The Australian Championship is held every 2 years with an Open Championship happening in the years between. Last year's open in Sydney saw Chinese GM Ni Hua come over and take the title by 2.5 points. The top Australian was IM Max Illingworth. The last Championship was in 2014 and was held in the south east Melbourne suburb of Noble Park. The champion was Sydney based IM Max Illingworth who will hopefully be defending his title in January. There is already one IM entered in the field, Ari Dale, and when I spoke to James Morris on Friday he seemed genuinely excited by the upcoming event. I think that will be the case for lots of local players, and I'd be guessing that a lot of travellers from interstate will come down too. The Championship in 2014 had a field of 42 players. The tournament has an eligibility criteria that basically means that you can't play unless you have an Australian Chess Federation rating of 2150 or higher, or are exempted under one of the other selection criteria. This ensures that the tournament has a decent quality field.
There is a reserves tournament for those players who don't meet the championship entry criteria. This will run alongside the championship and will also be a great event. Over 90 players entered the 2014 Reserves which was won resoundingly by ex Australian Champion, FM Doug Hamilton. In a very competitive field Doug ended up a point clear. Like Max Illingworth, I hope to see Doug at the tournament in January.
And I hope to play myself. My rating has made it 2151 and hopefully it will rise again. As an Australian citizen, I am hoping that my FIDE designation as English will not count against me. I'll put my name in the list and see what happens. It would be a funny twist if I did play. When I lived in England I tried to qualify for the British Championship and only managed it the year I emigrated and so missed playing in the Championship. Now after 10 years in Australia I could play in my first national championship, but not in the country of my birth.
Here is the final round game from the 2014 Australian Championship. It was dramatic with Max Illingworth playing Anton Smirnov, the winner taking the Championship.