Friday 29 June 2018

Summer Holiday

Australian IM Junta Ikeda is once again enjoying a summer chess holiday in Europe (NB He is not unique in doing this, as fellow Canberra player's Victor Braguine and Albert Winkelman are doing the same thing).
His first event was the Teplice Open in the Czech Republic, and while he did not collect a GM norm, it was still a good start for him. After 7 rounds he was 5.5 points, but losses in the last two rounds left him in a tie for 31st (along with Winkelman). However he did collect the scalps of a number of highly rated opponents, including this win over GM Karen Movsziszian.

Ikeda,J (2420) - Movsziszian,K (2527) [E63]
13th Teplice Open 2018 Teplice CZE (7.10), 22.06.2018

Thursday 28 June 2018

Even more new rules

I continue to add to my collection of 'house' rules that seem to turn up at interschool events. Some are old chess-nuts like 'promoted pieces go back on their starting square', while a couple were new even to me.
One player complained that his opponent had moved a pawn from a7 to a5, on the grounds that a pawn can only do that 'on the first move', which in this game he interpreted it as 'the first move of the game'. At least this explained his preference for hedgehog type openings.
There was also an attempt to capture a rook en-pas, but it was the 'king/queen switcheroo' that won the award for most creative rule. A player had just got '4 move checkmated' but attempted to escape by 'castling' king and queen (ie Kd8-Qe8 in one move). I really couldn't explain why it wasn't allowed except to say "it isn't allowed".

Monday 25 June 2018

Look away and you will miss it

I had two odd 'blink and you miss it' moments in the last 24 hours. The first was while channel surfing during the England v Panama World Cup Match last night. Despite England winning 6-1 the only goal I saw was scored by Panama, as England sneakily put it in the net when I had changed to another channel.
The second was at a coaching class today, when one of students asked for a quick game. 1.g3 e5 2.f4? exf4 3.gxf4?? Qh4# (and yes, I had shown my students Fools Mate previously!)

Praggnanandhaa scores final GM norm

It looks like R. Praggnanandhaa from India is about to become the second youngest GM in history. At one stage he looked on track to beat Sergey Karjakin's record, who earned the title at 12 years and 7 months, but he was unable to score the final norm required. However, at 12 years and 10 months he is still the second youngest player to earn the title, 6 months younger than when both Carslen and Negi became GM's.
He earned the title on the way to finishing equal first in the Gerdine Open in Italy, scoring 7.5/9 along with GM Ivan Saric. But while Praggnanandhaa is celebrating his title, another competitor in the event is far less happy with the title process. Australian IM Justin Tan (who scored 6/9 in the event) found out the GM norm he thought he had scored in the 2017-18 4NCL season is invalid on the grounds he did not play the right mix of international players. Previously a national teams championship was exempt from 'foreigner' requirements (in the same way a National Championship is), but a change to FIDE regulations meant this only applied to players from the host Federation.As a result Tan still needs one more norm for his GM title.

Pruijssers,Roeland (2514) - Praggnanandhaa,R (2529) [C78]
4th Int. Chess Festival ad Gredine Open Ortisei - St. Ulrich (9.2), 24.06.2018

Saturday 23 June 2018

Howard Staunton

While Steinitz is rightly credited with creating a new 'positional' style of chess, the concepts he popularised didn't come from nowhere. Howard Staunton deserves a lot of credit for showing the way to Steinitz, as his style and results were a clear influence. While there has been a reassessment of Staunton's contribution to chess in the last 40 years, he still gets bad press from chessplayers who only know about his non-match with Paul Morphy. I suspect if this contoversy hadn't clouded his actual playing career, his role in developing modern chess principles who have been more appreciated.
Today (22nd June) is the anniversary of his death, and so I've selected possibly the last competitive game he played to show his style. The opening is positively modern, and after Barnes' attempt at a tactical finesse blows up in his face, Staunton keeps control all the way to the end.

