The foreign Grandmasters took time to exert their influence on the Parkroyal International, which concluded this weekend in Surfers Paradise, but their class shone through by the end.
While the Australian players were falling by the wayside, Slovakia's Lubomir
Ftacnik and Predrag Nikolic of Bosnia quietly accumulated points,
Ftacnik overtaking early leader Darryl Johansen with a key seventh round victory over the Melbourne GM.
Nikolic, the highest rated player ever to compete in Australia, declined an invitation to the recent super-tournament in Sarajevo (won by Kasparov) in order to play on the Gold Coast. The top seed looked sluggish in his early games, running close to the wind against John-Paul Wallace and this writer, but gained in confidence as the event progressed.
The Parkroyal International is the first and strongest event in the two month
long Koshnitsky Memorial Festival which commemorates the legendary Garry
Koshnitsky, Sun-Herald chess columnist for 59 years. With games being carried
live on the internet - a first for a major Australian tournament - the event has
attracted a significant international following and set a standard which future
Festival tournaments will struggle to match.
Parkroyal International 2000
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Nc3 0-0 5.e4 d6 6.Be2 Na6 7.0-0 e5 8.Be3 Qe8 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.h3 Nh5 11.c5 c6 12.Nd2?!
12.Qd6!? is the critical line
This has been played before but it seems to lose by force. 13.Bxa6 bxa6 14.Nc4 was necessary, although Black should have few problems.
In this position, Black has previously played 14...Qg5, but after 15.Bxf4 exf4 16.Nxc8 Raxc8 17.Bxa6 bxa6, Black's edge, if any, is minimal. However Black has a far stronger move, which seems to win in all lines.
15.Bxa6 fails to 15...Qg5 16.Qf3 Bg4 17.Qg3 bxa6 18.f3? Nh3+!, while 15.gxh3 Qg5+ 16.Bg4 h5 is also ugly for White.
15...exf4 16.gxh3 Nxc5 17.Nc4 Rad8 18.Qc2
18.Qc1 offered slightly more resistance, although 18...Qh4 19.Kg2 Nd3! is strong, e.g. 20.Qc2 f3+! 21.Bxf3 Nf4+ and the attack is decisive.
18...Qg5+ 19.Kh2 f3! 20.Bxf3 b5
Now the knight on c4 cannot move due to 21...Be5+ amd 22...Qf4, so Black wins back the piece with a continuing attack.
21.Ne2 bxc4 22.Qxc4 Rd2 23.Rad1 Be5+ 24.Kh1 Rxe2! 25.Qc1 0-1
White resigned without waiting for 25...Qh4.