Thursday 31 December 2009

2009 Australian Player of the Year

Despite some outstanding individual performances in 2009, for me there is pretty clear choice for the (Chessexpress) 2009 Australian Player of the Year.
GM David Smerdon started the year both as an IM, and as the winner of the 2009 Queenstown Classic. He then moved his rating over the 2500 mark at the NSW Open, to confirm his GM title. A win in the Oceania Zonal booked a trip to snowy Siberia where he held GM Leinier Dominguez at bay in 2 classical time control games and then 3 rapidplay games before one bad move sent him home again. And as the icing on the cake, he was also the winner of the 2009 Yulgilbar - Think Big Grand Prix Series.
Congratulations David, and I look forward to next year being just as successful.

Wednesday 30 December 2009

Nice Geometry

As I've stated before, I prefer to read the solution to a chess problem than actually solve it. I admire the cleverness of the problem setter in terms of how the solution looks, rather than how hard it is. And solutions that have a particular 'twist' to them appeal to me the most.
An example is the solution to the diagrammed position. It is a mate in 3, and the main line has an appealing 'shape' to it. To help you discover this shape, I'll give you a solution that doesn't work. The obvious 1.Qb1 (threatening Qb8#) fails to 1. ... Bg3, covering the target square. So you need to find another plan.

Tuesday 29 December 2009

Deep thought for the Day

What are the odds that the best chess player in the world has never played chess?
This thought has occured to me over the years, especially after my trip to the Solomon Islands earlier this year. The basic thrust of the article is that societal factors influence both discovery and progress in a particular field. "Where are all the great Norwegian Australian Rules footballers?" is another way of thinking about it.
Now chess is a lot more universal than 'niche' sports, and it is easier to at least know what it is. But even so, there are still barriers that exist to impede progress to a higher level of play. Top of my list of things needed to progress would be access to organised competition, even ahead of access to coaching or books. Certainly this is the lesson I took away from the Solomon Islands, where a years worth of organised chess (individual and teams events), has taken local chess past countries like Papua New Guinea, where hardly any organised chess exists.

Monday 28 December 2009

Korchnoi and Spassky halve out

The match between Boris Spassky and Viktor Korchnoi ended all square after 8 games. The second half of the match saw 2 wins for Spassky and 1 for Korchnoi, but the final game ended in a draw after only 11 moves. No surprise really, although it is a result that is more indicative of an older generation.
Overall this is a better result for Spassky than Korchnoi, as Spassky hadn't played a FIDE rated game in 7 years. I'm assuming that this doesn't signal a comeback from the former World Champion but if the 'chess nostalgia' circuit takes off, he could make a little cash via that route.

Korchnoi,Viktor (2567) - Spassky,Boris (2548) [A28]
Match Elista RUS (5), 24.12.2009

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.a3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Qc2 Be7 7.e3 a6 8.Bc4 Nb6 9.Bd3 Qd7 10.b3 f5 11.e4 g5 12.exf5 g4 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 14.Be4 Nc6 15.Ne2 Bf6 16.Rb1 Qd6 17.h3 gxh3 18.Rxh3 Bd7 19.Rd3 Qf8 20.Bxc6 Bxc6 21.Re3+ Kd7 22.Bb2 Nd5 23.Qd3 Bxb2 24.Rxb2 Qxa3 25.Rc2 Rae8 26.Qd4 Kc8 0-1

Sunday 27 December 2009

How not to publicise a tournament

Since the start of December I have been bombarded with press releases from the "World Championship" tournaments being held in Las Vegas by the World Chess Federation. Some of them are totally laughable, with my favourite being "FIDE take notice of World Chess Federation". The notice was in the form of a warning not to deal with this organisation.
The other press releases fall under heading of "totally pointless". They breathlessly announce that player X has beaten player Y, and now leads tournament Z. What they miss is all the other essential information that a press release needs, such as how many players are in the event, and how the other leading players might be performing. This information (including tournament crosstables) seem to be well hidden, both in the press release, and on the web page of the organisers.
I suspect that this type of PR will continue until there is a sudden announcement that some 2100 player is the new "World Champion", followed by a complaint a few days later from the "World Champion" that they have had trouble cashing their winners cheque.

