Wednesday 29 September 2010

Photos from the General Assembly

I snuck in a quick visit to the FIDE General Assembly this morning. It must have started late as I arrived just as it was opening. After a welcome, anthem and condolence motions, the real fun started. The report from the committee tasked with approving proxies was read, and when it finished, a roll call of voting countries was begun.
The problem with this was that the report on proxies wasn't put to a vote to validate it's conclusion. This elicited a number of points of order from the floor, and when they were ignored, the clamour grew louder. Soon Kasparov was on his feet to make his point (without a microphone, as the girls handing them out quickly worked out who to keep them away from). After A few minutes of shouting, by both Karpov and Ilyumzhinov delegates (and a stand up yelling match between Kasparov and Larry Ebbin from Bermuda), the FIDE statutes were read to show the meeting was following correct procedure. While all this was going on a grabbed few pictures of the action, which you can find in my chess photo galleries (Link on the left).
I only hung around until the roll cal was finished, but I assume it has been dragging on through the afterrnon. In fact there were 3 forfeits on the lower boards, from players who were most likely delegates fr their countries.

2010 Olympiad Days 7&8

Having fallen a full day behind in my blogging, I thought I'd catch up with 2 reports in 1.
Yesterday PNG played Trinidad and Tobago, which was a really painful pairing for us. They had been a little unlucky with the draw (having faced South Africa the day before) and were down floated to us. On average they were about 75 or so points rated above us, which meant that they could conceivably win every game. They didn't quite do so, only because Rupert Jones drew on board 4.
In my game I tried the closed Sicilian, but my opponent banged out the moves so quickly I was sure he knew more theory than me. This was confirmed after the game when he said my 17th(!) move was wrong, and that his coach(!) made sure he had memorised this line a few hours before the game.
Today we are playing Guernsey, and my tournament just isn't getting any better. In a King's Bishop Gambit I chose just about every second best move in the position, and went down in flames. Joselito Marcos has drawn on board 1, with the other 2 games still in progress. However the tip is that we should win on board 4, so board 3 might decide the match. A 2-2 might not be so bad as we then stay in the shallow end of the pool.
Despite my horrible results, and insipid play, I'm actually feeling a lot better at this Olympiad than the last couple. I attribute this to a better team atmosphere amongst the players, where the focus is chess, and enjoying the tournament, rather than on other, unrelated issues.
There final 3 rounds will be played over the next 4 days with the day after round 10 (Saturday), being a rest day. The Irish team, who are on the same hotel floor as us, are organising an Irish Party for the Friday night. And those who went to the one in Dresden know how good this is.

Tuesday 28 September 2010

2010 Olympiad - Day 6

A big score for PNG on day 6 of the 2010 Chess Olympiad. Despite losing on the bottom board in round5 we actually moved up a board to play Rwanda in round 6. The match got off to a good start when Rupert Jones won pretty quickly. My opponent (who had zero points so far) offered me a draw, and being the generous soul I am, I accepted after 10 minutes thought. (It didn't help that I couldn't think of a constructive plan in the position). Boards 1 and 3 then also won with PNG winning the match 3.5-0.5.
Of course such a result moved us to the top of the score group of teams on 2 match points, meaning we caught the down floating Trinidad and Tobago in Round 7. This match didn't go so well, but that is for my next post.

Jones,Rupert (1953) - Niyibizi,Alain Patience [B00]
39th Olympiad Men Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (6.73), 27.09.2010

1.e4 d6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 h6 5.h3 Nc6 6.Nf3 b6 7.Be3 Bb7 8.Qd2 Ne7 9.a4 d5 10.exd5 Nfxd5 11.Nxe5 Nf5 (D)
12.Bb5+ Ke7 13.Nc6+ Bxc6 14.Bxc6 Ndxe3 15.Bxa8 Qxa8 16.fxe3 Kd8 17.0-0 Nd6 18.Nb5 f6 19.Qc3 Qb7 20.Nd4 Kd7 21.Qb3 a5 22.Qe6+ Kd8 23.Rxf6 Be7 24.Rf3 Re8 25.Qg4 Qd5 26.Ne6+ Qxe6 27.Qxe6 1-0

