Saturday, 31 July 2010

Miniature of the Month - June 2010

Just to show that the French Defence doesn't always lose brutally, I present the miniature of the month for June 2010. (Yes I know it is the end of July but my source material was slow in arriving!)

Bogdanovich,Stanislav (2458) - Kovalev,Denis (2460) [C05]
Alushta Summer 2 Alushta UKR (6), 06.2010

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.c3 c5 6.f4 Nc6 7.Ndf3 cxd4 8.cxd4 f5 9.exf6 Nxf6 10.Bd3 Ne4 11.a3 Qa5+ 12.Bd2 Nxd2 13.Nxd2 Nxd4 14.Rc1 g6 15.h4 e5 16.fxe5 Bh6 17.Rc3 0-0 18.h5 Bf4 19.Bxg6 (D)
19...Qxc3! 0-1

Friday, 30 July 2010

The trouble with visas

When the 2010 Chess Olympiad was awarded to Khanty-Mansiysk the initial concern was how to get there. While the organisers appear to have solved this via charter flights* there is still some obstacles to overcome.
The next worry is that of travel visas. This has been both a perennial problem for some teams, and often the cause of teams arriving with only 2 or 3 players. In the past FIDE have simply blamed the federations for not getting themselves organised sooner, but this excuse cannot be used for this Olympiad. Instead the Russian bureaucracy seems to be the culprit, with the invitation letters that are required to get the visas not being sent out until late August. This leaves teams approximately 1 month to apply and receive their visas, which may seem ample, except for the fact that the turn around time for processing applications isn't that quick (7 business days and $110 in Australia).
For players travelling from Australia this may be a painless process, but for countries that lack a Russian embassy (eg PNG) or for players who are beginning their travels in August, there may be difficulties. I just hope everyone planning to play in the Olympiad doesn't get done over at the application stage, otherwise we may see a repeat of 2008, with 2 player and 3 player teams affecting matches on the lower boards.

*Credit for the charter flights idea should go to Budva, who were an unsuccessful bidder for the 2010 Olympiad. They promised this in their bid, and Khanty then did the same.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Pay for play?

Over at Chessvibes is an open letter from Arkadij Naiditsch concerning the non participation os some leading German players at this years Olympiad. His initial concern is about the remuneration offered to the players on the German team, but it then goes on the bag out a number of German Chess Federation officials.
What mainly interests me is the notion of being paid to represent your country. I know some countries do pay their players at the Olympiad, but I suspect that a majority of countries do not, simply because they cannot afford to. I also suspect that their are a number of federations who cannot even pay the full travel expenses of their selected players (eg every federation in Oceania).
For most European players the expense of playing in the Olympiad is minimal, as accommodation and meals are provided by the organisers. And even with this years event being played in Siberia, travel by plane from Munich/Prague/Milan is also free.
So I wonder whether the basis of the complaint is entirely valid. Is everything about money, right down to the fact that by not receiving what you demand, you are somehow being disadvantaged? And will it get to the point where teams will be picked, not on skill, but on a federations budget, and a players willingness to accept a lower payment?

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Openings that just get bashed

There are a couple of openings that seem to turn up on the wrong side of hacks more often than not. Certain lines of the French for example, or passive openings like the Philador. Of course this is an exercise in self selection (for me at any rate) as having decided an opening is bad I tend to notice evidence confirming this belief.
The Queens Gambit Accepted is another opening in this category. I can remember an old game (pre-1990!) where Hubner got snapped as Black taking the pawn, and I'm pretty sure I've seen a few others. Adding to that list is the following brilliancy that turned up in my latest copy of Chess Today. In a variation of the QGA that has a degree of historical provenance (Euwe, Alekhine and Najdorf have all been on the white side of it), Drozdovskij not only sacrifices his own queen, but allows his opponent to get an extra one as well. However this is all to no avail and the game is over in 21 moves.

Drozdovskij,Yuri (2624) - Ivanov,Jordan (2422) [D27]
15th Open Balaguer ESP (6), 24.07.2010

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Bxc4 c5 6.0-0 a6 7.Bb3 Nc6 8.Nc3 b5 9.Qe2 Bb7 10.Rd1 Qc7 11.d5 exd5 12.e4 d4 13.Nd5 Qd8 14.Bf4 Rc8 15.a4 c4 16.axb5 d3 (D)
17.bxc6 dxe2 18.Nxf6+ Qxf6 19.cxb7 exd1Q+ 20.Rxd1 Qc6 21.Ba4 1-0

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

2010 British Championship

I'm not sure whether it is just me, but the British Championship seems to have started a little earlier than usual this year. I missed the first couple of rounds as a result of this, but there are still plenty of rounds to go before it finishes. The top seed (by a long way) is GM Michael Adams, who is making a return to the British. He out rates the second seed GM Nicholas Pert by a good 150 points.
Interestingly the championship is using an accelerated pairing system, which is a little surprising for an 11 round event that only has 80 odd players. Clearly the intention is to avoid 'junk' pairings in the early rounds, rather than the necessity of finding a winner. Overall there are 730 entries for the whole event, noting that supporting events include various Junior and Senior Championships, plus rapidplays held on rest days, which players in other events can, and have, entered.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Summer in Europe

GM Ian Rogers had a big write up in Sundays Canberra Times on Tomek Rej's European chess tour. Rej, from Sydney, scored his third IM norm at the O2C Doeberl Cup earlier this year. However his rating is still below the 2400 mark to confirm the IM title, so he is playing a few events in the European summer to try and gain the required rating points.
In the Najdorf Memorial tournament in Poland he got off to a spectacular start with 3.5/4, including a win over GM Krzysztof Jakubowski and draw with second seed GM Bartek Macieja. His win over Jakubowski included a tactical trick that the tournament bulletins described as "satanic".
Also doing well is South Australian Andrew Saint who is leading the 'C' tournament at Biel with a perfect 4/4.

