Tuesday 31 December 2019

Almost the end of the year

While I often look back at the highlights of the chess year, I don't often look back at my own. This is because my usual highlights are a tournament I directed, or a chess meeting I attended, which is hardly riveting stuff. There is also the issue of my results, which are normally a few good games, followed by ones decided by silly blunders.
However this year turned out to be  little more exciting for me, especially as a player. It started with a trip to Guam to play in the 2019 Oceania Zonal. My main reason for attending was for an Oceania Chess Confederation meeting, but once the smoke cleared, I also collected 2nd place in the Zonal.
Following up this result, I seemed to score some good results in local Canberra events, and had a nice undefeated streak up until June.
Then in August I received the news that GM Max Illingworth was unable to attend the World Cup and I was the next player on the list. While the experience was both memorable and exciting, it was also quite scary as a player, but overall it was overwhelmingly positive.
The second half of the year also saw me do a lot of other travel, presenting an Arbiters course in the Solomon Islands, being the Chief Arbiter at the New Caledonia Open, and finishing the year arbiting the Lidums Australian Young Masters.
Looking back I'm pretty sure I've never had a year in chess like this one, and at my age, I'd be surprised if anything in the future comes close. For 2020 there is still a lot to look forward to, with the 2020 O2C Doeberl Cup running at Easter (I'm the new Chief Organiser), and a trip to the 2020 Olympiad (as a member of the Technical Administration Panel). As for playing, hopefully I can squeeze a few games in, and the form I had this year does no desert me!

Sunday 29 December 2019

Hastings 2019/20

In the last few years the annual Hastings International has faced a somewhat uncertain future. It had relied in part on local council funding, but this wasn't always guaranteed, and a more substantial sponsor was required to keep the event going. Fortunately the search for a new sponsor was successful, with Caplin coming on board.
It looks as though the additional sponsorship has resulted in a much larger and stronger event this year, with the Open attracting more than 120 players, including 18 GM's. GM David Howell is the top seed, with GM Edouard Romain second seed. One Australian is playing this year (Penelope Drastick), with 27 other countries also being represented.
First round was last night, and with the tournament using accelerated pairings, there were a couple of upsets. 2 GM's were upended (Gergely Kantor and Danny Gormally), while a few more were held to draws.
You can follow the action (including live games) from the tournament website, although the 2:15pm start (local time) means a late night if you wish to watch it from Australia.

Faulks,Nick (1900) - Ratnesan,Radha (1477) [C18]
Hastings International Chess Congress Horntye Park, Hastings, United (1.55), 28.12.2019

Saturday 28 December 2019

A very rapid win

The World Blitz and Rapidplay Championship is underway, with the first 5 rounds of the Rapid played last night. The 6th round started about an hour ago, and will run for the next 5 hours (Canberra time). While the event has no Australian players involved, there are a few players well known here who have had some interesting results. GM Hrant Melkumyan drew with World Champion Magnus Carlsen, while 'Blindfold King' Timur Gareyev scored a quick win against South Koran GM Alexey Kim.

Kim,Alexey - Gareyev,Timur [B12]
World Rapidplay, 27.12.2019

Thursday 26 December 2019

2019 World Blitz and Rapid

The 2019 World Blitz and Rapid is starting tomorrow in Moscow. Of course these means that the players taking part had to send at least part of the Christmas in transit, as the opening ceremony is this evening (Moscow time).
Apart from the players taking part (Carlsen, MVKL, Aronian etc) there are a couple of other points of interest.
Firstly, Carlsen isn't the top seed in the Blitz, with that honour going to Nakamura. This is because each event is seeded with the rating list matching the event. As a result the bottom seed in the Rapid is GM D Gukesh from India, who still has a rapid rating of 1799!
Secondly, GM Alireza Firouzja is playing under the FIDE flag, instead of the Iranian one. This is due to the Iranian governments policy of not allowing athletes to compete against players from Israel. So as to compete in this tournament (and not be forced to default games against Israeli players), Firouzja has left the Iranian Federation with a view to changing to a new one shortly.

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Congratulations Ian Rogers

Although Christmas isn't until tomorrow, I received one of my presents a little early. It was a Google Nest Mini. described as a 'Family Present' by my son, the purchaser. After setting it up, I decided to test how 'smart' it was.
"Who is the current Australian Chess Champion?" I asked. "The current Australian Chess Champion is .... Ian Rogers" came the reply. This answer not only surprised me, but I suspect would surprise Ian (who retired on 2007) and the 6 player who have won it more recently. It even gave me a helpful reference on Wikipedia for Ian, but not the one it should have, which was the list of Australian Chess Champions.
So congratulations Ian. According to Google you are still the reigning Australian Chess Champion.

Killing time

"Does being good at chess mean you're good at other things?" Probably not, is my usual response when asked this question, as the list of "other things" can be quite vague. But the skills you develop in chess can be carried over to other activities, especially those that require information organisation.
Certainly chess players have also succeeded at Poker, bridge and Share Trading (although many have failed as well). Add Fantasy Football to the list, with World Champion Magnus Carlsen also doing extremely well in the Fantasy Premier League competition. As of last week he was in first place (ahead of a couple of million players), but I'm not sure if he has maintained his lead this week.
One thing working in his favour is having the time to work on his team selections. IM Gary Lane once told me that a number of English IM's and GM's used to enter lots of different competitions, as it was something could do while travelling (and between rounds), and it provided rewards outside chess. In Carlsen's case I suspect the motivation isn't material, but like most people, the desire to succeed at something they think is important.

Saturday 21 December 2019

Mirror, Mirror

In the Sicilian Defence, conventional wisdom has White attacking on the kingside while Black looks for play on the queenside. So much so, a quick kingside attack for Black is a rare sight indeed. But I have just seen one, and I thought I'd share it. It was played at the JZMC Rising Stars event, which is a small round robin for Sydney juniors, organised by WGM Jilin Zhang. It is the first time it has been held, and is designed to provide some extra competition for local juniors. f you want to see the live games (past and future) click on this link, while results can be seen here.

Wu,Celina - Melamed,Daniel [B45]
JZMC Rising Stars, 19.11.2019

Thursday 19 December 2019

Deciding when to castle

I've lost a lot of games of chess by putting off castling until it is too late. Not that I always have a choice mind you, as sometimes my opponent creates enough threats that castling isn't the best choice.
Here is a game from the current Australasian Masters IM tournament, with young Canberran Albert Winkelman punishing a king caught in the centre. 6.Nh3 is a move I'm not familiar with, but it looks no worse than other main lines. However the real killer move is 17.Bh6! which connects the White rooks while exposing the Black king. After that the game was essentially over, although Black did try a couple of tricks before resigning.

Winkelman,Albert (2283) - Maguire,Tom (2139) [B18]
2019 Australasian Masters IM Norm Tourna Melbourne Chess Club (6.1), 19.12.2019

Wednesday 18 December 2019

2020 Australian Championship

The 2020 Australian Championship is being held in Sydney from the 2nd to the 13th of January, at the St George Leagues Club. Unlike the last Australian Open, this is being run as a single round per day event, which may result in a smaller entry, but will also see higher quality chess.
The Championship is a restricted event, with the Reserves tournament open to all players who do not qualify for the top tournament. There is also a 7 day Under 1800 tournament, scheduled in the morning, so some players can play two events if they wish.
There are over 120 players already entered for the 3 long time control events, and I suspect the final total will be well over 150. Details for the tournament can be found at https://aus2020.chesschamp.net/
I will be at the championship as one of the tournament arbiters (proudly wearing my PNG shirts!)

Tuesday 17 December 2019

Climate Change Chess

The ACT Chess Association is holding the 2019 ACTCA Rapidplay Championship on Saturday 21 December 2019. This is the traditional end of year event for ACT chess, and is usually held on the last Saturday before Christmas. As it is normally held outdoors, weather can always have an effect on play, and attendance.
The forecast for this Saturday is for extremely hot weather. At one point it was forecast to be around 42 degrees, but the latest forecast is or a slightly(!) cooler 39. As a consequence it is more likely than not that the tournament will be held in the air conditioned comfort of King O'Malley's.
The tournament will run from 11am to 2:30pm. There will be over $300 in prizes, with entry $10 ($5 for juniors). The format is a 7 round swiss, with G/15m or each game. Registration is from 10:30am at King O'Malley's, City Walk, Canberra City.

