Thursday 31 December 2020

2020 Chessexpress Player of the Year

 While there has not been a lot of chess activity in 2020 (for obvious reasons), there was still enough for me to select the 2020 Chessexpress Player of the Year. 

The most significant tournament of the year turned out to be the 2020 Australian Chess Championship, hosted by the St George Chess Club. A number of strong young players took part, and one of these players, GM Temur Kuybokarov, was a well deserved winner. He then shifted to the online word, playing for Australia in both the Online Olympiad, and more significantly, as part of the team that won the Asian Online Cup. He also made significant contributions to chess in Western Australia in 2020, and so for all these achievements, GM Temur Kuybokarov is the 2020 Chessexpress player of the year.

Megaranto,Susanto (2517) - Kuybokarov,Temur (2134) [A00]
Asian Nations (Regions) Men Online Cup 2 (2.4), 23.10.2020

1.a3 strikes again

 The opening move 1.a3 is a much underrated weapon, and continues to claim victims. While I have often used it to play a reverse Scotch system, John Michas used it to claim space on the queenside, playing it as a delayed Solkosky. In fact the position he achieved by move 23 was so good that he missed a couple of quicker wins, but still had enough up his sleave to win the double rook ending.

Michas,John (1755) - Wilson,Norm (1450) [A00]
2020/AUS/5242 (AUS) ICCF, 30.11.2020

Tuesday 29 December 2020

I feel like Homer Simpson

 FIDE have just (re)announced amended regulations for next years World Cup, which is likely to be held in Sochi, Russia. The event has been expanded to 206 players, with each country in the top hundred (based on rating) getting to nominate a player. Previously, this was the teams that finished in the top 100 at the 2020 Olympiad, but this has obviously needed to be changed. There is also players qualifying from zonals and continental championships, as well as players qualifying by rating.  

The other change is that the top 50 players get seeded into the second round, with 156 players playing the first round. There are also similar changes to the Women's World Cup, although the smaller size of the event (103 players) means that only the top 39 countries (by rating) will get to nominate a player directly.

The full details and regulations can be found here

Monday 28 December 2020

Currently +1

 The last big event of 2020 (or the first of 2021) is the Airthings Masters which is being played online on The format is a 12 player RR, with the top 8 players then going through to a KO final. Currently there is a 6 way tie for the lead in the qualifier, with 4.5/8 (+1) being enough for a share of equal first. The reason for such caution has a lot to do with the format, as +1 or even 50% should be enough to get the players through to the next round. Nonetheless there has been some interesting games, including this quick win for Wesley So against Anish Giri.

Giri,Anish (2731) - So,Wesley (2741) [A14]
Airthings Masters | Prelims (3.4), 26.12.2020

Saturday 26 December 2020

The Game of Death Part II

 While I haven't quite solved my computer problems (and they may be more widespread than just Chessbase), I did manage to get a copy of the game I was searching more. It was played by Max Euwe in the 1950 Luzern Christmas Tournament, and while a nice game, I only chose it due to it's proximity to Christmas. 

Kaliwoda,Kurt - Euwe,Max [C96]
Luzern Christmas 5051 4th Luzern (1), 26.12.1950

Friday 25 December 2020

The Game of Death Part I

 As it is Christmas Day, I had hoped to choose a game with a Christmas connection to show you. Unfortunately, the game I planned to show you keep crashing my copy of Chessbase. As a result this post has now turned into story about how I am checking my database for errors, and hopefully repairing the data that I have. If successful, then there will be a part II tomorrow, where I actually show you the game.

Thursday 24 December 2020

Sac rook, get rook

 I have just finished another stint as an online arbiter, this time for the 2020 World Youth and Cadets. When mentioning this someone the other day, they asked me who were the winners. "No idea" was my very honest reply. In fact this is quite common for me, especially in events where I am not the chief arbiter.

The main reason is that I am focussed on my role supervising players, and less on the tournament results. However, I do get to see some interesting games in greater detail than I would if I was busy collecting results etc, including this one from the 3rd place playoff of the Under 10's Championship. 

White gets a strong attack against the Sicilian, and decides to sacrifice a rook to expose the king. Black looks like he is faced with mate, but is able to sac one of his rooks to force the exchange of queens, at which time it is almost equal. However White has an extra pawn on the kingside and this turns out to be the decisive feature. 

Mrinmoy,Rajkhowa (1547) - Woodward,Andy (1975) [B90]
FIDE World Youth Rapid Champ - Finals - (12.2), 19.12.2020

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Chess with dogs

 The 1973 version of "The Three Musketeers" pooped up on tv the other day. I vaguely remember watching it as a child, but not too closely, as I missed the outdoor chess scene in it. Here is a (not great) clip from the movie, showing that the pieces were in fact various animals. So the challenge was not only to play good moves, but to choose pieces who were able to "stay" on the correct square.

Monday 21 December 2020

Into the sunlight

With most chess activity for 2020 taking place online, the question of whether this helps or hurts chess development is still to be answered. However, as chess emerges into the sunlight (in the form of OTB tournaments), it is likely that an answer is not long off. 

One OTB with interesting results was the 2020 Brisbane Xmas swiss which was held last weekend. 12th seed Byron Morris (1482) finished in 1st place, beating seeds 3 and 1 in the last 2 rounds to finish on 5.5/6. In equal 2nd was Benjamin Leong (1426) who was seeded 16th in the tournament. 

Further south, a number of juniors who performed well in online events have carried their good form into the Melbourne Chess Club Allegro, showing that improving during lockdown is quite feasible. Although the data points are pretty small at this stage, I suspect that there will be number of young players who will see quick rating jumps (from OTB chess), as the OTB system catches up with their online improvement.

Saturday 19 December 2020

2020 ACT Rapidplay Championship

 Fred Litchfield has won the 2020 ACT Rapidplay Championship, ahead of FM Michael Kethro on countback, after they both finished on 6/7. They drew their game against each, and both players also drew with CM Hui Li. Li conceded a third draw to WFM Alana Chibnall to finish on 5.5.

