Tuesday 31 July 2012

The Fortress

The clash between the top two seeds at the 2012 ANU Open showed just how hard it is to win at the higher levels, even when given a head start. Possibly due to Xie's slightly unusual opening choice (3.Bc4 in the Sicilian) Zhao missed a double attack on move 6(!) and was already in big trouble. In fact Xie had an advantage up until move 18, when a recapture allowed Zhao to equalise. Then the game swung back towards Xie again, and the ending looked better for him. Now I'm not sure how far Zhao saw ahead, but from move 39 he played what seems to be every best move, in that he allowed Xie to queen his a pawn, won some material in return, and set up a fortress in the middle of the board. Xie tried a few checks with the queen, but when it became clear that all the Black pieces we solidly defended the game ended in a draw.

Xie,George - Zhao,Zong-Yuan
2012 ANU Open (6.1), 29.07.2012

Monday 30 July 2012

Upcoming FIDE Congress

FIDE have released the agenda and annexes for the upcoming FIDE Congress. If you are not willing to wade through the documents (available here), some of the highlights include:
Various proposals to change the electoral regulations and statutes (as a consequence of the 2010 elections)
A proposal from The Philippines that only citizens can represent a country at the Olympiad (This has been proposed and rejected previously btw)
Various complaints about various things(!)
Bids for upcoming FIDE events, including the 2016 Olympiad from Bulgaria, Estonia and Azerbaijan (do read this one btw) 
A motion to exclude 5 federations that took legal action against FIDE (moved by the Turkish Chess Federation)
A motion to extend national suspension of a player to cover all international events as well (moved by the Turkish Chess Federation)

There is also the usual proposals from the various committees, although in the case of most of these, the committee itself will discuss the proposals (and possibly reject or amend them) before they reach the General Assembly.  

In the case of the two motions from the Turkish Chess Federation, I'm sure that these will excite the most debate. Personally I am opposed to both of them, and will recommend that the PNG Chess Federation votes against them. I would be surprised if the first motion gets up, but am worried that the second one might. The Australian Chess Federation has a similar rule in respect to decisions of its State Associations, and if this is the case with other Federations, then it might have enough votes to get through.

(Disclaimer: I will be a paid official at the 2012 Olympiad)

Sunday 29 July 2012

2012 ANU Open - Final Results

The 2012 ANU Open was a very hard fought tournament, and the tournament winners were not decided until the very last round. FM Max Illingworth took a half point lead into the final round, but was up against top seed GM Zong Yuan Zhao. On board 2, IM George Xie was playing FM Gene Nakauchi, who had beaten IM Moluthun Ly in the previous round. Xie was the first to give himself a chance of victory, with a fiarly straightforward win over Nakauchi, while the battle raged on the top board. The position looked quite complicated, and one wit remarked that 'both sides look worse'. However Illingworth missed a tactical shot (spotted by GM Lev Aronian who was spectating), and Zhao held the clear advantage. Despite attempts to complicate the position in time trouble, Illingworth was not able to hold his position together, and Zhao scored the win needed to take him to equal first. When the final results were in IM Geroge Xie was just ahead on countback, so he was the winner of the Ian Chubb Trophy for 2012.
Despite his loss, Illingworth finished in third place, along with Anton Smirnov, who defeated Giang Nguyen on Board 3. In a big group behind them were Denis Ovcina, as well as four local players, IM Andrew Brown, WIM Arianne Caoili, FM Junta Ikeda and Roger Farrell.
The Under 1600 event finished in a 3 way tie for first, after tournament leader Simon Ong drew with Harry Johnson. This enabled both Geoff Barber and Brandon Lee to catch him, after they won their final round games.
Overall it was a successful event, and the organisers were pleased with both the numbers and the strength in the Open. Both winners played a number of opponents who finished in the top 10, and there were tough pairings across the top boards for most of the rounds.
A full crosstable  for both events can be found here. I will also try and put up a (small) file of games in the next  day or two.

