Monday 31 January 2011

2011 Oceania Zonal - Final

GM Zong Yuan Zhao completed a dominate performance in the 2011 Oceania Zonal with a final round win over IM Vladimir Feldman. Zhao finished with 8 wins and 1 draw (against Bobby Cheng). A point and a half behind in outright second was Andrew Brown, who defeated GM David Smerdon, and earning an IM title as well. Max Illingworth and Moulthun Ly tied for third on 6.5/9.
The final round of the Women's Zonal turned out to have more than a touch of drama, with both Irina Berezina-Feldman and Biljana Dekic only able to draw. With Emma Guo winning her game, Berezina-Feldman and Guo finished tied for first, with Dekic a half point behind. As a result, a play-off match between the two winners is to be organised in Australia at a later date.
Apart from success for the winners, there would be a number of people involved in junior chess in Canberra over the years who have reason the feel pleased as well. Of the 6 titles that could be earned at Zonal (IM,2xFM,WIM,2xWFM), 4 of those went to Canberra players. Andrew Brown becomes an IM, while Gareth Oliver earns an FM title. Emma Guo is now an WIM, while Megan Setiabudi picked up a WFM title after her 4th place finish. Moulthun Ly (FM) and Nicole Tsoi (WFM) were the other title recipients.
Full results can be found at the Canterbury Chess Club site (click on the Zonal link).

Sunday 30 January 2011

2011 Oceania Zonal Day 6

GM Zong Yuan Zhao has wrapped up the 2011 Oceania Zonal with a round to spare. Playing closest rival FM Bobby Cheng in round 8, the game ended in a draw on move 25. This leaves Zhao on 7.5/8 and still a point and a half ahead of the rest of the field. Tied for second on 6/8 are Cheng, Andrew Brown (who beat Junta Ikeda, and IM Vladimir Feldman, who upset IM George Xie). Tomorrow sees Zhao play Feldman, Brown against GM David Smerdon, and FM Max Illingworth v Cheng.
In the Womens Zonal, FM Emma Guo has done enough to secure the WIM title, with a win over Viv Smith in Round 10. She also has a chance of finishing first, depending on the last round results.
The final round starts at 10:30 am (NZ time), so all should be clear around lunch time (Australian time).

Saturday 29 January 2011

2011 Oceania Zonal Day 5

What a difference a day makes, at least for some people. GM Zong Yuan Zhao has extended his lead to a point and a half, and with only 2 rounds to go, is almost certain to qualify for the next FIDE World Cup. The only player who can overtake him is FM Bobby Cheng, and they play tomorrow. There is a group of 6 players 2 points behind the lead, and theoretically there could still be a multiple tie for first, but this is highly unlikely. Instead the interest in this group is to see who can clear the first hurdle towards an IM title. As the only 2 IM's in the group (Xie and Feldman) are paired together, the Ly v Illingworth and Ikeda v Brown pairings function as a kind of IM semi-final (not ignoring Cheng's chances of course).
The clash between the two GM's today did not disappoint, with an incredibly sharp opening leading to a tactical brawl that lasted all the way to the ending, where Zhao emerged 1 pawn ahead(!). However this advantage was enough in a rook and pawn ending, although Smerdon fought hard till the end.

Zhao,Zong Yuan (2586) - Smerdon,David C (2531) [B29]
Oceania Zonal Rotorua (7.1), 28.01.2011

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nc3 e6 5.Nxd5 exd5 6.d4 Nc6 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Qxd5 Qb6 9.Bc4 Bxf2+ 10.Ke2 0-0 11.Rf1 Bc5 12.Ng5 Nd4+ 13.Kd1 [RR 13.Ke1 Ne6 14.Ne4 d6 15.Bd3 dxe5 16.Qxe5 Qa5+ 17.Kd1 Bb4 18.Qxa5 Bxa5 ½-½ Lengyel,B (2268)-Bach,M (2276)/Budapest HUN 2009/The Week in Chess 749] 13...Ne6 14.Ne4 [RR 14.Qe4 Nxg5 15.Bxg5 d5 16.exd6 Qxd6+ 17.Bd3 Qxh2 18.Kd2 g6 19.Rae1 Bd7 20.Bf4 Qh4 21.Qxb7 Bf2 22.Re4 Bf5 23.Rc4 Be6 24.Re4 Rad8 25.Bc7 Qg5+ 26.Ke2 Bh4 27.Rxh4 Qxh4 28.Bxd8 Rxd8 Torre,E (2505)-Ljubojevic,L (2620)/Manila 1976/IZT/0-1 (52)] 14...Be7 15.Bd2N [RR 15.c3 Qc6 16.Qd3 (RR 16.Be3 b5 17.Qxc6 dxc6 18.Bb3 Nc7 19.Kc2 Be6 20.Bxe6 fxe6 21.Bc5 Bxc5 22.Nxc5 Rad8 23.Nb7 Rd5 24.Rxf8+ Kxf8 25.Rf1+ Ke7 26.Na5 c5 27.b3 Ke8 28.Nc6 c4 29.bxc4 bxc4 30.Rd1 Rxd1 Rivas Pastor,M (2200)-Feller,J (2225)/Amsterdam 1978/MCD/1-0 (64)) 16...Nc5 17.Nxc5 Qxc5 18.Bf4 a5 19.Bg3 b6
20.Kc2 Bb7 21.Rf4 Rac8 22.Raf1 Kh8 23.Bf2 Qc6 24.Bb5 Qxg2 25.Rg1 Qxh2 26.Rg3 Bh4 27.Rgf3 Bxf3 28.Rxf3 h6 29.Qf5 g6 Littlewood,J-Parr,F/Rhyl 1969/MCL/0-1 (36);
RR 15.Bd3 Qc6 16.Qxc6 dxc6 17.Nd6 b6 18.Be3 Bxd6 19.exd6 Rd8 20.h3 Rxd6 21.Kc1 Bb7 22.g4 c5 23.a3 Rad8 24.h4 Bg2 25.Rg1 Bc6 26.Rf1 a5 27.g5 b5 28.a4 c4 29.axb5 cxd3 Brause-Elazar/ICS rated blitz matc 1996/1-0 (46)] 15...Qxb2 16.Bc3 Qa3 17.Rf3 Nc7 18.Qd4 b5 (D)
19.e6 f6 20.exd7+ bxc4 21.Qxc4+ Kh8 22.Bxf6 Qb4 23.Qxb4 Bxb4 24.d8Q Rxd8+ 25.Bxd8 Nd5 26.Ba5 Bg4 27.Bxb4 Nxb4 28.c3 Nc6 29.Ke2 Kg8 30.Rb1 Ne5 31.Rb5 Re8 32.Ke3 Bxf3 33.gxf3 h6 34.a4 Kh7 35.Rc5 Re7 36.h4 Kg6 37.a5 a6 38.Rd5 Kf7 39.h5 Re6 40.f4 Ng4+ 41.Kd4 Nf6 42.Nxf6 Kxf6 43.c4 Rc6 44.c5 Ke6 45.Re5+ Kd7 46.f5 Rc8 47.Kd5 Rf8 48.c6+ Kd8 49.Kc5 Kc7 50.Re7+ Kd8 51.Rxg7 Rxf5+ 52.Kb6 Rb5+ 53.Kxa6 Rb1 54.Rb7 Rc1 55.Kb6 Rb1+ 56.Kc5 Ra1 57.Rh7 Rc1+ 58.Kd6 Rd1+ 59.Ke6 Rc1 60.Kd6 Rd1+ 61.Kc5 Rc1+ 62.Kb6 Rb1+ 63.Ka7 Rc1 64.a6 Kc8 65.Rxh6 Kc7 66.Rg6 1-0

Friday 28 January 2011

2011 Oceania Zonal Day 4

Two rounds and two more wins for GM Zong Yuan Zhao. He now leads the 2001 2011 Oceania Zonal by a full point, ahead of Moulthun Ly who is on 5/6. Having played each other in round 3, Zhao is up against GM David Smerdon in round 7, while Ly plays Bobby Cheng. Illingworth v Feldman is the board 3 pairing (both are on 4.5 with Cheng).
At this stage Zhao is the odds on favourite to win the event, although a win by Smerdon tomorrow would suddenly open up the field once more. For Ly, Illingworth and Cheng, there is also the IM title to consider, with 6.5 likely to be the required score.
In the Womens event, Dekic (5.5/6) leads bye half a point over Feldman, with Guo a further half point back. As none of the leaders has had a bye yet, the crucial round will be round 8 (tomorrow afternoon) when Guo plays Dekic while Feldman has the bye.
Tomorrow is a single round in the Open zonal (the Women play double rounds on Saturday and Sunday), so I finally have time for a bit of sight seeing (in between opening prep). The last few days have seen very nice weather, although the rain has returned just in time for the weekend. For the tourist there are plenty of things to do, but interestingly, almost all of the adventure parks, bungee rides, boat rides or tours keep the price of the activity very well hidden, often only revealing them via a small sign on the cash register. This seems to be a blanket policy in Rotorua, although I have been told this is the complete opposite to how it is in places like Queenstown.

Thursday 27 January 2011

2011 Oceania Zonal Day 3

Today saw the 4th round of the 2011 Oceania Zonal, and GM Zong Yuan Zhao is the only player left on a perfect score. He beat IM Gary Lane in 40 moves, while the other round 3 leader, Andrew Brown, lost to Sydney FM Max Illingworth. Illingworth and Zhao play in tomorrows morning round on the top board.
As for the rest of the field, the race for first (or for various titles) is still wide open, with 13 players on 3/4. One of these players is GM David Smerdon who won an interesting game against Stephen Lukey. After playing his opening moves quite quickly, he slowed down around move 13 as Lukey kept the position under control. However a pawn grabbing excursion with the queen not only lost Lukey some time, but created an unbalanced position which allowed Smerdon to whip up a decisive attack.

Smerdon,David C (2531) - Lukey,Stephen G (2244) [C17]
Oceania Zonal Rotorua (4.6), 27.01.2011

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.Bd2 Ne7 6.Nb5 Bxd2+ 7.Qxd2 0-0 8.f4 a6 9.Nd6 cxd4 10.Nf3 Nbc6 11.Bd3 f6 12.0-0 fxe5 13.fxe5 Nf5 14.Bxf5 exf5 15.Qf4 Qb6 16.Kh1 h6 17.h4 Be6 18.Rad1 Qxb2 19.Rb1 Qxa2 (D)
20.Rxb7 Rab8 21.Rc7 Rb1 22.Rxb1 Qxb1+ 23.Kh2 Qb6 24.Rb7 Qd8 25.Qg3 Ne7 26.Nxd4 Bd7 27.e6 f4 28.Qg4 h5 29.Qg5 Nc6 30.Rxd7 1-0

