PictureMy student, CM Chris Ball, =Best U2000
In this blog post I'll be sharing the successes of my students at the recent Oceania Zonal (the first stage of the World Chess Championship cycle), played in Sydney at Norths Chess Club from July 4-10! I did OK as well, winning the tournament with 7.5/9 and then a rapid playoff to qualify for the 2015 World Cup in Baku :)

I had three students playing the Oceania Zonal, namely Chris Ball, Canddiate Master (CM) Francesco Antoniazzi, and Anthony Chan (who is relatively new to adult tournaments). Let's see how they all fared!

CM Francesco Antoniazzi (FIDE 1728): 4.5/9, performance rating 1973, +48.6 rating points

I have been coaching Francesco for a couple of years now and he was very pleased to perform so well in arguably the most important Australian tournament of the year :) He would have qualified for the CM title except he is already a CM! Before the tournament we had done some work on openings, technique in converting an advantage and calculating precisely, and Francesco showed all of these qualities in his play. Indeed, during the tournament I noticed that he was even more focused in his games than usual and that definitely contributed to the outstanding result. He was happiest with his upset win over Kiwi Timothy Rains (1870 FIDE) so I have analysed that game below:

Anthony Chan (Unrated): 4.5/9, starting FIDE Rating 1881, Candidate Master title

Anthony is a relatively new student of mine, having contacted me for help with his opening preparation for the NSW Open and Oceania Zonal. Like me, most of his work tends to go into improving his understanding and knowledge of his openings, and my task before the tournament was to organise his repertoire, including pointing out key move order devices, recommending model players to study, and providing information about openings and typical middlegames not covered in his opening books. Positional play comes most naturally to him, and he also asks a lot of good questions, which is very important when trying to improve rapidly.

Unfortunately I only have one of his wins from the tournament (I would have preferred to show his win over Victorian junior Ray Yang) but it gives an indication of his playing style:
However, curiously enough the game of Anthony's that impressed me most was his loss to Patrick Gong - a very talented and in my view under-rated WA junior. Anthony had outplayed his opponent up and down the board, however, at the moment when he could establish a decisive advantage, he lost control of the position. Still, the game is a good illustration of the importance of working on your openings in the computer era:
Obviously in chess there's always room for one to improve, and I'm confident that if Anthony continues working hard (especially on dynamic positions and calculation) and plays regularly, he will eventually reach the 2200 rating usually required for the CM title. I look forward to continuing to contribute to that process!

I've saved my most successful student at the Oceania Zonal for last...and he even came close to the FIDE Master title! 

Christopher Ball (FIDE 1861): 5.5/9, Performance Rating 2164, +58.6 rating points, Candidate Master title

Chris has been my student for a bit over a year now and is one of the most passionate chess players I know - every lesson he has a master game he wants to show me, or plenty of quotes by strong chess players, a chess book he's read or a chess video he's watched - and often much more! He's put a lot of effort into his chess for some time and in this tournament he did an exceptional job of applying the techniques I'd shown him! Above all I was impressed by his ability to recover from setbacks in his games; when he did make a mistake, he put it behind him and continued fighting hard, usually being rewarded for setting his opponent problems. A great example of that was the following win early in the tournament:
My annotations proved so detailed that I had to divide them into two separate games for the viewer! Anyway, here's a puzzle opportunity: how would you try to fight back as White in the position after 12...Nxe5?
In the last round, having already secured the Candidate Master title with two rounds to spare, Chris was Black against FM Dusan Stojic (not the world's easiest pairing), and a win would give him the FIDE Master title. He came close, even reaching a winning position near the end of the game after a bit of luck, however the game ultimately ended in a draw:
Even so, Chris was hardly disappointed - his goal for the tournament was to achieve the Candidate Master title and he overshot the mark, and against a strong field at that! I am sure he will find his lifetime Diamond Membership at Chess.com (for titled players) handy as he works toward the FIDE Master title :) 

Now for those potential students reading about the successes of others - you can do it too! You'll have to complement lessons with me with hard work of your own and plenty of practice games, but my results and the results of my students speak for themselves :) I offer a very deep understanding of chess (conveyed very clearly, like in this blog) and you can see from my game analyses here that I have the unique skill of being able to immediately identity the main areas for improvement of a player - and in my lessons I do create and execute an individual plan for fixing those weaknesses and helping you play to your strengths! 

Please drop a line to my email IllingworthChess@gmail.com to start your chess improvement journey with me!


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