Report by Patrick Cook
annual challenge match between Ballarat Chess Club and Geelong Chess Club was played, not
as usual, on Sunday August 9, 2020. Not as usual because our 2 Clubs were unable to meet OTB due to
the Covid-19 virus State of Emergency. However, our great game is nothing if not adaptable, and the
match went ahead anyway, played on-line, in the same manner as our earlier match against Bendigo
Chess Club. The match, for the Fletcher-Morrow Shield, was played, as usual!, over 10 boards, but with
extra players keen to compete, 2 non-scoring reserve boards were added.
The “die-hards”, the group of players who have competed in ALL the Fletcher-Morrow matches, is now
down to 5 players : Michael Sugrue and Reza Daneshvar for Geelong, and Kevin Perrin, Rob
Loveband,and Patrick Cook for Ballarat. Ballarat Chess Club, as the nominal hosts, were White on the
odd numbered boards.
The match was another triumph for Geelong, a 7-3 victory, and their 5th
match win in a row! The overallscore is now 7-2, with 1 tie, in favour of Geelong.
Thanks are due to Jack Smith, captain of the Geelong team, and Patrick Cook, acting captain of the
Ballarat team, for getting the match organised. And to Dylan and Kalen Douglas, Anna Yates, and
Andrew Vincent, who were available for the Ballarat team but didn't get a game.
Report by Jack Smith, Geelong
I’m happy to announce another Fletcher-Morrow match complete for the year, and another resounding win for Geelong; we took the honours 7 – 3, with Ballarat taking both of the reserve boards. Thanks to both teams’ players for making the first online Fletcher Morrow match an enjoyable one!
On board one, Michael Sugrue had the Black pieces vs Ruari Coffey in a London System, where Ruari started off on the wrong foot by playing 3. e3 followed by 5. e4. White’s game seemed too hesitant and mechanical, and Michael’s logical developing moves exposed weaknesses in the White position that forced Ruari to first give up a pawn, then the c-file; Michael won in his trademark style, giving his tricky and skilled opponent no chances as he steamrolled via the c-file.
On Board 2, Reza took White against the dangerous Bas Van Riel in an Italian. White got little from the opening, a Giuoco Piano with an early d4: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. 0-0 Nf6 5. d4 Bxd4 6. Nxd4 Nxd4 7. Bg5 d6 8. Nc3 c6. Reza seemed to be trying for an f4 break, but didn’t get it in time, as eventually, a black knight claimed f4. Black played an excellent, solid game and won convincingly after his final move, which threatened mate with no adequate response. Link: https://www.chess.com/live/game/5271594230
Alistair Anderson has Black vs up and coming junior Sean Macak, and probably came out of the opening somewhat worse, but Sean had difficulty proving anything against his battle-hardened opponent, even though he did manage to grab a pawn going into the ending. (It should be noted that Alistair disconnected for about 20 minutes and thus got himself into his customary time trouble!) White’s position required a very high level of technique to try and exploit, and Black played stubbornly enough to make White’s life very difficult. Eventually, pieces came off and the game was a draw. (Note that Sean clicked resign instead of draw, but both players and both captains agreed the game should be drawn with Alistair having single bishop vs pawn, though as Michael pointed out, checkmate is still possible for Black.)
Mio Ristic had White on board 4 against Rob Loveband in a Sicilian Najdorf, where Mio essayed his customary English attack. It was a normal opposite side castling situation, until Mio took advantage of a few inaccuracies, first refuting a premature 15… f5? and then offering a poisoned pawn on f3, which was duly eaten, and White went on to win decisive material.
Geoff and Patrick shared a leisurely game, where both sides developed solidly out of a Slav; a fair bit of pawn tension developed, but nothing serious amounted, and after playing on a bit, the players agreed to a draw.
Jack took on Kevin on board 6, Jack taking the White pieces and essaying the Ponziani (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. c3) Kevin replied with the non-standard 3… d6, and Jack took the centre and a slight plus; he decided to lock down the kingside and opt for play against the c7 pawn along the semi-open c-file, before making a speculative knight sacrifice that probably should not have been attempted. The sac was rewarded when Black dropped a rook, allowing the White pieces to quickly and decisively invade the position.
Geoff Davis had a tough game as Black against Gary Voigt, as Gary quickly got a Maroczy bind kind of structure by a different move order. (Perhaps Black can stop this early e4 – c4 – d4 by putting the knight on d4?) White kept the opening advantage, and after a typical Nd5 “sacrifice” White put pressure on e6. All it took was one mistake by Geoff for Gary to scoop up a knight and after a bit of shuffling in the endgame, force resignation.
Rodel Sicat took on Ben Naughton as White on Board 8 in a Giuoco Piano; the game saw Rodel push his queenside pawns early, to which Black logically replied with d5 and got a fair position. Ben seemed spooked by Rodel’s 13. Ng5 (one reason why Black can’t go wrong with playing …h6 at some point) and instead of the difficult-to-play but necessary 13… Rf8, he allowed his pawns to be compromised after 13… Be6; Rodel cruised for the rest of the game, playing a nice attack to its natural conclusion. Link: https://www.chess.com/live/game/5271436717
Paul had Black against Leonard Goodison in an unorthodox Sicilian, where White went for an early g3 and abstained from playing d4 early. Paul played quite well to equalise, and Leonard had trouble finding the right ideas; Black played d5, and quickly took advantage of a pin to win a pawn on the kingside and pour down pressure on the White king; Paul scored a solid Geelong victory. Link: https://www.chess.com/live/game/5271435961
On board 10, we had Wade Patterson, a new talent at the club, taking the White pieces for Geelong against longtime Ballarat player, Tom Oppenheim. Wade safely took some central space, and was gifted with a piece after an en passant tactic. He gave the piece back, but the correct defence for Black is very difficult to find, and Wade finished off with a nice attack.
Board 11, first of the two unscored reserve games, Eddie Teijeiro had Black against Justin Goodison. The two played incredibly quickly, with both players ending the game with over 70 minutes! Eddie had a tough game, where White’s pieces found annoying squares, but there was nothing terminal until the endgame, where Justin’s king was much more active, and Justin went on to win a nice game. (Though after Justin’s interesting piece sac in the ending, Black’s bishop can stay defending the b5 pawn, giving away a6. This is delicate though, and easily missed.) All in all a well-played game by Justin. Link: https://www.chess.com/live/game/5271434803
Thomas Nuessler took on a more experienced Jasan Barnett on Board 12; Thomas lost a pawn early on, then a second one in the middlegame, but some clever endgame tactics won him back both pawns! However, from there, he tried too active an approach, neglecting one of the defense of one of his hard-earned pawns, and he wound up losing a good fight. Link: https://www.chess.com/live/game/5271438072
A hard-fought day of chess; many thanks to everyone for making our first online Fletcher-Morrow Shield a success, both in terms of result, and in terms of quality!