Dear fellow Club members,

2015 has been the greatest year ever in our Club’s illustrious 107 years long history, even bettering last year. This year, in chess achievements, we reached the summit of Mount Everest! These are the highlights:

Our own 23 years old IM Max Illingworth, the current Australian Men’s Chess Champion: 
  • finished first among the Australian entrants in this year’s Australian Open Chess Championship at Castle Hill RSL Club in January - in equal second position with GM Kazhgaleyev of Kazakhstan, behind only GM Ni of China; 
  • won our Club Championship in May with a perfect score of 11/11; 
  • won the Oceania Zonal Men’s Championship at Norths in July (and subsequently played in the first round of the Men’s World Chess Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan, losing to a higher rated GM by 1½/½); 
  • won the NSW Chess Championship at Norths in August; and 
  • finished equal first in the Australasian Masters Chess Championship at Melbourne Chess Club in December, thereby qualifying for a Grand Master title - our first GM ever!
Our Club won all 3 annual multi board matches: 
  • against St George (“the Big Board”) - by our second best ever margin of 26 points;
  • against Harbord Diggers (“the Little Board”) - by our best ever margin of 17 points;
  • against combined Universities and Students - by our best ever margin of 8 points.
Our Club organised and held:
  • a very enjoyable Dinner on the night of 18 June (the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo) at Northbridge Golf Club, attended by 38 members and guests; 
  • the Oceania Zonal, with 103 male and 14 female entrants;
  • the NSW Championship, a 9 round robin event contested by the 10 highest rated entrants, 7 of whom were members of our Club. 
Our normal Club program commenced on 27 January when last year’s Club Champion Michael Morris played a simul against 19 opponents, losing only one game to fellow Harbord Digger dual member Gordon Miller.

There were 38 entrants in our Club Lightning Championship on 3 February, which Blair Mandla won, for the second time in a row, with a perfect score of 9/9, from Shane Dibley on 7½, and Julian Kuan on 7.

There were a record 88 entrants in our Club Championships, played from February to May:
  • As previously mentioned, Max won the Club Championship with a perfect score of 11/11, from Michael Morris on 8½, and FM Malcolm Stephens on 8. 
  • WFM Kristine Quek won the Candidates with 7½/11, from Joshua Behar and Frank Hutchings in equal second position on 7.
  • Joe Chua won the A Reserves with 8/11, from Club Arbiter Nick Cooper on 7½, and Club Webmaster David Stern and talented chess problem composer Mark Wilson in equal third position on 6½. 
  • Parunithan Ranganathan won the B Reserves with 6½/9, from Luke Marsh and Club Vice-President Rex Simmonds in equal second position on 6.
  • Club Treasurer Norm Greenwood and David Cook tied for first in the C Reserves with 7½/11, from Anthony Fikh and Roger Jeffreys in equal third position on 6. Norm won the trophy on tie-break.
  • Danny Macusson won the D Reserves with 7½/9, from Club Assistant Treasurer Fred Schuetz on 7, and Matthew Carden on 6½. 
  • Bruno Khordadi won the E1 Reserves with 5/6, from Greg Money and Leo Zhang in equal second position on 4½.
  • Dennis Mendigorin won the E2 Reserves with a perfect score of 7/7, from Alysha Chin on 6, and Sebastian Bracks on 4. Dennis won the trophy after a play-off against Bruno.
The absolute highlight of this year (and probably of our Club’s entire history) was hosting the Oceania Zonal from 4 to 11 July, which Max won after a play-off against Queensland’s Brodie McClymont, with our own Australian Junior Champion, 14 years old prodigy and fellow Australian Olympiad representative last year, IM Anton Smirnov, and our own FM Malcolm Stephens in equal third place on 7/9. 10 Club members were awarded FIDE Candidate Master titles for achieving 4½/9 or better: Club Secretary Peter Abbott, Chris Ball, Adrian Chek, Jason Hu, Bruce Murray, Clive Ng, Ian Parsonage, Dennis Wan, Kinto Wan and Thomas Xuan.

There were 22 entrants in the Ford/Greenwood Seniors, played from June to August. Peter Abbott was this year’s winner, with 7½/9, from Polish poet Marek Baterowicz, Clive Lane, Rex Simmonds and Pertti Sirkka in equal second position on 6.

