Murray Chandler wins Queenstown Chess Classic

by ChessBase
2/8/2006 – 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.

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2006 Queenstown Chess Classic

Report by Amiel Rosario

In the 83rd NZ Chess Championships of 1975-76, Murray Chandler, then 15 years of age, shared equal first with “Mr Chess” Ortvin Sarapu and an ex-Russian, Lev Aptekar. Thirty years later, Chandler returns to his homeland and this time he finishes outright first on 8.5/10 points in the 113th edition of the same tournament.

GM Murray Chandler, winner of the 2006 Queenstown Chess Classic

Chandler’s victory was only fitting, as he was after all, the event’s principal sponsor. In fact, the whole idea of holding the tournament in this most gorgeous part of the planet was his. As the official website informs us, it began during a “chance holiday”.

About Queenstown

In our players’ welcome packs, the CEO of “Destination Queenstown” had this to say: “You’ve arrived in one of the most beautiful places in the world…If you’re into more relaxed activities, head for a hike around the mountains, stop off at one of our award winning wineries, or just walk around the lake for the cleanest air your lungs will ever breathe”. I assure you dear readers, the man isn’t lying.

Situated deep near the tip of New Zealand’s South Island, just a short 3-hour flight southeast of Sydney, Queenstown is paradise. The air is crisp and clean. While the summer temperatures are absolutely perfect. From December to February, your days can be very long. The sun will rise as early as 5.30AM and will stay around ‘til 10.30PM. For the Australians in the event, Queenstown was the needed respite from Australia’s extreme heat. Just days before flying to New Zealand, Sydney-siders like myself endured the hottest day on record since 1939 when the temperature struck 44 degrees celcius. That’s 111 degrees Fahrenheit!

Sunset over Lake Wakatipu. A sight to behold and one can expect nothing less in LOTR country. That’s Lord of the Rings country to the uninitiated. Queenstown, of course, isn’t known as the adventure capital of the world for nothing. If you like to go fast on water, then this is the place to be. You can take a ride in the fastest jetboats or glide along happily in mid-air tethered to a parasail. Those with a more extreme inclination can jump across two cliff faces, go paragliding, heliskiing or rafting; plus the most famous of all – bungy jumping, an activity invented right here in Queenstown!

The view from the back of our hostel. There is no better way to wake up to or while the night away with a local bottle of pinot noir – perfect for that romantic interlude. No doubt some of our French readers will protest. “But monsieur”, they say, “such new world wine is, how you say, ‘industrial’, no”? Mesdames et messieurs, I assure you – this is not the case. One drop and you will fall in love with New Zealand. And that’s coming from an Aussie.

Ah, but the French are a funny lot. Visiting from France, Remi Soupizon sure did left Australian FM Aaron Guthrie with a story to tell. The night before their 8th round game, Remi did what only a Frenchman would do. He treated Aaron to a sumptuous meal – cooked by him, of course. Aaron informs me, “The entree was cheese, bread, tomato and salad dressing. The main was steak”. Remi planned a vino accompaniment but the hotel staff prohibited alcoholic consumption on the premises.

The Australian fidemaster returned the gesture with a pretty two-knight checkmate!

The tournament hall, before the start of a round

And so, we move to the 64 squares. The main tournament span from 15 to 24 January and was played over 10 rounds. On offer was NZ$30,000 plus another NZ$5,825 in the rapid play and blitz events. With that kind of money on offer, a record for New Zealand, the event was sure to attract chessers from every direction.

One country sent an entire invasion army: Australia! If it was anything else but chess, it’s certain that the NZ government would have immediately summoned the Aussie ambassador for an explanation.

Visitors came from other nations, too – from as far away as Brazil, Slovenia, France, Germany, Japan and a lone representative from Ecuador. All up, there were 193 players in the tournament – a huge turnout by New Zealand standards. Seed 1 was GM Rogers, followed by GMs Chandler, Sermek and a bevy of IMs. Grandmaster Hecht of Germany was seeded 10th on rating.

Following the example of Sofia Mtel Masters, Murray Chandler insisted upon a “no early draw” rule for the top 10 boards. And the rest of the field were encouraged to follow suit. This was a masterstroke as the crowds and the eager fans viewing online were treated to a daily slugfest.

