Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Australian Junior Championships: The Winners

I am finally over the problems that I encountered leaving this event and travelling home, and I apologise for not getting this final report on the championships out sooner. In my opinion there was some good and some not too good to come out of the Championships, but that is probably the case with all tournaments. I'll start with the good, but this is all just my own opinion, so don't think I'm stating any official position here.

The venue wasn't spectacular (last time I was in Queensland the juniors shared a luxurious hotel with the senior championship!) but was more than adequate for the event. I've played in many sports halls for chess events, and always found them fairly comfortable. The surroundings of Bond University were pleasant, and there was plenty of safe outside space for kids to play in, though I'm not sure how many took advantage of this. The tournament was organised well by Andrew FitzPatrick and Gardiner Chess, and events ran more or less smoothly. The Tornelo management software worked well and enabled quick upload of games and results. The players conducted themselves well, and generally put their whole effort into each game. The competitiveness of each section can be seen by the fact that only one age group division (under 10's) was decided before the last round.

So a big congratulations to the winners. In the under 18's Gene Nakauchi was really the stand out and worthy winner of the event after his good showing in the Australian Open earlier in January. I think it was at Ballarat last year that IM Stephen Solomon told me in passing that Nakauchi was about to break through in a big way. It seems Stephen's prediction was right! In the under 16 top seed Oscar Wang found himself under pressure early, but fought back with an impressive run scoring 6.5/7 at the end of the tournament to overtake Punala Kiripitige and win this section. The under 14 was all about the Willthgamuwa brothers moving up divisions and much talk was whether either could win (many thought one of them would). But both were pushed back by Tom Maguire who gave away just 2 draws to win the title on an impressive 8/9. The under 12's was (predictably) the most competitive section ending in a 4 way tie for first. The play off was won, perhaps surprisingly, by Kerry Lin. I say 'surprisingly' because Kerry had only managed to finish =9th in the under 10's which was won convincingly by Kevin Willathgamuwa with a round to spare. The under 8's was also won convincingly by Christopher Lim, who also moved up to compete in the under 12 event where he finished on half points, a very good performance for a 6 year old!

The girls events were bundled into 2 divisions and the titles went to Nicole Chin (under 18), Zhi Lin Guo (under 16), Chloe Chin (under 14), Fiona Shen (under 12), Emily Lin (under 10) and Kamryn Durden (under 8). All the results are available on the tournament website.

The effort by all the players was excellent as there were some pretty grueling schedules and they managed to upload their games (965) after playing them. The coaches were working flat out to help their students, either with technical advice or moral support. My favourite coaches moment was sitting near to Jim Cannon who was working with some under 8 girls and having them in hysterical laughter over something or other. Good work Jim, let's make the game fun first and produce winners once the kids love the game!

Actually, that's left me in such a good mood that I'm going to leave the critical parts of this report till a later blog post. Congratulations to all players who put in such a great effort, and especially to the new Champions.


  1. Kevin W won the U/10 title, not Rowan (who is not U/10).

  2. Good blog, Carl, but wasn't it kevin W who won the U 10. Rowan was not competing.

  3. Thanks for correcting me, sometimes I'm thinking of something to write further in the post, and forget what's being written straight in front of me :)