2012 ANU Open - Round 6

Max Illingworth has taken the outright lead going into the final round of the 2012 ANU Open. He defeated Denis Ovcina on board 2, while IM George Xie and GM Zong-Yuan Zhao drew on the top board. After the game Zhao said he was lucky to get way with the draw, as he believed he stood worse as early as move 6. On board 3 Michael Wei and Giang Nguyen drew, while Gene Nakauchi beat IM Moulthun Ly on the fourth board. The final round sees Illingworth up against Zhao with the top seed needing a win to overtake his opponent. In the Under 1600 tournament Simon Ong minted his half point lead as the top 2 boards were drawn. He plays Harry Johnson in the final round, while the board 2 game between Geoff Barber and Jason Gillard may also have an effect on the final standings.

2012 ANU Open - Round 5

The 5th round of the 2012 ANU Open saw decisive results on the top 3 boards. GM Zong-Yuan Zhao beat Anton Smirnov on Board 1 while FM Max Illingworth defeated IM Moulthun Ly in a surprisingly short game. IM George Xie beat FM Junta Ikeda after Ikeda's attacking chances did not compensate for his material deficit. The three winners now lead the tournament on 4.5/5, with Dennis Ovcina and Giang Nguyen half a point back. Simon Ong is the outright leader in the Minor tournament after defeating Jason Gillard in Round 5. Harry Johnson recovered from his first round loss by winning his fourth game in succession to share third place with Erik Jochimsen and Brandon Lee. There are 2 rounds to play, and it is likely that both tournaments will be decided by last round clashes.

Saturday 28 July 2012

2012 ANU Open - Round 4

At the end of the first day of the 2012 ANU Open, nobody is left with a perfect score! Part of this was due to the effort required to play 4 games in a day, but part of it was the fact that the tournament favourites were paired against each other.
On the top board IM Moulthun Ly decided to try and hack GM Zong Yuan Zhao, although from my untrained eye it did not look convincing. Zhao fended off the attack and was in fact an exchange up, but a draw was agreed when both players were short of time. The second board seemed to have a similar story with Illingworth up material against Xie, but again a draw was the result. Joining these four players in the lead was Anton Smirnov, who took advantage of the generosity of the organisers, by taking a 4th round (half point) bye.
In the Minor tournament, Simon Ong and Mark Patterson drew on board 1, which allowed Jason Gillard to catch them with a win over Donghoon Shin. There is also a group of players on 3 who still have good chances of winning the tournament.
Crosstables and Round 5 pairings for both tournament are available at ANU Chess Club site. Play kicks off at 9:30am tomorrow, and a live broadcast of the top board game can be found here.

2012 ANU Open - Round 3

The first real upsets of the 2012 ANU Open occurred in the third round, with a couple of higher rated players coming unstuck. On board 4 Anton Smirnov defeated FM Junta Ikeda, while Harry Press beat WIM Emma Guo. On the top board Dennis Ovcina put up a hard fight against GM Zong-Yuan Zhao but eventually lost on time while defending a tough rook and pawn ending. IM Andrew Brown felt he had an advantage against IM George Xie but having lost it, his position went rapidly down hill. In the under 1600 tournament Simon Ong and Mark Patterson are the only players on a perfect score. However there is a lunch bunch of players on 2.5, including young Jo Mason. The tournament also saw a bit of celebrity excitement with a flying visit from Lev Aronian, who is having a bits of holiday in Canberra.

2012 ANU Open - Round 2

Like the first round of the 2012 ANU Open, the second round did not hold any terrors for the top seeds. The most interesting pairing of this round was WIM Emma Guo versus GM Zong-Yuan Zhao. After the minor pieces disappeared from the board, Zhao was able make his heavy pieces count, and after dropping a couple of pawns, Guo lost her queen in time trouble. In the Under 1600 event the top seeds are finding it a lot harder, with most of the top half dropping at least something. However Geoff Barber has shown it isn't impossible to do well as the number 1 ranked player, leading with 2/2 (along with a few other players). There are still 2 rounds to play today, and I expect some very tired chessplayers by late this evening.

2012 ANU Open round 1

Round 1 of the 2012 ANU Open went basically to script. The wer no upsets across the top 10 boards, with ACT junior Michael Kethro's win over Jonas Muller on board 13 the highest game that went against rating. The top boards saw a couple of interesting match ups, with IM George Xie beating Steven Sengstock, while Adrian de Noskowski fought hard in his first ever game against a GM, before going down to top seed Zong-Yuan Zhao. The tournament itself has seen an increase in numbers from last year, with 52 players in the Open, and 36 in the Minor.

