Canberra Times Chess Column for January 16

While most of the top players stayed away, the youngsters made hay at the Australian Championship which concluded in Mingara, NSW, last weekend. As expected, Melbourne GM Darryl Johansen won his fourth title comfortably, but after a few draws his winning margin was reduced to only half a point over Chris Depasquale and 13-year-old Coffs Harbour prodigy Zhao Zong Yuan.

Despite his poor form throughout most of 1999, Depasquale's result was no great surprise in such a modest field. Having gone to the trouble of hiring English International Master Gary Lane as his second for the Championship, it was clear that Depasquale meant business and by "not doing anything stupid" - Johansen's description - Depasquale was able to score heavily. In a full-strength Australian Championship field, Zhao's second place would have been regarded as sensational, yet even in Mingara few expected the 13-year-old to finish inside the top five, let alone score his first International Master result. Zhao had faded badly in most tournaments during his two month stint in Europe in 1999 but in Mingara Zhao rode his luck in the final rounds to finish with four straight wins.

Two other juniors, David Smerdon and Kuan-Kuan Tian, finished in the six-way tie for fourth place, albeit well behind the top three, while 12-year-old Peter Jovanovic seemed to improve round by round and avoided the wooden spoon with a late victory over former NSW Champion Greg Canfell.

Johansen's considered the following game his best of the event.

Mingara 1999/2000 Australian Ch.
White: D.Johansen
Black: D.Dwyer

#1.c4 e5 2.g3 c6 3.d4 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 Bxd2+ 5.Qxd2 d6 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.Nf3 e4?! 8.Nh4!#

The start of a fine manoeuvre which shows up the dark side of Black's early pawn advance.

#8...d5 9.cxd5 cxd5 10.Ng2 Nc6 11.Ne3 0-0 12.Bg2 Be6 13.0-0 Qb6 14.Rfd1 Rfd8#

At first sight Black's position looks solid as a rock, yet he finds difficulty strengthening his position while Johansen calmy builds up the pressure.

#15.Na4 Qc7 16.Nc5 Bc8 17.Rac1 Qd6 18.Qc3 Ne7 19.f3! exf3 20.exf3 b6 21.Nd3 Nf5 22.Ne5 Nxe3 23.Qxe3 Bb7 24.Bh3 Bc8 25.Bf1 Bb7 26.Rc3 Nd7#

This works out poorly but after 26...Rac8 27.Bh3 Rxc3 28.Qxc3, the open file is White's to keep.

#27.Bh3 Nxe5 28.dxe5 Qb4 29.Qd2 d4 30.Rd3 Qc5 31.f4 Be4 32.b4! Qc4 33.Rxd4 Rxd4 34.Qxd4 Qxd4+ 35.Rxd4 Bc6 36.Bf1 b5 37.Rd6#

With an extra pawn and a better position, Dwyer is given no chances.

#37...Be8 38.Ra6 Kf8 39.Kf2 Rc8 40.Rxa7 Rc2+ 41.Be2 Rb2 42.a3 Rb3 43.f5 Bc6 44.f6 gxf6 45.exf6 Ke8 46.Re7+ 1-0#

After 46...Kf8 47.Rc7 Be8 48.Rc8 Black is in a deadly pin.

1999/2000 Australian Championship
Leading final scores:
1. Johnasen(V) 9/11;
2eq. Zhao Zong Yuan(N), Depasquale(V) 8.5;
4eq. Solomon(Q), Chapman(SA), Smerdon(Q), Rujevic(V), Kuan-Kuan Tian(N),
Tindall(N) 6.

**The accompanying Australian Minor tournament saw success for Shervin
Rafizedah, with the ACT youngster outclassing the field.