Thursday 30 April 2015

There is always a loophole

Seems that the push to get chess accepted as an Olympic sport isn't quite dead yet. Although the door to the Summer Olympics seems closed, there were hopes that chess might become a Winter Olympic sport. There is one problem however. Winter Olympic sports must be played on ice or snow.
It seems pretty unequivocal, but FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov seems to have found a loophole. He has suggested* that the chess tournament use pieces made of ice, thereby fulfilling the requirements for a Winter Olympic Sport . He apparently did this an interview in China, while attending the recent FIDE Presidential Board meeting. The story has been picked up by a few news outlets, but at this stage is yet to  qualify as the "bizarre chess story of the week". Whether it does rival the So/Nigalidze/Short media storms is not clear right now, but like a good Art House film, box office returns might be slow to start with.

*Normally with stories of this type a 'translation error' will inevitably be blamed for the statement, so I am flagging this explanation early.

Wednesday 29 April 2015

More weirdness at the chess club

Last week I related the story of a Street Chess tournament coming to a grinding halt because the tournament laptop  was stolen (BTW, it has yet to turn up). This week saw the weirdness continue, with the first night of a new tournament at the ANU Chess Club almsot not happening due to unforeseen circumstances.
In this case I turned up to the venue to find I was locked out of the equipment room, as someone decided to change the combination of the door. Apparently they forgot to tell anyone they were doing this, which meant the tournament was going to either be a blindfold event, or possible a multi-player kriegspiel (as one member brought their own set).
After failing to track down the new combination, complete disaster was averted by a quick trip to where the Street Chess equipment is kept, to grab some sets and clock. Unfortunately the clocks are old analog ones (no increment!) and we were still missing scoresheets. In the end a decision was made to play a blitz instead, which turned out to be a fun tournament.
Nonetheless these sort of disturbances are becoming more and more frequent and I am beginning to wonder exactly which god I have offended, and how I managed to do it.

China goes back to back

The win by the Chinese Team at the 2014 Chess Olympiad was a little bit of a surprise, although most pundits new that they would be Olympiad Champions at some point. But once they crossed that hurdle, it is far less of a surprise that the are the 2015 World Team Champions.
In the tournament which finished today, they score 15 Match Points to finish 3 points ahead of The Ukraine. In a tightly bunched finish, Armenia ended up third on 11, a pretty good comeback for a team that was only on 4 points with 4 rounds to play.
In terms of individual performances, Lev Aronion finished with the best score (6/9) on Board 1. The highest point scorer (and percentage) was Yi Wei of China, or scored 7/9 on Board 4.
China went through the event undefeated, scoring 6 wins and 3 draws. Most of their wins were of the 2.5-variety, but oddly their biggest victories  were over Armenia (3.5-0.5) and India (3-1). The other interesting thing about this event was that some teams doing OK at the half way point (Cuba, Israel, India) all seemed to crash in the second half, and finished towards the tail of the field.
Full details from the even can be found at the tournament website.

Tuesday 28 April 2015

I'm convinced Carlsen is a wizard

At the risk of coming over all 'fanboy-ish' I am convinced that Carlsen is a wizard. He wrapped up the Shamkir Memorial with an impressive 7/9 (+5=4), a full point ahead of Anand in outright second. But it wan't the margin of victory, but how he one his last game, against Mamedov that makes me wonder. When I looked at it ti seemed to be a clear draw, with Carlsen holding a slight edge, but Mamedov holding. I then looked back 10 minutes later and Carlsen had won, with Mamedov playing two or three bad moves to give Carlsen the point. This tends to happen a lot with Carlsen, and I suspect it is now becoming a self fulfilling prophecy. It is no doubt helped by Carlsen's willingness to sit at the board for as long as it takes to win, as this forces his opponents to expend extra energy each time they play him.
Previous to Carlsen, Kasparov had a similar effect on his opponents, and it seems that magic hasn't worn off either.  I posted yesterday that he led Short 3.5-1.5 in their Rapid/Blitz match. In last nights play he romped home, winning all 5 games to finish the 8.5-1.5 victor. This turns out to be a bigger margin than when they played a few years back, and of cousre makes the chess world wonder if a returning Kasparov could  match it with the current Carlsen. But like the Fischer - Karpov Match, it is probably something we will never see,