*** Update ***
Crosstables from both events can be found at https://sites.google.com/site/chessatanu/home/club-announcements/2012-anu-open
Quick video summaries for each round can be found at http://www.youtube.com/user/shaunp64/videos (along with some other chess videos!)

2012 ANU Open - Live coverage

ANU Chess Festival Board 1 game live - http://www.apex.net.au/~shaun.press/livegames/tfd.htm

Friday 27 July 2012

2012 ANU Chess Festival - Day 1

The 2012 ANU Chess Festival began with the traditional simul in the centre of Canberra. As for the past few years King O'Malley's played host, with IM Andras Toth doing the honours. Numbers were a little down on previous years, with only 11 players taking on Toth. However it was a tough simul with most players rated between 1500 and 1850.
When the final move had been played Toth had scored 10 wins and 1 draw. Miles Patterson was the player who avoided defeat, winning a book voucher from event sponsors University Co-op Bookshops. However Toth had to work hard in a number of games, especially against Glenn Ingham. At one point Ingham was up a whole rook, but threats against the king, combined with an advanced passed pawn allowed Toth liquidate enough material and make the pawn count.
Tomorrow is the first day of the 2012 ANU Open, at the Canberra School of Art. Top seed is GM Zong-Yuan Zhao, but there are a number of young challengers (Brown, Ly, Ikeda, Illingworth) to make the tournament an exciting one. Play begins at 10am and the first fay will see a very testing 4 rounds.

Thursday 26 July 2012

Biel 2012 - What is going on?

Sometimes there are tournaments where things just seem to go wrong. Normally they are your run of the mill weekenders, or perhaps a larger swiss event, but not an elite round robin. Probably through no fault of their own, the Biel organisers have had some issues to deal with in the 2012 edition of the annual tournament.
Firstly it seemed that had a happy accident, with Magnus Carlsen becoming available after the Kings Tournament was postponed. However this meant Lenier Dominguez was moved aside to let the world No. 1 into the tournament, although he was promised a spot in next years event.
Then after two rounds Alexander Morozevich has had to withdraw due a medical condition. He had lost his first two games, and while unkind souls may make a connection between the two, I would assume in this case ill-health was the likely cause of the losses, rather than the other way around. Victor Bologan was brought in as a replacement, although the tournament rhythm (and scoring) has already been disturbed.
In the meantime there was some chess being played, and the following game probably reflects the turbulence the tournament has already gone through. Nakamura tries the very sharp Polugaevsky variation of the Sicilian, which usually involves lots of 'only' moves, and multiple pieces hanging. While he probably had an equal position in the middlegame, he made one bad choice and Wang Hao cracked his position with a set of sacrifices. When the dust had settled the players reached an ending, but one that was winning for Wang.

Wang Hao (2739) - Nakamura,Hi (2778) [B96]
45th Biel GM Biel SUI (3), 25.07.2012

Wednesday 25 July 2012

ANU Chess Festival Simul

Since it started 20 years ago the ANU Chess Festival as had a Weekender, a Schools Championship, and a Simul (It also had a computer chess championship for a few years, and an IM tournament one year, but those events are no  more).
The Simul has always been sponsored by the ANU University Co-op Bookshop, in the form of book vouchers for players who can win or draw. Normally they don't have to pay out too much, as it seems a point of pride for the simul player to score as heavily as possible (No Spassky like draws here).
This years simul features IM Andras Toth, who recently celebrated the birth of his first child. This means there is a possibility that lake of sleep may be a factor in his play. The simul will be held on Friday 27th July at King O'Malley's, City Walk Canberra City. The event is open to all comers (including juniors, as we won't be playing in the licensed area). It begins at 4:30pm, which gives people the opportunity to knock off work early and come along.There is no charge, but it will be restricted to 16 players, so first in best dressed.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