Sunday 15 December 2019

2019 Australasian Masters

Following on from the 2019 Lidums Australian Young Masters, the 2019 Australasian Masters is underway in Melbourne. There are 2 events, an GM norm tournament, and an IM norm tournament. A number of players are backing up from the Adelaide event, while both events also see some new faces.
Once again players from Canberra are represented, with IM Junta Ikeda in the GM event and (FM) Albert Winkleman in the IM tournament. Ikeda is off to a good start on 1.5/2, scoring a nice win in tonight's game.  Winkelman drew his first game against IM Alexej Khamatgaleev, but as I write this, the second round results aren't available.
Coverage for both events can be found via https://chessnews.asia/2019-australasian-masters/

Ikeda,Junta (2439) - Liu,Xiangyi (2385) [E91]
2019 Australasian Masters GM norm Melbourne (2.5), 16.12.2019

Saturday 14 December 2019

2019 Lidums Australian Young Masters - GM Bobby Cheng wins with a picket fence score

It is very rare that a chess tournament is won with a perfect score. It is even rarer in a field that contains a couple of GM's, an IM, and a few FM's. So GM Bobby Cheng's 9/9 at the 2019 Lidums Australian Young Masters, is a result for the record books.
He finished 2 points clear of FM Zhuo Ren Lim (MAS), and a whopping 3.5 points ahead of IM Erlend Mikalsen (NOR) and GM Frode Urkedal (NOR) in third place. His winning run almost came to an end in his final game against Kyle Leaver, but Leaver went wrong in the ending, giving Cheng his 9th win.
Lim's 7 points was good enough for an IM norm, the third he has achieved. He now needs to get his rating about 2400 to be awarded the title.
Of the other players, Tom Maguire and Kyle Leaver both had good performances. Maguire was very 'all or nothing' with 4 wins, 5 losses and no draws, while Leaver was a little more solid with 4 draws do go along with his 2 wins. Albert Winkelman started strongly with 3/4, but a disastrous run of 4 straight losses left him well down the standings. FM Michael Kethro picked up some rating points with his 3.5/9, but time trouble was a constant issue.
Sterling Bayaca won the Open with 8/9. After a loss in the early rounds he strung together 7 straight wins to finish a point and a half ahead of Chathula Kiripitige

Thursday 12 December 2019

2019 Lidums Australian Young Masters - Day 6

GM Bobby Cheng has wrapped up first place in the 2019 Lidums Australian Youngs Masters, winning his 8th consecutive game to be on 8/8 with 1 game to play. He defeated IM Erlend Mikalsen in a fairly short game, to maintain his 1.5 point lead over FM Zhuo Ren Lim.
Lim mover closer to an IM norm with a win over FM Michael Kethro, and he now only needs a draw in tomorrows game to achieve this. GM Frode Erkadel was made to work hard by Aaron Lee before winning his 3rd game of the tournament, while Kyle Leaver and Tom Maguire also scored wins to reach 50%.
Tomorrow Cheng plays Leaver and a win will give him a rare (and possibly unique) 100% in an Australian norm event. Lim will also go into his final round as a favourite against Winkelman, whose form has deserted him in the later half of the tournament. All the action begins at 9:30am Adelaide time, with the final placing likely to be known soon after lunchtime.

Maung, Maung Kyaw - Maguire, Tom
2019 Lidums AYM 12.12.2019

Wednesday 11 December 2019

2019 Lidums Australian Young Masters - Day 5

GM Bobby Cheng continues to dominate the 2019 Lidums Australian Young Masters, scoring his 7th straight win today. He had a quick win over FM Leo Maung and now holds a 1.5 point lead with 2 rounds to play.
FM Zhuo Ren Lim kept his chances of an IM norm alive with a win over top seed GM Frode Urkedal. In an even position Urkedal offered a pawn for play against Lim's exposed king, but Lim was able to keep his king safe, and eventually reached a winning ending.
IM Erland Mikalsen has completely recovered from his jet-lagged start, beating Albert Winkelman, and getting to 4.5. Wins were also recorded by Tom Maguire and Michael Kethro, improving the standings for both.

Tuesday 10 December 2019

2020 Olympiad?

The announcement that the World Anti-Doping Agency has imposed a 4 year ban on Russia hosting any 'major' international sporting events has thrown a cloud over the 2020 Chess Olympiad, due to be held in Moscow in August 2020.
When the ban was announced FIDE were very quick to release a statement saying that as contracts had already been signed, that the Olympiad would not be affected. However this is already been called into doubt, and the statement itself is no on the FIDE website.
There have already been rumors of another venue change, with China being mentioned in this regard. As this is early days I assume the FIDE lawyers are now going over the ruling from WADA to see what it actually imposes on both FIDE and the Russian organisers. There is also the matter of the Russian team itself, as it may not be able to play under its own flag.
More news as it comes to hand!

(Disclaimer: I am a paid official for the 2020 Olympiad. This post is made in a private capacity, and does not represent the views of FIDE or the organisers)

Monday 9 December 2019

2019 Lidums Australian Young Masters - Day 3

Although the tournament is only half way through, GM Bobby Cheng is the overwhelming favourite to win the 2019 Lidums Australian Young Masters. He is on 5/5, winning a wild game against FM Michael Kethro, where both players were down to their last few seconds for their last few moves. Albert Winkelman's attempts at keeping pace with Cheng were dealt a cruel blow after he came unstuck against FM 'Leo' Maung, pushing him back into third place.
Malaysian FM Zhuo Ren Lim has moved into 2nd place, beating Aaron Lee in a quick game. The win keeps his chances of an IM norm alive, although it is a tough 3.5/4, including a game against GM Frode Urkedal.
The Open event saw the lead change once again with George Bartley losing to Ethan Retnaraja, and allowing Sankeertan Badrinarayan and Sterling Bayaca to join Retnaraja in equal first.

Sunday 8 December 2019

2019 Lidums Young Australian Masters - Day 2

GM Bobby Cheng is the clear leader of the 2019 Lidums Young Australian Masters, finishing the 2nd day on 4/4. The 4th round saw him up against the tournaments other GM Frode Urkedal, and in a long hard battle, he emerged victorious.
In 2nd place is Albert Winkelman, who drew both his games today to finish on 3/4. With his draw against Urkedal in round 3, his 'live' FIDE rating went over 2300, which means he has earned the FM title (when the event is submitted for ratings).
Winkleman is still well placed to earn an IM Norm (which is a tough 7/9), while FM Zhuo Ren Lim (2.5/4) and Kyle Leaver (2.5/4) still have a hance of getting there as well.
In the Open, George Bartley and Chathula Kiripitige lead with 3.5/4. Having already played each other, it is their results against the rest of the field which will decide the tournament.

Urkedal, Frode - Cheng, Bobby
2019 Lidums AYM 8.12.2019

Smirnov wins London Chess Classic Open

Australian GM Anton Smirnov has tied for first at the 2019 London Chess Classic Open. He finished with a very impressive 7.5/9 to share first place with GM R. Praggnanandhaa, who he drew with in their individual game.
The result will certainly cement Smirnov's reputation as a future superstar. Having just finished High School Smirnov is playing a number of events in Europe, the most important being the Tata Steel Challengers in January. As well as providing some tough competition, the winner of this event qualifies for the Masters tournament the following year.
While Smirnov was winning the Open, the final of the Grand Chess Tour was also taking place the same venue.  Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Ding Liren qualified for the final, and their first classical game was a completely bonkers 4 queen ending!

Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime - Liren,Ding
Grand Chess Tour Final 6.12.2019

Saturday 7 December 2019

2019 Lidums Australian Young Masters - Round 1

The first round of the 2019 Australian Young Masters and Open and have been completed with Canberra players having some success. Albert Winkelman scored a nice first up win in the Masters, although FM Michael Kethro was less fortunate, although time trouble may have been a factor. In the Open event, 2nd seeded Sankeerten Badrinarayan had a first round win, and followed this up with another full point in round 2.
The tournament home page is lidumsaym.com but you can shortcut to the results (and pgn files) via tournaments.streetchess.net

Winkelman, Albert - Lee, Aaron [A00]
2019 Lidums Australian Young Masters 7.12.2019

Thursday 5 December 2019

2019 Australian Young Masters

The 2019 Australian Young Masters begins in a couple of days. It is being held at the University of Adelaide and features an IM event, a FIDE Rated Open, and an Under 1200 tournament. The IM tournament is a mix of local and overseas players, with FM Michael Kethro and Albert Winkelman taking part.
Normally I watch this event from afar, but have called in as an arbiter at the last minute (this seems to be happening a lot recently!). The tournament website is here, with the first round of all 3 events being 9:30 am on Saturday 7th December (Adelaide Time)

Wednesday 4 December 2019

Sometimes, sometimes ....

