Friday 30 November 2007

2007 Commonwealth Championship

The 2007 Commonwealth Championship begins on 2nd December. After languishing for a number of years the tournament has taken on a new lease of life in the hands of the Indian Chess Federation. This years event includes junior and womens tournaments and at last count had attracted 280 players.
Australia is well represented with IM Aleks Wohl and IM David Smerdon in the Open and WFM Shannon Oliver playing in the Womens Championship. Other Australian players are Gareth Oliver (U20), Jamie Kenmure (U20), Alexandra Jule (U20G), Rebecca Harris (U18G), Benjamin Harris (U16), Harry Hughes (U8).
The website for the event is

Thursday 29 November 2007

The Power of Checks and Captures

I was doing some group coaching last night at my chess club, and the first position up for discussion was the one shown on the right. It is Black to move and win.
This position comes from the game Fish-Abrahams, 1929, although my source was The Power Chess Program by GM Nigel Davies.
Now a problem like this is normally pretty easy to solve, but a position like this may not be. So let me explain.
If you are shown a position like this the act of it being shown to you is a big clue that some cleverness is afoot. And often knowing there is a solution is half the battle in problem solving. So armed with the knowledge that this is a "problem" trying anything and everything until you find the right move isn't a huge strain.
Now there are a couple of other interesting things about the solving process. My intention with this problem (and the others that followed) wasn't to see who could come up with the quickest or cleverest solution, but to aim for a systematic approach. In this case I impressed the need to look at all checks and captures. While most players know the importance of this rule, due to mental laziness we often look at "some" checks and captures. This is because we either dismiss some moves as "stupid" and don't even try them, or more commonly, we look at the first couple of checks or captures and then decide that the third capture (out of 6 or 7) "must" be the right move and proceed to ignore everything else.
Interestingly enough it was the more experienced players who fell into this trap, and it was a newer player who said "lets try 1... Qxf3", which turns out to be the correct move. Nonetheless this was also an exercise in calculation and while they found that 2.gxf3 Bh3+ 3.Kg1 was forced, they hit a wall at this point, mainly because they weren't allowed to move the pieces. After that restriction was lifted, they quickly found 3... Nxd4 4.Qd1, although it then took a little time to spot 4. ... Re1+ 5.Qxe1 Nf3#
As an exercise in Checks and Captures it was great, as every Black move is either a check or a capture. As an exercise in disciplined thinking it was also good, as the key move was a move that the casual observer may discard (although the experienced chess player might find simply because it is a chess problem).
But there is a small sting in the tail. While trying to impress on the players that Black won by choosing a "less obvious" move, we gave White no such leeway during the solving process. The trap that the group (including myself) fell into was assuming that 2.gxf3 was forced for White, when the non-capturing 2.Ne2 leaves 2 Black pieces still under attack. Of course Black can emerge with an advantage with 2... Nxd4 3.Nxd4 Q runs away, but it isn't the forced mate/win that the combination seems to be.

Wednesday 28 November 2007

The Social Network

Until now I've avoided the whole social network phenomena, although this is more to do with my laziness than any other reason. But I got pinged today with an invite to join, which is a kind of social network, but aimed at the professional/job hunting market. So I accepted the invitation and filled in all the various details.
Now the whole idea of these networks is to put you in touch with people of similar skills/interests or in touch with people who are in touch with people etc etc etc This got me thinking about how such a network might help chess.
Lots of chessplayers have a social network of other chessplayers. And some chessplayers have a network of people who aren't chessplayers. But often these networks are quite distinct (and are kept disticnt), meaning that chess doesn't draw on the resources that the non chess community might bring in. But via a mechanism like linkedin or facebook there might be an opportunity for these groups to come into contact with each other, to the benefit of both.
So what I am interested in doing is building up a network of chessplayers, both as a conduit for the sharing of chess related ideas (especially in the areas of tournament organisation and marketing), and as a way of increasing the visibility of the chess community through the professional world. To do this I invite you to have a look at and decide if it is a worthwhile endeavour. I will be interested in seeing what contacts the chess community actually has with the outside world, and what help that can bring to the game.

Sox problems and solutions

If you are doing any audio processing work under Linux, then Sox is a very useful tool to have. The Sox homepage refers to it as "the swiss army knife of sound processing programs".
Unfortunately the new release (14.0.0) has a problem under certain Linux distros.
The problem appears when processing .wav files (and maybe others) and shows up with an error message "Could not find data chunk". This is caused by the use of the "fseek0" function call instead of the previous "fseek" function call.
The solution is a simple one. In the src/misc.c file change the fseek0 function call to fseek ,then recompile and run make install. Worked a treat for me.

