Monday, 18 June 2018

FIDE President's Race - Is it four or two candidates?

A new candidate has thrown his hat into the race for the FIDE Presidency, with Arkady Dvorkovich becoming the fourth candidate for the office. The details of his announcement can be found in this article on, including some discussion about what this means for the other candidates.
One theory is that Ilyumzhinov will now drop out of the race, as the Russian government will shift their support to Dvorkovich. Taking it one step further is the suggestion that the Makro ticket will merge with the Dvorkovich ticket, with Dvorkovich becoming the Presidential Candidate, Makro remaining as Deputy, and Malcolm Pein being let go (or offered a Vice President position as a consolation prize).
However I'm not sure that the second scenario is as likely as the first, as the logical step for both parties would have been to negotiate this behind close doors. By announcing his candidacy in this way Dvorkovich seems more likely to have his own set of office bearers in mind (although defections from the Makro ticket cannot be ruled out)
Nonetheless, a new Russian candidate wouldn't be seen as bad news for FIDE insiders. The real problem that the current FIDE executive have with Kirsan had nothing to do with his management style, or ethical issues, but simply that he is now costing them money. While he was bringing money into FIDE (through personal contributions, or connections with other governments) concerns about his ethical standards were dismissed as pro Kok/Karpov/Kasparov propaganda, but when FIDE had to actually pay for his expenses (and there was less money for pet projects of other board members) then suddenly the other issues that had been ignored for years became critical to how FIDE 'should' be run.
So if Dvorkovich can bring in a new income stream (or just resurrect Kirsan's old network) then it can be business as usual in the Athen's office.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

The Champion of Kazan

The title of this post does not refer to the Australian Football Team (or indeed the French), but to IM Rashid Nezhmetdinov, who lived in the Russian city which is currently a host city for the 2018 World Cup.
I've waxed lyrical in the past about how good Nezhmetdinov was, and watching the World Cup this evening gives me another excuse to present one of his games. This one is over pretty quickly, as White panics after 10...Bxg2 and avoids capturing the bishop. As a result Black gets in a queen check on h4, and after that  smothered mate.

Samsonov - Nezhmetdinov,Rashid [C29]
Kazan-ch Kazan, 1929

Embracing the cold

On a per capita basis, Iceland has long been considered the strongest chess playing nation in the world. One oft quoted reason has to do with the cold climate, which encourages people to stay, and play, indoors. While this may be true, I suspect that 'success breeds success' is also a factor in the Icelandic chess story.
I bring this up because Canberra is undergoing a cold snap, and it may even snow over the weekend. I'd like to think this should encourage players to spend the weekend playing chess (either at Street Chess on Saturday, or the Primary School Allegro on Sunday), but the cold may discourage people from leaving home. This certainly is a reason that players from warmer climates give when passing on the many excellent events held in the nations capital, and it is to those players I say 'harden up!'
If you are one such player willing to embrace the cold, then I suggest you pencil in the weekend of the 28th and 29th of July for the ANU Open. Once again this event will be held with an Open and Under 1600 section, and will have over $3000 in prizes. Keep your eye on this blog for further details, including entry fees and how to enter.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Once a knight, always a knight. Twice a night and you're doing all right!

Under-promotions can be a thing of beauty, or a sign of madness. I once read about a game involving Chris Depasquale, where he chose a bishop instead of a queen, hoping to confuse his opponent in time trouble (as it was going to be captured anyway).
The following game is probably neither, but is curious as the promoted knight is White's 3rd one on the board (btw this was the game I mentioned in a post from October 2017). The knight gets snapped straight away, but for a brief moment it was almost like having a proper cavalry.

Press,Shaun - Cunningham,Cam [B07]
Swiss Festive Fun, 31.10.2017

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

2018 NSW Open - Song and Ikeda tie for First

The 2018 NSW Open has ended in a tie for first between FM Raymond Song and IM Junta Ikeda. Ikeda lead going into the final day, but Song was able to keep pace after they drew an exciting game in Round 6. In the final round Ikeda was held to a draw by Australian Champion GM Max Illingworth, while Song was able to catch Ikeda by beating IM Gary Lane.
Illingworth's draw was enough to give him a share of 3rd place, alongside FM Kevin O'Chee on 5.5. A number of high profile players ended up in a tie for 5th place including GM Anton Smirnov, IM Gary Lane and WGM Jilin Zhang.
Frank Low won the Minor event, after drawing in the final round with Stepehn Jago. This left Jgo tied for second with Gary Armstrong and Lachlan Lee. There was a big group of players on 5/7, including veteran player Ralph Shaw, the brother of the late Australian IM Terry Shaw.
This years event ran a lot more smoothly than last year, despite similar numbers (136 players). The addition of a third arbiter (NA Nick Kordahi) helped substantially, especially in getting the room ready for each of the rounds (eg I did not have to set a single clock over the whole weekend!). The noise issue from the last year was dealt with by moving the analysis area further away, and this had the overall effect of making the event a pleasant one to direct.

Lane,Gary W (2388) - Song,Raymond (2249)
2018 NSW Open Sydney, Australia (7.2), 11.06.2018

Monday, 11 June 2018

2018 NSW Open - Day 2

IM Junta Ikeda is the outright leader of the 2018 NSW Open, finishing day 2 on a perfect 5/5. Along the way he scored two impressive victories, beating WGM Jilin Zhang in round 4, and GM Anton Smirnov in round 5. His game against Zhang involved R+N v R+P with Zhang walking into a surprise mate when most spectators assumed the game would be drawn.  Against Smirnov he found a line where he exchanged 2 rooks for a quen, but the exposed nature of Smirnov's king allowed his Queen and Knight to carry out a winning attack.
GM Max Illingworth and FM Raymond Song share second on 4.5, after they drew their evening game. As a result Song will face Ikeda in round 6, while Illingworth and Smirnov will meet on board 2.
In the Minor event, Gary Armstrong, Frank Low and Thai Pahn share the lead on 4.5, with Armstrong and Low drawing their round 5 game.
Round 6 will begin at 9:30 am tomorrow, with the final round at 2. If you are in Sydney, feel free to drop into the Russian Club in Strathfield to catch the last day action.

Smirnov, Anton - Ikeda, Junta
2018 NSW Open (5.1) 10.06.2018

Sunday, 10 June 2018

The agony and the agony

While the 2018 NSW Open has been running quite well, the organisers have been bedevilled by a number of technical issues. Laptop tantrums and DGT fragility issues have resulted in less than optimal online coverage. But for now, the DGT boards are broadcasting, for a certain value of 'broadcasting'.
You can find the live broadcasts at and at the moment, the board 1 game between Smirnov and Nakuachi is worth watching.