Exciting Finish in Queenstown

As interesting as it started, the even more interesting it ended. This is the brief description of what had happened in Queenstown’s third edition of the Classic Tournament which took place between 15-23 January.

There is something special about this event. No, sorry, this was too mild. Everything is special about it! The fact that it is made on every three years, the exceptional beauty of the nature in Queenstown, the rare species that can be seen only here, even the travelling time to this wonderful place. It is worth all the efforts, I assure you, and the tournament itself is magnificent.
New Zealand is the only place where the kiwi birds can be found in the nature, and the locals are very proud of that. The rare the bird is, the rare the international tournaments are, but this should not be a problem for the chess travelers. And this one gathered together almost one hundred and fifty people from nineteen countries.
The promoter of the event, ideologist, founder and everything is GM Murray Chandler. No matter how modest he is this cannot be passed by. Every year he starts a journey from the North Island to the South one to assure that things will be in order. As you have already noticed in the previous reports, not everything started smoothly. However, the broken van was the first and only “bad move” in the event. Fortunately, without any severely bad consequences.
The International tournament is also an open New Zealand’s Championship, and at the closing ceremony one can see a long procession of “kiwis” queued for their prices. The top price, and the biggest cup was driven home by FM Michael Steadman who scored 6.5/9 and shared for the ninth place. He also received the right to represent New Zealand at the Olympiad. Do better watch out for him, he is very aggressive and entertaining!

The tournament is also a part of the Oceania Circuit, and here the champion is Darryl Johansen from Australia. He scored 7.5/9 and… also won the general tournament! There was a three-way tie for the first place but Darryl took yet another trophy thanks to his best tiebreak (number of wins- he had seven). The other two players in the triumvirate were the Chinese GMs Li Chao and Zhao Jun, but they both made three draws each. Johansen pulled out the win with three straight wins at the end, and in the last round he was very lucky as his opponent Gawain Jones rejected three fold repetition and eventually lost.
The tournament will be remembered with the high percentage of decisive games. One of the reasons was the rule that the players on first ten boards were not allowed to make draws before the thirty moves. Penalties were severe- first time punishment was 50 % of the eventual price won, and second penalty- 100%. I personally prefer the Australian method, which stimulated the fight with the fighting fund. However, as the organizers gave good conditions to the foreign titled players, they have the right to demand more from them.
Some players were more successful to others, and here is the time to mention three of them who earned IM norms. Trevor Tao (7/9) made his final one, and he is already over 2400 can claim the title. He had a great tournament, and could have even share the first place if he had punished Li Chao’s overambitious play in the final round. Irine Sukundar from Indonesia scored her fourth IM male norm and FM Junta Ikeda from Australia the toughest first one.
Gawain Jones won the brilliancy price game.