The event attracted a record field of 44 players, including a group who had travelled from Wollongong (a three hour drive!) . The Under 1800 prize was shared between Glenn Ingham and Harry Johnson, while Jack Zhuang won the Under 1400 prize. Joshua Lee and Lachlan Ho split the junior prize. With such a large field the final placings mainly depended on the results in the final round, and a number of players were a little unlucky to miss out on prizes. 

The ACT Rapid is the final ACT Chess Association event of the year. The ACTCA Calendar for 2021 will begin the the ACT  Lightning Championship, which is scheduled for the 2nd February 2021, to be hosted by the Gungahlin Chess Club. 

Thursday 17 December 2020

New wine, old bottle

 The oft repeated criticism of the old masters is that their attacks only succeeded because their opponents did not defend accurately. While this may be so, Daniil Dubov demonstrated that even against a modern GM, the old ways can still work.


Dubov,Daniil (2702) - Karjakin,Sergey (2752) [C54]
Russian Championship Superfinal Moscow (11.1), 16.12.2020

Wednesday 16 December 2020

I continue to surprise myself

 A lot of my opening choices, and opening knowledge is pretty poor. Even in openings I should know well, I often make big mistakes. So when I follow theory (even unintentionally) it comes as a pleasant surprise. 

The following game was played in an online rapid event this evening. While I basically remember some Najdorf theory, by knowledge of the Poisoned Pawn variation was restricted to a few games in the 1970's by Fischer and others. As it turns out the game was theory up until move 23 (according to my opponent) which came as a shock to me in the post mortem. While I hold out hope that I may remember more about openings than I realise, it is probably the fact that most of the moves were fairly obvious that is the real truth here.

shaunpress (1765) - chesslani123 (1829) [B97]
Live Chess, 16.12.2020

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Being part of the in crowd

 One regular piece of advice I give to new players is "keep coming back". This is usually the punchline to a long a boring story I tell about how I lost my first 8 competition games etc etc 

But one good reason for coming back even after a few losses has less to do with self improvement, and more to do with social acceptance. When you first start playing competition chess, a lot of the social norms aren't always obvious. And as a newcomer, this can make you feel like an outsider. This isn't intentional, but happens with most social groups (not just chess ones). So by sticking at it for more than one week, you can both pick up the social cues from the group, as well has become one of the 'regulars' which often helps when getting advice or simply asking non-obvious (to you) questions.


Sunday 13 December 2020

Anti - Pirc

 While I was never enough of a fan to play the Pirc as Black, I do acknowledge that it is still a difficult opening to face as White. The Austrian Attack would be my usual approach to playing against it, but I have been burnt by over extending in the centre and getting wiped out by the counter attack. Maybe I should try an play it like this ...

Bulgankhan ,Ganzorig - Gholami Orimi,Mahdi [A43]
World Youth, 09.12.2020

Friday 11 December 2020

A modest haul

 The 2nd Lifeline Bookfair of 2020 was a little smaller than usual, but I was still able to pick up some books, and some other chess related items. The oddest one was a small wooden board and box, which had a board with holes to slot pieces in. I had hoped the pieces were wood, but instead were plastic. The great feature was that painted board had the white square in the wrong corner, which if it were a stamp, would make it valuable, but in this case, just makes it wrong.

I also picked up yet another vintage chess computer, this time a Tandy 1600. Now that my collection has reached double figures, it might even be time to start taking this aspect of my chess collection a little more seriously.  

Thursday 10 December 2020

ACT Rapidplay Championship

 The ACT Chess Association is holding its traditional end of year event, the ACT Rapidplay Championship, on the 19th December 2020. It will be held in City Walk, Canberra City from 11am, and as usual, a large entry is expected. Entry fee is $10 ($5 for juniors) and there is usually around $300 in prizes. This event will also be FIDE rated, for the first time.

With the following Saturday being Boxing Day, I will be asked whether Street Chess is being run that day. The answer is 'Of course it is'. So instead of trampling your fellow shoppers, come along to Street Chess instead, and work off that Christmas excess.

Wednesday 9 December 2020

A useful trick to know

 The European zone of the World Youth and Cadets Online event is significantly stronger than the other zones. The Under 18's has 4 GM's taking part, while the Under 16's has 1 GM and a number of IM's. As a result there have been a number of hard fought games in the early rounds, including the one below. While Black maintained a small edge for most of the middlegame, White missed a nice trick on move 38, and instead of regaining a piece, popped a rook istead.

Garrido Outon,Alex - Kacharava,Nikolozi [B11]
Word Youth, 08.12.2020

Sunday 6 December 2020

FIDE Congress 2020

 The 2020 FIDE General Assembly is being held online, for the first time.  While managing over 180 delegates in a zoom call may be difficult, previous 'in person' assembly's haven't seen a lot of talking by delegates, so this one may be easier to run than it first appears.

There are only a few contentious motions, although one may generate a lot of debate. The Iranian Chess Federation is being taken to task over the refusal of Iranian players to play Israeli players in tournaments, and unless the Federation does something about this, then they may be suspended by FIDE.

A slightly less contentious motion is to restrict national delegates to citizens or residents of the country they represent. PNG plan to support this motion, even when we thought it would exclude me as the FIDE delegate (as I am not a citizen and have not lived there since 1977), but a last minute amendment now also allows players who have played under the nations flag for at least 2 years to also become eligible.

While the public cannot participate in the congress, you can follow it live at Be warned, it starts at 1am Canberra time, and may not finish until the sun comes up in the morning.

Friday 4 December 2020

World Youth and Cadets - Americas

 The second qualifying zone of the 2020 Online World Youth and Cadets has finished, leaving 2 more to go. The Americas zone (covering North and South America and the Caribbean) was larger than the African zone, but once again ran pretty smoothly. The players quickly adapted to playing online chess in a remotely supervised way, and apart from some small technical issues, there were few problems.

