On Friday the 3rd of December, the 6th Pleasant St Primary Open tournament took place at its traditional location in the library of the school. 26 students competed in 7 rounds of good fighting chess, with many drawn out close and lengthy games over the day.
Chess in education has suffered immensely in the "Pandemic Years" of 2020-2021, with the school clubs being canceled for a good proportion of this time. As a result, inter-school chess was relegated by Kids Unlimited to an online status and so there have been no local over the board inter-school tournaments for over two years.
AGM and Blitz 5 : IM Leonid Sandler wins the Blitz title for 2021
Leonid Sandler made a third visit from Melbourne to participate in the Blitz and, having 3 out of 5 scores, has qualified to be the Blitz Champion of 2021! Congratulations to Leonid. His final score was 20.5 out of 21, with only young Paul Dao able to wrest half a point off him in the final game of the final tournament of the year.
Ruari's win - read about it here.
29 participants played in this year's Country Championships held in Geelong. FM Chris Wallis won all 6 games to take the title. Reserves winner was Ballarat's Paul Dao. Ruari lost only one game to Chris, finishing on 5 points.
GM stands for George Maksacheff, a three time Ballarat Chess Champion, who sent this in for your consideration!
White to move and NOT checkmate black in one move
The 11th annual challenge match between Ballarat Chess Club and Geelong Chess Club was finally held on Sunday, 24th October 2021 at the Ballarat Mechanics Institute. Both Clubs very much wanted to play the match OTB, and after being twice postponed due to lockdown and Covid-19 concerns, it was a great pleasure to welcome the Geelong players to the Humffray Room at the BMI.
Matteo Bonifaccio defeated Paul Dao in the 5th and final round to win the tournament. Congratulations Matteo, on your first Ballarat Chess Club event win!
On Thursday 15th we enjoyed a lecture by IM Leonid Sandler, followed by a 7 round Swiss Blitz which was one by Leonid.
2021 Time Handicap Tournament held on 8th and 15th April
Leonid kindly gave a whole day to Ballarat Chess Club, driving up from Melbourne, giving an hour lecture in which he went through some of his interesting games - one win against a young GM Levon Aronian (who is playing against Australian GM Bobby Cheng in a current tournament), one draw against GM Nigel Short during his visit to the Ballarat Begonia Chess Tournament in 2016, and he also presented some puzzles from games of our young Australian GMs like Anton Smirnov.
Here is Leonid's game against a young Aronian, and some other games and the two studies can be found here...
Ruari Coffey - Club Champion
Andrew Vincent - Reserves Champion
Vivaan Solanki with John Abson presenting the John Abson Tournament medal and book prize in person!
Officially the last round of the Championships, but a number of important games were still postponed, so the Championship and Reserves titles could still have been undecided by the end of it!
Feisty Jamie Brotheridge took on veteran Kevin Perrin in a Spanish. It proved to be a complex, sharp, and lengthy game. Jamie gained a near decisive advantage before a series of time pressure mistakes by both players in the middle game complications ended with Jamie dropping a piece. There was still some drama in the game, but a final blunder handed Kevin a win.
Junior Justin Goodison faced 8-time champion Bas van Riel in a Sicilian. Bas won a pawn in the middle game and seemed to be heading for a comfortable win before Justin spotted a nice combination that regained the pawn and got him to a drawish looking endgame. Alas, Bas' experience proved too much for the youngster, as the veteran outplayed him to score the full point.
Jules Feinberg met Harrison Harrison, and once past Harrison's opening weirdness, a conventional position was reached. The players were soon into a drawn rooks and pawns ending, but Harrison showed his strength as he exploited some minor errors by Jules to win a fine game.
Paul Dao versus Scott Stewart was postponed.
Ruari Coffey and Patrick Cook had the bye and so they took the opportunity to play their postponed Round 6 game. It was an important game, since Ruari just needed a draw in this, or his other postponed game against Paul Dao, to win the title! Predictably enough, the “drawmeister” offered the Champion-in-waiting a draw after just 12 moves of a French, which Ruari happily accepted to assure himself of his first Ballarat Championship title!