Wednesday 26 January 2011

2011 Oceania Zonal Day 2

The hero of the 2nd day of the 2011 Oceania Zonal was Andrew Brown. In the morning session he defeated Australian Junior Champion Bobby Cheng, and then in the afternoon he defeated Australian Open Champion IM George Xie. Brown is leading the zonal with 3/3, along with GM Zong Yuan Zhao and IM Gary Lane. Tomorrows draw sees Zhao play Lane, while Brown plays Max Illingworth.
Another player performing above his seeding is Tristan Stevens, who is on 2.5, with a win over IM James Morris and a draw with GM David Smerdon. He is one of 6 players half a point off the lead.
As for Fiji/PNG players it was a mixed day. Both Joselito Marcos and myself won in the morning (my opponent seemed to lose hope just as tricks were in the offing and resigned), while we both lost in the afternoon (I manged to drop a piece quite early on). Manoj Kumar from Fiji also won one and lost one today, while the other Fiji rep, Sam Goundar is hoping to break his duck tomorrow.
Full results of the event are now available at, while pgn files for all the rounds can be download from the Canterbury Chess Club website.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

2011 Oceania Zonal - Rd 1

I don't have access to all the results but there were already some significant results in the first round of the 2011 Oceania Zonal. On board 2 David Smerdon was held to a draw by Ivan Dordevic, while further down their were a number of draws (including myself against Nigel Cooper, Brian Jones with Josh Bishop, Helen Milligan with Matthew Bennett and Andrew Fitzpatrick against Winston Yao).
56 players are taking part in the Open zonal, while the Women's zonal will be an 11 player round robin (with a couple of extra rounds added on). For those looking fr live coverage, this is still a work in progress, with some cabling issue still being resolved.
Tomorrow is a double round with round 2 at 9:30 am and round 3 at 3pm (NZ time).

Monday 24 January 2011

2011 Australian Junior Championship - Cheng wins

Top seed Bobby Cheng from Victoria is the 2011 Australian Junior Championship, with an undefeated 8/9. He drew with second placed Yi Yuan in round 6 and Laurence Matheson in the final round. Yuan finished half a point behind on 7.5, with Yi Liu and Thomas Feng a point and half back in third place.
The second place for Yi was one of three for ACT players, with Willis Lo finishing second behind Daniel Zhang in the Under 14's and Michael Kethro behind Daniel Lapitan in the Under 12's. Full results for all sections are here. Just click on the name of the tournament to bring up the results for the specific age group.

Sunday 23 January 2011

And doing the tourist thing

Spent the day doing the tourist thing in Auckland. Using the cheapest tour bus company in the city (ie public transport) we saw quite a lot of the various shopping districts, the waterfront, and then spent a couple of hours at the excellent Auckland Museum. Tomorrow is the drive from Auckland to Rotorua, although whether I go via Hamilton or Tauranga is still to be decided.
I've been doing a lit bit of prep, trying to repair my increasingly dodgy repertoire. A combination of Chessvibes opening reports, and going over my old games has lead me down the path of mainline, high level, openings once again. Of course this was going to be the strategy at the last olympiad, until fatigue and frustration kicked in. But I'm sure this time will be different ...

Saturday 22 January 2011

On the road

Heading off for the Oceania Zonal this morning so blog posts over the next few days will be dependent upon net access. However I plan to bring regular updates from the tournament, as I'm assuming I will be back on 'grid' when I get to Rotorua.

Friday 21 January 2011

Two bishops versus the rooks

While going over some openings for the upcoming zonal I came across the following interesting game. Although it was only a rapid game it contained a number of important theoretical points, including the tactical reasons why 8 ... Nd7 works for tactical reasons.
However it was the battle between the two black bishops and the white rook that was the most picturesque. The sequence staring on move 26 has the black bishops driving the white rook into the corner, where it eventually gets captured. After that Black has no trouble wining the game.

Gelfand,B (2750) - Ponomariov,R (2737) [D80]
19th Amber Rapid Nice FRA (1), 13.03.2010

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Ne4 5.Bh4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 dxc4 7.e3 Be6 8.Nf3 Nd7 9.d5 Bg4 10.Qd4 Bxf3 11.Qxh8 Bxd5 12.Qd4 Nb6 13.e4 Bc6 14.f3 Qxd4 15.cxd4 Bg7 16.Rc1 Bxd4 17.Bxc4 Be3 18.Rc2 Nxc4 19.Rxc4 Rd8 20.Rc2 Bb6 21.Bg5 Ba4 22.Rc1 Rd3 23.Rb1 c6 24.Bd2 Bb5 25.Rb3 Rd7 (D)
26.Ra3 Bc5 27.Rc3 Bb4 28.Rc2 Ba4 29.Rb2 Ba3 30.Rb1 Bc2 31.Ra1 Bb2 32.Ke2 Bd3+ 33.Kf2 Bxa1 34.Rxa1 c5 35.Be3 b6 36.Rd1 Bc4 37.Rxd7 Kxd7 38.a3 Kc6 39.Bf4 a5 40.Bd2 Kb5 41.Bf4 Ka4 42.Bc7 b5 43.Ke3 Bf1 44.Kf2 Bd3 45.Ke3 c4 46.Kd4 Kxa3 47.Bxa5 b4 0-1

