Sunday, 31 May 2009

Things I've learned from WolframAlpha

WolframAlpha is a new 'computational knowledge engine' from the same person/group that developed Mathematica. Despite comments in the IT media, it isn't a competitor to google, but is instead a a tool to find you the answer to questions, rather than finding where you can find the answer to questions.
Of course it is early days but I've already learnt new things about chess and related topics. Firstly 'chess' is also a name for Bromegrass (a type of grass). It also has a connection to Pymetrozine, although I know not what that is, or what the connection is based on.
70,095 people have the surname 'Fischer' in the United States, which makes it the 419th most common surname in that country. By comparison, typing in 'kasparov' actually gets you biographical information on the 13th World Champion.
And if you search for the meaning of the word 'Checkmate' you get quite a bit of information on its linguistic roots, as well as its usage. It even lists some broader, related terms, including the perceptive 'crush'

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Australian Chess Brilliancies

"Australian Chess Brilliancies" is a new release from Kevin Casey, covering some of the most brilliant games of chess played by Australian players. The book contains 29 well annotated games, from Sztern v Purdy 1974 to Mijatovic v West, played earlier this year. The leading lights of Australian chess over the last 35 years are well represented, and in the introduction to each game, Casey provides a brief biography of the players involved.
As an added bonus, Casey provides his own thoughts on what constitutes a 'brilliancy', demonstrating examples from his own games (an authors prerogative I guess), as well as two excellent games from that (non-Australian) master tactician, Rashid Nezhmetdinov. Adding to the historical features of the book, Casey also includes a list Australian Championship title holders (including the Australian Open and Junior events).
I found the book both entertaining and informative, and would recommend it as an addition to anyone's chess library. At $19.95 (plus $3.00 postage in Australia) it is also an affordable work, either as a gift for the chess play in your family, or as a present for yourself. Australian Chess Brilliancies can be ordered directly from the publisher Kimberly Publications PO Box 6095 Upper Mount Gravatt Qld 4122 Australia

(** I was provided with a complimentary copy of the book for this review by the author **)

Here is the most recent game in the collection, a brilliancy played by Guy West in the 2009 Melbourne Club Championship. However if you wish to see the annotated version, then you need to buy the book!

Mijatovic,B v West,G
2009 Melbourne Club Championship

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nxd5 4.Bc4 Nb6 5.Bb3 Nc6 6.Nf3 a5 7.a3 a4 8.Ba2 Bf5 9.d4 e6 10.Be3 Be7 11.Qd2 0-0 12.0-0-0 Nd5 13.Bc4 Na5 14.Bb5 c6 15.Be2 b5 16.Na2 (D)
16. ... Nb3+ 17.cxb3 axb3 18.Nc3 Rxa3 19.Bd3 Ra1+ 20.Nb1 Nb4 21.Qe2 Rxb1+ 22.Kxb1 Qa5 23.Bxf5 Ra8 24.Kc1 Na2+ 25.Kb1 Nc3+ 26.bxc3 Qa1# 0-1

Friday, 29 May 2009

Reti's Birthday

Yesterday (28th May) was the 120th anniversary of the birth of Richard Reti. So to commemorate that here is a variation on a familiar Reti theme. White to play and draw.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Famous Namesakes

Today I saw a reference to a book called "1,911 Best Things Anybody Ever Said" by Robert Byrne. So this post was going to be about non-chess books written by chess authors. But before I launched into it I needed to find out whether Robert Byrne was really Robert Byrne, the Grandmaster and chess columnist.
Upon further investigation I discovered there is another Robert Byrne. The other Robert Byrne is also a famous and successful competitor, but in the sport of Pool and Billiards. He is also a columnist and teacher of this sport, and ultimately, the author of the book referred to at the top of this post.
So instead I've ended up blogging about famous namesakes instead.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Unique Castles

On my google page I have a feed from howstuffworks. Today's headline was "10 Unique Castles". Of course that brought to mind mate by castling. I've actually posted on this topic before, but I'd thought I post another game anyway.

