Sun-Herald, September 9 2001
"This is much more serious than any Australian training camp I've ever been to," confessed Zhao Zong Yuan on Thursday after only a week working with new trainer Laszlo Hazai in Budapest.
15-year-old Zhao has been taken under Hazai's wing for a month after the Hungarian came across Zhao at a tournament in Queensland in 1999.
"[Zhao] is a very big talent," said Hazai at the time.
"It is a crime that he is still going to school; he must come to Hungary to study chess."
When it was explained to Hazai that in Australia it might also be a crime to take a 13-year-old out of his Coffs Harbour high school, Hazai, agreed to wait.
Hazai is best known as the coach of the Polgar sisters but he has also sporadically trained this writer.
Hazai agreed to work with me in 1985, making the pointed observation that I "needed to learn some correct openings".
The Grandmaster title I had earned shortly before this conversation seemed to me to be sufficient proof that my opening play was 'correct' but after many hours of slaving over a hot chessboard, I began to appreciate Hazai's point.
In 2001 Zhao, already one of Australia's best players, decided to devote a year to improving his chess strength.
In July Zhao travelled to Europe to compete on the tournament circuit and throughout September will be resident in a flat on the Danube, travelling across town each day to work with Hazai between 9am and 7pm.
Hazai was worried that Zhao would only be capable of studying seriously for three or four hours a day but he has been pleasantly surprised at Zhao's stamina and has accorded him the sort of hours under which Judit Polgar survived and prospered.
The training sessions are not all chess work.
To improve Zhao's physical condition and his knowledge of Hungarian culture, for a few hours in the middle of the day Zhao and Hazai take walking tours of Budapest.
Sometimes Hazai and Zhao work alone, other days they are joined by another of Hazai's students, the new World Junior Champion Peter Acs.
(Hazai remained non-committal when asked which of the two was more talented.)
"There's so much new material, it is difficult to remember everything," admits Zhao, who will also be given a place in Acs' Hungarian first division team later in the month. "But it's great."
Najdorf Memorial Buenos Aires, Argentina Scores after 3 rounds: 1eq. Polgar (Hun), Radjabov (Aze) 2.5; 3eq. Karpov (Rus), Korchnoi (Swi) 2; 5eq. Mecking (Bra), Xie Jun (Chi) 1.5; 7eq. Short (Eng), Ricardi (Arg), Felgaer (Arg) 1; 10.Milos (Bra) 0.