Saturday 30 November 2013

Questions I just cannot answer

There was a question about the rules that was raised at today's Street Chess event. "Can I claim two minutes for an illegal move after my opponent has lost on time?"
I'm pretty sure the FIDE Rules and Tournament Regulations Commission will not be addressing this one any time soon.

Friday 29 November 2013

Shifting Models

I've subscribed to Chess Vibes Openings (CVO) over the years, but the latest issue (No. 256) is also its last. CVO was a weekly newsletter which surveyed the latest in opening theory, mixing deep analysis and statistical observations. It focused on the top players at high level events, with the idea of following the latest opening trends.
However the reason why the issue is the final one has something to do with money, but not in the normal, pessimistic way (ie lack of sales). Instead the parent body of CVO, ChessVibes has been bought out by As a result there have been some obvious consolidation of products, with CVO being absorbed by's own Master Bulletin.
This may in fact be a precursor to the next stage of monetization of online chess products. The bigger players in the market may by up the more successful, but smaller operations, leaving the rest to struggle on. While this has been a growing trend in the computer application market over the last few years, applying the same ideas to content hasn't been that common. I guess a big test will be if someone comes up with something new in the chess market (eg a better way of presenting live games) and then see who scoops it up.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Returning from Chennai

Having spent two days in meetings and conversations I am about to head home from Chennai. Sadly I missed all the World Championship activities, as it looked like it was an incredibly successful event. Certainly the hotel it was held in was very nice, and everyone I spoke to had nothing but praise for the Indian organisers.
One of the more interesting people I met while here was Andrew Paulson, current President of the English Chess Federation. He was also behind the organisation of the last Candidates tournament, and the recently completed FIDE Grand Prix series. He had a number of interesting ideas about how chess should be presented in the digital age, especially on the importance of commentators in selling chess to the non-playing (although still engaged) audience. He is still working on putting some of these ideas into practice and hopefully there will be new developments in the near future.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

When tricks don't work

Of the 6 decisive games from the World Teams Championship (from a total of 20 games), not a single one was won by White. Looking through them, I saw at least two games where White 'thought' they were winning, only to see the line chosen blow up in their faces.
In the game below White must have thought he had found a clever way of winning a pawn with 16.Nxd5 (as 16. ... Qxb5 fails to 17.Nxf6+). But 16. ... Qza2 was a rude awakening, as suddenly the exposed White king is caught in a cross fire of checks, and White is just lost.

Abdel,Razik Khaled - Meier,Georg [D37]
World Teams 2013 Antalya TUR (1.1), 26.11.2013

Tuesday 26 November 2013

The instant chess book

I've often thought that these were a thing of the past, but there will be an 'instant' chess book on the 2013 Anand-Carlsen World Championship Match. The most famous of these is undoubtedly the book by Svetazor Gligoric on the 1972 Fischer v Spassky Match, where his notes were flown from Iceland to England after each game, for typesetting. Of course in these modern times the moves are easy to come by, so I'm a little surprised we don't see more of it.
(NB I'm not advertising this book, as much as pointing out it will shortly exist)

Monday 25 November 2013

Off to Chennai

In what is clearly a case of unfortunate timing, I am heading off to Chennai, India this morning, to see, well to see the packing up of the 2013 World Championship. The actual reason for the visit is a meeting of regional (Oceania, Asia etc) chess administrators, to discuss issues concening world chess, and to look at development opportunities in the future (NB This is not being paid for by FIDE. It is being paid for by the Kirsan 2014 election campaign). Of course seeing some of the World Championship was to be part of the visit, but the match didn't last the full 12 games (obviously this cant't be planned for).
As the closing ceremony is taking place today, I may be able to catch the tail end of the festivities, although my very late evening arrival will probably even preclude that.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Some random observations on Transfer

Things I noticed at today's ACT Junior Chess League Transfer tournament (Bughouse to non-Australians)