For the second game in a row, my basic tactical vision has deserted me. Last week it was missing a simple check, this time is was missing a two move win of a piece. Need to concentrate more ...

Tuesday 3 December 2019

2019 London Chess Classic

The 2019 London Chess Classic has started, with a number of different events on offer. The Grand Chess Tour Final begins this evening, while the FIDE Open has been running for a few days. There is also a number of smaller events, simuls and a Super Blitz Open.
One player already doing well in th FIDE Open is GM Anton Smirnov. Having finished his final year of school he is off to play the winter circuit in Europe, with the LCC being his first event. Currently he is tied for first place on 4/4, in part to this nice win in round 3.

Zujev,Oleg (2316) - Smirnov,Anton (2573) [A00]
11th CSC London Chess Classic Olympia Conference Centre, Lon (3.4), 30.11.2019

Sunday 1 December 2019

2019 ASTC Day 2

Anglican Church Grammar (QLD) has won the 2019 ASTC Open Secondary Section, by half a point ahead of Scotch College (VIC). The tournament was decided in round 4 with 'Churchie' beating Scotch 2.5-1.5. The final round saw Scotch score 3.5 against PAC (SA), but Churchie's 2 points against Sydney Boys High (NSW) was enough to claim the title.
The Girls Secondary Section was won by PLC (VIC) after they scored a 4-0 result in the final round, to leapfrog Sydney Girls High (NSW) and Lyneham High (ACT). These two teams played in the final round and a 3-1 wing for Sydney Girls left them in outright second, with Lyneham finishing third.
Waverly Christian College (VIC) were the runaway winners of the Primary Open, finishing on 18/20. East Marden Primary (SA) and Somerset College (QLD) tied on 11.5, with East Marden claiming second based on the teams head to head result.
Mount View Primary won a closely contested Girls Primary section on 14/20. The final round saw 3 teams with a chance of first place, but a set of 2-2 results left the standings unchanged. Neutral Bay Primary (NSW) finsihed second on tie-break ahead of Turner School (ACT).
The two day event saw a lot of good chess across all the sections. Canberra Grammar provided excellent facilities for the event, and the feedback from the players and visiting schools was uniformly positive.
Thanks for the successful organisation of the event goes to Kate Woodley who put a massive amount of effort into everything connected with the tournament (trophies, sponsorship, signage, room layout, website etc), all while dealing with the worries of an out of control bushfire quite close to her home!

Saturday 30 November 2019

2019 ASTC Day 1

The 2019 Australian Schools Teams Championship is underway at Canberra Grammar School. With 3 rounds out of the way, some sections have seen clear favourites emerge, while others have a number of teams still in contention.
In the Secondary Open Scotch College (Vic) and Anglican Church Grammar (QLD) lead with 11 and 10 respectively. They meet in the morning round, with the heavy win for either team prbablt guaranteeing first place. The fight for third looks like it will be between Canberra Grammar (ACT) and Sydney Boys High (NSW) who also play in the 4th round.
The Secondary Girls event is wide open, with 4 teams in with a chance of first. Sydney Girls High have to play both Lyneham High (ACT) and PLC (Vic), with Kings Christian College (SA) hoping a slightly easier run home is to their benefit.
Waverly Christian College holds a big lead in the Primary Open, but they still have to play Somerset College and Emmanuel School who are currently 2nd and 3rd. Mount View Primary (Vic) lead the Primary Girls, but just an the Primary Open, have to play Neutral Bay (NSW) and Turner School (ACT), who occupy the nest two places.
Full results are being posted after every round, and can be found at http://tournaments.streetchess.net/ASTC2019/ Round 4 starts at 9am tomorrow, with the final round starting at 12:30 pm.

Friday 29 November 2019

Octa Chess

When I turned up at Belconnen Chess Club the other evening, I found a number of envelopes addressed to the club at the door. This was slightly unusual, as we normally don't receive correspondence at the venue. Inside each one was a description of a chess variant title "Octa-Chess".
Without giving too much away, it is normal chess on an expanded board, with the addition of 1 extra piece. The piece is called a "Pike" and moves 2 squares diagonally  (with the ability to jump I assume), but capture moving 1 square up/down or left/right. The reason it is called Octa-Chess is is shaped like an octagon, with it being 20 squares across at its widest (middle 2 ranks) and 12 squares long at its highest (middle 10 columns).
Not having a board handy (or coding a computer version as yet), I'm guessing that the Knights and Pawns will suffer (due to the larger board), while Bishops will become stronger (for the same reason). With 8 extra Pikes the game will also be longer than normal chess, but as chess variants go, it isn't a bad one.
The game was invented (I assume) by Tell Arstargazer and based on the distribution of letters, I'm guessing Belconnen Chess Club isn't the only club to receive a copy of the rules.

Thursday 28 November 2019

Short timers disease

2019 has been a pretty good chess year for me. Up until this evening I had only lost 4 long time control games all year, and 2 of those losses were against Liren Ding. So reaching the end of the calendar year, I just needed to avoid any accidents to end up with a big plus score.
Then I managed to lose the following game. It didn't get off to a good start when I misplayed the opening (Qe7 instead of d6 is book), but my opponent took a lot of time to work out what to do. So much so that after Qxb5 I was dead equal. And then I blundered!

Butler,Brian - Press,Shaun [C63]
Canberra Club Championship (9), 27.11.2019

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Can't help myself, bad habits.

Over the years I have tried to rid myself of my bad chess playing habits. This change includes calculation sacrifices to the end end, avoiding risky openings, and playing simplified positions against junior players.
However I still can't help ignoring my own advice when facing the Two Knights as black. Despite some setbacks in recent years, I will still play the Traxler if given the chance. This is despite knowing that modern computer analysis does not think it is sound. Still, if my opponent isn't aware of all the tricks, it can still score some good wins for Black.

Kong,Dexuan - Press,Shaun [C57]
Swiss Festive Fun (4), 26.11.2019

Monday 25 November 2019

A guide to Canberra

Next weekend the Australian Schools Teams Chess Championship will be held in Canberra, Australia's Capital City. For those not familiar with the sights of the city, here is a visual guide to Canberra (NB It may be slightly out of date)

Sunday 24 November 2019


White to play and win
Solving studies is a good way to improve your chess but it isn't for everyone. Like solving cryptic crosswords, you either get them, or you don't. But also like cryptic crosswords, once you crack the code, you can usually solve lots of them quite easily.
I'm not sure where this study fits in to that theory. It is White to play and win, and to be honest, the first few moves kind of suggest themselves. With Black threatening to promote on c1, White's first few moves are designed to deal with this. It then gets more interesting after that, and the full solution is quite entertaining. But like a lot of long studies, it turns out that while there is one line that fits the overall theme, there is an alternative line which is a lot less fun.

Thursday 21 November 2019

Knowing when to dig in

Faced with a totally lost position, there are often 3 choices. Firstly you can simply resign and head home. If you don't wish to do that, then you can either dig in, or play for tricks. Which one works best often depends on the situation you are facing. If you suspect your opponent may not always find the best move in a complicated position, then playing for tricks is probably the best strategy. If however, you suspect your opponent may struggle to find the best plan, then digging in and defending often pays off.
Continuing on from yesterdays post, the rest of the game saw me trying to avoid insta-death by choosing moves that did not lose on the spot. While I didn't get everything right, by keeping the game going, the onus was on my opponent to find the win. Eventually his shortage of time began to tell, and not seeing any clear path to victory, exchanged in what looked like a winning ending (which it probably was). However my counterplay looked stronger than it was, which again meant he need to find a winning plan, and when he didn't, I was able to reach a drawn King and Pawn ending.

