Monday 30 November 2009

Smoking - bad for your chess

If you haven't already caught this, Chinese players Wang Yue and Li Chao were eliminated from the 2009 FIDE World Cup after turning up late for their playoff games in the third round. The reason for the lateness was that they were outside the playing hall having a smoke. Alerted that their games were about to start, both players rushed inside, but it was too late, and the games were declared loss.
The most astonishing thing about this (apart from the obvious problems with 0 minute forfeit times) was that Li Chao didn't even smoke before the tournament, and only took it up to join Wang Yue's 'smoking group'.
Chessvibes have coverage and comment here, while there is an interview with the 2 players here.

Sunday 29 November 2009

Ikeda wins 2009 Vikings Weekender

Former Australian Junior Champion Junta Ikeda successfully defended his Vikings Weekender title, winning the 2009 event with a perfect 6/6. The two crucial games were is win in round 5 over second seed FM Endre Ambrus, and final round win over 3rd seed Andrew Brown. In both games Ikeda was often below 10 seconds on the clock (the time limit was 60m+10 sec increment), but managed to not only hold poor positions, but convert them into wins.
Second place was shared between Ambrus, and weekend circuit regular Trent Parker. Both finished on 5/6 with Parker defeating the higher rated Milan Grcic in the final round to grab $250 in prize money.
Full tournament results can be found here.

Ikeda,Junta - Brown,Andrew
Vikings Weekender 2009 Vikings (6), 29.11.2009

1.Nf3 c5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Bg2 e5 4.c4 g6 5.d3 Bg7 6.a3 Nge7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Nc3 d5 9.cxd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxc3 11.Nxc6 Nxd1 12.Nxd8 Nxb2 13.Bxb2 Bxb2 14.Ra2 Rxd8 15.Rxb2 Rb8 16.Rfb1 b6 17.a4 Bd7 18.a5 b5 19.Rc1 Rdc8 20.a6 Rb6 21.Kf1 Kf8 22.Ke1 Ke7 23.Bb7 Rc7 24.Rbc2 b4 25.Kd2 Be6 26.Ra1 b3 27.Rb2 c4 28.Rc1 Kd6 29.Rc3 Kc5 30.e3 Rd7 31.Bc8 Rxd3+ 32.Rxd3 Bxc8 33.Rd8 Bf5 34.Kc3 Rxa6 35.Rd1 Bc2 36.Rd8 Rc6 37.e4 Bxe4 38.Re2 f5 39.f3 Bxf3 40.Re5+ Kb6 41.Rd4 a6 42.Re3 b2 43.Kxb2 Kc5 44.Kc3 Be4 45.Rxc4+ Kb5 46.Rxc6 Kxc6 47.Kd4 a5 48.g4 Kb5 49.Kc3 h6 50.h4 Kc5 51.Re1 a4 52.h5 gxh5 53.gxf5 Bd5 54.f6 Kd6 55.Rd1 h4 56.Rxd5+ Ke6 57.Rh5 Kxf6 58.Rxh4 Kg5 59.Rxa4 h5 60.Kd3 h4 61.Ke3 h3 62.Kf3 1-0

Saturday 28 November 2009

2009 Vikings Weekender - Day 1

The 2009 Vikings Weekender has got off to a good start, with a field of 57 players fronting up. It is a little weaker than last year but the field once again contains the usual mix of under-rated juniors, veteran Canberra players, and a small group of interstate visitors.
As the tournament is one big swiss (rather than broken into sections) the day ended with 6 players on perfect scores. Junta Ikeda, Andre Ambrus, Allan Setiabudi, Arthur Huynh, Ian Rout and Andrey Bliznyuk all scored 3 wins. Given the number of players at the top it may not be until the final round that a clear leader will emerge.
One player who is hoping that the leaders knock themselves out is 3rd seed Andrew Brown, who drew with Nick Beare in the 1st round. Brown had R+N v R+B+P but the confined nature of Beare's king meant there were a few tricks to watch out for. And while Brown tried most of them, when it became clear that the only one left was to hope for a win on time, Brown instead offered a draw, which Beare happily accepted.
Full results for Day 1 of the tournament can be found at Ian Rout's website.