Tuesday 27 November 2007

Australians at the World Youth Championships

The World Youth Championships has 2 rounds to go and most Australian eyes are focused on the Under 12 Championship. Queensland FM Gene Nakauchi is in =2nd place with 7.5/9, half a point behind Ivan Bukashin of Russia.
Of the Canberra based players, Ethan Derwent is on 3.5 in the Under 8's while Emma Guo has scored 5 points in the Girls Under 12's.

Moussard,J (2261) - Nakauchi,G (2040) [D02]
WORLD YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP 2007 (12) Limra Hotel - Kemer/Antalya (6.10), 22.11.2007

1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 c5 3.Bg2 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 e5 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.c4 Nf6 8.Nc3 e4 9.Bg5 Bb4 10.0-0 0-0 11.Bxf6 gxf6 12.Qa4 Bxc3 13.bxc3 Qc7 14.f3 f5 15.fxe4 fxe4 16.Rf6 Be6 17.Raf1 Qe5 18.Qc2 Rab8 19.Qd2 e3 20.Qc2 Rfd8 21.Bxd5 cxd5 22.Qa4 d4 23.cxd4 Rxd4 24.Qxa7 Rbd8 25.R1f3 R8d7 26.Qa8+ Kg7 27.Qe8 Qc5 28.h4 Rd2 29.h5 Qxh5 30.Rxe3 Qc5 0-1

Another well placed Australian is Sean Gu, whose current 6/9 in the Under 8's could turn into a top 10 finish if results go his way.

Monday 26 November 2007

Zhao exits World Cup early

Oceania representative IM Zong Yuan Zhao was an early casualty from the 2007 FIDE World Cup. Zhao had the tough assignment of defeating Magnus Carlsen in the first round, and despite some solid resistance on both games was beaten 2-0.

Carlsen,M (2714) - Zhao Zong Yuan (2491) [E11]
World Cup Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (1.2), 25.11.2007

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.d4 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 Qe7 5.g3 Nc6 6.Nc3 Bxc3 7.Bxc3 Ne4 8.Qc2 Nxc3 9.Qxc3 0-0 10.Bg2 d6 11.d5 Nb8 12.0-0 e5 13.c5 Bg4 14.Rac1 a5 15.Rfe1 Na6 16.cxd6 cxd6 17.Nd2 b6 18.Qe3 Nc5 19.b3 Bd7 20.a3 Bb5 21.b4 axb4 22.axb4 Nd7 23.Ne4 Rfb8 24.Rc7 Qd8 (D) 25.Rc6 Bxc6 26.dxc6 d5 27.cxd7 dxe4 28.Bxe4 Ra4 29.Bc6 Rxb4 30.Qxe5 Qf8 31.Rd1 Rd8 32.Rd3 Rg4 33.Re3 Rg6 34.Qe7 Re6 35.Rxe6 fxe6 36.Qxe6+ 1-0

Another player making the early trip home was IM Robert Gwaze, who was defeated 2-0 by Alexi Shirov. Full coverage of the event is here.

Sunday 25 November 2007

Porridge for Kasparov

While the Australian voting public successfully changed the government yesterday, those opposed to Putin's rule in Russia are having a much harder time of it. Opposition figurehead Gary Kasparov was arrested at a protest march and has been sentenced to 5 days in jail. Apparently Kasparov's group had been given permission to hold a 'rally', but not a 'march' and this was the reason he was given time in jail.
This story is getting plenty of coverage in the print media (eg The New York Times) and SBS (Australia) News was even covering it this evening.
In other news concerning former World Champions, Chesstoday is reporting that Bobby Fischer has been hospitalised in Reykjavik, suffering from 'serious physical problems'.

Saturday 24 November 2007

A nice warm up

Next weekend the Australian Schools Teams Chess Championship is on in Queensland. One of the teams representing the ACT is the Curtin Primary Girls Team, playing in the Primary Girls Section. As a warm up for the event they have been playing at Street Chess on Saturday mornings. The intention of this is to prepare themselves for the rigour of the event by pitting them against some wily old chessplayers, who have seen (or executed) just about every swindle in the book. As much as coaching you teaches you so much, there is nothing like the pain of an unlucky defeat to really ram home a lesson.
But not only are the girls enjoying the experience, the Street Chess regulars have enjoyed having new faces at the tables. And the last couple of weeks have seen fields of 20+ players battling it our for the $100 prize money.
This post also gives me a chance to show off a new blog gadget, with a slideshow of pictures from today's tournament located about halfway down the right hand side of the page. With the various extra real estate stealer's on the page (ads, video links, photos, pay pal buttons etc) it is getting hard to find space for everything. And if you find this page annoyingly slow to load, please tell me and I'll see what I can get rid of.

Friday 23 November 2007

Castle early, castle often!

