Saturday 30 September 2017

2017 George Trundle

Auckland looks to be the place for chess over the next few weeks, with a couple of big events being held there. Starting the 9th of October is the Asian Seniors and Veterans, which is already attracting a large international field.
But before that, the annual George Trundle Masters is being held, with round 1 already finished. Once again the field for the IM tournament is a mix of top New Zealand  players, a couple of Australians, plus players from Brazil and Singapore. 
One player taking on both events is Australian GM Daryl Johansen. He has got off to a winning start in the George Trundle, beating FM Bob Smith in the only decisive game of the round. It was a pretty quick win as well, as can be seen below.
If you wish to follow the George Trundle, then the tournament links can be  found at the New Zealand Chess website. Rounds start at 1200 Canberra time, although the switch to daylight savings may change this by an hour.

Smith,Robert W (2230) - Johansen,Darryl K (2380) [E10]
George Trundle NZ Masters 2017 Auckland, NZL (1.2), 30.09.2017

Thursday 28 September 2017

Old wine, new bottle

Learning tactics by playing through short games of chess is one coaching technique I've always been fond of. If you are working with a group, you can show a number of games in a short time, and normally not lose the interest of your students. You also just focus on one concept, if the game is quick enough, so you don't get side tracked by other issues.
So having a collection of quick games is always useful. One example is the game below, which I'm sure has been played a few times (or at least a version of it). This version was played at my local club the other night, and demonstrates the importance of looking at all checks and captures. If Black had been a little more cautious he would have realised that taking the biggest piece (normally the correct idea) was not best in this position. Instead he won the queen, but lost his king!

White - Black
Belconnen Chess Club Champs 26.09.2017

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Aronian ices World Cup

Lev Aronian has one the 2017 World Cup, after a convincing 2-0 win in the first playoff games, against Ding Liren. The 4 standard were all drawn, although Aronian did have winning chances in at least one game. However at rapid chess, Aronian played two excellent attacking games, winning both with direct assaults on his opponents king.
Both players have earned places in the upcoming Candidates tournament, but the win for the soon to be married Aronian gave him 120,000 first prize, which might pay for a very nice honeymoon.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Bad Karma

Hou Yifan must be thinking that some unseen hand is working against her, mainly for the amusement of others. After her infamous finish to the Gibraltar Masters (a deliberate loss to protest playing 7 female opponents in 9 games), she might have thought the issue was behind her. Bizarrely, her first 4 opponents at the Isle of Man Masters have also been female, including her round 1 random opponent. As some of the arbiting team at IOM also officiated at Gibraltar, I'm assuming they are making sure that the pairings for every round are (a) thoroughly checked and (b) explained in great detail to Yifan.

Sunday 24 September 2017

Wallace continues good form

One of the beneficiaries of the Isle of Man pairing system is IM John-Paul Wallace, who started the tournament with a win yesterday. It was against a higher seeded opponent, and shows he has continued his good form from last years event (where he scored a GM norm). So rather than slog his way through the early rounds hoping he plays strong enough players to keep his GM norms chances active, he has already collected one GM scalp, and is up against GM Emil Sutovsky in round 2.
In other games most of the top seeds won,  although one notable 'upset' was the win by Fabiano Caruana (2799) over Vladimir Kramnik (2803).

Bogner,Sebastian (2599) - Wallace,John Paul (2413) [A00] Isle of Man Open - Masters Douglas (Isle of Man) (1.33), 23.09.2017

Double header

I almost got the top board pairing of the Isle of Man tournament correct, although it was Kramnik v Caruana on Board 2, rather than Carlsen v Kramnik on Board 1. However it looks as though the randomised pairing experiment isn't that bad, with the mix of 'interesting' pairings providing a change from the usual top half v bottom half massacre of most large swisses. What will be interesting of course is the ripple effect of the first round pairings throughout the rest of the tournament.
Along with the IOM event, I'm also up late to watch the World Cup Final between Lev Aronian and Liren Ding. At the time of posting 30 moves have been played, and the position is pretty equal. Unlike the cut throat nature of swiss events, I expect this match will be a little more sedate, with both players happy to avoid risks, hoping their opponent goes astray instead.