Saturday 26 December 2009

Hastings Chess Congress

There are a number of traditional post-Christmas chess events, with the Hastings Chess Congress probably the most famous. For many years the top event was a strong round-robin, with a mixed field of top UK players and overseas masters, but these days it has fallen victim to economic necessity, and has become large swiss, like so many other events on the chess calendar.
Nonetheless it has attracted a strong lineup of players, with details to be found here. I was particularly pleased to see a preview of the tournament by Stewart Reuben, as he had been suffering from poor health a few months ago. Hopefully he is fully healed and back to his organising best.

Friday 25 December 2009

A couple of different draws

Here is an interesting chess problem for Christsmas Day (and most of Boxing Day as well). It was composed by Rinck, and I came across it in "The Complete Book of Chess" by Horowitz and Rothenberg. At first I thought it was cute due to a stalemate motif, but as I was setting the diagram in Chessbase, Fritz showed me another interesting line, if Black refuses to 'play along'. My source was silent about the slightly longer line, which is a little surprising. For anyone involved in chess coaching it would also serve as a useful exercise in trying to deal with all attempts at counterplay.
White to play and Draw.

Thursday 24 December 2009

What to do on Christmas Day?

In my family, Christmas Day tends to follow the same pattern. Early rising to open presents, then a big Christmas lunch, and then an afternoon spent wondering why there isn't any decent sport on TV.
Now the lack of sport on Christmas Day wasn't always so. For example Australia got rolled by the West Indies back in 1951, with the final days play being the 25th of December.
Of course having to play on Christmas Day may be an inconvenience to some, but to others it is just another day (at least culturally and religiously). Last year the Asian Clubs Championship was run over the Christmas period, which probably inconvenienced some teams. However it still got a good turn out, and there was even a round held on the 25th. Here is a game played on that day, resulting in a crisp win to Indian player Deep Sengupta.

Sengupta,D (2441) - Weerawardane,R (2127) [B53]
1st Asian Clubs Al Ain UAE (1), 25.12.2008

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 a6 5.Bc4 e6 6.Bb3 Nc6 7.Qd3 Nf6 8.Nc3 Be7 9.Bf4 0-0 10.0-0-0 Ne8 11.h4 Na5 12.Be3 b5 13.e5 Nxb3+ 14.axb3 Bb7 15.Ng5 g6 16.Nxh7 Kxh7 17.h5 f5 18.hxg6+ Kxg6 19.Bf4 Bg5 20.Ne2 Be4 21.Qg3 Rg8 22.Bxg5 Qc8 23.Bf6+ Kf7 24.Rh7+ 1-0

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Who killed Emanuel Lasker?

or 2 gift suggestions for Christmas.

If you are looking for a last minute gift for a chessplayer, and which to avoid the obvious novelty drinking chess set etc, then I have 2 possible suggestions.
"The Yiddish Policeman's Union" by Michael Chabon might be described as intellectual 'police procedural' but as the plot revolves around the murder of a man who carried the alias 'Emanuel Lasker' it has enough chess content to qualify as a 'chess' gift. And in the main the chess content is done well enough, with a few real life and historical players getting a mention.
The other gift is the box set of one of the best television series ever produced, 'The Prisoner'. I gave it a wrap last year, and if you didn't get it then, you can always get it now. Not only is there an episode called 'Checkmate', but chess as a motif runs through the series. Worth getting, both for the chess, and everything in it as well.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Ancient Chess Columns

Earlier this year I had a post about Google providing on line archives to newspapers such as The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Paul Dunn recently informed me that the National Library of Australia already performs this service. They have digitised issues from 1803 through to 1954. The direct link to this service is here and at least when I clicked on it, the featured article was a chess column in the SMH from 22 December 1906. I assume that the featured newspaper changes each day so you may not be as lucky as I was. If not, just type "chess" into the search box and wade your way through the 38000+ links that come up!