Press,Shaun - Chan,Darryl [B19]
Canberra CC (8), 20.11.2019

The most powerful knight in the world

I had a totally bizarre experience in a game I played this evening.  In an 'castle on opposite sides' Caro-Kan my opponent offered me a pawn which I unwisely gobbled. With my queen under attack, I retreated it to d3 which prevented my opponent playing Ne4. Much to my surprise my opponent still played this move, and this is were the weirdness really kicked in. I decided I couldn't take the knight, as if I did, the knight on e4 would capture the bishop on c3. This of course is the knight I had just captured! So instead I chose to retreat the bishop to e1 (covering f2). Then I decided my opponent could simply play Rxb2+ as after Kxb2 Rb8+ Ka1, the knight on e4 would move to c2 (yes it is an illegal move) and I would have to give up my queen!
It was only then that I realised I was giving the knight on e4 magical powers and that I should have played Qxe4 when I had the chance. Deciding that my brain was still capable of playing tricks on me I soon offered my opponent a draw, which he wisely declined. However, I did manage to defend a completely lost position and eventually salvaged a draw (which will be shown in par 2 of this post)

Press,Shaun - Chan,Darryl [B19]
Canberra CC (8), 20.11.2019

Tuesday 19 November 2019

The match that never was

In the late 1980's my game console of choice was the Sega Master System. It wasn't the most popular console on the market, but it did have a nice choice of titles. What it was missing at the time was a chess program, or if it did have one I couldn't find it.
It turns out all I had to do is wait until 1991, when Sega Chess was released. Of course by that time I had moved on to PC based games, and the Master System was banished to the garage (where it still sits today!).
But through the magic of the Internet Archives I was able to find, and play, Sega Chess, and I have to say it wasn't that bad. I started it on the beginner level, which I do against all new programs, and looked at what it would do against the Kings Gambit (my usual 'test' opening). While I wasn't surprised it dropped a piece early on (usually caused by a shallow look ahead), it played pretty sensibly after that. Certainly the moves looked like 'real chess', which was important back when newish players used chess computers to improve their own play.
The game lasted about 50 moves, but to my shame, when typing it in for this post, I realised I missed a couple of bank rank mates  on move 26 and 27! So rather than bore you with the extra moves, I will only post the moves up until that point ('and white wins' is how it usually goes).
You can find the game here (it works in your browser) and if you can stand the clunky interface and cheesy 8 bit soundtrack, it is actually a useful program for building up your tactical vision. As I have recommended in the past, start off at the lowest level, and every time you win, move up to the next level.

Press,Shaun - Sega Chess [C30]
1991 Rematch ICCF, 19.11.2019

Monday 18 November 2019

The advantages of Seniors chess

I was looking at the latest results from the 2019 World Seniors Chess Championship in Bucharest and I saw something that makes total sense for an event like this. One of the side activities offered by the organisers (and sponsors) is Wine tasting. As someone who has played a lot of Olympiads, this is certainly a well known 'unofficial' activity, but to see it as a formal part of the tournament is quite nice.

Sunday 17 November 2019

How many mistakes?

GM John Nunn thought you needed to make 3 mistakes in the opening to lose quickly as White, and 2 mistakes to lose if you were Black. The following game is certainly a quick loss for White, although what the real mistakes were is open to debate.
10.c3 was definitely one, as Blacks next move showed. I'd also point the finger of blame at 9.Na4 although at that point White was already running out of good moves. And while I didn't think exchanging on c6 was correct, following it up with 6.d4 was the first real mistake. After 6...Ba6 White had a problem with getting the king to safety, and the rest of the game was about exploiting this fact.

Radisich,Matt - Press,Harry [B30]
Street Chess, 16.11.2019

Friday 15 November 2019

The facts don't Ly

A hat tip to Harry Press for drawing my attention to some local (ie Australian) youtube chess content. GM Moulthun Ly has a large number of chess videos at youtube, covering a wide range of topics. He mainly focuses on opening ideas (Anti-French lines, traps in the London) as well as analysing recent games. His most recent video is a look at the Reverse Halloween Gambit which was played by GM David Smerdon against Jason Chan in Queenstown in 2006.
The videos are very well produced and Moulthun explains the ideas and variations quite clearly. If you are interested in having a look, you can find Moulthun's page here.

Thursday 14 November 2019

2019 World Seniors

The 2019 World Seniors has started in Bucharest with very strong fields in all sections. There are 30 GM's taking part along with a large number of titled players. There are 4 Australian players and 3 New Zealand players at the tournament, and as luck would have it, 2 of the Australian players (Charles Zworestine and Aurel John-Buciu) were paired against each other in round 1!
The rounds start at midnight Canberra time, and there is live coverage of the top boards from each tournament.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

A rapid attack

Lev Aronian has just won his second Grand Chess Tour event of the year. Along the way he won this nice game against Karjakin, using an interesting move order idea in the Italian.

Aronian,L (2772) - Karjakin,Sergey (2754) [C53]
Superbet TB 2019 Bucharest ROU (2), 10.11.2019

Sunday 10 November 2019

2019 Vikings Weekender - IM Junta Ikeda wins

IM Junta Ikeda was the convincing winner of the 2019 Vikings Weekender, scoring 6/7. He lead the field by a point and a half going into the final round, but a drew with FM Jason Hu (in the last game to finish) allowed the chasing pack to narrow the gap. After finishing the first day with 4 wins, Ikeda drew with IM Sephen Solomon is round 5, beat Willis Lo in round 6, before drawing with Hu in round 7.
Second place was shared between IM Stephen Solomon, Fred Litchfield and Wenlin Yin. Solomon went through the event undefeated, but 4 straight draws in rounds 3 to 6 left him on 5 points. WIM Biljana Dekic finished strongly to claim the Under 2000 prize, while Ryan Hii won the Under 1600 prize.
The Minor (Under 1600) was won by Craig Stewart with 6.5/7. Lee Forace finished in second place on 5.5, with Erik Jochimsen, Jason Gillard, Lily Cai and Yutta Mantoro tied for thrid on 5. Lily Cai picked up the prize for best Female player, Jacob Wong was the best Under 100 players, while there was a 4 way tie for best junior.
The final day saw a couple of losses that could be described as real tragedies. In one game a player had just reached a winning rook and pawn ending (the Lucena position), but with around 20 seconds on the clock, spent too much time deciding the best course of action and lost on time. In the second a player was offered a draw, but decided to play on, with what was unfortunately an illegal move. As the piece touched (a queen) could only be moved en pris (to block a check), the player resigned instead.
Once again the tournament was enjoyable for all who took part, and was played in good spirits. The ACT Chess Association was able to distribute $3300 in prizes, due in part to the generous sponsorship of the Vikings Club, Street Chess and Jim Flood.

Saturday 9 November 2019

2019 Vikings Weekender - Day 1

IM Junta Ikeda holds a 1 point lead after the first day of the 2019 Vikings Weekender. He won all 4 games played today, finishing with a win over CM Lalit Prasad. In second place are Willis Lo, IM Stephen Solomon and Prasad. Tomorrow mornings round sees Ikeda against Solomon, a pairing which will likely decide the outcome of the $1000 first prize.
Solomon went through the day undefeated, but drew with Lo and Fred Litchfield. Litchfield chose an interesting line of the Sicilian Dragon, where a lot of material is exchanged, and Black tries to hold the subsequent ending.
In the Minor, Jason Gillard and Craig Stewart share the lead on 4 points. They play in round 5, with the large group of players on 3 hoping for a draw between them.
The tournament attracted a good field of 56 players, with a smaller field in the Open offset by a larger field in the Minor. Apart from the lure of $1000 for first place, the ACT Chess Association is offering plenty of sectional prizes, so tomorrow should see more hard fought chess.

Friday 8 November 2019

2019 Vikings Weekender Coverage

If you want to follow the 2019 Vikings Weekender online, then go to  tournaments.streetchess.net/vikings2019/
Apart from updated results, there will be live coverage of the top boards of the Open (and possibly the top board of the Minor). The tournament starts tomorrow at 10:30 am, with 4 rounds on Saturday and 3 on Sunday.
At this stage the top seeds are IM Junta Ikeda, IM Stephen Solomon and FM Jason Hu. There is also a strong group of ACT players taking part (Litchfield, Lo, Yin and Press) so it should be a very competitive event.
Online entries are still being taken at http://vesus.org/festivals/2019-vikings-weekender/ or you can enter at the venue from 10 am tomorrow morning.

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Olympiad on the move?