Sunday 26 April 2015

Kasparov v Short 2015

The 2 day Kasparov v Short match began overnight at the St Louis Chess Club. The first day saw 1 rapid game and 4 blitz games, which will be repeated on day 2. Both players came into the match with slight handicaps, Kasparov's being a lack of match practice, while Short's was possibly too much of it (plus a media storm to deal with).
At the end of the first day Kasparov lead 3.5-1.5. The players drew the rapid game, with Kasparov dominating the blitz 3-1.Even in the blitz game he lost, he was slightly better but ran out of time.
The other piece of news out of St Louis was the announcement of the "Grand Chess Tour" details. It was known that this event was being put together for a few months, but only now are the details being confirmed. For next year 3 events (St Louis, Stavenger, and London) are part of the series, but the prize pool of $1,000,000 is a big attractor. The field for each of these events will consists of all the worlds top rated players (with the exception of Kramnik who has other commitments), plus a couple of wild cards. Assuming that the series succeeds this year, there may be more events organised for 2016.

Kasparov,Garry (2812) - Short,Nigel D (2664) [E11]
Legends Rapid Match 2015 Saint Louis USA (1), 25.04.2015

A brutal day at the office

The Shamkir (Gashimov Memorial) is providing wonderful evening entertainment for chess fans around the world. For whatever reasons, the organisers seem to have the right mix of players taking part, and the fortuitous time difference between Australia and Azerbaijan means that the games are on in 'prime time' ie from 8pm until midnight or so.
Usually there is at least one game per round that has some fireworks, and tonight it was Adams Giri game. Adams played the g3 line against the Najdorf and for a while everything looked normal. Then Adams offered a pawn on the queenside, Giri snaffled it, Adams gained a tempo, and then it all kicked off. Adams pushed his h pawn, and suddenly Giri was in big trouble. It is not clear what he could have done to deal with the kingside pawn rush, but his attempts at defending, while unsuccessful, at least allowed Adams to show some nice tactical flourishes.  A nice win by Adams, his first of the tournament.

Adams,Michael - Giri,Anish [B80]
Shamkir, 25.04.2015

Friday 24 April 2015

2015 World Teams Championship

The 2015 World Teams Championship is at its halfway point, but has a somewhat upside down look to it. The event is a 10 team round robin, and while it contains a number of chess 'power houses' they don't seem to be doing well at all.
The one familiar face at the top of the table is The Ukraine, who have won 4 of their 5 matches. They are tied with China (2014 Olympiad champions) closely followed by Israel and Cuba. But at the other end of the table, Russia, Hungary, Armenia and USA have all lost more matches than they have won.
Looking at the pairings I am not sure if the bottom teams will be able to climb back, as they have a few games amongst themselves. The key match will probably be the round 7 China - Ukraine pairing, with Israel and Cuba hoping for a drawn match so they can sneak past.
Live coverage of this strong event can be found at (NB If you visit this page you get a bonus history lesson as well)

Robot buys drugs with Bitcoins, gets arrested

Turns out that this is an old-ish story, but I only came across it today. The headline alone cracks me up, but the details of the story are just as fantastic.
A group of Swiss artists set up a computer to buy things on the "Darknet" (image what your grandmother thinks the internet is, and you get the idea). It was given an allowance of 100 euros worth of bitcoins, to purchase items at an online market. The items were intended to be part of a future art exhibition, and it seemed to be going swimmingly, until the robot decided to score some ecstasy. At this point the police swooped, confiscating the drugs, a Hungarian passport, a baseball cap with a hidden camera, and other sundry items that the robot had acquired. Eventually most of the items were returned, along with the robot/laptop, and no one was charged as the artists did not intend to use the drugs(!).
Lots of places to find this story btw (just search for variations on the headline) or read one version here.

Wednesday 22 April 2015

A thing of beauty

Looking at Anand's win over Wesley So in round 5 of the Gashimov Memorial, the term 'a thing of beauty' immediately sprang to mind. Not wishing to repeat subject headings for this blog, I did a search to see if I had used this expression before. It turns out I have not used it as a subject heading before, but I did use it in a couple of posts, including a previous game by Anand. That was his win over Aronian in 2013, which I remarked upon in a column titled A Game for the Ages.
This game is equally as nice, with So being caught by some opening preparation, and a clever piece sacrifice. I am not sure how much Anand saw after he played 14.f4! but the whole attack seemed to just flow. While So was able to hold off the worst of it, he still ended up in a losing ending, which Anand had no trouble winning.

