The 2007 Oceania Zonal has reached the halfway point, with 4 players sharing the lead. Top seed IM Zong-Yuan Zhao (AUS) is on 4 points, along with IM hopefuls Puchen Wang (NZ), Igor Goldenberg (AUS) and Igor Bjelobrk (AUS).
On 3.5 points are Bob Smith (NZ), IM Gary Lane (AUS), and the real tournament surprise Gene Nakauchi (AUS). Nakauchi is the Australian Under 12 champion and is so far undefeated, starting the event with 3 draws before defeating PNG No.1 Stuart Fancy in Rd 4, and James Morris (AUS) in Rd 5.
At this stage Zhao looks to be the favourite, as I suspect the other leaders are also thinking about the best way to score the 6+ points needed to earn the IM title. Already a couple of draws between IM hopefuls have taken place, and like the middle overs of a 1 day cricket game, risk-free chess may be the plan.
In the Womens Zonal, IM Irinia Berezina has a handy 1 point lead with 4.5/5. Second place is shared by Sue Maroroa (NZ), Alexandra Jule (AUS) and Vivian Smith (NZ).
Games up until Rd 4 are available for download here. Scroll to the bottom of the page.
One interesting game was between Stephen Lukey (NZ) and IM David Smerdon (AUS). Choosing the Rb1 variation in the Exchange Gruenfeld (always a tough line to meet as Black), Lukey decides to sacrifice on move 14 with Bxf7+, and the game ends in a draw by perpetual.
Lukey,S (2290) - Smerdon,D (2453) [D85]
Oceania zt Nadi Fiji (3.3), 07.05.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Rb1 c5 8.Nf3 Qa5 9.Rb5 Qxc3+ 10.Bd2 Qa3 11.Qc2 c4 12.Bxc4 Na6 13.e5 Bf5 14.Bxf7+ Kxf7 15.Qc4+ Ke8 16.Ng5 Bh6 17.Qf7+ Kd8 18.Qd5+ Ke8 19.Qf7+ Kd8 20.Qd5+ Ke8 ½-½