Monday 21 December 2009

Annotation by reputation

The diagrammed position comes from a game between Alekhine and Capablanca. It was from the 1914 St Petersburg tournament and it is Black (Capablanca) to move. In The Art of Chess Combination, Eugene Znosko-Borovsky heaps praise on the game continuation 1... Nxg2 2.Kxg2 Qg4+ 3.Kf1 Qh3+ 4.Ke2 Rxe3+ 5.fxe3 Qxe3+ 6.Kd1 Qxe1+ and disparages the 'variation without a surprise' 1. ... Qg4 2.Qb7 d5 3.f3 Qe6 4.Bxf4 Rxe1+
As it turns out the second variation is actually stronger than the first, although Znosko-Borovsky missed a brilliant sting in the tail. After Rxe1+ he simply states that Black wins the exchange at the price of the menace to the d pawn. However, if after 5.Kf2 Black finds 5. ... Rh1!! then he wins the other rook as well!
I wonder if part of the reason why Znosko-Borovsky didn't look too deeply at the second continuation was that he simply decided that if Capablanca played it, then it must be best.

Sunday 20 December 2009

Real golden oldies

I was surprised to see that Korchnoi and Spassky have jumped on the 'golden oldies' bandwagon, and are currently playing a match in Elista. The surprise mainly comes from the fact that Spassky is pretty inactive these days, although he still has a rating of 2548.
Korchnoi is much more active, and just finished giving a couple of simuls at the London Chess Classic. This may account for Korchnoi's win in the first game, although Spassky did draw the second.

Korchnoi,Viktor (2567) - Spassky,Boris (2548) [E21]
Match Elista RUS (1), 19.12.2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 b6 5.Qb3 a5 6.Bg5 Bb7 7.e3 h6 8.Bxf6 Qxf6 9.Be2 d6 10.0-0 Bxc3 11.bxc3 Nd7 12.Qa4 Ke7 13.Rab1 Rhd8 14.Nd2 Kf8 15.Bf3 Bxf3 16.Nxf3 Qe7 17.e4 e5 18.Rfe1 Kg8 19.Qc6 Nf6 20.c5 Qd7 21.Qxd7 Nxd7 22.cxd6 cxd6 23.g3 Rac8 24.Re3 Rc7 25.dxe5 dxe5 26.Kg2 Rdc8 27.Rd1 Nf6 28.Nxe5 Rxc3 29.Rxc3 Rxc3 30.Rd8+ Kh7 31.f3 Rc2+ 32.Kh3 Rxa2 33.Nxf7 Ng8 34.Nd6 Rd2 35.e5 a4 36.Ra8 b5 37.f4 b4 38.Rxa4 b3 39.Rb4 b2 40.Rb7 Rc2 41.Nf5 Kh8 42.Ne3 Rd2 43.Nc4 Rc2 44.Nxb2 h5 45.Nd3 Nh6 46.Rb2 Rc7 47.Rb1 1-0

Saturday 19 December 2009

Ikeda strikes again

Junta Ikeda has continued his recent run of successes with a win in the 2009 ACT Rapidplay Championship. The 42 player field attracted a number of strong Canberra players including GM David Smerdon, FM Endre Ambrus, Yi Yuan, Andrew Brown, Tuan Le and Junta Ikeda.
The key game was the Round 6 clash between Ikeda and Smerdon. Smerdon had scored 5/5 up until this point, and Junta was half a point behind. In an exciting game, both players tried to take advantage of the exposed nature of the others king, but it was Ikeda who finally triumphed, with his Queen and Rooks doing the damage. A neat last round win over Andrew Brown left him on 6.5/7, just in front of Smerdon on 6.
The event was held outdoors and the large field enjoyed beautiful weather throughout. The event organisers, the ACT Chess Association plan to hold it on the Saturday before Christmas in future years, and were particularly pleased with the size of the entry.

Friday 18 December 2009

Miniature of the Month - November 2009

This month's miniature is a surprisingly quick loss by Hikaru Nakamura. It could almost be classified as an opening trap, although one that Blacks creates for himself with a poor 9th move.