Ian Rogers vs Michael Geveke

Australian GM Ian Rogers had just won his national championships a week earlier in Brisbane. In Queenstown, he was the clear favourite, on form as well as on rating. But any hopes of a back-to-back win were dashed early when he faced German visitor, FM Michael Geveke. Rogers miscalculated and allowed a sudden surge of attack against his g2 spot. According to the official round three press release: “Due to a rule specific to this tournament that no game on the top ten boards can be agreed drawn in less than 30 moves, Rogers lost his chance to be able to offer a draw early in the game before his slightly worse position deteriorated too much.”

Rogers,Ian - Geveke,Michael
Queenstown Classic Queenstown, NZ (3.1), 2006
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qc7 7.Qg4 f6 8.Nf3 Nc6 9.Qg3 Qf7 10.Bb5 Nge7 11.dxc5 0-0 12.0-0 Nf5 13.Qf4 Nce7 14.exf6 gxf6 15.Nd4 Kh8 16.Nxf5 Nxf5 17.f3 Qe7 18.a4 Qxc5+ 19.Kh1 Qxc3 20.Ba3 e5 21.Qc1 Rg8 22.Bb2 Qc5 23.f4 d4 24.fxe5 Qd5 25.Qd2 Ne3 26.Rf2 Bh3 27.Rg1 fxe5 28.Bf1 Raf8 29.c4 Qe4 30.Rxf8 Rxf8 31.Bd3 Qc6 32.Qe2 Rg8 0-1. [Click to replay]

As if devised by the gods, New Zealand’s prodigal sons cross-swords as early as round 2. Chandler’s and Wade’s lives have nearly reflected each other. Both left New Zealand to seek bigger fortunes. And both have become massive successes.

The older Wade headed out in 1948, whereas Chandler settled in England sometime around 1980. Wade later attained the IM title and is particularly well-known for having once been the possessor of more chess information than any other outside of the ex-USSR. Malcolm Pein, in his column for the UK’s Telegraph, informs us that even the great RJ Fischer once sought Wade’s advice.

For his part, Chandler became a grandmaster (the only New Zealand-born to achieve this feat) and went on to represent his adopted country in numerous Olympiads. He was also editor of the British Chess Magazine for a period of eight years. These days Chandler acts as the managing director for Gambit Books.

Ex New Zealanders: Murray Chandler vs Bob Wade

The game was tense with Chandler's clock counting danger close to zero. Amazingly, for his age, Wade still had at least 60 minutes left. But with the time control at 100m + 60s [per move from move 1], Chandler had little risk of losing on time. He just had to play something decent. The game ended a draw. During the post mortem, Chandler graciously acknowledged Wade's excellent play. "You played very well Bob, I have to say", said Chandler.

Chandler,Murray - Wade,Bob
Queenstown Classic Queenstown, NZ (2.2), 2006
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.d3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.Nbd2 h6 12.Nf1 Nh7 13.Ne3 Ng5 14.h3 Be6 15.Nh2 g6 16.d4 h5 17.Nd5 f6 18.f4 exf4 19.Bxf4 cxd4 20.cxd4 Bxd5 21.exd5 f5 22.Rxe7 Qxe7 23.Qd2 Nxh3+ 24.gxh3 Nc4 25.Qg2 Qf6 26.Nf3 Rfe8 27.Bd3 Ne3 28.Qh2 Nxd5 29.Bxd6 Re3 30.Be5 Qb6 31.Be2 Re8 32.Kh1 f4 33.Rg1 Qe6 34.Bd1 Rc8 35.Qg2 Kf8 36.Bb3 Qf5 37.Bxd5 Rc2 38.Qf1 Ree2 39.Bb3 Rxb2 40.d5 Qxe5 41.Bd1 Qe4 42.Bxe2 Rxe2 43.Rg2 Rxg2 ½-½. [Click to replay]

Some of us wish that competitive chess can be played like this. In photo above are New Zealanders Bill Forster and IM Bob Wade sharing a pot of tea! Between moves, both players would take turns pouring, sipping and pour some more. Yet not all were in agreement. To Bob’s right is the Australian player Malcolm Tredinnick. You can clearly see him trying to block out the noise. Malcolm said: “What the photo doesn't convey is how noisy the serving was for a few moments (I am sitting next to Bob trying to block out the initial rattle whilst my position goes from "under control" to "interesting").

Bob Wade's lectures [Photo courtesy of Malcolm Tredinnick]

At 11 am each morning, one of the master players would deliver a lecture. Above is IM Bob Wade. According to the event press release, when asked about his chances of winning Queenstown, the 84-year old Wade said they were slim. “I’m hoping to survive”, he said.

