Wednesday 30 April 2008

Writing with Open Office

These days I do all my chess writing/editing/type setting with Open Office. I find it just as easy to use as Word, and most importantly, I'm not locking my data into a proprietary format that may become redundant at some future time.
However there are a couple of gotcha's that are worth noting if you plan to shift away from the evil empire that is Microsoft.
The first is spell checking. You can specify which language you are writing in, including English(Australian). However if there isn't a dictionary that matches the language (and I haven't been able to find an Australian dictionary), the spell checking doesn't work. You need to choose English(British) instead. And more importantly, in the tools->options->language settings->writing aids section, make sure you leave the "Check in all languages" unchecked, otherwise the program grinds to a halt while checking words in Swahili, Esperanto etc
The other trap is page numbering. If you want to start page numbers from something other than 1 (which I often have to do with ACCQ), the obvious "Page Offset" when formatting your page number fields doesn't work as advertised (it does something completely different). Instead use the Format->paragraph->text flow option on the first paragraph of the document and insert a page style. This does the trick.

Tuesday 29 April 2008

A very quick CC game

Regular blog readers will notice that I've added a couple of extra icons on the left hand side of the page. I've already discussed in an earlier post, but I haven't talked about the other one, until now. is an online turn based chess server (as opposed to a real-time chess server). This means that is more akin to correspondence chess (in that the time between moves is measured in days rather than seconds) than OTB chess. It follows the same membership model as most online chess servers these days (free to join, paying members get more features), and it seems to be a pretty vibrant set up. Indeed I only joined last Thursday, received 5 game invitations by Saturday, and even completed one game by this morning ( lasting a total of 6 days).

Tikhachon - Press,S [C63]
Chessworld, 04.2008

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.Nxe5 Qd4 6.Nf3 [ 6.Qh5+? g6 7.Nxg6 hxg6 is a trap that my opponents often walk into. The rook on h8 is guarded by the queen on d4!] 6...Qxe4+ 7.Qe2 Nf6 8.Qxe4+?! [ 8.Nc3 Qxe2+ 9.Nxe2 Bd6=] 8...fxe4 [ 8...Nxe4 was played in the only other game I could find that reached this position, but the pawn on e4 cramps White's position.] 9.Nd4 Bc5 10.Ne2? Ng4 (D)
11.d4?? White's position just falls apart. [ 11.0-0 Nxf2 looks good (and I would have played it) but 12.b4! ( 12.Rxf2 Rf8-+) 12...Bb6 13.c4 is messy, although Black is still better. 13...Nd3+ 14.c5 Nxb4 15.cxb6 Nc2 16.bxc7 Nxa1 17.Na3] 11...exd3 12.cxd3 Bxf2+ 13.Kf1 0-0 14.h3 Ne5 15.d4 Bxd4+ [ Turns out the following variation was stronger 15...Be3+ 16.Ke1 Nd3+ 17.Kd1 Bxc1] 16.Ke1 Bxb2 Now I'm just cleaning up pawns. 17.Bxb2 Nd3+ 18.Kd2 Nxb2 19.Na3 Na4 20.g4 Be6 21.Rhe1 Rad8+ 22.Kc2 Rf3 Setting up a mating net. 23.Nb1 [ 23.Nf4 Rc3+ 24.Kb1 Rd2 mates] 23...Rxh3 24.Nf4 Rh2+ 25.Kc1 Bxg4 26.Rg1 Bf5 27.a3 [ 27.Ng2 Be4] 27...Rc2# 0-1

Of course not all games are going to be like this (it was a bit of a massacre after move 15), but if you are looking for CC style chess that is a rung down from seriousness of the ICCF Webserver, then isn't a bad choice.
(BTW To the best of my knowledge there is no connection between the server and similarly named Australian chess businesses)

Monday 28 April 2008

Video Blogging

Late last year I posted a very grainy ("Look, it's Bigfoot!") quality video from Street Chess. Well now I've got some new toys I'm able to produce a slightly higher quality product. My first effort was filmed a couple of weekends ago and features the end of the game between Emma Guo and Endre Ambrus. The video is hosted on Youtube and can be accessed via this link.

Sunday 27 April 2008

The Schliemann

The Schliemann variation of the Ruy Lopez is one of those openings that sits just on the wrong side of acceptability. It occasionally pops up as a suprise weapon (Speelman's win over Short in a Candidates match being an example) before slipping back to obscurity.
The latest super GM to bring it out into the open is Teimour Radjabov who has played it twice so far in the FIDE GP in Baku. In round 4 he drew with Peter Svidler, and in Round 6 he tried it again aginst Shakhiryar Mamedyarov (a game still in progress as I write this).
I have a soft spot for this opening as it is one of my choices against the Lopez. Although I must confess I also shelved it for a number of years (playing "serious" openings instead), but of late have used it once more (including one online CC game which may, when finished, be my quickest CC game yet played).
Here is the Svidler v Radjabov game, which is interesting in that Svidler decided not to challenge the opening "head on", but instead went for the solid but unambitious 4.d3.