Becerra Rivero,Julio (2557) - Nakamura,Hikaru (2710) [B29]
USCL QF 2009 ICC INT (1), 11.11.2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nc3 e6 5.Nxd5 exd5 6.d4 Nc6 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Qxd5 d6 9.Bc4 Qe7? [9...Be6 10.Qd3 Nb4 11.Qb3 Bxc4 12.Qxc4 Rc8=] 10.Bg5 f6 (D)
11.0-0-0! dxe5
[11...fxg5 12.exd6 Qf6 13.Rhe1+ Kd8 14.Qxc5+-] 12.Rhe1 And Nxe5 is a threat that Black decides he cannot meet. 1-0

Thursday 17 December 2009

2009 ACT Rapidplay Championship

The ACT Rapidplay Championship will be held this Saturday in Canberra City. The ACT Chess Association has decided to schedule this event on the last Saturday before Christmas each year, with the intention that it becomes a regular, end-of-season, event on the Canberra chess calendar.
Here are the tournament details

2009 ACT Rapidplay Championship

Date: Saturday, 19th December 2009
Time: 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
Venue: City Walk, Canberra City (where Street Chess is held)
Entry Fees: $10 adult, $5 juniors (Under 18 years as of 19th December)
Prizes: $100 first prize minimum, other prizes dependent upon entries.
Format: 7 round swiss
Time limit: G/15 minutes

This event is open to all members of the ACT Chess Association and ACT Junior Chess League.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Junior Elite Training Squad

The Australian Junior Elite Training Squad (formerly the Ergas Squad) has a new sponsor. The new sponsor is Johns-Putra Limited, headed by Geraldine Johns-Putra, an active tournament player in the 1990's. These days she runs a succesful London legal consulting practice "focussing on cross-border China mergers and acquisitions. Its mission is to help clients build bridges between China and the West and to secure success across cultures."
Johns-Putra Limited will fund the 2010 JETS Program, including a coaching camp in Sydney in July. The JETS squad, founded in 2000, features 30 of the best junior players from around Australia, with an emphasis on developing the skills of young talents of 14 years or less.

For further information please contact Geraldine Johns-Putra, on +44 (0)20 7286 7664 or at, or Ian Rogers, Deputy President AJCL, on +61 (0)416599230 or

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Gelfand wins World Cup

Looks like experience triumphed over enthusiasm, with Boris Gelfand winning the FIDE World Cup with a 3-1 win over Ruslan Ponomariov in the blitz tie-breaks. After the main match was drawn 2-2, the players first played 4 games of rapidplay (1 win each and 2 draws) before moving onto the blitz. Gelfand won the first game, Ponomariov the second. After Gelfand won the 3rd game, Ponomariov needed to win the 4th to keep the match alive but as the following game shows, Gelfand scored the third and decisive victory.

Ponomariov,Ruslan (2739) - Gelfand,Boris (2758) [D23]
World Cup Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (7.12), 14.12.2009

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Qb3 dxc4 5.Qxc4 Bf5 6.g3 e6 7.Bg2 Nbd7 8.0-0 Be7 9.Nc3 0-0 10.Re1 h6 11.e4 Bh7 12.a3 Rc8 13.b4 a5 14.Bf4 Nh5 15.Bd2 Nhf6 16.Qb3 axb4 17.axb4 Qb6 18.b5 c5 19.e5 c4 20.Qa4 Nd5 21.Nxd5 exd5 22.Bh3 Qc7 23.b6 Nxb6 24.Qb5 Qc6 25.Ra5 c3 26.Bf4 Nc4 27.Qxc6 Rxc6 28.Rxd5 c2 29.Rb5 Rb6 30.Rxb6 Nxb6 31.Bc1 Bb4 32.Bd2 Nd5 33.e6 Re8 34.exf7+ Kxf7 35.Rc1 Bxd2 36.Nxd2 Nb4 37.Bf1 Rc8 38.Nb3 Na2 39.Ra1 c1Q 40.Nxc1 Rxc1 41.Rxa2 Bd3 42.Rb2 Rxf1+ 43.Kg2 Ba6 44.d5 Rd1 0-1

Monday 14 December 2009

High Court Chess

Via Paul Dunn comes news of a chess tournament for staff at the High Court of Australia. It was the first time such an event was held, and the arbiter for the final was the Chief Justice of the High Court, Chief Justice Robert French.
Here is the report on the final from Rita Gibson

Yesterday at lunchtime the final game of the High Court's inaugural
chess tournament was played between associates Ben Mostafa and Zelie
Wood, on a beautiful marble chess set presented to the Chief Justice in
appreciation by the ANU law students' society. The game was limited to
20 minutes per player (thanks to Mr Paul Dunn who generously loaned the
chess clock) and after considerable bloodshed (of chess pieces only of
course) the time limit was reached without a checkmate. Congratulations
to the winner, Ben Mostafa, of Justice Hayne's chambers. The Chief
Justice awarded the prize bottle of champagne and the winner's name will
be inscribed on the Chief Justice's perpetual chess trophy."

