Friday, 31 October 2008

I'm leavin' on a jet plane

I head off to Europe tomorrow, although hopefully my blogging will not be disrupted too much.
The main purpose of the trip is to play in the Olympiad in Dresden (for Papua New Guinea), although I will also be having a weeks holiday in England first.
So for the next week I'll try and keep up the chess content, although it may end up looking like a travelogue. However when the Olympiad starts I should be back to full on, serious chess blogging, with plenty of insider coverage of the Olympiad (although it will be from the back, not the front, of the field).
Of course this all depends on me having net access, although my media accreditation for the Olympiad came through so it shouldn't be a problem.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

2008 WCC - Game 11

Anand Draws! (and therefore wins)
By drawing game 11 of the 2008 World Chess Championship, Viswanathan Anand reached the 6.5 points required to win the match. 
Anand's choice of 1.e4 (for the first time in the match) was sensible, in that Kramnik's usual defences (Petroff or Berlin Wall) wouldn't generate the counterplay Kramnik needed to win the game, and prolong the match. Instead Kramnik chose a Najdorf Sicilian (5. ... a6) but Anand played senisbly, with the clear intent of shutting down attampts by Kramnik to stir it up. Indeed by the time the game reached move 20 there was nothing left in the position for Kramnik, and Anand was even better when the players agreed a draw on move 23.
So Anand retains World Championship title he won in the tournament in Mexico last year, and also wins the World Championship title (matchplay format), which Kramnik has held since defeating Kasparov in 2000. Anand also won the FIDE World Championship (Knock-out format) in 2000, so given his victories in 3 disparate formats, there is no doubt that Anand is truly a worthy champion.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The art of negotiation

While details are still sketchy, it appears the Australian Chess Federation has had to deal with another association who hasn't paid all their junior chess levy's. Apparently the VCA has had moneys outstanding from 2004-06. But rather than deal with them in this manner, (which then resulted in this) , the ACF and the VCA came up with a figure (a nice round $1000) which the ACF was happy to charge, and the VCA was happy to pay. In the ACF's defence, apparently neither side actually knew how much money was really owed by the VCA, so any number greater than $0 could be considered a bonus.
I hope to have further details when the minutes of last ACF council meeting are distributed.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

2008 WCC - Game 10

Kramnik hangs on!
Vladimir Kramnik prolonged the 2008 World Chess Championship in the only possible way, by winning Game 10 of the match. The win, the first by Kramnik, narrowed the margin to 2 points (Anand leads 6-4), and extends tha match by at least another game.
In what appears to be a late match surge, Kramnik once again obtained an advantage out of the opening. The game started as a g3 Nimzo-Indian, and the players navigated their way through plenty of opening theory, before Kramnik played a novelty on move 18 (Re1). After that Kramnik increased his advantage by targeting Anand's queenside, while Anand had a couple of pieces on the wrong side of the board. Despite attempts to scramble back Anand was ultimately too slow, and Kramnik's push of the a pawn to a5 resulted in a decisive invasion of the Black position. Anand resigned on move 29.

Monday, 27 October 2008

2008 WCC - Game 9

This game could be considered a psychological battle, although it has come too late in the match to make a difference. Kramnik (as Black) chose to play the same opening that had brought Anand such success in games 3 and 5 (Semi-Slav). However Anand avoided going too far down the same road and chose the currently topical Anti-Moscow variation.
Kramnik spent much of the opening a pawn up (after taking on c4 and then hanging on with b5) but once Anand struck in the centre with 16.f4 the game really kicked into gear. Kramnik gave up his pawn advantage (19. ... c5!), and another pawn as well, but this was only temporary and as the players headed towards the endgame, Kramnik was once again a pawn to the good. As the players approached the first time control, Kramnik even found a piece sacrifice (38. ... a4) but unluckily for him, it wasn't enough to win. Anand returned the piece at the right time and a drawn rook(s) ending was reached.
So Anand can no longer lose the match (except in tie breaks) and tonight's game may very well be the last.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Smerdon wins ACT Lightning Championship

