Thursday 31 December 2015

In my 50th year

Once the clock strikes midnight, I become eligible for a new category of competition. 2016 is the year I turn 50 and as a consequence I am able to play in Seniors competitions. Under the FIDE regulations there is no requirement for me to actually be 50, just to turn 50 in the year that the competition takes place. Whether I take up this opportunity in the near term has more to do with how busy I am, but it is nice to have more competitions available to play in, especially international ones.

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Fantastic Computer Chess resources

If you are a programmer looking for literature on computer chess, then the Springer publishing company have just released a small treasurer trove for you. It seems that they have decided to drop the price of their electronic publications to $0.00 for titles published over 10 years ago.
Doing a quick search for chess I found a number of important Computer Chess titles including "Chess Skill in Man and Machine" and the "Computer Chess Compendium" and some newer titles (for me at least) like "Scalable Search in Computer Chess". Apart from the chess titles, there are publications that cover a lot of areas, and after I am done with chess, I will probably dive into the Number Theory section.
To find the books go to and search for Chess (or any other topic of interest). Books that you still have to pay for have a little padlock symbol on them but otherwise you can juts click on the download link and get them for free
(Thanks to Arjang Assadi for alerting me to this)

If you have lots of boards

As an intellectual exercise, I find chess variants interesting. Some work, some don't, but it is still interesting to see what can be done with 32 pieces and 64 squares. Or more.
As a practical exercise I am less of a fan though. Probably because I find standard chess hard enough, and often think that variants are just a way of making the game easier (cf a recent post of mine). The variants I really don't like are the ones where multiple sets get used and at the end of the session the sets are totally mixed up.
This of course can be dealt with by playing online or on a PC/tablet. While hunting around Steam to see what was on offer, I came across a game that might work on computer, but I would outright ban at my chess club. Regimental Chess involves multiple sets and multiple boards. It even involves multiple players in some versions, but 1v1 is the default case. It looks like normal chess (from what I have seen) except that groups of pieces can be moved in formation, and capture multiple pieces. Kings can be captured, and doing so knocks out that entire army.
It looks like a fun game (and too be honest might work as a party game irl), but is probably best experienced on a PC. The complexity of managing formations may be the hardest thing about it, but on the other hand, may also destroy the balance.

Monday 28 December 2015

Hastings 2015-2016

There are more than a few big events starting post-Christmas, including the Australian Championships, New Zealand Open, and of course the Hastings International. While not quite as grand as its glory days (no GM RR anymore), Hastings is still a significant and historic event. This years 81 player Masters has attracted 13 GM's and 10 IM's, so players looking for titles are in with a decent chance (assuming they play well).
The tournament begins this evening (Canberra time) and details can be found at the tournament website. Along with results etc, the top boards are also being broadcast via the Live Games link.

To get to 2000 you have to play 2000's

GM Ian Rogers gives the advice to players trying to reach a rating of 2000. "Try and play as many 2000+ rated players as possible". This advice could of course be extended to any level, including players aiming to become 2600.
IM Moulthun Ly is certainly making the most of his experience at the 2015 Qatar Masters, having played 3 2600+ players in the first 7 rounds. After losing to the first 2, he played a lovely attack against GM Daniil Dubov (2655) to win his round 7 game. This moves him to 4/7 overall, and gets him another strong opponent (GM Denis Khismatullin 2654) in round 8.

Ly,Moulthun (2462) - Dubov,Daniil (2655) [B69]
Qatar Masters Open 2015 Doha QAT (7.29), 27.12.2015

Sunday 27 December 2015

What would make chess easier? (And would it ruin the game?)

