Sunday 7 January 2018

2018 Australian Championship - Day 5

The final round before the rest day saw players on the top 2 boards taking a pre-rest rest. Both games were drawn pretty quickly leaving GM Max Illingworth (5.5) in the lead over GM Anton Smirnov (5.0) by half a point. GM Moulthun Ly and IM Bobby Cheng (both 4.5) were joined in third place by IM Ari Dale, who beat Bahman Kargosha on board 3.
With 5 rounds the play the eventual winner will almost certainly come from this group of 5 players. Illingworth has a slight edge over Smirnov at this stage, both by virtue of his half point lead, and the energy required to win his games. On the other hand Illingworth has yet to play Cheng and Ly, while Smirnov only has Cheng to face in the leading group.
In the Reseves, Pieter Bierkens and George Lester share the lead with 5.5/6. There Round 7 clash will be keenly watched by the large chasing group, with 12 players within a point of the lead.
David Lovejoy finished outright first in the 7 round Classic, after beating John Redgrave in the final round. However most interest was in the board 2 game between Daniel Melamed and Peter Wilson, where Wilson (as Black) marched his king to a5 just out of the opening,  leaving the rest of his army behind. A very tough game ensued, with Melamed eventually winning a tricky RNvQ ending to secure second place.
Today (7th January) is a rest day for the Championships and Reserves. The Australian Chess Federation is holding their national conference, with the Australian Blitz Championship starting at 2 pm.

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