Thursday 20 January 2011

2011 Oceania Zonal

The 2011 Oceania Zonal starts on the 25th January in Rotorua, New Zealand. A couple of Australian players are already acclimatising themselves to the chilly New Zealand conditions and many more will be making the journey across the Tasman in the next few days.
I've got my PNG flag ready to be packed, and will be starting my journey on Saturday. A couple of days of sight seeing in Auckland before driving up to Rotorua, ready to take part in my first Zonal. With a field of 58 players (so far) I'm currently seeded just above the halfway point, so 50% would be a nice result (especially given my play at the Olympiad).
Also being held during the zonal will be the first meeting of the Oceania Chess Confederation. The confederation is a more formal grouping of countries that make up the Oceania zone, with an emphasis on development in the region. While the main point of the meeting is to establish the organisation, hopefully some new development programs for the region will also be created.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

New Fischer Documentary

A new documentary about the life of Bobby Fischer is to debut at the Sundance Film Festival. The documentary, titled "Bobby Fischer versus the World", is directed by Liz Garbus. It covers his entire life, and contains some significant film footage from the 1972 World Championship Match. Further details about the film can be found here.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

What we want versus what we get

No one deliberately plays bad moves at chess. And yet mistakes happen. This is because we play moves we think are good, only to find out, courtesy of our opponent, how bad they really are. Sometimes we might wish a move is good (as in 'I can't see the win but hopefully this move works'), but wishing is not normally an effective strategy.
I believe that a major difference between weak and strong players is that strong players don't make so many wishes. This in part is because they don't need to (because they can see the wins that weaker players can't) but also because they are simply more objective in their choice of moves. If the position requires simple moves, then simple moves it is, and no time wasting looking for more complicated solutions.
So this is why the Giri-Carlsen game from the current Tata Steel tournament was such a big shock. Both Giri and Carlsen chose moves that required a degree of tactical calculation (14. ... cxd5 for Giri, 20.Ng5?? for Carlsen), but it looks like Carlsen's choice was based on a tactical oversight. In the space of 3 moves he had dropped a piece and the game was over.

Carlsen - Giri
Tata Steel Chess 2011 Wijk aan Zee, 17.01.2011

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Nf3 Nb6 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.e3 0-0 9.0-0 Re8 10.Re1 a5 11.Qd2 e5 12.d5 Nb4 13.e4 c6 14.a3 cxd5 15.axb4 axb4 16.Rxa8 bxc3 17.bxc3 Nxa8 18.exd5 Nb6 19.Rd1 e4 (D)
20.Ng5 e3 21.Qb2 Qxg5 22.Bxe3 Qg4 0-1

Monday 17 January 2011

2011 Australian Junior Championship

The choice of a new format for the Australian Junior Championship seems to have paid off with a large turnout for this years event. Adopting the system used in the World Age Championships, each age title (Under 18, 16 14, etc) has a separate tournament (open and girls). The other change is to hold the younger events over the a shorter time fame, with only the under 16's and 18's running for the full length of the tournament.
After 4 rounds of the Under 18 pen, top seed Bobby Cheng leads with 4/4. He is followed by a large group of players on 3/4. One of those players is the sole ACT representative in the tournament Yi Yuan. While he has yet to play Cheng, he did demolish another of the top seeds, IM James Morris in round 3.

Yuan,Yi - Morris,James [B00]
Australian Junior , 16.01.2011

1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Bg4 5.Bb5 a6 6.Bxc6+ bxc6 7.h3 Bh5 8.Qe2 e6 9.g4 Bg6 10.Nh4 d5 11.Nxg6 hxg6 12.Bg5 Be7 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.0-0-0 g5 15.h4 gxh4 16.f4 c5 17.exd5 cxd4 18.dxe6 0-0 19.Ne4 fxe6 20.g5 Be7 21.Rxh4 Qd5 (D)
22.Rh8+ Kf7 23.Qh5+ g6 24.Qh7+ Ke8 25.Nf6+ Bxf6 26.Rxf8+ 1-0

Sunday 16 January 2011

Greg Hjorth passes away

Greg Hjorth, Australian IM and Mathematician, has passed away at the shockingly young age of 47. Hjorth was part of the very talented generation of Victorian juniors of the 1970's, and represented Australia at the 1982, 84 and 86 Olympiads. He was also a 3 times winner of the Doeberl Cup, in 1982,85, and 87. Many astute judges regarded him as one of the great future talents of Australian Chess, but a career in mathematics became his major focus, restricting his tournament play. Over the last 20 years he played a few events in the United States, where he was working, and also played the odd event in Melbourne upon his recent return to Australia.
Further information on his life, and tributes from those who knew him can be found here.

Hjorth,Gregory - Johansen,Darryl Keith [A01]
Melbourne C'wealth Ch. (9), 1983

1.b3 e5 2.Bb2 d6 3.c4 g6 4.d4 Bg7 5.e3 f5 6.dxe5 Nd7 7.Nf3 dxe5 8.Qc2 Nh6 9.Nc3 0-0 10.0-0-0 Nf7 11.e4 f4 12.h4 c6 13.h5 g5 14.h6 Bf6 15.g3 Qe7 16.Rg1 Kh8 17.gxf4 gxf4 18.Ne2 Rg8 19.Bh3 Rxg1 20.Rxg1 Nf8 21.Nxf4 Ng5 22.Nxe5 Nxh3 23.Nxh3 Bxh3 24.Qc3 Bg5+ 25.f4 Bxf4+ 26.Kb1 1-0

