Friday 31 December 2010

2010 Australian Player of the Year

Picking a ChessExpress player of the year for 2010 has been a little tougher than previous years, as the leading Australian players all seemed to have good years, without anyone having an outstanding year. An example of this was the 2010 Olympiad where the Open team played pretty much to their rating level.
However earlier in the year there was one significant performance for Australian chess and that was IM George Xie scoring his third GM norm at the O2C Doeberl Cup. He went through the event undefeated and scored wins over GM's Bojkov and Zhao. He continued to play good chess throughout the rest of the year, winning several weekenders and finishing in second place in the Yulgilbar-Think Big Australian Grand Prix.
Therefore George Xie is the (ChessExpress) 2010 Australian Player of the Year, and hopefully next year will see him pick up enough rating points to confirm his GM title.

Thursday 30 December 2010

Ikeda wins Gold Coast Chess Festival

The 2010 Gold Coast International had an exciting final round, with a number of players in a position to win the event. However id was FM Junta Ikeda who finished outright first after defeating Sally Yu, and seeing a couple of other results go his way. With the tournament using the 3-1-0 scoring system, Ikeda's 7 wins,1 draw and one loss was enough to finish ahead of Moulthun Ly (6 wins, 3 draws) and GM Zong Yuan Zhao (7 wins, 2 losses).
While the event did not have enough overseas players to qualify as a norm event, it did provide the opportunity for some players to pick up important rating points. Ly (who already has 3 IM norms) should move towards th 2400 mark he needs for the title, while Ikeda recovers some of the points he dropped at the Australian Junior Masters earlier this year.
The top two seeds (Zhao and Xie), might be dropping points, but at least they played what looks like the game of the tournament. The final round clash saw Xie choose an interesting idea in the French (10. ... g5) although the game was still theory up until move 15. Zhao then played a new move (16.Rf4 rather than 16.c3) and a few moves later sacrificed a piece for an attack on the king. Xie wasn't able to protect h7 and with mate beckoning, resigned.

Zhao,Zong-Yuan (2586) - Xie,George (2478)
2010 Gold Coast International Chess Tour Gold Coast (9), 29.12.2010

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 a6 8.Qd2 b5 9.a3 Bb7 10.Bd3 g5 11.fxg5 cxd4 12.Nxd4 Ncxe5 13.0-0 Bg7 14.Nce2 0-0 15.Ng3 Ng4 16.Rf4 Nde5 17.Raf1 Nxe3 18.Qxe3 Nxd3 (D)
19.Rf6 Nc5 20.Nh5 Bh8 21.Rh6 Ne4 22.Nf6+ Bxf6 23.gxf6 Qd6 24.Rh5 1-0

Wednesday 29 December 2010

Hastings 2010/11

One event that has stuck solidly to its traditional dates is the Hastings Chess Congress. Of course some things have changed over the years, with the Premier event being a swiss event rather than Round-Robin, involving a mixture of English players and various visiting GM's.
The event began yesterday, with its usual strong field (plenty of GM's are quite happy to play a swiss). Australian IM Aleks Wohl is also a participant, and is playing on the top board in round 2. Tournament home page is here, including links to live coverage and results,

Tuesday 28 December 2010

Bookshop raiding

About to head out for a day or two to the middle of New South Wales for a bit of RR. While net connection may be a little shaky, I'll hopefully make up for it by finding a few second hand bookshops to raid. Of course chess books are often a scarcity in those parts, but with crossed fingers I might strike it lucky.

Monday 27 December 2010

A shortage of arbiters

Within the last 3 weeks I was asked whether I would be able to be an arbiter at 3 different tournaments. Two of those requests were as last minute fill-ins, while the other was further down the track. Unfortunately I had to say no to each request, as they clashed with prior commitments (which was a shame as I would have liked to do at least 2 of them).
The requests came from a couple of fellow (senior) arbiters, and during the discussion we agreed that there is a pretty small pool of arbiters in Australia to call upon. This partly explains why the same faces keep popping up at the 'big' events, although organiser preferences also play a part.
While there may be a few reasons why there aren't more arbiters in Australia, I would like to focus on one reason. I believe the lack of arbiter accreditation in Australia has a lot to do with the problem. Without accreditation there is no impetus for arbiter training, and there is no way that organisers know who is qualified to run their tournaments (apart from word of mouth). More importantly, the lack of accreditation also leads to a situation where potential arbiters are left behind/ overlooked as they themselves don't have a yard stick to measure themselves against. There may be a number of people who could do a good job of being an arbiter, they just don't realise it.
Of course the sensible solution is to have an arbiter training and certification program, as many other countries have, but movement in this area has been somewhat glacial. For the moment the training seems to be left with local clubs, with a belief that arbiters will just bubble up to the higher levels. From my experience this hasn't really happened, and therefore a new approach is what is required.

Sunday 26 December 2010

Gold Coast Chess Festival begins

There was a time when the post Christmas period was either for playing in the Australian Open/ Championship or not playing chess at all. Then a decline in numbers for these events made potential organisers think that no one really wanted to play chess in the period between Christmas and New Year, and for the last few years the Australian Open/ Championship has started in the New Year (usually the 2nd).
However other organisers decided that people did want to play in the period between Christmas and New Year (even if they didn't want to play in the Australian Champs/Open), and began to slot events into that period.
One event that is taking advantage of this gap is the Gold Coast International. This event has attracted a field of 55 players, with a couple of strong players at the top (GM Zong Yuan Zhao, IM George Xie), a group of up and coming junior players (Ly, Ikeda, Morris, Brown and Nakauchi), and a then a field consisting mainly of Queensland players.
The event started today, with the first two rounds being completed. Results have gone mostly to seedings, although a couple of players in the top 10 were held to second round draws. One nice feature of this event is the live coverage of the top 10 boards, (using the Monroi devices), meaning I can divide my time between chess and the cricket (shudder!).
Here is a game from round 2 where 4th seed FM Junta Ikeda demolishes his opponent after an unwise two pieces for rook and pawn exchange.

Ousmand,T N (1757) - Ikeda,Junta (2262)
2010 Gold Coast International Chess Tour Gold Coast (2), 26.12.2010

1.d4 g6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 a6 4.e4 Nd7 5.Be2 Bg7 6.Bg5 c5 7.d5 Qa5 8.Qd2 Rb8 9.f4 b5 10.cxb5 axb5 11.Nxb5 Rxb5 12.Bxb5 Qxb5 13.Rb1 Ngf6 14.Bxf6 Nxf6 15.Nf3 Nxe4 16.Qe2 Qb4+ 17.Nd2 Nxd2 18.Qxd2 Qe4+ 19.Kf2 Bd4+ 20.Kg3 Be3 0-1

Saturday 25 December 2010

A random Christmas Game

While we are all recovering from what was hopefully an enjoyable Christmas Day, the chess world moves on. Yesterday saw Hou Yifan become Womens World Champion, while tomorrow sees the Gold Coast Chess Festival kick off.
While I don't have any games played today at hand, I did dig
up this game played a few years ago. While it involved a couple of 2500+ players, I wonder if Black had too much of the Christmas spirit, as he seemed to gift White a fairly straight forward attack.

Predojevic,B (2645) - Stojanovic,Da (2510) [C10]
3rd ch-BIH Sarajevo BIH (8), 25.12.2007

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6+ Nxf6 7.Be3 Nd5 8.Bd2 c5 9.dx
c5 Bxc5 10.Bd3 Qc7 11.Qe2 a6 12.0-0-0 Nf4 13.Bxf4 Qxf4+ 14.Kb1 0-0 15.g3 Qf6 ((D)
16.Ne5 g6 17.f4 Bd6 18.h4 Rd8 19.h5 Bf8 20.hxg6 hxg6 21.Qh2 Bg7 22.Qh7+ Kf8 23.Be4 Rxd1+ 24.Rxd1 Rb8 25.Rd7 Qxe5 26.Rd8+ 1-0

Friday 24 December 2010

It is not to late to get something for Christmas!

Although Christmas is only 30 minutes away (AEST) you still have time to get that very last minute gift. With the advent of online software purchase and delivery ( *cough* steam *cough*) it has become substantially easier to round out your shopping with that cheap and almost useless gift. Of course this depends on your intended recipient being heavily into computer games, so I would recommend it for the younger members of the family.
One potential purchase in the area is Chessmaster X, which now appears to be renamed as Chessmaster Challenge (I assume they are the same program based on the screenshots). I had picked up a copy of this for around $20 a few years back, but it seems to no longer be in stock, as I haven't seen a copy for 18 months or so. However while checking the online store at Steam, I spotted it retailing for $2.49 US (which is about $2.49 Aus these days). Of course you might chew up a little band with downloading it, but even now I know of some ISP's who don't even charge for this.

(Note: I am not affiliated with or paid by any of the retailers mentioned in this post)

Thursday 23 December 2010

A puzzle for arbiters

Courtesy of Stewart Reuben comes the following puzzle. According to the FIDE Laws of Chess, what was the last move in this game?
Now as it is a puzzle for abiters, and an arbiter should always have the rule book handy, I'll point you in the right direction. Rule 9.6 of the current Laws of Chess is your friend.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

The Season of Quizzes

Just about every blog I read seems to be running some sort of Xmas quiz. Annoyingly, at least for those who are loyal members of the Free Internet Chess Server, the prizes on offer are yearly memberships of another, very naughty, chess server.
Now while this blog does not do quizzes of this sort, I actually do a quiz every year in the magazine Australasian Chess. It is always 10 chess problems of varying degrees of interest, difficulty and evil. There are prizes on offer for the players with the best score (normally GM David Smerdon btw) which are provided by Australian Chess Enterprises.
But the reason I'm pointing this out now, is while the quiz has appeared in the latest issue of Australasian Chess, the editor forgot to include the information on the prizes. So after talking with him here are the details: Australian Chess Enterprises are offering book prizes to the two highest scorers in the 2010 Xmas Quiz. Entries can be sent via email to or by post to Australian Chess Enterprises PO Box 370 Riverstone NSW 2765

(Disclaimer: I am a paid contributor to Australasian Chess)

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Another cheapo draw

Another addition to the collection of cheapo draws that the peacefully inclined player should know. This is from the current Russian Championship and ended, like all good cheapo draws do, in a draw by repetition. Once White takes on c6 with the queen, the repetition is forced, and both players had the rest off the day off.

