav. Black played carefully, giving White little in the way of attacking lines, so James took the risky decision to launch a kamikaze pawn attack with his King still in the centre. It payed off, and he gained a material advantage and positional dominance to boot. Despite some strange decisions later, White was able to win without trouble.
Bas van Riel, (the other runaway leader) faced Rob Loveband in an open Sicilian. White gained space early, landing a monster Knight on d6 before Black's d-pawn had moved. White kept up the pressure and reached a rooks and pawns endgame 2 pawns to the good. This was too much for Black who resigned without testing Whites technique.
In the most dramatic game of the night, the 2 'veterans', Kevin Perrin (50 championship tournaments) faced his old rival Patrick Cook (31 tournaments). White surprised his opponent with Bird's Opening. Black miscalculated quite early, and blundered a pawn for nothing. He spent the rest of the game trying for tactical tricks to regain the lost material. White had many oppurtunities to simplify to an easily winning end game, but seemed mesmerised by the chance for a spectacular mating attack. He invested a great deal of time, and when Patrick found a nifty perpetual, Kevin took too long making an obvious move; his flag fell while he was picking up his King!
Rod Jacobs versus Robert Bailey was postponed.
In the John Baynham Reserves, Michael Tausz proved too strong for Yuri Hoashi, Michael Schreenan went down to Tim Commons, Chris Segrave overcame Bjorn Lategan, and Sean Macak scored his 1st win at the expense of Sasha Jacobs. Anna Yates vs. David Gleeson was postponed.
Eight time Champion Patrick Cook took on defending Champion Rod Jacobs in Patrick’s old favourite Larsen Attack. A tight and difficult positional struggle ensued, with Rod always having a tempo advantage. This proved crucial in the endgame, where Black won a pawn and made it count.
Robert Bailey faced James Eyre in an Open Sicilian. White opted for the aggressive Yugoslav Attack. Black played well, ably defending his position, but he left one piece undeveloped, enabling White to finish him off with a very nice combination.
Rob Loveband met Kevin Perrin in a Dutch Defence. White played an unusual line against it and seemed unable to decide how to deal with it until Kevin conspired to drop the exchange. He fought back well, however, and eventually Rob felt compelled to return the exchange for a pawn. In a tricky endgame with Queens still on the board, Kevin dropped a piece and didn’t survive long thereafter.
Jonathon Yates faced Bas van Riel in his usual Pirc Defence, this time the Austrian Attack. Black won a pawn in the middle game and easily dealt with Whites nebulous threats. After winning a 2nd pawn, Black went on to a comfortable technical win.
Harrison Harrison took on tournament leader James Watson in a Grunfeld Defence. Harrison played carefully, keeping things even well into the middle game before reaching an endgame with rooks, pawns and opposite colour bishops. This prompted James to reluctantly offer a draw, which Harrison, amazingly, declined! The battle raged on, with Harrison appearing to gain the upper hand with his imaginative play. James, however, missed a couple of chances to win, before the game eventually was drawn anyway.
Jamie Brotheridge met Daniel Healey in an English Opening. White’s Queen went for a stroll quite early, but Black was solid and conceded nothing. The players reached an even endgame with double rooks and some pawns, whereupon Jamie managed to drop 2 pawns and, consequently, the game.
In the Reserves, Michael Tausz continued his good form with a win over Tom Oppenheim; Sasha Jacobs was no match for Tim Commons; Sean Macak went down to Chris Segrave; and Yuri Hoashi claimed a forfeit against David Gleeson. Bjorn Lategan versus Anna Yates was postponed.
James Eyre, still without a score, faced Daniel Healey in a Nimzo-Indian, Classical variation. As with most of James’ games, he kept it very even, but Black began posing more and more problems for White in the middle game. This eventually took its toll, and Daniel went on to win a fine game.
In the Reserves, Sasha Jacobs lost to Tom Oppenheim; Yuri Hoashi was unlucky against Chris Segrave; and Michael Schreenan was brushed aside by Michael Tausz. David Gleeson versus Bjorn Lategan, and Anna Yates versus Sean Macak were postponed.
James Watson took on feisty Jamie Brotheridge in an English which quickly morphed into a Semi-Slav. James cleverly created a pawn weakness in the Black position and showed superior technique in converting the resulting position.
Bas van Riel met Harrison Harrison in a Pirc Defence! White gained a big pawn centre and space advantage from the opening in what Robert Bailey described as “a Steinitzian dream”. In no time, Black had a very passive position and soon dropped a piece, but he resisted stoutly, and it took White another 50 moves to finally bring home the point.
Kevin Perrin versus Jonathon Yates was once again Bird’s Opening from Kevin (he seems to have developed a love affair with the f pawn in this tournament!). White had a slightly passive position, with Black opening up lines of attack, as is his wont. It was to no avail, however, as Kevin’s vast experience overcame Jonathon’s youthful exuberance.
Rod Jacobs faced Rob Loveband in another Pirc Defence. White quickly gained control of the centre, with Black expanding on the Queen-side. The position began to resemble a “Harrison special”! White’s pressure was relentless, and he won pawn after pawn before finishing Black off.