I have been spending my Xmas break watching far too much television. On one of the shows, "8 out of 10 cats", there was a survey statistic quoted about what would make chess more enjoyable. Apparently 68% of the respondents replied "If it was easier".
I'm not sure about the source and accuracy of this response (as it is a comedy panel show), just as I'm not sure exactly what would make chess easier. Do the respondents mean that they find it easier to play better, or do they mean that the rules should be changed to make it easier.
If it is the first case the obvious solution is to simply let everyone use computers. But I'm sure this would make the game less enjoyable, as we would would be reduced to typists, transferring moves from board to screen and back.
If it is about changing the rules of the game, then I can't think what might help. Reduce the size of the board is a possibility (6x6 dropping a knight and bishop). The risk though is that a change like this increase the number of drawn games. The same outcome might occur of we under power (or over power) the pieces (eg pieces can move a max of 4 squares).
Indeed the more I think of this the more I wonder if what the respondents really meant is for chess to be easier for them, but for no one else. If so, the best solution I can think of is good old fashioned hard work!

Friday 25 December 2015

Beast Mode

After his slow star in the 2015 Qatar Masters, Magnus Carlsen has gone full 'beast mode' and now leads the event after 5 rounds. After playing a few opponents who could be described as 'unfamiliar' he came up against his first 2700+ player in round 5, in the shape of Li Chao (a former Doeberl Cup winner btw). As there was only an 84 rating point difference between the two players, it might have been plausible for Chao to draw the game, or even cause an upset. However Carlsen seemed quite determined to not let that happen, and basically tore him apart on the kingside. As with games that involve opposite side castling, pawns and pieces tend to rush up the board, but Carlsen's attack carried a lot more force.  He was clearly better by move 20, and totally winning a few moves later.
The win moved him into a half point lead over a group of 8 players. Tonight there is no play, but in tomorrows round he will be up against Wesley So.

Carlsen,Magnus (2834) - Li,Chao b (2750) [D70]
Qatar Masters Open 2015 Doha QAT (5.1), 24.12.2015

Thursday 24 December 2015

Nigalidze banned for 3 years, loses GM Title

Gaioz Nigalidze, famously caught using a mobile phone to assist his play in the 2015 Dubai Open has been banned from all FIDE controlled chess for 3 years, and has been stripped of his GM title. The decision by the FIDE Ethics Commission is the first case heard under the new FIDE Anti-Cheating Regulations, that were adopted late last year.
As a first (proven) offence the 3 year penalty is the maximum under the guidelines, although the loss of title is probably a little bit more surprising to anyone unfamiliar with the new regulations. It is included in the list of punishments, although Nigalidze was a little lucky that the Ethics Commission felt he co-operated with the investigation, as he has kept his IM title (which could have been stripped as well).
As the first major case, this will of course provoke a degree of discussion on the appropriateness or effectiveness of the punishment. I suspect for top level players the loss of title is likely to be the greater deterrent, along with the ensuing bad publicity. For lower ranked players (those without titles), it is the length of suspension that will obviously hurt.
The FIDE website has the story here, including a link to the EC judgement.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

It is tough at the top

After 3 rounds of the 2015 Qatar Masters, only 2 players are left on a perfect score. Anish Giri and Li Chao have won all their games, and play in tonight's 4th round. As for the other players in the field, points and half points have been dropped in various ways.
The first round saw two interesting results on the top boards. World Champion Magnus Carlsen drew with WGM Nino Batsiashvili in a game where Batsiashvili made Carlsen work hard for the draw. Wei Yi had a nightmare finish to his game against IM Shardul Gagare, resigning in a position where he could have still played on. Round 2 saw Vladimir Kramnik draw with GM Kacper Piorun on board 1, while round 3 saw a number of draws, including GM David Howell halving the point with Wesley So.
Of the top players, Anish Giri looks in good form (continuing his run from the London Chess Classic) and beat Radoslaw Wojtaszek in a game that had a nice finish. Normally the ending sees rooks at their strongest, but with the very clever 60.Bd7, Giri reduced the mobility of his opponents rook almost to zero, and forced an immediate resignation.