Zvjaginsev,Vadim - Grischuk,Alexander [B53]
Russian Championship, 20.12.2010

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bb5 Nd7 7.Qa4 Nb6 8.Bxc6+ bxc6 9.Qxc6+ Bd7 10.Qb7 Bc8 11.Qc6+ Bd7 12.Qb7 Bc8 ½-½

Monday 20 December 2010

Chess on Christmas Day

Obviously different cultures have a differing approach to Christmas, and this even spills over to the chess world. In the past the Asian Club Cup has run over the Christmas period, and this year there are a couple of events that run pretty close.
In Queensland the 2010 Gold Coast Chess Festival starts on the 26th of December. While this avoids Christmas day itself, those travelling from interstate may need a Christmas afternoon departure to make it in time for the first round.
Even trickier is the schedule for the Singapore Open/Asean Championship. It also begins on the 26th of December, but there is a players meeting scheduled for the afternoon of the 25th. So in this case you have to spend your Christmas Day at a chess tournament, not playing chess!

Sunday 19 December 2010

A Treasure Trove of Historical Film

Via William Edward Winter (Chessnotes) and John Saunders comes a link to a treasure trove of historical chess film. While the collection is centered around former world champion Max Euwe, also featured are former world champions Capablanca, Alekhine and Botvinnik. There are interviews and tournament footage, and while the page is in Dutch, it is pretty easy to identify which clips show which players.
The link to the films is here. Note: You may be required to configure your inline video player before viewing the first film.

Saturday 18 December 2010

Rain interrupts play

Starting with last years event, the ACTCA Rapidplay Championship has been held outdoors in the middle of Canberra's main shopping district. Of course in choosing such a venue, the effect of inclement weather has to be taken into account, and so it turned out for this year. Despite a forecast for clear skies (on Thursday) by this morning this had changed to 'isolated showers'. Still there was hope that the rain would hold off and allow the tournament to run smoothly.
In fact it held off for all of 2 minutes into the first round, when suddenly the downpour started. Fortunately we had a backup plan, which was to grab sets, boards, clocks and everything else, and sprint indoors to King O'Malley's. Resetting the tournament only took a further 10 minutes, and we were underway with only minimal delay.
After the initial excitement, the tournament became a procession for FM Junta Ikeda after the half way mark. By the end of 7 rounds he had scored 7/7, finishing 1.5 points ahead of second placed Yi Yuan. Back in third place were FM Endre Ambrus, Allen Setiabudi and Miles Patterson.

Ikeda,Junta - Ambrus,Endre [D37]
ACT Rapidplay Championship, 18.12.2010

1.Nf3 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.d4 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0-0 6.e3 b6 7.Rc1 Nh5 8.Be5 f6 9.Bg3 Nxg3 10.hxg3 c6 11.Bd3 g6 12.Qc2 Kg7 13.Rh2 Ba6 14.b3 c5 15.cxd5 exd5 16.dxc5 bxc5 17.Rd1 d4 18.exd4 cxd4 19.Bxa6 Nxa6 20.Nxd4 Qb6 21.Kf1 Rad8 22.Re1 Bb4 23.Ne6+ Kg8 24.Nxf8 Bxf8 25.Ne4 Bb4 26.Qc4+ Kg7 27.Rc1 Rd4 28.Qe2 Qe6 (D)
29.Rxh7+ Kg8 30.Rc8+ Bf8 31.Qe3 Rxe4 32.Rh8+ Kf7 33.Rcxf8+ 1-0

Friday 17 December 2010

I don't get no respect

So said the late Rodney Dangerfield. Such a comment may also apply to the Russian Championship, which seems to slip under the radar in terms of Super GM events each year. This can possibly be explained by the fact that not 'every' top Russian player is playing, but this only seems to reduce the strength marginally.
This years event has Svidler, Grischuk, Karjakin etc taking part, and with 6 rounds already played, Svidler leads with 4.5. Karjakin is in second on 4 while Grischuk and Nepomnichtchi are tied for third on 3.5.
The 6th round saw Svidler move into the outright lead with a nicely played win over Malakhov.

Svidler,Peter (2722) - Malakhov,Vladimir (2712) [C67]
63rd ch-RUS Moscow RUS (6), 16.12.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Be7 6.Qe2 Nd6 7.Bxc6 bxc6 8.dxe5 Nb7 9.c4 0-0 10.Nc3 f6 11.Re1 fxe5 12.Qxe5 Bf6 13.Qh5 g6 14.Qh6 Bg7 15.Qh3 d6 16.Qg3 Qd7 17.h3 Nc5 18.Qh4 Ne6 19.Ng5 Nxg5 20.Bxg5 Rf7 21.Ne4 Bb7 22.c5 Raf8 23.cxd6 cxd6 24.Rad1 c5 25.Nxd6 Rxf2 (D)
26.Qxf2 Rxf2 27.Kxf2 Bf8 28.Re8 Qg7 29.Kg1 Bc6 30.Rc8 h6 31.Rxc6 hxg5 32.Ne4 Qe5 33.Nf6+ Kh8 34.Ng4 Qe8 35.Rc7 Bg7 36.Rxc5 Qb8 37.Kh1 Qxb2 38.Rc8+ Kh7 39.Rd7 Qb1+ 40.Kh2 Qb6 41.Rf8 1-0

Thursday 16 December 2010

Carlsen wins London 2010

After the debate and consternation concerning the scoring system for London 2010 Carlsen did what was needed to win the tournament, by beating Short in the final round. With Anand and McShane only drawing, Carlsen finished a full 2 points in front, under the 3-1-0 scoring system used in the event. Of course under the classical system all three would have tied on 4.5/7, but under the 'most wins' tie-break systems (which is used in some round robins) Carlsen would have still been the winner (although the 3 players may have split the prize money evenly).
Apart from the debate over placings, there were a number of interesting things in this event. McShane was the 'hero' of the event, finishing undefeated, and beating Carlsen in the first round. Of course Anand did likewise, but more is often expected of him. However his win over Carlsen will keep the 'World Champion v World No 1" argument bubbling along. (Note: He was my tip to win the event, although I didn't put this tip up on this blog).
Kramnik and Nakamura tied for 4th although Nakamura gains a few rating points while Kramnik drops a few. Of course if Kramnik had iced Carlsen in round 6 then this whole post might have been different. Of the remaining three English players Adam's would be the happiest, at least scoring 50% while Howell and Short were a long way back.

Wednesday 15 December 2010

What opening are you playing?

I once read a story from an Olympiad years ago, concerning a game between two women players on the lower boards. White started off by playing an opening that was familiar to her, but after 5 or 6 moves she decided something wasn't right. While her pieces seemed to be on the right squares, her opponents did not. So leaning across the board she said "Excuse me, I'm playing the Giuoco Piano, what opening are you playing?"
Now I'm not sure how true this story is, but I was reminded of it when I saw the following game from the current Womens World Championship. Against the Sicilian Defence Kovanova decides that the Giuoco Piano is a perfectly fine choice, and crushes her opponent in 25 moves.

Kovanova,B (2380) - Pogonina,N (2472) [B50]
WCh Women Antakya TUR (1.2), 05.12.2010

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 Nc6 4.0-0 Nf6 5.Qe2 e6 6.c3 Be7 7.Bb3 0-0 8.d4 Qc7 9.dxc5 dxc5 10.e5 Nd7 11.Bf4 Rd8 12.Nbd2 Nf8 13.Rad1 b6 14.Bg3 Bb7 15.Ne4 Rxd1 16.Rxd1 Rd8 17.Nf6+ Kh8 18.Ng5 Rxd1+ 19.Qxd1 Nd8 20.Qh5 gxf6 21.exf6 Qc6 (D)
22.Bd5 Qe8 23.Qh6 Bxf6 24.Qxf6+ Kg8 25.Be5 1-0

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Are 3 wins the same as 2 wins and 3 draws?

After 5 rounds of the 2010 London Chess Classic, 3 players share the lead. Anand and McShane have 2 wins, and 3 draws, while Carlsen has 3 wins and 2 losses. Of course the fact that they share the lead is a result of the 3-1-0 scoring system, which has provoked a degree of discussion in the chess world.
While this may seem to be a new debate, in a sense it is a topic that has been around for quite a while. Not in the direct sense of how many points should a win be worth compared to 2 draws, but in the indirect sense of what is a win worth when discussed in connection with tie-break systems.
In the Sonnenborn-Berger system the tie-break score is sum of the scores of the opponents you beat plus half the scores of the players you draw with. What of course is missing from this total is the scores of the players you lose to. It turns out that you get a better tie-break by losing to weaker players and beating stronger ones, meaning that losing to strong players has a bigger impact than beating weak ones. This has never seemed quite right to me, but I've never seen a way of fixing it up (if S-B does need fixing at all).
Of course 1-0.5-0 or 3-1-0 aren't the only way to score results. One suggestion is a 5-2-0 system, which if used in London would have Anand and McShane a point in front of Carlsen (which some people think is fair). However if you look at such proposals properly you will soon discover that scoring systems using 2n+1 - n - 0 points are the same as 1-0.5-0 if n becomes large enough. So if you travel down this road you may as well not travel at all.

Monday 13 December 2010

2010 ACT Rapidplay Championship

The traditional end of year Canberra chess event, the ACT Rapidplay Championship, is on again this coming Saturday. Last years event was very popular (42 players) with Junta Ikeda narrowly beating out GM David Smerdon for the title. For those who haven't played this before the venue is outdoors in City Walk (opposite Chicken Gourmet/ King O'Malley's) and if the weather is fine, it makes a glorious setting for a chess tournament.

2010 ACT Rapidplay Championship

Date: 18th December 2010
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 18th December)
Prizes: $100 first prize minimum, other prizes dependent upon entries.
Format: 7 round swiss
Time limit: G/15 minutes

Sunday 12 December 2010

The un-brilliancy

The most painful losses in chess are often the ones where you decide to go for glory only to find you have miscalculated and turned a good position into a stone cold lose. In Australian sorting slang this is sometimes called "blowing a sandshoe"*
I've done it on a couple of occasions (including a horrible loss in the 2000 Olympiad) so I do sympathise with Nigel Short after his 4th round game against Viswanathan Anand in the London Chess Classic. He had a good position for most of the game, but on move 35 he started his quest for the brilliancy prize, starting a sequence that involved a piece sacrifice. This gave him 2 mating ideas (Qh5 and Qe7) but Anand killed them both with 38. ... Qd6. Down a piece Short was then mated 5 moves later.

