Monday 31 August 2009

A neat trick to know

Although we learn various ideas in chess as we go along, putting them into practice is often harder. In the given position it is Black to play and draw. Now having told you the result of the game, it shouldn't take you long to work out the only sensible way for Black to draw the game. The challenge is to find the moves that make it happen.

Sunday 30 August 2009

Trap du jour

I have mixed feelings about opening traps. I enjoy playing them, and will try and memorise them when I can, and yet I feel uneasy about teaching them to the players I coach. I'm happy to use them as an example of chess tactics, but less so as a way of collecting points in tournaments. I guess this is as a natural reaction to seeing players who's opening knowledge (and chess careers) didn't extend much beyond Scholars Mate.
But when I do come across an enjoyable trap I am happy to share it with the world. The following game is included in "The Mammoth Book of Chess", which is one of the great single volume books that any improving chess player should have in their library. However, there seems to be two versions of the game. The Chessbase version lasts a little bit longer, and has a slightly less interesting mate than the finish given in the book version. I've included the more spectacular finish in the notes to the game, along with a diagram showing it.

Runau - Schmidt [B00]
3/90-28, 1972

1.e4 Nc6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.Be2 0-0-0 6.c4 Qh5 7.d5 Bxf3 8.Bxf3 Qe5+ 9.Be3 Qxb2 10.0-0 Qxa1 11.dxc6 Rxd1 12.cxb7+ Kb8 13.Rxd1 c6 14.Bxc6 Kc7 15.Rd7+ Kb8 [15...Kxc6 16.b8N# (D)] 16.Rd8+ Kc7 17.b8Q+ Kxc6 18.Qc8# 1-0

Saturday 29 August 2009

Negi wins Dato Arthur Tan Malaysian Open

Young Indian GM Parimajan Negi has won the 2009 Data Arthur Tan Malaysian Open, on tie break after finishin on 7/9 along with IM Ronald Dableo (PHI). Negi defeated Emmanuel Senador (PHI), who had lead the tournament going into the last round.
Of the Australian players IM Igor Goldenberg and Domagoj Dragicevic were the best finishers on 5/9. A full crosstable can be found at this link.
New WFM Emma Guo was another of the Australian players to make the trip to the tournament, and though she only finished on 3/9, this in part was explained by a tough draw early on, after drawing her first round game with a much higher opponent.

Guo,E (1914) - Ma,Q (2319) [D02]
DATMO, 2009

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.e3 e6 6.Nbd2 Be7 7.Ne5 0-0 8.Bd3 Qb6 9.Rb1 Re8 10.Qf3 Qd8 11.Qh3 g6 12.Ndf3 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 Nh5 14.Bh6 Bf8 15.Qf3 Qe7 16.Bg5 f6 17.g4 Qc7 18.gxh5 fxe5 19.Qg3 Bg7 20.hxg6 h6 21.Bh4 Bd7 22.dxe5 Qxe5 23.Qxe5 Bxe5 24.Bg3 Bxg3 25.hxg3 Kg7 26.g4 ½-½

Friday 28 August 2009

2009 ACT Chess Championship

The 2009 ACT Chess Championship begins next Friday night (4th September). In a slightly unusual move the event is being played on a non-club night, although it is being played at the venue of a chess club. The venue is the Tuggeranong Vikings Rugby Union Club (home of the Tuggeranong Chess Club), Ricardo St, Wanniassa. It will be a 9 round swiss (1 round a week) and is open to all players. The time limit is G/90+30s with entry fees of $50 for adults, $40 for concessions.
Further details, including online entry facilities, are at this link.

Thursday 27 August 2009


Given that Hikaru Nakamura has played 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 on occasion, the tendency is to be a little more respectful of the queen move than we otherwise would have been. Nonetheless, away from the hit and giggle of schools chess (and online chess servers) this move still scores horribly. And yet buried away in the huge databases that we rely on so much, there is one line that has an almost respectable score. After 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 Nf6 White doesn't chance it with 5.g4? (5. ... Nd4 being a good reply), but plays a little more solidly with 5.Ne2 This was the line that Nakamura chose in a couple of GM games, although he only ended up with 0.5/2 However it proved more successful for others (albeit with weaker opponents).
Now I'm not cheer leading this opening, having spent the last 3 weeks demonstrating to hordes of juniors how NOT to fall for the 4 move checkmate, but here is a win for White in the line anyway.