Ben Mostafa, 25, played some chess in his junior years at Sydney Boys
High School before swapping the hobby for more active pursuits. He
nevertheless retains a soft spot for the game, though admits it has been
some time since he had a game with a chess clock running. "I recall
going to one tournament when I was quite young, but that would have been
more than a decade ago now, and I haven't seen a chess clock since!"
says Ben.

Sunday 13 December 2009

Not quite straight away

Back in early 1983 I was a spectator at the Australian Open being held in Sydney. On one of the evenings after the days play was finished there was a lecture given by various members of the 1982 Olympiad team. I was only 16 years old at the time, but as I was just getting into chess I sat through the whole lecture, willing to brave the dangers of late night Sydney public transport to get home. (I actually shared the bus ride to Central Station with Stephen Solomon, but at the time I had no idea who he was and assumed he was just some random, but large, chessplayer).
One of the games shown in the lecture Ian Roger's win over Alon Greenfeld. At the time Ian was experimenting with 1.c3 (the Saragossa Opening) and as the lecturer was quite proud of his win. One of the key points came on move 7, where after a number of preparatory moves, Ian triumphantly declared "Now I can play e4". At this point his co-lecturer, Darryl Johansen, pointed out that if it was so important, then surely move 1 would have been the time to do so.

Rogers,Ian (2365) - Greenfeld,Alon (2385) [A00]
Luzern ol (Men) Luzern (6), 1982

1.c3 Nf6 2.Nf3 b6 3.Qc2 Bb7 4.d3 g6 5.Bg5 Bg7 6.Nbd2 0-0 (D)
7.e4 c5 8.Be2 Nc6 9.0-0 d5 10.Rfe1 Qd7 11.Bf1 e5 12.a4 h6 13.Bh4 Rae8 14.Rad1 d4 15.Nc4 Nh5 16.Qb3 Ba6 17.Bg3 Kh7 18.Qa3 Nxg3 19.hxg3 f5 20.exf5 gxf5 21.cxd4 Bxc4 22.dxc4 cxd4 23.g4 a5 24.Nh4 Nb4 25.Nxf5 e4 26.Qh3 d3 27.b3 Rf6 28.Nxg7 Kxg7 29.g5 Rfe6 30.gxh6+ Kh8 31.Rxe4 1-0

Saturday 12 December 2009

The early piece sac

As someone who never understood the position nuances of opening play, most of my opening theory has been aimed towards forcing lines where I get some sort of material gain/mating attack. I am quite partial to lines involving gambits and sacrifices but again this is geared towards mating attacks (eg the Traxler, Muzio or BDM).
However I am impressed by early sacrifices which don't lead directly to mate, but the slightly more subtle 'initiative'. Probably the most obvious (and unsound) example of this is the Halloween Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nxe5??!) where White does get to push the Black knights around for a while.
While arbiting Street Chess today I saw a game involving similar ideas, but in this case it was entirely sound. White decided to offer a piece for threats on the e file, and black decided to return the piece as a way of dealing with them. Unfortunately this allowed White to set up a mating threat which surprisingly Black missed.

Fitzpatrick,Brian - Yuan,Yi [C80]
Street Chess , 12.12.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.Re1 Nc5 7.Nc3 Nxa4 8.Nxe5 Be7 (D)
9.Nd5 0-0 10.Nxc6 dxc6 11.Nxe7+ Kh8 12.Qh5 Nb6 13.Re4 Nd5 14.Qxh7+ 1-0

Friday 11 December 2009

CCLA Record - Vol 1 No. 1

Australian chess Archivist Paul Dunn is currently undertaking a project to convert old issues of The CCLA Record (the predecessor to Australian Correspondence Chess Quarterly) to an electronic format, so old issues can be stored and distributed easily.
The first issues of the magazine (from 1948/49) were quite slim at only 8 pages. I am not sure who the editor was, but I suspect is was Max Salm, as he was both the CCLA Publicity Officer at the time, and annotated the games in the magazine. If he was it is fitting that the first game published was a win of his, which I present here, complete with his annotations.