The next zone is the European Zone on Monday (Tuesday morning for me) and this should be the real test, with 567 players currently registered. The links to all the tournaments, including replayable games through Tornelo can be found here

Talukdar,Rohan - Angel Soto,Miguel [D04]
Word Youth, 25.11.2020

Thursday 3 December 2020

Street Chess - known around the world!

 Street Chess has been featured in a very nice article at It is part of an ongoing series by WIM Alexey Root, on outdoor chess activity around the world. It contains plenty of recent photos, as well as a brief history of the event. If you wish to check it out, you can do so here

(**Disclaimer: I was a paid contributor to this article **)

Wednesday 2 December 2020

2021 O2C Doeberl Cup - Registrations open

 The 2021 Doeberl Cup website is now live, and you can register for next years event. Apart from the regular tournament information, there is also extra info on social distancing, and covid-safe policies that will be used in the tournament.

If you want to sign up (or just check out what is happening) you can do so at 

Zoom bombing

 The 2020 FIDE Congress is being held online this year. The commission meetings have just started, and the change of format looks to have resulted in an increased number of participants. On the other hand, the semi-public nature of the meetings has resulted in the "zoom bombing" of the QC meeting, by people looking for fun. This may be a "feature" of all commission meetings over the next week.

Tuesday 1 December 2020

4AM Eternal

 The final games of the 2020 World Youth and Cadets (Africa Zone) are just finishing up. For me, this has meant 4 nights of getting to bed between 4am and 6am, but  at least the next zone (Americas) starts at a civilized 10am for me.

Tou can check out all the results (plus preview the other zones) at  

Sunday 29 November 2020

Less games lost this year

 One of the side effects of 2020 is that I seem to have lost less serious games this year than last. If I can recall as far back as March, I think I have only lost one game (to Paul Dunn), although to be fair, I'm pretty sure I've only played about 6 games in total.

In checking my stats for this year, I did come across this game, which came from one of the few Street Chess events I played in 2020.

Press,Shaun - Sun,Marco [C78]
Street Chess (4), 14.03.2020

Saturday 28 November 2020

Online Cadets and Youth Rapid

 The next in the 2020 series of online championships, the 2020 Online Cadets and Youth Rapid Championship, starts tomorrow. The event will be run in 10 sections, with Under 18 down to Under 10 age groups, in both Open and Girls divisions. The event starts with qualifiers from each continent (Africa, Europe, Americas and Asia) followed by a 16 player KO final series. Each qualifier is a 7 round swiss, with the top 3 finishers from each qualifier going into the final, along with the 4 highest rated players in that age group.

Most of the qualifiers will be played late evening/ middle of the night Canberra time, so following the tournament will be a little tricky. However, if you do wish to watch, or just keep up to date with the event, you can do so through the tournament website.

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

Friday 27 November 2020

Before Beth

 With "The Queen's Gambit" still going strong on Netflix, there has been a lot of discussion about women's chess, and whether there was a "real" Beth Harmon. While the general consensus is that Beth Harmon was entirely fictional (or a version of Bobby Fischer), at the time of the books publication, there were already a number of female players making their mark on the male dominated scene.

One player who has been seemingly overlooked in this discussion is Pia Cramling, who had already drawn with a future World Champion as far back as 1976. From the outset her style was significantly more aggressive than the her contemporaries, and her willingness to play high level open events was also a little unusual at the time. Unlike the TV series, her climb to the tip was a little more measured, but she earned the GM title in 1992, and even now she is still one of the top female players in the world.

Kasparov,Garry - Cramling,Pia [C42]
Wch U16 (unofficial) Wattignies (6), 07.1976

Thursday 26 November 2020

Blunder or trap?

 The following opening exchange raises the question of what is the difference between blundering in the opening, or falling for a trap. In the actual game there was in fact a double blunder (as White failed to play the best move). On the other hand, Black's moves seemed plausible, which is what a good trap should exploit. Nonetheless, having a quick look through my database did not find any previous examples, so until this mistake is repeated, I'm going with "blunder"

Jeff_Memes (2066) - Malikoovic (1724) [B27]
Live Chess, 25.11.2020

Wednesday 25 November 2020

There are no Grandmasters of swimming

 I've been involved in some ongoing discussions concerning the suitability for online events to be rated and award titles with the same status of OTB events. I am in the 'No' camp, although I do know some people who are in the 'Yes' camp. One of my arguments against awarding titles for online events, is that the titles are earned using a different playing format. With online chess it may be possible for a player to score a required win or draw via a mouse slip or an internet disconnection by their opponent, which doesn't occur in face to face chess. As a result, the title may not be earned by skill (for a certain value of skill) but instead by a stroke of luck. And while I recognise that the ability to play the game (in an operational sense) is important, most sports that rely on a difference between the ability to execute (eg swimming, running or even shooting) don't actually award titles. They instead reward participants by medals and prizes, which for online events, seems much more sensible.

Imagine if the World Championship was decided by a move like 38 ... Qb4??


Nepomniachtchi,Ian (2784) - Carlsen,Magnus (2862) [C60]
Skilling Open Prelim INT (1.8), 22.11.2020

Sunday 22 November 2020

2020 Vikings Weekender - GM Hrant Melkumyan wins

 GM Hrant Melkumyan has won the 2020 Vikings Weekender with 5.5/6. Conceding only half a point to fellow GM Anton Smirnov, he wrapped up first place with a win over Fred Litchfield in the final round. Smirnov, who was tied with Melkumyan going into the final round, could only draw with IM Junta Ikeda, after Ikeda found a nice sacrificial idea in the Leningrad Dutch. The draw allowed Ikeda to finish in a tie for third place with Bazli Karattiyattil, who capped of a strong tournament with a last round win over Dillon Hathiramani.