The 2008 ACT Lightning Championship was held yesterday, on a glorious Canberra spring day. Although the field might not have been as strong (or as large) as the Moscow Lightning Championship (also held as an outdoor event), I suspect we were warmer than Morozevich et al.
In the end the field was more about quality then quantity with the event held as a 9 player round robin. (Normally at this point I'd go off about the size of the field and what is says about chessplayers in general, but I've decided that if I get angry about everything I'm heading for an early grave, and anyway I've probably blogged enough on this topic already).
The results went pretty much in ratings order with David Smerdon (seen in picture) winning with 8.5/9. He dropped half a point to Lee Forace (a repetition in a worse position), but defeated his closest rival, Endre Ambrus, to secure the title. Ambrus finished second (8/9) and Roger Farrell finished in third with 7/9.
I finished in 4th place but did have a chance to alter the standings with my final round against David Smerdon. Defending the White side of a Dragon(!) I even managed to get to a position where I was a piece ahead. Unfortunately by that stage the clock was the dominant feature of the game and I lost on time (while David still had a minute on his clock).
So while the tournament may not have been huge in terms of numbers, I'm sure those that did turn up to play felt it was a worthwhile way to spend a Saturday lunchtime.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

2008 WCC - Game 8

Anand is edging closer to winning the 2008 World Chess Championship, with a draw in Game 8. He now leads 5.5-2.5 over Kramnik, and an Anand victory in Game 9 on Sunday would finish the match for good.
Once again the game started with 1.d4 and Anand's 4. ... dxc resulted in Kramnik choosing the Vienna variation. This is a sharp line to play, although it can also result in a lot of minor pieces being exchanged. Interestingly enough Anand ended up with the a similar pawn structure he had in games 3 and 5 (black pawns on f7,fg and e6) and once again he chose to place his rook on the semi open g file. Nonetheless Kramnik had a small advantage in the position and Anand was forced to play exactly, to prevent Kramnik from dominating the centre with a push to f5. Kramnik could have forced a draw on move 30, but as this wasn't the result he was looking for, he chose not to repeat the position a third time. However he wasn't able to find any other way to improve his position and the game was drawn on move 39.

Friday, 24 October 2008

2008 WCC - Game 7

Kramnik finally stopped the rot with a draw in game 7. The opening was a Queens Gambit Slav, which Kramnik had used in his 2006 match against Topalov. Anand (white) attempted to enliven the game with a pawn sacrifice on move 10, but Kramnik declined the offer. The queenless middle game saw a battle between bishop and knight (even with the rooks still on the board) but by move 35 all the pieces came off the board and a draw was agreed.
The result moves Anand half a point nearer to winning the match and he now leads the 12 game series 5-2.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

World Youth Championship 2008

The 2008 World Youth Championship is underway in Vietnam. Australia has sent one of the largest squads to this event, with 26 players. (btw PNG is yet to send any players to this event, but we are working on it).
A number of Canberra players are part of the squad, which has meant that some of the clubs in the nations capital are missing some regular players. However for Ethan Derwent and Stuart Mason this hardly mattered, as after travelling all the way to Vietnam, they were paired against each other on Round 3 of the Under 10's.
Full results for this event can be found at the ever reliable (NB The link leads to the Under 18 event, but you can find the other tournaments from that page)

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

2008 WCC Game 6

Spectators are certainly getting their moneys worth, with Anand scoring his third win in six games over Kramnik. Despite my prediction of a couple of drawn games, Kramnik decided to try and fight back immediately. Unfortunately it backfired, leaving him with an almost impossible task to save the match.
The game started as a Nimzoindain (as in Game 2), although this time Anand chose the more popular 4.Qc2. Kramnik offered the exchange of queens with 6. ... Qf5 and although Black is left with doubled pawns, the position is considered easy to defend for Black.
Kramnik's big mistake came on move 18 where he pushed to c5, rather than defend passively. It eventually lost him a pawn and from there it seemed to go downhill. He gave away another pawn but failed to generate enough compensation. Anand got a pawn to g7 and after some deft tactics was able to promote. Kramnik resigned a few moves after the first time control was reached.
Anand now only needs 2 points (from the remaining 6 games) to win the match. Unless Kramnik's team is able to find a hole in Anand's so far excellent opening preparation this match looks like it is done.


