Short, Izzat and Cheng win 50th Ballarat Begonia

4/3/2016 – The 50th Ballarat Begonia chess tournament was held in the state of Victoria from the 12th-14th of March 2016. All the best players from Australia along with the super strong GM Nigel Short and talented Azerbaijani IM Kannan Izzat took part. It was a tensely fought event which ended in a three way tie between Short, Izzat and Cheng. We have an illustrated report filled with pictures, analysis by the Ballarat Chess Club President.

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Report on the 50th Ballarat Begonia Chess Tournament 

By Patrick Cook

The historic and picturesque goldfields city of Ballarat is located 110 kilometres west of Melbourne, in the Central Highlands of Victoria, in South-Eastern Australia. The city was the site of the “Eureka Stockade” gold miners rebellion in 1854, and features many historic 19th Century buildings. It is also internationally famous for its Begonia flowers, which blossom magnificently in the city’s temperate climate, and the Begonia Festival, a carnival and cultural celebration that has been held each year in March since 1953. Ballarat is also the setting for the popular television series “The Doctor Blake Mysteries".

The Ballarat Chess Club, first established in 1856, organizes an annual Open chess tournament in the city to coincide with the “Begonia Festival”, and 2016  was the 50th consecutive event. A magnificent achievement for a small chess club. The success is due in no small measure to the tireless efforts of IA Kevin Perrin who has been involved in all 50 tournaments, as either a player, arbiter, or organizer! From its humble beginnings in 1967, the tournament has grown into one of Australia’s most popular weekenders. The list of tournament winners is a virtual roll-call of the cream of Australian chess over the past five decades.

The Old Ballarat Gaol, the tournament venue for 32 years until 2014

The jubilee 50th event, held from 12-14 March, proved to be a great success, with a record entry of 147 players, including 22 locals. It was also the strongest event in the tournaments history, with four GM’s, ten IM’s and six FM’s vying for the top prizes. Among the many new features of the tournament, was live on-site commentary by five-time winner GM Ian Rogers, and live streaming of the top boards on the internet. It was a seven round tournament with grueling schedule of two double rounds and one day of triple rounds!

Heading the field was the genial and much-travelled English GM Nigel Short, the 1993 World Championship challenger, and still amongst the top players in the world. Second seed was Australia’s newest GM Max Illingworth, with third seed GM Zong-Yuan Zhao (Aus), making his first appearance at Ballarat. The fourth seed was the defending champion, strong and talented Azeri IM Kanan Izzat, who became the first player to score 7/7 in 2015. Also in the field were young IM Anton Smirnov (Aus), six-time Begonia Open winner IM Guy West (Aus), and the amazing 13-time winner of the event GM Daryl Johansen (Aus), among a host of strong contenders. The tournament also included two Ballarat players from the original 1967 event : Kevin Perrin and Arthur Koelle, 1971 Australian Junior Champion and veteran of the German Bundesliga competition in the 1980‘s.

GM Nigel Short arrived in Ballarat a few days prior to the tournament and graciously agreed to give a simul at the Ballarat Chess Club. He also gave a very instructive and very entertaining lecture at the tournament venue the evening before the tournament commenced.

Playing 31 boards at the same time is never easy...

... but Nigel annihilated the Ballarat Chess Club members 31-0!

The next day, the Mayor of Ballarat, Councillor Des Hudson, officially opened the tournament, and was then presented with a copy of the tournament history book “Ballarat Begonia Chess Tournament : 50 years 1967-2016“ by the editor, Ballarat Chess Club President, Patrick Cook.

Ballarat Mayor, Councillor Des Hudson (left) receives a copy of
the tournament book from Ballarat Chess Club President Patrick Cook

As is usual in Swiss events, the top seeds were mostly untroubled in the first round, although on board six, Francesco Antoniazzi held new Australian Champion IM Bobby Cheng to a draw. Round two saw a few more upset results. Kevin Sheldrick defeated IM Smirnov on board five, while on board one IM Leonid Sandler, the President of Chess Victoria, held GM Short to a draw, and FM Brian Jones drew with GM Johansen on board eight.

GM Darryl Johansen : 13-times Ballarat winner!

GM Max Illingworth ponders his position

By round four, the leaders were facing each other. On board one GM Illingworth defeated former winner FM Christopher Wallis, on board two IM Junta Ikeda held GM Zhao to a draw, on board three Izzat defeated West, while on board five Short kept his chances alive with a smooth win with the Black pieces over young IM Ari Dale.

Going into round five, three players, Kannan Izzat, Max Illingworth, and five-time winner IM Stephen Solomon were leading with 4/4. On board one, IM Izzat snatched the sole lead by defeating GM Illingworth, while on board two GM Zhao was held to a draw by IM Solomon. On board three GM Short kept in range by defeating IM Ikeda, and IM Cheng also stayed in touch with a win over FM Eddy Levi.

IM Stephen Solomon vs Arthur Koelle, while IM Guy West has a look at Nigel Short’s position

With two rounds to go on the last day, the title was still up for grabs. On board one, Short defeated Izzat, and won the tournament brilliancy prize in the process. On board 2 Zhao drew with Cheng, while on board three Illingworth defeated Dale.

