New Zealand Open

by Murray Chandler
1/4/2015 – As far as Chess Centres go, it must be one of the quaintest around – a 1916 Church, and adjacent Church Hall. Last March, Nigel Short played a simul to open the New Zealand National Chess Centre - and now it is the venue for the 2015 New Zealand Open Championship. A pictorial report from Devonport, Auckland, with comments by GM and chess philanthropist Murray Chandler.

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As far as Chess Centres go, it must be one of the quaintest around – a 1916 Church, and adjacent Church Hall. Last March, while on the FIDE election campaign trail, GM Nigel Short played a simul to open the New Zealand National Chess Centre - and now it is the venue for the 2015 New Zealand Open Championship. There are four Grandmasters playing – and a fifth one organising. A pictorial report from Devonport, Auckland, with comments by GM and chess philanthropist Murray Chandler.

Sometimes in life, as in chess, we do impulsive things. In late 2013 I was a bit bored, so I bought a Church. Unfortunately, unlike in chess, Fritz is refusing to tell me whether this was a good move or not.

Having said “A” you have to say “B” (apparently a Russian proverb). So next step? Set up a chess centre of course.

Inveterate globe-trotter Nigel Short popped by to give simul last March, getting the centre off to a wonderful start.

Young and old flocked in to take on the famous grandmaster.

The local Member of Parliament Maggie Barry was there to welcome everyone with an amusing speech. She is already ‘world famous in New Zealand’ for having presented a TV gardening show for many years.

There is a chess connection too. Maggie’s partner Grant Kerr (pictured here playing Nigel) is a former New Zealand International and Olympiad player.

For the Championship, starting 1st January, half a dozen well-known overseas players were invited, with some kind assistance from the NZCF (New Zealand Chess Federation). Here is Danish GM Allan Stig Rasmussen at a pre-tournament barbeque for the overseas guests. On the right is me,  trying to remember how the pieces move.

Devonport boasts wonderful water views over the harbour to the Auckland CBD. Here Alexandra Jule and Darcy Mendoza play a friendly on New Year’s Eve. They are with the Gardiner Chess group coming from Queensland, Australia.

Perhaps next year this inspiring setting should be board 1 for the tournament. Our old friend IM Herman van Riemsdijk (Brazil) is playing Layla Timergazi, one of New Zealand’s brightest junior prospects. The red blossoms to the left are on a Pohutukawa - the “New Zealand Christmas Tree”.

Onto the main event. Wow, our own banner across the main street. Thanks to the Devonport Business Association. 

Play kicks off, in the biggest of three playing areas in the Church Hall. 115 players from 15 different countries. Hopefully the playing conditions are ok; it’s our first big chess event at the venue.

Top seed – by a margin of 144 rating points – is English Grandmaster David Howell, rated 2670. If you are paired against him you may wish to nip next door for a quick prayer.

What’s this super-cool strategy? Local Auckland Chess Centre player Nathan Goodhue, black against a German Grandmaster, has not appeared 15 minutes after start time…

Stuck in traffic! We are tolerant in New Zealand – 1 hour default time, like the good old days.

Round 3 and the pairings get tougher. Fedja Zulfic (Australia) faces Grandmaster and third seed Zhao Xue from China.

Post-mortems are naturally held in the Church building across the courtyard.

Matthew Drummond (Australia) and Helen Milligan (ex-Scotland, now NZ) go over their draw.

The New Zealand Championship has a history dating back to 1879. The famous Silver Rook (as pictured) is still around, and the top NZ player in our tournament will have their name engraved on it.

Popular IM Irene Sukandar has a fan club even in faraway Auckland. This Indonesian enthusiast has popped in for a look.  

And some free tips for Boy Reinhard Gunawan after his game, another Indonesian player living locally.

Arbiters and NZCF officials enjoy the summer sunshine during round one. The New Zealand seasons are the opposite of Europe, so January is a perfect time of year to visit. Hopefully we may see some of you readers next year.

Standings

Pos T NAME Rtg PRtg Fed Pts
1 GM Zhao, Xue 2514 2811 CHN 3.0
2 GM Bischoff, Klaus 2490 2822 GER 3.0
3 IM Sukandar, Irine Kharisma 2392 2881 INA 3.0
4 IM DIVE, Russell J 2441 2852 NZL 3.0
5 GM Howell, David W L 2670 2132 ENG 3.0
6 IM KER, Anthony F 2435 2824 NZL 3.0
7 -- Zelesco, Karl 2210 2363 AUS 2.5
8 GM Rasmussen, Allan Stig 2526 2298 DEN 2.5
9 FM HAGUE, Ben 2462 2376 NZL 2.5
10 FM CROAD, Nicholas 2366 2317 NZL 2.5
11 FM Le Roy, Brice 2290 2441 FRA 2.5
12 IM GARBETT, Paul A 2355 2376 NZL 2.5
13 FM SMITH, Robert W 2367 2348 NZL 2.5
14 -- GAO, Hans 2293 2344 NZL 2.5
15 -- MCNABB, Matthew D 2100 2205 NZL 2.5
16 FM Reilly, Tim 2238 2240 AUS 2.5
17 -- Drummond, Matthew 2231 2255 AUS 2.5
18 IM Van Riemsdijk, Herman C. 2356 2222 BRA 2.5
19 FM STEADMAN, Michael V R 2311 2330 NZL 2.5
20 -- KRSTEV, Antonio 2071 2207 NZL 2.5

Replay Rounds 1-3

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Links

The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

 



Topics: New Zealand

Murray Chandler is chess grandmaster from New Zealand. He has played at the Olympiad representing both New Zealand and England. He is a prolific chess writer, chess organizer, philanthropist, and recently - an owner of a church in Auckland, New Zealand.
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Queenslander Queenslander 1/4/2015 10:18
I'm extremely pleased to say I finally managed to make it across 'The Ditch' (the Tasman Sea, separating New Zealand and Australia) to play in this event. I missed Murray's earlier 'classic' New Zealand Open Championship events in the spectacular alpine resort town of Queenstown but this breath-taking setting just up the road from a beautiful beach tucked under a dormant volcanic cone is a truly inspiring place to play chess too.
GalacticKing GalacticKing 1/4/2015 04:25
Wonderful report!
Thanks, Murray.
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