Monday, 8 February 2016

Outsmarting yourself in blitz

I spent today helping run the 2016 ACT Junior Blitz Championship (won by Albert Winkleman) and was pleased by both the quality of play, and the behaviour of the players. No one cried during the 11 round event (always a good sign) and while a few players ended up less points than they should have (due to failing to report results), even they realised that it was something they should have been on top of.
The only new arbiting issue that I came across this year was application of the rule about when you can press your clock. One player was very short of time, and so was 'pre-moving', in that he had picked up the piece he planned to move before his opponent had completed theirs. (Oh don't be shocked. Blitz players do this all the time!)
Unfortunately for him, he had an opponent who either knew the rules too well, or maybe too little. With two seconds left on his clock, his opponent moved, and then he moved before his opponent pressed their clock. He then began to anticipate his next move, when much to his surprise, his opponent simply pushed the clock without moving. Stunned by this, he let his clock run down to zero (from not much more than zero). I was called over to adjudicate the finish of the game, and after asking the right questions, realised what had happened. He thought his opponent had pressed the clock without moving, while I explained his opponent had simply pressed the clock after his previous move (as he is entitles to do). He did accept this explanation with good grace, but I suspect he is now thinking of better ways to avoid losing on time.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Who needs 10 GM's?

I was having a discussion today with a fellow chessplayer about IM Moulthun Ly's stellar performance at the 2016 Gibraltar Masters. I remarked that Ly is now very close to the GM title (1 norm and few rating points away), and that would mean that Australia would have 6 GM's (including the retired Ian Rogers), and good chances for a few more (ie George Xie comes out of retirement, and the next wave of young IM's comes through).
It is entirely feasible than in the next few years Australia will have 10 GM's, and it was this thought that made me remember something from around 25 years ago. In the early 1990's the Australian Chess Federation (ACF) was presented with a draft strategic plan (authored by Brian Jones I think) and part of the plan was a number of goals. One of these goals was the number of titled players, specifically 10 GM's and 20 IM's within the life of the plan. Of course to achieve this goal, the ACF would need to commit resources and energy, both through the organisation of activities to help players (tournaments and training), and by increasing the funding levels in Australia (through increased income sources).
Unfortunately when it was presented, it was shot down on the spot, with comments like "10 grandmasters. That will never happen". It was explained that falling short by a few GM's is still not a bad outcome, but I do recall that even this was rejected, with another comment about whether the number of GM's in Australia really meant that much.
So 25 years later, some of the goals of the plan have happened anyway, although not through any co-ordinated decision making. It is true that the ACF is more willing to fund development in the country (eg GM tournaments), although it is still on a case by case basis, rather than as part of a specific policy. But I do wonder if the plan had been accepted at the time, how much further along Australian chess would be.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Waste less of your life with facebook?

I thought this was already a well know facebook feature, but it seems people are just waking up to fbchess. If you want to play a casual game of chess against a friend on facebook, no need to activate an app, just open the chat box and type @fbchess play The you can send moves to each other with the @fbchess tag (eg @fbchess Pd4). It doesn't matter ig you end the chess session or log off facebook, the game will be right were you left it next time you logg back on.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

2016 ANU Masters Week 1

The ANU Chess club's traditional Masters event began this evening, with a field of 8 evenly matched players (who to be accurate, are not actual masters). For a while it looked as though all 4 games might end in draws, after Adrian De Noskowski held top seed Andrey Bliznyuk, and Alana Chibnall recovered from a bad position to draw with Miles Patterson.
However Victor Braguine managed to go up a pawn in a R+N v R+N ending against Dillon Hathiramani (in his tournament debut), but stern resistance from Hathiramani  meant that Braguine still needed some work before wining the game.
In the final game to finish last years winner Fred Litchfield beat Harry Press in a game where fortunes fluctuated throughout. For a while Press was better, but after missing a tactic with 26. ... d4! drifted into a worse position and despite having a passed pawn on f2, was cut down by a mating combination.

Litchfield,Fred - Press,Harry [B40]
ANU Masters, 03.02.2016

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Quick update from Gibraltar

IM Moulthun Ly has just (in the last minute or so) drawn with English GM David Howell, to move closer to scoring a GM norm. He is now on 5/8, having played 5 Grandmasters and his TPR is now around 2600. The pairings for the next round are obviously important, as an opponent over 2600 will mean a draw should be enough, but someone below that level may require Ly to win his round 9 game.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

2016 Gibraltar Traps

A big open like Gibraltar is fertile ground for spotting opening traps/disasters. I found a few last year, so I thought I'd go hunting again. Here are a few games from the early rounds where the game was finished almost before it started

In this game White needed to look to the left, and to the right.

Tarr,Steve F (1779) - Gulamali,Kazim (2379) 
Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2016  Gibraltar (1.118), 26.01.2016

1.d4 d6 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.e3 c5 4.c3 Qb6 5.Na3 Be6 6.c4 Qxb2 7.Nb5 Ne4 8.Rb1 Qxf2# 0-1

Here is another classic, which I am surprised Black did not recognise

Bellon Lopez,Juan Manuel (2376) - Kristinsson,Magnus (1776) 
Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2016  Gibraltar (1.119), 26.01.2016

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 e6 3.e4 Be7 4.Bd3 d5 5.e5 Nfd7 6.Bxe7 Qxe7 7.Nc3 0-0 8.Nh3 a6 9.Bxh7+ 1-0

Even at 2300 some players forget to look at *all* checks and captures

Lazarne Vajda,Szidonia (2359) - Ganguly,Surya Shekhar (2660)
Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2016  Gibraltar (2.59), 27.01.2016

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Be7 4.Bd3 c5 5.c3 cxd4 6.cxd4 dxe4 7.Nxe4 Nf6 8.Nf3 Nc6 9.0-0 0-0 10.Be3 Nb4 11.Nxf6+ Bxf6 12.Be4 Nd5 13.Qb3 b6 14.Bxd5 exd5 15.Ne5 Be6 16.Rac1 Bxe5 0-1

And for the final game, it's just tactics, tactics, tactics by White

De Rosa,Mariagrazia (2088) - Winter,Kevin (1825)
Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2016  Gibraltar (3.117), 28.01.2016

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nbd7 4.g4 e5 5.g5 Ng8 6.Nf3 Be7 7.Rg1 g6 8.Bc4 c6 9.Bb3 b5 10.dxe5 dxe5 11.Nxb5 Qa5+ 12.Nc3 Ba6 13.Bd2 Rd8 14.Nd5 Qb5 15.Nc7+ 1-0

Monday, 1 February 2016

Ly bags GM

Speaking of converting in the ending, IM Moulthun Ly had a very good win in the 5th round of the Gibraltar Masters, beating Indian GM SS Ganguly. Despite playing Black (and the Sicilian), Ly built up a strong kingside attack, before reaching a rook ending a pawn up. Ly then showed good technique to convert the position, as rook endings are difficult things to play, especially if all you have left are rook pawns.  The final moves of the game are well worth studying, as it shows the winning idea if you have a rrok pawn block by your own king on the 8th rank.
The win by Ly has him on 4/5 with a performance rating well over the 2600 level required for a GM norm.

Ganguly,Surya Shekhar (2660) - Ly,Moulthun (2474) [A00]
Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2016 Gibraltar (5.17), 30.01.2016