The long overdue 2008 ACTCA AGM was held last night a the Australian National University. There was good attendance of 19 members, out of an estimated 35 current ACTCA members!
The main purpose of the meeting (about from the statutory requirements) was to get the ACT Chess Association functioning again, and some aspects of the meeting indicated how important that was. Of last years committee only the President attended (and he arrived 15 minutes late). The current Secretary was absent, so no minutes from last years AGM were able to be presented for approval. Last years meeting failed to elect a treasurer, so the financial reports for 1997 2007 were (a) incomplete and (b) not able to be presented for approval. There was also no Presidents report presented. The Junior Chess representative was unable to be present (currently in Japan) but he was represented by the current president of the ACT Junior Chess League.
However, elections for this years committee were held, with all positions filled unopposed. The new committee is
  • President: Stephen Mugford
  • Vice-President: Mos Ali
  • Secretary: Jim Kitay
  • Treasurer: James Satrapa
  • Junior Delegate: Shun Ikeda
The major task of the new committee will be to bring the finances up to date. The new President also spoke of the importance of improving communications with the members and also working closely with the clubs to improve to management of both the clubs and the ACTCA.
The meeting discussed a number of other matters (Doeberl Cup, world record attempts etc) but these were mostly of a non-controversial nature, and indeed I could see some eyes glazing over as the discussions got "down to the weeds", as Stephen Mugford put it.
Overall it was a significant meeting in terms of achieving what it needed to achieve, and it was pleasing to see the number of ACT chess players who attended, as clearly they feel that a working association is important.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

2008 WCC - Game 5

Viswanathan Anand has extended his lead in the 2008 World Chess Championship with a win in Game 5 over Vladimir Kramnik. This was Anand's second win of the match, and more importantly, his second win with the black pieces.
The players repeated Game 3 up until move 15, where Anand varied with 15. ... Rg8, anticipating a possible improvement by Kramnik, who chose to sacrifice material in their earlier encounter. For the next 10 or so moves most commentators thought that Kramnik held the better position, but by move 24 Kramnik began to lose the thread of the position. Then on move 29 he grabbed a pawn that was definitely poisoned, and had to resign 7 moves later. Anand's 34th move (Ne3!) was an elegant way to end the game.
So Anand leads 3.5-1.5 after 5 games. In such a short match (12 games) this is already a significant margin, and I would be surprised if Kramnik is able to come back from this. What we may see know is a couple of safe draws before Kramnik tries to mix it up, hoping to force Anand into error. If that strategy fails the end result could be a real blow-out.

Monday, 20 October 2008

2008 WCC - Game 4

After Anand's win in the third game, both players settled down a bit and played 29 move draw in Game 4. Anand once again opened with 1.d4 although his choice of 3.Nf3 invited a Queens Indian Defence, rather than the Nimzo that was played in Game 2. Kramnik declined the offer and transposed into a Queens Gambit Declined. The players then reached a middlegame where White had a slight edge due to Black having an isolated d pawn, but as the position was well known to theory, Kramnik had little difficulty in maintaining equality. Once Kramnik was able to force d4, liquidating the d pawn, there was nothing left to play for and a draw was agreed.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

2008 ACTCA Annual General Meeting

Over the last 18 months (if not more), the ACT Chess Association has run into some difficulties. One of the major outcome of these difficulties is that the Association has almost ceased to function, in both the practical and legal sense. The failure to hold an Annual General Meeting (as required by the ACT Incorporation Act) has left the association in a legal limbo.
Fortunately this is about to be remedied, with the ACT Chess Associations Annual General Meeting to be held this Tuesday night (21 October 2008) from 7:30 pm at the club rooms of the ANU Chess Club, Floor 4, Asian Studies Building, Australian National University.
Now I know that AGM's are not everyone cups of tea, but I think it is important that as many ACTCA members make the effort to attend as possible. Not because it will be a contentious meeting (indeed it is likely to be the opposite), but because this years meeting is mostly about showing that the ACTCA is once again a functioning body, in both a practical and legal sense.
At the moment the ACT chess scene has a lot going for it (successful weekenders, well organised junior scene, influx of strong players etc) and probably the major missing piece is an effective state association. So for me it is no longer about whether I like/dislike the current or future office bearers, but simply whether the office bearers are able to run the association at the level required. As the meeting on Tuesday is going to deal with this issue (and hopefully resolve it), having a big turn out from the Canberra chess community to support this principle would show that we regard this ideal as important.