In the Reserves, tough youngster Kalen Douglas took on the leader Andrew Vincent. A win for Kalen would force a play-off between the two, but it was not to be, as Andrew showed himself to be a quality player with a good victory cementing his place as Reserves Champion.
Also of note was Rory Brooker's first win in a nice game against Kanishk Mahasuar.
To all members and chess players
This Thursday at the club there will be a lecture by International Master Leonid Sandler. The lecture will start at 7.30pm in the Humffray Room at the BMI. Leonid is President of Chess Victoria and also conducts a private chess coaching service so he has a vast amount of experience to draw on. All chess players are welcome to attend the free lecture even if they are not currently a member of the club.
Following the lecture the 3rd Blitz tournament in the 2021 series of 5 events will be held. The time control will be 5 minutes for each player plus an increment of 5 seconds for each move played in the 7 games. The player with the best aggregate score in any 3 of these 5 events over the year will be the 2021 Blitz Champion, win $75 and have their name added to the Ernie Greenhalgh Blitz Champion honour board. Previous winners can be seen at the following link on our website. https://www.ballaratchess.com/events/2021/2021blitz.html . We are hoping that International Master Leonard Sandler will compete in the event so don’t miss your chance to play him or see one of Australia’s few International Masters in action. Leonid played in our first event this year and nobody was able to stop him winning all his games. There will be a special prize for anyone who is able to achieve that in this tournament
Just before the lecture starts there will be a short presentation of medals to the 3 winners of this year’s club championships. The winners were Ruari Coffey in the A grade, Andrew Vincent in the B grade and Vivaan Solanki in the C grade. Congratulations to each of those players. The full results can be found on the club website.
The regular coaching sessions for juniors under 18 years of age will also resume at the club from 6.00pm this Thursday. A copy of the Coaching Flyer is attached. If you know of anyone who may be interested in these sessions then please pass the flyer on to them. For those over 18 who are interested in one on one private coaching sessions at any level, then please contact the coaches listed on the Flyer or give me a call for an introduction.
Kind Regards Kevin Perrin
Tournament #3 27/6/21
17 players enjoyed the June Sunday Allegro, our second over the board Sunday Tournament for the year. Leonard passed the post a point ahead of Jamie and Rob, and took home first prize. Rory won the B section, and Wendy, Vivaan and Zach all won some tasty prizes.
Round 3 Saturday 4pm Bishan Chess Club v Ballarat Chess Club
In round 3 of the chess.com club's league we have been paired against Bishan Chess Club. We have played Bishan chess club in season 1 and 2 in division A. One win and one loss so our club's are evenly matched and it is a good opportunity for us to go +1 in the tournament standings.
Please let me know if you are available to play.
3:55pm Saturday June 26: 15m+2s
5:10pm Saturday June 26: 3m+2s
Tournament leader Ruari Coffey faced Jules Feinberg in a London System, a fashionable opening since the World Champion adopted it. Ruari snaffled a pawn in the opening and gained a nice positional grip as well. He quickly converted this to a Rook and pawn ending 2 pawns to the good and had no trouble hauling in the full point.
Defending Champion Scott Stewart met feisty Jamie Brotheridge in a Morra Gambit. A “fingerfehler” by Scott on move 11 dropped a piece and he resigned on the spot! A disaster for Scott's ambition to win back-to-back titles.
Bas van Riel took on his old rival Patrick Cook, who played an Alekhine's Defence instead of his usual French! Bas appeared to be winning right out of the opening, but muffed the tactics, and both players were astonished to find Patrick back in with a chance to hold. However, Bas played the ensuing endgame with great accuracy to ensure the win.
Harrison Harrison versus Kevin Perrin was a completely weird opening that led to a very complex middle game. Kevin sacrificed a piece for a pawn and gained 2 very dangerous passed pawns for the investment, eventually converting despite imaginative resistance from Harrison.
Justin Goodison and Paul Dao had the bye and so they took the opportunity to play their postponed Rd. 7 game. Justin was White and a French Advance was played. Paul won a pawn in the middle game and his excellent technical skills enabled him to register a win.
In the Reserves, the contenders, Andrew Vincent and Anna Yates both won, while Nick Lyons was held to a draw. The title is still up for grabs!
