Before I forget, let me wish you guys a merry Christmas. And to those playing in tournaments, like the Aussie Open, good luck and happy hunting! If you don't read again until next year, then let me also wish you a happy and prosperous 2007.
It's been fun this year. We covered quite a bit of news and even scored some real hits. I think I've said it before but "Gormallygate" was a real catalyst for the blog. That single story brought in a large amount of traffic from across the world thanks mostly to search engines and cross-links from fellow bloggers. We even scored a citation in no less than crikey.com.au. For this reason, Gormallygate takes the prize for the biggest blog story of 2006. It all began with this post.
Without hesitation I'd have to say that our second biggest story was none other than the Turin Olympiad. But for that I shall be forever indebted to our man in Turin at the time, Larry Ermacora. Larry, a former recipient of the Koshnitsky Medal (awarded for chess administration), provided blog readers with very memorable updates directly from Turin. You can read his unforgettable writings again in our May and June archives.
For the third biggest story, I'd have to say that it was what we dubbed "Forum Wars". Earlier this year, Matthew Sweeney set up a rival chess site to Australia's most popular chess bulletin board - Chess Chat. Our series of posts, including open threads, generated quite a bit of debate. Read them again here, here and here.
The fourth item on my list isn't really a single story as such but a bunch of them. These posts had a common theme, something close to my heart: the story of Philippine chess, its renaissance, its young heroes and their achievements. There were so many posts, just look in my archives if you wish, but we satisfy ourselves with just this single post. Young Wesley is currently spearheading a movement by young masters in RP who seem determined to retake RP's place as a chess powerhouse in Asia.
Finally, who can forget the ugly events of the World Championship in Elista earlier this year between Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov? I suppose it is near impossible to forget especially when the Bulgarian just keeps reminding us! Worth remembering though was that very satisfying 45. Rb7+ by Kramnik that finally signalled the end of Topalov's challenge.
Other big stories this year were the (6) Queenstown, won by GM Murray Chandler, and (7) City of Sydney tournaments, taken out by Raymond Song - mainly because - well, I played in both them. And then there was Arianne Caoili's appearance in (8) Dancing with the Stars. Too bad she didn't win in the end - but what a thrill ride for the 19-year old. None of us expected the whole thing. One day she was just a regular chesser then, suddenly, she was on our TV sets the next!
While not so big a story in terms of word or post count, Queenslander Moulthun Ly's recent performances was important news for TCG. Last October he competed in the Essent Open, in The Netherlands, and finished with 5 points - good enough for his second IM norm. (Moulthun's first was at the World Open). There is really no doubt about Moulthun's talent. Let's hope that the complete IM title isn't too far away. Then again, why settle for the IM? With so many young and talented players, Australia today is in a good position to finally produce a third home-grown grandmaster. Sadly, however - with such an absence of leadership - that may yet be a just a dream. The chess bureaucrats in this country are too busy banning people.
In tenth spot, my pick is our recent coverage of an unusual tournament condition of entry in a little-known Tasmanian tournament. No sign yet if the Burnie Chess Club has decided to discard the ridiculous rule for later events. Let's hope they do!
And that's our quick roundup of 2006. Of course, our dear readers may have different picks. As usual, your comments with nominations are welcome. See you next year and, if you have any tips, do drop us a note!