Giri,Anish (2784) - Wojtaszek,Radoslaw (2723) [B91]
Qatar Masters Open 2015 Doha QAT (3.1), 22.12.2015

Monday 21 December 2015

Izzat wins Australasian Masters

IM Kanan Izzat waited until the final round before overtaking IM Max Illingworth to win the 2015 Australasian Masters. Benefitting from the slightly easier run home, Izzat defeated FM Luke Li in Round 8 to secure a GM norm, before finishing with a quick last round draw with IM James Morris. Illingworth drew his round 8 game against Vasily Papin to reach 7/8, but a final round loss to top seed Arturs Neiksans allowed Izzat to win the tournament with 7.5. Neiksans finished in3rd place on 6.5, with Morris in 4th on 5.5.
In the IM event, IM Igor Bjelobrk destroyed the field, scoring 8.5/9, finishing 3 points ahead of FM Chris Wallis and FM Eugene Schon who tied for 2nd on 5.5.
Full results and tournament bulletins can be found at the tournament website.

2015 Qatar Masters

The strongest Swiss of the year (and maybe even ever) has just started in Qatar. The 2015 Qatar Masters has World Champion Magnus Carlsen as top seed, with Vladimir Kramnik, Anish Giri, Wesley So and Sergey Karjakin filling the next 4 slots. The bottom half of the 132 player field starts at 2500, and includes IM Moulthun Ly from Australia, who is seeded 83rd.
Play begins at 11pm Canberra time, and live coverage is available via Ly has drawn Ruslan Ponomariov as his round 1 opponent, on Board 17. The tournament runs from today until the 29th of December, with the 25th being a rest day.

Sunday 20 December 2015

IM Junta Ikeda wins 2015 ACTCA Rapidplay Championship

The 2015 ACTCA Rapidplay Championship attracted a record field of 42 players, with IM Junta Ikeda once again emerging victorious. This is his 5 victory  in the last 7 years, winning from 2009-2012 plus this year (he did not play in 2013-14).
Despite the 36 degree heat the field was both sizeable and strong. Apart from Ikeda, Michael Kethro and Roger Farrell were rated over 2100, while a number of rapid chess veterans filled out the top half of the tournament. However Ikeda was unstoppable, scoring 7/7 in a dominant display. This left a very tight battle for second place, which was decided in the final game of the tournament, with Matthew Bennett and Willis Lo drawing their game and finishing on 5.5/7. A number of strong players finished on 5, which was only good enough for rating prizes. Probably the best performer based on rating was WFM Megan Setiabudi, who started with 4/4 and finished on 5/7. Surprisingly for an event like this, the various rating prizes were evenly split between juniors and adults, rather than going exclusively to the younger players.
Due to the generous sponsorship of King O'Malley's and Chicken Gourmet, the total prize pool was $500.  Apart from open prizes there were 4 other rating groups, and each section was hard fought. The large field reflected what has been a good year for ACT Chess, beginning with a record turn out for the 2015 Australian Junior Championship, successful events like the O2C Doeberl Cup, the ANU Open and the Vikings Weekender, plus well attended ACTCA activities.
The first official ACTCA event in the new year will be the ACT Lightning Championship which will be held mid January.

Friday 18 December 2015

Illingworth scores final GM norm

IM Max Illingworth has scored his 3rd Grandmaster norm, after beating IM James Morris in the 7th round of the 2015 Australasian Masters. The win by Illingworth moves him to 6.5/7 and he currently has a TPR of over 2800. With Illingworth playing GM's Papin and Neiksans in the last two rounds interest now turns to see if he can hang on to first place.
His closest rival is another GM aspirant, IM Kanan Izzat. Izzat also won today and only needs 0.5/2 to secure a GM norm. He also has a slightly easier run to the finish, facing IM's Dale and Morris in the final two rounds.
In the IM tournament that is running alongside the Masters, IM Igor Bjelobrk is dominating the event, starting with 7 straight wins. He holds a 2 point lead over FM Chris Wallis, and with 2 rounds to play, looks like a certainty to win this event.