"Vote early, vote often" is a piece of advice that often pops up around election time. And with the (Australian) Federal Election on tomorrow, it may be the only thing that will save the Liberal Party from defeat. (Attempts at "False Flag" operations having blown up in their faces).
Years ago I appropriated the saying and turned it into a piece of advice for junior players. "Castle early, castle often" I'd say, to the confusion of those in front of me. "You can only castle once" would come the challenge from the more learned children. "Not necessarily" I would reply. And as evidence I present the following semi-famous game.

Heidenfeld - Kerins, Dublin 1973

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Be3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Nf3 Qb6 8.Qd2 c4 9.Be2 Na5 10.O-O f5 11.Ng5 Be7 12.g4 Bxg5 13.fxg5 Nf8 14.gxf5 exf5 15.Bf3 Be6 16.Qg2 O-O-O 17.Na3 Ng6 18.Qd2 f4 19.Bf2 Bh3 20.Rfb1 Bf5 21.Nc2 h6 22.gxh6 Rxh6 23.Nb4 Qe6 24.Qe2 Ne7 25.b3 Qg6+ 26.Kf1 Bxb1 27.bxc4 dxc4 28.Qb2 Bd3+ 29.Ke1 Be4 30.Qe2 Bxf3 31.Qxf3 Rxh2 32.d5 Qf5 (D)
At this point Heidenfeld forgot that he had already moved his King (by castling!) and castled again, on the opposite side of the board. Sadly such imaginative play did him no good.
33.O-O-O Rh3 34.Qe2 Rxc3+ 35.Kb2 Rh3 36.d6 Nec6 37.Nxc6 Nxc6 38.e6 Qe5+ 39.Qxe5 Nxe5 40.d7+ Nxd7 0-1

(This game was sourced from Tim Krabbe's Records Page, including the helpful colour tags showing the 3 castling moves)

Thursday 22 November 2007

Shortest Australian Championship Game

Paul Dunn ( sent me a game from the 1965 Australian Championship. The games was won by Dr George Stern in only 7 moves, and Paul remarks that "Dr George takes the record for the shortest game at an Australian Championships up until that time." I'm assuming that this record only applies to decisive (and played) games as I'm sure there would be a few players losing by not turning up, and a couple of very quick draws.

Dreyer - Stern [D23]
AUS ch Hobart (11), 1965

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 dxc4 4.Bg5 c5 5.Qa4+ Nc6 6.Qxc4 Nxd4 7.Nc3 Nc2# 0-1

George passed away a few years ago, and is mainly remembered for his term as chess columnist for the Canberra Times. For the early part of my chess career I had a number of disagreements with George over chess matters, which can be best explained by the arrogance of youth, and the belief I knew better than everyone else. In latter years I apologised to George for my behaviour at the time, but he laughed it off, stating that differences of opinion are to be expected in the chess community. But it did teach me an important lesson about behaviour.
When you decide to call someone a "dog", or a "clown", or even a "tool", and feel you are entitled to do so because of your perception of who the other person is, ask yourself that in 20 years from now, will you regret or be ashamed of the things you said?

Wednesday 21 November 2007

Mighty Max

The organisers of the 2008 Gibraltar Masters organised an online qualifying event with the winner receiving an all expense paid trip to the 2008 tournament. The event started out with 1500+ players, with the final being a 16 player knockout. It was a pretty strong event with the final 16 consisting of 9 GM's, 6 IM's and the lone untitled player, Max Illingworth from Sydney. Max (playing under the handle of "MightyMax") had the misfortune to run into the tournament winner Tigran L. Petrosian in the first round. Despite his best efforts, Max went out 3-0.

TIGRANO (3371) - mightymax (2713) [B23]
ICC tourney 792 (3 0) Internet Chess Club (2), 18.11.2007

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 g6 4.Bb5 Bg7 5.Bxc6 bxc6 6.d3 d6 7.Nf3 Nh6 8.0-0 0-0 9.Qe1 f5 10.e5 Nf7 11.b3 Qc7 12.Bb2 Rb8 13.Na4 Bd7 14.c4 Bc8 15.Kh1 Re8 16.Qh4 dxe5 17.fxe5 Nxe5 18.Qg3 f4 19.Qxf4 Rf8 20.Bxe5 1-0

* As you can see ICC seems to regard ratings as a marketing ploy. I'd guess both players are about 700 points ahead of their respective FIDE ratings.