Seuss,O - Hurme,H [B09]
WchT U26 qual-E Dresden (1.4), 01.08.1969

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.e5 Nfd7 7.h4 c5 8.h5 cxd4 9.Qxd4 dxe5 10.Qf2 Re8 11.hxg6 hxg6 12.Qh4 Nf8 13.fxe5 Nc6 14.Bh6 f6 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.Qh8+ Kf7 17.Bc4+ Be6 18.Ng5+ fxg5 19.0-0# 1-0

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Help me!

Via the Guardians online chess column (by Leonard Barden), come the following problem. It is a Helpmate in 2, which means Black and White co-operate to reach a checkmate position in 2 moves. In Helpmate problems it is Black who moves first, with White mating on the final move.
It took me about 15 minutes to solve, although I handicapped myself by looking for 'sensible' replies in the different variations. If you realise that 'anything goes' then it becomes an easier problem.

Monday, 25 May 2009

The Personal Touch

A number of years ago I purchased a set of notebooks containing the games from a number of important chess tournaments. The tournaments were Interzonals, Candidate Finals, US Championships, Hasting etc from around 1930 through to the 1950's. What was interesting about these books were that the games were entered in incredibly neat handwriting, one game per page. They also included hand written cross tables, and other ancillary information.
These days you could get all the information at the press of a button, but in those days this was the closest thing to a database a player might have. And while the tournaments selected were of the highest level, the transcriber of the games occasionally strayed to a lower level even including the following gem from 1959.

Mayfield - Trinks [B00]
Omaha ch Omaha ch, 1959

1.e4 g5 2.Nc3 f5 3.Qh5# 1-0

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Beaten like a drum

The short story "Last Round" by Kester Svendsen is considered one of the best stories about chess ever written. It concerns the final round game of a post-Alekhine World Championship tournament, where the (unnamed) 'Old Master' needs to defeat the unbeatable Russian Rolavsky to win the title. He does so using the Danish Gambit (Goring actually) in a 19 move brilliancy.
The game used in the story was actually played between Charousek and Wollner in 1893. Searching Chessbase for the game, I discovered a couple of interesting things. Firstly, in my database the losers name is given as Volner. Secondly, assuming that Volner and Wollner are the same person, he only has two games in the database, and the second is another brilliant loss to Charousek.
I'm assuming that Wollner must have played more than 2 games in his career, but had the misfortune of losing so brilliantly, that only these losses were ever published.
Here is the second, and less well known, game.

Charousek,R - Wollner,J [C33]
Kassa, 1895

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Be7 4.d4 Nf6 5.e5 Ne4 6.Bd5 Bh4+ 7.Kf1 Nf2 8.Qh5 0-0 9.Nf3 g6 10.Qh6 Nxh1 11.Nxh4 c6 12.Bxf4 cxd5 13.Nf5 gxf5 14.Bg5 f6 15.Bxf6 Rxf6 16.exf6 Qf8 17.Qg5+ Kh8 18.Nc3 Qg8(D)
19.Re1 Qxg5 20.Re8+ Qg8 21.f7 1-0

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Quick Catastrophe

CJS Purdy said a number of important things during his career, but the one that sticks most with me is "Look at all checks and captures". This is the most common piece of advice I give to new chess players, and the most common cause of my blunders, when I don't follow it myself.
To reinforce the point here are two quick games played in the last couple of days, and in both the losing side probably failed to look at all (as opposed to some) checks and captures.
(Note. I'll leave the names off the games to protect the victims)

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.g4 Nxg4 7.Rg1 h5 8.h3 Ngf6 9.Qc2 Bb4 10.Rxg7 dxc4 11.Ng5 Rf8 12.Nxe6 fxe6 13.Qg6+ 1-0

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Nc3 d5 5.Bxd5 Nxc3 6.dxc3 c6 7.Bxf7+ Ke7 8.Bg5+ 1-0

Friday, 22 May 2009

Simple Rv rook P

Of course simple isn't always simple, especially when you've reached the end of a hard fought game, but you still have to make sure of the win. It is usually about then you begin to hallucinate, wondering whether the position you've reached is a win or some totally unfair draw that you've blundered into. But if you reach the diagrammed position, be assured that it is a win, assuming you start with the only correct move!
1.Rb6! Trapping the king on the a file (but watch out for stalemate!) 1. ... Ka2 2.Ke6 a3 3.Kd5 Ka1 4.Kc4 a2 5.Kb3! Kb1 6.Ka3+ Ka1 7.Re6 Kb1 8.Re1+ and wins

