New Zealand Chess Bulletin, June 2019

ACO Senior Chess Championship by Bob Mitchell

The Amateur Chess Organisation is set up to cater for non-elite players. The ACO runs tournaments for the great unwashed and it appears FIDE treats it as a rival organisation, so ACO games are not rated by FIDE. I didn't realise that at the time, it was a little disappointing in retrospect as you'll see.

Anyhow, Margaret and I liked the look of "The ACO Senior Chess Championship". It was held in Crete at Modele Beach, a 5 star resort where all food and drinks were included in the entry price. Ten days of 5 star accommodation and food cost us 1500 pounds and with 9 rounds of chess thrown in was always going to be an attractive proposition. Fodele Beach is built near the waters edge of a lovely beach, but the accommodation is on the side of a hill and the climb up to our room was quite steep.

Ranked 18th in the tournament list, I was not expecting to perform wonders, especially as my chess powers have declined as my age increases. Here are my games recorded for posterity, it turns out the games have not been published anywhere else.

Round One

Not knowing what to expect I saw that I was playing White so decided on the London System. I play it whenever possible since it is a good opening and easy to play.

Mitchell, Bob - Hauger, Albrecht - ACO World Amateur Seniors 2018

1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 e6 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nd2 Bd6 5.Bg3 c5 6.c3 a6 This was aimed at preventing Bb5 or was preparing b5, but I was focused on the King side.  7.Bd3 Nc6 8.Ngf3 c4 A first sign of weakness - releasing the central tension.  9.Bc2 b5 10.Ne5 Qc7 11.f4 Bb7 12.O-O O-O 13.Bh4 Be7

Moves are clickable

My 13th move was aimed at removing Nf6, the main defender of the King. Although the move makes good sense, this was the first time it had occurred to me, so the next few moves were uncharted territory.  14.Bxf6 Bxf6 15.Qh5 g6 16.Qh6 Nxe5 17.fxe5 Bg7 18.Qh4 Rae8 I saw that Black intended to exchange Queens, taking pressure off his position.  19.Rf3 Qe7 20.Rf6! Qd8 What a lovely place for a Rook. The Queen exchange has been avoided, and Black invites an early death if he captures the piece.  21.Raf1 Re7 22.R1f3 Qd7 23.Rh3 h6 24.Rhf3 Qe8 25.Rg3 Kh7 Finally, the Rook lands on the correct square, but meantime Black has exposed his King in an effort to protect h6.   26.Nf3 Rh8


27.Ng5+ Kg8 28.Nxf7 Rxf7 29.Bxg6 1-0

Round Two

My second game was as Black against another German. Nowadays I usually play 1....d6 and wait to see how White proceeds.

Fuhrmann, Wolfgang - Mitchell, Bob - ACO World Amateur Seniors 2018

1.d4 d6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 dxe5 4.Qxd8+ Kxd8 5.Bd2 c6 This is a line I often play as Black. White finds that his c pawn and his e pawn get in his way but provide targets for Black.   6.Nc3 Be6 7.e3 Na6 My first error. Best was 7...a5 to provide cover for c5   8.O-O-O Kc7 9.Be1 Nf6?

Moves are clickable

Another error. This Knight should go to h6 leaving f6 for the f pawn to shore up e5. I realised at this point that I was a bit off my game.   10.Nf3 Nd7 11.Ng5 Ndc5 12.Nxe6+ Nxe6 Passive play. I should have anticipated Ng5 and prevented it with 11....h6 to avoid the exchange. Although White is also making sub-optimal moves, I am losing confidence rapidly.   13.a3 Nac5 14.b4 Nd7 15.g3 Ng5 16.h4 Nf3 17.Be2 Nxe1 18.Rhxe1 Be7 19.Bg4 Rad8 20.Rxd7+ Rxd7 21.Bxd7 Kxd7 22.Rd1+ Kc7 23.Kc2 f5 24.f4 e4 25.Ne2 White offers a draw but like the mug that I am, I imagine that there is still hope.   25...Bf6 26.Nd4 Bxd4 27.Rxd4 Rd8 = 1/2-1/2