Friday 22 September 2017

So much for my predictions

Having tipped a MVL v So Final in the 2017 World Cup, I've woken up to the news that neither of those players have qualified. It will be an Aronian v Liren Ding final instead, after both of those players won their rapidplay playoffs.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave looked to have one foot through the qualifying door after beating Aronian in their first playoff game, but a gutsy piece sacrifice in the next game paid off for Aronian, and he evened the score. Four more draws meant the match went to  'Armageddon' where Aronian managed to win the Q v R ending.
So and Ding only saw one decisive game, but this was enough for Ding to go through to the final. So had one final chance to pull level, but in the final rapidplay game, Ding was happy to hold the position (rather than push for more), and the game finished in a draw.

Aronian Levon (ARM) (2799) - Vachier-Lagrave Maxime (FRA) (2789) [A50]
World Cup 2017 Tbilisi (38.1), 21.09.2017

Thursday 21 September 2017

GM Anton Smirnov

By scoring 7/9 (finishing equal first) in the Anogia GM tournament,  16 year old Anton Smirnov has scored his third GM norm, which is enough for him to earn the GM title. Canberra born Smirnov needed to win his last round game against FM Antoine Favarel (FRA) and for a lot of the game it looked very touch and go. Smirnov decided to launch a kingside attack, and while trying to defend Favarel misplayed the position (36. ... Rd3??) allowing Smirnov to secure the point, and the title.
Smirnov now becomes Australia's 7th Grandmaster, and the third in recent years. Already a mainstay of the Australian Olympiad team, he may even be challenging for the number 1 spot in Australia;s 2018 team, which may be an all GM outfit for the first time in history.

Smirnov,Anton (2508) - Favarel,Antoine (2357)
2nd Capablanca Memorial GM Anogia (9.1), 19.09.2017

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Isle of Man 2017

The Isle of Man tournament has really taken off in the last decade, and is now challenging events like Gibraltar and the Iceland Open for the title of 'Best Open' in the world. This years event starts on Saturday, and has boosted it's prestige even further, with the news that World Champion Magnus Carlsen is taking part. In fact the tournament field contains 4 World Champion's, or 5 if you count Ilyumzhinov's bonkers scheme to declare Shirov as a former World Champion. The top 14 seeds are rated above 2700, and its GM's all the way down to seed 59.
The only Australian player in the field is IM John Paul Wallace, although I did note Bill Egan's name in the minor, but it his is English namesake, rather than the Canberra resident.
The tournament begins on Saturday 23rd September, and is a 9 round swiss. Apparently the pairings for the first round are totally random, so it might be worth tuning in to the first round, just to see a surprisingly early Carlsen v Kramnik match up!

Monday 18 September 2017

Board games ranked

This Deadspin article about the ranking of board games is too good to pass up. Not so much the article actually, but the totally Not Safe For Work comments that follow it. You have been warned.

Saturday 16 September 2017

Tournament features

John Winkelman (previously featured in this blog here), returned from a recent trip to the United States bearing gifts. They were a number of tournament brochures from various large US chess opens, which he thought might be of interest to me. They of course were, not because I planned to enter any of them, but as an insight into how events in the US are structured.
While a lot of the entry fees, conditions and prizes are similar to Australia, there were a few things that caught my eye. In no particular order they were

  • Free entries for GM's and IM's have an equivalent amount deducted from any prizes won.
  • Tournaments are in sections, but there are a lot more sections (I assume a lot more players as well
  • Entry in the top section often costs more for lower rated players
  • The longer the event the more half point byes you can take (up to 4 in 9 round events!)
  • Players bring their own boards and clocks (none supplied by organisers)
  • 2 and 3 day schedules for weekend events (1-2-2 or 3-2 rounds)
  • Online ratings used for unrated players
The tournament information was generally printed on thick card (rather than the fancier brochures we use in Australia) which to me seems easier to distribute.
Some of the ideas might be useful in Australia (eg the use of online ratings to seed unrateds), but I can't see the whole "bring your own set" idea catching on.

2017 World Cup - Who's Next

The 2017 World Cup schedule is pretty tough, especially if your'e one of the players who keeps going to tie-breaks. So far there hasn't been a scheduled rest day, meaning that a win in regulation is the only way you can get a day off.
Tonight sees the start of the quarter finales, is as good a time as any to try and predict a winner. Firstly, with all the previous upsets, the reaming top half is a little stronger than the bottom half, and that is where I think the eventual winner will come from. As I write this, Aronian has already defeated Ivanchuk in that bracket, although he was going to be one of my picks anyway. The other pairing in that half is Vachier-Legrave against Svidler, and while Svidler has the experience of getting to this stage in 5 World Cups, I think MVL will win, and go on to play Aronian.
In the bottom half I think So and Liren Ding will progress, with So winning the semi-final. But I think the eventual winner will come from the top half, with MVL just shading Aronian, and then going on to beat So in the final!