Rej,Tomek - Jakubowski,Krzysztof [B80]
Najdorf Memorial, 07.2010

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be3 b5 7.Qd2 Nf6 8.f3 Nbd7 9.0-0-0 Bb7 10.g4 Nb6 11.Qf2 Nfd7 12.e5 b4 13.Ne4 dxe5 14.Nxe6 fxe6 15.Rd6 Nd5 16.Rxe6+ Kf7 17.Ng5+ Kg8 18.Bc4 Rc8 19.b3 Qa5 20.Qe2 Qxa2 (D) 21.Rxa6 Rxc4 22.Rxa2 Rc3 23.Bd2 Nc5 24.Kb2 h5 25.Bxc3 bxc3+ 26.Kb1 hxg4 27.Qxe5 gxf3 28.Qe8 1-0

Sunday, 25 July 2010

2010 ANU Open - Final Results

After 7 gruelling rounds IM Andras Toth emerged as the winner of the 2010 ANU Open. After finishing day 1 with 3.5/4, he scored 2.5/3 on Day 2 to finish on 6/7. GM Zong Yuan Zhao recovered from his round 3 loss (to Toth) to go into the last round tied with Toth, but found GM David Smerdon a tough nut to crack and their game was drawn in 43 moves. This left Zhao on 5.5, tied for second with FM Junta Ikeda.
In the Minor (Under 1600) Hwaimeen Chai fended off a strong attack from Stuart Mason to win their decisive last round game. The win took her to 6.5/7, a full point ahead of second place getter Trent Parker. Third place saw a 6 way tie between Mario Palma, Paul Campbell, Bill Egan, Stuart Mason, William Booth, and Michael Kethro.

Full crosstables for both events in the comments section

2010 ANU Open Round 5

Round 5 of the 2010 ANU is just finishing, and FM Junta Ikeda has taken the outright lead following a dramatic win over GM David Smerdon. With both players down to less than 30 seconds (with a 10 second increment), Ikeda unleashed a tactical sequence that was kicked off with a queen sac. Short of time Smerdon failed to find the best defence and Ikeda emerged with a material advantage. This was quickly transformed into a mating attack and Smerdon resigned with his King trapped in the centre.

FM Ikeda,Junta - GM Smerdon,David
2010 ANU Open, 25.07.2010

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 g6 4.c4 d4 5.Qa4+ Bd7 6.Qc2 Nc6 7.a3 a5 8.d3 Bg7 9.Nbd2 0-0 10.b3 Qc8 11.h3 e5 12.Rb1 Re8 13.b4 axb4 14.axb4 Bf8 15.b5 Nb4 16.Qb3 c6 17.bxc6 bxc6 18.Ng5 Kg7 19.c5 Nfd5 20.Nge4 Qc7 21.Nc4 Reb8 22.0-0 f5 23.Ned6 Na6 (D)
24.Qb7 Rxb7 25.Rxb7 Qd8 26.Bxd5 Nxc5 27.Bh6+ Kxh6 28.Nf7+ Kg7 29.Nxd8 cxd5 30.Ne6+ Kf6 31.Nxc5 Bxc5 32.Nxe5 Kxe5 33.Rxd7 Ra2 34.Rc1 Bb4 35.Rc6 g5 36.Rd8 f4 37.Re8+ 1-0

Saturday, 24 July 2010

2010 ANU Open - Day 1

At the ends of the first day of the 2010 ANU Open, the battle for first place is still fairly open. The 35 player Open is quite strong, with 2 GM's (Zhao and Smerdon), IM Toth, and a number of FM's.
The hero of day 1 was undoubtedly IM Andras Toth, who defeated the top seed GM Zong Yuan Zhao in round 3. Having done that, and with the black pieces no less, he was then paired with GM David Smerdon in round 4, and once again he had the black pieces. However he manged to deal with a damaged pawn structure to hold Smerdon to a draw. This leaves him in a share of first with Smerdon and FM's Igor Bjelobrk and Junta Ikeda.
In the 42 player Minor (Under 1600), there is a 5 way tie for first place. The top board clash in round 4 saw Hweimeen Chai and Mario Palma draw, allowing Bill Egan, Stuart Mason and Paul Campbell to catch up.
Live coverage of the top board from the open can be found at
Crosstables from both events can be found in the comments section to this post.

2010 ANU Open - Round 3 Upset

The first big upset of the 2010 ANU Open occured in Round 3. 4th seed IM Andras Toth defeated top seed GM Zong Yuan Zhao with the black pieces. Zhao had the initiative for most of the game but Toth kept his position together and as Zhao ran short of time, Toth gained the advantage. The game ended when Zhao lost on time in a worse position.

