|Jean Watson's excellent poster for the 2014 Australian Chess Championships|
The first round of the event was a little late in starting and there were 3 non playing IM's among the spectators that I saw, CV President Leonid Sandler, Vladimir Smirnov (no doubt supporting his son Anton who is playing in the Championship), and Guy West who told me had hoped to play, but wasn't fully prepared. I know the feeling Guy! An early winner in the Championship was top seed, GM Vasily Papin who quickly beat organising chairman FM Dusan Stojic. The organising committee did get their own back, with FM Domagoj Dragicevic drawing with the other overseas GM in the event Hoang Thong Tu from Vietnam. The other GM in the event, Darryl Johansen also scored a draw against Laurence Matheson. The big casualties of the first round were IM's Goldenberg, Wohl, Brown and FM Jordan who all lost to lower rated opposition. However, with an 11 round tournament, an early loss or draw is not the most tragic thing, and there is plenty of time for these players to come back.
The Reserves looks to be a tough event, with a number of players who must be considered close to Championship strength. The competitiveness of the Reserves can be seen by the fact that top seed Dean Hogg (2070) could only draw with Luis Chan (1734). Whoever wins this one will certainly have to come through a tough draw. The challengers on the other hand has few players near the top rating level. However, it does have a number of unrated, and probably under rated players who can play strongly on their day, but may lack the consistency over a whole tournament. So again, the winner of this will have to play to the best of their ability, though not for quite so long as this is only a 9 round event.
So I guess for now, the only thing for me to do is make my predictions:
Championship: Bobby Cheng to become Champion (although a foreign GM may win it)!
Reserves: Kevin Sheldrick each way bet
Challengers: Alana Chew Lee to place
From tomorrow there will be photo's, games and part games, but for now, it is good that it is underway!