During winter weeks our Club entered an Under 1700 team and an Under 1500 team in the dwindling Interclub Grade Matches. Both teams finished last, as a result, I believe, of uncertain and fluctuating team compositions. The new Committee has resolved to address this problem by appointing team captains next year who will be responsible for forming and maintaining teams composed of the same players on the same boards who will be expected to play every round.

In August, as previously mentioned, Max won the NSW Championship - with 8/9, from Anton on 7½.

On 4 September I was honoured to be our Club’s nominee for North Sydney Leagues Club’s annual President’s Shield Night Award, however the Shield was awarded to another Club (not surprisingly, as it was awarded to Norm Greenwood on behalf of our Club last year). 

On 13 September Bruce Murray and I played simuls against, and presented a chess symposium to, Asquith High School students at their annual School Fete, which generated much interest and enthusiasm among the participants. 

Due to building renovations, this year’s John Purdy Memorial during August and September had to be reduced to 7 rounds. There were 75 entries. The winner was Blair Mandla, with a perfect score of 7/7, from Bruce Murray on 6, and Jason Hu and Club Arbiter David Webster in equal third place on 5½. Once again John’s widow Felicity honoured us by presenting the perpetual silver trophy to the winner.

On 8 November my wife and I attended the unveiling by the Lady Mayoress of Lane Cove Council on the water’s edge beside Greenwich Baths of a wonderful 3 tonnes sandstone sculpture entitled “Resignatian” by John Purdy’s son Michael in honour of his father: a large chess king bent into a curve recumbent on an undulating base suggestive of ocean waves. The thickness and curve of the king was wide enough for children to climb over and straddle like a horse. Michael sculpted the piece from a 10 tonnes block of Appin sandstone using a diamond tipped chainsaw. After exhibition at this year’s “Sculptures by the Sea” between Bondi and Tamarama, “Resignatian” was floated by barge through the Heads, under the Harbour Bridge and over to Greenwich Point, where it was lifted by a heavy crane onto its present resting place on the water’s edge. John’s ashes are interred beneath the base. There is a plaque beside the sculpture that commemorates John both as a chess player and as a regular swimmer in the Baths, where he grew up in a house beside the Baths from which his mother and his famous father, CJS Purdy, operated them under a licence from Lane Cove Council. The unveiling was celebrated with champagne and speeches, and the Lady Mayoress told us that the sculpture is the largest in the Lane Cove Municipality. Other Club members in attendance were John’s brother-in-law Frank Hutchings and Otto Gram. GM Ian Rogers and his wife also attended, as did Purdy family members, friends and Council employees.

In October Jason Hu won a 3 weeks/9 rounds Rapid, with 8/9, from Bruce Murray and Ian Parsonage in equal second position on 6½. 

During the past year Committee members worked very hard and discharged their duties enthusiastically, efficiently, harmoniously and well. At our AGM on 8 December our dedicated, long serving “Don Bradman of Treasurers”, Norm Greenwood, did not offer himself for re-election to the position of Treasurer, in which he has served our Club so conscientiously and well over the past 23 years or so, but did offer himself for election to assist the new Treasurer. As well, Robert Pike and Tristan Weijermars did not offer themselves for re-election as general committee members. As a result, there was an election of each member of the new Committee, position by position. Our new Committee comprises: myself as President; Rex Simmonds as Vice President; Peter Abbott as Secretary; Fred Schuetz as Treasurer; Norm Greenwood as Assistant Treasurer; David Stern as Webmaster; David Webster and Nick Cooper as Arbiter Members; and Michael Morris as general committee member. After the AGM the Committee co-opted Otto Gram as a second general committee member. 

I thank each member of our past Committee for his hard work and dedicated service. I also thank Tim Singleton for his role in proposing and then organising our Dinner this year, which we intend repeating biennially.

The new Committee’s exciting special project for next year is organising and hosting a lecture and simul in late March by England’s GM Nigel Short, a former challenger for the world championship title. Watch our website for further information. 

In the mean time Max will be defending his title as Australian Champion at the 2016 Australian Championships at Fitzroy Town Hall in Melbourne from 2 to 12 January.

Before concluding, I mention with sadness the passing during the past year or so of long-time, highly esteemed and much loved members, Steve Javor, John Baker and, very recently, Horst Bleicher. I was particularly close to Steve and Horst, and particularly miss them. Many others were close companions of John, and miss him.

I conclude now by extending to each of you and your families Season’s Greetings and my very best wishes for a safe, happy and chess-successful New Year. I also extend to those members who have been suffering from health problems best wishes for a speedy return to good health.

Paul R Glissan