Friday 31 July 2009

A trap for young players

Think of this as a community service. Here is a trap that seems to work for me time and time again. Like all good traps the White moves look plausible (indeed even winning), until the realisation that what White intended to play (8.Qxh8) is no longer a good move, as the queen on d4 protects the rook. I suspect this is an example of an 'optical' trap, as the rook is undefended, until White sacrifices the knight. By then however it is too late.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. Nxe5 Qd4 (D)
6. Qh5+ g6 7. Nxg6 hxg6
8. Qxg6+ Kd8

and while White has 3 pawns for the piece, he can't hang on to them (the e pawn is going), and will suffer through a lack of development.

From country to club

(* NB This was supposed to be yesterdays post but due to the lack of cricket last night I went to bed early and forgot to write it! *)

At the recent Oceania Zone meeting a list of development goals for emerging chess federations was tabled. I've included the list below. However while looking through the list it occurred to me that this doesn't have to be just for federations but could also be applicable down to the club level.
For some clubs a number of the items have probably already been ticked off, but for smaller (but still serious) clubs, this is something that could function as a set of goals. Interestingly the club I play at (ANU Chess Club) already hits 6 of the 11 targets.
(Note. I have trimmed the original list to remove what can only be achieved by a federation. In the end it was only 1 item).

    1. At least 5 FIDE rated players
    2. Club Championship to be FIDE rated
    3. One active FIDE Arbiter or International Arbiter
    4. One local FIDE Trainer
    5. A chess-in-schools programme
    6. Junior squad development programme
    7. Participate in Asian Youth Championship
    8. Participate in World Chess Olympiad
    9. Produce one titled player by 2010
    10. Participate in the Oceania Zonal Championship
    11. Establish an internet website

Wednesday 29 July 2009

The Poetry of Chess

Such a thing does exist, and poems about chess have been written by a number of literary figures including Yeats, Pound and Tennyson. However they tend to focus more on the poetry than the chess, which can lead to poems that are both obscure and dry.
To get a really entertaining chess poem, I prefer to study the work of that well know poet 'Anonymous'. Here is The Game of the Pawn and the Queen , written in the early 20th century

They may sing of the bat and the wicket,
Or the racquet and net on the green,
But what are lawn tennis and cricket,
To the game of the Pawn, and the Queen!
The gun is a tyrant and slayer,
The niblick a joy for a few;
Give me chess with a chivalrous player,
And a fig for what others may do!

In summer when perfume of roses
Blows in at the half-open door;
When the volume unwillingly closes,
And talking is voted a bore;
Then oh for some leafy pavilion,
Some bower the hot rays never drench,
With a friend deeply versed in Sicilian,
And the intricate web of the French!

And in winter, when dismal and dreary
The snow flakes fall thick in the street;
When newsboys limp haggard and weary,
And policemen take nips on their beat;
Then whether it thaws or it freezes,
For a nook by a warm-giving flame,
With the boxwood and ebony pieces
And a comrade adept at the game!

Tuesday 28 July 2009

Thoughts on the FIDE Rating System

While most people visit to check out their new ratings, or to look up the FIDE handbook, there is the occasional interesting article hidden there as well.
Nick Faulks, member of the FIDE Qualification Commision (and current Board 1 for Bermuda), makes a few observations concerning the current FIDE ratings system. Nick and I have discussed various ratings issues over the odd dinner or two, and while he and I don't agree on everything, I did like the following line from his article.

Nor are ratings published for the excitement of the chess public, who may understandably like to view the top of the list as a form of horse race.

You can read the whole thing here, and he is happy to recieve comments and suggestions on the topic.

Monday 27 July 2009

Quick win for Smerdon

Here is a win by David Smerdon from this years ANU Open. Smerdon employed a tricky line against the Caro-Kan and although Adrian Chek avoided the obvious traps, he ended up in a passive position. Then a tactical oversight allowed Smerdon to gain a sizable advantage. I do have some sympathy for Adrian however, as he played this game immediately after holding Max Illingworth to a draw in a game that probably went for 100 moves.

Smerdon,D - Chek,A [B10]
ANU Open Canberra, 26.07.2009

1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Qf3 dxe4 [ 3...d4 4.Bc4 is something that Black needs to watch for.] 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Bc4 e6 6.Ne2 Nbd7 7.d4 Nxe4 8.Qxe4 Nf6 9.Qf3 Bd6 10.h3 Bd7 11.Bf4 Qc7 12.0-0-0 0-0-0 13.Bg5 Be7 14.Rhe1 Rhf8 15.Ng3 Nd5? (D)
16.Bxe7 Nxe7 17.Qa3 Nd5
[ 17...c5 18.Ne4 Kb8 19.Nxc5+-] 18.Qxa7 Nb6 19.Bb3 Qf4+ 20.Rd2 Kc7 21.Qa5 Bc8 [ 21...Ra8 at least avoids disaster on b6.] 22.Re4 Qd6 23.c4 c5 24.dxc5 Qxd2+ 25.Qxd2 Rxd2 26.cxb6+ 1-0

Sunday 26 July 2009

2009 ANU Minor - 3 way tie for first

The 2009 ANU Minor had an exciting finish, with a dramatic last round leaving 3 players tide for first place. 10 year old Ethan Derwent had led the tournament from the start and went into the final round with a full point lead. His last round opponent was Joe Marks, who needed a win to catch up, and in the final game of the tournament to finish, managed to survie a time scramble and pocket the point. A win by Josh Bishop on Board 2 completed the trio of players on 6/7.
A full crosstable for this event is in the comments section to this post.

