Friday, 7 May 2021

Sixty four squares

 When I started this blog a number of years ago I had a couple of ideas for a name. My first choice was 'sixtyfoursquares' but it turned out this had been taken* My second choice 'chessexpress' was surprisingly available, and as it turned out, was probably a better choice anyway (in that it contained both my name, and the raison d'etre for its existence.)  

However the original name has popped up again, through the website This isn't a blog, but a site that tests you on 100 positions, and then breaks down your strengths and weaknesses. I believe the intention is to extend the site to provide specific training in these areas, but this is still in the development stage. 

Having completed the test I was impressed that my results were pretty close to my current rating. On the other hand, I was surprised that I scored poorly in some areas that I thought I was strong in, while scoring better in areas I thought I was terrible at. It is free to register for the test at the site, and while I await further developments, it is still a worthwhile exercise to try and asses you chess strengths and weaknesses.

* NB This new site is not connected to the sixtyfoursquares blog, which seemed to fall apart after three posts in 2005!


Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Chess was the real winner

 The continuing Hosking v Press rivalry continued at Gungahlin Eastlake Chess Club last night. Dodging my opening preparation, 1.b3 was IM Hosking's weapon of choice (disappointing those who had 1.b4  in the opening sweep). At one point I though I had a big advantage but this was not quite true. So I went in for a sharp line where a rook sac by White led to a perpetual. White duly obliged and the game was over after 16 moves (and around 90 minutes of play).

Hosking,Ian - Press,Shaun [A05]
Murphy Memorial (6), 04.05.2021

Monday, 3 May 2021

Keith Robertson (1930-2021)

 Keith Robertson, a long time player and organiser on the Canberra chess scene passed away earlier today.  For many years he was President and main organiser of the Canberra Chess Club, as well as being a regular player at the Woden Chess Club, the ANU Chess Club and most recently, the Southern Cross Chess group. He was involved with the ACT Chess Association for many years, helping write the current associations constitution, for which he was awarded the initial Life Membership of the ACTCA.

Outside of chess he was an accomplished musician, training for the choir as a young student, and as a skilled pianist, often performing at aged care facilities and for community groups. He was generous with his time and energy, particularly with junior chess players. His generosity extended to donating his chess library to Campbell High School, where his books now form the basis of one of the best school chess libraries in Canberra.


Press,Shaun - Roberston,Keith [C33]
ANU Spring Rapid, 09.09.2009

Sunday, 2 May 2021


 Looking at the games from the 2021 Zone3.3 (Hybrid) Championship I came across this curious opening. To be honest I think I have seen it before (and may have even blogged about it), but Qe7 on move 2 is rare enough that I thought I should feature it again. No happy ending though, as White scored the point, albeit after a long hard struggle.

QUIZON,Daniel (2319) - VELARDE,Jerish John (1896) [C40]
Zone 3.3 Zonal Chess Championships 2021 (1.13), 01.05.2021

Friday, 30 April 2021

More games than you know how to play

 While following up a link for the 2021 ICGA Computer Olympiad, I cam across the boardgame playing platform Ludii. It allows you to test intelligent agents for a wide variety of boardgames, and is being used for the 2021 Olympiad. The good news is that even if you aren't a developer you can download the Ludii software (at no charge) and simply play an amazingly large variety of boardgames yourself.

(*Thanks to Milan Ninchich for putting me on to this)

Thursday, 29 April 2021

A very old windmill


White to play and win

While the "Windmill" is a rare but useful tactical idea, it may be a lot older than most players assume. The most famous example comes from the 1920's (Torre v Lasker), but there is at least one example that dates back to the 1590's. Given as a puzzle by Polero, White wins by a succession of checks and discovered checks. However the original position had the Black queen on e8, resulting in a far shorter (and non thematic) win. Tim Krabbe  in his book "Chess Curiosities" suggested the correction shown here.

I will leave the answer as an exercise for the reader, but hopefully it isn't too difficult.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Ian v Magnus

 The 2020/21 Candidates has ended in a win for Ian Nepomniachtchi after a very intense last 3 rounds. Of the 12 games played in round 12,13 and 14, 10 of them were decisive, which is almost unheard of at this level in modern times. Nepo even lost his final round game, but still finished outright first after Anish Giri also lost. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave ended up in 2nd place after his final round win, while Ding Liren recovered from a horrible first half by winning his last 3 games.

As a result Nepomniachtchi will play Magnus Carlsen in the World Championship match later this year. Going early in my predictions, I think Carlsen will once again retain his title, but that there will certainly be more decisive games (in regulation) than there were in the Carslen Caruana match.