The Club Champs is played over the 9 rounds in June, July and August. This year the A and B Grades are 10-player round robins and the C Grade is a Swiss. All Grades are FIDE and NZCF rated.
Commentary by Nigel Metge
Round 1 of ACC Championship A Grade saw tough battles on all boards.
Macdonald, Paul – Hague, Ben 0-1
Paul’s unusual take on Larsen’s opening (1.b3, 2.Bb2, 3.e4) gives Ben few problems in equalizing. White offers an interesting P sac, 16.Rfe1 teasing Black’s weak back rank and undeveloped Bc8. Confident in his ability and calculation Ben takes the P. White slips with an inaccurate exchange of his good Nd6 and Black keeps his extra pawn in a R&P ending. Both rooks are active and drawing chances are very high but persistent pressure and shortage of time provoke an error from White and Ben is rewarded for his calm defense. I note the times at move 16: 33 min remaining to White and 63min to Black; at move 38, 1min for White, 37min for Black
Zhang, Jasmine – Goodhue, Nathan ½-½
Jasmine plays her usual London system and with 12.f4, f5 both players adopt a double stonewall. Nathan opens and controls the a-file but did not extract value from it. Jasmine with h3-g4 attacks the K-side. Black now makes a significant error in 29…Kf7 allowing 30.h5! opening files and suddenly his King is in serious trouble. White develops a winning attack and wins an exchange but at a critical moment exchanges Qs with 39.Qf7+; instead 39.Qh2! looks like a win. A complex ending arises in which it is not clear if Black’s 2B & P can draw against White’s R&B. In fact, Stockfish reveals a subtle win for White at several points but after a long game both players are short of time and agree a draw after repeating several moves
Garbett, Paul – Fan, Allen 1-0
Allen tries a new move 7…,c5 in the Pirc but this leads only to an early exchange of Qs and a better endgame for White…not a great idea against one of the country’s strongest players. Paul plays a beautiful positional game 20.Nxf6 constricting Black’s development while avoiding all risk. White wins a P but more important his K&B&R advance on Black’s K choking it to death. Apart from one slip 31.R1d6 which allows equality, a fine win by Paul.
Watson, Bruce -Ang, Alphaeus 1-0
Bruce’s English opening soon transposes into Kings Indian Averbakh with White retaining customary minimal advantage. Bruce incautiously allows Black’s Queen to penetrate to h3 and Alphaeus wins a P with a nice tactical finesse 24…Nxe4! Queens’ come off but the ending is not so easy to win as Black’s B is constricted by d6-e5-f4 pawn chain. Alphaeus hits upon a brilliant idea of sacrificing his R for White’s N and creating 2 passed pawns supported by his B. It is a winning concept, albeit maybe unnecessary, but exact execution is required. First the win slips away 35…f2!, then the draw, 36.f2!
A tough game for Alphaeus to lose but full marks to Bruce for determined defense. Chess is a game of errors!
Steadman, Michael – Gong, Daniel ½-½
Daniel opens with 4…Bf5 variation in Kings Indian, favoured by Caruana. Michael counters with 5.g3,Ne4; 5.Qb3 and both players are on unfamiliar territory. Black equalizes and develops a grip on the c-file. Instead of patiently building on this he chooses simplification and penetration of White’s back ranks with 32…Qh3?!
The position is equal though and perhaps out of frustration Daniel makes a risky decision to create a passed a-pawn at the expense of allowing White a passed b-pawn 40…b4?! The position is complex and White misses or chooses not to create favourable complications with 4 Qs on the board 52.b6! & 54.e5! Black wisely steers the game to a draw with perpetual check.
A tough struggle in which both players had winning chances in different phases.
Felix Xei vs Euan McDougall – White was ahead from the opening and Black never really broke out of this position. Black dropped a pawn and White cruised from there. 1-0
Tim Ha vs Xinyang Liu – Passive play at the start by White gave black a better position but Black was unable to get enough ahead and White was able to hold a draw.
Jordan Lewis vs Caroline Yan – A Quick draw
Abraham Deng vs Alex Nagorski – White got got stuck with a slightly less room out of the opening and Black was able to pressure him until White’s exposed King was due to be mated. 0-1
Lyall vs Eade – Postponed
Yonggeum Song vs Andrew Michael – Black was looking better but White helped things with a Blonder. 0-1
Aaron Wang vs Lucas Xiao – Black miscalculated and lost of piece. 1-0
Erica Hu vs Mohamma Bashar – White was goign well but gave up two-pawns due to a miscalculation. Black quickly won with a passed-pawn. 0-1
Ajit Pendharkar vs Yolanda Chang – White found a tactic which won a piece and checkmated a few moves later. 1-0
Anya Thurner vs Virgina Milne – Black got here pieces tied up and then quickly lost material to a couple of tactics. 1-0
Scott Treanor vs Alan Leach – White was slightly better for most of the game but Black kept in touch and was able to force a draw.
Philbert Zhai vs Karl Holdo – Any early draw in an even position. Draw
Upsets in Round 1 for C Grade
Tykeah Po’e-Tofaeno beat Thomas Zheng
Anya Thurner beat Virginia Milne
Jacob Chai beat Mike Steiner