Friday 27 November 2009

March of the Dignified Pieces

While "March of the Dignified Pieces" sounds like something by Saint-Saens, it is instead the description of the diagram to the right. It comes from the 1823 book "Practical Chess Grammar: or, An Introduction to the Royal Game of Chess: In a series of plates."
I'm still trying to work out what the instructive value of this diagram actually is, but to me it is still visually appealing, although only in the same way that a map of the London Underground is. (Click on the diagram for a clearer view)

Thursday 26 November 2009

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Why don't you resign?

There is a famous story attributed to Korchnoi concerning an Olympiad game. Playing a weak opponent he is soon up a piece. The game progresses and soon he has won another piece. Suddenly he says to his opponent "Do you speak English?" "Yes" says his opponent. "Then why don't you resign?" growls Korchnoi.
While I'm not sure how true the story is, it is always tempting to demand that of an opponent, especially when you are clearly winning. However on some opponents such a comment would be clearly wasted, as they clearly believe that "no one ever won a game by resigning"
One player who this applies to is English IM Michael Basman. David Levy gives a selection of Basman "swindles" in his book "Play Chess Combinations and Sacrifices", swindles that generally kick off long after 'decent' players would have stopped the clocks. However one swindle he declined to publish was a particularly painful loss he had to Basman, where Basman sacrificed a queen in an inferior position. The sac wasn't that helpful, as Levy's advantage actually increased but eventually the succession of short term threats all got to much for Levy who blundered and lost, 18 moves later!

Levy - Basman,Michael J [B03]
Glasgow Glasgow, 1968

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.f4 Bf5 6.Be3 e6 7.Nc3 g5 8.fxg5 dxe5 9.dxe5 Nc6 10.Nf3 Nb4 11.Nd4 Be7 12.a3 (D)
12. ... Qxd4 13.Bxd4 Nc2+ 14.Kf2 0-0-0 15.Bxb6 axb6 16.Qc1 h6 17.g4 Bh7 18.h4 hxg5 19.h5 Bc5+ 20.Kf3 f5 21.gxf5 Bxf5 22.Rh2 Nd4+ 23.Kg3 Nb3 24.Qe1 Rd4 25.Be2 Rd2 26.Rd1 Rxb2 27.Bf3 Rxh2 28.Kxh2 g4 29.Bg2 Rxh5+ 30.Kg3 Be7 31.Qh1 Rxh1 32.Rxh1 Bxa3 33.Rh8+ Kd7 34.Bxb7 Bb2 35.Bc8+ Ke7 36.Rh1 Bxc3 37.Kf4 Nc5 38.Rd1 Nd3+ 0-1

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Smerdon out in the tie-breaks

It took GM Leinier Dominguez 6 games before he finally broke through against Australian GM David Smerdon. After both games were drawn in the Regulation match, they played 4 games at G/25m+10s per move. The first 3 games were drawn before Dominguez won the final Rapid play game, after David suffered from a 'brain explosion'. Dominguez goes through to the second round where he is up against rising Italian star Fabiano Caruana
For David's perspective on the whole experience, visit his new blog at

Monday 23 November 2009

Bobby Cheng wins World Under 12 Championship

Australian Junior Bobby Cheng has become the World Under 12 Champion, finishing outright first in his division in the World Youth Chess Championships in Turkey. Cheng secured the victory with a win over the tournament top seed in the final round. Although representing Australia, Cheng started his chess career in New Zealand, a point not missed by their media.
Almost as good was in the Under 8 Championship where Anton Smirnov finished in a tie for second place, although he missed a medal on countback.
Of the Canberra juniors who played, Yi Yuan scored 7/11 in the Under 14's, Emma Guo scored 6 in the Under 14 Girls, while in the Under 18 Girls Tamzin Oliver scored 4.5 and Alana Chibnall scored 4.

