Wednesday 30 September 2009

George Trundle Masters

The 2009 George Trundle Masters, hosted by the Auckland Chess Club, has reached the halfway point. The leader of 5 rounds is Australian IM Stephen Solomon on 4 points, ahead of GM Darryl Johansen, GM Gawain Jones, and tournament organiser Michael Steadman, all on 3.5
Steadman proved that organising isn't always detrimental to your chess results, with an upset win over Jones in round 2.

Steadman,Mike (2252) - Jones,Gawain (2553) [E70]
George Trundle NZ Masters 2009 (2.5), 27.09.2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.Nge2 Nd7 7.Be3 e5 8.d5 Nd4 9.Nb5 Nxb5 10.cxb5 0-0 11.Ng3 h5 12.Qc2 b6 13.f3 h4 14.Ne2 Nc5 15.Bc4 f5 16.b4 Nd7 17.Bd3 Rf7 18.Rc1 Nf8 19.Qc6 Rb8 20.h3 Bf6 21.Qc2 Bg5 22.Qd2 Nh7 23.a4 Ra8 24.a5 Bd7 25.Nc3 Qf6 26.Ra1 Bf4 27.Bxf4 exf4 28.Rc1 Re8 29.Kd1 bxa5 30.bxa5 Qd4 31.Ra1 Ng5 32.Ra4 Qe5 33.exf5 Bxf5 34.Rxf4 Bxd3 35.Rxf7 Kxf7 36.Qxd3 Qf4 37.Qd2 Qb4 38.Kc2 Nh7 39.Ra1 Nf6 40.Ra4 Qc5 41.Rxh4 Re5 42.Rd4 Qa3 43.f4 Re7 44.Ra4 Qc5 45.Kb2 Qg1 46.Rc4 Qf1 47.Kb3 Qa1 48.a6 Qf1 49.Qd4 Qa1 50.g4 Nd7 51.Rxc7 Nc5+ 52.Rxc5 dxc5 53.Qxc5 Qh1 54.d6 Re1 55.Qxa7+ Kf8 56.Qb8+ Kf7 57.Qc7+ Kf8 58.a7 Re3 59.Qb8+ Kg7 60.a8Q Qb1+ 61.Kc4 Qd3+ 62.Kc5 Qxc3+ 63.Kb6 Qd4+ 64.Kc7 Qc4+ 65.Qc6 Qxf4 66.Qd7+ Kh6 67.Qh8+ Black resigns 1-0

Coverage of the event can be found at the New Zealand Chess website.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

The Semi-Slav for the totally clueless

The title of this blog post is the title of an opening book I would be well qualified to write. Having decided to broaden my opening repertoire in the lead up to last years Olympiad, I thought the dynamism of the Semi-Slav would suit my style. However failing to learn the ins and outs of the sharpest lines meant that my results have been pretty poor. It turns out I know just enough theory to get to a position where the wrong move, which I invariably choose, causes the maximum damage to my position.
My game against Kerry Stead, from the SI International, was the latest example of this problem. I knew that 10. ... Nbd7 was theory in the position, but thought that 10. ... Be7 was also playable. It resulted in an unhappy position for me, saved only by the fact that Kerry didn't finish me off when he had the chance. It turned out that the position was such that I was able to generate some counterplay, to the point where I was actually ahead material. But given my position in the tournament I was happy to to agree to a draw, rather than play it out (and cause Kerry to miss his flight back to Australia!)

Stead,K (2087) - Press,S (2076) [A00]
Solomon Islands International Honiara, Solomon Islands (8.1), 28.09.2009

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 c6 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 b5 7.e5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Nxg5 hxg5 10.Bxg5 Be7 11.exf6 Bxf6 12.Bxf6 Qxf6 13.g3 Bb7 14.Bg2 Qe7 15.0-0 b4 16.Ne4 Nd7 17.Rc1 Nb6 18.Qf3 Nd5 19.Nc5 c3 20.bxc3 bxc3 21.Rb1 Bc8 22.Qd1 Qc7 23.Qa4 Kf8 24.Rfc1 Rb8 25.Nd3 Rxb1 26.Rxb1 Kg7 27.Ne5 Bd7 28.Qc4 Rd8 29.Bxd5 exd5 30.Qxc3 f6 31.Nf3 Re8 32.Re1 Rxe1+ 33.Qxe1 Qd6 34.Kg2 c5 35.Qa5 c4 36.Qxa7 Qe6 37.Qc7 Kf8 38.Qf4 c3 39.Qc1 Qc6 40.Ng1 Qc4 41.Qe3 Bb5 (D)
42.Ne2 Qxe2 43.Qxc3 Qe4+ 44.f3 Qe2+ 45.Kh3 Bd7+ 46.g4 Qf1+ 47.Kg3 Qg1+ 48.Kf4 Qxh2+ 49.Ke3 Qg1+ ½-½

