Saturday, 28 February 2009

2009 O2C Doeberl Cup - Indian Team Playing

The All India Chess Federation is sending a 13 player team to this years O2C Doeberl Cup and Sydney International Open. The team consists of 6 men (2 GM's and 4 IM's) and 7 women (4 WGM's and 3 WFM's). Along with GM's Abhijit Kunte and Neelotpal Das, the Indian contingent is the biggest overseas entry for the event. (Details for all players at the Doeberl Cup website under 'Entries')
As of today the O2C Doeberl Premier has 7 GM's, 10 IM's, 4 WGM's, 3FM's and 3 WFM's. This is over 50% of the current entry of 50 players.Of course this make earning IM and GM norms far easier, as the tournament is now exempted from the 33% overseas players requirment for norms, as well as giving players more titled players to play against.
With the entries for the Premier reaching the 50 mark, there are only 30 places left in the 80 player field. Entries are on a first come first served basis, and if last year is a guide, there will be a rush to fill the remaining places (the entry list was full about 4 weeks out from last years event).
The other tournaments are also starting to fill up, with 110 players pre-registered 6 weeks out from the start of the event.

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

Friday, 27 February 2009

Topalov wins 4.5-2.5

Veselin Topalov has won the World Chess Challenge over Gata Kamsky, following a dramatic game 7 of their match in Sofia, Bulgaria. Topalov's win gives him an insurmountable 4.5-2.5 lead, and sets up a match with World Champion Viswanathan Anand.
As in Game 5 Topalov opened with 1.e4 and Kamsky replied with the French Defence. Although it was another Tarrasch Variation, Topalov chose a variation where he had a 3:2 majority of pawns on the queenside, rather than inflict and isolated queen pawn on Kamsky. On move 16 Topalov chose to sacrifice his b pawn, and was rewarded with both activity, and extra chances as Kamsky once again ran short of time. However he almost threw it away by pursuing a policy of playing trying to play quickly in Kamsky's time trouble as on move 31 Kamsky could have reached a winning position with b4! Instead he played two poor moves in a row and suddenly Topalov was on top. Kamsky fought on, reaching the first time control (move 40) but by that stage he was down a rook. At move 45 he decided he'd seen enough, and he resigned the game and the match.


Thursday, 26 February 2009

Linares 1983

Speaking of Linares, I came across a book covering the 1983 tournament. The book was written be renowned chess journalist Dimitrije Bjelica, and the tournament itself was won by former World Champion Boris Spassky (still listed as USSR on the crostable). Spassky finished on 6.5/10 (+3=7) and although 40% of the games were decisive (22 out of 55) this was mainly due to an out of form Bent Larsen who score 2 wins and 8 losses. Even fighting players like Tony Miles managed 7 draws from his 10 games.
Karpov and Andersson tied for second on 6, with the next 6 players on 5.5 or 5. The top 6 players only played 1 decisive game amongst each other, which was Karpov defeating Sax.
The following game was Spassky's first win of the event, and the final position deserves a diagram.

Timman,J (2605) - Spassky,B (2605) [C73]
Linares Linares, 1983

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.Bxc6+ bxc6 6.d4 exd4 7.Qxd4 c5 8.Qd3 g6 9.Nc3 Bg7 10.Bf4 Ne7 11.0-0-0 0-0 12.Qd2 Re8 13.Bh6 Bh8 14.h4 Rb8 15.a3 Be6 16.Ng5 Qc8 17.Nxe6 Qxe6 18.Kb1 Rb7 19.Ka1 Reb8 20.Rb1 Nc6 21.f4 Bd4 22.Qd3 a5 23.Qh3 f5 24.Rhe1 Nb4 25.axb4 axb4 26.Na4 Ra7 27.Qb3 c4 28.Qa2 Rba8 29.exf5 Rxa4(D) 0-1

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Linares 2009

With the World Chess Challenge starting first, the annual Linares tournament kind of slipped under my radar. They have already reached round 5 (of 14 rounds) and Lev Aronian and Alexander Grischuk share the lead on 3.5. In terms of the 'action quotient' only 30% of the games have been decisive (6 out of 20), although there have been some quite hard fought draws.
Live coverage (plus various other links) can be found here.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Topalov hits back

