In the first two weeks of 2011 norths chess club hosted the Australian Open Chess Championships.

The Open tournament was won by George Xie IM, Moulthun Ly and the 2010 Australian Chess Champion Zong-Yuan Zhao GM. 

George Xie IM became the 2011 Australian Open Chess Champion on a tie-brak.

In twelve days over 150 players from Australia and overseas competed in three tournaments: The Australian Open, Australian Minor, norths classic and Australian Lightning.

norths chess club was delighted to see it's member Vladimir Smirnov earn his final International Master norm and take equal 4th at the tournament.

Other notable performances by norths chess club members were:
  • Max Illingworth: 2nd in the Lightning
  • Blair Mandla: tying for 6th in the Open; and tying 4th in the Lightning
  • Anton Smirnov: at nine years of age taking 6 points in the Open
  • Rex Simmonds: tying 4th in the Minor
  • Stephen Garner: tying 3rd in the norths Classic
norths chess club congratulates the winners and thanks all for their participation and support of this great event.

Our President, Paul Glissan's report on the tournament appears below.

CLICK HERE to visit the official site of the 2011 Australian Open Chess Championships

Photos are kindly povided courtesy of Bernie Pokrzywa from norths Camera Club.

Opening Ceremony & First Day



2011 Australian Open Chess Championships close on high note

norths chess club, reputedly the oldest chess club in New South Wales, has proved itself to be a powerhouse of Australian chess by successfully hosting the 2011 Australian Open Chess Championships at its home venue in the Celebrity Room at norths Leagues Club between 2 and 13 January, just one year after successfully hosting the 2010 Australian Chess Championships at the same venue last January, when the Chess Club celebrated achieving its first centenary of existence, and launched its second.

This year a good number of 155 entrants from Australia, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, England, Germany, Slovakia, India, Singapore, USA and Argentina contested the 3 main events: 85 the 11-round Australian Open; 46 the 11-round Australian Minor; and 24 the 7-round norths Classic. 80 entrants, including many of the above, contested the Australian Lightning.

The entrants in the top event this year included the current Australian Champion and winner of the 2007 Australian Open, GM Zong-Yuan Zhao; IMs George Xie, immediate past Australian Champion Stephen Solomon, Vladimir Feldman and Irina Berezina-Feldman; and FMs Vladimir Smirnov, Greg Canfell, Max Illingworth, Junta Ikeda and 3 times former Australian Champion Doug Hamilton. GM Zhao and IMs Xie and Solomon were members of the team which represented Australia in the 39th Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, Siberia in September-October last year.

The Opening Ceremony in the Celebrity Room on 2 January this year featured an expert performance of a Beethoven sonata on norths baby grand piano by talented norths chess club member and North Sydney Boys High School student Oscar Wang, followed by a dazzling performance of 2 tangos on the dance floor by Australia’s current tango dance champions Mr & Mrs Pedro and Sophia Alvarez, suitably attired in black and white. Before performing, Sophia proposed to the audience that salon tango dancing is suited to chess players who have a sense of balance on their feet because, like chess, it requires the making of a series of decisions in a logical sequence as to what steps to take. It is noteworthy that Sophia and Pedro trained Australia’s current strongest female chess player WIM Arianne Caoili to dance the tango for the TV series “Dancing with the Stars”.

Long time Deputy President of the Australian Chess Federation and recently elected President of the New South Wales Chess Association Bill Gletsos officially opened this year’s Australian Open by playing e4 on a chess board.

The Australian Open was conducted by a trio of top arbiters under the expert supervision of International Arbiter and Director of Play Dr Charles Zworestine, with daily internet website coverage, including publication of each round’s games for downloading and viewing.