Thursday 14 September 2017

The world's most famous two-mover?

White to play and checkmate in two moves
Here is a puzzle described by Hubert Phillips as "possibly the world's most famous two-mover". An interesting claim, in part because I'm note sure anyone else has bothered to keep a list of such things. Also, as these words were written in 1932 (and the puzzle was first published in 1905), I am wondering whether more recently published puzzles could now claim that title.
As with most two movers, this only has a passing resemblance to a 'real' chess position, and the composer has left plenty of false trails to catch the over confident.

Tuesday 12 September 2017

It's a trap - part 2

A number of years ago I posted this, concerning a trap in the Scotch Gambit. Tonight at the Belconnen Chess Club, I got to see what happens if both sides realise what is really going on, at least up until a point.
Black avoided the sometimes played 6. ... Resigns, and White knew that retreating the Bishop from h6 is also trouble. But Black failed to spot how strong White's attack was, possibly thinking that 13. ... Bf5 was enough to save the day. Of course it wasn't, and White ended up with the quickest win of the night.

Arps,Jan-Phillip - Luo,Ricky [C50]
Belconnen Club Championship, 12.09.2017

Monday 11 September 2017

2017 Belconnen Club Championship

The 2017 Belconnen Club Championship begins tomorrow evening (Tuesday 12 September), at the Belconnen Chess Club, on Hayden Drive, University of Canberra. This is Canberra's only FIDE rated club event this year, so provides a good opportunity to either improve your international rating, or get one for the first time.
The tournament runs for 7 weeks, and is playing with a slightly faster time limit of 60m+30s per move. FIDE changed the rules regarding time control for rated events, so players over 2200 are no longer excluded, but at the same time, games involving players above the 2200 mark are not rated.
If you are planning to play, entries will be taken from 7pm, with the first round starting at 7:15

Sunday 10 September 2017

Carlsen gets hacked

Magnus Carlsen started the World Cup with 4 from 4, befitting his number 1 seeding. However the first game of the third round didn't go according to plan, as he got hacked by Xiangzhi Bu from China. Carlsen played the Bishops Opening, and Bu sensibly played the Black side like a Ruy Lopez. He even went as far as playing a Marshall Gambit type sacrifice, and after Carlsen accepted, went nuts on king side. Carlsen could have taken an immediate draw after the sacrifice on h3, but decided to play for a win instead. However this blew up in his face, not so much because of his position, but that he spent so much time working out what to do. As a result, he got into severe time trouble and played a couple of second best moves. Bu gave him one chance at the end, but after Carlsen missed it, the upset was on the scoreboard.
In other weird news, Anton Kovalyov (CAN) walked out of the tournament after getting into an argument with the organisers over his choice of attire. He had worn shorts for the first two rounds, but was told that this was unacceptable just before the third round was due to start.  He then exchanged words with tournament organiser Zurab Azmaiparashvili, was apparently called a 'gypsy', and then left. Normally he may have decided to appeal to the FIDE appointed appeals committee over Azmai's actions, but FIDE appointed Azmai as the chairman of the appeals committee, so that option seemed pointless. (As an aside, being on a FIDE appeals committee is a sweet gig, and is used as part of the FIDE reward and patronage system, so Azmai's appointment makes sense, but only from that point of view)

Carlsen,Magnus (2822) - Bu,Xiangzhi (2710) [C55]
FIDE World Cup 2017 Tbilisi GEO (3.1), 09.09.2017

Friday 8 September 2017

Maximum Haulage

The Canberra Lifeline Bookfair is on this weekend, and if you are looking for chess books, there are plenty to be had. I got in nice and early this morning (along with a few other collectors), and I'm pretty sure this year saw the biggest chess collection I can remember. There were a number of familiar titles, but there were also a few surprises. Someone donated quite a large number of Informators, including a No. 1, which I snapped up. Curiously there were a few books on the Laws of Chess, so I grabbed those as well, as they contained snapshots of the Laws for the years they were published.
Even the Board Games section had more than the usual amount of chess stuff, and I saw one shopper snap up every chess set she could fine. I found a Pavilion Talking Electronic Chess Computer for $8, adding to my growing collection of chess computers at home.
When I left there were plenty of books on the table, so you should be able to get something if you drop in over the weekend.

