Friday, 28 February 2020

At last the 1948 show

The 2019 FIDE Congress is finally underway, and like most FIDE Congresses (in non election years anyway), it has been a fairly peaceful affair. The main item on the agenda was the approval of a new set of statutes, to reflect the new governance that FIDE plans to operate under.
Probably the major change is the introduction of Presidential term limits. FIDE Presidents can now only serve a total of two 4 year terms in that role. The schedule for elected commissions has also been changed , so that they are now elected 2 years after the Presidential elections.
Despite some mutterings from some federations that they would oppose its approval, the General Assembly voted 110-1 (with 1 abstention) in favour of the new statutes (apparently Wales was the only no vote). 
As this was the major business conducted at the Congress, I'm assuming the real implementation work will be done at the next Congress in August 2020. It will be interesting to see how the new commission structure has worked since 2018, especially in terms of promises made, and promises kept.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Develop, sac, mate

Here is another example of turning a lead in development into a rapid mating attack. While Black indulges in a bit of pawn grabbing, White completes his development. He then opens up the position with a piece sacrifice, before checkmating the Black king.


Spielmann,Rudolf - Flamberg,Alexander [C29]
Mannheim (42), 1914


Wednesday, 26 February 2020

A trick you shouldn't miss (but I did)

It has been said that Knight and Pawn endings are juts pawn endings with an extra piece. The rules for winning (or drawing) are basically the same (create outside passed pawns, centralise your king etc), with there are a couple of tactical components that pure pawn endings don't have.
In a game I played at the (new) Gungahlin Chess Club last night, I failed to spot one of this tactical tricks, although I was able to spot another.
I had simplified into a minor piece ending a pawn up, and had then won a second pawn on move 47 (Knight fork!). On move 50 my opponent played Nf5 and I thought my h pawn was dropping (NB we were both in time trouble at this stage). I chose to exchange bishops, figuring that one extra pawn should be enough to win (which it was). What I missed was 50 ... h5!. If 51.gxh5 the Knight goes, while if 51.Bxg5 hxg4+ 52.Kxg4 Nf2+ wins a piece. While I am not certain, I think I've either seen or had this trick played against me before, so it is something I should have found.
By the way, there was one last tactic in the ending that I had planned to play, but in the end chose not to. On move 64 I had planned to win by 64 ... b4 65.Kb5 Nc6! when the knight is safe as 66.Kxc6 g4 67.Nd2 Ke5! results in one or other of the pawns queening.


Radisich,Matt - Press,Shaun [C22]
Rama Memorial, 25.02.2020


Tuesday, 25 February 2020

2020 Dubbo Open - 28th and 29th March 2020

The 20th Dubbo Open is being hold on the weekend of the 28th and 29th March 2020. As usual it will be a 6 round event with a time limit of 60m+10s increment. There will be 3 rounds on Saturday and 3 round Sunday.
The venue is the Dubbo RSL Club, with registration open from 9:30am on Saturday. As this is the 20th anniversary tournament, the organisers are hoping to attract a large field of past players, and past champions. This years event has a very impressive first prize of $750, with plenty of other prizes on offer.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Short v Hort

A blast from the past occurred at this years Bunratty Masters tournament, when GM Nigel Short faced GM Vlastimil Hort in round 3. They first played each other almost 40 years ago, when Hort was already established as one of the worlds top players, and Short was the rising star.
These days Hort is one of the elder statesmen of chess, as both a player and commentator. Short is now a FIDE Vice-President, but is also still active over the board. Indeed, after beating Hort in the following game, he went on to win the tournament with 5/6.


Short,Nigel - Hort,Vlastimil [C67]
Bunratty Masters, 22.02.2020


Sunday, 23 February 2020

Smurfing

The practice of strong gamers playing under another identity (often masquerading as a newbie) is sometimes known as "smurfing". It happens in online games such as Starcraft, and now it has become news in the chess world.
World Champion Magnus Carlsen has engaged in a bit of this recently, winning a number of online events while hiding his identity. Starting off as "DannyTheDonkey" he quickly moved on the "DrDrunkenstein". Under these names (and a few others) he won a number of lichess.com events, often while live streaming the action. Importantly, he didn't try and pretend to be someone else (which may have raised some ethical issues), but simply left it up to others to guess who he was.
"Smurfing" is generally considered OK in the online gaming community, as long as it isn't used to gain an otherwise unfair advantage (eg creating accounts to throw games to other players). Usually it is done as a kind of challenge, where a player starts off with a low ranking and then sees how quickly they gain build it up again. It is even used in games like Poker, where a strong players starts an online account with $1 in it, and sees how long it takes to earn $100,000!
The full glorious story is available here, and is well worth a read. If anything, it may encourage more players to enter events like this, as playing an anonymous Carlsen may just lead to your "fifteen minutes of fame".

Saturday, 22 February 2020

The crazy big centre

In a follow up to an earlier post about failing to push both the e and d pawns, here is a recent game where Black gets steamrolled by White's big centre. The opening is "almost" a Grunfeld, but the move order meant that Black had no opportunity to trade knights on c3. As a result the pawn centre has grater mobility, and after only 10 moves, Black is almost lost.


Thybo,Jesper Sondergaard (2592) - Scheidegger,U (1741) [A15]
19th Burgdorf Open 2020 Burgdorf SUI (1.3), 14.02.2020