The 2022 Koelle Tournament.
Round 7 concluded the last classic tournament of the year. Om O’Carroll sealed the tournament’s win by beating Jasan Barnett, who won the Reserves title this year. She finished with the amazing score of 6/7, half a point ahead of our other amazing junior, Paul Dao. Never has the club seen two juniors, of 14 and 11 years respectively, occupying the two top positions in a Classic tournament.
Om receives her prize and Jasan his.
Three players, Scott, Jamie and Bas on 4.5/7, shared third place at a respectable distance from the youngsters.
Paul won a nice last game against Patrick. He predicted that it would be a French opening, Pat’s pet opening with black, in reply to 1.e4. And French it was. Paul’s home prep must have rattled Pat, as he misplayed his opening slightly when he made an unusual finger-fehler (mistake) on move 13. (see Diagram 1)
Diagram 1. Paul vs Patrick after 13…Bd6? (-0.9);14.Rxe6+, Kf7(?), 15.Rxf6+,gxf6; 16.Bxd7,Rcd8; 17Qh5.Ke7;18.Bf5,.. (+6.50) and white’s attack and advantage would smell like ‘roses’… However, Paul did not play 15. Rxf6, etc, but the weaker 15.Re2 (?), maintaining an extra pawn and a slightly better (+0.8-0.9) position. White patiently worked towards an attack against the weakened king’s position, when he missed a nice combination (see diagram 2), though, as his position was very solid and winning.
Diagram 2. Paul vs Patrick.24..Qe7(?); Paul could have played 25.Bxh6!, Rxe2; 26.Ng5+, Kg8; 27.Qxg6+ (+11.0); Without suffering any consequences, he played the weaker move 25.Kf1..(+2.9). Compensating for his oversight, he added a nice combination at the end: 25...Qf8 26.Qc1 Ng8 27.Bxh6! Nxh6 28.Ng5+.. Here Patrick had seen enough and resigned 1-0.
Om’s convincing win of the 2022 Koelle tournament marks a historic occasion for the Chess Club, as it is the very first time that a junior female chess-player has won a classic, open, and rated club tournament since the Club’s foundation in 1856. In addition, she won her games against the three participating club champions. And being ‘only’ the 6th seeded player of the tournament, she played and scored 4/5 points (including 2 draws) against the Nos. 1,2,3,5 and 7.
1..Koelle rnd 7 Julian vs Jamie
2.Koelle rnd 7. Peter vs Angus
3.Koelle rnd 7 Paul vs Patrick
4.Koelle rnd 7
5.Koelle rnd 7
6.Koelle rnd 7
2022 Koelle Tournament-Round 6.
The much anticipated game between Scott (white) and Om, the 2 leaders after round 5, had all the ingredients of a great fight (see gif.diagram 7.). Another Sicilian opening was played, whereby Scott took the initiative and Om had to dig in. When it looked like Scott’s attack was pushing through, he missed the crucial move to win the game. Om, as always, was very alert and found the couple of moves required to suddenly turn the tables and even win the game after another error by Scott. (see diagram 8): the situation at this point was very complicated. Scot’s bishop sacrifice on f7 was justified, but at best play (23…Kh8; 24.Qg3) it would have given white only a slight advantage for the pawn. However after 23..Kxf7(?!); 24.Nd6+, Kg8; 25.Nxb7! (instead of the text move 25.Qb3?.), 25…Rxe3; 26.Nxd8… Scott would have won the exchange (+0.75) and would have excellent chances to win a fairly easy endgame. In this drama of errors, Scott missed the above win, and went for Qb3+, with the most likely outcome a draw. Even more drama followed: two of Scott’s next moves were poor, whereas Om’s three responses were spot on: 26..Qb6+; 27.R54?, (-0.9) (27.Kh1, Re3 was needed instead), Re6!; 28. Kh1, Rf8!; 29.Qd5?? (-4.6), and white resigned. Any queen move would result in the loss of white’s knight on d6, due to back-rank mate issues.
Diagram.7 Scott vs Om ending in 0-1, and in Diagram.8 Scott vs Om after 23.Bxf7+
Meanwhile on second board, Jamie blundered (the exchange) on move 13 against Paul and resigned after 19 moves, when he also lost his queen due to discovered check.
Jasan on board 3, consolidated his recent good form by drawing against Julian, scoring a total of 4/6 points. Patrick on brd 4 won against Kanishk. Angus and Bas played each other on brd 5. After lengthy to-and-frowing, Bas gained some friction in the advanced middle game thanks to his active pair of bishops and much open space. Angus, however, suddenly blundered a bishop for no obvious reason.
In this, the penultimate round of the 2022 Koelle tournament, we see Om (seeded 6th) as the new leader with 5/7 points, half a point ahead of Scott and Paul. Jasan and Patrick share 4-5 placings with 4/6 points
2022 Koelle Tournament-Round 5.
Scott had taken a half point bye, so Om and Jamie played on first board. After a closed Sicilian opening, it became a very lively affair, mostly with Jamie having the upper hand. Things became very explosive when Om played 34.Nb1?..(-3.9) and Jamie missed the chance to score the full point (see diagram 4.): 34…Nd3; 35.Qxe7+, Kg8; 36.Re2, Qxb1!; 37.Kxb1, Rc1 checkmate) or 36.Qe2, Nxe1 (+6.0 and winning). After many rook-knight endgame tribulations, a deserved and hard-fought draw was agreed to close to midnight after 65 moves, no less!
Diagram.4.Om-Jamie after 34...Nb1
The game on second board between Paul and Bas was a hybrid sort of Pirc defence, where Bas mixed up his moves. Paul cleverly steered his position into dominance, whereby Bas’ defence already collapsed on move 16. After black’s c5-pawn was taken (see diagram 5), Paul began a kingside attack which was unrelenting and most convincing.
