58th Club Championships 2023

2023 Club Champion: James Watson

A Group

Final Round 11

The last round of our 2023 Championships, and both the Champions title and Reserve Champions title were still up for grabs! Three important games would decide.
James Watson, joint leader, took on giant killer Jordan Furlong in an Old Benoni. It proved to be a feisty, complicated game, with tactics galore. James gained the advantage after winning an exchange, with precise play keeping up the pressure before Jordan inexplicably fell into a mate in 1!
Veteran Bas van Riel met the other joint leader Paul Dao in a French Advance variation, and a dour positional struggle ensued, before Bas blundered away the exchange. His experience and determination kept him alive, and frustrated Paul's efforts to find a decisive continuation. This prompted Bas to offer a draw, which Paul amazingly accepted, handing James Watson the title, and ending his chance to become the youngest ever Ballarat Chaampion.
Defending Champion Scott Stewart, no longer in the race, faced Rob Loveband in a London System and a lengthy manoeuvring tussle was played. Tshey eventually reached a Queen and pawn ending that was agreed a draw.
Peter Stickland versus Vipin Jyani was a Scotch. Peter is still experimenting with various openings, and was unable to make this one work for him in the face of Vipin's classy play.
Om O'Carroll versus Kevin Perrin was not played, and all Om's postponed games have been deemed forfeited. A sad end to the tournament for Om who began as one of the favourites!
Patrick Cook had the bye, but did play his postponed Round 6 game against Rob Loveband earlier in the week. A French Exchange (no surprise!), the players quickly vacuumed the board before agreeing a draw.
In the Reserves, leader Michael Leckie met Justin Goodison who was just a half point behind, and for the second year in a row, Michael stumbled in the last round and had the title snatched from his grasp!
So, this exciting and very competitive Ballarat Chess Club Championships have ended on schedule. Congratulations to the 'Andy Miitel Memorial' Ballarat Champion James Watson, who adds a second Championship title to his resume; Justin Goodison wins the 'John Baynham Memorial' Reserves title, and can play in next years Championship tournament; and Declan Mahar wins the 'John Abson Tournament' for the 'C' grade title, and is promoted to next years Reserves event.

Club Champion: James WatsonJohn Baynham Memorial winner: Justin GoodisonJohn Abson Tournament winner: Declan Mahar

Round Ten

The title race is still wide open, with defending Champion Scott Stewart, James Watson, and Paul Dao best placed for Championship glory.
Scott had the bye, and James had played his scheduled game against Vipin Jyani earlier (Rd. 6), so these 2 finally played their postponed Round 6 game. It was typical Scott, with sharp, tactical play from the get- go and James found himself on the back foot. Scott won a couple of pawns in the fiendishly complicated middle game and never let go of his advantage to win a fine game.
Veteran 7-time Champion Kevin Perrin took on fellow veteran 8-time Champion Bas van Riel in an English Opening that quickly morphed into a Fianchetto King's Indian Defence. A fighting game was the result, but Kevin eventually lost his way in the complications to hand Bas a good win.
Jordan Furlong versus Patrick Cook was played last week, so Patrick took the opportunity to play his postponed Round 9 game against Vipin Jyani. A Nimzo-Indian, everything was normal and even until Patrick saw ghosts and dropped a pawn, prompting him to lash out with speculative play. Vipin was precise and ruthless, and soon finished off the 8-time Champion with a nice mating attack.
The postponed Round 7 game Jordan Furlong versus Paul Dao was also played on the night. An unusual French Defence resulted in an interesting middle game, with both players jostling for an edge. A seemingly insignificant oversight by Paul turned out to be hugely important, giving Jordan the chance to win the game of the night with, first, an under promotion, followed by a spectacular Queen sacrifice to force mate!
Rob Loveband versus Om O'Carroll, and Paul Dao versus Peter Stickland were postponed. One other game was played during the week, when the postponed Round 7 game Patrick Cook versus Kevin Perrin was played. This traditional grudge match was their 41st (!) Championship encounter. Once again Kevin hurled the Dutch Defence at his rival, and Patrick set about his usual dismantling of it, winning 3 pawns in the process. Kevin kept his eye on the main prize and marshalled his forces for a direct attack on Patrick's King, breaking through to score a great win, his first against Patrick since the 2014 play-offs!
Meanwhile, the John Baynham 'Reserves' title was decided when leader Michael Leckie faced his closest pursuer Justin Goodison who won an excellent, lengthy game to snatch the Championship medal at the last gasp. Congratulations to Justin.
The John Abson 'C' grade title has also ended with leader Declan Mahar staying ahead to claim the medal. Congratulations to Declan.