GM Zhao,Zong-Yuan - IM Toth,Andras
2010 ANU Open, 24.07.2010

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Nbd7 8.Qf3 Be7 9.Bc4 h6 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.0-0-0 Qb6 12.Nde2 Qc7 13.Bb3 Nc5 14.Ng3 g6 15.Rhf1 0-0 16.f5 Bd7 17.Kb1 Be5 18.Qe3 Kg7 19.Rf3 a5 20.Rdf1 Nxb3 21.cxb3 Qc5 22.Qd2 Bc6 23.f6+ Kh7 24.Nge2 g5 25.h4 g4 26.Rd3 b5 27.Nd4 Bd7 28.Nce2 b4 29.Rc1 Qb6 30.Ng3 Rac8 31.Rf1 Rc7 32.Nh5 Rfc8 33.Rd1 Rc5 34.Qe2 Qc7 35.a4 bxa3 36.Qxg4 Rg8 37.Qe2 axb2 38.Qxb2 a4 0-1

2010 ANU Chess Festival - Live coverage

Live coverage of board 1 from the ANU Open can be found at
The connection from the venue may be a little shaky, but I will try and keep it going as well as I can.
The event has a field of 77, with 35 in the Open and 42 in the Minor (Under 1600). Top seeds are GM Zong Yuan Zhao, GM David Smerdon, FM Igor Bjelobrk, IM Andras Toth, FM Junta Ikeda and FM Endre Ambrus.

Friday, 23 July 2010

2010 ANU Chess Festival - GM Simul

Grandmaster David Smerdon kicked off the 2010 ANU Chess Festival with the traditional simul in Canberra City. Normally this simul is held outdoors, in the middle of the Canberra Winter, as a test to both Master and players. However this year saw a slight venue change, with the simul being moved indoors to King O'Malley's pub. While this move was appreciated by all who took part (although it wasn't that cold this year), the event did lose a little in terms of colour and movement, with the usual crowd of curious passers by being absent.
As for the chess GM Smerdon was in his usual ruthless form, at least in the second hour. He confessed he had handicapped himself by watching the Tour de France until 2 in the morning, so for the first hour of the simul he was just trying to hang on. In one game he played the seemingly strong Qd1-b3, overlooking the fact that a pawn was still on c2. "I thought I'd sac'd that one" he said sheepishly.
But having survived the first hour he began to rack up a few wins, and as the number of remaining players dropped, he was able to devote more energy to converting a number of endings. The whole thing finished in slightly under 2 hours, with 15 wins and a single draw to Mos Ali.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Chess with slogans

Next month Australia goes to the polls. This means for the next month we will be bombarded with election ads and election slogans. Already the Labor party is quick off the mark with the Tal-like 'Moving Forward" its mantra. While I haven't come across the Liberal party slogan yet, I'm sure it will be more representative of the Petrosian school of chess.
Of course we can sometimes reduce chess to a series of slogans. Of course we might refer to them by the more sophisticated name of 'aide-memoire' but they are essentially sayings designed to help us find out way through the difficulties at the board.
In the following game I had a number of slogans running through my head. There was "Restrain, Blockade, Destroy" from Nimzovich, once White had an isolated d pawn. Then there was Karpov's "Restrict the mobility of your opponents pieces", which I did by surrounding the rook on h4 with pawns. Finally it was "The advantage of the exchange is decisive" from Euwe. Each of slogans moved me through the game, with the destruction of the isolated d pawn the final act.

Yoon,Sunny - Press,Shaun [D48]
ANU Winter Swiss, 21.07.2010

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e3 Nf6 5.Bd3 dxc4 6.Bxc4 b5 7.Bd3 a6 8.Nf3 Nbd7 9.0-0 c5 10.Re1 Bb7 11.a3 Bd6 12.h3 0-0 13.Nd2 cxd4 14.exd4 Qb6 15.Nde4 Bc7 16.Nxf6+ Nxf6 17.Ne4 Nxe4 18.Bxe4 Bxe4 19.Rxe4 Rfd8 20.Be3 Rd5 21.Rc1 Qb7 22.Rh4 Rc8 23.b4 Bb6 24.Rc2 g6 25.Qc1 Rxc2 26.Qxc2 Qc7 27.Qxc7 Bxc7 28.Kf1 Kg7 29.Ke2 h5 30.Kd3 f5 31.Kc3 Bd8 (D)
32.Rf4 g5 33.Rf3 g4 34.hxg4 hxg4 35.Rg3 Bh4 36.Bf4 Bxg3 37.Bxg3 Rd8 38.Be5+ Kf7 39.f3 gxf3 40.gxf3 Rc8+ 41.Kb3 Rc4 42.a4 Ke7 43.f4 Kd7 44.Bf6 Kc6 45.Be5 Kd5 46.axb5 axb5 47.Bg7 Rxd4 0-1

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The benefits of fine weather

Despite some claims to the contrary, Canberra has very good weather. A typical winters day in the nations capital starts with light frost, followed by clear blue skies and a sunny day. Of course you have to accept that waking up to -3 temperatures is the price to pay, but live here long enough and you get used to it.
Occasionally it does turn nasty , and sometimes this has an effect on chess tournaments. For example the first round of the ANU Chess Club's Winter Swiss event had a smaller than expected field, but this may have been due to the typhoon raging outside. While the cold is something Canberran's live with, combining it with sheeting rain is enough to send everyone scurrying indoors.
However this week saw a return fine weather, and as a result the field for round 2 of the Winter Swiss was up by almost 50%. The sudden influx of players caused a degree of scrambling for extra tables and space, but once everyone was sorted out, some good chess was on offer.

