The 46th annual Ballarat Chess Club championship sees an excellent entry of 22 players, the largest entry for many a year! 10 players are competing for the Andy Miitel championship trophy, with the rest lining up for the John Baynham reserves title.
Originally, 9 players were to compete for the title of Club Champion, but following the last minute withdrawal of Vineetha Wijesurija, Chris Segrave volunteered to step up as a replacement and James Eldridge was persuaded to play after all.
The tournament sees a welcome return to competition chess Rob Bailey and Geoff Davis.
Top seed is defending champion Joel Beggs, while several others are serious contenders, so a competitive event is to be expected.
List of Players
Defending Champion and top seed Joel Beggs faced Geoff Davis in an open Sicilian. A tough battle ensued. Black appeared to have some pressure late in the middle game, then he dropped the exchange and White picked up 2 pawns as well to have a winning advantage. He made no mistake in converting the full point.
Rob Loveband versus Jamie Brotheridge was another open Sicilian. After a sharp opening stage, the game continued with an even struggle in the middle game. Neither player was able to gain an edge in a lengthy and protracted fight, and a draw was the appropriate result.
Peter Miitel surprised Kevin Perrin with the English, normally a pet opening of Black’s. White quickly gained a lot of space and seemed to be getting on top. Black sacrificed 2 pieces for Rook and 2 pawns with some vague threats against White’s King. After Queens came off, the game fizzled to a draw.
James Eldridge took on Chris Segrave’s Caro-Kann. In an even positional struggle, the game was enlivened when White sacrificed a piece for a dangerous attack, but adroit defence by Black forced a draw by perpetual check.
Patrick Cook met Rob Bailey who prepared the Modern Benoni. In an interesting middle game position White saw a chance to win a piece and grabbed it. It turned out in post game analysis to be a devilish trap, but Black saw a phantom mate in the game and was suddenly in a lost endgame. White was ruthless in converting, avoiding several pitfalls along the way.
Chris Segrave took on Jamie Brotheridge with an English which transposed into a Kings Indian Defence. Black played a rather restrained positional game, eventually picking up a pawn in the middle game. White gained some pressure as compensation, but Black coolly survived and won a piece later to have an easily won game.
Rob Bailey tried the aggressive Morra Gambit against Kevin Perrin, sacrificing a pawn right in the opening for rapid development. Black hung onto the pawn for quite some time, but sustained pressure by White, regained the material but not much else, and the players agreed a draw.
Geoff Davis found himself facing a French Defence against Peter Miitel. Black obtained an excellent position against disorganized White play and picked up 2 pawns as a reward. High class technique by Black then brought home the full point.
James Eldridge versus Rob Loveband was an open Sicilian, no surprises there. Black won the exchange in the middle game and seemed headed for a win, but White somehow trapped the Black Queen in the middle of the board to gain some good play. A couple of dangerous passed pawns gave Black compensation and after Black declined 2 draws offers, the game was eventually drawn anyway.
Joel Beggs faced Patrick Cook in a key showdown. Black played the Pirc Defence, looking to avoid any preparation, but quickly found himself in a passive position. With excellent logical play, White never let go of his grip, and Black was left to squirm in a lengthy game. White picked up a couple of pawns late in the middle game and won with precise end game play.
The BIG showdown this round was Rob Loveband versus Joel Beggs. The 2009 champion and 2010 champion have developed a great rivalry recently, and this game was worthy of it. After something like a Semi-Slav opening, White castled Queen-side, looking to enliven the game. Black picked up a pawn in a middle game skirmish and appeared to be getting on top, but he had neglected to castle. White spotted a nice tactical shot that exploited this fact and suddenly Black could do nothing but resign a ruined position.
Peter Miitel versus James Eldridge was postponed at Whites request.
Kevin Perrin versus Geoff Davis was a French, Advance variation and a battle of the pawn chains. Surprisingly, Black obtained a powerful looking pawn centre at the cost of a pawn in the middle game. The tactics favoured White, however, who won another pawn plus the exchange and went on to convert this advantage.
Jamie Brotheridge took on tournament sleeper Rob Bailey in a Queens Gambit Accepted. In a tough positional struggle, White tried to hang on to his threatened isolated Queen pawn. Black eventually won it, but felt unable to win the endgame and conceded the draw.
Patrick Cook faced Chris Segrave. Looking to avoid a dour Slav, White played his old favourite Larsen’s Opening, but the game eventually resembled a Queens Indian. After castling on opposite wings, the two players launched attacks in a surprisingly lively game. Black ripped open his opponents King position first, but dropped a piece in the process, and White coolly defended into the endgame and converted his advantage.