Monday 27 September 2010

2010 Olympiad - Rest Day 1

Yesterday was the first rest day of the Olympiad, although resting was probably what I did least. The "rest day" actually kicks off the day before, with the Bermuda Party starting around 10pm. This years party was held in the biggest night club in Khanty-Mansiysk, although it even struggled with the crowd.
The venue was quite fascinating as it had a dance floor/bar on the 1st floor, a restaurant on the 2nd floor and a bowling alley/bar(!) on the third floor. When I arrived there was a long queue waiting to get in, and due to the security arrangements in place (metal detector and hand scanning), it didn't move very fast. However I was spotted by event organiser Nigel Freeman, and rushed to the front of the queue. He explained to the club that I was one of the organising team and that I could come straight in. What I didn't realise is that I walked into a trap!
After checking out the dance floor (which was already heaving) and the bowling alley (where people were bowling), I wandered down to the entrance, where I was immediately put to work by Nigel as 'door bitch'. As the security staff spoke little English, and I no Russian at all, I was tasked with explaining the process to the impatient crowds trying to get in.
For those unfamiliar with the Bermuda Party, ladies get in for free, but men have to by a ticket (in this case 400 roubles). But with the ticket you can purchase 2 free drinks, which in theory should be one for you, and one for a ticketless lady. This year you also needed the tickets to get into the dance area of the club (I assumed all ladies could just waltz in), which when you entered you got a little uv stamp on your hand.
However the club had underestimated the crowd who turned up and after about an hour they had shut the front door (with 200 people shivering in the cold). After some frantic negotiation, the club began to allow people in, but stopped selling tickets as the dance floor was full. This meant that latecomers had to drink in the bowling alley! A number of people were caught out by this including Lev Aronian and Magnus Carlsen (who btw did not get rushed to the front of the queue). Fortunately people were beginning to leave (it was 1 am by now) and so the club sold tickets in small blocks.
Eventually everyone made it in (including both Karpov and Ilyumzhinov), and around 2 am my work was winding down. As Bermuda Party's go I thought this one was quite good. The DJ's put on a great show (both music and lighting) and the venue allowed people to escape the frenetic dancing for quieter areas. No bad incidents to report, although 1 poor girl had to be carried out of the venue, as while she had the strength to wrestle with security, she didn't have the motor skills to actually stand up.
After have a look at the dance floor one final time, I wandered off around 2:30am. I think the party ran for another 3 hours after that, with the stragglers making it home around 6am.

The next day (the actual rest day) found me tied up in meetings from 9 am to 8 pm. Morning was Rules and Tournament Regulations, and after a lunch break, Swiss Pairings met from 3pm. After that finished there was a break before RTRC recommenced as we hadn't covered everything in the morning. Nothing earth shattering came out of any of the meetings, but you can read a summary of the Swiss Pairing changes over at the Chess Rules blog.

Sunday 26 September 2010

2010 Olympiad - Day 5

Round 5 saw PNG end up on the bottom board of the Olympiad, and yet we still couldn't even manage a win there. Burundi, who had only scored a single draw over the previous 4 rounds picked up 2.5 points against us, to record their first match win of the tournament.
Board 1 was a battle between "hack"and "swindle", where "hack" emerged victorious. On board 2 I was up against what is becoming my least favourite opening as Black (1.e4 e4 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Nxe4) where Black is supposed to be fine, and yet I manage to score poorly. In this case my opponent played a Boden Kiseritzky Gambit (possibly by accident) and I was just a pawn up. However he "stodged" the position, and trying to break through in time trouble I completely lost control of the position. I was fortunate that he grew worried about my meager counter-threats and repeated the position when I think he was probably just winning.
The only ray of sunshine was on board 3 when Helmut Marko recorded his (and the teams) first win of the tournament. Even this was hard work and went all the way to an annoying queen ending which finished when his opponent allowed a cross check. On board 4 Rupert Jones looked to be easily winning, but missed his opponent creating 2 passers in the ending, and tragically he found his king unable to deal with both.
Today (as I am writing this the morning after the game) is a rest day, although for me it is tied up with meetings (including Rules and Tournament Regulations and possibly Swiss Pairings). The Bermuda Party happened last night, and my next post may or may not cover that.

Saturday 25 September 2010

2010 Olympiad - Day 4

The Olympiad is full swing, but I must confess I lost track of time. Days of the week have disappeared, instead being replaced by round numbers.
Today PNG played San Marino who is another regular opponent for us. They were seeded close to us so it came down to who would play the best chess on the day. In the end they won 3-1, although the result could have been different (or the same in a different way). On board 1 Joselito Marcos tried a speculative attack and just ended up down a rook. However he then found some resources in the position and scammed a draw by perpetual. On Board 2 I once again messed up my opening prep and played a TN which was probably unsound. However my opponent got a little carried away and I went into the middlegame a pawn up. However he won it back, only to allow me to enter the endgame a pawn up. It was one of those annoying knight endings where anything could go wrong, so I decided a draw was the safest outcome. Boards 3&4 fought bravely in inferior endings and while the games reached the fifth hour (and beyond), we ere unable to save them.
Tommorow we have reached the last board and play Burundi. Following that is the Bermuda Part, although I may have an early night as FIDE have thoughtlessly scheduled the Rules and Tournament Regulations Committee meeting the morning after!

