Like to get some sun this winter?

by ChessBase
9/23/2008 – One of the quirks of living on the surface of a tilted sphere is opposite seasons. When it is cold, dark and damp in the Northern Hemisphere, the southern half is enjoying balmy weather, with the denizens engaging in activities such as mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, skydiving and river safaris in jet boats. You can join them and play chess as well. The Queenstown Open is in January.

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Let’s get some sun this winter!

By Edwin Lam Choong Wai
Photos courtesy of WFM Helen Milligan

Ever thought how priceless it feels to play chess close to the magnetic South Pole? Wonder no more, dear friends! There is an opportunity here for you to compete in the Queenstown Chess Classic ( This ten-round tournament is to be held in the resort town of Queenstown during winter time in the Northern Hemisphere – back again after a lapse of two years.

Welcome to Queenstown!

Streets of Queenstown

Queenstown, which is set out along the S-shaped Lake Wakatipu, is home to the world’s southern-most wine producing region, and is also one of the few towns closest to the South Pole. The 45th parallel location of the town means that the Queenstown Chess Classic is possibly the southernmost FIDE-rated chess event in the world!

Down under – Australia, New Zealand and the Arctic continent

The southernmost FIDE-rated chess event in the world?

Incorporating the official 116th New Zealand National Championships, the Queenstown Chess Classic will be held from the 15th to the 24th of January 2009, in the Millennium Hotel, with a total prize fund of NZ $50,000 (US $37,000). There is a total of 15 prizes for the top finishers, with the champion taking home NZ $10,000 in money. On top of that, there are also grading, senior and junior prizes.

The defending Champion, GM Murray Chandler

While everyone freezes in the North, January is summer time in Queenstown. The 45° south latitude means that summer days in Queenstown are long, with dawn at 5 a.m. and dusk at 10 p.m. Daytime temperatures hover between 20–30 degrees Celcius, thus making it the best time for outdoor activities such as mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, skydiving and “river safaris” in jet boats. Besides these activities, Queenstown, which sits on a UNESCO World Heritage site, also offers opportunities for hot-air balloons and para-gliders.

This is what you will see when you go on a ride with Dart River Safaris

Time for a relaxing boat ride?

A scenic lookout with a breadth-taking view

Queenstown is also a most convenient staging ground for drives around the mountains and fiords of New Zealand’s South Island. Its roads offer stunning sceneries ranging from the fiords and glacial lakes to forest and rolling pastures, as well as wineries and apple orchards. With Mt. Aspiring National Park, Milford Sound, Homer Tunnel and Mount Cook within driving distance from Queenstown, this is the perfect opportunity for some chess tourism around the back roads of New Zealand’s South Island

With the tournament organizers allowing half point byes to be given to players combining the tournament with a holiday, this is the perfect opportunity to experience Lord of the Rings, up-close-and-personal! With such a priceless experience on the cards, this tournament is sure to attract lots of interests from around the world – even the legendary Bob Wade flew three quarters of the way across the globe to join 192 other players from 18 different countries to compete in the previous Queenstown Chess Challenge.

Photo session – note Bob Wade’ seated in the center of the group

For enquiries and registration, please contact the Chief Organizer of the Queenstown Chess Challenge, Paul Spiller, at All GMs, WGMs and Australian/New Zealand IMs and WIMs will receive free entry to the competition. Only one round per day, with games starting at 3 p.m. The time control is 100 mins + 1 min increment per move played. Let’s get some sun this winter, down South in Queenstown!

Previous report on Queenstown

Murray Chandler wins Queenstown Chess Classic
08.02.2006 – This is LOTR country – Lord of the Rings to the uninitiated. It is the adventure capital of the world. for people who like fast jetboats or bungy jumping, an activity invented in Queenstown! But it also paid host to a big chess tournament, with many interesting new faces. Big pictorial report.

Lord of the Kings – Queenstown Chess Classic
08.05.2005 – Like to visit New Zealand? We know that it is on the other side of the globe, but it is Lord of the Rings country. The excuse for going: there is a very attractive tournament in Queenstown. You can combine chess with the holiday of a lifetime!

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