Dear fellow Club members, 

2017 was the third year in a row of the three greatest years ever in our Club’s illustrious 109 year history. We remain camped on the summit of Mount Everest! These are the highlights: 

Our 25-year-old first ever GM, Max Illingworth: 
  • won the Australian Open Chess Championship in Brisbane in January; 
  • won the Australia Day Weekend Tournament at Norths; 
  • won the Club Championship (for the third time) in May with a picket fence score of 8/8; 
  • won the NSW Open Tournament again, at Strathfield in June; 
  • won this year’s NSW State Chess Championship (for the sixth time) at Norths in August; and 
  • won the Hjorth Memorial Tournament for the 3rd time in Melbourne in November. 

Our 16-year-old second ever, and recent, GM, Anton Smirnov: 
  • was awarded the ACF’s Steiner Medal in January for the 2016 Australian player of the year; 
  • won the Oceania Zonal in Auckland, New Zealand in January; 
  • won the Club Blitz Championship at Norths on 7 February, on a tie-break from Max; 
  • tied for first place in the Begonia Tournament in Ballarat in March; 
  • played for the victorious Rest of the World Juniors team against the US Juniors team in this year’s Match of the Millennials in St Louis, USA in July; 
  • played in the Chess World Cup in Tbilisi, Georgia in September and drew 2 round 1 classical games against Russia’s 2016 World Championship Challenger, GM Sergey Karjakin, but lost the rapid play-off; 
  • tied for first place in the Second Capablanca Memorial Tournament in Anogia, Crete, Greece in September, earning his third GM norm; 
  • subsequently became the youngest ever, and seventh, Australian GM. 

Our Club: 
  • successfully bid to organise and host the 2018 ACF Australian Chess Championships at Norths in January 2018; 
  • again organised and hosted the NSW State Championship at Norths from June to August, won by Max. In the nine-round round robin, eight of the 10 contestants were members of our Club - our FM Malcolm Stephens finished third. 

The normal club program commenced on 31 January with a simul by blitz expert Blair Mandla, who conceded only three losses and three draws. 

57 entrants contested the nine-round Club Blitz Championship on 7 February. Max and Anton tied in first place with picket fence scores of 9/9, Anton being awarded the title on tie-break. Anton’s father IM Vladimir Smirnov finished third on 7. 

76 entrants contested the Club Championships from February to May. 
  • Max won the Club Championship with a picket-fence score of 8/8, from CM Jason Hu on 5, and CM Clive Ng and Michael Morris tied on 4½. 
  • Stephen Ireland won the Candidates with 5½/8, from Patrick Champion and Max Mikkelsen tied on 5. 
  • Pertti Sirkka and I tied in first place in the A Reserves with 6/9, Pertti being awarded the trophy on tie-break. Promising junior Michael Gong finished third on 5½. 
  • Veteran Club member and ACF Editor Frank Low won the B Reserves with 6/9, from Shane Dibley, Stephen Forrest, David James and Dale Tweedie tied on 5. 
  • Adam Mazay won the C Reserves with 8/9, from Michael Roh on 6½ and Ivan Case on 6. 
  • Timothy Leong won the D Reserves with 6½/9, from Ralph Shaw on 6, and Gary Armstrong, Andy Coey, David Cook, Club Treasurer/life-member Norm Greenwood, Andrew Johnson and Hans Schwandl tied on 5½. 
  • Scott O’Callaghan and Jonas Sze-To tied in first place in the Swiss Division, from Toby Huey on 7. 
32 entrants contested the nine-rounds Ford/Greenwood Seniors Tournament from May to July. Visitor Pat Halpin won with 7½/9, from Club life-member Frank Hutchings on 7, and Yu-Shiun Chen, Aram Sandalciyan and Pertti Sirkka tied on 6. 

During the winter months our Club entered an Under-1500 team in the NSW Chess Association’s gradually dwindling Interclub Grade Match Competition. Our team was enthusiastically and ably captained by Club general committee member Tristan Weijermars and finished in second place behind a very strong Ryde-Eastwood team, among 7 teams. Gary Armstrong did best for our team with a personal score of 4½/6.  

While our Under-1500 team did battle, 28 entrants contested a seven-round FIDE-rated Winter Classic Tournament at home. CM Patrick Champion and Anup Kumar Siva Sankaran tied in first place on 5½/7 from Jigando Balan, Max Mikkelsen, Allan Richards and Justin Vowles tied on 5. 

Over three nights in August, 62 entrants contested a nine-round Rapid Tournament. FM Jason Hu again won this event, with 8/9, from WIM Biljana Dekic on 7, and Bruce Murray, CM Clive Ng and CM Thomas Xuan tied on 6½. 

