Saturday, 31 October 2009

He who laughs last

The European Teams Championship finished earlier today with an interesting, and surprising winner. Having followed the tournament through both the traditional chess media, and Google News, I picked up a number of interesting side stories.
For example, the coverage of the Round 7 match between Armenia and Azerbaijan seemed to carry a little extra venom, due to the recent enmity between the two countries. With the match ending in a 2.5-1.5 win for Armenia, the Aysor (Armenia) news outlet couldn't resist a dig at the losing team with a headline that read "Azerbaijani chess players slaped(sic) in the face of their own media"
I don't know how much that article stung the Azerbaijani players but of course they had the last laugh, finishing as the winners of the ETC. Going into the final round tied with Russia, the picked up the 2 points with a win over The Netherlands (2.5-1.5), while Russia was held to a 2-2 draw by Spain.
Russia went one better in the Womens championship, finishing first on tie break, over Georgia.
Click for the results of the Championship and the Womens Championship.

Friday, 30 October 2009


To (some) non chessplayers, chess is simply a war game, without any shooting. You don't "take", you "kill", you pieces don't move, they "march". On the other hand, for most chessplayers, such direct terms can sound strange.
But I still see military terms used, although mainly in books from a previous age. Nimzowich in "My System" talks of getting your army to the frontier (ie the line across the middle of the board). And Isaac Lipnitsky's much acclaimed "Questions of Modern Chess Theory" there is a chapter titled "Mobilizing the Pieces". In Lipnitsky's case he may have chosen this term over the more pacific "Developing the Pieces" due to his military background (he was a Major in the Soviet Army during WWII).
Here is a game from the aforementioned book, with the usual moral that if you fall behind in development, you will get crushed. Of course I never seem to win like this in my own games, but maybe I need to read a few more chapters in his book (or find moves like 12.d5!)

Tolush - Alatortsev,V [C31]
Championchip Soviet Union, 1948

1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.Nc3 Qe6 5.fxe5 Qxe5+ 6.Be2 Bg4 7.d4 Qe6 8.Qd3 c6 9.Bf4 Nf6 10.0-0-0 Bxe2 11.Ngxe2 Bd6 (D)
12.d5! Nxd5 13.Nxd5 cxd5 14.Qg3 Bxf4+ 15.Nxf4 Qh6 16.Rhe1+ Kf8 17.Qa3+ Kg8 18.Re8# 1-0

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Chess as a sport

"Chess as a sport", not "Chess is a sport", which is another topic entirely.
The Asian Indoor Games is starting tomorrow in Vietnam, and Chess is one of the medal sports, alongside Track-and-Field, Fin swimming and Snooker (plus many others). More importantly, Chess is also a medal sport in the South-East Asian Games, which is a full sporting contest for South-East Asian Countries.
Why is this important? Simply because it avoids the semantic arguments about whether chess is a sport. One of the important aspects of the recent tournament in the Solomon Islands were discussions with the Solomon Islands government about support for chess through their sports commission. To this end, both myself and Oceania Zone President Gary Bekker stressed the importance of getting chess into the Pacific Games. This suggestion was met favourably by the SI Government btw.
Now to be honest, I can't see chess being a medal sports at the Olympics (unless they take up my suggestion of holding an Indoor Olympics + plus an Extreme Sports Olympics to fill the gaps between the winter and summer games), but getting it into regional games (Asia, the Pacific and Africa) can't hurt the development of chess in those regions.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Never let a chance go by

I'm not a great swindler. Once my position starts to sink, I'm usually the one drilling extra holes in the bottom of the boat. And when I do claw my way back from a lost position it is normally due to my opponents poor play, rather than my skill.
But there are exceptions, as this evenings game from the chess club shows. We join the action after I dropped a couple of pawns by simply failing to count the captures, although I do have tricks. My best hope was to clear a path for the pawn on c6 to promote, although with the bishop planted on d8, at best I was winning a piece. Of course to achieve even this I had to jettison all my pawns.