Morris,James (2407) - Illingworth,Max (2499) [D38]
2015 Australasian Masters GM Norm Event Melbourne Chess Club (7.2), 18.12.2015

Thursday 17 December 2015

2015 ACTCA Rapidplay

The last official ACT Chess Association event, the 2015 ACTCA Rapidplay Championship is on this Saturday in Canberra City. It is being hosted by Street Chess and is a 7 round G15m Open swiss. Over the years this event has proved popular, with a number of strong ACT players playing in this traditional pre-Christmas event.

Details are:

Event: ACTCA Rapidplay Championship
Time & Date: 11am Saturday 19th December 2015 (registrations from 10:45 am)
Venue: City Walk, Canberra City (outside King O'Malley's)
Entry Fee: $10 Adults, $5 Under 18 years
Prizes: At least $350 in total prizes with first prize usually $120+
Format: 7 round swiss
Time limit: G15m
Arbiter: IA Shaun Press

The Force Awakens

Missed last nights post as I was off to a midnight screening of the new Star Wars movie. Quite enjoyable, although it was bit of a homage to the original. Of interest to chess nerds, there was a brief appearance of the holographic chess game on the Millennium Falcon, although it was all over in 10 seconds.

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Lost on move 6!

Another salutary lesson about the perils of non-engine Correspondence Chess.
As one of my reasons for playing CC is to work on my openings, I am using the Leningrad Dutch against 1.d4 in a number of games. Clearly my opponent was up for some fun, as on move 4 he threw his h pawn up the board. Now this is certainly dangerous for Black, but most of my references seemed to indicate that it isn't impossible to meet (otherwise huge chunks of the Dutch would be out of commission). I also checked the line in HugeBase and found there was one line that looked good for Black.
So on move 6 I played the recommended e6, which had been used by Movsziszian among others, and seemed to be OK for Black. In fact I only lasted another 8 moves, as the roof fell in after 12.Be7+ and 13.O-O-O
After I resigned the game I fired up Stockfish, only to discover that 6. ... e6 was in fact a blunder and White is winning from this point onwards. While I thought I was OK up until move 11 (Be7+ was the first new move in the database), my opponent saw a lot further than me.
Of course one take away from this game is that this might be a useful variation to try if you have the White pieces against the Leningrad Dutch, as the trap takes a little while to spring, and there may be plenty of Black players waiting to fall into it.

Gibbons,Andrew - Press,Shaun [A85]
Aus v Wales, 13.10.2015

Monday 14 December 2015

We must have a winner

Tie-break systems are fraught with difficulties, and there is often no good way to separate players who finish on the same scores. The latest example of this is the finish to the London Chess Classic, where tie-breaks were used to determine both the playoff seedings, and the final standings to the Grand Chess Tour.
In the final round Magnus Carlsen beat Alexander Grischuk, after Grischuk missed a strong exchange sacrifice and then found a terrible rook sacrifice a few moves later. With the other 4 games drawn, Carlsen caught up to Giri and Vachier-Lagrave, to share first place on 5.5/9. The win for Carlsen was doubly fortuitous as Grishuk had scored more points than the players beaten by Giri and MVL, and so Carlsen finished on top with a better SB score (the first two tie-breaks being equal).
As the regulations required a playoff, Carlsen also got to watch MVL and Giri battle it out, before playing the winner. Vachier-Lagrave beat Giri 2-1 but then lost to Carlsen 1.5-0.5.
Now here's where it gets weird. The Grand Chess Tour regulations also award the finishing points based on tie-break as well, so Carlsen scored the maximum points (12) and won the overall event. Having beaten Giri in the playoff it might be assumed that Vachier-Lagrave would have finished 2nd, but the playoff was only for the London prizes (not placings!) and so Giri score 10 points and Vachier-Lagrave 8. This relegated MVL to 4th place in the overall standings (instead of =2nd if he swapped points with Giri), and also means he doesn't qualify for next years series (only the top 3 automatically re-qualify, with the next 6 places being based on rating).
If on the other hand the finishing places had simply been shared for players who finished on the same scores in each event (which is especially sensible in a RR), then the standings would have been both different, and probably fairer.