  • Baker's Attack (1.Nf3 2.Ne5 3.Nxf7) still works like a charm
  • As Black 1.e4 Nf6 (intending Ne4xf2) was met by 2.Nc3 on at least 4 occasions!
  • The use of digital clocks take the fun out of 'sitting'
  • Too many players fail to use the pieces in front of them
  • Young players today are too polite to offer 'helpful' advice to their opponents
  • At least one team asked for a printed copy of the rules for transfer. I got quite an angry response when I said that the rules weren't printed, but passed down from generation to generation
  • If you keep checking, eventually you will find a mate
  • Too many young players play 'real' chess, missing the point of the game
  • But they do understand the 'fun' aspect of the game, and everyone had a good time

Saturday 23 November 2013

Normal service is now resumed

Understandably the main focus of the chess world in recent weeks has been the 2013 World Championship Match. But now that it is over, other events are ready to pop up. The next big event is the World Teams Championship, which is being held in Antalya, Turkey, starting on the 24th November. This event is a 10 team round robin, consisting of the top finishers from the previous Olympiad, as well as the best teams from each FIDE Continent.
Interestingly, this event comes quite soon after the completion of the European Team Championship, which was won by Azerbaijan. As 7 of the 10 teams in the WTC are from Europe, this event may be a kind on re-run of that event (with USA, China and Egypt thrown in). If it is, one team looking for a bit of payback will be Armenia, who finished just short of first place in the ETCC after drawing 2-2 with Azerbaijan in the final round.
Coverage of the event can be found at and if it is as good as the coverage provided for the 2012 Olympiad, then it should be a pleasure to watch,

Carlsen - World Chmpion

Magnus Carlsen has become the new World Champion after a draw in the 10th game of the 2013 World Championship Match. The 22 year old secured the title by a score of 6.5-3.5, scoring 3 wins, 7 draws and no losses.
Despite the talk around Chennai that this game would be a quick draw, the players fought all the way to the finish, with the game ending with K v K+N (which is an automatic draw under the Laws of Chess). As in previous games in the match, Carlsen obtained a risk free position from the opening, which allowed him to probe for weaknesses, while having the draw in hand. However the match situation meant that Anand was not going to offer a draw, and unlikely to accept one, as a draw would have ended the match in Carlsen's favour. This also accounted for Carlsen's somewhat 'automatic' choice on Move 30, when 30.Nc3 would have given him a bigger advantage.
There was some excitement towards the end of the game as Carlsen decided sacrifice his knight for 3 pawns. On the surface this looked like a risky plan, but it quickly became clear that the position was simply draw.
The match hands the World Championship title to a younger generation, although whether the title belongs to Carlsen exclusively will be decided by the next few matches.

Carlsen,Magnus (2870) - Anand,Viswanathan (2775) [B51]
WCh 2013 Chennai IND (10), 22.11.2013

Thursday 21 November 2013

Carlsen wins a dramatic Game 9 of the 2013 World Championship Match

Magnus Carlsen is half a point from becoming the new World Champion, after a dramatic ninth game of the 2013 World Championship. Realising this may have been his last chance to stage a comeback, Viswanathan Anand played a very sharp line against the Nimzo-Indian, throwing his kingside pawns up the board. Carlsen played for an advantage on the queenside, and the game turned on whether Anand could mate Carlsen on g7/h7 before Carlsen could queen his b pawn. However Anand miscalculated a crucial variation where he allowed Carlsen a second queen (with check!), and played the wrong blocking move. This allowed Carlsen a simple defensive move to halt Anand's attack, and after he realised how badly he blundered, Anand resigned.
Carlsen now leads the match 6-3, and half a point from any of the remaining games is enough for Carlsen to capture the title.

Anand,Viswanathan - Carlsen,Magnus [E25]
2013 World Championship Chennai, 22.11.2013

Wednesday 20 November 2013

2013 ACTJCL Transfer tournament - this Sunday

The 2013 ACT Junior Chess League Transfer Tournament is on this Sunday (24th November). Although it is organised by the ACT Junior Chess League, it is open to players of all ages. The very successful event has been running for the past decade and usually attracts a large number of teams. But even if you don't have a team, just turn up anyway, as ad-hoc teams can be formed on the day.

