Ballarat Regains Fletcher Morrow Shield
The 2015 Fletcher-Morrow Chess Challenge saw Ballarat regain the coveted Shield from Geelong, taking the honours with a convincing 6.5 to 3.5 win against the home team.
The visitors showed steady consistency across all ten boards; even the drawn matches were hard-fought, with James Watson and Patrick Cook showing gritty resolve to stave off defeat. Likewise on Board 1, Bas Van Riel weathered an early onslaught from Michael Sugrue to secure a draw, himself coming within a whisker of turning the tables:
White: Michael Sugrue (Geelong)
Black: Bas Van Riel (Ballarat)
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Be2 c5 6.dxc5 Qa5 7.O-O dxc5 8.e5 Ng4 9.Bb5+ Kf8 10.Bf4 a6 11.Bc4 Nc6 12.Qd2 Bf5 13.Rfe1 Rd8 14.Qc1 b5 15.Bd5 Nd4 16.Be4 b4 17.Bxf5 gxf5 18.Nd1
18 … b3!
A bolt from the blue. White’s next move is forced.
19.Ne3 Nxe3 20.Nxd4 Nxc2 21.Nxc2 bxc2 22.Qxc2 e6 23.Rad1? Rd5 24.Ra1 1/2-1/2
To explain white’s odd last move – Bas had offered a draw after playing 23 … Rd5.
Ignoring this, Michael raised his rook from d1 to play 24 Rxd5?? before noticing the parlous state of his other rook. His hand froze in mid-air. He then meekly returned the rook to d1, slid it across to a1 and himself offered a draw, duly accepted!
Geelong’s only winners were Reza Daneshvar and Mio Ristic, both working hard against determined opponents – Mio’s game being the last one to finish.
As the only Junior competitor in the field, Jack Smith of Geelong performed well against the more experienced Chris Segrave. Playing the black pieces, Jack uncorked a discovered attack to gain the upper hand:
18 … Nf3+! 19 Qxf3 Bxa1
and Chris had to work hard to hold on for the win.
Next year Geelong travels to Ballarat, hopefully to rebalance the ledger!