Rouleau,J (2269) - Minear,P (2131) [C20]
34th NCC Philadelphia USA (3), 29.11.2003

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 Nf6 5.Ne2 d6 6.h3 Be6 7.d3 Bg7 8.Nbc3 Nd4 9.Nxd4 exd4 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.Ne2 Nd7 12.0-0 Qe7 13.Qg3 0-0 14.Bg5 Bf6 15.Bxf6 Qxf6 16.f4 Rae8 17.Rf3 c5 18.Raf1 Qg7 19.Qf2 Rf6 20.g4 h6 21.Ng3 Rff8 22.Qd2 b6 23.R3f2 Kh7 24.h4 Qf7 25.g5 hxg5 26.hxg5 1-0

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Age and Experience vs Youth and Enthusiasm

The annual Rising Stars v Experience match is currently running in Amsterdam and at the halfway point, it is Experience holding a 2 point lead (13.5-11.5). In looking at this lineups I was first surprised to see Peter Svidler on the Experience team (as he isn't that old) but of course these days a lot of the top 40 year old players already have 30+ years of chess experience under their belts. Nonetheless the team does contain two real veterans in the shape of Beliavsky and Ljubojevic.
Full coverage including live audio coverage (by GM Larry Christiansen and Mig Greengard) can be found at

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Chess and Politics

Last year I wrote about the collision between what I sometimes read in chess (Eric Schiller), and what I always read in politics (Daily Kos. Click here for a refresher). Well the connection between that blog and chess has gone a little further, with the holding of the DKos Chess Tournament 2009. It was played online (over a couple of months) and attracted quite a large field.
As it turned out Eric Schiller won the event, although any one of 4 players were in with a chance going into the final round. Full coverage by Superbowlxx can be found here.
Here is the final decisive game of the tournament.

Makechessnotwar - Sharkmeister [E14]
DKos Tournament, 08.2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.e3 b6 4.Bd3 Bb7 5.0-0 Be7 6.c4 0-0 7.Nc3 d5 8.b3 Nbd7 9.Bb2 Ne4 10.Qc2 Ndf6 11.Ne5 Rc8 12.Ne2 c5 13.f3 Nd6 14.dxc5 Rxc5 15.Bd4 Rc8 16.Qb2 dxc4 17.bxc4 Nf5 18.Bxf5 exf5 19.Rad1 Qc7 20.Nc3 Ba6 21.Nb5 Bxb5 22.cxb5 Qc2 23.Nc6 Qxb2 24.Nxe7+ Kh8 25.Bxb2 Rc2 26.Bxf6 gxf6 27.Nxf5 Rxa2 28.Ra1 Rb2 29.Rfb1 Rc2 30.Rxa7 Rc5 31.e4 h5 32.Rb7 Kh7 33.Rxb6 Kg6 34.Ne7+ Kg7 35.Rc6 Re5 36.Nf5+ Kg6 37.b6 1-0

Monday 24 August 2009

Who deserves a rating?

Towards the end of September the Solomon Islands Chess Federation is organising their first international tournament. It is not intended to be high level event, especially given that I am currently second seed. Instead the intention of the event is to help a pool of local Solomon Island players achieve a FIDE rating, which can then help assist other local players to get their ratings. For a developing chess country this is considered to be a desirable thing.
Nonetheless not every country feels this way. As FIDE base their yearly membership fees for a country in part on the number of FIDE rated players that country has, extra FIDE rated players mean a hike in the FIDE fees (although it must be said it is currently 1 euro per player to a maximum of 1500 euros). And I can remember a conversation I had 20 years ago with an Australian Chess Federation delegate who argued against FIDE rating Australian events, as it would only add more players to this list, at an increased expenditure to the ACF. If I remember the conversation correctly, they had no problem with the 'elite' players having ratings (as they played international chess) but the rest could just make do with the ACF rating system. Of course the last 20 years have shown that (a) players are keen to have a FIDE rating and (b) FIDE rating an event is actually an effective marketing hook for a tournament. Indeed, the ACF itself now take advantage of the situation by charging its own 'processing' fee for FIDE rated events, above and beyond what FIDE charge the ACF. So I guess that argument has been dealt with, both externally and internally.

Sunday 23 August 2009

A real problem

Milan Ninchich sent me the following position from this years ANU Open. It was from his game against Jeremy Reading, and those who played in the tournament may remember the game, as it went for 100 moves, and delayed the start of Round 3. This position was after move 59 and it has the following stipulation. White to play a move that looks winning, but only draws. Black to reply with the only move that doesn't lose, and finally White to come up with the only idea that saves the game. In real life both players had to solve this problem with 30 seconds each on the clock, and as a result both White and Black got their first challenges right, but White slipped on on challenge 3 and Black (Reading) eventually won. (I'll post the solution in the comments section in a day or two, unless Milan beats me to it)