Vaibhav,Suri (2344) - Cheng,Bobby (2202) [C05]
WORLD YOUTH CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP 2009 (U1 Antalya (11.1), 22.11.2009

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ndf3 cxd4 8.cxd4 a5 9.Bd3 a4 10.a3 Nb6 11.Ne2 Na5 12.0-0 g6 13.Qc2 Nb3 14.Rb1 Bd7 15.g4 Rc8 16.Nc3 Nc4 17.f5 Nxd4 18.Nxd4 Bc5 19.fxg6 Bxd4+ 20.Kh1 hxg6 21.Bxg6 Nxe5 22.Bh5 Bc6 23.Qe2 Bxc3 24.bxc3 d4+ 25.Kg1 Qd5 26.cxd4 (D)
26. ... Rxh5 27.gxh5 Nd3 0-1

Sunday 22 November 2009

Smerdon draws first game

Canberra GM David Smerdon got off to a promising start, drawing with GM Leinier Dominguez in the first game of the 2009 FIDE World Cup KO. Despite being outrated by almost 200 points, and starting with Black, Smerdon was better for most of the game, before the position was repeated. This gives Smerdon a chance to wrap up the 2 game match with a win tonight. Smerdon's chances of an upset victory are improved by the fact he has White in tonights game.
As I write this, Dominguez v Smerdon Game 2 has reached an equal position after 21 moves, which means that the match may go to a playoff tomorrow.

Dominguez Perez,Leinier (2719) - Smerdon,David (2525) [B76]
World Cup 2009 0:59.08-1:30.17 (11), 21.11.2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Nxc3 13.Qxc3 Bh6+ 14.Be3 Bxe3+ 15.Qxe3 Qb6 16.Qxe7 Be6 17.Bd3 Qe3+ 18.Rd2 Rfe8 19.Qh4 Bxa2 20.Qf2 Qe5 21.Be4 Rab8 22.Qd4 Qa5 23.Rd3 Qg5+ 24.Rd2 Red8 25.Qc3 Rxd2 26.Qxd2 Qf6 27.c3 Rd8 28.Qe3 Qe5 29.g3 Bb3 30.Re1 Qa5 31.Bb1 Qa1 32.Qe7 Qa5 33.Qe3 Qa1 34.Qe7 Qa5 ½-½

Saturday 21 November 2009

Chess in Movies - A slight twist

I finally got to see "The Avengers" movie tonight (on Satellite TV). Apparently it got savaged by the critics when it first came out, although this maybe because it didn't get the transfer from the TV series 'quite right'.
It did however contain a slight variation on the ' is clearly smart as they can play chess' trope. Uma Thurman's character (Emma Peel) was playing a game of chess against Ralph Fiennes character (John Steed). While he was moving the pieces on the board she was busy doing something else and simply shouted out her replies, essentially playing blindfold. This idea was also used in 'Searching for Bobby Fischer' and is clearly intended to show that the character isn't just smart, but 'really, really, smart'.
The scene also contained two interesting 'artefacts'. One, they were using English descriptive (Queen to Rook Five), although the movie seems to be set in the 1990's (when it was made). Two, the director utilised the hoary old chestnut where a check from Steed (Knight to king seven check) was met by a checkmate from Peel (Queens takes knight, checkmate). However I may be mistaken about the second one, as my attention did wander at times.

Friday 20 November 2009

2009 World Cup

Play in the 2009 FIDE World Cup kicks off tomorrow. This evening sees the opening ceremony, with the first game of Round 1 starting at 15:00 Khanty-Mansiysk time ( or 21:00 Canberra Time). The Oceania representative is GM David Smerdon, who is seeded 114th out of 128 players. In the first round his opponent is Cuban GM Leinier Dominguez Perez. As with the first round of chess events I am never sure how well the live coverage will operate, but here is the official site, so you can have a look tomorrow evening.