Veselin Topalov has hit straight back in his match against Gata Kamsky in Sofia, Bulgaria. Kamsky won in game 4 to tie the match 2-2, but Topalov's win in game 5 now puts him a point ahead.
The first surprise of the game was that Topalov was White, rather than Kamsky, as I (and many others) had assumed. Apparently both players had agreed during earlier negotiation to keep a strict alternation of colour throughout out the match, rather than reversing the alternation at the half way point.
Topalov also sprung a minor surprise with his choice of 1.e4 and Kamsky replied with 1. .. e6. Topalov chose to play the Tarrasch variation and a typical Isolated Queen Pawn position was soon reached. Once again the middle game was all about the position manoeuvring that GM's seem to do effortlessly, (and the rest of us manage to screw up), but just before the first time control, Kamsky miscalculated and dropped the d pawn. Missing the toughest defence he dropped a second pawn, and Topalov won the subsequent queen ending.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Cheating accusations at Aeroflot Open

Chessvibes is reporting that 2009 Aeroflot Open top seed Shakhryiar Mamedyarov has withdrawn from the event following his round 7 loss to Igor Kurnosov. Mamedyarov had asked the Chief Arbiter Geurt Gijssen to watch his opponent during the game, as Kurnosov was leaving the board after every move. He then made an official protest at the conclusion of the game, and withdrew from the event after no action was taken.

Now whether the accusations are true or baseless is not for me to decide, but it does identify a challenge for organisers in the future. Not so much players cheating (although that is worry enough) but the accusations that players are cheating. Anyone who has been involved in junior chess is probably already familiar with this issue, where any behaviour out of the ordinary by parents, right down to smiling at their own child, is considered 'proof' that cheating is taking place. Contract Bridge historically had similar issues, where players had to remember to hold their cards the same way, make sure they placed their cigarettes in the same corner of the ash tray etc, lest they be accused of signaling their partner.
Some are suggesting the way to deal with this is by searching every player etc etc. Hopefully it will never have to come to this. Instead the solution may instead lie with the organisers control of the playing environment. Already players are already restricted in where they can go, and what they can do (eg not leave the board when it is their move) and adequate enforcement of these rules is enough to prevent most 'suspicious' behaviour. There may have to be a more stringent area that the players must remain inside of during the game, such as playing room, designated toilet, refreshment table and arbiters desk only.

Here is the game in question. It is worth noting that (a) it was played between players rated 2724 (Mamedyarov) and 2602 (Kurnosov) and (b) it was theory up till move 16.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. f3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nb6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Be3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O f5 10. h4 fxe4 11. h5 gxh5 12. d5 Ne5 13. Bh6 Nec4 14. Qg5 Rf7 15. Bxc4 Nxc4 16. Rd4 Qd6N 17. Bxg7 Rxg7 18. Qxh5 Qf4+ 19. Kb1 Bf5 20. fxe4 Bg4 21. Nge2 Qd2 0-1

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Kamsky levels match with win in Game 4

Gata Kamsky levelled the World Chess Challenge match with Veselin Topalov by defeating him in the 4th game of the match. The game began as a Ruy Lopez, but unlike Game 2, Topalov reverted to more familiar lines with 3. ... a6 (rather than 3. ... Nf6). After the usual Ruy manoeuvring, Kamsky sacrificed a pawn on move 26, which paid dividends as firstly he was able to develop on the queenside, and then he won back the sacrificed pawn, and then a second one just as the players reached the first time control. The loss of the pawn probably affected the rest of Topalov's game as he felt after the game that he could have defended the ending better.
The win by Kamsky was his first ever over Topalov, and sets up an exciting second half of the match. After the rest day, Kamsky has another White, as the order of colours is reversed at the halfway point to stop the same player (in this case Topalov) from having White after every rest day.
Additional coverage of the match can be found at the USChess where GM Ian Rogers is doing the reporting.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Bloggers aren't accurate!

