Into the eight week of this event and it's a damn struggle for motivation. At just one game a week, we're supposed to take it easy. You have time to prep, they say. Go out in the morning and do your business in the evening - that's how it was meant to be. But this whole arrangement is seriously cramping my style. Instead of being out and about on lazy Sundays, I'm actually sitting in front of a laptop looking at games. What a waste!
In any case, I'm the sort of guy who likes to get it over and done with. Finally, I've had it. An hour before this round, I'm out for a drink.
First stop, the Spanish Club, sometimes also a sort of proxy chess club. It's good on Sundays here, there's a raffle on. If you're lucky, you might win a leg of ham. The crowd is mostly old Latinos and Spanish folks. Friendly lot they are. But an old bloke standing at the bar looks at me funny. I think he must be thinking, what's this bloody Asian doing here. I just put that out of my mind. After all, they have the Philippine flag displayed right up above the front door. What with RP being a past Spanish colony and all.
There's about a half hour to go so I move over to the Macquarie Hotel - it's a pub. Just months ago, this joint was downright uncool. At least that's what my memory tells me. These days it's all hip and trendy. We're a mix of baby-boomers, metrosexuals with fancy hair cuts and homosexuals with even fancier hair cuts. They're all here to watch Dale Barlow and his crew. The guy on piano is a bloody genius. I want to stay but my real business is next door, over the board. Reluctantly, I leave.
As I walk into the playing hall, IA Jason Lyons greets me. For a moment, I'm a bit surprised. Ah, yes, Dr Zworestine is down in Canberra and Jase is filling in. Something's wrong though. Is that a black eye Jase? And what happened to all your hair? They're gone.
Once or twice I've been asked, "has Ray Song won the tournament?" Not yet, but he has a chance. At this penultimate round, he leads by a point on 6/7. His nearest chasers are Xie, Halpin and Moylan - all on 5. Ray needs a win against Ingram tonight. Unfortunately, Ingram plays a solid game and holds the draw. Our scoresheet for this game is incomplete and it's not worth posting it. We'll try and get the complete score later. Look out for that.
IM-elect George Xie lost to Ray earlier in the tournament and must now do all he can to catch his young challenger. What can Xie do against the wily Pat Halpin? Halpin has been around a long time and knows a few tricks. He's the sort of player against whom your position needs just a litte bit of extra nurturing. In some calm situation, suddenly, boom!
City of Sydney 206
1. e4 Nc6 2. Nf3 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. Nc3 Qa5 5. Bb5 Bd7 6. O-O a6 7. Bxc6 Bxc6 8. d4 f6 9. Qe2 O-O-O 10. Rd1 e5 11. Be3 Bxf3 12. Qxf3 exd4 13. Qh3+ Kb8 14. Bxd4 Bd6 15. b4 Qg5 16. Be3 Qg6 17. b5 a5 18. b6 Ne7 19. Nb5 Qf5 20. Nxd6 cxd6 21. Qg3 Nd5 22. c4 Nxe3 23. Qxe3 Rhe8 24. Rxd6 Rxd6 25. Qxe8+ Qc8 26. Qb5 Qc6 27. Qxa5 Qxb6 28. Qh5 Rd2 29. c5 Qe6 30. h3 Qe5 31. Qxe5+ fxe5 32. Rb1 Kc7 33. Rb6 Rd1+ 34. Kh2 Rd5 35. Re6 Rxc5 36. Re7+ Kc6 37. Rxg7 Ra5 38. Rxh7 Rxa2 39. Kg3 b5 40. Re7 b4 41. Rxe5 b3 42. Re1 b2 43. Rb1 Kd5 44. f4 Kc4 45. f5 Kc3 46. Kf4 Kc2 47. Rxb2+ Rxb2 48. g4 Kd3 49. f6 Kd4 50. Kf5 Kd5 51. h4 Rf2+ 52. Kg6 Rf4 53. g5 Rxh4 54. f7 Rf4 55. Kg7 Ke6 56. f8=Q Rxf8 57. Kxf8 Kf5 58. g6 Kxg6 1/2-1/2
On paper at least, the final round looks to be easy for George. He plays Angela Song, the current Australian Junior U18 champion. I have no doubt there will be some serious preparation going on at the Song household to ensure a Raymond victory in this event. Ray himself has a tough assignment next round in Tomek Rej. That won't be easy. To make matters a little more interesting, 2 other players, Halpin and Moylan, still have a chance to finish on 6.5 and thereby catching Ray (if he loses to Tomek).