2012 British Championship

The 2012 British Championship kicked off last night, with a reasonably strong field. Missing the big 2 from last year (Short and Adams), it still has 7 GM's in the field, with Gawain Jones as the top seed. As in previous years the pairings are accelerated in the first few rounds, which means a couple of first round winners are playing GM's on a lower score in round 2.
While the Championship is the most important event, there are a large number of side events as well. Unlike Australia, the Junior Championship runs alongside the Championship, as does events like the Seniors, Major, and various 5 day and rapidplay events. Taking a quick glance at the entries I noticed that WIM Sue Maroroa is playing in the Championships alongside husband Gawain, and Bob Mitchell has traveled from New Zealand to play in the Seniors event.
There is live coverage of the top boards (of course), as well as a webcam feed from the venue. The website for the tournament is http://britishchesschampionships.co.uk/

Monday 23 July 2012

Digging through the archives

While putting together a new magazine article I came across a game I had completely forgotten I had witnessed. Normally I write my articles using Chessbase (Light) so I can check the opening theory that may be relevant to the game. The game in question was an Evans Gambit from this years European Championship, where Black had accepted the gambit, and then dropped the bishop back onto e7. So while looking through the list of previous games I saw a reference to Situru v Kagan from 1995.
It turns out that this game was was played in the 1995 ASK Masters, which was an IM round robin held as part of the ANU Chess Festival. IM Nathaniel Situru was a strong Indonesian player, while Naum Kagan was at the time one of Victoria's leading players. If you play through the game you will quickly see that Kagan has no difficulty in dealing with the Evan's, and in fact achieves an overwhelming position. However in the lead up the the first time control (move 40) it begins to turn around, and a clear win turns into a lost position.
The game had another unfortunate consequence, with Kagan withdrawing from the tournament after this round. As the tournament started with 11 players it didn't screw up the event too badly, but it did make norm chances for some of the players harder than it should have been.

Situru,Nathanael (2415) - Kagan,Naum (2395) [C51]
Canberra Canberra (5), 1995

Sunday 22 July 2012

Jacqueline Piatigorsky

Jacqueline Piatigorsky, famous in chess circles for her organisation of the Piatigorsky Cup's, has passed away at the age of 100. Along with the two Piatigorsky tournaments in the 1960's she also sponsored a match between Bobby Fischer and Sammy Reshevsky, which ended with a walk out by Fischer over a scheduling change.
While primarily known as a chess sponsor, she was also a strong player herself, representing the US in the Women's Olympiad in 1957, where she scored a bronze medal on board 2.
Later in life she played Seniors Tennis, winning tournaments into her 70's.
The USCF has an obituary here (mainly focusing on chess,), while a more general obituary from the LA Times is here.

Friday 20 July 2012

The Raw Meat Gambit

IM Trevor Tao sent me a link to the following game. Apparently after being totally smashed in the game, GM Bisguier asked "What do they feed this guy on, raw meat?". As the name "Kitchen Sink Attack" has already been taken, Trevor Tao's suggestion of "The Raw Meat Gambit" seems to be a sensible alternative.

Bisguier,Arthur Bernard - Littlewood,John Eric [D07]
Hastings 6162 Hastings (7), 1961

Thursday 19 July 2012

When a plan comes together

Sometimes you play a game where just about everything seems to work. Despite the best efforts of your opponent, your pieces end up on the right squares, and so when a tactical solution is required, it all just happens like clockwork.
Canberra player Matt Radisich had just such a game at his local club earlier this week, so much so, even he was amazed. Starting with an exchange sacrifice, all his pieces found themselves with a role to play, and eventually he was able to find a very pretty forced mate.

Wais Sidiqi - Matt Radisich
2012 Brindabella Snows Erindale (5), 16.07.2012

Wednesday 18 July 2012

2012 ANU Open - A strong field likely

With a week and a half to go, the 2012 ANU Open is already looking like a very strong tournament. So far there are 13 players rated above 2000, with a number of titled players in the mix. The cut-off for early entries is this Friday, so hopefully the field for this event, and the Under 1600 tournament, will grow in both strength and numbers over the next few days.
If you want to see a list of current entries, I am updating them pretty regularly, at the ANU Chess Club website.  You can also check out entries at a tournament management website I am testing, Vesus.org. The direct link to the ANU Open is http://vesus.org/tournaments/open-2012-anu-open/ You can even download the tournament brochure from there, otherwise tournament information can also be found here.
The tournament will start at 10:00 on Saturday 28 July. I hope to have some live broadcasting up and running (at least the top board), so watch this blog for further details.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Games Behind

