A vacation break...with more chess in Adelaide!
End September/early October is a decent time as any to take a vacation from chess coaching. Most Singaporean students will be starting school exams or revising for them. My wife mulled over a holiday in Brisbane or Adelaide since both have chess events occuring (yippee!). Finally, we decided on the latter and after a short spell at the tranquil coastal town of Glenelg, we plonked ourselves in the city and I got to play 2 events - the Labour Day Weekender (2 days, 6 rds, 60m+10sec inc) and the Labour Day Allegro (1 day, 7 rds, 15m+2sec inc).
The South Australian Chess Association premises is a good example of what a proper chess club should include in its 'how to make a chess club awesome' list.
It doesn't look like much from the exterior.
Well, if you appreciate graffiti art, you might like these works from the car park.
Anyway, just like chess variations, the outward appearance of the moves is less important than the quality of the moves. It is evident that the club really caters for its players.
The first thing you will see after entering the room is a table with entry forms for subsequent events as well as quaint cards with chess positions for players to enjoy.
I've seen local coach Edgar Mdinaradze using the cards to help train the juniors between rounds of the Allegro.
Upon entering, there is a chess library and cafe on the left.
The walls of the club are decorated with honour lists of the various South Australian chess event champions as well as pictures of illustrious founders/members of the club.
There is enough space within the club to fit more than 150 players, not forgetting an analysis room for players to discuss their completed games.
I had called up the club a day before the first event inquiring about the mode of payment and the club opening hours. The lady answering my queries actually bothered to call me back on the mobile number, asking to put my name among the entries, so as to save me from paying a late fee. Later I found out that they were flexible with payment for the event (as long as the players pay up before the events).
Ok. Now about the events which were very competently managed by SACA's young assistant Tournament Secretary, 23 year old Aaron Perkins.
Aaron's the dude in the middle, giving tournament instructions before Round 1 commences.
In the weekender, I generally overcame promising but inexperienced juniors but lost to FM Bill Jordan.
I also ran into a brick wall in former City of Adelaide Champ Edgar Mdinaradze. I had snagged a pawn in the middlegame and was systematically trading down to the endgame when he suddenly gave up another pawn to reach the drawn rook and f + h pawns vs rook ending. However, I felt better about the missed opportunity when in the final round, Edgar, with a pawn deficit against IM Trevor Tao, confidently whittled down the pieces to draw the rook ending easily. Clearly this 75(!) year old Georgian veteran knows his endings! William was gradually outplayed by Trevor in a protracted and interesting London system vs KID game. Both of them eventually tied for 1st after William won all his other games and Trevor got nicked for draws by the City of Adelaide champ Kyle Leaver and Edgar.
IM Trevor Tao, South Australia's top player
My nemesis, FM Bill Jordan - his theory of infinite resistance got me twice!
8 year old Wang Fei Yang won the Top Junior Prize with a commendable 4 pts, only dropping points to Trevor and your scribe.
My favourite personal game in the Weekender is this 'Grumpy Attack' as one of my students call it. So clear 3rd place for me with 4.5 out of 6.
Final results: Labour Day Weekender
The Allegro saw more entries and tougher opposition, perhaps some of them skipped the Weekender to catch the Adelaide Crows vs Richmond Tigers Final. In Rd 2, I was already pegged back by a draw against 66 year old (!) Alexander Sykes, or to be more accurate, was lucky to keep half a point, given that I almost blundered a 7th rank pawn away (having sacked a bishop to mobilse it there) but Alexander preferred to keep my king in check instead of snagging the pawn.
I was also intrigued by the Junior champion Wang Fei Yang. Upon realising that he had to face top seed IM Mark Chapman who sports a truly awesome Aussie rapid rating of 2637, he immediately went into prayer mode.
Fei Yang praying fervently before the game to the IM's amusement
But he really put up a valiant fight and attacked Mark right from the start. The IM eventually prevailed. Fei Yang's mom (the family had moved to Adelaide from China not long ago) asked me about the post mortem etiquette in Australia and I indicated in Allegros, normally we do discuss some key points in the game but seldom a full post mortem as there usually won't be enough time to do so. She asked me to help translate her request (Mandarin to English) to Mark for some analysis and pointers and he graciously agreed. To my surprise, she pulled out her mobile phone where all the moves in the game have been reconstructed by Fei Yang and video-recorded! Very enterprising indeed! Hence, Mark could fast forward to the critical points of the game to indicate to the boy where he went wrong with your scribe as the translator.
IM Mark Chapman explaining to Feiyang and his mom how he could have posed more problems.
The next two rounds I had tough games against Kyle Leaver (2075) and Kevin Sheldrick (2304). I had to graft my way back into the game against Kyle after he sort of refuted my Vulture Opening with a strong central buildup and I only managed to con him as we ran into increment mode. In a highly unclear position, Kevin was quite unfortunate to allow an illegal move by me (my king was in check and both of us didn't notice it for 3 moves!) to snag material. I was pretty sure he could not make a claim by then but he requested for the arbiter to make a ruling. Eventually, FIDE rules were checked and the game resumed without returning to the position prior to the illegal moves. I must say Kevin accepted the decision with far more grace and equanimity that what I am likely to show had I been in his position.
I finally got to play the top seed Mark. I must thank IM Hsu Li Yang (aka 'Legend') for the 20 rapid game training match (I got overpowered 12-8) prior to my Adelaide trip to put me in good shape versus a player of Mark's level.
However, horrific play in the increment phase of the game versus Bill pegged me back yet again.
Mark, by virtue of winning all the rest of his matches, tied with his round 3 opponent William (nice weekend for him indeed) for equal 1st placing.
So I finished 3rd yet again, although this time I had to contend with stronger opposition so it's OK.
Final Results: : Labour Day Allegro
All in all, I had a great time over the long weekend during gameplay, postmortem or simply discussing chess and life with the South Australians. I noticed that when analyzing with Trevor, Mark or Bill, they do not have the habit of imposing their ideas on others and tend to listen to others' opinions and discuss them as seriously as their own preferred lines. In contrast, I think Singaporeans are more confrontational and intent to prove their points but that's us.
So thank you very much SACA, for making my vacation a very fun + memorable one and I hope to return some time in the near future to take on the very tough Bill Jordan again!