Thursday 31 March 2016

What to do with KxK?

In blitz chess both the legality and ethics of KxK has long been debated. Of course under recent rule changes KxK now does not happen, but moving the king next to your opponents king and hoping they don't notice still can.
This was exactly the situation that occurred during the Doeberl Blitz on Saturday night, and having made a pretty clear ruling, I felt it important enough to share.
In the game in question the player with the White pieces was winning over the board, having run a passed pawn down to the 7th rank. Both players were short of time (a few seconds for each left) and Black had not chased the pawn with his king, but had kept in the middle of the board. When the White pawn reached the 7th rank, Black moved his king next to his opponents. Not noticing, White promoted, and Black claimed the game.
Due to some clock trouble earlier in the game, this was the last game to finish, and one that I was watching (in case of further clock trouble). Despite Black's claim, I had no hesitation in awarding the game to White. This was for one specific reason, and one general reason. The specific reason was that the Kings standing next to each other was clear evidence that an initial illegal move had been played, and the evidence showed that Black had played it. But, but, but you might say. Doesn't the rules say that White has to claim? And this is where the more general principle comes in. The Laws of Chess are there to protect players who follow the rules, not reward players who break them. In fact this issue was discussed during my time on the FIDE Rules Commision, and my ruling was consistent with that discussion. Again you may ask, why did we not add a rule to cover this situation? Because the Laws of Chess are written on the assumption that players will follow them, not break them. If they had to cover every possible irregularity and potential illegality, then they would be thicker than your phone book.
Of course some people will disagree with my ruling (including the player with the Black pieces) but I hope that it is clear that the ruling was a fair one, in an ethical sense.

(**Update: There is some additional discussion/information about this ruling in the comments section **)

The decisive game

In Australian Rules Football, the third quarter of the game is known as the 'Premiership Quarter'. This is where titles are won and lost, at least in theory, and every Grand Final this phrase makes an appearance.
The logic behind this is that if you take the lead at this stage, your opponent only has a limited time to catch up. This is also true in chess, although I suspect it is easier to blow a lead in chess than it is in football. In a nine round event Game 7 can often be the key game (especially in a large field) where a win on the top board puts a player out in front, and every one else scrambling to catch up. It is often the last round where the closest challengers play, leaving the leader with a slightly easier set of games to finish.
This was certainly the case in this years Doeberl Cup when James Morris sat down against GM Hrant Melkumyan. By winning this game Morris took a clear lead in the tournament, and pulled ahead of the top seeds. Having played most of them already, he had a slightly easier run home, and the 1.5/2 finish was enough for outright first.

Melkumyan,Hrant - Morris,James [E07]
O2C Doeberl Cup Open Canberra (7.1), 27.03.2016

Wednesday 30 March 2016

Karjakin wins Candidates - My predictions fail

Sergey Karjakin will play Magnus Carlsen in the 2016 World Championship Match after beating Fabiano Caruana in the final round of the Candidates Tournament. In a winner take all match Karjakin seized on an error by Caruana close to the first time control and sacrificed a rook for a devastating attack. It was all over a few moves later, with Karjakin outright first on 8.5/14. Caruana finished tied for second place with Viswanathan Annad, on 7.5
The other interest in the final round was seeing if Anish Giri could go through the event with 14 straight draws. He did this by drawing with Topalov, although the fact that he was the only unbeaten player in the tournament is probably not as special as it should be.
As for my pre tournament predictions, I got Karjakin very wrong (he was in my bottom 3). I did have Caruana and Anand as possible winners, but I also thought Topalov and Nakamura were in with a chance (they were struggling from the start). My other potential winner, Lev Aronian did start well, but fell away at the end.
Although it is a long way out I feel that Carlsen will retain his title against Karjakin. However it may be a matter of motivation and preparation, and Karjakin may hold the edge in both categories.