Barnes,Thomas Wilson - Staunton,Howard [C42]
London consultation London, 1859

Friday 22 June 2018

Denmark 1/2 - Australia 1/2

Continuing with the World Cup theme, here is a game between the most famous Danish chess player Bent Larsen, and the (then) Australian IM Walter Browne. And fittingly, the game ended in a draw, as the World Cup match did today. BTW It was at this tournament that Browne earned his GM title (which in those days could be awarded based on a single performance)

Browne,Walter S - Larsen,Bent [C41]
San Juan San Juan (13), 1969

Wednesday 20 June 2018

26th ANU Open - 28 & 29 July 2018

The 26th Australian National University Open is being held on the weekend of the 28th and 29th of July, at the ANU School of Art, Childers Street ANU.
It will be a 7 round swiss split into an Open and Under 1600 section. There are $3300 in prizes, with $1000 first prize in the open (NB This is a bigger prize pool than similar events in other cities).
The time limit for each event is 60m+10s per move.
Further details can be found at (click on the Regulation link for a brochure). You can also register online there (and still pay on the day). If you have a FIDE rating, just search for your name. If you don't the entry for will ask for a local ID and rating. If you don;t know this, just enter any numbers, and the organisers will sort it out later!

Monday 18 June 2018

FIDE President's Race - Is it four or two candidates?

A new candidate has thrown his hat into the race for the FIDE Presidency, with Arkady Dvorkovich becoming the fourth candidate for the office. The details of his announcement can be found in this article on, including some discussion about what this means for the other candidates.
One theory is that Ilyumzhinov will now drop out of the race, as the Russian government will shift their support to Dvorkovich. Taking it one step further is the suggestion that the Makro ticket will merge with the Dvorkovich ticket, with Dvorkovich becoming the Presidential Candidate, Makro remaining as Deputy, and Malcolm Pein being let go (or offered a Vice President position as a consolation prize).
However I'm not sure that the second scenario is as likely as the first, as the logical step for both parties would have been to negotiate this behind close doors. By announcing his candidacy in this way Dvorkovich seems more likely to have his own set of office bearers in mind (although defections from the Makro ticket cannot be ruled out)
Nonetheless, a new Russian candidate wouldn't be seen as bad news for FIDE insiders. The real problem that the current FIDE executive have with Kirsan had nothing to do with his management style, or ethical issues, but simply that he is now costing them money. While he was bringing money into FIDE (through personal contributions, or connections with other governments) concerns about his ethical standards were dismissed as pro Kok/Karpov/Kasparov propaganda, but when FIDE had to actually pay for his expenses (and there was less money for pet projects of other board members) then suddenly the other issues that had been ignored for years became critical to how FIDE 'should' be run.
So if Dvorkovich can bring in a new income stream (or just resurrect Kirsan's old network) then it can be business as usual in the Athen's office.

Saturday 16 June 2018

The Champion of Kazan

The title of this post does not refer to the Australian Football Team (or indeed the French), but to IM Rashid Nezhmetdinov, who lived in the Russian city which is currently a host city for the 2018 World Cup.
I've waxed lyrical in the past about how good Nezhmetdinov was, and watching the World Cup this evening gives me another excuse to present one of his games. This one is over pretty quickly, as White panics after 10...Bxg2 and avoids capturing the bishop. As a result Black gets in a queen check on h4, and after that  smothered mate.

Samsonov - Nezhmetdinov,Rashid [C29]
Kazan-ch Kazan, 1929

Embracing the cold

On a per capita basis, Iceland has long been considered the strongest chess playing nation in the world. One oft quoted reason has to do with the cold climate, which encourages people to stay, and play, indoors. While this may be true, I suspect that 'success breeds success' is also a factor in the Icelandic chess story.
I bring this up because Canberra is undergoing a cold snap, and it may even snow over the weekend. I'd like to think this should encourage players to spend the weekend playing chess (either at Street Chess on Saturday, or the Primary School Allegro on Sunday), but the cold may discourage people from leaving home. This certainly is a reason that players from warmer climates give when passing on the many excellent events held in the nations capital, and it is to those players I say 'harden up!'
If you are one such player willing to embrace the cold, then I suggest you pencil in the weekend of the 28th and 29th of July for the ANU Open. Once again this event will be held with an Open and Under 1600 section, and will have over $3000 in prizes. Keep your eye on this blog for further details, including entry fees and how to enter.