Or more correctly, there exists some bloggers who are inaccurate.
This is almost a rerun of my posts Computers aren't accurate, which I made last week. It turns out that the study I used as an example of computers 'believing' the wrong outcome is probably cooked, and maybe as far back as 1952.
This was pointed out to me by Milan Ninchich (as well as being suggested by Mark Weeks of Firstly, White needs to hang onto the f pawn (contrary to my initial suggestion) as otherwise the King will be driven into the corner in a similar manner to the 'box' method in KQvK mates. If that happens the white bishop on f7 is forced to move, and white will lose wither the bishop of the g pawn, and eventually the game. So the soundness of the study revolves around whether White can hang onto the f pawn.
Some discussion/analysis on the rybka board shows that White cannot do so, meaning that Black wins. After 1.g5+ Kh7 2.Bf7 c2 3.Kh5 c1(Q) 4.h6+ Kh8 5.Kg4 Black plays 5. ... Qc3! and will eventually win the f pawn. The analysis (not mine mind you) can be found at the Rybka link.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Edward Naoumov banned for 2 years

The Australian Chess Federation has handed down its decision in the case of Edward Naoumov, who was caught using a hand held chess computer at the 2009 Australian Open Under 1600 event.
The motion, which passed 13-0 (no abstentions), read

That in light of the seriousness of the offence of using computer assistance to cheat during the Australian Open event that Edward Naoumov be banned for a period of 2 years commencing 1st February 2009 from participation in any ACF, Affiliated State Associations and Associated Bodies events or activities.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Kamsky v Topalov - Game 2

So much for my fearless predictions. Having plumbed for a win by Kamsky in this game, Topalov cleans him up in 32 moves. Topalov chose the Bc5 variation of the Berlin Defence, which has been played by Szabo, Pachman and Spassky in the 1950's and 60's.
The middlegame contained a lot of attack and counterattack, with both players preferring to meat a threat with a counter threat. However calculating the tactics cost Kamsky a lot of time on his clock and he lost on time just as his position had finally collapsed.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Kamsky v Topalov - Game 1

Game 1 between Gata Kamsky and Veselin Topalov has ended in a draw. The opening was a Grunfeld, which Kamsky plays (along with the Slav), while Topalov has plenty of experience playing against it. Topalov spiced things up by sacrificing a pawn, and trying for a mate on h7. Kamsky defended well and the game ended in a draw by repetition.
Like Game 1 of the Anand v Kramnik match, this is worth playing over, as the ideas for both players are fairly straightforward.
The next game begins at tonight at midnight AEST (ie Canberra time), and I'm tipping a win for Kamsky with the White pieces!

Testing, Testing ...

For some reason my posts have disappeared from my blog! This is a test to see if anything shows up

No, wait. I can see them again (How strange)

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Play it again, Humphrey

"Play it once, Sam, for old times' sake" is the correct quotation from the movie "Casablanca", not "Play it again, Sam". This I know as it is Humphrey Bogart week on the classic movie channel I often watch. Yesterday it was "Casablanca" and tonight "The Maltese Falcon".
Of course it is reasonably well known the Humphrey Bogart was a fair chess player. But in my 3,000,000+ game database, I only have 4 games with his name attached to them. There is the well known loss to Paul Limbos (played on the set of The African Queen), as well as a loss in a blindfold game to George Koltanowski. The only wins I have for him are against Lauren Bacall, and a CC game against NN (ie Not kNown). Well I assume it was by Bogart, although unreliable information has a habit of sneaking into large databases. But it is an original game at least (ie not a game played by others and mislabelled), especially after Whites second move.

Bogart,H - N.N. [A45]
corr, 1933

1.d4 Nf6 2.g4 Nxg4 3.f3 Nf6 4.e4 d6 5.Be3 g6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Qd2 Nc6 8.0-0-0 0-0 9.Bd3 e5 10.d5 Nb4 11.Bc4 a5 12.a3 Na6 13.h4 Nh5 14.Nge2 f5 15.Bg5 Bf6 16.f4 exf4 17.Nxf4 Nxf4 18.Qxf4 fxe4 19.Bh6 Re8 20.Nxe4 Bg7 21.Bxg7 Kxg7 22.h5 Bf5 23.hxg6 Bxg6 24.Qh6+ Kg8 25.Rdg1 Qe7 26.Rxg6+ hxg6 27.Qh8+ Kf7 28.Rh7# 1-0

