New Zealand Chess Bulletin, February 2019

Shock Upset at the Guam Oceania Zonal

The 2019 Oceania Zonal is being held in the very exotic location of Guam, a United States territory in the North Pacific to the East of the Phillipines. Separate Open and Women's tournaments are being held, with World Championship qualification places on offer. Four New Zealanders are playing, Vyanla Punsalan in the 10 player Women's section and Tony Dowden, John Duneas and Paul Spiller in the 37 player Open.

Note that the Vega links above are actually hosted on the NZCF website, courtesy of chief arbiter our own Bob Gibbons.

In the Open tournament, Aussie GM Max Illingworth was a huge favourite to qualify for the next stage of the World Championship, with a 400 point plus gap to the second seed. His opponent in round one was a nearly 800 Elo point underdog, and yet, in chess you never know. (At the time of writing Max has recovered to share the lead with 4/5 in a 9 round tournament).

Lacno, Felix - Illingworth, Max - Oceania Zonal 2019

1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Be2 e6 7.O-O Nc6 8.h3 Bh5 9.Be3 cxd4 10.Nxd4 Bxe2 11.Qxe2 Be7 12.Rd1 O-O 13.Nd2 Nxd4 14.Bxd4 b5 15.Bxf6 gxf6 16.Nf3 Qc5 17.Nd4 a6 18.Rd3 Kh8 19.Rg3 Bd6 20.Rg4 f5 21.Rh4 Be7 22.Rh5 Rg8 23.Rd1 Rad8 24.Rd3 Bf6 25.Qd2 Qd5 26.Rf3 Rg6 27.Rg3

Moves are clickable

27...Qxa2?? A rather odd move to play, placing the Queen two moves away from Black's kingside where it is clear White is now going to get some serious activity. Maybe being a grandmaster has a practical downside - you assume you can calculate everything and avoid all accidents! In fact White is now just winning with straightforward attacking play ( It's hard to see what's not to like about the simple continuation 27...Rxg3 28.fxg3 Bxd4+ 29.cxd4 Qxd4+ 30.Qxd4+ Rxd4 and Black has an extra passed pawn, and a much better placed rook. ) 28.Rxg6 fxg6 29.Qh6 Qb1+ 30.Kh2 Be5+ 31.f4! Eliminating the Bishop and leaving the dark squares on the Kingside defenceless (31.g3? gxh5 wins for Black ) 31...Bxf4+ ( similarly 31...gxh5 32.fxe5 and Black cannot reasonably prevent mate on g7 or f8 ) 32.Qxf4 gxh5 33.Qe5+ Kg8 34.Qxe6+ Kf8 35.Nxf5 Black has no influence at all on e7, f6 and g7 ( and can only get it by playing 35.Nxf5 Rd7 36.Qxd7 Qe1 but Max doesn't care to play that out ) 1-0