Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The queen sac on d1

In last nights club game, I had the chance to sacrifice my queen on d1 early in the game, in return for a check on b5 and the start of an attack. It turns out the sacrifice was overly hopeful (ie unsound) and as a result I chose not to play it. However there have been plenty of examples where it has worked, and it is a useful idea to know.
The basic idea is to capture on e5 with a knight pinned by the bishop on g4, allowing the queen on d1 to be captured (an idea also seen in Legals mate). The f1 bishop then checks on b5, and if all goes to plan, White recoups the surrender queen with interest.
However the example I have chosen to show, does not end in a win for white, but only a draw. However it is still of interest as it shows the basic idea, and was played between to exceptionally strong players.

Renet,Olivier (2520) - Miles,Anthony J (2600) [B00]
Linares zt Linares (5), 1995

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Stoned World Chess Championship

Due to a scheduling conflict I seem to have missed my chance to play in the 'Stoned World Chess Championship'. It was being held as part of the Mardi Grass festival held in Nimbin, New South Wales. I'm not sure what the tournament rules were, but I'm pretty sure that the FIDE drug testing policy was not in effect, and that the eating at the board rule was pretty relaxed. No results from the tournament at this stage either, but I'm sure the organisers will be sending them out shortly.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

The Iron King

Street Chess took an excursion over the border today, playing a rare Sunday event in the village of Michelago. When I woke up this morning the weather looked quite worrying, but as I got closer to the venue, the skies had cleared considerably. However the wind was up and the original plan of playing out in the open was quickly abandoned as we were spending more time chasing boards and pieces.
Heading for cover, a modest 6 player round robin was organised. While the size of the field was small, it did attract a large number of curious onlookers. Going into the final round Lee Forace and Therese Tran shared the lead on 3.5/4, but a combination of fortunate results allowed be to finish in front on 4. My last round game against Lee was particularly interesting (and tragic for Lee), as the Nxe4 line of the Scotch Four Knights resulted in my King going for a walk into the middle of the board. The 'Iron King' (as it is sometimes known) managed to survive the worst of it, and as the pieces came off, came into its own. By the time an ending was reached it had taken up more normal duties, so much so that the game was over soon after.

Forace,Lee - Press,Shaun [C47]
Michelago, 01.05.2016

Wins for Carlsen, Caruana and Nakamura

Three big events all finished within days of each other, with wins for three of the biggest names in world chess (and a third placing for probably *the* biggest).
Fabiano Caruna won the US Championship at his first attempt, scoring 8.5/11 and finishing a full point ahead of Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So. These 3 players then went on to play in the 'Ultimate Blitz Challenge', along with Gary Kasparov, in a $50,000 18 round event.
Nakamura emerged victorious after 2 days play with 11/18, ahead of So on 10. Kasparov finished strongly to score 9.5, while Caruana struggled throughout, ending with 5.5. To indicate how long it has been since Kasparov had retired from full time chess, this apparently was the first time he had played any of these players in a competitive game.
Over in Norway, Magnus Carlsen has won the Norway Chess Classic for the first time.  He finished on 6/9, ahead of Lev Aronian on 5.5. As with events of this nature there were a significant number of drawn games, but Carlsen provided the entertainment factor with with 4 wins (and a loss to Aronian), while Nils Grandelius and Pavel Eljanov contributed at the other end of the table, being beaten up by a lot of the field.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Olympiad Selections

Picking a team to represent PNG at recent chess Olympiads has been a relatively simple task. Just contact the players who went the Olympiad before and ask if they wish to go again. Since 2000 this has been the usual process, and while it hasn't generated a gold medal winning team, it has managed to at least get 4 players to each event.
For a country like Australia the process is slightly more involved. Players apply, selectors are appointed, data is provided, and a selection is made. This process has just been completed, and the Open team has just been revealed (although I am not sure officially announced).
Before I go on, I should point out that I was a selector this year for the Open team, and so was part of the process. The team is (in ranking order)

  • GM David Smerdon
  • GM Zong Yuan Zhao
  • IM Moulthun Ly
  • IM Anton Smirnov
  • GM Max Illingworth
The remaining players (in ranking order) were IM James Morris, IM Justin Tan, IM Bobby Cheng, IM Gary Lane, IM Junta Ikeda, FM Karl Zelesco

The team is almost the same as the 2014 team, with GM Zong Yuan Zhao replacing IM Junta Ikeda. The board order is also a little different, but overall it is a stronger team than 2014, with 3 GM's on board.
The Women's team has also been picked, although at this stage I am not aware of what the selections are. (And before you ask, the selected team doesn't exactly match my choices, but it is pretty close)

Why Blitz is not Chess (Part 72)

I've just dragged myself out of bed to watch the Ultimate Blitz Challenge from St Louis, involving Kasparov, So, Nakamura and Caruana. The first surprise was that after 7 rounds all four players were on 50% (3.5).  The second was that is seemed Wesley So was Kasparov's nemesis, winning 2 games after Kasparov had started like he was going to own this event.
But watching round 8 it became a little clearer about what was going on. The outcome of the games was not necessarily about who played the best chess. Given that the players are evenly matched, factors uinique to blitz chess come into play. In round 8 Nakamura actually outplayed Kasparov for most of the game, only to see Kasparov turn the tables with less than 20 seconds on the clock. But given the limited amount of time, it was probably fated that it was Kasparov's turn to go wrong, and he soon did. However both players were down to their last few seconds, and it probably was more about who could move fastest, rather than best, and Nakamura emerged with the point.
Very good entertainment BTW, but not in a classical chess way. More in a 20/20 Cricket way.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Forking knight with knight

Magnus Carlsen pulled of the nice endgame trick of forking a knight with a knight, in his win of Vladimir Kramnik at the 206 Norway Chess Classic. Carlsen had been winning from early on, and by the end his advantage was overwhelming, but it still a nice move if you can play it.
The win by Carlsen now puts him a full point ahead with 2 rounds to play.  There are 4 players tied for 2nd on 4/7, and Carslen plays one of them, Lev Aronian, in round 8.

Carlsen,Magnus (2851) - Kramnik,Vladimir (2801) [D35]
4th Norway Chess 2016 Stavanger NOR (7.3), 27.04.2016