Anand,Viswanathan (2791) - So,Wesley (2788) [C84]
Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015 Shamkir AZE (5.2), 21.04.2015

Tuesday 21 April 2015

My brain wasn't wired right

Nigel Short has become the latest "Chess story du jour", after his comments concerning men's and women's chess was picked up by the main stream media. As a provocative main stream topic he probably could not have done any better, and I suspect this debate will run on for a bit.
I am not going to weigh into the substance of the debate, simply because it is not my area of expertise. By that I am focusing on the single quote "Men and Women's brains are had-wired very differently ... ", which is quite a definitive claim. And to make such a claim (or to disprove it) requires a  specialisation in neuro-science, or at least access to the relevant literature.
In my own personal experience, I haven't noticed a difference between the way males and females play the game. I've never looked at a move (or a game) and thought "that move was particularly male". Strong moves are strong moves, and weak ones are weak, and that is generally all I have seen. The closest manifestation I have seen to gender affecting style has curiously been in the area of over compensation, where female players are coached/rewarded for playing aggressively, as though they would not develop this talent naturally.
And to prove nothing at all, here is a game played this evening between myself and Alana Chibnall. The fact that the game ended in a draw probably shows we are chess players of comparable strength, but given the collection of mistakes that occurred at various points, I am not sure what this strength really is.

Press,Shaun - Chibnall,Alana [C43]
Murphy Memorial, 21.04.2015

Carlsen's Legacy

Even though he is still a young man, I think Magnus Carlsen is going to leave a significant legacy behind him. Looking at his tournament games for the last 4 or 5 years, this legacy may well be that he rendered opening theory unimportant. It seems that in tournaments (less so than matches) his choice of openings is driven by a desire not to be put into any opening category, while aiming to reach a middle game where he can play interesting moves. In the Shamkir event his last to games were a Dutch Stonewall (this could be called unfashionable) and a g6 Ruy Lopez (certainly unusual).
On one level it is almost a throwback to the Larsen strategy of losing 1 game to win 2 (as opposed to drawing all 3), although in Carlsen's case it is more draw 1 game to win 2. And whether this is a conscious decision of Carlsen's, but it is also as if he is the 'Anti-Kasparov', rejecting the Kasparov approach of finding a concrete evaluation for every opening he plays.
Of course you have to be a rare talent to pull this off, but Carlsen seems to be fine so far. And one group of people happy with his approach, book publishers. For now almost every opening book published can include a game by Carlsen, and in most cases, a game he wins.

Sunday 19 April 2015

Stolen laptop halts play

This weeks Street Chess tournament came to an unusual end, when the theft of the tournament laptop prevented the tournament from continuing after 5 rounds.
For those unfamiliar with the format (or terrain) of Street Chess, it is a weekly rapidplay tournament, played outdoors in the centre of Canberra. It has been running for over 20 years in this location, and the only similar incident I can recall occurred 15 years ago, when a mobile phone was taking.
As for the details, I (the tournament organiser) was a victim of my own carelessness. I had announced the pairings and then left the laptop on the table. Engaged in a friendly game with a casual player, I failed to notice that someone had came into the tournament area (over a barrier) and after wandering about for a while, had grabbed the laptop, and left the area (once again climbing the low barrier). When I finished my game, I turned around to see the laptop gone.
After ascertaining I had not simply misplaced it, the police were called, but by this stage the laptop was long gone. The players taking part in the event were very understanding, and agreed to halt the tournament at this point, also forgoing any potential prize money due to then.
The theft itself was picked up on CCTV at the venue, including a clear shot of the persons face. It is now in the hands of the police, although I would be (pleasantly) surprised if the laptop is recovered. While most of the data is backed up elsewhere, one thing that is not recoverable (at this point), are the tournament records since early March. So while Street Chess has been a regular contributor the the ACF Quickplay rating list (possibly the biggest contributor), it looks like that this quarters events will not be rated.