Thursday 23 September 2010

2010 Olympiad - Day 3

Clearly I am a player not in form, although today I had a result that might turn it around. PNG was paired against Suriname for the 4th time in 6 Olympiads, and I was up against Dewprakesh Gajadin, who I beat with the Traxler in 2004. Continuing my policy of playing openings I haven't used before, I tried the Bishops Opening, bashing out moves on auto-pilot. Unfortunately this lead me into a position which I then misplayed, allowing my opponent a psuedo Queen sac, which just won him a piece. However I did get some pawns for the piece, and more importantly, a huge lead on the clock. By move 20 he was down to 2 minutes, and a blunder on move 31 gave me back the piece. The resulting rook and pawn ending looked better for me (winning according to Brian Jones), but we agreed to a draw shortly after the first time control.
Rupert Jones also had a draw on Board 4, but Helmut Marko lost, and Joselito Marcos was losing when I left the playing hall. So in all probability a 1-3 result for us, and we slide further down the rankings.

Press,Shaun - Gajadin,Dew [C27]
Olympiad 2010, 23.09.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.d3 Bc5 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.f4 d6 6.f5 Na5 7.Bb3 Nxb3 8.axb3 d5 9.Bg5 Bb4 10.Kf1 d4 (D) 11.Nd5 Nxd5 12.Bxd8 Ne3+ 13.Ke2 Nxd1 14.Bxc7 Ne3 15.c3 Bc5 16.b4 Be7 17.Bxe5 f6 18.Bxd4 Nc2 19.Rc1 Nxd4+ 20.cxd4 g6 21.fxg6 hxg6 22.Nf3 Kd8 23.Rc4 b5 24.Rc2 Bg4 25.Ra1 Rxh2 26.Kf2 Bxf3 27.Kxf3 Bxb4 28.Rc6 Be7 29.Rca6 Rc8 30.Rxa7 Rc2 31.Rb7 b4 32.Ra8+ Rc8 33.Rxc8+ Kxc8 34.Rxe7 Rh1 35.d5 Rb1 36.Re6 b3 37.Rb6 Rxb2 38.Ke3 Kc7 39.Rb4 Rb1 40.Kd2 Rb2+ 41.Ke3 g5 42.g4 ½-½

2010 Olympiad - Day 2

Second round saw PNG paired with Ireland. Pretty tough in round 2, although I suspect the Irish felt the need for some compensation after being paired with Russia 1 yesterday. And while the match wasn't as one-sided as yesterday (for us that is, the Irish took a half point off the Russians), we still got done 4-0. My game was pretty horrible (and so will not be show at this time), but Helmut Marko and Rupert Jones did put up a good fight on the bottom 2 boards.
On the table next to us was the Norway-Portugal match, with Magnus Carlsen making his first appearance. Being the fan-boy that I am, I've put a couple of pictures in my photo gallery (link to the left). Another interesting pairing was Australia v Armenia, with Armenian Board 1 Lev Aronian a frequent visitor to Australia (and more specifically, the tennis courts across the road from my office). However Lev wasn't in a generous mood, and he hacked Zong Yuan Zhao on board 1. Better news on Board 2 where Smerdon drew with Akopian, although if you look at the game it is more correct to say that Akopian drew with Smerdon.

Smerdon - Akopian [C02]
Olympiad 2010, 22.09.2010

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.cxd4 Bd7 8.0-0 Nxd4 9.Nbd2 Bc5 10.Nxd4 Bxd4 11.Nf3 Ne7 12.Nxd4 Qxd4 13.Re1 Nc6 14.Be3 Qxe5 15.Qd2 d4 16.Bh6 Qh5 17.Bxg7 Rg8 18.Bf6 Rxg2+ 19.Kxg2 Qg4+ 20.Kf1 Qh3+ 21.Ke2 Qg4+ 22.Kf1 ½-½

Tuesday 21 September 2010

2010 Olympiad - Day 1

Just back from the playing hall after the first round of the 2010 Chess Olympiad. PNG was paired with Iran on Board 38, and they clearly came to play. Despite this being my 6th Olympiad, I've never actually played a GM here before, but Elsham Maradiabadi was not only a GM but at 2570+ GM as well.
Although I did a little prep, his choice of 1.e4 was a surprise, but as he went down the Ruy Lopez main line I was happy. I even threatened to play the Marshall Gambit, but he decided this was one piece of aggravation he did not need He instead played 8.h3 and I tried to go back into the mainline. However I chose the wrong theatre of operations, and his king side attack suddenly arced up. I tried to grovel ( even fianchettoing my knight on g7) but all I was able to do at the end was to provide him with an opportunity to finish with a rook sac.
Interestingly, board 2,3 and 4 of PNG all finished at roughly the same time, which we all lost. Joeslito Marcos lasted a little longer on board 1 but it was still 4-0 to Iran.