Details are:

When: 25th November 2013 from 1pm to 5pm (register before 12:45pm)
Where: Campbell High School, Trealor Crescent, Campbell (next to the War Memorial)
Who: Teams of 2 players. No restriction on age or strength
Cost: $20 per team which includes a pizza dinner at the end! Individuals can pay $10 and a partner will be found for you.
Prizes: Trophies for best teams, as well as teams rated below 3000, 2000, 1000 etc Special prizes for best family teams, best girls team, oldest team etc etc

Tuesday 19 November 2013

From opening to ending

Returning home from Belconnen Chess Club, I discovered that game 8 of the Anand - Carlsen World Championship match had already ended in a draw. I'm not sure how much dramatic tension there was in the game, but a quick play through suggested there wasn't much. With a single open file, balanced pawn structures, and the d4-d5 'ram', it was hardly surprising that bits were exchanged at regular intervals. Even the final position seemed to make a statement about how drawn this game really was.
So Carlsen maintains his 2 point lead, and with 4 games to go , his chances of becoming the new World Champion increase. I guess the one thing he needs to guard against is complacency, as any soccer pundit is apt to tell you, two goal leads are often the hardest to defend.

Monday 18 November 2013

Carlsen moves closer to the title

With a maximum of 5 games left to play, Magnus Carlsen has moved within 2 points of the World Championship title. After winning games 5 and 6, Carlsen drew game 7, to maintain a two point lead. The games was the third Ruy Lopez (Berlin Defence) in the last 4 games, and after neither player was able to gain a clear advantage in the middle game, a repetition of position ended the game on move 32.
However the previous two games were much more dramatic, with Carlsen winning both. After a solid start to the match, Carlsen was able to play the positions he excels at, and converted nominally equal endings into wins. In both cases he kept pushing and probing until some slight inaccuracies from Anand allowed Carlsn to find the winning plan.

Anand,V (2775) - Carlsen,M (2870) [C65]
WCh 2013 Chennai IND (6), 16.11.2013

Sunday 17 November 2013

2013 Vikings Weekender - Day 2

IM Gary Lane cruised to a fairly comfortable victory in the 2013 Vikings Weekender. He started the day with a win over his father-in-law, FM Brian Jones and then defeated FM Endre Ambrus in round 6. A very quick draw against second seed IM Vladimir Smirnov in the final round was enough the secure outright first on 5.5/7. In second place was FM Anton Smirnov, who beat Wenlin Yin in the final round to reach 5 points. The loss dropped Yin back to 5th place, but he did have the satisfaction of beating IM Andrew Brown in round 6. Brown and Vladimir Smirnov finished in a tie for third on 4.5/7.
Sunny Yoon and Sankeertan Badrinarayan shared first place in the Minor (Under 1600) tournament. Going into the final round there were 7 players tied for first, and there was a possibility of a 9 way(!) tie, if the results went a certain way. As it turned out Yoon and Badrinarayan were the only players in the leading group to win their games, while draws left Mitchell Jones, Tim Pearce and Lachlan Smart sharing third place.

Saturday 16 November 2013

2013 Vikings Weekender - Day 1

"Suppose they held a chess tournament, and only the good players turned up"
The 15 players who did enter the top section of the 2013 Vikings Weekender could be forgiven for thinking this, as the number of players is around half of what it was last year. Given the tournament still attracted 3 IM's, 2 WIM's and 3 FM's, the players that were missing came from the 1700 to 2000 rating group. Whether it is a general malaise that is effecting Canberra chess at the moment I'm not sure, but the same group of players seem to be missing from other chess activities around town.
The net result is that while the tournament is small, it is now a lot tougher. Four players share the lead on 3/4, IM Gary Lane, IM Andrew Brown, FM Endre Ambrus, and Michael Kethro. FM Anton Smirnov is on 2.5, while IM Vladimir Smirnov, FM Brian Jones, WIM Emma Guo and WIM Nancy Lane are all in the group on 2 points.
On the other hand, the turnout for the Under 1600 indicates that there is greater enthusiasm for tournament chess among the younger set. The 33 player field is larger than last year, and contains a number of dangerous junior players. Nine year old Ryan Lane (son of Gary & Nancy Lane) scored the biggest upset by defeating the top seed in round 1. But while the junior players are causing havoc on the lower boards, wily veteran Sunny Yoon still leads the tournament on 4/4.
The final 3 rounds are being played tomorrow, at the Tuggeranong Vikings Ruby Union Club, Ricardo St Wanniassa. Round 5 starts at 10:30am, and apart from the chess, Australian Chess Enterprises is operating a bookstall.

