The Linus curse

The Linus curse

Jul 2, 2013, 1:34 AM |

Update: This is now just going to be my tournament blog

As many juniors from NSW would know, one of the best players is Linus Cooper who hardly ever missed a Sydney Academy of Chess tournament. There was one flaw with Linus though, Until about Febraury 2013 Linus had never won a tournament apart from the interschool ones where we came third nationally! Now he is one of the most common people to win the Sydney Academy of chess tournaments. It also seemed that his most common placing in the tournaments was second. Now though, I fear I have the Linus curse. If you look at a lot of my recent tournaments that are listed below you will find that I have six of my latest tournaments out of seven I have come second. Also four of the tournaments I have also come second on tie-break although one was to get me to second instead of fourth. Even one of them was to the great Linus himself. Please say whether you think i should do something about it. Luckily I have two tournaments on 6/7/2013 and 7/7/2013.

And here is all the tournaments from Sydney Academy of Chess


These two last days have been really interesting. In the end though i have learnt two things.

1. Revenge is sweet

2. I will not be ridding myself of the curse any time soon

Let me explain what happened.

On 6/7/2013 I was in a 7 round swiss competition as on the following day. I was third seed going into the 69 player competition. In the fourth round I won with ease and also watch 2nd seed go up against 5th seed and Linus (first seed) go up against 4th seed. It could hardly of turned out better. Linus lost the game and and seed drew.After the 4th round I was up against 2nd seed. I ended up playing a variation of the Pettrov's defense and won a piece and with it the game while 4th seed and Linus won their games. In the sixth round me and 4th seed where the only ones still on 5/5 so we played against each other. After a tough match I went into a opposite colour bishop endgame a pawn up and as I confirmed after the game he knew the startegy to draw. In the final round I went up against Linus while 4th seed played against someone on 5/6 at the time. I ended up losing to Linus while 4th seed drew against his opponent. So 4th seed won the tournament and Linus came the coverted 2nd while i won on tie-break to come third.

The next day I was third seed again with Linus as first seed. I won the first 4 rounds with ease but in the 5th round I played against second seed.

In the 6th round Linus played against second seed and they drew. So heading into the last round Linus and second seed were on 5.5/6 and me and my friend were on 5/6. In the last round I played against Linus (again) and my friend played against second seed. 2nd seed won but in the game me and Linus fought it out in a Queen ending me being up two pawns but only having two minutes left. I fell for perpetual but Linus thought he could win by cashing in on my time but in the end he took too long and ran out of time while I was with a Queen and King against King. So I ended  up taking 2nd. I hope you enjoyed (except Linus).
Update 8/8/13: Last weekend on sunday I played in the August sunday fun tournament. This time Linus and I met in the fourth round instead of last. In the game had a interesting position where I had a possibility to win the exchange. While Linus and I both recognized this chance I only had 3 minutes and 54 seconds left while Linus had 8 minutes and 11 seconds left and we were still in the middlegame so we agreed to a draw on my proposal. In the fifth round I won while Linus lost to William Tao (from my previous tournaments as second seed), I won against my opponent. In the sixth round though I also lost to William Tao and Linus won his game.
In the seventh round Linus ended up on board 2 meaning he had the higher tie-break. We both won that game. But in a sudden twist of events Linus had board three and I had board two meaning now I had the higher tie-break meaning as long as I won my last game I would most likely come second.
So after this I managed to come 2ndUndecidedUndecidedUndecided again...
Update: After the last few tournaments I forgot about one in which I was second seed to Gordon Yang and again i came second after losing to him. But that was a thing of the past. Now I will talk about a great tournament in which there were many exiting twists and turns(not really but it makes it sounds like a amazing tournament). Once again I was second seed to Gordon who has a rating (NSWJCLR) of 768, I had 707 and 3rd seed had 600. This was a team tournament so in it I  had my teammates with ratings of 504, 458 and two unrated      
I believe. Anyway as usual I thought the first few round would be a breeze but first round I played an unrated (good news) but then I realised he was really good (bad news). After winning a pawn I traded everytging else of and won a rook and pawn ending. The next few round were easy until the 5th round were normally I have a relativey hard match but not like I'm going to lose. But then I realised all of the people on people scores more or less drew. So suddenly Gordon, 3rd seed (Chanuth) and I were the last ones on a perfect score. So then because of my AMAZING LUCK I got drawn against Gordon in the round were I had black. After a bad sicilian with 3.Bb5+ I got into a bad if not losing. So I did the only thing I could think of, I stared at him. I dont know whether or not it was coincidencial or not but just then he blundered a knight. I looked for about 20 seconds and then I realised, there was no tricks, just a free knight. I realised that I might finally break my curse and most importantly help my team secure victory overall. I ended up winning the game shortly after. The next round my lead extended to a full point after the two people on 4.5/5 lost. So all I needed to do was win my last game. And I did! On a perfect score for the first time since 2012 roughly March I won a tournament. But here comes the bad news. Even after our ream getting 18.5/28 we still came (you guessed it) second place to baulkham hills north on 19.
Moral of the story: When all seems like you will break the curse in some way they up in the heavens manages to bring me to 2nd place. There should be many more updates as I am playing in three tournaments in the holidays. Good bye.
Update: 24/9/2013
In the first tournament of the marathon, I have the inner west challenge. Tomorrow, I will upload the Spring One day tournament run by the NSWJCL and next tuesday I will upload the city of sydney champoinships U/15. But lets get started on the tournament. After my bad run of first round opponents I was hoping so badly that I would get a easier opponent. After E4 E5 (I was black) they played Bc4 and I realised that they were trying for the 4 four move checkmate so I figured it was going to be a relativey easy game... but WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT, I BLUNDERED MY QUEEN. Let me just say that it was horrendous. Luckily I managed to win the material back and ended up winning on time. The next three games were relativey easy in then there were 14 people on 4/4 me being the ninth highest rated, but because the swiss ALWAYS makes sense (that may of had a hint of sarcasm in it) I ended up playing against 1st seed. After coming out of the Scotch classical variation quite well I ended up losing a pawn and going into a rook and pawn ending. While we were in the endgame I lost another pawn, but suddenly...