Thursday 14 June 2018

Once a knight, always a knight. Twice a night and you're doing all right!

Under-promotions can be a thing of beauty, or a sign of madness. I once read about a game involving Chris Depasquale, where he chose a bishop instead of a queen, hoping to confuse his opponent in time trouble (as it was going to be captured anyway).
The following game is probably neither, but is curious as the promoted knight is White's 3rd one on the board (btw this was the game I mentioned in a post from October 2017). The knight gets snapped straight away, but for a brief moment it was almost like having a proper cavalry.

Press,Shaun - Cunningham,Cam [B07]
Swiss Festive Fun, 31.10.2017

Wednesday 13 June 2018

2018 NSW Open - Song and Ikeda tie for First

The 2018 NSW Open has ended in a tie for first between FM Raymond Song and IM Junta Ikeda. Ikeda lead going into the final day, but Song was able to keep pace after they drew an exciting game in Round 6. In the final round Ikeda was held to a draw by Australian Champion GM Max Illingworth, while Song was able to catch Ikeda by beating IM Gary Lane.
Illingworth's draw was enough to give him a share of 3rd place, alongside FM Kevin O'Chee on 5.5. A number of high profile players ended up in a tie for 5th place including GM Anton Smirnov, IM Gary Lane and WGM Jilin Zhang.
Frank Low won the Minor event, after drawing in the final round with Stepehn Jago. This left Jgo tied for second with Gary Armstrong and Lachlan Lee. There was a big group of players on 5/7, including veteran player Ralph Shaw, the brother of the late Australian IM Terry Shaw.
This years event ran a lot more smoothly than last year, despite similar numbers (136 players). The addition of a third arbiter (NA Nick Kordahi) helped substantially, especially in getting the room ready for each of the rounds (eg I did not have to set a single clock over the whole weekend!). The noise issue from the last year was dealt with by moving the analysis area further away, and this had the overall effect of making the event a pleasant one to direct.

Lane,Gary W (2388) - Song,Raymond (2249)
2018 NSW Open Sydney, Australia (7.2), 11.06.2018

Monday 11 June 2018

2018 NSW Open - Day 2

IM Junta Ikeda is the outright leader of the 2018 NSW Open, finishing day 2 on a perfect 5/5. Along the way he scored two impressive victories, beating WGM Jilin Zhang in round 4, and GM Anton Smirnov in round 5. His game against Zhang involved R+N v R+P with Zhang walking into a surprise mate when most spectators assumed the game would be drawn.  Against Smirnov he found a line where he exchanged 2 rooks for a quen, but the exposed nature of Smirnov's king allowed his Queen and Knight to carry out a winning attack.
GM Max Illingworth and FM Raymond Song share second on 4.5, after they drew their evening game. As a result Song will face Ikeda in round 6, while Illingworth and Smirnov will meet on board 2.
In the Minor event, Gary Armstrong, Frank Low and Thai Pahn share the lead on 4.5, with Armstrong and Low drawing their round 5 game.
Round 6 will begin at 9:30 am tomorrow, with the final round at 2. If you are in Sydney, feel free to drop into the Russian Club in Strathfield to catch the last day action.

Smirnov, Anton - Ikeda, Junta
2018 NSW Open (5.1) 10.06.2018

Sunday 10 June 2018

The agony and the agony

While the 2018 NSW Open has been running quite well, the organisers have been bedevilled by a number of technical issues. Laptop tantrums and DGT fragility issues have resulted in less than optimal online coverage. But for now, the DGT boards are broadcasting, for a certain value of 'broadcasting'.
You can find the live broadcasts at and at the moment, the board 1 game between Smirnov and Nakuachi is worth watching.