Friday 15 November 2013

Vikings Weekender tomorrow

Off to the Vikings Weekender tomorrow. At the moment the entry list is creeping past the 40 player mark, although above 60 players is what the organisers would really be hoping for. The top end of the tournament will be quite strong with a couple of IM's and a couple of FM's looking to pick up the $1000 first prize, but there should be enough minor prizes to keep everyone on there toes.
If you still planning to play, but have not entered as yet, you should get to the venue before 10am. First round is at 10:30am so do the organisers a favour and get your entry in early.
The details for the event are:

2013 Tuggeranong Vikings Weekender
Venue: Tuggeranong Vikings Rugby Union Club, Ricardo Street, Waniassa, ACT
Sections: Open, Minor (Under 1600)
No of rounds: 7 (4 on Staurday, 3 on Sunday)
Time limit: G/60m+10s
Entry Fee: $65, $45 concession
Prizes: Open 1st $1000, Minor 1st $500 Other prizes based on entries

(Note: I am a paid official for this event)

Thursday 14 November 2013

Another exciting draw

Game 4 of the 2013 World Championship ended in another exciting draw, although this time it was Anand who had to hang on. Once again the key moment occurred just before the first time control, when Carlsen had the chance cement an advantage, but only if he spotted all the tactics after 36. ... Rd8. After that Anand was able to generate enough counterplay to win back a pawn, but he still needed to find the best moves to halve the game. Fittingly the game was drawn on move 64.

Anand,Viswanathan (2775) - Carlsen,Magnus (2870) [C67]
WCh 2013 Chennai IND (4), 13.11.2013

Wednesday 13 November 2013

The young Fischer

Once again I am posting before Game 4 of the 2013 World Championship Match has finished. Regardless of the result the talking point is going to be Carlsen's 18th move. Carlsen seemed to be channelling the ghost of Bobby Fischer in deciding to take the a pawn with his bishop (cf Game 1 Spassky Fischer 1972). At first glance it looked like the bishop was trapped after b3, but c4 was enough to save it. As a result Carlsen was a pawn up, although his position is still passive. As I go to print Carlsen is still better (pawn up but defending), but more importantly the momentum seems to be in Carlsens direction. However all three results are on the table, so it is still too early to say if Carlsen's pawn grab is genius or impetuosity.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Some fighting chess

It looks like the 'feeling out' period is over in the 2013 World Championship Match, with Game 3 full of excitement that the first two games lacked. The game is still in progress as I type this, but with an unbalanced pawn structure, both sides have chances to score the full point. Anand looks like he is gaining the upper hand in the middlegame (it is move 30), but Carlsen has an aggressively placed knight on g5 (and a queen on h1!).
I'll try and keep watching the action after I post this, and then show the full game in a morning update.

**Update ** The game ended in a draw, albeit one full of fight. Probably the crucial moment was when Carlsen offered a pawn with 28.e3 but Anand decided against taking it straight away. While he eventually did grab the pawn, Carlsen had enough play to soon win it back. Then just before time control Anand allowed the exchange of the last pair of rooks, leaving the position drawn.