Thursday, 21 May 2009

2009 ANU Open

The 2009 ANU Open is a little over 2 months away, so if you want to enjoy another wonderful chess tournament in the nations capital, it is time to start planning your trip. The event will be held on the weekend of the 25th and 26th of July, at the usual venue of Fenner Hall, 210 Northbourne Ave, Canberra.
Once again the prize pool is over $3,000 with $2200 on offer in the open section and $1100 in prizes in the Under 1600 section. The last two years have seen very successful events with 96 players entering last year.
Alongside the chess will also be the ACT Go Championship, and for the first time, a Xiangqi (Chinese Chess) exhibition match will be played.
Full details of the festival, including an entry form can be found at this link.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The Wandering King

A game from the current tournament at the Australian National University Chess Club that I have to share. Between moves 10 and 21, White's king journeys from his starting square of e1 across to a3, via e2,d3,c2 and b2. And as it turns out, once the King makes it to a3, White's position goes from horrible to better!

Reading,M - Mugford,S [A03]
ANU Autumn Swiss, 20.05.2009

1.f4 d5 2.Nf3 Bg4 3.e3 e6 4.Be2 Nd7 5.b3 Be7 6.Bb2 Bf6 7.c3 Nh6 8.h3? Bxf3 9.Bxf3 Bh4+ 10.Ke2 Nf5 11.Rg1 Ng3+ 12.Kd3 (D)
12. ... Nc5+ 13.Kc2 Qf6 14.d3 0-0-0 15.c4 Qg6 16.cxd5 exd5 17.Bd4 Qc6 18.Kb2 Bf6 19.Qc2 Qb6 20.Bxf6 Na4+ 21.Ka3! Qxf6 22.bxa4 Qxa1 23.Rc1 c6 24.Nc3 Qxc1+ 25.Qxc1 Rhe8 26.Nxd5 Kb8 27.Nb4 Nf5 28.Be4 Nd6 29.Bf3 Nf5 30.Qb1 Kc7 31.Be4 Nd6 32.Qc2 Nxe4 33.dxe4 Kb8 34.e5 f5 35.Qb3 Kc8 36.e6 a5 37.Nc2 Rd5 38.Nd4 Kc7 39.g4 fxg4 40.hxg4 Re7 41.Qc3 Kd8 42.e4 Rd6 43.Nf5 1-0

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Be a Chess Hero!

Milan Ninchich is both a regular reader and regular contributor to this blog. If I was lazy I could probably just use his regular contributions to keep this blog going, and avoid my usual quota of hard work. Just in the last week he has sent me two very useful links with are worth sharing.
The first is to a chess training program called "Chess Hero". It is an interesting variant on the tactical trainers like CTArt 3.0 or sites on the net like Chess Hero chooses positions at random from pgn files you specify yourself, and you have to choose the move that either matches the game continuation or the choose of the analysis engine you specify for the program. Specifying your own pgn files allows you to tailor the system to match your own interests. You might want to use a file of your own games or that of a player you particularly like (I'm using a collection of games from Rashid Nehzmetdinov). While you also need to provide your own analysis engine there are plenty of free ones around eg Fruit.
The program is free and can be downloaded from

The other link is to "The Right Move" which is the English Chess Federation's Junior Chess Magazine. It is edited by IM Andrew Martin and each issue can be downloaded for free as a pdf file. The latest issue (May 2009) even has a game from David Smerdon in it! All issues are available at

Monday, 18 May 2009

Playing to the crowd

I saw an interesting exchange today between GM Nigel Short and Kasparov associate Mig Greengard on the topic of simuls and the strength of the field. One of the points raised during the discussion is that some players (eg Kasparov) still focus on the overall result, even if it means playing safe and solid chess. Greengard gave Alekhine as an example of an other approach, in that he treated simuls as an opportunity to produce brilliancies. I would agree with this observation, especially as Alekhine could do it in a an almost 'risk free' environment, as the requirement to win games as a means to winning a tournament was removed.
While the following game probably doesn't qualify as a brilliancy, it is still meritorious, as Alekhine played it blindfold.