Thursday 19 November 2009

2 Queens - A blessing or a curse?

White to move in the following position. A second queen is about to appear on the board, but Black is counting on the perpetual check to halve the point. So White played 1.c8(Q) and Black duly played Qe1+ followed by Qe5+ and the game ended in draw. It was only in the post mortem that spectators pointed out that White could have played ... what?

Wednesday 18 November 2009

WYCC 2009

The 2009 World Youth Chess Championship is at his halfway point and Australia has 2 players leading their respective events. In the Under 8 Championship Anton Smirnov is tied for first with 5.5/6. In the Under 14 Championship Yi Yuan also has the same score and is sharing first place with IM Core Jorge.
Yi is one of Canberra's strongest juniors, and while Anton isn't a Canberra boy these days, he was born in the nations capital. Some other Canberra players taking part are Emma Guo in the Under 14 Girls (3.5/6) and Alana Chibnall and Tamzin Oliver, both in the Under 18 Girls, and both on 1.5/6

Tuesday 17 November 2009

The return of Zipf's Law

Last year I did a post on Zipf's Law, in terms of popularity of chess clubs. But like any good idea/explanation/system it can turn up in other places.
In this link from the American Physical Society, there is a discussion on the research done in the area of chess openings. Specifically, the popularity of chess openings. It turns out the popularity of opening moves does follow Zipf's Law with a distribution that seems to mirror the distribution of such diverse subjects such as website popularity, city populations and word usage.
The article in the link is only a review of the work btw. Click through to the pdf document for the actual study.

Monday 16 November 2009

The Sokolsky

Having just finished an article on 1.b4 for Australian Correspondence Chess Quarterly, I've come to the conclusion I'm not a big fan of the opening. Possibly it is because it is one of the few off-beat openings I haven't tried, but to me White just doesn't get enough out of it. Staking a claim on the queenside is a little premature, given that the centre is yet to be contested.
However it does have its devotees so here is a game where White manages to grab more than a fair share of the centre by gambiting two pawns and quickly crushing Black.

Zylla,Johannes (2267) - Yeung,Chun Keung (1642) [A00]
WSTT/3/06/Semifinal 1 - Sokolsky Openin ICCF, 25.04.2008

1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 f6 3.e4 Bxb4 4.Bc4 Ne7 5.f4 A line suggested by Bobby Fischer. 5...exf4 6.Qh5+ Ng6 7.a3 Bd6 8.Nf3 [RR 8.d4 c5 9.Nd2 Nc6 10.Nb3 Nxd4 11.Nxd4 cxd4 12.Bxd4 Qc7 13.Bb3 Be5 14.Bxe5 fxe5 15.Qe2 Qc3+ 0-1 Hasler,U (1993)-Coelho,W/ICCF Email 2000] 8...Qe7 9.0-0 Kd8 10.d4N [RR 10.Nc3 c6 (RR 10...Ne5 11.Ba2 Nxf3+ 12.Qxf3 Be5 13.Rad1 Nc6 14.Kh1 Nd4 15.Qd3 c6 16.Nd5 cxd5 0-1 Simmelink,J-Engbersen,J/corr 1991) 11.d4 Bc7 12.Rad1 d6 13.e5 Nd7 14.exd6 Qxd6 15.Rfe1 Qf8 16.Kh1 f5 17.d5 c5 18.Ng5 Nde5 19.Ba2 Bd7 20.d6 Bxd6 21.Nb5 Bxb5 22.Bxe5 Kc8 23.Bxd6 Qf6 24.Bf7 Rd8 Bonte-Yperen,B/NLD/C/BV83/79 1983/1-0] 10...c6 11.Bd3 aiming to win a piece with e5. 11...Qe8 12.e5 fxe5 13.Nbd2! exd4 14.Bxd4 Qf7 15.Bc4 [15.Nc4 was even stronger. 15...Bc7 16.Bxg6+-] 15...Qf8 16.Ng5 b5 17.Nf7+ Kc7 18.a4! Ba6 19.axb5 cxb5 20.Rxa6! Nxa6 21.Ne4 bxc4 22.Qa5+ 1-0