I suppose, like myself, Laura Moylan had preferred other more important things to do. She arrived late, about half an hour, for this game against Angela Song. It was straight to business - a Scandinavian.
City of Sydney 2006
1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. d4 c6 5. Nf3 Bf5 6. Bc4 e6 7. Ne5 Nf6 8. Bd2 Nbd7 9. Nxd7 Nxd7 10. Qe2 Bb4 11. O-O-O O-O-O 12. Ne4 Nb6 13. Ng3 Rxd4 14. Bxb4 Rxd1+ 15. Rxd1 Qxb4 16. Nxf5 exf5 17. Bxf7 Qf4+ 18. Kb1 Qxh2 19. g3 Qh6 20. Qe7 Qf6 21. Be6+ Kb8 22. Qxf6 gxf6 23. Bxf5 h6 24. Kc1 1/2-1/2
Below is a fragment of my game against Ken Hill. I often like to get to know my opponents before getting on with business. So I provoked Ken into a little conversation. I'd seen him around, but never played or exchanged words with him. He's a gentle fellow and a bit odd for some, particularly for his penchant for the colour red. I must admit I expected him to be a bit shy. He wasn't.
Just a week after the 44th Doeberl Cup, I nearly fell off my seat when Ken told me the most amazing thing. He is a former winner of the coveted Cup - way back in 1968! "Wow", was about all I could say.
The game now continued 38. Kf5? After this I thought the best I can do now is to just scare my opponent a little. He was down to less than 5 minutes on the clock and he seemed the nervous type. (38. Nf5 Bc5 (During the game I was actually intending 38...Ba1 39. Rxg4 Rxh2 40. Rg7+ but of course it is completely losing.) 39. Kxe5 a5 40. a4 White, in my view, is winning.) 38... Rh8 39. Kxg4 Rc8 40. Rc2? b5 41. h4 bxc4 Suddenly, I'm thinking, "Shit, I can win this." 42. h5 Kd6 43. Nf5+ Kc5 44. d6 Rg8+! 45. Kf3 Rg5?! 46. Nxd4? Badly short of time, Ken makes a poor choice. (Best was 46. Ng3! Kd5 47. h6 Rg8 48. Nf5 Rf8 49. Kg4 c3 50. h7 Rh8 51. Rh2 c2=) 46... exd4 47. d7 Rd5 48. Rg2 Rxd7 49. Rg5+ Kb4 50. h6 d3 51. Rg7 Rd6 52. h7 d2 53. h8=Q (53. Rb7+ Kc5 54. Rc7+ Kb6) 53... d1=Q+ 54. Kf4 Qf1+! The most optimal check. At this moment. Ken said something inaudible. I could not make out if he was resigning or offering a draw. When I asked if he could make his intentions clear he came back with a reply, "you wouldn't take a draw, would you?" 0-1
City of Sydney 2006
1. d4 g6 2. e4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. Bd3 Nd7 5. O-O e5 6. c3 Ne7 7. Re1 O-O 8. Nbd2 exd4 9. cxd4 Nc6 10. Nb3 a5 11. Be3 Nb4 12. Bf1 d5 13. e5 Nb6 14. a3 Nc6 15. h3 Nc4 16. Bxc4 dxc4 17. Nbd2 Qd5 18. Rc1 b5 19. b3 cxb3 20. Rc5 Qd7 21. Qxb3 Rb8 22. Rec1 Bb7 23. Qxb5 Ba8 24. Qc4 Rb6 25. Ne4
25...Nxd4 26. Bxd4 Bxe4 27. Rxc7 Qf5 28. Bxb6 Bxf3 29. gxf3 Bxe5 30. Rc8 Qg5+ 31. Qg4 Qf6 32. Bc5 1-0