Smerdon wins 2009 ANU Open

IM (soon to be GM) David Smerdon has won the ANU Open for the second year in a row, with an undefeated 6/7. He took outright first with a final round win over tournament surprise packet Zachary Searle, while his closest challenger, Junra Ikeda, was held to a draw by Max Illingworth.
Smerdon conceded draws to second seed IM Andras Toth, and Ikeda, while Ikeda drew with Toth as well. Ikeda's 4 wins and 3 draws was enough to secure outright second.
Tied for third place were Max Illingworth, Zachary Searle, Endre Ambrus (a final round winner over IM Toth) and Yi Yuan. Searle only lost to the winner Smerdon in the final round, and second place getter Ikeda, in the first round!
A full crosstable for this event is in the comments section to this post.

Saturday 25 July 2009

2009 ANU Minor - Day 1

A quartet of ACT Juniors hold down the top positions in the 2009 ANU Minor (Under 1600) event. Yijun Zhang and Ethean Derwent finished the day with 4 wins from 4 games, while Matthew Bennet and Joshua Bishop scored 3 wins (plus a draw with each other) to be equal third on 3.5. But to show it isn't all about juniors, of the 8 players tied on 3 points, only 2 are juniors (and one of these is just shy of her 18th birthday).
A full crosstable is in the comments section to this post.

2009 ANU Open - Day 1

While not matching the stupendous turnout from last year, a field of 81 players was still a good turnout for the 17th ANU Open. The Open section attracted 36 players, with the top 5 seeds rated 2199 and above, and interestingly, all from Canberra.
The first 2 rounds went according to script, although there were a couple of upsets lower down. Round 3 saw the clash of the top seeds, with Junta Ikeda and David Smerdon drawing on the top board, and Max Illingworth defeating Endre Ambrus on Board 3. This allowed Andras Toth, Max Illingworth and Sam Grigg to lead with 3/3. In the 4th round Grigg forced a perpetual against Toth, and Smerdon beat Illingworth. Ikeda then joined the leaders after Ambrus' mobile phone went off.
So at the halfway point Smerdon, Toth, Ikeda and Grigg share the lead on 3.5/4. A full crosstable is in the comments section to this post.

Ambrus,E - Voon,R [B50]
ANU Open Canberra, 25.07.2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 e6 4.0-0 Nf6 5.d3 a6 6.c3 Be7 7.Bb3 b5 8.Re1 Bb7 9.Nbd2 Nc6 10.Nf1 0-0 11.Bf4 d5 12.e5 Nh5 13.Be3 f5 14.exf6 Nxf6 15.Bf4 Qd7 16.Qe2 Nd8 17.Ng3 Re8 18.Ne5 Qc8 19.d4 Bc6 20.Bc2 b4 21.Nh5 Nd7 (D)
22.Nxg7 Kxg7 23.Qg4+ Kh8 24.Nxd7 Nf7 25.Qh5 h6 26.Qg6 1-0

Friday 24 July 2009

How to make a masters eyes light up

Despite waking up to -3 degrees this morning, Canberra turned on a perfect winters day for the ANU Co-Op Bookshop Simul. And IM Andras Toth turned out a perfect performance scoring 17 wins, no draws and no losses against the assembled opposition. The players were a mixture of Canberra club players (rated between 1200 and 1750) and adventurous passers by (including one visitor from Kazakhstan).
Under instructions to finish the simul under 1 hour and 45 minutes, IM Toth obliged, finishing the final game with 30 seconds to spare. He was helped by the opening choice of some of his opponents with no less than 4 French Defences (as far as I could see). Now if I was giving a simul, the French Defence would be the one opening I would love to see, as pawn on e5, Bishop on d3, and a queen heading for g4 or h5 is not only an easy plan to follow, but usually results in a quick knockout.
Oddly enough one of the games that looked like it would be over pretty quickly turned out to be the last game to finish. Milan Ninchich missed a tactical shot on move 14 and lost 2 pawns. However he dug in and missed a chance to draw right at the end with 48. ... Kd3 (instead of the losing 48. ... Be1).