Moradiabadi,Elsham - Press,Shaun [C88]
Olympiad 2010, 21.09.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.h3 d6 9.a4 Bb7 10.d3 Na5 11.Ba2 c5 12.Nc3 b4 13.Ne2 Qd7 14.Ng3 g6 15.Bh6 Rfc8 16.Qd2 Ne8 17.Nh2 Ng7 18.f4 exf4 19.Qxf4 Ne6 20.Qf2 Bf8 21.Ng4 Bg7 22.Bxg7 Kxg7 23.Qf6+ Kf8 24.Rf1 c4 25.Qh8+ Ke7 26.Rxf7+ Kxf7 27.Qxh7+ 1-0

2010 Olympiad - Day 0

A very hectic day yesterday. The morning was quite relaxing with a shopping trip into town. Checked out the local supermarket, and picked up some of the neccesities of life. In the afternoon Brian Jones and I walked between the Hotel Olympica and the venue, which was a good 40 minutes.
In the evening there was a captains meeting where a number of important rule changes were discussed. But rather than clog up this blog with what is essentially dull technical information, I will stick that sort of stuff in Chess Rules blog.
After that was an opening ceremony which I saw little of, although you can catch the highlights over at Chessvibes. Following that the Technical Administration Panel got down the job of pairing the first round before distributing this important information around 1 in the morning!
At the moment players are submitting their player lists or the first round, which as you would expect is like the start of any first round of a tournament. At some point I will be able to eat breakfast/do prep/ catch some sleep but I've no idea when.
As for the chess, PNG get Iran in the first round, which on one level isn't a bad pairing. Not that they are not heavy favorites, but we did play them in the first round of the 2000 Olympiad, so they are familiar to us. Action should kick off at 7pm Canberra time.

Monday 20 September 2010

2010 Olympiad Photos

Photos from the Olympiad will be available at
At this stage I've put up a few, but hopefully I will have more over the next 15 days.
(*Update: I've now added photos of the playing halls *)

2010 Olympiad - Day -1

It is not even day 0 at the Olympiad yet, and despite issues with transportation, it has got off to a good start.
Originally the PNG team members travelling through Dubai were shifted (along with an entire plane load of passengers) to a flight leaving a day after we had planned to travel. However, with the assistance of Australian Womens Team Captain Leonid Sandler, we simply asked to be put on the flight we wanted to catch, and due to a couple of no shows, were able to get to Khanty-Mansiysk at the time and date we always wanted.
Upon arrival we discovered that each team has a dedicated guide assigned to them for the duration of the tournament, making it very easy to find our hotel and check in. The double rooms are very spacious (as opposed to the shoe-box accommodation in 2008) and the hotel (Olympic) is up and running, despite only being opened a few weeks ago.
After trying to sort out a few niggling issues with my room (a beeping smoke detector!) a trip down to the restaurant revealed my favourite kind of Olympiad feed, the seafood heavy buffet. Having had to survive the soup-kitchen style of delivery at the last two Olympiads this makes a pleasent change, and brings back memories of the 2004 Olympiad in Majorca.
At the moment free internet is restricted to the 24 hour bar in the hotel, but having to sit in a bar to type this blog is a sacrifice I'm willing to make.
So all in all the event has got off to a good start re conditions, and hopefully the rest of the fortnight will be just as good.

Sunday 19 September 2010

Negotiating in Dubai

Currently in Dubai, trying to get onto the early charter to Khanty. Although the charter that was on the 19th was moved to the 20th, there was another charter leaving later on the 19th. Despite claims from the organisers that passengers could not be transferred between flights, some people have already managed to do so. Of course they managed to add one final hurdle by shifting the departure terminal at very short notice, so we have had a brief tour of Dubai (at least the airport terminals). So at the moment there are a group of people negotiating with the charter company, the outcome of which is still not clear.

Friday 17 September 2010

Olympiad warm up

Off to the Olympiad in less than 24 hours. I've done very little prep this time, as the drama over travel and accommodation has been quite time consuming. What little prep I have done has included looking over old Olympiad games, from around the time I started playing.
Here is a gem from 2002. Robert Gwaze crushed his hapless opponent in 18 moves, on his way to a 9/9 score on Board 1.