Bliznyuk,Andrey - East,Bill [B87]
ANU Winter Swiss, 21.07.2010

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 b5 8.a3 Be7 9.0-0 0-0 10.Kh1 Qc7 11.f4 Nc6 12.f5 Nxd4 13.Qxd4 e5 14.Qd3 Bb7 15.Bg5 Rac8 16.Rad1 Rfd8 17.Bxf6 Bxf6 18.Rf2 Qc5 19.Qg3 Qc7 20.Bd5 Kh8 21.Rfd2 Rb8 22.Bxb7 Rxb7 23.Nd5 Qd7 (D)
24.Nxf6 gxf6 25.Qh4 Qe7 26.Rd3 Rbd7 27.Rh3 1-0

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Biel Young Grandmasters

Of the current group of young players (excluding Carlsen), the player I believe is the next to enter the elite group is Parimarjan Negi. Therefore I was somewhat surprised that in the first round of the Biel Young Grandmasters tournament he came unstuck. The opening as a Catalan, and for most of the game Negi had an equal position. Although his opponent Maxim Rodshtein was a pawn up, Black was going to round it up at some point. The only problem for Negi was he chose the wrong point to capture it, and after 27.Na3! he was suddenly losing material.
Coverage of the tournament is here, and the round 2 games are in progress as I write this.

Rodshtein,Maxim (2609) - Negi,Parimarjan (2615) [E04]
Young Grandmasters Tournament Biel SUI (1), 19.07.2010

1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.g3 dxc4 5.Bg2 c6 6.Ne5 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Be7 8.e3 b5 9.a4 b4 10.Nxc4 0-0 11.0-0 Ba6 12.b3 Nbd7 13.Bxc6 Rc8 14.Bg2 e5 15.Re1 Bxc4 16.bxc4 Rxc4 17.Qb3 Rc8 18.a5 Re8 19.Rd1 exd4 20.exd4 Bd6 21.Be1 Ne4 22.Bxe4 Rxe4 23.Bxb4 Bxb4 24.Qxb4 Ne5 25.Qb7 Nf3+ 26.Kg2 Rxd4 27.Na3 Nd2 28.Ra2 Nf3 29.Rxd4 Nxd4 30.Rd2 1-0

Monday, 19 July 2010

Rybka v Stockfish

Unlike matches (or tournaments) involving human players, matches between the top computer programs are pretty easy to organise. Instead of appearance fees, accommodation and travel costs, all you need is a couple of computers and the programs themselves.
At the moment two of the worlds best programs, Rybka and Stockfish are battling out in a 48 game match. You can even watch it in real time at the match website. After 40 games Rybka has a convincing (and match winning) lead 24.5-15.5, although the match is being played to the finish.
As with most computer v computer matches the chess is fairly dry, with errors being rare. One of the more interesting games occurred early in the match, with Stockfish beating Rybka for the first time (after having lost the previous 3 games). The key moment came at move 20, when Stockfish planted the knight on e5. After that Rybka's position got steadily worse, with White being up a rook when Black finally resigned.

Stockfish 1.8 - Rybka 4 [A60]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 Bd6 5.Nc3 exd5 6.cxd5 0-0 7.e4 Re8 8.Bd3 c4 9.Bxc4 Nxe4 10.0-0 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Na6N [RR 11...Qc7 12.Qd3 Bf4 13.Bxf4 Qxf4 14.Rfe1 Rf8 15.Re4 Qf6 16.Rae1 b5 17.Bxb5 Na6 18.Re8 Bb7 19.Rxa8 Rxa8 20.Bxd7 Nc5 21.Qb5 Qxc3 22.Bc8 g5 23.Bxb7 Rb8 24.Re8+ Rxe8 25.Qxe8+ Kg7 26.Bc6 Bobula,M (2423)-Shrentzel,I (2228)/Warsaw POL 2007/The Week in Chess 684/1-0 (33)] 12.Bd3 h6 13.Qc2 b6 14.Bb2 Bb7 15.c4 Rc8 16.Bh7+ Kh8 17.Bf5 Kg8 18.Qc3 Bf8 19.Rad1 Nc5 (D)
20.Ne5 Qe7 21.Qh3 Qf6 22.Rde1 b5 23.Bc3 b4 24.Ba1 Rxe5 25.Bxe5 Qa6 26.Qg4 Na4 27.Bd3 Nc5 28.Bc2 Ne6 29.dxe6 dxe6 30.Bd3 Bc6 31.Re3 Be8 32.Rg3 g6 33.Qh4 1-0

Thanks to Milan Ninchich for information on this match.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Vale Blayney

Having recently reported positively on the increase in tournament numbers in Australian weekenders, it comes as a shock to be informed that the Blayney tournament isn't being held this year. The reason is one that afflicts a number of tournaments, in that the hard working organiser of previous years events has simply run out of puff. And while getting players to tournaments is a critical factor in their success, having someone organise them in the first place is obviously just as important.
My real concern is that we may be seeing a swing back towards 'Capital City' chess, where tournaments in large cities do well, but the country events disappear. This happened in NSW in the 1980's when Orange, Armidale, Blackheath, Albury etc fell off the calendar, and a couple of new country events (Blayney and Coff's Harbour) are now going the same way. It is a real shame that this seems to be happening as at least for me I am at that age where the venue and ambience are as important as the field and prize money.
For NSW players it also means the next weekend event on the calendar isn't until the October long weekend. However it isn't too late to book a trip to the nations capital to play in this weekends ANU Open. Hopefully we Canberran's will be able to fill the void.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Rubik's Chess

