Chess Kids State Finals
We’re here once again at the Hungarian Club. Tim is talking through the protocols, reminding the kids no sledging is allowed. Only in Australia…!
We are Candlebark,
We are smart and we are cunning.
We set traps,
We look out for traps,
We never give up,
We are Candlebark!
There are 140 tables here today, only players with some regional success are invited. There will be no easy games. Cosi quick and strong, Anthony apparently tricked into playing a fast game, and losing… Sev a good win, Lucas too easy apparently. Ned loses to a 1200 player, whilst Henry has a win. Red with a big win against a blundering 800+: they’re only human.
Anthony with a settling win. Eva up, but blunders a rook, and is annoyed with herself. The next game is more important now. Cosi stumbles to a fortuitous win, Ewan a win as well. Lucas doing battle, slow and measured against a 1200+ player. She’s so calm….
Sasha upset to have lost his game, castling himself into trouble. Something you cannot do against an 800+.
Anthony unlucky. Red chased into check. But Cosi rolling on. Our team need four big scorers and as many wins against other schools big numbers to get through. It’s going to be very tight today.
Ned off the mark, and Eva! Great stuff.
Draco has another win, he can feel the pressure building! Sasha happy to win as well.
I’ve just seen Draco beat a 1000+ player! That is huge for him, us and the team! Brilliant!
Ok, I’ve just had a chance to watch an Om game finish. One of the last to finish of the round. Both with queens and a rook and some pawns. She’s actually losing on pawns and being chased around check, both down to 40 odd seconds. One blunder by the opponent, costs her a queen, which isn’t always spotted in that sort of pressure. Om takes over and wins a brilliant game!
Om up against it again. The 1200+ that Lucas fought last round. A really good effort against her, and a little unlucky to lose, forfeiting with ten seconds left and a knight down. Meanwhile Lucas with the best result of his career: beating a 1240+!! Now to keep him a little calm for the next game… Draco a little disappointed to lose, but these things will happen. Next game bounce matters now. Anthony feeling uncomfortable in his slowness and not getting the usual results: I’ve unleashed the speedster.
Just over the halfway mark. It’s quite hot, a little tiring. Stamina and attitude come into it now. Please let our cross country flow into our bodies and minds. Ewan a quick win, Anthony smiling again. Lucas unlucky to lose a good game, Cosi succumbs, Henry with another big win, and Om too.
There is no escape. Every round harder and harder. One big result leads to a harder game…
Red loses to a 700, forgetting a variant on the 4 move.
We’ve just had a couple of good runs outside, let’s see how it goes inside.
Early wins for Aidan, Ned…I’m struggling to write this up while wandering around, and becoming increasingly uptight!
Great results. At this time of day, to play this well this far into the day is a testimony to these kids resolve. Simply tremendous. Every game is against a far higher ranked player!
The last one…..So proud, so nervous.
I can hardly breathe: the heat, the tension. We’re in seventh, needing our top players to score points, and all of them, I think, is up against a higher ranked opposition. We need to spot their mistakes and pounce.
Finally, two days later, I can finish this: we’re through to the Nationals, finishing in 8th! Sev and Sasha wandered back with the two points we needed to get into the finals! Only the top 4 scores are counted, and all the other points for the team, are steals off the other teams’ top fours. So many huge results to look back on.
You can follow all these tournaments, live, on www.tornelo.com it’s like following the cricket, but slower…
All the best,
- Andy Moffat
Chess Victoria Semi-Finals
A new and exciting tournament at Marcellin College for us to do. Unfortunately most of the usual suspects are here: Balwyn, Doncaster and I’m a little excited to say, my old school Spensley Street! None of the kids recognise me, it’s been that long.
9.55 and we’re off. 24 schools competing for 8 places, top 5 of each team making up the score. Penny in early with a smile. Have I mentioned she only began chess this year? Her father and I both discussing the relative merits of nature nurture….As fellow Liverpool fans, we’ve agreed it’s a bit of both. Liam sacrificing a rook for a back-rank. Henry A happy too. Aidan exchanges to a king pawn win. Lucas a little melancholy for a first round loss. It has been a huge couple of days…(Soirees, state finals). Other wins trickle in. First round is always a little lopsided. I’m watching a kid from Melbourne Montessori in a tee shirt against a blazer from a school of future bankers. There’s a cluster of blazers with braces basically browbeating him, commenting on the game, reacting to moves. (I dislike them immensely already). I get Leonid to move them on. I’m watching the brains of the school throwing a down ball over the balcony to see if it bounces back up. It doesn’t, and they’re off chasing like kelpies.
I’ve instructed the team to particularly focus against any kid in a blazer. It’s childish, but then perhaps that’s why I enjoy teaching primary. They’ve just announced that you’re not allowed to use your phone while you’re playing. I’m dying here. Draco table one, playing into the well-practiced opening of the Balwyn player. Om table two doing battle, Acer table three losing. Cosi table five, getting a resignation forced by a fork….weird. Will a loss. Liam caught with a bishop fork (not spotting it when the sacrifice was offered, a little slack). Henry A wins. Sev with a solid win, advancing his pawns. Lucas with a smile. Draco still fighting, hard, but he’s four pawns down. I’d suggest a resignation against a very strong player is allowed, keeping your powder dry for later. Henry having a horribly close game. There’s something unfair about watching last night’s drummer having to fight this one out. WOW! Just WOW! He’s only gone and fought back from a rook down to win with one second on the clock!! That was amazing!
