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

Cleland Trophy – 7 July

The Cleland Trophy was contested by another large turnout of 28 players in line with the other tournaments this year. Top seed Quentin Johnson was soon out of contention after a loss to Jens Paulsen in round 3 and another to Romero Suggate in round 4. Second seed Ben Suazo also suffered a loss in round 3 to 3rd seed Iain Lamont. That left Lamont and Paulsen facing off or the lead in round 4 with Lamont prevailing to lead on 4/4 by half a point over Suggate. However, that was the end of Lamont’s tournament as he couldn’t play the final two rounds. Suggate was late to the fifth roud and also couldn’t make the final round so he was not able to capitalise. So the key final round pairing for the Trophy was Paulsen vs Suazo, both on 4/5. Paulsen won to win his first trophy at the club on 5/6, with Lamont second on 4½, ahead of a big group in third on 4 points.

View Crosstable and Rating performances

Otago/Southland Intermediate Interschool Teams Championship 2021 – 26 June

11 teams from nine schools played for the seventeenth annual Otago/Southland Intermediate Interschool Teams' Championships at Kavanagh College Library. James Hargest sent a team up from Invecargill and Queenstown Primary and Straith Taieri (Middlemarch) represented central Otago.

Defending Champions Balmacewen A were once again favourites, but the closeness of the contest this year was not in doubt when they drew 2-2 against the James Hargest in round 2. Queenstown Primary took the lead with two wins, but lost 3-1 to James Hargest in round 3. Balmacewen A joined James Hargest in the lead with a 4-0 sweep of the hosts Kavanagh. James Hargest looked to be in a strong position in the sole lead after a 4-0 win over Tahuna A in round 4, while Balmacewen and Queenstown Primary drew 2-2. However, in the crucial round 5 match Kavanagh defeated the leaders 2½-1½, which allowed Balmacewen to vault over the James Hargest with a 3½-½ win over Carisbrook. That left the leading teams after 5 rounds: Balamacewen A 4/5, Queenstown Primary and James Hargest 3½ and Kavanagh on 3 match points, with all the other teams on 2½ or less. In round 6 Queenstown Primary comprehensive defeated Kavanagh 4-0, but this was result was matched by Blamacewen A, who beat Tahuna A 4-0, and nearly by James Hargest, who beat Green Island 3½-½. Thus the leading teams were unchanged going into the final round. Once again the three leading teams defeated their lower-p[laced opponents in the final round, So the match points standings were unchanged, leaving the defending champions Balmacewen A out in first place on 6/7 with a countback of 21/28 game points, after beating Green Island 3-1. Both James Hargest and Queenstown Primary won 4-0 over their respective opponents John McGlashan and Carisbrook, to finish equal on 5½ match points. James Hargest took 2nd place with 20½ game points to Queenstown Primary’s total of 20 leaving them in 3rd. The hosts Kavanagh came back with a final 3-1 win over Strath Taieri to finish clear 4th on 4 match points.

Balmacewen A earned the right to represent Otago at the National finals, while James Hargest as top Southland team qualified as the Southland representative. Queenstown Primary earned a well-deserved wild-card entry to the finals after narrowly missing out on first place.

Leading individual scorers were Board 1: Zihan Fu (Balmac A) 6½/7, Sasandu Kiwulegedara (James Hargest) 5½/7, Ryan Zhou (John McGlashan) 5½/7,
Board 2: Hasanli Hewa Barbaranda (James Hargest) 5½/7, Max Horn (Queenstown Primary) 4½/7, Leon Hornell (Green Island) 4½/7, Tom Reynolds (Tahuna B) 4½/7;
Board 3: Alex Samson (James Hargest) 7/7, Thisun Kuruppuarachchi (Balmac B) 6½/7; Dima Kuzmenkov (Queenstown Primary) 5½/7
Board 4: Jack Phillips (Balmac A)6/7, Thai Spence (Tahuna B) 5½/7, Cameron Hall (Queenstown Primary) 5/7.

View Intermediate crosstable
View Intermediate Full Crosstable with individual scores

Thank you to all the participants for making it a great day of chess and a special thank you to Daniel Kelly and Kavanagh College for providing the excellent venue.

Otago/Southland Secondary Interschool Teams Championship 2021 – 19 June

A record 18 teams from eight schools played for the sixteenth annual Otago/Southland Secondary Interschool Teams' Championship on Saturday 19 June. Because of Covid 19 the competition was held later in the calendar than usual. Southland were again not able to hold their own competition this year, which meant four teams travelled up to the Logan Park High School Library, the same venue as last year. Three more teams from Waitaki Boys' HS travelled down from Oamaru.