Often you will find players killing time between rounds trying to solve the Rubik's Cube. Well you did in the 1980's, and as it turns out, in 2010 as well. At the recent NSW Open there were a number of players twisting edges and shifting corners.
It turns out that the notion of the 'corner shift' may have been anticipated by Alexander Alekhine over 50 years ago. In his 1925 game against Sir George Thomas he reached the position in the diagram. The major weakness in the position for White is the a pawn, which Alekhine is targeting down the a file. The fact the the bishop on b2 is bad, and Black has control of the light squares on the queenside gives him a pretty free hand in the position. However Black's major pieces aren't on their optimal squares and need to be re-arranged. The ideal set up is in fact Ra6,Ra4 and Qc4. To achieve this Black needs to rotate them counter clockwise around the b5 square. It turns out that it is a little easier in chess that on a Rubik's Cube (3 moves versus somewhat more on the Cube), but on the other hand you don't have an opponent trying to interfere with your cube solving.
Alekhine didn't get to complete the re-arrangement of pieces (Thomas exchanged queens on c4) but he still won the game based on targeting the a pawn.
33.Rfe1 Bh4 34.Rf1 Qc4 35.Qxc4 Rxc4 36.a3 Be7 37.Rfb1 Bd6 38.g3 Kf8 39.Kg2 Ke7 40.Kf2 Kd7 41.Ke2 Kc6 42.Ra2 Rca4 43.Rba1 Kd5 44.Kd3 R6a5 45.Bc1 a6 46.Bb2 h5 47.h4 f6 48.Bc1 e5 49.fxe5 fxe5 50.Bb2 exd4 51.cxd4 b4 52.axb4 Rxa2 53.bxa5 Rxb2 0-1

Friday, 16 July 2010

The birth of opening theory

There was an old saying concerning opening theory "Players of today believe that modern opening theory began the day they were born. In fact it began the day David Bronstein was born". I'm not sure who originally said it (Boleslavsky? Spassky?) but in part it does suggest that players of today be mindful of what has gone before.
For example the game between Naidistch and Mamedyarov played in the first round of the Dortmund tournament started with a line thought to be bad for White for at least 14 years. Naiditsch played a sharp line against the Najdorf, although this line resulted in a loss to Topalov against Short in 1996. Where Naidistch thought the improvement was going to be is unclear, as the move he chose to move away from Topalov - Short didn't seem to change the assessment of the position. Maybe he hoped to follow one of the stem games given in the notes below, but given the strength of the players involved, improvements for Black were certain to be found. Naidistch reached a position that on the surface looked equal but he had two problems. One, only reaching equality as White is a minor victory for Black at this level, and two, it wasn't even equal, as Black had an edge in the Rook and Bishop ending, which he duly converted.

Naiditsch,Arkadij (2691) - Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar (2760) [B86]
Sparkassen Chess-Meeting 2010 Dortmund/Germnany (1), 15.07.2010

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 Nbd7 8.f4 Nc5 9.0-0 Nfxe4 10.Nxe4 Nxe4 11.f5 e5 12.Qh5 d5 13.Re1 Bc5 14.Rxe4 Bxd4+ (D)
15.Kh1 [15.Be3 was Topalov's choice against Short.] 15...Qf6 16.Re1 Bxf5N [RR 16...g6 17.Qh6 e4 18.Bxd5 Bxf5 19.Bxb7 Ra7 20.Bxe4 Re7 21.Bg5 Bxe4 22.Bxf6 Bxf6 1-0 Ghassan,H (2013)-Issa,K/Beirut LIB 2007/The Week in Chess 668;
RR 16...0-0 17.c3 Bc5 18.Rf1 Be7 19.Bxd5 Rb8 20.Be3 Bd7 21.Rae1 Bc6 22.Bxc6 Qxc6 23.Bf4 f6 24.Bc1 Rfc8 25.Rf3 Qe8 26.Qh4 Bf8 27.Rh3 h6 28.Rg3 Kf7 29.b3 Rc6 30.Qg4 Rd8 31.c4 Doghri,N (2305)-Docx,S (2275)/Cannes 1997/CBM 57 ext/1-0 (50)] 17.c3 Ba7 18.Bxd5 0-0 19.Rf1 Qd6 20.Rxf5 Qxd5 21.Rxe5 Rae8 22.Bf4 Rxe5 23.Qxe5 Qxe5 24.Bxe5 f6 25.Bc7 Re8 26.Rd1 Re2 27.b3 Rxa2 28.g3 Ra3 29.Rb1 h5 30.Bd6 Ra2 31.Re1 Rd2 32.Bb8 Bxb8 33.Re8+ Kf7 34.Rxb8 Rd7 35.Kg2 Ke6 36.Kf3 Kf5 37.h3 Rd3+ 38.Kf2 b5 39.Rc8 h4 40.gxh4 Rxh3 41.Rc7 Kg6 42.Rc6 b4 43.cxb4 Rxh4 44.Rb6 Re4 45.Kf3 Kf5 46.Rb7 g5 47.b5 a5 0-1

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Not quite instant chess

These days every major tournament carries live coverage of their games. The motivation for this is, apart from keeping up with the Jonses, is to get the tournament name (and the sponsors name) out into the chess world. Given that chess still hasn't cracked it as a television sport, this is the next best thing.
For example Dortmund starts this evening, and chess junkies can stay up to watch the live coverage, channel 'hopping' with Le Tour and the Australian v Pakistan cricket (or try my decadent set-up of Foxtel for the cricket, TV-tuner stick on my netbook for the cycling, and web browser next to it for the chess).
But if this overload of information is doing your head in, you can always go for something a little bit slower. The ICCF webchess website provides coverage of a number of their events, at a more sedate pace of 10 moves in 30 or 40 days! They even provide a direct link to the top 20 games (based on rating) in progress at the moment, if you just want to watch the big boys. You can drop in at your leisure, peruse a couple of games, safe in the knowledge that you can go to sleep knowing the game will most likely still be going when you wake up!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

