Sunday, 30 September 2012

2012 Ryde-Eastwood - Day 2

As stated previously, the Ryde Eastwood weekender has an odd schedule. On the first day there are 3 rounds, while on the second and third days there are only 2 rounds. The reason for having only 2 rounds on the second day is to avoid a clash with the NRL Grand Final, which is held on the evening of the second day. While this does make some sense (there would be an awful lot of players taking byes if there was an evening round), finishing in mid afternoon still feels strange in the middle of a multi day tournament.
So at the end of 5 rounds there is only one player left on a perfect score. Armen Avayzyan benefited from a slight quirk in the pairing system, downfloating to Fady Gerges in round 5, while the other two players on 4/4, Max Illingworth and Igor Bjelobrk played an exciting draw on the top board. Of course to get to 4/4, Avayzyan did have to upset FM Junta Ikeda in the 4th round. This wasn't the only upset of the day, with Rodolfo Cristobal beating IM Andrew Brown and Donato Mallari inflicting a second loss for the day on Ikeda.
Going into the final day, Avayzyan plays Bjelobrk in the 6th round, while Illingworth plays Cristobal and Xie plays Mallari. A win for Bjelobrk throws the tournament wide open, while Avayzyan is hoping that another win will be enough to wrap up the event.

2012 Ryde-Eastwood - Dale v Xie

Top board game from round 3 of the 2012 Ryde-Eastwood Open.

Dale,Ari - Xie,George [E37]
2012 Ryde-Eastwood (3), 29.09.2012

Saturday, 29 September 2012

2012 Ryde-Eastwood Open Day 1

The big news from the first day of the 2012 Ryde Eastwood Open was the upset win by Ari Dale over IM George Xie. The two met on board 1 in the third round of the 66 player tournament, with the game drawing a large crowd of spectators when it became clear that the top seed was in trouble. Down 2 rooks and a piece, Xie desperately tried to find a perpetual check to save a half point, but Dale was able to navigate his king to safety, and collect the important point.
The other top seeds made it to the end of the day with less difficulty, and currently 6 players remain on 3/3. They are Max Illingworth, Junta Ikeda, Andrew Brown, Ari Dale, Igor Bjelobrk and Armen Ayvazayan. Further down there were a number ofupsets, with Vince Chiara picking up two points against higher rated opponents, while Harry Press and Fady Gerges did well to finish the day on 2.5/3.
Tomorrow sees the leading players come together, and the likely tournament winners should sort themselves by the end of the 5th round.

Press,Harry - Pouchon,Mickael [A38]
2012 Ryde-Eastwood, 29.09.2012

Friday, 28 September 2012

Material wins

The book Practical Endgame Lessons by Edmar Mednis has a nice chapter on important endgame principles. Principle 2 is "Material advantage wins in the endgame. Hold on to your material". Sensible stuff, especially as I have seen players go wrong by ignoring principle 3 "Be wary of sacrificing material for development".
So I was kind of taken by the Topalov - Dominguez game from the London Grand Prix, where Topalov seemed to ignore both principles. He won a pawn in the ending, but rather than hang on to it and try and breakthrough in a blocked position, he actually gave up a piece for a couple more pawns, to restore a nominal material equality. This was the winning strategy as it turns out, so why did ignoring these two principles work in Topalov's favour. Simply because there is another principle that came into play, principle number 5. "The fewer the pieces, the more important are pawns". Despite having an extra piece, Dominguez was unable to hold back the avalanche of pawns, and once the White king joined in, the game was over.

Topalov Veselin - Dominguez Perez Leinier [D11]
London FIDE Grand Prix (6.3), 27.09.2012

Thursday, 27 September 2012

2012 Ryde-Eastwood Open

For quite a long time I tended to avoid tournaments in Sydney. It had nothing to do with the quality of the event (or the players), but simply because I preferred support events outside the NSW capital (given the limited amount of time). However this equation has changed recently, in part due to a drop in the number of NSW country events within reasonable distance of Canberra, and partly because my son is now an active player, which gives me an excuse to get to more tournaments.
So for the first time I will be heading up to the Ryde-Eastwood Weekender. It runs over the long weekend of the 29th September to the 1st October, and will be a 7 round tournament. Due to a clash(?) with the Rugby League Grand Final it has an unusual format of 3 rounds on the first day, followed by 2 rounds, and 2 rounds. The time limit is G60m+10s and it is being played in one big section.
My role in the tournament is as an arbiter, but looking at the entry list, there are plenty of Canberran's taking part. At one point the field had around 50% of players from the ACT, but a few extra NSW players seemed to have entered since then.
Full details of the tournament are at and I hope to be able to provide updates of the event from the venue.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

