Begonia Festival keeps up a long tradition with its annual Open Chess Competition

BALLARAT’S 48th Begonia Open Chess Competition was held over the long weekend, combining with the Oceania Open Championship for the first time.

Competitiors from many countries throughout the Pacific attended the event, which was held in the pavilion of Ballarat Clarendon College. 

Director of play Gary Bekker said both events were big on the annual chess calendar and it was great to see the Oceania Open come to Ballarat for the first time. 

“It’s a great event and opportunity for locals to compete with players from around the world,” Mr Bekker said.

He said many well-known players were competing, including James Morris who had recovered from a car accident to become one of the best players in the country, Australia’s international master Stephen Solomon and Kanan Izzat from Azerbaijan. 

The Ballarat Chess Club event has grown to be one of the biggest chess competitions in Australia, attracting more than 100 competitors each year. 

Club president Patrick Cook said eight local players competed well at the event, which showcased the best chess players in the Australasian region. 

In Mr Cook’s 35th year competing in the tournament, he said it had a great atmosphere. 

“There’s young and old, male and female, all very talented and competing against each other.” 

Each of the 117 competitors played seven games, and the winner was calculated by who had the most points – with one point awarded for a win, half a point for a draw and zero points for a loss.

Pat Cook playing Rob Bailey at the Begonia Open Chess Competition.

Pat Cook playing Rob Bailey at the Begonia Open Chess Competition.