Karjakin,Sergey (2760) - Caruana,Fabiano (2794) [B67]
FIDE Candidates 2016 Moscow RUS (14.4), 28.03.2016

Tuesday 29 March 2016

IM James Morris wins 2016 O2C Doeberl Cup

IM James Morris is the winner of the 2016 O2C Doeberl Cup, after drawing his round 9 game with IM Anton Smirnov. Although Morris was only half a point ahead of GM Surya Ganguly at the start of the round, a draw between Ganguly and GM Zong Yuan Zhao cleared the way for a similar result between Morris and Smirnov. The win by Morris halted the run of overseas victors (after 9 years), although the lack of overseas players crueled his chance for a GM norm. His performance rating of 2689 was well above the required 2600, but he fell one short of the number of overseas players. A similar fate befell FM Jack Puccini, who would have scored an IM norm, but for the same problems.
GM Hrant Melkumyan tied for second with Ganguly, grinding down IM Igor Bjelobrk in the last game to finish. The win for Melkumyan was especially profitable as he was the only player to qualify for a share of the Fighting Fund bonus prize, and so pocketed the entire $1000.
The Major (Under 2000) section was won by David Cannon with 6/7, ahead of a big group of players on 5.5. The Minor was won by Mark Stokes who beat CM Bill Egan in the final round to finish on 6.5/7.
Full results can be found at and there will be a larger collection of games upload to the site in the next day or two.

Monday 28 March 2016

2016 O2C Doeberl Cup - Day 4

IM James Morris looks well placed to win his first O2C Doeberl Cup after scoring 2 wins in rounds 7 & 8. He now leads the event with 7/8, half a point ahead of GM Surya Ganguly, who he drew with in Round 4. Standing in his way in round 9 is IM Anton Smirnov, who lead the event early, but is now on 6. Ganguly is up against GM ong Yuan Zhao on board 2, while GM Hrant Melkuyan and IM Igor Bjelobrk play on the third board.
Despite Morris' stellar performance, a GM norm is out of reach due to the lack of foreign players in his field. He has only played 3, rather than the required 4, and so the norm does not count. His chances were not helped by the withdrawal of IM Kanan Izzat (AZE), who decided not to continue playing after his round 6 loss to WIM Heather Richards. Richards herself is also having a strong event, scoring 4.5/8 and 2/4 against the IM's she has played.
Today's round starts at 9:30am and you can follow the action through the tournament website

Sunday 27 March 2016

2016 O2C Doeberl Cup - Day 3

Day 3 of the Doeberl Cup is certainly the toughest day each year. There is a shift from afternoon and evening round to morning and afternoon round, which means a 9:30am start (although only 1 player was caught out this year). The there is the traditional Saturday night Blitz event, which this year attracted a field of 116 players. So a pretty solid 13 hours of chess, with the odd little break in between.
In the main event IM Anton Smirnov had two drawn games, allowing GM Hrant Melkumyan and IM James Morris to catch up. In behind the top 3 are GM Surya Ganguly, GM Zong Yuan Zhao, and IM Gary Lane. Tomorros round sees Melumyan and Morris play while Smirnov starts the day with Ganguly.
In the Major event (Under 2000) Jesson Montenegro leades with 4/4, although the pack on 3.5 is quite large. In the Minor (Under 1600) three players still have perfect scores, Hamish Jones, Alsitair McCutcheon and David Unger.
By the end of tomorrow, it should be a lot clearer who the likely winners of each event should be, although the minor events often throw up a surprise or two on the way. Tournament results/standings and live broadcasts can be found at the tournament website, and all the action begins tomorrow at 9:30 am.

Saturday 26 March 2016

2016 O2C Doeberl Cup - Day 2

IM Anton Smirnov leads the 2016 O2C Doeberl Cup after 4 rounds, with 4 wins from as many games. He defeated IM's Igot Bjelobrk and Gary Lane to hold a half point lead over GM Surya Ganguly, GM Hrant Melkumyan, GM Zong Yuan Zhao and IM James Morris. Melkumyan beat GM Daryl Johansen in round 4, Zhao beat IM Trevor Tao, while Ganguly and Morris drew a game that went down to a drawn Knight v Pawn final position.
Tomorrow sees Smirnov take on Zhao, while Gangulay and Melkumyan play on the second board. Action starts at 9:30 am (10am for the broadcast), with the afternoon round starting at 3:30

