It’s an exciting time for chess spectators like me at the moment as we have several interesting International events in progress or coming up.

I’ve been following IM Anton Smirnov who is playing a few tournaments in Europe at the moment as a warm up for the big event, the 42nd Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan which starts in 38 days.  Australia is sending a young team to the Olympiad although I’m still disappointed that the Australian Champion, Victorian Bobby Cheng, was not selected as one of the players.

In progress at the moment is the World Youth U16 Chess Championships being held in Slovakia from 21-30 July.   In this case the Australian team is made up of almost all Victorians including Kris Chan, Luis Chan, David Cannon and Vishal Bhat and the boys had the thrill of being paired against Russia in the first round.  Representing your country overseas is one of the great thrills for any chess player and I’m reminded of when I played in the 1970 World Junior Championships in Athens when I too was paired against the Russian (grandmaster) in the first round.  The boys in Slovakia did a little better than me as they scored half a point from the four game match with David Cannon holding a draw.   So far the team has scored 0.5 v Russia, 1.5 v South Africa, 3 v Hong Kong and 3 v Scotland.

The good thing about a junior playing overseas is that it broadens their horizons and opens them to the world of international chess, not just the local Australian chess scene.   I can remember one Australian Junior Championships in Melbourne where most of the country’s best juniors had gathered to compete but, as I pointed out in my speech, the two very best players (Anton Smirnov and Karl Zelesco) were not there as they were overseas playing in adult open events.  It was pretty clear which of that year’s crop of talented players would go on to become top senior players also.

For today’s puzzle let’s have a look at a position from Kris Chan’s round 2 game against South Africa.  He is a pawn up in a double rook endgame with prospects of scoring the full point.  Unfortunately Kris missed an immediate win in the diagrammed position and went on to lose the game.   Can you do better?

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