2010 ANU Chess Festival

The 2010 ANU Chess Festival begins in a little over a week. The first event is the ANU Co-Op Bookshop simul, which this year will be given by GM David Smerdon. It is on Friday 23rd July at King O'Malley's in Canberra City, and for those worried about the cold Canberra weather, it will be held indoors for a change! Open (and free) to the first 20 players who register/turn up, with book vouchers as prizes for players who can take at least a half point of the Grandmaster.
Saturday the 24th sees the start of the 2 day ANU Open and Under 1600 event. $3300 in prizes on offer for both events, and a chance to play a number of strong local and interstate players. If you wish to take advantage of the early entry discount you only have until Friday to enter. Full details on the tournament, the new venue for this year, and how to enter, are available here. Live broadcast of the top board will be happening throughout the event (ANU wireless internet willing). Full details on this closer to the event.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Weird chess spoofs

I suspect that chess writing is a far more serious business these days. Apart from Kingpin (and early Mig Greengard) there isn't a lot of satire in modern chess. Of course writers still make fun of other writers but it often has a nastier edge than in previous years.
Back in 1891 Tarrasch had a little bit of fun at the expense of Steinitz and Tchigorin. Steinitz played a match against Tchigorin to test some opening theory, including his line of the Two Knights where the White Knight completes a circle in the opening (Nf3-g5-h3-g1). Tarrasch wrote of "Chess of the Future" where two masters agreed to a draw after 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Ng1 Ng8 4.Nb1! Nb8!! 5.Nh3 Na6!! 6.Na3!! Nh6!! 7.Ng1 Ng8 8. Nb1 1/2

60 years later Hans Kmoch parodied the sometimes bombastic style of Nimzovich in the following, constructed, game. Purporting to be played by Nimzovich himself, the whole game hinged around the e5 pawn. White went to great pains to over-protect it (eg 8.Qh2!!) while Black unsuccessfully attempted to target it. Throw in a couple of mysterious rook moves (17.Rae1!!) and it is hardly uprising that Black was mated in short order.

Nimzovich - Sistemsson [C00]
Copenhagen, 1927

1.e4 e6 2.h4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.d4 cxd4 5.h5 Qb6 6.h6 Nxh6 7.Qh5 g6 (D)
8.Qh2 Nf5 9.Bd3 Nc6 10.Nf3 h5 11.b3 Bg7 12.Bf4 Bd7 13.Nbd2 Rc8 14.Ke2 Nb4 15.Ne1 Nxd3 16.Nxd3 Rxc2 17.Rae1 a5 18.Kd1 Rc6 19.Re2 Ke7 20.Rhe1 Re8 21.Nf3 Bf8 22.g4 hxg4 23.Qh7 gxf3 24.Bg5# 1-0

Monday, 12 July 2010

A nice chess set design

In a couple of previous blog posts, I have stated that there is no more a useless gift for a chess player than a non-tournament chess set. Not only does this include ornately designed sets but also novelty sets such as the Simpsons or drinking sets (OK, I'll admit to liking the Simpsons sets, but it would have been far better with extra characters included).
But via Susan Polgars blog comes a chess set that I don't mind. It is Naef Bauhaus Chess Set designed in 1923, and is available from Retro to Go. It is a simple design but yet one I could quite happily see on my coffee table. Of course I would probably still find it difficult to use for playing or analysis, but as alternative sets go, it is one of the best I've seen. The only drawback, the price!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

West dominates George Trundle Masters

Australian IM Guy West has scored an emphatic victory in the 2010 George Trundle Masters, finishing with 8.5/9! In the 10 player Round Robin, organised by the Auckland Chess Club, West drew in round 6 with Brazilian IM Herman Van Riemsdijk, and beat every other player in the field. He even beat tournament top seed IM Stephen Solomon in the final round, when he already had first place secure.
2 points behind in second place was event organiser Michael Steadman, who had a quick final round draw to secure his first IM norm. Third place was another New Zealand player, Bob Smith, who was the only other player to finish on a plus score.
Full results, plus games and pictures from the tournament can be found at the New Zealand Chess results site.

Solomon,Stephen (2423) - West,Guy (2325) [C45]
George Trundle NZ Masters 2010 (9.3), 11.07.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Nxc6 Qf6 6.Qf3 Qxf3 7.gxf3 bxc6 8.Nc3 Ne7 9.Be3 Bxe3 10.fxe3 d6 11.f4 0-0 12.Bd3 f5 13.Kd2 fxe4 14.Nxe4 Bf5 15.Rhg1 Rae8 16.h4 Nd5 (D)
17.Nc3 Nxe3 18.Rae1 Bxd3 19.cxd3 Nf5 20.Rxe8 Rxe8 21.Ne4 Rb8 22.Kc3 h6 23.h5 Rf8 24.Kd2 Ne7 25.Rf1 Rf5 26.Ng3 Rb5 27.b3 Nf5 28.Ne4 Rb8 29.Rc1 c5 30.Ke2 Kf7 31.Kf3 a5 32.Kg4 Ne3+ 33.Kf3 Nd5 34.Nxc5 dxc5 35.Rxc5 Ke6 36.Ke4 Rb5 37.Rxb5 Nc3+ 38.Kd4 Nxb5+ 39.Kc5 Na7 40.d4 g6 41.hxg6 h5 42.f5+ Kf6 43.Kd5 Nb5 44.a4 Nc3+ 45.Kc4 h4 46.Kxc3 h3 0-1

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The most important law of chess?

