Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Ethekwini Open report

The 2017 Ethekwini Open was the biggest event of this year's chess calendar in Durban, with a very strong FIDE section and a well attended open section. It took place over 4 days, from 18th to 21st March 2017, with just 2 rounds being played per day. Special guests were GM Sipke Ernst from the Netherlands and IA Chanda Nsakanya from Zambia.

The open section attracted 125 entries and was intended for players rated below 1900. It was played at 90 minutes per player for the game. The top two seeds were Jason Subke (1862) and Clive Mthunzi (1831) and they both reached 4 out of 4 with little trouble. However, Jason could only draw with Mpho Mshope in round 5, so he was half a point behind when the top two duly met in round 6. A tough positional game saw Jason a pawn down in a Rook and pawn ending as time ran short -
Subke vs Mthunzi, Black to move
and this is how the game ended: 1...Re4+ 2.Kd3 Re1 3.Rxd5! (after a long think, he had to see his 6th move here, if 3.Kd2 Re7 4.Rxd5 Kg8 is slightly better for Black) 3...Rd1+ 4.Ke4 Rxd5 5.Kxd5 Kf6 6.h6! (the only move) and the players agreed a draw. They both won in the 7th round, so the final placings were 1st Clive Mthunzi on 6.5, with a 3-way tie for 2nd place between Jason Subke, Ayanda Gumede and Mpho Mashope on 6 points from 7 games.
Clive Mthunzi with Sayen Naidu
Jason Subke with Sayen Naidu

Prizes for the open section were presented by Sayen Naidu, a former winner of the tournament in 2008. Here are the full results of the open section.

The FIDE section was very interesting, with 7 titled players competing. Obviously grandmaster Sipke Ernst was the favourite to win, but who would finish second, and who could take a draw from him? The standard FIDE time control of 90 minutes plus 30 seconds increment was used, but Sipke played very fast and had all his opponents under pressure. I was very impressed by his willingness to discuss his games and explain his moves afterwards.

All of the games in the FIDE section - 97 games (PGN) - were captured by me, so you can replay the moves at your leisure. I will just highlight some of the moments from Sipke's games:
Johannes Mabusela played 8.b4 here vs Sipke Ernst
"Where did I go wrong?" asked a baffled Mabu. Apparently 8.b4 was incorrect for 2 reasons, the first is that White has nowhere to castle, as the Q-side has big holes and the K-side lacks defenders, the second reason is that the c4 square becomes weak. The game is very instructive.

The closest anybody came to a draw against him was in round 6. It looked like Corno was better for much of the game, and this was the critical moment when the endgame was lost:
Corno Klaver vs Sipke Ernst, White to play
White could sit tight here, with a probable draw, but saw a little combination: 43.c5 Rxc5 44.Rxc5 dxc5 45.Bxf7, which was immediately refuted by 45...Kxf7 46.Kxe5 c4!. The GM knew that the pawn ending was a win for him, as he recognised the 3-2 pattern on the Q-side. Lesser mortals have to calculate the variations!

The most brilliant game of the tournament was unquestionably Sipke's win against Joseph. Here is the game with some variations added with the help of my favourite chess engine!
The start of round 5, Sipke Ernst vs Joseph Mwale
Here are the final results of the FIDE section and some photos supplied by the chief organiser, Erick Takawira, who did a lot of hard work behind the scenes.

Adrian Chappell 3rd place with 5/7 was a surprise

WIM Jesse February with WCM Karmishta Moodley

GM Sipke Ernst with IA Chanda Nsakanya

The Ethekwini Open floating trophy

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

1st Ethekwini Youth Trials

Ethekwini Chess Association held its 1st Youth Trials for 2017 over the weekend of 25th/26th March 2017. A total of 125 players took part in 5 sections divided by age. Sadly, this will be the last event to be hosted by the Open Air School, who have been very supportive of chess in Ethekwini over the past year. The venue for the 2nd Youth Trials on 25th/26th May 2017 has not yet been announced.

Here are the detailed results for each of the 5 different age groups:
under 8 & 10,
under 12,
under 14,
under 16,
under 18 & 20.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Grandmaster visit

Just a few days to go before Grandmaster Ernst arrives! He will be the special guest at this years Ethekwini Open, to be held at the Open Air School from the 18th to 21st March 2017. There will be a FIDE rated section as well as a Chess SA rated section. For further information, please see the following invitation to the Ethekwini open or give Erick Takawira (073 434 8634) a call.

King Cetshwayo Open

The King Cetshwayo Open was held over the weekend of 25th and 26th February in Richards Bay. A total of 158 players competed in 4 sections over 7 rounds. Here are the detailed results:
under 10 & under 12,
under 14 only,
under 16 only,
under 18, 20 & adult,
and some photos from the prizegiving:
Kirthan Naidoo was 1st under 10, his mother Maggie is on the right 
Top under 12 players, Keane Reddy, Mvuselelo Zulu and Arav Surujhlal

Nonthandazo Mkhize was 3rd in the adult section