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Fabulous fighting chess at the Australian Open

1/21/2013 – The 2nd of January of each year is when the Australian Chess Open begins – in alternate years it’s the closed championship. This year the title was won by the ninth seed FM Bobby Cheng and is starting to be known as the Cheng Express. But it was an amazing last-round win by WGM Sukandar Irine Kharisma over the top seed GM Igor Khenkin that caught our eye.
 

The fabulous fighting Australian Open

By Jamie Kenmure

This year’s event had five Olympiad members playing with three from Australia, one from Mongolia and one from Germany. The three Australians were Moulthun Ly, Stephen Solomon and Max Illingworth, all IM’s and seeded 5th, 6th and 7th respectively. The 24th seed of the tournament was a member of the Mongolian Women’s Olympiad, Otgoljargal Sengeravdan. With 19 titled players in the event consisting of three GMs, six IMs, seven FMs, one WGM and two WFMs.

But top seed and board number two for Germany is none other than GM Igor Khenkin (above), who happens to be the world number 85. The heat was amazing in Sydney for many days – 40°+ degrees – and the tournament air-conditioning struggled to cope. Khenkin was clearly the most affected by this.


Second seed GM Zhao Zong-Yuan of Australia

As a spectator and player, you knew it was going to be a fabulous tournament and a tough one at that. Here are the top ten seeds of the event:

No.
Title
Name
FED
Rtg
1
GM
Khenkin Igor
GER
2659
2
GM
Zhao Zong-Yuan
AUS
2537
3
GM
Johansen Darryl K.
AUS
2441
4
IM
Tao Trevor
AUS
2440
5
IM
Ly Moulthun
AUS
2417
6
IM
Solomon Stephen J.
AUS
2410
7
IM
Illingworth Max
AUS
2408
8
IM
Xie George Wendi
AUS
2382
9
FM
Cheng Bobby
AUS
2377
10
WGM
Sukandar Irine Kharisma
INA
2362

Round 1 saw IM Trevor Tao and FM Bobby Cheng taking byes. Most of the other games went according to rating, with the exception of WGM Irine Sukandar drawing to Benjamin Encel. Also FMs Gregory Canfell and Christopher Wallis lost in the first round.

Round 2 saw veteran GM Darryl Johansen drawing to David Webster, FM Tristan Boyd losing to George Lester. Otherwise another round going to ratings. So only two round gone and six out of the top ten seeds were on the perfect 2/2.

Round 3 was the battle of the Georges. That’s right: George Lester held IM George Xie to a draw. Lester was having a great start to the tournament, beating FM Boyd the previous round and now drawing with the IM. George Xie already has his three GM norms, but just needs the rating, the hardest thing to do. Out of the big guns, only five players were on 3/3.

Round 4 was breaking the deadlock round. Draws galore except one IM had different ideas. This was none other than IM Max Illingworth. While the top four boards had draws, he decided it was time to keep his winning streak up and take the sole lead with 4/4 with a win over Michael Morris. Former World under 12 champion, FM Bobby Cheng, won against the recent edition to the IM club, Trevor Tao. FM Canfell fell to the hands of George Lester.


You figure it out: IM Moulthun Ly of Australia, rated 2417

While young Max Illingworth been the leader of the tournament with 4/4, he had to come face to face and battle it out with GM Igor Khenkin. However, the result was in favour of the German. 2nd seed and Oceania’s top player, Zong Yuan Zhao, played Kiwi Luke Li Zuhao and won. IM Andrew Brown caused havoc for Moulthun Ly, the fifth seed, and won. FM Junta Ikeda won against the veteran Olympiad member and IM, Stephen Solomon. Lester’s luck also ran out to the hands of FM Cheng.

FM Cheng and GM Zhao came to battle and had a draw. FM Ikeda took down IM Xie and Yita Choong had a draw with GM Johansen. Round six was not an entertaining one for major upsets.