Monday, 16 February 2009

A chess led economic revival

As part of the Australian governments 'stimulus' package, there is a significant amount of money being spent on schools. Apparently schools (a) have a fair amount of discretion on how it is spent and (b) if my children's school is any guide, they welcome requests from parents.
So my contribution to the economic recovery of this country is to suggest that the school purchase a dozen tournament sets and boards, 4 DGT clocks, and if they have anything left over, a giant chess set for the playground. Indeed if any of you have school aged children, a similar suggestion to your local school would (a) give schools chess a big boost in this country and (b) aid the national economy through helping the chess economy. But if you wish to do this, do it quick, as suggestions need to be in before the end of the week.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Finishing the jigsaw

Putting a chess magazine together is a lot like doing a jigsaw puzzle. Probably the biggest difficulty (apart from having enough copy for each issue), is to lay it out in such a way that every page is filled, without unsightly white spaces (the "white space" problem). While experience has taught me some tricks, I dream of an automated layout feature becoming available for Open Office.
For readers of the Australian Correspondence Chess Quarterly, you will be pleased to know that I've finished the February issue (albeit 2 weeks late) and it should be in the post later this week.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Computers aren't accurate

Or more correctly, there exists some computers who are inaccurate (nb this isn't a reference to measurement)
The study on the right was published way back in 1929 on the magazine "64". It is White to play and draw, and White does this by trapping the Black King on h8. The drawing line is pretty straight forward ie 1.g5+ Kh7 2.Bf7 c2 (otherwise Bb3 wins!) 3.Kh5! c1(Q) 4.g6+ Kh8 5.Kg4=
With king trapped on h8 Black cannot mate with a lone queen, therefore draw.
However, in the book "Modern Chess Analysis" by Robin Smith, there was a claim that Hiarcs had found a mate for Black, simply by creating a zugzwang with the White King on g5/h5. In his review of the book, Tim Harding (in Chessmail) said he couldn't repeat Hiarcs claim, and I haven't been able to either. Indeed I can't see why the White king needs to stay anywhere near g5 or h5 as hanging on to the f pawn doesn't look necessary and both Qxf7 or Qxg6 simply lose. If I had this position in a game I'd head for a1, just to make a point.
However if you plug this position into your computer it would probably find the right line (my copy of Fritz 9 does very quickly), but then still claim Black is winning (as he has a Queen after all). And for those who have delved a little into logic, any reasoner who believes something (in this case, Black is winning) which turns out to be false (as it is in this case), can be termed "inaccurate"

Friday, 13 February 2009

New rules ready to go

The proposed changes to the FIDE Laws of Chess that were agreed upon at the last meeting of the FIDE Rules and Tournament Regulations Committee (RTRC) meeting, are about to go to the FIDE Presidential Board for approval.
On the contentious 'instant default' rule, there are two proposals to be submitted. The first is the one agreed to by the RTRC, which allows the organisers to set a forfeit time for players arriving after the scheduled starting time (although sadly the proposed default time is still 0 minutes), while the other proposal is no discretion for the organisers and an instant loss for all late arriving players.
The other issue that was left up in the air at the meeting was whether rules for Chess 960 should be incorporated in the FIDE Laws of Chess. At this stage the comments from some members of the committee have been against including Chess 960 (as no other chess variants are included), with not comments in favour. I have suggested that there be a sub-committee of the RTRC which can deal with chess variants, publishing the rules as a separate document to the official lawns of chess (FIDE Laws of Chess Variants).

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Rook sac's on f7

In this post I made mention of a game where I sacrificed a rook on f7 and destroyed Black's position. Although it was played in a casual game (with a time limit of G/20m+10s) I was still pleased with the whole line.

(** Edit: I am getting forgetful in my old age. This game has appeared before on this blog, around June 2008!)