Gajadin,D (2192) - Gwaze,R (2280) [C42]
Olympiad Bled SLO (7), 01.11.2002

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.0-0 Bg4 8.Re1 Be7 9.c3 f5 10.Nbd2 0-0 11.Qb3 Kh8 (D)
The first deviation from book, and already a mistake [12.Qxb7 Rf6 13.Qb3 Rb8 14.Qc2 Bd6 15.Bf1 Nxd2 16.Nxd2 Bxh2+ 17.Kxh2 Rh6+ 18.Kg1 Qh4 19.f3 Qxe1 20.Nb3 Rh1+ 21.Kxh1 Qxf1+ 22.Kh2 Bxf3 23.Bf4 (23.gxf3 Qxf3ยต) 23...Be4 24.Rxf1 Bxc2 25.Bxc7= may be the correct way to play this.] 12...Nxe5 13.dxe5 Bc5 [13...Nxf2 picks up a pawn as capturing on f2 is fatal 14.Kxf2 Bc5+ 15.Kf1 Qh4-+] 14.Rf1 Nxf2 15.Rxf2 Qh4 16.g3 Bxf2+ 17.Kxf2 Qxh2+ 18.Kf1 f4! the open f file spells the end for White. 0-1

Thursday 16 September 2010

FIDE looking to buy into the New York Real Estate Market

Long story short. FIDE can't get their Olympiad right, but are hoping to spend $10million on (or near) the Ground Zero site in New York City. Not sure where the money is coming from (and I bet FIDE Treasurer Nigel Freeman knows nothing about it), but maybe it is a cunning publicity ploy, ala the Islamic Community Centre. Thousands of Checker players, ginned up by Fox News, protesting in the street against a "Chess Centre", while crazed Bridge officials threaten to burn Modern Chess Openings. However don't attribute to cunning what you can explain by stupidity, so I assume that (a) the offer is real and (b) it won't actually go anywhere.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

What if they held an Olympiad and no one could get there

It is as though the organisers of the 2010 Olympiad have decided that the whole thing will run much more smoothly if there are no players to deal with. In the last few hours the organisers have informed all federations that the flight times of the charters have been changed. In at least one case it is the date of the flight that has changed meaning that the PNG team may end up spending an unscheduled night in Dubai.
Given that these changes have occurred 4 days before the flights themselves it is hardly surprising that the protests are already starting to roll in. At this point I have seen complaints from The Netherlands, Iceland, Bermuda and Ethiopia. On behalf of the PNGCF I have asked the organisers to simply tell us which flights we are supposed to be on, although my follow up question may well be "Who is going to reimburse federations for the extra costs of accommodation and altered air tickets?"

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Olympiad Blogging

Only a few days before I head off to snowy Siberia. While I am now reasonably confident I will (a) get there and (b) have a hotel to stay in, I'm not so sure about the real necessities of life ie net access and bandwith.
The best scenario is that there will be wi-fi available in the hotel/media centre/everywhere else and so I can keep blogging on a daily basis. The worst case is that none of this is available and the front page of this blog remains static for two and a half weeks. (That may be preferable btw, as you would be spared my pitiful whining over thrown away points and half points).
I am assuming that there will be live broadcasts of the games from the Olympiad, although the official website doesn't have a link to this as yet. In fact Khanty-Mansiysk is in a very friendly time-zone for Australia, with the 3pm round times translating to 7pm Australian Eastern Standard Time. So assuming there are no problems at the K-M end of the intertube, you should be able to watch most of the action at a very decent time.

Monday 13 September 2010

Coffee House Puzzles

Over the years puzzles turn up that owe their creation to Coffee House Chess. For example, a joint Lasker-Capablanca problem probably started life as analysis of a coffee house game between the two of them. The position on the right is a much more recent example of the genre, although as a chess 'problem' it is probably no great shakes.
The position in question occurred in a casual game played by two Street Chess kibitzers last Saturday. In the position White decided that he had run out of moves and decided to resign. Recognising a familiar trick in the position I suggested 1.Na1!, as after 1. ... Kxa1 2.Kc1 (or c2) it is Black who has no decent moves and the game will end in a draw. Both players then attempted to try and find something for Black but were unable to do so.
Reconstructing the position on my computer it turns out Black has one good reply. 1. ... Kb1! forces 2.Nc2 Now promoting on a1 is pointless as after 3.Nxa1 Kxa1?? Black loses. Instead Blacks winning move is 2. ... Ng4!! Now it is White who has once again run out of moves, as the trick of Na1 no longer works. Best is now a pawn race with 3.d7 Nxf2+ 4.Ke2 Kxc2 5.d8(Q) a1(q) 6.Kxf2 But sadly for White this ending is just winning for Black.
The main reason for this is the Black pawn on e4. It turns out that if you remove the pawns on f2 and e4 it becomes much more of a challenge for Black to win. So maybe it can be turned into a problem after all.