Short, Nigel - Anand, Viswanathan
London Chess Classic, 11.12.2010

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.f4 Nc6 4.Nf3 g6 5.Be2 Bg7 6.0-0 Nf6 7.Qe1 0-0 8.d3 e6 9.Kh1 b6 10.Bd2 Bb7 11.Qh4 Ne8 12.Qh3 Nd4 13.Nxd4 cxd4 14.Nd1 f5 15.c4 dxc3 16.Nxc3 Qd7 17.Rae1 Nc7 18.Bf3 Rab8 19.exf5 exf5 20.Bxb7 Rxb7 21.Qf3 d5 22.Rf2 Rbb8 23.Rfe2 Rf7 24.a3 d4 25.Nd1 Qd5 26.Qg3 Rff8 27.h4 Rfe8 28.h5 gxh5 29.Re7 Rxe7 30.Rxe7 Ne6 31.Rxa7 Kh8 32.Nf2 Bf6 33.Nh3 h4 34.Qf2 h6 35.Ng5 Nxg5 36.fxg5 hxg5 37.Bxg5 Bxg5 38.Qe2 Qd6 39.Qh5+ Qh6 40.Qf3 Rc8 41.Qxf5 Rc1+ 42.Kh2 Qd6+ 43.Kh3 Qg3# 0-1

* The source of the expression "to blow a sandshoe" is this accident here.

Saturday 11 December 2010

Chess Artwork/Posters

At some point in the past I had a small collection of chess tournament posters. It is quite possible I still have this collection, but given the dis-organised state of my chess library, it may be difficult to find. The posters were mainly from Australian chess events of the late 80's/ early 90's, including the Mercantile Mutual Masters events, and a number of Cepacol tournaments.
Wondering whether there was a central repository for such items on the internet (digital images rather than the real things) I did a quick google search. In a sense the central repository is the internet itself, as a number of links popped up, although some were for commercial outfits. This link is probably the best source, as it is the google link to a it's own collection of images. I've looked at the front page and they all look SFW (Safe for Work), so if you are interested in looking at chess posters from around the world (and are willing to ignore the cruft) this is a good place to start.

Friday 10 December 2010

2010 Australasian Masters

Round robin title norm tournaments have become a rarity these days, with most organisers finding that large swisses are a more cost effective format. A few months ago I mentioned that New Zealand were at least keeping the format alive with the George Trundle Masters, and I'm pleased to say that the Chess Victoria are doing the same in Australia with the 2010 Australasian Masters.
This 10 player round robin is currently being held at the Box Hill Chess Club and the organisers have cleverly assembled an international field by utilising some Australian based overseas registered players, as well as getting Michael Steadman over from New Zealand. So far 7 rounds have been held and IM Stephen Solomon is the pace setter with an impressive 6/7. A point back are Bobby Cheng and Erik Teichmann and with the IM norm requirement 6.5/9, these are the only 2 players with norm chances left.
Details of the event are on the Chess Victoria website, while live coverage of some games is here.

Teichmann,Erik - Illingworth,Max [A00]
Australasian Masters , 10.12.2010

1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 Bxb4 3.Bxe5 Nf6 4.c4 0-0 5.Nf3 Re8 6.e3 d5 7.Bb2 c5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Qc2 Nc6 10.a3 Ba5 11.Qxc5 Bb6 12.Qc4 Be6 13.Qa4 Qd6 14.Be2 Bf5 15.0-0 Re4 16.Qd1 Rd8 17.Nc3 Nxc3 18.Bxc3 Bc7 19.g3 Qg6 20.Qb3 h5 21.d3 Rg4 22.Qxb7 Bb6 23.Ne5 Nxe5 24.Bxe5 Bxd3 25.Bxd3 Rxd3 26.Rfd1 Rc4 27.Qa8+ Kh7 28.Qf3 Rxd1+ 29.Rxd1 f6 30.Bd6 Qf7 31.Rd5 g6 32.Bf4 Qe6 33.Qd1 h4 34.gxh4 Qe4 35.h5 f5 36.Bg3 Rc3 37.h3 Rxa3 38.Kh2 Ra2 39.Rd7+ Kg8 40.Qb3+ Kh8 41.Qxa2 1-0

Thursday 9 December 2010

London begins

The 2010 London Chess Classic started last night (Canberra time) and already there is plenty to talk about. The big shock was Luke McShane's win over Magnus Carlsen, where it is pretty safe to say that Carlsen was simply outplayed. Kramnik began with a win over Nigel Short, while Anand and Nakamura played a long draw. Interestingly the Adams v Howell game started with the same opening as Anand v Nakamura, bur rather than a long draw, Adams launched a decisive attack.
In the Womens Invitational Canberra WFM Shannon Oliver got of to the best possible start with a win over top seed Susan Lalic. And playing in the 160+ player Open is IM Aleks Wohl, although he was upset in the first round by a 2043 English opponent.

Adams,Michael (2723) - Howell,David (2611) [C67]
2nd London Chess Classic London ENG (1), 08.12.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Be7 6.Qe2 Nd6 7.Bxc6 bxc6 8.dxe5 Nb7 9.c4 0-0 10.Nc3 f6 11.Re1 fxe5 12.Qxe5 Bf6 13.Qg3 Nc5 14.Bg5 Nd3 15.Re3 Nxb2 16.Rae1 Bxg5 17.Nxg5 Qf6 18.Rf3 Qd8 19.Nce4 Ba6 (D)
20.Nxh7 Rxf3 21.gxf3 Kxh7 22.Ng5+ Kg8 23.Qh4 Bxc4 24.Qh7+ Kf8 25.Re5 Be6 26.Qh8+ Ke7 27.Qxg7+ Kd6 28.Ne4# 1-0

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Live from the tournament hall

Not really live, but vision from the tournament hall nonetheless. While live coverage of chess tournaments is mainly about relaying the moves via a web interface, there have been attempts at providing video coverage as well. For the moment this is often in the form of an end of round summary, interspersed with some live action shots. However I am sure there will come a time when video coverage of the games will begin to catch on (depending on cheap bandwith I guess).
Here is a taste of where this is heading (minus the shaky camera work). It is from the ChessKids national Championship and features Karl Zelesco (L) against Michael Kethro (R). There are more videos from Chesskids evets here (including the completion of this game).

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Oldies but goodies

Sifting through a number of games played last month, I cam across the following clash from the World Blitz Championship. I suspect Karjakin was playing the first few moves on auto-pilot and walked into quite an old trap. While the initial game was played in 1928 I'm pretty sure I've seen it in a number of guises (including a Reinfeld simul game).

Andreikin,Dmitry (2683) - Karjakin,Sergey (2760) [A27]
VI World Blitz Ch Moscow RUS (2.7), 16.11.2010

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 g6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5 Bg7 6.Bg5 Nge7 7.Nxd4 Bxd4 (D)
8.Qxd4 0-0N
[RR 8...Nxd4 9.Nf6+ Kf8 10.Bh6# 1-0 Muller-NN/Wenen 1928] 9.Nf6+ Kh8 10.Ng4+ 1-0

Monday 6 December 2010

London Chess Classic 2010

The London Chess Classic starts in a couple of days. The drawing of lots will take place on the 7th with the tournament starting on the 8th. Once again it will be an very strong event, with an average strength of 2729. Repeating last years format the field consists of 4 English GM's and 4 very strong non-English GM's. This year sees Viswanathan Anand take part, and the mini round robin between Anand, Carlsen and Kramnik will probably the highlight of the tournament.
Alongside the Classic are a number of other events, including a big open swiss, and an invitational womens event. Taking part on this event are Shannon Oliver (from Canberra) and Natasha Fairley from New Zealand.
Full details of the tournaments including live coverage, can be found at the tournament home page.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Canberra schools on tour - Pt 2

After last weeks ChessKids National Championships, Curtin Primary traveled across to Perth for the Australian Schools Teams Championship. joined by teams from Lyneham High, Kaleen Primary and Radford College. This two day event, organised by the Australian Junior Chess League, brought together the winning schools from each states schools competition (Hight School, Primary, High School Girls, Primary Girls).
According to Libby Smith, who accompanied the Curtin team to Perth, the winners of each the sections were
High School: North Sydney Boys High (NSW)
High School Girls: Sommerville House (QLD)
Primary: Deepdene (VIC)
Primary Girls: Mount View (VIC)

Of the Canberra schools, Curtin picked up Silver in the Girls Primary, Lyneham picked up Bronze Silver in the Girls High School, while Kaleen Primary and Radford College both finished 4th in their sections.

The tournament website is here.

