Sunday, 10 February 2019

2019 Oceania Zonal

The 2019 Oceania Zonal is running from the 18th of February through to the 23rd in Guam. This 9 round swiss will determine Oceania's representative at the next World Cup event.
At the moment GM Max Illingworth is the top seed in the Open event, and is the clear favourite to win the tournament. Almost all the member countries in the zone are sending their strongest players, with the exception of New Zealand, who while sending a reasonably sized contingent, aren't being represented by the 'upper tier'.
The top seed for the Women's event is WGM Julia Ryjanova (AUS), and she is also a clear favourite in that tournament.
The location of the tournament (and the subsequent makeup of the field) has attracted a large amount of discussion within Australian chess circles. Most of this discussion revolves around how the distances required to travel serve as a disincentive for stronger players to take part. While this is a valid issue, I will point out (based on years as a tournament organiser), that it doesn't take much before strong chessplayers find a reason not to do anything.
On the other hand, as the purpose of the zonal is to bring each federations best players together, it has generally succeeded in doing that. Before swisses became more common, each country would have only sent one or two players to compete in a round robin, and would have seen a similar, but smaller field. And holding the event in different federations is also important, as it helps develop chess in areas outside Melbourne, Australia.

(*Disclaimer: I am a member of the Oceania Chess Confederation Executive who awarded the event to Guam, and am participating in the tournament)


Anonymous said...

Your argument that most countries have their best players is false. Palau is missing its top 2, Nauru its top 2, Australia its top 5, NZ its top 21, and most of Guam's entrants are registered to the Philippines, not Paulu. (Are they eligible at all?)
So even within your parameters, the only country with their top two players is PNG, and the only other country with their top player is Guam.

Anonymous said...