Thursday, 12 February 2015

2015 ANU Masters - Week 1

This years ANU Masters is a slightly slimmer version than in previous years. While the tournament has had strong support from IM's Andrew Brown and Junta Ikeda for the last 3 years, the lack of players rated just below them had left the tournament with  lopsided feel. External commitments for both players meant they were unable to play this year, so instead it has been reduced to an 8 player round robin.
One side effect of this is that it is a pretty wide open event. Less than 300 rating points separate the entire field, and the mixture of improving  and experienced players means that there may be more than a few upsets.
The first round saw two decisive games and two draws. The De Noskowski v Reading game saw De Noskowski gain a big advantage in the middle game, but Reading find a nice tactic to win back material. Rather than risk the sure half point, De Noskowski repeated the position for a draw. Harry Press lost some time in the opening against top seed Andrey Bliznyuk, and felt his position was worse. However he was able to dig in and made a timely draw offer as his position was getting better. Bliznyuk played a few more moves before realising things could start to go wrong and returned the offer.
Victor Braguine started his first Masters with a win over Alana Chibnall. In a messy position Victor seemed to have an edge with more active bishops, but Chibnall should have had more faith in her pieces. Instead she played a couple of dubious moves and collapsed quite quickly. The Litchfield Patterson game saw a large amount of patient maneuvering, and for a long time it looked like it would end up as a draw. However Patterson put a piece on a wrong square, and Litchfield could win a pawn. Once the pawn went, Patterson's position was likely to fall apart as well, so he resigned rather than drag the game out.

De Noskowski,Adrian (1708) - Reading,Jeremy (1894)
2015 ANU Masters Canberra AUS (1.3), 11.02.2015

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