Tuesday 20 November 2007

ACT Transfer Championships - Results

The ACT Transfer Championship was another successful ACTJCL tournament, with 78 players (39 teams) taking part. At this stage I don't have the full results, but the tournament was won by Justin Chow and Etienne Masle-Farquhar (10/11).
My own team (Press, Shaun & Press, Harry) started off well 4/4 until we got outsmarted by a team of 11 year olds. Noticing that I was using a lot of my time to help my partner, they waited until I was behind on the clock and stalled. This nullified the effect of having a strong player advising a weaker one. The most drastic effect of this tactic was when I needed to drop a piece to block a check and I had none in front of me. As I was behind on the clock, my partners opponent simply "sat", so my partner couldn't capture anything to pass to me. Of course this strategy was assisted by the use of digital clocks (sacrilege!) which took the uncertainty out of such decisions.
We then lost 4 games in a row, before recovering with 3 wins to score 7/11. I'm not sure where that placed us, but we did pick up a trophy for best placed Under 2000 (combined ratings) team.

Monday 19 November 2007

Rapid win against the Grunfeld

The British Rapidplay Championship was held over the last weekend and GM Peter Wells was the deserving winner with a very impressive 9.5/11. In his last round game he faced a Grunfeld, and chose the 9.Rb1 line of the Exchange Variation. Over the years this move is one that has caused players on the Black side of the board quite a deal of trouble. This game was no different as Wells chased the Black Queen around the board before his strong centre lead to a winning King side attack. (I've even chucked in a couple of other games, including a quick win by Colin Davis, a strong Australian junior who retired far too early).

Wells,P - Poobalasingam,P [D85]
British Rapidplay , 18.11.2007

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.d4 Bg7 6.e4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 0-0 8.Be2 c5 9.Rb1 cxd4 10.cxd4 Qa5+ 11.Bd2 Qxa2 12.0-0 Qe6 13.Ng5 [ RR 13.Qc2 Qd6 14.Bb4 Qd8 15.d5 Bg4 16.Rfc1 Na6 17.Ba3 Bxf3 18.gxf3 Qd7 19.Bxa6 bxa6 20.Qc7 Qh3 21.Qg3 Qxg3+ 22.hxg3 Rfe8 23.Rb7 Bf8 24.Rcc7 Rab8 25.Rxb8 Rxb8 26.Bxe7 Bxe7 27.Rxe7 Ra8 Gelfand,B-Kindermann,S/Dortmund 1990/[Ftacnik]/1-0 (38)] 13...Qd7 [ RR 13...Qd6 14.Be3 h6 15.e5 Qd8 16.Ne4 Nd7 17.Qb3 Nb6 18.Nc5 e6 19.Bf3 Nd5 20.Nxb7 Bxb7 21.Qxb7 Nxe3 22.fxe3 Qg5 23.Qe4 Rab8 24.Qd3 h5 25.Ra1 Bh6 26.Rfe1 Rfc8 27.Rxa7 Rb2 28.Ra3 Mueller,M-Thiel,T/Essen GER 2004/The Week in Chess 493/0-1 (37)] 14.Be3 Nc6N [ RR 14...e6 15.Bb5 Qd8 16.e5 Nd7 17.Qf3 Nb6 18.Qh3 h6 19.Ne4 g5 20.f4 f6 21.exf6 e5 22.fxg7 Bxh3 23.gxf8Q+ Qxf8 24.fxe5 Qa3 25.Bc1 Qa2 26.Rb2 Qa1 27.gxh3 Rc8 28.Nc5 a6 29.Bd3 Kubbenga,M-Son,J/Netherlands 1990/1-0 (30);
RR 14...b6 15.Bb5 Qd8 16.Qf3 Bb7 17.Bc4 e6 18.Qh3 h6 19.Nxf7 Qe7 20.Nxh6+ Bxh6 21.Bxe6+ Rf7 22.Bxh6 1-0 Davis,C-Harrison,K/Gosford 1988/EXT 2002 (22)] 15.d5 Ne5 16.f4 Ng4 17.Bd4 Nf6 18.Bb5 Qd8 19.Qd3 a6 20.Bc4 b5 21.Ba2 Bb7 22.f5 Bc8 23.fxg6 hxg6 (D)
24.e5 Nxd5 25.Qe4 Nf6 26.exf6 exf6 27.Bxf6 Bxf6 28.Qxg6+ 1-0

Sunday 18 November 2007

Chessmaster Grandmaster

Doing a spot of shopping last week and I spied "Chessmaster Grandmaster" on the shelves in one of the computer game shops I frequent. I few months ago I had a bit of a rave about "Chessmaster X", which I regard as excellent value for $20 it currently costs. But at this stage I can't say much about "Chessmaster Grandmaster" as I haven't seen it in operation. (Despite being a widely read blog, no one sends me free chess stuff)
I've seen a couple of reviews, but even they've been a bit sparse. It looks as though it follows the same formula as Chessmaster X, with a whole lot of fancy chess sets and settings, and has the same emphasis on teaching chess, and not just playing.
Probably the big difference from Chessmaster X is the multi-platform support, with both the PC and Nintendo DS versions on the shelves. I believe there will also be X-Box versions available as well, although I haven't seen any for the Australian zone.
At this stage I would suggest it may be a good purchase for the DS, but the extra cost for the PC version (over Chessmaster X) may not be worth it.