(Shaun - speaking for me and only me)

Saturday, 18 October 2008

2008 WCC - Game 3

The back and forth in Game 2 was repeated in Game 3 of the Anand v Kramnik World Chess Championship match, but this time Anand converted his advantage to take a 2-1 lead in the match. In a very exciting game Kramnik forced the pace with a short-term pawn sacrifice, followed by a piece sacrifice. On the defensive Anand was forced to return the material, and Kramnik was 2 pawns ahead. Unfortunately this came at the cost of King safety, and with his remaining pieces well placed Kramnik's King was chased across the board. Anand missed a quicker win on move 33 than what was played in the game (Fritz claims a mate in 19 after 33. ... Bxd3+) but won White's Queen and won without too much trouble.
In terms of the match this is a pretty significant result for Anand. Not only is it an early victory in a short match, it also helps Anand recover from Game 2, where he might have felt he missed a chance to be one up already. And probably the most significant feature of this win is according to IM Andrew Martin on, Anand hasn't beaten Kramnik with the black pieces in 17 years! So if Anand's strategy was based in winning with White, he already has a free point under his belt.

Friday, 17 October 2008

A move I wish I'd played

At the ANU Chess Club I normally take on the roll of the "houseman". That means that is there is an odd number of players in a tournament I'll play to avoid someone getting the bye. This often leaves me playing the last person through the door, as the club has a rule that you have to be present at 7:45 pm to be included in the draw.
This meant I played Yijun Zhang, who came running up the three flights of stairs to the club rooms 10 minutes after the start of the round. I had white and decided to start with the multi-purpose 1.Nc3 This is a particularly useful choice against junior players as (a) it confuses them and (b) it often transposes into openings they didn't intend to play.

Press,S - Zhang,Y [C29]
ANU Spring Swiss, 15.10.2008

1.Nc3 Nf6 2.e4 e5 After the game I asked Yijun whether he normally played 1 ... e5 in response to 1.e4. "No" he replied, "I play the Sicilian". 3.f4 exf4 And in an unfamiliar position he chooses a poor move. 4.e5 Qe7 5.Qe2 Ng8 6.Nf3 The trap here is that the plausible 6. ... d6? runs into 7.Nd5 Qd7 8.Nxc7! when 8. ... Qxc7 loses the queen to 9.exd6+ 6. ... c6 7.d4 d5 8.Bxf4 h6 9.0-0-0 Bf5 10.Re1 g5 11.Bg3 Bg7 12.Qf2 Nd7 13.Nd2 Bg6 14.Nb3 b6 15.Be2 0-0-0?? And here is the fatal mistake. Now I win a piece 16.Ba6+ Not 16.e6 first as 16. ... Nb8 saves the piece 16. ... Kb8(D)
17.e6+ Ne5 18.exf7 Qxf7 19.Qxf7 Bxf7 20.Bxe5+ Bxe5 21.Rxe5 Now I'm a piece up, and I checkmated my opponent on move 42.

When I get home I put the game into my database, with Fritz running in the background. When it gets to move 17 it turns out that e6+ wasn't it's first choice of move. Instead it suggested I move my queen to the most defended square in Black's position. That's right, 17.Qf6!!. Turns out that despite the fact that my queen could then be captured by a bishop, 2 knights or even the Black queen, the reply exf6+ still wins a piece.
But as I'm not Alekhine it means that (a) I'd never have found it in a million years and (b) I'm not going to pretend that I really did play it. Instead I'll just marvel at the audacity of it, and hope to find such a move in the future.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

2008 WCC Game 2

Game 2 of the 2008 WCC seemed to excite the crowd far more than game 1. The first surprise was 1.d4 from Anand, and the second was that he was happy to allow a Nimzo-Indian Defence. Choosing 4.f3 (which leads back into a Samisch) Anand took the usual advantage of 2 bishops, in return for a fractured pawn structure. By the time the game reached the middlegame it began to look as though Kramnik had an advantage, but just as quickly the game turned (22.Bb1!) and Kramnik surrendered his h pawn to untangle his pieces. However all this thinking sucks up time on the clock, and with only 3 minutes to reach move 40 Anand offered a draw, which Kramnik accepted. Anand also had to think about a draw offer on move 32 from Kramnik, which he accepted.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