My (almost) Caruana Moment

My pre-tournament tipping may have put a hex on Magnus Carlsen, as he lost his first round game in the Grand Slam Masters to Caruana. He was of course unlucky (in the chess sense), as he was pushing for victory for most of the game, only to come unstuck when Caruana played a double edge sac in the ending. Often when a game is going in a certain direction for quite a while, an surprise move can often upset a players rhythm, and bad things can result.
It turns out I had a similar experience a few hours ago. Except I was defending an inferior ending, where a loss was just one step away. The reason I got there was that I had played a game that was a mixture of inventive ideas and incredibly poor execution.  At various stages I gave up a pawn, lost another, had 2 pieces for a rook, simply blundered a piece, and after all that ended up in a rook and pawn ending down a pawn. So I defended and defended, as my opponent edged towards victory. However he missed a couple of key ideas, and right at the death, blundered away his advantage. After a few more moves we reached King v King (possibly a first for me at long time control chess), after 4 1/2 hours play. In my case it wasn't one surprise move that saved it for me, but just the frustrating defence I put up.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Go to sleep in London, wake up in Sao Paulo

A double dose of high quality chess is now being served up to chess fans. The London Grand Prix event is up to its 4th round, and the first leg of the 2012 Grand Slam Masters begins this evening. Due to the time zone differences, fans in Australia can go to sleep watching the action from London, and wake up to watch the action from Sao Paulo.
The field for the Grand Slam Masters is quite strong, as usual. Top seed is Magnus Carlsen, followed by Lev Aronian, Sergey Karjakin, Viswanathan Anand, Fabiano Caruana and Francisco Vellejo. The first half of the double round robin tournament is to be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, while the second half is in Bilbao, Spain.
Launching into my usual fearless predictions (I did get the top 3 right at the Olympiad btw), I am tipping Lev Aronian to win this one. Why? Because I think that Carlsen will drop a game to Vallejo, who otherwise will struggle in the event. Of course Anand will finish mid field, with either 50% or +1.
The official tournament website is while Chessbase have done a nice photo story. For those who played in Queenstown this year, there are a couple of pictures of IM Herman van Riemsdijk, who is the Chief Arbiter for this event.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

I'm pretty sure this isn't right

While doing a little record trawling in Chessbase (while listening to the commentators of the Singapore Grand Prix exclaiming "It's like a game of chess" in the background), I came across the following gem. My original intention was to find the game where all the pawns disappeared the quickest. In finding such a game, I came across something even better.
According to my database this was played in 1991, in the Lyngby Open (which is a real tournament in Denmark). When I initially discovered the game I was surprised that while the pawns had gone, most of the pieces remained. But by playing through a few more moves, the real intention of the players became clear. Given that such things don't happen by accident, I wonder what the arbiters opinion of this creation was?

Michna,Christian - Mach,Holger (2240) [A00]
Lyngby op Lyngby, 1991

Saturday, 22 September 2012

2012 ACT Junior Championship

The ACT Junior Chess League is holding the 2012 ACT Junior Championship from the 3rd to the 5th of October. The tournament will be a 9 round swiss (3 rounds per day) and is open to players born on or after 1 January 1992 (ie Under 20 years old at the start of the year). As with last years event the tournament will be FIDE Rated, and the time limit is G/60m+30s inc.The tournament normally attracts a strong field, and last years event enabled a number of Canberra juniors to receive their first FIDE ratings.
The contact for the event is Emma Guo (Board 2 for the 2012 Australian Womens Olympiad team!). The event is being held at Campbell High (next to the War Memorial) and entries need to be by the 28th September.
Full tournament details are available at this link.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Lifeline Bookfair

Of interest to Canberra readers, the Lifeline Bookfair is on this weekend. I dropped in first thing this morning (alongside fellow collector Miles Patterson), and managed to pick up a small but interesting set of chess books. Chess for Match Players by William Winter is a highly recommended addition to my library, while Practical Endgame Lessons by Edmar Mednis qualifies on weight alone. There was also The Guinness Book of Chess Grandmasters by Bill Hartston, but given the size of the print (quite small), I wonder how many copies were sold to the intended market.
The Bookfair is on at Exhibition Park in Canberra and runs for another two days. As in past years, they don't put out all the books at once, so their still may be some gems hidden among the Sudoku and Bridge books..

