Wednesday 10 January 2018

2018 Australian Championship - Day 8

The 2018 Australian Championship is now down to a race among 3 players, after some crucial round 8 games. On the top board GM Max Illingworth defeated IM Bobby Cheng, playing a very aggressive system against the Pirc. He held the initiative throughout the game, and Cheng resigned on move 34. IM Kanan Izzat had to fend off a strong attack from GM Anton Smirnov before drawing soon after the first time control. On board 3 GM Moulthun Ly put a dent in the chances of IM Ari Dale after beating him in 32 moves. Spotting a tactical chance, Ly got both of his rooks on the 7th rank, after which Dale's king was unable to be saved.
With 3 rounds to play, Illingworth leads with 7/8. Ly and Smirnov are a full point behind on 6/8. There is a group of players back on 5.5, but even if Illingworth does stumble in the final straight, I cannot see anyone from this group outpacing all the leaders.
The 2018 Reserves Championship continues to be a wide open event, with previous leader George Lester being brought back to the pack by CM Vishal Baht. They were joined on 6.5/8 by WCM Nugyen Phan, and Willis Lo, who both won their round 8 games. The top 4 are paired in round 9, so both this round and the next may decide who gets to play in the 2020 Championship.

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