Sunday 15 November 2009

Kramnik wins Tal Memorial

I suspect that while Kramnik wouldn't be considered a shock winner of this event, not many pundits picked him for first before the event began. However he started the event with a number of fighting games and was rewarded with an early lead which he then maintained throughout. A couple of other players kept pace but then fell back. Second place was shared by 'the good' Ivanchuk and a surging Carlsen, who score his 2 wins in the final 2 rounds. Aronian and Anand tied for 4th but Anand would be dissapointed with his final game (and Aronian delighted) after he was crushed by Aronian in 25 moves. Indeed he was busted by move 15, and the final 10 moves were just the crash in slow motion.

Anand,Viswanathan (2788) - Aronian,Levon (2786) [D15]
Tal Memorial Moscow RUS (9), 14.11.2009

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.e3 b5 6.c5 Nbd7 7.Bd3 e5 8.Nxe5 Nxe5 9.dxe5 Nd7 10.e6 Nxc5 11.exf7+ Kxf7 12.b3 Nxd3+ 13.Qxd3 Qg5 14.g3 Qf6 15.Bb2 Qf3 (D)
16.Rg1 Bg4 17.a3 Re8 18.Rc1 b4 19.axb4 Bxb4 20.h3 Bxh3 21.g4 Bxg4 22.Rg3 Qf5 23.Qd4 Re4 24.Qa7+ Qd7 25.Qb6 c5 0-1

Saturday 14 November 2009

Paddy Connell

Paddy Connell, one of the great characters of the Canberra chess scene in the 1990's passed away early last week. Although he hadn't been involved in chess for the past decade (having found religion), he was still fondly remembered by those who knew him.
As a player he was a fan of the off-beat opening, and even once played the Irish Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nxe5??!) against me. His approach to analysis was simply to let the opponent do it for him ie he would play the move that struck his fancy, and leave it up to the opponent to prove whether it was sound or unsound.
Patrick (as he was christened) was also a hard working chess organiser, running Street Chess every Saturday in Canberra for nearly a decade. It was here he showed a passing familiarity with the english language when he introduced a rule which read 'non-aspersive adversarial banter is permitted between consenting equals' (which should simply read 'sledging is allowed').
For those in Canberra who wish to attend the funeral service it is at 10:00 am Monday 16th November at William Cole Funerals, Belconnen.

Connell,Patrick - Green,Robert [D11]
ACT-ch Canberra, 1993

1.Nf3 c6 2.d4 d5 3.c4 Bg4 4.Ne5 Bh5 5.g4 Bg6 6.Nxg6 fxg6 7.Nc3 e6 8.Bf4 Nd7 9.Bh3 g5 10.Bg3 Ngf6 11.c5 Be7 12.0-0 0-0 13.f4 gxf4 14.Bxf4 Nxc5 15.dxc5 Bxc5+ 16.e3 d4 17.Na4 Be7 18.g5 Ne8 19.Bxe6+ Kh8 20.Qh5 Bd6 21.g6 Nf6 22.Qh3 Bxf4 23.Rxf4 h6 24.Rh4 Qe7 25.Rf1 Rae8 (D)
26.Rxf6 1-0

