Friday 31 January 2014

2014 O2C Doeberl Cup - Kasparov to present prizes

This years O2C Doeberl Cup will have a special guest to present the prizes, former World Champion Gary Kasparov. Kasparov, who is running for the post of FIDE President, will be visiting Australia as part of his election campaigning. Taking advantage of the fact that most of Australia's leading chess players and identities are in Canberra over the Easter weekend, Kasparov has scheduled his visit at this time. While the final itinerary has yet to be confirmed, it is expected he will attend the final day, present the prizes, and then hold a meeting with officials from the various countries in Oceania.
And speaking of the Doeberl Cup, entries for the Open tournament are starting to come in. It is already a little over a third full, with 31 players already filling the 90 available slots. To get your entry in early, and guarantee your spot in the tournament of your choice, go to the tournament website and enter online.

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

Thursday 30 January 2014

Zurich Chess Challenge 2014

While lots of GM's a plying their trade in Gibraltar, a select few are instead in Zurich, taking part in the first category 23 tournament in history. The 2014 Zurich Chess Challenge has an average rating of 2801, which is hardly surprising given the field. Top seed is new World Champion Magnus Carlsen, with Lev Aronian, Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana, Boris Gelfand, and Viswanathan Anand making up the 6 player field. In fact the tournament is so strong that Anand finds himself in the unfamiliar role of bottom seed.
The tournament kicked off with a blitz event to determine the pairing numbers. Carlsen and Aronian tied for first place in a tightly contested event, finishing on 3/5. The main tournament is a single round robin (5 rounds) before finishing with a 5 round rapid on the final day. The Classical games start this evening (1am Canberra time), and can be followed on the official tournament website.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Gibraltar 2014

Probably the worlds best Open tournament, the Gibraltar Open, started yesterday, attracting the usual strong field. The top section has 254 players, including 68(!) GM's. Top seed is Michael Adams, and the top 10 players are all rated over 2700.
With such a large field, and no accelerated pairings, the first round gap was 467 rating points (ie the difference in the rating of the players on board 1). Nonetheless there were a few upsets, with 4 GM's getting taken down by their lower rated opponent (for an example see below). But most survived and there are already GM v GM match ups on the top 4 boards.
Coverage of the Open, as well as the supporting events can be found at 

Tseitlin,Mark D (2389) - Knudsen,Jes West (1874) [A00]
Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2014 The Caleta Hotel - Gibraltar (1.100), 28.01.2014

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Tata Steel 2014

While Lev Aronian was a comprehensive winner of the top section of the 2014 Tata Steel Tournament, there was a performance in one of the lower tournaments that is also worth noting.
Australian IM Ari Dale took part in the Tiankampen Top, or the top amateurs section. This was a 10 player round robin and Dale was the lowest seed by over 100 points. But after drawing his first two games he scored 5.5/7 to finish in outright first with 6.5/9 (+5=3-1. His performance rating was 2550+ which is above the performance required for an IM norm (although Dale already has his title). I'm not sure whether this performance moves him up to a higher level in next years event (and that may depend upon next years tournament format) but hopefully this tournament victory will lead to bigger things.

Dale,Ari (2228) - Guramishvili,Sopiko (2398) [D31]
Wijk aan Zee Toptienkamp (6), 22.01.2014

Monday 27 January 2014

As busy as a one armed paper hanger

Heading back to Australia after a pretty hectic 5 days in Lausanne. Three days were spent reviewing the current FIDE tournament regulations (which may be renamed 'Competition Rules') and a day spent co-ordination the activities of the various FIDE Commissions. Most of the days were pretty full on, explaining the intermittent blog posts, but I will try and catch up in the next day or two.

Saturday 25 January 2014

Bill Gates gets butt kicked at chess

To be fair to Bill Gates it was World Champion Magnus Carlsen on the other side of the board. The game took place on a Norwegian Chat show and Carlsen spotted Gates a time handicap of 30 seconds v 2 minutes. Despite Gates best efforts Carlsen needed 12 seconds to checkmate on of the worlds richest men.
The description of the match can be found here, while the video of the actual game is here.

Friday 24 January 2014

Well, that idea did not work

Continuing the approach of trying unusual openings at Tata Steel, Arkady Naiditsch ventured a 'left hand' Italian Opening, with 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bf4. But unlike the previous use of the Budapest Gambit, it did not end well for Naiditsch. In fact it was the chess equivalent of Wile E. Coyote investigating an unexploded box of dynamite, with the whole thing blowing up in his face. For a moment it looked as though the rush on the king side might lead to something, but after advancing the f,g, and h pawns to the 4th rank, he wavered in the face of queenside counterplay, and quickly got run over.

