By FM Dusan Stojic
The 2017 Doeberl Cup once again lived up to the expectations of “Australia’s premier chess tournament”. Over 280 players, competing in four sections, once again descended on the nation’s capital for the Easter long weekend. The Premier was won by a visiting Grandmaster from India, Surya Ganguly. The Queensland contingent, 58 players strong, had mixed results in a very challenging field.
A Unique Tradition
The Doeberl Cup is the longest running weekend event in Australia, held every year since 1963. It is only matched in prestige by the Australian Championship, while in terms of the competition, it is usually the strongest event in the annual Australian chess calendar. Put simply, for all serious players in the country, Easter is Doeberl.
So where does the name Doeberl come from? According to Bill Egan, who chronicles the event in his book Doeberl Cup: Fifty Years of Australian Chess History, a house painter and chess enthusiast Toni Weidenhofer, happened to know another Austrian migrant, who happened to be a wealthy builder in Canberra. Erich Doeberl sponsored the event each year until he passed in 1994, and the Doeberl family still continues to provide financial support.
Although a financial incentive certainly helps convince the overseas and inter-state Grandmasters to come, most players are attracted by the quality of the tournament, the size of the field, and the opportunity to rub shoulders with the best chess players of the country and some strong international players.
I’ve personally managed to keep a streak of 18 consecutive Doeberls. What keeps me coming back is the high level of competition, as well as the old friends from across Australia that I don’t see often enough.
The 2017 Edition
The venue for this year was the University House, same as it had been for the previous few years. The great advantage is that many (if not most) players stayed in the same venue, and you could chat about yesterday’s battles over breakfast.
The top scoring Aussie was Grandmaster (GM) Zon/g-Yuan Zhao, coming in third place behind GM Ganguly from India and Krasenkow from Poland. I did manage to score a draw against Zong-Yuan, in a tough endgame.
We reached this position after about four hours of play:
In the end my tournament was quite average, with a score of 5/9. I did hope for more, but I did have some good games in the Premier division.
One of the great victories for me was winning the pre-tournament shirt slogan competition. I scored a free entry and a complementary T-shirt with my slogan:
A Young State Team
The Queenslanders were led by our state champion, GM Moulthun Ly. Moulthun finished in sixth place. A notable result was by Kabilan Manuneedhi, finishing on 6/7 and third place in the Minor division.
Our juniors in general scored quite well, despite the fierce competition they faced. Above all, the experience was invaluable, be it from playing the tough battles, to analysing their games with their veteran opponents, to watching Grandmasters play, to following live game commentary. Kids that traveled with the Gardiner Chess group also received coaching during the event.
1st – Surya Ganguly (IND) 8/9
2nd – Michal Krasenkow (POL) 7.5/9
3rd – Zong-Yuan Zhao (AUS) 7/9
1st – Brendan Zou (VIC) 6/7
2nd – Kayson Wang (VIC), Birkir Sigurdsson (ISL), Rad Chmiel (VIC) 5.5/7
1st – Parunithan Ranganathan (OS), Aidan Odenthal (NSW) 6.5/7
3rd – Kabilan Manuneedhi (QLD) 6/7
1st – Leyao Zha (ACT) 6/6
2nd – Ramon Luo (ACT), Joshua Mallari (NSW) 5/6
A Bright Future
With so many young players from Queensland, there is certainly enough talent for some to break through in the years to come. I’d expect to see some of these kids playing in the Premier division in a few years, and perhaps even eventually compete for the ultimate title. Easter falls on 1 April next year – I’m sure we’ll have another great tournament then!