The Under 1600 event was won by Harry Johnson on 5.5, half a point ahead of Paul Dunn. Johnson was making a return to chess after a break of a number of years, and his comeback tournament was a successful one. James Buckley performed well above his rating to finish in 3rd place, while Minchen Yang picked up the best junior prize after scoring 3.5/6.

The tournament was judged a success by the organisers with the strong field resulting in a number of interesting and competitive games. Almost as importantly, it served as a small test event for next years Doeberl Cup, and based on the behaviour of the players (and the feedback from the venue), it passed with flying colours!

Full results of the tournament can be found at along with a link to replays of games from the top 2 boards.

Saturday 21 November 2020

2020 Vikings Weekender - Day 1

 At the close of Day 1 of the 2020 Vikings Weekender, 4 players share the lead in the Open section, As expected GM Hrant Melkumyan and GM Anton Smirnov are on 3/3, and they have been joined by IM Junta Ikeda and CM Hui Li. In the first round tomorrow (Rd 4), Ikeda will e white against Melkumyan, while Smirnov will be white against Li. 

Although both GM's ended the day on a perfect score, they were made to work for their points. Both Harry Press (against Melkumyan) and Dominic Fox (against Smirnov) put up determined resistance, with the Melkumyan - Press game one of the last to finish. In earlier rounds some other top seeds showed signs of rust, with Tim Pearce upsetting FM Michael Kethro in round 2, while Dominic Fox took a full point from Fred Litchfield in the first round.

In the Minor (Under 1600) tournament, Paul Dunn and James Minogue are the only players on 3/3. Top seed Harry Johnson began with 2 wins, but was held to a draw in round 3 by James Buckley. 

All the scores (and tomorrows pairings) are available at There is also a link for live coverage of the top 2 boards in the Open. Round 4 is at 12:30pm Canberra time, with round 5 at 3pm and round 6 at 5:30pm


Friday 20 November 2020

2020 Vikings Weekender - Online coverage

 The 2020 Vikings Weekender begins tomorrow (21 Nov), starting at 12:30pm Canberra time. There will be live coverage of the top 2 boards in the Open, which will be (in the 1st round) games involving GM Hrant Melkumyan and GM Anton Smirnov.  

Links to the DGT coverage, as well as pairings and results for the Open and Minor events can be found at Pairings for the 1st round of each event have been posted, and following the Doeberl Cup system, these will be the 1st round pairings if both players are present.

Another unfortunate resignation

 While skimming through games to feature on my twitch stream I came across another example of "resigning too soon". I won't give away the ending , but the lesson here is "checks and captures"


glenno9 (1471) - X3n0morph (1783) [C02]
Live Chess, 18.11.2020

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Chess Coach Andras

 Just a heads up about a new Youtube channel from Canberra's own IM Andras Toth. The emphasis is on coaching and related topics, and one of the earlier videos is a list of books for the 1700 rated player.

You can check it out at  

Monday 16 November 2020

The joy of chess coaching

 Today I had the somewhat bizarre experience of getting absolutely destroyed by a 6 year old at "chess". I should have realised that game was slipping away from me when he added two robot dragons to the board, and then told me that one of them had "double flame breath" which allowed him to incinerate 2 of my pieces at a time. Even trying to capture his extra pieces did not work, as the other robot (some kind of snake), simply ate my piece on contact. I think the game went for about 8 moves, and I lost by "not having any pieces left". 

Saturday 14 November 2020

Stop wasting your time

 One of my pet hates in chess games is the unnecessary h3/h6 move in the opening. In part this is fuelled by a belief that openings should be played "correctly", and in in part, due to my inability to punish such wasted moves early in my chess career. 

So I am often glad to see a game where such time wasting is dealt with severely, as I did at Street Chess today.

Ingham,Glenn - Marks,Joe [C44]
Street Chess, 11.11.2020

2020 Vikings 75% full

 Time to get your entry in if you are planning to play in the 2020 Vikings Weekender. There is only room for 15 more entries, as the tournament is hard capped at 60. You will need to both contact the organisers, and pay your entry fee if you want to reserve your place. Details at

Friday 13 November 2020

More technical difficulties

 Although online play is starting to die down (at least in Canberra), the ACTCA still runs one event a week. The Wednesday Rapid (which is every Wednesday at 7:00pm) is still a thing, and I usually do a summary on twitch on Thursday morning. However some issue with my headphones and microphone led to a very poor quality stream this morning, and I decided to delete it from my archives. But not wishing to waste the analysis, I will instead leave it here for people to go over.

glenno9 - DoctorWho64 [A47]
Wednesday Rapid 11.11.2020

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Vale Ken Holt

 I've just read that Ken Holt has passed away. A regular player on the Melbourne chess scene, he was also a common sight at the Doeberl Cup, as well as playing in a few of the Australian Open's that were held here. He was a solid 1800-2000, capable of taking down higher rated players, and always difficult to beat for lower rated opponents.

He was one of the players who formed the backbone of the Australian weekend scene, where playing was often more about who you meet, rather than who you beat. He was always good to have a chat (or a drink) with, and he will be missed by those that knew him.

Holt,Kenneth P (1953) - Canfell,Gregory (2304) [E81]
Australian op Tuggeranong (11), 09.01.2007

Tuesday 10 November 2020

The perils of 1 hour chess

 Digging through my archives I cam across the following game from the 1999 Vikings Weekender. My memory of this game is a little hazy, but I do recall I was quite pleased to get a draw against Johnny Bolens (who regularly beat me up until then). However, what I can't remember if the draw was a result of the shortness of time, or simply because I chickened out. While the latter is more likely, the fact that the game was played with 60m followed by a 10 second increment may indicate that time was a factor.


Press,Shaun - Bolens,Johnny [A65]
Vikings Weekender (3), 11.12.1999

Monday 9 November 2020

Would you rather?

 I keep seeing different versions of the "Would you rather ..."* game on youtube. So in the spirit of the times I have a chess related one of my own. Would you rather have a rook that can also move 1 square as a bishop , or a bishop that can move 1 square as a rook ( both as a separate move)? 