Naiditsch,Arkady - Harikrishna,Pentala [D00]
Tata Steel A, 23.01.2014

Wednesday 22 January 2014

2014 Australian Women's Masters

While travelling to Switzerland, I have missed the first couple of rounds of the 2014 Australian Women's Masters. This event his currently being held at the Melbourne Chess Club, and is being organised by IA Gary Bekker.
Last years events was an 8 player RR. but for this year it has expanded to 12 players, with the added bonus of title norms being on offer. There are a number of overseas players, as well as a group of strong local players. It has also attracted some pretty good publicity, with coverage from Susan Polgar's website and by the FIDE Commission for Women's Chess (who are also an event sponsor).
The event also has a nice webpage, so if you wish to follow this event just visit for event results, live games and pictures.

Monday 20 January 2014

FIDE Tournament Rules 2015

Both the FIDE Laws of Chess and the FIDE Tournament Rules get updated every 4 years (at least in theory). Having just finished reviewing the Laws of Chess, the FIDE Rules and Tournament Regulations Commission are going to work on the Tournament Regulations.
The first step in this process is a meeting of the RTRC in Lausanne, Switzerland, this Wednesday. The commission, of which I am a member, have already received some submissions, while we will also look at our own proposals and improvements. Once the meeting has been completed, the proposed changes to the regulations will be posted at There will be a full meeting of the RTRC in Tromso in August, where the final changes will be agreed upon. Once approved by the FIDE General Assembly, they will come into effect on the 1st July 2015.
Based on my experience with the changes to the Laws of Chess, this system looks good in theory, but works less well in practice. This is mainly because people tend not to notice the changes until they have already been passed. In part this has previously been due to proposals not being distributed widely enough, but with the new Rules Commission website this should be less of a problem.
So if you want to have a say about new tournament regulations (and the RTRC does welcome input from everyone), keep an eye on, and give the commission your feedback
NB I am currently in transit to this meeting and so blogging is once again dependant upon airport/hotel internet availability.

Sunday 19 January 2014

Canberra Clubs 2014

Canberra chess clubs are starting to reopen for 2014. For those in Canberra and surrounding Districts, here are the details

  • Tuggeranong Chess Club meets on Mondays nights from 7pm at the Tuggeranong Vikings Rugby Union Club, Ricardo St Wanniassa. The first club night of the year is 20 January (tomorrow night)
  • Belconnen Chess Club meets on Tuesday nights from 7pm at the Natsem Building, Hayden Drive, Bruce. The club reopens on the 4th February, with the ACT Lightning Championship being held that evening.
  • Canbbera Chess Club meets on Wednesday nights from 7pm at the Hellenic Club, Moore St, Canberra City. The club has already opened for the year.
  • ANU Chess Club meets on Wednesday nights from 7:30pm at the Asian Studies Building, Ellery Crescent, ANU. The first club night of the year is 5th February.

Saturday 18 January 2014

Can we all be pigeon-holed?

I've never thought that there is a specific personality type that goes with being a chessplayer. Of course there are certain 'types' of chess players, in a psychological sense, but there are enough distinct 'types' for me to think that chess players are no different than other groups in society. Being a chessplayer may mean you approach specific situations in a certain way, but  don't think this can be described as a personality trait.
I've seen a couple of articles on the psychology of chess players in the last couple of days. The first one actually takes the opposite point of view than I've just put forward. Ben Wyde believes that playing chess does influence your personality. He lays out his arguments for this in a post titled 'Chess, Stereotypes, and Personalty'
The other link is to a website that claims to determine your Chess Personality. It does this by asking you 20 questions, which are a mix of 'attitude' type questions, and position specific type questions. Based on your answer it gives you a 'personalty', a master you are most like, and a suggested choice of openings. Based on my answers I am a 'Champion', which makes me like Kasparov, and I should play Ruy Lopez, Queens Gambit Declined and the Sicilian. Despite the temptation to say "yeah that's just like me" I'm sceptical of its accuracy.

Friday 17 January 2014

Have we just run out of chess openings?

