If anyone should have a positive outlook on Aussie chess for 2006, it is local GM Ian Rogers. Writing in today's Sun Herald, GM Rogers has his eyes on what he terms a "generational change" at the top. That is, when he and Daryl Johansen (the only other Aussie grandmaster) will finally be replaced by younger guns.
Results from the ongoing Australian Championship and the subsequent Queenstown Classic in New Zealand will be critical. These two tournaments could conceivably be the events at which the two Australian grandmasters, who have dominated the local scene for two decades, were finally caught or overtaken by the new generation of players, led by [international masters] Zhao Zong and David Smerdon.
If the long awaited generational change at the top does indeed occur - showing the way for the tens of thousands of juniors now competing around the country - then 2006 could be a truly significant year for Australian chess.
I think all Aussie readers will surely share Rogers' positive outlook. It certainly is time for Zhao and Smerdon to step up. With the latter's victory over Johansen overnight in the Aussie Champs' round 4 - the signs are good.
And to those two international masters, I would add the likes of Moulthon Ly, George Xie and Raymond Song. It's only a matter of time.