Shopping street in Queenstown

Queenstown is a small place. The CBD is no more than two square kms. So everything is within walking distance. There are no designer labels here but there are plenty of restaurants, bars and adventure shops. Anyway no one is here to shop.

German GM Hajo Hecht

Last year, this German grandmaster visited and played in the Australian Open. A local sports magazine in that country described GM Hecht thus: “There's GM Hans-Joachim Hecht, a German Ken Done with a moustache, boat shoes and a very bad shirt.” For his efforts, grandmaster Hecht went home with the seniors trophy.

GM Drazen Sermek from Slovenia

Slovenian GM Drazen Sermek. He was in a drawish mood throughout with 5 games ending peacefully. But along with GM Hecht he finished equal first, on 7.5/9, in the NZ Rapid Championships.

In his last round game against Chandler, Sermek did something very naughty: he offered a draw before the 30th move. Chandler promptly forced the Slovenian to play on. The game ended in a draw and with that, GM Murray Chandler wins his second NZ Championship.

IM Alex Wohl from Australia

And speaking of wines earlier, we have to mention the Aussie IM Alex Wohl. He is a regular visitor to NZ but can be more frequently seen in European opens. Last year, Alex won the Open Medoc Wine International tournament in France - where the prize is the player’s weight in wine. Alex went home with 82 large bottles!

He is a friendly chap and quick to offer advice. One day he dropped in to our hostel and we talked of religion, chess and (believe it or not) credit cards.

In round 7, Alex suffered a loss to GM Murray Chandler. "I've played some smooth games with black in this tournament, but every game with white has been a disaster", said Wohl at the post-mortem. Here is an example of Wohl on the Black side.

Zhao,Zong Yuan - Wohl,Alex
Queenstown Classic Queenstown, NZ (6.1), 2006
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 d5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 0-0 7.cxd5 exd5 8.e3 c5 9.Bd3 b6 10.Ne2 Ba6 11.Bxa6 Nxa6 12.0-0 Re8 13.Qd3 Nc7 14.Ng3 Ne6 15.Bb2 Rc8 16.Rad1 Qc7 17.Rf2 cxd4 18.cxd4 g6 19.Rc1 Qd7 20.Rxc8 Rxc8 21.e4 Qa4 22.e5 Nf4 23.Qd2 N6h5 24.Nxh5 Nxh5 25.g4 Ng7 26.f4 Qb3 27.f5 Qh3 28.Qf4 h5 29.fxg6 fxg6 30.gxh5 Qxh5 31.Qf7+ Kh7 32.Qxd5 Rc2 33.Qg2 Nf5 34.h3 Qd1+ 35.Qf1 Qxf1+ 36.Kxf1 Ne3+ 37.Ke1 Rxf2 38.Kxf2 Nd1+ 39.Kf3 Nxb2 40.Ke4 Kg7 41.Kd5 Kf7 42.Kc6 Ke7 43.Kb7 Nc4 44.a4 Nb2 45.Kxa7 Nxa4 46.Ka6 Ke6 47.Kb5 Nc3+ 48.Kxb6 g5 49.Kc5 Nd5 0-1. [Click to replay]

Playing in only her second major tournament after a 2-year layoff, WIM Arianne Caoili is taking it slow to recover her old form. Her score in Brisbane was a measly 4/11 and in Queenstown, she managed just 5.5/10 points. But her run did include a fine victory, in round 3, against the strong Czech player Tomas Civin (2400 FIDE).

WIM Arienne Caoili

Beyond chess this young lass is an accomplished salsera and budding singer. She is about to release a jazz album. Oh believe me, she does both very well! I should apologise to her in advance for including her photo above. Right after Jon Paxman’s report in ChessBase of the Aussie Championships, Arianne’s inbox was flooded with some 100 “fan” emails.

