2023 Victorian Country Chess Championship
Report by Nigel Barrow
Over the weekend, 38 players descended upon Geelong for the Victorian Country Chess Championship, with people coming from as far afield as Warrnambool, Yarrawonga, Shepparton and Swan Hill. There were large contingents from Geelong and Ballarat, with Bendigo being represented by four players, Leigh Healey, Garang Manyuon, Ivan Trinidad and Nigel Barrow.
Top seed Reinier Millan was back to defend his title, along with a series of past champions, including many times champ, Stewart Booth, returning after a hiatus of a couple of years, as well as a number of rising juniors, and some wildcards in potentially strong unrated players.
It was a new venue this year, at As One Co-working, which seemed to be part of a renovated factory. The venue was great, with the playing room being well insulated, both for temperature and sound. The only minor drawback being the toilets being located in another building behind a red door, which would occasionally be locked, meaning players would have to race back to find the key. (This made the timing of consumption of tea and coffee and avoiding time trouble more of a strategic consideration than usual).
There were no major upsets in the early rounds, however Ruari Coffey was forced to come up with an imaginative stalemate combination to avoid a loss to Geoff Barber from a bishop down in the endgame in round 2.
Round 3 saw Paul Dao hold Reinier Millan to a draw on the top board after neither player could prove an advantage in a minor piece endgame, while Alistair Anderson and Nigel Barrow played out a long drawn-out endgame to a draw. This left Om O'Carroll as the sole leader, when not even a broken table could prevent her defeating the higher rated Reza Daneshvar.
In Round 4, Millan regained the lead by defeating O'Carroll, while the battle of the Geoffrey's on board 2 was won by Gill over Barber. Barrow drew with Dao while Anderson defeated Coffey to join Millan and Gill on 3.5/4.
Round 5 saw Millan defeat Gill to take the outright lead, Dao defeat Anderson and Barrow and O'Carroll held to draws by Patrick Cook and Daniel Barker respectively.
In the final round, Millan defeated Coffey to secure the championship, while Dao defeated Jack Smith to finish in outright second. Peter Alayon played an amazing game defeating Gill, while O'Carroll outplayed Barrow on the black side of an Alapin Sicilian.
Daniel Barker from Warrnambool picked up a good last round win against Patrick Cook to join O'Carroll and Alayon on 4.5/6.
Thank you to the Geelong Chess Club for organising the venue, Kerrie from As One Co-working went above and beyond her duties, helping us set up, solve a lot of problems and even stretching to fix tables with a power drill! Thanks also to the VRCL committee for running the tournament, and to all the players in creating a friendly yet competitive atmosphere.
1st: Reinier Millan 5.5/6
2nd: Paul Dao 5.0/6
=3rd: Om O'Carroll, Peter Alayon** 4.5/6
1st Reserve: Daniel Barker 4.5/6
2nd Reserve: Harrison Trewin 4.0/6
=3rd Reserve: Jamie Brotheridge, Patrick Cook 3.5/6
**Unrated (Note ratings for several players were provisional)
1st: Ivan Trinidad
2nd: Garang Manyuon
** Unrated players were allocated a provisional rating for pairings purposes, but unable to win the Reserves prize. Peter Alayon from Shepparton was the highest finishing unrated player, but also finished equal third, his share of which was a higher value prize.
Daniel Barker was also equal third, but was awarded 1st Reserve as the higher value prize.
Report on 2023 Victorian Country Chess Championship by Jack Smith
This year's Victorian Country Championship was held over the weekend of the 21st and 22nd of October 2023, and saw 38 players join the field! (This is one shy of last year's record 39 players.)
The venue was a change from past years, this time being held at the AsOne Coworking building in Rutland Street, Newtown. The venue was modern, aesthetic, and comfortable to play in, with the one downside being the location of the toilets outside the building. However, this happily caused no serious issues over the course of the weekend.
Top seed in the tournament was once again Geelong's Reinier Millan, the defending 2022 champion - Reinier had a solid first day, only dropping half a point to Ballarat's Paul Dao, which put him half a point behind clear leader Om O'Carroll at the end of round 3.
He got the chance to play Om in round 4, who came prepared for his Trompowski - he had to fight resourcefully to eventually garner victory. The top seed had another very challenging game in round 5, taking the Black pieces against an on-form Geoffrey Gill in a Sveshnikov - Black gained an advantage on the clock while White gained an advantage on the board, and in the end White went astray under time pressure, ultimately giving Black what he needed to win.
Reinier's last round game with Ruari Coffey went more his way, as his opponent found himself passively developed, which White was patient and thorough in taking advantage of. This put him in outright first place with 5.5/6 - the same as last year!
Ballarat juniors Om O'Carroll and Paul Dao also impressed over the weekend, both getting a place on the podium.
Om scored a perfect 3/3 on day 1, which included a sparkling win over Reza Daneshvar after the latter uncharacteristically missed a beautiful tactic. After losing to Reinier in round 4, she was then held to a draw by dark horse Daniel Barker in round 5. However a nice win over Nigel Barrow in the final round was enough to cinch her a share of third place with a score of 4.5/6.
Paul also did well in the first 3 rounds, holding an important draw against Reinier in round 3. This was followed by another draw in round 4 with Nigel Barrow - however, Paul picked up the pace in rounds 5 and 6, taking down Geelong players Alistair Anderson and Jack Smith respectively with fantastic precision and patience - thus Paul also repeated his performance of last year, scoring an undefeated 5/6, but this time the score was enough to take out clear second.
Daniel Barker of Warrnambool took the Reserve Championship home with a fantastic score of 4.5/6 - after losing a tough game to Reza Daneshvar in round 1, Daniel remained unbeaten for the rest of the tournament, taking full points from Jasan Barnett, Kevin Perrin, and Patrick Cook in style, and drawing with much higher rated Om O'Carroll.
Also notable was the return of Stewart Booth, 21-time winner of the championship! Despite not having played in the championship since 2018, Stewart still proved to be quite a challenge to be overcome, drawing with second seed Geoffrey Gill in round 2. He wound up finishing on 3.5/6, falling victim to Ruari Coffey and an incredibly well-performing Harrison Trewin, who came second in the reserve with 4/6.
A big thank you to all of the players who turned out to make this event exciting and competitive, and also to Kerrie from AsOne Coworking for being so generous with her time and skills with the venue over the weekend - this was integral to making sure the tournament ran smoothly and cannot be understated.