In Baseball (and some other sports) the statistic "Games Behind" (or GB) is a metric of how many games you need to win to catch the leader. It is a fairly simple stat and is calculated by the difference between the wins-losses for both teams and then dividing by 2. It is also a useful stat for comparing teams who have played a differing amount of games.
Having a look at the latest Correspondence World Championship tournament, I can see where this kind of metric comes in handy. As CC tournament games are normally played simultaneously, the standings can be a little misleading, until you take into account the uncompleted games. In World Championship 27, the two players currently sharing first place have drawn all their games so far! In fact both have only one game left to play, and so at best could finish on +1. Helpfully the tournament cross table includes an RG (remaining games) figure for each player, so with a bit of brain power a better estimate of likely winners can be arrived at. If you assume that all the remaining games (42 still going) are draws, then Aleksandr Dronov (6.5 with 5 to play) would finish on 9/16, and be the likely winner. Of course this ignores the actual positions on the board, but given the large numbers of draws in this event, I would be surprised if the percentage of decisive games increases by much.

Monday 16 July 2012

Miniature of the Month - May 2012

Digging through a roundup of the months games, courtesy of ChessToday, I came across the following hack.  While it started as a Berlin, it seemed to have the feel of a Schliemann gone horribly wrong, especially after White seemed to develop almost every piece with tempo. Given that Black ended up with his King on d7, it was hardly a surprise when the game ended with a tactical shot.

Szabo,Krisztian (2540) - Fodor,Tamas Jr (2502) [C66]
4th Limpedea Cup Baia Sprie ROU (1.4), 21.05.2012

Sunday 15 July 2012

If not TV, at least Youtube

Alana Chibnall has reminded me of the XChess Championship, which is an ambitious project to bring chess to TV (or youtube for now). I've had a quick look at the first episode, and it looks like they have brought some fantastic production values to the project. I suspect they are using the 'a new shot every 3 seconds' approach to editing, which was once pointed out to me as the cornerstone of all sports coverage.
The XChess Challenge was an 8 player knockout event, involving some young American players, with games played at a speed of G/20m. As with any good sports show, they also have player introductions/bio's as well as a little bit of the 'trash talk' that Xtreme sports seem to have.
You can watch the 4 episodes of the first series on youtube. This link takes you to all the videos, as well as a couple of extras that they have put up.

Saturday 14 July 2012

Dortmund 2012

The traditional Dortmund event is up and running in the host city, with a pretty strong field in attendance. Kramnik is the top seed in a tournament he has won 10 times, while Caruana, Karkajin and Ponomariov are some of the players who are trying to stop him winning an 11th title.
This years event has moved away from the 6 player double RR format to a 10 player event, in part to accommodate the members of the German team which won last years European teams championship. Apparently this was done with the assistance of the German Chess Federation, which is a little surprising, as relations between the federation and its representative teams are normally strained (the 'up-yours' to the federation after winning last years European teams being a case in point).
Live coverage is available from the tournament website. Assuming I have my times zones right, then the games should being at midnight Canberra time.

Friday 13 July 2012

Olympiad Fundraisers

Over the last few Olympiads, the Australian Capital Territory has been well represented on various teams. This year sees 3 (maybe 4) local players of to Istanbul, playing in a couple of different events. Two of these players are doing some fundraising for their trip, in the shape of junior training and a junior tournament.
With the assistance of the ACT Junior Chess League, WIM Emma Guo (Bd 2 Australian Womens Team) and WFM Megan Setiabudi (U/16 Girls Olympiad Team) are holding an Olympiad Boot Camp on the 18th &19th of July, and the Olympiad Age Allegro on the 20th of July. Both events are being held at Campbell High, Trealor Cres, Campbell, and run for the whole day.
For further details visit the ACT Junior Chess League website.