Svidler,P (2746) - Radjabov,T (2751) [C63]
FIDE GP Baku AZE (4), 24.04.2008

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5 4.d3 fxe4 5.dxe4 Nf6 6.0-0 Bc5 7.Qd3 Nd4 8.Nxd4 Bxd4(D) 9.Nd2 N (9.c3) a6 10.Bc4 Qe7 11.Nf3 Ba7 12.Nh4 d6 13.Bg5 Be6 14.Nf5 Bxf5 15.exf5 0-0-0 16.Be6+ Kb8 17.c4 h6 18.Be3 Bxe3 19.fxe3 Nh7 20.Rad1 Ng5 21.Bd5 c6 22.Be4 Rd7 23.g3 Nxe4 24.Qxe4 Rhd8 25.Qf3 d5 26.cxd5 Rxd5 27.Rxd5 cxd5 28.f6 gxf6 29.Qxf6 Qxf6 30.Rxf6 d4 31.exd4 exd4 32.Kf1 d3 33.Ke1 Re8+ 34.Kd2 Re2+ 35.Kxd3 Rxh2 36.Kc3 h5 37.Rg6 h4 38.gxh4 Rh3+ 39.Kc2 Rh2+ 40.Kc3 Rh3+ 41.Kc2 Rh2+ ½-½

Saturday 26 April 2008

The Prisoner

Without a doubt, the finest television show ever made was "The Prisoner". Ostensibly a spy thriller, on another level it was a sociological tract on conformity and rebellion in society, and on an even deeper level, an allegory on the suppression of Welsh culture by the English.
But apart its deep intellectual underpinnings, it also had an episode dealing with chess. "Checkmate", as it was imaginatively named, began with a chess game using living pieces, and explored the themes of who controlled who in society. As part of the series it was one of the better episodes, only ley down by the rather cavalier approach to representing the chess game itself.
Despite starting off with the correct "Pawn to King 4, Pawn to King 4, Knight to Queen's Bishop 3" it soon fell in to the trap of assuming that these terms could be used interchangeably, resulting in such moves as "Bishop to Knights Pawn 4". And due to the editing of the episode, attempts at discerning a real game failed due to the fact that the board seemed to switch back and forth between having almost all the pieces in play, to very few pieces, and back to an almost full board etc
Of course this is just nit-picking by a chess player and doesn't detract from the quality of the series itself. And if you are interested in seeing the series, I've seen DVD box sets for under $50 around the traps.

Friday 25 April 2008

The country circuit

One new thing I learnt while playing at Dubbo this year was the existence of the NSW Country Chess Circuit. The idea of Gary Losh, it is the informal collection of NSW Country Weekenders that are also part of the Myer Tan Grand Prix Series. There are 8 tournaments in total, although 3 (Toukley, Newcastle and Dubbo) have already been completed. The next 2 events in the series are Laurieton (3 May 2008) followed by Mingara (17 May 2008).
The Mingara event is already looking good, with extra money going into the prize pool. There are also plans to have an extra prize event following the last round, and hopefully I'll have more details soon.
While for this year the Country Circuit is mainly about coordinating publicity for NSW Country chess events, next year may even see the addition of prizes for the best scoring players in the series.

Thursday 24 April 2008 is quite a useful online reference for chess players. Using the sensible model of free to access (and join) but an extra charge for premium services, chessgames is basically an online database and discussion board. Extra features include additional search tools, guess-the-move functions and additional opening/ending resources.
One feature that is free (even to non-members) is the ability to search by player name. And when you do this you even get a little biography of the player concerned. However in most cases (especially for Oceania players) this information is very sparse. So I've had a request for help from on of the biographers there. He is interested in getting up to date information about Australian/New Zealand/PNG/Fiji players. The sort of information he is after is mundane things like date and place of birth, country of residence, but also more significant information like notable tournament victories, representative honours and dates of title and norms.
So if you are able to help feel free to email James at

Wednesday 23 April 2008

My first win on Facebook

Despite being the editor of Australian Correspondence Chess Quarterly, I don't play as much Correspondence Chess as I should. In fact since taking on the job I've haven't played at all. The closest I've gone is playing some games on Facebook.
Of course these aren't serious games (eg no time limits) but that doesn't mean I haven't taken them seriously. As if to make up for not playing CC when I should be, I put in as much effort as I would for a tournament game (although when discussing the game with my opponent tonight he described his own effort as "I looked at the game for a couple of minutes and played whatever looked good").
As for the game itself I caught my opponent unaware with the Sorensen Gambit. He gave up the exchange on move 10, but I chose a poor continuation and he could have ended up with 2 pieces for the rook on move 14 (14. ... Nhf5). After that it was about extricating my queen from danger, before finishing the game with a nice queen sac (33.Qxd6!)

Press,S - Palma,M [C02]
Facebook, 2008

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.Bd3 Bd7 7.0-0 cxd4 8.cxd4 Nxd4 9.Ng5 h6 10.Qh5 hxg5 11.Qxh8 Nh6 12.Nc3 0-0-0 13.Bxg5 Be7 14.Qxg7 Rg8 15.Qxh6 Bxg5 16.Qh7 Qd8 17.Qxf7 Rf8 18.Qh5 Bf4 19.h3 Rh8 20.Qg4 Bxe5 21.f4 Bd6 22.Rac1 Kb8 23.Qg7 Bc5 24.Kh1 Bb6 25.Qe5+ Ka8 26.f5 Nc6 27.Qd6 Bc7 28.Qc5 Bb6 29.Qa3 Rh4 30.fxe6 Be8 31.Rf8 Bc7 32.Bg6 Bd6 (D)
33.Qxd6 Qxd6 34.Rxe8+ Nb8 35.Nb5 1-0

Tuesday 22 April 2008

A Century of Informata's

Not all email spam I get is bad. The publishers of Chess Informant have sent me information about the Chess Informants 1-100 CD. It contains all the games from the first 100 editions (over 101,000 games in total), in various data formats, and includes games annotated by Euwe, Fischer, Botvinnik etc
Of course such quality doesn't come cheap, as it has a list price of 221.50 GBP, which is about $550 Australian. But apparently I'm a valued customer and they are willing to negotiate a special price, "just for me".
You can check out the details here.

(Usual disclaimer: I have no commercial interest in this product)

Monday 21 April 2008

Los Voraces 2019

11 years from now, Los Voraces, New Mexico, will host the strongest chess tournament in history. At least according to the entertaining novel "Los Voraces 2019" by GM Andy Soltis. The novel, published in 2004 describes what happens when the 14 best chessplayers in the world are taken to a small town in the middle of the desert, without computers, trainers or mobile phones, to play a tournament that essentially the rest of the world knows nothing about.
While I found the book amusing (especially as the story is narrated by the tournament arbiter) I was also impressed that Soltis peppered the novel with actual games of chess. In his introduction he states that most of the games are real, and I commend him on his choice of a number of interesting clashes.