A very recent announcement from the FIDE President indicates that the 2020 Chess Olympiad may not be in Khanty-Mansiysk as originally  announced. The whole event may be moved to Moscow, with the new created chess Para-Olympiad being held in K-M instead.
While some people seem to welcome this development, I confess to being dissapointed if the venue is changed. I quite like Khanty-Mansiysk, and have found the small city Olympiads (eg Bled) more social than those held in big cities. There is of course an extra travel leg (3 hours flying time from Moscow), but this isn't that onerous (especially for teams who have already spent 20+ hours in transit).
Hopefully there will be further announcements in the next few days, especially if the move necessitates a change of dates. While teams based in Europe can probably organise their travel quite easily, for the rest of us, planning trips like this have a greater lead time.

Tuesday 5 November 2019

A modern king hunt

The European Team Championship has just finished, with Russia winning ahead of The Ukraine and England. One of the highlights from the tournament came in the round 7 match between Russia and Germany. Daniil Dubov sacrifices a rook to drive Rasmus Svane's king out into the open. Once Svane misses the only defence on move 29 (Qxe6!), Dubov has a forced mate, which is doesn't miss.

Dubov,Daniil (2699) - Svane,Rasmus (2592) [D37]
22nd European Teams Batumi GEO (7.4), 31.10.2019

Monday 4 November 2019

It almost plays itself

The following game is one I use quite frequently so demonstrate the strength of a centralised knight. But not only due I use it as a teaching aid, but I've also implemented the same idea in some of my own games (including one I played last week).
The whole system was developed by Pillsbury, and was one of the reasons why the Queens Gambit became such a popular opening in the first half of the 20th Century. Since then Black has found a number of more dynamic defences, but it is still worth studying, especially if you want to use 1.d4 as an attacking opening.

Pillsbury,Harry Nelson - Marco,Georg [D55]
Paris Paris (12), 08.06.1900

Friday 1 November 2019

Rolled Gold

If you are looking for some classic chess software, the Internet Archive is a fantastic resource. Recently they upload over 2000 classic MS Dos games, and there around 50 chess titles among this list. Probably the program most people rember is Battle Chess, and there are a few versions of that. Also upload are Chessmaster 2100, Sargon III and Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess.
All the programs can be run inside your browser, so there is no need to download Dos-Box or another emulator. And if you get tired of chess, there are lots of other programs to try.
This is the link to the chess programs and you can find non chess programs by following the navigation links.

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Brave Sir Robin ran away

Speaking of taking a reputational hit as a chess player, I saw another example of this today.
I am currently playing in a club event, where a provisional draw is published in advance. So for the last week I knew who I was supposed to be playing this evening. More importantly, my opponent knew he was supposed to be playing me.
So when I turned up to the club this evening, I was not that surprised to be told that he had requested a half point bye, and that I would be paired against some one else. Even less surprising was that 10 minutes into the round, my original opponent turned up to watch the games. 
The trick he was trying to pull (and the club lets him get away with it), is to avoid having the black pieces against a stronger player. As I won my game we are now on the same points and will likely be paired in the next round, albeit with me playing black,

The big sit

What happens if your opponent refuses to move, and decides that they would rather lose on time than either resign or be checkmated? Pretty much nothing. The time on their clock is to do with as they please, and if that involves sitting at the board for an hour, then that is their right.
As a tournament arbiter, this has happened on occasion, and I've been asked whether I can do anything. I certainly can't make the player move or resign, but I can make sure they follow the rules while the game is still in progress. The one rule that I do insist upon in this situation is that they must remain at the board during their move. I also forbid them from talking to anyone, or acting in a distracting manner. Interestingly, when I have done this, resignation usually occurs quite quickly.
Of course it is poor sportsmanship to behave in this manner, but for some players, their chess reputation doesn't seem to matter. For younger players this is understandable, but for players old enough to know better, it is a bit of a mystery to me. Maybe they've seen the story of Curt von Bardeleben (who famously walked out on Steinitz rather than resign) and decided that infamy is just as good as fame.

Monday 28 October 2019

Memories of Norths

For chess clubs without their own premises (which is the case for most chess clubs in Australia), it can be a nomadic existence. For example, the Belconnen Chess Club has had 6 different venues since it was formed in 1981.
One of the venues (and a good one at that) was the Norths Rugby Union Club. Located in club district in Belconnen, it had an large upstairs area that the club was happy to let us use, in return for the custom that the chess club members brought in. As the club wasn't usually that busy, and Belconnen had a membership of around 50 at the time, it was a deal that suited both parties.
Unfortunately the lack of trade at other times finally caught up with the club, with its closure forcing Belconnen to move once again. However, during our time there, the club hosted a number of strong events (and weekenders), and I played a lot of good chess there. One game I remember to this day was the following win over Rory OBrien, a strong Canberra junior in the 1990's.

Press,Shaun - O'Brien,Rory [D15]
ACT-ch Canberra, 1993

Sunday 27 October 2019

Don't fear the leaper

I'm not an expert endgame player by any sensible measurement system, but I do have one thing that gets me good results during this stage of the game. Confidence. If I think I can win an ending, or that the ending is better for me, then I'm likely to find the right plan.
As a result I'm often happy to head for an ending if nothing else is working for me, on the grounds that I can induce a mistake from my opponent. In the following recent example, I was happy to offer the exchange of queens on the grounds that I though the knight ending was easily winning. I probably over estimated my chances, but in doing so I was able to play the right sort of moves to improve my winning chances. It turns out one of my 'good' moves was based on a miscalculation on my part, but my opponent missed the best reply, and a few moves later (in time trouble) went wrong himself.

Press,Shaun - Aliyev,Kamran [B22]
Canberra CC (5), 23.10.2019

Saturday 26 October 2019

2019 ASTC

The 2019 Australian Schools Teams Championship is being held in Canberra over the weekend of the 30th November and 1st December. It is run in 4 sections (Primary Open and Girls, Secondary Open and Girls) with each Australia state entitled to send a team. Normally each section is a 6 team round robin, with a time limit of G60m+10s
Most states are in the process of selecting their representatives, including the ACT. Our final playoffs are this weekend, with a number of schools and teams taking part. To mirror the format of the ASTC, the time controls are the same, which for some students, is their first opportunity to take part in this type of event.
Full details of the ASTC final can be found at https://sites.google.com/view/2019-astc/home

Thursday 24 October 2019

The massive rating jump

Under the current FIDE rating regulations it is now possible to see ratings increase by quite a large amount, especially if you are a junior player. Looking at some of the performances from the current World Junior, there are more than a few players looking to gain 100+ rating points from this event.
However, this pales in comparison  to picking up 335 points in a single rating period, from only 2 events. Hikaru Oka (formerly AUS, but now JPN) did so recently, playing in two tournaments in Serbia. Starting with a rating of 2068, he picked up 190 and 145 points from each event, and is now the highest rated player in Japan. His rise to the top has been quite meteoric, as 2 years ago he was rated in the 1600's, but trips to Serbia (and Montenegro) have seen a huge improvement.
It will be interesting to see if he can maintain this form, but if he does, he may well b the top board for the Japan team at the next Olympiad.

Wednesday 23 October 2019

2019 World Junior

The 2019 World Junior Championship is taking place in New Delhi, with a very strong field taking part. Local hopes rest on the shoulders of R. Praggnanadhaa (although GM Murali Karthikeyan is higher rated), while Australia is being represented by GM Temur Kuybokarov and Albert Winkelman. Both are placed in the mid field, although Winkelman did manage to take half a point of top seed GM Tabatabei of Iran. Poor Tabatabei isn't having a great tournament overall, losing by default to Israeli IM Or Bronstein, and apparently being unwell at the same time.
The home page for the event is at https://worldjuniorchess2019.com/ if you want to follow the games, see the standings, or listen to live commentary.

Winkelman,Albert (2143) - Tabatabaei,M.amin (2642) [B67]
58th World Juniors 2019 New Delhi IND (2.16), 16.10.2019

Monday 21 October 2019

2019 Vikings Weekender - 9th and 10th November 2019

The ACT Chess Association and the Tuggeranong Chess Club are holding the 2019 Vikings Weekender Chess Tournament on the 9th and 10th November 2019. The venue is the Lanyon Club, Heidelberg St, Condor, ACT.

There is an Open section (all players are eligible and an Under 1600 section. Both events will be 7 round tournaments with a time limit of 60m+10s per game.