Sunday 13 December 2015

Moving the same piece 6 times in the opening

I'm not convinced chess is entirely fair. Sure both sides start with the same pieces, and play by the same rules, but all to often, my logical, sensible play gets refuted by seemingly random and bizarre moves by my stronger opponent.
So I was gladdened to see that Aronian Topalov game from round 7 of the London Chess Classic. Topalov played a strange (but by no means unknown) line of the Symmetrical English, where his knight moves 6 times before move 10. The logic behind this is the disrupt the White king, forcing it to move a couple of times, and preventing White from castling. Of course if I was showing this to a class of juniors I'd be waving my hands around at this point saying "and White wins", when of course this isn't quite true. White had a slight advantage, but it still took some energetic play from Aronian (and a pawn sacrifice) to convert. If you had to point the finger at any one move, then 20 ... Rd8 is the real culprit, allowing White to win the pawn on g5 and establish his queen on a strong square. After that it was all pretty straightforward for Aronian, and Topalov resigned  just before his position was about to get wrecked by an exchange sac on c6.

Aronian,Levon - Topalov,Veselin [A34]
London Chess Classic Olympia, London (7.5), 11.12.2015

Saturday 12 December 2015

2015 Australasian Masters begins with a bang

The 2015 Australasian Masters began today and the first round provided enough action to keep all the spectators happy. Four of the 5 games produced a winner, and there were a number of upsets as well.
The stand out game of the first round was IM James Morris win over GM Vasily Papin. Morris's exchange sacrifice on move 13 might not have been completely sound, but Papin missed the strongest defence and Morris was able to sacrifice more material to expose Papin's king and leave him facing mate in 1 by move 28.
IM Max Illingworth beat GM Daryl Johansen in the longest game of the round, where Johansen's knight could not hold back Illingworth's pawns. FM Luke Li defended well to draw with GM Arturs Neiksans, and IM Bobby Cheng sacrificed two exchanges to force a pawn promotion against IM Ari Dale. IM Kanan Izzat also started with a win, beating IM Anton Smirnov, in a game we held an edge for quite a long period.
Coverage of the event is at and contains links to live broadcasts of the games.

Morris,James - Papin,Vasily [B30]
2015 Australasian Masters, 12.12.2015

Partner Up

The annual ACT Junior Chess League Transfer Championship is on this Sunday (13 December) starting at 12:30pm. Although organised by the ACTJCL it is in fact open to players of all ages. You can either form a team prior to registration, or just turn up on the day and find a partner there and then. Cost is $20 per team ($10 for individuals) and there are trophies on offer for successful teams (plus rating categories) as well as such novelty categories as best adult team, oldest team, best sibling team, and anything that springs to mind.
Standard Transfer (Bughouse) rules apply, although there will be some leeway for players and teams who are new to this chaos.
The event is at Campbell High School (next to the War Memorial) and registration is from Noon. At the completion of the event there will be both prize giving, and free pizza for everyone who takes part.

Friday 11 December 2015

Risk free play?

Someone at my chess club asked me who was winning the current London Chess Classic after round 5. "Whoever has played Topalov" was my flippant reply. To this answer I can probably add Anand's name, as between them they have been involved in all the decisive games so far.
The current win rate of 16% (5 from 30) is extremely low and already discussions about why this is so have started. Probably the most popular theory is that all the players are so close together in strength that risk-free play is the optimal strategy. Of course the downside of this is that if neither player takes a risk, then a draw is the likely outcome.
This theory seems to be supported by what happened in the Grischuk - Anand game today. If you look at the position after move 22 you might think that Anand was on top. However there is a difference between dynamic features and static features, and after the exchanges on f3, it is the Black c pawn that is the real target in the position. White's bishop is out of play on h1, but this is only a short term disadvantage, and after a further 20 moves, White repairs his position, and then converts the ending.
So Anand may have tried to mix things up with his kingside play, but this came to naught, as Grischuk was able to weaken the c pawn as far back as move 12, before defending for as long as necessary. 

