Newstead, Launceston 10-12 May - by Kevin Bonham

The 2018 Tasmanian Championship was held at the R.A.O.B. G.A.B. Hall in Newstead, Launceston.  R.A.O.B. G.A.B. stands for Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, Grand Australasian Banner. The order (unknown to me before this event) is a philanthropic fraternal society and the hall is adorned with over a century of fascinating society documents and regalia.  

Its motto Nemo Mortalium Omnibus Horis Sapit (No Man Is At All Hours Wise) would serve well to describe the play in this year’s event, and also the end result.  Indeed this was the first time since 2001 that no player in the tournament (eligible for the title or otherwise) finished it undefeated.

Top seeds by rating in the 18-strong field were Kevin Bonham and 2017 winner Ian Rout, but Toby Straton (whose ACF classic rating is deflated by some old games in Queensland and has been playing at around 1900s strength in Tasmania) was the obvious smokey.  So it proved in round two when Straton defeated Rout in a game strewn with reversals of fortune. After beating Straton with white in a tricky Scandinavian sideline (1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nxd5 4.Qf3 Nb4) Bonham took the outright lead in round four, but his progress was slowed by a pretty horrible draw (which should have been a pretty horrible loss) against Ian Little in round 5.

After the early loss Rout could have been eliminated from serious contention but fortune favoured him when Denis McMahon turned down a draw offer (suspecting there must be something wrong with Rout’s position for Rout to make it) and then went on to lose.  Rout was also involved in the most interesting game of the tournament when Aidan Cox sacrificed a piece for what Rout called “a 40-move attempt at perpetual”, which the defending champion eventually warded off with great care.

Into the final day and Bonham with a half-point lead had white against Rout for the 10th time in 11 games.  After misplaying the opening as usual Bonham recovered, also as usual, but then played an especially unwise move in a heavy-piece late middlegame leading to his kingside being swamped with rook-sacrifice for mate threats that eventually won a large number of pawns.  This led to a final round with Rout-Little and McMahon-Straton as the top board pairings, and both leaders won (Rout easily and Straton with a lot more difficulty.) As a result, Bonham’s failure to convert against Cox with knight and two pawns vs knight had no bearing on the final outright placings.

Following longstanding TCA rules (since the state’s dispersed population makes playoffs hard to organise) the tie for the title stands. It was the third title for Rout, who also won the title of Tasmanian Seniors Champion and the first for Straton at his first attempt.  Rating prizes were taken out by Aidan Cox and Owen Swan with Will Rumley winning another junior prize. Drinkable prizes for the top placegetters were kindly donated by Swinging Gate vineyard. Full results and some games are available on Chesschat.

Thanks to Ian Little who acted as director of play and also organised the venue at short notice after the expected venue became unavailable.

Ian is working on a pgn of games. In the meantime, here's a selection of the games entered so far:

2018 Tasmanian Championship - Selected Games