The much anticipated showdown between the first seed, IM Irina Berezina, and the second seed, WIM Arianne Caoili, turned out to be a fizzer. A draw.
Of both players it was Arianne, holding the white pieces, who had the better position. She knew that and wasn’t happy about the result. Later in the officials’ room she was harsh on herself saying, “I'm totally gutless". That is, referring to her decision to settle the game peacefully.
But Arianne did step on the pedal again by beating the ACT’s Emma Guo in the second session yesterday afternoon. With that win the Aussie women’s number two increased her tally to 5.5 points after six games and ensured that she maintains a clear full point lead from Irina who faltered in the sixth round by conceding another half point to the much less fancied, Sally Yu.
Let’s not take anything away from the young Sally, however. She played well and handled the endgame finish impressively.
Over in the men’s section, three players share the lead with 5 points apiece. These are Smerdon, Bjelobrk and Morris.
Newly minted grandmaster David Smerdon unexpectedly went down to Bjelobrk in the fifth round but then exacted “revenge” on Sydney’s FM Greg Canfell in the sixth. Now Greg is a seasoned player but, for some strange reason, his play against Smerdon showed no signs of his long experience. The 3-IM norm holder went down to David in just 21 moves.
Inside the officials’ room, GM Ian Rogers, who is providing live commentary, was at his jocular best.
No doubt following the recent news about the so-called “Utegate”, GM Rogers observed that David could have joined Macquare Bank and become Gordon Gecko; but instead he joined the Treasury and will become Godwin Grech!
Finally, how about FM James Morris of Melbourne? So far he hasn’t dropped a single point. His win over IM Lane, especially, was beautiful. According to Swiss Manager, Morris’ rating performance here is around about 2500+. It’s an impressive display and an emphatic “up yours” to those who place a question mark over his “FM” title and that, I have to admit, includes yours truly.