Catch up

Hi everyone. A special treat for you, it’s me Gawain writing an update for a change We’ve both been really busy recently; Sue is doing her nannying course which takes up all of her time, whilst I’ve been writing my chesspublishing updates, coaching and recently signed a contract to write a book “How to Beat the Sicilian Defence” for Everyman, which is due to be published late in the year. I’ll give more details closer to the time.

Since the last update I’ve played three tournaments. Sue mentioned the Latvian-Pakuranga Rapidplay on March 21st. I went up the day before and Helen kindly let me stay at her flat in Devonport (which gave me a chance to go to Devonport Chocolates to get Sue an early Easter bunny). I won the tournament with 5.5/6 conceding a draw to IM Paul Garbett. Results at

which Helen updates regularly with all chess relevant to Kiwis.

I didn’t have much time in-between the simuls in Palmerston North and flying off to Auckland and I only had a week before flying off to Australia and the Doeberl Premier in Canberra. Thanks should go to Charles Bishop for organising this tournament in the Hellenic Club, which is a great venue, except perhaps when the DJ downstairs was blaring old dance music for the octogenarians. Unfortunately the chess didn’t really work out for me here. I played quite well but at the decisive point something went wrong and indeed from four positions that should have been objectively winning I only managed 1.5 points. The critical game was as early as round 3 against Eric Teichmann, an FM who plays under the English flag but has lived in Australia for 25 years or so. He plays the Orangutan (1.b4) and I reached a pleasant position with black. I gradually built up my advantage to virtually decisive and then played a line I thought forced him to resign. Unfortunately I missed an intermezzo that left me in a hopeless position. In the end I finished on 6/9 after a topsy-turvy last round game against Tomek Rej in which he sacrificed the exchange, I played well to neutralise his pressure but then panicked and hung the exchange back followed by a piece and was lucky to hold the endgame a piece down.

This was my first time away from Sue since we moved in together back in February last year and I was missing her while she was at a loose end in Wellington that week so as I got a lift across from Canberra to Sydney with Dave Smerdon, (check his blog at!) Sue took a flight to Sydney and we met up the day before my final tournament, the Sydney International, organised by Brian Jones. Obviously this was the cause of my bad performance in Doeberl as I finished tied up for 1st with Dejan Bojkov and Zong Yuan Zhao after holding the latter to a quick draw in the final round. I was very pleased with my performance here, performing at above 2650 level and gaining 15 rating points (which made up for the 14.5 lost in Doeberl, I definitely need to become less erratic if I’m to make it into the top 100 in the world). I also got some experience against fellow Grandmasters with 4 draws and 1 win defeating Dave in the penultimate round. This ended my unusual streak of 31 games in previous Doeberl and Sydney Internationals without playing a GM. The two international masters I played are both improving swiftly, with George Xie looking like he will become Australia’s next GM after getting his final norm with a dominant performance in Doeberl, finishing half a point behind the top seed and winner Li Chao. Before I forget I should also congratulate the young Daniel Fernandez from Singapore who got his second IM norm in a row at Sydney tournaments and took out most of my competition for first! Sue also had to play and was a bit rusty at the start sacrificing herself for me but finished on a respectable 3.5/9. She’s very good at organising me and forcing me to arrive at the board on time as well as keeping me fed and watered (or in my case Pepsi Maxed). One of my morning round games dragged on so she went and got me a Gözleme, a Turkish pastry, that was delicious and gave me the energy to continue! Thanks darling.

With the packed schedule of two games a day there’s very little time to sightsee and as I thought I was going to be in Sydney alone we had booked a flight back early the morning after the last day. We’ll have to return to sightsee at some point but at least we had time to walk along the Parramatta riverbank together with fellow Kiwis Hilton Bennett and Helen Milligan after the prizegiving. The day before we’d had dinner with them and Mike Steadman (New Zealand’s newest FM) and NZ’s upcoming talent Daniel Shen (who had a lucky escape from Sue in their game!). We went to a meat and wine restaurant and I had a huge 500gm Wagyu steak that kept me full for hours J. Another evening was spent very enjoyably at Tristan’s. He’d been kept late at work so it was a late dinner but we filled our time playing blitz, drinking beer and stopping the two kittens from knocking everything over and eating the delicious lamb that Tristan cooked for us. I felt very spoilt, home cooked roast and all the beer I could drink as well as an excellent crowd.

Since getting back I’ve been busy writing my chesspublishing update. I have quite a lot planned in the next couple of months before we head back to Europe in July. I’m doing a lecture 7.30pm Tuesday evening at Wellington chess club ($5 on the door fee, everyone welcome) on my games, followed by going to Hamilton at the start of May for a rapidplay and some coaching and simuls. I also have a weekend in Auckland in July in which we’ll have an in depth look at the Grand Prix Attack, augmenting my Starting Out Guide written on the subject. There’s also the Wellington Open May 14th-16th and Waitakere Open June 5th-7th.

I’ll try to do update the website more often and check if I can add a game viewer with a few comments and photos and I’ll write my opinions on the Topalov-Anand World Championship Match, come on Vishy!