Monday, January 12, 2015

A Jule Surprise

The past week has been a Chinese trifecta. Zhao Jun won the Hastings tournament, Ni Hua pulverized almost everyone at the Aussie Open and then there's also Zhao Xue who bagged the Kiwi Open. The two Zhaos winning were complete surprises. After all, they weren't exactly the favourites.

But here's another surprise. Out of the blue, I've just learnt that Australia's WIM Alexandra Jule is a New Zealand champion! Well, joint champion at least anyway. It turns out that she holds dual nationality, Kiwi and Australian. And by virtue of her 6 points, among a group of locals on a similar score, WIM Jule is officially a national champ. How about that?

Congrats WIM Jule.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Australian Chess Open 2015

I meant to post something about the ongoing Aussie Chess Open much earlier, but with the rush to head back to Tokyo and immediately having to start work after a very non-Japanese 3-week vacation, this post is much delayed.

In fact, I actually turned up for the first round and live tweeted direct from the event. That was a first for me (live tweeting), and I think more events should probably do it. Tweeting, or live blogging as I once did many moons ago, always gives an extra dimension to a tournament. Despite recent advances in video coverage, there's something about the burst of text that is quite exciting. And after all, not every board can be viewed live and not every tournament can afford video coverage. Tweeting is cheap and easy. All you really need is a smartphone.

Anyway,  if you're not already following yours truly, you can find me here.

My impression is that this Aussie Chess Open has been reasonably well-organised. I could certainly appreciate the organisers' enthusiasm. The venue itself, Castle Hill RSL Club, is very good. The only problem is that it is pretty damn far! Perhaps it's not such a problem if you have private transport, but for those many who must rely on what passes for public transport in Sydney, the trip to Castle Hill can be a real trek. Door-to-door from south west Sydney, it took me almost 2 hours to reach the venue. It was exhausting!

That wee complaint aside, I've really enjoyed following the tournament by remote.  Lots of exciting games, especially by Australia's young guys. I particularly enjoyed the finish of Morris - Jones. Thankfully, we have a video of it courtesy of Gary Bekker. Although, it must be said, I'd have much preferred the, ahem, CM simply let the IM do most of the talking.


After 8 rounds, the Chinese super GM Ni Hua leads with 7.5 points followed by Khusnutdinov on six and a half. Not too far in the chase on 6 points apiece are Aussies Illingworth, Cheng and Schon. The latter is doing very well, indeed, for, as I understand it, he's bagged an IM norm. I'm no expert on the rules for norms, but here's hoping that a local or two will earn themselves the more coveted GM norm. That would be nice.

For pairings and results, click here; for photos courtesy of Cathy Rogers, click here.