37.f4 exf4 38.e5 dxe5 39.d6 cxd6 40.Nxd6 e4 41.c7 Bxc7 So I've won the piece, but my opponent now has 5 pawns for it! But with my Rook heading for the 7th rank, and my knight close by, I spot a chance to set up a draw by perpetual. 42.Rxc7 e3 43.Ne8 Heading for f6. 43. ... Ra1+ 44.Kg2 e2 45.Nf6+ Kf8 46.Rd7 The key move. The rook has to be 5 files from the edge, so when the knight checks on f6 it also protects the rook on d7. 46. ... Rg1+?? So tempting, but so wrong. Instead planting the rook on h1 straight away stopped any tricks. 47.Kf3 Black missed this move. 47. ... Rh1 48.Kxe2 ½-½
Now before you ask, the perpetual has indeed disappeared, as the Black king can head to h8 (and not get mated). But with Black king confined to the back rank, my rook and knight can pick up enough black pawns to secure the draw.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


Every day or two I do a quick patrol of the sites on my blog roll (look to your left). While visiting the Chessdom site, I noticed they had added a new live coverage tool, which was developed by, and named after, Chessbomb. I've had a play with it and it looks really good. The site combines broadcast, computer analysis (from Rybka) and user comments into one interface.
For the moment they are only covering the European Teams Championship, and the time difference works against us here in Australia, but it is still worth visiting during the day, as the overnight broadcasts are archived. For example, two games worth looking at from Round 5 are the Sutovsky v Svidler game, and the Bacrot v Aronian matchup. Due to the magic of colour coded moves (and Rybka) you can see where the players went wrong at crucial junctures during the game.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Chock full o' nuts

The "Obama wins world chess championship" satirical article has popped up on a number of blogs, although to me it lacks two important ingredients of good satire, in that is is neither clever nor funny. But it did provoke an unintentionally hilarious response from Stan Vaughn, who I previously chronicled here. I present the entire letter Stan wrote to the Tampa Tribune, completely unedited. Nonetheless it would be delinquent of me not to point out that the claims made in this letter are demonstrably false.

Dear Mr. barton Hinkle,

Please be advised that the World Chess Federation, Inc considers your story in October 24th Tampa Tribune that it has declared Obama as WCF World Chess Champion to be inaccurate. Further, FIDE is the International Chess Federation and does not have any rights to the World Chess Federation tradenames and trademarks as World Chess Federation, Inc, a Nevada corporation, holds worldwide rights to the tradenames and trademarks for World Chess Federation. Further Fischer did not sign the 2002 Prague Agreement and further Anand turned down the opportunity in 2000 to play for the WCF World Chess Champion title so therefore any claim is not undisputed as further in 1992 FIDE Campomanes signed over legal rights to title of The World Chess Champion to Bobby Fischer. now deceased. Further should Obama wish to play in the upcoming WCF The World Chess Championship Qualifying Tournament in Las Vegas Dec 2-13 at Riviera he may only do so not representing USA as Kenya recently provided a certified copy of his Kenya Birth certificate and after his later Indonesian citizenship he never became a naturalized US citizen. You may have also heard that the US military is now revoking orders to go to Afghanistan for all military personnel who are filing court challenges to deployment orders in light that Obama is not eligible to be President nor commander in chief . Attached is a certified copy of his Kenyan birth certificate as provided by Kenya and further the so called certificate of live birth Obama provided allegedly from Hawaii has been certified a fake now as had photoshopped borders of different year than copy and experts proved had black and white pixels not green behind wording that had replaced earlier different text.

Now Mr Vaughn is also the organiser of the 'World Championship' match in Las Vegas later this year. Not that I was planning to attend mind you, but if I want to be exposed to this kind of craziness, I can save the air fare by instead watching the nutbags on Fox News from the comfort of my living room.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

3 queens in 5 moves

Even though Street Chess is a serious tournament (with prizes and rating points at stake), I still like play in the 'coffee house' style, especially just after I've lost a game. For those unfamiliar with the term 'coffee house', it is a style of chess based on speculative attacks, sacrificing material, and trying to win by bluffing your opponent that your attack is much stronger than it really is.
Yesterday I played a good example of all of the above, with the added bonus that the banter between myself and my opponent attracted the interest of a large number of spectators. I was black and my opponent opened with an interesting variant of the Colle, in which he develops his knight to g3, in part to support the thematic e4 break. I decided to go after this knight with my h pawn. By move 10 he had committed the cardinal error of moving some pieces twice in the opening, while others he hadn't moved at all. With my lead in development it was a question of where I was going to crash through, which he then answered for me by castling. I picked up a couple of central pawns while he decided to commit further sins by sending off his queen on a pawn hunting mission. I offered a piece soon after, which he declined, so I sacrificed it 2 moves later. In true coffee house style my 19th move (Qg5) looked quite strong, but actually wasn't. He firstly played a diversionary capture with 20.Nxc5 and after I replied 20. ... Bxg3 he thought for a while and then loudly exclaimed "But it's check!" 21.Qxd7+ Kf8 was quickly played, and then with a flourish he blocked any discovered attacks with 22.Qg4 This turned out to be a losing move as I now recycled my queen, not once but twice, all in the space of 5 moves. When the smoke had cleared I had a forced mate, and he was congratulating me on my 'lucky' win!