and just like that I was on 5/5 after beating the highest rated player in the tournament. After this round there were 5 players on 5/5 including Linus. The Good News, me being the lowest rated player got to play against somebody on 4.5/5 The bad news it was my friend Raymond Li with a rating of 833.
So I was on 5/6 the next round though linus also lost his game to Raymond and Raymond went on to win the tournament on 7.5/8 meanwhile my next game was easy to bring me onto 6/7 but then the next game was against 8th seed me being ninth. After a tacticalm skirmish in the middlegame he was up a pawn in a queen and pawn ending. Luckily I was able to trade off queens after winning a pawn. At this point we had two pawns and twenty second on the clock. He went for speed I went for winning the pawns in the end I won both the pawns but drew on time. I like linus finished the tournament on 6.5/8 It came down to who had the better tie-break and it turned out it was me ! Thanx for reading. Here is the address.
Earlier I was in the NSWJCL One day tournament. I did not have any high hopes for this one and was even surprised when I learnt I was 18th seed. The first round was easy but the second round was quite hard but in the end I won. Wouldn't you know it though in the thrid round I got drawn against Rishi Dutta (first seed), to make matters even worse I was black.I was actually in a tied king and pawn ending, I might have been winning until I blundered horribly. That was the second time I lost to Rishi Dutta in a drawn king and pawn ending( I don't think that I need to tell you what place I came). The next three rounds I won relatively easy and in the seventh  round I managed to better a 886 rated player in a king and pawn ending( I am 707 in case you couldn't remember). And suddenly I had chances for a good place being on 6/7 ( Linus was on 6.5 and won the tournament on 7.5/8). In the last round though I was paired up against a over 900 rated player and after blundering the exchange ended up losing. Sorry I don't have much to say on this one. I will upload the standing when they come out. Thanx for reading.
Update: 16/07/2017
Uh, so I've basically forgotten about this blog and didn't have any plans to ever touch it again but I have registered for the NSW Junior Championship this year so I figured I might as well give this another shot. I have three main reasons for this update:
1. I am VERY out of practice so this will make me analyse these games a bit hopefully leading to better play because as you will soon see that i need it.
2. This tournament is one of the best ones that i have seen in terms of organisation and playing strength at a junior level in NSW and Australia as a whole as far as I'm concerned. It is a round robin from the 10 highest rated players registering for the tournament and it is played at two games a day with 60+40 time limits.
3. Why not, I'm pretty bored right now 
Going into this tournament I was rated 932 under the NSWJCL rating system which put me at 8th seed out of the 10 competitors varying from 1156 to 859


































The schedule as mentioned above gave me 2 games a day with 1 game on the last day and a lightning tournament.

