Lord of the Kings – Queenstown Chess Classic

by ChessBase
5/8/2005 – 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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2006 Queenstown Chess Classic

Queenstown, New Zealand

15th-24th January 2006
Prize fund: NZ $30,000. Open To All

Queenstown lies in the heart of one of the most stunningly beautiful regions of New Zealand. It may be 12,000 miles from where we all tend to live, but it is definitely worth the 29-hour trip. An entire Hollywood cast made the trip to film Tolkien's trilogy Lord of the Rings.

The tournament

The 2006 Queenstown Chess Classic is a ten-round internationally-rated tournament, open to all players. The guaranteed prize fund of NZ $30,000 (US $22,000) is a record for a chess event in New Zealand. The tournament is a ten-round Swiss, played at a generous time control of 100 minutes each player + 1 minute increment for each move played. This is a equivalent to 2 hours 20 minutes for the first 40 moves, and conducive to top quality chess.

Important: No draws under 30 moves are allowed, except genuine repetitions. No pre-arranged/tacit agreements to draw allowed (of any length, by repetition or otherwise). Penalties up to a double default/deduction of prizemoney will apply.

There are also Rapidplay and Lightning Championships, to be held in the two days following the end of the main event.

The Queenstown Chess Classic is the brainchild of Murray Chandler, New Zealand's only chess Grandmaster. Chandler, 45, settled in London in the 1980s in order to play professionally, but a chance holiday in Queenstown a couple of years ago gave him the idea of promoting a perfect tournament in a perfect venue.

The tournament will be staged at the Millennium Hotel in Queenstown. Games will be played in the Galaxy Ballroom on the first floor. Next door is the analysis and coffee area, with views over the Queenstown Lake and Mountains. The Millennium is centrally located (2 minutes' walk from the centre of town), and is surrounded by numerous hotels, motels, and other places to stay.

How to register

The entry fees for the Queenstown Chess Classic is NZ $150 (US $95, Euros 80, UK £53) and NZ $80 for juniors (under 18 on 1/1/2006). GMs and Australian/New Zealand IMs are free. You must register before December 1st 2005 or pay a higher late fee. Further information is available here.

How to get there

It is advisable to book soon, since the best flight offers are still available. The price from London to New Zealand is about £600-1000 (economy, round trip). A good place to check is Trailfinders. You will find accommodation links here.


More excuses to go

Helicopter flights into the surrounding mountains provide breathtaking views, sometimes from a lot closer to the rocks than you think you ought to be! Exhilarating stuff.

On the left you can just see the runway of Queenstown Airport. The photo is taken from Queenstown Hill, which is small enough that even chessplayers can climb it.

The peak is Ben Lomond, towering over Queenstown. This also has a well-marked path but is probably not recommended for sedentary chessplayers...

Lake Tekapo is a short drive north of Queenstown.

Nomad runs a fleet of landrovers with very skilled drivers who take tourists anywhere there is a suggestion of a road. This is Skipper's Canyon, which features a terrifying drive along dirt track roads above a spectacular ravine.

Arrowtown golf course, half an hour from Queenstown. Idyllic. Pukekos roam the course. (Pukekos are like potatoes, except they have wings and legs. Actually they are brightly coloured swamp hens.)

Lake Wakatipu. The 45 minute drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy at the head of the lake (where the Dart River flows in) is said to be one of the most beautiful trips you can make by road anywhere in the world. Here's a fullsize desktop image (wallpaper) for your computer, in resolution 1280 x 1024 and resolution 1024 x 768.

Cromwell, near Queenstown. Centre of the fruit growing region. You can feast on the locally produced fruit here (not to mention the wine!).

This is the lake front in Queenstown. A fine place to sit in front of one of the pubs or restaurants, watching the jetboats and the steamer.

Jetboating on the Dart River. The rivers are shallow so a special engine had to be developed. These boats can do things you would not believe!

This peak features quite a lot in the Lord of the Rings films. You can see it by taking a jetboat trip on the Dart River, which flows into Lake Wakatipu (the lake on which Queenstown in situated).

You would not believe what the clouds can do around Lake Wakatipuhere. Add the frequent gratuitous rainbows and it's a photographer's paradise!

Sunset over Lake Wakatipu, taken from Queenstown.

And finally you will always be able to share a fine New Zealand wine by the fireside with the man responsible for bringing about this event: GM Murray Chandler. The restaurant is appropriately call Bardeaux.

All New Zealand pictures by Dr Helen Milligan

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