Thursday 7 September 2017

Today's Google Doodle

Today's Google Doodle commemorates Sir John Cornforth, who won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1975. Of course in the chess community he is was also known as a strong player, competing in the 1936 Australian Championship, as well as the first Australian Correspondence Chess Championship. Today is the 100th anniversary of his birth, and he passed away in 2013. Apart from an obituary I posted at the time, there was a very good article about his chess life written by Paul Dun in a recent issue of Australian Correspondence Chess Quarterly.

Wednesday 6 September 2017

Know the Classics - Pirc Edition

The Pirc/Modern is often a system that aggressive players have some difficulty with. As Black's strategy is to sit back and wait till White over reaches, White can fall into the trap of playing too cautiously. If that happens, Black has already scored a small victory, as White is out of their comfort zone.
My personal preference is to take it head on, aiming for an early Bh6. Over the years there have been a number of crushing wins for White in this line, and they are worth studying. Probably the most famous was Kasparov's win over Topalov at Wijk aan Zee in 1999. Kasparov was not afraid to leave his queen out on h6, even after Topalov castled queenside, as he was busy getting his other pieces across to the queenside. Of course Kasparov's choice of opening in itself was not winning, as he needed to find 24. Rxd4!! but he did get a position where such an attack was possible.

Kasparov,Garry (2812) - Topalov,Veselin (2700) [B07]
Hoogovens Wijk aan Zee (4), 20.01.1999

Tuesday 5 September 2017

The Perils of Prediction

At the time I was off to bed last night, I had chalked up a win for GM Alex Fier against higher rated GM Etienne Bacrot in the 2017 World Cup. When I awoke this morning, the win had turned into a draw. It was a lucky escape for Bacrot, and might explain why they drew so quickly in Game 2.
Meanwhile Australian IM Anton Smirnov continues to impress, holding GM Sergey Karjakin to another draw, and sending the match into tie breakers. At this stage there are already a few matches that will continue tomorrow, but like Smirnov, almost all of them are via the draw-draw path. Only Vladimir Fedoseev has bounced back from losing the first game to even the match, but I am sure there will be a few more as the round goes on. Of the tournament favourites, Svider, Giri and Nakamura are already through to the second round, while Number 1 seed Magnus Carlsen is still trying to overcome bottom seed FM Oluwafemi Balogun from Nigeria.

Sunday 3 September 2017

Draw for Smirnov

The first round of the 2017 FIDE World Cup is underway, and a few of the early results have come in. Significantly for Australia, IM Anton Smirnov has drawn his first game against GM Sergey Karjakin. The opening was a fairly sharp line of the QGD (with Bf4) but eventually simplified into a heavy piece ending that was drawn on move 30. The two players return to the board tomorrow, with Karjakin having the advantage of the white pieces.
Most of the other games to finish have ended in draws, with a few highly rated players (Ivanchuk, Radjubov) taking the peaceful route. So far there has only been one real upset, with Sambuev (CAN) cracking GM Yi Wei, but Alex Fier (BRA) is looking good against Bacrot (FRA) and that may also end in a win for the lower rated player.

Saturday 2 September 2017

Three Puzzles

Here are 3 puzzles to put your mind to, with 2 of them being related to chess, to some degree.

  1. How many distinct ways can 6 knights be placed on a 4 by 4 chess board, so that no knight attacks another knight? (And by distinct, rotations don't count as a separate solution)
  2. How many ways can N Queens be placed on a NxN chess board so that no queen attacks another queen? (NB There has been a flurry of reporting suggesting a solution to this problem will win you $1,000,000. In fact the prize is for solving the P v NP problem, of which this is just one example of an NP problem)
  3. N students are playing a variant of 'Duck, Duck, Goose'. In this variant, Student 1 goes around the ring of players (which now excludes Student 1), announcing Duck N-1 times, and Goose the Nth time. Student 1 then sits out while the 'Goose' repeats the process. Who is the last student to be the Goose?