The Western Australian Interschool Chess Championships was run by Kids Unlimited and played online on Tornelo. There were two divisions, a Primary event and a Secondary event. In both divisions, the winners were clear of the rivals, though the fight for second place was very close.
Carmel Primary won the Primary division scoring the only perfect score in any State Final this year, their top 4 players all scoring 9/9! There was then then only 2.5 points dividing the other 3 schools with Mt Barker Community College taking second place.
Perth Modern took out the Secondary title with a round to spare, but second placed Leeming Senior High only finished a point ahead of Wesley College.
In Tornelo we can see who played the biggest upset wins in the event. A biggest upset win is scored over someone who's opponent was rated higher than them. In the Primary division, Samuel Bunker of Kendenup Primary produced the biggest upset winning against a player rated 192 points more than him. Funnily enough his opponent also had a great result, scoring the second biggest upset in the tournament! In this position both players have broken some rules about how we should best play the opening. Queens shouldn't move out too early, and knights don't like the edge of the board. Samuel was White, and he was able to break through to Black's weak spot f7 by removing the defender 1.Bxh6 Qxh6 2.Qxf7. If Black's knight had been on its best square, f6, then this would not have been possible! This great start helped Samuel to his great win!
The general standard of play in the daily Chess @ 4 tournaments run by Kids Unlimited has really increased throughout the year. The players are working on their game and improving all aspects of it. There is deeper understanding of openings and knowledge of traps, more middlegame pattern recognition and strategic understanding, and even some endgame knowledge more than the basic checkmates.
New players need to adapt fast. First they must learn how to think quickly as the time limit is only 4 + 2. Secondly, they need to bring some weapons into their games that will help them beat those players with more experience. This has led to the increase in strength of all players.
It is now not good enough for the young players to know the 4 move checkmate or the Fried Liver. They have to be aware of a lot of traps in the opening. Here's an example.
The same players played another game in the week with the same opening, with different plans and a different result. You can learn some theory, and see the game here.
Today was the state finals for Tasmanian Interschool Chess Championship. The tournament played online on Tornelo and had a Primary and Secondary division which were both hotly contested.
The Primary division had 74 players from 8 schools and after about 5 of the 9 rounds it became a two team race between Mind Moves and Princes Street. These teams were neck and neck until the last few rounds when finally Mind Moves pulled away and ended winning by 2.5 points, a pretty close race.
The Secondary contest was even closer with 6 of the 8 teams still in with a chance after the first six rounds. In the end The Hutchins School proved victorious claiming the title by just 1 point from Mind Moves. In both Primary and Secondary competitions Scotch Oakburn came a close third with their two teams scoring exactly the same score in both divisions, 23.5.
There were a lot of improving players in the event but the best overall improver was Joey Cavanagh of St Virgil's College who was the biggest improver of the 54 competitors in the Secondary event. As White in this position, Joey had set up a nice Discovered Check by putting his queen on the same file as Black's king. The game continued 1.Nc4+ Be7 Black smartly blocked with their bishop that had just been attacked. However, now the bishop is pinned which allowed Joey to play a little sequence to win Black's queen! A very nice little combination which you solve and the answer you can see here!
Today was the last day of Victorian Interschool Chess Finals week, with a Girls Only event. Girls Chess in Victoria is in a pretty good place with a number of strong players across all age groups. Unfortunately the tournament suffered a little in participant numbers due to the fact that when it was organised earlier in the year today wasn't a public holiday in Victoria. But it was still a great event dominated by the girls from Glendal Primary who won the event. Glendal's girls put up a great fight in the Open Primary on Tuesday finishing second, and the top 4 players from that performance showed their class again today.
With the top five finishers Glendal won the event comfortably, but there was a tremendous fight for second place with the positions changing many times over the course of the Finals. In the end, Alamanda College clinched the Runner's Up spot with one of the youngest teams.
During the week there has been over 2300 games played in the various finals tournaments, and I've looked through hundreds of them, but it was today that I was most impressed by a game that displayed creative elements of attack and defence.