Friday 25 March 2016

2016 O2C Doeberl Cup - Day 1

The first day of the 2016 O2C Doeberl Cup saw the first 2 rounds of the Premier, and there was plenty of excitement for the spectators. While  the first round went mainly to seeding (apart from a couple of draws for the higher seeded players), Round 2 saw some more dramatic results. Top seed GM Hrant Melkumyan was held to a draw by FM Luke Li, as was GM Zong Yuan Zhao, against FM Chris Wallis. A worse fate was to befall IM Max Illingworth, who lost to FM Tristan Boyd, leaving GM Surya Ganguly to hold the fort against the lower seed pack, with a win over IM Aleks Wohl.
Players in the next seeding bracket did a little better, and as a result there are still 9 players on 2/2. Included in this group are young players Smirnov, Morris, Wallis and Ikeda, while veterans Lane and Chapman are also there. Results for the event can be found at and if you follow this liks to the live games you can even catch up with the games that were broadcast for round 1.
On player who possibly falls between the young/veteran groupings is IM Trevor Tao. He is currently os 1.5, but he was so pleased with his round 1 game, he submitted ot for the brilliancy prize. Sadly the event does not have such a prize, but I did promise him I would put it on this blog.

Tao,Trevor - Soo-Burrowes,Eliot [D00]
O2C Doeberl Cup Open Canberra (1.13), 24.03.2016

Wednesday 23 March 2016

2016 O2C Doeberl Cup - Day 0

The 2016 O2C Doeberl Cup officially begins tomorrow, but the first tournament of the Easter weekend actually took place this evening. The ANU Chess Club organised the pre-Doeberl Lightning tournament, which attracted a solid field of 25 players. Top seed was GM Hrant Melkumyan, who dominated the event with 9 wins from 9 games. His win over IM Max Illingworth in round 4  was the key result for the tournament, and he kept that full point lead over Illingworth all the way to the end. A trio of Canberra players tied for third place, with Victor Braguine, Eugene Konovalov and Mus Banu all scoring 6.
While there were no prizes in the fun event, the win my Melkumyan entitled him to pick his first round colour for the main event. He duly chose white, meaning the players with odd seeding numbers also get White. Full pairings for the first round of the Premier can be found here.
All the action kicks off at 1pm tomorrow, with the evening round at 7. Live coverage of the top boards (on 30 minute broadcast delay) plus full results can be found at

Tuesday 22 March 2016


If you play any of the Italian System openings (Two Knghts, Max Lange, Giuoco Piano), sometimes you need to decided if Nxe4 by Black is payable (as Black) or allowable (as White). It often leads to sharp play, especially if Black is yet to castle. And while there is close to 200 years opening theory on such lines, it can still be difficult to play over the board.
Here is an up to date example, from the ANU Masters. Alana Chibnall takes on e4 and although the knight is pinned on the e file, d5 seems to hold. But after Bxd5 Qxd5 Nc3 Black quickly goes downhill, as the tactics favour White. Post game analysis suggested that Black let the knight go on e4 (playing O-O) and after Rxe4, d5 gets the piece back. This seems to work and in fact there are some lines where Black is a lot better. But just as there is 200 years of analysis, there is also 1 cpu checking on its accuracy, and it seems that best play should leave the position basically equal.

Bliznyuk,Andrey (2093) - Chibnall,Alana (1884)
2016 ANU Masters Canberra, Australia AUS (5.4), 21.03.2016

Monday 21 March 2016

Marshall's Handicap

Looking through the always interesting Chess Notes, I rediscovered the story of Frank Marshall once scoring 100% in an event, but still only finishing third. It was a tournament in Richmond UK in 1912, but was played under a 'handicap' scoring system. At the time these events were quite popular, but seem to have fallen from favour these days.
Nonetheless the scoring system is an interesting one. Players were ranked by class from 1 to 8 (with 1 being the best). If you won a game against a player in your own class you earned 16 points. You scores 2 points less per class for wins against lower ranked players, and 2 points more for each class for wins against higher ranked players. I assume for draws you scored half a winning total each. There was also  a modification at the end, where your final score was the points divided by total games, with a 0.1 per game played bonus added.
Of course the problem with Marshall was that he was classed above the rest of the field and was picking up less points than everyone else (Apparently there were not many class 2 players either). But as a 'hit and giggle' event for hyperactive junior players (or bored adults), such a format may still work under the right circumstances.