Saturday 4 December 2010

Brains beat Brawn

In the recent Dutch Open Computer Chess Championship there were a number of familiar programs, albeit ones that were on the computer equivalent of steroids. Rather than running on a single processor as in the gold old days, a few of them turned up with a couple of hundred processors. At the top of the list was 'Jonny' with 800 processors, while Rybka and Deep Sjeng had 200+ processors at their disposal. However brute power wasn't enough as the game between Jonny and Rybka showed. Despite the lead in processing power, Jonny still got hacked to bits, and particularly fine attacking game. (A more detailed report on this tournament can be found here at Chessbase. And thanks to Milan Ninchich for alerting me to this game)

Jonny (800 cores) - Rybka 4.x (260 cores) [A87]
30 ODCCC Leiden (4), 27.11.2010

1.d4 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.c4 0-0 6.0-0 d6 7.Nc3 e6 8.Qc2 Nc6 9.Rd1 Qe7 10.a3 a5 11.Be3 Nd8 12.Ra2 b6 13.Ng5 Bb7 14.Bxb7 Nxb7 15.h3 a4 16.Nxa4 Nh5 17.Kh2 e5 18.dxe5 Bxe5 19.Nf3 f4 20.gxf4 Bxf4+ 21.Bxf4 Nxf4 22.Nc3 Qe6 23.Ng1 Ra5 24.Qe4 Re5 (D)
25.Qxb7 Rh5 26.Qe4 Rxh3+ 27.Nxh3 Qxh3+ 28.Kg1 Rf5 29.Rd5 Nxd5 30.Qe8+ Kg7 31.Qd7+ Kh6 32.Qxf5 Qxf5 33.cxd5 Qg5+ 34.Kh2 Qd2 0-1

Friday 3 December 2010

Like deja vu all over again

I've been following the fall out from the decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, and at this early stage it looks like a re-run of the post FIDE election coverage from 2 months ago. The reactions of the fans and media of the losing countries seem to be a mixture of disbelief and bitterness, with suggestions that the whole voting process was flawed. Coupled with accusations that FIFA is a 'corrupt' organisation, and it all looks very familiar to anyone who follows FIDE politics.
However one interesting difference is that their are some arguing for an expanded voting pool, even going so far as to suggest one country one vote. This is a marked change from the media reaction to the FIDE election, where there were suggestions that only 'real' chess countries should vote, where 'real' was implicitly defined as either Western European, or simply Karpov supporting countries.
This article from the BBC concerning the FIFA vote makes some good points (eg more voters means less scope for corruption), which those campaigning for a reduction in the FIDE voting pool should take note of. However, as long as people keep losing elections, they will look everywhere except at their own campaign to explain their defeats, and as long as they do, they will keep losing elections.

Thursday 2 December 2010

Another Brain Teaser

Having failed to solve the problem mentioned in this post, the best I can do is throw up another puzzle (from the entertaining book "The Chicken from Minsk").

Two mathematicians, Igor and Pavel, met in the street. "How are you? How are your sons?" asks Igor. "You have three sons as I remember, don't you? But I have forgotten their ages". "Yes I do have three sons", replies Pavel. "The product of their ages is 36". Looking around and then pointing to a nearby house, Pavel says, "The sum of their ages is equal to the number of windows in the building over there." Igor thinks for a minute and then responds, "Listen, Pavel, I cannot find the ages of your sons." "Oh, I am very sorry," says Pavel; "I forgot to tell you that my eldest son has red hair." Now Igor is able to find the ages of the brothers. Can you?

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Barden's Schedule for Rating Performance

I had an interesting query about what defines a "promising" junior player. However it wasn't a query about temperament or skills but something more direct and quantifiable. The question was essentially about the relationship of rating to age, and whether this was a predictor of future success.
The question sparked a memory of something I read in the very excellent "Play Better Chess" by Leonard Barden. Towrds the back of the book Barden had a table of BCF grades and player ages which indicated whether a player would reach 2200 by the age of 23. As I couldn't find it online anywhere I dug up my copy of the book. Here is an abridged version of the table (translated into ELO ratings), with the caveats that it was published in 1980, the translation of BCF to ELO ratings (using the BCF*8+600=FIDE formula) isn't always accurate, and ACF ratings may or may not be 200 points lower than their FIDE equivalents.

  • Age -> Rating
  • 6 1000
  • 7 1160
  • 8 1288
  • 9 1408
  • 10 1512
  • 11 1600
  • 12 1680
  • 13 1760
  • 14 1832
  • 15 1892
  • 16 1948
  • 17 2000
  • 18 2044
  • 19 2084
  • 20 2120
  • 21 2152
  • 22 2176
  • 23 2200

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Canberra schools on tour

The last few years have seen a couple of Canberra schools take an end of year chess tour to the ChessKids National Schools Finals and the Australian Schools Teams Championship (ASTC). This year Curtin Primary School had teams in the Primary and Primary Girls Finals, with the Curtin Girls Team continuing on to the ASTC Finals in Perth.
In the ChessKids event the Curtin Girls finished runner up behind Doncaster Gardens Primary. Emma Dunstone and Lucy Sugerman both scored 5/7 for Curtin, with Emma picking up the Bronze medal on tie break. In the Primary Open Michael Kethro, representing the Curtin Open team picked up the Gold for best individual performance with 6.5/7, beating out Ari Dale on tie break.
Full results from all the sections are at the ChessKids website.

Monday 29 November 2010

Are studies created or discovered?

A while ago I saw part of a discussion on using computers to compose problems and studies. While I didn't read the whole discussion, and indeed I've now forgotten where I read it, there was one point I found interesting. It was the suggestion that studies aren't composed, as all possible chess positions already exist. Instead all that happens is that the correct evaluation of an existing position is found.
While this seems to have an undeniable logic about it, it of course doesn't explain why some problems are more highly regarded than others. This is because while all positions may exists, some positions are more interesting than others. As an example compare the following study by Grigoriev against the well known position of wKe6,wPe5,bKe8. While both have the same evaluation (White wins), the Grigoriev position poses a greater challenge.

Sunday 28 November 2010

2010 ACTJCL Transfer Tournament

The 2010 ACT Junior Chess League Transfer tournament was won by brother and sister team of Megan and Allen Setiabudi. They scored an impressive 10/11 to finish a point ahead of Harry Press/James Ashton, and Joshua Bishop/Matthew Bennett. I teamed up with O2C Doeberl Cup organiser Charles Bishop to form the only all Adult team in the event, and we managed to finish in 4th place on 8/11. Funnily enough we each had a child in the teams that finished just ahead of us, so that is an achievement of one sort.
The event was a 'fun' event and was played in good spirit. We were the victims of a little bit of Transfer skulduggery when in one game Charles's opponent helpfully reminded him he hadn't pressed his clock. When Charles pressed his clock the same opponent then helpfully pointed out he had left his king in check and claimed the game. "Just part of transfer" was my comment to Charles after the game.
Once again it was a popular event with 32 teams (64 players) taking part, including a number of new teams. At the end of the event the participants were rewarded with a big pizza dinner and I suspect their may be a number of kids looking to take a day off school tomorrow as a result!

Saturday 27 November 2010

Beating a bad opening at last

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nc3?! Nxe4 is one of the openings that on one hand is considered dubious (for White) and yet I have a very poor score against. I've lost games in Olympiads, drawn games from advantageous positions, and I was once even mated in under 10 moves! So when I do win from this position I now feel quite pleased.
I managed a win at Street Chess today, although it was due to my opponents eagerness to attack rather than my good play. But a win is a win, so I will show it here. (of course the next round I got mated on move 12, but that is another story)

A.N. Other - Press,Shaun [C55]
Street Chess, 27.11.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Nxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 6.Bd3 dxe4 7.Bxe4 Bd6 8.d3 0-0 (D)
9.Ng5 h6 10.Qh5 Qe8 11.0-0 Ne7 12.f4 f5 13.Qxe8 Rxe8 14.fxe5 Bc5+ 0-1

Friday 26 November 2010

Correcting Karpov

"And another thing, not a direct betrayal,
but still a betrayal, which was a big surprise
for me, was New Zealand. I knew the New
Zealand federation took the decision to vote
for me. The federation president ap-
proached me two days before and said "You
know we support you, and I will vote for
you", but the next day, when we checked the
proxies, we found that the President gave a
proxy to Papua New Guinea. But he was
there, why didn't he vote? Maybe he is still
honest, he didn't want to cheat directly, but
he gave a proxy to a country that supported
the other side."

The above quote appeared in the November issue of the British Chess Magazine and was part of an interview that Anatoly Karpov had given concerning the 2010 FIDE elections. It is part of a larger explanation about why he failed in his election bid, and is part of the belief this loss was due to a betrayal by groups of countries. Of course the problem with the above quote is that most of it isn't true.
What Kaprov said concerning the New Zealand Chess Federation was refuted in the same issue of BCM. NZCF President Paul Spiller pointed out a number of errors in the statement, including the impossibility of Karpov speaking to him 2 days before the vote, simply because he was not in Khanty-Mansiysk .
As for the claims concerning the Papua New Guinea Chess Federation, they are also not true. While the Papua New Guinea Chess Federation held the proxy for New Zealand, our delegate voted as per the instructions of the NZCF, and significantly, these instructions had not been changed at any point before the Congress (as pointed out by Paul Spiller in BCM). He also stated that the PNGCF 'supported the other side', which is also not true. Although the FIDE elections were conducted as a secret ballot, and Karpov would have absolutely no idea who voted for who, unless he was told by the delegate/federation concerned, by simply checking with the PNGCF, we would have happily told him that we in fact abstained, and voted for neither candidate. This fact was known to members of his campaign team prior to the election, and I certainly made no secret of it after the ballot either.
Ideally in this post I would be able to quote a Karpov apology after I had explained to him the facts of the matter, however he is a hard man to catch. The closest I got was via some helpful ex-members of his campaign team. Unfortunately they have found it just as difficult to contact him over this matter and so I have no idea if he even knows what he said was untrue. Ironically later in the interview he said "It is important that people know the truth about what happened." As it turns out, the interview probably wasn't that helpful for any future campaign (and not just for the untrue things said), but for Karpov it ultimately may not matter. The word from inside the camp is that Karpov is done with FIDE politics and won't be making a run in 2014.

Thursday 25 November 2010


The annual ACT Junior Chess League Transfer tournament is being held this Sunday (28th November) at Campbell High School, Trealor Cres, Ainslie, ACT. Registrations start at 12:45 and entry is $10 per player. Although Transfer is a partnership game, don't worry if you don't have a partner as there will be plenty of teams put together on the spot. If you need a refresher on the rules, the this post on my Chess Rules blog should bring you up to speed.
This is always a popular event, and most importantly, is not restricted to juniors. Any one can play, and there are usually a large number of adults who take part. In fact last year I suggested that this tournament is a de-facto Australian Transfer Championship, and as no one challenged this claim, I am happy to make it again this year! So as they say, "come on, if you're hard enough".

Wednesday 24 November 2010

2011 O2C Doeberl Cup

While it is still 5 months away, the 2011 O2C Doeberl Cup is now accepting entries. The website for next years tournament is up and running with all the details of the 4 main tournaments (plus the lightning event). The Premier is once again 9 round swiss with title norm opportunities, and a prize pool of $12,350. The Major (Under 2000) has a first prize of $1500 while the Minor (Under 1600) has a first prize of $750.
As the website has only just gone live, the entry list is empty at the moment. So the opportunity exists to be (a) the first player to enter and (b) be the top seed in Premier/Major/Minor (if only briefly!)

