Since Luis Sanchez Botella came to Australia almost two years ago to conduct engineering work at Sydney's new and controversy-plagued Northern Beaches Hospital, he has become a regular feature on the Australian tournament scene.
The 30-year-old FIDE Master has enjoyed limited success, his best result being a tie for first at the NSW Rapid Championship, but last week he completed one of the best performances in his career by winning Canberra's ANU Open.
Over a quarter of a century the ANU Open has hosted most of Australia's top players, maintaining its status as the ACT's second-ranking tournament (after the O2C Doeberl Cup).
This year top-seed Junta Ikeda was widely predicted to add his name to the winner's list for the second time but was upset by Michael Kethro in the fourth round and Sanchez saw his chance, knocking over Kethro the following day.
The critical game of the tournament came in the sixth round when Ikeda took on Sanchez, with only a win good enough for the top-seed.
Playing Black in the diagrammed position, Sanchez had been desperately hanging on to a bad endgame and had he found 45...Bd5!! 46.Kxd5 a3, the game would have been safe since both sides queen their pawn and White's last pawn can be eliminated.
Instead after the immediate
Ikeda had a chance to win the game with 46.c7!, and if 46...Be6 47.Kxe6 Black has no time to eliminate pawns because 47...axb2 is simply met by 48.Be4.
However, it took only one automatic capture in time trouble,
for Ikeda's chances for victory to disappear.
46...bxa3 47.c7 Be6! 48.Kxe6 a2 49.c8(Q) a1(Q)
White had no chances to win with queen and bishop against queen, though Ikeda tried until move 68 before conceding a draw.
After this narrow escape, Sanchez needed only to draw his final game to take outright first place and the $1000 first prize, which he managed without undue difficulty.
2019 ANU Open
Leading final scores: 1. Sanchez 6/7; =2. Ikeda, Litchfield; 5.5; 4. Kethro 5.
* The latest world rankings see 18-year-old Anton Smirnov consolidating his position at the top of the Australian list amid plenty of jostling for positions below him.
August 2019 FIDE Ratings
Australian Top 10
- A. Smirnov (N) 2567;
- Zhao Zong Yuan (N) 2531;
- Cheng (V) 2527;
- Tan (V) 2513;
- Kuybokarov (WA) 2511;
- Illingworth (N) 2493;
- Morris (V) 2485;
- Ly (Q) 2479;
- Ikeda (ACT) 2439;
- Zelesco (V) 2411.