The Otago Daily Times covered the event:

Match Points with Game Points as a tie-break meant once again that the result was in contention right to the last round, but in fact a critical match turned out to be in round 2. Defending champions Logan Park HS A went down to Southland BHS 3-1. Round 3 saw SBHS establish a clear lead when they narrowly defeated John McGlashan A 2½-1½ to move to 3/3, while Otago Boys HS A and Kings HS A fought out a 2-2 draw on the top table. In round 4 SBHS defeaed OBHS A 3-1 to keep their lead, while James Hargest A beat Kings HS A to be in sole 2nd place on 3½/4 having drawn their opening match. Because of the large turnout and close fought games, the number of scheduled rounds was reduced to six at this point to finish on time. In the Southland derby on top table in round 5, SBHS prevailed 3-1 to take their score to 5/5 and a point lead over LPHS A, who only just managed to beat the LPHS B team 3-1 when top board Alexander Sun pulled off a swindle in a losing queen endgame against Tyne Grant. With no other team on more than 3½ points, only a loss in the final round could take the title from SBHS. They were paired with Kings HS A and the result went right to the wire with SBHS securing wins on boards 1 and 3 to manage a 2-2 draw and take the championship trophy for 2021. With Southland a separate region to Otago, there was very strong interest in the second table where LPHS A were facing off against OBHS A for the right to represent Otago at the national finals. Playing without their top board Alex Sun, LPHS A managed to narrowly win 2½-1½ to move to 5 match points, sole 2nd place and the ticket to the finals. Three teams tied for third on 4 match points: James Hargest A, Kings HS A and Kings HS B. James Hargest A had the highest countback with 16 games points to take 3rd prize.

Leading individual scorers were Board 1: Atlas Kerr (SBHS) 6/6, Noah Oseki (OBHS A) 4½/6, Alex Sun (LPHS A) 4/5, Oscar Lobb (JMC A) 4/6, Tyne Grant (LPHS B) 4/6, Calan McDermott (Kings B) 4/6, Roland Cameron (James Hargest C) 4/6;
Board 2: Martin Brook (JMC A) 6/6, Zishen Fu (LPHS A) 5½/6, Bailey Wills (Kings A) 5/6, Naoki Kozakai (LPHS B) 5/6;
Board 3: Oshada Perera (SBHS) 6/6, Paxton Hall (LPHS A) 4/6, Fen McIntosh (LPHS B) 4/6; Joseph Chen (OBHS B) 4/6, Jacob Mortimer (James Hargest B) 4/6, Samuel Collins (James Hargest C) 4/6;
Board 4: Nick Wright (OBHS A) 6/6, Xing Zhang (LPHS A) 5/6, Chay-Hong Rasmey-Sous (Kings A) 5/6, Geordie Stephenson (LPHS, playing for Kings B) 5/6.

Thank you to Logan Park High School and John Major for once again providing the excellent venue.

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View full scores with game points

Winter Rapid Open – 13 June

The Winter Rapid Open drew a very healthy field of 28, with groups of players from Oamaru and Invercargill boosting the local turnout. In round 1 Hamish Gold caused the onbly upset, beating 2nd seed Richie Christie (now based in Invercargill). Round 2 also went mostly to seeding, but for one draw between Alex Sun and Greg Familton. In round 3 things started hotting up: Edward Sarfas upset Ben Suazo to move to 3 points, along with Quentin Johnson, who beat Roomero Suggate, and Atlas Kerr, who defeated Jens Paulsen. Alex Sun's draw in the previous round meant he received the downfloat to Christie, who won to stay in the chasing pack on 2 points. Round 4 saw top seed Johnson assume the sole lead on 4/4 when Kerr blundered a key pawn in their board 1 match-up. Sarfas lost to Suggate on board 2 for these two to join Kerr in the group of contenders on 3 points, along with Christie, Suazo, Naoki Kozakai and Daniel Bell. The critical game in the fiunal round was Johnson-Suazo: Johnson had strong attacking chnaces in a French Tarrasch, but mistakes lead to an inspired rook offer that would have been successful if followed up correctly - instead Suazo defended and won. That opened up the tournament, with Christie beating Bell and Suggate defeating Kozakai able to take advantage and join Johnson and Suazo in 1st place on 4/5, while Sarfas and Kerr drew, thus both missing out. Kozakai and Bell were compensated by wining the U1700 grade, along with Samson Kazakov, Alistair Lennon and Naser Tamimi all on 3 points. The U1300 grade was also a five-way tie, between Sen Macmmaster, Fraser Corbin, Sasandu Kiwulegedara, Connor Donaldson and Mitchell Bradford all on 2 points.
The next rapid open is the Spring Rapid on Sunday 5 September.

View Vega output

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 several players second on 3 points: Lamont, Suazo, Tamimi, Edward Sarfas, and Riley Jellyman.

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. 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. 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.

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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.