Monday, March 05, 2012

Waters wins Williamson centenary edition

Michael Waters continued his right vein of form to win the 2012 Williamson Shield, 100 years on from its first edition. Crucial to his overall victory was a round 5 win over nine-time Williamson champion, Stephen Scannell. Waters went into the game with full points from his previous four games, with Scannell a half-point behind after taking a half-point bye on Saturday night. Waters with the Black pieces was content with a draw but was clever enough to offer the possibility of a pawn race between rival a- and h-pawns in a bishop and 4-pawn endgame. Scannell decided to grasp the opportunity to leap-frog his main rival for the title and played a move which looking like forcing Waters to give up his bishop to prevent the White a-pawn queening. But Waters countered immediately with a push of his h-pawn - he could afford to let his bishop go because now his pawn would queen first. Scannell immediately resigned.

Waters eventually finished with 5.5 points out of 6 after drawing with Danny Mallaghan, the only person who could still catch him, in the final round. That draw looked like securing Mallaghan one of the minor prizes; he had 4.5 points along with Ian Woodfield, who emerged the winner from a short but brutal battle with third-seed Gareth Annesley in the last round. The only other players who could reach 4.5 were Scannell and Callum Ormerod.  They were paired against each other and their game looked a certain draw from the time quite early in the game that a Queen and 5-pawn ending was reached. There were no obvious weaknesses to exploit or breakthroughs to make so it looked like the only thing Mallaghan and Woodfield had to worry about was who took second and who took third on tie-break.

However Scannell still had ambitions to make the prize-list and decided to try to tease out a win. The inexperienced Ormerod showed he had very strong nerves, worthy of a seasoned campaigner, and after a lot of careful manoeuvring, Scannell decided to take a very big risk to create complications, but in reality all he was doing was signing his own death warrant. Ormerod snaffled up the full-point to join those on 4.5. When the tie-break standings were calculated, it turned out that Ormerod was second, Woodfield third and despite his draw with the centenary champion, Mallaghan was remarkably out of the prizes.

Ross Harris won the 1300-1600 grading prize. Along the way he drew with the much higher- rated Mallaghan and Annesley and finished off his weekend by beating early pace-setter Damien Cunningham. Harris has just broken through the 1500 barrier and looks to be making strong strides towards 1600. He has the makings of a strong Intermediate player if he can continue to progress at his current rate. Raymond Smith took the under 1300 Grading Prize. Smith is one of those players who seems to raise his game against higher-rated opposition and he played a strong field in reaching 3.5 to win his prize on tie-break from the unlucky Gary Johnston.

1 comment:

Cal said...

Great report David! Thanks for the detailed info for those of us that couldn't make it. Lots of upsets, which is good for the game. Lots of underrated players out there!