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Chess playing robots - an update

About 3 years ago I posted an article on this blog about the potential development of a real chess playing robot. In the article I suggested it might become a reality in 3 to 5 years time. This week there was the news of Vladimir Kramnik playing blitz against a robot, so it looks like it is getting closer.
However I say 'closer', as opposed to 'here', as the setup for the Kramnik game fell short of what I had envisaged. Based on the news report and pictures, it looks like the game was played on a DGT board against a robot arm. I'm guessing the board transmitted the moves to a computer running a chess program, and the computer then told the robotic arm controller the actions to take in reply. Visually impressive, but on one level, fairly simple (not saying I could have built such a system btw).
What I would like to see is (a) a system that can play on any kind of board using vision processing to determine the moves (b) a robotic arm to play the moves, press the clock, and set up the pieces for the next game and (c) be mobile so it isn't restricted to one specific location in a tournament. And for extra credit, a voice recognition and response system that allows the program to analyse at the end of the game.
Not much to ask for really, although my meagre attempts at part (a) haven't had good results so far.

Triple Threat

In the Sunday morning round of the Vikings Weekender there was an interesting arrangement of players in the middle boards. Three ACT juniors, who had all started their chess careers at the host club, were seated at adjacent boards. While such an arrangement can sometimes cause difficulty for the Director of Play (certainly in less formal tournaments), the only trouble they caused was for their opponents. Each game was heavy on tactics, and each game finished reasonably quickly.

Egan,Bill - Qi,Glen [E73]
2010 Vikings Weekender (5), 21.11.2010

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qd2 Re8 8.Nf3 e5 9.d5 Nc5 10.0-0-0 Qd7 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.h4 a5 13.h5 a4 14.hxg6 fxg6 15.Rh2 a3 16.Rdh1 Nb3+ 17.axb3 a2 18.Nxa2 Rxa2 19.Kb1 Ra8 20.Rxh7 Qxh7 21.Rxh7 Kxh7 22.Nh2 b6 23.Bg4 Bb7 (D)
24.Be6 Rxe6 25.dxe6 Bxe4+ 0-1

Guo,Jamie-Lee - Ingham,Glenn [C02]
2010 Vikings Weekender (5), 21.11.2010

1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.Bd3 Bd7 7.0-0 cxd4 8.cxd4 Nxd4 9.Nxd4 Qxd4 10.Nc3 Qxe5 11.Re1 Qc7 12.Nxd5 Qc5 13.Qb3 0-0-0 14.Bf4 Qxd5 15.Qxd5 exd5 16.Rac1+ Bc6 17.Bf5+ Rd7 18.Re8# 1-0

Derwent,Ethan - Press,Harry [D60]
2010 Vikings Weekender (5),

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.e3 0-0 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Bxe7 Qxe7 9.Bd3 Rd8 10.0-0 b6 11.Re1 Bb7 12.Rc1 c5 13.e4 Nf4 14.Bb1 cxd4 15.Nxd4 Qg5 16.g3 Ne5 (D)
17.Kh1 Ng4 18.Rc2 Nh3 19.Kg2 Nhxf2 20.Rxf2 Nxf2 21.Kxf2 Qf6+ 22.Ke3 e5 0-1

Sunday 21 November 2010

2010 Vikings Weekender - Final Day

The 2010 Vikings Weekender turned into a real battle, with the top 4 seeds fighting to catch up with day 1 leaders Andrey Bliznyuk and Blair Mandla.
In the first round of the day Bliznyuk defeated Mandla to take the sole lead with 5/5. Round 6 saw Bliznyuk maintain his lead with a win over Anton Smirnov. The win also guaranteed Bliznyuk a share of first place as he was now a full point ahead of the the chasing pack. Going into the last round Bliznyuk faced Endre Ambrus, who despite winning all his games up until this point, had also taken 2 half point byes, putting him on 5/6. Ambrus continued his winning run, defeating Bliznyuk with a succession of nice tactics, leaving them sharing first on 6/7. Blair Mandla had a chance to catch them but could only draw with Vladimir Smirnov to finish half a point back. Also tying for third were Junta Ikeda who scored 3/3 on the second day, and Alan Setiabudi, who went through the event undefeated.
Full results and prize winners are available at the Vikings Chess Club webpage.

Saturday 20 November 2010

2010 Vikings Weekender - Day 1

A healthy field of 55 players fronted up fir the 2010 Vikings Weekender in Canberra. There were a couple of last minute withdrawals amongst the older junior players (due to the pressures of schoolwork) but it was a strong field nonetheless.
For the first time the tournament added an extra Saturday round (4 today, 3 tomorrow) as the feeling was that 6 rounds wasn't enough to sort the field. However there were a number of players who took half point byes for the evening round, including a couple of the top seeds. As it turns out this was a smart move on their part as round 4 saw a number of significant upsets.
After 4 rounds the only players on 4/4 are Blair Mandla and Andrey Bliznyuk. Bliznyuk defeated top seed Max Illingworth, while Mandla won over second seed Junta Ikeda. Tied for third are Vladimir Smirnov and Endre Ambrus (who both missed round 4) and Allen Setiabudi (who drew with Ikeda in round 3).
A full crosstable of the event is available in the comments section.

Friday 19 November 2010

Larry Evans (1932-2010)

American GM and author Larry Evans passed away a few days ago. While not so well known to the latest generation of chess players, he was a notable figure as a play in the years after the Second World War, before achieving more fame as Bobby Fischer's collaborator (he wrote the intro's to 60 Memorable Games) and second. In later he years he also filled the job as the protector of Fischer's legacy, going so far as to keep fighting the battles Fischer left behind in retirement.
As an author his best work was probably "New Ideas in Chess", first published in 1958. A manual on positional chess, it is a book that would help almost any player, regardless of strength. He was also a long time columnist for Chess Life, providing both tips to improving players, and his take on the world of chess politics.
A full obituary appears on the Chessbase website.

Thursday 18 November 2010

More mate by castling

The following miniature was played at the Belconnen Chess Club this evening. Black lost a pawn due to the 'breaking a pin with check' trick, but tried to hang on by starting a kamikaze run with his king. It didn't survive long. At the completion of the game White demonstrated one cute variation where the Black king makes it all the way to the end of the board before being checkmated by castling. I've included the variation on the notes.

Ali,Mos - Beare,Nick [C30]
Belconnen 18.11.2010

1.e4 e5 2.f4 Bc5 3.Nf3 d6 4.Bc4 Bg4 5.fxe5 dxe5 6.Bxf7+ Kxf7 7.Nxe5+ Ke6 8.Qxg4+ Kxe5 9.Qf5+ Kd4 10.c3+ Kc4 [10...Kd3 11.Qf3+ Kc2 12.Qd1+ Kd3 13.Qe2+ Kc2 14.d4+ Kxc1 15.0-0#] 11.Qf1+ [11.Qf1+ Qd3 12.b3+] 1-0

Wednesday 17 November 2010

There is no such word as a blunder in blitz.

The title of this post comes from a comment on the Chessvibes site concerning the current World Blitz Championship. Certainly at the top level, you might see less blunders than your run of the mill blitz event, but of course the quote is referring to the fact that blitz is pretty much "anything goes".
This hasn't stopped Carlsen and Aronian putting there stamp on the event, scoring 10/14 at the end of the first day. The other big talking point (at least amongst the chattering classes on Chessvibes) is the performance of Hikaru Nakamura. Having held the top spot on ICC in Blitz for a number of years he was considered one of the favourites, but a horrible 1/5 start left him in the middle of the field at the end of day 1.
Results from this 3 day event can be found here. There is also live coverage of the games, but given the time limit 3m+2s, it is kind of hard to follow everything at once!

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Digging through history

The other day I was annotating a game for the upcoming issue of Australian Correspondence Chess Quarterly. The game started with Botvinnik Gambit in the Semi-Slav, and given how well known (and often played) this line is, it was hardly surprising I found the first 15 moves pretty familiar (especially as it involves a queen sac by White). In fact I even played the black side of the position back in 1995, and suffered the fate of most players with the black pieces (ie I lost). Doing a bit of digging to see how far back this specific line goes I was surprised that it was first played in 1959. Previously I had been aware of Hollis v Baumbach 1976 (via Jon Speelman's "Best Chess Games 1970-80"), and indeed Speelman himself believed the queen sac was a creation of Hollis', but it seems that it had been played at least 3 times previously.
Here is the original game, which actually ends in a win for Black. Since then however the scales are firmly tipped in favour of White, including the upcoming game in ACCQ.

Tan Hiong Liong - Sydor,Andrzej [D44]
Legion tt Warsaw (3), 1959

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 b5 7.e5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Nxg5 hxg5 10.Bxg5 Nbd7 11.exf6 Bb7 12.g3 Qb6 13.Bg2 0-0-0 14.0-0 Ne5 (D)
15.dxe5 Rxd1 16.Rfxd1 Bc5 17.Ne4 Bd4 18.Rd2 Rd8 19.Rad1 c5 20.Nd6+ Rxd6 21.Bxb7+ Qxb7 22.exd6 Qf3 23.Re1 e5 24.d7+ Kd8 25.h4 Qxg3+ 26.Kf1 Qh3+ 27.Ke2 Bxb2 28.Rb1 Bc3 29.Rd6 Bd4 30.Be3 Qg4+ 31.Kf1 a6 32.Ra1 Qh3+ 33.Kg1 Qf5 34.h5 Qxh5 0-1

Monday 15 November 2010

Dog bites Man

I've commented on the unfairness of simul coverage previously, where no matter how well the simul giver plays, it is the games they lose that get published (unless you are Alekhine of course). So to balance the equation here is a quick win by GM Ian Rogers from the simul against the leading ACT Juniors. However the identity of Ian's opponent is disguised as the traditional A.N. Other, mainly because he was the +1 board at the simul. (ie he wasn't a junior but a later ring in). At the completion of the game there was a thought he may have resigned a little to early, but it turns out he was dropping material no matter how he played it.
I've also added some pictures from yesterdays simul to my photo collection. Just click the My Chess Photos link on the left of this blog.

