By FM Dusan Stojic
The outright winner of the 2018 New Zealand Open is GM Adrien Demuth with 8/9. Second place went to another French Grandmaster, Fabien Libiszewski on 7. The title of New Zealand Champion was shared by IM Russell Dive and CM Alpheaus Ang with 6 points.
French Grandmasters, Adrien Demuth (left) and Fabien Libiszewski (right)
2018 New Zealand Co-Champions: CM Alpheaus Ang and IM Russell Dive
A Wobbly Finish
The final stretch of my own tournament was a little disappointing. The length of the event and all the tough match-ups must have worn me down a bit, and I had a few blunders in rounds 7 and 8. Against Daniel Gong, I went from a pawn up with a dominant position to a rook down with doubtful compensation, in only a couple of moves.
As is often the case, the result of the game was decided between move 30 and 40. Many FIDE events, including the NZ Open, have an added 30 minutes to each player’s clock at move 40, so players tend to be in time trouble during moves 35-40. The other factor contributing to those typical blunders is that the late middlegame tends to be right around that point, with all the complications and tactics players have to calculate.
D Stojic – D Gong (after 34…Kh7-g8)
After sacrificing/blundering a rook, I was lucky that my young opponent failed to find the best defence. From the diagram position, I found the amazing resource 35.Bd4!, enabling me to deliver a perpetual check after 35…Nxf2 36.Rh8+ Kf7 37.Rh7+ Kg8 38.Rh8+ etc. The game concluded with another perpetual: 35…Ne5 36.f4 Nd7 37.Nf6+ Kf8 38.Nh7+ Kg8 39.Nf6+ Kf8 40.Nh7+ Kg8 41.Nf6+.
I managed to grab a share of 5th place and get a small prize, shared with other players on 5.5/9. Overall I’m satisfied with my tournament, although I feel I could have done better.
Green and Gold
As for the other Aussies in the Open section: GM Darryl Johansen finished on 5, Tony Dowden 5, WIM Alex Jule 4.5, Haran Salasan 4.5 and Colin Savige 4. Haran, currently rated 1660, had an incredible tournament with many scalps and gained 148 (!) FIDE rating points.
CM Leon Kempen had a great outright victory in the Major section, with 7.5/9.
FM Dusan Stojic
=5th (CM Allen Fan, FM Bob Smith, IM Anthony Ker, FM Dusan Stojic and FM Mike Steadman)
WIM Alexandra Jule
The Inaugural Trans-Tasman Blitz Challenge
The chief tournament organiser, Mark Noble, invited the top two players in the field from New Zealand and Australia for a one night of blitz. Representing the Kiwis were IM Anthony Ker and FM Ben Hague, while for the Aussies were GM Darryl Johansen and myself. We lost the match 3-5, with many close games.
B Hague – D Johansen
D Stojic – A Ker
The 125th NZCF Congress featured seven tournaments played in Palmerston North. CM Alpheaus Ang crushed his opposition in the Junior Open, taking out the event with 6/6. Alphaeus was also tied for the NZ Championship, so he’s had a very successful Congress.
GM Libiszewski and FM Steadman were tied first in the Rapid with 7.5/9, while Libiszewski won the Blitz outright with 6.5/8.
On the other side of the ditch, GM Max Illingworth won the title of 2018 Australian Champion, with a very impressive 10/11. GM Anton Smirnov was second with 9, while IM Ari Dale was third with 8.5. Ari’s performance was enough to earn him his first GM norm.
Australian chess is in a very exciting place at the moment, with many young players becoming grandmasters. For many decades, we seemed to lack the critical mass of titled players, so players that seemed to be strong enough to achieve a GM or IM title simply didn’t have enough opportunities to obtain norms. Hopefully the “chess boom” that has started off will continue!
That’s all from New Zealand. Next up, I’m off to Melbourne, where I’ll be coaching some Queensland kids that are playing in the Australian Junior Championship. If time permits, I hope to write up one or two blogs from there.
New Zealand: windmills, hills and sheep
Games from the NZ Open (and see results, standings etc)