Toth,A - Ninchich,M [B53]
ANU Simul , 2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nc6 4.d5 Ne5 5.Nxe5 dxe5 6.Nc3 Bd7 7.Bc4 Nf6 8.0-0 g6 9.Bg5 Bg7 10.d6 exd6 11.Qxd6 Qb6 12.Rad1 Qxd6 13.Rxd6 Ng4 (D)
14.Bxf7+ Kxf7 15.Rxd7+ Kg8 16.Rxb7 h6 17.Bc1
Kh7 18.Nd5 Rhf8 19.c4 Nf6 20.Nxf6+ Rxf6 21.Be3 Rb6 22.Rxb6 axb6 23.a3 Ra4 24.Rc1 g5 25.Kf1 Kg6 26.Ke2 Kf6 27.h4 gxh4 28.Kf3 Kg6 29.Ke2 Bf6 30.Kd3 Ra8 31.Rd1 Rf8 32.Ke2 Rd8 33.Rxd8 Bxd8 34.b4 cxb4 35.axb4 Kh5 36.f3 Bc7 37.Kd3 h3 38.gxh3 Kh4 39.Bxh6 Kxh3 40.c5 bxc5 41.b5 Kg3 42.Ke2 Bb6 43.Bg7 Kf4 44.Kd3 Kxf3 45.Bxe5 c4+ 46.Kxc4 Kxe4 47.Bb8 Ba5 48.Kc5 Be1 1-0

Thursday 23 July 2009

2009 ANU Chess Festival starts tomorrow

The 2009 ANU Chess Festival kicks off tomorrow (24 July) with the traditional University Co-Op Bookshop Simul. IM Andras Toth will play 20 players in the centre of Canberra (outdoors no less), with the winners not only gaining a little bit of chess glory, but also winning a $25 book voucher provided by the sponsor. The simul is in Citt Walk (outside King O'Malley's pub) and begins at 12 noon. There is no charge to take part.
Saturday and Sunday (25th and 26th July) sees the 17th ANU Open, at Fenner Hall, Northbourne Ave, Dickson. Always a popular (and dare I say, important) weekender, has been won by some of the great names of Australian chess. GM David Smerdon is defending the title he won last year, and a field of over 80 players is expected for the Open and Minor tournaments.
Then a few weeks later the ANU Schools Championship takes place. Originally the only schools teams event in Canberra, it is now more a end of chess season get together for the regions schools, with the serious stuff now being organised by the ACT Junior Chess League.
Depending on net access from the venue I will try and bring results and games from the weekender as frequently as possible. I will also try and use my twitter feed to bring more immediate news.

(Usual disclaimer: I am one of the organisers of this event)

Wednesday 22 July 2009

The unpublishable game

One of the problems that you can run into when playing an opponent who doesn't know when to resign, is that it can take the shine of an otherwise good game. The more extreme version of this behaviour is when a player chooses to drag the game out, or simply finishes the game with an awful blunder (eg hanging the queen), in an effort to stop it from being published. I have heard stories of this happening in the past, either due to personal animosity between the players concerned, or simply annoyance at losing an important game.
Here is a game I played at my local club, which sort of falls into this category. I won't give the name of my opponent, as it wasn't a case of malicious forethought, but I did suggest to him after the game that he needs to be a little more serious about his chess etiquette.

Press,S - A.N. Other [B41]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Be2 Qc7 6.0-0 Nf6 7.Bf3 Bc5 8.Nb3 Ba7 9.Nc3 Nc6 10.g3 0-0 11.Bg5 Ne8 12.Qd2 d6 13.Rad1 Bb8 14.Bg2 f5 15.exf5 Rxf5 16.Be4 Rf8 17.Bf4 Kh8 18.Bg2 Qe7 19.Ne4 d5 20.Bg5 Qf7 21.Nc3 h6 22.Bxh6 gxh6 23.Qxh6+ Kg8 24.Nxd5 Ba7 25.Nf4 Ng7 26.Ng6 Qf6 27.Qh8+ Kf7 28.Nxf8 Ke7 29.Nh7 Qf7 30.Bxc6 Ne8 31.Bxe8 Qf3 32.Qg7+ Kxe8 33.Nf6+ Qxf6 34.Qxf6 Bd7 35.Qh8+ Ke7 36.Qg7+ Ke8 37.Rxd7 Bxf2+ 38.Rxf2 Rd8 39.Qf7# 1-0

Tuesday 21 July 2009

Look, up in the sky ...

Space seems to be a hot topic at the moment, with the 40th anniversary of the first men on the Moon, as well as a big solar eclipse about the happen. But another space related story involves an amateur astronomer from Murrumbateman (just outside Canberra).
Anthony Wesley, using a 14.5 inch telescope in his backyard, managed to capture images of a comet (or possibly an asteroid) crashing into Jupiter. The impact was later confirm by NASA, and is only the second observed collision between Jupiter and another object.
Anthony also happens to be a past member of the Belconnen Chess Club in Canberra, and was a regular participant in the National Computer Chess Championships. I suspect these days his interest in astronomy precludes an active chess career but nonetheless our paths do cross from time to time.
Here is the full report from The Age, and a hat tip to The RiotACT for alerting me to this story.