Carlsen,Magnus (2870) - Anand,Viswanathan (2775) [A07]
WCh 2013 Chennai IND (3), 12.11.2013

Monday 11 November 2013

European Teams 2013

Running in parallel to the World Championship is the 2013 European Teams Championship. This years event has attracted 38 teams in the Open, and 32 teams in the Open. Russia is the top seed in the Open, with The Ukraine topping the Women's seeding.
Although there have only been 3 rounds, a number of upsets have occurred. In the Open both the English and Russian teams lost to lower rated opponents in round 2, and were then fated to meet each other in the third round. In what would be considered another upset, the Russians were held to a draw by the English, and they were lucky to get that. So both teams are on 3/6 (Match point scoring is being used), while the Czech Republic and France are out in front.
You can get all the results, plus games, live coverage etc from the official website
In the following game Gawain Jones is given a pawn in the opening by Morozevich, and then follows the simple plan of just hanging on to it. Morozevich does not seem to get enough play for his sacrifice and reaches a lost ending, before resigning. If only the rest of us could beat GM's that way!

Jones,Gawain - Morozevich,Alexander [E81]
European Teams Championship, 10.11.2013

Sunday 10 November 2013

Oh noes!

"A quiet day in the office" might be the best description of day 2 of the 2013 World Championship Match. Carlsen's choice of the Caro-Kan was probably a surprise to most, but the line chosen was so main line that Anand could probably rely on his general preparation to avoid any obvious problems. Carlsen (as Black) then headed for an ending where he had a good dark squared bishop, but the specific nature of the position was such that Anand was able to force a repetition of moves by threatening to win a king side pawn. The whole thing was finished in a a little over an hour, although at least it had more moves than game 1. Tomorrow is a rest day, with the action resuming on Tuesday.

Saturday 9 November 2013

A bit of a squib

The first game of the 2013 World Championship Match came and went in about the same time it took me to watch 'Blazing Saddles' on TV. The opening was interesting (double fianchetto system by Carlsen), and with the Black knights on d5 and c4 it looked like it was about to kick off. The suddenly the black knights and the white queen did a little dance and the game ended in a draw by repetition. It brings to mind a quote (possibly by Spassky) after a similar game 1 draw, "We were testing the equipment".
I'm currently watching the post game press conference and I sense that the gathered journalists see this as a minor victory for Anand. Anand seems happy with the outcome of the game, while Carlsen is being asked to justify his play. However both players have promised to provide a greater level of combativeness in future games.

Carlsen,Magnus - Anand,Viswanathan [D78]
World Championship Chennai, 09.11.2013

Chess and Rubber Ducks

"I wouldn't join a club that would have me as a member" is not quite what Groucho Marx once said, but it is close enough. This was also the thought that crossed my mind when I read that the "Toy Hall of Fame" had just voted to accept the Rubber Duck and Chess for its 2013 intake. While I guess it is nice for Chess to be recognised by such a prestigious institution, it is worth noting that this is the 16th year that toys and games have been recognised. I would have thought that a board game that was the model for just about every other board game ever invented would have been recognised before now, but maybe everyone thought it was such an obvious inclusion that someone else was going to nominate it. Bizarrely Checkers was enshrined in 2003, while possibly the worst game ever invented, "The Game of Life", made it in 2010.

(Note: One of the best reviews of a game I ever saw concerned "The Game of Life": "You spend your time spinning a wheel and doing exactly as you are told. There is only one decision required to be made, 'Do I play this crappy game or not' ")

Thursday 7 November 2013

2013 World Championship Match - Carlsen to start with White

The opening ceremony for the 2013 World Championship match has just been held in Chennai, India. As part of the ceremony, there was a drawing of lots for the colours, with Carlsen drawing the white pieces for game 1. As the schedule of the match has 2 games followed by a rest day (to a maximum of 12 games), the colours 'flip' in game 7, with Anand having two whites in a row (games 6 & 7). This is to dissipate any advantage that might be gained by having white after a rest day. It does mean that Carlsen starts with white (often an advantage), but then finishes with white (in game 12), which might also be helpful.
The first game is on Saturday (9th November). Each game starts at 3pm local time, which is 8:30pm Canberra time. There will be plenty of places to view the match online, but the official website is probably as a good a place as any to start.
I hope to cover a lot of the match on this blog over the next few weeks. Hopefully it won't be the snooze fest that the Anand-Gelfand match was, otherwise I'll need to find something else to fill in the blank pages!