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Final round blues

First place in the 2012 Chess Olympiad was probably decided by three matches, although none of them involved the actual winner. Just as Russia were looking like they would run away with the tournament, they lost in round 9 to the USA. Then the Americans lost their round 10 match to the Chinese team, who suddenly assumed favoritism. Then in the final round China lost 3-1 to The Ukraine, to fall out of the medals and allow the Armenian team to take gold.
The key game from the Ukraine China match was the board 1 clash between Ivanchuk and Hao. And befitting the status of the game (Board 1 of Match 1) Ivanchuk played a brilliancy, sacrificing a rook and a piece to mate the Black king in the middle of the board.

Ivanchuk,Vassily (2769) - Wang,Hao (2726)
Olympiad 0:03.57-0:04.57 (11), 09.09.2012

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Some Fischer Memorabilia

Chessvibes are reporting on an auction of Bobby Fischer's handwritten notes from the 1970 Herceg Novi Blitz Tournament. This event was significant, as it was probably the strongest blitz event held up until that time, and Fischer won with an emphatic 19/22. Famously, he then recited all the moves of each of the games (or so the story goes).
This collection of notes covers 8 of those games, and the notes are being auctioned by the son of the tournament organiser. At the time of posting, the current bid is 2,167 pounds, and the auction closes in 8 days. I suspect the final bid will be over the 5,000 mark, which probably puts me out of the running.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Chess as a sport

When I have debated the whole "Is Chess is a sport?" issue with people, there is one argument that I sometimes put forward. It is based on the idea that "sports" are played by athletes. If you accept this definition (I'm not saying you have to btw), then you can find some fairly obvious counter-examples at any chess tournament. And I suspect this is one reason why chess is not accepted as a sport in Australia, US etc
But one consequence of this argument is that if you do recognise chess as a sport, then you may be obligated to prove you are an athlete. This is what has happened in India, to Chetna Karani. She applied to Delhi University under the sports quota category, based on her results as a chess player. While the university seemed happy to include her in that category, they required her to pass the same physical fitness test that other applicants undergo. Unable to do this, she took her case to the High Court.
Based on this report, it looks like she didn't get a place in the University, although the court has asked Delhi University to revisit their regulations.

Monday, 17 September 2012

No rest for the busy

With the Olympiad barely over, the chess world is already moving on. The first event in the 2012-13 FIDE Grand Prix starts in 3 days at Simpsons-in-the-Strand in London. Each event in the Grand Prix is a 12 player RR. There are 18 players in the cycle, with each player playing 4 out of the 6 tournaments.
The tournaments are being organised by AGON on behalf of FIDE. Andrew Paulson, the man behind Agon, gave a presentation to the FIDE General Assembly which he laid his general vision concerning high level chess. Having just come on board, he didn't promise too much from the first two GP events (Tashkent being the next one), but he said the 2013 will see Agon really begin to market the product.
As for the upcoming event in London, play starts on Friday (20th). Unfortunately the one thing I cannot find is a tournament website, so for now I can only point you to the Agon site, in the hope that more information will become available shortly.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Ultimate Chess Course

Anything that calls itself "Ultimate Chess Course" has some pretty big claims to live up to. So on one level it is brave of FM Roy Phillips to market his chess training course under this heading. But it does show he is confident in what he is trying to teach.
Roy, who is a friend of mine, has played board 1 for Mauritius at the last 6 Olympiads. In that time of watched him get better and better, and he scored an undefeated 7/10  at the 2010 Olympiad.
Despite the title of the course, the aims are quite modest. It isn't about making you the best player in the world, more about making you the best player you can be. It focuses on the things that hold the average player back, such as making mistakes, choosing the wrong openings, and not being able to settle upon the right move.
If you are interested in finding out more about the course, you can do so here. There is an introductory video you can watch (plus another you will receive) so you can get a feel for it, before diving in.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Starring on debut

Playing a first Olympiad is hard, as the lack of meaningful teams chess in Australia often makes it a totally unfamiliar experience. So when Australia cam in with two debutantes, there was a chance that the team could struggle for a decent placing. It turned out this theory was wrong, as the two best performers for the Australian team were the two newcomers, Moulthun Ly and Max Illingworth.
Both Moulthun and Max scored 7/10, and Moulthun had the teams top PR of 2541. Max made his first Olympiad extra special, scoring his second (and final IM) norm. Moulthun was close to a GM norm (needing a last round win), but even in missing out, he helped the team draw the match with Slovakia.
As a result, Australia finished in a tie for 19th position, one of the best finishes for the team since the 1970's.

Ly,Moulthun (2397) - Bogdanovski,Vlatko (2448)
Olympiad 1:04.25-0:00.02 (6), 03.09.2012

Friday, 14 September 2012

Keep the weekend free

As I've stated before, FIDE is a pretty transparent organisation, which is a little surprising given the amount of criticism it receives. Most of its meetings are open to the public, and its agendas and minutes are made freely available on the web, for anyone to read or comment on.
This year the transparency went even further, with Sevan Muradian from the North American Chess Association filming a lot of the proceedings and posting it up on Youtube. While it may not make the most riveting viewing, it does provide an insight into how the FIDE General Assembly and FIDE Commissions work. Be warned, even in 30 minute chunks there are around 40 videos online, and you may have to try and guess where the interesting parts are. The commission videos are probably more interesting than the GA, but if you are looking to see just one FIDE chess meeting video this year, I would recommend the debate over cost recovering from the Federations who lost their court cases to FIDE.
The videos are available on the North American Chess youtube channel.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

But while in Istanbul ...

Although I did not play much chess in Istanbul (apart from the 2 games for PNG), I did manage to play some chess while in Istanbul. I am of course talking about online chess, or in my case turn based chess. I had one game from a match on still bubbling along, and although I headed off to Istanbul with a clear advantage, it was good to get a resignation while there. Playing a reasonably successful anti-Caro system (2.Nc3, 3.Qf3) I reached a position where I could launch a queenside attack against the castled king. The key move was 26.cxb6 and after that I had a winning advantage.

Press,Shaun - HoldemRulzOK [B11]), 29.08.2012

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The return to Canberra

Just got back home, after about 24 hours in transit. Obviously sleep is a priority, so I just make this a quick post. At the risk of being redundant, here is Craig Skehan's last round win, this time posted in replayable format.

Skehan,Craig - Espirito Santo,Waldyr (1800)
Olympiad 0:07.24-0:12.27 (11), 09.09.2012

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A day of R&R

Even with the Olympiad finished, I had still had a little bit of work to do. A service that has been offered in the past is an opportunity for players who have made their final title norm at the Olympiad, to come and register for the title. It turns out that no one took the opportunity to do so, so instead myself and the other members of the Technical Administration Panel (TAP) had an informal meeting with the organisers of the Olympiad to work out future improvements to the running of the tournament. The major emphasis was on the use of technology to make team registration and information sharing easier, and the Turkish Chess Federation have offered their expertise to make this work for future Olympiads.
After this meeting Rupert Jones and myself went into the centre of Istanbul for some shopping and sight seeing. A nice dinner with friends followed before I sent Rupert off to the airport at 3am(!) for his morning flight home. I will depart in a few hours, and will spend most of the next day and a half in the air. I get back home Wednesday night, so expect light blogging for a little while.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Armenia triumph

Lev Aronian celebrating victory after the tournament
The last round of the 2012 Chess Olympiad was particularly exciting, with 3 teams tied for the lead. China, Armenia and Russia were all on 17 points, with China ahead on tie-break. As they had all met, they played different last wound opponents, which add an extra complication to their games. Not only did they have to watch their own games, but at least be aware of what was happening on the other boards.
As the round unfolded, China cracked first. They had defending champions Ukraine, and were clearly losing while the other games were in progress. Eventually Ukraine won 3-1 leaving it between Russia and Armenia. In hard fought matches both teams won (Armenia 2.5-1.5 against Hungary, Russia 3-1 against Germany), but Armenia took gold on superior tie break.
One result of their win meant hastily rearranged travel plans. As is now tradition, the President of Armenia has sent the winning team a government jet to take the team back to Armenia if they are victorious. So as of a few minutes ago, the Armenian team are in the foyer of my hotel, waiting for transfer to the airport. In a few hours they will be touching down in Yerevan for an official welcome and state celebration.
In the Womens Olympiad, Russia was a little for fortunate (and China once again unlucky), with a crushing 4-0 over Kazakhstan. The margin of victory gave them a better tie break than China, who finished on the same number of match points.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Everyone to the spaceships

In the field of sporting achievement, there are a number of streaks that seem to go on forever. Cal Ripkin's consecutive game record in Baseball, Edwin Moses winning streak in Athletics, Australia's domination of the Ashes spring to mind. But eventually such streaks must come to an end, but when they do it is often considered an historical moment (or a sign that the world is about to be destroyed).
Within the world of chess, the name Craig Skehan isn't that well known, except for the collectors of Olympiad statistics (or readers of this blog). For Craig has held the record for the most number of games without a win in the Olympiad. This is a record that stretches back to 1986 and extends over 6 Olympiads. In that time he played 59 games (defaults not counting) for a record of 10 draws and 49 losses.
But game 60 was the charm, and the streak has come to an end. Merely minutes ago his opponent from Sao Tome resigned when faced with running a and h pawns, giving Craig his first ever over the board victory at the Olympiad. Significantly it also sealed the match win for the team, giving PNG its best finish in a number of years. There were some nervous moments towards the end (eg I was convinced he would go to the toilet and lock himself in), but before a crowd of interested spectators (including GM's Bojkov, Rogers and Speelman), he managed to play the right moves to end the game.
Credit for both the teams performance, and Craig's win, should go to GM Dejan Bojkov, who served as this years Captain and team trainer. I'm not sure he realised what he was getting himself into, but he applied himself in an enthusiastic and professional manner.
If you wish to replay this piece of history, the game is available from the Olympiad website. The direct link is 

Saturday, 8 September 2012

This should be the last time

As promised, here is my game from round 9. The key issue is on move 48, whether I have enough time to run my king to h6 before my queenside pawns disappear. The conventional view is that I did have time, and therefore missed a win, but I still think Black has enough annoying tricks to make it a risky venture. In the end I took the 'safer' path, missed a tactic but still scrambled the draw. Comments and suggestions welcome!

Press,Shaun (2041) - Thompson,Edward Nii Lamt (1834)
Olympiad 0:01.28-1:01.48 (9), 06.09.2012

Friday, 7 September 2012

Thinking more or thinking less

I'm currently sitting in the FIDE General Assembly, as the New Zealand delegate. A long discussion on the new FIDE Statutes is underway, and while this is a significant discussion, it gives me time to think about other things. Like my game from yesterday.
For tactical reasons the team decided I should play, requiring me to grab my PNG team shirt from the dirty clothes basket, and suit up. As in previous Olympiads, I had a clear advantage, ran short of time, possibly got scared of ghosts, and then had to scramble for the save. (NB I will put the game up when I escape from the meeting). After the game I thought that a similar position at my club would have been easier to play, as I would not have thought so long in critical positions. Normally when this happens I often find the 'correct' move, but for 'incorrect' reasons. It seems when I have more thinking time I do not make this 'mistake'!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

A very cruel pairing

I guess some teams get bounced harder than others. Having come off a 4-0 loss to the Faroe Islands, PNG then was paired with Monaco, which was another tough pairing. Although we lost 2.5-1.5 to them in Turin (IIRC), they were a lot stronger yesterday, with GM Efimov on the top board. Despite having a couple of good positions on the board, the match went according to seeding, and PNG suffered a second 4-0 loss in a row. For this round PNG plays Ghana, and in a little bit of team strategy, I have dragged in for a second (and final) game.
Elsewhere, Australia is doing well in the Open. 2.5-1.5 over Ireland keeps them moving forward, and a not to evil pairing against Tajikistan in round 9 sets them up for a good finish. New Zealand narrowly went down to the higher seeded UAE yesterday, and face a potentially tricky match against Angola today. In the Womens event the NZ women had a win yesterday (there third in a row), which now puts them a point ahead of Australia, who lost to Portugal.
Palau also picked up a point in yesterdays round, drawing 2-2 with Rwanda.

Written on the toilet wall

An interesting idea at this years Olympiad. Above the urinals in the (by necessity) Mens toilet, there are posted some chess problems (inside little frames which I suspect are normally used for advertising posters). I guess the idea is to give you something to do, while you have something else to do. The diagrammed position is one of the puzzles. I do not know who composed it, so I will refer it as Urinal Puzzle, 3rd trough from the left. It is White to play and Mate in 11.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The mid tournament bounce

While in most swisses teams find their levels reasonably well after 4 or 5 rounds, the olympiad occasionally throws up a slightly odd round. It normally happens in round 7 or so, when a couple of teams bounce up from the bottom, and a couple of teams bounce down from a higher group. This happened to the PNG team, which has just one two matches in a row. Having bounced up from the bottom groups, it ran into the Faroe Islands, which was bouncing down. In fact in round three the Faroe Islands were playing on board 3(!), having won their first 2 matches. Since then they have had to play teams like Azebaijan, Georgia and Singapore, so I suspect they were relieved when they saw PNG as their round 7 pairing. Given that they have 3 IM's on their team, the 4-0 win was not a surprise, even if they rested one of their masters. Of course PNG was not the only team who got blanked in that round, with another 7 teams suffering the same fate. As a result these teams have enjoyed their brief moment in the sun, before returning to more familiar surroundings.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Olympiads are still hard

I did actually get to play a game at this years Olympiad (keeping the streak alive!), although I did not initially intend to. As mentioned yesterday, it was against San Marino, which I've probably played more than any other team. While I suspect they were surprised by my appearance on board 4, I was more impressed by the appearance of their Board 1 player. He had only played 1 game previously, and I did not expect him to play. As a consequence I spent a while preparing for the wrong opponent, although team captain GM Dejan Bojkov was on the ball with the right prep for the right opponent. It turns out the San Marino turned up with male model Fabio on the top board. He had the long hair, the cool shades, and a cigarette dangling carelessly from his fingers. However he took a somewhat serious approach to the game, and as a consequence Stuart Fancy had to work hard for his win.
Helmut Marko scored his 4th win in a row on board 2, while Craig Skehan went down to what looked like a strong sacrificial attack, although it turns out that his opponent just had the attack, and did not require any sacrifices.
My game was unsurprisingly drawn, and in an unsurprising manner. I had a strong position in the middle game, and at one stage it looked like I was simply winning. However appearances can be deceiving, and there was no clear path to victory, At least I was able to recognise this in time, and realised I needed to work for a draw. After 4 and half hours of play my opponent agreed to a draw, meaning PNG won 2.5-1.5.

Press,Shaun - Cecchetti,Roberto [B22]
2012 Olympiad Istanbul, 03.09.2012

Monday, 3 September 2012

Getting ready to play

Apart from the Olympiad tournament itself, the Chess Olympiad also hosts the annual FIDE Congress. This means a large number of meetings of the various commissions followed by the General Assembly. Due to scheduling constraints there are times when meetings clash with round times, which can cause problems for some players.
As a result of one such clash, I am about to play my first (and probably only) game at this years Olympiad. When originally selected, the Papua New Guinea team had a full complement of 5 players. Then 5 days before the start of the tournament, Joselito Marcos (Board 2), pulled out. As it was at such short notice, a replacement could not be arranged, which is a real shame as there was 1 player who was willing to go, but had selflessly withdrawn from the selection process as we already had enough players.
Although I was always going to be at the tournament I was not intending to play (and did not apply for selection at all). But when the final registrations were being organised on site, it was suggested that I be put n board 5, in case of an emergency. Now I don't regard poor scheduling of meetings as an emergency, but rather the have PNG default a game, I will pop up on board 4. At least it is against out familiar opponents San Marino (the 4th time I've played against them), and such matches are always friendly and enjoyable.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