Here is the first round clash between GM Qi (CHN) and GM Boriescu (ROM).

Qi - Boriescu [E62]
Los Voraces, 2019

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.Nf3 d6 6.Nc3 c6 7.0-0 Qa5 8.h3 Qa6 9.b3 b5 10.cxb5 cxb5 11.a4 b4 12.Nb5 Qb6(D)
13.Ne5 dxe5 14.dxe5 Rd8 15.Be3 Rxd1 16.Rfxd1 Qa5 17.exf6 Bxf6 18.Rac1 Bd7 19.Bxa8 Bxb5 20.Rc8+ Kg7 21.axb5 Qxb5 22.Rdd8 1-0

If you are interested, this game appears to be based on the game Busch - Gosev 1990, which is identical up until move 18.

Sunday 20 April 2008

FIDE Grand Prix - Special Draw Rules

Courtesy of Chessvibes comes news of the FIDE Grand Prix series which has just begun in Baku, Azerbaijan. Of special interest (to me at least) are the rules covering drawn games.

(Taken from the Chessvibes Site)

Players will not be allowed to offer draws directly to their opponents. Any draw claim will be permitted only through the Chief Arbiter in the following cases:

  • a triple-repetition of the position,
  • a perpetual check,
  • in theoretically drawn position and
  • applying the rule of 50 moves (he writes his move on his scoresheet, and declares to the arbiter his intention to make this move which shall result in the last 50 moves having been made by each player without the movement of any pawn and without any capture, or the last 50 consecutive moves have been made by each player without the movement of any pawn and without any capture).

The Chief Arbiter may consult with the Technical Adviser before accepting any claim by players for a draw. The Chief Arbiter is the only authority who can acknowledge the final result of the game in these cases.

NB The major difference between these rules and those in effect at the 2008 O2C Doeberl Cup, was that these rules apply for the entire game, and not just for the first 30 moves (as in Canberra).
What is also interesting is that the FIDE are essentially using the same system that was used at the Doeberl Cup, with the Chief Arbiter making the decision concerning drawn games, but consulting with a Technical Adviser (in our case GM Ian Rogers) if necessary.
Part of the criticism levelled at the application of the Gibraltar Rule at the Doeberl Cup was the involvement of GM Ian Rogers in the process. I also note with interest the the rules from the GrandPrix website state

The Technical Adviser must be a Grandmaster, rated at least 2500, who has held the title of Grandmaster for at least ten years and is an active player as defined by the rating system.

Despite announcing his retirement from chess, GM Ian Rogers still meets this criteria. But the broader issue is that FIDE acknowledge that in enforcing this rule it isn't necessary to call on the services of Kasparov, God, or the ghost of Bobby Fischer to decide what is or isn't drawn.

Saturday 19 April 2008

Testing the new camera

Having almost sorted out all the remaining issues with my insurance company, I splashed out on a new camera. And since it has been a while, I took a load of photo's at Street Chess, just to test it out. You can see them by clicking on the "My Chess Photos" link on the left of the page. To be honest there isn't anything new in the album, just shots of players enjoying themselves in the chilly Canberra weather.

Friday 18 April 2008

Music to study chess by

From 1998 to 2003 Paul Dunn and myself hosted a weekly radio show covering chess. Simply called "The Chess Show" it was on Sunday nights on 2SSS-FM here in Canberra, Australia. The only reason the show ended was the station closed down, otherwise I'd probably still be hosting it.
While the main focus was on local, national and international chess news, the main reason I did it was the opportunity to play music that I liked. While the only connection that the music had to chess was its appearance on The Chess Show, for those that remember the show, or for those who are curious, here is a list of songs that I played fairly regularly (in no particular order).

plus the Chess Show's opening and closing themes, which were written and recorded by my brother Brendan.
I don't know what the modern equivalent of the "mix tape" is (maybe the mix pod?) but whatever it is, you can always use the above list as musical accompaniment to your chess study sessions.

Thursday 17 April 2008

The Joy of Prep

During the 2002 and 2004 Chess Olympiads, I roomed with Manuel Weeks. Manuel was the captain of the Australian Mens Team, while I was playing board 3/2 for the Papua New Guinea team. While Manuel was kept busy by his Australian duties he did find the time to help me with opening preparation.
In 2004 he showed me an interesting idea against the Scotch Game. I didn't get the chance to use it, as my opponent varied early on. (That game ended in a quick draw followed by a drug test) So the idea has been sitting on the shelf for the last 4 years, until my game last night. Unlike Frank Marshall saving up his gambit to use against Capablanca, I don't think I'd had an opportunity to use it in the last couple of years. This may have been because my opponents avoided main line Scotch, but the more likely cause is I simply forgot about it until now. But having remembered it, I decided to wheel it out.