Thursday 12 July 2012

Irish Championship - with extras

Chessexpress' Irish correspondent Pete Morriss has alerted me to a new feature in this years Irish Chess Championship. Not only can you follow the tournament online, but you can even have a bet on the games.
The event is being covered by the Doubledrooks website, and not only can you watch the games, but you can bet on the moves as they are played.
For now it is only 'play' money, although you still have to register to take part. However I suspect this is just a trial run, with the real thing happening if this experiment proves successful. As the difference in time zones makes it difficult for me to test the system, I would be interested in hearing from anyone who decides to give it a go.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

It beats freezing your butt off

The last week in Canberra has been the coldest in around 50 years. The overnight temperature dropped to below -4c for 6 days straight, a streak which cam to an end this morning. While Canberra locals are used to waking up to this sort of cold, it doesn't mean we have to like it.
So I am incredibly envious of GM David Smerdon, who is enjoying the sun in Curacao at the moment. On a break from his university studies, the former Canberra resident has travelled to the Caribbean to play in the Curacao Chess Festival.   It is only a small event (14 players, 9 rounds) but based on the pictures, the chess is only part of the attraction. He is covering the tournament at his blog, which is worth checking out, just for the pictures alone!

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose

I've been on a bit of a winning streak recently, but as with all good things, it has come to an end. In tonight's Belconnen Rapidplay, I came unstuck against Steven Sengstock, after some misremembered opening theory left me in a slightly worse position. Then to compound this, I decided that as unsound sacrifices had been paying off recently I would try another one. This was a step too far, and despite having very little time on the clock, Steven managed to avoid my cheapo's and bring home the point.
As for the opening, it was a Gruenfeld that followed a lot of Karpov v Kasparov from their World Championship matches, although I managed to put my queen on the wrong square after move 15 The only benefit was that my opponent was convinced I had it all under control, and after the game he said that he was waiting for me to lower the boom, and wondered "how it would look on the blog"!

Sengstock,Steven - Press,Shaun [D87]
Belconnen Rapid, 10.07.2012

Monday 9 July 2012

Karjakin wins Rapidplay, Grischuk leads Blitz

Sergey Karjakin picked up the first big title of the World Rapidplay and Blitz Championship, with a convincing win in the Rapidplay Championshop. On the final day of the fifteen round event, he scored 4.5/5 to finish a point ahead of Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen had been looking good but losses to Ivanchuk and Grischuk in rounds 12 and 13 derailed his event.
In the Blitz tournament Grishchuk is once again proving a bogeyman for Carlsen. He defeated Carlsen in their individual game, and leads after the first 15 games. The second half of the tournament finishes tomorrow, with the 16 player field meeting today's opponents, with colours reversed..
Live coverage of this event is at the tournament website.

Sunday 8 July 2012

The Hornsby Series of Chess

I like creative approaches to chess organisation, so I'm pleased to see the organisers of this years Hornsby Weekender attempt a new format for a weekends worth of chess. The Hornsby Series of Chess runs from the 3rd to the 5th of August, and consists of not 1, but 8 different events!
The events run one after the other, and you can choose to play one, some or all of them. They include normal blitz, bullet, hourglass, transfer, Fischer Random, a KO tournament, and Rapidplay. It is almost like a chess octathalon, which is kind of fitting, as it will be running during the Olympics.
I'm tempted to make the trip to Sydney to play, although if I did it would most likely be on the last day, which means I miss out on the real fun events. However if you are in Sydney or can get there for the weekend I would strongly encourage you to play. It might be just the tonic after the previous weekends ANU Open in Canberra!

Saturday 7 July 2012

Opening Lanes

IM Gary Lane and I have a standing agreement that whenever I get mentioned in one of his books, I have to buy a copy. It is an agreement I don't mind being held to, as I don't get mentioned in many chess books.
In fact I think it is only fair to extend it to his Opening Lanes chess column, although obviously I cannot 'buy' the column. However I am pleased to direct you to this months column, published on Chess Cafe, as it deals with the Traxler (Wilkes-Barre) variation of the Two Knights Defence. While I do get a mention in the column (via a game that I've mentioned too often on this blog), I recommend reading it for the rest of the analysis. The major portion of the article covers the 5.Bxf7+ line which, while I regard as somewhat cowardly by White, is the line that Traxler players have to deal with on a regular basis.