Alekhine,A - Schroeder,M [B01]
New York New York, 1924

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.h3 Bh5 7.g4 Bg6 8.Ne5 Nbd7 9.Nc4 Qa6 10.Bd3 Qe6+ 11.Ne3 0-0-0 12.d5 Qb6 13.Nc4 Qb4 14.a3 Qc5 15.Be3 1-0

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Chess Rules - A second blog

After 2 years of blogging on ChessExpress, I've decided to add a second blog to the blogspehere. However the Chess Rules blog ( is going to be a little more specialised than this one, concentrating on the Laws of Chess, as well as more general arbiting and organisational issues. It also won't be updated as often as this one, as the intention of Chess Rules is to engage readers in discussion of the issues raised, rather than just me telling chess "stories".
So feel free to visit Chess Rules, comment on the posts I made their, or even email me with suggestions for ideas you think should be discussed. One of my motivations for setting up this new blog is that I am on the FIDE Rules and Tournament Regulation Committee and have recently become Secretary of the FIDE Technical Administration Panel. So I am on the look out for input and feedback in the areas that RTRC and TAP cover, as a way of bringer broader opinion to the committee table.
The other motivation is to provide a "talking shop" for people involved in arbiting and tournament organisation. So feel free to share ideas and experiences as well, as I'm sure there will be a receptive audience.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Going the Hack

I've been having difficulty with a couple of junior players of late. In part it is that they are simply getting better, but also because I've been caught up trying to improve the positional aspects of my game. The net result is a move away from a playing style I've used for the last 25 years, but for the moment, not completely towards a new and improved style.
I played one of these juniors at Street Chess (G/15m) today. The last time I played Joshua Bishop in a weekend event (Dubbo 2009) I went down in flames. Indeed the previous time I played him a weekender (ANU Open 2006) I also manage to lose. So for today's game I decided to "go the hack", and revert to type. This strategy was also motivated by the fact that we still play Street Chess outdoors (only moving inside when winter officially starts) and it must have been about 5 degrees in the wind. So a quick game was important, if only for personal survival.

Press,S - Bishop,J [A00]
Street Chess, 16.05.2009

1.Nc3 Nf6 2.e4 d6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bc4 0-0 6.0-0 c5 7.d3 a6 8.Qe1 b5 9.Bb3 Nc6 10.f5 b4 11.Nd5 a5 12.a3 Bb7 13.Qh4 Nd4 14.fxg6 hxg6 15.Ng5 Re8 16.Nxf6+ exf6 17.Bxf7+ Kf8 18.Bxg6 Ke7(D)
19.Rxf6 Kd7 20.Rxd6+ Kxd6 21.Nf7+ Kc7 22.Nxd8 Rexd8 23.Bf4+ Kb6 24.axb4 axb4 25.Rxa8 Rxa8 26.h3 Ra2 27.Qe7 Ne2+ 28.Kh2 Bd4 29.Qe6+ Ka7 30.Qxa2+ 1-0

Friday, 15 May 2009

iPod Chess Program

I splashed out on an iPod touch for my wife last week ("That's a wonderful gift" said the sales person. "I'm a wonderful husband" was my reply). Of course she has hardly had a chance to use it, what with me "configuring" it for her, and the children wanting to "test it out".
Part of the "configuration" involved me looking for a decent chess program (for when she isn't using it!). There are certainly plenty out there, including some well known names (eg Shredder or Chess Genius).
However I was looking for a free program for the moment, and the best one that I found was "Glaurung Chess". This program has been around for a while, and I've previously seen it as a Winboard engine. It is written by Tord Rumstad and for Open source advocates, it is released under Gnu Public Licence (which isn't recognised by Apple for iPod applications).
It has a fairly basic chess functionality (new game, set playing strength etc) although you can choose a style and the size of the opening book. But given that the iPod touch isn't a fully blown computer (at least in the sense of size and storage), you probably aren't looking for a database enabled chess program.
So a thumbs up from me for "Glaurung Chess" if you are looking for a program for your iPod/iPhone.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Miniature of the Month - April 2009

Dimitri Reinderman had a rough time of it during his trip to Australia, although he wasn't the first GM visitor to these shores to leave a swag of rating points behind.
But before he made the trek down under he did play the following short game in the Dutch Teams Championship. Although it was played right at the end of March, I'm stretching the rules a little and including it as an April game, for the purposes of this category.

