Tuesday, 4 October 2022

When the pressure is off

 With chess players starting competitions at very young ages, it is always a balancing act between trying to get such players to behave in the correct 'chess' manner, and not to end up pushing them too hard. 

During a school holiday coaching day, I saw a couple of different approaches, that seem to have different results. The first was an older junior who seemed content to win as many games as possible using Scholars Mate. While it looked good on the scoreboard, it was also clear that he wasn't actually learning how to play better chess.

The second was a young player who was worried about coming last (or scoring poorly) in the blitz tournament we ran. As a compromise, I told him (and his opponents) that he was only playing 'friendly' games, although they were played at the same time limit as everyone else, and he was included in the tournament pairings. The only difference was that his opponents scored a point for the game, regardless of the real result. With the pressure off (and slightly easier pairings) he finished with 5 wins from the 7 games he played, and even composed a song to celebrate this fact!

Sunday, 2 October 2022

2022 Vikings Weekender - Save the date

 2022 Vikings Weekender

18th, 19th and 20th November 2022

6 round FIDE Rated Swiss*

Lanyon Vikings, Heidelberg St, Condor, ACT

Time control: 60m + 30s

Open and Under 1600 sections (Both FIDE Rated)

Round 1: Friday 7:00pm Round 2: Sat 10:15am Round 3: Sat 2:15pm Round 4: Sat 6:15pm Round 5: Sun 10:15am Round 6:Sun 2:15pm

1st Prize Open $1000, 1st Prize Minor $500 (All other prizes dependant upon entries)

Entry fee: $65 ($45 Junior/Concession) GM, IM, WGM, WIM free

Maximum of 60 players

Lanyon Vikings is a Licenced club. Players under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult at all times in the upstairs gaming and bar areas. Please also note that bar/meals service will not be available until 11am.

Friday 18 November 2022 7:00 PM - Sunday 20 November 2022 7:00 PM (UTC+11)


Lanyon Vikings Club

Heidelberg St, Condor ACT 2906

Entries at https://www.trybooking.com/CDEUF

Friday, 30 September 2022

2022 ACT Junior Chess Championship

 Phong Huynh is the 2022 ACT Junior Chess Champion, after surviving a tense final day of the competition. Sharing the overnight lead with Masaki Horikawa on 5/6, both players lost their round 7 games to open the tournament right up. Richard Ji then took the lead on 5.5/7, but a round 8 draw with Dev Raichura (and a 2nd loss of the day to Horikawa), left Huynh, Ji and Muhammed Yunus tied for 1st on 6/8. As they had already played each other, it came to to games against other opponents. Both Huynh and Ji won their games, while Yunus missed a tactic against ACT Girls Champion Shriya Karthik and resigned material down. Under the tournament tie-break rules, Huynh was awarded the 1st place trophy due to his win over Ji earlier in the tournament.

The 15 player tournament was hard fought, in part due to relatively closeness of the field. There were few easy games (even after a loss or two) and all but Ji suffered at least 2 losses.

The Championship was the final event of the of the ACTJCL age championships. The winners of the other events were

  • Under 8: Echo Feng
  • Under 10: Max Mao
  • Under 12: Charles Huang
  • Under 14: Masaki Horikawa

Huynh,Phong - Ji,Richard [A21]
ACT Junior Championship, 29.09.2022

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Not sure what went right here

 Sometimes you reach the end of a game, and despite a positive result, you aren't exactly sure why. This happened to me in a recent game, albeit one that had missed chances for both sides. Maybe what went right was not getting hit with 30.Rxf6! which leads to a better position after 31. ... Bxf6 32.Rxf6 Rxf6 33.Ng4! Instead the 'automatic' 30.Bxf6 enabled me to exploit my advantage on the queenside, although even then, it was my turn to miss the winning tactic. Fortunately there was still enough to convert the ending into a full point.

Pearce,Tim - Press,Shaun [E81]
Gungahlin CC (3), 27.09.2022

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

A position to know


White to play

An interesting position was reached during round 3 of the 2022 ACT Junior Championship. White was trying to hold a rook and pawn ending 2 pawns down, when an opportunity suddenly presented itself. As the king is almost stalemated, White had the chance to force a draw by playing Rf3+. If the rook is captured the game ends immediately, while if the king retreats to e5, then White can check on e3, wither pushing the king to the d file or back to the f file. With the king on the d file, the rook can now keep the king away from the pawns, and White can hold a draw. If the king returns to the f file, more checks drive the king behind the pawns, where checks from the side (after a move like Rb3 for White) also reach a drawn position.

Sadly for White, he  missed the stalemate trick and after that Black was able to win in the end. 

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

2022 ACT Under 14 Chanpionships

 Today saw the finish to the 2022 ACT Under 14 Championships. The field of 21 players was a mixture of established junior talent, and enthusiastic newcomers.  In the end the tournament was dominated by Masaki Horikawa and Charles Huang, who tied for 1st on 5.5/6. The subsequent playoff game was drawn, meaning that Horikawa won the Under 14 trophy on countback. As this event was combined with the Under 12 Championship, Huang collected that prize, meaning he has won the ACT Under 8's, 10's 14's and now the 12's over the last few years.

While some of the field was there for serious competition, the real highlight for most were the endless games of bughouse played between the rounds. Normally I frown on such frivolity as a chief arbiter, but as pretty much did the same thing when I was a junior I decided to let it slide this one time. There was even an informal bughouse event at the end of the day, with the tournament winners (Horikawa and Huang) teaming up together to win that as well.

Sunday, 25 September 2022

Try and avoid this

 This example probably falls under the heading of "Do as I do, not as I say". I've always told young players to spend their time on understanding openings, rather than simply memorising moves. On the other hand, when I was young, I spent a lot of time memorising lines, especially lines which contained a number of traps. If White had followed my example, but not my advice, they may not have had their queen trapped so quickly. 

White - Black
Street Chess, 24.09.2022