Bayliss,D - Press,S [C45]
ANU Autumn Rapid, 16.04.2008

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Ba6 9.b3 Qh4 This was the move suggested by Manuel Weeks. White has to be a little careful as the a1 rook is liable to attack from d4, while the plausible g3 then exposes the h1 rook to attack from e4. 10.a3 [ 10.g3?? Qd4] 10...Bc5 11.g3 (D) I had suggested this was the wrong move, but Peter Wells in his book in the Scotch says this move may be the refutation of 9. ... Qh4
11...Bxf2+ 12.Kxf2
[ 12.Qxf2! Qe4+ 13.Kd1 Qxh1 14.Nd2 Ne7 leaves the Black queen struggling to get out.( 14...Nc3+ 15.Kc2 Ne4 16.Nxe4 Qxe4+ 17.Bd3 Qxe5 18.Bb2 also leads to a good attack for White.) ] 12...Qd4+ 13.Ke1 Qxa1 14.Qb2 Qxb2 15.Bxb2 Ne7 16.Bh3?? missing Black's next move. 16...Bxc4! 17.Nd2 [ 17.bxc4 Rb8] 17...Bd5 [ I could have played 17...Bxb3 with the same idea of Rb8, but at the fast time limit I figured I'd gobbled enough wood and didn't want to leave too many pieces hanging. 18.Nxb3 Rb8 19.Nc5 isn't as bad as it looks as White has 19...Rxb2 20.Bxd7+ Kd8 21.Bg4! but Black is winning nonetheless] 18.Rf1 Rb8 19.b4 Be6 20.Bg2 c5 21.Bc3 cxb4 22.Bxb4 Nd5 23.Bxd5 Bxd5 24.Ke2 Rb5 25.Rc1 Bc6 26.Nc4 Kd8 27.Kd3 Re8 28.Kd4 Rd5+ 29.Kc3 Bb5 30.Ba5 Bxc4 31.Bxc7+ Kxc7 32.Kxc4 Rexe5 0-1

Wednesday 16 April 2008

Live Broadcasts and Mobile Phones

From the Dubai Open comes the news that a player was expelled from the tournament after receiving advice via his mobile phone. M. Sadatnajafi, from Iran, was caught on move 10 after arbiters saw him looking at his mobile handset. When examined the phone contained text message from a friend in Iran who was following the live broadcast of the game over the internet. Full story here.

Dubbo Open - Games from Day 2

As promised, here are my games from day 2 of the 2008 Dubbo Open.
The first was against Garry Mann and I was helped by the fact that he ran himself short of time as early as move 20. Of course at the tournament time limit (G60+10s move) this is likely to happen, but you still need to be aware of the consequences. In this case moves like 29. ... Qe6 and 33. ... Re7 had as much to do with posing my opponents problems as they had to do with any objective merit.

Mann,G - Press,S [C88]
Dubbo Open (4), 13.04.2008

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.d4 d6 9.dxe5 Nxe5 10.Nxe5 dxe5 11.Bg5 Bb7 12.Nd2 c5 13.c3 Qc7 14.Qe2 h6 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.Nf1 c4 17.Bc2 g6 18.Ne3 Rad8 19.a4 Rd6 20.Red1 Rfd8 21.Rxd6 Rxd6 22.axb5 axb5 23.g3 Bg5 24.h4 Bxe3 25.Qxe3 Kg7 26.Ra7 Rd7 27.Kf1 Qc6 28.Ke2 Qd6 29.f3 Qe6 30.Ra1 Qh3 31.Qf2 f5 32.exf5 gxf5 33.Rd1 Re7 (D)
34.Rg1 e4 35.f4 e3 36.Qe1 Qg4+ 0-1

In my Round 5 game I was just crushed by Mos Ali. The seeds of defeat were sown as early as 9.Re1? where the idea of forcing e4 was never going to be good, while the idea of preventing e5 with 9.Rd1 was clearly better.

Press,S - Ali,,M [A88]
Dubbo Open (5), 13.04.2008

1.d4 f5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 d6 4.Nf3 c6 5.g3 g6 6.Bg2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Qb3 Kh8 9.Re1 Ne4 10.e3 Na6 11.a3 e5 12.Qc2 Nxc3 13.bxc3 g5 14.e4 f4 15.h3 h5 16.dxe5 dxe5 17.Rd1 Qf6 18.Qd3 Be6 19.Nh2 Nc5 20.Qe2 Qf7 21.g4 Bxc4 22.Qf3 Rad8 23.gxh5 Rxd1+ 24.Qxd1 Be6 25.Qf3 Rd8 26.Ng4 Rd3 0-1

My last round game was against defending champion Bill Egan. When I started playing chess 25 years ago even taking a half point from Bill was a huge achievement for me. However I'm a little more ambitious these days, and even knocked back a draw offer on move 32. Possibly Bill chose the wrong moment to make the offer as I was just getting my queenside pawns rolling, and so had something to do for the next few moves at least.

Egan,B - Press,S [D87]
Dubbo Open (6), 13.04.2008

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Be3 c5 9.Ne2 Nc6 10.Rc1 Na5 11.Bd3 c4 12.Bb1 b6 13.0-0 Bb7 14.Qd2 Qc7 15.Bh6 Rad8 16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.Qf4 Qxf4 18.Nxf4 (D)
18. ... e5 19.dxe5 Rfe8 20.e6 fxe6 21.Rcd1 Kf6 22.f3 Nc6 23.Bc2 a6 24.Rxd8 Rxd8 25.Rd1 Rxd1+ 26.Bxd1 b5 27.Kf2 Nb8 28.Ke3 Nd7 29.Ne2 e5 30.g3 Nc5 31.Bc2 g5 32.Ng1 a5 33.Ne2 b4 34.cxb4 axb4 35.Nc1 Bc6 36.Kd2 g4 37.Ke3 gxf3 38.Kxf3 Kg5 39.Bd1 Nxe4 40.h4+ Kf6 41.Bc2 Nc3+ 42.Kg4 Be4 43.Bxe4 Nxe4 44.Kf3 Nc5 45.g4 b3 46.axb3 cxb3 47.Ne2 Na4 48.g5+ Ke6 0-1