* An example question is "Would you rather fight 10 10 year old's, or 100 100 year old's?"

Saturday 7 November 2020

By a narrow margin

 One of the odd things for me about US Presidential elections is that have often been away from Australia when they happen. The main reason is that the Chess Olympiads often happen around the same time of the year, so I am either at the tournament, or passing through another country (usually the UK) on my way there or back.

The first time this happened was in 2000, and if I remember correctly, the result hadn't been determined by the time I left Istanbul. But I did score a good win the day before the election, and I was certainly a lot happier with that, than what was happening in the US.

Minani,Froduald - Press,Shaun [D00]
Istanbul ol (Men) 34th Istanbul (9.2), 06.11.2000

Friday 6 November 2020

A very short review

The Queen's Gambit on Netflix. I liked it.

But more importantly, how many famous games were used in the series. I have spotted 3 so far (by Greco, Morphy and Reti) and I have seen a reference to another game that was played by Rashid Nehzmetdinov. My list would be a bit longer as I saw that someone had actually collated all the games and put it on youtube or facebook, but for the life of me, I can no longer find it,  

Thursday 5 November 2020

Opening Up

 It looks like most Australian States and Territories will be opening their borders before Christmas. This is good news for the chess community, as it will hopefully see some of the 2021 events up and running. For some events (such as the Australian Schools teams Championship) it is a little to late, although online versions will be run. For some other events like to 2021 Oceania Zonal (or the delayed Olympiad), the issues regarding international travel are still a problem, and even 2021 might be out of the question for these events.

However I expect that there will be a lot of face to face chess returning next year, which is obviously a good thing. 

Monday 2 November 2020

2020 Vikings Weekender - Update

 A reminder that the 2020 Vikings Weekender is taking place at the Lanyon Club, Condor, ACT on the weekend of the 21st and 22nd of November. Due to an issue with the club opening times, the tournament format has now been changed to 3 rounds Saturday and 3 rounds Sunday.

The new schedule, plus all other tournament information can be found at and the current entry list can be found at

Saturday 31 October 2020

A fortunate let off

 During today's Street Chess there was a game where the generosity of one player was rewarded, but maybe it shouldn't have been. In the game given below, after Black had played 10. ... Nd4 White instinctively touched the knight on f3 to capture it. But before White could complete the move, he paused, and then Black told him he didn't have to move it. So White put the knight down, and after some thought played 11.Bb5+ instead.

It of course turns out that White's best move would have been to take the knight on d4, offering a queen sacrifice. With best play the game is almost equal (Black has to give the queen back), but there is a mate for White if Black moves his king to e7. 

The move that White chose did not lose the queen, but it did eventually lose the game, as Black won enough material to easily gain an advantage.

Huang, Charles - Teki, Elwyn
Street Chess 31 October 2020

Online longtime

 The Melbourne Chess Club is running the 2020 Hjorth Memorial as an online event, using long time controls. This has been tried in other places (including a number of events here in Canberra), and it has usually worked OK. However, events like this aren't being rated (or able to award title norms), and it is unlikely that they will be for the foreseeable future (if ever). 

The main reason isn't so much about guaranteeing that everyone is playing fairly, as much as the conditions on which the tournaments are being played are different from previous OTB events. Therefore it is difficult to justify awarding titles (or changing ratings) that are the equal of those earned in OTB chess, if they aren't earned under the same conditions. 

So until chess returns to normal (hopefully soon), or FIDE develop a separate,  online title system, events like this, important as they are, are just for fame and treasure.

Tan, Justin - Winkelman, Albert
MCC Hjorth Memorial 2020

Thursday 29 October 2020

Movember is coming

 Heads up readers! Movember is almost here. As usual, I will be sacrificing my upper lip (and good looks) for a worthy cause. If you wish to make a donation or check my progress you can do so at Or, for the first time ever, you can see the progress of the moustache (in real time), by checking out some of my upcoming chess videos at my youtube channel.   

The first grandmaster draw?

 Up until 1867, draws were kind of an odd thing in chess. When chess was mainly match play they did not effect the final result, and even when tournaments became round robins, draws were either replayed, or in some cases, not counted towards the final result (ie both players scored 0 for the game!).

The first tournament where draws were treated as a valid result was probably the Dundee tournament of 1867. A number of the worlds leading players took part, including Steinitz and Blackburne. The tournament was one by Gustav Neumann who took advantage of the new scoring system to finish half a point ahead of Steinitz, by virtue of drawing one of his 9 games (plus 7 wins), while Steinitz won 7, but drew none.

As for the game which has the honour of being the first 'scored' draw, this may well be it.

De Vere,Cecil Valentine - Fraser,George Brunton [C80]
British CA Grand Tourney Dundee (3), 06.09.1867

Tuesday 27 October 2020

2021 O2C Doeberl Cup

 I've been fielding questions about what is happening with the 2021 O2C Doeberl Cup. The good news is that the ACTCA is planning to hold it next year, from the 1st to the 5th of April. The venue is the Southern Cross Club at Woden, and we plan to keep the same prize pool (and entry fees) as the cancelled 2020 event.

The main difference for next year is that we do not expect many overseas players, due to international travel restrictions. While this will make earning title norms very difficult (as we will be relying on locally based but OS registered players), it will give local players a greater chance at winning the big prizes.

Of course this good news is on the condition that the Covid-19 situation in the country continues to improve, but at this stage we are expecting that most if not all internal travel restrictions will be lifted, allowing Australia's number 1 event to welcome everyone to Canberra.

Monday 26 October 2020

Australia wins 2020 Asian Nations Cup

 Australia has won the 2020 Asian Nations Cup, upsetting top seeded India in the Final 4.5-3.5. The win was built on winning the first match 2-5.1.5. Due to the tie-break method used (Berlin), India needed to win the 2nd match by at least 3-1, but a 2-2 draw left Australia a full point in front.

