Yesterday was Australia Day, a public holiday which in recent years has brought mixed feelings out. On the one hand we are celebrating a great nation which I'm proud to have emigrated to. On the other hand, the indigenous population have had their land stolen and atrocities committed throughout the past 200 years.
In chess terms, Australia is not one of the great nations and never has been. However, there is still much chess being played and a chess culture is developing. The Australian Junior Chess Championship recently concluded in Adelaide and the under 18 was won convincingly by Ari Dale. Ari joins a list of very strong players who have captured the title. The girls title was won by Zhi Lin Guo who has progressed excellently into the top 20 active women in Australia, and who will hopefully be fighting for an Olympiad place in the not too distant future.
The age group champions were:
U-16 David Cannon (Vic)
U-14 Bobby Yu (Vic)
U-12 Michael Ostapenko (Qld)
U-10 Brandon Soetanto (Vic)
U-8 Sayum Rupasinghe (NSW)
U-16 Girls ??
U-14 Girls ??
U-12 Girls ??
U-10 Girls ??
U-8 Girls ??
Unfortunately it isn't clear who won the girls titles as events were doubled up, so the U-18 and U-16 played in one section as did the 14/12's and the 10/8's. I'd assume that the winner of each section would take the older age group award, but seeing I don't know, I'm not going to guess, potentially get things wrong and upset people.
I know I've already been harping on about the inequality in chess representation between men and women, but this is another example. With the open events, it is fairly clear who won excepting for the odd tie that required a play off, but with the girls there is no recognition of their achievements. Pretty poor.
What isn't poor is the Australian Chess Magazine 50 Moves which I resubscribed to today, though again it would be good to see some female representation in the pages of the magazine, rather than just Cathy Rogers with her excellent photography. The other thing I'd like to see more of is coverage of Australian chess, of which there was little in this magazine. Ian Rogers is obviously an excellent writer and his articles are great. In the December issue he focuses on The World blitz and rapid Championships where he was reporting from the scene. This is great for Australian audiences, but I actually enjoyed Adrian Chew Lee's and Eunice Koh's article about the World Youth Championships more. I guess the local feel, and personal knowledge of some of the players brings it a little closer to my own world.
I hope to see articles by Australia's young talented travellers on their experiences in chess tournaments abroad, as well as as tournament reports of important events in this country. Those reports were always the backbone of the British Chess Magazine when I was younger in the 1980's. Having quality players writing about the events they participated in, with great chess content was inspiring and educative. All top British GM's would write for BCM back then, with articles from Nunn, Miles, Short, Keene, Speelman etc, it truly was an excellent magazine. Due to financial issues the BCM took a hit, and very nearly folded a short while ago. Well it is back, and is excellent!
Again, I bought an issue (I was annoyed by the online reader edition I bought and if I subscribe, it will be to the hard copy) and it seemed excellent. Articles by McShane and Howell on the London Classic, and the British knock out tournament were the top 2 articles, but other contributors include Australia's own David Smerdon, Pentala Harikrishna and Krsten Muller. Like the Australian 50 moves, there is little of local interest, which again is a bit disappointing, but there is an article by a female contributor, Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant.
I guess both magazines, 50 Moves and BCM are aiming at high end material, and they certainly both have that. I think they are both great, but they would be even better with more local news.
(Good luck to Justin Tan and Moulthon Ly in Gibralter, and I hope they bring us a brilliant report for a future 50 Moves magazine. They are both currently leading ex World Champion Anand!)