The make-up of the 2000 Australian Olympic team is more confused than ever
after the conclusion of last week's Parkroyal International on the Gold
The Parkroyal tournament was won by Slovakian Grandmaster Lubomir Ftacnik,
who did the Olympic selectors no favours by beating Australia's four top
finishers in the final four rounds.
By the end of the event, Ftacnik's ruthlessness against the Australians was
the key factor in deciding the destination of first prize, since top seed
Predrag Nikolic of Bosnia could only draw with the same four players
(earning himself the epithet "the perfect gentleman" at the closing
While Australia's top three players - Rogers, Johansen and Wohl - select
themselves for the Istanbul Olympics in October, the next three places in
the open team are up for grabs, with selectors being forced to choose
between experienced but inactive former internationals and the younger
stars. The selectors for the women's team face a broadly similar dilemma.
This week, an influential voice in the Sydney chess world has expressed the
opinion that Australia should adopt a youth policy, disregarding current
ranking to select the players who will form the backbone of the Olympic
team in years to come. This would mean selecting 14-year-old Zhao Zong
Yuan, David Smerdon (15) and John Paul Wallace (one of the stand-out
performers in the
Parkroyal tournament), at the expense of veteran Olympic campaigners such
as Guy West and Chris Depasquale.
The suggestion is bound to provoke controversy and is likely to be opposed
strongly by the older players. Having two or more teenagers in the Olympic
team might seem like a great idea, but the debate is just beginning.
Parkroyal International 2000
Opening: Pirc Defence
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Be3 c6 5.h3 Nbd7 6.Nf3 Qc7 7.a4 Bg7 8.Be2 b6!?
Ambitious play, trying to keep the tension rather than play the standard
9.0-0 0-0 10.Nd2 Bb7 11.f4 c5 12.d5 e6 13.dxe6 fxe6 14.Bf3 d5 15.e5 Nh5
16.Nb5 Qc6 17.Bxh5 gxh5 18.Nf3 Bh6 19.Nd6 d4 20.Bd2!
A brilliantly calculated pawn sacrifice, without which White would have no
winning chances. Wallace takes up the challenge.
20...Bxf4! 21.Bxf4 Rxf4 22.Qd2 Raf8 23.Nh4! Rxf1+ 24.Rxf1 Rxf1+ 25.Kxf1
Such a check should usually be kept in reserve, and here the immediate
25...Nxe5 seems to hold, as Galdunts plan of 26. Qg5+ Ng6 27.Qd8+ Nf8
28.Kg1!? is met by 28...Kg7, hanging on.
26.Kg1 Nxe5 27.Qg5+ Ng6
Planning to meet 28.Nxg6 with 28...Qxd6, when White has nothing.
A pawn down, one could hardly blame Galdunts for forcing a draw here, but
the Armenian finds something much stronger...
29...Qxd6 loses to 30.Nf5!.
30.Nhf5! exf5 31.Nxf5 h6 32.Ne7+ 1-0
Leading final scores (Aus unless stated):
2eq.Nikolic(Bos), Galdunts(Arm) 6.5;
4eq.Rogers, Johansen, Wohl 5.5;
7eq.Wallace, Hunt(Eng) 5.