At the start of the match it looked as though Australia might start at least one game down, as a severe storm in Queensland left Australian board 4 GM Moulthun Ly with power. There were also issues with GM Max Illingworth, who was playing from Vietnam, and there was doubt that a full team could be assembled. In the end, IM James Morris played in place of Ly, while Illingworth was able to solve his connection problems, and indeed won his game.

The crucial result in the first match was the win by GM Anton Smirnov on the top board. Under the tie break system, wins on the top boards count for more than ones on the lower ones, even if India reversed the result (and won 2.5-1.5), a draw on the top board in the 2nd match would still leave Australia in front. This put the India team under significant pressure in the 2nd match, and in the end could not quite pull it out of the fire, with the 2-2 result leaving Australia ahead on game points.

As some consolation India picked up the Gold in the Women's section, beating Indonesia 6-2 in the final. 

Smirnov,Anton (2367) - Adhiban,B. (2624) [A00]
Asian Nations (Regions) Men Online Cup 2 (5.1), 25.10.2020

Sunday 25 October 2020

The mouse slip

 The Australian team are the surprise qualifiers for the final of the 2020 Asian Nations Cup. They overcame the higher rated Iranian team, in part due to two things that only happen in online events. After a narrow 2.5-1.5 loss in the first match, got of two a surprise 1-0 lead after the Iranian Bd 2 Parham Maghsoodloo let go of a piece on the wrong square, and resigned after it was captured by Temur Kuybokarov. With the match in the balance Max Illingworth found himself desperately trying to find a draw in a Q+P ending. With both players very short of time, his opponent suddenly had internet issues and Max won on time. Just to make the win secure GM Anton Smirnov outplayed his opponent, and the 3.5-0.5 second round win was enough to see Australia win the match 5-3. 

In tomorrows final they will play top seeds India, who overcame Kazakhstan 5.5-2.5 to go through the final match. While India are favourites on paper, Australia did draw 2-2 against them in the qualifying section, so the match may be closer than many think. The final begins at 5pm (Canberra time) tomorrow, and will played over 4 boards, and 2 matches. Game points will determine the winner, but if the match is tied at 4-4, then the Berlin countback system will be used.

Maghsoodloo,Parham (2532) - Kuybokarov,Temur (2134) [A00]
Asian Nations (Regions) Men Online Cup 2 (4.2), 24.10.2020

Friday 23 October 2020

An impressive fortress

The knockout part of the 2020 Online Nations Cup has started, and for a few teams it was hard work advancing to the next round. Australia were looking for revenge after a heavy loss to Indonesia in the Online Olympiad, and took it with a 6.5-1.5 win. On the other hand India looked to be in trouble against Mongolia, having won the first round 2.5-1.5, but looked to be struggling in the 2nd round. However, they eventually turned the tables to win the 2nd match by the same score. On of the games where they 'got out of jail' was the one shown below, where Sasikiran decided that sacrificing the queen for 2 bishops would give him just enough to hold the game.

Gan-Erdene,Sugar (2109) - Sasikiran,Krishnan (2577) [A00]
Asian Nations (Regions) Men Online Cup 2 (2.3), 23.10.2020

Chess has a rich vocabulary

 The puzzle shown below appeared in today's Canberra Times (in the kid's section no less). I'm quite surprised at some the works used in it. 'Checkmate' and 'Castling' I understand, but 'Zeitnot' and 'Kriegspiel' show the compiler is going all out!

Wednesday 21 October 2020

Stalemate as a win (Part III)

 The rules commission still get suggestions that a stalemate = win. On one level it kind of makes sense, in that for most stalemate positions, one side is heavily outnumbered by the other (so in a real battle, surrender would be the usual option). But if we went that far, then we would miss the hilarity of white playing 1.c4 in the diagrammed position. I know which one I'd prefer.

White to play and not win

Monday 19 October 2020

The Queen's Gambit

 While I had mixed opinions about the book, I do plan to watch "The Queen's Gambit" which is being released on Netflix soon

Sunday 18 October 2020

2020 Asian Nations Cup - Rounds 7-9

 The qualifying swiss for the knockout stage of the 2020 Asian Nations Cup saw Iran maintain their lead on the final day to finish 1st on 15 points out of 18. However they were upset in the last round by the tournament surprise packets, Mongolia who beat them 2.5-1.5 to take 3rd place. Mongolia won all 3 matches on the last day, including a win over Australia in round 8.

Australia started the day with a win over 2nd seed Kazakhstan, and finished it with a draw over top seed India. This left them in 4th place, behind Iran, The Philippines and  Mongolia. There opponents in the knockout stage will be fifth placed Indonesia, he beat them in the 2020 Online Olympiad.

The other Oceania teams finished further down, with Guam and Fiji finishing on 8 points. New Zealand had a below par performance, with a final score of 7 points. 

Friday 16 October 2020

2020 Asian Nations Cup - Rounds 4,5 and 6

 The 2nd weekend of the 2020 Asian Online Nations Cup  got off to a better start than the first weekend, with most rounds (bar the first), starting within a sensible time. For the Australian team is was a particularly good evening, as they won all three of their matches and are now tied for equal second. They are on 10 points, one point below Iran, who they lost to in the 3rd round. While finishing anywhere in the top 8 will qualify them for the finals, a higher placing may result in an easier path in the knockout section.

Of the other teams from Oceania, both Fiji and Guam are performing above their seeding, with 6 points each. In what was a real upset, Fiji defeated New Zealand 2.5-1.5 in round 4,  while Guam beat a strong Syrian team in round 5. On the other hand, New Zealand hasn't really been able to get into gear and has only scored 3 match points at this stage.

The final 3 rounds of the Open will be on Sunday evening from 5pm Canberra time. The draw for round 7 hasn't been published yet, but an Australia v India match is a distinct possibility.