Pruijssers,R (2452) - Reinderman,D (2537) [C41]
Dutch Cht 2008/9 Meesterklasse NED (7.3), 28.03.2009

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.Bc4 Be7 6.0-0 0-0 7.Re1 c6 8.a4 b6 9.b3 a6 10.h3 Bb7 11.Bf1 Re8 12.g3 Bf8 13.Bg2 b5 14.Ba3 exd4 (D)
[ 15.Nxd4 b4 16.Bxb4 c5] 15...c5 16.Nfd2 Qc7 17.Bb2 b4 18.g4 h6 19.f4 g5 0-1

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Mtel Masters 2009

The Mtel Masters 2009 kicked off today in Sofia, Bulgaria. While the tournament coverage can be found at live coverage for the first round is not happening due to "technical difficulties"
The time control is 40 moves in 90 minutes, followed by 1 hour to finish. As there is no mention of an increment I assume that time scrambles will be part of the fun for spectators. Also no draw offers can be made during the game, and requests for a draw must be made to the arbiters.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Ranking not Rating

There is a big debate going on at the moment about the change to the FIDE Rating System. Essentially the K factor (the value used to calculate rating changes) is being increased from 10 to 20 for players who reach a rating of 2400 (and to 30 for players who are yet to reach 2400). However it seems that FIDE have gone to water on the proposal, in part due to complaints from some players and organisers.
Now I'm a bit of a heretic when it comes to ratings, especially as I think players regard ratings as some sort of personal property, rather than a mathematial solution to a function that measures performance. The net result of this attitude is that it is very hard to convince people of the merits of a system that might result in their ratings going down faster than they currently do (Gaining points is fine, its the losing them thats the problem).
One idea to combat this attitude is the emphasise ranking over rating. Keep whatever rating system is in operation, but publish a players ranking, rather than the rating. Certainly this is what happens in most sports (eg Tennis or Golf), where player X is referred to as the Number N player in the world. Although this sort of happens in chess, once you get below to the top 100 in the world it tends to get all fuzzy.
Of course this would have flow on effects to tournament organisations. Rather than have a Under 2000 section, you would restrict an event to players outside the top 200 (for example). And it might be harder to seed inactive players.
On the up side I would expect players to be less attached to their ranking of 732, than their rating of 1600. If my ranking dropped from 300 to 400 I would be less inclined to blame it on some imagined defect in the rating system, and instead accept that their are an extra 100 players now better than me.
But at this stage it is just a thought experiment, as for it to function effectively, the 'self-esteem crutch' that ratings currently are would have to be removed entirely.

Monday, 11 May 2009

A sneak peek at the next issue of ACCQ

I've been trying to get Australian Correspondence Chess Quarterly ready for the printers over the last few days, and hopefully I'm almost finished. As with all the chess magazines I have edited, the more articles I have to contribute, the later it often is.
Here is a game that will appear in the next issue, played by NZ Master Mark Noble in the Aus/NZ v Portugal Friendly.

Noble,M (2478) - Salvador Marques,C (2424) [B97]
Australia/New Zealand vs Portugal ICCF, 17.11.2008

