Tuesday 30 April 2013

Not chess on TV

Normally Chess is the 'go to' game when movies and TV shows want to show how clever/cunning/intelligent a character is. Of course the ability to play chess well doesn't actually translate into a world dominating genius, as shown by the number of GM's not actually ruling the planet.
So I was a little bit surprised, and somewhat pleased, that the makers of the series "Da Vinci's Demons" chose to go down another path. In this somewhat fictionalised version of the life of Leonardo da Vinci, two characters (one a mysterious prisoner), are shown playing what looks like Go, while engaging in the usual banter about "plans","strategies", and what it takes to defeat an opponent. Of course the prisoner eventually wins the game, giving a clear message to his captor that he still has a lot to learn.
Two points however. Given the historical setting of the series I'm not sure that Go had made it to Italy by 1500 AD, although this may have been deliberately done by the writers to illustrate another point. And while I'm not a serious go player, the position on the board looked a little "rough and ready" compared to games I have observed. Random tactics seems to abound, with a rather messy arrangement of groups. 

Monday 29 April 2013

Playing your namesake's opening

The Alekhine Memorial has moved from Paris to Moscow, meaning the games are starting 2 hours earlier from my point of view. So while I am supervising the final game of the 2013 ANU Masters, I'm also able to check in on what is happening in Moscow.
Although the games are still in the opening stages I was amused by Michael Adams choice against Vachier-Lagrave. After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 exd 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 Adams chose 6.h3, which is appropriately named 'The Adams Attack'. In this case it wasn't the English GM who gave his name to this variation, but the American Weaver Adams who donated his surname to it.
If you are quick, you can see the rest of the game here.

Saturday 27 April 2013

A simple puzzle

A pretty simple puzzle, based more on the Laws of Chess, than anything else. Which move for White immediately ends the game? If instead it was Black to move, what move could they play to bring the game to a halt? Is any result other than a draw possible?

Friday 26 April 2013

Miniature of the Month - March 2013

Delving into the collection of games from ChessToday, I found a somewhat familiar game for the March 2013 edition of Miniature of the Month. It is a fairly thematic hack against the Modern/Pirc setup, where White simply plays Nc3,Be3,Qd2,O-O-O, Bh6, h4 interspersed with some necessary moves like e4 and f3. Black needs to defend very accurately against such a setup, and in this months game, fails to do so. As a result White has a fairly straight forward win.

Van Kampen,Robin (2592) - Arizanov,Tome (2099) [B07]
Karpos Open 2013 Skopje MKD (1.19), 09.03.2013

Thursday 25 April 2013

Boy, that escalated quickly

An incident from the Cork Congress in Ireland shows how quickly things can get out of control when players lose their sense of perspective. During a game in the Major section, Gabriel Mirza (a former Irish Chess Union Secretary) became concerned that his 16 year old opponent was disappearing into the toilets after every move.  Having followed his opponent into the toilets he spotted him using a computing device. He fetched the tournament director, but soon things got out of hand. Not being able to enter the locked cubicle, Mirza kicked the door in, and dragged the player outside (despite being asked to 'calm down' by the director). One of the coaches of the opponent then intervened, and at this point the police were called.
The upshot was that the opponent was forfeited for using a  computing device, Mirza was forfeited for his behaviour, and both players were expelled from the tournament.
It appears the ICU will conduct an inquiry into the incident, while it is not clear whether there will be further action from the police. If there is further police action, I suspect  the first observation will be that the alleged assault on the 16 year old will be ranked higher in the eyes of the law than using a computer to cheat at chess.

2013 ANU Masters - Final week

While the top 3 places in the 2013 ANU had already been decided, the final week of tournament threw up one big surprise. IM Andrew Brown, looking to finish with 9/9, suffered a shock loss to tournament back marker Adrian De Noskowski. Brown played his usual Kings Indian Defence, and played for a king side attack while De Noskowski took space on the queenside. Although it looked as though Brown was one move away from winning, tenacious defence from De Noskowski kept him at bay. As the attack ran out of steam, De Noskowski was able to push his passed queenside pawn, and suddenly Brown was facing two queens. De Noskowski then returned material to simplify into a winning ending.
Michael Wei beat Steven Sengstock in a long rook and pawn ending. Wei won a pawn in the late middlegame, but then needed a a number of moves to convert this advantage into a win. Kishore Sreetharan finished the tournament on 50% after a win over Justin Chow. Sreetharan picked up a pawn due to a back rank mate threat, and won shortly after.
There is still one final game to be played in this tournament, although the result will not effect the top placings.  IM Andrew Brown finished first with 8/9, with FM Junta Ikeda on 7/9 and Andrey Bliznyuk on 6/9.
Full results, standings, and a pgn file of all the games played can be found at the ANU Chess Club website (look under Current Tournaments)