Mohammad Fahad,Rahman (2243) - Kuybokarov,Temur (2134) [A00]
Asian Nations (Regions) Men Online Cup 2 (4.4), 16.10.2020

Wednesday 14 October 2020

2020 Viking Weekend - November 21-22

 The 2020 Vikings Weekender has been confirmed, with the details below. The two important things to note is that the tournaments (Open and Under 1600), will be restricted to 60 players in total, and that the organisers will not be taking entries of players located in areas currently under travel restrictions. As there is potential for this to change in the next 4 weeks, if you are from outside the ACT, please check with the organisers, who may be able to place you on a waiting list. 

Vikings Weekender 2020
21-22 November 2020

The ACT Chess Association and the Tuggeranong Chess Club are holding the 2020 Vikings Weekender Chess Tournament on the 21st and 22nd November 2020. The venue is the Lanyon Club, Heidelberg St, Condor, ACT.

Open Section and Under 1600 Section

7 round swiss - Time limit: 60m+10s (Fischer)

Entry Fee: $65, $45 concession, $45 Under 18, GM,WGM,IM,WIM Free

Prizes: Open $1000 1st, Under 1600 1st $500 other prizes determined by entries ($3000+ is the normal prize pool for this event)

Total entries are limited to 60 players. Payment is required to confirm entry and no entries will be received on the day. The organisers reserve the right to reject (or cancel) entries from players affected by current Covid-19 restrictions.

Entries to:

Payment to:

ACT Chess Association Inc

BSB Code 062903

Account Number 00907972

5d Chess

 A common political trope is that one side or the other is playing '4-D Chess'. This implies that they are both smart (by playing chess) and super duper smart, because they are playing a form of chess that everyone else fails to understand. Ironically, this is usually wheeled out when defending particularly clueless politicians, by people who don't actually understand 2-D Chess.

Normally the step beyond '4-D Chess' is of course '5-D Chess', but it turns out that this is a real thing. The details of it can be found here. Having looked at it a couple of times, I know it involves time travel, split timelines, and some getting used to. Apart from that I am none the wiser on how to actually play the game well, but given enough time (boom boom!) I may look into it.

(HT to Mark Scully for sending me the link)

Monday 12 October 2020

The amount of work in CC

 I've just finished playing the 2019 Australian Reserves Championship (in Correspondence Chess), with the final game (one of mine) lasting around 16 months. I was fortunate to win the last game, as my opponent blundered in a winning ending. But to show you how much work does into games like this, I will post the game, with all my analysis included (NB none of this involved the use of chess engines)


Press, Shaun - White, Christopher
2019 Australian Reserves Championship

Sunday 11 October 2020

Asian Online Nations Cup 2020 - First Weekend

 The first weekend of the 2020 Asian nations Cup has been completed, with 3 rounds in both the Open and Women's tournaments completed.

The Open got off to a very shaky start, with a number of technical difficulties delaying the rounds quite significantly. The day eventually finished around 2.5 hours late, but the all matches were completed. The Philippines, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Iran won all 3 of their matches and lead on 6 points. Australia had a narrow 2.5-1.5 loss in the third round and are on 4 points.

The Women's even ran a lot more smoothly, with the only real issue being unstable internet connections from some countries. Australia suffered a surprise 3.5-1.5 loss to Singapore, but won both their other matches to sit on 4 points. The teams on 6/6 are Vietnam, Iran, Kazakhstan and Indonesia. 

Full result from both events (plus most of the games) can be found here 

Idani,Pouya (2460) - Smirnov,Anton (2367) [A00]
Asian Nations (Regions) Men Online Cup 2 (3.2), 10.10.2020

Friday 9 October 2020

2020 Asian Nations Cup

 The 2020 Asian Nations Cup (online) begins tomorrow event at 5pm Canberra time. Following on from the success of the 2020 Online Chess Olympiad, the event has attracted 40 countries from the Asian Chess Confederation. Unlike the Olympiad, this event has an Open and Women's section, and will be run as a 9 round swiss, followed by a KO final series.

Australia is the 6th seed on the Open, and the 4th seed in the Women's. India is the top seed in both sections, with China not entering this event. There will be 3 rounds played on the first weekend (Open Saturday, Women's Sunday), with the reaming 6 rounds played the following weekend (Friday to Monday). The top 8 teams then qualify for a knockout final which will be played the weekend after. As it is a swiss, the actual pairings won't be known in advance, but you can find out more information at The games themselves will be played on and you can follow the event there.

Thursday 8 October 2020

Rules are for birds

 When I am involved in drafting changes to the Laws of Chess, I have a strong preference for short, clear and less prescriptive regulations. I have often objected to detailed a rule, on the grounds that people will assume anything left out is not covered. One way I illustrate this is the using the fictitious example of a bird flying into the playing hall, upsetting the game, and then having to write a new rule on how to deal with this (do players get extra time? what to do if the bird accidently indicates the winning move etc).

So, as the gods would have it, a bird did manage to fly into the playing area of the 2020 ACT Junior Chess Championship yesterday. No doubt attracted by the food scraps left by the players over lunch, it wandered through the door, came into the main area, and then decided to fly around and around. While this did cause a minor distraction for the players, it seemed content not to interfere in the games, and instead watch from afar. 

Fortunately for the bird (and the school alarm system), I was able to coax it outside by the simple method of opening a second door and turning all the lights off. After a couple of attempts it worked out where the fresh air was coming from, and swooped through the door and off into the blue sky.

(PS A follow to yesterdays Pawn Wars / Transfer post. You can only drop pawns in your own half of the board)

Wednesday 7 October 2020

Some slightly odd goings on

 I tend to make a big thing about directing the ACT Junior Chess Championship, as it was both the first important tournament I played in (in 1982) and the first tournament I was the arbiter for (in 1984).So I'm always happy when asked to the the Arbiter, as I was this year.

The first day saw 35 players turn up, which is not a bad number (the fields were a lot smaller in my day). With only 3 rounds so far the top players are only just starting to meet, so a likely champion is not clear at this stage. But there was still some things worth noting, including some odd opening theory.