Saturday 22 August 2009

The Fried Liver

Almost all opening books that are aimed at new/club players seem to cover the Two Knights Defence in the same way. They explain that 4.Ng5 breaks the rule of not moving the same piece twice in the opening ("A duffers move" S. Tarrasch), then go on to say that it should be met by 4. ... d5. However after 5.exd they counsel against 5. ... Nxd5 either saying that White gets a strong attack with 6.Nxf7 (and nothing else), or give a column of complicated variations to prove the previous assertion.
Now the difficulty I have with this is that for beginners, whatever variation you choose is going to be complicated. Either allow the piece sacrifice and hope that you are playing someone of your own skill level (which happens quite a lot), or follow the books and play on a pawn down. I had experience of the latter strategy in my first big tournament and can remember thinking "This just sucks". Indeed my recent advice to new players is: play 5. ... Nxd5 and defend the position, at least until you lose your first game in the line, then learn the "better" defence. At least this way you're material ahead at the start of the game, rather than behind. You might even get away with a win like the following game from 2007

Cazzaro,Dorian - Oges,Helene [C57]
6th Open La Fere FRA (1), 07.07.2007

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Nxf7 Kxf7 7.Qf3+ Ke6 8.Nc3 Nce7 9.d4 Qd6 10.Qe4 c6 11.f4 Kd7 12.dxe5 Nxc3 13.bxc3 Qg6 14.Qd4+ Ke8 15.0-0 Bh3 16.Qf2 Nf5 17.Bd3 Bc5 0-1

Friday 21 August 2009

2009 Malaysian Open

The 2009 Malaysian Open begins tomorrow in Kuala Lumper Lumpur. This is an event that would normally fall between the two stools of my blog coverage (either events of world wide interest, or purely local Canberra events), but this years tournament will feature a number of Australian, and indeed Canberra players.
At this stage I haven't been able to find a tournament website, but coverage is being carried on the Gila Chess blog (as it was in previous years). If I find out more I will pass it on.

(** Update: Results and pairings can be found at **)

Thursday 20 August 2009

Analytical Revisionism

Having mentioned historical revisionism in relation to Alekhine, it is worth noting that Alekhine himself wasn't above analytical revisionism. Variations that existed only as part of post game analysis found themselves promoted to the game continuation when published at a later date. Brilliant finishes found in the silence of the study became stunning victories in the heat of the battle.
The most notorious case would undoubtedly be the Grigoriev - Alekhine game which in later years became the Alekhine - NN game. Not only did Alekhine create most of the game as analysis, he also moved himself from Black to White so as to emerge the victor. Here is the original game, with the invented game included in the notes. Interestingly Fritz 9 doesn't think much of Alekhine's final few moves, although the continuation it suggests seems to have been overlooked by both Alekhine and later commentators.

Grigoriev,N - Alekhine,Alexander A [C12]
Moscow, 1915

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Bb4 5.e5 h6 6.exf6 hxg5 7.fxg7 Rg8 8.h4 gxh4 9.Qg4 Be7 10.g3 c5 (D)
11.0-0-0 [11.gxh4 cxd4 12.h5 dxc3 13.h6 cxb2 14.Rb1 Qa5+ 15.Ke2 Qxa2 16.h7 Qxb1 17.hxg8Q+ Kd7 18.Qxf7 Qxc2+ 19.Kf3 Nc6 20.Qgxe6+ Kc7 21.Qf4+ Kb6 22.Qee3+ Bc5 23.g8Q b1Q 24.Rh6!! Qxf1 (Fritz suggests 24...Bg4+ 25.Qgxg4 Bxe3 26.Qxe3+ Qc5 with a small advantage to White) 25.Qb4+ Qb5 26.Qd8+ Ka6 27.Qea3++- Analysis Aljechin] 11...Nc6 12.dxc5 Qa5 13.Kb1 e5 14.Qh5 Be6 15.Nxd5 Bxd5 16.Rxd5 Nb4 17.Rxe5 Qxa2+ 18.Kc1 0-0-0 19.Bd3 Qa1+ 20.Kd2 Qxb2 21.Ke3 Bf6 22.Qf5+ Kb8 23.Re4 Rxd3+ 24.cxd3 Bd4+ 25.Kf4 Qxf2+ 0-1

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Oh, Vienna

There are plenty of places I've been to, without really having been 'in'. Places like Singapore, Kuala Lumper, and Dubai have so far simply been airport transit lounges, while my French experiences have either been missing flight in Paris, or spent inside a train heading to Brussels.
One place I've been to twice, without ever having been in, is Vienna, or more correctly, its international airport. Nonetheless I did actually spend 5 minutes or so in Austria, having passed through passport control to make a connecting flight to Slovenia. It wasn't particularly memorable.
And this leads me to more Viennese forgetfulness. When I started playing weekend chess as a teenager, the Vienna Opening was one of my usual weapons. I proffered the 3.Bc4 line, especially the Frankenstein-Dracula. When I played White it was in the hope of grabbing the rook on a8 and hanging on, and when I was Black (which happened more often in later years) I hoped that my opponent would grab the rook on a8, and not hang on.
As for the Gambit lines, I studied those as well, but never really got to face them much as Black. So when I played a (very) recent game in this line I suddenly remembered that I had forgotten what I knew. I wasn't even sure that move 5 was correct, but in the end it turned out well for me, with the game ending in a flurry of tactics.

