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.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

IM Justin Tan wins Paracin 2018

IM Justin Tan has won the Paracin 2018 Open with a very impressive 7.5/9. More importantly for Tan, it looks like he has secured his GM title, scoring a norm in this event (TPR 2688) as well as moving his rating above 2500. The norm comes weeks after he discovered the norm he had scored in the recently completed 4NCL was invalid.
He started the event strongly, but had only played a single GM after 7 rounds. He played the final two GM's required for a valid norm in rounds 8&9 and drew with both of them.
Also playing in this event from Australia were IM Junta Ikeda and Albert Winkelman. Ikeda had started the event strongly as well, but a round 8 loss derailed the tournament for him. Junior player Winkelman found the event tough going but managed to finish on 50% after a last round win.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

What to do when you're down and out in Athens

Previous FIDE elections have seen an enormous amount of 'generosity' from the rival tickets. Invitations to conferences to delegates and Presidents*, plenty of schwag on offer before the GA, and of course, the all important offer of arbiting appointments or spots on FIDE commissions as a reward for voting the right way. And while FIDE drew a line for the behaviour of other campaigns, it wasn't a line that FIDE drew for themselves.
Now, in the post-Kirsan era, FIDE have suddenly decided that the upcoming elections should not be tainted by such practices. In an email to all Federations, FIDE have announced 'anti-corruption measures' designed to protect the integrity of the 2018 vote. Basically it says that no campaign can offer inducements to Federation Presidents, Delegates or other officials, in the form of gifts, subsidies, inducements or hospitality.  To enforce this rule, FIDE have established an Electoral Integrity Committee, and any offers are to be reported to them.
What isn't clear from this document is whether FIDE themselves can disguise their own inducements as legitimate operational requirements ( eg appointing delegates to paid arbiting duties or appeals committees). But based on the specification that any support for Olympiad travel outside what they are providing for developing countries is to be considered, I'm assuming that they will exempt their own payments from scrutiny.
Having already discussed the document with a highly placed FIDE official (who ironically was away sick on the day it was announced), there seems to be two schools of thought. His take is that it is part of the anti-corruption efforts of Malcolm Pein. I on the other see it somewhat differently, instead attributing to the fact that the Makropoulos campaign knows it does not have the same financial support that the Dvorkovich or Short campaigns have, and as a result are simply changing the rules at the last minute to try and cling to power.

(* I scored a free trip to the World Championship match in 2014, for such a conference)

IM Justin Tan on fire

IM Justin Tan looks to be bouncing back from the disappointment of losing a GM norm, with a strong performance at the 2018 Paracin Chess Festival. After 7 rounds he leads the tournament with 6.5, a full point ahead of the chasing pack. While his TPR is a massive 2801, he still needs to play another 2 GM's for the result to count towards his GM title. Fortunately he playing GM Kiril Georgiev in round 8, and a good result, plus a GM in the final round should be enough for his final norm.

Tan,Justin (2481) - Petrov,Martin (2441) [A05]
Sport Summer 2018 Paracin (7.1), 11.07.2018

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Roll your own training site

When I was a lot younger than I am now, most software for my computer was written by myself. Back in the day (1978-1988), most home computers came shipped with a BASIC interpreter, and although you could by software (often on audio tape), a lot of the usefulness cam from writing your own programs.
However once the IBM-PC (and clones) hit the market, this all changed. Most software came pre-supplied on floppy disks, and while you could write your own, why would you. Of course home programming wasn't dead, but writing complete 'systems', rather than code to solve a specific problem, became rarer.
But recently I've got back into some 'home programming' via the 21st Century equivalent of BASIC, Javascript. Javascript contains a lot of the 'features' that made BASIC programming a simple but messy task, although it runs on your web browser rather than your desktop. This is not a problem though, as a typical web browser is very similar to desktops of yesteryear (as a software platform).
One piece of code I am working on is a simple chess training system to help improve calculation and evaluation. The first module is available at and is designed to help you identify forcing moves.  You are given a position, plus some extra moves, and you have to identify all the checks, captures and promotions following the extra moves.
At this stage the project is very much alpha, and there are some things that can be fixed and improved. I'm also working on a module that lets you improve evaluation skills (and combining look ahead with evaluation), plus a few other features.
The whole thing is free to use, and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. (NB If you do like it, and live in Canberra, you can thank me by playing Street Chess!)

2019 Oceania Zonal - Guam

Details for the 2019 Oceania Zonal have just been announced by the Guam Chess Federation, who are hosting the 2019 event. It will run from 18th February to 24th February 2019, and is being held at the Pacific Star and Spa Resort. There will be 3 double round days and 3 single round days. Chief Arbiter will be IA Bob Gibbons from New Zealand.
The major issue for Australian and New Zealand players will be travel, although a quick scan of flights for those dates show flights for as little at $1550 return from Canberra. Accommodation at the venue is around $90(US) a night for twin share, breakfast included.
As it is a qualifying event for the FIDE World Cup, there will be titles on offer (as well as one place in the World Cup). This is the first time the Oceania Zonal has been held outside the South Pacific (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji), but hopefully there will be a good contingent of players from this part of the world.
If you want to check out all the details (entry fees, prize money etc) then look at the February section of the New Zealand Chess Calendar.