Saturday 15 January 2011

Tata Steel 2011

The Tata Steel (Corus) 2011 tournament has just started in Wijk aan Zee, The Netherlands. The first of the 'Super GM' events for the year, the A tournament is a 14 player single round robin, with an average rating of 2740. The top seeds are the worlds top 4 players, Carlsen, Anand, Aronian and Kramnik. There are also Grandmaster B and C tournaments, run on the same format of the A tournament.
The tournament web page is here (and I like its simple uncrowded layout), with links to live games etc. The broadcasts start 1:30 pm local time, which is 11:30 ampm Canberra time. As I type this most games are still in the early stages, except for Smeets v Shirov, which has raced to move 22, as the players follow a very sharp and messy line in the Ruy Lopez.
As for my tip to win this years event, I feel it will end in a tie between Carlsen and Aronian.

Friday 14 January 2011

ACT Club Chess for 2011

The 2011 ACT Chess season is starting a little earlier this year for some of the more enthusiastic clubs. If you are interested in joining a club in Canberra, here are the details

  • Tuggeranong Chess Club - Monday nights 7pm Vikings Rugby Union Club, Ricardo St, Wanniassa
  • ANU Chess Club - Wednesday nights 7:30 pm, 1st Floor, Asian Studies Building, Childers St, Australian National University
  • Canberra Chess Club - Wednesday nights 7pm Hellenic Club in the City, 13 Moore St, Canberra City
  • Belconnen Chess Club - 7pm Thursday nights Natsem Building, Hayden Drive, Bruce
The Tuggeranong Club's first event is a lightning starting this Monday 17th January, while the Canberra Chess Club starts this coming Wednesday, 19th January.
The ANU Chess Club's first night is the 2nd February, with the club hosting the ACT Lightning Championship.

Thursday 13 January 2011

2011 Australian Open - 3 tie for first

The 2011 Australian Open ended in a 3 way tie for first place between GM Zong Yuan Zhao, IM George Xie and Moulthun Ly. Zhao and Ly played a quick draw on the top board to reach 8.5/11 while Xie defeated early leader FM Junta Ikeda to join them. According to the tie break system used (Sum of opponents ratings minus the lowest rated opponent) Xie finished with the title of Australian Open Champion.
Tied for 4th place were Andrew Brown and FM Vladimir Smirnov. Smirnov also scored the only IM norm of the tournament, which is his third and final norm.
The minor event (under 1600) which ran alongside the open also finished in a tie with Dennis Wan and Megan Setiabudi finishing well ahead of the field with 9/11.
Andrew Brown's equal 4th placed finish was one noticeable result from the event, and signified that he can be a danger to any player he meets. Although he lost to two of the tournament winners (Zhao and Ly) he had a particularly strong finish with wins overs IM's Feldman and Solomon, and a final round victory of FM Max Illingworth.

Brown,Andrew (2175) - Illingworth,Max (2311) [D85]
Australian Open NSLCC, Cammeray, NSW (11.4), 13.01.2011

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bb5+ c6 8.Ba4 b5 9.Bb3 b4 10.Bb2 bxc3 11.Bxc3 Ba6 12.h4 Nd7 13.h5 e5 14.Bb4 Qf6 15.Rh3 Bf8 16.Bc3 Qf4 17.Qf3 Bg7 18.dxe5 Qxf3 19.Nxf3 gxh5 (D)
20.Ng5 0-0-0 21.Nxf7 Nc5 22.Nxd8 Rxd8 23.Bc2 Ne6 24.Rd1 Re8 25.Rxh5 h6 26.Rf5 Bb5 27.Rd6 Nc5 28.f4 Bf8 29.Rdf6 Nd7 30.Rg6 Nc5 31.Rxf8 Rxf8 32.Bb4 Rxf4 33.Bxc5 Rf1+ 34.Kd2 h5 35.e6 Bc4 36.Bb3 Bxb3 37.axb3 Kb7 38.e7 1-0

Wednesday 12 January 2011


Via the New York Times chess blog comes news of a new claimant to the title of "Strongest Chess Program", for the PC at least. The program is called Houdini, and is the highest rated program on the IPON rating list, ahead of both Rybka and Stockfish. The program is free to download, although I'm assuming the source code isn't available (unlike Fruit,Stockfish etc). It is a relatively new program, so new that it isn't on the last SSDF list (which was released in September 2010).
I've downloaded it to my netbook (not the most powerful test platform), and it runs under Fritz/Chessbase without major problems. I'll have a look at it over th next few days to see how strong it is, although as with most super strong programs, I'm not sure it makes a real difference.

Tuesday 11 January 2011

The Year of Botvinnik

FIDE have announced that 2011 will be the Year of Mikhail Botvinnik, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth. I'm not sure in what form this commemoration will take, as the announcement was pretty brief, but I assume there will be a few special events organised, although whether they will be organised directly by FIDE is not clear.
In talk of the greatest players of all time Botvinnik tends to fall behind the Big 4 (Alekhine, Capablanca, Fischer, Kasparov), but he is often considered number 5 (in competition with Karpov and possibly Lasker). Of course his other great legacy was in the development of a new generation of champions, with his coaching school justifiably famous.
He also provided a link between the pre and post World War II generations, having played all the world champions from Lasker through to Fischer in tournament or match play. He chose to retire in 1970, while still a formidable player, missing the chance to challenge the 'Fischer' generation.
Against Fischer he only played the one game, at the 1962 Olympiad, and the game famously ended in a draw, after Fischer went to the adjournment with a clear plus. Fischer had won a pawn in the opening after Botvinnik missed a simple tactic, but in the eventual rook and pawn ending Botvinnik found a drawing idea, which halved the point.