De Noskowski,Adrian (1907) - Brown,Andrew (2295)
2013 ANU Masters Canberra, Australia AUS (7), 24.04.2013

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Does modern chess even make sense any more ?!

Some older players have lamented to me that it is very difficult to learn anything from modern games at the highest level. Instead of players playing with a particular style, or specialising in specific positions, they simply try and calculate as deeply as possible to achieve a winning position. While this may be the road the chess now travels down, it is difficult for us lesser light to emulate.
Case in point, Vachier-Lagrave v Ding from round 2 of the 2013 Alekhine Memorial.

Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime (2722) - Ding,Liren (2707)
2013 Alekhine Memorial Paris, 22.04.2013

Monday 22 April 2013

The accidental brilliancy

The 2013 Alekhine Memorial got of to an exciting start, in part due to upset losses to Viswanathan Anand and Lev Aronian. Anand lost to Michael Adams while Aronian was on the end of an 'accidental' brilliancy from Liren Ding. With the first time control approaching Ding decided to sacrifice an exchange and then a piece to force perpetual check. However once he reached the time control, he realised his position was winning  and despite being a rook down, had Aronian in an mating net.
In the other games Kramnik defeated Vitiugov, while Svidler v Gelfand and Vachier-Lagrave v Fressinet were drawn.
Live coverage (video and commentary) is available from the tournament website, and with the end of daylight savings, starts at the relatively sensible time of 10pm (Canberra).

Ding,Liren - Aronian,Lev [D45]
2013 Alekhine Memorial Paris, 21.04.2013

Sunday 21 April 2013

2013 Bangkok Open - Zong Yuan Zhao wins outright

Australian GM Zong Yuan Zhao has won the 2013 Bangkok Chess Club Open, after a quick draw in the final round. The draw moved him to 7.5/9 and left him alone in first place, after the results on the next couple of boards fell his way. Zhao went through the tournament undefeated and finished with a TPR of 2695.
IM Max Illingworth was the next best of the Australian players, finishing in a tie for 17th place, with 6/9. Tim Reilly and Fedja Zulfic finished on 4.5.
Key to Zhao's victory was his round 8 win against tournament top seed Nigel Short. Zhao sacrificed 3 pawns for an attack and by move 30 was up a Queen for 2 pieces+2 pawns. Short continued to fight in the position but eventually Zhao's Queen overcame White's pieces.
Full results from the tournament can be found here.

Short,Nigel - Zhao,Zong Yuan [A07]
2013 Thailand Open, 20.04.2013

Saturday 20 April 2013

What would you rule?

An interesting but by no means unique situation came up at Street Chess today.
The diagrammed position was reached with both players having under 2 minutes on the clock, in a G/15m game. It was Blacks move and he played the obvious h1=Q. However in his haste he grabbed the wrong queen (a white one), placed it on the board, and pressed his clock. The player with the White pieces look confused, then said "Is this legal?" before pressing his opponents clock. At this point I (the arbiter) stepped in, stopped the clock, gave White an extra two minutes, reset the position to before the promotion, and asked Black to try again. Black correctly promoted and White resigned a few moves later.
But the question that was asked after the game was "What would happen if White said nothing, but instead moved the Queen away from the Black king and pressed the clock?" How would you rule is this is indeed  happened? Would it make a difference if you watching the game as opposed to being asked to make a ruling when you did not see what happened?