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.e5 h6 11.Bh4 dxe5 12.fxe5 Nfd7 13.Ne4 g5 [ 13...Qxa2 14.Rb3 has long been considered inferior for White, although this assessment was based on Korchnoi - Tolush, from as far back as 1958. 14...Qa1+ 15.Kf2 Qa4 16.Bb5 axb5 17.Nxb5 Bc5+ 18.Nxc5 Qxh4+ 19.g3 Qd8 20.Qd6 Nxc5 21.Nc7+ Qxc7 22.Qxc7 Nba6 23.Qb6 Nxb3-+] 14.Bg3 Qxa2N 15.Rd1 Qb2 16.Qe3 Nc6 17.Nxc6 bxc6 18.Be2 Qxc2 (D) White has jettisoned his third pawn, but of course has a lead in development to show for it. Even the normally materialistic computer kibitzer regards this position as equal! 19.0-0 [ 19.Rxd7 is a suggestion of Fritz 9. 19...Bb4+ a) 19...Bxd7 20.Nf6+ Ke7 (a) 20...Kd8 21.Qb6++-) 21.0-0 is winning for White.; b) 19...Kxd7 20.Qd4+ Kc7 21.0-0! c5 22.Rxf7+ Kb8 23.Qd8 Qb1+ 24.Bf1 Ra7 25.Rxa7 Kxa7 26.Qxc8 Qxe4 27.Qxa6+ Kb8 28.Qxe6+-; 20.Rd2 Bxd2+ 21.Nxd2 Qc1+ 22.Bd1 Bb7 according to Fritz this is the only move. ( 22...0-0 23.h4! leads to a winning attack.) 23.Qb3 0-0-0 24.Ne4 Rxd1+ 25.Qxd1 Qe3+ 26.Qe2 Qc1+ 27.Qd1 Qe3+=] 19...Bc5 20.Nxc5 Qxc5 21.Rd4! Obviously White wishes to avoid the exchange of queens. 21...0-0 22.Rc1 Qb6 23.Rcd1 Rb8 24.h4 c5 25.Rd6 Qd8 [ 25...Qb2 26.hxg5 Rb3 27.Bd3 c4 might look good for Black but 28.gxh6 Kh8 29.Rxd7!! Bxd7 ( 29...cxd3 30.Qg5+-; 29...Rxd3 30.Qg5+-) 30.Qg5 Rg8 31.Qf6+ Rg7 32.Qxg7#] 26.hxg5 Qxg5 27.Bf4 Qg6 28.Qh3 Qf5 29.Qxh6 [ 29.Qxf5 exf5 30.Rxd7 Bxd7 31.Rxd7²] 29...Rb1 30.Qh2 Re8 [ 30...f6 31.Rxb1 Qxb1+ 32.Rd1 Qh7 33.Bh6 Rf7 ( 33...Re8 34.Rd3+-) 34.Bh5+-] 31.Qg3+ Kh8 32.R6d3 Rxd1+ 33.Bxd1 Qh7 34.Bg5 Rg8 35.Bc2 1-0

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Blitz for the very fit

The purveyors of giant chess pieces must be doing a good trade in Canberra at the moment, as I have seen 3 different educational institutions purchase these sets in the last 2 months. Two of them are Primary Schools, while one of the new ANU Halls of Residences also has a set. And while they are fun to play with, you are always going to get some wag wander up and ask "Where is the giant chess clock that goes with it?" or "You're taking too long, why don't you play blitz?"
However the idea of blitz with giant pieces had already been tried way back in 1936. However in that case the pieces were 'living pieces' (ie humans), so at least they could move themselves. But the game was still played with a 5 minute time limit, so both the players and pieces had to be either quick footed or quick witted. The winner of the following game was very quick, as was his team, as he finished off white in 2 and a half minutes.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Aronian's GP Win

I know it's a little late to cover this, but someone I ran into today reminded me of the conclusion to this tournament.
As tournaments go, this had an extra special finish as the two leaders, Aronian and Leko, were drawn to play each other in the final round. Under the circumstances, a draw might have been the likely outcome, but Aronian won both the game, and outright first place.

Aronian,L (2754) - Leko,P (2751) [E55]
4th FIDE GP Nalchik RUS (13), 29.04.2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0-0 5.Bd3 d5 6.Nf3 c5 7.0-0 dxc4 8.Bxc4 Nbd7 9.Qe2 b6 10.Rd1 cxd4 11.exd4 Bxc3 12.bxc3 Bb7 13.Bb3 Qc7 14.c4 Rfe8 15.Bb2 Qf4 16.Qe3 Qf5 17.Ne1 b5 18.c5 Nd5 19.Qg3 Nf4 20.Rd2 Nf6 21.f3 N6h5 22.Qf2 Bd5 23.Bc2 Qg5 24.Kh1 Bc4 25.g3 Ng6 26.Ng2 Bd5 27.Ne3 Nf6 28.h4 Qh5 29.Nxd5 Nxd5 30.Re1 Red8 31.Rde2 Rab8 32.Bc1 h6 33.Kg2 Nc3 34.Re5 Nxe5 35.Rxe5 f5 36.Bb3 Nd5 37.Rxe6 Kh8 38.Qe1 Nf6 39.Qe5 Re8 40.c6 Rbc8 41.Qxb5 Qg6 42.h5 Qxh5 43.Bf4 a6 44.Qxa6 Nh7 45.c7 Ng5 46.Rxe8+ Qxe8 47.d5 Ra8 48.Qc4 Kh7 49.d6 Qe1 50.Qf1 Qe8 51.Qd3 Qd7 52.Qc4 Qe8 53.Bxg5 hxg5 54.Qg8+ 1-0