One game started with 1.c4 e5 2.c5?! which was met by the obvious 2 ... Bxc5, while a new line in the Sicilian started with 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Q "oh it's touch move" a5.

However the winner of the strangest idea was in fact a chess variant which I have never seen before (or quite understood the rules once I did). It looked like the "Pawn Game" (where you only have pawns and try and promote first) combined with Transfer (so 4 players in total). Where it lost me was not understanding why you couldn't just drop onto the 7th rank and win very quickly.  

As there are another 3 rounds tomorrow, I should make the effort to find the answer to this question.

Tuesday 6 October 2020

And now for the chess

 Altibox 2020 begins in a couple of hours, with Carlsen, Aronian, Caruana, Duda, Firouzja and Tari playing in a double RR, IRL! The tournament is using the 3 points for a win scoring system, with an Armageddon game played in case of a draw (the winner earning 1.5 points instead of the usual 1).

The starting time is a little bit late for me to stay up for, but there may be still games in progress when I wake up. If you want to follow the live action the Chess24 seems to be the place to go.  

Sunday 4 October 2020


 I have just realised, to some embarrassment, that I don't really have many books on Mikhail Tal. My only game collection is "Tal's 100 Best Games" by Cafferty, but this only covers the period from 1960 to 1973. While trips to bookshops outside Canberra is fairly limited at the moment, when I do hit the road, I do know what gaps in my library I will be looking to fill.

Nonetheless, the Cafferty book is a good read. Recently I have been doing some coaching using the Fischer v Najdorf game from the 1962 Olympiad, which Fischer won in 24 moves. Interestingly enough, Najdorf suffered a similar two years earlier against Tal, getting crushed as Black in only 26 moves. Here is the game, which is Game 2 in Cafferty's book.

Tal,Mihail - Najdorf,Miguel [B42]
Leipzig ol (Men) fin-A Leipzig (6), 02.11.1960

Friday 2 October 2020

Well, that escalated quickly


After the Armenia Eagles upset the St Louis Arch Bishop's in the final of the Pro Chess League, the chatter about how unlikely the result was quickly started. The comments section in quickly filled with people both suggesting that something fishy was going on, and others who though such complaints were sour grapes. Then GM Wesley So joined in, and the whole discussion really took off.

After 2 days of claim and counter claim, announced that the Armenia Eagles had been DQ'd and first place was to be awarded to St Louis. More significantly, were very public about their reasons, and that GM Tigran L Petrosian was to be given a lifetime ban from the site. Normally titled players who get suspended or banned aren't publicly name (their accounts just get shut down), but not this time.

The latest news is that Petrosian plans to defend his reputation in an online press conference, so it may be worth stocking up on popcorn.

Thursday 1 October 2020

This is not the Bongcloud

 I am not shocked that a number of internet based events have now descended into a competition among the top GM's to see who can troll the hardest (it is the internet after all). All very amusing (except to some outraged purists), but could people at least get the names of the openings correct. (Am I the chess equivalent of the grammar police?)

1.e4 e5 2.Ke2 is the Bongcloud. Not 1.f3 e5 2.Kf2 This instead is the Hammerschlag. And for further reference 1.e4 f5 is The Fred (often followed up with 2.exf5 Kf7 aka The Tumbleweed for black), while 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Kf2 is the Tumbleweed for white.

Carlsen,Magnus (2863) - So,Wesley (2770) [A00]
chess24 Banter Series Final (40.1), 29.09.2020

Tuesday 29 September 2020

Would you resign here?

 The 'trigger' for resigning can sometimes be quite complicated. I have had opponents resign to me when I have played a seemingly strong move, only to find it was a blunder that should have thrown the win away. I've also had opponents decide to play on in hopeless positions, hoping that there is still one last blunder left in me.

While the general rule seems to be 'play until you have no winning tricks left', it isn't always clear what this means. For example, should White have resigned in this game, or was there a chance to turn the tables if they played on?

Amateur - Beis [C31]
Germany Germany, 1940

ACT Chess Association Annual General Meeting - 1 October 2020

 Just a reminder to all members of the ACT CHess Association. The 2020 Annual General Meeting will be held at 6pm Thursday 1st October 2020 at the Hellenic Club, Moore Street, Canberra City.

Sunday 27 September 2020

Was the fix in?

 A number of my older chess books contain amusing anecdotes dated many years before. As these books do not often include sources for these stories, it could be assumed that some tales have been either invented, or are exaggerations of real events.

One story is about an early form of match fixing between Ruy Lopez and Giovanni Leonardo. In a match to decide the best player in the world (in 1575), Leonardo threw his first two games, only to come back and win the match 3-2. In looking for more background on this story I did discover discrepancies about the venue (Madrid or Rome), but more importantly, if Leonardo was trying to throw some games, he could have been a bit more subtle about it.

Lopez de Segura,Ruy - Leonardo,Giovanni da Cutri [C30]
Ruy Lopez Rome, 1560

Friday 25 September 2020

The plural of chess?

 Whether there was a plural form of the word 'chess' was something I have not really though about until today. But according to Wiktionary, the plural of chess is chesses. Now I'm pretty sure that 'chesses' isn't even a word, and I am struggling to think of a sentence that could contain it. 

But I do like the other identifier attached to the word "chess" in the article. The fact that it is uncountable (ie you can't have 'several chess') does make sense to me. There is just chess!

Thursday 24 September 2020

Even GM's sometimes forget

 Anyone who has been coached by me recently will know I am a big fan of castling and king safety. Of course anyone who has played me recently will also know that I often get this wrong in my own games. It turns out I am not the only one, as even GM's sometimes forget to get their king out of the firing line. In the following 3 minute game, a well known GM and trainer never gets around to castling, and quickly pays the price.

Jeff_Memes (2526) - GurevichMikhail (2539) [B06]
Live Chess, 20.09.2020