The more you practice the luckier you get

I suspect Magnus Carlsen has sent most of the worlds top players batty, with his ability to convert equal positions, and save losing ones. It is as though he simply needs to sit down at the board to receive a +0.5 evaluation bonus against his opponent (maybe not Caruana but +1.5 against Nakamura).
In the first round of the Shamkir tournament he was worse against Anand after the Marshall Gambit just left him a pawn down, but still managed to escape with a draw in the end. Then in tonight's 2nd round game he just rolled over the top of Mamedyarov, using a now familiar strategy of throwing a pawn or two up the board, and watching his opponent fall to pieces.
To some commentators (especially non-GM ones) this looks a lot like luck, but as Arnold Palmer famously said "the more I practice, the luckier I get".

Carlsen,Magnus - Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar [D94]
Shamkir 2015, 18.04.2015

Saturday 18 April 2015

Shamkir Chess 2015

The Gashimov Memorial (aka Shamkir 2015) began a couple of hours ago, and already the results are coming in. Mamedov and Vachier-Lagrave were the first to finish, with a draw in 40 moves. Wesley So has bounced back from his US Championship debacle with a win over Anish Giri, after a very strange opening. Although the rest of the games are in progress, Kramnik and Anand are better against Adams and Carlsen respectively. In the other game, Caruana looked like he has dodged a bullet against Mamedyarov, recovering from a worse position to reach an almost equal ending. Then in just two moves he undid his good work and is now losing!
The tournament is a 10 player RR and is starting at a relatively good time for Australian chess fans. I am watching the action at but you can also visit the tournament homepage for updates and games.

Thursday 16 April 2015

Mental gymnastics

Just a short study to see how well the brain is functioning. It is White to play and win.
As with most studies the play is not quite straightforward (although you should find some moves when you realise the alternatives all fail), and a little quirky (especially one of the potential finishes).

Well I'll be!

As a CC player who does not use chess engines, one of the difficulties is playing games where you have no idea about who is better. As the games go for quite a while (3 to 6 months), this can be very frustrating. You might think that knowing who is better is different from having the computer choose your moves, but to me it is a slippery slope (as well as providing a form of assistance).
The "I have know idea about the position" problem occurs in OTB chess as well, although the usual response is to lash out tactically. A game I played last night certainly had some of these features (a confusing middle game, tactical blows, and an unclear ending), although I was genuinely surprised that post game engine analysis wasn't the horror show I thought it would be.
I was happy with my position from the opening, and thought that 13.g4 was a desperate gamble. Turns out it was actually quite good, although 13.h5 was even stronger. Capturing on d4 wasn't a pawn grab, but just a way of freeing e5 for my queen. Again when my opponent took on f5 I thought he was helping develop my queenside, until 24.Nd4 landed on the board. By this stage I thought I was losing too many pawns, but 28.Rg1 was a slight mistake, as 28. ... Rd8 causes difficulties for the knight on d6. At this point I thought it was prudent to offer a draw, not because I believed the position to be equal (I felt I was worse), but to take advantage of my opponents shortness of time, and the sudden shift in momentum. I was relieved when he accepted the offer, thinking I had escaped. But it turns out that there was no escape as the final position is considered equal by Stockfish. Not sure if this was dumb luck or subliminal thinking, but I will take the half point.

Hosking,Ian - Press,Shaun [A85]
Murphy Memorial, 14.04.2015

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be

With Senior chess events becoming increasingly popular, it is no surprise that some 'nostalgia' matches are being organised. In the past these have often been between retired or semi-retired GM's (Korchnoi - Uhlmann springs to mind), but the St Louis Chess Club is hosting some slightly younger players. GM Nigel Short (still a very active player) is playing former World Champion Garry Kasparov, in an echo of their 1993 World Championship match. In this case it will be a two day event, consisting of 2 Rapid games and 4 Blitz games. While I normally shy away from matches of this type, I think this one will be interesting, just to see if Short's activity overcomes Kasparov's ability. The two previously played a similar match in 2011, with Kasparov winning 4.5-3.5.
Another Senior event starting shortly is the 2015 Oceania Seniors Championship, being hosted by the New Zealand Chess Centre in Devonport. While the field is overwhelmingly New Zealand (only 1 Australian entrant), it is a very strong event, with 5 players rated over 2200, including one IM, 3 FM's and one GM (of the CC variety). The tournament starts Thursday, and results can be seen here.

