38th Begonia Open 2004

Winner: S Solomon (Qld)



The winner was Stephen Solomon on 6.5/7 a half point ahead of a trio of players, Guy West, David Smerdon and Anastasia Sorokina who tied for second. Unlucky was Mirko Rujevic, alone in second place going into the last round, he was beaten by Solomon and passed by the other three. Winner in B group was Ibrahim Ogada-Osir on 5/7, while C group was won by Zhigen Lin on 4.5/7. Both had very good tournaments. No less than eleven players in D group tied for first on 3/7 to share the money. Congratulations to the Ballarat Chess Club and the organising committee who put on another enjoyable tournament for all competitors.


The 38th Ballarat Begonia Weekender was conducted during the Labour-day long weekend of 6-8th March. The event saw an absolute record-entry (119 players) in the previous year and the organisers of this year’s event were very pleased to see 118 players turning up in Ballarat..
In anticipation of the larger than usual crowd, a seperate area, remote from the playing hall, was allocated for post-mortem analysis of the games, also allowing the juniors (and others?)  to let some ‘steam off ‘ away from the battlefield, without unduly disturbing the games in progress.   
Another novelty for the tournament, and introduced on a test basis on the last day, was the positioning of the lower boards to the second  floor, allowing more space.
With these changes, we seem set and hope to aim for our next goal: expanding the tournament towards the next level, eg 150 players and attracting some overseas visitors.
As has now become practice, at the end of the tournament a small survey was held asking the participants for their opinions on: 1.the penalty (loss of game) imposed on mobile phones ringing during play;2. with the large numbers would it be advisable to split the tournament into separate rating divisions; 3. were the above (remote) analysis area and the upstairs expansion believed to be improvements to the tournament; 4. would it be a good idea to introduce a (one round only, but not the final round) draw-option, to be nominated before the start of the tournament;
IA Kevin Perrin was his usual ‘self’, conducting a perfect tournament as the director-of-play. The only hiccup was a brief power failure on Saturday night. It was only when (around midnight!) the draw of the next round had to be done, that Kevin discovered that the power surge had corrupted the Swiss Perfect program on his laptop. With the help of some computer- knowledgeable players the files were nearly resurrected after a long fiddle, when the next power failure hit, causing a complete blackout this time. Everything was then packed up way past midnight, and Kevin then had to spend another hour or so working on the draw at his house where luckily the power was again back-on. I am sure that not many people have noticed the dark (worry) circles around his eyes the next morning…     

Looking at the entry list, we will notice an unusually broad subgroup below the (6) IM’s.
I am not in a position to comment on technical chess-matters of the tournament, and I will have to restrict myself to some general observations.
Stephen Solomon (top seed) was pretty awesome in the way he steamrolled his way to first place. In his speech, he indicated that he felt most worried in his games against Mirko Rujevic (last round) and Angelo Tsagarakis. Although missing out on the prizes at the end, Mirko kept up the pace winning against David Smerdon and defending very well against Guy West in a hard-fought battle.
Anastasia Sorokina made a very strong debut in Ballarat, finishing equal second after beating Peter Froehlich in the last round. Simon Rutherford initially saw a promising return to tournament chess after many years in the ‘wilderness’, scoring 100% from his first 4 games, but he faltered after that. It also was good to see Jeremy O’Carroll and Joel Mc Donald testing the ‘waters’ again after a long absence.
Personally, I believe that the surprise packet of this tournament was Ibrahim Ogada-Osir (1744)  who a.o. defeated the much higher rated Brian Jones, Mehmed Dizdarevic, Milenko Lojanica, and drew against Ian Wright and Denis Bourmistrov. He deservedly won the B-rating prize.   
Due to a number of draws in the initial stages, the top finishers didn’t play each other at the end. Solomon for instance didn’t meet any of the three scond prize winners. Probably also a reflection of the broad and strong field?
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the support of ChessWorld, and Gary Wastell.