Monday 20 July 2009

A Climactic Combination

I finally made the time to watch "The Luzhin Defence" last week, and I must say it was well worth it. Visually it is a magnificent movie (with a lot of the scenery reminding me of Bled, although it was shot around Lake Como) and the performances of all the actors were very good. Even the chess scenes were pretty well done (GM Jon Speelman was a consultant for the movie) although like most movies about chess, there were some shortcuts taken for dramatic effect.
One of the most interesting scenes involved a brilliant combination involving a rook and queen sac. It looked familiar while watching it, and I recalled it somehow involving Max Euwe. It turns out that Euwe was on the losing end of the combination, with the winner being Milan Vidmar Sr. It also turns out the position used in the movie was (a) not exactly the same as in the game and (b) this resulted in the actual combination being illegal.
Here is the game, with the diagram at the crucial point. The problem for the movie was that the Black rook on c2 was placed on c1, thereby pinning the rook on the d file, meaning the final move couldn't legally be played!
(And yes for those who have already seen the movie, I did notice there was other action going on between the moves, hence the title of the post)

Vidmar,M - Euwe,M [A48]
Karlsbad Karlsbad, 1929

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bg5 Bg7 4.Nbd2 c5 5.e3 b6 6.Bd3 Bb7 7.0-0 h6 8.Bf4 d6 9.c3 Nh5 10.Qb3 Nxf4 11.exf4 0-0 12.Rad1 Nc6 13.Bb1 cxd4 14.cxd4 e6 15.Ne4 Ne7 16.Qa3 Nf5 17.Rd2 Qe7 18.Ng3 Nxg3 19.fxg3 Rfc8 20.g4 Rc7 21.f5 exf5 22.gxf5 g5 23.Re1 Qf6 24.h3 Rac8 25.Rdd1 Rc4 26.d5 a5 27.Nd2 Qd4+ 28.Kh1 Qxd5 29.Be4 Rxe4 30.Nxe4 Qxf5 31.Nxd6 Bxg2+ 32.Kxg2 Rc2+ In the movie this may have been 32. ... Rc1 33.Kh1 Qf4 (D)
34.Re8+ Bf8 35.Rxf8+ Kxf8 36.Nf5+ Kg8 37.Qf8+ Kxf8 38.Rd8# 1-0

Sunday 19 July 2009

A forced win in Blitz

There are certain openings that work better at Blitz than they do at longer time controls. Normally these are trappy lines involving material investment, although sometimes they are so dodgy that the opponent chews up time looking for the immediate refutation.
With the increased popularity of online "bullet' chess (1 0), you now see the Halloween Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nxe5) or the Hiroshima Variation of the Sicilian (1.e4 c5 2.Qh5) becoming more well known. But there are also the 'classics' that you may need to know.
I watched the post-mortem of a game yesterday involving a very early sac on f2. While I didn't see the game myself, I did see various positions that may have arisen. In the end the conclusion from both players was that it was winning for Black, but mainly due to the fast time control.
While I don't have the game played yesterday, I have another game in the same line, but with the following kicker. Rather than being a forced win, it turns out that it may well be a forced draw, and a draw that has been around for over 100 years.

Villanueva,M (2029) - Gargiulo,L (2222) [C25]
LXXVII ch-ARG Tres de Febrero ARG (3), 05.09.2003

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Bc5 3.Na4 Bxf2+ 4.Kxf2 Qh4+ 5.Ke3 Qf4+ 6.Kd3 d5 7.Kc3 Qxe4 8.Kb3 Na6 9.a3 Qxa4+ 10.Kxa4 Nc5+ 11.Kb4 a5+ 12.Kxc5 Ne7 13.Bb5+ Kd8 14.Bc6 b6+ 15.Kb5 Nxc6 16.Kxc6 Bb7+ 17.Kb5 Ba6+ 18.Kc6 Bb7+ 19.Kb5 ½-½

Saturday 18 July 2009

Miniature of the Month - June 2009

The Miniature of the Month for June 2009 could almost be titled 'Caught in the Crosshairs'. After Blacks 13th move the White Queen has nowhere to run, and White has to surrender the exchange to protect the lady.

Blomqvist,E (2436) - Rozentalis,E (2595) [B15]
SCT GM Taby SWE (1), 17.06.2009

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 g6 4.h3 Bg7 5.Nf3 Nh6 6.Bd3 0-0 7.0-0 f6 8.Re1 Nf7 9.Bf1 b6 10.b3 Bb7 11.Ba3 Re8 12.Qd2N e6 13.Rad1(D)
13. ... Bh6! 14.Re3
[ 14.Qe2 Ba6 15.Rd3 drops the exchange to the other Bishop] 14...Ba6 15.Bxa6 Nxa6 16.Qe2 Bxe3 0-1

(BTW I think I've almost solved my Chessbase problems, although I'm not convinced they won't reoccur)

