Sun-Herald Chess Column for January 9

As the Australian Championship goes into its final round in Mingara today, Grandmaster Darryl Johansen is set to add another Championship title to his
collection. The 40-year-old Melbourne Grandmaster has been waiting for a decade to add a fourth title to the three he won in the 1980s, equalling the record held
for almost half a century by Cecil Purdy. Johansen has led from the start in Mingara, seeing off his main rivals in the first half and then coasting after his lead had become almost unassailable.

The chasing pack at the biennial Australian Championship has included three players under the age of 16 - IM David Smerdon, FM Zhao Zong-Yuan and NSW
Champion Kuan Kuan Tian- as well as Johansen's contemporaries Chris Depasquale, Mark Chapman and Stephen Solomon. Solomon has recovered well from a poor start, his come-back, which began with the fourth round game given below, culminating in a draw against Johansen in the eighth round. (None of the other aforementioned players had managed to take a half point from a rampaging Johansen.)

Mingara AUS Ch. 1999/00
White: S.Solomon
Black: S.Booth
Opening: Sicilian Defence

#1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Nd7 4.d4 a6#

Less reliable than 4...Nf6 - moves such as ...a6 can wait.

#5.Bxd7+ Bxd7 6.0-0 cxd4 7.Qxd4 Qc7?#

Surprisingly, this leads to serious trouble. 7...e5 8.Qd3 Nf6 (or 8...h6) was playable.

#8.Nc3 e6 9.Bf4!#

Daring Black to play ...e5, which will be answered by a Nxe5 sacrifice.

#9...Bc6 10.Rad1 Rd8 11.Rfe1! f6#

Since 11...Nf6 walks into 12.Nd5, Black's best hope may have been 11...e5, although after 12.Nd5 Bxd5 13.exd5, the threat of 14.Nxe5 forces the grotty 14...f6.

#12.Qc4 Qc8 13.a4 Nh6 14.Be3 Qd7 15.Nd4 Kf7 16.f4 d5 (Diagram) 17.Nxe6!! dxc4#

This leads to a hopeless endgame, but 17...Qxe6 18.exd5 was even worse.

#18.Nxd8+ Ke8 19.Rxd7 Kxd7 20.Rd1+ Bd6 21.Nxb7! Bxb7 22.Bc5 Kc6 23.Bxd6 Rd8 24.Bb4 Rxd1+ 25.Nxd1 Kd7#

Two pawns down, Booth could safely resign; Solomon's endgame technique is rarely to be faulted.

#26.Nc3 Ng4 27.Bc5 Ke6 28.h3 Nh6 29.Kf2 g6 30.Ke3 f5 31.Kd4 fxe4 32.g4 e3 33.Kxc4 Bg2 34.Bxe3 Bxh3 35.f5+ gxf5 36.Bxh6 fxg4 37.Kd4 Kf5 38.Nd5 g3 39.Ne3+ Kf6 40.Bf4 g2 41.Bh2 Bd7 42.a5 Bc6 43.Kc5 1-0#

Australian Championship 1999/00
Mingara, NSW
Leading scores after 9 of 11 rounds:
1.Johansen(V) 7.5;
2eq.Zhao Zong Yuan(N), Depasquale(V) 6.5;
4eq.Solomon(Q), Chapman(SA) 5.5;
6eq.Smerdon(Q), Rujevic(V), Tindall(N) 5.
New Zealand Championship 1999/00
Leading scores after 9 of 11 rounds:
1.Rogers(Aus) 8.5;
2.Sermek(Slo) 7;
3.Kulashko(NZ) 6.5;
4.Garbett(NZ) 5.5;
5.Van Riemsdijk(Brs), Ker(NZ) 5.
Pamplona GM Tournament
Final scores:
1.Short(Eng) 7/9;
2eq.Gelfand(Isr), Almasi(Hun) 6;
4eq.Vallejo(Spa), Lautier(Fra) 5.5;
6eq.Polgar(Hun), Timman(Ned) 4;
8.Illescas(Spa) 3;
9.De la Villa(Spa) 2.5;
10.Magem(Spa) 1.5.