Saturday, 29 November 2014

King of the lounge room

Getting into competitive chess can be tough, especially if you start as an adult. There is a pretty big step between playing with your friends, and turning up to a rated competition where everyone is super serious. As I have noted preciously, this can turn into a big disincentive for new players, as getting beaten in every game can be discouraging, no matter how close you came to winning.
One piece of advice I give to new players is not to worry about their initial tournament results. The rider I attach to this is that even if they don't win any competition games, they will learn enough to at least beat their casual chess opponents. "King of the lounge room" is a term I have coined to describe this.
I do like to quantify things though, so I do wonder what skills you need to be "King of the lounge room". Based on what I have seen over the years, being alert enough to capture pieces for free, and knowing when to capture the last moved piece is a pretty good place to start. I would also throw in a couple of basic checkmating ideas, namely Q+B mating patterns (ie target f7) and Q+N mating patterns. At this level I don't think openings really matter (e4, Nf3, B somewhere is normally fine), but endgame knowledge does help. Nothing too in depth, but certainly knowing when to push your passers, and how to promote them, would provide plenty of 'fluky' wins. Mating with K+Q v K is also helpful, although I have seen enough 'accidental' checkmates to make me wonder if it is essential.
Feel free to suggest other skills in the comment section, noting that this is for players whose ambitions don't extend much beyond bragging rights over a few beers.

Kasparov v Habu

Yesterday Garry Kasparov made one of his rare returns to OTB chess, playing a 2 game rapid match with Japanese FM Yoshiharu Habu. While Former World Champion V FM does not sound like much of a match up, Habu is also the strongest Shogi player in the world. He also one of Japan's strongest chess players, but his earnings and recognition from Shogi far exceeds what he would receive as a chess professional.
The 2 game match was played with a time limit (25m+10s), and Kasparov won 2-0. In the first game Habu lost a couple of pawns in the middlegame, in part due to a weakened pawn structure. The second was a lot closer, and was one of the games where White seems to be ok right up until the point he was not. Probably the decisive mistake came on move 40 when a pair of rooks were exchanged, leaving Kasparov with the better R+P ending.

Habu,Yoshiharu (2415) - Kasparov,Garry (2812) [B06]
Dwango Habu vs Kasparov Rapid Match 2014 Tokyo JPN (2), 28.11.2014

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Not according to plan

Having gushed a little about Kramnik's decision to play in the Qatar Masters, I can see why he might be having second thoughts about the whole excursion. Normally the first round of any swiss is a bit of a massacre, but for such a strong event like the Qatar Masters, this isn't always the case.
For Kramnik, used to knowing his opponents (and their openings) in advance, Stelios Halkias (2519) might have been a bit of an unknown quantity. Doubly so when Halkias played the Evans Gambit, still a popular choice for club hackers, and the odd World Champion (G. Kasparov).
It turned out to be an inspired choice, as Kramnik never got more than equality in the game, and Helkias was possibly a bit better when he went for a draw by repetition. As a result of the slow start Kramnik ends up on Board 31(!) for the second round, and it may be a few rounds before he catches up with the leaders.

Halkias,Stelios (2519) - Kramnik,Vladimir (2760) [C51]
Qatar Masters Open Doha (1.2), 26.11.2014

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

2014 Qatar Masters

The 2014 Qatar Masters starts this evening. It is billed as the strongest Open for 2014, and the field does look very strong. The top half of the 154 player field is rated above 2520, and the top 14 players are all 2700+. The event is offering a first prize of $25,000 and with a total prize pool of $100,000 it is no surprise that the tournament has attracted a stellar field.
Top seed is Anish Giri, just ahead of surprise entrant Vladimir Kramnik. While his participation in this event has been known for quite a while, it has been a long time since he has played an Open Swiss. While some of the top players will occasional play in an event like Gibraltar, Kramnik has previously not been part of this group. Of course the overall strength of the field might help him avoid the problem of playing an uneven strength field, but even then, it will be interesting to see how he copes with preparing for unfamiliar opponents.
Australia has one participant in the tournament IM Rishi Sardana, although WIM Emma Guo will also be there, but only as a spectator. Home page for the tournament is and you can find links to live coverage, games and results from there.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Know the classics

In yesterdays post I mentioned the game Selzniev v Alekhine from 1921, which contained a similar idea to Anand's exchange sacrifice against Carlsen. This game was used as an example of the exchange sacrifice in  Euwe's and Kramer's "The Middle Game Volume 1". Annotating the game, the authors said the sacrifice (20 ... Rb4) was perfectly sound as in return for the material lost Black has (a) A protected passed pawn, (b) the two bishops, (c) White's weak a and c pawns as targets and (d) the c5 square. Alekhine himself thought this was in fact worth more than the exchange.
Nonetheless it took quite a while for Alekhine to covert his position into a winning one. He had to trade one advantage (position) for another (material), but in doing so he was able to retain enough of an edge to eventually wear his opponent down.

Selezniev,Alexey Sergeevich - Alekhine,Alexander [A47]
Triberg-A Triberg (3), 09.07.1921

Monday, 24 November 2014

2014 World Championship - Carlsen Wins

Magnus Carlsen has retained his World Championship title, with a win over Viswantahan Anand in the 11th game of their match. The final score of 6.5-4.5 (predicted here) was closer than the 2013 Match, which Carlsen won by a 3 point margin.
Game 11 saw Anand try and play more aggressively, after the by now familar Ruy Lopez Berlin Variation. Sensing that this was his final chance Anand played an exchange sacrifice on Move 27. While both players criticised the decision after the game, the idea did have an historical precedence, being played by Alekhine against Selesniev in 1921. In the current game Carlsen was able to find enough tactics to neutralise Anand's hoped for counterplay, and then win the subsequent endgame.
With this win Carlsen holds the title for the next 2 years. The next candidates tournament is 18 months away, and while Anand is eligible to play in that event, most of the early money is going on Fabiano Caruana to be Carlsen's next challenger.

Carlsen,Magnus (2863) - Anand,Viswanathan (2792) [C67]
WCh 2014 Sochi RUS (11), 23.11.2014

Sunday, 23 November 2014

A 'blogworthy' game

One of the juggling acts you have to perform when writing a blog is decide what is content worthy of publishing. It is a little easier writing a chess blog, as chess has a built in ranking system which attaches importance to players, tournaments or games, based on the ratings of the subjects. So news about the World Championship is going to be a big deal no matter what happens, but more local events have to be judged a little more closely.
This also goes for the games I publish on the blog. I usually try and publish at least one game a week, as the front page only keeps the last 7 articles posted. I try and keep the choice fairly broad but I do have 2 distinct biases. One is games from Super GM events and matches, especially from players I like (such as Aronian or Svidler). The other is of course my own games, as essentially this is a blog about what I find interesting in chess.
Apart from what I find myself, I also get helpful suggestions from chess playing friends. Often at Street Chess or the ANU Chess Club a game is finished with a suggestion to 'put it on your blog'. 'Bloggable' or 'blogworthy' are other adjectives attached to games in which the winner is particularly proud. Usually I need to independently confirm that the game is indeed publishable, although I will sacrifice quality for curiosity.
For today's game I am actually choosing one of my own, played on Saturday at Street Chess (G/15m). It was an opening that I usually am on the black side of (The Two Knights) but I decided to try it from the other side of the board. 8.Qf3 is unusual but sound, although 8. ... Rb8 is considered the best reply. The idea behind Nc4-a3 was to try and pick up the exchange, but it left the c pawn unprotected, allowing the tactical shot 15. Nc5 Black thought for quite a while trying to find a way out of the mess, but failed to find a escape route. She decided to resign at that point only to be met with the annoying 'I think I will put that on my blog'

Press,Shaun - Chibnall,Alana [C58]
Street Chess, 22.11.2014

Saturday, 22 November 2014

2014 World Championship - Games 9 & 10

It seems that the early excitement has passed in the 2014 World Championship Match, and we are seeing a slow slide to a Carlsen victory. Both games 9 and 10 were drawn, with Anand not putting Carlsen under any serious pressure. There was some excitement in Game 10 when Carlsen allowed Anand to make a seemingly strong pawn push, but Anand passed up the opportunity, deciding to play it safe. Once this moment passed Carlsen had no trouble equalising and a draw was agreed on move 32.
Tomorrow sees Game 11 and it may be this is where the match ends. Anand needs to try something to claw back his point deficit, but in doing also gives Carlsen greater winning chances. On the other hand there is a school of thought (espoused by the denizens of Street Chess) that Anand may be happy to finish with -1, as a way of saying that he is still a credible threat to Carlsen. I lean towards the former scenario btw.

Anand,Viswanathan (2792) - Carlsen,Magnus (2863) [D97]
WCh 2014 Sochi RUS (10), 21.11.2014

Friday, 21 November 2014

2015 Australian Junior Chess Championship - Early birds

The 2015 Australian Junior Championship is starting in a little under 2 months. Currently there are 74 entries for all events, but that number will grow substantially in the next few weeks. One important milestone coming up is the cut-off for early entries. To take advantage of the early bird discount entries need to be received by the 3rd of December 2014, and paid for on the 6th. After that the entry fee goes up by $20 for most events. If you are planning to book accommodation through the organisers, you will also need to get onto this early, as space at the tournament venue (Canberra Grammar School) is limited.
Full information on the tournament, including online entry forms and accommodation booking forms, are available at the tournament website

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Grischuk wins Petrosian Memorial

With all the attention being focussed on the current World Championship match. the 2014 Petrosian Memorial ended up being a little overlooked. The early news was the 3-0 start by Alexander Grischuk, and in a 7 round event, this proved to be decisive. He beat Peter Leko in the 5th round to go to +4 and finished with 2 draws, to score 5.5/7. His final round draw against Vladimir Kramnik allowed Kramnik to take second place on 4.5/7, half a point ahead of Gelfand and Aronian.
While Aronian's result continued a run of 'not quite top' finishes, he did manage to play a nice final round game. After an aggressive opening by Black, the game quickly reached an ending where Aronian increased his advantage with a few nice tactical moves. It eventually ended in a charge of pawns where Black was always winning, the interest in being exactly how he did it.

Inarkiev,Ernesto (2688) - Aronian,Levon (2797) [C65]
Petrosian Memorial 2014 Moscow RUS (7.4), 11.11.2014

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

2014 World Championship Game 8

Game 8 of the 2014 World Championship match saw a lot of home preparation from Magnus Carlsen, although this failed to catch out Viswanathan Anand. While the game was drawn in 41 moves, it only lasted 2 hours and 45 minutes, showing how much up it was prepared beforehand. Possibly the most interesting part of the game was when Carlsen appeared to doze off, resulting in a number of excited twitter posts from people following the match online.
With 4 games to go, the odds of Carlsen retaining his title increase. He still holds a one point lead and could just cost to victory by drawing the remaining games, which is the exact scenario Bobby Fischer campaigned against in 1975. Of course this relies upon his opponent not being able to come up with something in the next 4 games. Possibly Game 10 will be the be indicator of Anand's frame of mind, as it is the next game he has white. Of course if Carlsen comes out of the rest day with a win in Game 9, then everyone will be packing their bags for an early departure.

Anand,Viswanathan (2792) - Carlsen,Magnus (2863) [D37]
WCh 2014 Sochi RUS (8), 18.11.2014

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

2014 World Championship Game 7

Game 7 of the 2014 World Championship  ended in a draw after 122 moves, and over 7 hours of play. Anand played the Berlin Defence as black, but Carlsen was clearly prepared for this. Despite being a pawn down Carlsen had plenty of play, and most commentators (and computers) gave him an advantage. Anand then made the brave decision to sacrifice a bishop for 2 pawns and defend a R+N+2P v R+4P ending, with all the pawns on the same side of the board. Anand was confident he could build a fortress with his rook and pawns, and so it turned out. However Carlsen kept probing for a weakness, as the game went on and on. Eventually all the pawns came off, leaving a R+NvR ending, which was duly drawn (but not always).
Both players will take something away from this game, with Anand being able to defend a position most players could not, while Carlsen will hope the effort tires Anand out just that little bit more.

Carlsen,M (2863) - Anand,V (2792) [C67]
WCh 2014 Sochi RUS (7), 17.11.2014

Monday, 17 November 2014

GM Ian Rogers speaks!

While no longer active as a player Grandmaster Ian Rogers is still heavily involved in the chess world. He is still a sought after journalist, writing for a number of publications  around the world (including the Canberra Times), and is also a well respected coach and trainer.
Just as importantly for Australian chess he spent a lot of his career promoting chess in this country, both as a player and a journalist. And even in retirement (as a player) he is still carrying out this role.
Just today he gave an interview on ABC Classic FM. The host, Margaret Throsby, spent an hour talking with Ian about chess, chess history, his mown career, and the current state of World Chess. Interspersed throughout the interview was music chosen by Ian, starting with "Smoke gets in your eyes", which he sais was a tribute to his early years playing at the Melbourne Chess Club.
Even if you missed the interview, you can hear it again, either as a podcast or in streaming format at Do to copyright restrictions you may miss out on all the music, but the rest of the interview more than makes up.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

2014 Vikings Weekender - IM Moulthun Ly wins

IM Moulthun Ly has won the 2014 Vikings Weekender, with an undefeated 6/7. He finished half a point ahead of IM Anton Smirnov, with IM Junta Ikeda in third place on 5. Ly and Smirnov were tied for first on 5 points going into the final round, but Smirnov drew with Ikeda, while Ly defeated Michael Kethro. Alana Chibnall and Andrey Bliznyuk shared the Under 2000 prize, after a hard fought last round game. Dillon Hathiramani finished an outstanding tournament by tying  for 4th place and winning the Under 1700 prize.
In the Minor tournament (Under 1600) , Tim Pearce was the runaway winner with 6.5/7. Bill Egan finished in 2nd place on 5.5, ahead of a group of players on 5. Cam Cunningham took the Under 1200 prize with an impressive 5/7, while young William Rumley won the Under 900 prize with 3.5/7. Newcomer Yafei Zhang shared the Best Female prize with Aniska Jain, both on 3/7.
Overall the tournament could be considered a success. Numbers were up on last years tournament, and with 3 current Olympiad players taking part, it did not want for strength. For an arbiters point of view it was one of the easiest events I have run, as there were no disputes or problems, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Internet coverage was trouble free, with the dgt boards showing all the games from the top 2 boards, and the results being posted to the net in a timely fashion.
Full results from both tournaments are available via The final two games from the tournament are also available under the live games link.

Ly,Moulthun - Chibnall,Alana [C63]
2014 Vikings Weekender (6.2), 16.11.2014

2014 World Championship Match Game 6

Game 6 of the 2014 World Championship match will probably go down as a 'game for the ages', but not in a good way. On move 26 both players seemed to overlook the advice (from CJS Purdy) that your should look at 'all checks and captures', and produced an astonishing double blunder. After 26. Kd2 Anand missed 26. ... Nxe5 27.Rxg8 Nxc4+ 28.Kd3 Nb2+ when the knight escapes and he recaptures on g8 with a couple of pawns in the bag. Instead he though for a minute before playing 26. ... a4 and Carlsen avoided any further danger with 27.Ke2 It was only after playing his 26th move did Anand realise what he had missed, and this probably affected his play for the rest of the game. Although Carlsen was only a little better after this, he quickly improved his position and Anand resigned on move 38.
After the first half of the match Carlsen lead 3.5-2.5.  And once again momentum seems to have shifted, with Carlsn getting a clear boost from this game. While mistakes of this nature have occurred in previous World Championship matches, the shift to fewer games does make it harder to recover from.

Carlsen,Magnus (2863) - Anand,Viswanathan (2792) [B41]
WCh 2014 Sochi RUS (6), 15.11.2014

Saturday, 15 November 2014

2014 Vikings Weekender - Day 1

After 4 rounds of the 2014 Vikings Weekender, IM's Moulthun Ly and Anton Smirnov share the lead with 3.5/4. Smirnov got off to a slow start, drawing his first round game with Canberra junior Dillon Hathiramani, before winning his next 3. Ly started with 2 wins before drawing his third round game with Jason Hu. In round 4 he took a share of the lead, beating previous leader IM Junta Ikeda in a game that went right down to the wire. Ikeda shares third place with Alana Chibnall and Jason Hu.
In the Minor event (Under 1600) Shay Keinan is the sole leader on 4/4. Close behind are Jamie-Lee Guo and Tim Pearce, who draw there top board clash in the final round of the day.
The tournament has attracted a good field of 60 players, with 22 in the Open and 38 in the Minor. Clearly the battle for the top prizes should be between the 3 IM's but a there are a couple of other players in the field capable of causing an upset.
Results from the tournament are available at Just click on the links to take you to the tournament required. Live coverage of the top 2 boards is also available from this page.

Ly,Moulthun - Ikeda,Junta [B42]
2014 Vikings Weekender (4.2), 15.11.2014

2014 Vikings Weekender - Day 0

The 2014 Vikings Weekender begins tomorrow. So far 52 players have pre-registered for the tournament, and with further entries expected tomorrow, both divisions (Open and Under 1600) should see a healthy turnout. Top seeds for the Open are Australian Olympians IM Anton Smirnov, IM Moulthun Ly and IM Junta Ikeda.
The tournament will have healthy prize fund with the Tuggeranong Vikings Rugby Union Club sponsoring the $1000 1st prize in the Open, O2C sponsoring the $500 1st prize in the Under 1600 event and other sponsors providing junior and female prizes. It is not too late to enter, and you can do so at the venue, Tuggeranong Vikings Rugby Union Club, Ricardo St, Waniassa, ACT.
There will be live coverage of at least the top board, and possibly the top 2 boards. Last minute testing of my wireless DGT system has shown problems with slow wireless routers, but I still have a wired solution as a backup. The address for the live games is and I will have tournament pairings and results up at

Thursday, 13 November 2014

2014 World Championship Game 4

After the excitement of games 2&3, the 2014 World Championship slowed down a little bit with a solid draw in Game 4. In a much more positional games, both players were vary careful to keep their positions safe, and at now stage did either player have a clear advantage. The game ended in a draw by repetition, after both sides had exhausted any practical winning chances.
So after 4 games the match is tied 2-2, which was the same score in the 2013 match. However in that match all the games were drawn, while so far this match has shown both strengths and weaknesses from both players. If there is going to be change in the rest of the match, it may well come from Carlsen's openings, as the perception is that he has not been focussing on tht part of the game as strongly as Anand. So far the idea of getting a playable middle game has been good enough, but he may need to take that extra step to ensure he keeps his title.

Carlsen,Magnus (2863) - Anand,Viswanathan (2792) [B40]
WCh 2014 Sochi RUS (4), 12.11.2014

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

2014 World Championship Game 3

Game 3 of the 2014 World Championship Match saw Viswanathan Anand immediately strike back after his loss in round 2. Anand chose a much more aggressive strategy in this game, playing a very sharp opening line that left with a passed pawn on c7 after 14 moves. This forced Carlsen to calculate very accurately in the position, as one misstep would have seen drop material. Anand was aided by the fact that this was all covered by his opening preparation, up to move 26! In the end Carlsen chose the wrong plan, and was forced to surrender an exchange to avoid the loss of a piece. However the piece was still falling off the board a few moves later, forcing Carlsen to resign.
The win has put paid to the worries that Anand was going to collapse after Game 2, and has put some real fight into the match. Clearly playing for sharper positions has delivered better results for Anand (both here and in 2013) and so now it is Carlsen who needs to look at his match strategy.

Anand,V (2792) - Carlsen,M (2863) [D37]
WCh 2014 Sochi RUS (3), 11.11.2014

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Closed Sicilian - Still doing the job

Of the recent changes to my opening repertoire, I am finding the Closed Sicilian the opening that is collecting me the greatest number of points. I normally get a comfortable position after the first 10 or so moves, and then I can normally whip up some sort of king side hack. Lately a few opponents have cottoned on to the fact this is now my main anit-Sicilian weapon, and seem a little more prepared.
The game below is an example of this. For the first part of the opening my opponent follows theory, but around move 10 plays a couple of moves that seem a little slow. On the other hand my impulsive  15. h4 forced me to think, as Ne5 caused problems for the bishop on h6. It was only after I spotted the chance to sacrifice my queen on e7 (beginning with 18.Nc4) that I was happy with my position, although in my initial analysis I did not spot the rook hanging on b8 and just planned to pick up lots of wood for the queen. In the end I played the same idea a couple of moves later, and my opponent walked into a mate.

Press,Shaun - Badrinarayan,Sankeertan [B26]
Swiss Festive Fun, 11.11.2014

Monday, 10 November 2014

2014 World Championship Game 2

Magnus Carlsen scored the first win of the 2014 World Championship match, with a nice win over Viswanathan Anand. Anand played the Berlin Defence against Carlsen's Lopez, a solid choice, but one that gave Carlsen the simple positions he excels at.  14.Ra3 was an interesting idea by Carlsen, and one that caused Anand some difficulty in meeting. In fact Anand did not seem sure quite how to play against Carlsen's kingside attack, and by the time he avoided the direct threats, his position was compromised. The game ended with a blunder by Anand (34 ... h5??) but most commentators were already predicting a Carlsen win by that stage.
'Ominous' was the term used by Mark Crowther at TWIC, and this seems apt. In both games Anand has lost his way in simplified positions, seemingly playing the kind of game that better suits Carlsen. Before the match I thought that Anand was going to continue his strategy from the second half of the 2013 match (taking the game to Carlsen), but he has not done this so far. Today is a rest day, but I suspect there will be little rest as Anand and his team look at the best strategy for the remaining games.

Carlsen,Magnus (2863) - Anand,Viswanathan (2792) [C65]
WCh 2014 Sochi RUS (2), 09.11.2014

Sunday, 9 November 2014

2014 World Championship Game 1

The first game of the 2014 World Championship Match between champion Magnus Carlsen and challenger Viswanathan Anand has ended in a hard fought draw. The game began with 1.d4 and Carlsen played the Gruenfeld Defence. Anand chose 5.Bd2 and maintained a slight edge into the middlegame. However Carlsen had a position where he does well in and slowly the game went to equal and then slightly in Carlsen's favour. Probably the key moment was on move 43 when Carlsen chose Re2, when Re3 posed the challenger more problems.The position was then equal and the game was drawn in a few more moves.
As an opener for the World Championship match this was an interesting game, with both sides taking something from it. For Anand the opening could be considered a success, and holding the final position a plus, while Carlsen showed that he will try and wring every advantage out of the position. Hopefully the rest of the match will contain similar fighting games.

Anand,V (2792) - Carlsen,M (2863) [D85]
WCh 2014 Sochi RUS (1), 08.11.2014

Saturday, 8 November 2014

2014 World Championship under way

The 2014 World Championship started a little under an hour ago in Sochi Russia. Game 1 has seen Magnus Carlsen meet 1.d4 with a Gruenfeld Defence. Anand countered with the relatively rare 5.Bd2 line in the exchange variation. As I type this the game has reached move 13, with 3 sets of minor pieces traded off. The players have castled on opposite sides of the board, and Carlsen is looking to open up lines on the queenside, against Anand's king. I suspect that Carlsen is already happy with the position in front of him, as it gives him greater 'grinding' chances. While I think this game will still be drawn, if there is a result it will be in Carlsen's favour.
There are plenty of places to follow the games online, but for now I am trying  It seems pretty quick, although I have not tested the live feed.

Friday, 7 November 2014

On the attack - Part 2

This is the 2nd game I saw this week that featured a nice attack. It was played in the final round of the ANU Spring Swiss (and the ANU Chess Club), and helped determined second place in the tournament. Adrian de Noskowski chose a slightly unusual line in the Nimzo-Indian, although there are plenty of games from GM practice. After he chose the bishop manoeuvre Bg5-h4, Black seized the initiative with g5, Ne4 and Qf6. 11 ... h5 looked double edged, but after 12.h4 Black never looked back, with his well placed queen targeting weak points everywhere. 21 ... Qxe3! was a nice find, and after that White was unable to avoid losing material.

De Noskowski,Adrian - Press,Harry [E23]

Thursday, 6 November 2014

On the attack - Part 1

During the last week I saw a couple of nice attacking games. The first was played at the Hjorth Open in Melbourne, by Alana Chibnall. The game started as a Center-Counter, not normally noted for attacking play on either side, but the fireworks start at move 11. White sacrificed a piece on e6, and after Black took the piece, the attack really took off. Regaining material with interest, White then proceeded to push Black back and back, and by move 30 the game was essentially over. While Black may have had a better defence at move 12 this game shows that at this level (1900), creativity often beats accuracy!

Chibnall,Alana - Dizdarivich,Mehmet [B01]
Hjorth Memorial, 03.11.2014

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

2014 Petrosian Memorial

The 2014 Petrosian Memorial almost began without me noticing. Squeezed in between 2 Grand Prix events, and the World Championship Match, it kind of just appeared. Organised in memory of Tigran Petrosian (9th World Champion) it is being held in Moscow, and is a successor to the Tal Memorial.
While it is a strong 8 player round robin, it does provide a little bit of variety with Morozevich, Liren and Inarkiev joining familiar faces like Aronian, Kramnik and Grischuk.
The tournament began yesterday evening (Canberra time), but the only decisive result was Grischuk over Inarkiev. Tonight the most interesting game might be between Morozevich and Aronian, although at this level I'm pretty sure all the games will have something to watch for.
Live coverage from the event is being carried by Chess24, including a video stream. The tournament page, which looks very stylish, is here.  It is worth paying a visit, not just for the tournament coverage, but also for the background on Petrosian, and the history of the tournament itself.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Happy birthday, Gary Lane

In these modern, always connected to the internet times, there is no excuse for missing a birthday. Once you start using a calendar app on your phone/tablet/pc any social network you are connected to will happily remind you of the 4 or 5 friends/acquaintances/people you accidentally 'friended' on facebook who are having a birthday on any particular day.
It turns out that today's birthday boy is Gary Lane, the Australian (formerly English) IM. Gary fills an interesting niche in the chess world, being noted as more as chess playing author, rather than a professional who writes the occasional book.  That is not to overlook that he is still a very strong player on the Australian circuit, but his fame does rest with his books and columns.
One column he regularly writes is "Gary Lane's Agony Column" for Kingpin magazine. This is a kind of humorous antidote to the more serious "What do I do next?" kind of columns seen in other forums, although it should be noted that Gary himself writes such a column for Chess Cafe.
The latest column has just come out (the day before his birthday it seems) and contains the usual mix of satire, biting wit and bizarre positions. Hidden inside is some serious chess (usually in the form of a brilliant but overlooked combination) but the main focus seems to be taking the P.
So if you are looking for a break from serious chess study, I highly recommend having a look at Gary's Agony Column for a little light relief.

Monday, 3 November 2014

2015 O2C Doeberl Cup

The website for the 2015 O2C Doeberl Cup has just gone live, which means registrations are open for next years events. There have been some changes from the 2014 tournament, the most significant being a change of venue.
Despite the fantastic support that the Woden Tradies Club gave the tournament, they are unable to host next years event. So the tournament is being shifted to University House, at the Australian National University. This venue is well known to a generation of Canberra juniors, as it has been the venue for the ANU Schools Chess Championship for the last 20 years. The Premier is being held in the spacious Great Hall, while the other tournaments will be held in adjoining conference areas. As an added bonus there is accommodation on site, and the venue is within walking distance of Canberra City.
While it is unlikely that the event will match the numbers for this year, the new venue and facilities will make it a very attractive tournament. As in past years there will be a limit on the number of places available in each event, so I recommend entering early. All the tournament details, as well as online entry forms are available at

(Note: I am a paid official for this event)

Sunday, 2 November 2014

How do you bounce back from this?

I saw two very interesting games from the 2014 Hjorth Open currently running at the Melbourne Chess Club . Both involved Tony Davis, and demonstrate the agony and ecstasy of chess.
The first is quick enough that you can almost play it in your head. Tony Davis v Chris Wallis 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Bb4 5.exd5 Qxd5 6.Qd2?? Bxc3 7.bxc3 Ne4 0-1 (White loses the bishop on g5).
But having lost that disaster Davis recovered a few moves later to beat IM Ari Dale in a game that combined cool defence with an eye on the counter attack. As a result he is tied for third place on 4/5 and still has a good chance of picking up a prize.

Dale,Ari - Davis,Tony [D10]
Hjorth Open, 02.11.2014

Saturday, 1 November 2014

World Championship Match - just a week away

Only a week to go until the 2014 World Championship Match begins. After his surprise win n the 2014 Candidates Tournament, former World Champion Viswanathan Anand is looking to regain his title from Magnus Carlsen. The match is being held in Sochi, Russia, utilising a spare venue left after the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Unlike the previous Carlsen v Anand match, I believe this will be a little more exciting. Anand isn't shackled by being the defending champion, and the last few games of the last match showed that taking the game to Carlsen is probably the way to go. On the other hand Carlsen had a very ordinary Olympiad, and was eclipsed by Caruana in St Louis, but I suspect he will be back in form by next week.
I am tipping Carlsen to retain his title, but only by a 2 game margin. I think Carlsen's willingness to spend as much time at the board as possible will be the deciding factor, with a couple of grinding endgame wins on the menu.
The tournament website is The opening ceremony is on the 7th of November, with the first game on the 8th.

The very first tournament?

For various historical reasons, the London Tournament of 1851 is generally considered the first international chess tournament in history. Before that, chess was either played casually, or as matches between players.
But it shouldn't be a surprise that there were tournament events organised prior to 1851. While not attracting the stellar field of the London event, they would certainly match the definition of a tournament, at least in a rough sense.
The earliest such tournament I could find was held in London in 1788. While mainly consisting of English players, the star attraction, and event winner, was Philidor. The tournament records (from Chessbase) show that he played in the vast majority of games, so I wonder if it was a series of short matches involving Philidor, with a few side games between the other participants.
From this event I have chosen one such side game, between Bowdler and Conway. It is a game of that time, as Bowdler  disregards material to focus on a mating attack, while Conway obliges by taking everything, and getting mated.

Bowdler,D - Conway,M [C23]
London London, 1788