Thursday 30 April 2020

Congrats to Matt

The first ACTCA long time control event finished this evening, with Matt Radisich winning with a score of 5.5/6, half a point ahead of Victor Braguine on 5.
The final round did demonstrate the perils of server play, with springing a server reboot on the field with only 40 minutes notice. While most games finished before the shutdown, a couple were still in progress when the games were aborted. As tournament director I had kept a copy of the moves (and the clock times), but in one instance a player resigned in a losing position rather than restart, while in the other, a failure to restart the game resulted in me (or Fritz) adjudicating the position as a win for one player.
Despite the issues with the event, I plan to start the next tournament next week (Thursday). The event will be open to players outside the ACT, so if you are interested in playing, please email me, or contact me (shaunpress) on

mattrad (1656) - JaykeBJ (1330) [C22]
Live Chess, 30.04.2020

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Why don't World Champions ever play chess like this against me?

Showing that online chess is a different kind of beast to over the board chess, Magnus Carlsen came up with a spectacular self own against Ian Nepomniachtchi in last nights Magnus Carlsen Invitational. He tried a gambit line in the Sicilian (a gambit which MVL had declined a couple of rounds before), but found that the main line just lost him a piece. While Carlsen then played on (possibly inspired by Komodo v David Smerdon), he never looked like getting enough for it and eventually resigned.

Carlsen,Magnus (2881) - Nepomniachtchi,Ian (2778) [B55]
Magnus Carlsen Invitational (11.1), 28.04.2020

Monday 27 April 2020

If Kasparov can do it ...

Here is a very quick win from tonight's ACTCA Online Arena event. While not following the exact moves of Kasparov's disastrous loss against Deep Blue, the idea of Ng5xf7 after h6 is similar. What is different, is that the sacrifice wasn't actually sound, until Black retreated the king to e8, and walked into a mate in two. Putting it on g8 was the correct move, after which White has some work to do.

White - Black [B11]
Live Chess, 27.04.2020

Saturday 25 April 2020

How sound is the Morra?

Over this weekend I have been sitting in on a FIDE Trainers Course being organised by the FIDE Trainers Commission for players in Asia and Oceania. There have been a number of excellent presentations (from some of the world's leading trainers) and I have picked up a number of new ideas for coaching and training.
One of the more surprising ideas is that while most opening gambits have been refuted (or defanged) by  chess engines, there are a couple that are still playable (for White). These are the Scotch Gambit (4.c3), the Evans Gambit, and the Morra Gambit. The last was a bit of a surprise as it never seem to catch on at the top level. But as suggested by the lecturer (GM Oleksiyenko), I looked to see which top GM's play it regularly. GM Emanuel Berg looks to be the highest rated exponent of this gambit, playing it for much of his career. While he hasn't won every game, he has won enough to show it is playable, including the following win.

Berg,Emanuel (2579) - Luch,Michal (2448) [B21]
POR-chT Porto (9.5), 20.08.2016

Friday 24 April 2020

I don't feel so bad now

Ding,Liren (2836) - Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime (2860) [D13]
Magnus Carlsen Invitational (6.5), 23.04.2020

Restarting the youtube channel

Desperate times call for desperate measures. So I'm restarting my youtube channel, which has been pretty dormant for about 8 years. The main purpose is to post some new coaching content for the ACT Junior Chess League, which I've targeted at the beginner/school chess player. I'm also putting some 'howto' clips up regarding online events, and I may expand on that as well.
The channel is here , or just search for 'Shaun Press' on youtube.

Thursday 23 April 2020

Naka the cracka

There were a  couple of one sided results on last night's round of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational. Carlsen beat Caruana 3-1 (+2=2) while Nakamura crushed Firouzja 3.5-0.5. Clearly Nakamura had Firouzja's number, as the last game in the match went like this.

Nakamura,Hikaru (2829) - Firouzja,Alireza (2703) [B01]
Magnus Carlsen Invitational (5.4), 22.04.2020

Wednesday 22 April 2020


This is something I should have done a few weeks ago, but now I have put up a short instructional video of how to play an Offline/Online event. For those not familiar with the concept, it is a tournament where the pairings and results are handled away from a chess server, while the games are still played on that server. This is the format we have been using for the ACTCA 60m+30s event (1 game a week), and while most players have managed the technology behind it, it is always helpful to show everyone how it works.
The link to the clip is and can be used if you are thinking of running similar events for your own chess club or association.

