Solomon wins NQ Open 2016

As Townsville Chess Club’s premier event, the North Queensland Open was stepped up a notch this year with a total prize pool of $1,600 and a new venue in the city. Thanks go to our sponsors and financial supporters which include the Townsville City Council, Gardiner Chess, and the Chess Association of Queensland. We also appreciate the work of Vetta Productions, who created the promotional material.

The tournament brought in a number of travelling players this year, from Mackay, the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, and even Canberra. In fact, our three entrants from Brisbane (IM Stephen Solomon, IM Brodie McClymont, and CAQ president Mark Stokes) walked away with overall first, second, and third respectively! From a pool of 26 registrations there were also a good number of junior players, which is encouraging, as well as a handful of unrated players with some competing in their first chess tournament. Also great to see. The event itself was fun and well-contested, with a lively atmosphere and some nice touches provided by the Hotel Grand Chancellor staff.

Here is a selection of great photos which I lifted from the club’s Facebook page (more photos on Facebook):

[foogallery id=”1805″]

Day one of the tournament immediately brought upsets and tough fights. Right from round one Mark Vucak (1688) was set back after an uncharacteristic blunder against unrated Wilbur Donovan. Stephen Solomon (2425) was paired with Hikaru Oka (1284), which looked like it ought to be a swift rout on paper, although I was interested to see it since Hikaru (at only 12 years of age) had given some of our better local club players a tough time at the Mackay Open earlier this year. Wandering over to the game, I saw that while Hikaru was worse after having lost two pieces for a rook, he was certainly making a real game out of it, which was a brilliant effort. In the next two rounds Wilbur continued his resourceful play, where he should have beaten me in round 2 (but let the win slip away), and also conjured a miracle draw against Mark Stokes (from memory at one point being three pawns down basically for nothing). Under 1600 winner Brendan Pierotti (1360) had an excellent tournament, defeating Hossein Ghodosi (1700) in round 2, and drawing against David Castor (2102) in round 3.

Day two started with the game that had the potential to determine the winner of the tournament, the clash between the two IMs:
[Event “North Queensland Open”]
[Site “Hotel Grand Chancellor”]
[Date “2016.08.07”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Solomon, Stephen J”]
[Black “McClymont, Brodie”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[BlackElo “2463”]
[ECO “B94”]
[EventDate “2016.08.06”]
[TimeControl “60 minutes + 10 seconds / move”]
[WhiteElo “2425”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 { The Najdorf Sicilian, a
well-known favourite of Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov, and lately Maxime
Vachier-Lagrave} 6. Bg5 Nbd7 7. Bc4 Qb6 8. Bb3 e6 9. f4 Be7 10. f5 Nc5 11.
fxe6 fxe6 12. Be3 Qc7 13. Qf3 O-O 14. Qh3 { An aggressive looking move,
although the computer is not happy about it} 14… d5 15. exd5 Nxb3 16. axb3
Nxd5 ( 16… exd5 { The players agreed after the game that exd5 would give
black the advantage.} 17. Qg3 Bd6 18. Qg5 h6 19. Qg6 Qe7 { The bishop on e3 is
stuck, so white has to retreat with the queen.} 20. Qd3 Ng4 $1 21. Nxd5 Qf7 {
There are lots of interesting lines, but black has too much activity} )17.
Nxd5 exd5 18. Qh5 { White’s game is much more free in this line (when compared
with 16…exd5)} 18… Bb4+ { Forcing the issue. At first Stockfish thinks
this is -1.00, but soon finds the draw} ( 18… Qd6 19. O-O-O { another way
the game could have gone} )19. c3 ( 19. Bd2 $4 { is not possible} 19… Bxd2+
20. Kxd2 Qf4+ 21. Kd3 Qe4+ 22. Kd2 { black can take a piece, but also has Rf2+
and Bg4} )19… Bxc3+ 20. bxc3 Qxc3+ 21. Ke2 { This looks scary, but black has
to make a draw} 21… Qb2+ 22. Kd3 Bf5+ $1 { The knight on d4 is doing an
excellent defensive job, so it is removed by a neat sacrifice. Anything else is
apparently better for white (although it doesn’t look so easy).} 23. Nxf5
Qxb3+ 24. Kd2 ( 24. Ke2 $2 Qc2+ { oops} 25. Ke1 Rxf5 { there are too many
threats, and the white king can never escape} )( 24. Kd4 $4 { would be
suicidal} 24… Qc4+ 25. Ke5 Qe4+ 26. Kd6 Rfd8+ 27. Kc7 Qc4+ 28. Kb6 Qb5+ 29.
Kc7 Rac8# )24… Qb2+ 25. Kd3 Qb3+ 1/2-1/2