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Kamsky v Topalov

The World Chess Challenge between Gata Kamsky and Veselin Topalov gets starts in under a week. The 8 game match is to decide who gets to challenge current World Champion Viswanathan Anand is the next World Championship Match.
The event is being held in Sofia, Bulgaria, which must favour Topalov. Another thing in Topalov's favour is his +4=4-0 record against Kamsky. Taking both these factors into account I am tipping a win to Topalov, 4.5-2.5. Just to be bold, my extended prediction has Kamsky ahead 2.5-1.5 after 4 games, with 3 draws and a win for Kamsky in game 2 or 3 (whichever he has White in). The Topalov will rattle off 3 wins in games 5-7 to finish in front.
Full coverage of the match can be found at the link above.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

A tricky sacrifice against the Najdorf

While preparing for an online tournament I looked at a line in the Najdorf which may catch a few players unaware. White has been scoring well using the English attack against the Najdorf, so adventurous Black players sometimes choose to put the question to bishop on e3 with 6. ... Ng4. The book lines involve moving the bishop to g5 or c1 (offering a repetition after Nf6), but doing neither and instead playing 7.Bc4 invites a capture on e3. A couple of books I looked at then recommended 7. ... Nxe3 8.fxe3 e6 9.O-O Be7 However I've played at least one game where Rxf7 destroyed Black in a similar position (it was actually a BDG) and so I was suspicious of the recommendation. Turns out I had good reason as 10.Rxf7 looks to give White either an advantage or at worst a draw. And as Black has to play precisely to avoid getting mated, it may be a good practical line for White, especially against opponents who read the wrong sort of books!
As for my game, it turned out I was Black and decided not to invite the sacrifice, playing 9. ... Nc6.
Here is an example line where Black hasn't been mated but needs to work hard to hang on.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 Ng4 7.Bc4 Nxe3 8.fxe3 e6 9.0-0 Be7(D)
10.Rxf7 Kxf7 11.Qg4 Bf6 12.Nxe6 Bxe6 13.Qxe6+ Kg6 14.Qg4+ Kh6 15.Qh3+ Bh4 16.Rf1

Monday, 9 February 2009

2009 Newcastle Open

The 2009 Newcastle Open is being held this weekend (14th and 15th of JanuaryFebruary). It is a 7 round swiss (one section) with a time limit of G/60+10s. A large and strong field is expected for this tournament.
Full details from the Newcastle District Chess Association website.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Is it better to say nothing?

If you execute a successful opening trap, do you show it off to other chess players or do you keep it under your hat for next time? In this electronic age it is harder to do the latter anyway, but I am sure that there are those that try.
Of course, if you are generating content for a blog or chess magazine it is a lot harder, so in my case I am usually happy to publish, figuring that the readership is small enough to keep my secrets for me.
As an example I finished a game today which was decided by an opening trick in Van Geet's Opening. The diagrammed position was after Black's 4th move, and is a Scotch, except for the fact that White has not played 1.e4 instead replacing it with 1.Nc3. This is quite a common line when Black meets 1.Nc3 with 1. ... e5 and until now I've usually exchanged on c6 and and then played 6.e4 (reaching a normal Scotch). However 5.Be3 is a tricky move and my opponent obliged by exchanging on d4 (rather than 5. ... Bb6!). As with all good tricks a plausible idea (7. ... Qf6) is met with a surprising reply (8.Qe3+!). My opponent blocked with the queen on e7 but after 9.Qg3 the double attack (g7 and c7) nets a pawn.

Press,S - Beare,N [A00]
Chessworld Friendly, 02.2009

1.Nc3 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 (D) 5.Be3 Nxd4 6.Bxd4 Bxd4 7.Qxd4 Qf6 8.Qe3+ Qe7 9.Qg3 and White won.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Is there no end to his talents?

The winner of the 2009 O2C Doeberl Cup T-Shirt design competition has been announced, and it is none other than IM David Smerdon. Not content with recently walking off with first prize at the 2009 Queenstown Chess Classic, he also beat the field of t-shirt designers with the slogan

Chess Ninjas: We own the Knight"

The prize for the best design was free entry into the event, but as he already recieves that (by virtue of being an IM) he will recive a gourmet hamper instead!

