2015 AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLS TEAMS CHAMPS
by Charles Zworestine
Some things never change… Victoria have been dominating most divisions of this event for the last few years; and nothing was to prove too different in 2015! Melbourne High School have won the Secondary Open division for the past two years, and were kind enough to agree to host the event this year. With a lovely playing hall, coaching/analysis rooms for every state and many stressful hours of fantastic labour from Chief Organiser Simon Dale and his wife Devi – not to mention the superbly organised efforts of my co-arbiter Peter Tsai – we were finally ready for the 2015 event. Could Victoria possibly prevail in all four divisions?
About 100 children competed as usual in four divisions: Secondary Open, Secondary Girls, Primary Open and Primary Girls. Unfortunately WA could not send any teams, so a second Victorian team filled the bye in all divisions; and SA were unable to send a Primary Girls team, meaning a third Victorian team in that division… Teams started arriving around 8.15 am on December 5 ready for the Opening Ceremony at 9.00 am; and after the usual welcomes, the games began shortly after 9.30 am. All four divisions were played at a time control of 60 minutes for the whole game, plus 10 seconds per move from the start (Fischer). Of course, only the secondary players ever really use this allotted time; with a few notable exceptions, the primary school players usually play blitz, and often all their games are over inside the first hour!
Photo’s of the event can be found here: 2015 ASTC photo’s
Primary Girls: The Saints Went Marching In…
Round 1: The top Victorian school, St Andrews, began well with a crushing 4-0 victory over Lindfield, the NSW representatives; only Lindfield’s top board Jannica Mallari was competitive, doing well early but eventually dropping material to lose to Emily Lin. In an all Victorian battle, Mount View defeated Lauriston 3-1, winning the bottom three boards quickly before Licia Yao saved Lauriston with a win over Gloria Yew on Board 1. Meanwhile Caroline Chisholm (ACT) drew a topsy-turvy match 2-2 with Somerset College (QLD).
Round 2: St Andrews continued on their merry way with another 4-0 victory, this time quickly disposing of Mount View. Lauriston again struggled on the bottom 3 boards, all going down to Somerset College; but once more Licia rescued the team with a lengthy win over Lyanna Chan. Jannah Mallari scored Lindfield’s first point on Board 2, but her team went down 3-1 to Caroline Chisholm; Jannica Mallari was fighting hard on top board against Melody McKenzie and at one point had a winning attack, but in the end she blundered a piece and lost.
Round 3: St Andrews dropped their first half point against Lauriston, Emily Lin and Licia Yao agreeing an early draw; but St Andrews won the rest, finishing the first day on 11.5/12. Caroline Chisholm lost Board 1 but won the others handily to beat Mount View 3-1. Lindfield registered their first match victory, beating Somerset College 2.5-1.5 with a fighting draw on Board 3 after Board 4 lost; Jannica Mallari scored a winning attack with a nice Bxh5 sacrifice against Lyanna Chan, while Jannah Mallari won a king and pawn ending against Jennifer Yeung.
Round 4: St Andrews conceded their first loss on Board 4, but still won the other 3 boards to beat Somerset College 3-1 after Emily Lin won a piece to prevail in a long game (the last one to finish) against Lyanna Chan. Nothing if not consistent, Lauriston lost the bottom three boards against Caroline Chisholm but Licia beat Melody on top board to save the team (another 3-1 loss). Lindfield made it two in a row, 2.5-1.5 over Mount View after Jannah won material and their Board 3 pinned the enemy queen; but the best fighting game was on top board, Jannica coming back from a rook down via passed pawns to end up liquidating to a draw.
Round 5: St Andrews wrapped up the event on 17.5/20, despite losing Board 4 first up against Caroline Chisholm; but they won the other three boards for a convincing 3-1 victory. This was still good enough for second place for Caroline Chisholm; while Somerset College secured third place with a hard fought 4-0 victory against Mount View. Lindfield finished fourth, defeating Lauriston 2.5-1.5 after Jannica drew with Licia; but for once Licia was not the only one to score points for Lauriston, Valerie Chionh winning a rook to beat Ellora Siva on Board 3.
