Australian Chess Open: Child prodigy Anton Smirnov to take on grandmasters at tournament
By Daniel Keane

One of the strongest fields of international chess grandmasters ever assembled in the country is about to face off at the Australian Chess Open in suburban Sydney.

The biennial 10-day tournament pits child prodigies against seasoned experts and will begin on Friday at the Castle Hill RSL hall, which is packed with tables and chess sets for the occasion.

Twelve grandmasters will be among 150 competitors from 16 countries, with the audience following the matches online expected to number in the tens of thousands.

He said Chinese grandmaster Ni Hua is the topped ranked player to attend and goes in as favourite, but 13-year-old Sydney wunderkind Anton Smirnov is the one to watch.

“All eyes are on Smirnov really in this tournament,” Rogers said.

“At 13, he is approaching the strength needed to become a grandmaster. He’s already earned the ‘international master’ title.

“He’s just world class for his age and everyone’s expecting him to make another step forward. He’s hardly missed a beat over the last couple of years.”

Chess ‘astonishingly popular’ among Australian children

An increased total prize pool of around $30,000 has helped attract the strong field.

Rogers said while chess gets little coverage in the national media, it is “astonishingly popular” among young people.

“It’s extremely healthy. In New South Wales, among school students, it’s the sixth most popular sport,” he said.

“You have around the 100,000 number of players playing in school chess, within the school or between schools.

“Commentary’s changed as well. Previously, I was just talking to 50 people who came to watch the tournament. Now with the commentary being streamed online, you’re talking to 30,000, 100,000 people around the world.

“It’s quite amazing the numbers that watch chess online.”

Full story here.

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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