Civin,Thomas - Caoili,Arianne [D52]
Queenstown Classic Queenstown, NZ (3.8), 17.01.2006
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.e3 Qa5 7.Rc1 Ne4 8.Bh4 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Qxa2 10.Nd2 Qa5 11.Be2 Bd6 12.0-0 Qc7 13.c5 Be7 14.Bg3 Qd8 15.c4 Nf6 16.Bf3 0-0 17.Qc2 Bd7 18.Rfd1 b6 19.e4 Rc8 20.Bd6 dxe4 21.Nxe4 Nxe4 22.Qxe4 Bxd6 23.cxd6 f5 24.Qe5 c5 25.d5 exd5 26.Bxd5+ Kh8 27.Qa1 a5 28.Rc3 Qf6 29.Bf3 Rfe8 30.h3 Re6 31.Rcd3 Qxa1 32.Rxa1 g6 33.Rb1 Rb8 34.Rd5 Kg7 35.Rxc5 bxc5 36.Rxb8 Rxd6 37.Ra8 a4 38.Bd5 Kf6 39.Ra5 Rb6 40.Rxc5 Ra6 41.Rc7 Be6 42.Rb7 Bxd5 43.cxd5 a3 44.Rb1 a2 45.Ra1 Ke5 46.Kf1 Kxd5 47.Ke2 Kc4 48.g4 Kb3 0-1. [Click to replay]

Jessica Kinder of Queenstown

Jessica Kinder, 14 years old, of Queensland, Australia. She happens to be one of Arianne Caoili’s young charges. Jessica found herself in trouble with the coach when she actually completed her game with more time than when she started! At that fast pace, there was hardly any thinking at all. Naturally, she lost.

Eugene Schon from Melborne, Australia

Melbourne junior, Eugene Schon – seen here in round 1 playing against NZ Olympiad player IM Paul Garbett. Eugene is of Australia’s young talents. He seems quite fanatical about chess. On the way back to Sydney, I saw him playing with his friends at the airport lounge.

Amy Carter-Milano from Queensland

Amy Carter-Milano. Turning up to the tournament hall for the fifth round, the local paper, "Mountain Scene", was piled all over the place. On the cover was Amy. The paper wrote: "A Queenstown woman regrets a previous flirtation with the porn industry but hopes it won't count against her regaining a spot on the NZ women's chess team." Amy Carter-Milano first made the women's chess team at age 13. Then 2 years ago, she reportedly went public of a plan to start a porn movie company in Queenstown. Wanting to focus now on her passion, chess, Amy was quoted as saying, "It would be nice to have some closure – I still get people coming up to me in places like the produce department at supermarkets and saying they want to be a in a movie".

IM Russel Dive

NZ Olympiad rep IM Russell Dive would probably rather forget his Queenstown experience. Here, he suffered two consecutive losses to Australian juniors – first, in the 4th round, at the hands of Raymond Song; then in the next round, to newly minted Australian Girls Under-18 champ, Alexandra Jule.

Dive,Russell (2359) - Song,Raymond (2085) [A21]
Queenstown Classic Queenstown, NZ (4.20), 18.01.2006
1.c4 g6 2.Nc3 Bg7 3.g3 e5 4.Bg2 Ne7 5.Rb1 0-0 6.b4 f5 7.Qb3 d6 8.d3 Kh8 9.h4 Nd7 10.h5 gxh5 11.Rxh5 Nf6 12.Rh1 c6 13.Nf3 Be6 14.Ng5 Bg8 15.e4 b5 16.exf5 bxc4 17.dxc4 Nxf5 18.Nce4 d5 19.cxd5 cxd5 20.Nc5 Qd6 21.Bh3 d4 22.Qd1 Qd5 23.Rh2 e4 24.Bf4 Rae8 25.Bg2 Qxa2 26.Ra1 Qc4 27.Qc1 Qxb4+ 28.Bd2 Qb5 29.Ra5 Qb6 30.Na4 Qb3 31.Nc5 Qb8 32.Na6 Qb6 33.Rxf5 Qxa6 34.Bb4 Rc8 35.Qa3 Qxa3 36.Bxa3 Rfe8 37.Rh4 d3 38.Bb2 e3 39.Rxf6 exf2+ 40.Kxf2 Re2+ 41.Kg1 Rxb2 42.Rd6 d2 43.Kh2 Be5 44.Rd7 Rc1 45.Nxh7 Rb4 46.Rh5 d1Q 47.Nf6+ Qxh5+ 0-1. [Click to replay]

12-year-old Raymond Song

Twelve year old Raymond is quite a talent. In 2004, he finished equal first in the World Under 10 Championships in Greece.

IM Gary Lane

One of the tournaments big shockers was this miniature, IM Lane losing to German IM Peter Froehlich. The latter is a resident of Melbourne, Australia.

