From a blog traffic perspective at least, this Queenstown tournament is proving tremendously successful. Readership has blasted upwards, very nearly matching the heights back in 2006 when "Gormallygate" hit the headlines and when a number of mainstream non-chess sites, including Australia's Crikey.com.au, actually linked to my blog. Numbers are also higher now than during my Dresden coverage but I suspect that this is due to the time difference.
The boost in traffic is thanks mainly to inbound links from the event's official homepage as well as Chessbase. The German-based website actually has a new report featuring a handful of my photos here (you'll see a few more on my Flickr stream).
But, of course, I should really thank you guys who come in every day for some friendly banter on the live blog. It's really thanks to you that this whole thing has been a big success. Thanks also to those who may be asleep during our live broadcast but still read through our live blog's content every day. Like GM Gawain Jones' mom, for example!
Yesterday's action saw tactics galore. In Stojic - Motoc, the white player went nuts with a 2-piece sacrifice. The game was actually following an old encounter from 1973 until Stojic deviated with 26. c4. It made no difference to the final outcome. He still lost. I suspect that Motoc may be familiar with that whole variation because she moved pretty fast. At around about move twenty, the Romanian still retained some 90 minutes on the clock!
Australia's Andrew Brown faced off another Queen's Indian Defence by a Kiwi, this time IM Paul Garbett. Garbett applied pressure down the c-file with the rook pair battery aided by the queen on a6, but the young Aussie quickly shifted the focus of battle with a timely 19. d5. Suddenly threats of checkmate either on the 8th rank or on the g7 square appeared! This kind of pressure was too much and Garbett eventually lost a piece, finally the game.
And how about that Smerdon game? The Australian, after beating Rozentalis yesterday, edges ever nearer to that coveted GM title. I don't know, but David's play seems different - maybe it's just good preparation, it's also determined, with a clear aim. Every day I see him take his seat, he's looking relaxed and knows exactly what he's up to. Anytime now we can all forget about his IM title.
Just before the start of round 8, former NZ champion Graham Haase approached David and asked what happened to his game yesterday. Mr Haase, you see, was observing the game just until Rozentalis' knight sacrifice.
David's reply? "Aah, I won. That's why I'm here". He meant board 1.