Friday 13 November 2009

Endings you have to know

There are all endings we "have to know" ie ones guaranteed to bring home the point (or save the half point). The Lucena Position and the Philidor Position are 2 such examples, and of course there are many more. However I suspect the list of endings I "have to know" might not be as extensive as the endings a 2400 rated player has to know. And once you get into the 2700+ range the list might be both long and increasingly obscure.
Of course one of the reasons why club players don't collect as many positions as stronger players is that we aren't forced into as many endings, either due to our games being decided by "the last blunder" or that out opponents play inferior moves in these endings, making our task easier.
Such knowledge, and its application, was quite apparent in the round 6 game from the Tal Memorial between Kramnik and Ponomariov. In a R+P v B+P ending, Ponomariov's bishop was defending his pawn and White had to force a zugzwang position to win the pawn. According to the Chessvibes site this was a similar ending to the 1979 Timman v Velimirovic ending from the 1979 zonal, and while I have no reason to dispute the additional claim that every Dutch chessplayer now knows how to play this ending, I wonder how many other chess players (apart from Kramnik) are familiar with it as well.
The diagram position is not from this game but from a much older game between Euwe and Hromadka. A similar kind of ending (although White does not have a pawn), there is a right way and a wrong way to play it. In "Training for the Tournament Player" Dvoretsky says "you either know it or you don't"


Didn't quite get yesterdays blog post done in time as I was wrestling with malware on a couple of home computers. So treat this as yesterdays post, and today's will arrive at its usual time.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Petrosian's Butt Monkey

The late Eduard Gufeld was quite a figure on the international chess circuit. Even before the fall of the USSR he travelled quite widely to many western tournaments including the 1988 Doeberl Cup (which he tied for 1st in). It was rumoured however that part of the reason for this travel was as a 'messenger' for the KGB, in that in visiting overseas Russian communities he reminded them of who was watching from within the USSR.
The other odd thing about Gufeld is that he seemed to be on the receiving end of a couple of cruel barbs from Tigran Petrosian. In Dvoretsky and Yusopov's book 'Positional Chess' Dvoretsky describes a joint analysis session between the two. After being constantly outplayed by Petrosian Gufeld asked 'How is it that my position isn't better?'. 'Because my head is better' explained Petrosian.
Petrosian delivered an even crueller put down soon after Gufeld became a Grandmaster. Gufeld, not an immodest man I must say, walked up to Petrosian at a tournament and said 'Tigran, now we are equals'. At that moment a journeyman GM walked by (possibly Matulovic) at whom Petrosian pointed and said, 'No. Now you are his equal'.

btw Click for a definition of Butt Monkey

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Isle of Lewis Chessmen

The Isle of Lewis Chessmen is a popular news item, and another article concerning them has appeared on the BBC website. This article reports that there are doubts about the origin of the pieces.
Now the problem I've always had with the Lewis Chessmen is that they seem to predate the widespread popularity of chess in Western Europe. They were apparently manufactured during the 12th Century, a time where very little evidence of chess being played has been discovered. Of course far smarter people than me have done far better research on this topic, but I've always suspected that they were more likely to be figurines rather than part of a chess set. Of course, as the article says, they may have been used in another game called Hnefatafl, but the Lewis Hnefatafl-men isn't quite as catchy.

Monday 9 November 2009

Transfer Tournament

Most Transfer Chess (or Bughouse if you insist) is played online, with the Free Internet Chess Server the place to play. Face to face tournaments are much rarer, although I did organise one such tournament about 15 years ago at the Doeberl Cup.
However there is still one big transfer tournament held every year in Canberra, and that is the ACT Junior Chess League Transfer Festival. It is on this coming Sunday (15th November) at the ACT Junior Chess Centre, Campbell High School, Treloar Cres Campbell (next to the War Memorial). It starts at 12:45 pm and finished at 5pm. Entry is $10 per player ($20 per team) and the entry fee includes free pizza at the prize giving. Although it is organised by the ACT Junior Chess League it is open to players of all ages. There will be trophies for the winners plus plenty of other prizes including oldest team, youngest team, best parent& child etc
Now while the organisers are content to just think of it as a local Canberra event, until I hear otherwise I would like to make two claims. Firstly, it is the biggest open transfer tournament in Australia, and secondly, the winners could make a valid claim to being the Australian OTB Transfer Champions!