Saturday 17 November 2007

2007 World Youth Championship

The 2007 World Youth Championship begins tomorrow in Antayla, Turkey. Australia is well represented with 17 players over 12 divisions, with a couple of Canberra based players (Emma Guo U/12 Girls and Ethan Derwent U/8 Boys). IM David Smerdon is one of the team coaches, and full coverage of the event can be found on the tournament website.

Friday 16 November 2007

2007 Vikings Weekender - Only 2 weeks away

The 2007 Vikings Weekender is only a fortnight away. Full details of the event (including an entry form) can be found on Ian Rout's chess webpage.
Of the 3 weekenders held in Canberra (Doeberl and ANU are the other 2), Vikings is the most "local". That is not to say that interstate players aren't welcome, but that it is the tournament that is aimed at Canberra players. Having said that, first place tends to go interstate more often than not.
So if you are an interstate player wanting to enjoy a chess playing weekend in Canberra, time to organise your travel plans. And if you are a local player, you might want to show those out-of-towners a thing or two. Like this.

Bolens,J - Rout,I [C10]
Viking Weekender Canberra, 2006

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Qd5 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Nf6 8.Nf3 0-0 9.Bd3 c5 10.c4 Qh5 11.c3 Nc6 12.0-0 b6 13.Rb1 Rd8 14.Re1 Bb7 15.Bg5 Na5 16.d5 exd5 17.Re5 Ng4 18.Rf5 g6 19.Rf4 dxc4 (D)
20.h3 Bxf3 21.Qxf3 Qxg5 22.Rxg4 Qe5 23.Bxc4 Nxc4 24.Rxc4 Re8 25.Rf4 f5 26.Rd1 Rad8 27.Rxd8 Rxd8 28.g3 Qd5 29.Qe3 Qc6 30.Rh4 Rd1+ 0-1

Thursday 15 November 2007

Ratings Arguments - Chapter 0

Occasionally when I get into a discussion with someone about a contentious topic, I realise that the position they have taken isn't supported by what I would regard as "facts". When I point this out they often say "Well, what are the facts?". To stop my head from exploding I usually cut the argument off stating "We can only continue this discussion when you know what you are talking about" (or more bluntly "Do you own homework").
I'm currently seeing this in online discussions about Elo v Glicko as a preferable rating system. This is a particularly heated topic in Australia, although the heat mainly comes from those who would use it as a stick to beat the current ACF Ratings Officer Bill Gletsos over non-related issues.
However for those that don't fall into that category here are a couple of links of interest. Parameter estimation in large dynamic paired comparison experiments is Mark Glickman's original paper on the "Glicko" Rating System. (Note You will need a Postscript reader to look at this file). A summary of the Glicko system can be read here. (This is PDF format).
At some point down the track there will be a "Chapter 1", "Chapter 2" and even a "Chapter 978" of this post, but before I get there I'd like to be sure that people who throw around terms like "inferior mathematically" know what they are talking about.

Wednesday 14 November 2007


I know it is a long way from Australia, but the 4 Nations Chess League (4NCL) is underway for another year. Rupert Jones (Bd 3 PNG) is particularly keen to spread the word about this season as the team he manages, White Rose, currently shares the lead in Division 2, and is already looking good for promotion to the top section next year.
In Division 1 a couple of Australian names have turned up with David Smerdon turning out for The AD's (replacing Ian Rogers?), while Alexandra Jule is playing for the Barbican 2 team. John-Paul Wallace is registered with Guilford-ADC, along with 16 GM's.

Here is a quick win from last weeks round by GM Nigel Davies

Davies,N (2476) - D'Costa,L (2395) [A08]
4NCL Birmingham ENG (3), 10.11.2007

1.Nf3 c5 2.e4 d6 3.c3 Nf6 4.d3 Nc6 5.g3 g6 6.Bg2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1 e5 9.Nbd2 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nc4 Re8 12.Ng5 Rf8 13.Qb3 Nde7 14.f4 exf4 15.Bxf4 Nd5 (D)
16.Nxf7 Rxf7 17.Nd6 c4 18.Qxc4 1-0