Sunday 20 March 2016

What the touch?

By now most of you will have heard about the incident in round 6 of the Candidates Tournament between Lev Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura, over a touched king (If not, here is's coverage)
What I am a little surprised about are the somewhat divergent opinions that this case has caused. While I get that there will always be Nakamura fan boys (just as their are Carlsen or So fan boys), Lev Aronian seems to have copped criticism for suggesting that he was winning the position anyway. Emil Sutovsky criticised him for this, describing the claim as 'complete rubbish'. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave later showed analysis that indicated that Nakamura could have drawn it (without this, or any other mistakes), which emboldened some who were critical of Aronian.
On the other hand Ian Nepomniatchi stood up for Aronian, making reference to issue with Nakamura's illegal two handed castling in the World Cup. And at least some strong street chess players argued that given the position on the board, 'winning' was a perfectly acceptable claim by Aronian.
As for my 2 cents, possibly Aronian may have chosen his words to deflect any criticism of enforcing the touch move rule on Nakamrua (which would have been quite unwarranted), and could have said 'should be winning', but overall, the expression 'winning' has been used by other players in positions with far less winning chances, and so he was entitled to use it.

Saturday 19 March 2016

Pre-Doeberl Blitz

As an added attraction to this years O2C Doeberl Cup, the ANU Chess Club is holding its traditional Pre-Doeberl Blitz. While in previous years it has been held at the club itself, for 2016 we are moving it to the venue, making it easier for interstate players to take part. So if you get into Canberra on Wednesday afternoon (before 7) feel free to come to University House to play. The details are:

ANU Chess Club Pre-Doeberl Blitz

  • Wednesday 23rd March 2016 
  • 7pm for a 7:15pm start
  • University House, 1 Balmain Cres, Action
  • 9 round swiss
  • G/5m
  • Free entry

While the event has no cash prizes, there is one prize that you can win. The highest finishing players for each of the 4 Doeberl Cup sections get to choose their round 1 colours for the main tournaments (ie The highest scoring player who is playing in the Major can choose the colour they get for round 1, and that then determines the colour for board 1, 2 etc)

(** I am a paid official for the 2016 O2C Doeberl Cup **)

Friday 18 March 2016

Anand hits back with win over Svidler

Viswanathan Anand seems to be providing the bulk of the excitement at the 2016 Candidates tournament, having played the least number of draws so far. Having won in round 1, and lost in round 4, he bounced back with a very quick win over Peter Svidler. In an Anti-Marshall line of the Ruy Lopez, both players followed an earlier game between Shirov and Onischuk, which Black won. However the insertion  of a pawn exchange on move 16 made Shirov's original idea work, and after 18. Rxe4 White had a strong attack. Although Svidler avoided instant death by taking on e4, Anand played the very best moves in the position and it was all over by move 24.
Anand now sits half a point behind the tournament leaders Aronian and Karjakin,who both have 2 wins and 4 draws from 6 games.

Anand,Viswanathan - Svidler,Peter [C88]
Candidates, 17.03.2016

Thursday 17 March 2016

2016 ANU Masters Week 7

Although the final round of the 2016 ANU Masters has been played, one unplayed game could still affect the eventual winner. As it stands Miles Patterson is the winner of the tournament, with 4.5/7. However Alana Chibnall has a chance to tie for first if she can beat Andrey Bliznyuk on Monday.
The chances of this are a little better than usual as Bliznyuk both lost to Patterson in last nights round, and lost to Fred Litchfield the night before in his catch up game. As a result Bliznyuk's tournament chances went south, while Patterson reached 4.5/7, which is good enough for first place.
Litchfield's chance's of winning the tournament were undone by a resurgent Chibnall, who scored her third win in succession. She found a nice tactic to win a pawn in the middlegame, but some inexact endgame play by both players gave Litchfield a chance to salvage a draw. However he missed one final idea in the position and Chibnall won.
Harry Press ended his tournament with a draw against Dillon Hathiramani while Victor Braguine inflicted Adrian de Noskowski's first loss after finding mating attack with just a queen and rook on the board.