Friday 17 July 2009

The Six Hats of Chess Thinking

"Six Thinking Hats" by Edward De Bono is considered as one of the most innovative books on thinking and the decision making process. I've often wondered whether the various 'hats', and the thinking process, could be applied to chess. I'm not sure it is the most efficient way to choose a move during the game, but here is my attempt at matching hats to chess concepts.
For those unfamiliar with 'Six Thinking Hats', each hat stands for a different part of the thought process. And while making a decision (or coming to a conclusion), each hat is worn as a way of applying the different thinking techniques. Here is a list of hats (by colour), and the related chess concepts.
Blue Hat - Controlling the thinking process. In chess this firstly concerns how much thinking you need to do. You may only have one reply (eg a recapture) or you may be short of time. At the end of the thinking process you also use this to decide on your move (or to decide you've done enough thinking).
White Hat - Facts and Figures. In chess this would be material balance, plus position factors (open files, outposts, doubles pawns etc). Knowing what problem you are solving often puts you half way to the answer.
Red Hat - Emotions and Feelings. I would see this as 'How do I feel about my position?'. Also recognising whether you are nervous or over-confidant might help you in your approach to the rest of the game. And of course 'Am I playing for a win or am I playing for a draw?'
Black Hat - Caution and Care. In chess this would be looking for immediate threats from your opponent, and at a higher level, prophylactic thinking. 'What is my opponent threatening to do?' would be a good question to ask while wearing this hat.
Green Hat - Creative thinking. Probably best used when obvious moves don't seem to help. The 'Where do I want my pieces to be?' question falls under this category.
Yellow Hat - Constructive thinking. Ultimately you need to analyse your alternatives, and here is where you do it. This is the 'I move, then they move, then I move' part of the process.

Now while this may seem to be an impractical way of choosing a move (as I feel that chess thinking involves a lot of overlapping concepts) there is some good news. This approach to choosing your move has already been described, in a sense, and certainly predates the publication of De Bono's book. I am referring to CJS Purdy's 'System for choosing a move' which he laid out in the pages of "Chess World", and which he himself used to win the first World Correspondence Championship.
So it is possible to bring a formal thinking process into your game, but whether it is practical is a question I have yet to answer.

Thursday 16 July 2009

Changing the move order

I recently read a suggestion (possibly from Hans Ree), that if a combination doesn't seem to work, try changing the move order. Playing a less obvious move may bring greater rewards than charging headlong into the gates.
I recently gave a game from the 1953 Zurich Candidates tournament where Paul Keres came unstuck after trying a novelty in the opening. To balance the ledger I have a game from the same event, where Keres benefited from an unsuccessful innovation from Isaac Boleslavsky. It also illustrates the point of this article, in that Boleslavsky only looked at Keres' possible replies in one order, and didn't consider the alternative.

Keres,P - Boleslavsky,I [A54]
Candidats Tournament Zuerich (6), 08.09.1953

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 g5 7.dxe5 gxh4 8.exf6 Qxf6 9.Nd5 Qxb2 10.Rb1! This is what Boleslavsky overlooked. [10.Nxc7+ Kd8 11.Nxa8 (11.Rb1?? Qc3+) 11...d5 12.Rc1 Bb4+ 13.Nd2 Nc5 14.Rc2 Qe5 15.e3 Bf5 was what he prepared.] 10...Qxa2 11.Nxc7+ Kd8 12.Nxa8 Nc5 13.Ra1 Qb2 14.Qd4 Qxd4 15.Nxd4 Bg7 16.e3 Re8 17.Be2 Bxd4 18.exd4 Nb3 19.Rxa7 Nxd4 20.Ra2 h3 21.Rg1 Rg8 22.g4 1-0

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Chess in Fiction

Via the wonderful XKCD I visited TVTropes, which is a catalogue of tricks used in writing fiction. As with most sites of this nature, a simple test of usefulness is to type 'chess' into the search function on the page.
Well TVTropes has a number of categories to with chess. The most interesting I found were
But be warned TVTropes will ruin your life

Tuesday 14 July 2009

SA Open Results

I've finally managed to get the final results from the South African Open (the website, while technically clever, doesn't provide much information).
IM Amon Simutowe (Zambia) was the outright winner with 9.5/11. In second place was GM Gawain Jones (England, but playing from Melbourne, Australia) on 9.0/11. IM Puchen Wang (New Zealand) finished in a tie for third on 8.5, and he was also playing from Melbourne. The other 'remote' player, IM Mirko Rujevic (Australia) finished on 7.5, but he did it particularly tough, working during the day and then playing his games in the middle of the night (due to the difference in time zones between Melbourne and South Africa).

Monday 13 July 2009

Coffee Housing

Last Saturday I was playing some 'coffee house' chess while keeping an eye on Street Chess. Now while 'coffee house' normally means an attacking but probably unsound style of chess, to me it also indicates a certain degree of co-operation between the players. In the first game I played winning chances bounced back and forth between myself and my opponent, until I eventually 'arranged' a draw. I was less kind in the second and third games, although I did let my king get chased all around the board in game 2.
Now I don't have any of those games to show, but I do have an amazing game from 1844. Interestingly it involved Lionel Kieseritzky, who lost the 'Immortal Game' to Adolf Anderssen a few year later. He was also the loser in this game, but I suspect (without a shred of evidence!) that the result wasn't as important as the creation.

