A cold rainy morning has greeted the players on this last day of the 2009 Sydney International Open. For local fans, there is much excitement as we see an all Aussie contest on board one between Melbourne's GM Darryl Johansen and current numero uno GM Zong Yuan Zhao. Johansen is leading the field outright with 6.5 points which means that only victory over his much younger and very tough opponent will bag him the title as well as the $5,000 first prize.
If anyone is wondering why the 50 year old Darryl is playing well, it is surely because his approach here seems to be extra determined. He spends plenty of time preparing for the next encounter. And this morning I spotted him in the Pie Face cafe, in the still empty Westfield mall, going through games on Chessbase, no doubt looking for a weakness in GM Zhao's armour. Old romantics who have long been fans of Darryl since the '80's will want to see this man post what should be a remarkable win.
Local eyes, too, will watch proceedings on board 6 as IM George Xie makes yet another attempt to secure that much sought after GM norm. He failed by a half point in last week's Doeberl, but here all he needs is exactly that: a draw. His opponent this morning, however, the Indian IM Saptarshi Roy will be one tough ask.