Sunday, 24 March 2019

Fortune favours the insane

In the collection of "how to get an early draw by repetition" games, the following game figures prominently. Played before Karpov became a world class player, Igor Zaitsev bravely sacrificed his queen, but had enough to force a draw by repetition on move 15. In fact there was an even earlier draw available,  starting with 6.Kxf7 7.Qh5+
Since then the game has been played multiple times, with all but 2 games ending in a draw (in my database anyway). Curiously, the 2 non drawn games follow an early recommendation of playing 10 ... Ne5+ 11.Rxe5 Be6 which was assessed unclear in the pre-computer era, but is simply better for Black according to Stockfish. However in the actual games it was one win for each colour, with the White winner being David Smerdon in 1999, after IM Stephen Solomon misplayed the attack on White's King.

Zaitsev,Igor A - Karpov,Anatoly [C43]
Leningrad Leningrad (10), 1966

Friday, 22 March 2019

2019 O2C Doeberl Cup - Time to enter

The 2019 O2C Doeberl Cup starts in under 4 weeks, and at this stage around 50% of the tournament places have been field. The Premier has 36 entries so far, with 5 GM's, 6 IM's, 1 WGM and 1 WIM in the tournament. There is a limit of 68 players in the event (to make earning titles easier), so it might be a good idea to get your entry in, if you plan to play in this section. The Major (Under 2000) has 36 entries (from 64 places), the Minor (Under 1600) 42 players (from 100), and the Mini (Under 1200) 29 (from 60).
You can register at as well as looking at who else has entered, tournament regulations, and prizes on offer.
(Disclaimer: I am a paid official for this event)

Thursday, 21 March 2019

2019 US Chess Championship - Lots of draws, lots of wins

The 2019 US Chess Championship started yesterday in St Louis, and there was a somewhat curious set of results. In the Open Championship, all but one of the games were drawn. The Gareyev - Xiong game ended in a win for Xiong, but every other game saw the honours shared. This isn't that surprising for an event like this, and has the added benefit (for the organisers at least), of reducing the number of possible winners of the '$64,000 Fischer Bonus Prize' to one.
On the other hand every game in the Women's Championship wasn't drawn. All 6 games ended in a win for one of the players, and as the Fischer Bonus Prize is also on offer in this event, half the field is still in the running.
If you want to follow this event, then you can do so via the tournament website. As the time zones for the US aren't great for Australia, it is probably better to catch the end of the round (which normally has a few games running at 7am local time), than stay up for the start.

A sense of danger

"Don't worry, he has no idea about king safety". This was a quote from GM Elshan Moradiabadi when preparing the PNG team at the 2018 Olympiad. He was talking about one of our opponents, but he could well have been talking about me. Despite having a number of good results and games recently, I still have a tendency to ignore potential threats against my own king, while pursuing plans of my own.
Of course I'm not the only player guilty of this sin. It is very tempting to treat a game as race, where checkmating your opponent before they checkmate you is a viable strategy. When it works, all is right in the world, but when it goes wrong, it can do so in a big way.

Sukovic,Andrej (2235) - Arutinian,David (2555) [B06]
20th ch-EUR Indiv 2019 Skopje MKD (1.101), 18.03.2019

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

No fun in winning

Sometimes I will win a game of chess, and find that I did not really enjoy it. This usually happens when I know I've played a number of awful moves, and it is only a mistake from my opponent that has given me the point.
This happened this evening at my club, where around 40 moves of plan-less play was redeemed by outplaying my opponent in a R+3P ending, with all the pawns on the same side of the board.
But the game I will show, is from an earlier round of the same tournament. My opponent went for the king side hack, offering a piece I shouldn't take. Instead I decided I  could take the piece, as I thought I saw how I could defend. However after my opponent played 16.Rh6! I realised I was in a bad way. If he had then played either 18.Rh7+!! (forced mate) or 19.Qh4! (covering g5) I would have resigned in short order, but instead he blundered with 19.Qh2? and the tables were truly turned. I converted the winning ending (and even then failed to calculate the best line), but left the club unsatisfied with the point.

Mayen,Gabriel - Press,Shaun [C55]
University Cup, 05.03.2019

Monday, 18 March 2019

Are looks deceiving?

Have a look at the game below, after White has played his 15th move. A similar position to this occurred at Street Chess on Saturday, and at first glance I just assumed White had a big advantage. (NB I cannot recall which White rook was on d1, so White's 14th move may have been Raxd1). With the bishop well posted on f3, and being the first to get to the d file, all I could see was White using the initiative to win the game (and in the game on Saturday, this is what happened).
So I am a little surprised that Black won the game given here. Of course the black pieces were being handled by GM Gawain Jones, and he did out rate his opponent by a significant amount, but White should at least hold this. Playing though the game a few times (with the engine off) I suspect that White was a little eager to swap pieces off (especially the bishops), until it reached a point (on move 31) when the final rook exchange left White with a lost pawn ending.
If there is a lesson to be had here, maybe it is that if you look like you have an advantage, keep the pieces that give you the advantage!

Storey,Charles (2268) - Jones,Gawain C (2549) [B73]
Coulsdon Jessie Gilbert Coulsdon (10), 25.08.2008

Saturday, 16 March 2019

The last writers left?

One of the duties I usually perform when arbiting small events (less than 20 boards), is to produce a game file. Normally there is enough time during the following round to type in the majority of games, and by the end of the event I usually have around 80% of the games ready for download.
But this has become more challenging over the last couple of years. One of the main reasons is that players either submit unreadable scoresheets, or ones that have illegal or ambiguous moves. As frustrating as this is, it occurred to me that as an activity, competition chess requires a skill that is no longer in fashion. That is, chess is one of the few activities where people are actually required to write. Most office jobs now involve typing things, and when something needs to be written down, it is often as a personal note or brief message. In fact the only other place where I come across a lot of handwriting is in the education sector (especially exams and quizzes), and recently marked a number of quiz papers, the quality of submissions is equally mixed.
As an example, here is a scoresheet I took a copy of from the recent ACT Championships. I have cropped the names to protect the guilty, but as yet, I have not been successful in deciphering most of the moves.
(BTW I have put some games from this event up at but there is still a lot of work to do)