Monday, 23 July 2018

Pieces against the Queen

The first round of the Biel Chess Festival was played last night, and featured a very instructive game from Magnus Carlsen. Playing David Navara , Carlsen chose to give up his queen for a rook and a piece. He then picked up a central pawn to at least make the number balance (Q=R+B+P) but for a long time the game was still in the balance. After some tricky middlegame tactics, and a QvR+N ending was reached, and this is where Carlsen came out on top. Making sure his pieces had solid anchor points (eg pawns protect pawns which protect pieces) Carlsen was able to create enough threats to force Navara to return the queen for the pieces, leaving Carlsen with a won pawn ending.


Carlsen,Magnus (2842) - Navara,David (2741) [D30]
51st Biel GM 2018 Biel SUI (1.1), 22.07.2018


Saturday, 21 July 2018

Bad officiating - What do you do?

I suspect all chess players have been the victim of bad officiating at one time or another. Whether it's an opponent who stops writing their moves and gets away with it, or a spectator/friend casually suggesting a strong move to your opponent, there are always situations where we can feel that the rules have not protected us.
But that pales in comparison to what happened to the Canberra Raiders in the NRL on Friday night. Not one, but two officials indicated that an infringement by the other side had occurred, so the players waited for the referee to stop play. While waiting, a Cronulla player casually put the ball down for a try, which on review was awarded, on the grounds that no infringement had actually occurred.
After the game the usual apologies and 'we are looking into it' comments were made by the games governing body, although the result will of course not be changed. Apparently action has now been taken against the one of the officials (a two week suspension), with a strong hint that the official concerned won't be appointed to top level games again.
Is anyone aware of a similar occurrence happening in a chess tournament or series? The closest I can think of was an Olympiad arbiter who found himself dropped for the rest of the event after telling a noisy senior FIDE official to be quiet during a top board game. Otherwise nothing springs to mind.

FIDE Fatigue - Not just yet

Most mornings when I wake up, the news stars with 'American President did ....'. After a year and a half of this, it is easy just to hit the off button and wait until the sport comes on. It appears the same is going on with news out of FIDE, although I'm not hitting the off button yet (although a few people I've spoken to are)
After last weeks 'anti-corruption' announcement confirmed that the current FIDE administration has very little money to fund their own campaign, there were further developments.
Current President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov caught a 18 month ban (12 months suspended) from holding political office from the Ethics Commission. Apparently it was for doing or saying something, although what that was, was only described in very general terms.
The Dvorkovich campaign then filed a complaint against the appointment of principles at the Chess Olympiad, arguing that can be considered a payoff for political support for the current FIDE executive. As I was previously on the Pairing Panel at the 2010 and 2012 Olympiads, I can confirm that appointments like this often have 'strings attached' as I was not reappointed in 2014, after refusing a request to make the PNGCF vote for Kirsan in the last FIDE election.
And the Olympiad Travel grants were announced. When the system of awarding grants was first established prior to the 2014 Olympiad, great care was taken that they could not be interfered with by the FIDE management. Eligibility was tied directly to FIDE Development status, and the amount was based on Continent or distance travelled (I know this because Rupert Jones and myself were the authors of the initial regulations). This seems to have been tossed out the window, as a number of strong European countries like Iceland and Poland are now receiving grants, while countries like New Zealand are required to entirely fund themselves.

(** I am working with Paul Spiller on his re-election campaign for Oceania Zone President, and through this, assisting Nigel Short's Clean Hands for FIDE ticket **)

Friday, 20 July 2018

The Anti Fort Knox?

The 'Fort Knox' variation in the Frence Defence involved Black planting a bishop on c6 early in the game. While I've never considered the variation that ambitious (or dangerous for White), it does appeal to French Defence players who stress the second word in the opening's name.
As I was flicking through the games from the last 4NCL season, I came across a nice win for White, in what looked like a mirror image of the Fort Knox. After 3.Bd3 White planted his bishop on f3. It was then Black who went pawn hunting (taking on g2, when a lot of French lines have Qxg7) allowing White to build up a decisive lead in development. Avoiding the loss of a rook only led to Black getting mated instead.


Ivell,Nicholas W (2201) - Lee,Richard W Y (2149) [C00]
4NCL 2017-18 England ENG (9.65), 05.05.2018


Thursday, 19 July 2018

Buddy Blitz

One of the upcoming events as part of the ANU Open, is the Buddy Blitz. This is an event for teams of two, and will be played as a 5 round swiss. There is no restriction on the team members (ie two 2200 players can team up if they wish), and the local chess clubs usually organise at least one official team each.
This years event will be held at King O'Malley's in Canberra City, on Friday 27th July and will start at 6pm. Entry is free and is open to players of all ages. Teams can either enter at the venue, or contact me in advance.

Monday, 16 July 2018

World Senior Teams

The Seniors chess circuit continues to grow in popularity, with a record turn out at the just completed World Senior Teams event in Dresden, Germany. In a dramatic last round, the USA team grabbed first place, beating Canada 3-1, while the English team lost to Germany 1.5-2.5. In the over 65 event, the Russian team proved unbeatable, winning all 9 of their matches.
Both events attracted a number of famous, and indeed legendary players. GM's Nunn and Speelman were part of the England team, while Sveshnikov and Balashov were part of the Russia Over 65 team. Just as interesting was the turnout of players better known as authors or administrators, with Stewart Reuben, Tim Harding and Almog Burstein turning out for their respective teams.
Probably the next big seniors tournament is the World Seniors in Bled later this year. I know of a few players from this part of the world taking part, and if it was closer to the end of the Olympiad I would be tempted to stay for it, but alas it isn't to be.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

With the internet broken, there is always poker

My home internet has broken (thank you NBN co) and so have had to find other things that interest me. One of these things is watching the live coverage of the World Series of Poker on TV. As I type this it has been running for over 9 hours (400+ hands), and show no signs of finishing. Watching this makes me appreciate that chess uses clocks to control the session length. I have a recollection that they were thinking of doing a similar thing for poker, although with the system of increasing 'blinds' it may not be necessary (as eventually all the money ends up in the pot). However a system where a player has to 'buy' extra thinking time (either adding it to the pot, or just giving it to the opponent), may be something worth considering.