Robert Bailey met Patrick Cook in a French Defence (no surprise!) Winawer variation. The first 7 moves were whipped out instantly, and after another 7 moves, the “drawmeister”...offered a draw! White accepted after a perfunctory think.
Rob Loveband faced Robert Bailey in a Dutch. Once again, White chose an unusual, if innocuous, line and picked up a pawn and the exchange with handy play in the middle game. Black found no counter-play before falling into a mating net.
Jonathon Yates took on defending Champion Rod Jacobs in a Scandinavian. A sharp and lively game ensued with neither player getting on top. In a probably drawn position, Black dropped his Queen, rendering such speculation a moot point.
Harrison Harrison versus Kevin Perrin was an Anderssen Opening!! (1.a3...?!) followed up with 2.f3...?!. In a messy game White paid the price for not castling. Black seized the initiative and never let go, despite Whites inventive play giving him some dangerous looking passed pawns. Kevin snuffed out all resistence with a clever mate.
Jamie Brotheridge met Bas van Riel in a Kings Indian (no surprise!). White made some odd decisions which resulted in many weaknesses in his position, culminating in the loss of the exchange, then a pawn as well. Faced with a grim position, Jamie resigned in despair.
Daniel Healey versus James Watson was another Scandinavian. Black took a risk early on, sacrificing a Bishop for 2 pawns in front of the White King. Daniel declined the piece!, but James simply continued in the same lively fashion, reaching an endgame 2 pawns up. He had no difficulty converting from there.
Patrick Cook versus James Eyre was postponed.
The luckless James Eyre faced joint tournament leader James Watson in a Benoni. White played well and created problems for Black in the early stages of the game, but began to lose focus in the middle game. Black seized the initiative and White resigned when faced with catastrophic material loss.
In the Reserves, Tom Oppenheim claimed the forfeit against David Gleeson who appears to have withdrawn. Sean Macak forfeited to Yuri Hoashi. Tim Commons damaged his Reserves title chances after going down to Chris Segrave. Michael Schreenan was outplayed by Anna Yates. And Bjorn Lategan brushed aside Sasha Jacobs.
Bas van Riel, the other joint leader, met Daniel Healey in an open Sicilian. In a lively encounter, Black had his chances, but White stayed alert and profited from a somewhat premature resignation.
Kevin Perrin versus Jamie Brotheridge was another Bird by the 7-time Champion, continuing his love affair with the f pawn! His vast experience and deep concentration overcame Jamie’s demoralised lack of concentration.
Defending Champion Rod Jacobs met wild man Harrison Harrison in a Pirc!...at least it began as a Pirc, but then zoomed off into Harrison’s usual weirdness. White opened lines early, sacrificed a pawn for the attack, piled on the pressure and gained a decisive material advantage. Mate followed soon after.
Patrick Cook versus Rob Loveband was a Larsen. White was typically cautious and played a very Nimzowitsch-like prophylactic game, before offering a draw on move 17. Black accepted.
Robert Bailey versus Jonathon Yates was postponed.
Officially the last round of the tournament but the Club is accommodating, allowing players to postpone scheduled games when life intrudes. Thus, the most important games, James Watson versus Bas van Riel from the Championship tournament, and Michael Tausz versus Bjorn Lategan from the Reserves tournament, are postponed. These two games will decide their respective Championship titles.
In the Reserves, matters are also undecided. Tim Commons has 8 1/2 points, but Club newcomer Michael Tausz can seize the title if he wins his postponed game against Bjorn Lategan.
On the night, Rob Loveband versus James Eyre was a Slav. The game was even until White mixed it up in the middle game and Black became lost in the complications, dropping Queen and pawn for a Rook and Knight. It was never enough compensation and Rob cleaned up efficiently.
Jonathon Yates took on Patrick Cook in a grudge match! Having been soundly beaten in the last two Club Championships by Jonathon, in his favourite French Defence no less!, Patrick tried for third time lucky, once again in a French. This time Black was careful in the opening stages, while White was a little loose. In the middle game White was tricked in an exchange of material and found himself a piece down, prompting immediate resignation. The 8-time Champion was heard to pronounce a satisfied “Revenge!” at the end of the game.
Harrison Harrison faced 2013 Champion Robert Bailey in something resembling a Benoni. With solid positional play, Black gained a firm grip on the game against Whites eccentric opening moves. Undaunted, and with typical imaginative, fighting chess, Harrison eventually prevailed over his tough and experienced opponent.
Jamie Brotheridge met defending Champion Rod Jacobs in a Larsen!, normally the exclusive territory of Patrick Cook. Black seized the initiative early, winning a pawn in the process. Just to demonstrate that he isn’t just an outright attacking player, Rod quickly traded down to a winning endgame in a superb display of technique.
Daniel Healey versus Kevin Perrin was played earlier at the Library. In a French Defence, black won a pawn in the middle game, but then misplayed a winning combination, prompting Kevin to meekly offer a draw. Daniel generously accepted.
Sadly, the Club was denied the opportunity to watch the Championship game between James Watson and Bas van Riel, due to Bas’ absence overseas, and will be played at a later date.
Congratulations this year's champion: Bas van Riel. Bas first put his name on the trophy in 1981 and this is his seventh win, firming his reputation as a Ballarat Chess Champion!
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.