Tuesday 15 April 2008

The Power of Vengeance

To be honest I'm not the kind of player that can use my personal dislike of an opponent as a motivating force to play better chess. Sure, if I win the game it makes the victory more satisfying, but during the game I'm mainly concerned about the moves played, not who is playing them. But others I know are able the channel that energy ....
Many years ago a friend of mine was a strong junior player, and was playing in an ACT Championship. Now my friend who I'll simply call David (although I'm sure would be happy if all names were revealed) , was playing a many times ACT Champion. And David was winning. In fact so winning that his opponent (who I'll leave nameless) should have resigned. However in those days we still had adjournments and at the appointed hour the opponent insisted that David seal a move. Why David's opponent insisted on this, when anyone else would have resigned became clear at the resumption. David's opponent was hoping that David (who was still in his early teens at this stage) would seal an ambiguous or illegal move, and therefore he could claim a win. And indeed that is what happened. David failed to differentiate between the 2 rooks that could have moved to the same square, and by the rules of chess lost.
But what annoyed David wasn't the loss, rules being rules after all, but both the circumstances of the loss (ie using the adjournment as the only possible way of winning) and the faux sympathy exhibited by his opponent after the game. So David simply made a vow to beat his opponent in every single game of chess they played thereafter. And he did. Every time they sat down to play David beat him. Long tournaments, short tournaments, lightnings etc David made it his life's mission to defeat his nemesis. Not even a single draw was conceded. The beatings only stopped when David retired from chess in his early 20's. Which must have come as some relief to his opponent.
But there is one final postscript. Despite being out of chess for 5 years or so, David decided to play in a lightning tournament at the ANU, and as it turned out so did his old opponent. So when they were paired with each other, David crushed him once again, just for old times sake.

Monday 14 April 2008

Dubbo Weekender - Travel Notes

Here is rough breakdown of time and money spent playing chess in Dubbo. While I traveled from Canberra, this could equally apply to Sydney and Newcastle(?) as they are all about 400km away from Dubbo.

  • Total Travel Distance - 785km
  • Total Driving Time 8hr 30 min
  • Departure Time 6:00am Saturday
  • Return Time 10:15pm Sunday
  • Total Time Away 40hr 15min
  • Stops at Mickey D's - 3
  • Times caught speeding - 0
  • Petrol - $80
  • Hotel (4 star) - $90
  • Meals - $50
  • Entry - $40
  • Internet - $10
So if you've got 40 hours and $270 it is a relatively simple task to play in a NSW Country Weekender, be it Dubbo or Blayney or Toukley etc etc And if you travel with a group, (2,3, or 4 people) then expenses can drop below the $200 mark.

Sunday 13 April 2008

Dubbo Open - Quick Final Results

First place was won by Tony Weller (QLD). Tony had a perfect 6/6 and won $350 for his efforts. Second place was shared between David Castor (NSW) and Allen Setiabudi (ACT) on 5/6. As Allen was also the best U/1600 player, a whole raft of people (including myself) snuck into the prize list with a 5 way share of 3rd (really 4th) place.
My score of 4/6 was achieved by grinding out wins in rounds 4&6, and simply getting outplayed in round 5. Game scores over the next couple of days.

Dubbo Open - Day 1

At the end of Day 1, top seed David Castor (NSW) is tied for first place in the 2008 Dubbo Open. David has 3 wins from 3 games, along with Tony Weller (QLD) and Mike Canfell (NSW). They are followed by about 10 players who are on 2/3.
David won the 14 player lightning tournament last night with a perfect 6/6. In what was a lighthearted event other prizes included 'Biggest Blunder', 'Weirdest Game' and 'Quickest Win'. I tried for all 3 by playing various gambits including the Kings, Sorensen, and Englund but came up empty handed.

After winning my first game yesterday, I decided to protect my +1 score by having a couple of quick draws in rounds 2&3.

Guo,E - Press,S [C55]
Dubbo Open, 12.04.2008

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.0-0 Bc5 6.e5 d5 7.exf6 dxc4 8.Re1+ Be6 9.Ng5 Qd5 10.Nc3 Qf5 11.Nce4 0-0-0 12.g4 Qe5 13.Nxe6 fxe6 14.fxg7 Rhg8 15.Nxc5 Qxc5 16.Bh6 e5 17.Qf3 Qd5 18.Qf5+ Qd7(D)
19.Qf3 Qe6 20.g5 Nb4 21.Re4 Nxc2 22.Qf6 Rd6 23.Qf8+ Rd8 24.Qf6 Rd6 ½-½

Most of the game was theory (at least up until move 14), and every time I played a move I felt I was being mocked by the ghosts of 19th century German theorists.

Press,S - Bemrose,T [E24]
Dubbo Open, 12.04.2008

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3 Bxc3+ 5.bxc3 c5 6.Qc2 Nc6 7.Nf3 b6 8.e4 d6 9.Bd3 h6 10.0-0 0-0 (D)
11.e5 dxe5 12.dxe5 Nd7 13.Bf4 Bb7 14.Rad1 Qe7 15.Qd2 Rfd8 16.Rfe1 Nf8 17.Qe3 Na5 18.Nd2 Rd7 19.Ne4 Bxe4 20.Bxe4 Rad8 21.Rxd7 Rxd7 22.Qg3 Ng6 23.Bxg6 fxg6 24.Qxg6 Qf7 25.Qe4 g5 26.Bg3 Kg7 27.h4 Qg6 28.hxg5 hxg5 29.f4 ½-½

From move 11 onwards I planned to checkmate my opponent, starting with Bxh6, but never quite had the firepower to pull it off. By move 20 we were both short of time, and he offered a draw around move 25, but I played on to what I thought was move 30 before returning the offer.

Saturday 12 April 2008

Dubbo Underway

The 8th Dubbo Open has just started, with a record field of 30 players. Players from all around country NSW have entered, along with the odd Queenslander and a large contingent from Canberra.
I made the trip up this morning, once again proving that if I leave home at 6am I can travel to anywhere in the world, and be on time.
While the first round is still under way I had a good game to start with, catching my opponent with some opening tactics (8.Qe2, 9.f5!), to win material, and the game.

