Friday, 9 October 2015

The Troll-iest opening ever

Today at the ACT Juniors I saw what might be the 'troll-iest' opening line ever. The game started normally with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Then Black unleashed 4. ... Ng4?!? Now before you mock this move too much I'd like to point out my database has 8 games with this move and a score of +1=3-4 for White! The obvious intent is to provoke h3, and then meet it with h5! If White takes Black is just winning after hxg4, while leaving the knight on g4 helps black play moves like Bc5 etc. The game in question went 5.h3 h5 6.Nc3 Bc5 7.d3 d6 8.Bxc6 bxc6 9.Bg5 Nf6 10.d4 exd 11.Nxd4 Bb7 when 12.Nf5 is very strong. Unfortunately White chose 12.Nf3 instead and Black eventually won after using the open b file to grab some pawns.
As I don't have the full game score to hand, I'll instead show you an earlier game, also played in Australia. White decides not to go in for the h3 line, but Black still tosses in h5 and after playing Qh4 is winning up until the end.

Rigo,Bernard (1720) - Goldsmith,Alan (2130) [C65]
Adelaide Interclub Adelaide (2), 2004

Thursday, 8 October 2015

ACT Junior Arbiter Fun

The 2015 ACT Junior Chess Championship is currently underway, and I doing duty as an assistant arbiter to WIM Emma Guo. The tournament is being run as one big swiss (50 players) with players from 18 years down to 5 years of age. It is a FIDE Rated event so everything is being done exactly by the book (as it would be for any event) and this has lead to some interesting situations already.
Three minutes into the first round there was already an issue with castling, and a double whammy at that. Play A correctly claimed that Player B had both castled into check, and had touched his rook first before doing so. Normally these things happen separately, but in this case, after the 2 minute time bonus was awarded Player B had to move the rook rather than the king.
The second case also involved castling but was stranger (and funnier). One of the top seeds asked me what happens if an illegal move is played, but not noticed/claimed until later in the game. "Show me" was my initial reply and I set of to investigate. It turns that the one of the player had illegally castled early in the game (7.Kxd1 followed by 8.O-O-O with the king ending up on g1!) but only realised they had done something wrong around move 35(!) when the game was almost finished. Rule 7.5a comes into play here, and the game was rewound all the way back to move 8 (and the clocks reset to the time at move 8). Again a 2 minute bonus was given to the opponent but in this case the king had to be moved.
The final case was at first an all to familiar situation in junior/schools chess. Players shook hands to end the game, set up the pieces, and then disagreed about the result. One player thought she had agreed to a draw, but the opponent had reported a win. Normally under those situations I endeavour to restart the game (as well as lecture the players on making sure a result is established before shaking hands), but it turned out the position on the board was in fact checkmate for the winner, rendering the rest of the discussion moot. (NB The shake hand draw/resignation confusion has also occurred in adult tournaments I have directed!)
Apart from that the event has run pretty well, with most games sticking to the rules. The final day is tomorrow (3 rounds), with Fred Litchfield out in front and favourite to win the title.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Logical chess, hack by hack

As a coaching book, "Logical Chess: Move by Move" is quite a fun text. Certainly the section on Kingside Attacks is a step above the "wait till your opponent blunders and mate on f7" examples that you see when starting out, while not being too inaccessible to the improving player.  On the other hand, most of the attacks do follow a similar formula. Aim a few pieces at the kingside, eliminate a key defender (usually the knight on f6), and then smash through on h7.
Of course the drawback in following this script, is often your opponent does not co-operate. But when they do, the game can be over almost as soon as it starts. Here is a very recent example where Black ignores his kingside, looking for play on the queenside. However in doing so he lets White firstly aim his pieces at the king, and after 12.... Nc4, lets him pull the trigger. (Note 12.h4 served a dual purpose, as 12.Bxh7+ does not quite work after 12. ... Kxh7 13.Ng5+ Kg8 14.Qh5 Qxc2= while later on Black resigned when faced with  19. ... Kxh6 20.h5! forcing mate)

Litchfield,Fred - Patterson,Miles [C18]
ANU Spring Swiss, 07.10.2015

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Totally cheated!

The always excellent "Drunk History" has just featured the 1972 Fischer v Spassky match in its most recent episode. Sadly for Australian viewers, it is either a long wait until SBS get around to showing series 3, or finding it on one of the subscription tv services that are starting to pop up. Annoyingly even the preview is blocked from Australian IP addresses.
Here at least is an article on the episode

Monday, 5 October 2015

Long Castling

I held of posting last night as I thought that Peter Svidler was likely to half out his final game and win the 2015 World Cup KO 2.5-1.5. This opinion was based on nothing more than a "surely he can't lose this" hunch, as he had started the 4 game match with 2 wins.
Turns out my hunches aren't always good, and Svidler did indeed lose game 4 of the match. He then compounded by this by losing the first game of today's rapid playoff making it three losses in a row, also known as 'Long Castling' (0-0-0). Currently they are playing the second rapidplay game (a must win for Svidler), and while Svidler is better at move 40, he may not be better enough.
Here is last nights games, which probably contains some important lessons. Firstly, the opening choice by Svidler was not that impressive (offering mass exchanges in the opening tend to favour the other player) while the endgame saw both a better pawn structure and RBvRN turning out better for Karjakin.
(Update: Svidler has just won the second game, tying the match up once again)

Karjakin,Sergey (2762) - Svidler,Peter (2727) [D02]
FIDE World Cup 2015 Baku AZE (7.4), 04.10.2015

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Bomb scare stops play

Street Chess has had a number of odd happenings this year, and to the list you can now add a new one. Bomb Scare!
While I was in Sydney at a Correspondence Chess League of Australia meeting, the event was being run by Stephen Mugford and Harry Press. Around 2 o'clock Harry rang me to tell me that the tournament had been abandoned due to a bomb scare. Apparently a package had been left unattended outside a nearby restaurant and the police were evacuating the area. At first the players moved to our backup venue before the evacuation zone was expanded, at which point entry fees were refunded an everyone went home.
A bit of a shame as apparently the 17 player event was running quite well, and the Canberra weather was excellent for outdoor chess.
So to the list of reasons for stopping a tournament (that previously included thunderstorm, heart attack, and stolen laptop) bomb scare can now be added.

Like deja vu all over again

Logged in late to watch the second game of the 2015 World Cup Final, and thought they were replaying the first game for a second. The I realised that the colours had changed, but the result had not. For the second day in a row Karjakin blew up against Svidler, resigning down material. And while yesterdays game was kind of a slow motion car crash, in this game Karjakin seemed to take a hard left straight into the wall. He took less than a minute to decide on the losing move (37.Rb5) and after following it up with another clunker, resigned.
So Svidler 2-0 up at the half way point, and only needing a draw to win the event.

Karjakin,Sergey - Svidler,Peter [C95]
2015 World Cup, 02.10.2015