Looking at the draw before the tournament I also tried to give myself goals going in on what scores i wanted to achieve and players I wanted to perform against. The odds I gave myself pre-tournament went as follows taking the color into account plus expected points

Matthew Clarke(black): 10% win, 20% draw, 70% loss            Expected(0.2)

Cameron McGowan(black): 15% win, 30% draw, 55% loss     Expected(0.3)

Max Mikklesen(black): 10% win, 40% draw, 50% loss             Expected(0.3)

Sterling Bayaca(white):20% win, 50% draw, 30% loss             Expected(0.45)

Gordon Yang(black):15% win, 50% draw, 35% loss                 Expected(0.4)

Daniel Melamed(white): 30% win, 40% draw, 30% loss          Expected(0.5)

Anthony Fikh(white): 20% win, 60% draw, 20% loss               Expected(0.5)

Henry Chen(white): 50% win, 20% draw, 30% loss                 Expected(0.6)

Eva Ge(black): 35% win, 60% draw, 15% loss                         Expected(0.65)

Total Expected: 3.9 points 

So yeah, my goal for this tournament is going to be to get 4 points and anything above that will be a success. Not quite the 1st place hopes that many of my competitors will have going in but I generally try to keep my expectations reasonable and being 8th seed doesnt give to many grounds for optimism. The first day of the competition will be against Cameron McGowan followed by Henry Chen. My predictions for the day will still be the same as before the tournament as there is no bonus sample size so i expect 0.9 points today meaning that a 1 point day will be a relatively good day

Game 1

So that didn't go as I had hoped, mind blanking at certain points which led to a collapse of my position meant that I lost my first game and would need to win the second game of the day to maintain my goal
Other Results:
Bayaca, Sterling: Mikkelsen, Max 1:0
Chen, Henry: Yang, Gordon 0:1
Ge, Eva: Fikh, Anthony 1:0
Melamed, Daniel: Clarke, Matthew 0:1
Standings after Round 1
Matthew Clarke 1/1
Cameron McGowan 1/1
Sterling Bayaca 1/1
Gordon Yang 1/1
Eva Ge 1/1
Max Mikklesen 0/1
Daniel Melamed 0/1
Anthony Fikh 0/1
Peter Boylan 0/1
Henry Chen 0/1
Game 2
A little bit of context for this one, Henry Chen and I go to the same school and currently are boards 1 and 2 for the school so this game had extra bragging rights involved. My Head to Head with him is 4-1 but all the games have been close and his rating has been catching up to mine for the past couple of years. However I do warn you before going into this game that you will see graphic depictions of blundering won games and a pretense of high level chess. You have been warned.
So yeah... Not the prettiest of wins, actually probably about as ugly of a win as you can get but a win none the less meaning that I maintain my position as number 1 at my school (as long as my coach doesn't see the actual game) and move to 1/2 on the day.
Day 1 Expected points 0.9
          Points Gained 1.0
          New Expected tournament result 4.0
Other Results
Mikkelsen, Max: Clarke, Matthew 1:0
Fikh, Anthony: Melamed, Daniel 1:0
Yang, Gordon: Ge, Eva 1:0
Bayaca, Sterling: McGowan, Cameron 0:1
Round 2 Standings
Cameron McGowan 2/2
Gordon Yang 2/2
Matthew Clarke 1/2
Max Mikklesen 1/2
Sterling Bayaca 1/2
Anthony Fikh 1/2
Peter Boylan 1/2
Eva Ge 1/2
Daniel Melamed 0/2
Henry Chen 0/2
Things noticed from Day 1 

There has been a LARGE lack draws so far in the tournament. This may be due to the larger gap in the playing field from before but still i would have expected a couple so far.

