Canberra Times, August 26

"Why do you guys always send such weak players to the World Juniors?" noted American trainer John Watson asked me soon after the 1997 edition of the U/20 open and girls' event, the most prestigious junior tournaments in the world. 

"I know Australia has better juniors than the ones you send," continued Watson. 

"Why don't they play in the World Junior?" 

I launched into an explanation, greeted with some incredulity, of how Australian juniors must pay for themselves to go to the world titles, leading many of our top juniors to decline to apply for selection for international representation. 

In addition, the late 90s have seen the arrival of a new generation of strong juniors in Australian, the oldest of whom are only now reaching their late teens. 

Our best juniors, perhaps with financial considerations in the back of their mind, have generally preferred the youngest age group to which they are eligible rather than try their luck in the tougher U/20 event for experience. 

Subsequent to the 1997 tournament, Australian World Junior representatives have plumbed the depths, taking the wooden spoon in the open division of the 2000 World Junior and earning a similar position in the Girls' event two years earlier. 

However in 2001 the situation took a turn for the better. 

The only applicants for selection to the World Junior events currently underway in Athens, turned out to be Australia's best 15-year-olds, Zhao Zong Yuan and Catherine Lip. 

Zhao would have been our top pick in any case, while Lip ranks behind only Canberra's Laura Moylan, who is completing her final school year. 

Zhao and Lip began their Athens campaigns brilliantly but have subsequently struggled somewhat. 

However Zhao has had the satisfaction of playing the best game of the tournament so far, against a player tipped by Lubomir Ftacnik as Slovakia's most talented junior for many years. 

Athens 2001 
White: Zhao Zong Yuan 
Black: J.Markos 
Opening: Sicilian Defence 

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f4 A system recommended by John Nunn in *Beating the Sicilian*, one of the chess books which made the journey to Athens with Zhao. 6...Qc7 7.Nf3 Nbd7 8.Bd3 g6 9.0-0 Bg7 10.Qe1 0-0 11.Qh4 b5 12.f5 Re8 13.Bh6 Bb7 14.Kh1 Bh8? This was foreshadowed by Black's 12th, but now Black's king finds himself short of air. 15.a3 Rac8 16.Rae1 Nc5 17.Ng5 e6 18.fxg6 fxg6 19.Re3 Qe7 20.Rg3 Ncd7 21.Ne2 e5 White's attack seems to have reached its limit but Zhao finds a superb way to introduce his d3 bishop into the attack. 22.c3!! Bg7 23.Bb1! Rf8 24.Ba2+ d5 25.Bxg7 Qxg7!? 26.Rgf3! 26.Ne6 Nxe4! is far more messy. 26...Rce8 27.Qh3 Qe7 28.exd5 Bxd5 29.Bxd5+ Nxd5 30.Rf7 h5!? 31.Qd3 31.Rxe7 Rxf1+ 32.Ng1 Rxe7 33.Qd3! was even simpler but "I trusted him," admitted Yuan. 31...Rxf7 If 31...Qd6 32.R1f6!! wins. 32.Rxf7 Qd6 33.Ng3! Nc5

34.Nxh5!! Rd8 If 34...Nxd3, 35.Rg7+ mates next move. 35.Qxd5! gxh5 36.Rf8+! 1-0 

A last round win over Ian Rout gave Ian Wright victory in a hard fought Belconnen Premier tournament. 

Leading final scores: Premier 1.Wright 6.5/9; 2.Fitzpatrick 6; 3.Ramakrishna 5.5; 4.Sengstock, Bragin, Grcic 5. First division 1.Reading, S,Stojic, Hoole 4/5; 4eq. Murphy, Duda 3.