The banhammer

I must confess I am surprised at the number of young* players who have been caught (and admitted to) using outside assistance in online events. I know below a certain age the concept of right and wrong is a little fuzzy, but if you are smart enough to know how to 'boost' your chess ability, you should be smart enough to recognise the consequences.
It turns out that there may be a longer lasting effect for the players concerned. While results come and go, damage to reputation tends to last a lot longer. I can certainly remember (and even repeat) stories of players arranging results or getting outside assistance going back almost 40 years. So while players may think the risk of getting banned from an event is possibly worth it, the damage may last longer than that.

*I have also been told of a recent incident from the UK, which involved a 50 year old player, so it isn't just kids.

Monday 20 April 2020

Late night chess-ivision

While chess hasn't taken over the sporting airwaves yet (unlike combat juggling or dodgeball), there is still plenty of chess that can be watched on your computer/tablet/phone. The big event to tune into is the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, being broadcast on Chess24. The tournament has 8 of the worlds best players playing each other online, using the format of 4 quickplay matches per round. The winner of the match gets 3 MP (match points) if won in regulation, while a match decided in a playoff earns 2MP for the winner and 1MP for the loser.
The top 4 players then play a knockout semi-final and final to determining the overall winner.
Despite the late start of midnight (Canberra time), it is well worth watching. The shorter time controls (15m+10s) provide lots of opportunities for interesting games, while the live commentary is quite entertaining. It runs until May 3, so if you don't mind turning up a little late for work, a lot of late nights may be in order.

Sunday 19 April 2020

A bonkers computer game

I'm pretty sceptical when it is claimed that a whole opening has been refuted by a single game. I've seen this claim about the Scandinavian, as well as the Traxler. The latest opening that has supposedly been dealt a death blow is the Dutch Defence.
In a recent game between Leela Chess Zero (and open source version of Alpha Zero) and Stockfish, LC0 played a long term piece sacrifice in the Staunton Gambit, eventually trapped Black's Queen, and then ground out a win in a Q v 2R ending. Here is the full game, so feel free to make your own analysis and conclusions.

Lc0 - Stockfish [A83]
CCC13: Finals (15|5) (1), 13.04.2020

Saturday 18 April 2020

And he rested on Friday

With the addition of some junior events, I am now running 6 online events a week. Friday is the only day of rest for me, although I do produce some online content on that day as well. As the numbers increase, I am also starting to get requests from non-Canberra players who want to register and take part. And following discussions with other committee members it looks like the membership rules will be relaxed (in some circumstances) for specific events.
Here is a summary of the events currently being run on by the ACTCA/ACTJCL/Street Chess

  • Monday Blitz 7:00pm G/5m Swiss/Arena alternating (ACT players)
  • Tuesday Rapid 7:00pm G10m+2s Swiss (ACT Players)
  • Wednesday Junior Rapid 1:30pm G/10m Swiss (Junior Chess Players Only)
  • Thursday Standard 7:00pm 60m+30s 1 round per week (Currently ACT players, but will be open for next tournament)
  • Street Chess Saturday 11:15am G/15m, 7 round swiss (Interested players!)
  • Sunday Junior Rapid 10:00 am G/15m (Junior Players Only)

The specific clubs for each events are
- ACTCA Chess Club (for ACT Players)
- Canberra Junior Chess Club (for Junior Players, open to non-ACT players)
- Street Chess 2 (for Street Chess, open to non-ACT players)

For the next standard event, contact me via email ( if you wish to take part.

For all events, players must identify themselves (with a real name) when applying to join.

Thursday 16 April 2020

An escape for one side, or the other

Sometimes when aiming for a specific result, you miss an unexpected chance. This was the case in the online tournament that the ACT Chess Association has been running for the past few weeks. White's position turned out to be better than he thought, but I'm sure a draw was a result he was happy with. But on move 21 ....

slypig123 (1245) - GrillGrandmaster (1569) [C84]
Live Chess, 16.04.2020

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Flash, bang!

One of the challenges of online chess is keeping track of who is who. While I try and do my best in the tournaments I am organising (5 a week at the moment), it isn't always clear the GhostOfFischer really is Bobby Fischer back from the dead.
Compounding this is that players often use different names on different servers. I'm assuming this isn't an attempt to hide their real identities, but instead provides some individual flair to their accounts (although the Chinese GM using the name Covid-20 might want to keep his identity well under wraps).
With the Firouzja v Carlsen match beginning in a few hours on Chess24, I can at least show one recent game played by Carlsen, under the semi-recognisable name of MagzyBogues

MagzyBogues (3462) - Sanan_Sjugirov (3060) [C51]
chess24 online game | blitz (1.1), 07.04.2020

Tuesday 14 April 2020

New FIDE Arbiters Manual

If you are looking for some light reading, or simply want to up your arbiting skills, then the new FIDE Arbiters Manual should be added to your 'lock down entertainment list'. Revised after the last FIDE Congress, it's 200 pages cover all the things you need to know for running FIDE rated and title events.
The document can be downloaded (as a pdf) at and it is free to read and distribute.