Other,A.N. - Rogers,Ian [C47]
GM Simul, 14.11.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 Bb4 5.Nxe5 0-0 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 Nxe4 8.Bxe4 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Re8 10.0-0 Rxe4 (D)
11.Qh5 d6 12.Rb1 Ba6 13.Rd1 Be2 [13...Be2 14.Qf5 Re6 15.Re1 Bg4 16.Bg5 Bxf5 17.Bxd8 Rxe1+ 18.Rxe1 Rxd8] 0-1

Sunday 14 November 2010

Grandmaster Coaching Weekend

The ACT Junior Chess League organisers quite a lot of chess activities for its members. Apart from tournaments and schools chess events, it runs a development program fro junior players. The culmination of this coaching program is the Grandmaster Coaching Weekend. This year GM Ian Rogers (along with FM Junta Ikeda and FM Endre Ambrus) took 3 groups of junior players and taught them a number of important (and interesting) ways of becoming stronger chess players.
On the last afternoon of the weekend Ian then gave a simul, both to the kids in the GM groups as well as the other development squad students. The simul was over 33(+1) boards and kept Ian, and his students occupied for the good part of three and a half hours. While Ian received a stern test from quite a number of players, he showed his skill as player hasn't been diminished by retirement, scoring 33 wins and 1 loss. The loss was to Joshua Bishop, who is making a habit of picking up GM scalps in simuls, having defeated GM David Smerdon earlier this year. Book prizes for the simul also went to Wenlin Yin (who unfortunately missed a winning line in his game) and Harry Press (the final game to finish).

Bishop,Joshua - Rogers,Ian [C45]
Simultaneous, 14.11.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Be3 Bb6 6.Bc4 Nge7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Nc3 d6 9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.Bxb6 axb6 11.f4 Be6 12.Bd3 f5 13.Qf3 Qd7 14.Rae1 Rae8 15.Ne2 c5 16.Ng3 fxe4 17.Qxe4 Nf5 18.Nxf5 Bxf5 19.Qd5+ Be6 20.Qh5 g6 21.Bxg6 hxg6 22.Qxg6+ Kh8 23.Qh6+ Qh7 24.Rxe6 Qxh6 25.Rxh6+ Kg7 26.Rh3 Re2 27.Rhf3 Rxc2 28.R3f2 Rxf2 29.Rxf2 d5 30.g4 d4 31.Kf1 d3 32.Ke1 c4 33.Kd2 b5 34.a3 Rh8 35.Kc3 Rh3 36.a4 c6 37.a5 c5 38.f5 Re3 39.g5 Re1 40.f6+ Kf8 41.g6 Rc1+ 42.Kd2 Rb1 43.Ke3 Re1+ 44.Kf3 Re6 45.Kg2 b4 46.h4 c3 47.bxc3 bxc3 48.h5 d2 (D)
49.f7 1-0

Saturday 13 November 2010

4NCL 2010/2011

The British teams competition, the 4NCL started the 2010/2011 season last weekend. I'm a keen watcher of this series, in part because a number of people I know take part in the competition. For example, the White Rose team is managed by my PNG team mate Rupert Jones, and they have got off to a good start over the first 2 rounds. After narrowly defeating the e2e4 team (which they slightly outrated), they scored a bigger victory (and a big upset) by winning 5.5-2.5 against Guildford A&DC, who outrated them by an average of 126 points across the 8 boards. So White Rose share joint first in their division and once again have good chances of qualifying for th European Club Championships again.

Friday 12 November 2010

2010 Vikings Weekender 20/21 November 2010

Only a week to go before the third of the Canberra chess weekenders, the Vikings Weekender. While it has always been considered the smallest of the three (the O2C Doeberl Cup and the ANU Open being the other 2), the last few years have seen fields of 60+ take part, which isn't too shabby. As a result of the good numbers in the last couple of years (plus some extra sponsorship), there has been an increase in the prize fund.
Already this years event is looking stronger as well, with 5 players (Illingworth, Ikeda, Smirnov, Ambrus and Brown) rated over 2100. Of course there will also be a number of up and coming Canberra players in the field (and not just juniors) so this may be the most wide open tournament for years.
You can enter online here (register early and pay on the day, there is no late fee!) and see the tournament brochure here.

Thursday 11 November 2010

Finding creative ways to draw

The so called 'Sofia' or 'Corsica' rules concerning draw offers have become so widespread in top level tournaments that it is more of a surprise when they are not in effect (eg at the 2010 Olympiad). However one thing I have noticed is that the enforcement of the rules tend not to be black and white, with 'entertaining' repetitions, and shortish games late in a tournament tending to slip by.
When I saw the results from the last couple of rounds of the Tal memorial (9 draws in 10 games), I figured that the organisers had had their pound of flesh and were showing some mercy to the players. Of course this wasn't the case, as most of the games were played to 'exhaustion' or in the case of the game below, ending with a creative perpetual.
If you do take the time to play through this game, the fun stuff starts on move 21, although the computer evaluation quickly hits zero, as the best lines are indeed drawing ones.

Kramnik,V (2791) - Wang Hao (2727) [E10]
Tal Memorial Moscow RUS (5), 10.11.2010

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.e3 Be7 5.b3 0-0 6.Bb2 Nbd7 7.Nc3 c5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Nxd5 exd5 10.Be2 Qa5+ 11.Qd2 Qxd2+ 12.Kxd2 Nf6 13.Bd3 b6 14.Rac1 Be6 15.Ng5 Bd7 16.Rc2 a5 17.dxc5 bxc5 18.Ba3 h6 19.Nf3 Ne4+ 20.Bxe4 dxe4 21.Ne5 a4 (D)
22.Bxc5 Bxc5 23.Rxc5 axb3 24.Nxd7 Rfd8 25.Rd5 Rdc8 26.Rb1 Rc2+ 27.Ke1 Raxa2 28.Rxb3 Re2+ 29.Kd1 Rxf2 30.Rb8+ Kh7 31.Nf8+ Kg8 32.Ng6+ Kh7 33.Nf8+ Kg8 34.Ng6+ Kh7 ½-½

Wednesday 10 November 2010

2010 Womens World Championship

Details of the 2010 Womens World Championship have been announced, including the pairings for the tournament. The event is a 64 player knockout, running from the 2nd to the 25th of December. Arianne Caoili is the representative from Oceania (after winning last years Oceania Zonal) but looks to have a tough time of, being seeded 55th and therefore getting a tough first (and subsequent) round pairing.
If you wish to follow this event, then here is the official website.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Tartakower's Anti-Dutch hack

Looking for an unsound 'hack' line against the Dutch. The Staunton Gambit with 4.g4 might just be the thing. Based on the game given below, Black can quickly find him or herself in a pile of trouble, with White steaming through the centre. However, as I said in the first sentence, it seems to be unsound. Black scores quite well against it in practice (with 4. ... h6 being the recommended move), although thus hasn't GM's like Bronstein or Conquest from wheeling it out. So if you are looking to play exciting chess, give it a go, but if winning is your thing, then it might be better to pass.

Tartakower,Saviely - Mieses,Jacques [A82]
Baden-Baden Baden-Baden, 1925

1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.g4 d5 5.g5 Ng8 6.f3 exf3 7.Qxf3 e6 8.Bd3 g6 9.Nge2 Qe7 10.Bf4 c6 11.Be5 Bg7 12.Qg3 Na6 13.0-0 Bd7 14.Bd6 Qd8 15.Qf4 1-0

Monday 8 November 2010

2010 Fisher's Ghost

The 2010 Fisher's Ghost weekender attracted a good field of 46 players. A number of players traveled up from Canberra (only 2 hours on the freeway), and by all reports did quite well.
Outright first was taken by IM George Xie (6.5/7) with Max Illingworth, Vladimir Smirnov, and Angelito Camer a point back in second place.
I'm not sure what the minor placings were, but Nick Beare picked up a rating prize, while Glenn Ingham had the pleasure of winning the following game against a much higher rated opponent.
(BTW If you want to know about the legend of Fisher's Ghost, click here)

Ingham,Glenn (1417) - Papantoniou,John (1943) [B22]
Fishers Ghost (2), 06.11.2010

1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 e6 6.Nf3 d6 7.Be2 Nc6 8.0-0 Be7 9.Nc3 Nxc3 10.bxc3 dxe5 11.dxe5 Qa5 12.Qb3 0-0 13.Bf4 Qc7 14.Bg3 Bd7 15.Bd3 Rfc8 16.Qc2 g6 17.Qd2 Bf8 18.Rfe1 Ne7 19.Rac1 Nf5 (D) 20.Bxf5 exf5 21.e6 Qc6 22.exd7 Rd8 23.Ne5 Qf6 24.Rb1 b6 25.Qd5 f4 26.Ng4 Qxc3 27.Bxf4 Bg7 28.Be5 Bxe5 29.Nxe5 Rf8 30.Nxf7 1-0

Sunday 7 November 2010

2010 Tal Memorial

The caravan moves on, with the latest stop the Tal Memorial in Moscow. However it is an almost complete change of cast, with only Kramnik backing up from Nanjing. Nonetheless it is once again an incredibly strong event.
Unlike the smaller double round robins where players tend to be a little conservative, this 10 player single round robin got of to a fighting start with 4 decisive games in the first round. The second round was a little quieter (only 2 wins), with 5 players sharing first place. There is live coverage starting at 11pm Canberra time, but as the official website is in Russian, a direct link to the games is here.