Monday 28 September 2009

Solomons Islands International - Day 5

The final two rounds of the 2009 Solomon Island International were played today, and I managed to hang on to my lead to win the tournament on 7.5/9. It was a close run as I managed to play a dodgy opening against Kerry Stead and was worse for most of the game. However I managed to generate some counterplay and was even material ahead when we agreed to a draw. The in the final round I played the top Solomon Islands player Fernando Aguilar, and another draw was enough for outright first.
Brian Jones finished on 7/9 to take second, while Lee Jones, Kerry Stead and Fernando Aguilar all scored 6/9. They were followd by Brandon Tangaibasa on 5/9, Scarden Tesua 2.5, Price Tepuke and Takika Tuata on 2, with Budds Maruia on 1.
The good news is that all the Solomon players will get FIDE ratings from this event (which was tha main aim of the tournament), with Brandon and Fernando likely to be rated above 1900 on the next list.

Sunday 27 September 2009

Solomons Islands International - Day 4

With 2 rounds to go in the 2009 Solomon Islands International I have managed to jump out to a full point lead (6.5/7). I was helped by Brandon Tangaibasa who defeated former joint leader Fernando Aguilar in round 7. Despite the loss Aguilar is still in second on 5.5/7. Kerry Stead is also on 5.5, but has played an extra game, due to an early return to Australia.
Today saw a couple of crucial games in terms of tournament standings, with Lee Jones beating Kerry Stead, before losing to me an a quick game where he missed some tactics.
Tomorrow sees me play the next two players in the standings, Stead and Aguilar, while Aguilar also has to play Lee Jones. The tournament should be decided by the results of these games.

Jones,L (2117) - Press,S (2076) [D45]
Solomons Island International Honiara, Solomon Islands (7.5), 27.09.2009

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 c6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 a6 7.b3 Bb4 8.a3 Ba5 9.Bd3 dxc4 10.bxc4 c5 11.0-0 0-0 12.Rb1 Bxc3 13.Qxc3 b6 14.Qc2 Bb7 15.Qe2 Ne4 16.Bb2 Qc7 17.Rfd1 Ndf6 18.Ba1 Ng4 19.Rf1 Nc3 20.Bxh7+ Kh8 21.Qb2 Bxf3 0-1

Saturday 26 September 2009

Solomons Islands International - Day 3

After 5 rounds of the 2009 SOlomon Islands International, local player Fernando Aguilar is the sole leader on 5/5. In second place is myself on 4.5/5 followed by Brian Jones, Kerry Stead and Lee Jones on 3.5.
The big result for the local team was in Round 5, with Brandon Tangaibasa defeating FM Lee Jones in a 72 move game. Lee made it hard for himself by dropping a cold piece early one, but set enough problems to win it back. He then got tangled up in the ending and Brandon played good technical chess to bring home the point.
That result is the second win by a Solomon Island player over one of the visitors. The first was by Fernando Aguilar against Kerry Stead.

Aguilar,F - Stead,K (2087) [E10]
Solomons Island International Honiara, Solomon Islands (1.1), 24.09.2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5 3.d5 e6 4.c4 b5 5.Nc3 b4 6.Na4 d6 7.Bg5 Nbd7 8.b3 h6 9.Bh4 g5 10.Bg3 exd5 11.cxd5 Bb7 12.e3 Bxd5 13.Nd2 Qe7 14.Nb2 Nb6 15.Nbc4 Rd8 16.Nxb6 axb6 17.Bb5+ Nd7 18.0-0 Bg7 19.Rc1 0-0 20.Re1 Ne5 21.f4 Ng6 22.f5 Ne5 23.e4 Bc6 24.Bxe5 Bxb5 25.Bxg7 Kxg7 26.Qf3 Rfe8 27.Re3 Ra8 28.Nc4 Bxc4 29.bxc4 Rxa2 30.Rf1 f6 31.h4 Rc2 32.hxg5 hxg5 33.Qg4 Rxc4 34.Rh3 Rh8 35.Rxh8 Kxh8 36.Qh5+ Qh7 37.Qe8+ Kg7 38.Ra1 Kh6 39.Ra7 Rc1+ 40.Kh2 Rc3 41.Qf8+ 1-0

