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

Swiss Rapid – 26 May

The Swiss Rapid was again a short four rounds this year to accommodate the Graham Haase memorial. With 28 players the question was whether that would be enough rounds to have an outright winner. The previous joint winners from 2019, Quentin Johnson and Ben Suazo met in round 3 with a win to Johnson. That left three players on 3/3 going into the final round: Johnson, second seed Iain Lamont, and welcome returning former member Naser Tamimi. Tamimi was drawn to play Suazo, who won leave both players on 3/4. That meant the winner of Lamont-Johnson would win the event (or both if it was a draw). In a game of fluctuating fortunes, it was the clock that finally influenced the result when Lamont collapsed in time pressure. Thus Johnson took 1st on 4/4 with six players second on 3 points: Lamont, Suazo, Tamimi, Edward Sarfas, Riley Jellyman and David Jackson.

View Crosstable and Rating performances

Graham Haase Memorial – 12 May

The second Graham Haase Memorial was played this year after a year hiatus caused by Covid interrupting the 2020 schedule. The five round Swiss with a Fischer 60mins plus 30s per move time control had a big turnout of 29 players. The three defending joint trophy-holders from 2019 were Riley Jellyman, Ben Suazo and Edward Sarfas. Ben and Edward were the only two to reach 3/3 as several players including Jellyman and first and third seeds Quentin Johnson and Iain Lamont took a half point bye in round 1. Ben defeated Edward in their 4th round clash on top board to move into the clear Lead on 4/4 with a round to go. Unfortunately due to a pairing error Riley had no opponent in round 4, so was awarded a full-point bye, as he had shown up to play. That meant he trailed Ben by half a point, having earlier defeated Iain Lamont in round 3. A further half point back were a large group including Edward, Quentin (who took a second half point bye), Hamish Gold, who had lost only to Ben, Malcolm Crack, who had had a draw and a half point bye, and new member this year David Jackson. Thus the final round game Suazo-Jellyman would decide the winner, with all the rest playing for second place.

In the final round Johnson beat Sarfas and Gold beat Crack to move to 4 points, while Jackson was held to a draw by Noah Oseki. In the final game to finish Jellyman eventually prevailed in a rook ending 2 pawns up over Suazo to overtake Him and finish outright 1st on 4½/5. Suazo, Gold and Johnson shared 2nd place on 4 points. Jackson was alone in 5th on 3½ points.

View Crosstable and Rating performances

University of Otago Inter-College Teams' tournament – 18 April

The 2021 University of Otago Inter-College Teams tournament took place on 18 April at the Kura Pakihi (School of Business) with 26 teams of two players. It was a closely fought event this year with no team absolutely dominant. St Margaret's 1 came first with an unbeaten 8½10, with Caroline Freeman 2 second on 7½ and UniCol 2 third on 7 points.

View the final crosstable

Club Championship – 14 April

The first leg of the 2021 Club Championship had a record turnout for recent years of 30 players once late entries were counted. because of the influx of new unrated players into the club, the C Grade was kept as a large Swiss of 18 players rather than being split into smaller groups. This allowed the unrated players to get a first rating and also not be pigeon-holed based on inadequate information on their playing strength.

The C Grade went for six rounds and was an interesting tussle between new and old players. This was well reflected in the final tie for first place between three players: New member David Jackson, junior Connor Gray, and veteran Bob Clarkson all finished on 4½/6. All took a half point bye at one stage, with only Gray unbeaten. In fact he created the tie by beating Jackson in the final round. Another new member Jens Paulsen was 4th on 4 points having joined the turnament late and won all four of his games. Aaron Nelson and Peter Adams shared 5th on 3½.

The B grade was won by top seed Hamish Gold on a picket fence 5/5, which is not surprising give he outrated the field by 200 points. Following him on 2½ are Brent Southgate, Noah Oseki and Ryan High, with Southgate and Oseki due to play their final game against each other to determine who is runner-up.

Update 27 April: Oseki-Southgate was drawn, so these two shared 2nd place on 3 points ahead of High in 4th on 2½.

Top seed Quentin Johnson won the A Grade on 4/5 after dropping one game to defending champion Ben Suazo. Edward Sarfas, but winning the rest. Suazo in turn lost a game to Malcolm Crack and drew with Romero Suggate to finish tied with Suggate in 2nd on 3½. Second seed Iain Lamont displayed the effects of rust coming back to play after a gap of a couple of years, managing to score only half a point after dropping some games with uncharacteristic blunders.

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.

View all crosstables
View A-Grade crosstable and rating performances
View B-Grade crosstable and rating performances
View C-Grade crosstable and rating performances

Autumn Rapid Open – 7 March

The Otago Autumn Rapid Open took place on Sunday 7 March and was NZCF rated this year. This was enabled by the change in NZCF policy making less of a barrier to casual players, who made up more than half the big turnout of 30 players ranging from from Invercargill to Oamaru.

Fen McIntosh and Noah Oseki
Corbin Fraser and Irene Cheng

Fen McIntosh and Noah Oseki - photo Aya Oseki

Corbin Fraser and Irene Cheng - photo Aya Oseki

Corbin Fraser moving against Shannon Davie
Alison Latwan playing Romero Suggate

Corbin Fraser moving against Shannon Davie - photo Aya Oseki

Alison Latwan playing Romero Suggate - photo Aya Oseki

Jonathan Rapsey watching Matthew Sterk playing Edward Sarfas
Quentin Johnson and eventual co-winners Ben Suazo and Atlas Kerr

Jonathan Rapsey watching Matthew Sterk playing Edward Sarfas - photo Aya Oseki

Quentin Johnson and eventual co-winners Ben Suazo and Atlas Kerr (at top of frame) - photo Aya Oseki

Round 1 went mostly to seed, except Irene Cheng defeated Gary Bell. Her 1000 estimated rating was probably a bit conservative.