Final Standings: 1st St Andrews (VIC) 17.5/20
2nd Caroline Chisholm (ACT) 12
3rd Somerset College (QLD) 11.5
4th Lindfield (NSW) 8.5
5th Mount View (VIC) 5.5
6th Lauriston (VIC) 5
Board Prizes: 1. Emily Lin (St Andrews) 4.5/5
- Rachel Woon (St Andrews) 5/5
- Renee Fan (St Andrews) 5/5
- Amelia Vea (Caroline Chisholm) 5/5
Primary Open: View from the Top of the Mount!
Round 1: Another Victorian school, defending champion Mount View, were favourites in this one; and they did not let the home state down, beginning with a convincing 4-0 win over fellow Victorian school Balwyn North. But they were not the first game to finish, this dubious honour going to an opening trap on Board 2 of the 2.5-1.5 win by Prince Alfred College (SA) over Canberra Grammar (ACT); conversely a highly competitive Board 1 game was the last game to finish, a bishop vs knight ending that may have been winning for the bishop winding up drawn after a long fight. Ironbark Ridge (NSW) drew 2-2 with Somerset College (QLD); the top two boards both won a rook, but Ironbark Ridge dropped the bottom two boards.
Round 2: Mount View dropped their first point against Canberra Grammar, Zoe Jones going down on Board 3 against Alex Fraser; but their other three boards won quite handily for a 3-1 victory. Ironbark Ridge had another 2-2 draw with Balwyn North, this time winning on Boards 2 and 3 but dropping Boards 1 and 4 after Yifu Wu dropped pawns and was ground down on Board 1. The match between Prince Alfred College and Somerset College also finished at 2-2, Black winning every game of this match after some long and tough endings.
Round 3: Ironbark Ridge managed their third 2-2 draw of the day, holding Mount View by winning the bottom two boards in endgames after dropping the top two boards. Canberra Grammar remained in contention by beating Somerset College 3.5-0.5, drawing Board 3 and winning the others after some tough battles. Balwyn North scored their first win, 2.5-1.5 over Prince Alfred College after drawing Board 1; Board 4 was the last game to finish in a fascinating queen and opposite coloured bishop ending, White going from a win to a draw to a loss when he forgot about his clock and lost on time!
Round 4: Mount View powered on with a 3.5-0.5 win against Prince Alfred College, drawing Board 2 but winning the rest after Luis Chan ground down Preshaan Thavarajah in the longest game of the round. The ever consistent Ironbark Ridge drew 2-2 yet again, this time against Canberra Grammar after Yifu Wu dropped a piece early and went down on Board 1 but Vasu Bansal saved the team with a long endgame win on Board 3. Balwyn North won their second match in a row, prevailing 3-1 against Somerset College after winning Boards 1, 3 and 4 before Board 2 Oliver Yang saved Somerset with a win.
Round 5: The title defence was complete when Mount View defeated Somerset College 3-1, winning the first three boards before Jason Li beat Zoe Jones in an ending the exchange and pawns ahead to save Somerset. Ironbark Ridge clearly did not want to draw 2-2 again against Prince Alfred College, Yifu Wu agreeing an early draw; and this was actually the only half point they conceded, winning 3.5-0.5 in their quest for second place. This quest succeeded by half a point, despite Canberra Grammar beating Balwyn North 3-1; they won the bottom three boards, but lost Board 1 after a tense battle the exchange down to be relegated to third place.
Final Standings: 1st Mount View (VIC) 15.5/20
2nd Ironbark Ridge (NSW) 11.5
3rd Canberra Grammar (ACT) 11
4th Balwyn North (VIC) 8.5
5th Prince Alfred College (SA) 7
6th Somerset College (QLD) 6.5
Board Prizes: 1. Luis Chan (Mount View) 5/5
- Jimmy Deng (Mount View) 4.5/5
- Vasu Bansal (Ironbark Ridge) 4/5
- Shalana Powell (Mount View) 4/5
Secondary Open: Melbourne aim very High indeed!
