Canberra Times Chess Column for January 14Stefan Djuric held off a pack of chasing Grandmasters to win the 2000/1 Icon Australian Open in Canberra this week.
Djuric, seeded fifth, won his first seven games and then held off his higher ranked GM colleagues by drawing his last four games, including a narrow escape against Australian GM Darryl Johansen in the final round.
The 45-year-old Yugoslav GM collected a $3,000 first prize and now plans an extended Australian holiday.
This year's Open was dominated by foreign players, with only Australia's two top juniors, David Smerdon and Zhao Zong Yuan, improving their reputations substantially.
Smerdon, 16, and Zhao, 14, both scored impressive final round victories over International Master opponents to reach a tie for third place in the Open, well ahead of Olympic veterans Michael Gluzman and Guy West.
Zhao, who has just overtaken West on the new world ranking list, is intending to spend much of 2001 on the European circuit and the Coffs Harbour junior could be challenging for the Australian number three position by the time the 2002 Olympic team is selected.
One of the notable absentees from the Open was Chris Depasquale, the man who had unsuccessfully sued the Australian Chess Federation in the ACT Supreme Court to gain a place in the 2000 Australian Olympic team.
Depasquale travelled to Auckland for the NZ Championship, with the field including the man his lawsuit would have displaced from the Olympic team, Leonid Sandler.
Despite playing only his third tournament in the past 12 months, Depasquale had the satisfaction of winning the tournament ahead of Sandler but unfortunately the opposition in Auckland was insufficiently strong for Depasquale to secure an International Master result. (Three such results are needed for the IM title.)
Icon Australian Open
Leading final scores:
The following superlative attacking game was played in the first round of the ongoing Australian Junior Championships in Canberra by local star Shervin Rafizedah. The Championships are the strongest on record, with Zhao and Smerdon hot favourites to win the U/18 Open division.
Canberra AUS Junior 2001
8...Rg8 was necessary, but Black could hardly have expected the blitzkrieg