Going over some old New Zealand chess mags I stumbled upon a stellar issue from 1981 which included an article about the North Island championship. As I am competing in this years North Island championship it was with great interest to me what happened some 30! years ago. The tournament was held at New Plymouth between May 18-23 and attracted a "good field" of 54 players. The "leading lights were Paul Garbett, lasts years co-winner Mark Levene,Premier reserve champion Tony Dowden and Aucklanders Ewen Green,Robert Smith,Peter Stuart and Peter Weir". It may seem funny now but smoking was prohibited in the building which was not the norm some 30 years ago.
Going into the final round the top of the crosstable was Weir 6 Garbett 5 1/2 Green, Levene, Stuart, Dowden, Sarfati, Spiller, Gibbons, Lynn 5. In stunning fashion Garbett was able to beat Weir in the final round to become the 1981 North Island champion. Palmerston North was represented by 19th placed Dave Cooper on 4.5 (ahead of former NZ champ D Lynch 4) and 41. R. Wood 3.
Many of the strong players from 1981 some 30 years ago are still around and still at the top of New Zealand chess, both FM Smith and IM Garbett are competing in this year's North Island and will be among the favourites again to win the NI title.