Salm,Maxwell Charles - Jack,Dr.I.B [B73]
CCLA Class I-III, #24 Tourney corr Australia, 1948

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be2 g6 7.Be3 Bg7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Qd2 d5 More usual is 9...Bd7. According to MCO the text is quite playable. 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxd5 Nxd4 12.Bc4 Nf5 13.Rad1 Be6 14.Qb4 Qc8 15.Bc5 Kh8 Subtly countering the threat of 16.Bxe7. 16.b3 Protecting the loose bishop, thus renewing the threat to Black's weak e-pawn. [16.Bxe7 can be met by 16...Nxe7 17.Nxe7 Qxc4 So far the game has followed Pilnik-Iliesco, Mar Del Plata 1943, won by the latter. MCO leaves off at this stage, but implies that Black has a slight advantage. It would seem this appraisal of the position is "annotation by result", as White forces are well posted and the attack is far from spent.] 16...Re8 17.Rfe1 [If immediately 17.Bxe7 Bxd5!;
or if 17.Nxe7 Nxe7 18.Bxe7 Bxc4 19.bxc4 a5!] 17...Bf8 What else? Black could hardly profess to have equality in this bottled up position. 18.Ne3 Ng7? [Better to seek freedom for his pieces with 18...Bxc4 but after 19.Qxc4 Black's lack of development is a serious handicap.] 19.Bb5! b6 20.Bd4 Rd8 21.Be5! Threatening 22.Rxd8 Qxd8 23.Bc6! Rc8 24.Rd1 winning a piece. 21...Qb7 In avoiding one danger, Black puts his head into another noose. Even after [21...Rxd1 22.Rxd1 Black is hard pressed to find an answer to White's other threat of](D)
22.Qa4! Wins the exchange forthwith. 1-0

Thursday 10 December 2009

Taking the path well travelled

In Correspondence Chess, access to books and databases is pretty important. Certainly in almost every CC game I play, I will utilise both Chessbase and whatever opening books I have in my library, to improve my chances of winning. Sometimes this means that the game you play may only involve a few moves of original thought before getting a decisive advantage, or, as in the case of the following game, no original thought at all.

Press, Shaun v The Knight of the Square Table
Chessworld Friendly

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.e5 Ng8 8.Bc4 e6 9.0-0 Bc5 10.Ne4 Bb6 11.Qg4 g6 12.Bg5 Qc7 13.Nd6+ Kf8 14.Qf4 f5 15.Qh4 h6 16.Be7+ Nxe7 17.Qf6+ Kg8 18.Qf7#

The whole game, up until move 16, had been played back in 1980, with J. Franklin Campbell defeating Lee Jerger.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Gelfand v Ponomariov

The final of the 2009 FIDE World CUP KO will be played between Boris Gelfand and Ruslan Ponomariov. Gelfand qualified with easy, beating Karjakin 2-0 in regulation time, while Ponomariov went into overtime against Malakhov before winning 4-2 (3-1 in the playoffs).
Here is Gelfand's crushing win in the second game.

Gelfand,Boris (2758) - Karjakin,Sergey (2723) [D45]
World Cup Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (6.2), 06.12.2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.Bd3 0-0 8.0-0 dxc4 9.Bxc4 b5 10.Be2 Bb7 11.Rd1 Qc7 12.Bd2 e5 13.Rac1 a6 14.b4 Rfe8 15.Bd3 Bxb4 16.Ng5 h6 17.Nxb5 axb5 18.Bh7+ Kf8 19.Bxb4+ c5 20.dxc5 Bc6(D)
21.Be4 Nb8 22.Nh7+ Nxh7 23.Bxh7 g6 24.Rd6 Re7 25.h4 h5 26.Bxg6
fxg6 27.Qxg6 Rxa2 28.Rcd1 Rf7 29.Qh6+ Rg7 30.Qf6+ Kg8 31.Rd8+ Kh7 32.Qf5+ Rg6 33.Qxh5+ Rh6 34.Qf5+ 1-0

