Report by Haydn Barber.|
Grandmaster Darryl Johansen visited Perth from June 23rd to July 2nd 2008, as a guest of the Chess Association of WA.
Darryl's trip to Perth got off to a bumpy start when his Sunday night flight had to return to Melbourne due to a cracked windshield, eventually arriving in Perth over 3 hours late. However, he was soon enough settled in my brother Wayne's South Perth mansion. This seemed a better bet than having him stay out in the sticks at my place, especially since Darryl enjoys walking.
The first exhibition was at the Armadale Junior Club where, after a short talk, Darryl played a simultaneous display against about 18 Juniors. He also played one blindfold game. Most of his opponents were fairly young and inexperienced, so it was not greatly surprising to see Darryl win all of his games, though there were a couple of tough games.
On Tuesday, we visited Aquinas College Junior School, where my nephew, Jackson, is a member of the school team. They had an enthusiastic group, with several showing real promise, but they did not know very much about Chess in WA, in general. So, while we were showing the kids a thing or two about Chess, I was passing on some information of an organisational nature to their teacher. Hopefully, we will see Aquinas take up a more active role next year.
Because I was unable to fill up the schedule with visits to Schools and Chess Clubs, we arranged coaching sessions in my shed, on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons. A number of our better Juniors took advantage of this opportunity.
On Wednesday, Darryl was at the Lathlain Junior Club where, after a short talk on what it takes to become a GrandMaster, he played a simultaneous display against about 20 Juniors (some in consultation), and at least one adult. He again played one blindfold game, where John Moritz managed to hold Darryl to a draw. Darryl was able to win all of his other games. The Browns, James and Amy, held out the longest, though James could possibly have resigned a little earlier than he did.
Over the weekend, we had 2 exhibitions at Legacy House, which were open to all Chessplayers. The format for both days was: a presentation by Darryl, followed by a Q & A session, a sausage sizzle (thanks very much especially to Chris Thurtell, but also to Charlotte Rebello & Andrew Hardegen) and a simultaneous display.
On Saturday, there were 37 Juniors and 1 adult. Dennis Holland drew his game, and medals for a good performance were awarded to Amy Brown (last to finish again!), Caleb Thomas (who had Darryl in a bit of trouble for a long time) and Lee Harris-Brown (who provided very stubborn resistance). Once again, there was one board where Darryl played blindfold.
After the exhibition, a meal was arranged, where Peter Roza, Steven Pearson, Tristan Boyd, and myself, joined Darryl and, over some lovely Thai food, we discussed a wide range of topics concerning the coaching of Juniors. Unfortunately, Wolfgang Leonhardt, Dennis Holland and Jack South were not able to get there.
On Sunday, the field was smaller but much stronger (only 7 Juniors this time). It was decided to have a clock simul, with all players (including Darryl) having 90 minutes on the clock, with no time increments. Against 21 opponents, this was a tough assignment for Darryl, and he made a few more blunders than usual. In the end, he lost 3 games (Stephanus Kurniawan, Edik Gilmetdinov & Ganesh Viswanath) and drew 3 (Wallace Sheridan, Gordon Dunlop, Yita Choong).
On Monday, Darryl was confronted by 35 kids at the Maccabi Junior Club, which was an excellent turnout. Despite having to really struggle on a few boards, Darryl was able to win every game. If Maccabi can maintain this level of participation, their future looks bright.
On Tuesday, we were at the Kingsley Junior Club, where Darryl did a bit of coaching, then took on 13 youngsters in a simul, again with one blindfold game. As usual, there were a few tough games but Darryl prevailed on all boards.
On his last night, Wednesday, we returned to the North to take on the Perth Chess Club, where about 20 players were waiting to challenge Darryl. This was another tough assignment, particularly on the blindfold board, where Peter Dix won. Leon Taylor and Wolfgang Leonhardt drew their games, Alex Janceski won the prize for the best game, and Natalie Maris had Darryl in trouble for some time.
Darryl did a good job wherever he went, his message was always positive, and his bag of prizes seemed quite popular. Darryl was able to visit each active Junior Chess Club and many young players had to chance to see a GrandMaster in action - a very rare opportunity in Perth. Hopefully, some of them will be inspired to become great Chessplayers. Also, they had the chance to see that a GrandMaster is, in some ways, just another bloke and not some mythical being way beyond their reach.
Overall, I think the trip was a great success. I would like to thank everyone who helped make it so: Norbert Muller, Gaynor Wood, Steven Pearson, Bob Pilgrim, Christine D'Souza, Chris Thurtell, Jack South, and my brother Wayne, who not only provided Darryl with accommodation, but also arranged the visit to Aquinas College.