1.d4 d5 2.e3 Nf6 3.Bd3 e6 4.Ne2 c5 5.Ng3 Nc6 6.c3 h5 7.f3 h4 8.Ne2 Bd6 9.Nd2 Qe7 10.Bb5 e5 11.Bxc6+ bxc6 12.Qa4 Bd7 13.0-0 exd4 14.Nb3 dxe3 15.Qa6 h3 16.g3 Ne4 17.Qb7 Rb8 18.Qxa7 Nxg3 19.Nxg3 Qg5 20.Nxc5 Bxg3 21.Qxd7+ Kf8 22.Qg4 Qxg4 23.fxg4 e2 24.hxg3 h2+ 25.Kg2 exf1Q+ 26.Kxf1 h1Q+ 27.Kf2 Rh2+ 28.Ke3 Re8+ 29.Kf4 Rf2+ 30.Kg5 Qh6#

Saturday, 24 October 2009

2009 World Junior Championship

The 2009 World Junior Championship has already started in Argentina. Australia has 3 representatives playing, Sherab Guo-Yuthok in the Open, Emma Guo and Sarah Anton in the Girls. 3 rounds have been played, with Emma on 1.5/3 and Sarah on 0.5/3. In the Open, Sherab has yet to get of the mark, but I'm assuming some easier opponents will soon be coming his way.
The official website is having problems, so the best place to get results is the ever reliable The link for the Open is here, and the Girls is here.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Dead horse, meet stick

Over at the ClosetGrandmaster's blog, TCG is still trying to breathe some life into the whole "Beauty and the Geek" debate. He originally posited that the appearance of Canberra chess player Jeremy Reading was damaging to chess, but the debate, and the public vote, didn't quite go his way. He's having one more go at the topic, although I note with interest that Jeremy has been transformed in Mr Reading in the last post.
Now whether the 'geek' image is damaging to chess, or even whether someone is a 'geek' at all, probably depends on who is being asked. But here is a little test. Which one of these photos is of one of the top players in the world, and which is of a 'geeky' Australian television personality?

Thursday, 22 October 2009

European Teams Championship

You know you have too many chess friends on facebook when their status updates begin to look like a tournament crosstable. A case in point is a number of posts flagging the 2009 European Teams Championship which starts today. The event has 38 teams representing 37 countries (host country Serbia gets 2 teams) and unlike the Olympiad, there is very little "filler". Even the bottom seeded team, Monaco, has GM Igor Efimov on board 1. Interestingly they also have former FIDE Treasurer, Willy Iclicki as their board 4.
Most of the top teams have brought very strong players (Svidler, Topalov, Aronian etc) although Norway lost Carlsen at short notice.
The website for the tournament is and hopefully there will be live broadcasts of the games (implied from the website although I haven't found the link yet).

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The OMG Ratio

Years ago there was a tournament that offered a special prize for the "Most Efficient Use of Energy" (IIRC). This was calculated as the total number of moves played by a player in the tournament divided by the number of wins. The smaller the number the better. I believe the event was sponsored by a power company.
In the same vein is what I would call the OMG ratio. This is the number you get when you divide a players rating by the number of moves played in a game. In this case the bigger the number the bigger the OMG factor if said player loses the game. Excluding results due to mobile phone defaults, or simply not showing up (although in the case of Fischer this is still pretty big on the OMG scale), once you reach a ratio of 200+ you know something pretty spectacular has happened.
Here is an example from the 2001 FIDE World Championship KO. Motylev and Shirov play a messy QGA, when on move 12 Motylev finds a spectacular losing move.

Shirov,Alexei (2706) - Motylev,Alexander (2641) [D20]
FIDE-Wch k.o. Moscow (3.3), 02.12.2001

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e4 c5 4.d5 Nf6 5.Nc3 b5 6.Bf4 Ba6 7.Nf3 b4 8.Bxb8 bxc3 9.Qa4+ Qd7 10.Qxa6 cxb2 11.Rb1 Rxb8 12.Ne5 Qb7 13.Rxb2 1-0

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Romanas Arlauskas

Australian CC Grandmaster Romanas Arlauskas has passed away at the age of 92. Arlauskas was awarded the CC GM title after finishing 3rd in the 4th CC World Championship (1962-65). Originally from Lithuania, Arlauskas emigrated to Australia in 1948 and settled in Adelaide, winning the 1949 and 1968 South Australian (OTB) Championship.
Further information can be found in Peter Parr's Sydney Morning Herald chess column.

Arlauskas,Romanas - Lundqvist,Ake [B47]
4th CC World Ch Final 6265 corr ICCF, 1962

Notes by Arlauskas from the Adelaide "Sunday Mail". He regards the following as his "Best Played Game". 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.g3 a6 7.Bg2 Nf6 8.Nb3 Be7 9.0-0 0-0 10.Bf4 d6 11.Qe2 Rd8 12.Rad1 Rb8 13.a4 Ne5 14.Bc1! Defending the b-pawn in advance and at the same time planning a k-side attack. 14...Bd7 15.f4 Nc4 16.g4! b5 17.axb5 axb5 18.g5 Ne8 19.Qf2 b4 [After 19...g6 would have followed 20.f5! with a decisive attack as Black couldn't play 20...exf5 because of 21.Nd5] 20.Ne2 Bf8 21.Nbd4 Bc8 22.b3 Na5 23.Be3 g6 24.f5 e5 25.Ne6! A bold sacrifice which required precise calculations. 25...fxe6 forced. If [25...Bxe6 26.fxe6 Rb7 27.e7! Qxe7 28.Bb6 Ra8 29.Ra1 and wins.] 26.fxg6 Ng7 (D)
Allows White a nice little combination. Comparatively better was [26...Bg7 27.gxh7+ Kh8! 28.h4 Nc6 29.h5 Ne7 however after 30.g6 White's position would still have been superior.] 27.Qxf8+!!+- Rxf8 28.Rxf8+ Kxf8 29.gxh7 The point of the combination. 29...Ne8 30.h8Q+ Ke7 31.g6 1-0

Monday, 19 October 2009

Cave Chess

Susan Polgar's blog has a report of a blitz tournament that was played in Carlsbad Caverns in the United States. From the photos it looks as the games were played deep underground, and lamps had to be used to illuminate the boards.
When I was younger I did a little bit of spelunking, although chess was one thing I didn't do underground. I've crawled, swam and got lost in caves, and have even done some abseiling. Maybe next years trip to Blayney will involve a detour to Abercrombie Caves, with a few games of blitz to mark the occasion.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Blackburne's Shilling Gambit

There comes a time in every junior players career when they discover the venerable Blackburne Shilling Gambit. If all goes according to plan then 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4?! 4.Nxe5? Qg5 5.Nxf7 Qxg2 6.Rf1 Qxe4+ 7.Be2 Nf3# leads to the kind of quick win that juniors love. This discovery is then followed by attempts to play it at every opportunity, until their regular 'customers' get wise to the trap.
The problem with this trap is that Black's third move is both obvious and in a sense, wrong. Black chooses to both unprotect a pawn, and move the same piece twice in the opening, with no strategical gain. It only works if White 'plays along'
However, if you wish to demonstrate this trap in a way that doesn't seem to break so many opening principles, then this game, which I found in a 1998 issue of Chess in Russia, may do.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nd4 6.d6 Qxd6 (D)
7.Nxf7 Qc6 8.Nxh8 Qxg2 9.Rf1 Qe4+ 10.Be2 Nf3#

And a short, shameful confession. I won a game in my first serious tournament with the short version of this trap.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Minature of the Month - September 2009

I don't know whether 2600+ players decide that trying to grind down another 2600+ player is unproductive, but I am always impressed when both players try and mix it up. In the following game Sokolov tries a sharp sideline on move, which unfortunately blows up in his face. And bonus points for the game ending with a castling move!

Sakaev,Konstantin (2625) - Sokolov,Ivan (2657) [D17]
Serbian League Kragujevac SRB (5), 05.09.2009

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 Nbd7 7.Nxc4 Nb6 8.Ne5 Nfd7 9.e4 Nxe5 10.exf5 Ned7 11.a5 Nd5 12.Nxd5 cxd5 13.Qb3 g6 14.Qxd5 gxf5 15.Bb5 a6 16.Ba4 Qc7 (D)
17.Bf4 e6 18.0-0 1-0

Friday, 16 October 2009

Anand v Topalov 2010 Venue decided

According to the Sofia Sports Agency website, the 2010 Anand v Topalov World Championship Match will be held in Sofia Bulgaria in March 2010. The link to the story is here, and I assume the decision was taken at the FIDE Congress in Haldiki, Greece. For the moment the FIDE website has nothing on this story, but this may be due to the slowness in getting any news from the congress on to the website.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

2009 Victorian Championship

The 2009 Victorian Championship has just started, and as usual is a strong tournament. The field includes GM Darryl Johasen and IM's Sandler, Morris and Rujevic. The event is being played at a rate of 1 round a week, and unlike previous years, seems to be keeping a strict 'all games at the same time' format.
Already there has been one interesting incident in the supporting Reserves tournament, which I have covered here, on my Chess Rules blog.
Results and pairings for the tournament can be found at the ChessVictoria website.

Johansen,Darryl - Dragicevic,Domagoj [B07]
Victorian Championship Melbourne (2), 13.10.2009

1.d4 d6 2.e4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nbd7 4.f4 e5 5.Nf3 exd4 6.Qxd4 c6 7.e5 dxe5 8.fxe5 Bc5 9.Qh4 Qe7 10.Bf4 Bb4 11.0-0-0 Bxc3 12.exf6 Bxf6 13.Qg3 0-0 14.Bd6 Qe3+ 15.Kb1 Qb6 16.b3 Re8 17.Bc4 Nc5 18.Ng5 Bxg5 19.Qxg5 Ne4 (D)
20.Bxf7+ Kxf7 21.Qh5+ g6 22.Qxh7+ Kf6 23.Rhf1+ Nf2 24.Rd2 Bf5 25.Rdxf2 Qd4 26.Rxf5+ gxf5 27.Qh6+ Kf7 28.Rxf5+ 1-0

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

FIDE Congress

The 2009 FIDE Congress is happening as I post this. I had hoped to attend this year, but a shift in venue from Singapore to Haldiki in Greece made it difficult both in terms of time and money.
In non-Olympiad years the majority of the congress is taken up by technical meetings, as there is no General Assembly. My main reason for wanting to attend was to take part in the meeting of the Technical Administration Panel (TAP), which is responsible for Olympiad issues. I've received a brief report on the meeting from Nick Faulks who described it a 'purely technical' and confined to pairing rules for the 2010 Olympiad. The major decision to come out of the meeting is that Accelerated Pairings will not be used. I'm sure this will please most teams.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Young Masters

Canberra juniors are still performing well on the national stage, winning 2 out of 3 tournaments at the Australian Young Masters. In the top event, Andrew Brown (ACT) was a convincing winner on 7.5/9, a point and a half ahead of second place Blair Mandla (NSW). Current ACT Junior Champion Allen Setiabudi finished on 4.5, while WFM Emma Guo scored 3.5.
The Girls Masters was a 6 player double RR and was won by Alana Chibnall (ACT) on 7.5/10 while Megan Setiabudi (ACT) tied with Leteisha Simmonds Sophie Eustace on 6.5. Jo Mason (ACT) scored 1.5.
There was also a Junior Masters event, which was won by Sally Yu (Vic), although there were no ACT players in the field.

Chibnall, Alana v Eustace, Sophie
2009 Australian Girls Masters

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 e6 4.Bb5 Nge7 5.e5 a6 6.Ne4 Nd5 7.Bxc6 dxc6 8.d3 b5 9.Nf3 Be7 10.0-0 Qb6 11.c4 Nc7 12.Nfg5 Bd7 13.Nd6+ Kf8 14.Ngxf7 Rg8 15.Ng5 Bxg5 16.fxg5+ Ke7 17.Rf7+ Kd8 18.Qf3 Be8 (D)
19.g6 h6 20.Bxh6 gxh6 21.Qf6# 1-0

Monday, 12 October 2009

The Week in Chess

Before there were blogs and websites dedicated to up to the minute chess news, the best source for topical information on the current happenings in the world of chess was The Week in Chess. TWIC (as it is more commonly known) was, and still is, produced by Mark Crowther and is a weekly newsletter of current tournament from around the world. I used to rely on it heavily for news back when Paul Dunn and myself were doing The Chess Show on 2SSS-FM in Canberra.
Of course when someone becomes famous for one thing (as Mark is), it is often forgotten that they can do other things. In this case the other thing is playing chess! Mark has a current ECF Grade of 188, which is about 2100 FIDE. And while talking to him about other matters, he sent me a game from a weekend match played between his club, and the Alwoodley Chess Club, which is the home club of my PNG team mate, Rupert Jones. It turned out this was the decisive game of the match, and in part demonstrates the difference between individual chess and teams chess. As every game may be crucial to the final score, you need to hang in there for as long as you can.

Birkin,Mark - Crowther,Mark [C00]
Woodhouse Cup (2), 10.10.2009

1.e4 e6 2.d3 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.Ngf3 Bc5 5.e5 Nfd7 6.c3 a5 7.d4 Bb6 8.Bd3 c5 9.Bc2 Nc6 10.Nf1 f6 11.Nh4 cxd4 12.Qh5+ Ke7 13.exf6+ Nxf6 14.Qg5 Kf7 15.Ng3 Bd7 16.Nh5 Qg8 17.0-0 Rf8 18.Bf4 Bd8 19.Bd6 Ne7 20.Bxe7 Kxe7 21.cxd4 h6 22.Nxf6 hxg5 23.Nxg8+ Rhxg8 24.Ng6+ Kd6 25.Nxf8 Rxf8 26.Rad1 Bb6 27.Rd2 Rf4 28.Rfd1 Be8 29.g3 Rf8 30.Re1 Bb5 31.Bd3 Bd7 32.Be2 a4 33.Red1 Rc8 34.Bg4 Ba5 35.Re2 b5 36.Kg2 b4 37.b3 a3 38.Rde1 Re8 39.Bh5 Rf8 40.Bg4 Rf6 41.Re5 Bb6 42.Rxg5 Bxd4 43.f4 Rf8 44.h4 Bf6 45.Rg6 Rc8 46.Re2 d4 47.Rxf6 gxf6 48.Kf2 f5 49.Bf3 Rc1 50.Rd2 e5 51.fxe5+ Kxe5 52.h5 Be6 53.Re2+ Kf6 54.Rd2 Rb1 55.Ke2 Bxb3 56.axb3 Rb2 0-1

Sunday, 11 October 2009

There is many a slip betwixt cup and lip

Thinking you have a winning game, and finding out you don't can be a painful experience. In the diagrammed position White looks like he has it in the bag. He however chose to take the pawn on c7 and after Qa5, it all came unstuck pretty quickly.
Myself, the ever helpful kibitzer, suggest a way to win a piece using a 'windmill' combination of 1.Qxh5! gxh5 2.Rg7+ Kh8 (2. ... Kf8 3.Rf1#) 3.Rxc7+ Kg8 4.Rg7+ Kh8 5.Rxa7+ 6.Kg8 Rxa3 However even this suggestion wasn't the best as White can instead mate after 3.Rg6#

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Chess and Baseball

Something has been bugging me for a while. When I do a search on "chess" on google news, I get a number of mentions of the current Division Series playoffs in American Major League Baseball. I recall seeing the same thing last year as well, and so my question is: Does the term "Chess Match" refer to something specific in baseball (ie the current playoff series, long standing rivalries) or is it just a popular term amongst sports writers to add gravitas to the game?
Answers appreciated.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Birthday Chess

As my birthday (today) falls on a Friday this year, it coincided with me playing members of the public on the giant chess board in Garema Place, in the Canberra city centre. I had blogged about this before (the giant board that is, not my birthday), and I have a few new observations to add.
Firstly, there is plenty of hidden talent wandering the shopping malls of Canberra. Although I won the 4 games I played, all my opponents (including a 5 year old child) had some idea of what to do. This actually makes for some good chess, as the game usually requires some 'cleverness' to win.
Secondly, once each game started quite a large crowd gathered. I could see various spectators passing on their chess wisdom to their friends and there was a lot of nodding and pointing before and after each move. However,once the game finished the crowd seemed to completely vanish, to be replaced by a different group of people 4 or 5 moves into the next game.
Here is one of the games I played, against an opponent who was probably a little single minded in his attempts to checkmate me. Towards the end of the game he even got as far as to threaten mate in 1, but unfortunately for him it was my move, and got my checkmating attack in first.

Other,A.N. - Press,Shaun [C20]
Casual, 09.10.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.c3 Nf6 4.Qf3 Bc5 5.Nh3 d6 6.Qg3 0-0 7.d3 Qd7 8.Bh6 Qg4 9.Bg5 Qxg3 10.hxg3 Nd7 11.Be3 Bb6 12.Ng5 h6 13.Nf3 f5 14.Rh5 Nf6 15.Rh4 fxe4 16.dxe4 Bxe3 17.fxe3 Be6 18.Nbd2 Ng4 19.Bc4 Bxc4 20.Nxc4 Nf6 21.g4 Nxe4 22.b4 Nxc3 23.Kd2 Nd5 24.Rah1 Ncxb4 25.g5 hxg5 (D)
26.Nxg5 Rf2+ 27.Ke1 Nd3+ 28.Kd1 Nc3# 0-1

Thursday, 8 October 2009

An attack starting from nothing

Chess coaching is often full of contradictions. While it is important for beginners to learn the virtues of solid, mistake free chess, this isn't the stuff that makes chess exciting. So after 35 minutes of 'put your pieces on safe squares, keep material even or in your favour', you wheel out the Morphy 'Opera Box' game to show them something interesting, and all they take away from the lesson is that you should sacrifice all your pieces to win.
Another good piece of advice is "develop your pieces before you attack". But if you are going to teach that lesson, then make sure you don't show the following game at any stage. It was played in the 1916 match between Janowski and Marshall (two obsessively attacking players for sure), but after 12 moves Black has only one developed piece, and he sacrifices that on move 13. Then with no pieces off the back rank, he proceeds to launch the mating attack. Not a great advertisement for the aforementioned advice.
Nonetheless it does serve as an example that chess is not just about one thing or another. In this case the other factors in play were White's lack of King safety (12.Qg4 was the culprit here) and Black's use of the open f and c files.

Janowski,Dawid Markelowicz - Marshall,Frank James [D00]
New York m3 New York (7), 1916

1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 c5 3.e3 Nc6 4.c3 e6 5.Nd2 Bd6 6.Bg3 f5 7.Ngf3 Nf6 8.Ne5 0-0 9.f4 Bxe5 10.fxe5 Ne4 11.Nxe4 fxe4 12.Qg4 cxd4 13.exd4 Nxd4 14.cxd4 (D) 14. ... Qa5+ 15.Kd1 Bd7 16.Qe2 Ba4+ 17.Kc1 Rac8+ 18.Kb1 Rxf1+ 19.Rxf1 Bb5 20.Qd1 Bd3+ 21.Qxd3 exd3 22.a4 Rc2 23.Bf4 Qb4 24.Bc1 Rxg2 25.Ra3 d2 0-1

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Am I not geeky enough?

(** Note: I loathe reality TV so this post should not be construed as either an endorsement, or encouragement to watch, the television program referred to **)

One surprise entrant in the current ANU Chess Club event was Jeremy Reading, but only because he had been locked away for the past month as part of a gaggle of geeks on the reality TV program "Beauty and the Geek". As the show has yet to go to air (it begins on Channel 7 tomorrow night) I expected him to be held prisoner by the producers until the final episode made it to air.
However it seems that the various non-disclosure agreements he presumably had to sign are protection enough, as he declined to tell anyone (including his own brother) how it all turned out. But I will hazard a guess and say that he didn't spend much of the time away working on his chess, as he was held to a draw by an opponent rated 400 odd points below him.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The long chain

Via Chesstoday comes the following position from the current European Club Championships. The game is Stamenkov v Kamsky and it is Black to play and win. Nothing special about the winning move, but I am impressed by the length of Black's pawn chain.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Anand v Topalov

FIDE are moving towards settling a venue and date for the Anand v Topalov World Championship Match. At what speed they are moving seems to depend on the bidding consortium's themselves. Although three bids have been recieved, none contain the financial guarantees that were required by FIDE. The three bidding countries, Bulgaria, Turkey and Singapore, have been given an extra 2 weeks to provide such guarantees.
I'm surprised that the Bulgarian and Turkish bids didn't provide such a guarantee, given the close relationship between those countries chess federations and the government. I suspect Singapore on the other hand was always going to be a much more private business venture, and therefore much more likely to be affected by the GFC.
Early days yet, and while I have a personal preference for Singapore (easier to travel too), I suspect that Turkey will win out, by virtue of being a neutral country.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

The four horsemen

Magnus Carlsen is currently tearing it up at the Pearl Spring tournament in Nanjing, China. The rest of the field seems to have been left completely behind, as shown by the fact that up until todays round, the only decisive games played have involved Carlsen. (Topalov beating Jakovenko in round 6 has broken this sequence)
Carlsen finished the first half of the tournament with this win over Radjabov. I particularly like the arrangement of knights after White's 24th move. The tournament website is here (although it can be a little difficult to navigate)

Carlsen,M (2772) - Radjabov,T (2757) [B30]
2nd Pearl Spring Nanjing CHN (5), 02.10.2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 e6 4.0-0 Nge7 5.c3 a6 6.Ba4 b5 7.Bc2 Bb7 8.Qe2 d5 9.e5 d4 10.Be4 Qb6 11.d3 Rd8 12.a4 Nd5 13.axb5 axb5 14.cxd4 cxd4 15.Nbd2 Nf4 16.Qd1 Nb4 17.Nb3 Bxe4 18.dxe4 Nfd3 19.Bg5 Rc8 20.Nfxd4 Nxb2 21.Qe2 Nc4 22.Rfc1 Bc5 23.Nxb5 0-0 24.Nxc5 (D)
24. ... Nxe5 25.Be7 1-0

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Didn't see it coming

The European Club Championship has just started, and it is often a chance for regular club players to mix with the super GM's in the same event. Of course this 'mixing' may involve a severe beating at the hands of a 2700+ GM, but I'm sure that the following game proves that it could happen to anyone.
Gashimov demolishes Gelfand's Petroff in 16 moves, after the latter chose the wrong moment to castle. I'm guessing that it probably wasn't opening prep, as the game had deviated from book some moves earlier, but these days you never know.

Gashimov,Vugar (2740) - Gelfand,Boris (2756) [C43]
LIII TCh-ESP CECLUB Gp1 Lugo ESP (3), 22.09.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 Nxe4 4.dxe5 d5 5.Nbd2 Nc5 6.Nb3 Ne6 [RR 6...Nxb3 7.axb3 Be7 8.Bd3 Nd7 9.c3 Nc5 10.Bc2 Bg4 11.b4 Ne6 12.Qd3 Qd7 13.0-0 g6 14.Bh6 Bf5 15.Qe2 Bxc2 16.Qxc2 Bf8 17.Qd2 Bxh6 18.Qxh6 a6 19.Rfd1 Rd8 20.h4 Qe7 21.Nh2 Ivanchuk,V (2730)-Kasimdzhanov,R (2570)/Elista 1998/CBM 66 ext/[Hecht]/½-½ (55)] 7.Nbd4 Nxd4 8.Nxd4N [RR 8.Qxd4 Be7 9.Bf4 c5 10.Qd2 Be6 11.Bb5+ Nc6 12.0-0 0-0 13.Rfe1 Qa5 14.Qxa5 Nxa5 15.Bg5 Bxg5 16.Nxg5 a6 17.Bf1 h6 18.Nxe6 fxe6 19.g3 Kf7 20.a3 Nc6 21.Bg2 b5 22.c3 c4 Villing,D (2179)-Buerger,T (2121)/Velden AUT 2009/The Week in Chess 753/0-1 (40)] 8...Be7 9.Bd3 c5 10.Nf5 0-0? (D)
11.Nxg7! Kxg7 12.Qh5 Rh8 13.Bh6+ Kg8 14.e6! fxe6 15.Qg4+ Kf7 16.Qg7+ 1-0

Friday, 2 October 2009

2009 ACT Junior Championship

Earlier this week Allen Setiabudi became the 2009 ACT Junior Chess Champion, after defeating Alana Chibnall in a playoff. They had both scored 7.5/9, along with Justin Chow, although the ACT Junior Chess League rules only include the top 2 players on tie-break in the playoff match.
What is interesting about Allen's title win, is that it comes after he tied for first in 2008 ACT Championship, meaning he was the 'all-ages' champion before he was a junior champion. Indeed, if Justin Chow had won this years junior, he would have achieved the same distinction as also finished first in last years ACT Championship.
52 players took part on this 3 day, 9 round event, and the full results can be seen here.

Thursday, 1 October 2009


I've been doing a lot of media recently (both on the KvK match and the Solomon Islands Tournament) and as a result I've had to answer a lot of chess questions from 'non-chess' reporters. One question most commonly asked is "Who is the best chess playing country in the world?" And the answer I give, "Armenia", seems to provoke the most surprise from the questioner. Even after I qualify the answer by explaining that they have won the last 2 Olympiads, there is still a level of disbelief.
But at least one media organisation has decided to do its own homework, with the BBC sending a reporter to Armenia to investigate why that country is so strong. You can read the report here.