Ballarat Clarendon News

Chess Report 2018 by Rob Bailey

What a fine consistent year it has been for Clarendon's chess club. Reflecting upon 2018 reveals many positive learning experiences and satisfying achievements for our ever large and diverse contingent of players. Most notably we will remember 2018 as the first time that the school has qualified for all three divisions of state finals (Open Secondary, Middle Years and Primary) making it very much a landmark year for competitive play.  

Clarendon was host to the first inter-school tournament in March. Buninyong Primary won the primary division by a mere half point from Clarendon. Om O'Carroll, Jake Frka, Brandon Ling, Zachary Spencer, Oliver Finch and Vishnu Neralla all performed well with 5/7. The Open Secondary division was a clash of the titans’ affair with Bacchus Marsh Grammar. Clarendon won convincingly with a score of 24.5-16. Leading the campaign was experienced National Finalist Ahnaf "the Naf" Chowdhury. The 'Naf' scored an impressively dominant 7/7, leading the OS team cheerfully into the state finals. The MY team placed second and was led by brother Anber who as top scorer with 5.5/7, finished 6th place individually. 

The second major interschool event of the year was also held at Clarendon in June. In the Open Secondary division, Clarendon marched to a second victory over Geelong Grammar with a near perfect result of 27 out of 28 points. Liu Yang, George Yang and Sam Duthie all scored 7/7. In the Middle Years, Clarendon took out first place from St Pats and Mt Clear Secondary College in a wonderful result. Dylan Douglas, Nathan Ling, Kalen Douglas and Raine Liu all shined brightly with 6 wins each.The middle-years competition also saw the return of Sean Macak who had a splendid tournament, winning it outright individually with 7/7. The primary division was closely fought with Mt Blowhard Primary winning by half a point in one of the true romantic chess stories of the year. Confident JS rising star Kanishk Mahasuar scored 5 in a team that placed 3rd; still chasing its state finals qualification.    

The key tournament for Clarendon's primary team was a successful chess adventure to a cold wintery Macedon in August to support perennial rivals Candlebark. A small super team consisting of Om O'Carroll, veteran Oliver Finch, Jake Frka, Kanishk Mahasuar and Vishnu Neralla put in a stellar performance to finish equal first with hosts Candlebark, ensuringqualification to state finals for the third year in a row. A Middle Years team also played extremely well on this day, winning by a clear point to make our player quotient for state finals 8. Kalen Douglas was the leading player for the team with 5. Josh Cronin 4.5, Soham Patel, Anber Chowdhury and Eric Chen 4.0. A terrific day!   

The team in the Open Secondary State Finals consisted of "the Naf", Louis Douglas, Mansimran Loyal, Liu Yang, Zachary Ciaveralla, Jacky Chen, George Yang and Sam Duthie. All players found the competition very tough and challenging but battled valiantly to finish 17th place from 29 schools. Ahnaf and Louis scored 5/9 whilst Manny and Yang each bagged 4.5/9.0, effectively tripping over each other in the attempt to hit the 1000 performance rating. The gap to finishing in the top 10 and Nationals qualification was just 2.5 points!

The calculated attack of Clarendon primary team on the state finals was sadly compromised by the shock loss of rising star Om O'Carroll and the unavailability of highest rated player Jake Frka. Play-off matches were set up to decide their spots, creating excitement and competitive spirit. The final team was led by Oliver Finch with Kanishk Mahasuar, Louis Zhao, Vishnu "Vishy" Neralla and James Nguyen. The emboldened new team played excellently to finish 18th place from 50 schools, two places higher than last year; a 3.5 gap from Nationals qualification. Vishnu and Kanishk thrived and flourished on the day, scoring 5.5/9.0 both equalling the highest ever primary player score by Branden Pham and Ned Blenkiron in 2016.  

The Middle Years State Finals in October was very satisfying to play, with the team finishing 16th from 24 schools. Soham Patel, Kalen Douglas, Anber Chowdhury, Dylan Douglas, Raine "the Professor" Liu, Jack Timms, Josh Cronin and Nathan Ling took on the competition with chessic vigour and wilful honesty. Soham put in an excellent performance with five wins in a row, taking out two Melbourne High players on the way. All players had a game scored to take away as a memory of the day. One of the highlights was a miniature played by Anber Chowdhury and is featured at the end of the report. Play it out for yourself to see the beautiful smothered mate!

There were also two friendly matches in 2018. The senior school club took on the relatively new club at Saint Pats in an amiable afternoon social match, whilst the primary team met Buninyong PS, a relationship which hearkens back to a tradition first started in 2012. Clarendon were the humble victors in both events and we hope to conduct more such matches in the future.   

A small team of Clarendon's female players were also able to compete in the Lauriston Girls Cup this year; playing against some of the best girls in the state. Om O'Carroll took this opportunity by the proverbial crown and scored 6, finishing 3rd individually and helping the team finish a very credible and excited 4th overall. Aiko scored 4.5, Amrit, Anushka and Chloe got 4.0 whilst Julienne scored 3.5, Dhanya 3.0. Hopefully we will do this again in 2019!

After three full years of chess at the JS, our player ranks boast remarkable depth, with many players looking to make the transition to the senior school club next year to further bolster the primary ranks. The prep-yr 2 club on Wednesdays has always operated at capacity and it has been a true pleasure to witness its growth and observe the students learning Adeline Tran and William Cartwright demonstrated fine skills early and were a joy to teach. These players have already made their way into the Thursday group and certainly represent the future of our club. Thank you to all parents and teachers who continue to support the role of chess in education! See you over the board in 2019!

