Oceania Zonal 2019 Report by Paul Spiller
The 2019 Oceania Zone 3.6 Championship held in Tumon, Guam from February 18-24 was an unprecedented success.
Whilst the number of participants was fewer (as anticipated) than recent Zonal events in New Zealand and Australia the organisation and hospitality shown to the players by Guam Echecs was second to none.
Roger Orio, The President of the Guam Chess Federation and his team did an exceptional job making this one of the most memorable events that I have participated in.
The tournament began with a wonderful Opening Ceremony which included a local dance group, a flag ceremony by the George Washington High School, singing and a marvellous Banquet Dinner.
The tournament got under way with the official moves being made by FIDE president Arkady Dvorkovich who flew in the night before in order to support Guam chess and to talk with OCC officials en route to meetings in the USA.
FIDE treasurer Zhu Chen also visited Guam for several days to support the event and attend the meeting of the Oceania Chess Confederation.
The Open tournament began with a massive upset when top seed GM Max Illingworth unwisely took a poisoned queenside pawn against local player Felix Lacno who proceeded to launch a kingside attack that Max could not defend against. See the February 2019 NZ Chess Bulletin for that game. With a rating difference of nearly 800 points this certainly was a major upset and threw the tournament wide open.
Max did regain his momentum with a series of six straight wins before agreeing to a quick 10 move draw against Kiwi John Duneas in round 8. Possibly this was promoted by another scare in round 7 against Clive Ng when Clive missed an outright winning move. Max completed his tournament by beating Stuart Fancy of PNG in the last round to finish clear first in 7.5/9
Ng, Clive - Illingworth, Max - Oceania Zonal 2019
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f3 h5 9.Qd2 Nbd7 10.Nd5 Bxd5 11.exd5 g6 12.Be2 Bg7 13.O-O O-O 14.c4 e4 15.f4 Ng4 16.Bxg4 hxg4 17.Rac1 f5 18.Rfd1 Re8 19.Nd4 Nc5 20.Ne6 Nxe6 21.dxe6 Rxe6 22.c5
Moves are clickable
22...Qd7? This shouldn't quite work 23.cxd6 Bf8 24.Rc7 Qxd6 25.Qxd6? Missing a win (25.Qc2! is natural 25...Qb4 the only square 26.a3 Qb5 and now (26...Qa5 allowing 27.Qc4 is less resilient ) 27.b4!! is the winning computer move, preparing Rdd7 by making b3 and/or a2/b2 available for the Queen. Black cannot prevent all of White's major pieces descending on his King - for example ( note that 27.Rdd7? immediately can be met with 27...Rc8 ( or 27...Rd6 ) ) 27...Rae8 28.Rdd7 R8e7 29.Qa2 (controlling e2) 29...Kf7 30.Rd6 Rxc7 31.Qxe6+ mates ) 25...Rxd6 26.Rxd6 Bxd6 27.Rxb7 Rb8 28.Rd7 Bf8 29.Bd4 Rc8 30.Bc3 Bc5+ 31.Kf1 Rc6 32.Ke2 Kf8 33.Rh7 Ke8 34.h3 gxh3 35.gxh3 Bd6 36.Ke3 Be7 37.h4 Rd6 38.Ke2 Rd3 39.Rg7 Bxh4 40.Rxg6 Rf3 41.Rxa6 Rxf4 42.Bf6 Rf2+ 43.Ke3 Rf3+ 44.Ke2 Bxf6 45.Rxf6 Ke7 46.Rb6 f4 47.a4 Rd3 48.Rb4
White has been holding the balance but Black's more advanced pawns give him practical chances 48...f3+ 49.Ke1?? White cannot allow a duo on the sixth rank (49.Kf2! holds 49...Rd2+ 50.Kf1! Re2 51.a5 e3 52.a6 and White is easily in time since Black needs to get his King off the e file before moving his Rook ) 49...e3 Game over, this way White doesn't have any saving threats against the e pawn now that it can simply advance to a protected square 50.Rc4 f2+ ( an amusing alternative is 50...e2 51.Rc1 Kd6 52.a5 Kd5 53.a6 Kd4 54.a7 Ke3 55.a8=Q f2# ) 51.Ke2 Rd1 52.Re4+ Kd6 53.Rf4 Re1+ 54.Kd3 f1=Q+ 55.Rxf1 Rxf1 56.Kxe3 Rb1 57.Kd4 Rxb2 58.Kc4 Kc6 59.Kc3 Rh2 60.Kb4 Rh4+ 61.Ka5 Rf4 62.Ka6 Rxa4# (annotations by Bill Forster) 0-1
Somewhat surprisingly but completely deservedly was Shaun Press of PNG in outright second on 6.5 points. Shaun played good solid chess throughout the event and was undefeated, winning crucial games against Tony Dowden, Angelito Camer and Felix Lacno in the last round. This was probably the most significant result of Shaun’s chess career and he also picked up an IM norm. In third place there was a three way tie between Clive Ng ( Australia), Manuel Enofre ( GUM) and John Duneas (NZ) on 6 points. Notably John was also undefeated throughout. All these three also qualified for FM titles.
Tony Dowden also had a chance to join these players if he could win his last round game against local player Rudy Soriano but Rudy proved a very tough opponent and in the end it was Tony who had to scramble a bit for the draw.
My own tournament started out positively with two wins against Hossain Mohammed Manik of Guam and Tito Cabunagan of Palau but then in round 3 I blundered badly against Clive Ng in an approximately level position. Unfortunately I then ran into Max in round 4 so suffered 2 consecutive losses. With 4.5/7 I still had a chance of getting to the 6 point mark but came unstuck against Stuart Fancy in round 8 thus ending any chance of an FM result.
The Women’s Championship was completely dominated as expected by WGM Julia Ryjanova of Australia. A perfect 9/9. Her nearest rival turned out to be compatriot Rebecca Stones who finished in 7.5 points after defeating Vyanla in their individual encounter. Vyanla finished on 7 points for outright 3rd place, an excellent result considering she is still only 14. I asked Julia after the tournament which game she considered to be her most challenging and without a doubt she said it was her encounter against Vyanla. There were definitely chances for Vyanla in this great attacking game and Julia has analysed it for the Australian Chess Newsletter for those interested.
So Max and Julia now move on to the next stage of qualification at the World Cup events although Max has now announced his retirement (at least for the moment) from competitive chess in order to focus on his passion for chess coaching.
Congratulations again to Roger Orio and his team for putting on such a wonderful event.