Round 1: This time the defending champion and host school, Melbourne High, were shooting for three in a row; and their hat-trick got off to the best possible start when they flexed their muscles with a 4-0 victory over fellow Victorian school Glen Waverley. Luke Li beat Zachary Loh on Board 1, forcing an advanced passed d-pawn through in an opposite coloured bishop ending; Ari Dale’s extra pawn and superior position defeated Michael Chan; Max Chew Lee won with queen and bishop against two rooks against Kris Chan; and Allen Yu beat Leon Chen, finishing up an exchange and two pawns ahead. But with a convincing 3.5-0.5 win against North Sydney (NSW), Brisbane Grammar (QLD) showed that they would also be competitive, top board Tom Slater-Jones fighting hard in time pressure to survive an ending pawns down and somehow draw with Joshua Behar. Tony Zhong hung just as tough on Board 3, his opponent Gordon Yang quite possibly missing a win before losing a tricky rook ending. Prince Alfred College (SA) also emerged 3.5-0.5 victors against Lyneham (ACT), a tenacious Joel Lee defending but hanging on to draw on Board 3; the others stuck to basics to grind down their opponents, Qi-Le Kong Lim for example beating his opponent Dillon Hathiramani tactically after forcing him into time pressure.
Round 2: This was a much more competitive round, Melbourne High winning 3-1 against North Sydney but being forced to fight very hard on at least three of the four boards. Allen Yu won rather quickly on Board 3 against Gordon Yang, while Anurag Sannidhanam won a pawn ending a pawn ahead against Cavell Rae on Board 4; but the shocks were on the top two boards, where Joshua Behar managed to simplify and draw an unbalanced ending against Luke Li on Board 1. Max Mikkelsen somehow survived a mating attack against Ari Dale, eventually forcing a perpetual check with some help from his opponent despite being a whole rook down (he did have a powerful passed pawn as compensation). The other two matches were both drawn 2-2, Lyneham holding Glen Waverley despite Ziqi Yuan blundering his queen to lose to Kris Chan and Zachary Loh beating Dillon in a long and tough struggle; but Jamie-Lee Guo and Johnny Hajdu managed to equalise for Lyneham. In the other match, Prince Alfred College won the top two boards, Qi-Le Kong Lim slowly outplaying Tom Slater-Jones who fell in his inevitable time pressure. But Brisbane Grammar equalised via the bottom two boards, Tony Zhong winning the exchange to defeat Denny Han while Harry Hughes won material to beat Aaron Hammat.
Round 3: Melbourne High suddenly had a three point lead going into Day 2 after their 3.5-0.5 victory over Prince Alfred College; Luke Li, Max Chew Lee and Allen Yu all won well on the top three boards, but Anurag Sannidhanam agreed a draw in a complicated and unbalanced position against Joel Lee on Board 4. Brisbane Grammar faltered somewhat, drawing 2-2 with Lyneham after long and fighting draws on the top two boards. Tony Zhong sadly lost on mobile phone forfeit; but Harry Hughes equalised for Brisbane on Board 4, winning a tactical melee against Johnny Hajdu with multiple pieces en prise! Glen Waverley finished a poor day for them with an upset 2.5-1.5 loss to North Sydney, despite Leon Chen checkmating Cavell Rae in the last game to finish on Board 4. But Max Mikkelsen drew with Michael Chan, while Gordon Yang stunned Kris Chan in a nice game; and Joshua Behar also scored an upset victory, beating Zachary Loh after the latter over-attacked and just ended up losing material.