Two people on 2/2 Cameron and Gordon less than I would have expected considering no draws

The 1st and Last seed ended up losing and winning a game respectively showing that there may be large amounts of volatility in this tournament meaning the high places could be up for grabs.

Day 2 Preview:

Round 3 Eva Ge(Black) Expected 0.65

Round 4 Daniel Melamed(White) Expected 0.5

Tomorrow is one of the theoretically easier days of the competition where i have put an estimate of 1.15 points on the day. So i am going to put out a goal to get at least 1.5 points from the two games which will be a bit of an ask considering my performance on Day 1 but hopefully I can pull out a win. Anyway if you made it this far thanks for reading and i will be back tomorrow hopefully with some good results and more importantly some good games to share.

Day 2

Well another day is over full with just as interesting positions as the previous day. The first game of the day was against Eva Ge, the lowest rated player in the field but with a win yesterday and two good games should definitely not be underestimated

So not quite the start i was hoping for. I felt like i didn't play particularly bad during that game however a lack of middlegame knowledge in the scotch gambit along with strong play by my opponent meant that I was crushed fairly swiftly. My goal of 1.5 points previously would not be possible anymore and I would have to pick up a win in the second game to hold relatively even with my pre-tournament prediction.

Other Results:

McGowan, Cameron: Mikkelsen, Max 1:0
Chen, Henry: Bayaca, Sterling 0:1
Melamed, Daniel: Yang, Gordon 0.5:0.5

Clarke, Matthew: Fikh, Anthony 0.5:0.5

Standings after Round 3

Cameron McGowan 3/3

Gordon Yang 2.5/3

Sterling Bayaca 2/3

Eva Ge 2/3

Matthew Clarke 1.5/3

Anthony Fikh 1.5/3

Max Mikklesen 1/3

Peter Boylan 1/3

Daniel Melamed 0.5/3

Henry Chen 0/3

Round 4

At this point in the tournament i was 7-8th place in the standings, less than ideal and I was now 0.55 points behind my pre-tournament meaning I will have to start picking up some points now against some higher rated players. This game was against Daniel Melamed who I gave 30-40-30 odds meaning that I would have 1.05 points to get to go back to my prediction, obviously not possible but I could get very close with a win in this game.

This was the game where i think I have played the best chess so far in this tournament. Although I got off to a bad start after I lost the pawn I played near perfect throughout the game only making one error. This also put me back up to 50% with 2/4 and only 0.05 points behind my tournament prediction.

Other Results

Mikkelsen, Max: Fikh, Anthony 0.5:0.5
Yang, Gordon: Clarke, Matthew 0.5:0.5
Bayaca, Sterling: Ge, Eva 0:1
McGowan, Cameron: Chen, Henry 0:1

Standings after Round 4

Cameron McGowan 4/4

Gordon Yang 3/4

Eva Ge 3/4

Matthew Clarke 2/4

Sterling Bayaca 2/4

Anthony Fikh 2/4

Peter Boylan 2/4

Max Mikklesen 1.5/4

Daniel Melamed 0.5/4

Henry Chen 0/4

4-7th place is a lot better than what it was looking like it was going to be earlier but now I have played both of the bottom seeds and the bottom 2 in the standings. My matches will most likely only get harder from here.

Things I noticed from Day 2

Lots more draws this day like I presumed was going to happen for most the tournament

Cameron McGowan is having an extremely strong tournament not only on 4/4 but playing very solid in all of the games

Eva Ge is performing well above her rating at 3/4 and if no drop-off occurs then she should secure one of the top places

Day 3 Preview

Matthew Clarke(black) Expected Points 0.2

Anthony Fikh(white) Expected Points 0.5

With only 0.7 expected points before tomorrow Day 3 is going to be most likely my hardest day yet. Playing Matthew Clarke the top seed as black is going to be a tough challenge regardless of the form he is in and Anthony Fikh has also had a very solid tournament only losing one game so far as well as a great game against Daniel. My goal will be to get 1 point from the two games however it will be a tough ask but it is definitely possible and would push my closer to the 4 point goal overall. Thanks for reading through and I will be sure to update tomorrow with my results.