Round Three

Mitchell, Bob - Mulder, Ben - ACO World Amateur Seniors 2018

1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Nc6 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nf3 e6 5.Nbd2 a6 6.c3 Be7 7.Bd3 O-O Black has played passive chess and has failed to punish White's opening inaccuracies. White has therefore managed to develop as he should have and is ready to continue with a sound line.   8.Ne5 g6 9.Ndf3 Nh5 10.Nxc6 bxc6 The Bishop can find safety on h6 but White has plans to win a pawn on c6. In the event it was not required.   11.Bh6 Re8 12.Ne5 Qd6 13.Qf3 Bf6! Nice Move! I thought about  (13...Bf6 14.g4 but after  14...Bxe5 15.dxe5 Qxe5 Black is able to retreat the Knight.  ) 14.Ng4 Bd8 15.Ne5 Bf6 16.Bf4 Nxf4 17.Qxf4 Bxe5 18.dxe5 Qe7 19.h4 h5 20.O-O-O Rb8 21.g4 hxg4 22.Qg5 Qc5

Moves are clickable

23.Bxg6 and Black resigned. 1-0

With 2.5/3 I was awash with confidence and thought that I might do better than my ranking. At this point I had no idea that the games would be unrated. I was enjoying the food and also the odd wee dram.

Round Four

Stoltz, Petra - Mitchell, Bob - ACO World Amateur Seniors 2018

1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 b6 3.Bg2 Bb7 4.O-O Nf6 5.d3 e6 6.Nbd2 Be7

Moves are clickable

At this point I had no real idea of what I was doing. Although the Reti is the most often played opening at high levels, it was all a bit strange to me.   7.Re1 c5 8.c4 O-O 9.b3 d4 10.Bb2 Qc7 11.Rc1 Nbd7 12.e3 dxe3 13.Rxe3 Rad8 14.d4 Ba8 15.d5 Qd6 16.Ne4 Nxe4 17.Rxe4 exd5 18.Rg4 Nf6 19.Be5 Qd7 20.Rh4 Ne8


21.Rxh7 Kxh7 This was a bit of a shock. I thought that I must have miscalculated, but it turned out the White had not taken my next moves into account.   22.Ng5+ Bxg5 23.Qh5+ Bh6 A piece up but under pressure I was reasonably happy with events on the board.   24.Rd1 Qe7 25.Bf4 Qf6 26.Bxd5 Bxd5 27.Rxd5 Rxd5 28.cxd5 Nd6 29.Be3 Qf5 30.g4 Qxh5 0-1

Round Five

White was the highest rated player in our grade so I had no expectations of a win. However he did have some games that I found online so I was able to prepare for his unusual opening.

Velizhanin, Alexandr - Mitchell, Bob - ACO World Amateur Seniors 2018

1.Nc3 d5 2.e4 d4 3.Nce2 e5 4.Ng3 Nf6 5.d3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Bxd2+ 7.Qxd2 O-O 8.Nf3 Re8 9.Be2 c5 10.O-O Nc6 11.a3 Bg4 12.h3 Bxf3 13.Bxf3 Qa5

Moves are clickable

Exchanging on f3 has left White with a poor Bishop. I believed I had the better position.   14.Qg5 h6 15.Qc1 Ne7 16.Nh5 Qb6 17.Ng3 a5 18.Bd1 Ra6 19.Ne2 Nh7 20.Rb1 Qc7 21.f4 exf4 22.Nxf4 Qe5 23.Qd2 Rf6 24.Nh5 Rxf1+ 25.Kxf1 b6 26.Qf2 Ng6 27.Ng3 Re6 28.Kg1 Rf6 There was another possibility here. I spend some time thinking about playing Nh4 instead of 28...Rf6 but without the Rook on f6 the options were limited.   29.Bf3 Ng5 30.Nf5 Nxf3+ 31.Qxf3 Ne7 32.Nxe7+ Qxe7 33.Qe2 Qe5 34.Rf1 Rg6 35.Qf3 Rf6 36.Qe2 Rf4 37.b3 Qf6 38.a4 Rxf1+ 39.Qxf1 Qg5 40.Kh2 Qd2 41.Qf5 Qg5 1/2-1/2

Round Six

I decided to rest the London System against an English player who I had not met before.

