The 2015 Vikings Weekender started with a field of 52 players, down 8 players from last year. Worryingly the drop occurred mainly in the Open section, where despite a prize pool of nearly $2000, only 16 players entered. One theory is that players rated between 1600 and 1800 are staying away because it is too tough, but if this is true, then it isn't a good outcome for Canberra, or even Australian chess.
The small field in the Open means the event is much more cut throat. With very few easy games each point has to be fought over, and a number of players are already looking nervously at the field to come.
After 4 rounds IM Anton Smirnov, IM Moulthun Ly and Michael Kethro share the lead on 3.5/4. Smirnov and Ly drew a 99 move game in round 4, while Kethro scored 3 straight wins after starting the event with a half point bye. IM Junta Ikeda is half a point behind the leaders, his only loss coming at the hands of Smirnov.
In the Under 1600 event, 4 players share the lead on 3.5. Jamie-Lee Guo, Thomas Johnston, Oscar Hellmann and Tim Pearce are all undefeated so far, and look forward to a tough morning round.
Full results and live coverage can be found at tournaments.streetchess.net/vikings2015 You can even replay the live games from earlier in the tournament to see how the leaders made there way to the top. Tomorrows action begins at 10:30am (Canberra time) with Smirnov and Kethro featuring on the top board.