Bliznyuk,Andrey (2093) - Patterson,Miles (1953)
2016 ANU Masters Canberra, Australia AUS (7.3), 16.03.2016

Wednesday 16 March 2016

A small family tradition

It is a little surprising that I have only played my son in long time control tournament chess 3 times in  7 years. The first two times was when he was young and improving (though I won both), while the latest (yesterday) was after he had overtaken me in terms of chess strength. We have played plenty of times at faster time controls, where he has a healthy plus, while our home blitz games are about 75-80% in his favour.
So I guess I was pleased with the outcome of last nights game, which ended in a draw. I did get a nice attack out of the opening, and was able to reach a ending where I was better. But I miscalculated an idea in the ending of attacking the d pawn with my king, and (erroneously) thinking I was getting mated after Kd5, retreated my king and drew soon after.

Press,Shaun - Press,Harry [C44]
University Cup, 15.03.2016

Monday 14 March 2016

Those rowdy draughts players

Having covered Bridge and Go in recent days, I don't want draughts players to feel left out.
Their exciting bit of news is that they have been causing a bit of a rukus in Singapore, carousing late into the night, and blocking covered walkways that public use in the wet season. This lead the local council to put up signs banning them from the area, but in an outrageous piece of confusion, the signs only banned the playing of chess!
Whether it was the eventual realisation that chess and draughts are not quite the same game, or the council just felt foolish, but the signs have now been removed. Instead a request that players be quiet and courteous has been posted instead.

Sunday 13 March 2016

2016 Dubbo Open - Day 2

Angelito Camer is the winner of the 2016 Dubbo Open, after scoring 3/3 on the second day of the tournament. After being held to a draw in round 2 by CM Bill Egan, Camer won 4 straight games, including wins in rounds 5 and 6 over former leaders Trevor Bemrose and  Matt Raidisch respectively.
Local player Don Keast finished outright second on 5/6, and picked up the title of 2016 NSW Country Champion.  There was a 4 way tie for third, with Trevor Bemrose, Alana Chibnall, Fritz Van Der Wal and Kamal Jane all scoring 4.5.
The 36 player event was played in good spirits, and the final placing were only decided by last round results. Apart from the good scores by the winners, there were a number of good performances by lower rated and unrated players.
Apart from the Open itself, the traditional Handicap Blitz attracted a solid field of 16 players. Players were given a time handicap based on rating, with the top seeds playing witn 1 minute against 5 minutes in some games. After 5 hard fought rounds, the winner on 4.5 was myself, albeit through the generosity of some of my opponents!
Full standings for the event are here, and although it is a year away, you can pencil in the weekend of the 1& 2 April for the 2017 Dubbo Open.

Saturday 12 March 2016

Dubbo Open 2016 - Day 1

After the first 3 rounds of the 2016 Dubbo Open, the leading pack consists of Trever Bemrose and Matt Radisich. Both got there with upset wins in the third round, with Bemrose beating Don Keast and Radisich beating Alana Chibnall. Close behind on 2.5 are Fritz Van Der Wal, Angelito Camer, Pertti Sirkka and Kamal Jain. They would have been joined by Bill Egan, who was a rook and queen up against Paul Russell, but one wrong move left Russell in stalemate.
The tournament has attracted a good field of 36 players, with a mixture of strong players at the top, and some dangerous junior players towards the bottom. Each round has seen a number of upset wins, and a couple of the unrated players are doing particularly well.
Tomorrow sees the final 3 rounds of the tournament and while Bemrose and Radisich are hoping to stay in from of the field, the chasing pack may have other ideas.
Full results from the tournament are available here.

