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):
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:
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.
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: