Monday, 11 January 2010

2010 Australian Championship - some interesting results

I was going to subtitle this post 'some funny results' but after the Australia v Pakistan Test Match in Sydney, the use of the word 'funny' might have carried the wrong connotations. So I'll stick with 'interesting' especially given the standings after round 9. Basically it is Zhao and Xie on 8/9 and everyone else playing a different tournament. In fact the rest of the field is battling for 3rd place at best, as the leaders are now 2.5 points ahead of the pack, with 2 rounds to play.
There were some interesting games played this round, none more so than the clash between Junta Ikeda and Vladimir Smirnov. A win for either player would mean an IM norm, so as fate would have it, they drew. This left both players half a point short of the norm score, and means that they need to win tomorrows game to secure a 10 game norm.
The main point of interest was whether Ikeda could find a win in the ending or Smirnov hold the draw. In the diagrammed position Ikeda went for one last trick with 78.Nf6+ Kh8 79.Nxh7 Bxh7 80.g6 Now 80. ... Bg8?? loses to 81.g7# and 80. ... Bxg6?? to 81.hxg6 Kg8 82.g7 so Smirnov played 80. ... Kg8! and the games was agreed drawn as after 81.gxh7 Kh8 nothing will shift the King from the corner.
There were some interesting results on the Major tournament as well. Jason Hu and David Garner share first place on 7.5/9 after the latter player lost to FM Brian Jones. Jones had applied to play in the championship and was reasonably confident of qualifying as his title and FIDE rating were similar to players who were eventually accepted. However the ACF's discretion in allowing non-qualified players into the championship mainly targets younger players, and so an 'oldie' like Brian missed out. He is now half a point off the lead in the major and a win in this tournament would make it difficult for the ACF to knock-back his application for 2012.


Wayne said...

78.Nf6+ Kh8 79.Nxh7 Nxh7 80.g6 Now 80. ... Bg8??

Diagram does not match moves. Black has no knight.

Shaun Press said...

Sorry, will fix that - it should read 79. ... Bxh7 of course

Anonymous said...

Brian Jones' ACF and FIDE rating were both higher than another player that was accepted into the Championships. His rejection was pure discrimination based on age. The rule that allows improving juniors, but not anyone else that does not qualify by other means, to be accepted into the Championship should be removed.

Anonymous said...

i agree with anonymous.

Kevin Bonham said...

Hmmm, one anonymous agrees with another anonymous. There could be fifty anonymice saying that and they might all still be the same person for all anyone else (except for Shaun perhaps) can know. People on this (and any other) blog should get names or at least distinctive handles and be accountable for their comments. An anonymous comment agreeing with another anonymous comment, and providing no argument, contributes nothing.

As for Shaun's comments, firstly, a player who wins the Australian Major automatically qualifies for the next Australian Champs. So it is not a matter of a win of the Major making it difficult for the ACF to ignore a player's claims; it actually makes it impossible.

Secondly, there are two relevant discretional rules, one of which refers specifically to juniors and one of which does not. The two classes of discretionary entries are:

* deemed to be of equivalent proficiency to 2150 ACF
* junior (according to FIDE definition) who is improving and is deemed to be of sufficient standard.

Contrary to Shaun's claim that "the ACF's discretion in allowing non-qualified players into the championship mainly targets younger players", there are typically more players admitted exclusively through the first rule than exclusively through the second. There are often juniors who could be reasonably admitted under either.

There are certainly some juniors who get in under the improving junior rule who would not get in if that rule did not exist at all.

However, those who cry "age discrimination!" when an adult with a similar rating but a flat (or downwards) ratings trajectory gets overlooked while an improving junior gets in, ignore an important point. Such adults are typically not improving.

I cannot think of one applicant in recent years who was rejected and who would likely have been admitted had the improving junior rule said "player" instead of "junior". Such a player might be entitled to cry "age discrimination" (and we could then get into the debate about whether it was justified), but non-improving non-juniors (and/or their backers) are not.

Indeed, there have been cases where juniors with ACF ratings around 2000 have been rejected because they did not seem to be improving.

What seems more relevantly discriminatory here is the idea that the ACF should consider ownership of an FM title in deciding who to admit. Some FM titles in this country have been obtained in Oceania Zonals, including at times when the standards for such titles were even more lax than they are now, and are thus not reliable indicators of a player having held any particular playing strength at any time in their life. Other FM titles may have been obtained via a stronger route, but that could have been decades ago - such titles tell you how strong a player once was, not how good they are now. Arguments (not very strong ones IMO) can be made for such discrimination but it would be discrimination against equally strong players who did not hold such titles nonetheless.

This post does not necessarily represent the views of the ACF.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin,

I respect your work, and in general, I agree with the arguments that you put forward. If a person chooses to remain anonymous, that does not necessarily mean that the validity of that person’s claims are incorrect (I know you did not say this).

You said that you can’t think of a single applicant who was rejected who would have been admitted had the word ‘junior’ been replaced with ‘player’. Suppose this were true, it does not somehow explain how the current rule is fair and does not discriminate against players who are not of younger age, it only shows how the change in rule would not have effected any previous result. By the way, the very existence of the rule in its current form discourages older players from applying, and this may also be a contributing factor to your observation.

Let us hypothetically change the rule that advantages juniors so that instead of saying ‘junior’, it says ‘person without very dark skin’. You probably still can’t think of a single applicant who would have been rejected rather than accepted with the above hypothetical rule change, but even if that isn’t the case, it doesn’t invalidate the fact that this hypothetical rule is clearly racial discrimination.

Yet for some reason, the current existing rule is not age discrimination? Because adults typically don’t improve? Is that the logic? Great! So let’s keep the rule as it is, to emphasize this “fact”, because in the rare case that an adult may actually be improving an of ‘sufficient standard’, well, bad luck to them, he or she is too old. They have everything they need except one; the right age. If they only had the right age, well then, of course we would allow them into the Championship. Sounds fair!

Anonymous said...

Age discrimination makes a lot of sense in chess - younger players are far more likely to overperform than older players.
We should consider reserving board five in the Olympiad team for blooding a young player. China has done this with great results, and of course the USSR did this in 1992 with Kramnik, also with stunning success.

IO Brian Jones said...

Now that the Australian Championships have finished I will make a few comments.

1. Garner and Hu should have played in the Championship to make the field up to 30.

2. FIDE ratings should be used for the selection of players in Championships and Major.

3. FIDE ratings should be used for seedings in both the Championship and the Major.

4. The ACF Rating system (Glicko) should be overhauled. Accuracy should be sacrificed. It needs an audit trail and improved presentation.

5. The ACF Selection Panel needs a minimum of one member who has FIDE qualifications.

6. I hereby announce that I have now given up playing rated one hour chess. As many players already know, the current ACF rating system (glicko) encourages all chess players (even life long players such as myself) to give up playing fast one hour chess. The ACF has won its battle - from now on I will play only FIDE-rated events inside and outside of Australia!

Anonymous said...

That's a shame Brian, how about 1 hour + 10 second increment games?

Anonymous said...

not much diff between 1h and 1h+10s. both are quick.

Anonymous said...

bonham is a complete muppet!

Anonymous said...

Still, no one has successfully defended the ACF rules that are biased against older players. But of course, it’s much easier to just ignore the valid points raised, isn’t it?

Someone states that age discrimination makes sense because younger players are more likely to overperform. That is a very weak argument. You could say the same on many other characteristics besides age. If you are really primarily interested in performance (rather than fairness), then it is obvious that past performances are the best indicator.

In some regions of the world, people of darker skin are more likely to be charged with a crime – does that means you support racist laws or segregation? Perhaps you would refuse to serve a colored man in your restaurant?