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Horrific car crash kills chess players

4/3/2013 – Returning from the Doeberl Cup in Canberra, Australia six members of the Melbourne Chess Club involved in a motoring accident when their Toyota Tarago rolled off the freeway. Andrew Saint and Hannibal Swartz died in the smash, while fellow players James Morris and Dimitri Partsi were seriously injured. This chess tragedy is in the national and international news.

One of Australia's top chess players is fighting for his life
after a car smash that killed two of his friends

Six members of the Melbourne Chess Club were returning from the Doeberl Cup in Canberra on Monday night when their Toyota Tarago rolled off the Hume Freeway near Winton in northeastern Victoria. Passengers Andrew Saint and Hannibal Swartz, both aged in their 30s, died in the smash, while fellow players James Morris and Dimitri Partsi were seriously injured. Two other chess players, Anthony Hain and Paul Cavezza, were treated in Wangaratta. Mr Morris, an international chess master, is in a critical but stable condition at The Alfred hospital with head and chest injuries. Mr Partsi is in a serious condition at Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Andrew Saint

The accident is made all the more tragic by the fact that hours earlier the treasurer of the Melbourne Chess Club Andrew Saint, 31 and rated 1890, had won the Major division of the Doeberl Cup in Canberra in arguably his best tournament result!

Andrew Saint (right) in late 2012, presenting a prize check to Max Illingworth

Kerry Stead on Andrew Saint: "I had known Andrew for a number of years through his involvement in the chess scene in Adelaide, but had got to know him better since we had both moved from our home cities to Melbourne. He was always cheerful and smiling, even when stressed, and always had kind words for those he spoke to. His chess was generally solid and positional, though he was also more than capable of finding the right tactical solution to a position if necessary!"

CoffeeHouse Chess on Andrew Saint

When someone passes away, it is customary to talk about the persons attributes and generosity, however with Andrew its simply so easy to remember countless examples of these things – they are not hard to find with him and even after we all discuss the great things he did, there will still have been another 1000 generous things he has done that have simply gone unnoticed – that was just the sort of person he was.

Andrew was a very generous person and would always offer others a coffee when he went to buy one – even if he didnt know them that well. He was also generous with his time, putting a huge amount of effort into the very difficult job of being the Melbourne Chess Club treasurer, despite working long hours in his day job. Andrew was a shining light as a very generous and giving person amongst a chess scene of "individuals". He gave more to chess than he took out of it – both at MCC and back in Adelaide.

Andrew was also a wonderful person away from chess. He liked fine food and dining out. At a Bunnings sausage sizzle to raise funds for MCC, he bought all of us some Wagu beef steaks just to share the gourmet experience with all of us. After the sizzle he showed myself, Pano Skiotis and Paul Cavezza one of his favourite restaurants "Laksa King", a Malaysian restaurant in Flemington. It was so good that I went back there the next night too! Andrew was also the brains behind the free lunch at Cup Weekender and wouldve enjoyed cooking good food for all of the players in the event. As well as food and cooking, I also enjoyed talking to Andrew about travelling, football and his other interests – in fact we really didnt talk very much about chess!

In losing Andrew, Australian chess has lost a great great person who did so much for other people and so much for chess itself. Andrew thank you for the work you have done at MCC and for the friendship, happieness, coffees and restaurant tips you have given all of us – you are already deeply missed! Well done on a magnificent performance in your final tournament. Not many people get to go out on top, but you certainly have – in both chess and in life in general!

Hannibal Schwartz

Hannibal had only begun playing chess in Melbourne in the last year, but had the highlight of drawing with visiting German GM Igor Khenkin in a simul at Box Hill Chess Club in January. He was quiet and unassuming, but had made a number of friends in his brief time in the chess community.

James Morris

IM James Morris, 19, rated 2406 [photo Gary Bekker]

Melbourne Chess Club president Grant Szuveges said James Morris was the most talented chess player he had met and was known throughout Australia and internationally. "He is easily in the top ten players in Australia, and probably the one who could go on to become absolutely better than anyone else in this country. He is just one of those people; everybody loved him – still does love him."

The Oceania Zonal is a very strong chess tournament held every two years. The best players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea are vying win the event. The winner qualifies to the World Interzonal, which is in turn a qualifier for the World Championships. Also on offer is the prestigious International Master title! A lot of people were fighting for the IM title. To be honest, I didn’t think I would get it. But you never know in these tournaments; 7 days, 9 rounds. It is a fitness test and only the strong get through.

I started the tournament well, scoring 1.5/2 in the first two games, the draw against IM George Xie, Australia’s 4th highest rated player. The next two games were very successful. I beat two experienced players; Michael Steadman from New Zealand and Moulthun Ly from Queensland. Moulthun is a former Australian Junior Champion! I was very happy.

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