(Standard disclaimer: I am a paid official for this event)

Friday, 6 February 2009

A coaching game

Here is a game I use quite a lot in the various groups I coach. It is by Joseph Blackburne from the 19th Century and embodies all the useful things that you want new players to master. Quick development and control of the centre followed by a mating attack! I've left in the comments I use, which point out the good and bad ideas in the opening. (NB There is normally some shading between the extremes of good and bad, but for the point of the exercise I have left it black and white)

Blackburne,J - Gundry,W [B15]

1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 Challenging control of the centre (Good) 3.d4 Playing e4 and d4 in the opening (Good) 3...dxe4 4.Nxe4 Moving the same minor piece twice in the opening (Bad) 4...Nf6 5.Nxf6+ exf6 Ending up with double pawns. (Bad) 6.Nf3 Bd6 7.Bd3 Bg4 8.0-0 Getting the king to safety and developing the rook. (Good) 8...Qc7 9.Re1+ Putting a rook on an open file (Good) 9...Kf8 No longer able to castle (Bad) 10.h3 Bxf3 Moving the same minor piece twice in the opening. (Bad) 11.Qxf3 Nd7 12.c3 Re8 13.Bd2 Connecting rooks (Good) 13...Rxe1+ 14.Rxe1 Kg8?(D) At this point the opening stage would be over and we move into the middle game. 15.Re8+ Nf8 16.Qf5! Qb6 17.Qd7 [ 17.Bf4 was missed by Blackburne here. 17...Bxf4 ( 17...Qc7 18.Rxf8+ Kxf8 19.Bxd6+ Qxd6 20.Qc8+ Ke7 21.Qxh8 wins a piece.) 18.Qxf4 and Qd6 is a huge threat. 18...g6 a) 18...g5 19.Qxf6 h6 20.Bc4 Rh7 (a) 20...Qc7 21.Qg6#) 21.Qg6+ Rg7 22.Bxf7+ Kh8 23.Rxf8+ Rg8 24.Rxg8#; b) 18...c5 19.Qb8 g6 20.Rxf8+ Kg7 21.Rxh8; 19.Qh6] 17...Qc7 18.Qf5 Qb6 Hoping for a draw by repetition. 19.Bc4 Qc7 20.Bh6 c5 21.Qg4 g6 22.Qf4! as capturing the queen leads to mate on f8. 1-0

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Even in Correspondence, you've got to know your traps

Losing quickly at Correspondence Chess (CC) probably happens as frequently as losing at over the board (OTB) chess, but normally for different reasons. Most quick losses in CC can be attributed to 'clerical errors', where the wrong move is written down or transmitted.
However here is a collection of CC games which are won (and lost) in the more traditional style. The criteria I used to find these (from the Opening Master CC Database), was decisive games in 8 moves where the winner played a queen sacrifice. If you play through them you will see a number of familiar ideas, either as copies of previously sprung traps, or as a variation on a known trap.

Hnatovsky,N (2308) - Feyes,R (1360) [B12]
TE.2004.P.01602 IECG, 22.09.2004

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Nd7 4.c3 f6 5.Bd3 fxe5 6.Qh5+ g6 7.Qxg6+ hxg6 8.Bxg6# 1-0

Smyth,P - Hargreaves,R [C41]
CL7-1999.15 IECC email, 1999

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 Bg4 4.h3 Bh5 5.Nc3 c5 6.Nxe5 Bxd1 7.Bxf7+ Ke7 8.Nd5# 1-0

Egea,F - Uzcanga,J [B30]
CServe email CServe email, 1995

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Bc4 d6 5.0-0 Bg4 6.h3 Bh5 7.Nxe5 Bxd1 8.Bxf7+ 1-0

Twigg - Gray,E [D21]
corr corr, 1947

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.e3 b6 5.Bxc4 Na5 6.Qa4+ Bd7 7.Ne5 Bxa4 8.Bxf7# 1-0

Steindorf,A - Evans,H [E01]
ICCF corr, 1959

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.cxd5 Qxd5 5.Nf3 Bb4+ 6.Nc3 Ne4 7.Bd2 Nxd2 8.Nxd5 Nxf3# 0-1

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Canberra Club Season begins for 2009

With the summer break over, most of the Canberra chess clubs are restarting for the year. For those not familiar with Australia's capital city, it has a population a little over 300,000, and supports 4 chess clubs, and 3 junior clubs.
Here are the meeting details for each of the evening clubs

  • Tuggeranong Chess Club - Monday nights 7:00 pm Tuggeranong Vikings Rugby Union Club, Rucardo St Wanniassa
  • ANU Chess Club - Wednesday nights 7:30 pm Asian Studies Building - off Childers St, Australian National University
  • Canberra Chess Club - Wednesday nights 7:30 pm - City Club, Garema Place, Canberra City
  • Belconnen Chess Club - Fridays nights 7:30 pm - Belconnen Community Centre, Belconnen
There is also Street Chess, which meets every Saturday 11:00am outdoors at City Walk, Canberra City.