Tuesday 8 December 2009


Trawling through my old archives I came across an interesting game from the 2002 Olympiad. It was played on the lower boards, and while it wasn't flawless chess, it did contain one interesting feature. From move 16 to move 20 White marches his pawn from a2 to a8, whereupon it promotes (of course).
The notes to this game originally appeared in an early "Open and Shut" column for Australasian Chess

Volpinari,D (2048) - Besse,Timothy [B84]
Olympiad Bled SLO (11), 06.11.2002

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e6 7.0-0 Be7 8.Be3 b5 9.Bf3 e5 10.Nf5 0-0 11.Nd5 For the previous 10 moves both players have followed established theory, which on the lower boards of the Olympiad is quite impressive. This move for White is a novelty, although Fritz chose it after a mili-seconds thought. 11...Nc6 [11...Nxd5 12.Qxd5+-] 12.Ndxe7+ Nxe7 13.Nxd6 h6 14.Qd2 Be6 15.Rfd1 Qc7 (D)
In the problem world the idea of moving a pawn from its starting position to promotion is known as Excelsior. It is a much rarer occurence in over the board play. 16.a4 Rfd8 17.axb5 Bc4?? [17...Nc8 18.b6 Nxb6 19.Qb4 Nbd7 allowed Black to hold on.] 18.b6 Qc6 19.b7 Rxd6 Allowing the pawn to fulfil its destiny 20.bxa8Q+ 1-0

Monday 7 December 2009

London Chess Classic

The strongest tournament to be played in London in 25 years kicks of tomorrow. The London Chess Classic has the top 4 English players (Short, Adams, McShane and Howell) and 4 Super GM's (Carlsen, Kramnik, Nakamura and Hua) playing an 8 player RR. Alongside it will be a number of side events as well. Today is the drawing of lots, with the first round starting at 1400 GMT (1 am Canberra time) tomorrow.
Visit the official website for more details.

Sunday 6 December 2009

2009 Australian Schools Teams Championship

The 2009 Australian Schools Teams Championship (not to be confused with the National Schools Championship) finished earlier today in Melbourne. Interestingly the 2 open sections (Secondary and Primary Schools) were won by Victorian teams, while the 2 girls sections were won by Queensland teams. Scotch College was the winner of the Open Secondary section, with Mount View the winner of the Primary. Somerset College finished first in the Girls Secondary, with Sommerville House winning the Girls Primary.
In the Girls Primary, ACT representatives Curtin Primary finished second, while Radford College placed third in the Girls Section. In the Open Primary Kaleen tied for 4th while Radford finished 5th in the Open Secondary.

Saturday 5 December 2009

The Dreaded Maroczy Bind

Over at Chessvibes there is an article concerning chess and rock music. One of the songs highlighted is "Bad losers on Yahoo Chess" by Half Man Half Biscuit (who also authored the classic "We built this village on a Trad. Arr. Tune.") They also discuss a couple of other songs and video clips that reference chess, but they miss one very obvious entry.
The New Zealand/Australian band Dragon once released a song called "The Dreaded Maroczy Bind". When I was first told this I found such a song title so unbelievable that I bet $20 that it was just a wind up. I was $20 poorer when I was shown a copy of "Dragon's Greatest Hits" with said song on it.
The explanation for the song and the title was that their songwriter Paul Hewson was not just a musician, but also a serious chess player. One of their big hits "April Sun in Cuba" was more subtly chess themed, being inspired by Capablanca, although he doesn't get a mention in the song.

Friday 4 December 2009

OK, don't take my rooks

One of the greatest games ever played (IMHO) was the clash between Steel and Amateur, Calcutta 1886. In the game White sacrifices his queen, and then 2 rooks, all the while marching his king up to a6 the effect a brilliant (if avoidable) mate.
Part of the charm of the game was that White chose an opening that exposed his king to attack. These days such games are a rarity, but not completely unknown. Just last month 2 strong US players chose to repeat the exact opening of the Steel v Amateur game, at least up until move 8. However Black tried a different line, and while I'm not sure whether White appreciated the significance of the change, Black quickly reached a winning position.