In the 'C' group, Vivaan Solanki, with the title in his pocket, blundered horribly to enable Gavin Varley to catch him, and these two will now play off for the John Abson shield.
13 players participated in the tournament, with Nigel in form, losing only to Leo second, followed by Paul coming in third. https://www.chess.com/live#t=2356756
There was a definite show of support for the first Sunday Allegro Chess Tournament held at the BMI on Sunday afternoon - 24 participants and their families came from as far afield as Melbourne and Bendigo. Jasan Barnett directed play and the tournament ran smoothly, finishing at around 5:30 p.m.
Next Thursday 22nd our main internal over the board event of the year will start, when the 2021 Club Championships commence. They will be held in 3 separate divisions and there will be prizes for each. There are no entry fees but a person must be a financial member of the club or be part of the junior coaching program for 2021. All divisions will played face to face at the BMI this year, but if there was enough interest from our more remote online members then we will consider holding an online Associates championship as well.
As usual the 12 highest rated players will compete for the A grade championship and the next 12 highest rated players will compete for the B grade championship. Those events will be a ‘round-robin’ format where all players meet each other once. The draw for round 1 and the following weeks will be available on the first evening and then posted onto the club website for future reference. This will provide some limited flexibility to arrange a game in advance if you will be away or, if you advise your opponent in advance, to defer a game for a week or so. If games are completed other than on a Thursday night at the club then please advise me of that and also the result, as I will be the arbiter for all 3 sections this year.
All other players including any new members are invited to compete for the C grade championship. Depending upon final numbers this division will be a 7 or 9 round swiss tournament. This format matches players of as near to equal strength and scores as possible and you play every round. Pairings will being completed at 7.30pm each Thursday, based upon the players who are present at the club at that time. If players are late and have not already advised me, then they may well miss out on a game for that round. If a player is unable to attend and they advise me in advance, then they are able to request up to 2 half-point byes, except for the final 2 rounds. This is designed to provide some flexibility for players who are unable to attend each week and to encourage as many players as possible to compete. We are expecting a number of our newer members to take part in this division since it is an ideal place to start playing competitive chess.
As is always the case, the winner of the B grade championship will automatically qualify for the A grade championship next year. Also the winner of the C grade championship will automatically qualify for the B grade championship in the following year.
If you have not already advised me that you are intending to compete, then please do so by return email message or by phone call or text to 0418 533 517. At this stage it is not possible to tell players exactly which section they will be competing in, but if you have any queries, concerns or are specifically requesting to play in a certain section then please contact me to discuss your situation.
Read all about it- great annotated games and commentary about our players' games in the current championships, by our very own club champion, Scott Stewart!
Spielvogel Memorial 2021 Final Round
Last week saw the 2021 Spielvogel Tournament completed and the result went down to the wire in both divisions. In the outright section Scott Stewart and Ruari Coffey tied for first on 5.5 points closely followed by Patrick Cook on 5.0 points after he held Scott to a draw in the final round. The Reserve section resulted in a 3 way tie for first between Louis and Kalen Douglas and also Nigel Block who each finished on 3.5 points from the 7 rounds. Congratulations to all players especially Louis and Nigel who scored their first wins in tournaments at the club.
Round Five: Bas continues to hold the lead after opening up Ruari's king to attack and manoeuvering him into a lost position. Harrison and Scott are a half point behind now with just two rounds to go.
Round Four: In the main battle of the night, Ruari, as black, defeated top seed Scott in a game which is not up for perusal yet. Other games played on the night proceeded pretty much as expected with some minor upsets in the lower boards. Bas and Ruari now are on 3.5 points at the head of the pack.
DGT boards used for the top 4 games can be viewed live, albeit delayed 30 minutes, here. All players wanting to enter their games can do so here... ChessMicrobase. (Get the login details from Rob L). Scott has started a blog on Chess.com with his games annotated, and you can see that here... Scott's Blog
Thanks to all the local players and others that helped moving chairs and tables, setting up boards and clocks, and doing any of the myriad of chores before, during and after the event, we have once again delivered a top calibre weekend tournament, as good as any you will get anywhere in Australia.
