Wednesday, 25 May 2016

You only have to be right once

The great thing about being a kibitzer is that you only have to be right once. While the two players in front of you have to make sure every move is accurate, you can toss around bizarre suggestions like election promises, knowing that if your wrong no one will remember, but if you are right, then you are a genius.  This is especially common in tactical games, where the old adage about sacrificing other peoples pieces is doubly true.
As my point needs an example, I've dug up an old CC game I played. Ignoring the fact that there weren't any spectators in a real sense, I could just imagine the virtual spectators calling for the sacrifice on f2. It turns out that if my opponent has just moved the king to f1 then more work was needed, but once he took on f2 I, and any potential kibitzer, was on the fast road to victory.

Chessnut - Press,Shaun [C63]
Chessworld, 03.11.2009

Shake a set?

A few days ago I saw a kick starter campaign for a chess set that did not need setting up. Or at least that's what the claim seemed to be. Now normally I'm a fan of interesting and/or inventive sets but this idea did not quite make sense to me.
Based on the video at the link you simply tipped the box upside down onto the table, lifting it up to reveal a ready to play set. Simple and effective. But looking behind the curtain it seemed at the end of the game you needed to replace all the pieces in storage holes inside the box, in the correct order, and then place the board over the top.
So my first (and possibly only thought) is: Isn't this just the same amount of effort that you need to set up a board normally (if not more)?
I saw at least one other person discuss this product, suggesting it might be useful for film directors to make sure the board is set up correctly (yes Captain America). However as the board seems to be a perfect square, I'm sure the odds of the bottom right hand corner being a dark square will remain above 50% in film, television and print, and may even push that number hight, rather than lower..

Sunday, 22 May 2016

2016 NSW Open - 11/13 June

The 2016 NSW Open is being held on the weekend of the 11,12,13 of June. Once again it will be held at the Chatswood Club, which is just a short walk from the Chatswood Railway Station. The evtn will be split into 2 sections, with an Open section, plus an Under 1600 (ACF) section. The Open section will be FIDE rated and has a first prize of $1400 (and a prize pool of $5000). The Under 1600 event is offering a first prize of $1000 and has a generous minor prizes.
Full details and an online entry form can be found at

** I am a paid official for this event **

Friday, 20 May 2016

Not a perfect puzzle

Here is a somewhat strange chess puzzle. It is White to play but Black to win. The question is why? And as an additional challenge, can you name some of the pieces?

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

I forgot to offer a draw

This game is a kind of follow up to last weeks game at the ANU Chess Club. It was the same opening at the start (Closed Sicilian) although I played it a little more flexibly this time. For a while I was toying with the idea of landing a piece on f5, but this was both unsound and unnecessary. Instead I just kept the position under control and took advantage of the opportunities as they arose.
The key moment was when I was able to play 29.g5, although 29.Rxf6! was even stronger, as g5 then wins back the rook due to the pin after Qxe5. After that it was just a matter of eliminating pieces, avoiding tricks, and finally finding the forced mate at the end.

Press,Shaun - de Noskowski,Adrian [B26]
ANU Autumn Swiss, 18.05.2016

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Not easy but ...

Every now and then you get an ending which is not easy but at the same time has a fairly short solution. Often it comes down to recognising the right idea, although this can be difficult after a long game.
I recently saw an example of this, as shown in the diagram. White had just pushed the pawn to d6, setting a big trap. If Black captures on b6 then d7 is winning, although the QvR ending after Rxh6 d8=Q can be hard to win.
I saw a more complicated line starting with 1. ... e2+ with the idea being that 2.Kxe2 allows lots of rook checks. Possibly the nicest line is 2. ... Rb2+ 3.Kd3 Rxb6! 4.d7 Rxh6 5.d8=Q Rd6+
However there is a far simpler line in this position starting with 1. ... Rd3. For some reason this did not seem obvious to me at the time, possibly because I was moving the rook towards the White King did not occur to me. But once I did see it, all the other complicated lines just fell away.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Playing chess while high

Ah. Classic click bait! This isn't a story about playing chess while stoned, but something far more interesting than that.
Two climbers, Jost Kobusch and Nadav Ben-Yehuda are claiming a world record for playing a game at an altitude of 8,000m The game was played just below the summit of Annapurna, an 8,091m high Himalayan peak. By necessity the game was played quite quickly ( 7 minutes in total) due to the very thin atmosphere. This also had an effect on the quality of play, with both players problem solving abilities impaired by a lack of oxygen. The other unusual fact was the game was played on a smart phone, as I assume there was no room for a full sized chess board among the climbing equipment.
The full story of the game, and the climb, can be found here.