Friday 19 April 2013

Adventures with mobile phones

At this years O2C Doeberl Cup we tried a new system of dealing with the issue of mobile phones. As the FIDE rules currently stand, no player can have a mobile phone on their person during a competition game of chess, and if they do, the punishment is an automatic loss.
The problem with this rule is of course in its enforcement. On the one hand there is no practical way of detecting mobile phones, part from when they give themselves away, but on the other, I am sure plenty of players do carry them during games. And if we enforced the rules as they are written I suspect that there would be around 20 disqualifications per round.
So for this years event, we provided a storage system for phones. The organisers purchased a large number of zip lock sandwich bags, and asked the players to leave their phones at the results desk. On each bag was written the name of the owner, and then all the phones were stored in boxes at the desk.
In practice there were about 50 phones handed in at the start of each round, and overall the system worked well. Of course it was helped by the team working the results desk, as they handled this extra task with the professionalism that they handle all their other duties.
During the operation of this system, we had one phone in storage go off, although it was set to vibrate. We did not penalise the player concerned, as this was exactly the situation the system was deigned to deal with. (Note: We did ask the players to switch their phones of before handing them in). We did have one phone forfeit during the tournament however, so clearly not everyone took advantage of the situation. It also helped in one specific case where a player was in the habit of taking their bag with them whenever they left the playing hall, even when their game was still in progress. Having told the player not to do this (either leave the bag outside, or at the table), the player argued that possession of the bag was necessary.However the player then surrendered the phone, avoiding an unnecessary level of suspicion.
As for the security of the phones, every single one was returned to the owners, and their were no complaints about the system.

Is there chess in Walla Walla?

While flicking through Walter Browne's autobiographical work "The Stress of Chess", I came across a description of his time in Australia. For those not familiar with his background, he was born in Sydney but moved to the US at the age of three. As his mother was Australian, he retained his Australian citizenship, and returned to Australia to play, and win, the 1969 Australian Championship. He then went as the Australian representative to the 1969 Zonal, where he earned his IM title, shortly afterwards he became a Grandmaster, and went on the represent Australia at the 1970 and 1972 Olympiads.
In his book he talked about his time in Australia after the Australian Championships. He says he played a simul in Walla Walla, where he faced some 'talented aborigines'. Now I am somewhat sceptical of this tale, especially given  the number of factual errors picked up by other readers. Walla Walla is a small town near Culcairn in southern NSW, between Albury and Wagga. Now I am not familiar with the chess scene in the Riverina in the late 60's but I'm guessing it wasn't so thriving to support village based chess clubs. A simul in Albury or Wagga might be plausible, but not Walla Walla.
Well, not Walla Walla, Australia. While doing some research on this post I did discover that there is a chess club in Walla Walla, Washington, USA. I'm not sure how big the club is, but it is listed on the Washington Chess Association website. Maybe it was simply the case that Brown got confused between Walla Walla and Wagga Wagga and no one picked up the mistake,

Wednesday 17 April 2013

2013 ANU Masters - Week 9

Normally this would be the final report for the 2013 ANU Masters, but with the rearranged schedule there are still 4 games to be played. However IM Andrew Brown has taken first place with 1 round to play, having defeated Steven Sengstock is tonight's featured game. Sengstock met Brown's Kings Indian head on, playing the 4 Pawns Attack but in the battle of passed pawns Brown's pieces found better squares and the threat of mate on g2 decided the game.
Justin Chow scored his second win of the tournament after Adrian De Noskowski lost a piece when by capturing a pawn. Andrey Blzinyuk was also the recipient of a similar dose of good fortune when Michael Wei sacrificed a piece while attacking, only to realise that the planned follow up lost his queen. Attempts by Wei to confuse the issue were unsuccessful and Blzinyuk finished his tournament with a win.
With 4 games left to play IM Andrew Brown is on 8/8. FM Junta Ikeda has completed his tournament with 7/9, as has Andrey Bliznyuk with 6/9.

Sengstock,Steven - Brown,Andrew (2295)
2013 ANU Masters Canberra, Australia AUS (9), 17.04.2013

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Calendar Collision

For all the complaints of organisers of 'Super' tournaments, there seems to be a tendency to group events in the calendar. Whether this is sponsor driven, or due to other factors, I'm not sure, but with the Candidates tournament just completed, there are another 4 big events occurring from mid April to mid June. They are

  • Fide GP Zug (17 April - 1 May)
  • Alekhine Memorial (20 April - 1 May)
  • Norway (7-18 May)
  • Tal Memorial (12-24 June)
Now I know there was an attempt in the past to co-ordinate the calendars for these events via the Grand Slam organisation, but I haven't much about this recently. Certainly FIDE try and produce calendars years in advance (eg the 2014 Olympiad dates have been published) but even they fall victim to organisational difficulties (eg Grand Prix cancellations).
So I suspect we are now seeing a 'first in, best dressed' system, where organisers grab dates and hope that they hold up. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing from a spectators point of view, but it may prove damaging to tournament viability in the long term.