Press,S - Davidson,J [B23]
Dubbo Open, 12.04.2008

1.Nc3 e6 2.e4 c5 3.f4 d5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bb5 Nge7 6.Ne5 Qb6 7.exd5 exd5 8.Qe2 Be6 9.f5 Nxf5 10.Nxd5 Nfd4 11.Nxb6 Nxe2 12.Nxa8 Ned4 13.Bxc6+ Nxc6 14.Nxc6 bxc6 15.Nc7+ Kd7 16.Nxe6 Kxe6 17.d3 Bd6 18.0-0 1-0

Friday 11 April 2008

Peter Murphy

Sad news from the Canberra chess scene, with the passing of long time player and organiser, Peter Murphy. Peter had been a member of the Belconnen Chess Club since moving to Canberra in the 1980's and in the past year had run the club and organised it's tournaments. Peter attended last months Doeberl Cup as a spectator player in the Minor, and looked his usual self, so his death (on the 4th April 2008) has come as a shock to those that knew him.
Here is a game from the 1993 ACT Chess Championship where Peter defeated future Women's International Master Laura Moylan.

Moylan,L - Murphy,P [B21]
ACT-ch Canberra, 1993

1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Bc4 e6 6.Nf3 Bc5 7.0-0 Nge7 8.Qe2 0-0 9.Rd1 Qc7 10.Be3 Bb4 11.Rac1 a6 12.a3 Bd6 13.Rd3 Ne5 14.Nxe5 Bxe5 15.h3 Qxc4 16.Nd5 Qxc1+ 17.Bxc1 exd5 18.exd5 d6 19.f4 Bf6 20.g4 Ng6 21.g5 Bd8 22.Qh2 Bd7 23.h4 Re8 24.Be3 Rc8 25.h5 Nf8 26.h6 Bf5 27.Rb3 Rc2 28.Qg3 Re2 29.Qf3 Rc2 30.Rxb7 Be4 31.Qh3 Bxd5 32.Ra7 Bb6 0-1

Thursday 10 April 2008

Bitansky's Doeberl Classic

While GM Ian Rogers was the undoubted video star of the O2C Doeberl Cup, Israeli IM Igor Bitansky also had some camera time, after playing what he described as the "game of his life". Here is the score of the game, and you can watch the video here.

Bitansky,I - Toth,A [C00]
O2C Doeberl Cup , 03.2008

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d3 Nc6 4.g3 d5 5.Qe2 Nf6 6.Bg2 Be7 7.0-0 b5 8.e5 Nd7 9.h4 h6 10.h5 a5 11.Re1 b4 12.c4 bxc3 13.bxc3 Ba6 14.Nbd2 a4 15.Nf1 Qa5 16.c4 dxc4 17.dxc4 Qc3 18.N3d2 Qxa1 19.Bxc6 Rd8 20.Ne4 Qxe5 21.Bf4 Qd4 22.Ne3 Rc8 (D)
23.Nf5 Rxc6 24.Nxd4 cxd4 25.Qg4 Kf8 26.Qf3 Rxc4 27.Bd6 Rc6 28.Bxe7+ Kxe7 29.Qa3+ Kd8 30.Qxa4 Kc7 31.Qxd4 f6 32.Rd1 Rd8 33.Nd6 1-0

Wednesday 9 April 2008

My Insurance Company and I

While my trip to Hong Kong last year was enjoyable, about 4 days in I lost my camera (A FinePix S5600). Fortunately I was insured and filed a claim with my insurer. After a degree of waiting, due to the inevitable "the person handling your claim has left the company" problem, they got in touch to organise a replacement. Now the original value of the camera was $370 with a memory card costing an extra $80. But silly me didn't have an excess waiver in the policy, so to get a replacement I would still have to stump up $250. At first I was happy to do this, as I was assured by my insurer that the quote for the replacement camera (a S5700 btw) was "well in excess of $250". However I thought it would be prudent to check some prices and amazingly the very first camera store I walked into had an S5800 (the next model up) for only $299.
So I had to make a choice. Pay $250 for an inferior model, or have the insurance company cut me a check for $120 (the difference between the excess and the replacement value), and buy my own (better) replacement for $299. The first choice costs me $250, the second, only $180. So I opted for plan B.
However, lest you jump to the wrong conclusion, this wasn't a problem with the insurance company, it was with who the insurance company buys their items from. As I said to the claims officer "Someone is getting gouged here, but it shouldn't be you, and it certainly won't be me"

So for now I'm reduced to taking poor quality photos with my mobile phone. Hopefully this will change when I get my replacement camera, but if you want to see my phone pics from this years Doeberl Cup, just click on the "My Chess Photos" link and look at the 2008 O2C Doeberl Cup Gallery.

Tuesday 8 April 2008

Dubbo Open 2008

The Dubbo Open is on this coming weekend (12th & 13th of April). I've always enjoyed this tournament (including the 400km drive from Canberra), and will be making the trip this weekend. In fact a few Canberra players have indicated they are playing so it looks like a large (and strong) field for this years edition. Details of the tournament can be found on the Blayney Chess Club website or you can contact event organiser Alexander Aich at

For me I'm just hoping to play another game like this one.