Robertson,Keith - Press,Shaun [C29]
ANU Winter Swiss, 19.08.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4 d5 4.fxe5 Nxe4 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.d3 Nxc3 7.bxc3 c5 8.Be2 Nc6 [RR 8...Be7 9.0-0 0-0 10.Qe1 Nc6 11.Qg3 Bh5 12.Bf4 Qa5 13.Bd2 Qa4 14.Bd1 Rae8 15.c4 dxc4 16.c3 Qa6 17.dxc4 Qxc4 18.Bb3 Qg4 19.Qf2 Bd8 20.Be3 Nxe5 21.Nxe5 Rxe5 22.Rae1 Bb6 23.c4 Rodriguez Fonseca,J (2057)-Olafsson,T (2150)/Reykjavik ISL 2007/The Week in Chess 685/0-1 (31)] 9.Bf4 Be7 10.0-0 0-0 11.Bg3N [RR 11.d4 Qa5 12.Bd2 Qa4 13.Be3 cxd4 14.cxd4 Rac8 15.Qd2 Na5 16.Bd3 Bxf3 17.Rxf3 Bb4 18.Qf2 Nc4 19.Bxh7+ Kxh7 20.Qh4+ 1-0 Buchanan,R-Maguire,J/Colorado 1980] 11...f6 12.d4 Qa5 13.Qd2 cxd4 14.Rad1 dxc3 [14...fxe5 15.Nxe5 dxc3 16.Rxf8+ Rxf8 17.Qe1 Nxe5 18.Bxg4 Qb6+ 19.Kh1 Nxg4 20.Qxe7 Qf6-+] 15.Qxd5+ Qxd5 16.Rxd5 Nb4 [16...fxe5 17.Bxe5 Be6 18.Rb5 a6 19.Rxb7 Bc5+ 20.Kh1 Nxe5 21.Nxe5 Rxf1+ 22.Bxf1 Bxa2-+] 17.Rb5 Nxc2 18.Bc4+ Kh8 19.Rxb7 Bc5+ 20.Bf2 Ne3 21.exf6 Rxf6 (D)
22.Ne5 Rxf2 23.Nf7+ Rxf7 24.Bxf7 Nxf1+ 25.Kxf1 c2 0-1

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Historical Revisionism

If you collect enough chess books, as I do, you begin to notice differing treatment of chess history, depending on who writes it. This is particularly glaring in books from the old USSR, and often depends upon when they were written.
The most obvious example is the coverage of Alexander Alekhine. Between in the mid 1920's until the early 1950's he was considered a traitor to the 'October Revolution', but following the death of Stalin he was rehabilitated. Kotov's 1973 book on Alekhine even goes so far as to prove he didn't escape from the USSR, but was given explicit permission to leave, even providing the text of the declaration.
The same book also glosses over his activities in occupied Europe during WWII, and states that any objections to Alekhine resuming his post-war chess career were entirely the creation of the USCF "or more accurately, certain of its over-active members - R.Fine, A. Denker and others". Interestingly enough these claims were taken to task by RG Wade in forward to the english language edition of the book!

Monday 17 August 2009

"World Championship" starts soon

I've been caught completely unaware of the fact the the "World Championship" is due to start in Las Vegas on December 1. The "World Championship", for a purse of $6,000,000, is between GM Varuzhan Akobian and Stan Vaughan.
Canberran's are well aware of who Akobian is (as he won the 2008 O2C Doeberl Cup), but Stan Vaughan may be more of a mystery. According to his CV (which was actually longer than Akobian's in the press release) he is 29 time US Champion (of the American Chess Association), as well as being World Correspondence Chess Champion (of the WCCF) from 1995 to 2007. He is also the current World Champion (of the World Chess Federation).
According to my research (which you can replicate by typing his name into google and is totally worth doing) he had a USCF rating of 2200 (which according to the USCF ratings system, can't fall any lower), but does not have a FIDE rating. His actual strength is difficult to verify, as chessbase only has 4 or 5 games of his in their database. Interestingly one of those games was a CC game against well known Australia weekend chess warrior David Lovejoy.
But for those of you who think that this match somehow lack credibility, I received a follow up press release that breathlessly announced that GM Raymond Keene will be the Master of Ceremonies for the event. And you can't get more "credibility" than that.

Lovejoy,David W - Vaughan,Stan (USA) [C18]
Endzelins Mem. Prel.7 corr ICCF, 1987

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 0-0 8.Bg5 Qa5 9.Ne2 Nbc6 10.h4 Nxd4 11.Bxe7 Nxc2+ 12.Kd1 Nxa1(D)
13.Bf6 g6 14.Qf4 Qxa3 15.Qh6 Qb3+ 16.Ke1 Qb1+ 17.Nc1 Qe4+ 18.Be2 Nc2+ 19.Kf1 1-0

Sunday 16 August 2009

2009 Blayney Open

Details of the 2009 Blayney Open have been announced. It will be on the weekend of 12/13 September in Blayney NSW. It is always an enjoyable tournament, with a good mix of NSW country players, a big contingent from Canberra, and a few Sydney players.
Full details from the Blayney Chess Club website.