Monday 15 April 2013

The curse of the double round

It is a given that professional chess players prefer tournaments that have a 1 round per day schedule. Even better if the event has a couple of rest days thrown in, an opening banquet, and even an open bar. However such tournaments are quite expensive to organise, although events that have the single round schedule, like Gibraltar or Queenstown, regularly get ranked at the top of the 'best' events of the year.
More common these days are events with a 2 rounds per day schedule, or a hybrid double/single round format. The double round format is the norm in Australia, where most players are amateurs, and getting time off work is quite difficult.
GM Nigel Short is one player who has expressed a dislike of the double round schedule, so much so that an appearance at the Doeberl or SIO would be out of the question. But he does play the Thailand Open, which has cut back on its double round days, now having only one.
This may still be one too many for Short, if this afternoons game is anything to go by. Up against Indian IM Saptarshi Roy, he miscalculated a tactical sequence around move 19, and soon found himself in a lost position. At this time it is worth pointing out that IM Roy has made the trip to Australia, and survived the Doeberl/SIO wringer!

Roy,Saptarshi - Short,Nigel [A47]
2013 Thailand Open, 15.04.2013

Sunday 14 April 2013

2013 Bangkok Open

The 2013 Bangkok Open and Challengers begins today. The Open has attracted 202 players, and the Challengers 133. GM Nigel Short is the top seed for the Open, with the Australian charge being led by GM Zong Yuan Zhao (10th seed) and IM Max Illingworth (25th seed). The tournament runs until the 21st of April, and is a 9 round event.
The tournament results can be accessed via the Bangkok Chess Club website, and there is also a link to the live games (Round 1 looks to be finished already, with Zhao winning reasonably quickly).

Saturday 13 April 2013

Weak Pawns, Weak Squares

The title of this post comes from a chapter in "The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played". In the following game Nimzowitsch exploits the weak squares created by Matisons own play, targeting the weak pawns in position. The two most remarkable features of this game are its length (only 23 moves), and that White's fatal mistake may have come as early as move 11 (11.Nh4). If you are looking for ideas about what to do in so called 'simple' positions, then it might be worth playing over this game.

Matisons,Hermanis - Nimzowitsch,Aaron [E21]
Karlsbad Karlsbad, 1929

Friday 12 April 2013

An interesting World Championship proposal

With the Anand - Carlsen World Championship match ready to happen, and a venue (almost) confirmed, there has been talk about what should be format of the match. Of course such talk is purely academic, in that the regulations are already in place, but it can still be an interesting exercise.
With the push towards having tie-break systems reward 'winning' play, this proposal from Amit Karmarker takes it to the next level. His suggestion is that the match starts with 12 games, but one player needs to win at least 3 games to be awarded the match. If neither player has 3 wins under their belt (or the match is tied 6-6) then the match is extended by 4 games (with the same time limits). Only if the match is then tied 8-8 do rapidplay tie breaks come into action. So even if a player is ahead after 12 games, but has only won twice, then they have to keep playing.
I'm assuming this idea is based on the belief that it is harder to draw 15 games than it is to draw 11. The downside of the proposal is that a player behind after 9 or 10 games may just dig in until gamed 12, knowing they are guaranteed an extra 4 games. Nonetheless it is an idea worth considering (although not for this match), as I have always been of the opinion that 12 games is too short, 16 games is the bare minimum, and 24 games ideal, for deciding a World Championship match.