See the results, write-ups and photo gallery at the Begonia Open web site here.
Our local players took home some of the prizes, with Ruari and Paul both in the black!
Begonia Open 2021 wrap up
The Begonia Open 2021 chess tournament was completed last weekend. The committee was delighted to be able to present our 55th consecutive event and appreciated the support received from Victorian and Interstate players who travelled to Ballarat. We finished with a record entry of 157 players which included 5 Grandmasters and 4 International Masters. Many of this year’s competitors had not played in a serious classical tournament since the same event a year ago.
The outright prizes were mainly taken by the GM’s, but IM James Morris managed to edge out Zong-Yuan Zhao to share in a 5 way tie for first place with Temur Kuybokarov, Justin Tan, Daniel Fernandez and Darryl Johansen on 6 points. The latter completed an amazing 14th win of the tournament, some 15 years after his previous victory, whilst James recorded his 5th win. 19 players shared the rating prizes and details are shown on the attached list. The full tournament results and various reports are available at https://www.ballaratchess.com/tournaments/2021/begonia2021/wwwbegonia2021/index.html . A report on the tournament can be found at https://www.ballaratchess.com/begonia/2021/index.html and there are some photos and games from the tournament there as well. Quite a few players were competing in their first major event including some aged 10 years or under. One of those was Paul Dao from the Ballarat Club who scored 4 points to finish equal first in his rating group whilst his coach Ruari Coffey did the same in his rating group.
Thanks to all the players and families who travelled to Ballarat for the tournament, especially those family members who were required to not even enter the building due to Covid related capacity restrictions. In what is now an integral part of the tournament, Ian and Cathy Rogers provided an invaluable and very enjoyable games commentary. Not only does Ian provide expert comments on the games in progress but he gives an insightful look into the global chess scene along with historical anecdotes as well. A disruption to power in the central Ballarat area on Monday morning looked like being a major issue but fortunately supply was restored after 20 minutes. The Arbiter team of IA Peter Tsai, Nigel Barrow and Bjorn Lategan worked together very well and managed to sort out any issues which arose in a very efficient manner.
A big thank you to our sponsors, PPT Financial, Federation University, Northern Star Chess and the Friends of the Begonia Tournament for their generous support. Special thanks also to David and Sabrina Koetsier from Chesslife for bringing a team of players from SA and for providing special book prizes and to Sabrina for her amazing photography.
Putting on a National event of this calibre is a major task for a small regional country chess club so the efforts of the tournament committee comprising of Anna Yates, Patrick Cook, Rob Loveband, Scott Stewart and myself along with other members of the Ballarat Chess Club should be acknowledged.
We welcome any comments or suggestions for improvement of future events from players who competed as well as those who were unable to or chose not to this year.
GLOBAL participation in chess has grown since the release of Netflix series, The Queen’s Gambit. If the board game captured your imagination, you may be fascinated to discover Australia’s second longest continuously running tournament is Ballarat’s own.
The 55th annual Begonia Open will be held at Ballarat Tech School over the long weekend; Saturday, 6, Sunday, 7 and Monday, 8 March. The Ballarat Chess Club’s seven-round comp already has 90 players registered, from primary-aged children to 80 year olds. BCC secretary Anna Yates said they’re expecting about 120 entries.
“We’ve got players from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland. Three grandmasters are playing, including one Englishman based in Australia,” she said. “We have people representing Bangladesh, China, and Hong Kong. We have quite a lot of local Ballarat players which is really nice.” Mrs Yates said the diversity of competitors is exciting, with some players so little, their feet don’t touch the floor when they sit at the board. “It’s a nice feel having an event where people of all ages can compete on the basis of their skill and ability, not their gender, age, or nationality.
“As a lesser-rated player, I love getting to be in the same field as some really top players. The chances of me winning those games is small, but anyone can have a bad day and make a mistake,” she laughed. The player, or players, who have won the most games in the seven rounds win the tournament. There have been multiple winners before, like a four-way tie, but only one winner in the Begonia Open’s history has won all seven rounds.