Round Nine

With the tournament nearing the end and the title still up for grabs, one important clash was played this round. James Watson, joint leader, met his fellow leader Paul Dao in a much anticipated showdown. A Queen's Gambit Accepted resulted in a tough positional duel, with both players jostling for the advantage. Paul collapsed tactically in the middle game, losing 2 pieces, but kept alive faint hopes by trying to steer to a B + N & K versus K endgame. James snuffed out that hope and won comfortably.
Peter Stickland faced rejuvenated veteran Kevin Perrin in the latter's old favourite Scandinavian Defence. It was an even struggle until Peter's King and Queen were forked after a nice K-side attack by Kevin. Patrick Cook versus Vipin Jyani, Bas van Riel versus Rob Loveband, and Om O'Carroll versus Scott Stewart were postponed. Jordan Furlong had the bye. Since Jordan had the bye, and Patrick Cook's game postponed, these 2 played their Round 10 game in advance. Jordan essayed the rare Sokolski Opening (1.b4...) and an interesting, complicated game ensued.
Patrick won a piece in the middle game action, and seemed headed for a morale boosting win. Jordan is
nothing if not a fighter and kept presenting problems for the 8-time Champion, eventually regaining the
piece, whereupon the game smouldered to a draw.

Round Eight

Rob Loveband met Peter Stickland in his favourite London System and a quiet manoeuvring game ensued. When Rob began pressuring Peter's King position, the game became interesting and somewhat murky, with both players striving for a decisive advantage. Peter slipped, losing a piece, and seeing that he had no chances, resigned. Paul Dao, with real prospects of winning the title, faced 8-time Champion Patrick Cook, who left his French Defence at home and opted for the Modern instead. Paul played quickly and with great assurance, building up an imposing centre. He then launched a direct attack on the Black King, stripping it of its pawn cover, and going on to win an excellent game.
Veteran 7-time Champion Kevin Perrin took on top seed James Watson in an English Opening. Kevin could make no headway against the super accurate James who punished Kevin's errors to win a good game. Vipin Jyani versus Jordan Furlong was a Catalan, and Vipin showed that he is not to be trifled with, winning an excellent positional game.
Scott Stewart versus Bas van Riel was postponed. Om O'Carroll had the bye.
Checking in on the John Baynham Reserves, Michael Leckie has seized the lead with 7/8, a half point ahead of Justin Goodison, and one point ahead of Paul Marko.
In the John Abson 'C' grade tournament, outsider Declan Mahar has the lead on 6.5/8, just ahead of Kanishk Mahasuar on 6.

Round Seven

Top seed James Watson faced Rob Loveband in a Slav Defence. It was a feisty encounter with equal chances until James picked up a pawn in the middle game. He inexplicably game it back a few moves later and the game livened up again. Rob missed an excellent chance to pressure the White position late in the middle game before collapsing and losing on time!
Peter Stickland met defending Champion Scott Stewart in a Modern Defence. It was typical Scott, shedding pawns with abandon in an effort to seize the initiative. Peter stayed focused and appeared to be on the verge of another upset victory, but was unable to find the right path through the chaos. Chaos is Scott's calling card, and he quickly pounced on Peters errors to stay in the title race.
Jordan Furlong versus Paul Dao, Patrick Cook versus Kevin Perrin, and Bas van Riel versus Om O'Carroll were all postponed. Vipin Jyani had the bye.
One other game was played on the night, with Kevin Perrin taking on high flyer Jordan Furlong in their postponed Round 6 game. An English Opening, it showed Kevin in his best form as he won a fine game.

