Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Gus Korda

One of the more distinctive characters of the Canberra chess scene, Gus Korda, passed away on Sunday evening (20 February 2011). Gus was an almost continuous fixture at the Saturday Street Chess events over the last 20 years, and played his last event the day before his passing (He scored a respectable 4/7). He was very passionate about his chess, would have easily clocked up 6,000+ rapidplay games at Street Chess alone. Sometimes this passion overflowed and it would be fair to say that Gus could sometimes be a handful for any arbiter. However he seemed to mellow with age, and while he would still strongly argue his point of view if he felt he had suffered an injustice, I suspect this was more for show than anything else.
Surprisingly for someone who argued with officialdom so much, he did have a track record as an organiser. He brought the 1974 Australian Championship to Cooma, and was instrumental in the Doeberl Cup's move to the Italo-Australian Club. He also secured sponsorship for Street Chess from a couple of local Canberra businesses, through his friendships with the owners.
While poor health affected his strength in recent years he was strong enough to play in the 1971 Australian Championships, and in the 2000-2001 Australian Open managed to draw his game with Egyptian IM Mohamed Ezat.

Ezat,Mohamed (2348) - Korda,Agustin [D36]
Australian op Canberra (1), 28.12.2000

1.d4 e6 2.c4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 c6 6.Qc2 Be7 7.e3 Bg4 8.Bd3 Nbd7 9.f3 Bh5 10.Nge2 Bg6 11.0-0 Bxd3 12.Qxd3 0-0 13.Rad1 Ne8 14.Bxe7 Qxe7 15.e4 Nc7 16.e5 f6 17.f4 fxe5 18.dxe5 Ne6 19.Qe3 g6 20.g4 Ng7 21.Nd4 Rae8 22.g5 Nc5 23.a3 Nce6 24.Nde2 b6 25.b4 Nf5 26.Qf2 Nfg7 27.b5 Nxg5 28.Qg2 Ne4 29.Nxe4 dxe4 30.Qxe4 Qc5+ 31.Kh1 Qxb5 32.Nd4 Qd5 33.Qxd5+ cxd5 34.Nb5 Nf5 35.Rfe1 Ne7 36.Nc7 Rc8 37.Nxd5 Nxd5 38.Rxd5 Rxf4 39.e6 Re8 40.Rd7 Rf6 41.e7 Kf7 42.Rxa7 h5 43.Rb7 g5 44.Re5 Kg6 45.Kg2 g4 46.h3 gxh3+ 47.Kxh3 Rf3+ 48.Kh4 Rf4+ 49.Kg3 Rf7 50.a4 Rf6 51.Rb5 h4+ 52.Kg2 Re6 53.R7xb6 R8xe7 54.a5 Kf7 55.Rxe6 Rxe6 56.Rb7+ Ke8 57.Kh3 Kd8 58.Kxh4 Re4+ 59.Kg3 Ra4 60.Rb5 Kc7 61.Kf3 Kc6 62.Rh5 Kb7 63.Ke3 Ka6 64.Kd3 ½-½


Libby Smith said...

I'd like to add my thoughts and condolances for Gus' family and friends.

The very first time Kayleigh came along to play Street Chess he gave her his time and many encouraging words. As a young, slightly overawed junior player - those words of encouragement were gold.

When she began to play regularly at Street Chess, he was an opponent she tried to give her best against. She valued those games and perhaps didn't appreciate the effort required for him to keep playing himself.

He met my initial expectation of the classic "grumpy old man" of chess but it didn't take long for me to realise what a great and respected fixture he was, and how much he gave to the regular Street Chess crowd by being there each week.

Grotty children come-and-go but it is the player like Gus who can hold the experience of chess together.

Phil Viner said...

The passing of Gus Korda was sad news indeed.

I came to know him well from the days he played country/seniors chess.

As I understand it, impairment of his eyesight through a motor vehicle accident made him give up tournament play.

While he could be forthright at times, I never had any impression of disagreeableness.

We had always spoken when seeing each other in Canberra at Easter.

Phil Viner

Denis Jessop said...

Gus Korda was a leading figure in Canberra chess well before Street Chess was ever heard of. In the 1970s and 80s (and probably the 60s too) he was a regular player at the Canberra Chess Club and one of the strongest and most active players in the Territory. His passion for chess extended to other subjects as well but though sometimes a handful for administrators, not only arbiters, he was a notable figure in the Canberra chess community. He gave up long time control games and regular club play many years ago but it is good to see him remembered by some of the younger people from his involvement in Street Chess.


Charles Bishop said...

My son Joshua played him last Saturday and said that he enjoyed playing him and had a nice chat to him. Gus was one of the players that always put dread in me. I would think I had a good move only for him to shake his head and say - Not so good and inevitably my game would be over shortly after as I lost. I am glad he was able to do something he enjoyed for so long.

Paul Dunn said...

As a tournament organiser, I have had to eject Gus from the odd tournament. He never treated me any differently after these incidents than he did before them. Beneath the gruff exterior, I never found Gus to to be anything but friendly and helpful. We'll miss you, Gus.

Anonymous said...

I played Gus at the ANU Open one year and won a piece but lost the game. Afterwards he berated me at the board, loudly. Not in the mood for a lecture, I responded loudly. This disturbed other players. The DOP, who I think was Shaun, stepped in and told us to take it elsewhere.

(Hey Shaun, I can't seem to log in. Ashley Oakes)

Anonymous said...

I played loads of games against Gus as a junior in Canberra and he was such a memorable figure in ACT chess.

I used to get a bit of a giggle out of his "slightly higher volume level than appropriate for a chess tournament" comments and piece movements at the Canberra Chess Club - I only hope that I can maintain such a passion for chess to that age!

My mum used to talk to Gus regularly at tournaments, and saw him out and about in Canberra sometimes. She asked about him recently as he didn't seem too well the last time she saw him. I know she will be very sad to hear this news, as am I.

Laura Moylan

Leonid Sandler said...

Rest in piece Gus. He was a nice guy.