Stead,K - Press,S [C88]
Dubbo Open Dubbo (2), 15.03.2003
[Fritz 5.32 (10s)]

C88: Closed Ruy Lopez: Anti-Marshall Systems
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.d3 d6 9.h3 Na5 10.Nbd2 Nxb3 11.Nxb3 c5 12.c4 Bb7 13.Qc2 Re8 14.Nbd2 Bf8 15.Nf1 g6 16.Ng3 Bg7 17.Nh2 Qd7 18.f4 [ 18.Be3!?= must be considered] 18...exf4 19.Bxf4 bxc4 20.dxc4 [ 20.Qxc4 d5 21.Qxc5 dxe4 22.dxe4 Nxe4 23.Nxe4 Bxe4=+] 20...Nxe4! Theme: Clearance for g7-d4 21.Ne2 [ 21.Qxe4 Bxe4;
21.Nxe4 Qf5-+] 21...Qf5 22.Rf1? (D) [ better is 22.Be3=+]
22...Ng3!-+ Discovered attack 23.Qxf5 [ 23.Nxg3 Qxc2] 23...Nxe2+ [ 23...gxf5? seems attractive but will lead to severe problems 24.Nxg3 Bxb2 25.Rad1+-;
23...Nxf5?! is clearly weaker 24.Rf2-+] 24.Kh1 gxf5 25.Rad1 Be5 [ 25...Nxf4 seems even better 26.Rxf4 Re2 27.Nf3-+] 26.Bxe5 dxe5 27.Rf2 Nd4 [ 27...Rad8 makes it even easier for Black 28.Rxd8 Ng3+ 29.Kg1 Rxd8 30.Nf3 Rd1+ 31.Kh2-+] 28.Nf1 f4 29.Nd2 e4 30.Nb3 [ 30.Rxf4 does not improve anything 30...e3 31.Nb3 e2-+] 30...e3 31.Rxf4 e2 32.Rg4+ Kh8 [ 32...Kh8 33.Re1 Nc2 34.Rxe2 Rxe2 35.Nxc5 Bc6-+;
32...Kf8 and Black can already relax 33.Re1 Nc2 34.Rxe2 Rxe2 35.Nxc5-+] 0-1

After the game my opponent said "Around move 20 I felt I was being tricked, I just couldn't work out how".

Monday 7 April 2008

Chinese Double in Bangkok

Chinese players finished first and second in the 8th Bangkok Open, which finished yesterday in the Thai capital. Xiu Deshun scored 8/9 conceding only 2 draws, to GM's Akobian and Li Shilong. The untitled Deshun had a performance rating of 2679, but due to the fact that the field only contained 2 GM's, only scored an IM (rather than a GM) norm. Second place was also taken by an untitled Chinese player, Zhang Ziyang. Ziyang scored 7.5, losing to the tournament winner, and drawing with Akobian. However Ziyang appears to be even unluckier than Deshun, in that despite a performance rating of 2592, Ziyang only played 3 titled players, invalidating any norms.
Equal 3rd was shared been GM's Akobian and Shilong on 7/9. Australian players Tim Reilly and Matthew Drummond score 6/9 and Sean Watharow scored 3.5 Full results are here.

Sunday 6 April 2008

Chessmaster - The Art of Learning

Not a full blown review, just to note that Big W are selling the version for Nintendo DS for $24. I bought a copy on Friday and have a had a couple of goes with it. I haven't used it enough to see how strong it is as a chess playing program but I did like the new "Mini-Games" feature. Basically it is a series of games that use chess pieces, without actually being chess itself. Some games involve using pieces as mine sweepers, while others require you to line up 3 or more pieces in the lines they move along. Quite cute and quite addictive. And the more you solve the more Josh Waitzkin rates your mental abilities.
Whether it matches pocket Fritz etc I still don't know, but for a fun DS game for $24 it is certainly worth buying.

Saturday 5 April 2008

Very Basic Chess Endings

I'm almost too embarrassed to discuss the diagrammed position, as it is one of the most fundamental ideas in Rook and Pawn Endings. But (a) I assume not everyone has seen it and (b) at least two games at the SIO ran on far longer than they should because it wasn't clear that the player with the pawn quite knew what they were doing.
The position is of course the "Lucena Position". White would like to get king out of the way of the pawn, allowing it to queen, but is met by annoying checks from the black rook. The simple plan is to (1) get the pawn to the 7th rank (2) drive the enemy king away from the e file with a rook check (3) move the rook to the 4th or 5th rank so that after (4) moving the king to f7 (5) enemy checks are met with a zig zag to g6 (or g5) when blacks last check on the g file is blocked by the white rook.
The actual moves to do this are 1.Kh7 Rh2+ 2.Kg8 Rg2 3.g7 Rh2 4.Re1+ Kd7 5.Re4 Rh1 6.Kf7 Rf1+ 7.Kg6 Rg1+ 8.Kf6 Rf1+ 9.Kg5 Rg1+ 10.Rg4 +- Of course 4. ... Kf6 is met by 5.Kf8 avoiding any more checks.
In the actual games at the SIO one player failed to transpose into the Lucena position, by giving up an extra pawn, and after much play (and muttering by the spectators), managed to only draw the game. In the other, the player with the extra pawn was on the verge of defeating his (unnamed) GM opponent, but made heavy weather of it, possibly due to the pressure of getting the win. I suspect his opponent sensed this, as at some point the (unnamed) GM stopped the clock and bizarrely claimed a draw by two-fold repetition. The arbiting team treated this as a claim for a three-fold repetition, which was then rejected as incorrect. The disturbance didn't effect the outcome of the game as the (unnamed) GM eventually lost.

Friday 4 April 2008

A good old fashioned hack

I'm starting to look through the games from the 2008 O2C Doeberl Cup, as I have an article or two to write on the tournament. And while the following game might not make it into the print version of the tournament report, I thought I'd highlight it here. It is between long time ACT Chess Association member Adrian Flitney, and New Zealand visitor Bob Mitchell.

Flitney,A - Mitchell,R [B01]
Canberra Doeberl Cup (2), 20.03.2008

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd6 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.h3 Bxf3 7.Qxf3 c6 8.Bf4 Qd8 9.0-0-0 e6 10.d5 cxd5 11.Bxb8 Rxb8 12.Bb5+ Ke7 13.Rhe1 a6 (D)
14.Nxd5+ Nxd5 15.Rxd5 Qa5 16.Rd7+ Ke8 17.Qxf7# 1-0

Thursday 3 April 2008

Bangkok Open

The Bangkok Open was the third tournament in the Doeberl/SIO/Bangkok series of international events, although the large traveling distance between Australia and Thailand meant that it was unlikely to have more than a few players in common. The winner of the O2C Doeberl Cup Varuzhan Akobian is playing, although Rogelio Antonio, who was going to play, failed to show.
After 4 rounds the lead is shared between Xiu Deshun (CHN) and Li Shilong (CHN) on 4/4. Akobian is on 3.5 along with 2 others. 23 Countries are represented with 17 players from Thailand, 17 from Malaysia, and 9 each from China and Hong Kong.
Full results here and the tournament homepage is here.

