QCD Sg Chess League - Rounds 1 to 3
The QCD Sg Chess League is a joint initiative between the QCD Group and the SCF and is a refreshing and welcome change to the largely junior-focused events that we have seen in abundance in Singapore. Players have to be above the age of 20 in order to be eligible, there is healthy prize fund sponsored by the QCD Group and there is also a rating requirement to prevent teams from forming an overtly strong team. Games are played every fortnight and after 3 rounds, my team, the Pawngolins is in the joint lead with another aptly named team, Fork You (!). Pairings and results can be seen here.
Here are some featured games. First up, the Ruskie Steamroller FM Andrey Terekhov illustrates exactly why move order subtleties are important in the opening as he brutally and ruthlessly broke down Black's defences after a seemingly harmless move in the g3 Benoni:
Training session for the tough Pawngolins. One of the biggest takeaway from this initiative is the fact that the tournament has rekindled interest in the game from several "retirees".
After being rested in the first round, I made my debut in round 2 and was paired against Teo Weixing, one of our former top juniors and a very decent 2200 player even though he has not played much these days. I had lost a rapid game to him after being comprehensively outplayed and was therefore looking forward to a tough fight.
The game itself was not of any theoretical interest as Weixing was not aware of the most critical move orders in the London system - clearly understandable in view of his inactivity. However, it was still a tough fight and White missed a few ways to equalise before falling to a tactical continuation:
That's me with a standard "don't look at me" thinker's pose while Jarred Neubronner seems pleased with his position.
Melvin Chin with another thinker's position and the imposing but very friendly Colin Hornell.
We safely navigated past round 2 with a narrow 2.5-1.5 win.
In round 3, the top 2 seeds clashed on board 1 and the line up featured 3 IMs (well-known National trainer Enrique Paciencia, veteran and multiple Olympian Chan Peng Kong and yours truly) 1 FM (the Ruskie Steamroller) and WGM-elect Gong Qianyun. All the games were exciting and went down to the wire.
Top of the table clash.
Big fights on all 4 boards. Fork You's team captain, Dr. J Nithianathan (top far right) looking with undisguised concern. The multi-talented Doctor has his own piano page - view it here.
My game was surprisingly one-sided after Enrique misplayed a move order on move 6 and basically found himself a pawn down with nebulous compensation. Enrique was my teammate during the Turin Olympiad and at his peak, I believe he was very close to 2500 in playing strength and regularly pummelled me when I was still growing as a chess player. He has a strange mix of style, mainly positional but often mixing it with tactics when the situation requires and is extremely dangerous in blitz and rapid play. I've lost many games to him from big positions mainly because he seldom gives up and often finds resources in the most desperate situations, a strength that every chess player should aspire to cultivate.
After being primarily a coach for juniors for as long as I can remember, a decrease in playing strength is almost inevitable. However, class is permanent and he did win the relatively strong 2015 National Championships with a dominant performance. Fortunately for me, he didn't quite get going in this game as yet another harmless move order meant he faced an uphill battle from the onset:
On board 3, Andrey Terekhov faced another former Olympian in the form of Tan Chor Chuan. Chor Chuan, or "Top Cat" as he was affably known in Cairnhill CC has a hacker and creative style and plays some of the most unorthodox lines imaginable. Back in the days, we used to share the same affection for 1..Nc6 and he can beat anybody on his day. I had warned Andrey about his aggressive style and the Ruskie took notice and spent a bit of time going through his openings and working out an appropriate strategy.
Taken 10 mins before the round. A real Russian takes his chess seriously, even in a friendly team tournament!
The preparation worked and Andrey scores an impressive victory. Here's the game, with some notes from the winner:
An intriguing match-up occured on the last board where WIM/WGM-elect Gong Qianyun faced the veteran IM Chan Peng Kong. Peng Kong was one of the key members of the National team for many years and it was good to see him playing more often these days. His solid and positional style is an asset in team events and he came up with the goods in this round, levelling the match although he did receive an enormous gift from Qianyun:
An absolute tragedy and a painful loss from our Women's Champion. Still, blunders are part and parcel of the game and all credit to Peng Kong for hanging in there and capitalising at the right moment.
Lastly, here's a clip of the incredibly resilient pangolin, surviving against an attack from a horde of lions: