On Thursday May 1, 16 USyd chess players, led by Gareth Charles, lined up against 16 counterparts from UNSW. When the smoke cleared, the spoils of this up and down match were shared. The results, an 8-8 score without a single draw, was testament to the fighting spirit of each of the players.
USyd managed to grab an early lead as Adrian Duong, playing on board 11, managed to capitalise on a mistake by his opponent and win quickly. UNSW then fought back strongly, managing to build leads of 3-2 and 4-3 as they asserted their dominance on the lower boards. With two games left to finish, UNSW appeared to have the match in the bag as they lead 8-6. However, USyd managed to grab the last two games, leaving the tie finely balanced heading into the second leg.
The tale of the scoreboard showed, after the top two boards, which were split 1-1, USyd’s middle order performed very strongly, winning 7-3 on the boards 3-11. UNSW made up this deficit by scoring 4-1 on the bottom 5 boards.
Of the top six players in last year’s victorious USyd team, four were unavailable for this match.
Rupert Coy, Intervarsity Officer for USyd Chess Club, was optimistic about the result. “I’m quite pleased with a draw,” Coy said. “I’m very confident we’ll win the second leg. The strength in the middle boards shows that we’ve got plenty of good new players.” Coy singled out the play of Jordan Fotaras and Shawn Abeynaike for special praise.
A technical mishap occurred on board 6, as USyd’s Ed Selig thought he had won on time before finding out that the clock had been set wrong. Anthony Wong, External Vice-President of UNSW Chess Club, apologised for this mistake. “It really shows poor form,” said Wong. “[We will] ensure that this won’t occur again in the future.”
Despite this glitch, Wong believed that the match was a success. He lauded the executives of both clubs for bringing newer players to the match. He expressed his belief that the match was of great benefit to the growth of the game in Sydney.
This is the third year that the USyd-UNSW Chess Match has been held, with USyd triumphing in both of the prior editions. In 2012 they won 9½-4½, and last year they prevailed 13½-10½.