Thursday, 30 March 2017

Bumper year for Doeberl on the cards

With two weeks to go it is looking like a bumper turnout for this years O2C Doeberl Cup. Both the Premier and the Minor (Under 1600) have already reached their entry limits, and there are only 16 places left in the Under 1200 event, and 26 in the Major (Under 2000). This is well ahead of entries at the same time in previous years, with the exception of the year when Gary Kasparov was a guest of the tournament.
While this state of affairs is pleasing to the organisers, it would be a shame if anyone missed out by leaving it to the last minute to enter! The Major is probably the best tournament to try for now (if you are rated between 1400 and 2000), but if you are rated over 2000, you can still ask to be added to the wait list for the Premier. There are always players who have to pull out at the last minute, so extra spots may become available.
If you have entered, there is also important information about catering at the tournament. Due to a change in staffing arrangements at the venue, Friday night and Saturday lunchtime meals are being sold as a package ($40 covers both meals). This needs to be pre-ordered, as a minimum number of packages need to be sold for it to go ahead (otherwise refunds will be provided).
All the latest details, including the entry lists can be found at www.doeberlcup.com.au

(** I am a paid official for this event **)

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Omnishambles

Either FIDE Executive Director Nigel Freeman has done something deliberately brave, or something accidentally stupid, by publishing the news that FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has resigned. It seems that the basis for this claim was that Kirsan had verbally threatened to resign during the latest FIDE Presidential Board meeting, and at the end of the meeting said 'I resign' three times before leaving.
Kirsan has denied that he did resign (only once I assume), and I suspect this leaves FIDE in a bit of a quandary. The Presidential Board seems to want to be rid of him (and some members were openly speaking of ditching him at the next election), but claiming he has now resigned is a bit of a stretch. Under the FIDE statutes they can try and have him removed, but according to one section requires the approval of the Ethics Commission.
If I was a lawyer, and I am not, I would want to see a written resignation before I tried to appoint a new President (which will be Makropoulos in an acting capacity according to A.03.10 of the FIDE Handbook). Of course they could just ignore him and hopes he goes away, as apparently Kirsan isn't really the President, as FIDE want to keep doing business with the United States.
Or based on recent experiences (both personal and observational), the FIDE PB could just pick a rule that suits them and enforce that one, to the exclusion of all else. It is a policy that worked in the lead up to the 2014 election, so it should work now.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Stop me if you've heard this one before

It seems that the FIDE Executive have found a way of replacing their troubled President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. The front page of fide.com has states that he has announced his resignation, and that an extraordinary board meeting will be held in April. While this seems pretty straightforward, according to Kirsan himself, this news is false, and has no intention of standing down.
This has all occurred in the last few hours, so for later updates I suggest you catch the whole story at chess.com.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

The UAE is the place to be

Sharjah in the UAE is rapidly making a name for itself in the world of chess. Having hosted the FIDE Grand Prix event earlier this year, it is now hosting the Sharjah Masters at the Sharjah Chess and Cultural Centre.
The tournament has attracted a large field of 230 players, including 92 players from India. However the organisers were a bit over enthusiastic in drawing up the entry list, as the first round saw 34 forfeits, mainly from players who indicated an interest, but hadn't actually turned up. This included a number of top seeds, resulting in a few free points to lower rated players.
Having sorted that out, the tournament seems to have settled down a bit.  Currently there are still 13 players on 3/3 but mixed in with some well known GM's like Gawain Jones and Wang Hao are a few lesser known CM'a and FM's. This is because the organisers have accelerated the tournament pairings, but in a somewhat odd way. They looked to have split the field into top half and bottom half, and simply paired the players within those groups for the first 3 rounds. So instead of pairing top half players on 1 with bottom half players on 2, the bottom half players on 2 played other bottom half players on 2. There is no gradual deceleration after round 3 either (as recommended by the Baku System), so round 4 will see pairings that would normally be found in the first round of a non accelerated event.
The website for the event is here, and apart from finding out about the tournament, you can also read about the host club, which is the largest dedicated chess club in the world (by area).

Algorithms now rule us

A few years back I set up an account with paper.li so as to create a curated online newspaper dealing with chess. As far as I know I am probably the only person that reads it although if you are interested I think this is the link to it.
Unfortunately I have little control over the source material, apart from specifying that it has to have something related to chess. I suspect thi is more of a key word search, rather than an intelligent collection, as I do get a number of 'chess but not chess' articles.
I don't mind the recipes for 'chess pie' or the occasional articles on "Chess Records", but I am quite sick of the articles on the current president of the united states. For some reason certain sections of the blogspehere portray every blunder, mistake or just outright lie as some kind of move in 4 dimensional chess game that most of us are too dumb to understand. So references to "playing chess while the rest of you are playing checkers" or "smart like a chess grandmaster" seem to trigger the collection algorithm's interest, and it ends up on my screen. This is not good or desirable.
Attempts at tweaking the settings to avoid this have proved unsuccessful at this point, so if you do click the above link be warned, it isn't always pleasant reading.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Between the server and the board

These day I play a lot of server chess over at www.iccf.com This is the home of the International Correspondence Chess Federation, with correspondence being almost exclusively being carried out on their chess server.
When I first started playing CC it was still played by post, with moves (and scoresheets) going by mail. I took a break from it for a while, and only got back into it when the internet had really taken off.
Even then my return tournaments were played by mail, but in this case, email. Server based chess was only just starting to become popular (and technically feasible) so my early events involved remembering to send moves. There were some issues with this system (lost emails, stuff going into the wrong folders etc), and it wasn't until server based chess came along that they were resolved.
I did take part in the first Australian Email Championship and I think I finished mid field. There were a few long games, but also a couple of quick ones, like the following. My opponent captured on h2 and offered a draw (which was unavoidable anyway) but the line after Kh1 is slightly more interesting.


Thew,Brian - Press,Shaun [C80]
CCLA Australian Email Championship, 11.2000


Thursday, 23 March 2017

ANU Chess Club

Up until last year there was a chess club that met at the Australian National University. Due to a combination of factors the club ceased operations, although there was hope that it may restart in the new year.
I'm pleased to say that not only has the club been reborn, but it has already picked up a large group of chess players. ANU students Fred Litchfield and Willis Lo have restarted the club on Wednesday evenings, although it is more of a 'Uni Club' than a club that meets at a University (yes, there is a difference).
The activities are a lot more casual than the previous club, and while they host to occasional tournament, the emphasis is more on getting together for the social scene. When I dropped in, there were some chess games going, a little bit of opening analysis, a couple of the players were choosing the music to be played, and an impromptu magic show was taking place. The club was overwhelmingly undergraduate as well, and I certainly felt my age walking through the door.
Also good to see was that the ANU Go Club (which meets in the same building) was also thriving, with their club rooms filled with players as well. 
If you are interested in getting along to either club for some social chess (or go), then keep your Wednesday nights free. Both clubs meet from 6pm at the Bauldesan Precinct Building, Ellery Crescent ANU.