Mitchell, Bob - Sartain, Patrick - ACO World Amateur Seniors 2018

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d6 3.g3 g6 So, it looks as if it will be a fianchetto Kings Indian. I have a pet game played in 1980 in this variation Chiburdanidze - Laubscher and I know it quite well.   4.Bg2 c6 5.O-O Bg7 6.c4 O-O 7.Nc3 Bg4 8.h3 Bd7 9.Re1 Na6 10.e4 Kh8 White has achieved his opening objectives. Meantime the Na6 could come to b4 though it would probably prefer c7. I want to play b4 myself soon, so:   11.a3 Nc7 12.Ra2 Qc8 13.Kh2 Re8 14.Ng5 Rf8 15.b4 h6 16.Nf3 a6 17.Rc2 Kh7 18.e5 Nce8 19.d5 cxd5 20.Nxd5 Nxd5 21.cxd5 Qd8

Moves are clickable

22.Rc4 e6 23.Rh4 Rh8 24.Ng5+ Kg8


25.Nxf7 Kxf7 26.Qf3+ Kg8 27.Qb3 Qe7 28.exd6 Nxd6 29.dxe6 Bc6 30.Bxc6 bxc6 31.Rf4 Kh7 32.Qc2 Raf8 33.Qxc6 Rxf4 34.Bxf4 Rd8 White now has a winning advantage and a plus in material.   35.Qxa6 Nf5 36.Qb6 Bd4 37.Qc7 Qxc7 38.Bxc7 Re8 39.Kg2 Kg7 40.b5 Kf6 41.b6 Bxb6 42.Bxb6 Rxe6 43.Rxe6+ Kxe6 44.a4 Kd7 45.a5 Kc6 46.Kf3 Ne7 47.Ke4 Kd6 48.Be3 h5 49.a6 Kc7 50.Ke5 Ng8 51.Ke6 1-0

Round Seven

By this time other players were starting to wish me luck, and I was getting friendly smiles from all sides. I was feeling very confident.

Madden, Jason - Mitchell, Bob - ACO World Amateur Seniors 2018

1.e4 d6 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 Nc6 4.Be3 Ne5 5.Nd2 a6 6.h3 b5 7.Bb3 c5 8.f4 Nc6 9.Ngf3 e6 10.a4 Bb7 11.Qe2 Na5 12.axb5 Nxb3 13.Nxb3 axb5 14.O-O Be7 15.Rxa8 Bxa8 16.Ra1 O-O 17.e5 Nd5 18.exd6 Bxd6 19.Ne5 Nxe3 20.Qxe3 Qc7

Moves are clickable

White seems to prefer Knights to Bishops, but Black was happy to trade them off. The opening follows a variation from Cyrus Lackdawala's book on 1....d6 and I seem to have come out of the opening phase reasonably well.   21.d4 cxd4 22.Nxd4 Qb7 23.Nef3 Bc5 24.Kh1 Rd8 25.c3 Qb6 26.Qe5 b4 27.Nb3 Bd6 28.Qd4 Qc7 29.Ne5 Bxe5 30.Qxe5 Qxe5 31.fxe5 bxc3 32.bxc3 Bd5 33.Nd4 g6 34.Re1 Rc8 35.Re3 Ra8 36.Rg3 h5 37.Nb5 Bc4 38.Nd6 Ra1+ 39.Kh2 Bd5 40.c4 Bc6 41.Nc8 Kf8 42.Nd6 Re1 43.Rg5 Rc1 44.Rg3 Rc2 45.h4 Re2 46.Rg5 Rd2 47.Kg1 Rd1+ 48.Kf2 Rd4 49.g3 Rd2+ 50.Ke3 Rd1 51.Nc8 Bg2 52.g4 hxg4 53.Rxg4 Bh3 54.Rf4 Bf5 55.Nd6 Rd3+ 56.Ke2 Rc3 57.Kd2 Rc2+ 58.Ke3 Rc3+ 59.Kd4 Rd3+ 60.Kc5 Ke7