Sunday 12 September 2010

Carlsen beats World

The G-Star Magnus Carlsen v World challenge resulted in a fairly one sided win for the Norwegian GM. I originally had intended to sleep through the event but at the behest of my son I awoke at 2am Australian time so he could take part in the challenge. However upon waking him, he informed me he needed his sleep and closed his eyes. I decided to stay awake for the next hour, both to check out how successful the format was, and to assist the world with my votes.
As a format I thought it was pretty good. The interface consisted of a live video feed of Carlsen (although something other than a 'head-on' shot might have been better), a display of the position, and a 'tweet-box' at the side. There was also live commentary from Maurice Ashley and Gary Kasparov. When it was "The Worlds" turn to move, the choices of the three GM players involved, Lagrave, Nakamura and Polgar, were displayed, along with a voting button for each move.
I suspect my contributions to the game may not have been helpful as I was one of those who voted for 11. ... cxd5, which was a move that began the downhill slide for "The World". Indeed around this point of the game Nakamura seemed particularly unhappy with the outcome of the opening, as his tweets indicated. In the end Carlsen's positional advantage got larger and larger, but he at least organised an entertaining finish, choosing an unbalance position (materially) rather than go for the technical grind.

Carlsen,Magnus (2826) - The World [E62]
RAW World Chess Challenge New York USA (1), 10.09.2010

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 0-0 5.Bg2 d6 6.Nc3 Nc6 7.0-0 e5 8.d5 Ne7 9.e4 c6 10.a4 Bg4 11.a5 (D)
11. ... cxd5 12.cxd5 Qd7 13.Be3 Rfc8 14.Qa4 Ne8 15.Nd2 Qd8 16.Qb4 Nc7 17.Nc4 Na6 18.Qxb7 Rxc4 19.Qxa6 Rb4 20.f3 Bc8 21.Qe2 f5 22.Qd2 Ba6 23.Rfc1 Qb8 24.Na4 Rb3 25.Rc3 Rb4 26.Rca3 f4 27.Bf2 Bh6 28.Nb6 fxg3 29.Qxb4 gxf2+ 30.Kxf2 Bc8 31.Rb3 axb6 32.Qxb6 Qa7 33.a6 Kf7 34.Qxa7 Rxa7 35.Rb6 Ke8 36.Rxd6 Bf8 37.Rb6 Nxd5 38.Rb8 Bc5+ 39.Kg3 Ne7 40.Bh3 Kd8 41.Bxc8 Nxc8 42.Rc1 Rc7 43.Rxc5 Rxc5 44.a7 1-0

Saturday 11 September 2010

Bent Larsen 1935-2010

Chess legend Bent Larsen passed away on the 9th September 2010, at the age of 75. Larsen was considered the best Danish player of all time, and along with Bobby Fischer, the best 'Western" GM of the 60's and 70's. He was an very successful tournament player, winning 3 Interzonals, and a number of other Super GM events. However at match play he was less successful, always falling short of his dream to challenge for the World Championship title. A champion of less popular openings he had 1.b3 named after him, and shared the name of 1.Nf3 - 2.b3 (The Nimzo-Larsen Attack) with that other great Danish player Aaron Nimzowitsch.
Although he famously disliked playing in teams events (as it ran against his notion of chess as an individual struggle) he did play in 5 Olympiads. Here is a game from the 1968 Olympiad where he downs the Australian player Doug Hamilton.

Hamilton,Douglas Gibson - Larsen,Bent [A43]
Lugano ol (Men) Lugano, 1968

1.e4 e6 2.d4 c5 3.d5 exd5 4.exd5 d6 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Nc3 Be7 7.Be2 0-0 8.0-0 Na6 9.Bf4 Nc7 10.a4 b6 11.Bc4 a6 12.Qd3 Re8 13.Rab1 Qd7 14.h3 Qf5 15.Bg3 Qxd3 16.Bxd3 Bb7 17.Bc4 Bf8 18.Rbd1 Bc8 19.Rfe1 Bf5 20.Rd2 Rxe1+ 21.Nxe1 Re8 22.Kf1 Bd7 23.Be2 h6 24.Bf3 b5 25.Re2 b4 26.Ne4 Nxe4 27.Rxe4 Bxa4 28.Ke2 Bb5+ 29.Kd2 Rxe4 30.Bxe4 Bc4 31.Nd3 Bxd5 32.Bf5 Ne6 33.f3 a5 34.b3 g6 35.Bg4 0-1

Friday 10 September 2010

Seeking the Endgame Pt 1

The BBC World Service is very efficient. The 2 part chess documentary is being broadcast on the 10th and 17th of September, and they've already put part 1 online.
The major focus of the documentary is about the effect that computers are having on chess, but it approaches it from a human point of view. A number of famous voices appear in the documentary including Ian Rogers, Bill Hartston, David Levy and Anatoly Karpov. Computers as a tool for research, as a tool for creativity, and of course, as a tool for cheating are all covered. Why chess is so popular is also discussed, with Ian Rogers arguing that the ability to be creative is an attractive feature. Interestingly later on Bill Hartston opines that "chess the creative art" is somewhat overstated, instead describing chess as an "increasingly interpretive art".
I found the 22 minute program very entertaining and it is well worth a listen. You can download from here (it is about 10MB of data)