GM Zhong-Yuan Zhao vs. IM Bobby Cheng in round six

Nigel Short beat IM Izzat Kannan in round six

[Event "Ballarat Begonia Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.03.14"]
[Round "6.1"]
[White "Short, Nigel"]
[Black "Izzat, Kanan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B12"]
[WhiteElo "2671"]
[BlackElo "2491"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "65"]
[EventDate "2016.03.??"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "7"]
[EventCountry "AUS"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2016.03.14"]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 {Nigel is a staunch adherent of the advance variation
in the Caro Kann and the currently popular 4.Nf3 followed by Be2 system is
named after him.} c5 $5 {Izzat goes for this interesting variation trying to
get his opponent out of theory.} 4. c3 {Nigel chooses the most solid system.
Of course taking the pawn on c5 is more critical.} Nc6 5. Ne2 Bg4 6. Be3 {
Short has already played it twice against Granda Zuniga and Alexey Dreev in
the past.} e6 7. a3 Nge7 8. f3 Bf5 9. b4 cxd4 10. cxd4 Nc8 $1 {A very nice
manoeuvre trying to get to the c4 weakness.} 11. g4 Bg6 12. Bg2 $6 {This move
looks a tad dubious. It allows the knight to sit comfortably on c4 and the
bishop doesn't look so well placed on g2.} (12. Nf4 {It would have been better
to eliminate this bishop.}) 12... Nb6 13. O-O Nc4 14. Bf2 $5 {It is obvious
that Nigel saw Bxb1. But I think Bc1 was too depressing a move for him to make.
} Bxb1 15. Qxb1 (15. Rxb1 Nxa3 16. Rb3 Nc4 17. b5 N6a5 18. Rb1 {was another
way to play but after} Be7 {Black looks pretty good with the extra pawn.})
15... Nd2 {Black wins the exchange.} 16. Qd3 Nxf1 17. Rxf1 {For the deficit in
exchange, White has a clear plan of playing on the kingside with f4-f5. Of
course the compensation would not be enough but White has enough play to
create complications.} Be7 18. f4 Bh4 (18... O-O 19. Be3 {With the idea of f5
looks scary but Black can strike back with} f6 $5 20. exf6 Bxf6 21. b5 Na5 22.
f5 $5 {Weakening the d5 square.} exf5 23. Nf4 $1 $44 {This is exactly what
Nigel must have been looking for.}) 19. Be3 $1 {Keeping the bishops on the
board to muddy the waters in future.} Qe7 20. Bd2 {Threatening b5 followed by
Bb4.} a6 21. Kh1 {White tries to get his knight to f3 via g1 in order to break
f5.} (21. f5 $5) 21... Na7 22. Ng1 Qd8 $2 {The crucial mistake of the game.} (
22... h6 {Stopping g5 was important.}) 23. g5 $1 $16 {With the knight coming
to f3, the bishop on h4 is trapped.} h6 24. Qh3 (24. f5 $5 Bxg5 25. fxe6 fxe6
26. Qg6+ Kd7 27. Bxg5 hxg5 28. Rf7+ Kc8 29. Qxe6+ $18) 24... hxg5 25. fxg5 Qc7
26. Nf3 Qc2 27. Be1 Rc8 28. Nxh4 {From being materially down, White now has
two pieces for a rook.} Nb5 $2 (28... g6 {White is better but Black can fight
on.}) 29. g6 $1 Nxd4 30. gxf7+ Kd7 31. Qg4 g5 32. Qxd4 gxh4 33. Bxd5 {A topsy
turvy game which was won by Nigel thanks to his superior practical skills.} 1-0

 

In the last round, GM Short made sure of at least a tie for first with a draw against GM Illingworth on board one. On board two, former winner IM Brodie McClymont drew with GM Zhao to dash his hopes. On board three IM Izzat joined Short for the first place by beating IM Solomon, and IM Cheng made it a three-way tie by defeating yet another former winner FM Erik Teichmann.

With no tie-breaks, all three players were declared the joint winners of the 50th Ballarat Begonia Chess Tournament, and will have their names inscribed on the K.J.Perrin perpetual trophy.

      The winners : IM Bobby Cheng, IM Kanan Izzat, GM Nigel Short with the K.J.Perrin trophy                      

The organizing committee : Patrick Cook, Rob Loveband, Anna Yates, Kevin Perrin, Chris Segrave

Top 20 players of the tournament. For complete list of final standings please visit the official website.

GM Nigel Short’s victory completes the peripatetic Grandmaster’s quest to win a chess tournament on every inhabited continent...a remarkable achievement! For IM Kanan Izzat, it was three wins in a row, while for IM Bobby Cheng, former U-12 World Champion, it was his first Begonia title.

A short video celebrating 50 years (1967-2016) of Ballarat Begonia Chess Club's existence

About the author:

Patrick Cook has served as Ballarat Chess Club President since 1995. He has won the Ballarat Chess Club Championship a record 8 times.

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James Satrapa James Satrapa 4/6/2016 04:44
I think having three rounds in a day pretty much disqualifies an event from being FIDE rated.
Queenslander Queenslander 4/4/2016 10:11
A nice report of a popular Australian event that is legendary in Victoria but a strange decision to cram three rounds into one of the playing days and not FIDE-rate the event.
peter frost peter frost 4/4/2016 07:44
Bravo Ballarat Chess Club on your fantastic achievement. Many fond memories. And how nice to see a tournament appropriately concluded with joint winners (what on earth is wrong with that?) and not decided by a primitive quick play game.
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