Brisbane Break

Brisbane Break

CM juniortay

The last time I took a vacation from chess coaching was 2 years back and this one was definitely long overdue. As with my Adelaide trip, my wife arranged a chess tourney at the end of the vacation and this time we headed for Brisbane with a 6 round long 2019 Leo Wilkinson Memorial to play over the weekend. 

The fresh Brisbane air with temperatures between 20-24 degrees was a boon to us as Singapore was then engulfed in a haze with PSI readings of 150+ all week (Brisbane's was in the low 20s).

A noisy mynah which perched itself onto the bench rest 20cm away from me and started chirping...

View of Brisbane City from a Southbank Cafe.

Imagine waking up to this..

...and after sightseeing all morning and afternoon, you get this view from the hotel room.

After 1 week of 'lepak-ing' in the city and fringe surroundings, it was time to play some chess and we headed off to Grace Lutheran College for the Leo Wilkinson Memorial (28th to 29th of September 2019). 

Grace Lutheran College, Rothwell - where the tourney was held. The Redcliffe Chess Club meets there on Wednesday nights at 7:30pm in room F1, near the swimming pool.

I was seeded 7th which was actually pretty good for pairings as I got to avoid the biggies on Day 1. The top seed was GM Moulthun Ly and other top contenders were IMs Stephen Solomon and Brodie McClymont. There was also FM Gene Nakauchi who had scythed through the field in the Nell Van De Graaff Classic in June with a perfect 7/7, a clear point ahead of Moulthun and Stephen.

The organizers have also included live internet viewing of games via . Hence my 'kakis' back home in Singapore were supporting me (and laughing at my crappy moves) from Singapore as soon as the games start at 7am Singapore time  - or 9am Brisbane time. The tourney was directed by FA Max Kershaw,

The 78-strong 6 round, 60m+20s event in progress (Credit: Mark Stokes)

As with the Adelaide event, I had good warmup rapid matches with IM Hsu Li Yang (lost 11-9 although i suspect he took it easy) and IM Goh Wei Ming before the trip so I still knew how to push the pieces.

The first three rounds went quite smoothly. First up was 11 year old Benjamin Leung. I thought I could smoke the kid with an obscure opening but he worked out a good line against the Vulture...

Next up was Easen Wang who had held Solomon to a draw in an earlier event.
Easen Wang (credit: Somerset Chess Club fb page)

Although he was put under pressure right from the start, he found some nice defensive ideas to resist. Fortunately for me, my advantage was too big to bungle and so I moved on to 2/2.

The affable Anthony Solomon (his dad is IM Stephen Solomon so we know where he got his endgame skills from ) had returned to chess from a 2 year hiatus but he had found that his game improved through online blitzing and he proved it by outlasting  2005-rated Igor Paevskiy in an opposite coloured bishop ending. So I was definitely not going to underestimate him.

So 3/3 and I got paired with the 3rd seed, Brodie. Both of us played patchily but he was definitely superior in the blitz part (and the post mortem as well).

The best game of the event, in my opinion was played by IM Stephen Solomon this round against FM Gene. He grabbed the initiative from the black side of a QGD with the thematic ...c5 pawn sacrifice, hoovered most of the pieces off and exerted so much pressure to win the bishop and pawn ending. He was to repeat the same endgame feat in the Queensland Championships played yesterday, a game which I also included in the notes.

My next opponent Aiden Brady had won the Logan City Club event as well as tied for 1st in the Peninsula Open with Brodie. However, he gifted me a pawn (one very near his king which made things much worse) and that brought me to 4/5.

On top board, Solomon and Moulthun faced off and both sides played for the win in the queen and pawn ending but they could only split the point.

Brodie had 5/5 by now, leaving me 1 pt off the pace. I definitely had pairing luck as I avoided Moulthun in the final round as we had the same colours so Gene had to face him instead. Brodie could not relax yet as he had to face Solomon who could still emerge champion with a win.   Since the masters had to take points off each other, a win against my last round opponent Igor Paevskiy would likely give me 3rd placing at least. Of course I took out the cleaver and played the 'Grumpy Attack' as christened by an ex-student. The game wasn't great but my opponent's obvious discomfort and unfamilarity with the ferocious line got him into chronic time trouble and it was all over in 20 moves.

Final round jitters...Can Solomon overcome the half point deficit and overtake Brodie? Or will Moulthun edge out Gene and tie for the title?

The crucial Board 1 final round game between IM Brodie McClymont and IM Stephen Solomon about to commence...

Brodie made sure of at least a tie for 1st by eking out a draw after strong endgame play from Solomon (this guy really loves the endings, doesn't he?).

Now it was an anxious wait to see if Gene with a pawn short, could hold against Moulthun...

IMs Brodie and Stephen watching the final part of the endgame between Moulthun and Gene from the live internet display

So thanks to Gene's outstanding defence/counterattack in the ending, I got moved from equal 3rd to equal 2nd (with Solomon, Moulthun and Allan Fossey) and Brodie was even happier, as he finished clear 1st for a cool $1000.

Mark Stokes, President of Queensland Chess Association presenting the 1st and equal 2nd place winners with their cheques - Top Left: GM Moulthun Ly, Bottom left: IM Stephen Solomon, Bottom Right: your scribe, Junior Tay, Right: the deserving champion with his $1000 cheque, IM Brodie McClymont!

Left to Right: Scott Hoens, who worked on the pairings and results , David Esmonde (Aunix) who provided the live DGT telecast of the top 8 boards and Mark Stokes.

More detailed results of the event can be found on Chesschat or City of Redcliff Chess Club's LWM page.

I would like to complete the article with a series of artwork from the Queensland Art Gallery - which I think chessplayers definitely can identify with...

When you blow that totally winning position and will get mated in a couple of moves...

Your much higher rated opponent got snared by your cheap trap...

You are in time trouble and cannot see anything concrete...the variations are just blurred...

I would especially like to thank Mark Stokes for his patience and help once again after badgering him with many questions prior to the event on food, transport and tournament proceedings via email. Max Kershaw is also a very good ambassador of Brisbane, with his kind words and welcoming demeanour. The calm manner he ran the event made it professional and yet congenial to play in.

Thanks for reading!