2008 WCC Game 1

Game 1 of the 2008 Anand v Kramnik match was played last night (starting midnight Canberra time) and ended in a 32 move draw. It what may be a signpost for the direction of the match the opening was an Exchange Slav, which isn't particularly noted for its exciting middlegames. (There was a collective online groan when the first half dozen moves appeared on the internet) Nonetheless I found the game interesting enough, at least from a positional point of view.
Kramnik's choice of 8.Qb3 was intended to pressure Black's queenside pawns, and the exchange on c6 left Black with a decision about how best to recapture. Obviously taking back straight away loses the c pawn, meaning that Black resorts to the tactical device of 11. ... Rc8 (pinning the Bishop) to maintain material equality. Kramnik then pressed with 12.Ne5 and 14.Qb4, forcing Anand to sacrifice the b pawn, rather than submit to defending a weak c pawn after bxc6. However Anand had no difficulty in demonstrating that his better placed pieces (control of the c file, well placed bishop) made up for the missing pawn. The it was a simple matter of Kramnik returning the material for positional equality, and the game ended in a draw.
I watched the game at which seems to be carrying the moves in real time. The official site is only showing the games on a half hour delay (to encourage you to pay for the real time coverage).
Also another site where you can get post game coverage is, where GM Ian Rogers is reporting from Bonn. He is even planning to do some radio reports on Adam Spencer's Breakfast Show (702 AM in Sydney) although the scheduled time of 5:45am may be daunting for some.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

PNG Players in Action

A couple of recent events saw Papua New Guinea chess players in action.
Following on from the George Trundle Masters in Auckland New Zealand, was the NZ South Island Championship. The tournament finished in a 3 way tie between GM Darryl Johansen, GM Murray Chandler and IM Stephen Solomon. The title of South Island Champion went to Roger Nokes, who was a former member of the Belconnen Chess Club here in Canberra. Also playing in this 9 round swiss was former PNG Olympiad player Helmut Marko, who scored 5/9, finishing in a tie for 14th.
On the other side of the world the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL) got under way for the 2008/9 season. One of the new teams in the top flight was the White Rose team, managed by current PNG Olympiad player Rupert Jones. White Rose have started the season with 2 wins from the first 2 rounds defeating Guilford-A&DC 2 5.5-2.5 (despite being outrated by an average of 100 points) and the Sambuca Sharks 5-3. Playing for the White Rose team are a couple of well known players and authors in GM's Gawain Jones and Peter Wells, and IM Richard Palliser.
And speaking of Rupert Jones, he has informed me that are also doing extensive coverage of the Anand v Kramnik World Championship match. Chesscube is probably the most advanced multi-media chess site at the moment, and their ChessCube Cinema is certainly worth looking at. If I can stay awake long enough I'll see how the coverage goes and report back tomorrow.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Anand v Kramnik

The much anticipated World Championship match between Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik starts tomorrow in Bonn, Germany. Obviously there will be huge amounts of online coverage, so it is probably a question of which site you look at. I'll probably stick with for the multimedia coverage (Press conferences etc) while live game coverage is probably best handled on sites like (or even good old There is even premium multimedia coverage (ie you pay for it) through Chess Media Services. You can access this through
As for my tip, I'll stick with my earlier prediction of an Anand victory. Nonetheless I found Kasparov's recent comments on both players interesting. He favoured Kramnik, on the grounds that Kramnik seems to have less difficulty in recovering from setbacks.

Here is a game played between the 2 players in the 2001 Dortmund GM Tournament. While it was a win for Kramnik, it also showed Anand's ability to defend when needed. Hopefully the upcoming match will contain games as exciting as this one.

Kramnik,V (2802) - Anand,V (2794) [D27]
Dortmund SuperGM Dortmund (9), 21.07.2001

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 e6 4.e3 Nf6 5.Bxc4 c5 6.0-0 a6 7.Bb3 cxd4 8.exd4 White chooses to accept the IQP. Black will try and tie it down to d4, White will attempt to force it to d5. 8...Nc6 9.Nc3 Be7 10.Bg5 [ 10.d5 exd5 11.Nxd5 Nxd5 12.Bxd5 immediately liquidates the pawn, but White is looking for more than equality.] 10...0-0 11.Qd2 Na5 12.Bc2 b5 13.Qf4 Ra7 14.Rad1 Bb7 (D)
15.d5! Sacrificing the pawn to accelerate a direct attack on the Black king. 15...Bxd5 [ 15...exd5 16.Qh4 g6 17.Rfe1+-;
15...Nxd5 16.Nxd5 Bxd5 17.Rxd5! exd5 18.Bxh7+ Kxh7 19.Qh4+ Kg8 20.Bxe7 Qxe7 21.Ng5+-] 16.Nxd5 exd5 [ 16...Nxd5 17.Rxd5! exd5 18.Bxh7++-] 17.Qh4 h5 [ 17...h6 18.Bxh6 gxh6 19.Qxh6 followed by Rd4-h4] 18.Rfe1 Nc6 19.g4 Qd6 20.gxh5 Qb4 21.h6 Qxh4 22.Nxh4 Ne4 23.hxg7 Rc8 24.Bxe7 Nxe7 25.Bxe4 dxe4 26.Rxe4+- Kxg7 27.Rd6 Rc5 28.Rg4+ Kh7 29.Nf3 Ng6 30.Ng5+ Kg7 31.Nxf7 Rxf7 32.Rdxg6+ Kh7 33.R6g5 Rxg5 34.Rxg5 Rc7 35.a3 b4 36.axb4 Rc1+ 37.Kg2 Rb1 38.Ra5 Rxb2 39.Ra4 1-0

