Thursday, December 22, 2011

Waiting for Wijk

It's almost Christmas and chess is playing second fiddle to eating, drinking and making merry! But the festive holidays are a traditional time for chess and the break from work gives chess players time to recharge ready for the next batch of tournaments. Here in Australia, Christmas marks the start of the summer holidays, and with it comes the typical glut of chess tournaments.

First is the Australian Championship, and associated events, which are due to start December 27th in Geelong, Victoria. Geelong is about 45 minutes west drive from Melbourne so I guess players have the choice to commute if they want. Of course, the National Championship will have players from all over Australia and overseas. It is quite an impressive list of players, and it is a tournament that I would some day like to play in. Although I am currently English on the FIDE list, I think that I qualify as an entrant based on my residence and citizenship, which is now Australian. I think that by the next Championship (they are every 2 years), I will probably have Australia next to my name anyway!

After the Championship, 2 tournaments start. One is the Australian Junior Championships which are being held in Melbourne. The other is the biennial Queenstown Classic in New Zealand. I will be at the Australian Junior as a coach and helper so I should be able to report first hand on what is happening. The Queenstown tournament will be followed avidly here in Australia, as so many of our players will be playing. With 11 GM's already in the field, this is likely to be a great tournament. Congratulations to Murray Chandler, Paul Spiller and Helen Milligan (and everyone else) who have put together another great tournament.

I will be watching some of the action from New Zealand while at the Australian Junior Championship. Both tournaments start on the same day, Saturday 14th January. At a local level, these are hugely important events, but in the scheme of things both will be overshadowed by the traditional Wijk tournament in Holland. The Tata Steel tournament has an amazing field led by World Number 1, Magnus Carlsen. Probably the best thing for us in Australia, is that the games in Holland will be starting at night for us so it is doubtful we will be able to follow them live. However, the games and analysis will be followed closely while live action from this end of the World is also being watched.

I reckon that by the end of my holiday, which coincides with end of the Tata Steel Tournament, I'll be in need of another holiday!

Anyway, I suppose I better stick my neck out with some tips:

Australian Champion: George Xie (really nice guy, deserves it this time)
Queenstown Classic: Gawain Jones (go with the English!)
Tata Steel: Levon Aronian (Time for him to go for World number 1 spot!)

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