The second day also saw continued upsets, with Brendan Pierotti once again performing well against a higher rated opponent in his win over Mark Vucak. Hikaru Oka also drew with Ricky Wong (1614), a great result against a sharp tactical player. An instructive endgame came up in my game against Roy Seabrook (1696), which seemed a perfect fit for Tartakower’s commentary;

A game of chess has three phases: the opening, where you hope you stand better; the middlegame, where you think you stand better; and the ending, where you know you stand to lose.
–Savielly Tartakower

[Event “North Queensland Open”]
[Site “Hotel Grand Chancellor”]
[Date “2016.08.07”]
[Round “5”]
[White “O’Shaughnessy, David”]
[Black “Seabrook, Roy”]
[Result “0-1”]
[BlackElo “1696”]
[ECO “C00”]
[EventDate “2016.08.06”]
[TimeControl “60 minutes + 10 seconds (Fischer)”]
[WhiteElo “1680”]

1. e4 e6 2. b3 { This is the Reti/Spielmann variation, which I usually only play in
blitz. Still, since nobody plays it, it can’t be too bad.} 2… d5 3. Bb2 dxe4
4. Nc3 Nf6 5. g4 Be7 6. Bg2 e5 7. h3 Nc6 8. Nxe4 Nd5 9. Ne2 Be6 10. a3 Nd4 11.
Bxd4 exd4 12. Nxd4 Nf4 13. Nxe6 Nxg2+ 14. Kf1 fxe6 15. Kxg2 O-O 16. Qe2 { With the extra pawn, I
wanted to keep the knight on e4 and play d3 and f3, but didn’t quite get around
to it} 16… Bh4 17. Rae1 ( 17. f3 Qd7 18. d3 { even though all the pawns are
on light squares, it seems like the knight on e4 and the pawn plus compensate,
and black can’t get too much going.} )17… Qd5 18. Qc4 $4 { a ridiculous
oversight, even more so considering I played it so quickly! I felt quite sure I
was playing for a win until just after I hit the clock, when Rxf2+ finally
dawned on me.} ( 18. Rhf1 $16)18… Rxf2+ 19. Kg1 Qxc4 ( 19… Rf4
{ is even stronger} 20. Re2 Raf8 21. Qxd5 exd5 22. Nc3 c6 { a very sad position
for white} )20. bxc4 Rxd2 21. Nxd2 Bxe1 22. Ne4 Rf8 23. Kg2 Bh4 24. Rf1 Rxf1
25. Kxf1 { Now black is a clean (passed) pawn up, white has a worse structure, and
the bishop should be superior to the knight} 25… Be7 26. c5 Kf7 27. Ke2 e5
28. Kd3 Ke6 29. Kc4 h6 30. Ng3 g6 31. Ne4 Bh4 32. a4 Be1 $6 { This move appears
to be sound, keeping the knight and pawns under check. But it actually hands
white a draw, and the possibility to play for a win if black is careless!} 33.
g5 $2 { but this isn’t the way} ( 33. c6 $1 bxc6 ( 33… b6 $6 34. Kb5 Kd5 (
34… g5 35. c4 $1 { a strong move, shutting the black king out. Now white is
playing for a win} ) 35. Nf6+ Kd4 36. Ne8 e4 37. Nxc7 { the c pawn is very
fast} 37… Ke5 38. Ne8 Ke6 39. Nf6 $1 Kd6 40. Nxe4+ $18 { an amazing
transformation} )34. Kc5 Kd7 ( 34… Ba5)35. Nf6+ Ke6 36. Ne4 )33… hxg5 34.
Nxg5+ Kf5 35. Nf7 Bh4 36. Kd5 e4 37. Nh6+ Kf4 38. Ng4 e3 39. Nxe3 {desperation}
Kxe3 40. Ke6 Ke4 41. Kd7 Bg3 42. Kc8 b6 43. Kb7 bxc5 44. Kxa7 Be1
45. Ka6 Kf3 46. Kb5 Kg3 { Black can sac the bishop for the a pawn and win
easily with the g pawn} 0-1

In the final round, as each game came to a close, one last surprise result was possible on board 2. David Castor (2102) was an exchange up against Brodie McClymont (2463), and a win for David would have left three players vying for second place on 4.5 points (McClymont, Castor, and Stokes). As players gathered to watch the tension was palpable. However, after a period of tense manoeuvring David finally offered a draw, and in a worse position with 2nd place secured, Brodie accepted and the tournament was wrapped up with the following winners:

  • 1st overall (North Queensland Champion): IM Stephen Solomon
  • 2nd overall: IM Brodie McClymont
  • Highest under 1800: Mark Stokes
  • Highest under 1600: Brendan Pierotti
  • Highest unrated: Siju Joseph
  • 1st junior: Hikaru Oka
  • 2nd junior: Luka Fon
  • 3rd junior: Aaditya Chavan

The presentations went down well (full results here), with some nice words from the various prize winners. After that, a handful of players went down to the pub, of course for some blitz. Thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to making it such an enjoyable event. We hope to see you all there again next year! To finish up, here a couple of miniatures from the final round:
[Event “North Queensland Open”]
[Site “Hotel Grand Chancellor”]
[Date “2016.08.07”]
[Round “6”]
[White “Stokes, Mark C”]
[Black “Pierotti, Brendan”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackElo “1360”]
[ECO “D00”]
[EventDate “2016.08.06”]
[WhiteElo “1540”]

{ With notes from Mark} 1. d4 d5 2. e3 e6 3. Bd3 Nf6 4. Nd2 c6 { This triangle defence makes me
determined to go for a Stonewall formation with f4 as Black will need to play
…. c5 later and he has spent a tempo with …. c6} 5. f4 Nbd7 6. Ngf3 Bd6 7.
Ne5 c5 8. c3 Bxe5 9. fxe5 Ng8 { Black has now virtually lost another tempo. I
considered 10 Qg4 now, but decided to castle instead.} 10. O-O h5 11. Qf3 Qe7
12. e4 cxd4 13. cxd4 Nb6 14. a4 dxe4 15. Nxe4 f5 { Now I had to decide between
the very tempting and good 16 Nd6+ or to open the game up now with an en
passant capture.} 16. exf6 Nxf6 17. Nxf6+ Qxf6 18. Qe4 Qe7 19. Qg6+ Kd7 20.
Rf7 1-0

[Event “North Queensland Open”]
[Site “Hotel Grand Chancellor”]
[Date “2016.08.07”]
[Round “6”]
[White “Hellman, Oscar”]
[Black “O’Shaughnessy, David”]
[Result “0-1”]
[BlackElo “1680”]
[ECO “D00”]
[EventDate “2016.08.06”]
[TimeControl “60 minutes + 10 seconds (Fischer)”]
[WhiteElo “1391”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. e3 d5 3. Bd3 c6 4. Nd2 Bg4 5. Ngf3 Nbd7 6. h3 Bh5 7. O-O e5 { I
felt there was something a bit dubious about this, but I couldn’t see what it
was and I wanted to move the game quickly anyway} 8. dxe5 ( 8. e4 $1 { is
probably better for white and quite sensible, since black has been slow in
castling} )8… Nxe5 9. Be2 Nxf3+ 10. Nxf3 Bd6 11. Bd2 Ne4 12. Rc1 Bc7 { Fairly
transparent, but I was tired and wanted to try for a checkmate on h2} 13. c4
Qd6 14. g4 $2 { not good, but understandable since Bxf3 was threatened} ( 14.
c5 $1 { was the way to get rid of the threat} 14… Nxc5 15. g4 { and now
there is no Ng4} 15… Bxg4 16. hxg4 h5 17. g5 Qe6 18. Rxc5 Qg4+ 19. Kh1 Qh3+
20. Kg1 Qg4+ )14… Ng5 15. Re1 { trying to make some space for the king}
15… Nxh3+ 16. Kf1 Nxf2 $1 17. Kxf2 ( 17. Qc2 { at least holds on, but is not
much fun} 17… Qg3 18. Bb4 ( 18. gxh5 Nh1 )18… Bxg4 )17… Qg3+ 18. Kf1
Bxg4 { Mate is threatened on h3, and white has only one piece for the defence}
19. Ng1 Bh3+ 20. Nxh3 Qxh3+ { now there are no pieces for the defence} 21. Kg1
( 21. Kf2 Qh2+ 22. Kf1 ( 22. Kf3 Qg3# )22… Bg3 )21… Bh2+ 22. Kf2 Qg3+ 0-1

4 thoughts on “Solomon wins NQ Open 2016”

  1. Absolutely! We will definitely be aiming to be back there next year. We’ve got a Bunnings fundraiser coming up in October to make sure we have some pennies in the bank for it.


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