Fifty players turned up this morning at the Parramatta RSL club to compete for the $500 first prize. Top seed is GM Ian Rogers followed by IM-elect George Xie. They were joined by a group of 2000+ rated players: Tomek Rej (2209), N. Wright (2108), Andrew Bird (2099), ex-Aussie Junior Champion Paul Broekhuyse (2058) and Ronald Yu (2043).
Not an impressive turn-out. Maybe that's why the first round was nearly an hour late. It seemed to me that the organisers were trying to wait for more players to turn up. Even I was asked if I was playing. Nope, sorry, I had to say. Sadly, I have to do some work on Sunday.
After 4 rounds of play, GM Rogers leads on 4 points. In round 3, Rogers essayed his Benko Gambit against Broekhuyse. It is an opening that the Aussie number one trots out every now and then against weaker opposition.
The event concludes tomorrow.
There was a time when I hated going to the Sydney suburb of Parramatta. The train station was ugly and its immediate surroundings were hardly inviting. You walk around the place and you think, any moment now someone will mug you.
But this morning, I was pleasantly surprised at what I saw. What have they done to the place, I wondered.
The train station is freshly renovated and it all looks very world class. Gone is that horribly gloomy all-brick 50's style architecture and replaced with a more airy and modern approach that is reminiscent of today's airports. Everything is very well done.
There is now an underground walkway that connects the station to the main Westfields shopping centre - just perfect for those rainy days. And naturally, businesses have also come flocking. Fancy restaurants now line the main street leading up to Wesfields. I had lunch here: risotto accompanied with a nice Saltram Shiraz.
All this bodes rather well for Brian Jones'Sydney International Open in 2007. Parramatta is the perfect venue. Like most Sydney chessers, I can't wait. Let's hope that Mr. Jones finds a sponsor soon.