Round Six

Round 6 was a most unusual occurrence in Club Championship history : all but one of the scheduled games were postponed! Nevertheless, chess was played. Om O'Carroll, languishing at the bottom of the table took on Peter Stickland in a rare line of the Open Sicilian. In an interesting game, Om won a pawn in the middle game and another after Peter liquidated to a rook and pawn ending that enabled Om to score her first victory of the event. Scott Stewart versus James Watson, Kevin Perrin versus Jordan Furlong, Paul Dao versus Vipin Jyani, and Rob Loveband versus Patrick Cook were all postponed. Bas van Riel had the bye. Since they were at the Club rooms, Vipin Jyani versus James Watson was played in advance of Round 10. Vipin opted for a Catalan-like system which James dealt with in his usual precise manner, resulting in an even middle game position. When the game became more complicated, Vipin found his position overloaded, and he resigned when he realised he was losing a piece.

Round Five

Jordan Furlong, happily leading the tournament with Paul Dao, took on 3-time Champion Rob Loveband in a 4 Knights Game. An even, but complex, position arose and Rob offered a draw after 30 moves. Jordan played on, creating problems for Rob who buckled under the pressure and dropped a piece and the game.
Vipin Jyani met Kevin Perrin and these two fighters slugged it out in a complicated game until Vipin in a classic case of chess blindness walked into a mate in one. Top seed James Watson versus Om O'Carroll was a Slav, and a very technical positional struggle ensued. James' depth of knowledge and understanding eventually prevailed in a hard-fought game. Peter Stickland met veteran Bas van Riel in a Pirc. Bas won a couple of pawns with dynamic play early on, but Peter was not without chances and made use of them to stay in the game, eventually reaching a rook and pawns ending that was agreed drawn.
Patrick Cook versus Scott Stewart was postponed. Paul Dao had the bye.

Round Four

Top seed Scott Stewart, smarting after last weeks loss, took on tournament high flyer Jordan Furlong in a London System. Scott made it clear that he's still the Boss with an emphatic win. Kevin Perrin met Paul Dao in an English, but couldn't repeat his heroics from last week, going down to Paul's relentless pressure. Om O'Carroll versus Patrick Cook was an unusual French Winawer. The players castled on opposite wings, and Om quickly marshalled her forces for an attack on Patrick's King. He found a nice sequence of moves to relieve the pressure, and reverting to form, promptly offered a draw without pondering that he was a pawn up! Om accepted after letting her time run down to a matter of seconds.
Bas van Riel met James Watson in an Open Sicilian. It was a catastrophe for Bas who dropped a piece to superior opening knowledge and resigned after just 9 moves!! Rob Loveband versus Vipin Jyani was another London System, (all the rage after Ding Liren used it in the recent World Championship match). Rob understood its subtleties better and gained some pressure, before a disastrous mistake by Vipin handed Rob his Queen in picturesque fashion to score another brevity. This one in 14 moves!
Peter Stickland had the bye.

Round Three

Paul Dao met Rob Loveband in a Sicilian, Grand Prix Attack. With rapid expansion on the King-side, Paul gained the initiative before a nice tactical shot won a piece and the game. Patrick Cook took on Bas van Riel in their traditional grudge match and it was a King's Indian, Samisch variation. After some inaccuracies in the middle game by White, Black seized the initiative and gained a pair of dangerous passed pawns on the Queen-side which he pushed through for a splendid win.
Jordan Furlong versus Om O'Carroll was a Alapin Sicilian. In a sharp, tactical middle game, Jordan won a piece, before finishing the game with a brilliant rook sacrifice to add to Om's tournament woes. James Watson met Peter Stickland in an English. Peter kept things even into the middle game, then profited from an oversight by James to win the exchange. He then demonstrated excellent technique to win the ensuing endgame. Vipin Jyani versus Scott Stewart was postponed, so Kevin Perrin and Scott took the opportunity to play their postponed Round 1 game. In a reprise of his best years, Kevin outplayed the defending Champion to score a great upset win, and demonstrate that the old lion still has claws!
Checking in on the Reserves, Michael Leckie has raced to the lead on 3/3, with Justin Goodison and Tom Oppenheim chasing on 2.5/3.
In the 'C' grade, Alex Lopez leads with 3/3 ahead of Declan Mahar on 2.5/3.

