Congratulations to Max Sac Hackers team for winning the second NSWCA Teams Challenge event with 24.5 points after 7 rounds. Led by Neil Wright, they edged out the top seeded Sydney University 1 team by half a point.
And in case you're wondering, 'Sac' doesn't mean these guys just go berserk with the sacrifices. I didn't know this until yesterday but 'Sac' actually means "Sydney Academy of Chess" - the team's principal sponsor.
Only 14 teams competed in the second edition of the Teams Challenge. Last May, 25 teams turned up. It's difficult to say why so many players stayed away; maybe they're just busy with other things. The school sides of Fort Street and Knox Grammar, for instance, were absent yesterday. And the powerful Team Koala, led last time around by international master Gary Lane, failed to make an appearance. But the most notable absence was that of Team Maybe, the first edition winners.
Despite the low turnout, everyone was very competitive especially the guys from the University of Sydney. Australia's oldest university sent in 3 teams. Captained by Jason Chan, their premiere side came packing with two PhD's - Mr Chan himself and the economics lecturer Dr Vladimir Smirnov. Sydney University 2 was much weaker but did feature two unknown players from overseas, Thomas Kohli and Sebastian Hermann. Being unknown is sometimes an advantage because no one knows your style. As it turned out, these two guys were very competent players. They helped to rout my side, Parramatta A, 4-0 in the second round!
The University of NSW also came along. They couldn't find find enough students or staff so they conscripted a senior player, Mr Toby Lewski. We jokingly called him a "mature-age student".
That was the final Teams Challenge event for 2006. I love the format. Given my busy schedule, these one-day events are about all I can devote my time to except for the larger nationals as well as the Doeberl Cup. And playing for a team adds an extra dimension. I always feel disappointed when I lose. But I feel even more disappointed for the whole team when I lose. Feeling that kind of pressure pushes you to work harder. On the other hand, there is a certain sweetness to watching a team-mate struggle through his position knowing that he is desperately trying to do his best for you. I can't wait for next year now.
More photos available in my Flickr.