Monday 13 April 2020

Other Bots

I'm not sure how everyone else is handling the current restrictions on movement and travel, but I've decided to treat this as a dry run for my retirement (which isn't that far off). This involves revisiting a number of long postponed projects, as well as starting some new ones.
One project I had put on hold long long time ago was the writing of boardgame bots. The purpose of these bots was two fold. One, to provide on call opponents for me to play, and two, to see if I could develop and implement winning strategies for multi-player games.
I've already implemented by first game, with some pretty basic bots. The game in question is 'For Sale' which is a nice bidding type game for 3 to 6 players. For now I have implemented two of my 'starter bots', Random_Player and Pass_Player, and the next step is to try and build a learning bot.
Once I've done that I might move on to some other fun games like Hanabi or Perudo!

More online events (this time for juniors)

Having seen the successful launch of online events in Canberra, the next set of events are for junior players. The ACT Junior Chess League had gone online, and will be holding twice weekly events during the school holidays. There will be a 10m tournament on Wednesday afternoons (at 1:30pm), and a Sunday Allegro event (G/15m) starting at 10am.
As these are junior only events, the ACTJCL is taking particular care with the organisation. While players need to identify themselves to the organisers (to make players are who they say they are), the ACTJCL strongly recommends that the players use 'safe mode' when online (this cuts out any messaging or comments). If you are a local ACT junior, and are interested in taking part, create an account on, and then apply to join the Canberra Junior Chess Club. When you apply to join, make sure you identify yourself, as otherwise the application will not be accepted.

I've also received a number of enquiries from non ACT chess players about taking part in the various tournaments. My current recommendation is to join the Street Chess2 club on  (as the membership requirements are a lot more relaxed) for Saturday events. I am also looking at running some longer time control events, open to all Australian players, using offline pairings. This may be up and running in a few weeks, so watch this space.

Saturday 11 April 2020


I'm not sure if 18,000 players for a single chess event is some sort of record, but I was impressed by the turnout for the Offerspill Charity event, held on yesterday. Sponsored by the Offerspill Chess Club of Norway (Magnus Carlsen's club) he event ran for 24 hours, using the Arena format. The winner was IM Platon Galperin, who played 314 games of 3m+2s chess. Interestingly his winning percentage was only around 50%, instead relying on wining streaks to accumulate his points. The other remarkable stat was the total number of games played, which was 176,719!

Smurf v Komodo is hosting an interesting match, where GM David Smerdon is playing the Komodo chess engine. White is different about this is that Komodo is giving David knight odds in each game of the 6 game match. In return, David has black in each game.
After the first 3 games Smerdon holds a 2-1 lead. Prior to the match he asked people to predict the likely outcome, and mine was a 4.5-1.5 wind to David. My reasoning for this was that David was likely to lose a game early on, and then change his strategy so it didn't happen again.
It turned out that David actually lost the first game, missing a 'short' tactic, and then getting outplayed in a materially equal position. Bouncing back from that, David then played more cautiously, and simply ground down the engine in the next two games.
The match continues tomorrow, starting at 10am Canberra time. One of the best places to watch the match is at which has commentary by GM Evgenij Miroshnichenko  and Canberra's own IM Andras Toth.

PlayKomodo (2960) - smurfo (2528) [C00]
Live Chess - Odds Chess, 11.04.2020

Thursday 9 April 2020

Other games

While chess should be enough to sustain most of us, the urge to try something new (or different) is understandable. The main issue is that the online community for other boardgames isn't as developed (excluding the classics like Bridge, Go and Backgammon).
There are often sites for a specific game (like Dominion) but if you are looking for a more general site, then might be worth a visit. Setting up an account is free, although some games are restricted to Premium account holders (although they can invite you to play). There are a lot of Euro boardgames there, as well as some of my 'casual' favourites like Sushi Go, and For Sale. It even has a ranking system, so you can compare you skills at Puerto Rico in the same way you can do so with Chess. (PS It does have Chess!)

