In their on-going experiment to improve tournament attendance, the NSWCA decided to hold this year's NSW Open at the Hakoah Club in Bondi - a short walk from the world famous beach. With a venue like that you'd think player numbers would go through the roof. Not so. Numbers this year are down significantly on 2005. Just 84 players turned up.
Last year, there were 114 players that included both GM Ian Rogers and IM Stephen Solomon.
We wonder, why such a low turnout? Distance is the likely principal culprit. Travelling from the southwest of Sydney, it took me nearly 2 hours to reach the venue. A jampacked traffic on Oxford St made it worse. For those in private vehicles there is the extra cost of parking fees.
There may be other reasons, too. The football World Cup in Germany, broadcast live into the early hours of the Australian morning, could be distracting some players. Actually, that's my reason for not playing. Plus this horrible cold weather is making it terribly hard to crawl out of bed.
The venue, however, does offer those who drive in with their private vehicles a novel experience. Being a Jewish club, making them a prime target, Hakoah subjects their visitors to a thorough counter-terrorist inspection. Vehicles are checked for bombs.
Top seed for this event is international master Andras Toth (2439), aged 24, from Hungary. He will be in Australia for the next 2 years to work as chess coach.
Joining Toth at the top are Igor Bjelbork (2369), George Xie (2316), Tomek Rej (2209) and Raymond Song (2195). Also in attendance is WIM Laura Moylan, board 2 for the Aussie women's Olympiad team. Poor Laura must still be suffering from jet lag. In round 2, she sat herself down at the back of the tournament hall and took a quick power nap. That rest must have done her some good as she defeated former world title challenger, Jose Escribano.
That's all for now. For the moment, we have this nice game by Neil Wright against Canberra's Milan Grcic - a sharp and wily tactician.
NSW Open 2006
1. d4 d6 2. e4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nbd7 4. Nf3 e5 5. Be3 c6 6. Be2 Be7 7. O-O Qc7 8. a4 Nf8 9. a5 h6 10. h3 g5 11. dxe5 dxe5 12. Nh2 Ng6 13. Ng4 Nf4 14. Nxf6+ Bxf6 15. b4 Be7 16. Rb1 Nxe2+ 17. Qxe2 h5 18. f3 Be6 19. Qf2 g4 20. f4 gxh3 21. f5 Bc4 22. Rfd1 Rg8 23. Qf3 Rxg2+ 24. Kh1 Rg4 25. Qxh3 Rh4 26. Qxh4 Bxh4 27. Rg1 f6 28. Na4 Qe7 29. Bc5 Qh7 30. Rg6 Bg5 31. Rg1 Bf7 32. R6xg5 fxg5 33. Rxg5 h4 34. Nb2 h3 35. Nd3 Qh4 36. Rg1 Qxe4+ 37. Kh2 Qxf5 38. Be3 Qf3 39. Rg3 Qe2+ 40. Bf2 O-O-O 41. Kxh3 0-1