Another heavyweight showdown, with Patrick Cook taking on Rob Loveband. A Semi-Slav in which White gained an advantage from the opening with Black forced into a cramped position. White seemed a bit plan-less in the middle game and Black’s freeing counter attack won a pawn. Thereafter a lengthy battle ensued as White tried to hold, but an error in the endgame cost another pawn and Black went on to win an interesting and instructive end game.
So, after four rounds no less than five!! players are undefeated, with 2009 champion Rob Loveband the man of the moment after beating the top two seeds in consecutive weeks.
Chris Segrave faced Rob Bailey who sprang the Dutch, resulting in an interesting opening stage. White dropped a piece (yet again!) to be handicapped in a tactical middle game shootout. Black picked up another piece before Black resigned.
Geoff Davis versus Jamie Brotheridge was an English. Black adopted a Queens Indian set-up against it, but White was able to build up a huge central pawn mass and won a pawn. After White turned down a draw offer, a tactical skirmish left White with 2 pieces for rook and pawn, which became a very interesting unbalanced end game. White kept turning down a few more draw offers, but eventually accepted the inevitable.
James Eldridge met Kevin Perrin who once again surprised us with a French Defence. White won a pawn in the early middle game, then sacrificed a piece looking for a quick mate. A draw by perpetual check was the outcome.
Joel Beggs took on Peter Miitel in another French, with White testing an idea he had prepared for Patrick Cook. In a tense struggle, White was left with an isolated Queen pawn and few attacking options, so was happy with an early draw against his dangerous opponent.
Kevin Perrin took on defending champion Joel Beggs and again surprised us all with the Scotch Opening. White created problems for Black early, but Joel escaped with typically sharp play. With pieces being traded and little material left on the board, Black offered a draw late in the middle game. Despite a slight edge for White, he had no reason to decline.
Peter Miitel met an old rival in Patrick Cook and played the English. Black adopted the most uncompromising line and the two players proceeded to swap material, rapidly leading to a drawish endgame and the players duly split the point.
Jamie Brotheridge met James Eldridge in a Bogo-Indian. An interesting middle game ensued with Black appearing to have a slight edge. In trying to make something of it, he played into an ending favourable to White who was ruthless in converting the full point.
Rob Bailey versus Geoff Davis was a Queens Gambit Declined. In a theoretical duel, White gained an advanced passed pawn that seriously disrupted Black position. Rob however, went for a faulty tactical resource late in the middle game and Black, playing well in time pressure, exposed the flaw and went on to win.
Rob Loveband versus Chris Segrave was postponed, and played a few days later. After 1.e4, a Caro-Kann was the not surprising response. White took his opponent out of book as early as move 3, but had to rely on a few errors to gain an edge, but it was not until late in the middle game that White finally obtained a decisive material advantage.
Tournament leader Rob Loveband took on undefeated Peter Miitel in an important game. A strange Queen-Pawn opening (Barry Attack, Gruenfeld Variation) led to an even middle game until Black dropped a pawn to a neat tactical trick. White declined Black’s hopeful draw offer and later finished the game with an elegant and amusing mate.
Joel Beggs met the high performing Jamie Brotheridge in a grudge match. An Open Sicilian with ultra sharp play, typical of both players, Black eventually won a pawn with powerful play in the middle game, and went on to win in scintillating style to avenge his tragic loss from 2010.
James Eldridge took on Rob Bailey in another non-descript Queen-Pawn Opening that eventually resembled a Catalan. White was lumbered with an isolated Queen pawn and curiously spent a lot of time early on pondering what to do about it. The long think paid off, since Black could make nothing of it and a draw was the end result.
Patrick Cook faced old rival Kevin Perrin in a Slav. A theoretical struggle ensued with both players trying to gain the upper hand to no avail, and the players agreed a draw in middle game when they began repeating moves.
The luckless Chris Segrave met Geoff Davis in a Semi-Slav. White played excellent chess to gain a big material advantage in the middle game, but kept finding ways to avoid winning! White eventually succeeded in throwing away the win and even managed to lose…A morale crushing result for Chris.
The tournament is approaching the end and Rob Loveband is the front runner with Jamie Brotheridge just half a point behind.
Kevin Perrin, the only other undefeated player, faced Rob Loveband in an English, symmetrical variation. A maneuvering battle ensued, and Black slowly, almost imperceptibly, gained the initiative. White seemed solid enough, until a brilliant combination by Black netted White’s Queen.
Jamie Brotheridge took on his old rival Patrick Cook, also in an English, this time an Anti-Nimzo variation. Black uncharacteristically blundered early, giving up a piece for two pawns, but proceeded to make a game of it anyway. White carefully side-stepped numerous traps to reach an endgame with just a hint of drawing chances for Black. Alas, White put paid to such ideas to register his first ever win in the Club championship against his nemesis!
Rob Bailey met defending champion Joel Beggs on his opponents own ground!: the ultra-sharp Moller attack in the Italian. White sacrificed material early for an attack and kept up the pressure throughout an interesting game. Black squirmed in an uncomfortable position, but just managed to hold White at bay and gain a draw.