Thursday 9 September 2010

Catch you on the flipside

Here is a cute (chess) party trick. In the position on the right it is White to play and mate in 3. Now as shown on the screen it is pretty clear which direction White is going (ie up the screen). But if you set it up on a board there will always be someone who asks "Which way is White going?". It turns out it actually doesn't matter. With White going up or down the board, there is still a mate in 3 (a different one of course). Even if someone doesn't ask, after they've solved it one way, you can always spin the board and challenge them to solve it for the other direction.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Carlsen v World

The Magnus Carlsen v World match begins in 2 days. Sponsored by the clothing company G-Star Raw, their newest fashion model takes on a team headed by GM's Polgar, Nakamura and Lagrave. Unlike other GM v World matches, this one will be played in real time (with a time limit of 1 minute per move). The role of the GM's is to suggest a move, with the online community then voting to decide which move is played.
If you wish to join in, more information and registration info can be found at the Raw World Chess Challenge website.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Kirsan Quits

But only from the post of President of Kalmykia. At this stage he is still running for President of FIDE, although this may depend on a legal challenge from the Karpov camp concerning his nomination.
I'm not sure how this will play out in terms of the FIDE election, as on one hand he (theoretically) no longer can fall back on the Kalmyikian state as a resource of last resort, but on the other, he has more time to concentrate on FIDE and his campaign. It also seems to cut out a potential exit from FIDE, as 4 years ago there were rumours that he was lobbying hard for the job of Russian Ambassador to Japan, and if he got that job, he was standing down as FIDE President. For the moment I haven't seen any talk of a 'reward' for not re contesting the Kalmykian presidency, but this may surface one the outcome of the FIDE elections are known.
Plenty of news reports on this issue, but here is one from a non-chess source.

Monday 6 September 2010

A 1950's Brain

When I was a kid (in the 1970's), the Sydney Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences was a cool place to visit. One of the best exhibits was a machine that played Tic-Tac-Toe. Given that this was in the days before the PC, it was a pretty impressive piece of equipment, especially as it couldn't be beaten.
It turns out that building an unbeatable Tic-Tac-Toe machine was even possible in the 1950's, and all you needed was some light bulbs, a torch battery, some rotary switches and some wire. A 1959 book 'Braniacs' had the design of such a machine, as well as some other fabulous 'small electronic brain machines'*. The trick with the Tic-Tac-Toe machine was that (a) it always went first and (b) and it always occupied the centre square. With these two conditions it is possible to reduce the solution space to something that can be wired together fairly simply. Now I can't remember if the machine at the Applied Arts and Sciences Museum had the same conditions, but I suspect the design principles would be fairly similar.

*My favourite 'Brain' in the book is the Masculine-Feminine Testing Machine. It starts off asking whether you prefer Marilyn Monroe or Liberace(!), and goes on to discuss whether men make better drivers as they 'are more skilled'. 1950's thinking at its best!

Sunday 5 September 2010

Seeking the Endgame

A few days ago the ClosetGrandmaster mentioned a BBC radio documentary on chess called "Seeking the Endgame". Listening to the radio this evening I heard a promo for the documentary, and one of the more prominent voices in the ad was GM Ian Rogers. This two part doco will be broadcast on the 10th and 17th of Septmber. I assume it will be available for download (or at list repeated online) after the broadcast dates.

Saturday 4 September 2010

Shanghai Masters

The Shanghai Masters is a kind of semi-final of the "Grand Slam" tournament series. Originally the field was to consist of players who had won a "Grand Slam" event in the past year, but as Chessbase points out, Magnus Carlsen wrecked that by winning most of these tournament himself. So instead Aronian, Kramnik, Shoriv and Hao were invited "on the basis of their sports merit". The two winners of this event then join Carlsen and Anand in the Final, which will be played in Bilbao later this year.
Despite the significance of this series, as a kind of unofficial tournament World Championship, the organisers have three tournament conditions that aren't usually in play in most events. Firstly the time limit is 40 moves in 90 minutes (no increment) followed by 60 minutes for the rest of the game (with a 10 s increment). Certainly this is a little slower than the old 90m+30s time control, but slightly quicker than the new 40/90m+30m+30s inc time control, due to the faster increment. I'm assuming the 10s inc is more for the 'Australian' reason of allowing players to hold dead drawn positions, rather than providing the players with extra time to play difficult endings well.
Secondly, the event used the Bilbao scoring system (3-1-0). And finally the Sofia rules on draw offers are in play (ie no draw offers between players, just draw requests to the arbiter).
The first round saw a win for Aronian, who seems to spend some time preparing for such events on the tennis court. Maybe it was this 'sporting merit' that got him invited!