Botvinnik,Mikhail Moisevich - Fischer,Robert James [D98]
Varna ol (Men) Varna (10), 1962

1.c4 g6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 0-0 7.e4 Bg4 8.Be3 Nfd7 9.Be2 Nc6 10.Rd1 Nb6 11.Qc5 Qd6 12.h3 Bxf3 13.gxf3 Rfd8 14.d5 Ne5 15.Nb5 Qf6 16.f4 Ned7 (D)
17.e5 Qxf4 18.Bxf4 Nxc5 19.Nxc7 Rac8 20.d6 exd6 21.exd6 Bxb2 22.0-0 Nbd7 23.Rd5 b6 24.Bf3 Ne6 25.Nxe6 fxe6 26.Rd3 Nc5 27.Re3 e5 28.Bxe5 Bxe5 29.Rxe5 Rxd6 30.Re7 Rd7 31.Rxd7 Nxd7 32.Bg4 Rc7 33.Re1 Kf7 34.Kg2 Nc5 35.Re3 Re7 36.Rf3+ Kg7 37.Rc3 Re4 38.Bd1 Rd4 39.Bc2 Kf6 40.Kf3 Kg5 41.Kg3 Ne4+ 42.Bxe4 Rxe4 43.Ra3 Re7 44.Rf3 Rc7 45.a4 Rc5 46.Rf7 Ra5 47.Rxh7 Rxa4 48.h4+ Kf5 49.Rf7+ Ke5 50.Rg7 Ra1 51.Kf3 b5 52.h5 Ra3+ 53.Kg2 gxh5 54.Rg5+ Kd6 55.Rxb5 h4 56.f4 Kc6 57.Rb8 h3+ 58.Kh2 a5 59.f5 Kc7 60.Rb5 Kd6 61.f6 Ke6 62.Rb6+ Kf7 63.Ra6 Kg6 64.Rc6 a4 65.Ra6 Kf7 66.Rc6 Rd3 67.Ra6 a3 68.Kg1 ½-½

Monday 10 January 2011

University Champion

Normally the result of a university chess championships might not be worthy of coverage, but the championship of the Russian State Social University saw a pretty impressive final match. Ian Nepomniachtchi and Sergey Karjakin played a mini match for the title, which consisted of 2 rapid games, which ended 1-1, followed by 4 blitz games (2-2) and finally an armageddon blitz which was won by Karjakin. Now I'm not sure whether there were other players who played preliminary rounds of the university championships, or the organisers simply asked anyone with a rating over 2700 to raise their hands, but the organisers do deserve credit for simply getting a couple of strong university students to actually play in their championship. Ask anyone who has run a university chess club about what an achievement this truly is.

Nepomniachtchi,Ian (2733) - Karjakin,Sergey (2776) [C45]
RGSU Match Blitz Moscow RUS (2), 09.01.2011

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.Nd2 Rb8 9.c4 Nb4 10.Nf3 c5 11.g3 Qe6 12.Bg2 Be7 13.0-0 Bb7 14.b3 0-0 15.Bb2 Rfe8 16.Rfe1 h6 17.Bc3 Bf8 18.Rad1 Ba8 19.Bxb4 Rxb4 20.Qd2 Rd8 21.Nh4 Rbb8 22.Bd5 Bxd5 23.cxd5 Qh3 24.Qc2 Rb4 25.Re4 Rxe4 26.Qxe4 Re8 27.Ng2 g5 28.Ne3 Bg7 29.Nc4 d6 30.Re1 Bxe5 31.Qg2 Qd7 32.Qf3 Bd4 33.Re4 Kf8 34.Nd2 Rxe4 35.Nxe4 Qe7 36.g4 Qe5 37.Ng3 Kg7 38.Kg2 Qf6 39.Nh5+ 1-0

Sunday 9 January 2011


When I was a kid I really wanted to write my own computer chess program. The only problem is I had no idea how to do it. Eventually I discovered a piece of software called Turbo Games Works, which had programs that played Chess, Bridge and Go-Moku. More importantly it had the source code for each program, enabling me to learn how to write my own programs.
Of course in those days the internet had yet to really take off, so getting copies of program source code was extremely difficult. These days it is much easier, especially due to the enthusiastic open source community.
PyChess is one such open source program that aspiring computer chess coders might find useful. Not so much for the playing engine (anything written in python can only go 'so' fast) but for the other bits and pieces a program may need. It has a gui as well as providing support for playing online at FICS and other servers. So rather than spend your time trying to understand the FICS protocols, a quick read of the source code for Pychess would save you a large amount of time.

BTW I ended up doing more work with Turbo Bridge rather than Turbo Chess, even implementing some alternative bidding systems. Sadly I no longer have the source code for either program and am interested in tracking it down. If anyone has a clue about where I could find it I would appreciate it very much.

Saturday 8 January 2011

Print your own chess set

Print might not be the correct word for it, although it is described as a '3-D printer'. An automated carving system might be a better description. Assuming it is the same as other devices I've read about before (but not actually seen in operation), instead of paper you feed it blocks of foam, which are then whittled into the shape required.
This one is a kit which costs over $1000, so I'm not sure I'd be rushing out to buy one just yet.