Tuesday 13 November 2007

Championship Formats

The Victorian Chess Championship is just about to start and already there is a debate about formats. Unlike the poorly performed NSW Championships, the Victorian Championship usually attracts a stronger field, and isn't afraid to try different formats. For this years event they have moved from a multi week event (with 1 or 2 rounds a week) to a more compressed format with all games being played between the 15th and 25th of November.
Of course this change hasn't pleased everyone, just as the longer format didn't please everyone either. To me the obvious conclusion to draw is not that one format works better than the other, but that chess players will always whinge about something.
Following on from that is my question. Why don't State Associations organise their Championships over a long weekend? I've already flagged this before, with the suggestion that the Queens Birthday Weekend be the obvious (common) weekend (OK not all states celebrate it), to hold State Championships.
What would be the pros and cons of having a 3 day 9 round event to decide the State Champion? Sure it would be a grueling schedule (3 90m+30s games in day), but the format may change to 8 player RR's to alleviate this.

Certainly I would be interested in seeing the ACTCA move to this format (8 or 10 player RR's, with multiple sections seeded on rating, and with event winners being promoted next year), but then again I'd like to see the ACTCA do something (anything) in the area of chess.

Monday 12 November 2007

The Case of the Curious Miniature

Paul Dunn (maintainer of the Ozbase games database) sent me the following game between Guy West and Ian Rogers. Rogers was still only an IM when this game was played, while West had yet to earn his title.
The game is remarkable in that West won in only 12 moves. Even more remarkable is the finish, where it seems that both players missed a save for Black (and wins for White).

West,G - Rogers,I [B06]
Winter Interclub Melbourne, 1981

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.g3 Nc6 5.Be3 e5 6.dxe5 Nxe5 7.f4 Bg4 8.Be2 Nc4 9.Bd4 Nxb2 10.Qd2 Bxe2 11.Qxe2 Nf6 12.Nd5 1-0

The most obvious question is that of the game itself. Is the score accurate?
If so why didn't West play 11.Bxg7 (instead of Qxe2), Rogers 11. ... Bxd4 (instead of Nf6), West 12.Qb5+ (instead of Nd5) and finally Rogers 12. ... O-O! (instead of Resigns??)

(Of course I could just try and ask the players directly, but then I wouldn't have anything to blog about this evening!)

**Follow up: As noted in the comment section (and confirmed by GM Ian Rogers) the real game score (from move 10) was 10.Qd2 Bxd4 11.Qxd4 Nf6 12.Nd5 1-0

Sunday 11 November 2007

Transfer Chess Festival

The ACT Junior Chess League is holding it's annual Transfer Chess Festival this coming Sunday (18th November 2007). The event will be held at Campbell High School, Trealor Cres, Campbell, ACT and starts at 12:45pm

Although the event is organised by the Junior Chess League, it is open to players of all ages. Indeed to encourage this a number of special prizes are awarded including oldest team, best parent and child score, and biggest age difference.

In fact I would encourage any ACT players who came through the junior ranks between 1980 and 1990 to give it a go because the transfer skills exhibited by the current crop of juniors is pretty woeful. They seem too keen to hang on to material, fail to respond to partners requests ("anything for a rook!") and seem to be unaware of the standard tricks any experienced transfer player knows (eg start their clock and then shake hands, bogus flagfall claims, swiping one of your own pieces from the board to drop it in a more favourable position etc etc)
The only difficulty that a returning player might face is getting used to the fact that "no drop for mate" no longer applies, allowing the more vulgar way of ending the game to occur instead.

Saturday 10 November 2007

PDA Assisted Thinking

Just as the Doeberl Cup announced its rules in Mobile Phones/Electronic Devices, news has come in of a player being caught using Pocket Fritz on a PDA during a Dutch League match. The player concerned was rumbled by the arbiter, after going outside for some "fresh air". The player was instantly forfeited and banned from chess playing in or captaining a team in the Dutch League for the next 2 and a half years.
Full coverage of the incident is here at Chessvibes, and Chessbase looks at it as well.

Friday 9 November 2007

I'm such a putz!

Originally this post was going to be about good and bad positions, and a good combination might not be enough to get you out of a bad position. I even had a game as an example from earlier this week when I set up what I thought was a clever combination, but still ended up with an average position (which I then lost).
When I looked over the game concerned I realised it wasn't my position that was at fault it was the fact that I simply miscalculated my combination and simply missed a good win. In my defence I was short of time, but this is a lesson in itself, as the position reached in the game was still good for me, but I had spent so much time calculating my moves I wasn't able to defend it with less than 60 seconds on the clock.