Thursday 11 April 2013

Belconnen Chess Club

Time to give a shout out to Belconnen Chess Club (in Canberra Australia), with the idea of encouraging more players to play there. At various times over the last couple of years there have been 12 to 16 players in their tournaments but this year has seen bit of a decline. Interestingly the decline is in the middle strength players, rather than at the top, which is often more common.
Currently there is a group of 1700+ rated players (which is relatively strong for the Canberra scene), and a smattering of 1500- players. The difficulty for the lower rated players is getting that 'gradual' competition in tournament, in that they either play amongst themselves, or 'bounce up' to the top group, which is often a step too far.
So what the club is after are the 1300-1600 rated players who are keen to test themselves against stronger opposition. If you are in that rating group, and are looking for chess on a Tueday night in Canberra, then the Belconnen Chess Club should suit you (Note: The club will of course welcome players of any strength!)
The club meets on Tuesday nights from 7:00pm in Building 18 University of Canberra. The address is 170 Hayden Drive Bruce (on the other side of Hayden Drive from the main Campus). Currently the club is running the Peter Murphy Memorial Tournament, and late entries are welcome.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

2013 ANU Masters - Week 8

The 2013 ANU Masters resumed tonight, after a two week break. FM Junta Ikeda was the 'club house' leader, having completed his tournament already. but IM Andrew Brown only needed a point to tie his score. In the top rated clash of the round, Brown gained the point after beating Michael Wei. Having built up a strong attack, Brown was quickly rewarded after a miscalculation cost Wei a piece.
Andrey Bliznyuk stayed in third place after beating Adrian De Noskowski. Bliznyuk gained a number of positional advantages in the middlegame, and despite attempts by De Noskowski to mix it up, he won without too much difficulty. Kishore Sreetharan and Yijun Zhang drw their game, while in the final game of the night Jeremy Reading beat Steven Sengstock. At first sight the double rook ending looked drawn, but a pawn sacrifice by Reading enabled a decisive opening of the position, and he soon collected the point.

Bliznyuk,Andrey (2179) - De Noskowski ,Adrian (1907)
2013 ANU Masters Canberra, Australia AUS (8), 10.04.2013

Things that keep me out at night

A late finish at the Belconnen Chess Club last nights means that what was supposed to be yesterdays blog post is now this mornings post instead.
While I was engaging in some long over due rook and pawn endgame practice (including demonstrating one of the many drawing ideas in KR+KRrP towards the end of my game), I was also watching over a re-arranged game from the 2013 ANU Masters. Nominally the Masters is only up to round 6 (in part because last weeks round was postponed), but there have been a few extra games played ahead of schedule. FM Junta Ikeda has actually finished all his games (due to his departure to Japan for university) and currently leads with 7/9. However IM Andrew Brown is still sitting on 6/6, giving him 3 more games to score at least 1 point to catch Ikeda.
Also Kishore Sreetharan and Jeremy Reading played their last round last night. At first it looked as though Kishore was on top, especially after his f5-f5-f6 plan, but Jeremy held on, and by around move 28 was clearly better. He then missed the strength of 30.e5, which should have lead to a draw by perpetual, but having 'fallen in love with his position', kept playing for a win, only to see his attack falter. After that, the ending was lost for him.

Sreetharan,Kishore - Reading,Jeremy (1888)
2013 ANU Masters Canberra, Australia AUS (9), 09.04.2013

Monday 8 April 2013

A return to normal

After a tough 2 weeks of running chess events (in more ways than one) it is time to try and get back to normalcy. Apart from sleeping relative sensible hours, trying to remember how to play chess is a priority. I did try and play a bit of chess between the Doeberl Cup and the SIO, but it was a complete shambles. In the City of Sydney Lightning a managed a meagre 2.5/9, including losing two games by playing illegal moves. The highlight? After my opponent played Qxd4+ early in the game, I had the choice between exchanging queens straight away, or playing a zwischenzug (in between move), and then exchanging queens to get out of check. I went for option number 2, much to the surprise of my opponent.

