School holidays are now over and I’m just getting back into the swing of chess lessons for term one.  There was a lot of chess played over the holidays and I went up to Brisbane for a week to catch the end of the Australian Open and the start of the Australian Junior Championships.  I had high hopes that some of my students would do well in the U/10 and U/12 championships but national events are always tough.  In the U/10 Championships for instance the Australian players, all rated around 1200 or lower, turned up to find a Vietnamese boy rated 1750 sitting up there on board one!   Apparently he had just moved to Sydney and was thus eligible to play.  Indeed he played to this rating and only dropped half a point, leaving the other players in his wake.

Victoria did quite well overall, in particular in the girls events where Myiesha Maunders won the U12 Girls and Eva Wang won the U18 Girls.  Eva is a very strong player, still only at Primary School, and I fully expect that in a few years she will be in the Australian Women’s Olympiad team.

There were several overseas grandmasters playing in Australia over the holidays but they by no means dominated our events.  Max Illingworth showed a welcome return to form to win the Australian Open Championship for example.  There were also a few interesting disputes, particularly in the Victorian Lightning Championships, which saw visiting GM Kasparov posting some unfavourable posts about Australia on his chess blog.  I doubt that he shall be invited back here again.

The biggest tournament of the holidays was over in New Zealand which held the Zonal Championships with the winner to go onto the World Cup and world championship qualification.  The leading Australians who played were Anton Smirnov, Max Illingworth, Gary Lane, Ari Dale and Karl Zelesco plus most of the top NZ players.  With one round to play Anton needed only a draw to secure first place but he faced a hard game against junior rival Karl Zelesco who was a point behind.  They played a very strange game with an even stranger finish.  For today’s puzzle perhaps you can help Anton to win the game.  Have a look at the diagram below.  Anton, playing White, is well up on material an a win seems to be just a formality.  All he has to do is find the best move here and Black can resign.  Alas, Anton chose the wrong move and Karl was able to get a draw with a very nice tactic.  Your job …find the best move for Anton and find the resource which saved the game for Karl.

Anton (centre) wins the Zonal.

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