Saturday 15 August 2009

Staunton Memorial

Straight after the completion of the British Championship, new champion David Howell, as well as GM Gawain Jones, headed straight to London for the Staunton Memorial. This event consists of a match between an England and The Netherlands team, as well as a round robin event. In the match the English team lead 18.5-16.5, while in the RR event Cherniaev and Timman lead with 5/7.
David Howell is showing no sign of slowing down after hits British Championship win, with a neat tactical finish in his game against Sokolov.

Howell,D (2614) - Sokolov,Ivan (2655) [C45]
7th Staunton Memorial London ENG (7), 14.08.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bb4+ 5.c3 Bc5 6.Be3 Bb6 7.Qg4 g6 8.Nd2 Nge7 9.Qh4 Nxd4 10.cxd4 d5 11.Bg5 Bxd4 12.0-0-0 h6 13.exd5 hxg5 14.Qxd4 Rh4 15.Ne4 Bf5 16.f3 Bxe4 17.fxe4 Kf8 18.g3 Rh7 19.Bc4 Qd6 20.Rhf1 b5 21.Bxb5 Rxh2 22.Rf6 Qxg3 23.Rdf1 Rh7 24.Bc4 Ke8 25.Bb5+ Kf8 26.Bd7 Nc8 27.R6f3 Qh2 (D)
28.Qh8+!! Ke7 29.Rxf7+ 1-0

Friday 14 August 2009

Oldest Australian Game

The following game is from the Ozbase game collections. It is from a Correspondence match between Sydney CC and the Hunters River CC (present day Newcastle I'd guess) and was played in 1845. It is believed to be the oldest recoded chess game in Australia.
There seems to be no result from this games (and the game played alongside it), but if the Hunters team had taken their chances (13. ... Nc6 or 14. ... Qxd4) then the Sydney team might have resigned any time after that.

Sydney CC - Hunter's River CC [C01]
Correspondence m Sydney/Newcastle (1), 1845

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Bd3 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Ne5 9.Qe2 Bb4+ 10.Bd2 Bxd2+ 11.Nxd2 0-0 12.0-0 Re8 (D)
13.Bf5 dxc4 14.Bxc8 Rxc8 15.Nf5 Nd3 16.Qf3 Nxb2 17.Qg3 g6 18.Nd6 c3 19.Nxe8 Nxe8 20.Nb3 Qf6 21.Rac1 Nd6 22.Qe3 Nb5 23.h3 b6 24.Rfe1 Kg7
unfinished score

Thursday 13 August 2009

Happy Helpers

The 2009 ANU Chess Festival finished today with the last event, the ANU High Schools and Colleges Championship. Radford College were the winning team this year, with Kaleen Primary winning yesterdays Primary Schools Championship.
What I really want to make mention of however is level of volunteering that his happening in ACT chess at the moment. Both the primary schools event (40 teams, 160 players) and the High Schools (26 teams, 104 players) ran very smoothly due to number of people helping out. And it wasn't a question of twisting arms or calling in favours, it was just simply a matter of people knowing it was on and turning up to help out. And the last few years has seen this become the rule rather than exception in Canberra. The weekend events like the Doeberl Cup, the ANU Open and the Vikings Weekender, the various junior events, and even Street Chess benefit from having half a dozen or more people willing to put out equipment, collect results, answer questions etc which makes the whole experience an enjoyable one for participants and organisers alike.
So from me a big thank you to everyone who happily helps out at these events, and I hope to see such community spirit continue long into the future.

Wednesday 12 August 2009

GP No. 5

After starting with such fanfare, the FIDE Grand Prix series seems to have settled down into a more routine existence. In part this is due to the difficulties the series underwent as potential hosts dropped out, but also due to the simple fact that the novelty has worn off. Of course they are still important events, with a gathering of some of the worlds best players providing an excelent feast of chess.
The latest series is underway in Jermuk, Armenia, and after 3 rounds Ceperinov, Aronian and Leko lead with 2/3. Full coverage, including live games can be found at the official site.

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Dancing Knights

Knight endings might not be the hardest or the trickiest endings (treating them like King and Pawn endings make them easier to think about), but they can be the most frustrating. When you have the extra pawn your opponent often finds a way to sacrifice the knight for it, but when the situation is reversed it seems so much harder.
One way to win these kind of endings is to get your opponent to help you. Of course they won't do it on purpose, but if you cross your fingers and wish real hard, you just might get lucky.
Here is Ian Rogers v Bellotti from 1987. It is Black to move and he has a number of squares to put the knight on and hold the draw (g6,d5 or g8 are all good). Instead he plays the fatal 1. ... Nf5 and after 2.Nd4! Ne7 3.Kd8! he finds himself zugged. No matter where he goes his knight gets corned by the other knight.

