GM Darryl Johansen Turns 60

by ChessBase
2/4/2019 – Darryl Johansen, an Australian Grandmaster who broke barriers for Australian players but retired from the international circuit at 30, celebrates his 60th birthday today, February 4th. He became the second Australian (after Ian Rogers) to earn the Grandmaster title. We take a brief look at his career, including two games annotated by GM Rogers from MegaBase 2019.

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Australia's second Grandmaster

Darryl Johansen was until midway through the last decade one of only two Australian players to earn the Grandmaster title.

Having won the Australian Junior Championship in 1977, Johansen began his international career with team tournaments in Mexico and Singapore. In 1980, Johansen spent three months hitchhiking his way across the USA, sometimes sleeping rough, and competing in seven tournaments, later penning a memorable article ‘USA on a dollar a day’.

Darryl JohansenHowever, Johansen did not come to international attention until 1982, when he won the Lloyds Bank Masters in London (featuring players such as Viktor Korchnoi, Tony Miles and Vlastimil Hort) while rated only 2310. His final round game against US GM Sergey Kudrin featured a brilliant final attack [Replay this and other classic Johansen games in the game viewer below!].

Johansen won the first of his Australian Championship titles in 1984 and continued playing successfully in Europe until 1988, when anaemia, a result of inadequate vegetarian food in Eastern Europe, caused him to return to live in Australia permanently.

As his health improved, so did Johansen’s results, scoring a GM norm at the Novi Sad Olympiad (narrowly missing a medal) and then again at the Moscow Olympiad (despite being a victim to a cheating incident).

When his Grandmaster application was submitted it was discovered that Johansen had also scored a GM norm at the 1990/1 Lidums Australian Open in Adelaide, but Johansen, no longer having great chess ambitions, did not realise this.

In 1995, Johansen became Australia’s second Grandmaster, after Ian Rogers, in whose shadow Johansen lived for many years. Though Johansen played 14 Olympiads between 1980 and 2010, only one of them, Thessaloniki 1984, was on board one.

Johansen vs Ghinda1982 Lucerne Olympiad

Johansen vs Petar Velikov at the 1982 Lucerne Olympiad

Johansen vs Kasimdzhanov Calvia Olympiad 2004

Johansen vs Kasimdzhanov at the 2004 Calvia Olympiad

In 1990 and 1991, Johansen played two exhibition matches in Sydney against Deep Thought, the forerunner of the Deep Blue computer which was to beat Kasparov in 1997. Johansen won the first match 1-0 but was held to a 1-1 draw in the second.

In 1998, Johansen (and almost half the Australian team) withdrew from the Elista Olympiad following the murder of prominent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov critic Larissa Yudina, who had featured on the Australian television programme Foreign Correspondent.

After retiring from the international circuit Johansen became a chess coach and soon took over the Melbourne coaching business Chess Ideas which has employed dozens of coaches.

Though Johansen’s rating has declined as he aged, he enjoyed an Indian summer in 2012, when he won his latest Australian Championship title — two more than Rogers and a legend such as Cecil Purdy — and followed up immediately with victory at the Queenstown Classic in New Zealand, defeating Gawain Jones in the final round.

Throughout his career, the affable and modest Johansen has won more than 150 tournaments, on four continents. His domestic successes include winning the Australian Championship six times (a record), the Victorian Championship 12 times (another record) and the traditional Ballarat Begonia Open 13 times (yet another record).

Select annotated games of GM Darryl Johansen


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The Fashionable Caro-Kann Vol.1 and 2

The Caro Kann is a very tricky opening. Black’s play is based on controlling and fighting for key light squares. It is a line which was very fashionable in late 90s and early 2000s due to the successes of greats like Karpov, Anand, Dreev etc. Recently due to strong engines lot of key developments have been made and some new lines have been introduced, while others have been refuted altogether. I have analyzed the new trends carefully and found some new ideas for Black.

Other featured games of GM Darryl Johansen


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My Black Secrets in the Modern Italian

The Italian Game is considered a sound but quiet opening without early trades, giving rise to rich positions where plans are more important than forced variations. So shows black's plans on this DVD.


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macauley macauley 2/5/2019 08:32
@Suat Atalik - Thanks. Corrected.
Suat Atalik Suat Atalik 2/5/2019 05:24
In one of the pictures ,the gentleman there is not the Romanian IM Mihai Ghinda but Bulgarian GM Petar Velikov.
jeanmarcsalama jeanmarcsalama 2/5/2019 02:16
Well done, Darryl! Don't forget who introduced you to the Ashwood High School Chess club in 1973...
Peter B Peter B 2/5/2019 01:51
A legend of Australian chess. Happy birthday!
James Satrapa James Satrapa 2/4/2019 09:35
Happy birthday Darryl! Hope to see many more great games from you.