Grischuk,Alexander - Anand,Viswanathan [A20]
London Chess Classic Olympia, London (6.1), 10.12.2015

Wednesday 9 December 2015

2016 Doeberl Cup - Registrations Open

Registrations for the 2016 Doeberl Cup are now open. With Easter being very early next year (24-28 March) there isn't as much time to get organised as usual. So rather than leaving it to the last minute and missing out on accommodation etc, better to register now and put those worries behind you.
Once again the tournament will be held at University House on the grounds of the Australian National University and there is accommodation on site. This proved very popular this year, so booking early is recommended.
Once again the prize pool is over $20,000 with $4000 on offer as first prize in the Premier. Early entries include GM's Ganguly and Johansen, but expect a few big names to be announced over the coming months.
All the tournament details can be found at  There you can enter the tournament, check out who else as entered, try for free entry by entering the T-Shirt competition, or subscribe to the tournament newsletter.

(Disclaimer: I will be a paid official for this event)

Aussies abroad

One of the great things about the London Chess Classic is that the organisers put on a large number of subsidiary events that caters for almost every level of chess player. There is a FIDE Open Swiss, which would normally be a headline event on its own, given the field of 247 players contains 28 GM's and 34 IM's. There was a successful Weekend Swiss event as well, run over a number of grading sections. The weekday swiss has also attracted a sizeable field, while the Rapidplay event at the end will probably have a couple of hundred players taking part.
In amongst these events are a number of Australian players. In the Open, Pengyu Chen is on 3/5, with Yi Liu on 2.5 and Emma Guo on 2. Chris Skulte and Derek Roebuck took part in the Weekend Under 2000 event, with Skulte finishing on 3/5. And finally Stephen Jago is playing in the Weekday Under 2000 event, which began last night.

Monday 7 December 2015

Kirsan steps (slightly) aside

After a week of silence over the US Treasury sanctions concerning FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the FIDE website finally makes mention of it. The short of it, is that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has withdrawn from any "legal, financial and business operations of FIDE" and has authorised Georgios Makropoulos (FIDE Deputy President) to carry out the functions of President.
In the statement FIDE say that Ilyumzhinov will stand down until his name is removed from the sanction list,   which I suspect will be a lot longer than he imagines it will be.
In terms of how this effects FIDE itself (or more importantly, FIDE governance), probably not at all. Makropoulos pretty much runs FIDE on a day to day basis anyway, with Kirsan mainly being responsible for "blue sky" ideas and securing funding for FIDE events in the old Soviet Bloc.  As the actual sanctions simply prevent US citizens from having any financial dealing with Ilyumzhinov, this is less of an earth shattering change, and more of a move to allow FIDE to legally do business with the US.
Where this might end up being a more permanent change is in the context of the Russia - Turkey dispute over who is buying and selling ISIS oil. Turkey has made mention of the involvement Russian "chess champions" in their claims about Russia, although it is assumed that they are referring to Ilyumzhinov. It may well have been politically convenient for Kirsan to assist the Syrian government at some point in the past viz-a-viz oil supplies, but it may now turn out to be an embarrassment to the Russian government, and if it is, they may try and argue they had no knowledge themselves, and cut him loose.

(** Full disclaimer: I have worked on a number of FIDE commissions in the past, and know a number of members of the FIDE Presidential Board and Executive. However this working relationship ended in August 2014 after the FIDE Elections, as a consequence of me refusing to commit the PNG Chess Federations vote to Ilyumzhinov. I was asked to do this by a senior FIDE official in March 2014 and when I informed him that it was a decision for the entire PNGCF board, he said to me "If the PNGCF does not vote for Kirsan, then it will not be good for you". Despite being re-nominated for the commissions I was previously on, I was not appointed to any of them **)

Sunday 6 December 2015

Know when to hold them

Despite the recurring hoo hah about draws in chess, there is a certain appeal to games that end in "exciting" draws. By "exciting" I mean positions where won side is materially losing or facing imminent death, except for that one drawing resource they have.
Of course for the experienced professional a draw is a draw, no matter how its achieved, and what may be flashy to the spectators is simply a means to an end for the players.
Round 2 of the London Chess Classic saw all the games drawn, but at least in the Carlsen v Caruana game, the rather dry play out of the opening was somewhat redeemed by the last few moves.