Saturday 9th November

Entries: 10am (at venue)

Round 1: 10:30 am

Round 2: 1:30 pm

Round 3: 4:00 pm

Round 4: 7:00 pm


Round 5: 10:30am

Round 6: 1:30 pm

Round 7: 3:45 pm


Open 1st $1000

Under 1600 1st $500

(All other prizes dependent on entries. NB Previous years have seen $3000+ in prizes paid out)

Entry Fees


$45 Concession

$45 Junior (Under 18)


Registration and further details available at http://vesus.org/festivals/2019-vikings-weekender/

To register online please choose the relevant tournament, click on 'Register Now' and select 'Other Nationality'. If you have a FIDE ID search on your surname and click the 'Register' button. If you do not have a FIDE ID, fill in the form. If you do not know your ACF ID or rating, simply enter '1' in the required fields.

Sunday 20 October 2019

2019 New Caledonia Open - GM Adrien Demuth wins playoff for title

The 2019 New Caledonia Open had a dramatic finish after GM's Adrien Demuth and Sammy Shoker finished on 8/9. Both players won their final round games, with Demuth beating local player Rene Petre, while Shoker played a very nice game to beat IM Anthony Ker. As a result, the two player then played a 10m+5s playoff game, which was won by Demuth, who got his mating attack in first. The playoff was a fitting end to the tournament, as it was watched by a large crowd of spectators, who had been following the event throughout the week.
IM Russell Dive went into the final round with faint hopes of catching the leaders, but was close to losing to FM Michael Steadman instead. Some clever endgame play saved him half a point, and he finished outright third on 7/9 (having drawn with both GM's). Fourth place was shared by WFM Camille De Seroux and FM John Duneas, who both won their last round games to finish on 6/9.
There were some good results further down, especially for the local players. Twelve year old Arden Kaemo finished on 4.5/9, a result that included wins ove WFM Vivian Smith and Australian veteran Oleg Korenevski. Rene Petre finished as the best local player on 5.5/9 with a TPR of 2053.
For some of the competitors the next few days will see them staying on for some vacation activities. For the rest of us, it is off to the airport and travel back to Australia, New Zealand or Papua New Guinea. According to the organisers they hope to run this event every few years (sponsorship permitting), and if they do, I would highly recommend it to all.
Full results from the tournament can be found at http://chess-results.com/tnr476323.aspx?lan=1

Ker,Anthony - Shoker,Sammy
New Caledonia Open (8) 2019

Saturday 19 October 2019

2019 New Caledonia Open - Day 5

The second last day of the 2019 New Caledonia Open was a good one for local players, although there was no change at the top of the table.
GM Adrien Demuth defeated WFM Camille De Seroux to move to 7/8, as did GM Sammy Shoker who beat FM Bob Smith, IM Russell Dive left himself with an outside chance of 1st by beating Miles Patterson to reach 6.5/8. IM Anthony Ker has moved into equal 4th on 5.5, along with Rene Petre who had a win over Nigel Metge.
Further down there were wins for local players, with Nicolas Douyere beating FM Stuart Fancy and Arden Kaemo winning against WFM Viv Smith.
The last round today begins at noon and there are still some tricky pairings to be navigated. Shoker is up against Ker, while Dive is playing FM Michael Steadman. Demuth is facing the tough to beat Petre on board 2, so the final results may not be known until late in the afternoon.

Friday 18 October 2019

2019 New Caledonia Open - Day 4

White to play 
The 4th day of the 2019 New Caledonia Open saw a change in the lead, with GM's Samy Shoker and Adrien Demuth now tied for 1st on 6/7. The double round day started with IM Russell Dive and Demuth drawing their game, which allowed Shoker to join them on 5 points, after he beat Nigel Metge. That set of results meant that Shoker, Demuth and Dive had all drawn with each other, leaving the tournament to be decided by other games.
This turned out to be the case in the afternoon round when Dive and WFM Camille De Seroux played out a tough draw on Board 1. Shoker beat FM John Duneas and Demuth beat FM Mike Steadman, leaving the 2 GM's half a point ahead of Dive. De Seroux is in outright 4th on 5.5, but is paired against Demuth on today's round.
Further down there was a dramatic game between FM Bob Smith and FM Stuart Fancy. The diagrammed position was reached around move 68, and the debate among spectators was whether this was a win for White. If you've seen the tournament results you will know what happened, but how Bob Smith pulled it off is left as an exercise for the reader.

Thursday 17 October 2019

2019 New Caledonia Open - Rest Day

Although yesterday was a rest day for the 2019 Caledonia Open, most of the participants did not get much rest from playing chess. The action moved from the tournament venue to down town Noumea where a big chess display was set up for locals and tourists to watch.
Activities started with some 'running chess', where the clock was placed some distance from the board, requiring the players to run to press it after playing their move. It was no surprise that the participants in this activity seemed to be junior players only. Then GM's Adrien Demuth and Sammy Shoker played a tandem simul across 20 boards. Despite the risk of confusion between the two players, it looked as though they were scoring wins at a fairly fast rate.
In the afternoon there was a blitz event in the square (Street Chess style), with 70 players taking part. GM Sammy Shoker won with 8.5/9, followed by GM Adrien Demuth on 8, and FM John Duneas in third on 7. I scored a poor 6/9, starting with 2/5 (including hanging a rook in one game), before recovering with 4 wins.
Today it is back to the main event with 2 rounds to be played. The Dive Demuth game is the important one, as the winner of this pairing will take a lead into the final 3 rounds.

Tuesday 15 October 2019

2019 New Caledonia Open - Day 3

Day 3 of the 2019 New Caledonia Open was the first of the single round days. The top board pairing saw IM Russell Dive against GM Sammy Shoker, and after an interesting game, the players reached a rook and pawn ending, which was agreed drawn on move 40. GM Adrian Demuth took his chance to catch Dive by beating FM John Duneas in a positional game where Demuth played risk free but effective chess. Nigel Metge moved into a share of third by beating local hope Sylvain Giraud, while Miles Patterson also moved to 4 with a win over the dangerous Laurent Lalo. WFM Camille De Seroux also remained in contention, scoring a significant upset win over IM Anthony Ker.
Tomorrow is the tournament rest day, although there is plenty of chess for the participants. The New Caledonia Chess Federation is holding a chess day in one of the town parks, which includes blindfold chess, chess 960, fitness chess (involving giant pieces), simultaneous displays, and a open blitz event. A large turnout for all events is expected, and it should be a fun day for all.

Monday 14 October 2019

2019 New Caledonia Open - Day 2

IM Russell Dive is the sole leader of the 2019 New Caledonia Open, with 4 wins from 4 games. He defeated IM Anthony Ker in round 4, while the all GM pairing of Sammy Shoker v Adrien Demuth ended in a draw. In tomorrows round, Dive is paired with Shoker, while Demuth is up against FM John Duneas on board 2. Duneas was fortunate to escape with a draw against WFM Camille De Seroux, after De Seroux had been better for most of the game. Canberra player Miles Patterson us in a group of players on 3 points, winning from what was drawn position in round 4, after his opponent miscalculated in a rook and pawn ending. He also had the pleasure of witnessing the following round 3 game, which was decided by a trap in his favorite opening.

Demuth,Adrien - Giraud,Sylvain
New Caledonia Open (3) 2019

Sunday 13 October 2019

2019 New Caledonia Open - Day 1

The 2019 New Caledonia Open started today, with 40 players in the top section, and another 42 players in the junior events. Top seed is Egyptian GM Sammy Shoker, who is currently working in New Caledonia as a secondary school teacher. Second seed is GM Adrian Demuth, with New Zealanders Anthony Kerr and Russell Dive rounding out the top 4.
The first day started with 2 rounds, and while the top 4 finished with 2/2, there were a couple of upsets in the second round. FM Michael Steadman blundered in the opening against Michel Veu and had to scramble for a draw. FM Bob Smith sacrificed a large amount of material against local player Nicolas Douyere and found to his horror that there was no win, and no draw either. Otherwise most of the other games went according to seeding, although there were a number of relieved players handing in scoresheets at the completion of their games.
Tomorrow is another double round day, with the top seeds getting closer to playing. Full results from the tournament (and pairings for the next round) can be found at http://chess-results.com/tnr476323.aspx?lan=1


Saturday 12 October 2019

2019 New Caledonia Open

Today saw the opening ceremony for the 2019 New Caledonia Open. It was well attended and saw an unusual method of drawing for colours. The top 2 seeds GM Sammy Shoker and GM Adrian Demuth played a rapid game, with the winner being white in the first round. In a tense game, watched by an attentive crowd, Demuth won on time, in a position that was better, but still hard to win.
After that excitement, there was a drinks and nibbles function for the players, before everyone retired for study/sleep etc.
The first 2 rounds take place tomorrow, starting at 9am local time. At the close of entries there were 36 players in the top section, including 2 GM's and 2 IM's (Russell Dive and Anthony Ker). There is also a B tournament (for junior players) and a girls event as well.