Sunday 8 November 2009

GM Weekend

The ACT Junior Chess League runs an annual Grandmaster Coaching Weekend, which is usually the culmination of the ACTJCL's Development Squad program for the year. For this year, GM Ian Rogers coached 3 groups of leading ACT juniors, alongside local coaches IM Andras Toth, and FM Endre Ambrus.
After lunch on the second day, Ian then played a 30 board simul against both the kids he coached, and all the other juniors who took part in the other coaching programs. At the end of 3 hours Ian had managed to score 28 wins, 1 draw (against Michael Kethro) and 1 loss (against Yijun Zhang).
Of course the fate of the simul giver is not to be remembered by any of their victories, but only by their losses, so here is the win by Yijun Zhang over Ian Rogers.

Zhang,Yijun - Rogers,Ian [C64]
ACT Dev Squad Simul, 08.11.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Bc5 4.0-0 Qf6 5.c3 Nge7 6.d3 h6 7.Re1 0-0 8.d4 Bb6 9.Be3 d6 10.d5 Nb8 11.Nbd2 Bg4 12.Qa4 Ng6 13.Bxb6 cxb6 14.h3 Bc8 15.Nc4 Na6 16.Bxa6 bxa6 17.Qc6 Bxh3 18.gxh3 Qxf3 19.Re3 Qh5 20.Nxd6 Nf4 21.Kh2 g6 22.Rg1 Kh7 23.Qb7 Qh4 24.Nxf7 Kg8 25.Reg3 Rxf7 (D)
26.Rxg6+ Nxg6 27.Rxg6+ Kh8 28.Qxa8+ 1-0

Saturday 7 November 2009

More Broken Rules

If chess could be reduced to a set of guidelines that would work 100% of the time, then it wouldn't be much of a game. Case in point, the position on the right. It arose after the moves 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Qxd4 Nc6 4.Qe3 b6 5.Nc3 Bc5 6.Qg3 Qf6
Broken 'rules' include bringing the queen out early, moving the same piece twice and falling behind in development. So it was understandable that the winning move in this position was to break the rules again, by moving the knight a second time with 7.Nd5! Faced with multiple threats Black tried 7. ... Bxf2+ but it left White a piece up and the win was fairly straightforward.

Friday 6 November 2009

How far ahead can you calculate?

The diagrammed position come from the David Levy book "Play Chess Combinations and Sacrifices" and was set as an exercise for a group of young players I coach. The point of the exercise wasn't to make their heads explode, but to show them that it is possible to calculate 17 or more half moves ahead, as long as you find the correct path.
To help them (and yourselves) on their way I gave them a few clues. (a) White will checkmate (b) every White move is a check (c) It is a mate in 8 if Black doesn't prolong the game through spite sacrifices.
As a group they found the first few moves in about 2 minutes, but then took another 3 or 4 minutes to get the remaining moves in the right order. Can you do better?

Thursday 5 November 2009

2009 Tal Memorial

The strongest tournament of the year, the 2009 Tal Memorial, starts this evening (Australian Time). Actually it as already started as I write this, with the first round match between Carlsen and Kramnik already attracting a lot of interest.
There are plenty of places that are providing live coverage but I'll give a plug to two. Chessdom (who I recently mentioned) is providing coverage here. Chessvibes is also providing live coverage with expert commentary at their live games site. However they seem to be a similar system to what Ian Rogers used at the 2009 Oceania Zonal, with the same technical shortcoming of having to refresh your browser to show updates. A note on the site says they are looking into a solution for this.
With 8 of the current top 10 taking part, the eventual winner could be anyone. I break my usual habit of picking Peter Svidler, and go with the safe bet of Magnus Carlsen. I'll also be interested in seeing which Vasilly Ivanchuk turns up to the tournament.