Shirov,Alexei (2735) - Wang Hao (2727) [C10]
Tal Memorial Moscow RUS (1), 05.11.2010

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Nbd7 6.Nxf6+ Nxf6 7.Nf3 h6 8.Be3 Nd5 9.Bd2 c5 10.Bb5+ Bd7 11.Bxd7+ Qxd7 12.c4 Nb6 13.Rc1 Be7 14.dxc5 Bxc5 15.b4 Be7 16.c5 Nd5 17.Ne5 Qc7 18.Qa4+ Kf8 19.f4 g6 20.0-0 Kg7 21.Qb3N Rhd8 22.Rce1 Bf6 23.Ng4 Bd4+ 24.Kh1 h5 25.Ne5 b6 26.cxb6 Qxb6 27.b5 Bxe5 28.fxe5 a6³ 29.a4 axb5 30.axb5 Rab8 31.Rb1 Qd4 32.Qb2 Qa4 33.h3 Rdc8 34.Bg5 Rb7 35.Qb3 Qe4 36.Bf6+ Kh7 37.Rfe1 Qd4 38.Red1 Qb6 39.Bh4 Rc3 40.Qa2 Qc7 41.Bf2 Rc2 42.Rb2 Rxf2 43.Rxf2 Nc3 44.Rc1 Nxa2 45.Rxc7 Rxc7 46.Rxa2 Rc1+ 47.Kh2 Rb1 48.h4 Rxb5 49.Re2 Rb1 50.Kg3 Rf1 51.Re3 Kh6 0-1

Saturday 6 November 2010

Endgame Agony

One of the criticisms of faster tournament time limits is that it doesn't allow players to play complex endings. While this is certainly true, I always felt it did reward players who knew their endgame technique. For example, a lot of Australian weekend events are played with a G60m+10s time limit, and a player who knew how to play "technical" endings could really clean up.
Today I saw a number of endings that fell into the category of "technical endings". They were all rook and pawn endings, they were all against the same player, they were all better for the players concerned, and the net score was 0.5/3. Granted the defending player made the task as difficult as possible, but he should have dropped at least 2.5 points.
The most amusing example is shown in the diagram. It is White's move and moving the rook along the rank (except to a7 or h7) is enough to win. However the game went 1.Kh5? Rh1+ 2.Kg6?? (not seeing the danger) 2. ... Rxh6+ Draw agreed. Interestingly White had demonstrated good technique to get to this position, but fell at the final hurdle.

Friday 5 November 2010

What the what now?

Via Chessbase comes the news that Magnus Carlsen has decided to drop out of the current World Championship Cycle. In an open letter to FIDE Carlsen lists a number of objections to the current world championship format, some to do with the current cycle, but some of a more 'historical' nature.
One of his major objections is that the reigning world champion gets a free ride to the championship match, and draws comparisons to the football World Cup, where the reigning champion has to qualify for the final like everyone else. His proposal (for the next cycle) is to have an 8-10 player tournament to decide the World Champion.
It will be interesting to see what the other leading players make of all this. I suspect he won't find much support (either with the top players to the general public), as historically chess has been a sport where you have to beat the champion to become the champion. That is not to say the current system is perfect, but the overall framework (Candidate matches with a matchplay final) is generally accepted as a good system, it is just the mechanics that need improvement.

Thursday 4 November 2010

Chessbase vanity

I'm hardly a 'power user' of Chessbase, so there are a lot of features that it has that I have yet to discover. In fact I'm still using Chessbase Light, although I've at least upgraded to the premium version.
But every now and then I poke around looking for a new feature that might be useful. For the Olympiad I discovered "Prepare against White/Black" under the Players tab, although in the end it did me little good. I might have been better to use the "Dossier" function under the same section, as this provides slightly more useful information.
Testing this feature on my own I games I discovered a couple of interesting things.Firstly Chessbase is missing a large set of my games, although this isn't a bad thing. Secondly there are a couple of openings I do really badly against, although what they are will remain unpublished for the moment. And thirdly there are a couple of players I have a horrible score against.
Due to the incomplete record it actually understates how badly I've done against certain players. For example it says I am -3 against Ian Rout (over 5 games) when I'm pretty sure it would be about -10 over 15 games (including yet another loss last week!). I suspect this poor score against Ian also impacts on my poor score in certain openings, so to balance the ledger I'll show a game from an opening where I actually score well (75%!), and coincidently, where I actually won against Mr Rout.

Press,Shaun - Rout,Ian Clive [A46]
Belconnen Club-ch Belconnen, 1994

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 c5 4.e3 Qa5+ 5.c3 Ne4 6.Bf4 cxd4 7.exd4 Nc6 8.Bd3 d5 9.Nbd2 f5 10.Ne5 Be7 11.Bxe4 Nxe5 12.Bxe5 dxe4 13.Bxg7 Rg8 14.Qh5+ Kd7 15.Qf7 Rxg7 16.Qxg7 Qb5 17.0-0-0 a5 18.Qe5 Qa4 19.d5 Qxa2 20.dxe6+ Qxe6 21.Nc4+ Ke8 22.Qh8+ Bf8 23.Nd6+ Ke7 24.Qxh7+ Kf6 25.Qh4+ Kg6 26.Qd8 Be7 27.Qe8+ Kg7 28.Nxf5+ Qxf5 29.Qxe7+ Kg6 30.Rd6+ Kh5 31.g4+ Qxg4 32.Qf7+ Kh4 33.Rh6+ 1-0

Wednesday 3 November 2010

One for the endgame files

From a 10s per move finish to a game played at the ANU Chess Club this evening.
First question: What should the result be? Second question: Does it depend on whether it is whites move or blacks?

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Two Kings Gambits!

The final of the Cape d'Agde tournament saw a remarkable showdown between Vasily Ivanchuk and Hikaru Nakamura. In the first game of their 2 game match, Ivanchuk decided to play the Kings Gambit, and managed to win after Nakamura declined to take the pawn. Then needing to win the second game, Nakamura decided to also play the Kings Gambit. In this case Ivanchuk did take the pawn, and held on to draw the game, and win the match.
While I'll include the first game below, it is better to go an watch the video of the final at, especially to see the body language of both players as their opponent s-l-o-w-l-y pushed the f pawn forward 2 squares!

Ivanchuk,Vassily (2754) - Nakamura,Hikaru (2733) [C30]
Trophee CCAS KO Cap d'Agde FRA (3.1), 31.10.2010

1.e4 e5 2.f4 Nc6 3.Nf3 f5 4.d3 d6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.g3 g6 7.Bg2 Bg7 8.fxe5 dxe5 9.Bg5 h6 10.Be3 0-0 11.0-0 fxe4 12.dxe4 Be6 13.a3 Kh7 14.Kh1 a6 15.Bg1 Rf7 16.Qe2 Nd4 17.Qd3 Nxf3 18.Qxf3 Rd7 19.Rad1 Bg4 20.Rxd7 Bxf3 21.Rxd8 Bxg2+ 22.Kxg2 Rxd8 23.Be3 g5 24.h3 Kg6 25.g4 c6 26.Rf2 b5 27.Rd2 Rxd2+ 28.Bxd2 Bf8 29.Kf3 h5 30.Ne2 hxg4+ 31.hxg4 Nd7 32.Nc1 c5 33.Na2 Nb8 34.c4 bxc4 35.Nc3 Nc6 36.Nd5 Nd4+ 37.Ke3 Kf7 38.Nb6 Ke6 39.Nxc4 Be7 40.Ba5 Nb5 41.Kd3 Nd6 42.Nxd6 1-0

Monday 1 November 2010

Last Lasker Victory?

As I've mentioned on this blog previously, I've always thought that Emanuel Lasker was a vastly underrated figure in the court of public opinion. I would certainly have him in my top 5 of all time great chess players, and not just at number 5 either. I've heard various reasons for his lack of recognition, including the fact he established no school or style, and that he didn't write much (but neither did Capablanca).
Now I'm not sure about the second reason, as I recently purchased a copy of "Lasker's Manual of Chess". According to the preface it was originally published in 1925, and is what I would term an 'old fashioned' chess text book, covering the entire chess spectrum, including how the pieces move, opening theory, how to play end games, and pretty much everything else in between. I suspect in those days the idea was to try and produce "The" chess book, rather than specialise.
While the book is full of a number of interesting games (from Lasker and others) I've instead dug up what is possibly Lasker's last victory (at least in a published game). It is against Ossip Bernstein and was played in New York in 1940.

Lasker,Emanuel - Bernstein,Ossip [B22]
New York game New York, 1940

1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 e6 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Be2 cxd4 7.cxd4 Bb4+ 8.Nc3 Nf6 9.0-0 Qd6 10.a3 Ba5 11.Qa4 0-0 12.Bg5 a6 13.Bxf6 gxf6 14.Rad1 b5 15.Qb3 Bc7 16.Ne4 Qe7 17.Qc3 Bb7 18.d5 Be5 19.Nxe5 Nxe5 20.f4 Rac8 21.d6 Qd8 22.Nxf6+ Qxf6 23.Qxe5 Qxe5 24.fxe5 Rc5 25.d7 Rd8 26.Bh5 Rxe5 27.Bxf7+ Kg7 28.Rd3 Rg5 29.g3 Rd5 30.Rxd5 Bxd5 31.Be8 a5 (D)
32.Rf7+ Kg8 33.Kf2 Bc6 34.Re7 e5 35.Bf7+ Kf8 36.Re8+ Rxe8 37.Bxe8 1-0

Sunday 31 October 2010

Well that was a short form slump

The "form slump" that Magnus Carlsen seemed to be going through is seemingly over, just as quickly as it began. While his 7/10 at this years Pearl Spring tournament wasn't as dominant as in last years event, it was still enough to finish comfortably ahead of the rest of the field. He also seems to have regained his drive to maximise his tournament scores, pushing for a win in the last round against Gashimov, despite having already won the tournament, and the position being drawn anyway.
The other 2 players who would be pleased with their tournaments were Anand and Bacrot. Anand finished second on 6/10, which was a good tournament performance for a player whose major focus over the last few years had been match play. Despite ending up on 50% I am sure Bacrot would be happy with his play (well maybe not the last few rounds), as he was considered a favourite for the wooden spoon.

Anand,Viswanathan (2800) - Bacrot,Etienne (2716) [E59]
3rd Pearl Spring Nanjing CHN (10), 30.10.2010

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0-0 5.Bd3 c5 6.Nf3 d5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.a3 Bxc3 9.bxc3 dxc4 10.Bxc4 Qc7 11.h3 e5 12.Ba2 e4 13.Nd2 b6 14.Bb2 Bf5 15.Qe2 Bg6 16.Rfc1 Rad8 17.a4 Bh5 18.Qb5 Rfe8 19.Ba3 g5 20.Nf1 Nd7 21.Ng3 Bg6 22.Rd1 Na5 23.Rd2 h5 24.Rad1 h4 25.dxc5 Nxc5 26.Bxc5 bxc5 27.Nf1 Rb8 28.Rd7 Rxb5 29.Rxc7 Rb2 30.Bd5 Reb8 31.Rxa7 Nb3 32.a5 Bh5 33.Re1 Be2 1-0

Saturday 30 October 2010

Getting a fifty-fifty choice wrong 100% of the time

From the "it's a funny old world" files comes the following story from New York about chess boards. Chess players know the 'white on right rule', but they also know that non chess players will get this wrong 100% of the time. Why this is so is still a mystery, given the laws of probability predict that it should only happen 50% of the time.
In the case of the New York chess boards, not only were the the wrong way round (ie 'black on right') they were boards that were painted onto the tables! Fortunately the error was reported to the relevant authorities, and the mistake quickly rectified.