Round Two

Bas van Riel took on danger man Jordan Furlong in a Sicilian Dragon. Jordan did not back down against his experienced opponent and went on to an excellent victory. Om O'Carroll met Vipin Jyani in a Caro-Kann Defence. Om seems out of form and Vipin took full advantage to score a good win. Defending Champion Scott Stewart versus Paul Dao was an important clash. Paul showed his championship credentials with a fine, disciplined victory. Rob Loveband versus Kevin Perrin was a Spanish. Rob seized the initiative in the early middlegame and maintained the pressure until Kevin's position collapsed, handing Rob an excellent victory. Peter Stickland versus Patrick Cook was postponed, but was played a few days later. A French Tarrasch, this seemed in Patrick's comfort zone. Undaunted, Peter sacrificed a piece for a dangerous attack. Patrick, slippery as an eel, escaped and went on to win a good game. Afterwards, the players discovered that Peter's follow up to his sacrifice was faulty, and a better move would have won him the game! James Watson had the bye.

Round One

The 2023 Championship launched with a bang as all games were decisive. Patrick Cook took on 2nd seed James Watson in a Benko Gambit. James demonstrated his high class, gaining a positional grip and soon enough tactical advantages as well, before winning a fine game. Vipin Jyani versus Bas van Riel was a Pirc Defence. A complex position arose in which Bas showed he had a better feel for it, and he went on to an excellent win. Paul Dao met his young rival Om O'Carroll in a mainline Cao-Kann Defence. The game was quite even until Paul pounced on inaccuracies by Om and converted in style. Jordan Furlong played an English Opening against Peter Stickland and a complicated, entertaining game ensued. There were chances for both players, before Jordan made the most of his to score the full point. Kevin Perrin versus Scott Stewart was postponed. Rob Loveband had the bye.


The 58th Ballarat Chess Club Championships has a splendid entry of 38 players, divided into our now usual 3 sections. The top players compete in a round robin tournament for the title of Ballarat Champion in the Andy Miitel Memorial. The rising players also compete in a round robin tournament for the title of Reserves Champion in the John Baynham Memorial. The rest of the players compete in a Swiss tournament for the 'C' grade title in the John Abson Tournament.

Top seed in the 'A' group is 3-time winner and our defending Champion Scott Stewart. Head coach in our Junior Chess Club, he is very dangerous attacking player, with a love of sharp opening play, he could well add a 4th title this year.
2nd seed is 2016 Champion James Watson. Also an experienced coach with great experience in many Melbourne tournaments, his strong technique and keen eye for any advantage make him a formidable opponent.
3rd seed is the youngest player in the field, Paul Dao. Precocious, confident, and ruthless in exploiting mistakes, 2023 could be his year.
4th seed is another junior, Om O'Carroll. Om plays calm, determined, and technically proficient chess and cannot be ruled out of contention for this years title, after recently winning 2 Classical tournaments at the Club.
5th seed is the oldest player in the field, Bas van Riel. Holder of 8 previous Championship titles (the Club record) he is still a very strong player and quite capable of winning another one.
6th seed is 3-time Champion Rob Loveband. Optimistic, alert to any possibilities on the board, he is not a player to be dismissed lightly.
7th seed is 8-time Champion Patrick Cook, playing his 39th Championship! The “drawmaster” has a reputation as difficult to beat, but often lacks ambition. When in form, he can beat anyone.
8th seed is the incomparable 7-time Champion Kevin Perrin, playing his 58th Championship!! Vastly experienced, and when in the mood also capable of beating anyone.
9th seed is Vipin Jyani. Steadily improving and with some major scalps in previous events, he will have a say in this years event.
10th seed is Peter Stickland, again stepping up to take on stronger opposition, he is not out of his depth and cannot be taken for granted.
11th seed is newcomer Jordan Furlong. The seeding is an aberration due to not having a rating, and recent results suggest he will be dangerous for everyone in the field.

So, 11 players, including 6 past Champions, promises an exciting Championship over the next few months.

The Reserves has 9 players in a field with no real favourites. Any of the experienced Tom Oppenheim and Anna Yates, the tough Michael Leckie, or the improving Julian Laffey and Justin Goodison could win the tournament.

The remaining 18 players line up in a 9 round Swiss. Anyone could win it, but perhaps Trevor Ivory, Alex Lopez, or Kanishk Mahasuar are the favourites.

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The A group plays for the Andy Miitel Championship trophy, the B group for John Baynham Reserves title, and the C group for the John Abson Tournament title, renamed in 2019. Andy Miitel was a former club president who was instrumental in revitalising and reconstituting the club in the mid nineteen sixties. John Baynham was an important club administrator in the late sixties and early seventies, and John Abson was a stalwart of the club until health issues recently hampered his attendance.