Oscar unfortunately loses to a four move variant! He’s upset with himself, but accepts a friendly against the opponent. Aidan with a fortunate win. They shook and recorded it, before it was realised that it wasn’t… Draco walks over quickly to tell me he’s beaten a blazer. We smile, a shared understanding of getting one over on the man. A few loses, some wins. We’re handling the ups and downs well. Henry A is looking tired, he played in the state yesterday, and the soiree. I’m a bad man. And Henry B has been sucked into an even harder game. He’s going to be shattered by the end of this. He loses on time, in a really tight game. After a previous almost-out-of-time game, he’s going to trust his first idea a little more, and double check it a little less. Naturally this actually might work against him, but we’ll see.
Surrounded by playing fields the size of the MCG, listening to ice fall into the ice making machine, reduced to drinking Nescafe with UHT milk. Money, money everywhere, and not a cent to spare… The boy on table one (who beat Draco) is now getting up and wandering around mid-game, he’s that bored with it all….winning, set positions, openings, closings. Where is he? Henry B has a loss. Henry A has a loss, but Oscar is grinning. Penny loses by fouling for a second move. This is a crap rule at this age. She was in check, didn’t know it (you don’t have to declare it) and moved another piece. Really silly rule, costing us the point, and I’d argue not really in the spirit of the game. Doesn’t look like they’re going to change the rule for me. Om’s just played “the worst game ever”. This may have been a bridge too far for the little ones….
OK, we need to lift a little now. Some of us are performing, some of us are not. We’ve just had some chips and dips and a bit of a run to blow the cobwebs out. Liam, Penny and Om with some quick results. Henry A too. Draco in the end game to hell. Over and over, waiting for one of them to crack. The opponent’s clock being run down. It’s doing my head in, and I’m just watching. He stays patient and gets the point.
Cosi puts in an enormous effort on table one against the tournament favourite. He’s probably going to lose on a zuzwang: a forced move. I’m so impressed by his attitude and even more so, that he realises he could have got a draw with a different end move, and he’s not even beating himself up! This is a big step up. Brilliant. Then to cap it off, Lucas appears with a smile and a win right at the end of the match: he’s just won the hardest game of his life with a rook and a knight!
Two chunks of chocolate each, and away we go! Last round, and we’re in with a shout of another state final….
It was a slightly nervy ending, but we finished fourth, although raced off before confirmation. Great to see a new name at the top: Draco hasn’t had this solid a result in a while, and lovely to see Lucas back in the top group too. We’re into another State Final! Not bad with 160 eligible kids in the whole school….!
- Andy Moffat
Chess Victoria Final
Our top five against Balwyn North’s top five on their home ground, and one of the favourites to get to the state final. Tough! So proud of the team, they all played their clocks down to almost zero, and each game was genuinely close for a little, but quality edges us out, and it’s a five nil loss. And yet I am really pleased with how that went. Cosi close to a draw, Draco causing trouble, Lucas fighting back on points to lose on time, Om and Henry unlucky in the middle games.
Buninyong School this time, and hopefully a better round. A very good bounce back by the team. It should have been 5-0 but Henry, who is visibly a little under the weather, blunders his rook in the end game, which is a shame as he deserved a win. Cosi plays a very nice controlled game, opening up the castled king, and laying pressure on with his rook and queen. Om cool and calm and winning. Lucas beaming on table five, while Draco never seemed in trouble, but after the first round flogging, it’s an impressive return. 4-1
St Andrew’s this round. All wearing the Scottish St Andrew’s cross on their jumpers. It’s going to be hard for me to decide who to support. Henry is having a rest from table four, Lucas steps up a table and Sasha sits in table five. I think they’re enjoying this style of tournament. Cosi is extremely unlucky to not spot a check he’s in, touch his rook, and be forced to move it and lose it and consequently the whole game. He’s extremely disappointed. But again we win 4-1.
Banyule this round on table 5. Sasha with another quick fried liver opening leading to another (rather fast) win. Lucas runs out of time on a tight game, as does Cosi….
But Draco and then Om both get results, and it’s a 3-2 win to the goodies!
Special mention to our hard man Cosi. Every game up against the strongest player at another school, and taking it for the team, soaking up their intellectual hits and allowing the four beneath to flourish, and this really where our strength in depth is showing. Tables 3-5 have been ours so far!
Now up to table four, and Mount View. It’s getting quite serious now. I’ve half promised a slurpee from 7/11 if we crack the top five. I’ve also told them this National Final is played in Adelaide…
We may have hit the glass ceiling here. Cosi a wee blunder to lose a losing game, Lucas annoyed with himself, Sasha an early blunder, and Draco, not sure. But Om! Well played, winning her game on time. 1-4 loss. But all the opponents are in the thousands apparently.
Our Redeemer up next which does sound promising to be honest. I spoke too soon! It’s looking like a 3-2 loss. Cosi up against some 1200+er is picked slowly apart again. Om looks like a win, and Draco has done it again. Lucas and Henry struggling on tables 4 and 5 though. Well down on time.
Christ Church next….
Their one and two players are ranked very high, but the other three are weaker. Om and Cosi battle away but lose, whilst Henry, Sasha and Draco pick up the other points to give us a 3-2 in the last round. Very proud of the team particularly Cosi who has never had to experience a 1-6 day.
- Andy Moffat