White was top seed Angela Feng of Glendal who has won material, though she must have received a big shock when Black played the typical "Greek Bishop Sacrifice" 1..Bxh2+. Prisha Rewel of Huntingtower had a good tournament and it is no wonder if she is thinking of advanced attacking themes like this! The idea is that after 2.Kxh2 Ng4+ 3.Kg1 Qh4 Black is looking to checkmate on h2 with their queen. Do you think White has a defence or not? Check out the full game here!
This week has been Victorian Interschool Chess Finals week. Today the oldest kids, the Secondary players of years 7-12, competed. The Victorian Open Secondary Chess Championship saw over 150 kids from over 20 schools fighting it out. In the end Mazenod College made up for their disappointment the day before in the Middle Years tournament, to take the title comfortably. Mazenod were 6 points clear in the end, and the fight was really for second and third places, and that was very close with De La Salle taking silver, and St Michael's getting Bronze. But there was only 2.5 points separating second from seventh place!
The joint winners of the event both came from the winning school, with Jackie Li and Duleesha Gunaratne scoring 8.5/9. These two excellent players gave up only one draw each during the event, spearheading the victory for Mazenod. But those draws were both very different.
Jackie Li dominated this game, and perhaps was taking it too easy, and perhaps was also short on time, but Black was allowed to escape with a stalemate! Black here played 1..b5, the only move! Can you see Black's best move? Jackie took the pawn 2.cxb5 and after 2..Kxd5 he pushed his pawn to 3.f4 but this was stalemate! A let off for Black, and a dropped half point for the tournament winner.
On the other hand, Duleesha as Black had been a little outplayed by the day's biggest improver, Luca Scholes-Robertson from Luther College. This is a very difficult endgame, especially when you have little time, but a good thing to remember is that passed pawns must be pushed. The way to win for White was to push the a-pawn distracting Black's rook from attacking White's king side. But Luca traded pawns and ended with just the h-pawn which Duleesha was able to block. See this fascinating endgame here.
Both these endgames show that it is important to never give up, to fight to the end of the game, especially when there is little time left!
It's Victorian Interschool Chess Finals week and today saw the Middle Years Competition in action. This tournament sees a top end of Primary years added to the lower High School years. It encompasses kids in years 5-9 which is great as Primary players get a chance to compete with Secondary players rather than being thrown straight into the older group, and years 7-9 have a competition where they aren't having to compete with older kids from High School.
While it might sound like a half-way house competition, the Middle Years event has been extremely popular, and very competitive. Previous winners of the Victorian Middle Years event have included Bobby Cheng who is now a Grand Master and Ari Dale who is now an International Master!
Todays tournament made history as it was won by a Primary School, with only years 5 and 6 players. Balwyn North Primary won a very close competition by just 1 point from St Michael's while the defending champions, Mazenod were a further half point back in third place. Just to show how strong Primary School chess is in Victoria, Balwyn North only came third in yesterday's Primary Finals!
Leonard Goodison was the event winner scoring an incredible 8.5/9. Leonard comes from regional Victoria and this may be one of Ballarat's best results. In this position Leonard is White and has a lot of pressure. If you were Black what would you play in defence of your position? Black actually played 1..Bd7 but this was a mistake which allowed mate in 3. Can you see how White would win?
After yesterday's Junior Primary event, today came the turn of the full Primary division at the Victorian State Interschool Championships run by Kids Unlimited. And we witnessed one of the most thrilling finals tournaments that we can remember. Over the 9 rounds the score changed many times with four schools all having the lead at one point. In the end, the 2020 Victorian Interschool Chess Champions are Glen Waverley Primary!
In the final round, the final game to finish was between players from the two leading schools and through the arbiters Zoom meeting, everyone followed the game which decided the tournament!
There were lots of excellent individual performances with players of different levels doing their best for their schools. The game that interested me most was between the tournament's top individual scorer, Rheyansh Annapureddy (Saltwater College 8.5/9) and the third place getter of the event, Malhaar Mehta (Balwyn Primary 7.5/9). Their encounter was a really tough fight that either side could have won with a slight change of moves.