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Bluff or Brilliancy

The following position occurred during a game at Belconnen Chess Club on Tuesday night. White had come up with a provocative plan of Qg4-Qg7 which Black had met by trying to trap the queen with Ne5-g6. At this crucial moment White decided to ignore the threat of Bf8 by playing 11. O-O-O. The game ended quickly with 11. ... a6 12.Nxd6+ Bxd6 13.e5 fxe5 14.Ne4 Ke7 15.Qf6+ 1-0
After the game discussion quickly turned to making 11. ... Bf8 work. Superficially the line is the same, with 12.Nxd6+ Bxd6 being met the same way (and the omission of a6 even helping White as Bb5+ is now an extra option). But it turns out both players missed something here. What do you think it was?

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Another plug for the 2013 Vikings Weekender

Only a week and a half until the 2013 Vikings Weekender, hosted by the Tuggeranong Chess Club here in Canberra. The event is run in two sections (Open and Under 1600), with no restrictions on players who wish to play in the open. First prize is $1000, with $500 going to the winner of the Under 1600 tournament.
Advanced entries include a couple of strong interstate players (IM Gray Lane among them), while a strong local contingent is also expected.
This years tournament is on the weekend of the 16th&17th of November, and will be held at the usual venue of the Vikings Rugby Union Club, Ricardo St, Wanniassa. It will be a 7 round event, with a time limit of G60m+10s. (NB Half point byes are available on request, maximum of 2)
Entry fees are $65 ($45 junior/concession) ad can be made in advance, or on the day. Nick Beare has set up a website for the tournament, so you find out more details (including round times), or simply enter online at

(Disclaimer: I am a paid official at this event)

Monday 4 November 2013

Short and sweet, and hard to beat

Possibly the shortest recorded game that ends with mate by castling. Black was portable chess computer, but as this game was played in 1982, one can assume it was not a *strong* chess computer (none of them were in those days). Sharp readers will not that White did have some quicker wins (and black missed its fair share of chances), but as we are aiming for mate by castling, these mistakes can be excused.

Steinbach - Chess Champion Super System [C40]

Sunday 3 November 2013

My last Open and Shut

With 'Australasian Chess' about to be published for the final time, a couple of my regular columns are coming to an end. One that is finishing up is 'Open and Shut' which I have produced ever since the magazine started production. At a rough count there have been 59 columns, featuring games that finished in under 20 moves. The sources for the games were varied, but I did derive particular enjoyment from games where 2600+ players came a cropper.
The final selection of games came from this years European Club Championship, and it turned out I had a surfeit of riches. So much so I can present a game from the event that did not make it into print.

Drzasga,Michael (2019) - Alevizos,Athanasios [C30]
29th ECC Open 2013 Rhodes GRE (2.14), 21.10.2013

Saturday 2 November 2013

Most popular chess video on youtube - an update

Updating a post I did last year on youtube videos and chess.

I have revisited youtube in the hope of finding out what is the current most popular video on youtube to do with chess. Last year I found this somewhat difficult I was not able to order videos by popularity, but this seems to have now changed. There is an option to sort by number of views, making my job far easier (Of course this might have been there last year and I failed to see it!)
It turns out the winning video has a lot to do with chess, without being a 'chess' video. It is a clip from from the 1980's musical 'Chess', with Murray Head singing 'One night in Bangkok'. In fact second place is also held by the same film clip (posted by a different user) while 'How to make a Chess Cake' comes in at 4. Only after that do 'real' chess videos appear!

Friday 1 November 2013

The other Ashes

Forget the cricket (especially if you are an Australian), there is another UK v Australia rivalry to focus on. GM David Smerdon (local boy made good) is up against English GM Simon Williams in a 'deathmatch'.
A 'deathmatch' consists of an hour of G/5m, then and hour of G/3m and then an hour of G/1m. Each time control also has a 1 second increment, just to remind everyone this is internet chess. Based on previous matches there will be about 30 games, with the results of each game weighted equally.
The match starts at 9pm tomorrow (2 November) 3am 3 November! Canberra time (I'm guessing), and can be scene at