Monday 10 August 2009


The other day I dug up an old notebook of mine that contained a number of tournament crosstables from ACT events in the mid to late 1980's. Most of the tournaments were Belconnen Chess Club tournaments, but there was crosstables from weekend events.
One interesting event was the ACT Village Open, which was held at (and sponsored by) the National Capital Village, which was a Motel on the northern outskirts of Canberra. The event was held mid-winter and I guess could be considered the fore-runner to the ANU Open.
The event was run in two sections with the Open attracting 18 players(!) and the Under 1800 attracting 35 players. The results themselves were interesting, but what is of greater interest to me is how many players in that tournament are still playing.
My estimate is that of the 53 players who took part, only 16 are still active players. Of course there has been some natural attrition (players having passed on), and I've excluded players who play the odd game, "for old times sake". Given that tournament numbers by and large have been getting better, it is an interesting measure of turn-over, rather than decline. It also shows how difficult it is to hang on to players for an extended period of time, as only 30% of the players are still going 20 years later.
As for the results, the tournament was won by IM Greg Hjorth. In second place was Lloyd Fell, after he famously mated IM Guy West with KNB v K in the final round with less than 5 minutes on his clock. The Under 1800 event was won by Ian Hosking after he beat (CC IM) Shane Dibley in the last round. I actually played and scored 3/5, while further down a much younger Gary Bekker finished on 1.5!

Sunday 9 August 2009

The long march

The King March is a rare but enjoyable sight. It often involves tying your opponents position down so tightly that he is reduced to a helpless spectator as you king glides up the board to join in the fun. Possibly the most famous modern example of this is the Short-Timman game (Tilburg 1991), but IM Andras Toth has alerted me to a very recent example.
In the almost finished Artic Chess Challenge, young American IM Ray Robson sacrifices a piece to corral the white King and Rook into the corner. Then he marches his King all the way up the board to execute a nice checkmate.

Rasmussen,Allan Stig (2536) - Robson,Ray (2491)
Arctic Chess Challenge 2009 Scandic Hotel, Tromsø (6), 01.08.2009

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 dxc4 5.Bg2 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 c5 7.Bxb4 cxb4 8.Ne5 0-0 9.Nxc4 Nc6 10.e3 e5 11.d5 b5 12.dxc6 Qxd1+ 13.Kxd1 bxc4 14.a3 Bg4+ 15.Kc1 b3 16.Nc3 Rac8 17.h3 Be6 18.Rd1 Rfd8 19.f4 e4 20.g4 Nd5 21.Bxe4 Nxe3 22.Rxd8+ Rxd8 23.c7 Rd4 24.Bb7 h6 25.f5 Bd7 26.c8Q+ Bxc8 27.Bxc8 (D)
27. ... Kf8 28.Ba6 Rd6 29.Bb7 a5 30.Bf3 Ke7 31.a4 Rd4 32.Be2 Kf6 33.h4 Ke5 34.Rb1 Kf4 35.Nb5 Rd7 36.Nc3 Kg3 37.g5 hxg5 38.hxg5 Kf2 39.Bh5 Ke1 40.f6 gxf6 41.gxf6 Rd2 42.Ra1 Rc2+ 43.Kb1 Nf1 0-1

Saturday 8 August 2009

Howell wins British Championship

18 year old GM David Howell has won this years British Championship. His last round opponent was Australian IM Gary Lane, as a drew was all the required (and possibly all that Lane desired), 19 moves were played before they shook hands. GM's Hebden and Williams finished equal 2nd while IM Richard Palliser had a wonderful tournament, finishing outright 4th.
Full results can be found here.
Palliser secured 4th place with a final round brilliancy against White Rose team mate GM Peter Wells.

Palliser,R (2413) - Wells,P (2498) [D37]
96th ch-GBR Torquay ENG (11), 07.08.2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 Bb4 6.Bg5 c5 7.Bxc4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Qa5 10.Bb5+ Nbd7 11.Bxf6 Qxc3+ 12.Kf1 gxf6 13.Nf5 Qe5 14.Nd6+ Kf8 15.g3 Nc5 16.f4 Qc3 17.e5 fxe5 (D)
18.Qh5 Qxa1+ 19.Kg2 Qb2+ 20.Kh3 Ke7 21.Rd1 Bd7 22.Qg5+ f6 23.Qg7+ Kd8 24.Qxh8+ Kc7 25.Qxa8 exf4 26.Bxd7 1-0

