Home Page Stories, 2018

Ker wins again

Wellington Open

The Wellington Open was held again at the CQ Hotel in downtown Wellington. A strong field showed up headed by Wellington's IM duo Anthony Ker and Russell Dive. For once they never played each other (it really was a strong tournament), Russell losing early to young Palmerston North CM Jack James. Jack also took the only lost half point off Anthony and may have done even better if a car breakdown hadn't caused an unfortunate round 5 default. In fact the region's youthful contingent featured strongly throughout - starting with a killing quick Black attack in a round one upset of Mike Steadman by local junior Michael Sole, and continuing through a marathon round 5 clash between Ker and Ryan Winter, another rapidly improving local junior. WFM Layla Timergazi was another youngster who installed herself on the top boards early and she ended up amongst those 2nd= after Anthony Ker as you can see on the Results page.

The photo shows the happy winner with arbiter Ian Sellen. Many thanks to Ian and the other organisers at the Wellington Chess Club and Grand Prix sponsor Michael Freeman.

Final Round Action

Latvian Rapid

One of New Zealand's favourite annual events has been successfully hosted again by the Howick-Pakaranga club. Many thanks to the organising club, sponsor Martin Dreyer of D & D Financial Consultants, and arbiters Bob Gibbons and Ying Wang.

The photo shows eventual A Grade winner FM Alexei Kulashko and FM Bob Smith steeling themselves for the final round on top board.

More pictures are on the Facebook page and of course results for all grades are on the Results page.

The Grand Prix prizegiving was held at this tournament, there will be more information about that at a later date.

JETS Junior Training

The New Zealand Chess Federation is pleased to announce that we have the opportunity for two young New Zealand players to attend the Australian JETS (Junior Elite Training Squad) camp to be held in Melbourne from July 9th to 13th 2018. NZ was represented in 2017 by Daniel Gong.

For more information and to apply for one of the spots please download the application form.

Oceania Youth 2019

Direct titles opportunity at 2019 Oceania Junior in Auckland

New Zealand will play host to the OCEANIA YOUTH & OCEANIA UNDER 20 CHAMPIONSHIPS, January 5th-13th 2019 in Auckland. This is an official FIDE (World Chess Federation) competition. As such there are direct titles on offer, subject to certain conditions being fulfilled. For example:

U20 section - the gold medal winner can potentially win a Grandmaster norm. Players who are first equal may gain an instant International Master (IM) title.
U18 - potential IM titles (and norms) to be won.
U16 – potential IM norms and FM (Fide Master) titles.
U14 and u12 sections – potential FM and CM (Candidate Master) titles.
U10 and U8 - gold, bronze and silver medal winners may win a CM title.

Further details about eligibility for direct titles can be seen on the Calendar Page.

Oceania countries eligible to participate are: New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Palau, Guam and Nauru plus for this event non-member French Polynesia (including New Caledonia).

The Championships are being organised by the Auckland Chess Centre, to be staged at Alexandra Park, Greenlane. This will be an opportunity not to be missed. Players from abroad can stay on in Auckland and play in the New Zealand Open Championship starting January 14th.

Stan the man

NZCF appoints Trophy Custodian

Stan Yee (Howick-Pakuranga Club) has taken on this newly created role. The plan is to keep track of NZCF trophies with a comprehensive location list (including photographic records where appropriate), which will assist organisers to get annually awarded trophies to where they need to be for the next event. NZCF is keen to track down trophies from the past that may have fallen off the radar, and Stan will also be investigating NZCF providing miniatures for some events, so winners can retain a permanent momento. Stan can be reached at

Battle of the Bays

The Bay of Plenty Rapid was the first New Zealand 25+5 rapid. It has become a fixture on the NZ chess calendar and 2018's event was another successful event with a quality field. Ben Hague won with 5.5 from 6, (check the Results page) just like last year. Ben seems to rack up an amazing number of tournament wins. One day we'll have to get NZCF ratings officer Rowan Wood to explain why his NZCF rating hasn't leapt to Carlsenesque heights.

Hot on the heels of the BOP Rapid comes the Hawkes Bay Rapid on Sunday 11th March. Now in its 6th year the Hawkes Bay event is still the new boy in town comparatively speaking. But it offers a similar formula in a similarly attractive part of the country. Both events are class one Grand Prix events. Check the Calendar page for more details.

Information for organisers - updated NZCF Tournament Rules

Two new tournament rules have recently been added by NZCF Council:

Rule 1.1.8 (NZCF website shall be official website) makes it a requirement that the most important NZCF tournaments (such as Congress, New Zealand Seniors, New Zealand Junior, etc) are run on the official NZCF website This applies whether NZCF is organising the events directly or has licensed a club or other third party.

Rule 1.1.9 (Entry form) makes it a requirement that any NZCF or FIDE rated tournament in New Zealand (but excluding internal club events) must promptly supply the Entry Form in digital format to NZCF for approval and listing on the Calendar page of the official NZCF website. The contact email address is The Entry Form published on the NZCF website shall be the official and definitive version.

These rules will ensure a high quality of dependable information is available promptly to participants, sponsors and spectators. It will also enable important tournament information to be reliably archived by NZCF for long term future reference.

The full wording of the two rules can be seen at, Tournament Rules section. Most events in New Zealand will already be compliant – those that are not are kindly asked to rectify this as soon as possible.