Malhaar as Black has built up a strong position with a good central pawn wall, an excellent rook on the f-file and a bishop that is eyeing up White's king through the centre. Black has a couple of tempting looking moves here: 1..Nc5 hitting the queen and getting ready to advance the central pawns: 1..Rxf3, an exchange sacrifice that brings White's king into the centre. But Malhaar tried 1..d4 which allowed Rheyansh as White to give up his rook for two pieces. 2.Rxe4 Bxe4 3.Qxe4. The game moved on a couple of moves to the next position.
White's pieces are in excellent position and Rheyansh made no mistake in finishing the game off here. 1.Ng5 forking Black's queen and the h7 square. 1..Qh6 2.Qd5+ Kh8 3.Nef7+ forking king and queen and opening the e-file! 3..Kg8 4.Rxe8# Not even bothering to take the queen! See the full game here.
Since lockdown started in Victoria, Australia, Kids Unlimited have been running online events, and one of the most popular has been Chess @ 4. This is a 5 round swiss event running Monday to Friday at 4:00pm during the school terms here in Victoria. We have now run over 100 of these events!
But thanks to Victoria's success at fighting Covid, schools have returned and we realise that some kids might not be able to get home at 4:00pm so for this month we are also running Chess @ 5, exactly the same but just starting an hour later at 5:00pm. For this month, all subscribers for one event can play in both events, so that's double the practice for the same small cost!
After October, we will return to just one event, but we want to include our players in the decision as to which event is best. After all, we are running these events for all of you. So you can support either Chess @ 4 or Chess @ 5 by playing in your favourite time slot, adding a comment to this blog, or sending your ideas to Kids Unlimited.
Meanwhile, here's my favourite checkmate of the week, from the player who was probably the player of the week, Michael Ooi. Last week Michael won every Chess @ 5 event, and 2 of the Chess @ 4 Premier events.
Michael is Black and has built a big attack on the king side. I'll start the week easy for you all as there's a mate in 1 in this position.
Black to play and mate in 1 move
This week sees the Victorian Junior Interschool Finals for chess over different sections. Today was the Junior Primary event, a tournament for players of Grade 3 or below. It was a fiercely competitive event with only 4 points splitting the top 6 schools! The lead changed lots of times throughout the event, but in the end the winners were Doncaster Gardens Primary School!
The top scorer of the day was Glendal Primary's Deethya Sai Katakam who scored an amazing 9/9. Deethya played very solidly, and once she was ahead in material, she finished the games off fairly easily. There were some big fights for her.
Deethya is White and has just played b4 attacking Black's bishop. This bishop doesn't have many safe squares, so see if you can save it. You can see if Black managed to save their bishop, and check your own ideas here.
State Finals week continues tomorrow with the Primary Division followed by Secondary events on Wednesday and Thursday, and a Girls Only tournament on Friday. These are shaping up to be great tournaments. There are already close to 200 players in tomorrow's Primary finals!
Chess @ 4 is a series of tournaments that Kids Unlimited have been running on the Tornelo platform since April when Australia went into lockdown making online chess the only way to keep in practice. Since the start I've run most of the tournaments, and seen thousands of games. I've seen lots of regular checkmates, tactics, and endgames, some interesting strategies, and some unusual ideas. But this week I saw one of the most unusual positions of all!
This was the final position in a game this week with Michael Iurovetski playing White. It's an incredible checkmate delivered by the knight on h5, which is already an unusual type of mate. But there are another two knights also on the h-file! Remember, knights don't like the edge of the board, they prefer the centre. So do most of the other pieces, but every piece (except Black's king) is sat on an edge of the board. If it was just a couple of pieces, I could understand, but I'm not sure I've seen a position where so many pieces were on an edge, eight pieces in total if White's king isn't included!
White has obviously built a big lead in material and you can see how here.