Ballarat Chess Club held our 57th consecutive “Begonia” Chess Tournament over the Labour Day long weekend of 11th-13th March 2023, and once again we set a new record entry, up from 172 last year to an amazing 223 this year! This included a very satisfying 21 members of our Club.
Top seed was 3-time winner GM Zong-Yuan Zhao, with 14-time winner (!!) GM Daryl Johansen once again gracing us with his presence. 4 IM's, 7-time winner Stephen Solomon, 5-time winner James Morris, Igor Bjelobrk, and Ari Dale entered, and WGM Julia Ryjanova also returned. 5 FM's, 1 WFM, and 6 Candidate Masters rounded out the titled entries.
The tournament was generously sponsored by PPT Finance, Northern Star Chess, Friends of Begonia, and Federation University. In addition, Ferguson Plarre Bakehouse offered a 10% discount to all chess players for the weekend.
This year we engaged 4 Arbiters, headed by IA Peter Tsai, assisted by Nigel Barrow, Casey Goh, and David Koetsier. This proved to be a prescient decision with such a large entry, and the tournament ran very smoothly as a result.
Once again, our old friend GM Ian Rogers provided live in-person commentary, ably assisted by WFM Cathy Rogers. This has proven to be a popular feature of our tournament in recent years.
David and Sabrina Koetsier from Chess Life in Adelaide once again brought along their bookstall, and Sabrina again took many high-quality photos of the players, young and old.
As usual the tournament was a happy mix of fierce, competitive chess and pleasant reunions with old chess friends, as so many of the players keep coming back, year after year, a testament to our status as the best weekender in the country. Amongst the visitors were 6-time winners IM Robert Jamieson and IM Guy West.
Local media also showed some interest, with reports in the Ballarat “Courier” and the “Ballarat Times”.
After 7 rounds of fighting chess, IM James Morris was the outright winner with an imposing score of 6.5/7, his 6th victory overall. He was followed by IM Igor Bjelobrk, GM Zong-Yuan Zhao, and FM David Cannon on 6.
With such a large entry, it was decided by the committee to add some extra prizes to the published list. The best score by a local player, and the best score by a female player were revived, and a new “Ironman” prize for the lowest rated player to score 3/3 on day 2 was introduced. James Watson won the local prize with 5/7, Zhiyuan Shen and WFM Alana Chibnall shared the best female prize also with 5/7, while Renfei Jiang won the Ironman prize which included a copy of “Terrey Shaw : Australian Chess Ironman”/ Ralph Shaw & Ian Rogers.
Best local results were James Watson, as mentioned, with 5/7, Chris Kolak, Om O'Carroll, and Bas van Riel with 4.5, and Paul Dao, Scott Stewart, and Rob Loveband on 4.
Much of the tournament’s success, of course, is the result of the quiet efficiency of our Tournament Manager Kevin Perrin, assisted by the Committee, and numerous Club members who helped out in myriad ways over the weekend. So, congratulations to all for another successful tournament!