Treasury checks mate with chess title
PS News
June 16, 2009

A policy analyst with Treasury has become king of the chessboard, reaching the highest level in the game following a win at the NSW Open.

David Smerdon of Treasury’s Canberra HQ was named Grandmaster by the World Chess Federation FIDE (Federation Internationale es Echecs) after the victory.

Mr Smerdon, 24, has been playing chess for most of his life, having started at the age of four. He is Australia’s fourth Grandmaster, but Canberra’s first.

“It’s a sense of personal achievement,” Mr Smerdon said on his return to work.

“For the last 10 years, I’ve been at the second highest level, International Master.”

“It’s taken a long time for me to jump to the top level.”

He has represented Australia in four chess Olympiads and nine world junior chess championships, as well as other international events.

Mr Smerdon, who has previously fulfilled the performance requirements for the title in various Australian and international tournaments, had six wins and a draw at the NSW Open, which improved his international rating and secured him the title.

Back at Treasury, Mr Smerdon joined the Corporations and Financial Services Division’s Market Integrity Unit last year as part of the graduate intake and loves the challenging work environment.

“Working at Treasury is similar to chess,” he said.

“It’s quite complex. I find it interesting.”

He said the Department had been very supportive of his exploits, allowing him time off to compete in events.

It’s not all chess and work for Mr Smerdon though. In his spare time he plays sport, is a keen debater and learns languages.

He hopes the publicity he gets from chess will encourage other young Australians to give it a go.

“It’s important. It’s part of a well-rounded education,” Mr Smerdon said. “People should try it at least once.”

Secretary of Treasury, Ken Henry congratulated Mr Smerdon on his achievement.


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