Monday, 25 July 2016

Chess politics

According this report, the Armenian team will not be playing in the 2016 Olympiad hosted by Azerbaijan.  This is of course due to the dispute between the two countries over Nagorno-Karabakh, and the boycott had been on the cards since the Olympiad was awarded to Baku in 2012. At the time the Armenian delegation protested the awarding of the Olympiad to Azerbaijan due to the conflict between the two countries, but as Baku was the only bid to meet the bidding criteria, there wasn't an alternative venue.
Slightly more surprising is the suggestion that Greece won't be going either, although I have no idea the reasons why. Possibly the issue is a financial one as FIDE have included Greece on the list of countries receiving travel subsidies, but there may be other reasons at play.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Album Covers

A recent gift has turned my mind to the topic of chess themed record covers. Probably the most obvious choice is "Chess" by Tim Rice, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaaeus, but there are others.
Unfortunately my search was hamstrung by two issues. Firstly, searching for chess and music throws up and awful lot of links to "Chess Records", the Chicago based record label, that had Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Chick Chuck Berry and many others on their roster. Secondly, pretty much every other album I managed to find was almost always 1970's prog rock, with allusions to wizards and Alice in Wonderland (although I see Pink has recently travelled this road as well).
But all was not lost. While researching this brief piece I came across a cover of a children's book (not a record) titled "Goodbye Testicles". And that made the whole exercise worth it.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Carlsen equalises

After 5 years of head to head chess, Magnus Carlsen has brought his lifetime score 'Classical' games against Anish Giri up to 1 each (with a bag load of draws). Having first played in 2011 (with a win to Giri), Carlsen has been unable to grab that revenge victory, until yesterday.
In the 9th round of the Bilbao Masters, Carlsen opened with the London System, and although the opening did not seem the give him much, he did get some play on the kingside. Giri however defended his position, and Carlsen even missed a change to win material. But a mistake on move 37 by the out of form Giri gave Carlsen a second chance and he took it.
The win also gave Carlsen an insurmountable lead in the tournament as unsurprisingly, the other two games were drawn.

Carlsen,Magnus (2855) - Giri,Anish (2785) [D00]
9th Masters Final 2016 Bilbao ESP (9.2), 22.07.2016

Thursday, 21 July 2016

2016 ANU Open - Early entry cut off

Tomorrow (22 July) is the cut off date for early entries for the 2016 ANU Open and Minor (Under 1600 event). The tournament is next weekend (30 and 31 July) and has over $3000 in prizes. Full details are available at  (click on the 'Regulation' link).
NB You only need to register early to be eligible for the discount. You can still pay on the day, but as long as you enter by midnight tomorrow you get the $10 off your entry.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

You can find tricks in any opening

There are plenty of weird and wonderful openings I have played, but there is also just as many I haven't tried. One opening I've never really looked at is the Chigorin Defence to the Queens Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6).  I was asked about it at the chess club tonight, and while confessing a limited knowledge of the main ideas, I still prattled on about it, not realising I was confusing it with the Nimzowisch Defence (1.e4 Nc6).
To rectify this I had a quick search for an interesting/exciting game in the proper Chigorin. I discovered one originally presented in the book "Take my Rooks" by Minev and Seirawan. While probably not representative of a typical Chigorin, it does show that Black can get some nice attacking play, as long as he is willing to toss some material.

Baksa - Szimonidesz [D07]

Monday, 18 July 2016

ANU Chess Festival - Teams Blitz Event

One of the more fun events at the ANU Chess Festival is the ANU Co-op Bookshop Teams Blitz Event. Hosted by King O'Malley's pub at City Walk, Canberra City, it is now in its 4th year. It is a 5 round swiss for teams of 2 players, and this year will be held on the Friday 29th July. It starts at 6pm and will run for an hour.
Entry is free and there is no restriction on the strength of the teams. Normally each of the Canberra clubs enters an official team, but other teams are more than welcome. You can enter in advanace by contacting me, or just rock up on the night.

There are draws and there are draws

At the top level of chess, the draw quotient remains quite high, despite efforts of the organsiers to encourage decisive results. Certainly the prevalence of the very short 'Grandmaster draw' has declined over the years (at least amongst Grandmasters), but points between two evenly;y matched Super GM's still seem to be split.
There are still the quick draws, with the players following some traditional drawing lines, and there are some exciting hard fought draws, where after 90 moves there are only kings left on the board. I'm sure organisers don't mind the latter as much as the former, even if the crosstable ends up looking the same.
The following game from the Bilbao Masters seems to fall somewhere between the two. It is a short game ending in repetition, but it does have some exciting tactical points. White looks to be able to win material at various points, but doing so leads to big trouble. So White avoided the traps, Black checked on c2 and d4, and the players shook hands.

Karjakin,Sergey (2773) - Nakamura,Hikaru (2787) [D37]
9th Masters Final 2016 Bilbao ESP (5.1), 17.07.2016