Froehlich,Peter - Lane,Gary
Queenstown Classic Queenstown, NZ (9.5), 23.01.2006
1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 e6 3.e4 h6 4.Bxf6 Qxf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.h4 Nc6 7.Nb5 Qd8 8.d5 exd5 9.exd5 Ne5 10.Qd4 c5 11.dxc6 bxc6 12.f4 Ng6 13.0-0-0 d5 14.Nf3 Ne7 15.Qc5 cxb5 16.Bxb5+ Bd7 17.Ne5 Nc6 18.Qxd5 1-0. [Click to replay]

IM tibor Karolye of Hungary

IM Tibor Karolyi (HUN). He is currently working as a coach for the Asian Chess Academy in Singapore and, in fact, travelled to Queenstown with one of his young charges.

He happily signed his book, “Judit – The Princess of Chess”, for me. It is sometimes a cheesy read but one can, at least, manage a smile, if not an “ugh” moment, over such little tidbits as this: “Judit does play chess like a man, but she has a disadvantage. As a woman, it must be hard to fight at full capacity at certain stages of her monthly cycle - but she does it.”

GM Murray Chandler

Before we close, I cannot resist offering a deal to Murray Chandler. Grandmaster Chandler, sir, I promise to buy a few more of your books – even those by that unreadable fellow, Rowson – if you promise to sponsor another event Down Under. More of Queenstown will do me quite nicely. Thank you very much!

One more picture, by popular demand

You'd never believe what some people get up to. My friend, Andrew Stone, is seen here with his desktop PC!! He brought it all the way from Auckland, on the bus, and set the thing up in his room at the hostel. Get a laptop I say.

One of the many tourist attractions here in Queenstown – an amphibious vehicle

The spectacular Queenstown scenery

Lord of the Rings country

And we need to stop before this gets out of hand...

Final Standings

1 Chandler, Murray ENG 2537
2 Rogers, Ian AUS 2547
3 Smerdon, David AUS 2421
4 Zhao, Zong Yuan AUS 2461
5 Sermek, Drazen SLO 2530
6 Bjelobrk, Igor NZL 2396
7 Hecht, Hans-Joachim GER 2397
8 Susilodinata, Andrean INA 2254
9 Lukey, Stephen NZL 2279
10 Civin, Tomas CZE 2410
11 Ker, Anthony NZL 2330
12 Dougherty, Mike CAN 2206
13 Froehlich, Peter GER 2361
14 Lane, Gary AUS 2444
15 Garbett, Paul NZL 2354
16 Karolyi, Tibor HUN 2364
17 Sutton, Richard NZL 2301
18 Dive, Russell NZL 2359
19 Solomon, Stephen AUS 2415 6.5
20 Wohl, Alex AUS 2452 6.5
21 Nokes, Roger NZL 2316 6.5
22 West, Guy AUS 2356 6.5
23 Wojnar, Maciej NZL 1973 6.5
24 Drummond, Matthew AUS 2235 6.5
25 Van Riemsdijk, Herman BRA 2358 6.5
26 Steadman, Michael NZL 2241 6.5
27 Feldman, Vladimir AUS 2324 6.5
28 Wastney, Scott NZL 2256 6.5
29 Geveke, Michael GER 2277 6.5
30 Oliver, Gareth AUS 2092 6.5
31 Wang, Puchen NZL 2240 6.5
32 Humphrey, Jonathan AUS 2254 6.5
33 Smith, Bob NZL 2253 6.5
34 Hohler, Peter SUI 2183 6.5
35 Tabatt, Hendrik GER 2236 6.5
36 Tredinnick, Malcolm AUS 2172 6.5

All the game we could find in zipped PGN. The games are in somewhat tattered condition, although the ones of the top boards appear to be fine. We have attempted to standardize the names (did you know there are five plausible ways of spelling Jonathan?), but further editing and enhancement would be necessary before we could call it a clean database.

Rapid Championship: 1= Sermek and Hecht 7.5/9; 3= Karolyi and Puchen Wang (Puchen becomes NZ Rapid Champion).

Blitz 1st Zong-Yuan Zhao


The author: Amiel Rosario is 32 years old. Originally from the Philippines, he now lives and works in Sydney, Australia. His profession is in the internet industry. Amiel sometimes plays in tournaments and maintain the Closet Grandmaster blog. "My greatest ambition is to marry a rich and successful woman", he tells us. Please direct all applications to amielr at gmail dot com.

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