Friday 7 January 2011

Ikeda leads Australian Open

After 6 rounds Canberra FM Junta Ikeda is the sole leader of the Australian Open. His 5.5 points has included wins over GM Zong Yuan Zhao and FM Vladimir Smirnov, and a draw with IM Stephen Solomon. There is a 4 way tie for second with IM Stephen Solomon, IM George Xie, FM Max Illingworth and FM Greg Canfell all on 5 points. Tomorrow is a rest day with Ikeda playing Canfell on the top board in round 7.

Ikeda,Junta (2262) - Smirnov,Vladimir (2382) [A35]
Australian Open NSLCC, Cammeray, NSW (6.2), 07.01.2011

1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 e5 4.e3 d6 5.a3 g6 6.d4 Bg4 7.d5 Nb8 8.h3 Bxf3 9.Qxf3 Bh6 10.g4 Bg5 11.Ne4 Be7 12.h4 Nf6 13.Ng3 Nbd7 14.g5 Ng8 15.Ne4 h5 16.Bd2 Qb6 17.Bc3 Qb3 18.Bd3 Nb6 19.Qe2 0-0-0 20.Nd2 Qa4 21.f4 Qe8 22.fxe5 Na4 23.Ba5 b6 24.b3 Bf8 25.Nf3 Bg7 26.Bd2 Bxe5 27.Nxe5 Qxe5 28.Rc1 Nb2 29.Bb1 Re8 30.Rh3 Nxc4 31.Bc3 Qxd5 32.bxc4 Qe6 33.Qg2 Rh7 34.Bd3 Kc7 35.Kd2 Ne7 36.Rf1 Nc6 37.Rf6 Qd7 38.Rh1 Nd8 39.Bc2 Re7 40.Qf3 Nc6 41.Rf1 Qg4 42.Qf4 Ne5 43.Bxe5 dxe5 44.Qe4 Qd7+ 45.Qd5 Qe8 46.Kc1 Kb8 47.Be4 Qa4 48.Qd8# 1-0

Thursday 6 January 2011

2011 New Zealand Championship

New Zealand is justifiably proud of its Championship, which is the longest running national championship in the world. The 118th edition is currently running at the Auckland Chess Centre, with 11 time winner Anthony Ker leading after 5 rounds with 4.5.
Before the event there was some discussion about the strength if this years field, with the fact that the Oceania Zonal is starting in Rotorua in a little over 2 weeks possibly forcing some players to choose one event over the other. However looking at the field for both, it seems that the championship field shades the zonal field for strength, where the New Zealanders are concerned. This is the opposite of the situation in Australia where the strength of the Australians in the Zonal (at the top) are slightly stronger than those playing in the Australian Open. I wonder if this a commentary on the notion of national pride for the respective countries, or is it just the case that some holiday destinations are better than others?

Wednesday 5 January 2011

The rebound

With the December/January period being a busy chess playing period, there are going to be some players facing the same opponents twice or three times. Under these circumstances it will either be a case of one player having the wood over the other, or a chance to even the score.
In the third round of the Australian Open, GM Zong Yuan Zhao faced up against Andrew Brown, who had defeated him in the third round of the recently completed Gold Coast tournament. However lightning didn't strike twice and Zhao turned the tables on Brown, with a nice tactical win.

Zhao,Zong Yuan (2586) - Brown,Andrew (2175) [B33]
Australian Open NSLCC, Cammeray, NSW (3.1), 04.01.2011

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Nd5 Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.c3 Ne7 12.Nxf6+ gxf6 13.Nc2 Bb7 14.Bd3 d5 15.exd5 Qxd5 16.Ne3 Qe6 17.a4 e4 18.Be2 Rd8 19.Qc2 f5 20.axb5 f4 21.bxa6 fxe3 22.axb7 exf2+ 23.Kf1 Nd5 24.Qa4+ Ke7 25.Qa7 Qd7 26.Rd1 Ke6 27.c4 1-0

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Should I grab the queen?

A few issues of Australian Correspondence Chess Quarterly ago, I annotated a set of games that started with the Marshall Gambit (Ruy Lopez version). I remarked that annotating Marshall's was a difficult task as either one player came up with a theoretical novelty (TN) which just won on the spot, or the game petered out into a draw. The unstated point was that the Marshall is pretty much all tactics, and strategical battles are almost non existent.
As further evidence of this point, I've just completed a game in the Australia v India match which ended in a draw. My opponent played the Kevitz variation, which can be annoying, but is't the sternest test of the opening. The crucial point was at move 23 where he offered me the choice of winning back a sacrificed piece, or winning his queen for bishop and rook. Part of the difficulty for me was that my enthusiasm for CC is waning a little so I didn't subject the position to the level of scrutiny it required. Having thought my opponent had a defence to 23. ... Rxe3, I went for the queen, but without enough pieces to help my queen the game quickly ended in a draw.