Wang Hao (2724) - Aronian,L (2783) [E10]
Shanghai Masters Shanghai CHN (1), 03.09.2010

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 c6 7.Qc2 0-0 8.0-0 b6 9.Bf4 Ba6 10.Nbd2 Nbd7 11.Rfe1 Nh5 12.Ne5 Nxe5 13.Bxe5 f6 14.Bf4 Nxf4 15.gxf4 Bb4 16.Red1 Qd6 17.Nf1 dxc4 18.a3 Ba5 19.f5 Kh8 20.Ne3 b5 21.Qe4 Bb7 22.Qxe6 Qc7 23.Qe4 Rae8 24.Qg4 Bb6 25.Nf1 Bc8 26.Ng3 g6 27.e3 gxf5 28.Nxf5 Qd7 29.e4 Qf7 30.Qf3 Bxf5 31.Qxf5 Rg8 32.Kh1 Rg5 33.Qf3 Qg6 34.d5 Rg8 35.Bh3 (D)
35. ... Bxf2!0-1

Friday 3 September 2010

How the hell did this happen?

I'd initially planned to post something on long term queen sacrifices this evening. To this end I was trying to search my database for games where one side was up a queen for an extended period of time (20 moves or so) but still managed to lose. Turns out I couldn't find any real games like this, mainly because I could create a search filter that returned games where Black met this condition, but couldn't do the same for White. I did actually find 3 'supposed' games where this happened, but in each case it was simply an incorrectly recorded result (ie Black won but it was recorded as a white win).
However I did run across the following position from the 1931 Olympiad. I am impressed by both the arrangement of Black's pawns, and how useless they turn out to be. How this came about can be found in the following game.

Addicks,Johannes Hermanus - Larsen,Ojvind [C00]
Prague ol (Men) Prague (5), 1931

1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5 3.Be3 dxe4 4.Nd2 Nf6 5.Ne2 b6 6.Ng3 Bb7 7.Bb5+ Nbd7 8.c3 Bd6 9.Qe2 0-0 10.Bg5 Be7 11.0-0-0 a6 12.Ba4 b5 13.Bc2 Rc8 14.h4 h6 15.Rh3 Nb6 16.Nh5 Nxh5 17.Qxh5 Bxg5 18.hxg5 Qxg5 19.Qxg5 hxg5 20.Bxe4 Bxe4 21.Nxe4 f6 22.Nc5 Kf7 23.Nxa6 Nd5 24.Nc5 Rfe8 25.Rf3 Re7 26.g3 Rh8 27.Rfd3 c6 28.Re1 Rhe8 29.Rd2 e5 30.dxe5 Rxe5 31.Rxe5 Rxe5 32.Nd3 Re7 33.Kd1 g4 34.Re2 g5 35.Rxe7+ Kxe7 36.Nb4 Kd6 37.Nxd5 Kxd5 38.Kd2 f5 39.Kd3 c5 40.c4+ bxc4+ 41.Kc3 f4 42.a4 Ke4 43.a5 Kf3 44.a6 Kxf2 45.a7 fxg3 (D)
46.a8Q g2 47.Qf8+ Kg3 48.Qxc5 Kh2 49.Qxg5 Kh3 50.Qe3+ Kh2 51.Qf2 g3 52.Qe2 Kh1 53.Qh5+ Kg1 54.Kd2 Kf2 55.Qf5+ Kg1 56.Ke2 Kh2 57.Qh5+ Kg1 58.Ke3 1-0

Thursday 2 September 2010

Short wins versus easy wins

One of the traps you can fall into when doing computer aided analysis is to worry about missing short wins. The diagrammed position has both a 'short' win and an easy win, with my computer jumping up and down about the 'short' win (Kd6!). It comes from a rapid game I played a couple of days ago with a time limit of 20m+10s per move. In fact I chose the easy win starting with 44.Ng8 h5 45.Nf6 h4 46.Kd4 when I simply planned to wander over to the kingside and pick up the pawns. This was mainly motivated by the clock situation, where I felt that wasting time in finding a quicker win when am easier one was available, would be counter-productive. In the end I didn't quite get to the pawns as my opponent eventually played Kc7&b6, when axb6 left his king unable to scurry back after I played e6.

Wednesday 1 September 2010

I for one welcome our computer overlords

Here is an interesting article on one of the commentators at the upcoming Olympiad. BlueGene, a computer chess program, will select 20 of the most 'intriguing' games from each round of the Olympiad and broadcast its comment over the internet. While getting computers to churn out lines of analysis is a fairly easy task (just see the 'expert' commentary from users on various BB's and servers when big games are in progress) but to actually have a program decide what is 'intriguing' is a real leap forward. Hopefully this decision won't just be about ratings, as some of the most interesting chess can be found on the lower boards of the Olympiad. Of course it isn't perfect chess, but again, this isn't what BlueGene is promising!