I purchased a copy of "Find the Right Plan with Anatoly Karpov", written by Karpov and Anatoly Matsukevich, the other day. Previous books by Karpov haven't impressed me much, but this one is actually quite good. I found earlier books by Karpov quite similar to the writings of Capablanca, in that the winning idea or concept seemed to be "play the same moves as Karpov (or Capablanca) played", without necessarily explaining why they were played.
This book in fact goes the other way, with half of it devoted to a single concept, which is titled "The most important law of chess". The law is "Restricting the mobility of your opponent's pieces (and in association with this: domination by your own)" It then goes on to explain the methods you can follow to achieve this, methods which are intended to generate a concrete plan for you to follow.
While this is of course easier said than done, and the book itself admits this, it certainly encourages a more subtle approach to the game. Nonetheless I suspect it needs a level of commitment and understanding beyond what I am capable of to truly work, but I'll at least see if can provide some improvement to my overall results.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Winning with the Bongcloud

For those who find the Hammerschlag theory to difficult to learn, I have recently come across another opening which contains some of the same themes and yet is subtly different. The Bongcloud Opening (1.e4 e5 2.Ke2) is the kind of opening that appeals to the player who wishes to avoid the opening phase altogether. Of course this may result in such accidents as 1.e4 e5 2.Ke2 Qh4 3.Nf3?? Qxe4# but if you get beyond that, an exciting game surely awaits.
There is even a book written on the Bongcloud, available in PDF format at The author, Andrew Fabbro, gives a number of reasons for playing the Bongcloud, my favourite being "You’ve noticed that while dozens of people have published “Anti-Sicilian” books, there are far fewer “Anti-Bongcloud” books".
Certainly if you pick this opening you will avoid players with huge opening databases, as in my collection of games (3,000,000+) I found exactly 1 game that began this way. However White's play was too weak to do the opening justice, so clearly it is an opening that awaits another champion.

(*Disclaimer: I have complimentary membership at, courtesy of my CM(!) title *)

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Where to stick the punctuation?

Automated annotation of games via computer engines is still an imperfect art. While strong programs can show long lines of analysis, attaching meaningful comments is still better handled by humans.
One difference I've noticed is the handing out of ! and ? marks in games. When I annotate I'm happier to attach ! to moves I think are good, rather than ? to moves I believe are bad. In fact it is often a decision based around a pair of successive moves, in that the choice is between giving a ! to good move, or giving a ? to the preceding move that allowed it to happen.
For example, in the diagrammed position White play 1.g3. This allows the tactical shot 1. ... Qxg5 for if White captures the Queen, the 2. ... Nh3 is mate. After 2.gxf4 Qxg4+ 3.Nxf4 exf4 Black also has a winning position.
While I'd be happy to give 1. ... Qxg5 a !, Fritz would rather give 1.g3 a ??. Clearly the reasoning is that good moves don't change the assessment of the position, they merely confirm your opponents mistake.
And while I can see the logic behind this, I'm afraid that such an approach would drive ! marks out of the game forever.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The Global Opening

What to do if you are a retired GM, making a comeback to tournament chess after a break of a number of years? In the case of English GM Matthew Sadler, avoiding opponents more up to date opening theory was one consideration. So borrowing from IM Michael Basman's bag of tricks he employed the Global Opening (Reversed).
The Global Opening can be played against pretty much anything as with White you simply start with h3 and a3, and employed as Black (as Sadler did), you being with h6 and a6. For Sadler this seemed to be a pretty effective strategy as he won the tournament he was playing in, in Haarlem, with a score of 5/6. And the field was quite strong, with 7 GM's playing. Possibly the most drastic example of the success of this opening was his quick win over IM Chiel Van Oosterom.

IM Van Oosterom,Chiel - GM Matthew Sadler
NOVA college schaaktoernooi 2010 Haarlem, 03.07.2010

1.e4 a6 2.d4 h6 3.Bd3 c5 4.dxc5 e6 5.Be3 Qc7 6.b4 Nc6 7.c3 d6 8.cxd6 Bxd6 9.Nf3 Nf6 10.h3 g5 11.a3 g4 12.Nd4 Ne5 13.Be2 Nxe4 14.hxg4 Bd7 15.g5 0-0-0 16.gxh6 Bc6 17.Nxc6 Qxc6 18.Qb3 Bc7 19.a4 (D)
19. ... Ng3 20.fxg3 Qxg2 21.Rf1 Nd3+ 22.Bxd3 Rxd3 0-1

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

George Trundle Masters 2010

Across the Tasman, the Auckland Chess Club is once again hosting the George Trundle Masters. The Masters is a 10 player round robin, and is both an opportunity for New Zealand players (and others) to score IM norms, as well as providing a hit out for a number of players before the 2010 Olympiad.
After 4 rounds the lead is shared between Australian IM Guy West, and New Zealand FM Mike Steadman. Both players have started the event with 4 wins, which puts them both in the box seat for first place, and Steadman looking good for an IM norm.
Full results from the tournament can be found at the New Zealand Chess website, and the games from the Masters and the supporting Qualifiers event can also be downloaded from there.