FM Gene Nakauchi, Australia, rated 2191

Getting to the business end of the tournament now, that being round seven, it was the battle of the heavyweights, GMs Khenkin v Zhao. Khenkin had the white pieces and was held to a draw. Illingworth won against Ikeda, Cheng won against Sukandar, the 2012 Asian Women’s Continential Champion. Johansen and Brown settled for a draw and FM Nakauchi impressed his way through the tournament with a win against IM Solomon. Stephen Solomon is definitely not having a good tournament at all.

The cheers began in Round 8 as GM Khenkin suffered a loss to the hands of FM Cheng. As a result of this win for Cheng he had secured an IM norm for the tournament, his second that he has. Other results though were Ly won against Illingworth, Ikeda drew with Zhao and FM Nakauchi who was in a lost position swindled FM Canfell.

After all the excitement of round 8, round 9 began. FM Cheng won again and was starting to be known as the Cheng Express. Khenkin and Ly drew, Illingworth and Zhao drew. Ikeda had a win against IM Brown and secured his second IM norm for his career. Otherwise results went as they should have.


FM Bobby Cheng of Australia, rated 2377, who at 15 is the
youngest ever winner of the Australian Open title

Round 10 and 11 saw the Cheng Express do what’s best and win. In round ten he beat Ikeda to take the title a full point ahead of his closest rivals. Ly had a good win against Johansen and Khenkin won against Li Zuhao. Round 11 Ly and Cheng held for a 19 move draw which secured him the title. Cheng had received a half-point bye in the first round, and conceded only one draw to GM Zhao in the next nine games. His 90% result from the ten games played gave him a 2660 tournament performance rating. He and Ikeda scored IM norms. Cheng didn't have a chance to play the third grandmaster in the tournament, so he missed the GM norm his performance would otherwise have given him.


WGM Sukandar of Indonasia had an amazing win over GM Khenkin in round eleven

[Event "Australian Open"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.01.13"] [Round "11.2"] [White "Khenkin, Igor"] [Black "Sukandar, Irene"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E15"] [PlyCount "156"] [EventDate "2013.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bxd2+ 6. Qxd2 Ba6 7. b3 d5 8. Bg2 c6 9. O-O O-O 10. Rc1 Nbd7 11. a4 c5 12. e3 Rc8 13. Na3 Ne4 14. Qb2 Bb7 15. Rd1 Qf6 16. Ne5 Rcd8 17. f3 Nd6 18. Nb5 Nf5 19. Ng4 Qe7 20. dxc5 h5 21. cxd5 hxg4 22. c6 Nxe3 23. d6 Qg5 24. cxb7 Nxd1 25. Rxd1 Qe3+ 26. Qf2 Qxb3 27. Qe2 Nc5 28. fxg4 Nxa4 29. Qd3 Qb4 {The game has thus far been balanced, but now the GM overlooks some simple tactics:} 30. Nxa7 $2 Qc5+ 31. Kh1 Nb2 32. Qe2 Nxd1 33. Qxd1 Rxd6 34. Qf1 Rfd8 35. Bf3 e5 36. h4 e4 37. Be2 Rf6 38. Qg1 e3 { White is down by two exchanges and hopelessly lost. But the wily GM fights on. } 39. Nc8 $6 Rxc8 $2 (39... Rf2 {wins on the spot.}) 40. bxc8=Q+ Qxc8 41. Qxe3 {Now, just an exchange up, the WGM has to start working all over again.} Qc6+ 42. Kg1 Qc5 43. Qxc5 bxc5 {Can she win this?} 44. g5 Re6 45. Kf2 Kf8 46. Kf3 Ke7 47. g4 f6 48. g6 Re5 49. h5 Kd6 50. Bc4 Rg5 51. Kf4 Kc6 52. Be6 Kb5 53. Bf5 {[#] A clever attempt to lock in the rook. But can the white king defend against the distant pawn?} Kc6 {Irine Kharisma decides to go after the kingside fortress.} 54. Ke4 Kd6 55. Kd3 Ke5 56. Bc8 (56. Kc4 $2 Rxf5 57. gxf5 Kxf5 {wins for Black.}) 56... Kf4 57. Kc4 Re5 58. Bd7 Kg5 59. Bc8 Re1 60. Bf5 Rc1+ 61. Kd3 Rh1 62. Bc8 Kf4 63. Kc4 Ke5 64. Bd7 Rc1+ 65. Kb3 c4+ 66. Kb4 Kd4 67. h6 Rb1+ 68. Ka3 c3 {Nice.} 69. Bf5 (69. h7 $2 c2 70. h8=Q c1=Q+ 71. Ka4 Ra1+ 72. Kb5 Qc5#) 69... Rb8 70. h7 Ke3 71. Ka4 Kd2 72. Ka5 c2 73. Bxc2 Kxc2 74. Ka6 Kd3 75. Ka7 Rh8 76. Kb7 Ke4 77. Kc7 Kf4 78. Kd7 Kg5 0-1