Due to COVID-19, last year’s Begonia Open was the city’s most recent in-person tournament. “We’ve had really positive messages from players who are very keen to play because there have been very few tournaments in Australia, and this is the first big tournament back.” The BCC has a COVID-safe plan. Mrs Yates said the Club adapted well to online tournaments in 2020, but it was never the same as playing over the board.
Monday night league link https://www.chess.com/live#r=945978 two hour Arena 15 m + 0 secs: be there at 7:30 pm!
With a 5 day lockdown in force, Week 4 saw 10 players take part in the evening's chess. Scott won his 3rd Arena in a row slowly narrowing the gap on the League leader, Patrick. Paul had a good night going undefeated 4 draws and 2 wins including knocking off Scott, collecting 10 points and 2nd place on the night. Next week let's play a 15 0 Arena.
Round One saw 27 entrants with 12 games played OTB on the night, which was a healthy number of masked players.
All games went to the higher rated player, with Kalen and Rob's game finishing last. All players wanting to enter their games can do so here... ChessMicrobase. (Get the login details from Rob L). Scott has started a blog on Chess.com with his games annotated, and you can see that here... Scott's Blog
On Thursday 11 February, the Spielvogel Tournament will start. This will run over 7 weeks, with a game per week and a time control of 90 minutes plus 30 seconds per move increment. There will be cash prizes for outright and the lower half of the field based on ratings. This will be our first classic event since restarting meetings and I know a lot of our members are looking forward to it.Please contact me if you wish to discuss any matter.
Kevin Perrin 0418 533 517
Congratulations Ruari, who finished on 5 out of 6, a half point ahead of Harrison and Leonard. With over 20 participants, the club's activities for the year are off to a good start.
Tonight is week 3 of the Monday Night League. We will be playing an arena event consisting of 9 minutes plus 5 seconds per move. See you at 7:30pm.
Monday night was an exciting event contested between 10 players. Rob, Pat and Scott each took home 10 league points. The event itself saw Pat off to a flying start building up an impressive lead with a 5 game streak. Rob caught and chased him down with a 5 game streak of his own. Scott off to a slow start also put together a 5 game streak and in the dying seconds drew with Nigel securing 1st place just one point clear from Rob and Pat. Pat and Rob have a 4 point lead on the field after 2 rounds.
We had 10 players on Monday night battling it out for league points. Current scores and division assignments are listed below, More to come when I have time. The Arena was won by George, Rob and Pat after all 3 took last second draws to secure =1st as the Arena clock ticked down.
A surprise visitor took the honours for the first blitz tournament of the year: Chess Victoria President, IM Leonid Sandler, joined in and won all his 7 games. Patrick and Harrison followed on 5.5, and Leonard on 5 points. A great turnout of 22 players kicked off the year's scheduled events in style! We had some old faces reappear: Angus Blenkiron, Bill Coutts and James Watson, and some newish faces too: Julian Feinberg, Nick Lyons, Joe Daher and Vivaan Solanki. Covid safe practices were upheld, with masks now not being mandatory.
The Ernie Greenhalgh Blitz Tournaments of 2021 is a Grand Prix cycle of five, 7 round tournaments of 5 minutes and 5 second increment, throughout the year, with a player's best 3 scores deciding the title. There is a $75 prize for the King or Queen of the clock!
Mystery IM visitor tonight - come and play him!
Read all about - great annotated games and commentary about our players' games in the current championships, by our very own club champion, Scott Stewart!
Greetings everybody, I will be organising the 2021 Ballarat Chess Club Daily Championships. What I would like from members at this stage is expressions of interest. Please comment on chess,com if you are interested with your preferred number of days per move (1 to 5), number of games at a time you would prefer to play and we shall tailor the event as much as is possible to include as many of us as possible.
Throughout the year there are three Rapid Play tournaments, each player starting with 15 minutes plus a 5 second increment per move. Each tournament is six rounds held over two weeks. This is an unrated event which encourages players to experiment and take more chances, often leading to exciting and unexpected outcomes.
Yury Markushin has an interesting article about Rapid Chess here...
From the 25th of January the second season of the Monday Night Chess League will begin. The league will run from the 25th January to the 29th of March
EVENT TYPE: Tournaments will be Arena formats of varying rapid time controls. Running for 2 hours from 7:30pm to 9:30pm. Come along for a couple of games or for the whole 2 hours. Totally up to you.