I've commented in the past that modern chessplayers utilise a much broader set of openings than their predecessors. And While I generally think this is a good thing, even I have my limits. At the current Tata Steel tournament, the Budapest Gambit hit the tables not once but twice in the early rounds of the A and B tournaments. Even more amazingly it won both times, with Richard Rapport beating Boris Gelfand in round 2 of the A event, and Baadur Jobava beating Radoslaw Wojtaszek in round 5 of the B tournament.
I suspect the net effect of this will be (a) a sudden renewal of interest in the Budapest Gambit in the form of magazine articles and books and (b) a lot of 'I told you it was a good opening' from that strange guy at the club who claims he can beat GM's with 2. ... e5!!, if only he got to play them.
Of course it could just turn out to be a 9 day wonder, especially if third time doesn't prove the charm, and it gets blown up by a well prepared player of the white pieces.

Wojtaszek,Radoslaw (2711) - Jobava,Baadur (2710) [A52]
Tata Steel Challengers Wijk aan Zee NED (5.6), 16.01.2014

Wednesday 15 January 2014

The Big Book of Busts

"The Big Book of Busts" was one of the most imaginatively named chess books I have come across. It major purpose was to collect refutations (or 'busts') to a number of off beat openings all in one place. I have just discovered that the book has been recently updated, but sadly, so has the title. It has now become 'Taming Wild Chess Openings' , which makes it seem less interesting, although the content is still quite useful.
John Watson and Eric Schiller (the original authors) have arranged the content not in the tradition ECO order, but instead grouped the openings by the more cinematic "Good, Bad, and Ugly". They have also added some new codes to positions including "The Rabbit", "The Monkey" and "The Snake" (against weaker players, just for fun, you might get bitten, respectively).
As the emphasis of the book is on playing, or playing against, off beat lines, it is best suited for players who wish to meet opponents who have their 'pet' systems. Often these openings also have their own weird names, so when you meet the "Mkole Mbembe" or the "Drunken Hippo Formation" you will be prepared.
Of course one persons refutation is another persons challenge, so any book claiming to blow openings out of the water needs to be approached with a little scepticism. Indeed some of the suggested lines are predicated on an assumption that your opponent will play sub-optimally, but they do flag that in the notes.
I certainly will be adding it to my collection of opening reference works, and may even use it to spring the odd surprise. "Taming Wild Chess Openings" is available from e+Chess Books for $11.99US

(My review copy of this book was supplied by e+Chess Books)

Tuesday 14 January 2014

John Kable

Veteran Australian Chess player and official John Kable passed away in Melbourne last week. He was an active member of the Melbourne club scene and a serving Director of Play with the Correspondence Chess League of Australia. He served in a number of administrative positions throughout his long chess career, both in the Correspondence and over the board chess arenas. He was a Life Member of both the Victorian Chess Association and the CCLA.
As a player he was a participant in the Australian Championships in 1946 and 1948 (according to my records). He initially came to prominence in Queensland before moving to Victoria. In later years he was closely associated with the Box Hill Chess Club, where he was a 3 time Club Champion (1981,92,95).
His funeral will be later this week in Melbourne.

Egan,William - Kable,John [D88]
AUS-ch reserve Melbourne (10), 1992

Monday 13 January 2014

2014 Australian Junior Chess Championship

With the 2014 Australian Championship finished, the 2014 Australian Junior Championship now takes centre stage. This 250+ player event began in Sydney on Saturday, and already some of the younger age tournaments have been completed.
In the Under 10's Championship Bobby Yu won with a perfect 9/9, while brother and sister Cassandra and Christopher Lim finished second and third respectively. The Under 8's Championship finished in a tie between Jay Landau and Sebastian Bracks, with both score 8/9. The first playoff games were tied 1-1 before Landau won the Blitz playoff 2-0.
The Under 18 and Under 16 events are also underway, with FM Anton Smirnov already leading the Under 18. The Under 14 and Under 12 Championship starts on Wednesday, along with the Girls events.
Full results from all the events can be found at the tournament website.

Sunday 12 January 2014

2014 Tata Steel

The 2014 Tata Steel Tournament kicked off last night, although this years event has seen some changes. Rather than the traditional 3 tournament groups, this years tournament only sees 2. The top section has also been reduced from the previous 14 players down to 12. Nonetheless it has still attracted a very strong field, with Lev Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura and Bois Gelfand at the top of the field.
The first round was pretty cut throat, with 4 decisive games out of 6. Possibly the pick of these was Caruana's attacking win over Gelfand, although it was one big mistake by Gelfand that brought the game to a rapid end.
The tournament runs until the 26th of January, but as the top section has fewer rounds than the subsidiary events, there is a greater than usual rest days. Check the official website for times and dates of the rounds.