And while you are in the mood here are a few interesting tactical moments from higher-ranked games in the tournament. Note that you can select games in the dropdown menu on the left, and that you can click the diagram in the notation to get to the critical position. Have fun.

Top final ranking (after 11 rounds)

Rk.
Title
Name FED Rtg
Pts.
 TB1 
 TB2 
 TB3 
1
FM
Cheng Bobby AUS 2377
9.5
76.5
63.0
67.25
2
GM
Zhao Zong-Yuan AUS 2537
8.5
79.0
64.5
59.25
3
IM
Ly Moulthun AUS 2417
8.5
78.0
64.0
59.25
4
IM
Illingworth Max AUS 2408
8.5
76.5
62.5
56.25
5
WGM
Sukandar Irine Kharisma INA 2362
8.0
72.0
58.5
49.75
6
FM
Canfell Gregory AUS 2360
8.0
67.5
55.0
49.00
7
GM
Khenkin Igor GER 2659
7.5
82.0
67.5
52.50
8
GM
Johansen Darryl K. AUS 2441
7.5
75.0
61.5
49.25
9
IM
Tao Trevor AUS 2440
7.5
73.0
59.0
46.75
10
Choong Yita AUS 2161
7.5
72.5
59.5
47.00
11
WFM
Sengeravdan Otgonjargal MGL 2153
7.5
68.0
55.5
41.50
12
FM
Ikeda Junta AUS 2345
7.0
79.0
65.5
45.00
13
IM
Brown Andrew AUS 2261
7.0
78.5
64.5
47.50
14
FM
Nakauchi Gene AUS 2191
7.0
76.5
62.0
44.25
15
Morris Michael AUS 2168
7.0
75.0
61.5
43.00
16
IM
Xie George Wendi AUS 2382
7.0
73.0
60.0
44.00
17
IM
Solomon Stephen J. AUS 2410
7.0
70.5
58.5
43.25
18
Zelesco Karl AUS 2143
7.0
69.0
56.5
39.00
19
Chen Pengyu AUS 2121
7.0
67.5
56.0
39.75
20
Tan Justin AUS 2284
7.0
67.0
56.0
41.75
21
Charles Gareth AUS 2159
7.0
66.5
53.5
39.00
22
FM
Wallis Christopher AUS 2283
7.0
64.0
52.5
39.00
23
Atzmon-Simon Barak ISR 2092
7.0
61.5
50.0
37.50

Overall the tournament was a success, with FM Bobby Cheng winning the National Championship along with the Blitz Championships after a playoff having came equal first with IM James Morris. GM Zhao and IM’s Ly and Illingowrth finished equal second in the tournament and equal fifth went to WGM Sukandar and FM Canfell.

The tournament was sponsored by Hancock Prospecting, the company owned by the richest woman in the world, Gina Reinhart.


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