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!