Rob Bailey

Anber Chowdhury (760) vs Ebel Korah (1040) (MY State Finals 2018 R1)

1. e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. Bb5 Nf6 5. 0-0 g6 6. Nd5!? Nxe4? 7. Re1 Ng5?? 8. Nd6#(checkmate) 

Ballarat & Clarendon College Tournament results: 

JS Beginners Semester 1:

Certificates to: 

Adeline Tran

Callum Fyffe

Owen Gu


JS Beginners Semester 2:

1st: Judd Quinlan

2nd: Hannah Zhao

3rd: Saesha Rana & Nethu Liyanapathirana

JS Semester 1:

1st: Kanishk Mahasuar (A rising star in Junior chess!)

2nd: Marley Sutherland (A regular at the Ballarat Chess Club)

3rd: Julian Porteous & Henry Prior

JS Semester 2: 

1st: Kanishk Mahasuar

2nd: Louis Zhao, Will Luo

3rd: Bosco Ju & Henry Prior

Pawns & Knights Semester 1:

1st: Om O'Carroll 

2nd: Thomas Lin 

3rd: Jessan Salazar 

Pawns & Knights Semester 2:

1st: Paida Ndoro & Nathan Ling 

2nd: Raine Liu & Afif Chowdhury

3rd: James Nguyen


Rooks & Kings Semester 1:

1st: Ahnaf Chowdhury 

2nd: Mansimran Loyal 

3rd: Tom Playsted  

Rooks & Kings Semester 2: 

1st: Ahnaf Chowdhury 

2nd: Sam Duthie 

3rd: Soham Patel 


Find your opponent under Pairings, play your game and send your results to

Pleasant St Primary staged their 4th Annual Chess Tournament on the 13th of December. This year 32 bright eager minds entered and played 7 rounds of tournament chess. The day yielded an outstanding 7/7 performance from experienced campaigner Alistair Mcdonald. His victory included a fine win over last year's champion, Will Roberts which was one of the highlight games of the day. 

Alistair played in the first inter-school tournament of the year at Clarendon College in March and had a notable win against primary captain Oliver Finch. Alistair's play is marked by very logical and sequential movements, solid developent and positional control. His positions are often complex and layered and he understands the value of centralised rooks. Whilst nerves got the better of Alistair in the final round of 2017's tournament, today he showed great spirit to emphatically win outright. 

Taking second place in the event was young crowd pleaser Callum "The King" Seakins. Callum first started chess in the coaching club of 2015 and was the youngest in the group. Callum's style seemed to lure opponents into a false sense of security with many pawn moves and unusual king operations. Yet somehow late middle-game he would find probing ways of making threats and tricks to win material. His chess was creative and definitely fun to watch. A nice story for the school!

In third place was yet another student from the 2015 coaching generation, Ned Beck. Ned played ambitious attacking chess, winning five games and losing only to Alistair and Callum. Another impressive performance was from newcomer Anousha Feizollahi who scored 4.5 and finished equal 4th. Anousha had several endgames which she played remarkably well, demonstrating a strong aptitude for the game. We hope to see her again!

Pleasant St Primary will seek to build upon the weight of numbers and build their club further into 2019

Find your opponent under Pairings, play your game and send your results to

The 14th of December saw the 14th annual running of the "Buninyong Primary Open Tournament". The event served as a way for students to celebrate a year of fine chess achievement, with the school qualifying for state finals under both Kids Unlimited and Chess Victoria banners. It is easily the most active year tournament wise in the school's club history. 

A humble 22 players attended this year's end of year tournament. Fresh from his Arthur Koelle Reserves win, the stage was fully set for Dan Wang to attempt a "holy trinity" of titles in a row and to thereby equal the record held by Christopher Darveniza. The resulting tournament was quite chaotic and unpredictable to say the least, with several upsets imbalancing the status quo. 

The predicted meeting between Dan and his brother Andrew came in round 4 with both players being undefeated leaders at that point. This was a highly anticipated encounter and a rematch of last year's great game. This time both players developed well until Dan won the exchange; yet it was Andrew who retained the initiative with greater pressure and better piece play. After a surprising blunder, Dan offered his brother a draw and Andrew took it, which was the first loss of any points Dan has had in any of his two previous BPS Open wins. 

Andrew went on to win the rest of his games without being unduly challenged whilst Dan had the fight of his life in round 5 against perrenial wise cracker and merchant of wit, Ned Griffen. Whilst Ned arguably celebrated too soon at the winning of one of Dan's bishops, the two ended up in a queen ending with Ned a full rook to the good. For a brief moment, Dan looked utterly downcast and Ned set to win with a mate in 1 on the board but sadly he missed it, going for an electric fence instead and allowing Dan to find a resourceful perpetual check to save his gloomy kingdom. Yet it was precisely this result that gave Andrew the gap he needed to win his first BPS Open Tournament; a fantastic result for the young firebrand who has significantly improved this year. He will have the chance to equal brother Dan's achievement of having two titles in 2019. Ned Griffen repeated his feat in 2017 by taking out third place. 

Matilda Jones had an excellent tournament, finishing in 6th place and taking out the best girl prize. She fought gamely against a fierce and eager Thomas Wardle in the last round who was unlucky to finish outside the top 3 after several great mating attacks. One in particular against James Smyth featured a clever pawn decoy queening tactic when he was down the exchange. Newcomer Riley Hill also impressed by finishing 5th in his very first event .

Overall, a tremendously fun social day of chess was had and members of the club were treated to snacks and sweets of the season. Buninyong PS will back into the fray again in 2019 with a vengeance and I hope to run this tournament for many years to come. Many thanks to Nadia Chowdhury and Mrs Wardle for the support throughout the day - the club t-shirts and keyrings for our club members was a wonderful pleasant surprise!

Chess instructor Rob Bailey brings you the latest updates with Ballarat Junior Chess tournament results and annotated games!