Guo,E - Press,S [D00]
ANU Spring Rapid, 07.11.2007

1.d4 d5 2.e3 Nf6 3.Bd3 Nc6 4.c3 e5 5.f4 exf4 6.exf4 Bg4 7.Nf3 Qe7+ 8.Kf2 0-0-0 9.Re1 Ne4+ 10.Kg1 f5 11.Nbd2 Qd6 12.Qa4 Kb8 13.Ne5 Nxe5 14.fxe5 Qg6 15.c4 Here was where I went for the big think. I spent a great deal of time working out whether capturing on c4 was good, especially after the queen recaptures. I planned to sac the rook on d4 and then either win the queen or force smothered mate. 15...dxc4 16.Qxc4 (D)
16. ... Rxd4 17.Qc2
[ 17.Qxd4 Bc5 was what I'd planned but White can play 18.Rxe4 Bxd4+ 19.Rxd4 with RBNvQ] 17...Rxd3 18.Qxd3 Qb6+?? But here is my mistake [ 18...Bc5+ I simply failed to look at this move closely enough. 19.Kf1 Ng3+!! is the winning move, but I doubt I would have found it with the time I had remaining. 20.hxg3 Qh6 21.Re3 Bxe3 22.Ke1-+] 19.Re3 [ When calculating at move 15 I thought that White would play 19.Qe3 when 19...Bc5 just wins.;
19.Kh1 was the other move I saw, which allows me to end the game with 19...Nf2+ 20.Kg1 Nh3+ 21.Kh1 Qg1+ 22.Rxg1 Nf2#] 19...Bc5 20.Nc4 Bxe3+ 21.Bxe3 Qe6 and although I have a slight edge in the position I only had 50 seconds on the clock (with a 10 second increment per move), and my opponent kept pressuring me until I got mated and lost on time at the same moment! 1-0

Thursday 8 November 2007

2008 O2C Doeberl Cup Website

The website for the 2008 O2C Doeberl Cup is now online. Visit to check out the prize list, venue and tournament structure. You can also enter online, or download an entry form.

(Disclaimer: I am a paid official at this event)

What happens when both players give up the f pawn?

In the grand old days of chess, "pawn and move" odds were quite common. To create a more even game, Black would start without the f pawn. White usually began the game with 1.e4 as the reflexive 1. ... e5 lead to catastrophe after 2.Qh5+
Well in one of my games last night I reached a position where both players gave up their f pawns. I started with a Kings Gambit and my opponent declined the offer with 2. ... Nc6 and 3. ... f6. I decided to swap on e5 (in part hoping for 4. ... Nxe5??) but after 4. ... fxe we reached a normal king pawn position with both players minus the f pawns. So I decided to play it just like a King Pawn opening, wondering what difference the missing f pawns would make.

Press,S - Shields,P [C30]
ANU Spring Rapid, 07.11.2007

1.e4 e5 2.f4 Nc6 3.Nf3 f6 4.fxe5 fxe5 5.Bc4 Nf6N 6.Ng5 d5 7.exd5 Bg4 (D) And this is what Black can play without the f pawns! 8.Nf3 e4 9.dxc6 bxc6 10.Ne5 Bxd1 11.Bf7+ Ke7 12.Nxc6+ Kxf7 13.Nxd8+ Rxd8 14.Kxd1 Bc5 15.Ke2 Rhe8 16.Rf1 Kg8 17.Nc3 c6 18.Rf5 Bd4 19.Nd1 Rd5 20.Ne3 g6 21.Rxd5 cxd5 22.h3 and Black overstepped the time limit 1-0

Although unfeeling computers would evaluate most of this game in White's favour, I pretty much hated my position all the way through. I was quite relieved when my opponent thought for too long in the final position and lost on time.

Wednesday 7 November 2007

Why don't adults get coaching?

A question often asked by adults who like to gripe about all the resources being directed into junior chess. There are probably a number of answers (time, interest etc) but my favourite comes from ex-junior chess organiser Libby Smith. To paraphrase a response I once read she says "If you want coaching, why don't you organise it. Unlike children, adults should have the skills to put something like this on, without getting your mum to help you"
While not connected to the above statement, the adults at the ANU Chess Club have decided to organise some coaching over the summer. When the current competition finishes (in a weeks time), the club will run some small group workshops on various chess topics. At this stage it is going to be pretty free form, with a combination of study/talks/quizzes designed to help club members improve.
So if you are live in the Canberra region and are interested in joining in, feel free to contact me. I will happily pass your interest onto Stephen Mugford who is the chief organiser. It will be held on Wednesday evenings (venue TBA) and there will be no charge.

**Comments on this post contain language that may offend some readers. Whether you choose to read it is up to you **

Tuesday 6 November 2007

Before Benko

In Steiner's book "Kings of the Chess Board" he annotates Szabo v Lundin from the 1948 Saltsjobadan Interzonal. What is interesting about this game is that it is a Benko Gambit, before there was the Benko Gambit. In his notes Steiner refers to it as a "Blumenfeld Gambit" although he does note that the Blumenfeld Gambit starts with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 b5. Now while Benko's chess career had started by this stage (and Steiner discusses him in the book) I haven't been able to find any games by Benko that use the "Benko" before this. Of course the variation is also known as the "Volga Gambit" but I have been told that to use this name within earshot of Pal Benko is asking for a ticking off.