Sunday 7 April 2013

2013 Sydney International Open - Day 5

GM Loek Van Wely defeated GM SP Sethuraman in the final round of the 2013 Sydney International Open, to take first place by half a point. Van Wely was able to convert a seemingly drawn double rook ending into a tournament winning position, after marching his king to the centre of the board. The win kept him half a point ahead of top seed Li Chao, after Chao beat Australia's newest IM Bobby Cheng. A draw between GM's Jiri Stocek and Adam Horvath was enough for a share of third place for both players, while the larger group of players tied for 5th included 12 year old Anton Smirnov, who had secured his first IM norm the previous day.
In the Challengers event Arif Hassani was a somewhat surprising winner after previous leader Joseph Nguyen lost his second game in a row. Apparently Nguyen had turned down a draw offer from Hassani in their round 8 game, which if accepted, would have secured outright first with a round to spare. Hassani then won that game, and finished half a point in front after Nguyen lost his last round game to veteran Dick Voon.
The Challengers event had a somewhat amusing finish with the two players in the last game of the tournament playing 83 moves after the last pawn move or capture. Eventually one player decided a pawn move was ok, resetting the 50 move count. After another long series of moves, more material was exchanged, before a loss of a pawn by one player encouraged an eventual resignation. After the game both players admitted that they were unaware of the '50 move' rule.

Sethuraman,S.P (2541) - Van Wely,Loek (2684) [E32]
2013 Sydney International Open (9.1), 07.04.2013

Saturday 6 April 2013

2013 Sydney International Open - Day 4

The end of the 4th day of the Sydney International Open saw a number of players earn title norms, even before the final round has been played. FM Bobby Cheng defeated Indian IM GA Stany in round 8, and a kind/nightmare pairing against top seed GM Li Chao in the final round lifts his PR over 2450, even if he loses the game. As this is Cheng's third IM norm, and his rating is over 2400, turning up tomorrow is enough to earn his title. Anton Smirnov has earned his 1st IM norm after beating GM Laxman in this evenings round. Tomorrows pairing against GM Czebe is enough to lift his PR over 2450, even with a loss. The third norm has been achieved by Tingjie Lie, who has the WGM norm in the bag, but a draw against GM Herberla should be enough for an IM norm as well.
Going into the last round GM Loek Van Wely leads by half a point after defeating GM Li Chao in round 8. SP Sethuraman, Adam Horvath and Jiri Stocek are all tied for second along with Chao. Van Wely is black against Sethuraman, Stocek plays Horvath while Chao battles Cheng in the final round.
In the Challengers Arif Hassani added some excitement to the tournament after beating run away leader Joseph Nguyen in round 8. Nguyen still leads by half a point over Hassani, but Nguyen now needs at least a draw to secure first place.

Friday 5 April 2013

2013 Sydney International Open - Day 3

With 3 rounds to go, there is a 4 way tie for first place in the 2013 Sydney International Open. GM Li Chao, GM Jiri Stocek, GM Levente Vajda, and GM Loek Van Wely are all on 5/6. Close behind are GM Adam Horvath, GM SP Sethuraman, and current Australian Open Champion, FM Bobby Cheng. Cheng defeated Polish GM Bartlomiej Heberla in round 6, finding a nice piece sacrifice in the ending to force a pawn promotion. Cheng playes GM SP Sethuraman in tomorrows morning round, and win would put him on track for an IM norm.
In the Challengers event Joseph Nguyen has skipped away to a 1.5 point lead, having won all his games so far. Sarwat Rewais will try and stop his run tomorrow, but a win for Nguyen will almost certainly secure a tournament victory with 2 rounds to go.

Thursday 4 April 2013

2013 Sydney International Chess Festival - Day 2

The 2013 Sydney International Open seems to be following a similar path the the just completed 2013 Doeberl Cup Premier. Once again Indian GM SP Sethuraman has taken the lead starting the tournament with 4 wins from 4 games. He is being closely followed by GM's Zhao, Vajda, Chao and Stocek, all on 3.5.
Unlike the Doeberl there is no bonus prizes for 'fighting chess', so a couple of the GM's took the opportunity to have some extra rest by agreeing to quick draws. However this only occurred in a few games, with the rest of the games being full blooded affairs.
Of the Australian players IM Gary Lane, IM Stephen Solomon, FM Igor Bjelobrk and FM Bobby Cheng are all on 3 points, while 12 year old Anton Smirnov continued his recent run of good firm, drawing with GM's Herbala and Horvath in successive rounds. Lane was unlucky in his game against Sethuraman, losing on time while in a better position.
In the Challengers tournament Joseph Nguyen leads with 4/4, followed by Mat-Arif Zulkifli and Rewais Sarwat on 3.5.

