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Watch this space for up-to-date news of chess events from the Otago region.

Winter Rapid Open – 9 June

The Winter Rapid Open drew a healthy field of 24, boosted by a strong group of Invercargill players, with top seed David Weegenaar down from Christchurch. In round 2 former club member Jacob Feenstra drew with Edward Sardfas, showing he was a contender, while Weegenaar, Hamish Gold, Atlas Kerr, Ben Suazo and Juni Aguitar made it to 2/2. In round 3 Weegnenaar defeated Gold, Suazo beat Kerr and Aguitar beat Feenstra, somewhat controversially after the latter made an illegal move and was forfeited. Round 4 saw Weegenaar stay in the lead on 4/4 with a win over Aguitar, joined by Suazo, who beat Sarfas. Staying on contention with Aguitar on 3 points were Kerr, who beat SHoji Fukushima, Phil Coleman with a win over Gold, and Martin Brook, wo defeated Alexander Sun. The tournament was decided in a tense final round battle on board 1 between the leaders. It went down to the wire in a rook endgame, with Suazo finally ending Weegenaar's run and taking firat on 5/5. Second on 4 points was shared by Weegenaar, Kerr, who beat Coleman, and Aguitar who beat Brook. The U1500 grade was won by Kerr, with 2nd shared by Gold and Lewis Kim on 3 points. The U1400 grade was won by Aguitar, with Coleman and Brook 2nd equal on 3 points.
The next rapid open is the Spring Rapid on Sunday 1 September.

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Swiss Rapid – 30 May

The Swiss Rapid was shortened to four rounds this year to accommodate the Graham Haase memorial. That meant that top seed Quentin Johnson and Benedict Suazo fresh from winning the Graham Haase could tie for first on 3½/4 without playing each other. Both drew with the dangerous Max Lough who also defeated Hamish Gold on his way to a tie for third with Gold on 3 points.

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Graham Haase Memorial – 15 May

The inaugural Graham Haase Memorial was added to the calendar this year by squeezing up some existing tournaments, and will be a regular feature from now on. A five round Swiss with a Fischer 60mins plus 30s per move time control, it was particularly closely fought with many upsets. Form player this year, Edward Sarfas lost in the first round to junior Max Lough, while top seed Quentin Johnson lost to Hamish Gold in round 2. It looked as if second seeded Riley Jellyman, returning to club play after a break for University studies, was going to run away with the trophy after amassing 4/4, defeating Gold in round 3 and having already beaten Benedict Suazo in round 1. The latter was one of the chasers going into the final round, having inflicted a second defeat on Johnson in round 4 - the others being Sarfas and Gold. But a promising position and then an extra pawn against Sarfas in the final round eventually was squandered in time-trouble and a loss for Jellyman. That meant Sarfas caught him in a three-way tie for first place on 4/5, as did new member Suazo, who beat Gold.

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Club Championship – 11 April

After the first leg of the 2019 Club Championship, Edward Sarfas leads the A grade on 5/5 after upsetting top seed Hamish Gold and second seed Geoff Aimers. Gold is a point behind having won all his other games, while Geoff Aimers is next on 3. In a clear division between the top and bottom of the grade, Terry Duffield, Max Lough and Shoji Fukushima all finished on 1 point, having each lost to the top three and then won a game off one of the other two.

The B & C grade was convincing won by new member Benedict Suazo, who missed the first round, then scored 4/4. Suazo earns promotion to the A Grade for the second leg. Bob Clarkson finished second on 3½/5, losing only to Suazo and drawing with top seed Brent Southgate. David Reid finished third on 3 points, while there was a big tie on 2½ between Hildon Nisa, Alf Loretan, Ryan High and new member Lindsay Dowden. John Armstrong was next on 2 points, while Southgate found the going tough, losing three games to finish on 1½, followed by Noah Oseki on 1 point.

The rules mean that each grade starts with a base score and/or a scaling factor, to allow performances to be roughly compared between grades, based on the average rating of the field in each grade. That allows players in different grades to compete for the same trophy on fair terms. The Championship totals in the link below show the effect of these adjustments.

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View A-Grade crosstable and rating performances
View B&C-Grade crosstable and rating performances

Autumn Rapid Open – 10 March

The Autumn Seasonal Rapid went off very well with numbers down from previous tournaments but possibly due to the change in day to Sunday. Also I didn’t get the time to contact the Invercargill club who would probably have been very interested but will make sure they know for the Winter Rapid and we also have more time to advertise.

So we had 14 players in all whose rating ranged from 1800 down to 700 and 5 rounds played. We classed then into two areas the first top down to 1300 and 2nd under 1200 with prizes in both categories.

Rnd. 1 - was played with no surprises apart from Hamish Gold drawing with Romero Suggate and this cost Hamish a placing by the time the tournament was over. The other notable game was Riley Jellyman playing black against Hilden Nisa which was drawn out to 52 moves with a rook and pawns each but Riley was able to capitalise on pawn placement to win.

Rnd. 2- The upset here was Shoji Fukushima with white beat Edward Sarfas and Edward struggled to regain the loss of tempo for the tournament. (Note that Edward was also working the draws whilst playing which I think does have a bearing on play)

Rnd. 3- Again Riley won as black against Edward Sarfas in a very short game of 25 moves. The other notable game was Oscar Lobb white beat Shoji Fukushima.

Rnd. 4- Bob Clarkson had a close run game with white against Nasser Tamimi where fortunes changed in quick succession and Bob going to a piece down then equalising to go down a piece again and equalising again to finally end up with pawns and the likelihood of Naser promoting but Bob ran out of time in the end.

Rnd. 5- Shoji with Black beat Hamish Gold, and Oscar Lobb beat Bob Clarkson which put losing players out of contention for prize money.

So final results and prize distribution is as follows:
1st – Riley Jellyman
2nd - Jinge Li
U 1200
1st = Oscar Lobb / Noah Oseki
2nd = Romero Suggate / Hildon Nisa

The next rapid open is the Winter Rapid on Sunday 9 June.

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Allan Chang Memorial – 27 February

The Allan Chang 10 minute hourglass tournament was truncated to three rounds this year to make room for the Graham Haase memorial tournament. The justification at teh AGM was that the winner of the Chang trophy was almost always decided in teh first round, as that was when the biggest upset usually occurred and the rest of the event was something of an anticlimax. This prediction was borne out in 2019 with Alf Loretan securing the trophy via his first round win over Brent Southgate. Although there were other upsets, none came close to this.

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2019 Otago chess club AGM – 13 February

Bob Clarkson stayed on a President for another year, as did Max Lough as Treasuer. Leighton Nicholls stood down as Secretary after several years of excellent service and was replaced by Brent Southgate. Geoff Aimers took over as Vice President from Brent. Subscriptions remained the same as 2018. The 2019 committee comprises:

President: Bob Clarkson; Vice President: Geoff Aimers; Secretary: Brent Southgate; Treasurer: Max Lough; Director of Junior Play: Quentin Johnson; Past-President: N/A; Committee members: Terry Duffield, Edward Sarfas, Shoji Fukushima and Alf Loretan; Auditor: Bob Glass; Patron: Bob Glass.

The Calendar for 2019 was altered to shorten the Allan Chang Memorial to three rounds to make room for a new Graham Haase memorial of five rounds. The 1st leg of the Club Championship was brought forward into the gap. The Seasonal Rapids were moved to Sundays this year for convenience of ensuring the could be run. Bob Clarkson, Max Lough and Edward Sarfas have undertaken to direct them.

Quentin Johnson was elected a Life Member of the club for his services to the club as Treasurer and Junior Development Officer.