Monday 13 April 2015

2015 Thailand Open - Puccini crushes GM

Melbourne Junior FM Jack Puccini has got off to a good start in the 2015 Thailand Open, crushing GM John Paul Gomez in 19 moves. Puccini offered a knight on move 11, while the players were still in theory. Gomez initially declined the offer, but took it a move later. 14.d6!! was the real crusher, and Gomez only lasted another 5 moves, before resigning.
In round 3 Puccini is paired against GM Abhijit Kunte on Board 10, although he will have plenty of company  from the other Australian players on 2/2. IM Ari Dale is playing GM Josef Horvath while IM Anton Smirnov and IM Junta Ikeda are also on the top boards. Slightly further down is IM Max Illingworth who skipped this years Doeberl Cup to concentrate on this event, although a second round loss clearly was not part of the plan.
Tournament coverage can be found at the Bangkok Chess Club webpage, while is doing live coverage of the top 6 boards.

Puccini,Jack - Gomez,John Paul [B21]
Pattaya Thai Open (2), 13.04.2015

Sunday 12 April 2015

2015 Dubai Open - Nigalidze gets forfeited, internet expresses mild interest

Must be the season for defaulting players, although the default of GM Gaioz Nigalidze in the 2015 Dubai Open is a far more serious case than yesterdays example.
According to this news report from, Nigalidze was expelled from the Dubai Open for using an electronic device (a mobile phone), which he had hidden in the toilet. This was found during his round 5 game against GM Tigran Petrosian, and he was immediately defaulted, and soon after expelled from the tournament.
For whatever reason, this case seems to have generated far less comment than the Wesley So case, with the report seemingly the only major coverage of the case. At first glance this seems to be a pretty clear case of the violations of both the Laws of Chess, and the new FIDE Anti-Cheating regulations. Under the new regulations, a guilty finding by FIDE may result in a ban of up to 3 years for Nigalidze, a former two time champion of Georgia. The regulations (of which I helped write) cover cases like this pretty clearly, and I would be surprised if there is any way that Nigalidze can avoid sanctions (assuming the reporting is correct).

Saturday 11 April 2015

2015 US Championship - So gets forfeited, internet goes crazy

In the 9th round of the 2015 US Championship GM Wesley So was forfeited to referring to notes during his game. He had been warned about doing this previously in the event, but after doing it for a third time, was defaulted by tournament arbiter Tony Rich.
Based on the reporting of the facts, IA Tony Rich not only handled the situation correctly, but made the correct decision. So himself appears to admit he broke the rules in a statement made after the game, although his argument that he did not know it was against the rules is strange, given he had been warned twice no to do it.
Of course such a big decision produced a big reaction on various chess forums. Hardly surprisingly a lot of the reaction was predicated on forum commentators having absolutely no idea  about the Laws of Chess, although this did not stop them weighing in. A smaller group accepted that So had done something wrong, but argued against the severity of the penalty.
Based on my previous experience on the FIDE Rules Commission such reactions are common. A lot of players make little effort to learn *all* the rules of chess, arguing that is why we have arbiters. Then when an arbiter makes a decision consistent with the Laws of Chess they either complain about the arbiter, or complain they were unaware of the rule. I guess it is human nature to try and have it both ways, but it does make the job of the arbiter difficult.
For now So is down as having lost the game, although apparently he has lodged an appeal. The weird thing is that he is not appealing against the loss, just about whether such a game is to be rated (he does not want to be). More bad news for So in this case. It is the FIDE Qualifications Commission who rules on these cases, not local organisers, so this appeal is pointless (in more ways than one).

Friday 10 April 2015

2015 ANU Chess Festival

Never to early to advertise, so I am getting the word out for the 2015 ANU Open nice and early. This years Open will be held on the weekend of the 25th & 26th of July, at the ANU School of Art, Childers St, Acton, ACT. It will be a 7 round event split into two divisions (Open and Under 1600), and will have a prize fund of $3300 (1st Prize $1000). Time limit is 60m+10s and will be ACR Rated (but not FIDE Rated). You can even register for the event now, at
Further details will be posted soon (including entry fees, round times etc). At this stage the organisers are hoping for at least 1 overseas GM to take part, but who this is will be announced when their entry is confirmed.