Sunday, 12 October 2008

A win for the good guys

It is a sad fact in Australian chess that most State Championships no longer attract the absolute top quality fields they did 40 or 50 years ago. In the case of the NSW State Championship only Greg Canfell seemed to be a regular participant over the last decade or so. As a reward for his continued support of the event he collected 56 NSW Championship titles.
This year the NSWCA, through the efforts of Brett Tindall, decided to try and reverse this trend. All the leading NSW players were invited directly and consequently the strongest field in a number of years was assembled. In fact it was strong enough to qualify as an IM Norm tournament, with 6/9 being the score required for an IM Norm. The titled players in the event included GM Dejan Antic, IM George Xie, and IM Tibor Karolyi.
And with an event far stronger that previous years, guess who turned out to be the winner? That's right, Greg Canfell. He finished with 6.5/9, scoring his third IM Norm, and earning his 67th NSW Championship.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

A chess riddle

The following game can be found in "Mastering the Chess Openings: Volume 1" by John Watson and is used to illustrate the advantage of development in the opening. There is an almost identical game given in "My System" by Aron Nimzowitsch, again addressing the need for development in the opening. The only difference in the moves played was that Nimzowitsch's opponent (only given as Amateur) played 9. ... cxd6 and the game continued 10.exd6 Nxf2 11.Qb3 Nxh1 12.Bxf7+ Kf8 13.Bg5 where the moves were once again in sync.
Now here is the riddle. Both players with the Black pieces resigned at the same point, yet while Libov's resignation was sensible, Nimzowitch's opponent should have played on. Why?

Estrin,Y - Libov [C54]
Moscow, 1944

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb6 7.d5 Ne7 8.e5 Ne4 9.d6 Nxf2 10.Qb3 Nxh1 11.Bxf7+ Kf8 12.Bg5 cxd6 13.exd6 1-0

Friday, 10 October 2008

Lucius Endzelins

Lucius Endzelins ranks very high on the list of great Australian CC players. After CJS Purdy won the first CC World Championship, Endzelins was the Australian representative in the 2nd World Championship, and finished in equal 2nd, half a point behind Viacheslav Ragozin
He played in 2 more World Championship finals, finishing 7th in both the 3rd and 5th World Championships.
The 5th World Championship Final was won by Hans Berliner and is most notable for the Estrin v Berliner game, which many consider the best game of chess ever played. Interestingly Estrin, who published a number of books on the Two Knights Defence, defended the White side of this opening not only against Berliner, but also Endzelins. Endzelins chose the Traxler to test Estrin, and held an advantage into the middlegame. However Estrin was able to avoid the worst and the game ended in a draw.

Estrin,Y - Endzelins,L [C57]
5th CC World Ch Final 6568 corr ICCF, 1965

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 Bc5 5.Nxf7 Bxf2+ 6.Kf1 Qe7 7.Nxh8 d5 8.exd5 Nd4 9.h3 Qc5(D)
10.Kxf2 Nxc2+ 11.d4 Qxc4 12.Na3 Nxa3 13.bxa3 Qxd5 14.dxe5 Qc5+ 15.Be3 Ne4+ 16.Kf3 Qf8+ 17.Bf4 g5 18.Qc1 Nc5 19.Nf7 Qxf7 20.Qxc5 Qxf4+ 21.Ke2 Be6 22.Rac1 Rd8 23.Rhd1 Rxd1 24.Kxd1 Qf1+ 25.Kc2 Qxg2+ 26.Kc3 Qxh3+ 27.Kb2 g4 28.Rc2 Qd3 29.Qxc7 Bf5 30.Qb8+ Qd8 31.Qxd8+ Kxd8 32.Rf2 Be4 33.Rf4 Bf3 34.Rf7 h5 35.Kc3 h4 36.Rh7 h3 37.Kd4 g3 38.Rxh3 g2 39.Rg3 Ke7 40.a4 ½-½