Friday 25 September 2009

Solomons Islands International - Day 2

Rounds 2&3 of the 2009 Solomons Island International were played today. Due to the drawing of lots, most of the matches so far have been between local players and the visitors. Having played 3 SI players each, Lee Jones and I share the lead with 3/3, along with local player Fernando Aguilar. Kerry Stead has made a recovery from yesterdays start with a draw in Round 2 against FM Brian Jones, followed by a win in the third round against Scarden Teusa.
The last few Round 3 games were rather tricky, when a city wide blackout left the players completing their moves by torchlight. This resulted in Brian Jones checkmating his opponent, but failing to realise it as he overlooked his bishop operating along the dark squares!

Press,S (2075) - Tepuke,P [B00]
Solomons Island International Honiara, Solomon Islands (2.4), 25.09.2009

1.e4 Nc6 2.d4 e6 3.Nf3 h6 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.e5 Nh7 6.h4 a6 7.a3 b6 8.Bd3 g6 9.g4 Bb7 10.Be3 d6 11.Rh3 Bg7 12.Qe2 Qe7 13.exd6 Qxd6 14.Ne4 Qe7 15.g5 h5 16.c3 0-0 17.Ng3 f5 18.gxf6 Qxf6 19.Ng5 Nxg5 20.hxg5 Qf7 21.Nxh5 Ne7 22.Nxg7 Kxg7 23.d5 e5 24.Bd4 Rg8 (D)
25.Rh7+ Kxh7 26.Qh5+ Kg7 27.Qh6# 1-0

Thursday 24 September 2009

Solomons Islands International - Day 1

The 2009 Solomon Islands International started this afternoon, with everyone making it to the venue except for one crucial person. Tournament organiser Gary Bekker missed his early morning flight from Melbourne to Brisbane, meaning he then missed the connection to Honiara. He hopes to catch another flight tomorrow and make it time for the start of round 3.
The rest of us received a fantastic welcome at the tournament venue, the Red Mansion Comfort Inn. There was a brief opening ceremony, followed by the drawing of lots and then round 1. This evening there will be an official welcome, with a number of local dignitaries in attendance.
The tournament itself consists of 4 overseas FIDE rated players, and 6 local players. The first round saw the visitors up against the local players with the Shaun Press, Lee Jones and Brian Jones all recording wins. The unlucky visitor was Kerry Stead who lost to the SI Zonal representative Fernando Aguilar. However Kerry did have a small excuse in that he was up until 3am last night winning a Poker tournament at the Sydney Casino.
Here is my first round game, which resulted in a quick win after my opponent allowed a killing check with my queen.

Teusa,S - Press,S (2075) [A00]
Solomons Island International Honiara, Solomon Islands (1.2), 24.09.2009

1.a3 e5 2.e4 Nf6 3.Nc3 d5 4.exd5 Nxd5 5.Nxd5 Qxd5 6.c3 Nc6 7.d3 Bf5 8.Be3 0-0-0 9.c4 Qd7 10.b4 Bxd3 11.Bxd3 Qxd3 12.b5 Qc3+ 13.Bd2 Rxd2 14.Qxd2 Qxa1+ 15.Ke2 Nd4+ 16.Ke3 Qxa3+ 17.Ke4 f5+ 18.Kxe5 Qd6# 0-1

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Travelling to the Solomons

Off the the Solomon Islands at 6:30 am tomorrow. Usual caveats apply. If I get internet access I will try and blog every day, if not, you know why.
One important note for chess players here in Canberra. My overseas trip means that I will be missing the Lifeline Bookfair this weekend. So take the opportunity to stoke up on the chess books that I would normally add to my own library!

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Don't waste time in the French

For any long term readers if this blog, my views on the French Defence are pretty clear. "Bring it on" is what I say, as time and again, Black seems to sit back and get crushed by White.
Now I know this is a gross simplification of reality, and the French is quite a viable defence in the hands of an expert, but at the club/weekender level, my experience is that White has an easier time of it.
Here is a further data point to support my thesis. It comes from last weeks Blayney Open, and my opponent committed a number of sins in the opening, including moving the same piece twice (twice!), removing the tension from the centre, and surrendering the two bishops without compensation. After that I just aimed up on the kingside and went to work.

