Yesterday saw the start of the 2015 Australian Junior Chess Championships, being held at Canberra Grammar in the ACT. With the 'new' format (which has now been running for 5 years), this meant that today was the first day for the under 18 Open, under 16 Open, under 10 Open, under 8 Open & the under 10 & 8 Girls events to begin. The events are spread over two halls & I am an arbiter for the under 10 & under 8 Open sections. Today they played three rounds (and will play 9 rounds in total over three days) & there are four players in the under 10 (out of 52) & three players in the under 8 (out of 24) who finished the day with a perfect 3/3, though being only the first day, there are still plenty of kids in contention for the top prizes.
Although I have been to a number of previous Australian Juniors, either as a player (just the once - I was a late starter), coach or spectator, this is the first where I have been an arbiter & it is a rather hectic job, particularly with the younger age groups. A typical round starts with some brief announcements, such as the time of the next round & reminding parents to turn their phones/tablets off, followed by a quick walk around the hall to make sure that all the games have started & there are no issues with clocks, etc. Of course as often happens with younger kids, a game or two might finish after only a few minutes & then I have to check that the players sign both scoresheets & fill in the results correctly, as well as reset the board & make sure they don't leave anything behind. The procession of games finishing seems to be fairly constant until around the hour mark, when there are usually only a few games left & it is only then that you can really take a seat & be reasonably confident that you can stay there for almost a minute before something else happens. On day 1, there was typically around 30-45 minutes spare between rounds, however I expect this to get shorter as the games get more evenly matched.
There's already some media coverage of the event, while Cathy Rogers has been busy taking photos.