Thursday 9 April 2015

The Schliemann goes down again

The Schliemann Variation of the Ruy Lopez has always danced along the edge of the sound/unsound cliff. It has bursts of popularity at the GM level before heading back into 'not quite refuted' territory, where unpopular openings languish.
Recently it became popular again, even at the 2700+ level, although this is also a mixed blessing. While players of the Black pieces are happy to wheel it out, the main reply for White seems to be the boring 4.d3 While this is not a clear cut attempt to refute the opening, it is an attempt to draw its teeth, and create positions that a Schliemann player might not enjoy so much.
A very recent example of this occurred in the current US Championship, in a game between Sam Shankland and Timur Gareev. White played 4.d3 and then took aim at various weaknesses in Black's position. To his credit Black did get an attack going, but White 'turtled' before fighting back to reach a won ending.

Shankland,Samuel L (2661) - Gareev,Timur (2604) [C63]
US Championships 2015 St Louis, MO (7.6), 08.04.2015

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Things are bigger in Germany

While the Doeberl Cup is the biggest Australian event, it is still a little smaller than other Easter events around the World. For example, the 2015 Neckar Open attracted around 750 players, including 378 players in the top section. But apart from the size of the event, this tournament seemed to have a number of similarities with the Doeberl.
Both events were 9 round's although the Neckar schedule was slightly different. There was only 1 round on the 1st day (at 6:30pm), but after that it was 2 rounds a day (at 9am and 3pm!). The rating cutoffs were similar as well, with the A section 1800 and up, the B section Under 2000, and the C section Under 1400 (not 1600 like the Doeberl). I cannot see a prize list for the Neckar Open, but it was reported that 1st prize was 3000 Euros, which is around $4200 Aus, just a little more than Doeberl's $4000 top prize.
And the final thing they have in common, the winner of the event. Like the Doeberl the winner was a Chinese GM, in this case Li Chao, who also won the Doeberl in 2010.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Post Doeberl wind down

As one of the arbiting team for the 2015 O2C Doeberl Cup, I was pretty happy with how the event went. While numbers were down from last year, this had the benefit of making the tournament more manageable, and I hope more enjoyable for those who did play.
The new venue was a great success, with plenty of space for all participants, as well as providing on site accommodation for players. The lighting in the Great Hall does need improving and we are looking at that for next years (a row of builders lights maybe).
Even the Doeberl Lightning tournament, which I normally find causes the most trouble, ran pretty well this year. 80 odd players and only a couple of disputes at the end to slow things up meant that it was a better event that last year. For those that missed the results, IM Bobby Cheng won with 7.5/9, while a number of players tied for 2nd on 7. At the top end the GM's and IM's who played seemed to enjoy themselves, while it looked like a great experience for the players on the lower boards as well.
As an arbiter the events went pretty smoothly. There was one odd incident where a player in the Minor decided to make a phone call during his game and was surprised to find that this was not allowed. To add insult to injury (in this case losing by default), he was a queen up at the time. A couple of forfeits/withdrawals also caused problems, but in an event with 238 players this only affected a couple of games.
Planning is already underway for next year, and we are looking at ways of allowing more entrants (especially in the Major) while maintaining the comfort and ambience of the event. We are also looking at brining a strong contingent of overseas GM's to the event, in conjunction with the Ballarat Begonia tournament, which is holdings its 50 edition in 2016. And while it is early days yet, note that Easter 2016 is once again early in the year, with the tournament starting on the 24th March and finishing on the 28th.

