(NB This will be an occasional series on tournaments I have been involved in as an arbiter or organiser)
As with a lot of tournaments I have been involved with recently, the 2009 ANU Open ran pretty smoothly. Certainly there were no dramatic blowups or issues that required some heavy duty deliberation, but as with any tournament there are always some issues that are worth noting.
Default Time: This event (and all ACF Grand Prix events from 2010) used a Default Time of 30m from the scheduled start of the round. There was only 1 player who fell foul of this rule (in that he wished to play the round but didn't turn up in time) but in that case he may have forfeited under the old rule anyway. In practice 30 mins seemed to work well from an organisers point of view as it seemed to encouraged everyone to be there at the start of the round. My belief is that the thinking was "if I have to be there within 30 minutes I may as well be their at the start". Of course there were some people who came a little late (5 minutes at most) but this was for traffic/eating lunch reasons, and not because they chose to. The general feeling amongst the players was that 0 minutes is draconian and unworkable, 60 minutes means you have to wait too long to claim the game, while 30 minutes if just right.
Illegal Moves: There was quite a dramatic final round game in the Minor tournament, where both players were down to their last minute (with a 10s per move increment). The player with the White pieces reached a clearly winning position (2R+B+P v K) and Black was playing on through inertia. At one point the Black King moved from check into another check. Neither player noticed and with the next move the Black King moved out of check. I said nothing, as the chief arbiter was watching, and he said nothing, explaining later that it was up to the players to notice. While the 'correct' result was arrived at (White winning), I believe a problem would have occurred if Black had been stalemated (as the illegal path of the Black King increased the stalemate chances). The next time such a situation arises, I guess I will swoop in!
Rating Prizes: Most events in Australia offer ratings prizes in terms of U/2000, Under 1800 etc This can result in a player being eligible for more than 1 rating prize (eg a 1750 player being the best U/2000), with the result that the 'best' Under 1800 player is really the second best Under 1800 player.
In the ANU Open we 'band' our prizes, so that the rating prizes read 1800-1999 $200 1600-1799 $150 etc This is unusual enough for confusion to arise after the prize giving ceremony. The moral here is to read the tournament conditions!