Press,S - Aich,A [C02]
Blayney Open, 12.09.2009

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Ne7 5.Nf3 Ng6 6.Bd3 Be7 7.g3 cxd4 8.cxd4 Bb4+ 9.Nc3 Bxc3+ 10.bxc3 Nd7 11.h4 b6 12.Ng5 Ngf8 13.Ba3 h6 14.Nh3 Bb7 15.Qg4 g6 16.Nf4 Rg8 17.Bd6 f5 18.Qe2 Rc8 19.Rc1 Kf7 20.g4 Kg7 21.gxf5 gxf5 22.Kd2 Qe8 23.Rcg1+ Kh7 24.Rxg8 Kxg8 25.Rg1+ Kh7 26.Qf3 Qf7 27.Qg3 Rc6 (D)
28.Nxe6 Nxe6 29.Bxf5+ Kh8 30.Bxe6 Qh7 31.Bxd7 Rxd6 1-0

Monday 21 September 2009

The first computer game?

Before there were chess computers, there were chess 'Automatons'. These supposedly were machines that could play chess, although these days we know that they had a human operator hidden inside. The most famous of these was "The Turk" but others like "Mephisto" were also exhibited across Europe and North America.
Such were their popularity that there even books of their games were published. If you click on this link you will find such a book from 1820! The notation used is quite fascinating as it is a hybrid of English Descriptive and what I would term 'motion descriptive' (ie pawn moves are described by the number of squares the pawn moves forward). Also the gender of the squares are female, which I guess was the fashion of the time.
The game I've chosen is the first in the book. Black gave the odds of pawn (KBP) and move, but White was doing OK until the last move where they simply dropped a piece.

Mr C***E v Automaton
London, 1820

1.e4 e6 2.d4 c6 3.f4 d5 4.e5 c5 5.c3 Nc6 6.Bb5 Qb6 7.Bxc6+ bxc6 8.Nf3 Ba6 9.Kf2 cxd4 10.Nxd4 c5 11.Nf3 Nh6 12.h3 Be7 13.g4 0-0 14.Qb3 Qc6 15.Kg3 Rae8 16.Qd1 Nf7 17.h4 Bd8 18.Qc2 Bb7 19.Ng5 Bxg5 20.hxg5 g6 21.Qh2 h6 22.gxh6 Kh7 23.Qg2 Qc7 24.Qe2 d4 25.Rf1 Qc6 26.cxd4 cxd4 27.Rf2 Qxc1 0-1

Sunday 20 September 2009

Karpov v Kasparov Match

The Karpov v Kasparov match begins in Valencia, Spain, tomorrow. Well, the opening ceremony is tomorrow, with the match itself starting on Tuesday night (Canberra time). The website for the match is
As this is an exhibition match there is nothing at stake except pride (and money), and I'm not sure how serious the match is, given the decline in Karpov's results over the last 5 years, and Kasparov's inactivity. However I did have similar thoughts about the KvK X3D Match in New York in 2002, where I assumed that Kasparov would just crush Karpov. Instead Kasparov "blew up" in game 2, then lost game 3 as well and lost the match 2.5-1.5.
But having said that I will put my money on a Kasparov victory this time around.

Saturday 19 September 2009

Games that astonish me

Sometimes I come across a game that I find quite astonishing. Not because of the strength of the moves or the beauty of the play, but more in the "How the hell did that happen?" kind of way. Yesterday in the InventiChess tournament in Antwerp, Etienne Bacrot crushed Gabriel Sargissian in 18 moves. Surprising enough, but he did it with the Four Knights Opening! Now I understand that in the hands of the modern GM any opening can be dangerous, but c'mon, the Four Knights?
Anyway, here is the game in all its brief glory.

Bacrot,Etienne - Sargissian,Gabriel [C48]
InventiChess 2009 Antwerp, BEL (1.4), 18.09.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Nd4 5.Bc4 Nxf3+ 6.gxf3 Bc5 7.Rg1 Nh5 8.d4 Bxd4 9.Ne2 d5 10.Bxd5 c6 11.Nxd4 cxd5 12.Rg5 exd4 13.Rxd5 Qb6 14.Rxh5 Be6 15.b3 0-0 16.Bb2 g6 (D)
17.Bxd4 Qc7 18.Bf6 1-0

Capturing the rook leads to mate after Qd2, while other attempts to stop the White queen getting to h6 lead to ruinous material loss.

