The C Grade Championship (recently named the John Abson Tournament) had a record 25 players complete games. This made the total entry for all divisions of the 2019 Championship a record of 49 players. This is an incredible performance and on most evenings many of the C Grade Championship games needed to be played in the upstairs Williamson Foyer to allow sufficient space in the Hooper Room for the 24 players in the A & B Grade sections to be comfortably seated.
There were 9 rounds played and amazingly on the final night there were still 16 players paired. The flexible Swiss format enabled players to elect for half-point byes in the early rounds or even re-join after they missed a week or more. Most of the players were juniors, but not all with 4 adult players competing. It is much harder for juniors to be regular in attendance, so the flexible Swiss format was a good choice to ensure that interest and participation were maximised.
There were many upsets in the early rounds or at least that is what appeared to be the case. In the absence of firm ratings for many it was sometimes hard to work out who was actually the higher rated. Michael Schreenan started exceptionally well winning his first 4 games but was closely followed by Dylan Douglas on 3.5. Ultimately though it came down to a closely fought encounter between Michael, Dylan & Kalen Douglas and Dan & Andrew Wang. All these 5 played each other and Michael had the best aggregate score of 3 out of 4, losing only to Dylan. He did however lose 2 other games to James Smyth and Brandon Ling which proved costly to his final score.
Going into the last round Michael was the clear leader on 6 points. He was closely followed by the Douglas brothers on 5.5 and then the Wang brothers on 5.0 points. The upsets were to continue in this round with Michael being the first to fall. He was away to an early lead in his game against Brandon Ling after winning a rook, but he stumbled into a very nicely executed mate after overlooking a surprise attack on his exposed king. Next to fall was Dylan who rather unexpectedly blundered against new player Kanishk Mahasuar. This opened the way for a possible repeat of last year’s 4-way tie after Dan and Andrew accounted for Marley Sutherland and Gus Tatman respectively. We then witnessed a battle of epic proportions between Kalen and Nigel Block which finished at 11.25pm after a game lasting over 3.75 hours. Nigel emerged with a pawn advantage in the endgame, but he miscalculated the time need to promote his pawn and Kalen queened first and went on to win the game and the championship. Who said that players in the C Grade rush their games? Not young Kalen, he was rewarded for taking his time. Both players impressed with their great perseverance.
Of the other players special mention must go to John McGill who was competing in his first event and he finished on 5 points equal with Brandon Ling. Brandon only played 4 games winning them all but elected for 2 half point byes in the early rounds. His victory over Michael in the final round will leave him wondering what might have been if he had played the other 3 games for which he was absent. Sasha and Kanishk put in very creditable efforts to finish on 4 points. Kanishk’s win over Dylan in the final round cost the latter equal first place. Nigel did very well on his return to the club but will regret missing a win in the long endgame again Kalen. Gus and James will be much better for the experience they gained, they each played some very good games. Gustav’s score would have been better but unfortunately, he finished up in hospital for the last 2 rounds after suffering a major health scare. Sean tells us that he is now at home recovering, so hopefully he will be back at the club before too long. Marley, Aayush, Ishaan, Lance and the 2 Thomas’ will benefit from the experience and hopefully they will gain that in other club events ahead of next year’s championship.
So, congratulations to Kalen for winning the fourth C Grade Championship joining Miguel Marbella, Chantelle Barnett and Justin Goodison as previous champions. Kalen now has the chance to compete for the B Grade Championship in 2020. We just have to wonder if any one of these champions will progress to win the B Grade or even possibly the A Grade titles in the future.
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.