LEAGUE LADDER: I will publish the league ladder weekly before Thursday night club meets.
Jan 14th 7:30pm @ BMI
Casual chess will be played and we can get used to implementing Covid safe practices on this first night of Club Chess for 2021.
Come along and have some fun!
The Ernie Greenhalgh Blitz Tournaments of 2021 is a Grand Prix cycle of five, 7 round tournaments of 5 minutes and 5 second increment, throughout the year, with a player's best 3 scores deciding the title. There is a $75 prize for the King or Queen of the clock!
Chess Coaching 2021
The Term 1 Chess Coaching sessions are due to commence on 28 January 2021. We welcome enrolments from any junior chess player whether they have been part of the program previously or not.
Term Dates:Term 1 - 28th January 2021 – 1st April 2021
Term 2 - 22nd April 2021 – 24th June 2021
Term 3 - 15th July 2021 – 16th September 2021
Term 4 - 7th October 2021 – 9th December 2021
2021 PreviewWe are planning for a more ‘normal’ 2021 with expectation that our regular face to face meetings at the BMI will resume. At this stage we expect meetings at the BMI to resume on Thursday 14th January. Rob has posted an interim calendar of events for the year on the website. Check this regularly for any updates. We are looking ahead positively and with enthusiasm, but if circumstances change then we now have a fall back position online. We are aiming to meet physically at the BMI on Thursday nights and online via chess.com on Monday nights.
The Ballarat Junior Chess Club coaching sessions will resume at the BMI at 6.00pm on Thursday 28th January with Jasan and Ruari as coaches. Registrations are now open at www.ballaratchess.com/bjcc/enrol and we hope to be able to regain the momentum we had built before we had to move online. If that is the case then we will look to expand the program.
At this stage we are planning to hold the 2021 Begonia Open tournament in March at the Ballarat Tech School in a similar manner as we did this year. We have already received entries including one from a grandmaster. Further details are on the club website.
The committee is hopeful of staging some Allegro Tournaments on Sundays at the BMI throughout the year. More details on that a bit later.
Finally, I wish chess players and their families all the best for Christmas and the Holiday period and especially a Happy and Healthy New Year.
It has been quite an amazing year for everyone including our club. We have experienced life under the massive influence of the Covid-19 global pandemic which included travel restrictions, lockdowns and even a curfew for some of our members based in Melbourne. The club however has continued to function actively and quite incredibly has flourished during this period. We will finish the year with 68 online members which is over 50% more than we had at the start of the year!
The club has welcomed a number of new online members many of whom are located in and around Ballarat. Some are more remote and include a few who were regulars at the club before they moved away. We recognise that playing chess online is not the same and it does not suit all our members. We are looking forward to returning to the BMI and meeting some of our new members across the board over the coming months.
Following the curtailment of face to face meetings in mid-March we have been able to offer members an array of activities online and even some additional regular activities on a Monday night in addition to the Thursday evening sessions.
The first 6 rounds of the Spielvogel Memorial Tournament were played at the BMI before it was abruptly truncated. The result was a tie for first between Simon Rutherford and Bas van Riel with the Reserve section being won by Justin Goodison.
In January this year we re-launched the Ballarat Junior Chess Club which included a new Junior Coaching program under the guidance and direction of Simon Rutherford, Jasan Barnett and Ruari Coffey. This rapidly expanded to 16 students before Covid-19 forced the sessions online and caused a reduction in numbers.
The 2020 Begonia Open was the last of the major chess tournaments played in Australia before government restrictions caused cancellations nationwide. We received 132 entries and the result was a 4 way tie for first between GM Zong-Yuan Zhao, GM Moulthun Ly, IM Mark Chapman and Jesse Jager. Ballarat players to win rating prizes were Scott Stewart, Harrison, Sean Macak and Ben Naughton.
The Teters Memorial Tournament was the first classic time control event played online and resulted in a win to Garry Voigt and for Leonard Goodison in the Reserve section.
Garry Voigt then demonstrated his good online form with an impressive win in the Koelle Tournament and the Douglas brothers Dylan and Kalen shared first place in the Reserve section.
