Those bridge players are doing something right, surely. Wine, cheese, crackers were aplenty when we arrived at the venue. Yes, they have these during tournament play - courtesy of the New South Wales Bridge Association. Now why can't our own chess association, with $80 grand in the kitty, do the same?
Just kidding! But for a few moments, my thoughts were tempted towards dumping my chess and running away with bridge. Ah, but never! That'd be like doing a Prince Charles, you know. And I have way too much better taste.
Our round began late - a good thirty minutes or so while we waited for the bridge to finish. By the time we arrived, there was still a large number of bridge players hanging about, chatting, just generally socialising. The arbiter, Dr Charles Zworestine, seemed quite upset. He knew that, as usual, being the man on the spot, the chess players would blame him for this apparent confusion over scheduling. Of course, it wasn't his fault. We can point that somewhere between the NSWCA and the NSWBA.
Thankfully, it wasn't long before our chess business finally got off the ground. But Dr Zworestine had a last announcement.
The Bridge Association left us their remaining wine, cheese and crackers. And we, chessers, were more than welcome to help ourselves. I couldn't help thinking, poor chess people - only good for leftovers!
Raymond Song, of course, is our champion. We say again, congratulations to this wunderkind. Who knows where his rising chess powers will take him? It's early days and the last thing we want is to jinx him. Personally, I am very glad to bear witness to his progress. I recall very well a tournament, a few years ago, in Fairfield - a suburb in Sydney. We were paired against each other. I won quite easily. But only a couple of years later, at the ANU Open in 2004, he was already much stronger and won easily. He has neither stopped nor slowed down since. We hope Raymond Song reaches every greater heights.
Determined to stop Raymond was none other than the event's favourite, IM-elect George Xie. He was on 5.5 - a point behind Ray after 8 rounds. So he needed a win and for Ray to lose. By coincidence, George had to face Ray's sister, Angela Song - herself a talented player having won the Australian Junior U18 Championship in January. I am certain that there would have been some serious battle planning in the Song household during the week. But last Sunday, George Xie's superior understanding was just too much.
City of Sydney 2006
1. e4 c5 2. c4 Nc6 3. Ne2 e6 4. Nbc3 Nf6 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Bb4 7. Nxc6 bxc6 8. Bd3 e5 9. O-O h6 (9... O-O 10. Bd2 Be7 11. Qe2 d6 12. Kh1) 10. Qa4
(10. Be3 Bxc3 11. bxc3 O-O 12. c5 d5 13. cxd6 Qxd6 14. f3 Be6 15. Rf2 Qa3 16. Qc1 Qa5 17. a4 Nd7 18. Qa3 c5 19. Bb5 c4 20. Rd2 Rfd8 21. Rad1 Qc7 22. Qd6 Rac8 23. g4 Kh7 24. h4 g6 25. Kh1 Qxd6 26. Rxd6 Rc7 27. Ra6 Ra8 28. Rdd6 1-0 Sebastian Knappke,D-Bort Mondragon,J/Aragon 1997/EXT 2003)
10... Bc5 11. b4 Bd4 12. Qc2 O-O 13. Bb2 Rb8 14. Rac1 Rxb4! Deep understanding? When I saw this move, I could not believe it. And I'm sure neither could Angela. 15. Ba3 a5 16. Bxb4 axb4 17. Na4 c5 18. Qb3 Bb7 Gorgeous. Black has nearly all the play. White's pieces are helpless. 19. Rce1 Bc6 20. Nb2 Qa8 21. Kh1 Nxe4 22. Bxe4 Bxe4 23. f3 Bg6 24. Nd1 Qb7 25. Ne3 Ra8 26. Nc2 Bc3 27. Re3 Qa6 28. Rxc3 bxc3 29. Qxc3 d5 30. Ra1 d4 0-1
A fine demonstration by George but by the time he finished, Raymond Song was already winning against Tomek Rej.
Quite amazingly, there were two other players who actually had a chance to catch Ray - Laura Moylan and Pat Halpin. Laura lost to Ben Ingram when she botched her position. While Halpin played one of the more exciting matches of the tournament. Here he drew against my first round conqueror, Ivan Zirdum.
Once again, Pat relies on an old workhorse - the Grand Prix Attack.