Carlsen,Magnus - Caruana,Fabiano [C67]
London Chess Classic Olympia, London (2.4), 05.12.2015

Saturday 5 December 2015

When does the ending start?

While the start point of openings is pretty straightforward (Move 1!) and the middlegame starts when your memorisation of opening theory runs out, the start point of an ending can be a little trickier. When I was writing chess engines (which evaluate positions differently in the ending), I had an arbitrary rule that the ending started when there was less than a Q+R in material (excluding pawns) for each side. The other possible definitions include "when pawn promotion becomes a goal" or "when the king can move about without the risk of getting checkmated".
It is the last definition that I use most often when coaching. Of course it does depend upon on recognising all the threats in the position, and there are plenty of endings that have ended in checkmate.
A kind of counter-example (in a different sense) turned up from last nights first round of the London Chess Classic (the reason why this post is late btw). The Grischuk - Nakamura game started off with a Berlin Defence to the Ruy Lopez (which is an opening known for a quick transition to an ending). On move 18 Grischuk decided that the king could be used as a fighting piece and moved it up the board. This was a brave decision as there were still plenty of pieces on the board (2R+3 minors each), and it was no surprise that found itself surrounded 10 moves later. However Grischuk had just enough the avoid getting mated and in the end Nakamrua had a repetition but no more.

Grischuk,Alexander - Nakamura,Hikaru [C67]
London Chess Classic Olympia, London (1.5), 04.12.2015

Thursday 3 December 2015

Poor AN Other

Flipping through some of my old games I came across a game I seemingly played against a very famous, and very prolific opponent. The opponent in question was AN Other, the hero of many a spectacular loss, often at the hands of some of chess's greatest players. And in the game we played he certainly lived up to his reputation, allowing me to sacrifice a piece for a a winning attack.
At first I wasn't sure why I Mr Other deigned to play me, but digging a little further I realised that it was played outdoors in Garema Place Canberra, and he just happened to be wandering by the giant chess board. The other interesting facts about this game was that it was played on my birthday, and it was in fact one of two games he lost to me (The other is noted here)

Press,Shaun - Other,A.N. [C33]
Casual, 09.10.2009

London Chess Classic

The 2015 London Chess Classic is already up and running as I type this, although the main event (the 10 player RR) does not begin until Friday. Today is the 2nd day of the British Knockout Championship, with David Howell up against Gawain Jones and Nicholas Pert playing Luke McShane. There is also a 9 round FIDE Rated Open, as well as  rapidplay's, simuls and other events.
Also of interest is the Chess and Education Conference which is being held on the 5th & 6th of December. John Adams (from Australia) is presenting a paper at this conference, looking at the direct economic benefits that chess can bring to a country.
The home page for the tournament is and from there you can find all the tournament goodies.

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Some big improvement

The release of the 2015 December Australian Ratings threw up a somewhat remarkable occurrence. On the list of most improved players there were 8 players (out of 30), all from the one club. The Belconnen Chess Club recently became a bit of a mecca for improving juniors, and this is now being shown on the rating list.
To be absolutely honest,  in a lot of cases the players who joined the club were already on the improve, and would have jumped up the list anyway. But there are also some players (with higher ratings) who's improvement has been helped by the step up in competition. Of course the trade off for the club is that some existing members ratings have taken a bit of a hit, although this hasn't been too drastic (due to the use of the Glicko 2 System in Australia).
So congratulations to the young Belconnen members for their improvement, and it will be interesting to see how far this improvement extends.