Friday 11 March 2016

Dubbo 2016

The 2016 Dubbo Open starts tomorrow morning at 10:30. I am the arbiter for the event, which means my day starts at 4:30 am with a 5am drive to get there for the start of the event. At this stage there are 27 players entered, but I suspect a few more will enter on the day.
I hope to be able to post updates on this blog during the event, but if I can't (due to falling asleep!) you can see the tournament standings at Just click on the Dubbo 2016 link.

Now you know how we feel

I turned up to the ANU Chess Club on Wednesday to see a group of Go players around a laptop. Asking them what was happening they informed me that the Worlds No 1 Go player, Lee Sedol, had just lost the first game in his match against Alpha Go, the Google backed computer Go engine.
They seemed a little stunned, but I tried to cheer them up by saying "Now you now how we feel", referencing Gary Kasparov's loss to Deep Blue 20 years ago.
The win by Alpha Go (and a second one a few hours ago), is as at least significant as Kasparov v Deep Blue, if not more so. Go is considered significantly harder than chess for AI purposes (less brute force, more general cases) and despite Alpha Go winning a match against the European Champion last year, not many people expected this.
"Is this the end of the world?" was one of my follow up questions, to which one of the players replied "Pretty much"
(You can read about the first game, and play through the moves at the excellent GoGameGuru site)

Thursday 10 March 2016

2016 ANU Masters Week 6

The eventual winner of the 2016 ANU Masters is no clearer after another round of mixed results. Miles Patterson and Adrian De Noskowski currently lead with 3.5/6, although Andrey Bliznyuk (3 with 2 unplayed games) and Fred Litchfield (3 with 1 unplayed game) are close behind.
Patterson took a share of first after beating Victor Braguine in a game where the queen and two bishops proved a strong attacking force. Dillon Hathiramani looked like he was heading for a win against Adrian De Noskowski, being up two pawns in a queen and pawn ending. However these endings can be quite tricky and De Noskowski whipped up enough play to earn a draw. Alana Chibnall added to Harry Press's woes, beating him with a nice attack. Press missed the strength of a bishop sacrifice and lost a few moves later.

Press,Harry (1890) - Chibnall,Alana (1884)
2016 ANU Masters Canberra, Australia AUS (6.1), 09.03.2016

Wednesday 9 March 2016

2016 Candidates

The 2016 World Championship Candidates Tournament starts in a few days, and I must say the field is pretty open. There are a few players who definitely can win it, a few players who might win it, and the rest who can affect the outcome.
In the 'can win it' category I would place Fabiano Caruana, Viswanathan Anand, and Lev Aronian. In the 'might win it' group, Nakamura and Topalov. As for the other 3 players, Svidler, Giri and Karjakin I would be surprised if they did finish on top, but it is still a possibility.
If I had to settle on one player, I think it will be Caruana. While not recently dominating the chess scene in the same way he did at St Louis 2014 I think he is in the best place career wise to qualify for the World Championship match. He is just at the right point regarding youth plus experience to have both the skill and energy to go all the way (at least until he reaches Carlsen).
The tournament starts on Friday and you can see all the action at the tournament website (and possibly no where else!)

Tuesday 8 March 2016

Cheating in ... Bridge

Last year saw a couple of cheating scandals in the Bridge world. A number of the worlds top pairs were accused of signalling for opening leads by how they placed the bid tray, or showing suit holdings by how they played their cards. Apparently this had been going on for a while, but it took a combination of video evidence and some serious sleuthing before the whole thing went public.
While this has parallels to chess, it is obviously not the same as cheating using an engine. The closest comparison (at least to me) is when a player receives advice from another player. This has happened on a number of occasions (some quite famously), but as far as I know, very little action is ever taken (including by me). While FIDE has taken action to deal with computer aided play, it hasn't established robust mechanisms to deal with other forms of cheating (eg outside assistance or throwing games for cash )
The Bridge establishment is of course taking all this seriously, but as far as I know the actual ethics cases are still ongoing. if you want to dig through some of the detail you can visit where there are a number of articles and posts on the topic.