Thursday, 9 October 2008

ACT Lightning Championships

In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and probably elsewhere in Australia, the state lightning championship has normally been held at the completion of the Annual General Meeting of the state chess association. The rationale behind this is that it will attract more members to the AGM, although in practice either the opposite occurs (less players in the lightning because of the AGM) or players time their arrival for the completion of the AGM.
This year the ACT Lightning Championship is being held at a separate time, although soon after the AGM. By holding it as a stand alone event it also provides the opportunity to attract some extra sponsorship, and hopefully a larger field with bigger prizes. If you are interested in playing, here are the details

Venue: City Walk, Canberra City (where Street Chess meets)
Date: 25 October 2008 (Saturday after the AGM)
Time: 11:00 am for an 11:15 am start
Rounds: 11
Prize pool: $100 in sponsorship from Chicken Gourmet and King O'Malley's
+ entry fee collected on the day. (Depending on entries I expect $300+)
Entry Fee for ACTCA/ACTJCL Members: $10 for Adults, $5 for juniors
Entry Fee for non-members: $15 Adults, $10 Juniors

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

2008 Mind Sports Olympiad

The 2008 Mind Sports Olympiad is underway in Beijing, although the Australian chess teams haven't started their events as yet. The chess has kicked of with the Individual Blitz, with Martyn Kravtsiv (UKR) and Alexandra Kostenik (RUS) winning gold. In the Rapid Bu Xiangzhi (CHN) won for the host country in the Mens, and Antoaneta Stefanova (BUL) won the Womens.
The teams event starts on the 13th of October, with a single day Blitz, and then the Rapid begins the next day. Results and coverage can be found on the MSO Website.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Dreaming of Nimzowitsch

I've finished my first read of Aron Nimzowitsch's "My System" and am about to re-read it, just to reinforce what I've learned. Clearly what I have learned is seeping into my sub-conscious, as I have begun to have dreams about chess games where I have applied some of the concepts in the book.
In one game I beat a rival from my junior days, Justin Marshall, by exploiting a hole he left on e3. Even in a dream this is somewhat of an achievement as Justin won a couple of ACT Junior Championships (beating me in to second in 1983), as well as holding a 3-0 score over many times NSW Champion Greg Canfell. (In Greg's defence these games were played early on in his career).
I'd like to show the game I dreamed, but I am unable to reconstruct it. It went for around 20 moves, but as the White king was on h2 at one point, and I was able to put it in check by moving my own king from h6 to g6, uncovering the rook on h8, I'm not sure it would make much sense. Instead I'll show a game from "My System", where Nimzowitsch happily surrenders the 2 bishops in return for control of the d file, and threats against Black's weak pawns.

Nimzowitsch - Pritzel
Copenhagen 1922

1.d4 g6 2.e4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Be3 Nf6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Qd2 e5 7.dxe5 dxe5 8.0-0-0 Qxd2+ 9.Rxd2 c6 [ 9...Nc6 10.h3 Nd4!? ( 10...Be6 11.Nf3 h6 12.Rhd1 a6) 11.Nf3! ( 11.Bxd4 exd4 12.Rxd4 Ng4!) 11...Nxe2+± ( 11...Nxf3±) ] 10.a4 Ng4 11.Bxg4 Bxg4 12.Nge2 Nd7 13.Rhd1 Nb6 14.b3 Bf6 15.f3 Be6 16.a5 Nc8 17.Na4 b6 18.Rd3 [ 18.axb6 axb6 19.Bxb6 ( 19.Nxb6 Nxb6 20.Bxb6 Bg5) 19...Bg5] 18...bxa5 [ 18...Rb8] 19.Rc3 Ne7 20.Rc5 Rfb8 21.Nec3 a6 22.Rxa5 Kg7 23.Nb6 Ra7 24.Nca4 Rab7 25.Rxa6 Nc8 26.Nxc8 Rxc8 27.Nc5 Rbc7 28.Rd6 Rd8 29.Nxe6+ 1-0

Monday, 6 October 2008

Where did the money go?