The ANU Chess Club got off to a good start with 20 players taking part in the opening night lightning tournament. First prize was shared between Lee Forace and Miles Patterson who scored 7/9 ahead of a strong field.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

To the death

Last year I jokingly suggested that FIDE should look at removing the right to resign a game from the rules of the game. Less than a year later, someone has done exactly that.
Not FIDE as such, but the Iranian organisers of the "Mate of the King" match between GM Anatoly Karpov and GM Ghaem Maghami. In the tournament regulations players were not allowed to offer or agree to draws, and were forbidden to resign. In the words of the organisers "all games should continue until the last playable move on the board". In a losing position players were required to keep moving until mate. Draws were by stalemate, 50 moves and repetition only.
Of course their is one big hole in the "no resigning" rule. As the games were being played under a time limit, a losing player could simply let their clock run down. Simply getting up and walking off may be another option, although you aren't supposed to leave the board while it is your move.
Anyway it seemed an interesting experiment although I could hardly see the concept catching on. As for the match, home town boy Ghaem Maghami won the blitz match 6.5-5.5 after the Classical and Rapid matches were both drawn 2-2. And despite the regulations there were 5 games that ended in draws, all by repetition, with one finishing as early as the 32nd move.

Monday, 2 February 2009

If you pay peanuts ....

Every tournament needs an arbiter, although the reason why isn't always appreciated by the players. To most chess players an arbiter is responsible for doing the pairings, handling results and dealing with disputes. To most arbiters (at least in Australia), this is only a part of their job, and sometimes only a small part.
In my experience, most of the work I do as a tournament arbiter goes into running the event. This involves tasks such as room layout, making sure the equipment is set up and ready for use, getting the rounds started on time, calculating prizes etc etc. I do this on behalf of tournament organisers (unless I'm organising the event myself), but in almost all instances, they leave it up to me to run things my way.
I guess this is mainly because arbiters usually have experience in running a number of events, while most event organisers only organise 1 or 2 tournaments a year. And this is why arbiters are usually the only people on the organising team that get paid, while everyone else volunteers their time for the love of the game.
A number of years a go I heard about an article titled "The arbiter always finishes third". I didn't get to read the article but it was based on the observation that an arbiters remuneration is equivalent to third prize in an event. In some events I direct this is true, while in others, not so. In fact my usual payment for an event (and I can't speak for anyone else) is $100 per day. To me this seems to be the right balance between what tournament budgets usually stretch to, and what arbiting/organising skills are usually worth (ie it would be nice to be paid more but events usually run close to the bone). However I know some arbiters feel that this rate is too low, and this is a contributing factor to whether they direct tournaments or not.
Now I could run on for another 20 paragraphs on issues such as formal arbiter qualifications (none required in Australia) or a list of official National arbiters (none exists in Australia) but that is for another time. Instead I'll just wonder about the answer to the following question. "If you pay arbiters more, will you get better arbiters or just more arbiters?"

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Never resign!

The diagrammed position occurred in an Australian Junior Championship a number of years ago. It is black to move and clearly White is lost, and had been for some moves. However, White chose to play on and was rewarded with 69. ... c3?? when after 70.Rg6! Black played a few more moves before agreeing to a draw (as White either checks forever with the rook, or is stalemated if Black takes it off the board).
That half point turned out to be quite significant as the player with the White pieces tied for first in the event and then won the playoff to become Australian Under 12 Champion. I'll leave it as a small puzzle as to who it was, but since that event they have had (and continue to have) a very succesful chess career.

Open Office 3.0

Yet another reason to use Open Office (and to upgrade to 3.0 if you already do). Apart from the usual goodness (such as easy creation of pdf documents), the new release has built in support for the new Microsoft .docx format, which most versions of Microsoft Word don't even have!