Oceania Zonal chess tournament

Gold Coast, Australia, 20-26 June 2009

ocenia zonal chess 1

by Graeme Gardiner, Organiser of Oceania Zonal Chess

Being a World Cup qualifying event, the Oceania Zonal chess tournament is probably the most important chess tournament in Queensland for at least 10 years.

The new king of Australian Chess, GM Zong Yuan Zhao will be replacing the old king of Australian chess, GM Ian Rogers, who held that title for some 25 years (Ian Rogers will be present to commentate and front the media). Zong Yuan will not have things all his own way however, as David Smerdon, holding four GM norms, who only finalised his GM title this weekend by passing the 2500 mark, will give him a hard fight.

Unfortunately, two big names of chess in the region will be missing, GMs Murray Chandler of New Zealand, and Darryl Johansen of Australia. Otherwise, virtually all the top players will be playing. An open field of around 80 is expected, and about 20 in the women.

Whatever happened to WIM Arianne Caoili of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ fame? Well she’s been getting on with her uni studies, continuing to date world number five Armenian star Levon Aronian, victim of the famous dance floor punch in Turin, and travelling the world…and is playing here in the zonal. She will be trying very hard to defeat the top seed in the Women’s event, IM Irina Berezina. Irina has done very well in Australia since recovering from the infamous 1997 Maccabiah Games bridge collapse.

Troubled nation Fiji is well represented. Papua New Guinea will be present, as will smaller nations such as Palau and Solomon Islands who have never been represented at this event before. It will be interesting to talk with their players, and discuss chess in their countries.

FIDE Secretary-General Ignatius Leong will be making his first visit to the region, and is keen to talk with as many players, coaches, arbiters, parents and administrators as possible.

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