Poison Pawn Grand Prix logo

Final 2017 Grand Prix Results

Final 2017 Grand Prix Standings are now available here (pdf document) and on the Grand Prix page. A total of $6520 of prizes are to be distributed amongst 31 players competing in 10 categories. The Grand Prix is designed to reward consistent good performance in tournaments throughout New Zealand.

The remarkable Ben Hague once again takes out the top prize of $1500.

NZCF would like to once again thank the Grand Prix sponsors, Poison Pawn and D & D Financial Consultants, and the people behind those organisations Michael Freeman and Martin Dreyer for their continuing generous support.

Martin Dreyer will make some Grand Prix presentations at the Latvian Rapid on March 24th (see the Calendar). If you've won a prize email the NZCF Treasurer Winsome Stretch at to discuss collecting your prize.

43rd World Chess Olympiad, Batumi

The NZCF selectors have chosen the New Zealand squads for the Batumi Olympiad, September 23rd – October 7th. In provisional board order they are:

Open Team
1. IM Russell Dive
2. FM Ben Hague
3. FM Alexei Kulashko
4. IM Anthony Ker
5. FM Daniel Gong

Women’s Team
1. CM Helen Milligan
2. WCM Vyanla Punsalan
3. WFM Jasmine Zhang
4. WCM Joy Qin
5. WCM Nicole Qin

The teams are chosen from a list of players who have confirmed themselves available. Head of Delegation is Hilton Bennett. The Open Team Captain/Coach is Bulgarian Grandmaster Dejan Bojkov, while the Women’s Team Captain is yet to be confirmed.

Poison Pawn Grand Prix logo

ACC Junior Chess Series announced Alex Huang has organised a new series of junior rapid tournaments, held monthly at the Auckland Chess Centre. All tournaments are NZCF rated and part of the Poison Pawn Grand Prix.
See the Calendar Page for details.

Blitz under 1300 winner

A Successful 125th NZ Congress

The tournament wraps up today (Jan 12) with a public simultaneous exhibition by French GM Fabien Libiszewski. All results are on the Results Page. Congratulations to chief organiser Mark Noble and his team, and head arbiter Keong Ang for a very successful event.

Pictured: Hannah Xu collects her 1st, Blitz under 1300 prize and helps the photographer frame the photo.
Photo courtesy of Simon Lyall.
More of Simon's congress photo albums:
Day 7 Day 8 Day 9 Day 10 Day 11

French Flag

Vive La France

Rowan Wood once again sums things up perfectly.
It's a French quinella for the 2018 New Zealand Open. GM Adrien Demuth has won the tournament with 8/9, a full point ahead of GM Fabien Libiszewski. Before the start of the final round, seven players were in contention to be NZ Champion. From this group emerged two players, Russell Dive and Alphaeus Ang. Six points is the magic number. Dive took control of his game with Daniel Gong on move 31 and went on to win in 53 moves. Ang established an advantage as early as move 14 against Hans Gao, winning in just 26 moves. This is Alphaeus's first New Zealand Champion title and Russell's fifth (86/87, 95/96, 98/99, 2015 and now 2018). Congratulations!

The New Zealand Major Open was won by Australian Leon Kempen with 7.5 points, ahead of Stan Yee on 7 with three players tied for third on 6.5 points: Laurens Goormachtigh (BEL), Ryan Winter and Alan Winfield. Congratulations!

Rapid final standings: Fabien Libiszewski, Mike Steadman (NZ Rapid Champ) 7.5; Adrien Demuth 7; Darryl Johansen 6.5; Russell Dive, Alphaeus Ang, Anthony Ker and Jack James 6.

Top Boards Round 4

125th New Zealand Congress

The 125th Congress started on January 1st.

Stop Press: 1st Adrien Demuth (9), 2nd Fabien Libiszewski (8), 3rd= and joint NZ Champions Alphaeus Ang and Russell Dive (6)

Rowan Wood on ChessChat sets the scene for an exciting final round to the NZ Open:

The final round of the New Zealand Open takes place Tuesday (NZ time). It's fairly safe to say that GM Adrien Demuth of France has the tournament in the bag with a clear point lead over his compatriot GM Fabian Libiszewski. Demuth needs only a draw with white against Bob Smith to win outright. Mike Steadman has black against Libiszewski while Daniel Gong, the third of the New Zealand trio on 5.5 points plays four time winner Russell Dive. .

These are the leading scores for New Zealand players: Smith, Steadman and Gong 5.5; Allen Fan, Dive, Hans Gao and Alphaeus Ang 5. Out of contention now are Ben Hague and thirteen time winner Anthony Ker on 4.5 points.

Six points appears to be the popular score for winning the Silver Rook. Smith and Steadman have Black against the French GMs and probably would be happy with half-a-point to move to 6. They will then hope that Dive does not lose to Gong. A draw moves Gong to six points while Dive must win to get there. Gao and Ang face off in a potential winner takes all while Fan has a difficult task with black against Australian GM Darryl Johansen. All this speculation counts for nothing though if any of the leading three players can win their round 9 games.

Be sure to watch the live action here.

Quick links to final standings in the classical tournaments:
Latest Open Crosstable
Latest Major Open Crosstable

Please see the Congress Page for more information, including links to all Vega files (including pairings) for all tournaments, and links to live games.

Simon Lyall's congress photo albums:
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6