City of Sydney 2006
1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. f4 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. g3 d6 6. Bc4 e6 7. f5 exf5 8. d3 Nd4 9. O-O Ne7 10. g4 O-O 11. gxf5 gxf5 12. Bg5 Qe8 13. Nxd4 cxd4 14. Nb5 Qd7 15. c3 fxe4 16. dxe4 Ng6 17. Nxd4 Qg4+ 18. Qxg4 Bxg4 19. Nf5 Ne5 20. Nxg7 Kxg7 21. Bf6+ Kg6 22. Bxe5 dxe5 23. Rf2 Be6 24. Bxe6 fxe6 25. Raf1 Rxf2 26. Rxf2 Rd8 27. Kf1 Rd1+ 28. Ke2 Rb1 29. Kd3 Rd1+ 30. Rd2 Re1 31. c4 Kf6 32. Re2 Rd1+ 33. Kc3 Ke7 34. c5 Rd4 35. b4 b6 36. cxb6 axb6 37. a4 h6 38. Re3 h5 39. Re2 Ke8 40. Re3 Ke7 41. Rh3 Rxe4 42. Rxh5 Kd6 43. Rh3 Kc6 44. Rd3 b5 45. a5 Rh4 46. h3 e4 47. Rg3 Kd5 48. Rg5+ e5 49. Rg3 Rh6 50. Re3 Rc6+ 51. Kd2 Kd4 52. Ra3 Ra6 53. Rc3 Rg6 54. Rc5 e3+ 55. Ke1 Rg1+ 56. Ke2 Rg2+ 57. Kd1 Rb2 58. Rxb5 e2+ 59. Ke1 e4 60. Kf2 e3+ 61. Ke1 Kd3 62. Rd5+ Ke4 63. Rd6 Rxb4 64. Kxe2 Rb2+ 65. Ke1 Rh2 66. a6 Rxh3 67. a7 Rh1+ 68. Ke2 Rh2+ 69. Kf1 Ra2 70. Rd7 Kf3 71. Rf7+ Ke4 1/2-1/2
City of Sydney 2006
Playing Bolens always makes me nervous. He's quite tricky. But my victory over him in the Australia Day Weekender last January gave me some confidence. My aim was to win. I was on 4.5 and a full point will at least secure equal first for the U1800 prize with Nick Chernih (playing white against Andrew Bird) . 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 c6 5. Bg5 Nbd7 6. Qc2 h6 7. Bh4 Be7 8. e3 O-O 9. h3 b6 10. cxd5 cxd5 11. Bd3 Bb7 12. O-O a6 13. Rac1 b5 14. a3 Rc8 15. Qe2 Ne4 16. Bxe7 Nxc3 17. Rxc3 Qxe7 18. Rfc1 b4 19. axb4 Qxb4 20. Rxc8 Bxc8 21. Bxa6 Bxa6 22. Qxa6 At this point, my mood changed from wanting to win to just happily settle for the draw - so I offered it. Bolens accepted. 1/2-1/2
City of Sydney 2006
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O 9. Ndb5 a6 10. Nxd6 Qc7 11. f4 e5 12. Nxc8 Raxc8 13. Bxf6 Bxf6 14. Nd5 Qd8 15. g3 g6 16. Bh3 Rb8 17. Bd7 Bg7 18. c3 exf4 19. gxf4 Kh8 20. Bxc6 bxc6 21. Nb4 Qb6 22. h4 Rfd8 23. Qe2 a5 24. Rxd8+ Rxd8 25. Nc2 Bh6 26. Rf1 Rb8 27. Na3 Qd8 28. Qf2 Qd3 29. Qd4+ Qxd4 30. cxd4 c5 31. dxc5 Rc8 32. Kd1 Rxc5 33. f5 Re5 34. fxg6 fxg6 35. Re1 Bf4 36. Nc4 Rc5 37. b3 a4 38. e5 axb3 39. axb3 Kg7 40. Re4 g5 41. Kc2 Kf7 42. b4 Rc7 43. Kd3 Ke6 44. Rd4 Rd7 45. hxg5 Bxg5 46. Rxd7 Kxd7 47. Ke4 Kc6 48. Nd6 Be7 49. b5+ Kc7 50. b6+ Kd7 51. Kd5 h5 52. e6+ Kd8 53. Kc6 1-0
While this tournament was enjoyable for the most part, it dragged on too long. One game a week is, in reality, 9 Sundays gone! To make things worse, each round commenced at 6.30PM. I often did not arrive back home until some 5 hours later. From my point of view, there is an obvious improvement to the format. We ought to play 2 games on a Sunday. For a nine round event, there will have to be a single game on the last Sunday - thus the whole tournament will span 5 weeks instead of nine. But that's just me.
Final standings and downloadable games