A big congratulations to IM James Morris for winning the Melbourne Chess Club Championship with a magnificent score of 8.5/9. James joins a list of Victoria's who's who in chess terms, winning with a commanding 1.5 point margin. Coming equal second were IM Mirko Rujevic, and Hoai Nam Nguyen who scored 7/9, both having played well against strong fields. I came in fourth with 6.5, and a large group finished half a point behind on 6. The most notable finisher in this group was Tristan Krstevski, the teenager scoring way above his rating, while the group half a point behind included WCM Sarah Anton, who won her last 3 games in a strong finish. The top player under 1400 was young Jody Middleton who also had a strong finish winning her final 2 games to finish on half points, 4.5.
It was a well run tournament by both the committee, and the arbiter IA Kerry Stead. The tournament was played in a friendly spirit but with great competitiveness, which was borne out by the amount of upsets each round. The MCC were fortunate to gain some strong juniors from Box Hill Chess Club after their move from Canterbury. If they remain at the MCC players like Zhi Lin Guo, David Cannon, William Maligin and Jody Middleton will soon be challenging the top players, much like MCC juniors IM Ari Dale and FM Jack Puccini etc.
I'm pretty happy with my performance. I lost a tough game in the last round to Hoai Nam Nguyen who played excellently against me and deserved the victory. There was one point of the game that was a bit confusing to me, though. We reached the following position where I have a problem of a bad bishop against a good knight.
At this point I stopped the clock and claimed a draw by repetition of positions. I called the arbiter over and was told that the claim was illegal and that it only stood as a draw offer. and that the claim by repetition of positions didn't count. To be correct, I had to write my intended move down, then stop the clock, and then claim the draw without actually making the move. To be honest, I couldn't believe it, as it seems counter intuitive to the whole procedure. First, one usually makes a draw offer after making a move, while secondly the position hadn't been repeated 3 times until I'd made my move. So as an ignorant player, I naturally felt that I had to complete the process of the repetitions for a claim to be made.
Alas, I was wrong. I never doubted Kerry's knowledge of the rules, and finished the game which Hoai won in excellent, and deserved style. But the rule seems so ridiculous to me, and counter intuitive to the way the game has been played. Rules are meant to be designed to assist in our play, to clarify situations, not to make things more confusing. I will certainly adhere to this rule in the future for as long as it exists, but it doesn't mean I agree with it. Hopefully, my experience will help others to understand a law and make the correct claim in the future, as I'm guessing there are a lot of players out there who don't know about this particular rule. I could go on about this and other issues, but I'll save that for another blog.