Szabo,L - Lundin,E [A58]
Saltsjobaden Interzonal Saltsjobaden (19), 1948

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 (D)
4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.e4 d6 8.Bxa6 Nxa6 9.Nf3 Bg7 10.0-0 Nd7 11.Bf4 0-0 12.Qe2 Qc7 13.Rfc1 Rfb8 14.Rab1 Bxc3 15.Rxc3 Qa5 16.Nd2 Nc7 17.Ra3 Qb6 18.Rxa8 Rxa8 19.a3 Nb5 20.Be3 Ra4 21.Rc1 Nd4 22.Bxd4 cxd4 23.Nf3 Nf6 24.Qc2 Ra5 25.Nd2 d3 26.Qc7 Qxb2 27.e5 Qxd2 28.exf6 exf6 29.h4 Kg7 30.Qc3 Qxc3 31.Rxc3 Rxd5 32.Rc1 g5 33.Kf1 gxh4 34.Ra1 f5 35.a4 Kf6 36.Ke1 Re5+ 37.Kd2 Re2+ 38.Kxd3 Rxf2 39.a5 Rxg2 40.a6 Rg8 41.Kc4 f4 42.Kd5 Kf5 43.Kc6 f3 44.Kb7 0-1

Monday 5 November 2007

Australian Championsip 2008 - Latest Entries

One of the organisers of the 2008 Australian Championship, Shane Burgess, has been in touch to let me know that GM Darryl Johansen is now a confirmed entry for the event. Updated entries for all events are now available here.
I note that 33% of players in the Championship (3/9) are listed as playing for overseas federations, so I guess the ACF's temporary exemptions for the 2005/06 Championship in Brisbane have now become permanent ones.

Sunday 4 November 2007

Kings of the Chess Board

A couple of years ago I was traveling between Canberra and Oberon (about 235km north of Canberra), when I stopped in the village of Taralga to look at a second hand book store. To my suprise I picked up a first edition copy of "Amongst These Mates" by Chielamangus (really CJS Purdy).
Well I passed through the same village yesterday and dropped into the same bookstore on the off chance of anything new (or old). Amazingly on the shelf was a copy of "Kings of the Chess Board" by Lajos Steiner for $5. Even better, it was a signed copy.
I asked the proprietor whether there was a reclusive chess book collector hidden in the hills, selling of his collection one book at a time, he replied that it just turned up in a box with a whole lot of other (non-chess) books. He didn't realise it was a signed copy as he suggested $50 would have been a fairer price, but he was only joking when he said this.

Saturday 3 November 2007

Miniature of the Month

Here is a quick win from the World Junior Championships held last month.

Negi,P (2514) - Sanikidze,T (2474) [B60]
World U20 Championships Erevan ARM (7), 09.10.2007

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 Qb6 7.Be3 Ng4 8.Nd5 Qa5+ 9.b4 Nxe3 10.fxe3 Qd8 11.Nb5 Rb8 12.Nbc7+ Kd7 13.Bb5 e6 14.0-0 f5 15.Nxe6 Kxe6 16.exf5+ Kf7 17.Qh5+ g6 18.fxg6+ Kg8 19.g7 (D) 1-0

As I will be out of town for the next couple of days, blogging will be light, if at all.

Friday 2 November 2007

GM and IM Titles Confirmed

The International Correspondence Chess Federation have confirmed the GM title for Chris Fenwick and the IM title for Les Rowley at their 2007 Congress. Congratulations to both players.
And in other CC news ICCF President Med Samraoui has been released by Spanish officials, but has not been given permission to travel home to Germany at this stage.

Thursday 1 November 2007

More Video Blogging

I've been playing around with my video record/edit/produce setup and have been able to generate some better results. Attached is some vision I recorded last night at the ANU Chess Club. There is some general shots of the club (highlighting the well lit and spacious facilities!) and then a quick grab of a game between Emma Guo and Jonathon Kocz. I've even been able to add some audio commentary over the top.
The conversion process involved recording in 3GP format (2 clips), converting to avi format, then combining it using some video editing software (and attaching titles and commentary). It took about an hour from conversion to production, the hardest part being the actual commentary (which probably sounds naff anyway).Many thanks to Jonathan Paxman for the tip about "Super" conversion software.

Of course it may seem a little bland, but it is early days (at least for me). To this end, it is worth remembering that the biggest grossing film of 1896 was "Man walking down street".