Monday 7 March 2016

Short and very sharp

Hou Yifan leads the 2016 Women's World Championship 2.5-1.5 after 4 games. Apart from Muzychul losing badly in the 2nd game, the match has been pretty even, with the other 3 games being drawn.
The 4th game of the match, was a pretty sharp draw, with Muzychuk sacrificing material for a perpetual. When I see short repetitions like this I wonder if (a) they have been played before or (b) part of home preparation for one side. In this case I suspect it is the later, although it was White who chose to vary from previous games (including Fischer - Olaffson 1966), with 13.Nd4.

Hou,Yifan - Muzychuk,Mariya [C83]
2016 WOmens World Championship, 06.03.2016

Sunday 6 March 2016

A Quick Doeberl Cup Update

Three weeks from now the O2C Doeberl Cup will be well underway. Having a quick look at the entry list it is clear that some events are filling up fast. As there is a restriction on the size of each tournament if you are planning to play, but haven't entered, you might want to get your skates on.
The two events with the least number of spaces are the Under 1600 (22 places left) and the Under 1200 (only 10 places left). The Under 2000 event has space for another 28 players, while the Premier is relatively roomy, with 36 spots left.
Entries have to be made online (expect for the Under 1200), so no turning up unannounced! Follow the links to the entry form on the tournament website to guarantee your place in this prestigious event.

(** I am a paid official for this event **)

Saturday 5 March 2016

More chess visualisation

I've always been attracted to novel visualisations of data, especially as now it is part of my current job (pretty graphs showing how much spam people complain about). So when it is combined with chess, I have an extra fascination.
Over at there is quite along article with some very nice chess graphs. Based on around 2,000,000 games from million base, there are graphs to do with openings, how games end, lengths of games, material balances etc
The first graph that jumped out at me was th efrequency of openings. Instead of the usual histogram, the article showed a circular graph, which is better at representing relative popularity (and it had pretty colours). Another interesting set of data was the length of games, where clear spikes at move 40 and move 60 probably tell the tale of mad scrambles to reach time control, before realising your position is in ruins!
So if you want to look at some interesting data, and see if it matches your experiences, just click on the link above.

Friday 4 March 2016

The American Dream

It seems like FIDE have followed through on their promise to hold the next World Championship Match in the USA. New York has been confirmed as the host city, with the match to take place in November. At this stage Magnus Carlsen's opponent has not been determined (the Candidates tournament starts next week), but the organisers would be delighted if either Nakamura or Caruana came through, as a little flag waving might help the bottom line.

Thursday 3 March 2016

2016 ANU Masters Week 5

Once again the leaderboard is bunched at the top after 5 rounds of the 2016 ANU Masters. Victor Braguine defeated Fred Litchfield to leave both players tied on 3/5. They were joined by Adrian De Noskowski, who had a quick draw with Harry Press, and Andrey Bliznyuk, who has a deferred game against Alana Chibnall.
In this weeks 'Game of the Round', Dillon Hathiramani scored his second win of the tournament after Miles Patterson neglected development for material. After grabbing pawn sacrifice number 2, Patterson walked into a tactic that left him a piece down and little chance of survival.
With 2 rounds to play most of the field still has a chance of taking first place, athough a couple of wins may be needed.

Hathiramani,Dillon (1828) - Patterson,Miles (1953)
2016 ANU Masters Canberra, Australia AUS (5.2), 02.03.2016

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Kings Gambit Counterattack

It has been a while since I had a good look at ChessToday, which  I have used in the past as a resource for this blog, chess magazines, coaching, general study etc It still provides good coverage of the chess events from the world, and does a good job of collecting games (especially endgames) from these events.
Looking through one of the most recent issues I came across a nice tactical game from the Bunratty Masters. The finish is quite nice, but I thought the whole build up was a good example of keeping your opponent on the back foot through constant threats.

Cabanas,Manuel (2070) - Costachi,Mihnea (2409) [C30]
Bunratty Masters Bunratty, Ireland (1), 19.02.2016