GM Zhao, IM Xie and this year’s Australian Lightning Champion, rising Queensland star Moulthun Ly, tied for first in this year’s Australian Open on 8½ points out of 11. IM Xie was awarded the title and perpetual trophy on a countback.

norths chess club Champion FM Dr Vladimir Smirnov earned his final International Master norm in tying for 4th on 8 points.

norths chess club member and University student Blair Mandla performed extremely well by tying for 6th with IM Vladimir Feldman, FMs Junta Ikeda and Greg Canfell and rising junior John Papantoniou on 7½ points. norths chess club prodigy 9 years-old primary school student Anton Smirnov, who is Vladimir’s son and is being coached by him, also performed very well by finishing on 6 points.

At 71 years of age, living legend and 3 times former Australian Champion FM Doug Hamilton won the Senior prize with an excellent score of 7 points.

Dennis Wan and Megan Setiabudi tied for first in the Australian Minor on 9 points out of 11. Sarwat Rewais won the norths Classic outright on 6½ points out of 7.

The Closing Ceremony on 13 January this year was preceded by the performance of a unique magic act on the Celebrity Room stage by norths chess club recent member and professional magician Michael Stavrou, who is the only magician in Australia capable of performing this act, which he performed in a black outfit with white gloves using black-lit fluorescent-coloured ropes in total darkness, to music. The audience was amazed and completely bamboozled when Michael knotted his 4 fluorescent-coloured ropes into 4 loops, linked through each other in a chain, and then unlinked and relinked his chain without untying any of his knots.

When the lights were turned on again, Michael drew an analogy between magic and chess by pointing out that there is a fine line between the possible and the impossible, and the task in both is to push the line towards the impossible.

When introducing Michael, I illustrated a connection between magic and chess by referring to Cecil Purdy’s description of Akiba Rubinstein’s endgame play as “black magic” and by referring to the great Latvian World Champion Michael Tal’s nickname of “the Magician of Riga”.

The Closing Ceremony MC, norths chess club Secretary Peter Abbott, quipped that anyone game enough to play blitz against Michael should watch carefully to ensure that their pawns did not disappear. Michael’s act should earn him a GM norm – “Grand Magician”!

Guests of honour at the Closing Ceremony included norths Group Chief Executive Officer Hans Sarlemyn; the grand old lady of Australian Chess and widow of the late former twice Australian Champion Garry Koshnitsky, 95-years old Mrs Evelyn Koshnitsky; veteran norths chess club member, twice Australian Champion and 9 times Club Champion, the Honourable John Purdy, former Justice of the Family Court of Australia; former twice Australian Champion Robert Jamieson; veteran norths chess club member, former NSW Champion, Australia’s FIDE Congress Delegate in Khanty-Mansiysk and chess columnist for “The Australian”, Phil Viner; and recently elected Oceania Chess Zone President and major chess sponsor, IO Brian Jones.

Hans Sarlemyn presented all the top event prizes and the perpetual trophy. Evelyn Koshnitsky presented the Australian Chess Federation’s 2011 Koshnitsky Medal (for chess administration) to Vice-President Dr Kevin Bonham, from Tasmania. John Purdy presented the 2011 CJS Purdy Medal (for chess journalism) to David Cordover, from Victoria. Phil Viner presented the ACF’s 2010 Steiner Medal (for the best senior player in Australia) to IM George Xie. Dr Charles Zworestine announced that the winner of the ACF’s 2010 Arlauskas Medal (for the best junior player in Australia) was FM Bobby Cheng, from Victoria, who won the World Under 12 Championship in 2009, but was not present to receive his medal. Brian Jones presented all the 2010 Yulgilbar-Think Big Grand Prix prizes.

The Australian chess community is indebted to norths Leagues Club for its very generous support in making available its superlative Celebrity Room and Kamaraigal Room and numerous other facilities for the holding of this year’s Australian Open free of cost, and to norths Eatwell Bistro, Rydges Hotel, North Sydney, Australian Chess Enterprises and Stockland, Cammeray, for their sponsorships and support.

norths chess club’s organising committee is very pleased and proud that this year’s Australian Open has been universally acclaimed as having been very well organised, enjoyable and successful, and has boosted norths’ and local businesses’ revenues by bringing a large influx of visitors to Cammeray during the normally quiet first half of January.

Paul R Glissan