Day 3
Day 3 was the first day of the tournament so far where I consistently felt like I was playing well. It was a nice feeling. Unfortunately at the same time my opponents were playing well as well and I didn't get many chances during the games. Today I had an expected score of 0.7 points so while 0.5 points was the most likely result I was still hoping that a 1 point day could be on the cards. I would first have to get through my game with the top seed as black.
Round 5
So although I feel I played relatively well I missed a few key pawn advances due to being scared off and my opponent capitalized well on it. As I didn't gain any points from my first game of the day (deja vu) I would need a win to beat my expected score or at the very least a draw to not fall to far behind it
Other Results
Chen, Henry: Mikkelsen, Max 0:1
Ge, Eva: McGowan, Cameron 0:1
Melamed, Daniel: Bayaca, Sterling 0:1
Fikh, Anthony: Yang, Gordon 0.5:0.5
Standing after round 5

Cameron McGowan 5/5
Gordon Yang 3.5/5
Matthew Clarke 3/5
Sterling Bayaca 3/5
Eva Ge 3/5
Max Mikklesen 2.5/5
Anthony Fikh 2.5/5
Peter Boylan 2/5
Daniel Melamed 0.5/5
Henry Chen 0/5
8th place is not good and even though it is my seed going in I would like to get a bit higher my the time the tournament ends as generally as someone from the bottom half you should try to aim higher to get better as well as there isn't to far to go down.
Round 6
So as I said above I would need a win to go back over my pre-tournament prediction but Anthony Fikh my opponent for this game is an extremely solid player and I only gave myself a 60% chance of a draw due to me getting the white pieces for this match-up but still as my tournament so far has proved, just about anything can happen on any given round.
So with that my first draw of the tournament and in what I thought was a fairly boring game many blunders were made by both sides and even the final position isn't as clear as I should have played it out to be. With that I also drop 0.2 points from the pre-tournament prediction on the day putting me 0.25 points behind.

Other Results
Mikkelsen, Max: Yang, Gordon 0:1
Bayaca, Sterling: Clarke, Matthew 0.5:0.5
McGowan, Cameron: Melamed, Daniel 1:0
Chen, Henry: Ge, Eva 0:1
Standings after Round 6
Cameron McGowan 6/6
Gordon Yang 4.5/6
Eva Ge 4/6
Matthew Clarke 3.5/6
Sterling Bayaca 3.5/6
Anthony Fikh 3/6
Max Mikklesen 2.5/6
Peter Boylan 2.5/6
Daniel Melamed 0.5/6
Henry Chen 0/6
7-8th place is not great but I am still keeping close with the field and a win could put me right up there in the middle of the pack
Things I have noticed after Day 3
Cameron now almost has the tournament locked up with a perfect score so far. He does have some hard last 3 games but he now only needs a few more points
The standings stayed relatively similar from day 2 to day 3 possibly suggesting that it is going to stay like this
Preview for Day 4
We are getting down to the pointy end of the competition now and I will have some more hard games coming up tomorrow. It is a double black which is not good considering my current black record but also it is against Gordon Yang who is outright second currently and Max Mikklesen who is the 2nd seed of this tournament. Much like today my goal is going to be to get 1 point from the two matches but it will be tricky against such strong opponents and another expected score of 0.7. But if I am able to do it I will jump back ahead of my pre-tournament prediction and sit in a good position to contest middle of the pack places. Thanks for reading and look forward to my games for tomorrow.
Day 4
With the penultimate day down the standings have been sorted out for the most part the last game will involve many middle tier players jostling for position. Once again today I felt like I had a solid performance in both my games but of course there were a few moments that I could of improved and going into tomorrows final match I hope to play my best game yet. My first match was against Gordon Yang, the one person going into the tournament who had a better that 50% winrate against me ( I think), so playing black along with him being in 2nd place made this game an uphill battle from the start.
So this ended up being a game I was very happy with. I've finally crushed my fear of the scotch gambit and got a draw against one of the top performing players in the tournament as black. This also boosts me up 0.1 points over my expected points putting me back at 0.15 behind.
Other Results
Ge, Eva: Mikkelsen, Max 0:1
Melamed, Daniel: Chen, Henry 1:0
Clarke, Matthew: McGowan, Cameron 0:1
Fikh, Anthony: Bayaca, Sterling 0:1
Standings after Round 7
Cameron McGowan 7/7
Gordon Yang 5/7
Sterling Bayaca 4.5/7
Eva Ge 4/7
Matthew Clarke 3.5/7
Max Mikklesen 3.5/7
Anthony Fikh 3/7
Peter Boylan 3/7
Daniel Melamed 1.5/7
Henry Chen 0/7
7-8th place isn't too bad and -1 is the goal for this tournament so I'm not too unhappy with this placement as long as i'm keeping up with my goal.
Round 8
This round I was against Max Mikklesen who is one of the highest rated players in the field and had just won his game against Eva, one of the best performing players in the field. If I drew this game however I would finally go back ahead of my expectation score for the first time since round 2.
Although in the final position I was clearly better I knew he would play a move like c4 and begin to hack away at my position. I only wanted a draw going into the game and decided to offer him one there, which he took.
Other Results
Bayaca, Sterling: Yang, Gordon 0:1
McGowan, Cameron: Fikh, Anthony 0.5:0.5
Chen, Henry: Clarke, Matthew 0:1
Ge, Eva: Melamed, Daniel 1:0
Standing after Round 8
Cameron McGowan 7.5/8
Gordon Yang 6/8
Eva Ge 5/8
Matthew Clarke 4.5/8
Sterling Bayaca 4.5/8
Max Mikklesen 4/8
Anthony Fikh 3.5/8
Peter Boylan 3.5/8
Daniel Melamed 1.5/8
Henry Chen 0/8
Things I noticed from Day 4