One of the big questions that arises from the current economic roller coaster ride certain parts of the community seem to be on is "Where did the money go?" With banks collapsing, investment firms being sold for a song, and homes being abandoned by people unable to pay them off, money that people believed was there seems to have disappeared. So who has it?
It turns out that my wife does. According to the receipt on the right, after purchasing 2 litres of milk, she received over 9 trillion dollars in change. Attempts by me to access some of that change have been unsuccessful however, as she claims she can't remember where she put her handbag.

(NB Identity of the store where she brought the milk has been deliberately obscured)

Sunday, 5 October 2008

George Trundle Masters

IM Stephen Solomon and GM Darryl Johansen shared first place in the George Trundle Masters, held in New Zealand over the past week. The two Australian Olympiad squad members scored 6/9 ahead of Australian Women's Olympiad Captain IM Andras Toth who finished 3rd on 5.5.
Oddly enough Johansen's only loss was to Stephen Lukey, who finished in a tie for last place on 3 points.
Full results and games can be found on the New Zealand Chess Results Page.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Mothers, what can you do?

My mother recently spent a week holidaying in Thailand. While she was there she noticed a fellow resort guest wearing a shirt with a prominent chess logo. Given that her favourite son (ie me) played chess she decided to strike up a conversation. It went approximately like this

Mum: Excuse me, are you a chess player?
Chess player: Yes I am.
M: My son plays chess. Are you a good chess player?
C: I've been the US Champion 4 times and also won the World Junior Championship
M: Oh. What is your name?
C: Yasser Seirawan
M: I wonder if my son has heard of you? He is playing for Papua New Guinea at the next Chess Olympiad.
C: I'm pretty sure he has.

And Yasser is correct. I have heard of him (and have a number of his books, shared a boat ride in Instanbul and communicated with him when I was working on Australian Chess Forum).

But clearly he was a good sport as he even accepted a request to write a note of support to the PNG team for the Olympiad.

Dear Shaun,
wishing you and the Papua New Guinea team the very best!
Sincerely yours
Yasser Seirawan

So if you are reading this, thanks Yasser, and I guess, thanks mum.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Thinking Big

The Myer-Tan Grand Prix series is undergoing a name change for 2009. Starting next year it will be known as the Yulgilbar-Think Big Australian Chess Grand Prix. The sponsors of the event (the Tan family and the Myer family) remain the same, but they have asked the series be named after two horse racing studs they each own.
The choice of the name Think Big resonates for two reasons. The obvious reason is that as chess players I guess that is what we strive to do. The other reason is that ever since I pulled Think Big's name from the hat in a Melbourne Cup sweep when I was in 2nd grade, he has been my favourite race horse. He won the Melbourne Cup in 1974 (when Leilani was the class favourite) and then repeated the win the following year.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

An Invaluable Endgame Resource

Courtesy of Australian Games Archivist Paul Dunn, comes word of an online source for the endgame study magazine EG. EG was founded in 1965 by John Roycroft and has published outstanding endgame studies since then. Issues 1 to 152 are available in pdf format at
The study shown here is the very first study from the very first issue, and fittingly it was composed by magazine editor John Roycroft himself. It is White to play and win (NB In studies the with this stipulation the aim is to reach a 'winning' position. Achieving a terminal position, eg mate, is not always necessary)

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

2009 O2C Doeberl Cup - Entries Open

Entries for the 2009 O2C Doeberl Cup are now being accepted on the tournament website ( As the site for the 2009 tournament only went live this afternoon there are only a couple of entries for the Premier, but they are GM's Merab Gagunashvili (Georgia) and Abhijit Kunte (India).
Full tournament information is available from the website including details of the various events (Premier, Under 2000, Under 1600, Under 1200 and the Seniors), as well as the tournament conditions in operation for next year.

Next years event will see
  • The introduction of a "fighting fund" to reward combative chess in the final round of the Premier
  • Chess 960 making a debut
  • GM Ian Rogers providing commentary throughout the tournament
  • A reduced entry fee for the Seniors (over 50 years) event
Importantly there are limits on the size of the fields for each of the tournaments so to ensure that you get into the tournament you wish to play (eg the Premier) it is far better to enter as soon as possible, rather than leave it up to chance.

(Usual disclaimer: I am a paid official at this event)