Saturday 9 June 2018

2018 NSW Open - Day 1

The 2018 NSW Open has once again attracted good numbers, with a strong set of players at the top of the seedings. GM Anton Smirnov is the top seed, followed by GM Max Illingworth. IM Junta Ikea, FM Brandon Clarke and IM Gary Lane are the next thee seeds, and all are potential winners of the event.
Once again there is a good turn out from Singapore, with some of their junior players making the trip to a wintry and wet Sydney. Also well represented are a number of junior players from Canberra , including Ricky Luo who scored one of the big first round upsets, defeating CM Paul Russell.
The Minor has attracted a field of 56 players, headed by Gary Amstrong and Shane Dibley. Dibley is one player hoping to turn his form around, after suffering a significant rating decline in the months leading up to the Under 1600 event.
Results for the event can be found at Techincal issues have so far prevented the live broadcast from operating as hoped, but it should be fixed and up an running in time for tomorrows third round at 9:30am

Friday 8 June 2018

Enter at your own risk

Before the World Wide Web really kicked off, you could still exchange information across the internet, just without pictures. One example was the venerable Usenet system, which was a decentralised system of discussion boards, on many many topics. I used to frequent the chess groups quite a lot (as well as a number of other sporting groups). While some groups had moderators, for a lot of others it was a free for all, and the discussions could be quite brutal (I discovered the art of trolling in alt.folklore.urban, back in the day when it meant more than just shouting inflammatory statements).
But once the web became a thing, Usenet kind of died out (I can remember exactly 0 students choosing it as an assignment topic back in 2000 at ANU). So I was a little surprised that there are people who still use it the exchange information (or to just abuse each other). Even if you don't have access to a usenet client (or server) there is still a way to access the chess new groups. Chessbanter seems to be a web interface to the* groups, in all there (past) glory. So if you want to take a trip down memory lane, feel free to click on the link, but be warned, nothing seems to have changed much in 20 years (including a lot of the topics of discussion)

Wednesday 6 June 2018

Seriously, this happened

From the 'there is hope for us all' file, here is a very quick game where a 2150 player falls for a trap I assumed almost every player of the French Defence knows about. The only thing I can add, is it is almost an injustice that the rating points go to a 2400 player, rather than some lucky 1600 opponent.

Diaz,Rid (2435) - Garcia Fuentes,Sergio Miguel (2158) [C10]
Guillermo Garcia Master 1 Santa Clara CUB (9.5), 31.05.2018

Monday 4 June 2018

2018 NSW Open 9-11 June 2018

The 2018 NSW Open is on this upcoming long weekend, at the Russian Club in Strathfield, NSW. It will be a 7 round FIDE Rated Swiss, run in 2 sections, Open and Under 1600. There is over $8000 in prizes, including $1000 for first in the Under 1600 event.
The tournament starts at Noon of Saturday 9th June (registrations from 11). The schedule is 2 rounds Saturday, 3 on Sunday, and 2 on Monday. Time limit is 90m+30s. Further details, as well as an online entry facility can be found at
There will be a live broadcast of the top boards from the Open for each of the rounds. At the the moment the top seeds include GM's Anton Smirnov and Max Illingworth, plus IM's Junta Ikeda and Gary Lane.

(*Note: I will be a paid official at this event)

Sunday 3 June 2018

This looks like one of my games

The Altibox tournament from Norway is interesting in more ways than one. There have already been a couple of high profile casualties, including Ding Liren, and the Grunfeld Defence. Liren injured himself in a bike accident, and has had to withdraw (his score has been annulled for the event, although the games still count for ratings).
Last night saw Karjakin lose to Caruana, in a game that reminded me of some of my own efforts. An attempt at hacking the English Opening didn't quite work, but instead of digging in, Karjakin set fire to the board, and only succeeded in burning his own fingers!

Caruana,Fabiano (2822) - Karjakin,Sergey (2782) [A28]
6th Norway Chess 2018 Stavanger NOR (5.2), 02.06.2018

Friday 1 June 2018

How to do chess

If you are looking for chess related projects (building boards etc) or chess tips, then wonderhowto seems to have a list of things you can try. The link to chess activities is and has a number of tutorials.
(BTW If you go to the parent directory you can find other things to try, including 'charging your cell phone using train tracks')