Diagram.5. Paul vs Bas after 16.Qc4. and Diagram 6 show the end of Angus vs Michael in a draw
An unusual draw was achieved between the vastly improving Michael and the much higher rated Angus (see Diagram 6 above). Angus, playing black has an extra bishop (on white squares), against a single pawn. White’s pawn structure can’t be entered by black, whilst the bishop is unable to attack any white pawns (all seven are on white squares), A forced draw is unavoidable. White’s passed pawn on f4 will restrict the movement of black’s king. An unusual situation, and fully understood by Michael, apparently. Different chess styles; Michael -'she'll be right, mate', and Angus - praying for divine intervention...
At the end of round 5, Om has 4/5 points, half a point behind Scott. With Paul, Jamie and Jasan sharing third place on 3.5 points each.
2022 Koelle Tournament-Round 4.
This round saw the (early) pairing of the two top-seeds of the tournament. Scott, with the black pieces, and Paul opted for an unorthodox Dragon variation of the Sicilian opening. The position appeared to be pretty even when Paul’s horses suddenly became very active threatening to win the exchange, starting with 22..f6(?) (see diagram 1). After 23.e6!, Qd6; 24.Nf7,.Rxf7; 25 exf7, Kxf7 Paul was up the exchange, however with only a miniscule and deceptive advantage and a very complicated position. Probably white’s only move after 32…d4! (see diagram 2) was 33.Bf2, but after the following pretty combination 33.cxd4?, Nd5!; 34. Nc6, Qb7; 35.Bf2, Qxc6 lost a piece and the game after 75 moves.
Diagram.1. Paul vs Scott after 22..f6 and in Diagram.2. Paul vs Scott after 32..d4!
On second board, Om continued her excellent form by beating Patrick with black. Om’s move 20..g5! (see diagram 3) was the start of a very brave, long-range attack, with some help from Pat): 21.Be3(?), gxf4; 22.Qxh4,fxe3; 23.g3,Qxg3; 24.Qxg3, Bxg3;25.Kg2, e2!; 26. Kxg3, exf1(Q); 27.Rxf1. Om managed to win the resulting rook-endgame with one pawn up look easy.
Diagram.3 Pat vs Om after 20..g5
After 4 rounds, Scott is now the sole leader on 4/4, followed by Om on 3.5/4 and a ‘chasing pack’ of 2 wolves on 3/4. One of them, surprisingly, is Jasan after beating Vipin in this round.
Patrick made the astute observation at the end of this round that he and Bas had played against Anna and Om in rnd 3, and in reversed combination in round 4. He added that Om won both her games against the higher rated veterans, both being 8-times club champions. Indeed, a rare coincidence of trivia…
2022 Koelle Tournament-Round 3.
This round was marked by the spectacular win by 6th seeded Om against Bas (seeded no.3) on board 3. This followed her excellent draw in the previous round against Paul, seeded no.2. She appears currently on a mission!
Meanwhile, Scott continues to do what he does best: winning his games with remarkable ease. When Jamie, his opponent this round playing the black pieces), 'forgot' to castle, he allowed Scott to attack, after completing his own development harmoniously (to replay the whole game one may access the game menu). However, Scott missed an elegant combination at move 20, showing that he is human after all.
From the position of Diagram 1, white played 20.f5, but instead, Scott could have more forcefully played 20.c5!, followed by 21.Qa2.
Diagram 1 Scott-Jamie after 19..Bf8
Now black’s pawn on f7 can’t be defended and the attack will be decisive. After 20.f5, gxf5;21.Rxf5..Jamie, at this point, made a very original blunder: in one move, 21…Nc5, he sacrificed both of his knights. Two blunders in one move!
Another curiosity occurred in the game between Anna (playing white) and Patrick. Anna played a very sensible game, when the position of Diagram 2 occurred, with excellent chances to draw the game.
Diagram 2 Anna-Pat after 21..Kb8
White played 22.Nxf7, forking blacks rooks, when Pat found his lifesaver 22….Ba4 (!), and Anna lost her way to the draw: she played 23.Rxd8?, Rxd8; 24.Qxa4 allowing 24…Qxc3+, 25.Ke2, Rd2+;26. Kf3, Qf6+ and 27…Qxf6, losing a pawn, a better position and the game. Instead, after 23.Qxa4!, black cannot take on c3, as he has to take the knight on f7 immediately, resulting in a clear draw.
The most spectacular game of this round was played on board 3 between Om (white) and yours truly (Bas). The following diagrams will reflect the game, I hope. See also the game section to view the whole game. Om carried out some amazing Houdini tricks and kept her cool to stay out of jail. Especially towards the end of the game and under enormous pressure, she often found best moves.
Diagram 3: black to move and checkmate in about 6 moves, beginning with Qc5, according to the engine. Another way for black to try and win would be to run its pawns on the queenside, but it would be more time- and energy-consuming. Unfortunately, poor black could not make up his mind, as he had too many options.
Diagram 4: black completely overlooked the danger of 36.Nde6+, and rejected the easiest solution of swapping rooks 35…Re1; 36.Rxe1, Rxe1; 37.Kd2, Ra1(!) etc; In other words: black (went) out….
Diagram 5: after losing the exchange, black found himself losing a full horse and resigned in the diagrammed extraordinary position. The engine says that white is only about 1 point ahead, and the game looks drawish, with the white knight being a liability! Does it? Is this position a forced win for white, or was black’s resignation a blunder?
After three rounds Scott is unbeaten with 3 points, followed by Paul and Om with 2.5 points each.