Lane,Gary - Sethuraman,SP [B08]
Sydney International Open (3), 04.04.2013

Wednesday 3 April 2013

2013 Sydney International Open - Day 1

The 2013 Sydney International Open began today, with 66 players in the Open, and 32 players in the Challengers. Due the early Easter dates, the event is being held outside of school/university holiday's, resulting in a large drop in entries. However the tournament has attracted 12 Grandmasters, a record for an Australian chess event. As in Canberra, Li Chao is the top seed, closely followed by Loek Van Wely.
Given the similarity of the field between the two tournaments it is hardly surprising that some repeat pairings have already occurred. Loek Van Wely reversed the result of his earlier game against Stephen Solomon by defeating him in tonights second round, while Anton Smirnov scored his second draw in a week against IM Somak Palit.
After 2 rounds 13 players are on a perfect score. Tomorrows round sees all GM pairings on the top 4 boards, which will be broadcast live on the tournament website. For those able to make it out to Parramatta, the round times are 10am and 4pm each day until Sunday.

Tuesday 2 April 2013

A tragic day for Australian Chess

There was a tragic end to the 2013 Doeberl Cup, when 2 players were killed in a car accident while travelling home from the tournament. Andrew Saint and Hannibal Swartz were passengers in a van, which crashed near Benalla in Victoria, after a tire blew out. James Morris is in hospital in a serious condition with multiple injuries, as is Dimitry Partsi, who suffered back injuries. Paul Cavezza and Anthony Hain escaped the crash without serious injury.
Just hours earlier Saint had won the Doeberl Cup Major (Under 2000) after defeating Dimitry Partsi in the final round. The win was especially popular as Andrew was both a hard worker in Australian Chess and a genuinely nice guy. Originally from Adelaide, he relocated to Melbourne, and was a regular on the Melbourne chess scene. Hannibal was a relative newcomer to chess, and was playing in the Doeberl Cup Minor. Eager to learn, he went over his games with his opponent after every round.
At the time of writing this, Dimitry was conscious but had undergone back surgery, while James was responsive but still in a serious condition.
Further tributes to Andrew and Hannibal by those who knew them well are here and here.

Monday 1 April 2013

2013 O2C Doeberl Cup - Day 5

The cream rose to the top in the 2013 O2C Doeberl Cup Premier, with the top 8 seeds occupying the top 4 boards in the 9th round. GM Zong Yuan Zhao's game got off to a less than perfect start when the car bringing him to the venue ran out of petrol, and he (plus 3 other players) had to walk/run/jog the last 2 kilometres to the venue. He made it 25 minutes after the start of the round (and 5 minutes before the default time). Choosing the 4.Bf4 line against the Gruenfeld did not did not give him any opening advantage, and top seed Li Chao slowly ground him down to finish the game shortly before move 40. GM SP Sethuraman had led the tournament from the start, but lost to a determined Loek Van Wely on board 2. This win elevated Van Wely into a tie for second, and dropped the Indian GM back to 4th. Czech GM Jiri Stocek beat GM Vajda Levente to take a share of second, while GM Adam Horvath won the all Hungarian match up with a win over GM Atilla Czebe.
IM Moulthun Ly was the top scoring Australia player with 6.5/9, while New Zealand Junior Luke Li scored his first IM norm with a win over IM Somak Palit. Mongolian WFM Sengeravden Otgonjargal scored a WGM norm, after drawing with GM Darryl Johansen in the final round. Unfortunately the last minute loss of a number of overseas players meant that the tournament fell short of the required number of foreign players needed to remove federation restrictions, cruelling the norm chances of  Anton Smirnov and Tingjie Lei.
Andrew Saint proved a popular winner of the Major (Under 2000) tournament, defeating Dimitry Partsi in the final round. Jeremey Reading finished second, while Alana Chibnall took outright third. A win by Kashish Christian on the top board of the Minor (Under 1600) allowed her to overtake Aelfric Gardiner-Garden, while David Cannon also won his final round game to tie for first place.
Full result from all the tournaments can be found on the tournament website, while chess-results.com also has the standings for the Premier and the Major.

Zong Yuan,Zhao - Li,Chao [D82]
2013 O2C Doeberl Cup Canberra, 01.04.2013