Caruana,Fabiano - Gelfand,Boris [B90]
2014 Tata Steel, 11.01.2014

Saturday 11 January 2014

Max Illingworth - 2014 Australian Champion

By defeating FM Anton Smirnov in the final round, IM Max Illingworth is the 2014 Australian Champion. Illingworth and Smirnov shared the lead on 7/10, and a win for either player would be enough for the title. Smirnov had the black pieces and decided to sacrifice a pawn on the queenside for open files, and seemed to have enough compensation. But on move 27 Smirnov allowed Illngworth to open up the kingside, and after that the advantage was with Max. A late attempt to whip up a mating attack came to naught, and Illingworth had enough pawns to secure the title.
Second place was shared between IM Moulthun Ly, GM Tu Hoang Thong, and Karl Zelesco. Zelesco defeated GM Darryl Johansen in the final round to skip past a number of other young players to be the best finishing junior.
FM Doug Hamilton scored a popular win in the Reserves tournament with 9.5/11. His victory, which was secured with a round to spare, elicited animated comments from those who thought it was unfair that the 3 times Australian Champion was denied entry into this years championship event, 50 years after winning his first Australian title.

Illingworth,Max - Smirnov,Anton [A22]
2014 Australian Championship Melbourne, 11.01.2014

Friday 10 January 2014

The need to be exact

Despite my attempts at keeping my CC games to a manageable level, I still have around 10 games on the go. Of course one way to reduce the number of games in progress is to have your hat handed to you by your opponent. This has been happening to me with some frequency, including a game I resigned just this morning.
It was part of the Australia v Germany Friendly, and was one the final games to finish. It was also a reasonably long game (in terms of time), having started in late 2012.
For a long time I thought that I might be holding the position, although my natural pessimism was telling me that I was worse. But as with most CC games, you need to be accurate with every move, and it appears around move 26 I missed a trick with 26.Be2! which would have kept the position equal. After that I was worse (without realising how bad the position was becoming), but played on till even I could see the mate. As for the rest of the match Germany pretty much dominated, leading 72-24 with 4 games to finish.

Press,Shaun - Fischer,Ronald [B07]
AUS v Germany, 09.12.2012

Thursday 9 January 2014

Illingworth and Bjelobrk lead 2014 Australian Championship

After 9 rounds of the 2014 Australian Championship IM Max Illingworth and IM Igor Bjelobrk share the lead with 6.5 points. Illingworth defeated top seed GM Vasilly Papin in an amazing game, where Papin sacrificed in the opening but to what end was not clear. Maybe Papin was just looking for a random position, which is certainly what he got. But while he had a couple of chances to justify his play, Illingworth eventually grabbed an big advantage and held on to the end. Bjelobrk beat IM Bobby Cheng in a much more 'normal' game, where tactics in the late middlegame, coupled with good endgame technique was enough for the win.
Tomorrows round sees Illingworth up against Vietnamese GM Tu Hoang Thong, while Bjelobrk plays FM Anton Smirnov. A win for either will put them in the box seat going into the final round, but given the combative nature of the tournament so far, a final round with a pile of players on 7 or 6.5 is not out of the question.

Papin,Vasily - Illingworth,Max [A09]
2014 Australian Championship Melbourne, 09.01.2014

Wednesday 8 January 2014

What do these openings have in common?

What links the following openings together?
Benko's Opening (1.g3)
Owen's Defence (1.e4 b6)
French Defence (1.e4 e6)
Blackmar-Diemer Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.e4)
Catalan Opening (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3)

As I'm feeling a little generous, the first correct answer (in the comments section, with a name attached) will win a years membership of the Correspondence Chess League of Australia.

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Help wanted

On the weekend I mentioned a 'bar bet' type chess game where the stronger player (a GM for the purpose of this story) gives the weaker player an unlimited number of moves at the start of the game, with the stipulation that no piece cross the halfway line.
While it may seem an interesting way of giving odds, there is one flaw in this setup. A sufficiently clever 'mark' can construct a position where White (assuming the weaker player is White) can force checkmate against any Black defence.
But having told this tale, I cannot find the original story (which contains the solution) in my collection of books. My faint memory of where I read it leads me in the direction of Reinfeld, Chernev or Soltis, but I'm not ruling out any other sources.
Does this story ring a bell with anyone, and if so, where did you read it?

Monday 6 January 2014

On my way to work this morning

On my way to work this morning I caught a bit of chess coverage on ABC AM. Unfortunately it was not coverage of the Australian Championship (such things did happen in the past btw), but it was still interesting enough. It was a report on the growth in chess in Uganda, especially in schools and poorer areas.
The report I heard was audio only, which was fortunate as I was driving. But you can also see the accompanying video report from the ABC here.