Friday, 8 May 2009

Do as I say, not as I do

Quite rightly Aaron Nimzowitsch is considered one of the role models of the 'positional' chess player. His writings and games have formed the basis for a significant amount of modern middlegame theory. So when I was looking through "500 Master Games of Chess" by Tartakower and Du Mont, I was surprised to see Nimzowitsch use the Latvian Gambit in a game against Rudolf Spielmann in a 1926 tournament. The Latvian isn't known for it's positional features, as it is more of a playground for hack and slash merchants on either side of the board.
Nontheless it is kind of refereshing to see Nimzowitsch willingly steer away from the sterile QGD's that plaugued chess before WWII, and to test his middlegame theories outside of what could be considered safe territory. As it turned out Spielmann emerged the winner, although this wasn't the fault of Black's opening. Indeed, if he had chosen 17. ... Nb4 he would have had an almost winning position instead.

Spielmann,R - Nimzowitsch,A [C40]
Semmering Semmering, 1926

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.Nxe5 Qf6 4.d4 d6 5.Nc4 fxe4 6.Nc3 Qg6 7.d5 Nf6 8.Be3 Be7 9.Qd4 0-0 10.Nd2 c5 11.dxc6 Nxc6 12.Qc4+ Kh8 13.0-0-0 Bg4 14.f3 d5 15.Nxd5 Nxd5 16.Qxd5 exf3 17.gxf3 Rac8 18.Bd3 Bf5 19.Bxf5 Rxf5 20.Qc4 b5 21.Qg4 Qf7 22.Rhg1 Nb4 23.c3 Nxa2+ 24.Kb1 b4 25.Bd4 Bg5 26.c4 b3 27.Ne4 Qg6 28.Qxg5 Rxg5 29.Rxg5 Qf7 30.Nd6 Qxf3 31.Bxg7+ Kg8 32.Be5+ Kf8 33.Rf5+ Qxf5+ 34.Nxf5 Rxc4 35.Rd8+ Kf7 36.Nd6+ 1-0

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Bob Meyer

Professor Bob Meyer, a former ACT Chess Association President, passed away yesterday (6th May 2009) after a long battle with cancer. Bob had been a regular fixture on the ACT club scene since the mid 1970's and had been an early member of a number of fledgling ACT clubs. He was a participant in a number of ACT Championships over the last 4 decades.
Away from chess he was long time faculty member at the Australian National University, specialising in Logic. Although he officially retired almost 10 years ago, he maintained his connection to the university as a Visiting Fellow, and was still at his desk up until a few months ago.

Meyer,B - Reading,J [B06]
ACT ch Belconnen (8.15), 12.10.2001

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Bc4 Nc6 5.0-0 e6 6.Bg5 Nge7 7.Nc3 0-0 8.Qd2 e5 9.Nd5 a6 10.dxe5 h6 11.Nf6+ Bxf6 12.Bxf6 Kh7 (D)
13.Ng5+ Kg8 14.Nxf7 Rxf7 15.Qxh6 1-0

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

4NCL Wrap

The 4 Nations Chess League had an exciting finish with Wood Green Hilsmark Kingfisher (try fitting that onto your scoresheet), drawing with their closest rivals, Guilford-A&DC 1, in the final round keep their two point lead, and win the 4NCL title. In third place was Guilford-A&DC 2, while in 4th place was White Rose, managed by my PNG team mate, Rupert Jones.
White Rose had double cause for celebration as their 2nd team earned promotion from 3rd division to 2nd division, again after a 4th place finish. Full results can be found at the 4NCL website.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Books to make you a Grandmaster

Of course there is no book (or books) that will guarantee you becoming a grandmaster. However I've read a couple of interviews where certain books helped future GM's get started on the path to the title. But it wasn't a case of just reading these books, as much as devouring them, in a sense.
John Nunn apparently solved all 1001 positions in Reinfeld's "1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate" when he was a junior, while Michael Adams worked his way through the 300 positions in Irving Chernev's "Practical Chess Endings", early in his career.
I guess one of the reasons why I never made it that far was I'm the kind of person who flicks to the back of any puzzle book to look at the answers, rather than work too hard on the questions. If you're that sort of person as well, then you will appreciate the following position which is problem No. 300 in "Practical Chess Endings". As it isn't too taxing a problem I will leave the answer for another day. White to play and win.

