These days a chess grandmaster visiting Australia is not necessarily big news.  There are so many of them!  Australia even has four of its own.  However there are a few chess players whose visit to Australia would create media attention and one of them will be in Ballarat on Monday to present the prizes at the Ballarat Begonia Open Chess Tournament.  His name is Nigel Short, former chess prodigy and World Championship challenger in 1993.  Even more newsworthy is that his opponent in that 1993 match, former World Champion Garry Kasparov, will be visiting the Doeberl Cup in Canberra over Easter.

Kasparov is a candidate for the Presidency of FIDE (the World Chess Federation) and I guess he is touring the world lobbying for his election.  I was interested to read that Kasparov has recently taken out Croatian citizenship.  He is a strong opponent of Vladimir Putin in Russia so perhaps Russia is not a very safe place for him at the moment.

Back when I was a junior the visit of a grandmaster was a most unusual occurrence and I can remember being thrilled to play in a simul against Russia’s GM Yuri Averbach in 1967.  A few years later in 1970 Australia had it’s first really International Tournament which included 5 grandmasters.  The local Herald newspaper featured a huge picture of the Victorian Premier, Henry Bolte, on its front page with the 5 grandmasters led by Lajos Portish from Hungary.   Thereafter grandmaster visits became a little more frequent but some of course were special.  In 1972 former World Champion (and FIDE President) Max Euwe came to Australia and gave many simuls.  I remember playing him in a simul at the Melbourne Chess Club and helping juniors Jordan and Bartnik who were sitting on either side of me.  They won!   I lost.  (See photo below).


Max Euwe.

My chess hero Karpov also toured Australia giving simuls.  I don’t remember which year it was but I certainly regret not taking a board against him when he came to Melbourne.  I didn’t make that mistake when Boris Spassky came here in 1989 and I was very proud to hold the former World Champion to a draw.

I’m not sure whether or not Nigel Short will be giving any simuls whilst he is here in Australia, but if you are going to Ballarat on Monday it’s certainly a chance for a celebrity photo opportunity.   Short shot to fame in the late 1970s as a child prodigy.  He became the youngest ever British Champion, then the youngest IM ever then the world’s youngest GM.  He rose to become world number 3 at his peak but failed to become World Champion.

For today’s puzzle it is fitting that I show you Short’s only victory against Kasparov in their 1993 match.

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