Monday, 20 February 2012

Bill Powell Lives!

When I saw that the Coolum open tournament was named the " Bill Powell Open" I assumed my old mate had passed away. The "news" saddened me and memories of good times flooded my brain. I met Bill in the early nineties when I first went to play in the Coolum open and other tournaments in Queensland. Back then there were many, well organised with large prize funds and large fields. Bill sought out and obtained sponsorship, contacted the press for publicity and contacted top players to attract them to the tournaments. Amongst the many things Bill did for chess was creating the Australian chess directory. In it were the contact details of every chess club in Australasia that Bill could find as well as tournament listings, office bearers of state associations, chess correspondents and any other relevant information.
Here for example was a listing of the tournaments in Queensland in 1994. For you young people keep in mind that all this was done without a computer! A lot of work was involved especially since many people refused to share information for one reason or another.  

Compare this to our current calendar if you can find it. Let me give you the link to the Chess Association of Queensland and see if you can. Enough complaining, at least its better than the ACF website but that is not a high bar to jump over.

So this weekend I drove up to have a look and who do I see? Bill Powell, large as life. A wave of joy swept over me and before thinking I blurted out "Bill, you're alive!" He was glad to see me too and immediately invited me to spend the night at his place. This is an offer one cannot refuse especially since one is guaranteed a feed by his lovely wife Maxine. As it turns out Bill runs the Coolum Perigian RSL club where the tournament is held.

On Sunday Bill took me for a drive around Coolum for a bit of sightseeing while the rounds were on. If you have never been to the Sunshine Coast this is what you are missing out on.

Coolum beach

The un-patrolled beaches south of Coolum. Apparently people who dislike swimming garments can frolic here without fear of repercussions.

Stumers creek, a child and dog friendly are near the venue.

From Lows lookout.

The tournament was a turkey shoot. GM Roland Schmaltz who has been living in Brisbane for 7 years won with a picket fence 6/6. At the prizegiving he bade us all farewell as he is returning to Germany soon. This is a shame because we could use a strong GM around to encourage our juniors. Unfortunately the chess community has done nothing to "exploit" this natural resource. As unbelievable as it sounds we have people teaching children who don't know the en-passant rule and yet Roland currently has one (!!) student. Anyway, back to the tournament.

Roland playing Gold coast talent Jonas Muller who put up a good fight.

Second was Denis Ovcina, a player unknown to me. I saw him outplay Steven Solomon in the last round and steadily grind him down in an ending. Then like in many of Stevens games, a higher power intervened and Steven drew despite being a rook down.  Jonas finished equal third on 4.5 with a group of people including Steven and another 2 Gold coast Juniors, Gene Nakauchi and Martin Jack.

Gene v Daniel Lapitan in front and John Harris playing white against author Kevin Casey in the back. 
I did play some chess on the weekend. Saturday night they had a blitz tournament where I tied with Steven Solomon for 1st. Woohoo!

The tournament is now run by a capable young man by the name of Jeff Dyer. He is well supported by Bill and constantly asking how he can do things better. Although he has big shoes to fill I am sure he will bring chess back to prominence on the Sunshine coast. As for Bill, now we have exchanged numbers I am sure I will be visiting beautiful Coolum beach more often. 

The next event on the Sunshine coast I am aware of is in November 24-25 in Caloundra. The website is here. No details yet so let me know when it's done guys. Don't measure your performance by the ACF. 


  1. It was great to see you up there, Alex!


    Kevin Casey

  2. Wow! Impressive website Riverman!!