Monday 6 April 2015

2015 O2C Doeberl Cup - Zhou wins

Chinese GM Weiqi Zhou has won the 2015 O2C Doeberl Cup, despite a last round loss to Indian GM Suriya Ganguly. Zhou played an attacking game as black, but when the smoke cleared he had sacrificed too much material and was left with Q+R against 2R and 3 minors. Ganguly quickly scored a win, which moved him into a tie for 2nd place on 7/9, alongside GM Darryl Johansen.  Tied for 4th place were GM Loek Van Wely, GM Bartlomiej Heberla and IM Igor Bjelobrk.
Zhou was the only player to go through the event undefeated No player went through the event undefeated, which shows how combative the tournament was. For the first time in a number of years no title norms were achieved either, as a number of upsets by lower rated players sabotaged the runs of various high flyers.
The Major (Under 2000) tournament saw a tie for first between David Cannon and Sarwat Rewais. Both had slow starts to the events, before running over the top of the leaders in the final round. Cannon won the Saint Memorial Trophy on countback, while Mike Duffin took home the third place trophy.
The Minor (Under 1600) was won by Zoe Harrison, half a point ahead of Oscar Herrmann, Mark Stokes and Erik Jochimsen. Harrison also picked up the Pooja Cup for best female junior in the tournament, repeating her win from last year.
This years tournament attracted 238 players across the 4 tournaments. This was down from last year, but was expected by the organisers as it was a non 'Kasparov' year. The move to the new venue (University House) proved a success as the playing areas were larger and quieter than last year, and the general surroundings seemed to fit in well with the tournament.
Full tournament results are available from You can also download a PGN file of games from the Premier. At this stage it does not contain all games (just the top boards) but will include all games in the near future.

Zhou,Weiqi - Heberla,Bartlomiej [D25]
O2C Doeberl Cup 2015 Canberra, Australia (8.1), 05.04.2015

An interesting novelty from the Doeberl

If you haven't been able to follow the games from the 2015 O2C Doeberl Cup in real time you may have missed the following game between GM Loek Van Wely and GM Bartlomiej Heberla. At first glance the idea of holding onto the extra c pawn in the QGA with b5, c6 and a6 looks like the sort of thing you see in schools chess, but Heberla happily gave up the exchange and went onto the attack. The real turning point of the game came on move 14 when Van Wely allowed Bb4+, forcing the king to go walking. After that Heberla had a strong initiative, and while Van Wely might have had better defensive move, momentum carried Heberla to victory.

Van Wely,Loek - Heberla,Bartlomiej [D20]
O2C Doeberl Cup 2015 Canberra, Australia (7.3), 05.04.2015

Sunday 5 April 2015

2015 O2C Doeberl Cup Days 3&4

After 2 tough days of play, Chinese GM Weiqi Zhou has taken an unbeatable lead in the 2015 O2C Doeberl Cup. Finishing the 2nd day on 3.5/4, Zhou scored 4 wins on the 3rd and 4th days to go into the final round on 7.5/8 He had a particularly productive day 4, beating GM's Ramesh and Herbala in successive rounds.
Tied for second place are GM's Ganguly and Johansen. Gangulay is up against thee tournament winner, while Johansen plays IM Bobby Cheng. Cheng is one of 9 players tied on 5.5, and a win over Johansen may move him into a share of 2nd place.
In the Major, Mike Duffin holds a half point lead, with 5.5/6. Close behind are David Cannon, Peter Grinyer and Rewais Sarwat, all on 5. Cannon and Duffin play on the top board tomorrow, while Grinyer and Sarwat battle it out on board 2. The Minor is lead by Zoe Harrison on 5.5/ while Oscar Herrmann and Andrew McKechine hope results go their way to give them a chance of 1st place.
Tomorrows round begins at 9:30am, with the top 6 board from the Premier being broadcast live. You can find the games at the tournament website along with crosstables and a game file from the Premier.

2015 O2C Doeberl Cup - Day 2

Day 2 of the 2015 O2C Doeberl Cup Premier saw far less upsets, but there were still some scares for the top seeds. The fact that no player has reached 4 from 4 shows how tough the tournament is, with every point and half point being fought over. After top seed GM Loek Van Wely lost to IM Gary Lane in the 2nd round, all eyes turned to GM Weiqi Zhou. However determined defence by GM Daryl Johansen in their 4th round game resulted in a draw game, and 7 players on 3.5/4
While most of the GM's made their way back to the top after earlier difficulties, GM Surya Ganguly had another hiccup, losing the Justin Tan. New Zealand FM Luke Li also had a good finish to the day, beating IM Junta Ikeda.
The day also saw 2 rounds of the Major and the Minor. Just like the Premier, both tournaments saw a significant number of upsets. In fact the top 2 boards of the major were drawn, while there were a few other results that went against rating further down.

