16.4.10

Sydney Open in Parramatta



Sydney, the Capital city of New South Wales was again hosting its 4th International Open with players from 12 Federations participating. This included players from Europe, Asia and Oceania. The event is held in the beautiful city of Parramatta, which is in fact a part from Sydney.
Sydney is the home city of the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and is also the closest city to the Capital of Australia, Canberra. Apart from Chess, Australia also plays Rugby, Soccer, Cricket, Swimming and not to forget the Australian Football (a.k.a Footy).
The 2010 Sydney International Open coincided with the end of the 48th Doeberl Cup 2010. This back-to-back events made it like a "single strike two down" events for all the foreigners to come and participate. This year the organizers made a one-day break between the tournaments, which is still something if you consider the fact that both the events are nine rounds, played in five days. Amongst the participants were ten GM's, eight IM's, three FM's and as for the women, three WIM's and 1 WFM. The arbiters were also quite colourful mixture- from Australia, Papua New Guinea and The Fiji Islands. It is worth mentioning that one of the arbiters-Shawn Press is the leader of the Papua New Guinea team, where his captain is none the less but the chief organizer of the Sydney open- Brian Jones. Aussies were also delighted that the world Under 8 (2009) equal second, Anton Smirnov took part at the event.
After Canberra most of the outlanders came to themselves, and it seemed to me that the tournament is proceeding in a more logical way that the one in the Australian capital. There lacked any major upsets on the top boards in the first rounds, and logically the heavy-weighted battles started somewhere around round three. The top six games were transmitted live, and again there were the marvelous annotations by Ian Rogers as a bonus for the audience. At the first day he called me and asked me a couple of questions about my game and the Canberra tournament in general. I complained about the jetlag, but admitted that for this tournament I have no more excuses. So, I have burned down the “excuse bridges” and had to get seriously to busyness. I started well scoring some good wins, and sharing the point with the top-seeded Li Chao. The third day was especially lucky for me. First I had a terrible position against Indian GM Panchanathan, who could torture me as long as he liked without any risk, but we felt in time trouble just when the position got open and required precise calculations, and I managed to trick him. We played until twenty minutes before the start of the sixth round, and logically I was groggy against the Ukrainian Malaniuk, but Lady Luck did not let me down, when in very difficult position for me his flag felt. I took the sole lead. However, on the next day, I had to pay my dues back, by first not converting an extra pawn in a rook endgame against Fernandez, and later spoiling an excellent position against the top Aussie Zhao Zong Yue. Going into the final round Zhao and Gawain Jones were leading with 6.5/8, and a quick draw secured them a shared first. I should mention that they equally deserved their excellent result, since they both did not lose any games, and played quite confidently. The next three boards were fighting hard to catch up with them. On second the game Kunte-Fernandez saw advantage for white, but Black saved himself by constructing a marvelous fortress with two bishops versus a queen. This game brought a second IM norm for the Singaporean Daniel Fernandez, and he was really close to a GM one! He did lost only one game against Malaniuk, and scored 6.5 point conveniently. The young fellow’s coach at the moment is none less but Zurab Azmaiparashvili himself. Fourth table saw Li Chao’s hopes for another trophy disappear after the calm defense by V. Malanuik, who managed to convert an extra pawn. Finally, on board three I had a do or die clash against the Indian’s second ever GM D. Barua, which eventually ended in my favour, and this brought to a three-way tie for the first. Bucholz seems to be a cousin of Lady Luck, for it gave me a half point margin in front of my rivals.
On Saturday Parramatta becomes a market place and has many visitors. The chess players used that fact to organize simultaneous exhibition in front of the venue with prices for the winners, and it was quite successful for I have seen people sitting for a while, and learning the basic rules of the game.
The tournament was over, and we used the opportunity to see the Blue Mountains resort, and the Featherdale Wildlife Park.