Michelet - Kieseritzky,L [C37]
Paris, 1844

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Ne5 Qh4+ 6.Kf1 f3 7.d4 Nf6 8.Nc3 Bg7 9.g3 Qh3+ 10.Kf2 d6 11.Nxf7 Rf8 12.Ng5 Qg2+ 13.Ke3 Bh6 14.Kd3 Nc6 15.a3 Bxg5 16.Bxg5 Nxe4 17.Qe1 Bf5 18.Nxe4 f2 19.Qe3 Kd7 20.Bd5 Rae8 21.Raf1 Bxe4+ 22.Bxe4 Rf3 23.Qxf3 gxf3 24.Bf5+ Re6 25.d5 Ne5+ 26.Ke4 h5 27.dxe6+ Ke8 28.Bf6 h4 29.Bxe5 dxe5 30.Kxe5 hxg3 31.h3 Qxh1 32.Kf6 Qxf1 33.Bg6+ Kd8 34.e7+ Kd7 35.e8Q+ Kd6 36.Qe6+ 1-0

(NB I am including less diagrams in my blog posts at the moment because the transfer to a new computer has destroyed the menus under my copy of chessbase. Removing the program and reinstalling it hasn't helped. Any clues?)

Sunday 12 July 2009

The problems with problems

It is the 'unnatural' nature of problem positions that seem to scare off chess players from attempting them. Although the 'this looks stupid' is not so much a barrier to solving them (as the laws of chess remain the same whether it is a game of chess or a composed position), but simple a barrier to considering them in the first place. However once I learned to get past the problem of the placing of pieces (realising that each piece contributes to not only the question, but also the answer) chess problems became much more accessible.
Here are two different problems from the same composer, William Shinkman. The first looks more 'natural than the second, but enjoy the challenge of trying to solve both. Both are White to play and mate in 3.

Saturday 11 July 2009

Totally distracted by the cricket

Normally I'd be scrambling around the net (or my house) for something to post for today. But I've been totally distracted by the hammering Australia is currently giving England in the cricket. 4 centuries for Australia (and 5 for the English bowlers!) indicate that normal service has been resumed.

Friday 10 July 2009

The Flavoured Dude

One of the great nicknames in Australian chess is attached to David Flude. This very active CC player and theorist, and over the board player as well, was christened "The Flavoured Dude" sometime in the past. Whether this reflects his playing style in the way that "Monosol" seems to describe Stephen Solomon's style, I cannot say. Nonetheless there is an attacking flavour to David's game, as the following win in the Australia v Finland Friendly demonstrates.

Flude,D - Salo,K [B15]
Australia v Finland, 2009

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.f3 e3 6.Bxe3 Bf5 7.g4 Bg6 8.Nge2 h6 9.Nf4 Bh7 10.h4 e6 11.g5 hxg5 12.hxg5 Bxc2(D)
13.Rxh8 Bxd1 14.gxf6 g5 15.Nxe6 fxe6 16.f7+ Kxf7 17.Kxd1 Qf6 18.Rh7+ Kg8 19.Rxb7 c5 20.Kc2 Qf5+ 21.Ne4 Nc6 22.Rg1 Bh6 23.Bxg5 Nxd4+ 24.Kc1 Qg6 25.f4 Bg7 26.Rxg7+ Qxg7 27.f5 Rb8 28.Be3 1-0

Thursday 9 July 2009

Chess Fundamentals

In terms of influential chess books, "My System" nearly always gets a mention. After that I've seen various other books mentioned, but one book that both seems to get listed a fair bit, and yet I am always surprised to see it mentioned, is "Chess Fundamantals" by J.R. Capablanca.
I have a couple of copies (including a 1921 copy purchased for $10) but I seem to be missing it's significance. To me it seems to be a book that "shows" things, rather than "explains" things, and jumps between being a beginner's tome to a collection of games and positions. Of course Capablanca may not have intended to to be an instructional manual in the traditional sense, although the is how it seems to be treated.
Of course I could just be missing the point, which is entirely plausible given how long it took me to discover Nimzowitsch.

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Australia v England

With the Ashes series starting today (for the truly ignorant, a 5 match series between Australia and England in Cricket), I had a look back at how Australia fared against England at the Chess Olympiads. 'Not very well' turned out to be the answer. Unlike the cricket, where Australia has dominated over the last 20 years (2005 notwithstanding), it has been the complete opposite in chess.
Australia first played England at the 1974 Olympiad and lost 1-3 (2 draws). In 1990 it was 0.5-3.5, 1992 0.5-3.5, 1998 1-3 (two draws), and finally a drawn match in 2004 2-2. The other frightening statistic is that Australia has only won a single game against England, and that was by and ex-Englishman, IM Gary Lane in 2004. However it was against former World Championship challenger Nigel Short, and it was quite a nice win. (As an aside I was watching this game from the balcony at the Calvia Olympiad. Towards the end I assumed that Short was winning, but only because Lane's extra material was hidden behind the clock!)