Friday 18 September 2009

Playing on the big board

The giant chess set as a tourist attraction is quite a common site these days. Sydney's Hyde Park Chess Set has long been a gathering place for lunchtime chess players and many other cities around the world have similar places.
Even Canberra has had a giant chess board for a number of years, but it has been rarely used. Unlike Hyde Park, where the park rangers are responsible for the set, the Canberra board requires members of the chess community to supervise the equipment. This is due to the fact that a number of years ago the (unsupervised) set proved too much of a temptation for a group of passers by, and a pair of knights disappeared. (I suspect they are being used as garden ornaments somewhere in the Canberra 'burbs).
But finally the use of the giant set in Canberra City is coming back, albeit on a limited basis. Each Friday lunchtime will see the pieces brought out for use by anyone who dares. There was a trial run today, and it was both popular, and informative. For if you are using big chess pieces in public there are a few things likely to happen

  • Lots of people are happy to watch, but few are willing to play
  • One common excuse for not playing is 'I don't have the time'
  • The person giving that excuse will however stay watching until the end of the next game
  • There will always be someone walking by who is happy to shout out advice
  • The most popular (shouted) advice is either "Pawn to E 4" or "Checkmate"
  • You will always find one spectator whose Uncle is either a "Master" or a former "State Champion"
  • The spectators who say the least are the ones who can really play chess
  • And finally, there will always be a 4 year old child who will crash tackle one of the pieces

Thursday 17 September 2009

From the way back machine

Australian chess historian Paul Dunn sent me the following game from 1899. It was played between WS Viner and George Foster in the 1899 School of Art Chess Championship. WS Viner was also the father of Phil Viner, who is still the chess columnist for The Australian, 110 years after this game was played.
I've left the commentary from Julius Jacobsen in the notes. Jacobsen was the chess columnist for the Daily Telegraph, where this game first appeared. Despite the glowing praise Jacobsen gives to Viner's play, the sacrifice on move 5 is unsound, and Foster's real mistake came as late as move 16. Up until then he was either better or equal.

Viner,William Samuel - Foster,George H [B00]
School of Arts CC Sydney, 1899
[Jacobsen, Julius]

1.f4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d6 3.e4 Bg4 4.Bc4 Nd4 This sort of attack depended upon the adverse KKt being pinned usually turns out badly; ... e5 was better play. 5.Bxf7+ A fine conception. It is, of course, obvious that White can win a pawn, but then is threatened with loss of rook and pawn immediately afterwards, and before making the text move, he must have fathomed the position. 5...Kxf7 6.Ng5+ Ke8 7.Qxg4 Nxc2+ 8.Kd1 Nf6 9.Qe6 Nxa1 He should have left the rook, and have rather played ... Nd4. 10.e5 dxe5 11.Qf7+! Kd7 12.fxe5 h6 13.Qe6+! Ke8 14.exf6 gxf6 14... Qd3 was stronger, although in that case White could have continued with 15.Qe3, eventually remaining with a piece to the good. 15.Qf7+ Kd7 16.Ne6! The average player would here have been content to win with a clear rook by 16.Qe6+ followed by 17.Nf7, but Mr Viner proceeds in more masterly manner. 16...Qe8 17.Nc5+ Kc6 If 17... Kd8, White mates in three moves. 18.Qe6+ Kxc5 19.d4+ Kb5 20.Na3+ Ka4 White announced mate in four. An elegant termination. 1-0

Wednesday 16 September 2009


The satirical chess magazine Kingpin is always a good read, if I could ever find out when the next issue is appearing. According to those in the know, the magazine usually appeared "when the editor felt like it". Fortunately Kingpin now has a web presence
If you have ever read Kingpin it is worth visiting the website to catch up with old articles. If you have never read it before you may instead be confused, as the articles (drawn from back issues) are not dated, and seeing an article titled "Has Karpov lost his marbles" by Tony Miles came as a bit of a shock (if only because Miles passed away in 2001).
I'm not sure how complete a record of the magazine the website intends to be (and clicking on the archive link throws up a 404 error) but as a sampler of what is a very clever magazine, it is well worth a visit.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

2009 ICCF Congress

The 2009 International Correspondence Chess Federation Congress is currently being held in Leeds, UK. From an Australian point of view there were two awards of note. Firstly Shane Dibley is now a CC International Master, while Correspondence Chess League of Australia President Tim Runting has been awarded a Bertl von Massow Medal (Silver) for services to the International Correspondence Chess Community.
As part of the social side of the congress a match was organised between the congress delegates and a team representing Yorkshire. The Yorkshire team (organised by PNG Olympiad rep Rupert Jones) triumphed 14-7, although they did have the advantage in that the match was played OTB (over the board).

