Sunday, 17 February 2019

2019 Oceania Zonal - Day 0

The 2019 Oceania Zonal begins tomorrow in Guam. GM Max Illingowrht and WGM Julia Ryjanova are the strong favorites in the Open and Wonen's events respectively.
Tonight saw the welcoming dinner at the Pacific Start Resort, and those that attended found it very enjoyable. There were traditional dances, nice music and singing, and excellent food. The speeches did not go on for too long, and it proved to be an excellent opening for the tournament.
Tomorrow sees the first two rounds for both events, with FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich making the ceremonial first move. At the moment I don't know where the results will be posted (or even who my opponent is going to be) but when I find out I will post a link.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

On the road again

I'm heading off to the 2019 Oceania Zonal in a couple of hours. The usual comments about blogging schedules, wifi access, and general tournament coverage apply. The 20 hours of travel is a little shorter than Europe/Olympiad etc, so hopefully I will remain in a good mood.

Friday, 15 February 2019

This looks familiar

The post you are about to read wasn't what I had originally intended to write about this evening. (BTW This isn't unusual, as I often cycle through a few ideas before settling on a topic). What I had planned to talk about was the lack of games I could find from the 1982-83 Australian Open. Chessbase only seems to have one or two, but in looking for these games, I came across the one that changed today's topic.
Having featured Valentina Gunina's nice win from the Cairns Cup, I came across a game from 1982 that seemed to share a lot of the same features (and a few differences). Played by Ian Rogers against Pat Halpin (possibly at the Australian Open), is saw an attack on f7, with the idea of catching the Black king in the Open. However, unlike the Gunina game where the attack was winning after the piece sacrifice, the Rogers Halpin game was a lot more turbulent. Halpin actually missed a winning defence on move 17 (17...h6) while two moves later 19.Ba4+ would have brought the game to a swift conclusion. But given how complicated the position was, I wouldn't be surprised if most of the game was played in time trouble (for both players), which would explain some of the missed opportunities.

Rogers,Ian (2355) - Halpin [B94]
AUS Australia, 1982

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Here, take this.

Valentina Gunina scored a nice attacking win over Marie Sebag in the currently running Cairns Cup. It was a fairly typical Sicilian King side attack v Queen side attack game, where the attack on the King side crashed through first.
The key moment was when Gunina left a knight sitting unprotected on b5,offering it to Sebag's queen. This kind of offer is what the late Patrick Connell referred to 'sucker bait'. And in this case it was. Sebag grabbed to knight, and after that, Gunina's attack was unstoppable.
Obviously the temptation to grab material is a strong one, but offers like this usually come with strings attached. Indeed, at this level, such offers should be doubly suspicious, as you don't get here by giving stuff away for free.

Gunina,V (2501) - Sebag,M (2476) [B90]
1st Cairns Cup 2019 Saint Louis USA (5), 10.02.2019

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Decluttering my chess

'Decluttering' seems to be all the rage at the moment, with a whole industry based on the concept of 'throwing things away' developing. Deciding that this is a good band-wagon to jump onto, I've decided to apply the same principles to my chess.
As hinted at last week, I have decided to try 'simple chess', aiming for clear cut positions in the opening, where the aim is to have one or two obvious plans, based on creating and targeting weaknesses in my opponents position.
For the second week in a row, I seemed to get this to work quite well. 2.c3 is a new line for me (I have previously played the Closed Sicilian) but it gave me the position I was looking for. Following the KISS principle, I only need to come up with some short term plans, find a few nice tactics, and by move 30, my opponents position had completely collapsed.

Press,Shaun - Grcic,Milan [B22]
University Cup, 12.02.2019

Monday, 11 February 2019

Unhappy Anniversary

Yesterday was the 23rd anniversary of one of the more momentous occasions in chess history. On the 10th February 1996 Gary Kasparov played the first game in his first match against IBM's Deep Blue chess computer. To the surprise of most observers, Kasparov lost the first game, making a couple of errors in the middlegame and getting hit with an unstoppable attack.
Whether Kasparov took the first game too lightly, or simply walked into a position more to Deep Blue's liking, I'm not sure. But after that Kasparov knuckled down and won 3 of the remaining 5 games to win the match 4-2.
Of course the rematch the next year ended far more unhappily for Kasparov. Against an improved version of Deep Blue he went into the final game tied at 2.5-2.5, but then famously blew up, to lose the match by a single game.

Comp Deep Blue - Kasparov,Garry (2795) [B22]
Philadelphia m Philadelphia (1), 10.02.1996

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Space is the place

"The Game of Chess" by Siegbert Tarrasch is an instructional manual that was first published in 1931 (with an English edition publish in 1935). Written at the end of Tarrasch's career, it is a distillation of his approach to chess, laying out the principles which he thought were necessary to follow in playing good chess.
Looking at reviews on line it seems  highly regarded, but at the same time, less well known than "My System" by his great rival, Nimzowitsch. Possibly this is because "My System" was considered revolutionary at the time, while Tarrasch was seen to be defending the older style of play. Nonetheless, looking at both books, there seems to be an overlap in certain areas (eg Rooks on the open files and the seventh rank).
At the end of the book he gives some example games, including the one below. There are two reasons why I've chosen this game. Firstly, the system Euwe chooses against the English, is one that Tarrasch highly praises, and is still recommended as an anti-English system today. Secondly, it is a good example of how the player with extra space can use this the generate a strong attack. Euwe gets over the 'half way line' first, and as a result soon has the White king in his sights.

Kleefstra,HD - Euwe,Max [A09]
Amsterdam Spielmann Toernooi Amsterdam (3), 29.03.1933