The NSWCA is in big trouble.
Today's opening round of the association's premiere event pulled in only 32 players, a miserable figure by any standards. There was the usual talk of what might be causing this malaise. The familiar answers were given. NSWCA boss Bill Gletsos must be wondering what else he can do. Of concern to him, most of all, will be his coffers. Just a few months from November's AGM, the signs are that we could be heading for another massive financial loss.
Top seed in the Championship is FM Greg Canfell who is playing in what he calls his "comeback" tournament. He'll play in more events from now on, he said. Truth be told, the association should thank him profusely for even bothering to turn up. This year's edition, after all, is "lesser" than in previous years as the event will run for just 7 rounds, two less than normal practice. Plus imagine the title heading for the cabinet of anyone between 1800 to 2100. I mean no disrespect to these guys but if that tragedy occurred, then the NSWCA ought to rescind the result!
So desperate is the situation of absent players that even yours truly was asked to participate. I'll think about it, I said. I just blog these days. But who knows? This might just be the event when I'll finally come out! Somebody's gotta give that Greg a challenge, you know.
One who'll never miss a championship is the octogenarian, Lloyd Fell. But he very nearly didn't make it. It seems he was confused about the venue and turned up miles away over in West Ryde. Realising his error he very quickly made his way to Parramatta. Unluckily for him the clocks had already ticked by for 30 minutes when he arrived. He wasn't happy. To his annoyance, the NSWCA officials were this time uncharacteristically efficient. Said Lloyd, "The bastards started on time!"
Not too long after, though, Mr Fell was again happy. As if decades younger, Lloyd today played with his usual tactical vigour and beat Herman Rachmadi. With a smile he asked me, "Did you like that finish?" Oh yeah I did. It was a nice one. Rachmadi would lose the queen to avoid mate.
Other results I managed to see were:
Canfell - Huyhn, 1-0
Javier - Tomas, 1-0
Kordahi - Baterowicz, 1-0
Tournament sponsor Integra have provided something kind of cute. Pens! No Montegrappas these ones but they fit snugly between the fingers for a smooth glide on paper. They even come with their own sleeves. You've just got to have one. Even Lloyd loved them, too, and he has a warning for those with nice pens.
"Never play with a with a good pen," said Lloyd, "you'll lose it. Chess players are all thieves". He was only joking.
As an aside I should mention a thing or two about the upcoming Australian Chess Championships in Jan '08. There are hopes, I learned this afternoon, of a super GM participating in the tournament. No names - but this guy is said to be on his way to a poker tournament in Melbourne. Chances are slim, but let's pray this player can be persuaded to make a detour. And as for advance entries, at least a couple of international masters may attend. I hope they do!
Until next week then. For another take on the NSWCA Championships, you might want to check The Chess Nut.