Round 4: Again the first round of the day seemed to be the round for the most convincing victories, Melbourne High wrapping up the event with a round to spare after their 4-0 win against Brisbane Grammar. Luke Li won pawns to outplay Tom Slater-Jones and get revenge for losing to him in the corresponding event last year; Max Chew Lee checkmated Tony Zhong; Allen Yu similarly (and successfully!) targeted Harry Hughes’ exposed king; while Ari Dale beat Jared Louie in a time scramble in the last game to finish, a bishop vs knight ending with two pawns each where Ari’s passed rook pawn proved decisive. Glen Waverley finally came good, beating Prince Alfred College 3.5-0.5 despite a locked position draw between Qi-Le Kong Lim and Zachary Loh on the top board; but Kris Chan won quickly, while Michael Chan and Leon Chen both won long games. Meanwhile Lyneham relegated North Sydney to a likely wooden spoon with a 3.5-0.5 victory of their own, Cavell Rae the only one to score for North Sydney after holding a draw in a long ending a pawn down. Joshua Behar lost a couple of pawns and the game to Dillon; while Jamie-Lee Guo and Ziqi Yuan both won long games, against Max Mikkelsen and Gordon Yang respectively.
Round 5: Melbourne High finished with a 3.5-0.5 victory over Lyneham, despite playing their second reserve (Douglas Dias) who drew with Johnny Hajdu on Board 4; but the other three boards all prevailed, Allen Yu beating Jamie-Lee Guo with a nice tactic (an exchange sacrifice). North Sydney drew 2-2 with Prince Alfred College, their Board 4 Cavell Rae scoring his first win against Joel Lee (who became too passive) while Gordon Yang won queen for rook to defeat Denny Han on Board 3. But PAC won the top two boards, Qi-Le Kong Lim taking advantage of the loose enemy position to defeat Joshua Behar while Peter Gregoric managed to win a drawish endgame against Max Mikkelsen. An evenly balanced match saw Brisbane Grammar draw 2-2 against Glen Waverley, Brisbane thus claiming second place by just half a point. The top two boards in particular were long and tense battles, Michael Chan making an extra piece count to eventually beat Jared Louie on Board 2; but Tom Slater-Jones, in a drawn ending despite being a piece up (his last two pawns were doomed), took advantage of his opponent walking into a skewer, won a second piece and ended up mating with bishop and knight!
Final Standings: 1st Melbourne High (VIC) 18/20
2nd Brisbane Grammar (QLD) 9.5
3rd Glen Waverley (VIC) 9
4th Prince Alfred College (SA) 8.5
5th Lyneham (ACT) 8.5
6th North Sydney (NSW) 6.5
Board Prizes: 1. Luke Li (Melbourne High) 3.5/4
- Ari Dale (Melbourne High) 3.5/4
- Max Chew Lee (Melbourne High) 3/3
- Allen Yu (Melbourne High) 5/5
Secondary Girls: Could Abbotsleigh stop the Victorian clean sweep?
Round 1: There was no doubt that the top Victorian school, Presbyterian Ladies College (from now on abbreviated to PLC), would be competitive here, as shown by their initial 3.5-0.5 victory over the other Victorian school, MacRobertson. Little did we know how important the draw on Board 4 would be, where Kei Mei Chin had fought back from losing for most of the game to winning, then accepted a draw… The other victories were also convincing, Radford (ACT) 4-0 winners over Wilderness (SA) despite being worse on Board 2 for a while. Abbotsleigh (NSW) were another of the favourites, and duly accounted for Somerset College (QLD) 4-0; but what an amazingly competitive match it was! Even on Board 1 Kristine Quek had to fight before winning a piece to a pin in a time scramble; Alysha Chin trapped the enemy queen after a game that was complicated all the way; Emma Jane Loong also won the enemy queen; and Amy Wang survived a sacrificial attack to prevail with her extra material.
Round 2: Radford and MacRobertson alternated results, drawing 2-2 after a tough fight in a match where White won every game! Somerset College took care of Wilderness 4-0, the South Australian girls fighting hard but not yet managing a win. But there was no doubt where the critical match lay, as Abbotsleigh and PLC put on a battle royale! Abbotsleigh got the early jump and went 2-0 up after Amy Wang won a piece on Board 4 and made it count against Kei Mei Chin; while Kristine Quek defeated Jody Middleton with a crushing mating attack on the enemy king, instructively exploiting the initiative in a position with queen, rook and opposite coloured bishop each. Emma Jane Loong dropped pawns and eventually went down to Shanaya Mendis in a long and tough battle on Board 3; but the really topsy-turvy game was between Alysha Chin and May-Yi Foo on Board 2. Alysha was winning, a pawn ahead, but neglected to swap queens when she had the chance; and then the enemy queen penetrated her position, and things got very complicated! Mutual time pressure made things even harder, and in the end Alysha cracked; she allowed a queen swap into a losing pawn ending, thus enabling PLC to draw the match 2-2.
