Sun-Herald, July 22

One of the weakest Australian Masters on record began last week in farcical fashion but redeemed itself thanks to a dramatic final round. 

In a round-robin tournament, a drawing of lots is generally held at the opening ceremony to decide the pairings for the subsequent rounds. 

Players are then able to prepare for future games and the organisers know when the key games will be played. 

However the Australian Masters, held last week at the Reserve Bank in Melbourne, featured two drawing of lots! 

Ten minutes after the opening ceremony had been held and the pairings decided, Masters organiser Gary Bekker was shocked to discover French player Richard Valenti, written off as a no-show, had arrived in time for the first round. 

The draw for the eight player round-robin had to be remade as a nine player event, lengthening the tournament by two days. 

Even with Valenti and a new sponsorship deal with Federation Group, Bekker failed to bring together enough titled and non-Australian players to have the event qualify as an International Master event. 

Some of Australia's strong young players had been criticised for abandoning their plans to compete in Melbourne but events fully justified their decisions. 

With top seeds Darryl Johansen and Guy West both suffering from the flu, the tournament was expected to be a close fight but Johansen and West coasted to shared first place, both undefeated. 

West put the pressure on his rival by winning well in the final round against David Hacche but Johansen responded well, completing the following smooth final round game only half an hour after West had defeated Hacche. 

Melbourne Australian Masters 2001 
White: D.Johansen 
Black: E.Levi 
Opening: Dutch Defence 

1.Nf3 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 g6 4.d4 Bg7 5.0-0 0-0 6.c4 c6 7.Nc3 d5 Black is muddling his systems; 7...d6 would be normal. 8.Ne5 e6 9.Bg5 Nbd7 10.Qd2 Qe8 11.Bh6 Qe7 12.Bxg7 Qxg7 13.f4 Qe7 14.b3 Rd8 15.e3 Nxe5?! 16.fxe5 Ne8 17.Rfc1 b6?! 18.cxd5 exd5 19.Na4 Bb7 20.b4 Rac8 21.Nb2 Ng7 22.Rc2 Ne6 23.Rac1 Rf8 24.Nd3 g5 25.a4 Kh8 26.a5 Qg7? A tactical oversight, although White's queenside pressure was becoming unbearable. 27.a6! Ba8 27...Bxa6 28.Rxc6 was almost as bad; the d pawn would become chronically weak. 28.Bxd5! Qd7 29.Bg2 Rfd8 30.Qc3 h6 31.d5! Nc7 32.e6+ Qg7 33.Ne5 Kg8 34.Nxc6 1-0 

Australian Masters Melbourne Final scores (Australian unless stated): 1eq.West, Johansen 6.5/8; 3. Rujevic, Bjelobrk (NZ) 4.5; 5. Levi 4; 6eq.Baron, Hacche 3.5; 8.Valenti (Fra) 2.5 9.Dizdarevic (Bos) 0.5. 

Spaarkassen International Dortmund, Germany Scores after 8 of 10 rounds: 1. Topalov (Bul) 5.5; 2. Kramnik (Rus) 5; 3. Leko (Hun) 4.5; 4. Morozevich (Rus) 3.5; 5. Adams (Eng) 3; 6. Anand (Ind) 2.5. 

Winter Chess Competition Puzzle 4 Solution: 1.Kf7! Kh7 2.g4! a2 3.g5! hxg5 4.Rxb2 a1(Q) 5.Rh2 checkmate! 

Prizewinners: K.Tiplady, Booragul; M.Gray, Denistone; R.Schinaia, Ascot Vale; R.Bowden-Reid, Forestville. Grand prizewinners next week.