Monday 14 September 2009

Lost in a maze of confusion

I reached the diagrammed position in my final round game from Blayney on the weekend. A win would have given me outright second, although I was still trying to overcome the pressure of playing the tournaments top seed with Black. As it turned out, if I had spent more time thinking about the game, rather than my circumstances, I might have been able to seize the opportunity to win when it was presented to me.
Black to play and gain a decisive advantage. (and a bonus 10 points if you can identify the opening of the game)

I, of course, missed the best move and the game instead ended 16. ... Qb6 17.Bf2 axb2 18.Qxb2 Rd8 19.Nxc4! dxc4 20.d5 Nbd4? 21.Qxb6 Nxf3+ 22.gxf3 axb6 23.Rxa8 exd5 24.Bxb6 Bxh3 25. Bxd8 Nxd8 26.Rd1 1-0

Sunday 13 September 2009

It's like deja vu all over again

Just arrived back from Blayney, having taken a somewhat circuitous route caused by an accident closing the most direct route back to Canberra. To put into perspective it took me 2 hours 20 minutes to drive up yesterday morning, and 4 hours to drive back this evening.
As for my tournament it turned out to be almost identical to last year. Once again I reached 4/4, and then proceeded to lose my last two games. Although I didn't lose my 5th round game as quickly as last year, I did manage to lose it almost as stupidly. In a drawn ending with co-leader Emma Guo I played a one move blunder, which dropped me a pawn and the game. Aided by this good fortune Emma went on to win the tournament with 5.5/6 after her last round opponent agreed to a quick draw.
To punish me for my stupidity, I was paired against FM Vladmir Smirnov in the final round (he was an upfloat!). I guess if I had to lose a final round game I prefer it to be against a 2300 (rather than a 1700), but by stalling on 4/6 I allowed 7(!) other players to overtake me in the final standings.
Here is the final game of my winning streak, against Romeo Capilitan, who was one of the players to tie for second.

Press,Shaun - Capilitan,Romeo [E11]
Blayney Open, 13.09.2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 Qe7 5.Nc3 0-0 6.a3 Bxc3 7.Bxc3 b6 8.g3 Bb7 9.Bg2 d6N10.0-0 Nbd7 11.Nd2 Bxg2 12.Kxg2 e5 13.e3 Rfe8 14.Re1 c5 15.d5 Nf8 16.e4 Ng6 17.Nf1 Qd7 18.f3 b5 19.Ne3 Rab8 20.b4 Rec8 21.Qe2 h5 22.bxc5 Rxc5 23.Bb4 Rc7 24.cxb5 Rxb5 25.Bxd6 Rcb7 26.Bb4 a5 27.Bd2 h4 28.Rec1 Nh5 29.Nf5 Rb2 30.Qd1 Ngf4+ 31.gxf4 Nxf4+ 32.Kg1 Nh3+ 33.Kg2 Nf4+ 34.Kg1 g6 35.Bxf4 exf4 (D)
36.Nh6+ Kh7 37.Ng4 Qb5 38.Rc2 h3 39.Rac1 Qb6+ 40.Kh1 f5 41.exf5 gxf5 42.Rc6 Qa7 43.Qd3 Rf7 44.Rh6+ Kg8 45.Rc8+ Rf8 46.Rxf8+ Kxf8 47.Qxf5+ Qf7 48.Rf6 1-0

Saturday 12 September 2009

Travelling to Blayney

I'm about to head off the the Blayney weekender. I probably won't be able to cover the event until I return tomorrow night, as I will almost be without net access (if last year is any guide). Hopefully I can improve on last years effort, where I started with 4/4 before collapsing in the last 2 rounds.

Friday 11 September 2009

Australian Simul Records

As part of a charity event for Banardos Australia, there is a 'sleeping rough' event being held at Albert Hall in Canberra. One of the participants is GM David Smerdon, and as part of activities, David is planning to give a simul for the participants. But given that they will be there all night, he is planning to give one long continuous simul, until he runs out of energy, or opponents.
While I was dropping off the equipment for the simul, he asked me whether I knew the Australian record for most games played in a single sitting. I confessed I had no idea. He told me that IM Robert Jamieson played a 125 board simul a number of years back, but that was single simul.
So does anyone know what the record is? Certainly David is aiming for more than 125 games, and when I get back from playing chess in Blayney this weekend, I'll post the final total here.

