Border Challenge - April 1997

The inaugural Border Challenge, pitting the best of New South Wales against the best of Victoria took place in Wagga Wagga, an inland New South Wales city situated about half way between Sydney and Melbourne. The top 12 players from each State played each other once over a twelve game event spanning lunchtime Saturday to lunchtime Monday.

Neither teams were at full strength, with Steve Sunter (Ozwizard) missing from the Victorian line-up and Joan Rosenthal, Esther Perrins, Rod Talbot, Alan Weinstein, Robin Duncan and Ivor Zetler all unable to make the trip from Sydney.

In fact Barry Harridge predicted the final outcome based on the ratings to be 79 to 65 in Victoria's favour, and he was not far wrong. Victoria ran out eventual winners 74 to 70, after New south Wales had led practically all the way. Round 11 saw the NSW team falter with only 3 wins out of 12, allowing Victoria to take the lead then hang on for a well-deserved victory.

From the NSW viewpoint, a major hiccup occurred when the the team captain and number one seed, John Holgate, was forced to withdraw at the end of day one (after 8 games). Had John played on and won his last four games, the Challenge would have been all tied up after the 144 games.

But such was not to be the case. I guess New South Wales will just have to dine out on the fact that the last seven National Champions have been NSW players, and forget all about the Border Challenge until next year.