As you probably know by now, the ChessCube SA Open 2009 implemented a world-first by allowing players at a venue in Melbourne , Australia to compete in the main tournament held in Cape Town, South Africa. This was accomplished by playing the games between these opponents online using ChessCube’s server.
Each round the players in South Africa were transported to ChessCube’s offices where they played under the supervision of FIDE Arbiter Simbarashe Murimi. Players were given the option to use a normal board in conjunction with the computer, or the computer alone. Except for one game, all players chose to still use the normal board as well.
On the Australian side GM Gawain Jones, IM Puchen Wang and IM Mirko Rujevic were playing under the watchful eye of International Arbiter Gary Bekker. Because of the eight hour time difference the games in Melbourne usually started in the early morning hours – about 2:30 AM local time! However, despite these conditions the players were always on time and in a cheerful mood, ready to battle for the full point.
The tournament saw the world’s first Grandmaster clash online in a Round 8 encounter between GM Dimitri Komarov and GM Gawain Jones. Unfortunately for such a noteworthy occasion the game ended much too soon when the players agreed to a draw after only 11 moves: 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. Nc3 O-O 5. e4 d6 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. b4 c6 10. Nd2 a5 11. bxa5 Qxa5 1/2-1/2
The result might be understandable from a psychological point of view, but it did not go down well with the numerous online spectators who were hoping for an exciting game between the tournaments strongest players.
The eventual winner of the event, GM Amon Simutowe, also played two games online. He looked right at home in the online environment and left with two draws against his strong opponents. After the games he commented that it went much better than he had expected and that he enjoyed the games. He also said that ChessCube was very easy to use and that he really liked the site, “technically it was a home run”.
One of the most exciting games was played in the penultimate round when FM Charles de Villiers took on GM Gawain Jones. The game proceeded as follows:
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f4 O-O 6. Nf3 Na6 7. e5 Nd7 8. c5 c6 9. Bxa6 bxa6 10. Be3 Rb8 11. O-O Rxb2 12. Qa4 Nb8 13. Qa3 Rb7 14. cxd6 exd6 15. Ne4 d5 16. Nd6 Qe7 17. Bf2 Rb6 18. Bh4 f6 19. Rae1 Be6 20. Re3 Qd7 21. exf6 Bxf6 22. Bxf6 Rxf6 23. Ne5 Qd8 24. Ng4 Bxg4 25. Re8+ Qxe8 26. Nxe8 Re6 27. h3 Rxe8 28. hxg4 Re2 29. Rf3 Rb1+ 30. Kh2 Rbb2 31. Re3 Rxg2+ 32. Kh1 Rge2 33. Rxe2 Rxe2 34. Qd6 Re8 35. Qc7 a5 36. f5 gxf5 37. gxf5 Rf8 38. f6 Rxf6 39. Qxb8+ Kg7 40. Qxa7+ Kg6 41. Qxa5
At this point White should have an easy win, but somehow black managed to fight on and get away with a draw.
41… Kf5 42. Qc7 Rh6+ 43. Kg2 Ke4 44. Qe5+ Kd3 45. Kf2 Rh1 46. Qe3+ Kc4 47. Kg2 Rb1 48. Qe2+ Kc3 49. Qe3+ Kc4 50. Kf2 Rb2+ 51. Kf3 Rxa2 52. Kf4 Ra8 53. Qe7 Kxd4 54. Qb4+ Kd3 55. Qb6 Ra4+ 56. Ke5 Re4+ 57. Kd6 Rc4 58. Qb1+ Kd2 59. Qxh7 d4 60. Qh2+ Kc3 61. Qe5 Kb3 62. Qe4 Kc3 63. Qe1+ Kc2 64. Qe2+ Kc3 65. Qe1+ Kc2 66. Qe2+ Kb3 67. Qd3+ Kb4 68. Qb1+ Kc3 69. Qa1+ Kd2 70. Qb2+ Ke3 71. Qb6 Rc2 72. Ke5 c5 73. Qh6+ Kd3 74. Qg6+ Kc3 75. Qg1 Kc4 76. Qg8+ Kc3 77. Qg1 Kb2 78. Ke4 Rc3 79. Qf2+ Kb3 80. Qf7+ Kb2 81. Qf2+ Ka3 82. Qd2 Kb3 83. Qd1+ Kb2 84. Qe2+ Kb3 85. Qb5+ Ka2 86. Qa6+ Kb1 87. Qb5+ Kc1 88. Qf1+ Kd2 89. Qf2+ Kd1 90. Qf1+ Kc2 91. Qe2+ Kc1 1/2-1/2
In the end it was not to be for Charles and he had to be satisfied with a draw. Nevertheless it was an excellent game to watch, with most online spectators being present for hours while the game was taking place.
All in all most players seemed to enjoy the new experience very much, with most of them having their first chance to play against a titled player. Feedback was positive and will be reported soon!