Sunday 5 January 2014

A New Years hack

Chesswise my year got of to a surprisingly good start. I managed a full 7 rounds of Street Chess on the weekend, which in itself is a rarity for me (I usually only play enough rounds to avoid anyone having a bye). Even better, I scored enough points to finish second, behind perennial winner FM Endre Ambrus.
Along the way I managed to catch Sunny Yoon unprepared for the Sorensen Gambit, a line I play more out of habit than affection. Sunny probably should have castled queenside when he had the chance (or grabbed my b pawn) but once I sacrificed on c6 the end was nigh.

Press,Shaun - Yoon,Sunny [C02]
Street Chess, 04.01.2014

Saturday 4 January 2014

Papers, Please

I've been doing a lot of overseas travel recently (and am off to Switzerland in a couple of weeks), so the discovery of the bizarre game "Papers, Please" is quite interesting. The premise of the game is that you are an immigration inspector for the fictional communist country of Arstotzka. You job consists of inspecting passports and visas, and deciding whether to let people in the country or not. And this is what you spend the game doing. Looking at documents and then stamping them. I'm pretty sure there is supposed to be more to the game than this, but I have yet to discover it.
Despite what seems to be the mind numbingly boring gameplay, it is curiously addictive. At my first attempt I took to long to decide who to let in and as a result received very little pay. This led to having no money to feed my family, so they got sick and all died. This resulted in me losing the game, as Arstotzka expects healthy and happy citizens.
So during my next trip, rather than complain about the slow lines at immigration, I will at least some appreciation for the work the inspectors are doing, given the repetitive nature of the task. If you are interested in immersing yourself in the work of an immigration officer, you can find the game at where they have a range of terrific computer games, often using a 'pay what you wish' pricing model.

Friday 3 January 2014

100 duck sized horses?

Quite an interesting game from the 2nd round of the Australian Championship. Karl Zelesco seemed to be nursing a slight advantage against IM James Morris, until it all went tactical around move 25. When the first round of captures finished at move 30, Zelesco had given up a piece for 3 good central pawns. But Morris then won Zelesco's rook for his 2 queenside pawns, leaving the unusual situation of 7 pawns (4 passed and connected) against Rook, Knight and 2 pawns. Morris managed to capture one of those pawns (and exchange another), but then all of Zelesco's pawns were passers. Despite having a dangerous passer of his own, Morris eventually had to return the rook, and the game ended in a draw after all the remaining pawns disappeared.
(BTW The title of this post is based on the following absurd question: Would you rather fight 100 duck sized horses, or 1 horse sized duck? Zelesco's pawns reminded me of 100 duck sized horses)

Zelesco,Karl (2242) - Morris,James (2405) [D36]
2014 Australian Championships Melbourne (2.5), 03.01.2014

2014 Australian Championship

The 2014 Australian Championship began today, with good numbers in all the tournaments. The Championship attracted a field of 42 players, which is probably one of the largest in recent memory. As with any restricted field event, upsets are more common, and there were a few today. Eddy Levi and David Castor dispatched IM's Goldenberg and Wohl, while IM Andrew Brown last to 2012 Reserves Champion Justin Penrose. There were also a few draws, the most notable being Domagoj Dragicevic drawing with GM Tu Hoang Thong, and Laurence Matheson drawing with GM Darryl Johansen.
The Reserves event has attracted a very impressive 93 players, including FM Doug Hamilton, who won his first Australian Championship 50 years ago. The shorter Challengers  event has 57 players, meaning that the entire event has a total of 192 players.
Tomorrow sees rounds 2&3 of each of the tournaments and you can keep up with the action (including live coverage of the top boards) from the tournament website.

Wednesday 1 January 2014

New Year (Chess) Resolutions

The only resolution I make every New Year is not to make any resolutions. Although this keeps life simple for me, I can't help feeling conflicted inside.
But if you are the sort of chess player who does make resolutions here is a random collection that you may wish to borrow from

  • Master a new opening
  • Beat someone who you have not beaten in your previous games
  • Master the KBN v K checkmate
  • Introduce someone new to the game
  • Score 100% against junior players
  • Borrow a chess book from your local library
  • Play at least one tournament outside your home city/town
  • Sponsor a prize at a local event

Of course there are plenty of other resolutions that could be added to the list, so if you have some of your own, feel free to list them in the comments section.