**Follow Up ** David played 156 games over 5 and half hours. He won the first 155 and drew the last one! In the absence of any rival claims this can now be considered the Australian record for this style of event. Further info at

Thursday 10 September 2009

Vaughan retains "World Championship" Title

The big "World Championship" match that I previously reported on has ended before it had even started. Current title holder Stan Vaughan has retained the title by default after challenger Varuzhan Akobian was unable to take part in the match due to contractual arrangements with FIDE. (Interestingly Akobian's own website makes no mention of the match, or his withdrawal from it)
Personally I think this is a real shame, as the chess world might have enjoyed a world championship match to rival Lasker v Marshall or Lasker v Janowski. And I am sure that there are still plenty of potential challengers who aren't contracted to FIDE who would be willing to play for $6M. Jose Escribano (who narrowly missed on on qualifying for the FIDE World Championship several years ago) is one player who springs to mind.

Wednesday 9 September 2009


I've been neglecting big overseas news recently,but the Bilbao tournament is certainly worth highlighting. Although it is being contested between 4 of the worlds top players (Aronian, Shirov, Karjakin and Grischuk), it has a couple of unusual tournament conditions.
The Sofia Rules for draw offers is once again in operation. The scores follow the 'football' system, with 3 points for a win and 1 for a draw. And the time control is slightly unusual, with 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, with an additional 60 minutes plus a 10 second increment for the rest of the moves. Australian players would probably do well under this time control as 60m+10s per move has been the staple of weekend chess here for years.
At the end of the third round Grischuk and Aronian share the lead with 6, Karjakin on 4 and Shirov on 1. Comprehensive coverage can be found at the official website.

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Australian Championships

For the third year in succession the Australian Chess Federations premier event for the year will be held in Sydney. The 2010 Australian Championship will be held at the North Sydney Leagues Club.
Details for the Australian Championships are now available from the tournament website. Already a number of top Australian players have entered, including GM Zong Yuan Zhao, GM David Smerdon and GM David Smerdon GM Daryl Johansen.
In other ACF news, Ian Rout has taken over as editor of the ACF (email) Newsletter. The first issue cam out today and contains both a comprehensive coverage of recent Australian events, and a rather interesting Letters section. You can subscribe to the newsletter from the ACF Home Page.

(**Edit: The organisers have announced that GM David Smerdon will not be playing in the championship. Fellow blogger TheClosetGrandmaster is trying to get an explanation from them over this **)
(**Second Edit: All the names listed above (and crossed out) have now been removed from the players page on the tournament website **)

Monday 7 September 2009


One of the 'stock' tactical tricks I learnt when I first started studying chess was how to sneak the queen into g6. Normally this depended upon White having a bishop pinning the f pawn (otherwise fxg6 is embarrassing) as well as a knight on g5 to support the mate threat on h7. I'm not sure I've ever played it in a long time control game, but I've certainly used it in the odd blitz game or two.
Here is a text book example of the tactical idea in practice from a recent European open.

Grigoriants,S RUS (2564) - Mestre Bellido,H (2292) [C78]
XI Sants Open Barcelona ESP (5), 25.08.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.c3 0-0 8.d4 Bb6 9.dxe5 Nxe4 10.Bd5 Nc5 11.Nbd2 Bb7 12.Ne4 Ne6 13.Bg5 Nxg5 14.Nfxg5 h6 15.Qh5 Qe7 (D)
16.Qg6 1-0

Sunday 6 September 2009

First as a study, then in real life

Earlier this year I used a problem to demonstrate that computers were 'inaccurate'. It turns out my conclusions were incorrect, based on the problem being unsound. (Click here and here for the details).
I've now discovered that Peter Svidler actually reached a position with similar characteristics, and was also able to construct a win where others may have given up. In the book "Devious Chess" by Amatzia Avni he gives a position from Dvoiris - Svidler, 1997, which is shown here. The king is trapped by the bishop and pawn (as in the linked articles) so Svidler needs to rely on Zugzwang to lift the blockade. He actually does this with relative ease after
50.c3 Qe2 51.Bc4 Qd1+ 52.Kb2 Qd2+ 53.Kb3 Qc1 54.Bf7 Qb1+ 55.Kc4 Qc2 56.Kd4 Qe2! 57.c4 Qb2+ 58.Kc5 Qa3! 59.Kb6 Qxb4+ 60.Kxa6 Qc5 61.Kb7 Qd6 62.Kc8 Qe7 0-1

However Avni may not have been aware of the original study as he includes the game in a chapter headed 'Virgin Soil' and about the above positions says 'A position not to be found in textbooks'

