Tuesday, 28 June 2022

More adventures in school arbiting

 I am running lots of schools events during the last few weeks of the school term in Canberra, and I am very fortunate to have a number of chess coaches and teachers helping me out on the day. 

As an arbiter my main role is dealing with illegal moves, and adding two minutes to the opponents clock (NB Kids are very good at spotting when their opponents king is in check, not so good in seeing if their own king is attacked). One event got off to a particularly spectacular start where each of the top 4 games had an illegal move played within the first 2 minutes.

However there were some extra special rulings I had to make, above and beyond the usual. In one game a player had just a king versus the opponents king and queen. He simply moved his king next to queen and when the opponent said "that's check", said 'OK', and took the queen to get out of check. Luckily I was watching and explained how chess actually works.

Another game ended with a disagreement over the final score (1-0 v 0-1). Apparently one player lost to scholars mate, but told his opponent that as the game finished so quickly, they would now have to play a 'longer game' instead (which then had a different result). 

And having explained that it was impossible to checkmate with a King and a Knight versus a King, one player called me over, showing me a position where they had a King, Queen, 2 rooks a few extra pieces and plenty of pawns, against a King and a Knight. She asked me whether the game was a draw, because her opponent only had a King and a Knight. Without giving too much away, I explained that this only applied if she had only the king.

Monday, 27 June 2022

Bad luck or bad prep?

 Round 7 of the 2022 Candidates Tournament saw a strange game between Rapport and Nepomnichtchi. Nepo played a line in the Petroff where Black sacrifices a rook, but draws by perpetual check soon afterwards. However Rapport rejected the first repetition, although this simply forced Nepo to aim for another repetition a few moves later. However, when Rapport avoided the second repetition, he ended up losing his queen for insufficient compensation, with a loss to show for his trouble.

After the game Rapport suggested it was the result of poor preparation, although this move he played was already known to be bad. But not only did this game effect Nepo's standings, it also had an effect on Caruana, who could not believe what he was seeing. Although both Nepo and Caruana won in round 7, the unexpected win for Nepo may have played on Caruan's mind, as he lost to Nakamura in Round 8.

Rapport,Richard (2764) - Nepomniachtchi,Ian (2766) [C42]
FIDE Candidates Tournament chess24.com (7.1), 25.06.2022

Sunday, 26 June 2022

Looking like a two horse race

 It is looking like the 2022 Candidates Tournament is down to 2 players. Ian Nepomniachtchi leads with a very impressive 5.5/7, but is closely followed by Fabiano Caruana on 5/7. Hikaru Nakamura is in 3rd place, but is a full 2 points behind Nepo. Such is the dominance of the leading 2, everyone else (bar Nakamura) has finished the first half of the tournament on a minus score.

Of course there is still another 7 rounds to play, but at this stage, the Caruana v Nepo game in Round 9 may determine who will play Carlsen for the World Championship title.

Friday, 24 June 2022

Another 'house' rule

 Another 'house rule' to add to your collection. If you 'try out' a move by moving a piece, but not taking your hand off it, any 'try' that extends beyond 1 square has to be played! This applies to straight moving pieces (rooks, bishops or queens), although I'm not sure it also applies to knights.

As with most house rules, not a real thing.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

The Pinwheel Fork

 Courtesy of my opponent spotting my Plan A, but not my Plan B, I managed to produce a 'Pinwheel Fork' for probably the first time in my career. Having pushed 16.e4, my opponent Ian Hosking, assumed I was looking for some complicated tactic based on attacking f7 and e6. He decided to deal with it my taking on d4, assuming that my next move would be to capture the bishop on f5. Instead the knight landed on c6, and thanks to the pinned b pawn, I successfully attacked the queen, both rooks and a bishop, all of which were undefended!

Press,Shaun - Hosking,Ian [D11]
Belconnen Cup (6), 21.06.2022

Sunday, 19 June 2022

Stalemate tricks to know

 The diagrammed position came from a game in the recent ACT Secondary Schools Championship. White looked to be cruising to victory, and in this case, Black believed him. However I, and a couple of spectators realised that White had set up a stalemate trick, by defending the rook pawn from the side.

If you remove the Black rook, then Black has no moves to play. And in this position Black can try and do that with 1... Rxc4+. Capturing the rook is immediately stalemate, while moving the king to the a file runs into 2 ... Ra4+ followed by Rxa5 (or stalemate after the rook is captured). And attempts to run to to a6 after 2.Kb5 Rc5+! 3.Ka6 fail once again to 3... Rxa5+ with a choice between stalemate or 4.Kb6 Rh5 followed by Rxh7!

2022 Candidates

 One effect of the Covid Pandemic has been less international coverage on this blog. At first it was due to the lack of any events in early 2020, but even when online events began, it did not feel like 'real' chess to me. An oddly enough, when face to face events began, there seemed to be a confusing mess of them, with mixed rapid and classical formats. So I tended yo avoid them, both as a blogger and a spectator.

So I am pleased to see the Candidates kick off, with a quite exciting round 1. Two decisive games, and two tough draws, were enjoyable to look at. Two of the favourites (Nakamura and Ding) went down, while Duda might be kicking himself after failing to convert a huge opening advantage. Round 2 began around 2 hours ago (which is quite late for Canberran's) but staying up to watch the action is well worth it.

As for the likely winner, my money is on Caruana. A few people are tipping Firouzja, but I feel it is still too early for him, and that he doesn't have the experience to win this event (but will probably win the next candidates)