Round 3: Nothing was clear except that we were in a three horse race by the end of Saturday, Abbotsleigh maintaining a slender lead with a hard fought 4-0 victory over MacRobertson. Every board except Board 3 won material to prevail, with Kristine eventually forcing mate on Board 1; while Emma Jane was in trouble on Board 3, but kept fighting on until she won a rook to a queen fork and triumphed in the end. But the lead was still only half a point over PLC, who also accounted for the hapless Wilderness 4-0 despite some lengthy games. The hard fought match this round was between Radford and Somerset, the former scoring easy material wins on Boards 3 and 4. But apparently the positions were “too random” on Boards 1 and 2, causing Helen and Kathleen Tong to agree draws with Anastasia Laczko and Annaliese McConnell; this left Abbotsleigh on 10/12, PLC on 9.5, Radford on 9 and a fascinating Sunday in prospect!
Round 4: It was great to see Wilderness score their first point against MacRobertson, Yekaterina Hubczenko defeating Amy Zhong; but MacRobertson won material on the other three boards for an eventual 3-1 victory. PLC put away Somerset with another 4-0 victory, Jody and May-Yi both winning a piece to defeat Anastasia and Annaliese. Things were more complicated on the bottom two boards, Kei Mei turning an extra pawn into an extra piece via tactics to triumph; while Shanaya fought back from a piece down against Stephanie Kay to win a rook and prevail in the end. But amazingly, this was not good enough for the lead after Abbotsleigh put Radford out of business, also winning 4-0! Kristine won a pawn early, then made it count in a winning rook ending; while Amy and Emma Jane both used an extra piece to win their games. As usual Alysha on Board 2 was the one provoking the nerves, up a pawn and winning with the two bishops but making hard work of it – then somehow winding up in a rook and opposite coloured bishop ending a pawn down! This should have been drawn, but fortunately for her and Abbotsleigh her opponent panicked in time pressure and lost on time; another critical half point…
Round 5: PLC ensured a thrilling finish by keeping their end of the bargain, making it a miserable day for Radford with yet another 4-0 victory founded on extra pieces and the like on the bottom three boards. Jody was equal with Helen for a while on Board 1, but eventually cracked open her opponent’s queenside, winning the enemy queen to a pin and hence the game. This was still good enough for third place for Radford, after MacRobertson held Somerset College to a 2-2 draw in an evenly balanced match where Black won every game. But now the question was: could Abbotsleigh beat Wilderness 4-0 to finish ahead of PLC? Quick wins on Boards 1, 3 and 4 (all with loads of extra material) meant that all eyes were on – yes, you guessed it! – Alysha Chin to see if she could beat Wilderness’ only point scorer on Board 2. She was two pawns up, then three, but for some reason made it much harder by swapping into a pure opposite coloured bishop endgame – could it possibly be drawn? Thankfully for Abbotsleigh the answer was no, as Alysha prevailed in the end with her extra pawns; a thrilling victory for Abbotsleigh by just half a point, and no clean sweep for Victoria this year!
Final Standings: 1st Abbotsleigh (NSW) 18/20
2nd Presbyterian Ladies College (VIC) 17.5
3rd Radford College (ACT) 9
4th MacRobertson (VIC) 7.5
5th Somerset College (QLD) 7
6th Wilderness (SA) 1
Board Prizes: 1. Kristine Quek (Abbotsleigh) 5/5
- May-Yi Foo (PLC) 5/5
- Shanaya Mendis (PLC) 5/5
- Amy Wang (Abbotsleigh) 5/5