The two greatest words in the English language

The PNG team scored a 4-0 win in the 5th round of the 2012 Olympiad, over a 2 player Burundi team. They were only playing boards 2&3 which meant that the team was up 2-0 as soon as the clocks were started. Rupert Jones and Helmut Marko then managed to win the remaining games to chalk up the maximum score.These were the first match points of the tournament for PNG, and set the team up the almost traditional PNG v San Marino pairing in Rd 6 (4th time since 2002 IIRC).
Palau also had cause for celebration, scoring their first ever win in an Olympiad match. The squeaked past US Virgin Island 2.5-1.5, which made themselves very happy. Fiji were kicking themselves after their narrow loss to Aruba, as win would have put them on a very impressive 5 points. New Zealand find the going tough as they went down 3-1 to the team representing IBCA (sight impaired team), while Australia found Zambia a tricky opponent, before finally scoring a 2.5-1.5 win.
The Australian women's team had a horror pairing, getting blanked by the 10th seeded Romanian team. The New Zealand women also had a loss, 2.5-1.5 to Sri Lanka.
Today is a rest day for the players, with tomorrows round seeing the potential olympiad deciding pairing of  Russia v Armenia. For me there has been little rest, as the morning was spent in the Swiss Pairings commission meeting, while this afternoon, Rules and Tournament Regulations will have another session (the 2nd of 3 scheduled meetings).

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Zero default - screwed over again

Earlier this year I travelled to Switzerland for a meeting of the FIDE Rules and Tournament Regulations Commission. One of the things we worked on was the rewording of the rule that deals with the default time, the so called "zero tolerance" rule. Given the supposed unpopularity of this rule, I suggested a wording that took out all mention of 0 time, and instead made it a requirement of the organisers to specify a time in advance.
It was presented at todays FIDE Rules and Tournament Regulations meeting, which is part of the 2012 FIDE Congress. Of course these meetings are open to the public, and the room was overflowing. As part of the process, it is also the case that anyone present in this meeting can vote on these proposals. So towards the end of the session the new wording was presented alongside the existing rule. This was a similar process to 4 years ago, when the rule was first introduced. And just like four years ago, it was the *public* attendees at the meeting who voted to retain the existing rule. And it was not just a close vote (as far as I can see), but one with a substantial majority.
So once again there will be a round of criticism directed at Rules and Tournament Regulations over this matter, and in a sense it is valid. Not because we support this rule (that honour goes to the people who turned up to the meeting), but because we failed to 'sell' the new rule better.
So for at least four years (and probably longer) the zero tolerance rule remains in effect, unless you *choose* to play in tournaments where the organisers do set a different default time. Just throwing that out there.

A fantastic coaching opportunity

For chessplayers in and around Canberra, the ACT Chess Association is organising a coaching session with well known trainer IM Andras Toth. It is aimed at adult players (and higher rated juniors) and will be held on  Sunday 9th September. The details are:

The workshop will be run by IM Andras Toth and will cover a number of topics followed by a lunch break and a simul.

This is a great opportunity to listen to one of the top Canberra players explain various aspects of chess and participate in a simul.

Andras will focus on aspects of chess beauty and will include the following topics in the workshop:

  • Analysing some really nice lesser known games;
  • Some of the nicest moves ever made in chess history;
  • Chess curiosities, stalemates and records;
  • Chess mathematics and studies exploiting the geometry of the chess board;
  • Deeper analysis of some specific studies and problems;

The lecture will start at 9:30 am sharp at Campbell High School and lunch will be taken at around 12:00 pm.

The simul will commence at approx 1:00 pm.

The total cost is $15 per person which can be paid on the day in cash.

The workshop is open to all senior players and junior players with a rating over 1200.

Numbers are LIMITED to 20.

If you are interested in taking part, contact Glenn Ingham at

Some odd blogging times

I assume that most of the people reading this blog live in Australia/NZ (I could actually check but I'm too lazy). And normally I post just before midnight (Canberra time). But the difference in time zones with Istanbul, as well as my tournament work schedule, means my posts are now appearing somewhat more random times. I had actually planned to do a post earlier in the evening (about an hour before the start of todays round), but a combination of slow internet and other priorities ended that plan.
So It is now close to the end of the round (about 2 games left). I can report that PNG improved on its score from yesterday, scoring 1.5 against Chinese Taipei. Helmut Marko continues to do the job on board 2 with his second win in a row, while Stuart Fancy drew on the top board. Of course the team is still looking for its first match points, but it surely can't be long now.
Australia won their match against Pakistan 2.5-1.5. Team captain Manuel Weeks observed that the change to match points means that you can now get excited my results that in previous olympiads would have been regarded as a bit of a disaster. The win was courtesy of Max Illingworth, with the other 3 games drawn.