Round 2 was where it all kicked off, starting with top seed Quentin Johnson's loss to Elliot Munro after a fatal blunder in time-trouble. Hamish Gold upset Edward Sarfas and although it went to seeding, Brent Perrin's defeat of the Summer Rapid Open co-winner Qi Le Kong-Lim was undoubtedly a major upset. Youngest competitor Jonny Rapsey also scored a notable win over Alison Latawan.

Round 3 saw 2nd seed Ben Suazo end Perrin's hopes on board 1, while Munro followed up with a second upset in a row, this time over third seed Romero Suggate. Joining these two in the lead on 3/3 was 4th seed Altas Kerr, who defeated Shannon Davie. Gold had the downfloat, but that meant he met Johnson, who stopped his progress.

Round 4 saw a draw on board 1 between Kerr and Suazo to stay sharing the lead on 3½/4. However Munro missed his chance to take the sole lead, going astray in a rook ending against Sarfas and losing. Joining Munro half a point off the lead going in to the final round were Johnson, Suggate, Davie and Julien Soler. Perrin-Gold was a drawn minor piece ending meaning both were left too far adrift on 2½ to have chances for first. Sen Macmaster scored a notable win over the other Summer Rapid Open co-winner Noah Oseki to build up a lead in the U1200 grade.

Round 5 saw the leaders see off their challengers: Suazo defeated Suggate on board 1, while Kerr beat Munro on board 2. Of the chasers on 3 only Johnson and Kong-Lim won, beating Soler and Sarfas respectively. Gold beat Macmaster to grab the U1600 grade prize, while his opponent was caught by Corbin Fraser in first equal in the U1200 grade.

Ben Suazo of Dunedin and Atlas Kerr of Invercargill shared 1st place on 4½/5 ahead of Qi-Le Kong-Lim and Quentin Johnson both of Dunedin equal third on 4.
Hamish Gold won the U1600 grade on 3½ ahead of a 4-way tie for 2nd on 3 between Julien Soler, Daniel Bell (both Invercargill), Naoki Kozakai (Dunedin) and Greg Familton (Oamaru).
Corbin Fraser (invercargill) and Sen Macmaster (Oamaru) shared 1st in the U1200 grade on 2½.

The event was a great start to the 2021 Seasonal Rapid series, the next event being the Winter Rapid Open on 13 June.

View Vega files

Allan Chang Memorial – 24 February

The Allan Chang 10 minute hourglass tournament had a big turnout with 24 participants, including many new members to the club and several returning members after a hiatus. The format was slightly different this year in that after the first paired round, subsequent pairings were between any two players who had finished their previous game. The fact that the club was closed for Covid level 2 on the 17th of February meant the whole tournament was held on one night. Alf Loretan went out to achieve five games - and he succeeded! Most points were achieved by Ben Suazo, who scored 3½/4. But the Allan Chang Memorial trophy was won by Noah Oseki for his upset win over Hamish Gold. Noah benefitted by the fact that he and Hamish both had established club rapid ratings, and that Noah's was from a couple of years ago. Otherwise new memeber Nick Wright's win over Malcolm Crack could possibly have tipped the upset scales, but Nick's rating was estimated from his overall results and Malcolm's from his standard rating, which was based on only two tournaments.

View Crosstable and Rating performances

2021 Otago chess club AGM – 10 February

Bob Clarkson stood down as President for after six years in the role and was warmly applauded for his leadership over that period. Geoff Aimers was elected as the new President, with Terry Duffield elected to the vacant Vice President role. Brent Southgate stayed on as Secretary and Alf Loretan agreed to stay on as interim Treasurer until a replacemnt is found. Quentin Johnson stayed aon as Auditor and Director of Junior Play. Bob Glass remained as Patron. Edward Sarfas was elected to a new office of Club Captain, pending a check that the rules allow it.The committee was rounded out by honorary member Lisa Oseki and welcomed a new recruit Ryan High. Subscriptions remained the same as 2020. The 2021 committee comprises:

President: Geoff Aimers; Vice President: Terry Duffield; Secretary: Brent Southgate; Treasurer: Alf Loretan; Director of Junior Play: Quentin Johnson; Past-President: Bob Clarkson; Club Captain: Edward Sarfas; Committee members: Lisa Oseki and Ryan High; Auditor: Quentin Johnson; Patron: Bob Glass.

The Calendar for 2021 was accepted with few changes from 2020 except the the Allan Chang is now four rounds over two weeks and room was made for four Blair Freeman Trophy Blitz tournaments. Quentin proposed that the Seasonal Rapid Opens be NZCF rated in 2021 to reduce the number of unrated entrants and speed up the player registration.

Blair Freeman Blitz 1 - 3 February

The first Blitz tournament for the 2021 Blair Freeman trophy took place on 3 February and had an excelent tournout of 19 players. Ben Suazo scored 5½/6 to take out the event ahead of Quentin Johnson and Romero Suggate on 5. View the final crosstable.

President vs Vice President - 27 January

The opening event for 2021 was the tradition President vs Vice President match on 27 January. This year Geoff Aimers' VP team triumphed 7-3 over Bob Clarkson's President's team with a good turnout of 22 players for the opening night.