Lane,G (2442) - Short,N (2687) [C03]
36th Olympiad Calvia ESP (13), 28.10.2004

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 h6 4.c3 c5 5.Ngf3 Nf6 6.exd5 Nxd5 7.Nb3 Nd7 8.Bd3 Qc7 9.Bc2 b6 10.0-0 Bb7 11.Re1 Be7 12.Ne5 Nxe5 13.dxe5 0-0-0 14.Qg4 h5 15.Qc4 g5 16.a4 a6 17.Bd2 Kb8 18.Rad1 g4 19.Nc1 Rdg8 20.Be4 h4 21.Nd3 g3 22.h3 gxf2+ 23.Nxf2 Qxe5 24.Bxd5 Bxd5 25.Qxd5 Qxd5 26.Bf4+ Bd6 27.Bxd6+ Kc8 28.Rxd5 exd5 29.Re7 Rh6 30.Bf4 Rhg6 31.g4 hxg3 32.Ng4 R8g7 33.Kg2 d4 34.cxd4 cxd4 35.Be5 d3 36.Rc7+ Kd8 37.Rc3 Rxg4 38.Rxd3+ Ke7 39.hxg4 Rxg4 40.Rd4 Rg5 41.Bf4 Rg6 42.Bxg3 a5 43.b3 Rc6 44.Re4+ Kd7 45.Kf3 Rf6+ 46.Bf4 Rc6 1-0

Tuesday 7 July 2009

Wandering away from the board

Over at the 'Susan Polgar Chess Daily News' blog there is a story about a player who left the board, and when he returned found it had been packed away. To his displeasure he also found that the game had been awarded to his opponent. If you wish to read the whole story (and as a bonus get an insight into current US chess politics) click here.
I've actually seen this happen in a previous Doeberl Cup, in a game involving Lloyd Fell (IIRC). In this case it was during the last round, when the organisers were beginning to pack equipment away. The usual practice was to wait until a game had finished and then pack up. In the game in question it seems both players were away from the board (both I suspect having moved and gone for a toilet break), and an overly zealous helper swooped on the abandoned chess set. In this case neither player was defaulted, and the position and times were reset according to the players score sheets and memories, and the game reached a more sensible conclusion.

Monday 6 July 2009

Early Rook Moves

In most chess openings it is normally the rooks that are the last to move (castling excepted). Sometimes the kingside rook gets into action early, but the queens rook is usually the last guy to join the party.
There are plenty of sensible reasons why this is so, but here is a warning if you try and buck the trend. In the 1953 Candidates tournament, Paul Keres plays Rb8 as early as move 5, in an attempt to counter David Bronstein's Closed Sicilian. However this rebounds pretty quickly as the rook proves to be misplaced, and Bronstein gathers the point (although it takes it 58 moves).

Bronstein,D - Keres,P [B25]
Candidats Tournament Zuerich (12), 19.09.1953

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.d3 Nc6 5.Bg2 Rb8 (D)
6.f4 d6 7.Nf3 e6 8.0-0 Nge7 9.e5 dxe5 10.fxe5 Nxe5 11.Bf4 Nxf3+ 12.Qxf3 Ra8 13.Be3 0-0 14.Bxc5 Bd4+ 15.Bxd4 Qxd4+ 16.Kh1 Rb8 17.Ne4 f5 18.Qf4 Bd7 19.c3 Qb6 20.Nf6+ Rxf6 21.Qxb8+ Bc8 22.d4 Rf8 23.Rf2 Nc6 24.Qf4 Bd7 25.Re1 Nd8 26.d5 Nf7 27.dxe6 Bxe6 28.b3 Bd7 29.Qd4 Bc6 30.Qxb6 axb6 31.Bxc6 bxc6 32.Re6 Rc8 33.Rfe2 Kf8 34.h4 b5 35.a4 bxa4 36.bxa4 Ra8 37.Rxc6 Rxa4 38.Rc7 Ra6 39.Rb2 h6 40.c4 f4 41.c5 f3 42.Kg1 Ra8 43.Rcb7 Ra1+ 44.Rb1 Ra6 45.Rd7 Ra8 46.Re1 Ra2 47.Re3 Ra1+ 48.Kf2 Ra2+ 49.Kxf3 Rc2 50.Rc7 h5 51.Ke4 Nh6 52.Ra3 Re2+ 53.Kf4 Re8 54.Rh7 Kg8 55.Rxh6 Kg7 56.c6 Kxh6 57.Rc3 g5+ 58.hxg5+ 1-0

Sunday 5 July 2009

2009 South African Open

In future years the 2009 South African Open might be spoken of in the same sentence as the 1965 Capablanca Memorial. In that event, Bobby Fischer played the event via telegraph, after being refused permission to travel to Cuba. Despite the handicap of the lengthened playing session, and not being able to see his opponents, he still finished second.
While South Africa in 2009 doesn't present the same difficulties for players wishing the travel there, there are 3 players taking part in the 2009 South African Open, who are half a world away. GM Gawain Jones (Eng), IM Mirko Rujevic (Aus) and IM Puchen Wang (Nzl) are playing in this event from Melbourne, Australia. Of course technology has progressed from the telegraph age (with the internet being used to transmit the moves), but I suppose the some difficulties arise. Instead of tranmission time, it is now session times, with some rounds starting at 2:30am Melbourne time. Not only does this make it difficult for the players, it also requires the supervising arbiter IA Gary Bekker to forgoe his sleep. However they all have seemed to cope so far with the 3 of them starting the event with 4/4.
Live games can be found at while the tournament results can be found at the link at the top of this post.

