Last week Sydney club St George arrived for their weekly interclub match with visiting Slovak Grandmaster Lubomir Ftacnik on first board, prompting protests from opponents Mt Pritchard of unfair tactics. Mt Pritchard lost the match and thereby passed the competition lead to St George.
Mt Pritchard's complaints, which would probably have been more muted had they been aware how often St George has used guest foreigners in the past, have echoes of the controversy which has raged throughout European club competitions since the 'Bosman case'.
The Bosman ruling allowed sportsmen within the European Union to transfer freely to the clubs of their choice, leading to cases such as the London soccer club Chelsea taking the field with an almost entirely non-English team.
In the powerful German chess Bundesliga the situation has been reversed, with champion teams, Porz and Solingen, using Dutch and English stars in preference to German masters.
While the Bundesliga has alway prided itself on being the world's best club competition precisely because the clubs recruited widely, club supporters are becoming disenchanted with the lack of local representation. Until recently, the German Chess Federation (DSB) maintained that the Bosman ruling had tied their hands and that any restriction on EU nationals would be illegal. However the clamour against the foreign 'mercenaries' has become impossible to ignore and for 2001 the DSB are considering a rule which would require each team to play with at least 50% Germans. Such a regulation might conflict with the Bosman ruling but the DSB believes that a national club competition should be allowed to favour local players. In Australia the chance of being overrun by foreign players is non-existent - in fact many club players are grateful when an opposing team arrives with a foreign master.
Of course the foreign stars don't always win. This week's game sees Queensland's Stephen Solomon demolish visiting GM Predrag Nikolic at last weekend's Noosa Open.
Noosa Open 2000
Opening: French Defence
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.Bd2 b6 6.f4!?
A Solomon special, but 6.Bb5+ c6 7.Ba4, planning Nce2, c3 and Bc2, is the critical line.
6...Qd7 is more flexible.
7.Nb5 Bxd2+ 8.Qxd2 0-0 9.Nf3 Qd7 10.a4 c6 11.Nd6 Bxf1 12.Rxf1 Nc8?! 13.Nxc8 Rxc8 14.a5! Qb7?
Rather than weaken his queenside, Nikolic incautiously allows his queen to be deflected from the kingside. The consequences are immediate and drastic.
Otherwise 16.f6 decides.
Rather desperate, but on 16...g6 17.Qg5 Kf8 18.Qh6+ Kg8 19.Nxf5! wins.
17.Nxf5 Kh8 18.Ra3!
Stronger than 18.Qg5 which allows 18...Qb4+ 19.c3 Qf8.
18...Qb4 19.Nd6 Qxd2+ 20.Kxd2 Rc7 21.e6! Na6
Giving up a piece is hopeless but 21...f6 22.Re1 Re7 23.Nf5 Re8 24.e7 followed by 25.Nd6 is no better.
22.Rxa5 fxe6 23.Rxa6 Kg8 24.c4 dxc4 25.Nxc4 c5 26.Rxe6 cxd4 27.Kd3 h6 28.Rd6 Rb8 29.Rxd4 Rb5 30.Ra1 Rg5 31.g3 Rh5 32.h4 Rb5 33.Kc3 Kh7 34.b4 Re5 35.Rxa7 1-0
The first event of the ANU Chess Festival, the National Computer
Championship, will be held next weekend. Information from Shaun Press,
62493434(W). Full Festival details in next week's column.