Monday, 27 June 2016

Under 8 years and degrees

Last year I reported on the ACT Under 8 championship and this year was not any warmer. I'm pretty sure that the temperature didn't get above 8 degrees, and the situation wasn't helped by a lack of power in the hall (no heaters!). However, everyone seemed to have dressed warmer this year (forewarned is forearmed) and with my relaxed rules about running in the hall in play, everyone seemed to cope with the cold.
The winner of the event was Lucas Leung on 6/7, just ahead of Oscar Ho on 5.5 There was a little bit of luck for the winner in his final game as his opponent missed a back rank mate which would have changed the final standings significantly. The best scoring Under 6 was Charles Huang who scored a creditable 4.5/7, and may turn out to be a future talent.
As an arbiter is was pretty smooth sailing, although there is one issue that is becoming common in junior events. Every round there were one or two incidents of the DGT clocks 'mysteriously' resetting during the game. Both players would simply say 'it just happened', and claim they did nothing wrong. Having reset the clock and restarted the game, the fact that the next move involved someone slamming the clock pretty hard provided a simple explanation for what had gone wrong. For some reason this is occurring with greater frequency, so the next tournament may start with a lecture on proper clock etiquette.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

International play, without travel

FIDE have announced that their online chess platform Arena, will now host matches between National teams. This is intended to allow teams prepare for the upcoming chess olympiad without requiring them to meet face to face.
On the surface this seems like a good idea, although having gone over the regulations I'm not sure how many countries will actually take up the offer. While the regulations that that the matches are intended to 'simulate the conditions and the tension of an Olympiad round' they also do not require that an arbiter be present, or that the players of one team even have to play at the same venue. The matches are even exempt from Anti-Cheating monitoring, although the Federation is responsible for the 'sporting spirit' of its members.
Of course nothing comes for free, and each player needs to be a paid up member of Arena. Well, if you aren't an IM/GM that is, as membership is free if you are. To me this is counter-intuitive, as the players and teams who would benefit from such matches are more likely to be non titled players from smaller federations, rather than titled players.
Over all this doesn't seem too different from simply arranging a match between two groups of players on any other chess server (playchess, chess cube etc) except for the bureaucratic overhead of registering it with FIDE and stumping up membership costs for each player. So I'll be interested in seeing how many countries take advantage of this offer.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

You can only take one of them

The 2016 Gold Coast Open is being held this weekend, with the first round already run and done. By the time you read this it may be too late to book flights and accommodation, but you can still follow the event online. The top four boards from the top section are being shown here, and with three rounds tomorrow, you are pretty much guaranteed 12 straight hours of chess.
One of the featured games tonight saw IM Brodie McClymont destroy Henry Slater-Jones Najdorf Sicilian. As with many games in this opening, Whites lead in development lead to a number of sacrifices. In fact McClymont had a couple of pieces en-pris at times, reminding me of the old adage "you can only capture one of them". Once Blacks's centre collapsed, McClymont brought up the heavy pieces, and that was all she wrote.

McClymont,Brodie - Slater-Jones,Henry [B86]
Gold Coast Open, 24.06.2016

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Always nice to have a choice of wins

The shown position was from a game played last night at the ANU chess club. For most of the game the battle was more of a positional nature, with both players looking for outposts (c4 and c5) and fighting for control of the a file (which black eventually won). But this is a pathway to victory, not victory itself, and Black still had to find the winning move.
It turns out that there isn't just one winning move, but a couple. Having watched the game this isn't that surprising, and confirms the adage "positional advantages lead to tactical opportunities". In the position Black played 1. ... Qe4+ which takes advantage of the placement of the white king and queen, as well as the fact that the bishop on g2 is attacked. After 2.Nxe4 dxe4+ 3.Kg4 (3.Qxe4 Bxe4 4.Kxe4 Rxg2) 3. ...  Bd7+ 4.f5 exd3 White resigned. As for the other choice, 1. ... Bxd5 was the move I was looking at, with 2.Bxd5 (and not 2. Qxd5 Qe2#) 2. ... Rd2 causing White all sorts of problems. But Black sensibly chose the clearest way to finish the game.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

2016 ANU Open

The 24th ANU Open is taking place in Canberra on the weekend of the 30th and 31st of July. The venue is the ANU School of Art, Childers Street, Acton, a 10 minute walk from Canberra City. First prize in the Open is $1000 with a $400 first prize in the Under 1600 event.
Entries for the event can be made online at Entry fees are $70 for adults, $50 for juniors and concessions if you register before 22nd July. (NB Only registration is required to avoid the late fee, and you can still pay on the day)
If you are from interstate and thinking of playing, University House (the venue for the O2C Doeberl Cup) is a good choice for accommodation, while there are plenty of other places to stay within walking distance of the venue.
The ANU Open is part of the 2016 ANU Chess Festival which has a number of other chess activities (team blitz, schools teams tournament) from the 29th of July to the 3rd of August.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

A game, or problem solving?

I've just stumbled across a game/concept called Moveless chess. The idea is that you defeat your opponent, not by moving pieces, but by transforming them. You are given a position, and a number of 'points' which can be used to turn one type of piece into another. The points match the standard value of chess pieces (Q=9, R=5 etc) and each transformation reduces the number of points you have. The idea is to checkmate your opponent by transforming your existing pieces. In the meantime your opponent can move, so it isn't as simple as it looks.
I've had a quick play with it, and even at the simplest level it took a couple of tries to solve the position. I'm sure with practice I can do better (like  most things). It looks like a pleasant alternative to traditional chess problems, although the solving technique of 'I wish I had a queen instead of a knight here' doesn't neccesarily translate to real world chess.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Which rook?

Which rooks should go on which files is a fundamental question in chess. The dreaded 'wrong rook' syndrome plagues chess players, and the correct answer often depends upon the outcome of the game. But this post isn't about that.
It is about which rook should be captured, if you have the choice. Due to my extremely risky play in a Street Chess game on the weekend, I gave my opponent exactly this choice. He could either capture on the kingside, although I would be able to recapture straight away. Or he could grab the rook on a8 with impunity. In the end he took the rook on a8, but this allowed the remaining rook to join the attack. I guess I was lucky that my opponent chose the wrong rook.

Hellmann,Oskar - Press,Shaun [C11]
Street Chess, 18.06.2016