Canberra has led the global reboot of post-pandemic chess after a record 330 players turned out for this year's Doeberl Cup.
Not only was it the largest ever field for Australia's most prestigious annual tournament, but the biggest organised event anywhere in the world since COVID-19 shut down over-the-board chess.
Australia's Justin Tan and England's Daniel Fernandez finished joint top of the premier event with 7.5 out of nine, splitting $8000 in prizemoney and outlasting a field which included seven Grandmasters.
The rest of the chess world watched on with envy and interest as the Doeberl Cup offered a return to normality. Most major international events have either been cancelled or played online since COVID-19 ravaged Europe, the heartland of world chess.
"I think this has been the biggest tournament in the world since the middle of last year, I stand to be corrected but I think we can argue that we probably are," Doeberl Cup organiser Shaun Press said.
"The rest of the world have seen the pictures and are just astonished, they're asking where are the masks, where are the sneeze guards?
"The major events that are happening around the world, if they're being held face to face are either being very restricted - no more than 20 players, special plastic guards across the board for example to protect the players from breathing on the other players.
"They have plastic sheets with a hole at the bottom where you put your hand through to move the pieces.
"We've been very lucky both Australia and New Zealand as well, where the clubs are reopening and we're able to get together."
Tan, who is normally based in the UK, rushed back to Australia in July last year to flee the worsening British pandemic.
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Fernandez, meanwhile, has been based in Sydney since February of 2019 after spending most of his life in England and Singapore.
Both players won final-round nail biters on adjacent boards to secure their winning scores, the latter against tournament top seed Hrant Melkumyan who finished with six wins and three losses.
After watching Tan prevail against the much lower rated Jack Puccini, Fernandez had to hold his nerve after giving up his queen for a bishop and a rook and then navigating a tricky ending before ultimately forcing Melkumyan into a resignation.
"I was relatively lucky to only play the top seed and not the second seed. . .I got a bit of pairing luck in that sense," Fernandez said.
"I'd pretty much forgotten about Justin's game from about one hour before [it finished] because I could see he was going to win. If he was maybe drawing then I could think about offering draws myself.
"I'm very much a form player, I either do quite well or quite badly, it depends on mental clarity and whether I can do those calculations, especially with time running out.
"A pretty good signal of whether I'm in good or bad form is whether I get into time trouble. Being in time trouble is actually good for me, it's a sign that I've managed to use the rest of the time productively.
"It's good that they managed to find seven Grandmasters in Australia during COVID, and that we all managed to make the trip, no accidents or quarantine."