Saturday 5 September 2009

Never give up hope

The following position occurred towards the end of a skittles game I played today. As with most of my skittles games, I don't always look too hard for wins and finding a clever draw is often enough reward for me. As it turned out, in looking for a draw I passed up an earlier win (although I confess I didn't realise it at the time).
I had just checked on a1 and after 1. Kg2 I played 1. ... Qf3+ "Ah, so now you have a draw" said my opponent, in a "You are so lucky" kind of voice. "Maybe" I said as the game continued with 2.Kh3 Qg4+ 3.Kg2 "But what happens when I move my bishop" I asked as I played 3. ... Ba6 After a bit of fumbling my opponent went to play h3, but I pointed out the mate to him. "Well" he said in a resigned voice, "I could always capture on g7". At this point I smiled and said "Of course! And after 4.Rxg7+ Qxg7 5.Qxg7+ Kxg7 you have 6.Be5+ picking up the rook on a1, and although I have an extra pawn, everyone knows that bishop of opposite colour endings are always drawn"

Friday 4 September 2009


Vladislav Tkachiev has got himself into trouble once more, this time for being too drunk to continue a game. This incident occurred at the Kolkata Open and is already making the rounds of the world's media. One story is here, and you can get more stories by searching google news.
This isn't the first time Tkachiev has got into trouble at a chess tournament, as he was a no show for the final round of the chess olympiad last year, an incident I briefly mentioned in this post. It should be noted in that case it wasn't simply a case of Tkachiev falling foul of the 0 minutes default time, but something more involved.
His reason for not turning up was told to me as a fantastic second hand story. And it is a story I have repeated in conversation a number of times since. But it won't appear on this blog, simply because it is a second hand story. I could always couch it in terms of 'it was rumoured that ...' or 'sources said ...' but I'd rather report first hand (or from ironclad sources).
There is no requirement to blog something, 'just because we know about it', as freedom to speak is also freedom not to speak. Of course there may be a responsibility to speak up, but I hope that choice is still left to the individual.

Thursday 3 September 2009

Lenin v Hitler

The Daily Telegraph (the English one and not the Australian home for journamalists) has a fantastic story concerning a sketch of a chess game played between a young Adolf Hitler and Lenin. The sketch was made in 1909 and was a drawing of the supposed real life encounter. The link to the story is here.
What surprises me most about this story is that is dated 3rd September and not the 1st of April. I for one would be totally flabbergasted if the sketch turns out to be authentic.

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Not so drawish

At the top level the Petroff is considered a tough nut to crack, although that may have more to do with the players who play it as Black (eg Kramnik) than the merits of the opening. Nonetheless there is a degree of truth to the notion that the Petroff involves swapping off the major pieces on the e file and then heading to the bar for a drink.
However at the current Montreal Open, GM Mark Bluvshtein discovered that White can still whip up quite an attack, even with most of the pieces gone. After Black's novelty on move 16, White chose a few direct mate threats to reposition his pieces, before creating a few weaknesses in Black's position. Even with queens gone White maintained the initiative, and when Black blundered on move 20, control of the e file proved decisive.

Naiditsch,Arkadij (2697) - Bluvshtein,Mark (2558) [C42]
10th Montreal International Tournament Montreal (2), 28.08.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Bd6 7.0-0 0-0 8.c4 c6 9.Re1 Bf5 10.cxd5 cxd5 11.Nc3 Nxc3 12.bxc3 Bxd3 13.Qxd3 Nc6N (D)
14.Ng5 g6 15.Qh3 h5 16.g4 Qd7 17.gxh5 Qxh3 18.Nxh3 gxh5 19.Rb1 b6 20.Kh1 f6? 21.Re6 Rad8 22.Bf4 Bxf4 23.Nxf4 Na5 24.Re7 1-0

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Blundering in time trouble

Getting into time trouble increases our chance of blundering. But when our opponents are in time trouble, our chances of blundering often increase as well. Or as Bill Hartston says "It is easy to blunder when your opponent is short of time"
Here is an example from a recent game I witnessed. (NB I have reconstructed the position from memory, so it may not be exact). White was down to his last 12 seconds (with a 10s per move increment) and had been in this state for a few moves at least. Black on the other hand had about 10 minutes on the clock. White had just moved and Black reply was almost instantaneous. He played Ra2, which for a moment looked like an OK move. But Whites instantaneous reply of Qxa2 exposed its main weakness, with Rxa2 being met by a back rank mate.
The lesson here is that when your opponent is short of time, you don't go there yourself. Why level the playing field when you don't have to.