De,Gautam (2096) - Press,Shaun [C89]
Australia - India ICCF

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.Bxd5 cxd5 13.d4 Bd6 14.Re1 Qh4 15.g3 Qh3 16.Qf3 Bf5 17.Qxd5 Rae8 18.Bd2 Bf4 19.Rxe8 Rxe8 20.Qg2 Qh5 21.f3 Bd3 22.gxf4 Re6 (D)
23.Be3N [RR 23.Qf2 Be2 24.f5 Qxf5 25.h4 Bxf3 26.Qg3 h6 27.Bf4 (RR 27.Be3 Rg6 28.Bg5 hxg5 29.h5 Bxh5 30.Nd2 Re6 31.Re1 Qg4 32.Qxg4 Rxe1+ 33.Kf2 Bxg4 34.Kxe1 Be6 35.a3 f5 36.b3 Kf8 37.Kf2 Ke7 38.c4 g4 39.a4 bxa4 40.bxa4 g5 41.a5 f4 Terada,S-Sakai,K/corr JPCA 1999/½-½ (53)) 27...Re4 28.Nd2 Rxf4 29.Rf1 Rg4 30.Rxf3 Rxg3+ 31.Rxg3 Qc2 32.Rg2 Qxb2 0-1 Femmel,D (2109)-Sakai,K (2091)/IECC Email 2001 (32)] 23...Rg6?! [23...Rxe3!] 24.Nd2 Rxg2+ 25.Kxg2 Qd5 26.b3 Qc6 27.Rc1 Qg6+ 28.Kf2 Qh5 29.Kg2 Qg6+ ½-½

Monday 3 January 2011

Upset or massacre?

Picking a first round game for publication from any big swiss is often a choice between upset or massacre. You either find some poor player in the lower half of the field who gets hammered by a GM/IM opponent, or you find some poor player in the top half of the field who blows up against a much lower rated opponent.
For the current Australian Open I've decided to feature the upset. As the event is being seeded on FIDE ratings, the gap between the two players doesn't look that great, but there was a gap of 43 places in the seedings between the two players. Surprisingly it was a tactical miscalculation by the higher seeded player that pretty much decided the game, but Alana still finished the game with a nice queen sac.

Vogel,Joerg (2069) - Chibnall,Alana (1807) [A62]
Australian Open NSLCC, Cammeray, NSW (1.17), 02.01.2011

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.g3 g6 7.Bg2 Bg7 8.Nf3 0-0 9.0-0 Re8 10.Re1 Na6 11.Nd2 Nc7 12.a4 a6 13.Nc4 Rb8 14.a5 Nb5 15.Bf4 Nh5 (D)
16.Nxb5 axb5 17.Nxd6 Nxf4 18.Nxe8 Nxg2 19.Nxg7 Nxe1 20.e4 Kxg7 21.Qxe1 Qe7 22.Qc3+ Kg8 23.Re1 Bd7 24.e5 Rc8 25.Ra1 b4 26.Qe3 Bb5 27.b3 c4 28.bxc4 Rxc4 29.Rd1 Rc3 30.Qb6 Be8 31.d6 Qxe5 32.Qxb7 Qe2 33.Rb1 Rc2 34.Qb6 Bc6 35.Qe3 b3 36.a6 Qxa6 37.Qxb3 Qe2 38.Rf1 Bf3 39.d7 Qxf1+ 0-1

Sunday 2 January 2011

A hard move to find

The Reggio Emilia tournament, currently running in Italy, saw Nigel Short bounce back from his poor showing in the London Chess Classic, with 2 wins in the first 2 rounds. His first round win over Gashimov was a titanic struggle where both Kings diced with death, but his second victory was a result of a "well disguised and beautiful swindle", as he posted on his facebook page. He also described the physical reaction that occurred when he played 36.Rb8!!, but as this is a family blog, I think I'll leave it there for now.

Short,N (2680) - Morozevich,A (2700)
[C11] 53rd Masters Reggio Emilia ITA (2), 29.12.2010

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.dxc5 Nc6 7.a3 Bxc5 8.Qg4 0-0 9.Bd3 Qe7 10.Bd2 f6 11.Qh4 h6 12.exf6 Nxf6 13.0-0-0 e5 14.fxe5 Nxe5 15.Nf3 Nxd3+ 16.cxd3 b5 17.Rhe1 Qb7 18.Be3 Bxe3+ 19.Rxe3 a5 20.Rde1 b4 21.Re7 Qb6 22.axb4 axb4 23.Nd1 Bg4 24.Kd2 b3 25.Ke2 Ra4 26.Qg3 Nh5 27.Qe5 Rf5 28.Qc3 Bxf3+ 29.gxf3 d4 30.Re8+ Kh7 31.Qc8 Nf4+ 32.Kf1 Qb5 33.Nf2 Nxd3 34.Rh8+ Kg6 35.Qe6+ Kh5 (D)
36.Rb8 Qe5 37.Rxe5 Ra1+ 38.Re1 Rxe1+ 39.Qxe1 Nxe1 40.Kxe1 Rxf3 41.Rd8 Re3+ 42.Kf1 Rc3 43.bxc3 dxc3 44.Nd3 1-0

Saturday 1 January 2011

2011 Australian Open

The 2011 Australian Open starts tomorrow and the organisers have the first round pairings up already. Top seed for the event is GM Zong Yuan Zhao, with IM George Xie, IM Stephen Solomon, IM Vladimir Feldman and IM Irinia Berezina-Feldman also taking part. As this is the equivalent of of the Australian national championship events, restrictions on foreign players for title norms don't apply, and so there should be some players hoping for an IM norm. This would include Junta Ikeda and Max Illingworth who both had good tournament victories in the last week.
Alongside the Open, is a Minor (under 1600) event, and the Norths Classic, which looks almost like a Seniors event (Although I'll apologise in advance to any below 55's playing in this tournament for that description).
The tournament web page is here, with links to results for all the events, and live coverage of the top games.