On 1 September hard-working Club Vice-President Rex Simmonds was our nominee for Norths’s Annual President’s Shield Night Award. Rex was a most worthy candidate, and was well supported by committee members at the gala dinner, but was unable to emulate Norm Greenwood’s achievement of being the only chess club nominee since 1995 to receive the Award. Congratulations to this year’s most worthy recipient of the Award. 

A record number of 95 entrants contested this year’s nine-rounds FIDE-rated John Purdy Memorial Open Tournament. Visitor FM Brandon Clarke won with a picket-fence score of 9/9, from IM Vladimir Feldman and Frank Tefanis tied on 7, and CM Clive Ng on 6½. As the only club member among them, Clive is the recipient of the perpetual silver trophy. Once again John’s widow Felicity honoured us by attending our AGM on 5 December to present this trophy to Clive, however he was unable to attend at short notice. Biljana Dekic won the senior’s prize on 6, and Toby Huey the junior’s prize on 5½. 

On 21 November we sent into battle the strongest team we could call to arms in a desperate attempt to retain the John Kellner/Terrey Shaw Memorial Trophy at our “at-home” second leg of the Big Board Match against arch-rival St George, as we trailed by 19 points after a disastrous “away” first leg on 16 May, when our team was under-strength and we were out-rated right down the boards. After a heroic performance we reduced the deficit by 15 points, but, sadly, that was four points short! So, congratulations to St George for regaining the Trophy after we had held it for the past two years. The overall result this year was 48½/44½ in favour of St George. Interestingly, St George and our Club have each won this event ten times over the past 20 years! 

On 12 December we retained the Centenary Shield by the narrowest margin of only 1 point in the Little Board Match against Harbord Diggers. Both legs were played at Norths due to building construction work at Harbord Diggers. Both legs went down to the wire, the result depending on the last game to finish on each night We won the first leg by 6½/4½ and Harbord Diggers the second leg by 6½/5½ - resulting in an overall result this year of 12/11 in our favour. 

To acknowledge the outstanding chess achievements of our three Olympiad representatives, GM Max Illingworth, GM Anton Smirnov and WIM Biljana Dekic, our Committee resolved to create a new membership category of “Emeritus Membership”, and to award it to each of them. At our AGM on 5 December I presented their certificates of Emeritus Membership to each of them. Emeritus Membership is renewal-fee free, like life membership. The names of each will be published on our website. Our three Life Members are Phil Viner, Norm Greenwood and Frank Hutchings. 

This year, as in all previous years, every Committee member has worked hard and has discharged his duties enthusiastically, efficiently, harmoniously and well. Those duties have included recruiting and maintaining our membership and contact details; organising and administering our chess activities and financial affairs; acquiring, maintaining and handling our equipment; frequently consulting with each other and making decisions as required; and maintaining relations with our host club, chess organisations and other clubs. Organising the forthcoming 2018 Australian Chess Championships has increased our workload this year. At our AGM some changes in the composition of our Committee occurred. My loyal, and our hard-working, Vice-President, Rex Simmonds, did not offer himself for re-election to that position, in which he has served our Club so ably over the past 20 years or so, but he did offer himself for election as a general Committee member. Due to work commitments, Michael Morris did not offer himself for re-election as a general Committee member, but expressed his willingness to serve again when work commitments permit in future. As always, there was an election of each member of the new Committee, position by position. Our new Committee elected is: President: myself; Vice President/Secretary: Peter Abbott; Treasurer: Norm Greenwood; Webmaster: David Stern; Arbiter: Nick Cooper; general committee members: Rex Simmonds, Blair Mandla, Tristan Weijermars, Otto Gram, WIM Biljana Dekic and Paul Russell. On behalf of all Club members I thank each member of our past Committee for his hard work and dedicated service, and congratulate each member of our new Committee on his or her election to it. Each member of our Executive has been a particularly heavy lifter! We feel excited that Biljana is, so far as we know, our first ever female Committee member in our 109-year history. 

I extend to each of you and your families Season’s Greetings and my very best wishes for a safe, happy and chess-successful New Year. Our Webmaster David Stern has announced that the New Year will commence with “fireworks” – meaning chess fireworks at what promises to be a very exciting Australian Chess Championships at our Club, where the top two rated entrants are our own two GMs, Max and Anton! At my latest glance, 192 players had entered either the 11-round Championship or Reserves or the seven-round Classic, and 44 had entered the Blitz. These are excellent numbers! GM Ian Rogers will be providing a daily live commentary on the top games. Finally, I wish to acknowledge and thank Offshore Oil Limited for recently and generously financially supporting these Australian Chess Championships by providing additional prizemoney across all events; and, of course, Norths, without whose support this tournament would not be possible. 

Paul R Glissan