Geoff Davis met James Eldridge in yet another English. In a dour positional battle, White gained space and continuously pressed Black back, picking up two pawns along the way. In the subsequent endgame, he found himself in a drawn Bishops of opposite colour ending which Black successfully held.
Peter Miitel versus Chris Segrave was postponed.
Chris Segrave faced defending champion Joel Beggs and played the Zukertort Attack, a weird combination of Queens Gambit and Larsen’s Opening that no one has played since…well, Zukertort in the 19th Century! White again dropped a piece in the early middle game to be in real trouble. He continued to launch futile attacks that lost more material, before resigning in a hopeless position.
Patrick Cook met James Eldridge and was given the opportunity of playing an Open Catalan. White played smoothly and quickly, gaining a strong positional advantage that was surprisingly quickly converted into a decisive material advantage.
Tournament leader Rob Loveband took on Geoff Davis in what became a Tarrasch Defence to the Queens pawn. A tough, even struggle ensued throughout the game. Neither side could gain a decisive edge and the game finished as a draw deep in the endgame.
Meanwhile, Jamie Brotheridge faced Kevin Perrin and once again played the English. In a very complicated middle game position both players launched attacks, with Black crowding the White King with menacing pieces. Black broke through first to win the exchange before the battle flared up again, going down to the wire in a time scramble from which Black emerged the victor. Jamie’s first loss of the tournament and a big blow to his title hopes.
Peter Miitel met the well prepared Rob Bailey in a Dutch. White took his opponent out of book very early, and high class technique gave White the upper hand which he converted into a decisive material advantage before going on to win.
With one round to go, only an unlikely loss in the last round can prevent Rob Loveband from picking up his second championship title.
Round Eight Results
Round 9 - 11
Two crucial games were played on the night. First of all, Rob Bailey took on the
tournament leader Rob Loveband, who needed just a draw to win the championship.
A Caro-Kann Defence, Panov-Botvinnik attack was played and a theoretical struggle
ensued. White was well armed and in a tough, intense battle gained an edge, which
became a serious advantage of a piece for 2 pawns in the middle game. Somewhere in
the endgame, White appeared to lose his nerve and took a draw in what was probably still
a winning position, handing the title to Rob Loveband.
Meanwhile, Jamie Brotheridge, still with some chance of grabbing the title in a play-off,
faced Peter Miitel, himself, also, with some faint championship hopes! A Colle system
was played, looking something like a cross between the Grunfeld and Larsen. In the
positional battle, White seized a lot of space, but looked over-exposed. Nevertheless, late
in the game he missed several mates and found himself in a lost position before Black co-
operated by resigning in what was probably still a winning position!
James Eldridge met defending champion Joel Beggs in an Italian Game, the province of
Joel usually. In a sharp game, a dynamically equal position was maintained throughout
and a draw was the logical result.
Geoff Davis faced 7 times champion Patrick Cook in a Queen’s Indian Defence. A quiet,
somewhat dull game resulted, and a draw was agreed when mass exchanges loomed.
Kevin Perrin versus Chris Segrave was postponed.
So, congratulations are in order to Rob Loveband who has won the Ballarat Chess Club
championship for the second time.
Reserves Round 10
Reserves Round 11
The remaining games from the Championship were duly played. From round 3, Peter Miitel took on James Eldridge in a Dutch Leningrad. Black had little difficulty, with White playing bullet chess!! And finishing the game with more time than he started with. The drawn result suggests that James is challenging for the title of draw master.
The round 7 game Peter Miitel versus Chris Segrave was a Slav. Black held on in the opening stage, but dropped a pawn in the middle game. This was all White needed, and superior technique eventually earned him the full point and a share of 3rd place in the tournament.
The last game, from round 9, Kevin Perrin versus Chris Segrave, was another Slav. Black sacrificed a pawn for an attack in the middle game, before White returned the pawn, and a lengthy game was eventually drawn. This gave Kevin Perrin a share of 3rd also.
In the John Baynham Reserves tournament, James Watson played a superb, undefeated event to claim the title, with an outstanding score of 10.5 out of a possible 11 points! He is automatically eligible for entry to the A grade tournament of 2012, so watch out for this upcoming junior player! He combines a good knowledge of openings with a developing appreciation of positional play.
Rob Loveband did well with a 7 out of a possible 9 points, also undefeated in the A grade. Sitting at 3rd seed, he conceded draws against the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th seeds, however, he won the full point against the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th seeds! He was lucky to avoid a play-off against Jamie Brotheridge by being given a draw by Rob Bailey in the final game of the tournament.
James Watson (John Baynham Reserves) & Rob Loveband (Andy Miitel Championship)
display Champions' Certificates.
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.