A regular feature of our annual program has been inter-club matches. This year 4 matches were played online against Box Hill where we scored 10 wins to 38 losses, Canterbury Juniors 11/21, Bendigo 7.5/2.5 and Geelong 3/7. Then there was the chess.com international league matches in which we did quite well and even managed to win some but were generally under manned since the timing was not always convenient for many of our members.
Two lectures by FM Simon Rutherford on ‘The 2 Bishops’ and ‘Carlsen’ were held during the year and they were well attended and enjoyed by members.
The AGM was successfully held online via Zoom on 10th September. It was well attended and Scott Stewart agreed to join the committee. Following his relocation to Ballarat after lockdown and curfew in Melbourne, he showed what a valuable club member he was by offering to organise the International League matches on chess.com which added an international dimension to club activities for the first time ever. This encouraged our overseas member Arthur Koelle to join us for a few games. Scott also volunteered to join the Begonia Committee.
The Annual Club Championships are the premier intra-club activity each year. This year they were held online with the usual A, B & C grade sections, but a new Associates section was added to cater for online members. A tie for first place in the A grade between James Watson and Scott Stewart was resolved in favour of the latter in a play-off game. Other winners were B grade Leonard Goodison, C grade Lewin Blanch and Associates Nigel Barrow. Nigel now lives in Bendigo but was a club member when he won our B grade section in 1991. This year’s A grade division included 9 previous champions out of the 12 competitors. It was great to ‘see’ former locals George Maksacheff, Joel Beggs, James and Scott back competing at our highest level along with Bjorn Lategan and Patrick Lenne in the B grade.
5 Blitz and 3 Rapid events were held throughout the year and both resulted in wins for our top rated player FM Simon Rutherford. Whenever Simon is able to compete in events at the club the competition rises to another level, so we hope he can join us again for some events in 2021.
The Victorian Country Championship was held at Geelong in early December was one of the first face to face events held in Victoria after the government restrictions were eased. Six local players competed with Sean Macak and Ruari Coffey being the best of the local players. It was pleasing to see one of our new members Franco (Nando) Espinoza competing in his first over the board event for the club.
The Jasan Barnett inspired Triathlon tournament was the final event of the year and the first time that players were able to resume more or less normal chess playing conditions in Ballarat. James Watson claimed his second Gold medal with a picket fence and we were delighted to see our hard working Secretary Anna Yates win the Silver medal for her first win in a club event.
The Club Website has become the hub for all club related matters. It communicates details of our activities, posts results, games, photos and a wealth of details including our historical club information. We should all be very grateful for what our webmaster Rob Loveband is building and what the website has provided us with throughout 2020. Thanks to Bas as well for his continual work on building the club history section and to Patrick for his insightful tournament reports. Rob has also managed to attract over 120 followers on the club Facebook page.
During the year we had two new very young members join the club and compete in our events to the amazement of onlookers. Firstly there was 9 year old Paul Dao who moved to Ballarat with his family from Newcastle and taught many of us oldies a lesson or two online. Based on his recent results he is already a very highly rated player. Then there was 5 year old Berkin Stewart (Scott’s son) who played some games in the Triathlon and handled himself like he had been playing for years. Watch out for Berkin if you are drawn to play him. I hear that his 3 year old brother Darel is very adept in moving his father’s queen around the chess board and he already knows the difference between checkmate and stalemate! With our current club champion providing the coaching I can foresee that the Miitel, Barnett, Yates and Douglas names may not be the only family ones on club honour boards in the future.
Thank you to the Tournament Committee of Jasan, Ruari and myself for getting us through the year’s events both physical and online. Jasan in particular has been a very hard worker during the year.
Members were saddened to hear about the death of our much loved and respected member Michael Schreenan in May this year. He had a presence at the club that made him a very likeable and lively personality, even though his disabilities precluded him from participating in a more traditional fashion. He has been and will be missed at the club.
We bid farewell to Ben Naughton who is relocating to Townsville and we wish him all the best and hope to see him at a future Begonia Open tournament. Ben has been a well-liked member, has won the reserve championship and been a member of the Begonia committee for several years.