Friday 7 August 2009

Smess - Almost Chess

My wife wonders why I have a book called 'The Playboy Book of Board Games". I explained to her that Playboy were the publishers, and in no way indicated the types of games in the book. In fact it is an excellent summary of a number of pre-1980 board games, and if you see a second hand copy I highly recommend it.
One game that fascinated me was "Smess - The Ninny's Chess". While similar to chess, in that has pieces, an 8 by 8 board, and the players take turns, it is significantly different in that the moves aren't defined by the pieces, but by the board. Each square has a number of arrows indicating the directions a piece is allowed to move in. The Brain and the Ninny's could move 1 square, while the NumbSkulls could move as many squares as possible (in a straight line). It was released around 1970, and must have been reasonably popular, as Leonard Barden even did some opening analysis for the game.
So for years I wondered what it would be like in practice, but assumed I was unlikely to find out. But these days you can find just about anything on eBay, and I'm now the new owner of an antique set, with a big "Toltoys" logo across the box! So I may give it workout in the next week or two and see how it compares to the real thing.

Thursday 6 August 2009

Smerdon defeats Wang

In a match between two of the young stars of Australasian chess, GM David Smerdon (Aus) and IM Puchen Wang (NZ), Smerdon emerged victorious by a score of 4-2. Smerdon won both the first and last games, with 4 draws in between. The match was held in Auckland, New Zealand, and was organised by Chess Enterprises New Zealand. Full coverage of the match (including games) can be found here.
Here is the final game of the match. After lots of manoeuvring in the French (played 3 times during the match), Wang tries a piece sacrifice which backfires as Smerdon finds a neat tactical defence.

Smerdon,David (2502) - Wang,Puchen (2465) [C05]
Australasian Match of the Decade Auckland (6), 06.08.2009

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.c3 c5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Ngf3 Be7 8.0-0 a5 9.Re1 c4 10.Bc2 b5 11.Nf1 Nb6 12.h4 h6 13.h5 b4 14.N3h2 a4 15.Qg4 Bf8 16.a3 bxc3 17.bxc3 Na5 18.f4 Nb3 19.Ra2 Kd7 20.Qf3 Ra7 21.g4 Be7 22.Nd2 Na8 23.Nb1 Nc7 24.Be3 Nb5 25.f5 Qa5 26.Bf2 Bg5 27.Rd1 Nc1 28.Rb2 Nxc3 29.Nxc3 Nd3 30.Bxd3 Qxc3 31.Rc2 Qb3 32.fxe6+ Kxe6 33.Rc3 Qb5 34.Rb1 Qa5 35.Be1 Rb7 36.Rcc1 Bd2 37.Bxd2 Qxd2 38.Bf5+ Ke7 39.Qxd5 Rd8 40.Rxb7+ Bxb7 41.Qxb7+ Kf8 42.Qb4+ 1-0

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Runner, runner

'Runner, runner' is more recognisable as a poker expression, but it does turn up in chess as well. The chess usage is to do with multiple passed pawns, often so far apart that the defending king cannot deal with both of them.
An example of this turned up in a game I was watching this evening. In the diagrammed position, White pinned his hopes on creating passed pawns on either side of the board with 1.g4. After the obvious 1. ... hxg4 2.hxg4 Ke5 he continued with 3.b4 but now Black is winning with 3. ... cxb4 4.cxb4 axb4 While White has his runners, so does Black, and it is the b pawn that gets there first. 5.a5 b3 6.a6 b2 7.a7 b1(Q) 8.a8(Q) Qe1# (although in the actual game Black played the sub-optimal 8. ... Qd3+ but still went on to win)
Of course the initial position is against White, but only because he pushed the a pawn to a4 at some point previously. If instead he had the pawn on a3, then the tables are turned, and White's idea really does work, as he still gets his runners, but Black does not!

Tuesday 4 August 2009

The Muzio

As part of my work on the Australian Correspondence Chess Quarterly (ACCQ) I often cover Thematic events run by the ICCF. For the August issue (which should be out in August), I intend to look at the Kings Gambit. While playing through the games I began to look for some wins for White in the Muzio Gambit. As I junior I quite liked this opening, but had little chance to play it, as my opponents decided that g5-g4 as Black 'looked' a little too adventurous.
Not so in the ICCF Kings Gambit Thematic, where there were plenty of Muzio's. The only trouble was that Black seemed to win most of them. However I did find a couple of White wins, one of which I include here. While it is a long game it is quite entertaining, and it is worth playing through, if only to see what seems to be a common defensive idea for Black (ie take the piece then run like hell for the queenside).

