Sunday, December 20, 2015

Australasian Masters - The Unsung Heroes

IM Leonid Sandler, making "The Right Move" as organiser of the 2015 Australasian Masters, attracting strong GM's like Arturs Neiksans

The 2015 Australasian Masters finished earlier today. The tournament was a resounding success for Australian chess with Max Illingworth scoring his final GM norm and qualifying for the title. More was to follow as a second GM norm was achieved the day after when Kanan Izzat scored his first GM norm. As GM norms are a rarity in Australia, having 2 in the same tournament is a big success for the organisers.

In fact, the organisation deserves a big thanks. The Australian Masters, now called the Australasian Masters, has been a privately run event for over 25 years. What this means is that whoever can be bothered to put the effort in to get it together makes a ring around, organises things and then has to go through the process of pulling one's hair out when players pull out at the last minute and replacements need to be found. I am saying this from my own experience of running the Australian Masters in 2006. It came together in the end, but not without a number of headaches.

When Chess Victoria President Leonid Sandler took over the running of the event, he had big plans for it, moving it from a low category (often category 1 or 2) IM norm possibility, to a GM norm event. This eventuated 2 years ago with the first GM norm Australasian Masters. The tournament has steadily developed under Leonid's organisation, and now the third GM norm event has finally brought Australia the much desired norms. Hopefully Leonid will continue to run this tournament, using his influence with Australian and international chess to attract strong Grand Masters to Melbourne.

IA Kerry Stead, arbiter and chess scoresheet decipherer

Leonid's organisation was backed up by IA Kerry Stead, the arbiter for the event, who doubled as bulletin writer and pgn game editor. To make Kerry's life a little easier, Phillip Drew was on hand to manage the DGT boards which were in use for the GM section games, bringing the event live to the public. But even with just 5 games to manually input, Kerry had his work cut out at times deciphering scoresheets. It would seem that many chess players would not win neat handwriting competitions!

Phillip Drew ensured the DGT technology broadcast the games from the GM section

There were some other unsung heroes that are worth a mention. ACF President Gary Wastell was often on hand helping out, as were MCC committee members including Elizabeth Warren, Simon Dale and Thai Ly.

ACF Prez Gary Wastell with his back to us, was one of the background figures who helped ensure the tournament ran smoothly.

The heroes of the tournaments:

GM Section
1st IM K Izzat
2nd IM M Illingworth
3rd GM A Neiksans

IM Section
1st IM I Bjeobrk
2nd FM C Wallis and FM E Schon

I think all the players in both sections enjoyed the experience of playing in what was probably the most professionally run Australian Masters in its history, and whether we played well. or not so good, we have a big debt of thanks to those who made the event possible.

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