Chess in Victoria seems to be booming, with good numbers attending club events, weekend tournaments, and junior events throughout the state. Currently the state Championship is under way, with a pretty good field. There are 2 IM's, James Morris and Igor Goldenberg, thought he highest rated player is visiting FM Kanan Izzet. After 3 rounds, FM's Wallis and Hacche are leading on 3/3 in the 12 player round robin.
While the flagship event is looking good, there are some things which aren't so good. Unfortunately, no Victorians qualified for the Australian Olympiad team. I say unfortunately as IM's Bobby Cheng, and James Morris would have stood a chance as well as GM Johansen. However, for one reason or another none of them applied. Saying that, an exciting young side is to represent Australia at the coming Olympiad. The players are:
GM Smerdon, IM's Ly, Illingworth, Ikeda, FM Smirnov
The women's team seems to be strong, though we in Victoria are disappointed that Sally Yu missed out:
IM Berezina, WIM's Caoilli,Guo, Dekic, WFM Nguyen
Good luck to all these players representing Australia in the Olympiad in Norway. That is, if it is going to be held in Norway. Recent speculation in the chess press has suggested that the Tromso organising team don't have the financial budget to pull the event off. The best source to follow in the press is probably Norwegian journalist Tarjei Svenson who is writing on the Chess24 website. The latest article, written just yesterday, is ominous reading, and really sheds no light on whether the Olympiad is to go ahead as planned, or a contingency is to take place, or the event to be cancelled altogether. With only a few months before the event is due to start, this is pretty poor management.
I play at 2 chess clubs, and am enjoying life in both. Unfortunately, I couldn't play last night at the MCC in the City of Melbourne Open due to work commitments. CM Jack Puccini continued his unbeaten start moving on to 4/4 and he is joined by Paul Kovacevic. These 2 now have a clear 1 point lead over a large group of players, Malcolm Pyke, Dean Hogg, Svetozar Stojic, Richard Voon and Marko Grabovac. The rest of the field is spread out behind these players as we approach the half way mark in the 9 round event. Before moving on, I just have to mention Geoff Cook again, who won with the black pieces against higher rated Tom Kalisch. Geoff is putting in a strong performance in this event. And to make Tom feel better, I was looking through an old British Chess Magazine and saw his name in it. Well I guess it's his name, unless there's another T. Kalisch somewhere. So Tom, did you play in the Hastings tournament in England during the late 70's, maybe 76/77?
My other chess club is Glen Eira Chess Club, where I am the top seed in our second tournament of the year. The club is very sociable, made up of some regular adult players, lots of juniors, many of whom are pretty strong, and some new to competitive chess adults who again can be quite strong, though a bit raw. We are running a 7 round event and have about 20 players involved. This is a few less than our last tournament, but seeing that Box Hill Chess Club are running their club championship on Friday's, I think we're not doing too bad. One of our new junior players, Fergus Chiverton won an upset win against Alistair MacCutcheon. Alsitair performed well in our first tournament, and backed this up with a solid performance in the Doeberl U-1200 event. He is working extremely hard at his game, so this is a great win for Fergus. My game this week was in an opening I haven't played for a long time, but was once very important to me, the 6.Bg5 main line of the Sicilian Najdorf. I remember as a young player putting in a lot of work into this opening, and I still remember a lot of it....though I'm going to go into this in another column this week. Late entries are still being accepted, and we are happy to see any players at the club, old or new, so come along and have some fun.