Wednesday 2 April 2008

An indispensable tool

If you are running a blog, especially one with an unmoderated comments section then the following tool may come in handy. The StupidFilter, available from, classifies posts by their level of stupidness. Each body of text is checked against a criteria, and given a "stupid" score, from "this post isn't stupid", to "George W. Is that you?".
Interestingly the classification isn't based on whether you say stupid things ("Extended warranty. How can I lose!"), but whether you say them in a stupid manner (excessive punctuation!!!, OVERUSE of CAPITALS, and AFAIK, the use of silly acronyms).
While it can be installed on you own computer, probably the best way to test its effectiveness is to visit the website and try their online demo. However Malcolm Tredinnick, (who gleefully pointed out the existence of the tool to me), warns that entering posts from various Australian chess discussion boards may result in your computer bursting into flames.

Tuesday 1 April 2008

April 1st

The deadline for April Fool's Day pranks has past, and now I feel it is safe to post. While I didn't play any online pranks myself (although the last line in yesterdays post did unintentionally catch the unwary) I feel it is fitting to post one of the great April Fool's Chess related gags.
The following review first appeared in Gamespot Computer Game Magazine and I reproduce it here (rather than link to it) as I cannot find the original on the net.

By Greg Kasavin

The latest offering in the rapidly overflowing
strategy genre is hard evidence that strategy games
need a real overhaul, and fast. Chess, a
small-scale tactical turn-based strategy game,
attempts to adopt the age-old "easy to learn,
difficult to master" parameter made popular by
Tetris. But the game's cumbersome play mechanics
and superficial depth and detail all add up to a
game that won't keep you busy for long.

Chess casts you as king of a small country at war
with a rival country of equivalent military power.
There is little background story to speak of, and by
and large the units in the game are utterly lacking
any character whatsoever. The faceless,
nondescript units are dubbed arbitrarily such labels
as "Knight" and "Bishop" while their appearance
reveals nothing to suggest these roles. To make
matters worse, the units on both playable sides are
entirely identical aside from a simple color palette
swap. The setting of the conflict is equally
uninspiring and consists merely of a two-color grid so
as to represent the two warring factions. Adding insult
to injury, there is only one available map- and it's
pathetically small, an 8x8 matrix (Red Alert
maps are up to 128x128 in size). The lack of more
expansive battlefields makes Chess feel like little more
than an over-glorified Minesweeper.

In a definite nod to Tetris, Chess eschews any kind of
personality and styling in order to emphasize its supposedly
addictive gameplay. Unfortunately, that gameplay is severely
lacking. For one thing, there are only six units in the game.
Of those six, two are practically worthless while one is an
overpowered "god" unit, the Queen. She's your typical Lara
Croft-esque 1990s "me, too" attempt to attract the fabled gaming
girl audience from out of the woodwork to help solidify a customer
base for a game that simply cannot sell itself on its own merits.
The Queen can attack in any direction and she is balanced solely
by the fact that both sides are equally equipped with only one.
Otherwise, the functions of the six Chess units feel entirely
arbitrary. For instance, Rooks can only move in horizontal lines,
unable to attack enemies at diagonal angles; yet Bishops can
move diagonally, but not horizontally. The result is a frustratingly
unrealistic effort at creating balance and strategy where there
is, in fact, very little of either element to be found.

Inexplicable pathing problems also plague Chess - the irritating
Pawns can only move straight ahead, but for some reason or other
they attack diagonally. Worst of all, your units are always deployed
in exactly the same fashion. While there might have been some
strategic element involved in cleverly deploying one's troops around
the undeniably constricted map, the designers saw fit to enforce a
"rule" about how the game should be set up. In the end, Chess matches
may often go on for a great length of time because your Pawns always
begin in front of your more useful forces, thereby blocking them off.

Only two players can compete simultaneously, thus severely limiting
any play life to be found. There is only one gameplay mode- no
capture the flag or team play - and that involves the two players
taking turns moving their units one by one. The moment a player's
King is threatened, that player is placed in a state of "check."
At this point, the player must defend his King with whatever means
are available. If he cannot defend his King, he is defeated. Yawn.
All units are killed by a single hit, so even a lowly Pawn can be
instrumental in defeating an opponent if you plan accordingly.
While the artificial balance of forcing equivalent deployment for
both sides turns Chess into something of a battle of wits, the
turn-based play is poorly paced and never really picks up speed
until halfway through a game, if then. And half the time, because
of the limited troops available (and no resources with which to
purchase more), matches end in disappointing stalemates.

This game attempts to accredit itself by virtue of its tactical
play mechanics. Yet those mechanics are tedious and difficult to grasp
and exacerbate Chess's other numerous failings. In fact, should you
actually memorize all the infuriating little rules governing how
the game is played, you'll find yourself growing weary of it all
in short order. There's just no payoff to a properly executed game,
because the restrictions on the units mean there's a "right" way to
play. Thus no real variety can exist between competent players.
The sluggish turn-based nature of Chess bogs the package still
further and renders this strategy game an irreverent exercise in
wasted time for all but the most die-hard turn-based strategy

It's more than likely that Chess, due to its self-conscious though
not entirely elegant simplicity, will garner a small handful of fans.
But in light of this game's boundless oversights and limitations,
there is no chance it could ever enjoy the sort of success that makes
games like Westwood's C&C: Red Alert and Blizzard's Warcraft II the
classics they are to this day.