Nine blot

Magnus Carlsen proved that isolation hasn't diminished his blitz skill, beating GM Sana Sjugirov in the final of the Chess24 Banter Blitz. What was most impressive about it (apart from Carlsen's ability to play and commentate at the same time) was the final score of 9-0. You can check out the action (and Carlsen's commentary) on replay at

Tuesday 7 April 2020

Pin for the win

While I normally try my best to not play chess (except at my local club), I do end up playing the odd extra tournament. One event is a small online round robin, designed to give PNG players some extra practice. It is played at a rate of 1 move every 2 days, although the games are running a lot quicker than that.
Despite starting only 2 weeks ago, I've already scored my first win. One of the reasons the game started so quickly was that is was book up until move 16, and why it finished so quickly was my opponent self-pinned the knight on e7. While 21.Bc4 was the winning-est move, I so wanted to play 21.Qd8+, which I figured was also winning, but not in the most direct way.

shaunpress (2318) - Michelino47 (1588) [B22]
PNG Tournament March 2020, 28.03.2020

Sunday 5 April 2020

The perils of online play

One of the questions I am constantly asked in my new role of online tournament organiser is "How do you deal with cheating?" My quick answer is "I don't" but the real answer is a little more involved than that.
At the moment the events I organise are small-ish events, with no more than 30 players. I also generally know all the players in the events, and those I don't, I ask them to clearly identify who they are in real life. The reasoning for this is that I believe players are less likely to misbehave in smaller social settings if they now everyone else knows who they are. Secondly, the platforms for online chess also have their own ant-cheating systems built in, which provides both a deterrent, and a system for sanctioning players.
As a result there haven't been anything I would describe as obvious cheating in anything I have organised, although I know of at least one player who did get sanctioned by the site these events run on (NB I am not privy to the reasons why this happened).
However it can still go somewhat wrong for other tournament organisers, as discovered by the Melbourne Chess Club. The MCC run a Saturday Allegro Competition (modelled after Street Chess), and have also moved it online. They also decided to "go big" with yesterdays event, attracting a field of 128 players. In the first round, one of the top seeds was beaten by an unrated/unknown player. While this may not have been a huge surprise in real life, in online chess it was enough to reverse the result and exclude the winner from the rest of the tournament. I believe there was a copy of the game that was briefly online, but has also now been removed from the tournament website.
At this time this is all the information I have seen on this matter, but I assume the organisers had more evidence than simply "this result doesn't seem right". There is a line between playing out of your skin and playing with electronic help, but sometimes organisers find it difficult to put a player on the correct side of it. Hopefully, as players and organisers gain more experience with these events, such incidents will diminish.

Nice work if you can get it

Despite the lack of OTB chess at the moment, Magnus Carlsen is keeping himself, and some other GM's, busy, announcing a $250,000 online chess event. The event will consist of Carlsen and 7 other top GM's, playing a round robin of 4 15m+10s games against each other. The top scorers then qualify for a playoff series.
The tournament is being hosted by and begins on the 18th April. While the field has not be finalised as yet, there may be some interesting omissions, for commercial reasons. While online chess hasn't attracted the large sums of money that other eSports has, some GM's have signed contracts with specific cites, which may preclude them from playing on chess24.
As an added bonus, you can install the Premium version of the Magnus Trainer app (Android and iOS) from now until the end of the tournament. Details are at the above link.

Saturday 4 April 2020

Tools of the Trade

Having transitioned to providing online coaching (rather than face to face, which I prefer), here are my current tools.

  • A good collection of coaching books (Yusopov coaching series, 365 Chess Master Lessons by Soltis)
  • Lichess (You can share analysis boards and study collaboratively) 
  • Zoom video software (despite the fact it is currently being slammed in technology circles)
  • XSplit Gamecaster (for streaming lessons to multiple students)
At this stage it seems to work well for one on one sessions, and has the added benefit of getting me to prepare instructive positions in advance.

Thursday 2 April 2020

Everyone is doing it

It looks as though chess streaming is becoming a real growth industry. On all the major chess platforms you can now find GM's IM's and even humble FM's playing blitz and streaming the game at the same time. Some use built in software, while other streamers use external channels like And given how much of it there is, you can probably log in at any time of the night or day to find some interesting games.
One of the many players doing this is GM Elshan Moradiabadi. He is active on as 'elshan1985' and on as gmelshan1985 gm_elshan1985. He usually takes on all comers at bullet and blitz, while commentating on the game. His comments are both instructive and entertaining, especially when he realises he has had a lucky escape from a near certain loss.
He is normally active in the early afternoon Canberra time (which is late night in the US, where he lives). I logged in this afternoon to watch some of the action, and was fortunate to come across the following hack.

vicarryus (2020) - elshan1985 (2571) [A41]
Rated Blitz game, 02.04.2020

Wednesday 1 April 2020

Where you can still earn titles

There is still some organised chess where you can still earn titles. The International Correspondence Chess Federation is still running events, taking advantage of the fact that all their chess is server based anyway. As a result you can still earn GM, IM and other CC titles while chilling at home. The Correspondence Chess League of Australia (of which I am the current President) is also organising lots of events, again mainly played on the ICCF server.
So if you want to play some serious chess, with the chance of earning a title or two, then check out the above links.