Friday 29 October 2010

The month of no love

November is just a few days away, and that means it is almost mo growing season once again. I've once again signed up for Movember, despite knowing that it will once again be a month no love. You can see last years effort in the photo to the left, but I think I will try for something different this year. So on the 1st of November the current picture is coming down, to be replaced by a clean shaven me. Hopefully by the end of the month I will have grown a worthy replacement.
In the next few days I hope to have my Mo page up and running, so either watch this blog or my twitter feed for information on how to donate.

Thursday 28 October 2010

Keeping the computer switched off

Due to favourable time zones, the Pearl Spring tournament is part of my early evening entertainment. Of course in these modern times, it is part of a wide array of things done almost simultaneously, such as cook dinner, watch TV, talk with children and waste life on World of Warcraft. So I tend to dip in and out of the coverage from Nanjing, rather than follow it continuously.
One thing I've avoided while watching the game is to have a chess engine running while the games are in progress. In doing so it makes the games a little more spontaneous, with certain moves coming as a real surprise, rather than as a second choice according to Fritz. An example of this was tonights Anand v Topalov game. Topalov decided to sac on f2, which was a small surprise, but it was his decision to not try and win the piece back straight away that was a bigger shock. It turned out that the whole game was a bit of a tactical slug fest, with Topalov eventually taking the perpetual check. I'm sure Rybka might decide the whole thing wasn't perfect, but for me it was great to be an (uniformed) spectator.

Anand,Viswanathan - Topalov,Veselin [E08]
Pearl Spring, 28.10.2010

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 0-0 7.0-0 c6 8.Qc2 b6 9.Rd1 Nbd7 10.Bf4 Ba6 11.cxd5 cxd5 12.Ne5 Nxe5 13.dxe5 Rc8 14.Nc3 Ng4 15.h3 Nxf2 (D)
16.Kxf2 Bc5+ 17.Be3 Bxe3+ 18.Kxe3 b5 19.Qd3 Rc4 20.Nxd5 exd5 21.Bxd5 Qg5+ 22.Kf2 Qxe5 23.Bxc4 bxc4 24.Qd6 Qf5+ 25.Ke1 Qxh3 26.Qxa6 Qxg3+ 27.Kd2 Qf4+ 28.Kc2 Qe4+ 29.Kc1 Qe3+ 30.Kb1 Qe4+ 31.Kc1 ½-½

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Correcting the record

Back in 2008 I posted a summary of the Rules and Tournament Regulation Committee meeting at the Dresden congress. In this report I stated "Nonetheless there were also occasions were essentially the chairman (Geurt Gijssen) had the only vote, simply by passing over a contentious issue." When I met up with Gijssen at the 2010 Olympiad he raised an objection to what I said, believing that he had been unfairly painted as "undemocratic". Looking back at what I wrote, I accept that he raises a valid point, as I provided no evidence to support my statement. So I'm happy to correct the record on this one, and retract any suggestion that he acted in an "undemocratic" manner.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

The pre-Steinitz Gambit

Apart from being the father of positional play, Wilhelm Steinitz was also noted for some eccentric opening choices. The Steinitz Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 exf 4.d4 Qh4+ 5.Ke2) is the most noted of these, normally with the quote from Steinitz "The King is a fighting piece" attached to it.
What I find surprising is that Steinitz would be attracted to this idea, given a game that occurred early in his career. Before he became the position player we know today, and while he was still working at being "The Austrian Morphy", he played the following game against Carl Hamppe. Like the Steinitz Gambit it started as a Vienna opening although it was a little more mainline. That is until Hamppe decided that a pawn was worth having his king chased up the board. Eschewing some sensible defensive moves (such moves "would have been considered shameful" according to Lasker), he quickly found himself in trouble. So much so that Steinitz was able to produce a spectacular sacrificial finish.

Hamppe,Carl - Steinitz,William [C29]
Vienna Vienna, 1859

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4 d5 4.exd5 Nxd5 5.fxe5 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Qh4+ 7.Ke2 Bg4+ 8.Nf3 Nc6 9.d4 0-0-0 (D)
10.Bd2 Bxf3+ 11.gxf3 Nxe5 12.dxe5 Bc5 13.Qe1 Qc4+ 14.Kd1 Qxc3 15.Rb1 Qxf3+ 16.Qe2 Rxd2+ 17.Kxd2 Rd8+ 18.Kc1 Ba3+ 19.Rb2 Qc3 20.Bh3+ Kb8 21.Qb5 Qd2+ 22.Kb1 Qd1+ 23.Rxd1 Rxd1# 0-1

Monday 25 October 2010

2010 World Seniors Championship

It might not be another super strong all GM extravaganza, but the 2010 World Seniors Championship is a pretty big (and important) event in its own right. It gets under way tomorrow evening in Arco, Italy and has attracted a field of over 250 players (245 in the Open, and oddly, 30 in the Womens). Oceania is represented in both events, with 3 Australians (Brian Jones, Lachlan Benson and Oleg Korenevski) in the Open, joined by 2 New Zealanders (Paul Spillier in the Open, and Viv Smith in the Womens).
The top 50 boards will be broadcast live, from 15:00 hours CET (Midnight Eastern Australian Time). The organisers home page is here (you have to find the link for the World Seniors on their homepage) while tournament results can be found at

Sunday 24 October 2010

Taking out the backmarkers

Back in the old days, when the top chess tournaments were huge affairs consisting of 16 or more player round robins, cleaning up the back markers was a vital part of winning the event. In part this was because the field often consisted of a 3 or four leading contenders, a solid middle, and 3 or 4 player who were there as a favour to the organisers. And if you didn't beat the bottom four, then you could be sure some one else would.
These days the top tournaments are more of a cosy little club, with the 2750+ players meeting 3 or 4 times a year, and no real cannon fodder at the bottom. However the strategy of pounding on the back markers hasn't really gone away, as shown by the current tournament in Nanjing.
At the halfway point Carlsen is well and truly in form, score 4/5, with wins over Bacrot, Yue, and Topalov. However the suprising second is Etienne Bacrot, who before the event might well have been the main target for the other 5 players. After starting with 0.5/2, he has won his last 3 games to be half a point behind Carlsen. Anand is sitting on 50% while the other 3 players are in negative territory.
The second half of the tournament may become a real struggle for Topalov and Yue, as the other 4 players look at picking up vital points from the stragglers.

Carlsen,Magnus - Topalov,Veselin [C84]
Pearl Spring, 24.10.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.a4 Rb8 9.axb5 axb5 10.Nbd2 0-0 11.Re1 Bd7 12.c3 Ra8 13.Rxa8 Qxa8 14.d4 h6 15.Nf1 Re8 16.Ng3 Qc8 17.Nh4 Bf8 18.Ng6 Na5 19.Nxf8 Rxf8 20.Bc2 Re8 21.f4 Bg4 22.Qd3 exf4 23.Bxf4 Nc4 24.Bc1 c5 25.Rf1 cxd4 26.cxd4 Qd8 27.h3 Be6 28.b3 Qa5 29.Kh2 Nh7 30.e5 g6 31.d5 Nxe5 (D)
[32.dxe6 Nxd3 33.exf7+ Kf8 34.Bxh6+ Ke7 35.fxe8Q+ Kxe8 36.Bxd3] 1-0

Saturday 23 October 2010

2010 Vikings Weekender

The 2010 Vikings Weekender will be held on the weekend of the 20th and 21st and 22nd of November. Once again it will be held at the Vikings Rugby Union Club, Ricardo St, Waniassa, ACT. It will be 7 round event with 4 rounds on Saturday and 3 rounds on Sunday. The time limit will be 60m+10s per move (Fischer). Entry fees are a very affordable $60 standard, $40 concession and $40 for juniors. This years sees and increase in prize money with first prize now $750 (an increase of $250 from last year).
This event has always been a popular end of year tournament, with close to 60 players taking part in each of the last two years events. You can enter the tournament online at while the tournament flyer is here.

Friday 22 October 2010

SSDD (Same stuff, different day)

Round 3 of the Pearl Spring tournament saw three decisive games, with wins by Carlsen, Anand and Bacrot. While the win by Carlsen (against Wang Yue) seems to indicate he is back in form, it was the win by Anand over Topalov that was the most fascinating. If you play through the game, you will notice some similarities to their final game from this years World Championship Match. Then as now Anand had the black pieces, and this game began with the same variation (up until move 9). Despite taking a different course after that Anand still managed to drag the White king to h4, where in this game it perished. I haven't seen the post game comments, but I'd hazard a guess that Topalov would not be happy about being hit by lightning twice in a row.

Topalov,Veselin - Anand,Viswanathan [D57]
Pearl Spring, 22.10.2010

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 0-0 7.e3 Ne4 8.Bxe7 Qxe7 9.cxd5 Nxc3 10.bxc3 exd5 11.Qb3 Rd8 12.c4 Be6 13.c5 b6 14.Rc1 bxc5 15.Qa3 Nd7 16.Bb5 Bg4 17.Bxd7 Rxd7 18.Qxc5 Qe4 19.Rg1 Re8 20.Qb5 Rdd8 21.Qe2 Rb8 22.h3 Bxf3 23.gxf3 Qf5 24.f4 Rb1 25.Rxb1 Qxb1+ 26.Qd1 Rb8 27.Ke2 Qf5 28.Rh1 Rb2+ 29.Kf3 h5 (D)
30.a4 Qe4+ 31.Kg3 h4+ 32.Kxh4 Rxf2 33.Qg4 Rg2 0-1