Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Chess

Ok, where to look? Today the 2012 Australian Championship started....yes, I know its 2011, but when the tournament ends it will be 2012. The tournament favourite is GM Zong-Yuan Zhou and he had an easier than expected first round game as his opponent didn't show up. In fact, there is some sort of story here, but I'll wait till I see Bill Jordan to find out the full thing. I said that I would be following IM George Xie in this tournament. In the first round he drew with local player Domagoj Dragicevic. It was a pretty mad game, with Domagoj choosing a wierd b4 idea against the Sicilian.

Meanwhile, not all the favourites had their day. GM Johansen agreed to a 14 move draw with local youngster Laurence Matheson, while the 2008 champion Stephen Solomon also drew. However, the big upsets of the round came on the lower boards. Queensland junior Yi Liu defeated FM Bobby Chneg, while 2009 Victorian Junior Champion Jason Tang beat New Zealand FM Mike Steadman. I think this shows that while the battle at the top might be between a few, there is competitiveness in the middle and bottom half of the field.

The round 2 pairings have been produced, and the most intriguing one is between 2 of the players on half a point. The pairing Solomon-Johansen would have been expected at some stage in the tournament but probably not as early as round 2!

Across the world there are some great tournaments happening over the festive holidays. The traditional Hastings congress looks to be pretty strong this year (although I remember the round robins of the 1980's that were always great). I'll be following this one closely. Reggio Emilia is holding an elite round robin tournament which will be a good warm up for Wijk in January. Then there are strong opens in Groningen, Litomsyl, Geneva ( 2 live games happening as I write!) and Zurich.

Personally, the tournament that I would most like to play in at the present moment is in Davos, or Interlaken. The tournament is not strong, and not big, but what a place to hold a Christmas Chess Event!

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