Friday 3 April 2015

2015 O2C Doeberl Cup - Day 1

With the shift to the third new venue in 3 years, it would be interesting to see how the players reacted to the new, quieter surroundings of University House at the Australian National University. As it turned out the reaction was very positive, although it turned out that the venue gave a surprising home ground advantage to one group of players.
The 70 player Premier was headed my a group of Grandmasters, followed by some talented and ambitious IM's. But it was a group of local Canberra players who provided some of the real surprises in the early rounds. Dr Andrey Bliznyuk, who is a researcher at the ANU held third seed GM SS Ganguly to a draw. Then Fred Litchfield, a first year ANU student, upset IM Bobby Cheng. It wasn't just locals doing the damage though, with Jonas Muller from Queensland really upsetting the form guide by beating GM Zong Yaun Zhao on board 4. Indian GM RB Ramesh also had an interesting experience, being paired against his wife WGM Aarthie Ramaswamy in the first round, taking a draw in game where she was better for quite a while.
Upsets continued in the second round when the top seed, GM Loek Van Wely, was beaten by IM Gary Lane. Young Victorians Ari Dale and Jack Puccini drew with their GM opponents, Karl Zelesco beat IM Trevor Tao, and Fred Litchfield scored a second win, this time against 2395 rated Mu Ke in a tricky knight and pawns versus lots of pawns ending.
So while there are still 9 players on 2/2, only 2 of them (Zhou and Johansen) are GM's, Round 3 begins at 1pm thus afternoon, which will also see the Major (Under 2000), Minor (Under 1600) and Mini (Under 1200) start. Even if you are not playing, you can come alog and watch, as well as listen to GM Ian Roger's commentary which normally starts abut 90 minutes into each round.
Full results, games, live coverage etc can be found at

Litchfield,Fred - Cheng,Bobby [B24]
O2C Doeberl Cup Premier Canberra (1.8), 02.04.2015

Wednesday 1 April 2015

O2C Doeberl Cup 2015 - Day 0

Tomorrow sees the start of the 2015 O2C Doeberl Cup. The Premier begins at 1pm, while the second round of the day starts at 7pm. Pairings for the first round of the Premier can be found at
At the close of entries there were 70 players in the Premier. There are 7 GM's, 9 IM's, 1 WGM and 4 WIM's. Although the tournament fell short of the 20 OS/ 10 GM/IM players required to waive the local federation rule, there are enough overseas players at the top of the event to make title norms a real possibility. Of course players need to perform at the 2500/2600 level, but if they are playing that well then their opponents are likely to come from the OS contingent.
For spectators in Canberra, fell free to drop in. As well as the Premier, there will be a book stall, and the new venue (University House, ANU) is well served by the downstairs bar and bistro. GM Ian Rogers will be doing coverage of the games at the venue as an added bonus. If you can't make it to Canberra, the check out the Doeberl Cup website for live broadcasts of the top boards from the Premier.

The Hatfields and the McCoys

Next month sees two important chess events, played quite close to each other, but at the some time, also in competition with each other. The 2015 World Team Championship is being held in Tsakhkazdor, Armenia, from the 18th to the 29th of April. This is round robin event comprising of representatives from each FIDE Continent, plus the top placed teams from the Olympiad. It is a tough event, as an all play all, and certainly a harder event than the Olympiad.
A short distance away, the Shamkir Chess Fectival, including the Gashmov Memorial, is being held in Shamkir, Azerbaijan, from the 16th to the 26th of April. It is a 10 player round robin and has Carlsen, Kramnik, Anand, and Caruana as part of the field.
While clashes are inevitable on the chess calendar, the timing of these two events seem to be part of the ongoing friction between the Armenian and Azernaijani governments, using chess a a proxy battleground. In fact the Azerbaijani team had qualified for the World Teams event, but declined their invitation, while it is still not clear if Armenia will play in the 2016 Baku Olympiad. Despite the various conciliatory words I have heard from both Federations regarding such clashes, I suspect it may be a long time before genuine conciliation is achieved, and that if it is, it is under the umbrella of a broader political solution to the dispute between the two countries.