Saturday, 23 June 2018

Howard Staunton

While Steinitz is rightly credited with creating a new 'positional' style of chess, the concepts he popularised didn't come from nowhere. Howard Staunton deserves a lot of credit for showing the way to Steinitz, as his style and results were a clear influence. While there has been a reassessment of Staunton's contribution to chess in the last 40 years, he still gets bad press from chessplayers who only know about his non-match with Paul Morphy. I suspect if this contoversy hadn't clouded his actual playing career, his role in developing modern chess principles who have been more appreciated.
Today (22nd June) is the anniversary of his death, and so I've selected possibly the last competitive game he played to show his style. The opening is positively modern, and after Barnes' attempt at a tactical finesse blows up in his face, Staunton keeps control all the way to the end.

Barnes,Thomas Wilson - Staunton,Howard [C42]
London consultation London, 1859

Friday, 22 June 2018

Denmark 1/2 - Australia 1/2

Continuing with the World Cup theme, here is a game between the most famous Danish chess player Bent Larsen, and the (then) Australian IM Walter Browne. And fittingly, the game ended in a draw, as the World Cup match did today. BTW It was at this tournament that Browne earned his GM title (which in those days could be awarded based on a single performance)

Browne,Walter S - Larsen,Bent [C41]
San Juan San Juan (13), 1969

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

26th ANU Open - 28 & 29 July 2018

The 26th Australian National University Open is being held on the weekend of the 28th and 29th of July, at the ANU School of Art, Childers Street ANU.
It will be a 7 round swiss split into an Open and Under 1600 section. There are $3300 in prizes, with $1000 first prize in the open (NB This is a bigger prize pool than similar events in other cities).
The time limit for each event is 60m+10s per move.
Further details can be found at (click on the Regulation link for a brochure). You can also register online there (and still pay on the day). If you have a FIDE rating, just search for your name. If you don't the entry for will ask for a local ID and rating. If you don;t know this, just enter any numbers, and the organisers will sort it out later!

Monday, 18 June 2018

FIDE President's Race - Is it four or two candidates?

A new candidate has thrown his hat into the race for the FIDE Presidency, with Arkady Dvorkovich becoming the fourth candidate for the office. The details of his announcement can be found in this article on, including some discussion about what this means for the other candidates.
One theory is that Ilyumzhinov will now drop out of the race, as the Russian government will shift their support to Dvorkovich. Taking it one step further is the suggestion that the Makro ticket will merge with the Dvorkovich ticket, with Dvorkovich becoming the Presidential Candidate, Makro remaining as Deputy, and Malcolm Pein being let go (or offered a Vice President position as a consolation prize).
However I'm not sure that the second scenario is as likely as the first, as the logical step for both parties would have been to negotiate this behind close doors. By announcing his candidacy in this way Dvorkovich seems more likely to have his own set of office bearers in mind (although defections from the Makro ticket cannot be ruled out)
Nonetheless, a new Russian candidate wouldn't be seen as bad news for FIDE insiders. The real problem that the current FIDE executive have with Kirsan had nothing to do with his management style, or ethical issues, but simply that he is now costing them money. While he was bringing money into FIDE (through personal contributions, or connections with other governments) concerns about his ethical standards were dismissed as pro Kok/Karpov/Kasparov propaganda, but when FIDE had to actually pay for his expenses (and there was less money for pet projects of other board members) then suddenly the other issues that had been ignored for years became critical to how FIDE 'should' be run.
So if Dvorkovich can bring in a new income stream (or just resurrect Kirsan's old network) then it can be business as usual in the Athen's office.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

The Champion of Kazan

The title of this post does not refer to the Australian Football Team (or indeed the French), but to IM Rashid Nezhmetdinov, who lived in the Russian city which is currently a host city for the 2018 World Cup.
I've waxed lyrical in the past about how good Nezhmetdinov was, and watching the World Cup this evening gives me another excuse to present one of his games. This one is over pretty quickly, as White panics after 10...Bxg2 and avoids capturing the bishop. As a result Black gets in a queen check on h4, and after that  smothered mate.

Samsonov - Nezhmetdinov,Rashid [C29]
Kazan-ch Kazan, 1929

Embracing the cold

On a per capita basis, Iceland has long been considered the strongest chess playing nation in the world. One oft quoted reason has to do with the cold climate, which encourages people to stay, and play, indoors. While this may be true, I suspect that 'success breeds success' is also a factor in the Icelandic chess story.
I bring this up because Canberra is undergoing a cold snap, and it may even snow over the weekend. I'd like to think this should encourage players to spend the weekend playing chess (either at Street Chess on Saturday, or the Primary School Allegro on Sunday), but the cold may discourage people from leaving home. This certainly is a reason that players from warmer climates give when passing on the many excellent events held in the nations capital, and it is to those players I say 'harden up!'
If you are one such player willing to embrace the cold, then I suggest you pencil in the weekend of the 28th and 29th of July for the ANU Open. Once again this event will be held with an Open and Under 1600 section, and will have over $3000 in prizes. Keep your eye on this blog for further details, including entry fees and how to enter.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Once a knight, always a knight. Twice a night and you're doing all right!

Under-promotions can be a thing of beauty, or a sign of madness. I once read about a game involving Chris Depasquale, where he chose a bishop instead of a queen, hoping to confuse his opponent in time trouble (as it was going to be captured anyway).
The following game is probably neither, but is curious as the promoted knight is White's 3rd one on the board (btw this was the game I mentioned in a post from October 2017). The knight gets snapped straight away, but for a brief moment it was almost like having a proper cavalry.

Press,Shaun - Cunningham,Cam [B07]
Swiss Festive Fun, 31.10.2017