Pruess,D (2389) - Moreno,Ale (2391) [C25]
USCL SF 2009 ICC INT (1), 18.11.2009

1.e4 e5 2.f4 Nc6 3.Nc3 exf4 4.d4 Qh4+ 5.Ke2 d5 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.exd5 0-0-0 8.dxc6 (8. ... Bc5 was played by Amateur) 8. ... Nf6 9.cxb7+ Kb8 (D)
This move works against Bc5 but fails dismally in this game 10. ... Bxf3+ 11.gxf3 Re8+ 12.Ne4 Qh5 13.Kf2 Nxe4+ 14.Kg1 Bb4 15.Qxb4 Qxf3 16.Qe1 Ng3 0-1

Thursday 3 December 2009

Mmmm, Chess Pie

Chess Pie is apparently a staple desert pie from the southern states of the USA. I've never tried it (and now cannot, for medical reasons) but it sounds deadly (sugar, brown sugar and corn flour/syrup are just some of the ingredients).
It's name apparently has nothing to do with the game of chess, and may be a corruption of 'jest (just) a pie' as in "What are you eating?" "Jest pie".
If you want to give it a go (for Christmas desert) you can find a recipe, and some history, here.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

national Interschools Final

The national Interschools Final (not to be confused with a National Interschools Final or even the Australian Schools Teams Championship) was held in Melbourne on the 30th November&1st December.
The Australian Capital Territory was represented by a few schools, and all of them did well. In the Primary section Kaleen Primary finished 7th and Curtin Primary 10th, out of a field of 24 teams. Jamie-Lee Guo (Kaleen Primary) picked up bronze medal for scoring 6/7 (and edging out Michael Kethro from Curtin on countback).
In the Middle High School section (years 7-9) Alfred Deakin High finished third in a small field of 7 teams. Angus Gruen scored a bronze with 5.5/7.
In the Open High School section Alfred Deakin High did one better, finishing second in a 13 team field. This was particularly meritorious as the Government Education system in the ACT runs a High School/College model, where High Schools only go to year 10. Joshua Bishop completed the hat-trick of bronze medals, scoring 6/7 for a third place finish.
The winner of the Open Secondary was Aukland Grammar (from New Zealand obviously), while another NZ School, Sommerville, finished second in the Middle High School section.
Final standings can be found at the home page of the event organisers, Chesskids.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Ugly, ugly openings

Is 1.... f6 the ugliest reply to 1.e4? Possibly, although maybe 1. ... f5 deserves that title. I'm not even sure 1. e4 f6 has a name, although I know that 1.e4 f5 2.exf5 Kf7! does (The Tumbleweed if you are interested).
However while 1. ... f6 may be ugly, I have at least one game where it claims a high profile victim. Thomas Barnes used it against Paul Morphy back in 1858, and pulled off a victory. In fact the unheralded Barnes seemed to have quite a good record against Morphy (at least compared to everyone else), so may be it was the offbeat that put him off his game.

Morphy,Paul - Barnes,Thomas Wilson [B00]
London m1 London, 1858

1.e4 f6 2.d4 e6 3.Bd3 Ne7 4.Be3 d5 5.Nc3 dxe4 6.Nxe4 Nd5 7.Nh3 Be7 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qh6 Bf8 10.Qh4 Bg7 11.0-0 0-0 12.c4 Nxe3 13.fxe3 f5 14.Neg5 h6 15.Nf3 e5 16.Qxd8 Rxd8 17.Bc2 exd4 18.exd4 Bxd4+ 19.Nxd4 Rxd4 20.Rfe1 Kf7 21.c5 Be6 22.Rad1 Nc6 23.Rxd4 Nxd4 24.Ba4 g5 25.Rd1 Rd8 26.a3 f4 27.Nf2 Ne2+ 28.Kf1 Rxd1+ 29.Bxd1 Nd4 30.Ke1 Kf6 31.Kd2 Nb3+ 32.Bxb3 Bxb3 33.Ng4+ Kg6 34.g3 h5 35.Nf2 Kf5 36.Kc3 Bd5 37.Kd4 c6 38.b4 Bg2 39.gxf4 Kxf4 40.a4 Bf1 41.Ne4 h4 42.Nd2 Be2 43.Ne4 g4 44.Nf2 Kf3 45.Ne4 Bf1 46.Ke5 Bd3 47.Ng5+ Kg2 48.Kd6 Kxh2 49.Kc7 Kg3 50.Kxb7 h3 0-1