Monday, 4 May 2009

When is a trap not a trap?

In the 1968 Chess Olympiad Efim Geller picked up two easy points when his opponents played identical blunders in a line of the Kings Indian Defence. At least that was how it was reported in the British Chess Magazines Quotes & Queries from November 1984. And while the reporting was accurate (Geller indeed did win both games), it looks as though it wasn't due to a trap, as much as two opponents misassessing the resulting position. After White's 11th move it looks as though Black wins a pawn by capturing on e4 but after a series of exchanges, the d6 pawn falls to White's queen, leaving a material equal position. Black may lay claim to a positional edge, but as far as I can see that's about it.

Adamski,J - Geller,E [E94]
Lugano ol (Men) Lugano, 1968

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qd2 e5 8.Nf3 c6 9.0-0 exd4 10.Nxd4 Nc5 11.f3 Nfxe4 (D)
Two rounds after this game was played, Geller reached this position against Holm (Denmark) and after the capture on e4, he simply resigned. 12.Nxe4 Nxe4 13.fxe4 Bxd4+ 14.Qxd4 Qxg5 15.Qxd6 Qe3+ 16.Rf2 Be6 17.Qf4 Qxf4 18.Rxf4 Rad8 19.Bf1 Rd4 20.Rc1 Rfd8 21.Rf2 Rxe4 22.b4 Red4 23.a4 Rd1 24.Rfc2 R8d2 25.a5 Kf8 26.b5 c5 27.Rxd2 Rxc1 28.Kf2 Ke7 0-1

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Blog Mailbox

Occasionally I will get interesting items sent to my email account(s) (I have 3 or 4 email addresses that reach me, for various historical reasons). Today I received 2 emails, both containing items you may find interesting.
The first was from Paul Ma, who is a CC International Master, as well as being active in Queensland chess circles at some point in the past (if not the present). He has a blog, which while mainly dealing with Mountain Climbing, does have some chess content as well. So if you like chess and mountains visit To find the chess content, just click on the chess tag on the right.
The second was from Elliott Renzies, who is both a popular figure on the weekend chess circuit, as well as a burgeoning chess interviewer. His latest interview is with the the winner of the 2009 O2C Doeberl Cup Minor, Alana Chibnall. Click here to read this interview, and interviews with other Australian chess personalities.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

What chess isn't like

"Football is like chess" says Sir Alex Ferguson in a recent interview. "Boxing is like chess with violence", "croquet is like chess on grass" etc etc
Modern media is full of references to things that are like chess, even if they aren't really. But I've found a wonderful quote about what chess isn't like, although most chess players would regard the subject matter closer to chess than most other activities.

Mathematics is a field in which one's blunders tend to show very clearly and can be corrected or erased with a stroke of a pencil. It is a field which has often been compared with chess, but differs from the latter in that it is only one's best moments that count and not one's worst. A single inattention may lose a chess game, whereas a single successful approach to a problem, among many which have been relegated to the wastebasket, will make a mathematician's reputation - Norbert Wiener

Friday, 1 May 2009

The Traxler Refuted (again!)

I received an email today titled "The Possible Refutation of Traxler Counter-Attack". Over the years I've seen plenty of magazine articles with either this title, or a variant on it, but this is the first time I've been contacted directly with the claim. At least the author is covering his bases, in not claiming a definite refutation of the Traxler.
As it arrived late this evening, I've only had a cursory glance at the analysis. What I've looked at seems sound, but makes the common mistake of being too narrow in the choice of lines. There are a number of places where Black can vary, and while some of my own investigations show that White is better in some of those lines, it isn't the case that White is better in all the lines.
As for publishing the analysis, I'll hold off until I have further discussions with the author of the email.