Friday 11 October 2019

IOM Masters

Despite my attempts to stay up for it, I will probably just miss the start of the Isle of Man Masters. It begins in around half an hour my time, which is 1am Canberra time (for anyone keeping score). The tournament is a 154 player swiss, with the winner qualifying for the Candidates tournament (except if that winner is Magnus Carlsen). Unlike previous years, the pairings seem to be back to top half v bottom half, so Carlsen is playing Kuzubov in the first round, rather than someone like Caruana.
While there are no Australian players in the field, IM Brandon Clarke who lived here for a number of years is. He is seeded towards the tail, but with his rating now well over 2400 a decent set of results could put him in GM norm territory.

Thursday 10 October 2019

You always need a backup plan

Just a random observation from the ACT Junior Chess Championship. Less experienced players are still able to form and execute a good plan, but when it doesn't succeed, they often replace it with no plan.
In more than one game, I saw players fall to pieces after their opponents found a defence their attacking idea. Instead of starting over (in terms of assessment and planning), they simply played for tricks, and soon went down.

Monday 7 October 2019

2019 CJS Purdy Memorial (Ryde-Eastwood) Open - Day 3

IM Igor Bjelobrk has won the 2019 CJS Purdy Memorial (Ryde Eastwood) Open with a comprehensive 6.5/7. Starting the day on 5/5 he defeated Jack Rodgers in the morning round, before a quick draw with Fred Litchfield in round 7 wrapped up first place. WGM Jilin Zhang took outright second on 6 pints, after defeating IM George Xie in the final round. Third place was shared by Litchfield and Rodgers, on 5.5.
The three rating sections were all closely contested, with each group seeing a 3 ways tie for 1st. There was a mixture of senior and junior players collecting prize money, with veterans like Tony Baldwin and Vic Tanev sharing in the spoils.
Full results for this event can be found at http://blitz.vegachess.com/vega-trn/index.php?id=115&event_id=73

Sunday 6 October 2019

2019 Ryde Eastwood (CJS Purdy Memoral) Open - Day 2

Day 2 of the 2019 Ryde Eastwood (CJS Purdy Memorial) Open sees IM Igor Bjelobrk in outright first on 5/5. He defeated second seed IM George Xie in the crucial 5th round, after Xie had also started with 4 wins. He is closely followed by Jack Rodgers on 4.5, who won 4 of his games and drew with WGM Jilin Zhang in round 4. On 4 points is a group of 6 players, including Xie and Zhang.
Rodgers and Bjelobrk meet in round 6 tomorrow morning, while Xie, Zang and Fred Litchfield all hoping to win their opening games of the day to have a chance of cacthing the top 2.
Current results can be found at http://blitz.vegachess.com/vega-trn/index.php?id=115&event_id=73

Jiang,Jack - Huynh, Arthur [C55]
Ryde Eastwood Open (5) 2019

2918 Ryde Eastwood (CJS Purdy Memorial) Open - Day 1

The first day of the 2019 Ryde Eastwood (CJS Purdy Memorial) saw 5 players start with 3 wins from the 3 games played.
Normally a 3 round day would see players collapsing from exhaustion (or taking half point byes for the final round), but the easier 60m+30s time limit meant most players survived the ordeal. The top two seeds IM Igor Bjelobrk and IM George Xie were joined by Bengt Largo, Fred Litchfield and Jack Rodgers at the top of the table. WGM Jilin Zhang leads a large pack on 2.5, after Daniel Malamed held her to a draw in the third round.
The event saw a good field of 79 players enter, some being attracted by the $5200 prize pool, while others by the single tournament format. Tomorrow sees rounds 4 and 5 before the field enjoys watching the Raiders win the NRL Grand Final. Results from the tournament can be found at http://blitz.vegachess.com/vega-trn/index.php?id=115&event_id=73

Friday 4 October 2019

2019 Ryde Eastwood Open

The 2019 Ryde Eastwood Open is running from the 5th to the 7th of October, at the Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club in Sydney. At this stage the tournament has attracted a strong field, and a rush of last minute entries is expected.
While the tournament isn't FIDE rated, it is being run using a time control that may prove popular for future FIDE rated events. The 7 round event is being played with a time control of 60m+30s per move. This is due to the tournament schedule being arranged around the timing of the Rugby League Grand Final (Go Raiders!), meaning the usual Sunday evening round is not held in this case.
So the tournament sees 3 rounds on Saturday, with 2 rounds on the other days.
As an experiment, I (in my role as Chief Arbiter) will be using the new Vega results service. You can see the list of entries, as well as results at http://blitz.vegachess.com/vega-trn/index.php?id=115&event_id=73 
Hopefully it will all work ok, but if not head over the nswca.org.au and I will update them there.

Thursday 3 October 2019

2019 New Caledonia Open

New Caledonia is hosting an international open event between the 13th and 19th of October 2019. At this stage a strong field of players has entered, with 2 GM's and 3 IM's heading the field. While the majority of player are local, there is a large group of NZ players, and a smaller group of Australian players.
I had originally intended to play, but have been called in to be the Chief Arbiter instead. I have always wanted to visit New Caledonia, so I am looking forward to the tournament.
The current list of entries is at http://chess-results.com/tnr476323.aspx?lan=1 and I hope to update them as new entries come in.

Wednesday 2 October 2019

No fun on the wrong side of the board

Liren Ding has taken the lead in the final of the 2019 World Cup, with a nice win over Teimour Radjobov in game 2. It was a pretty dominant win for Ding, especially as he sacrificed a pawn in the opening, and did not regain it until the position was overwhelmingly in his favour. From Radjabov's point of view I suspect this wasn't an enjoyable experience, as for most of the game he had to defend, while watching Ding target Black's weaknesses and improve his position.
Of all the moves played by Ding, I particularly liked 36.Ka2. It didn't actually threaten anything immediate, but it allowed Ding to create a couple more threats, while avoiding any counterplay based on checks on the back rank. And in the end Radjabov couldn't defend everything, and with his king in a mating net, he resigned on move 40.

Ding,Liren (2811) - Radjabov,Teimour (2758) [A19]
FIDE World Cup 2019 Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (7.2), 04.10.2019

Monday 30 September 2019

Another World Cup best of

Another good game from the 2019 World Cup involved Jeffrey Xiong and Jan Duda. It was all the more significant because this was a 'must win' game from Xiong, as he had lost the first game in round 4. After move 26 White has a clear advantage, but if you wonder why Duda didn't capture on d5 on move 28, then you're in the same boat as me. It turns out that Xiong simply moves the rook to d1, pushes the f pawn to f4, and at the right moment plays f5+, checks on e1, captures on d5, and wins with Re7!

Xiong,Jeffery (2707) - Duda,Jan-Krzysztof (2730) [C24]
FIDE World Cup 2019 Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (4.2), 21.09.2019

Saturday 28 September 2019

Another lesson in king safety

While the following game was played at my local chess club (and not in somewhere like Khanty-Mansiysk) it does have a passing resemblance to the game I presented from yesterday. White gets a nice position out of the opening, but it is only when Black neglects his king safety (in this case by capturing on f5), that the position falls apart. Despite attempts to find a way out, Black cannot cover every entry point of White's heavy pieces, and the combination of a passed pawn and threats against the Black king soon prove decisive.

Patterson,Miles - Grcic,Milan [A04]
Belconnen CC (3), 25.09.2019

Down to 3

The World Cup is now down to 3 players. Teimour Radjabov defeated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the second game of their semi final, while Liren Ding and Yangyi Yu finished their semi final at 1-1. This means Ding and Yu will go to tie break games to see who plays Radjabov.