Congrats to Cameron for winning this tournament with a round to spare. He played very well throughout the tournament and to be honest just seemed a class above. He will have his final match with Gordon tomorrow which ultimately won't have an impact but should still be interesting.
Preview for Day 5
Well one game to go and it will be a tough one. Sterling Bayaca is the 4th seed in the tournament and has performed solidly throughout the tournament. I will definitely be helped by the fact I get a white in this last game though as my score with the white pieces has been far better. This is also a match-up between the board 1 for Sydney boys and board 1 for Sydney tech, two teams that could potentially win the inter school competition so this should be a nice preview for our knockout game. Thanks for reading and I will be back tomorrow with the final game as well as some interesting games from others in the tournament as well as potentially my simultaneous game against GM Max Illingworth.
Day 5
Well, with that the tournament is over. With a draw I would manage to get to 4 points and get the score that I had aimed for before the tournament. However, I just didn't play well at all during my game. It was unfortunate as up until now I had played better with the white pieces and thought that at the least I could go undefeated with the white pieces but as you will see, that didn't come to fruition. 
So that was that. Probably one of my worse games of the tournament. Although I couldn't finish on a high note I still wasn't too far off my goal and had some good stretches throughout the tournament. I gained valuable experience against top level players from my area and will take it with me to the next holiday's tournaments.
Other Results
Melamed, Daniel: Mikkelsen, Max 0.5:0.5
Clarke, Matthew 1156 : Ge, Eva 859 1:0
Fikh, Anthony: Chen, Henry 0:1
Yang, Gordon: McGowan, Cameron 0.5:0.5

Standing after Round 9 (End of Tournament)
Cameron McGowan 8/9
Gordon Yang 6.5/9
Matthew Clarke 5.5/9
Sterling Bayaca 5.5/9
Eva Ge 5/9
Max Mikklesen 4.5/9
Anthony Fikh 3.5/9
Peter Boylan 3.5/9
Daniel Melamed 2/9
Henry Chen 1/9 !!!!!!!
Feedback from Day 5

YOU DID IT HENRY. YOU GOT ONE. Seriously though, from what I saw he played some good games towards the end of the tournament and deserved to get at least one win in there.
Congratulations to Cameron as 1.5 points is the biggest winning margin I have seen in a long time and might be the biggest this tournament has seen
Thank you to all who have made it through this. I have thoroughly enjoyed making this blog and I hope that there are some of you out there who enjoyed this blog and got something out of it. My advice to you is always to look over your games. First by eye over a board and try any tactical lines you wanted to try in the game or anything that you or your opponent may have missed. You can learn from your opponents mistakes too. Then use an engine to look over it again. You can download many good engine or use the one here on You will be surprised about how much you missed in what may look to you like a simple game. One last thank you and I will see you hopefully next holidays.