Wednesday 4 November 2009

2009 Vikings Weekender

Keep the 28th and 29th of November free for the 2009 Vikings Weekender. This is the third of the three weekend events in Canberra (Doeberl and ANU being the other 2) and is the most 'community focussed' of the three tournaments. While the Doeberl attracts a big international field, and the ANU usually has a good turn out of titled players, the Vikings Weekender is geared more towards the local Canberra scene. That is not to say interstate visitors are not welcome, but the majority of tournament winners over the years have been local players, often at the expense of out-of-towners.
The tournament will be held at the Tuggeranong Vikings Rugby Union Club, Ricardo St, Wanniassa. It will be a single 6 round swiss with a time limit of 60m+10s per move from the start. First prize is a guaranteed $500, and the prize pool is usually above $1000 (depending upon entries). Full details can be found here.

(** Yes, I will be the Director of Play for this event, and yes it is a paid position **)

Tuesday 3 November 2009

A man with ambition

I've been cutting back on my online CC lately, as I've decided that it is not helping my chess (too much analysis, not enough decision making). But I received a challenge from a player I felt I couldn't pass up. The aptly named Chessnut* is in the process of trying to play against players from as many countries as possible. He is currently up to country 157 with Papua New Guinea the latest addition to his list.
Unfortunately I wasn't the most hospitable opponent, wheeling out the Schliemann Defence to the Ruy Lopez and hacking him in 14 moves. However, I am impressed by his dedication and I hope he makes his target of 200+ countries.

Chessnut - Press,Shaun [C63]
Chessworld, 03.11.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5 4.exf5 e4 5.Ng1 Nf6 6.d3 Bc5 7.Bg5 0-0 (D)
8.dxe4 Bxf2+ 9.Kxf2 Nxe4+ 10.Ke3 Qxg5+ 11.Kf3 Qxf5+ 12.Ke3 Qf2+ 13.Kxe4 Re8+ 14.Kd3 Qd4# 0-1

*NB This Chessnut is not the same Chessnut who is an Australian chess identity and occasionaly blogs at this link.

Monday 2 November 2009

2010 O2C Doeberl Cup - Website Launched

The website for the 2010 O2C Doeberl Cup is up, with all the details for next years event. The Prize fund for the 3 big tournaments is almost $18,000. The Premier has a first prize of $4000, with a total prize pool of $12,350. The Major (Under 200) has a first prize of $1,500 while the Minor (Under 1600) has a first prize of $750, which is bigger than most Australian weekend events!
There have been a few changes this year, especially in the area of time controls (for the Premier) and round times. To bring the tournament in to line with FIDE's new time control for title tournaments, the time control for the Premier is now 40 moves in 90 minutes followed by an additional 30 minutes, with 30 seconds added for each move from move 1. This is the same as the time control for the Olympiad and either allows players extra time to play their endings, or simply provides time for a toilet break. The time controls for the Major and Minor will remain at 90m+30s per move.
Due to the slightly longer time controls for the Premier, the playing sessions now begin 6 hours apart (ie 1pm and 7pm on the first 2 days, and 9:30am and 3:30pm for the rest). The Lightning tournament also returns this year.
As in previous years each of these events has a maximum entry of 80 players, so if you wish to guarantee a spot in your preferred tournament you need to enter early. Just click on the 'Register' link on the web page.

(**Disclaimer: I am a paid official for this event **)

Sunday 1 November 2009

Apparently it's all Korchnoi's Fault

I was planning to say no more about the World Chess Federation, but Stan Vaughan is just the gift that keeps on giving. Following the adage that any publicity is good publicity, I keep getting press releases from the organisation, despite the mocking tone of my previous posts about them. Actually a large number of chess journalists and bloggers seem to be on their 'drop list', but I may one of the very few that use the information they send.
The latest missive from the World Chess Federation concerns their press conference to promote the upcoming $7.5 million world championship match. The absolute highlight (for me anyway) was the revelation that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is an evil spirit who came through a portal that was created by Viktor Korchnoi when he played a match against the long deceased Geza Maroczy. Certainly an interesting theory, although conventional wisdom is that the moves of Maroczy (relayed by a spiritual medium) came not so much from the great beyond, but from a silicon brain.
There is even a video of the press conference. Click on this link if you wish to see the faces behind the madness.