Radjabov,Teimour (2758) - Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime (2774) [A34]
FIDE World Cup 2019 Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (6.2), 27.09.2019

Friday 27 September 2019

Best World Cup game of rounds 1 and 2

With so many games being played at the 2019 World Cup it is hard to decide which one is the best played game. The organisers are offering a special prize in this category, and have opened it up to the public to vote on. A panel of experts is making up a shortlist and then the most popular game wins.
For the first 2 rounds the game between Firouzja and Dubov got the nod. The voting for the best game in rounds 3&4 is still open at this time, and if you wish to vote, follow the links from here.

Firouzja,Alireza (2702) - Dubov,Daniil (2699) [B31]
FIDE World Cup 2019 Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (2.2), 14.09.2019

Tuesday 24 September 2019

The Collywobbles

"Collywobbles" is a term that both means an upset stomach, and the semi-regular choke by the Collingwood AFL team. It turns out that the second definition was in play on Saturday night, as Collingwood lost their preliminary final, despite being the overwhelming favourite against Greater Western Sydney.
Chess players can always sympathise, as it is very easy to turn a winning position into something less than that. Tonight's Belconnen Club Championship round saw a number of endings where players went from simply winning, to either drawing or losing.
The most tragic example came from the position below. White has an easily winning bishop ending, which quickly became a winning pawn ending. However he forgot about Black's a pawn and went from winning on move 5 (6.b4! is simple enough)  to drawing on move 6 (after 6... a4!). 
In fact White was lucky not to go from hero to zero, as he was just able to get his king across to c2 in time to corner the black king.

White (Collingwood Fan!) - Black
Belconnen CC, 24.9.2019

Protect not punish

One of the concepts that new (or young) players have is that the laws of chess are as much about protecting them as it is about punishing their opponents. During a school coaching session yesterday there was a player who wanted to change their move on the grounds that their initial move was 'bad'. When I pointed out that they had taken their hand off the piece and that meant the move stood, they argued that it was a silly rule. My counter argument was that if she was allowed to ignore the rules, so was her opponent, and that her opponent could now checkmate her by simply playing two moves in a row. I'm not sure how convincing that argument was, as she then simply resigned and started a new game.
The concept of rules being a protection applies in other ways. One of the most common causes of disputes is 'touch move' where one player claims their opponent touches a piece, and the other denies it. In the absence of witnesses the normal practice is to accept the denial, unless the player concerned has 'form' in this area.  While some may argue that this is unfair to disbelieve a players claim, it does protect players from false or mistaken claims made by an opponent.
Of course this did not help in one case I read about recently. During an international junior event a player moved while the opponent was away from the board. Then before the opponent returned, they played a move for the opponent (with a rook), but returned the piece to the start square. When the opponent returned and played a different move, they claimed the opponent had touched the rook and had to move that instead, which lost in all cases. Normally this would be rejected by the arbiter, but as the games were being played on DGT boards, the 'fact' that the rook had been moved was registered, and the claim was upheld!

Sunday 22 September 2019

2019 ACT Teams Rapid

The 2019 ACT Teams Rapid was the first non junior teams event in Canberra for many a year. The idea for reviving teams in chess in Canberra came from WFM and IA Alana Chibnall, who put in a large amount of work to make it happen.
As this format is unfamiliar to local players, the turnout of 10 teams was actually quite pleasing. The 3 chess clubs in Canberra all fielded official teams while Street Chess, ANU and a couple of high schools also had entries.
The format was a 7 round swiss, 4 board matches, and game points counting for final standings. The other rule was that teams could not have a average rating above 18501650, and it was this rule that made the day both enjoyable and successful.
The winning team was the ANU Chess Society team, who finished on 18/28. Second was Belconnen Chess Club on 17, followed by the Canberra Chess Club team on 16.5. As the next 3 teams finished on 16.5, 16 and 16, it showed what a close event it was.
The prizes for the best scores on each board went to CM Lalit Prasad Bd 1 6.5/7, Mark Hummell Bd 2, 6.5/7, Yizhen Diao Bd 3 6.5/7, Donghoon Shin Bd 4 6/7. Belconnen Chess Club also won the Larko Cup for the best score by an ACTCA club.
Feedback from the players was overwhelmingly positive, and this tournament looks like being an annual event. With a solid start in terms of teams, it is likely that it will grow in future years to become a significant part of the Canberra chess scene.

Website redesign

Not mine, but the FIDE website. The front page has been redesigned to have the more important information (news, events) front and centre, with the links to other pages placed elsewhere. As it only launched two days ago there are still some broken links, but visit www.fide.com to check it out.

Saturday 21 September 2019

The Chess Lesson

Sitting on my desk is the March 1985 edition of Chess in Australia. The front page shows the results of the first Karpov v Kasparov World Championship Match, which was abandoned after 48 games. The decision was controversial as Kasparov had just won 2 games in a row, although Karpov still led 5 wins to 3 (6 wins needed to win the match).
Kasparov won the follow up match (which was limited to 24 games), with Karpov famously suggesting that the first match essentially trained Kasparov in how to beat him. If so, the first 9 games were a hard lesson for Kasparov as he lost 4 games (and drew 5), including this one in the third game of the match.

Karpov,Anatoly (2705) - Kasparov,Garry (2715) [B44]
World-ch30-KK1 Karpov-Kasparov +5-3=40 Moscow (3), 17.09.1984

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Happy 25th Twic

The Week in Chess has turned 25 years old this week. Run by Mark Crowther in that time, it quickly established itself as the 'goto' news source for chess. Back in the late 1990's when Paul Dunn and myself presented The Chess Show on 2SSS TWIC was the main source of overseas chess news for the show. It also provided the first reliable source of pgn files from current events, which proved invaluable for the travelling chess professional.
Starting as a side project, it quickly developed into a full time job for Crowther, and made him a real celebrity in the chess world. The fact that has continued to run for 25 years shows how highly regarded it is in the chess world, and a real appreciation for for Mark Crowther's efforts.

Tuesday 17 September 2019

A missed opportunity

One of the big things I missed while overseas was the Lifeline Bookfair. I did kind of participate, as my son kindly rang me while I was in Khanty, and asked me if there was anything I wanted him to buy for me. As it was a voice call I had him read out a few titles, and picked up a couple of books (including one I discovered I already had).
Based on early reports it seemed I hadn't really missed out (only about a dozen books I was told), but later summaries described a large pile of books available on Friday morning, including a number of very good titles. This seems to be more accurate, as a visit to at least one second hand bookshop in Canberra showed they had acquired quite a large number of chess titles, and were now selling them at a bit of a mark up.

Monday 16 September 2019

While I was travelling

While I was traveling back from Russia, I did try and keep up with what was happening in the World Cup. With 32 round 2 games in progress there was still plenty of action. While there were a lot of games to choose from I've decided to highlight the comeback win for Safarli. He got absolutely destroyed in the first Round 2 game by young Indian GM Nihail Sarin, in a game which drew praise from everyone, including World Champion Magnus Carlsen. So faced with a must win game to stay in the match, Safarli chose to play an Evan's Gambit! This strategy worked in two ways, with Sarin spending a lot of time in the opening, and keeping the game unbalanced. The game had a dramatic finish as well, with Sarin dropping a piece in time trouble.
With momentum running his way, Safarli then won the first playoff game, before winning the match with a draw in the second.

Safarli, Eltaj - Nihal, Sarin [C52]
FIDE World Cup 2019, 2019.09.14

Saturday 14 September 2019

Last day in Khanty

Today was my last full day in Khanty-Mansiysk, as I am heading home early tomorrow. While I wasn't entirely happy with how I played (especially in Game 2), it was certainly an experience I never imagined I would have.
I only made it here though an extraordinary amount of luck, and while I think that luck could have gone to someone far more deserving than myself, it did come about through me playing in the right event. In my case, entering the 2019 Oceania Zonal wasn't about qualifying for the World Cup, or even earning titles, but simply to support the organisers in Guam, who made a huge effort to hold the tournament in a pretty remote location.
While playing Olympiad chess for the last 20 years is something I find constantly amazing, playing here was on another level entirely. Even now that I have finished I still feel like a fish out of water, especially as I know this will never happen again. So my journey back home starts with a 4:30am wake up call tomorrow, followed by 40+ hours in transit. And when I get back to Canberra it will shower, sleep and a return to where I belong, at my local chess club, and running Street Chess on Saturdays.