Friday 6 July 2012

A CCLA Give-away

The Correspondence Chess League of Australia (CCLA) recently switched web addresses, and to help spread the word, the CCLA is having a (small) give away. If you visit the new site at www.ccla.net.au and click on the link 'Australian Correspondence Chess Quarterly' on the left hand menu, you can download a free copy of the ACCQ from August 2011. This is an exact copy of the magazine that CCLA members get every 3 months, in PDF format. And if you like what you read, then feel free to join the CCLA by clicking on the 'Subscribe' button on the right hand side of this blog.

Thursday 5 July 2012

World Blitz and Rapid Championship

The World Blitz and Rapid Championships are taking place in Astana this week. The first part of the tournament were qualifiers for the final event (3 places up for grabs), while the real action begins tomorrow. The organisers have pulled off a bit of a coup by getting World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen, although he will be battling it out with Topalov, Svidler, Ivanchuk, Gelfand, Karjakin, Radjabov, Grischuk and Morozevich, amongst others.
Play kicks off at 3:00pm local time, which is a very pleasant 7:00pm in Canberra. Live coverage can be found on the tournament website.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Keep calm and carry on playing chess

This story has popped up in a couple of places, but I thought I'd share it anyway. Basically, shouts of "You won't get out of here!" were heard coming from a house. Someone was sufficiently alarmed to call the police, and a search was initiated. Having found the right address the police then confronted the surprised householder, who explained he was yelling at his computer, during an online game of chess. A promise of quieter behaviour sent them on their way.
What surprises me about this story is it doesn't happen more often. Not with chess players so much, but with teenage boys playing Call of Duty etc. Certainly in my house there is a substantial amount of yelling into microphones during online play, although this is more likely to occur when I am not home. And given the subject matter of the game, I would think such shouts are more likely to attract police attention than those you would find over a game of chess.

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Champion for a second time

Way back in the day (in this case the 1990's), one of my ambitions was to win the  Belconnen Club Championship. I'd joined the club in 1983, but try as I might, the Club Championship eluded me. Just to be cruel, it only *just* eluded me, as I finished either second, or in the second score group (when there was a tie for first), for about 7 years in a row. Finally in 1996 I cracked it for a win. Soon after that I stopped playing at Belconnen, and so I didn't play many more Championships.
This year I returned to regular play at Belconnen, having played there on occasion over the last couple of years. I did play last years Club Championship, and not surprisingly, I finished runner up. However this year I went one better and managed to take the title for the second time, after 16 years.
I've already shown a couple of games from this years event, so I'd thought I'd dig into the archives for games from 1996. As it turns out I can't seem to find games from that tournament, but I did find an interesting one from the Belconnen Open that year. It was against Ian Rout, and I had cooked up a line in the Gruenfeld which allowed me to indulge my penchant for sacrificing pieces. However I got a little carried away at the end, and having found one final sac to force a draw, I failed to spot a far stronger move which would have won the game.

Rout,Ian Clive - Press,Shaun [D86]
Belconnen op Belconnen, 1996

Monday 2 July 2012

A Nixie Chess Board

A number of years ago I had the idea of making a chess board which used fibre optics to light up the squares pieces could move to. It was half instructional and half art, but my attempts at actually building it were half something else.
But there are more determined people than myself, and one of them has built a light up chessboard, but in a different way. It uses Nixie tubes as pieces, which apparently light up when they come in contact with the squares. There is some other circuitry involved, but nothing too complicated, and the creator is even selling it in kit form.
Further details about the Nixie Tube Chess Set can be found here.

Sunday 1 July 2012

FIDE Rapid/Blitz Ratings

FIDE have released the first of their Rapidplay and Blitz Ratings, on the July Ratings List. The Rapidplay and Blitz ratings were introduced at the start of the year, but this is the first time they have been published. From Australia there have only been a few events (Doeberl, Oceania etc), although I would have liked to include more on the list.
The mechanism seems to be that FIDE rated players went onto the blitz and rapidplay list with their FIDE ratings at the time of their first event, and then the ratings were adjusted from there. Of course FIDE unrated players could get ratings just for Blitz or Rapidplay, if they played enough games. An example of this is Kishore Sreetharan, who does not have a normal FIDE rating, but is rated 2115 2105 at Blitz, based on his performance at the Doeberl Cup Lightning.
The best way to check you rating is to simply go to www.fide.com and choose the rating link. If you search for a players name it now shows normal, rapid, and blitz ratings side by side.