NSW Open Champion for 2005 is Igor Bjelobrk following the shock demise of GM Ian Rogers at Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club on the weekend. Igor was all smiles at the presentation. "It's the first time I ever beat a grand master," he said. He finished with 6/7.
Rogers doesn't often lose games in Australia and there was a sensation when he lost his Round 2 clash with 13-year-old Junta Ikeda from Canberra. Junta had queen, rook and two pawns against Rogers' queen, knight and five pawns when Rogers' time ran out. You can see it happen by clicking here.
A player of Ian's ability doesn't stay down for long and by Round 7 he had again climbed to Board 1 only to meet an in-form Bjelobrk. Maybe he was unlucky because the game was played on June 13th, or maybe he has an aversion to the initial 'I' (Ikeda and Igor) but this is what happened. Click here.
George Xie finished second on 5.5 ahead of eight players, all on 5 points. His game with IM Stephen Solomon was spectacular. If the Americans hadn't given us "Wham, bam, thank you Ma'am" we'd have to coin the phrase just for this game. George, I dips me lid – this was impressive. Click here gently so you don't disturb the position.
The auxiliary event at the NSW Open boasted the richest prize money ever offered for an Under 1600 tournament in Australia. It attracted a big field of 58, including many well-credentialed juniors.
Before Round 6 DOP Charles Zworestine told me he expected a junior to win the event. I was happy to remind him of this at the end of play.
In a triumph for Grey Power (did somebody say "Bald Power?") North Sydney's Norm Greenwood and Rooty Hill's David Evans shared the $1250 prize money. Norm dropped only one game and I conceded two draws.
Norm's win against Leo Kang in Round 4 was particularly interesting to me because I had found Leo to be an upsetting opponent. During our game in Round 2 he moved rapidly, leapt up from the table frequently to walk away, crashed down again, and totally destroyed my concentration. Two pawns down in a lost game I had to find a swindle to equalise. Norm obviously has more equilibrium than I, or perhaps it was his Elephant Gambit that did the trick. For a lovely tactical battle, click here.
With the games running almost an hour behind schedule I had the good fortune to have an early night on Sunday. My round five opponent transposed into a Philidor but had never seen Legal's Mate. Here it is. If 7. ... Nxe5, 8. Qxh5 Nxc4, 9. Qb5+ wins only a pawn. The game was all over in ten minutes and I had the bonus of a full night's sleep.
I wasn't the only one to get an early night. Norm won quickly against Ian Dickson of Newcastle – an old friend from my Maroczy Chess Club days. Everybody was apprehensive about the late finish before the final day's play and Ian probably decided not to persevere with a lost game after being threatened with mate or the loss of a piece on move 17. Here's the game.
Round 6 saw me paired with young David Lam, so a David was always going to win. He played a Sicilian but my attack got under way first and when I grabbed the open lines his king caught a bad case of wanderlust. Click here.
Round 7 was all tension. I was caught up between what was happening on my board and what Norm was doing to Matthew Parravicini on Board 2. Toward the end of the game Matthew's lone rook was still shaking its fist at Norm's two queens but not for very long. Here it is.
My own game was a three hour struggle with Paul Reynolds from Gosford. Once my pieces stopped treading on each other's toes I was able to relax a bit and still had all eight pawns on the board at the end of the game. See it here.
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