All these checks have allowed the White King to find an offside position on c5 where it blocks progress of the pawn and is separated from the main area of play.   61.Kc6 Kf8 62.Nb7 Rd1 63.Nc5 Ke7


64.Ne4 A blunder by White who now loses a piece.  64...Rd4 65.Rf2 Bxe4+ 66.Kc5 Rd7 67.Kb6 Bf5 68.c5 Kd8 69.Ra2 Be4 70.c6 Bxc6 71.Kxc6 Rc7+ 72.Kd6 Rd7+ 73.Kc6 Ke7 74.Rf2 Rd4 75.Rh2 Re4 76.h5 gxh5 77.Rxh5 Rc4+ 78.Kb5 Rd4 79.Kc5 Rd5+ 80.Kc4 Kf8 81.Rg5? f6 82.Rg6 Rxe5 83.Rxf6+ Ke7 and White resigned. It seemed to me that White was a little tired or perhaps dispirited. No matter, I was pleased to accept the resignation as the game was by no means won at that point.  0-1

Round Eight

Mitchell, Bob - Koehner, Joergen - ACO World Amateur Seniors 2018

It is not often that one achieves a Royal Fork in a game and even less often that it need not be exploited. I was very pleased with this game as it ensured that I would at least have a share of first place, no matter what happened in the last round.  1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Bf4 e6 4.e3 Nbd7 5.c3 Be7 6.Bd3 Nh5 7.Bg3 Nxg3 8.hxg3 Nf6 9.Ne5 Bd7 10.Nd2 Bd6 11.f4 Qe7 12.Qf3 Ba4 13.Kf2 O-O-O 14.c4 dxc4 White is already opening crucial lines to Black's King. Black does not seem to be familiar with the opening.   15.Ndxc4 h6 This pawn was quite safe because of the Bishop trapping potential of g6. So I was pleased to see this unnecessary move.  16.Na5 Nd5 17.Rhc1 Bxe5 18.dxe5 Qb4 19.Nc4 Kb8 20.a3 Qe7 21.Rab1 Bc6 22.Qe2 f6 23.Na5 Bd7

Moves are clickable

24.Ba6 bxa6 25.Qxa6 Bc8 26.Nc6+ 1-0

Round Nine

A look at the leader board showed that with best results by my opponents I would share first place even if I lost the last round. I very nearly did just that, but as in Round 7 luck swooped in to save me.

Gerlach, Dr Andreas - Mitchell, Bob - ACO World Amateur Seniors 2018

1.Nf3 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 g6 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.e4 e5 6.dxe5 dxe5 7.Qxd8+ Kxd8 Caught between two openings with the worst features of both, I can already hear the rumble of thunder.   8.Bg5 Be7 9.Rd1+ Ke8 10.a3 Bg4 11.Be2 Bxf3 12.Bxf3 Nd4 13.O-O Nxf3+ 14.gxf3 Rd8? I am playing in a trance. Better was either h6 or a6.   15.Rxd8+ Bxd8 16.Rd1 Be7 17.Nb5 h6 18.Nxc7+ Kf8

Moves are clickable

19.Rd7?? Nxd7 Salvation! I had done almost enough to lose miserably, but lady luck was driving the car, so I was able to score my best ever result in international competition. White resigned immediately.  0-1

However luckily obtained, the title of World Champion Grade E was mine. Margaret had been waiting nervously outside the playing room and was receiving updates from passing players. The grim news suddenly turned sunny so she was as thrilled as I was. The closing ceremony passed in a daze, but my wife took a shot of me and my trophy that I can admire when I get old and grey.

Bob Mitchell with the trophy

Here is the complete podium, L to R Hans Griesche (Germany), Yours Truly, Alexandr Velizhanin (Russia)

Hans Griesche, Bob Mitchell, Alexandr Velizhanin

Finally, all the tournament statistics, including the crosstable is on the Chess Results server here.