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

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 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

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

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


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

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

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

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 
Hopefully it will all work ok, but if not head over the 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 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