Smith,Robert (2273) - West,Guy (2325) [C50]
George Trundle NZ Masters 2010 (4.5), 06.07.2010

1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 e5 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 d6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Bc4 Be7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Bb3 Na5 9.Nde2 Nxb3 10.axb3 Re8 11.h3 Bf8 12.Ng3 b6 13.Qf3 Bb7 14.Bg5 Re6 15.Nd5 Be7 16.Nf5 Nxd5 17.exd5 Bxg5 18.h4 Be7 19.Qc3 Rf6 20.Qd3 Qd7 White resigns 0-1

Monday, 5 July 2010

To Russia, without love

The decision to hold the 2010 Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk on the surface looked like a strange one, unless you understood the politics involved. The decision about the venue for 2010 was made at the 2006 Olympiad in Turin, and was intertwined with the vote for FIDE President. There were 5 bids submitted for 2010 at the time, with Budva, Buenos Aires, Riga and Posnan being the other bidders.
The voting system was the same used for the Olympics, in that if no city received a majority of votes, then the lowest scoring city dropped out and everyone voted again. Every member country had a vote, and 135 votes were cast. If my recollections are correct, Riga and Posnan were the first to drop out. On the third ballot Buenos Aires was eliminated, leaving Budva and Khanty-Mansiysk. Despite Budva looking like a much more appealing venue (to my eyes at least) a solid block of South American votes went to Khanty, putting it over the line.
However the choice of Siberia as the venue for 2010 has caused problems for some teams. The New Zealand team were hit by a couple of drop outs and at this stage are still looking for a 5th player for the Open team. There was also a bit of a kerfuffle in the English team, with Michael Adams originally not applying, with the venue being given as the reason for his reluctance to play. It now looks like he is back in the team, although the reasons why he has changed his mind has lead to a lively debate on the English Chess Forum.
Oddly enough the PNG team has had no problems (as yet), with 5 players and a captain committing to go very early on. In fact this is an improvement over the last 3 Olympiads, where we have barely scraped together a team of 4. I suspect the real challenge will be in 2 years time, when the players who chose not to represent the country this time round (due to a dislike of the venue), will find Istanbul a much more accommodating destination, and rediscover their national pride. For those that are privy to the internal politics of PNG chess, it once again promises to result in some 'interesting' discussions.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Written in the stars

The Sicilian Dragon is a very popular opening, especially with junior players and I'm convinced this has a lot to do with its name (rather than soundness). It has a such a aggressive and scary name that it just jumps off the page of any opening manual. However the source of the name is a mystery to most, with the explanation concerning the pawn structure looking like a "dragon" being only half correct (as it is a bit of a stretch to construct a dragon from 5 pawns)
In fact the pawn structure looks like the constellation Draco, which is the latin word for Dragon. This was then transferred to the chess opening, as it is easier to construct a vague arrangement of stars that might look like dragon out of 5 pawns than to build a real one.
Via this circular route comes a very brief game where White loses a bishop in only 12 moves. The connection to this topic is due to the fact that the path of bishop during the game resembles "Ursa Major" (or the "Big Dipper"). Having completed the outline of the "saucepan", the bishop is lost due to a threat of mate on f2.

Abt - Inkol [C24] Ontario, 1979

1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.e5 d5 5.Bb3 Ne4 6.Nf3 Bb4+ 7.Nbd2 0-0 8.Nxd4 Bxd2+ 9.Bxd2 c5 10.Nf3 c4 11.Ba4 b5 12.Bxb5 Qb6 0-1

Saturday, 3 July 2010

The Hammerschlag

In Texas Holdem Poker, 7-2 off suit is statistically the worst starting hand you can have. Known as "The Hammer" it's main function is to kick off a series of table jokes after the flop comes down 7-7-2.
In chess 1.f3 followed by 2.Kf2 may well be the worst opening for White (excluding 1.f3 e5 2.g4??). Funnily enough it is known as "The Hammerschlag", a name that I'm assuming predates the poker expression. Certainly I had seen it in print in the mid 1980's.
It's normal use is to tease a weaker opponent, although this doesn't always turn out as planned. On my second or third ever visit to a chess club, a multiple ACT champion decided to play it against me in a blitz game, hoping to amuse the spectators. The game was over fairly quickly as I managed to conjure up a Legal's style sacrifice (from the black side of the board) and mated him. (Sadly I can no longer remember the exact moves of the game).
However at Street Chess today the opposite occurred, with a lower rated player using it as a surprise weapon against their stronger opponent. In this case the strategy paid off, as the game ended in a draw, after a large amount of (good natured) muttering from the rating favourite.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Pushing the right pawn

I witnessed two outrageous escapes at the Belconnen Chess Club yesterday evening. One was in my own game, but I'll leave that for another time.
The other was in a game between two junior players and demonstrates the importance of technique in King and Pawn endings. Black had just allowed the exchange of rooks, leaving White with a winning pawn ending. However the pawn on g5 slightly complicates matters, although White still is in a winning position.
As actually played, White became fixated on using the b pawn to break through and Black managed to save the game after 1.b4 Ke5 2.Kf3 Kd4 3.b5? Instead White needed to play 3.c5 here as the drawing attempt 3. ... Kd5 4.Kg4 a5 fails to 5.bxa5 Kxc5 6.c4! and Black is in zugzwang. Instead Black had just enough time to hold the draw. 3. ... Kc5 4.bxa6 Kb6 5.Kg4 Kxa6 6.Kxg5 Kb6 7.Kf4 Kc5 8.Ke3 Kxc4 9.Kd2Ke4= After a few more moves White was convinced that Black knew how to hold the position and a draw was agreed.

Trap for young players

If you have the choice between doing your daily blog post, or upgrading the firmware on your network router, do the blog post first!