Monday, 24 June 2019

Getting a little better

Despite attempts to make at least one blog post per day, I am once again falling short. Surprisingly the cause of this is that I am quite busy with of all things, chess! It is the middle of the Canberra Interschool season, and some of my days are taken up running events.
One thing I'm pleased to report on is that the understanding of the game has improved among Canberra school students in recent years. Previously I have more than my share of bizarre rule interpretations, but they seemed to have disappeared recently.
One example was in a game today when a player said his opponents fingers bumped his king, but he then moved another piece. When I explained 'touch move' applied when a player touched a piece 'intending to move it' he was happy to tell me that his opponent didn't touch his piece on purpose. Of course there were a few illegal moves played, but even then they were corrected without much stress. Probably the greatest surprise for the 60 odd players who took part was that in competition chess, you don't have to say "check"!

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Queen for piece

There has been a lot of recent excitement about Queen sacrifices, especially where a player gives up the queen for long term attacking chances, rather than for a more direct mate. The recent game between Alireza Firouzja and Murali Karthikeyan saw Karthikeyan sac his queen for two pieces on move 9, but go onto win in 53 moves. Comparisons were made to Nezhmetdinovs classic queen sacrifice from 1962, but there have been other similar examples.
Here is a game from 1975 where Kavalek (as Black) gives up his queen for a single piece. He was certainly under pressure when he did so, and even after the sacrifice Portisch was still winning. But Kavalek kept pushing and pushing, and eventually found enough in the position to escape with a draw.

Portisch,Lajos (2635) - Kavalek,Lubomir (2555) [E80]
Hoogovens Wijk aan Zee (11), 27.01.1975

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Following on

Following on from yesterdays post, here is a recent example of playing poorly, and yet winning. My opening play was so dodgy that at least one later opponent in the tournament repeated the line, hoping I would play just as badly. I was struggling until  I played 21...c5, which turned the tide so completely that my opponent collapsed in the space of a few moves.

Camer,Angelito - Press,Shaun [D24]
2019 Oceania Zonal (5.4), 20.02.2019

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Play poorly but win, or play badly and lose

When luck is running with you, you can get away with poor play. For the first half of 2019 I've been quite fortunate in that I've escaped from some poor positions to either draw or even win games I probably shouldn't have. This run of luck came to and end last night when my poor play met with suitable punishment. While the game finished with a blunder (I actually missed why 20...Bg6 needed to be played before 20...Nxe5) I was still worse if I had played it in the correct order.

Grcic,Milan - Press,Shaun [D11]
Autumn Leaves, 18.06.2019

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

If grabbing the b pawn is bad ....

Grabbing the b pawn with your queen is considered one of the cardinal sins in the opening (Bobby Fischer notwithstanding), so how bad is grabbing the a pawn?
Examples of this sin are not that common, but here is a recent game where Black did this and lost horribly. As to whether the blame can solely be attributed to the pawn grab, (or neglecting the centre, not developing, and failing to castle) is an exercise left to the reader.

Dreev,A (2657) - Loiacono,Antonio (2317) [D02]
10th Dolomiti Open 2019 Forni di Sopra ITA (2.2), 16.06.2019

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Double Resignation

One of the stranger incidents in my arbiting career occurred during the NSW Open last weekend. During one game there was a dispute over whether a player had said "adjust" before touching a piece or not. Anyone who has been involved in schools/junior chess knows how hard these cases can be, but in this case it was between to adult players. If the touched pawn was moved then it would be a pretty easy win for the opponent, while if not, then the ending was still difficult.
As there were no witnesses, no action could be taken, apart from warning the player to make it "very" clear when he was adjusting a piece, and to make sure when adjusting it it doesn't first move to another square (this was part of the first players claim).
After a few more moves the claimant approached me and told me he wished to resign the game, as he felt he could not continue playing under the circumstances. While I sympathised with him, I did tell me that resignation was final, which he accepted. Having then walked away, the opponent then approached me, saying that he would be willing to resign the game, as he did not want to upset his opponent. I told him that it was (un)fortunately too late as his opponent had got in first!
Someone did suggest a double loss could be recorded, but I ruled that out, as the game was officially over when the first player informed me of his resignation.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

More big board action

This will not be a permanent feature of this blog (I promise), but here is another game played on the giant chess board in Garema Place, Canberra. The usual caveats about seriousness and soundness apply.

Press,Shaun - Patterson,Miles [C02]
Big Board Civic, 14.06.2019