Marchisotti,D (2258) - Pintor,M (2216)
WSTT/1/06/Final - King's Gambit, C30-9 ICCF, 10.11.2008

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.0-0 gxf3 6.Qxf3 Qf6 7.d3 d6 8.Nc3 c6 9.Bxf4 Be7 10.Qe3 Qg7 11.d4 h5 12.Rae1 h4 13.Qd3 Nd7 14.h3 Nb6 15.Bb3 Qg6 16.a4 a5 17.Qf3 Bd7 18.d5 c5 19.e5 0-0-0 20.exd6 Bf6 21.Be3 Bd4 22.Ne4 Rh5 23.Bxd4 cxd4 24.Qd3 Kb8 25.Qxd4 Bxh3 26.Rf2 Nc8 27.Qc5 Rd7 28.Qxa5 Bf5 29.Nc5 Rxd6 30.Qb4 Rb6 31.Qf4+ Ka7 32.a5 Rb5 33.Qd4 Kb8 34.a6 bxa6 35.c4 Rb6 36.Bd1 Rh6 37.Rxf5 Qxf5 38.Bg4 Qc2 39.Qf4+ Nd6 40.Nd7+ Kb7 41.Nxb6 Kxb6 42.Qd4+ Kb7 43.c5 h3 44.Bxh3 Rxh3 45.gxh3 Nb5 46.Qf2 Qxf2+ 47.Kxf2 Kc7 48.h4 Kd7 49.Ra1 Nf6 50.Rxa6 Nxd5 51.h5 Ke7 52.h6 Nf6 53.b4 Nd4 54.Kg2 Nh7 55.Ra7+ Ke6 56.Rb7 Nf6 57.b5 1-0

Monday 3 August 2009

The uncastled king

To celebrate the fact that I picked up the 3 volumes of GM Efstratios Grivas's "Chess College" series for $10 each I present the first game from the book. It is in the chapter "Attacking the Uncastled King" and is introduced with the following statement.
"Generally, every attack causes a more or less serious disturbance of the equilibrium, which is very rarely restored because the attacker often chooses to burn his bridges behind him"

Grivas,Efstratios (2460) - Kjeldsen,Jens (2410) [A57]
Cannes op Cannes (7), 1995

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.Bg5 g6 5.d6 bxc4 6.Nc3 Nc6 7.Qd2 Bg7 8.e4 h6 9.Bf4 g5 10.Be3 exd6 11.Qxd6 Ng4 12.Bxc4 Nxe3 13.fxe3 Qa5 14.Nge2 Ne5 15.Bd5 Nd3+ 16.Kd2 Nxb2 17.Rhf1 Rf8 18.Rab1 Na4 19.e5 Nb6 (D)
20.Rxb6 axb6 21.Ng3 f5 22.exf6 Rxf6 23.Rxf6 Qb4 24.Nf5 Qb2+ 25.Kd1 1-0

Sunday 2 August 2009

The Steinitz Gambit

Not the opening (which I won't describe for obvious reasons), but the famous problem by Sam Lloyd. I can remember seeing this when I first became serious about chess 25 years ago, and although I knew the answer (from looking it up rather than solving it) I fed it into my first chess computer to see how it would do. It was not only unsuccessful, but at the time had me convinced that the problem was 'cooked'. Of course it isn't, but even now my copy of Fritz has to be 'shown' the key move, otherwise it only spots a mate in 4.
White to play and Mate in 3

Saturday 1 August 2009

For Queen and Country

The British Championship is underway in the seaside resort of Torquay, and despite removing the eligibility of Commonwealth players to play in the event a few years ago there are still a few foreign devils taking part. Although it is formerly English players, who having moved to sunnier climes (some temporarily), answering the call of Queen and country and returned to the motherland.
One such player is Gary Lane, who does have the excuse of having grown up in Torquay (well next door in Paington). And in todays issue of Chess Today, he is the featured game, playing a well known sacrifice in the Sicilian against Peter Wells. I'm not sure what current theory says about it all, but I do have a vague recollection of having played it myself (and winning) in a correspondence game about 20 years ago.

Lane, G v Wells, P
2009 British Championship

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Be3 Be7 8. Qe2 a6 9. O-O-O Qc7 10. Bb3 Na5 11. g4 b5 12. g5 Nxb3+ 13. axb3 Nd7 (D)
14. Nf5!
{First played by Velirimovic back in 1965} exf5 15. Nd5 Qd8 16. exf5 Bb7 (16... O-O? 17. f6 gxf6 18. Bd4 Ne5 19. gxf6 Bxf6 20. Rhg1+ +-) 17. f6 gxf6 18. Rhe1 Bxd5 19. Rxd5 Rg8 20. Bf4 Kf8 21. Bxd6 Bxd6 22. Rxd6 fxg5 23. Qd2 g4 24. f4 (24. Re5!) 24... Ra7 25. Qb4 a5 26. Rxd7+ axb4 27. Rxd8+ Kg7 28. Rd5 Ra1+ 29. Kd2 Rxe1 30. Kxe1 Re8+ 31. Kf2 Rc8 32. Rxb5 Rxc2+ 33. Kg3 Rxb2 34. Rxb4 h5 35. h3 gxh3 1/2-1/2