London: Arianne wins Women's Invitational by two points

12/19/2009 – A number of subsidiary events took place during the Chess Classic in London, one of the most attractive of which was the Women's Invitational. It was won by a "chess tourist", Arianne Caoili of Australia, who had planned to visit London with her boyfriend Levon Aronian to see the sights. When he did not obtain his visa Arienne decided to play in the Invitational. Big pictorial report.

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London Women's Invitational

By John Saunders

A Women’s Invitational tournament was held as part of the main congress at the London Chess Classic at Olympia. The tournament was the brainchild of IM Lawrence Cooper, the English Chess Federation’s Director of International Chess and was the first of what he hopes will become a regular series of women’s competitions in England. The dates weren’t ideal for his purposes as a number of prospective players at school and university couldn’t take part but he still put together a very interesting and varied line-up.

The top seed and favourite was the highly experienced English IM Susan Lalic who, like her husband IM Graeme Buckley, is a busy chess teacher. She had to postpone her first round game until later in the tournament and started with a draw in round two. In round three, she met Arianne Caoili, the Philippine-born Australian woman IM who had got off to a great start with 2/2. The game started in a blur of tactics, with chances going begging for both players, but Susan emerged triumphant after 60 moves.


Top seed Susan Lalic, five times British Women’s Champion,
couldn’t keep up with the ‘Arianne missile’

But defeat by Susan did not seem to bother Arianne one bit. In fact, it seemed to spur her on as she proceeded to ‘do a Fischer’, winning all six of her remaining games. Susan couldn’t keep up with her, losing to the talented Dutch WIM Arlette van Weersel in round six and to the 16-year-old Swiss player Camille De Seroux in round eight.


Arianne Caoili, 22, did what the Aussie men and women
cricketers couldn’t do this year – triumph in England

In the end Arianne won by a clear two points from Susan. Lawrence Cooper watched play closely and concluded that “Arianne showed her resourcefulness despite several difficult positions and time trouble.” It was a gutsy performance, registering an impressive 2421 in terms of rating performance.

The one disappointment for Arianne was that her boyfriend Levon Aronian couldn’t be there to see her tournament victory. The Armenian super-GM would have been in London but for the pesky pen-pushers at the Passport Agency. Yes, they failed to provide Aronian with a visa in time, just as had happened in the case of Vlad Kramnik. It wasn’t like that in the ‘good old days’. Remember what Alekhine is alleged to have said when challenged for his passport? “I am Alekhine, chess champion of the world. I have no need of papers.”


Maria Yurenok of Britain vs Maria Ikonomopoulou of Greece in round eight (the latter Maria won in 50 moves)


Maria Yurenok, WFM, comes originally from Chelyabinsk in Russia but has lived, worked and played chess in England for many years. She is currently having a sabbatical from work to polish up her chess. Read her excellent chess blog, called Maria’s Chess Adventures.


Maria Ikonomopoulou, from Greece, did not draw a single game.
She is untitled and relatively inexperienced but had an excellent result.


Denise Frick is from South Africa and holds two FIDE titles: WIM and FI (that’s FIDE Instructor). Back in Cape Town Denise is a qualified counselling psychologist (so don’t try to out-psych her).


Arlette van Weersel vs Olivia Smith in round seven (van Weersel won in 43 moves). Olivia Smith, 22, is a WFM from Wales and a member of Cardiff Chess Club. She played for Wales at the 2004 and 2008 Women’s Olympiads.


Arlette van Weersel, 25, from Netherlands, won a very good game against Susan Lalic. Arlette is a regular competitor in national team chess for various teams in Europe. She studied sports management at London Metropolitan University.


Elena Winkelmann is 18 and, like Arlette van Weersel, has already
played in England before, in the 4NCL (British Team League).


Camille De Seroux, 16, from Switzerland, beat two of the strongest players in the tournament


Sabrina Chevannes, 23, is a WFM from Birmingham and has lots of interests besides chess – she is proficient at several sports and has also reached a high level on the violin and the piano. Her extraction: Jamaica and, like Arianne Caoili, the Philippines.


Sabrina has just started her own website, with the above picture frontpaging the chess section


Arianne Bo Caoili was born in Manila, but has lived in Australia for most of her life. She learnt chess at the age of six and at one point, during 2002, achieved a FIDE rating in excess of 2300. More recently Arianne has scaled down her chess activities to concentrate on her studies, which she is currently conducting in Germany.


Arianne chatting in the foyer with IM Jovanka Houska, who came fourth in the Festival Open [photo Friedel]


Partners of the stars: Marie-Laure Germon is the wife of world number five Vladimir Kramnik, Arianne is the girlfriend of world number four Levon Aronian (they switch places in the next FIDE list) [Photo Friedel]


Marie-Laure in front of a picture of her husband [photo Friedel]

All photos (unless otherwise specified) by John Saunders


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