Saturday 4 July 2009

The PNG 1-2

Todays edition of Street Chess saw 75% of the current PNG Olympiad team in action. FM Rupert Jones has spent an extra week in Canberra after the completion of the Zonal on the Gold Coast, and joined myself and Craig Skehan in the 19 player field.
We were a little fortunate that players like David Smerdon and Endre Ambrus were otherwise engaged, but still we managed to do PNG chess proud. Enjoying the rare opportunity to play Street Chess from round 1 (I'm normally chess coaching until midday on Saturdays), I started with 6 wins before drawing my final game. Rupert Jones had a slower start but managed to take equal second place on 5/7 with a final round draw.
Now if you connect the dots (my last round draw, Rupert's last round draw) you will have guessed it was against each other. It ended in a quick perpetual, but don't try and use this in any of your own games as a way of circumventing any 'no agreed draws in under 175 moves' stipulations as after Black played 7. ... g6 (instead of 7. ... d5) White is just winning.

Press, S v Jones, R
Street Chess, Canberra 2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Nc3 Nxc3 5.dxc3 Be7 6.Nxe5 O-O 7.Qh5 g6 8.Nxg6 hxg6 9.Qxg6+ Kh8 10.Qh6+ Kg8 11.Qg6+ 1/2

Friday 3 July 2009

New Rules in Force

The updated FIDE Laws of Chess that were agreed upon at the Dresden Olympiad came into force on the 1st July 2009. On Chessvibes the Chairman of the Rules and Tournament Regulation Committee Geurt Gijssen discusses what the changes mean.
Unfortunately, at the time of this post, FIDE haven't updated their own website, so the rules from 1 July 2005 are the ones still shown. If you are interested in my take on the process involved changing the rules, you can read my report of the RTRC meeting here.
Reading the chessvibes article I was nonetheless surprised with the claim that the rules for Chess960 were included in the appendices. I have no way of confirming this (given the FIDE website showing the old rules) but I am certain that the RTRC did not add the rules for Chess960 to the FIDE Laws of Chess, and indeed explicitly decided to hold it over for a future discussion. So I have no idea how the rules have made it into the final version (if indeed they are there at all).
The final thing to note, that as the new rules have come into effect, the whole process of deciding on the rules in 2012 has now started. So if you think that there are some silly rules that need changing (and I can think of a few), you can begin to make you suggestions to the FIDE RTRC.

Thursday 2 July 2009

More pawn ending fun

After blundering in my last K+P ending (as shown here), I decided to have a look at some other K+P positions, if only to reacquaint myself with some of the standard endgame ideas (or tricks!). I came across the given position, which is a study by Troitzky. It is white to play and win, and without giving too much away, it shows that a lone king can hold back 3 connected (but unassisted) passed pawns.

Wednesday 1 July 2009

A 20 year quest

I have a policy when meeting junior players for the first time. I try to beat them as heavily as possible. Not because I am a cruel person, but because I know that they will one day become much stronger players and I want to retain some sort of advantage over them when they do. (A testament to this policy is that I have a 5-0 score against an Australian WIM, although to be fair, we haven't played since she was a teenager).
And if you can string together a couple of wins, every time you sit down against a promising young talent, the losing streak surely plays on their mind.
But it is possible to overcome such a psychological block. Lee Forace has been playing chess for near on 20 years (I can remember coaching him when he was still in primary school!). And for 20 years he has never beaten Milan Grcic. That is until last Monday night, when he inflicted the following defeat on him. (Of course Grcic didn't go down easily, dragging the game out until the almost the bitter end)

Forace,L - Grcic,M [B15]
Brindabella Snows, 29.06.2009

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.f3 e5 5.d5 Bb4 6.Bc4 exf3 7.Nxf3 Nf6 8.0-0 Bg4 9.Qe1 e4 10.Ne5 0-0 11.Bg5 Qb6+ 12.Kh1 Nbd7 13.Bxf6 Nxf6 14.Rxf6 gxf6 15.Nxg4 f5 16.Nf6+ Kg7 17.Qh4 h6 18.Nh5+ Kh7 19.Qf6 Rg8 20.Qxf7+ Kh8 21.Qf6+ Kh7 22.Qxf5+ Kh8 23.Qe5+ Kh7 24.Qxe4+ Rg6 25.Nf4 Rag8 26.Bd3 Bxc3 27.bxc3 cxd5 28.Qe7+ Kh8 29.Nxg6+ Rxg6 30.Bxg6 Qxg6 31.Re1 Qf5 32.Qe5+ 1-0