Friday 31 July 2020

2020 FIDE Online Chess Olympiad - Division 4

Division 4 of the 2020 FIDE Online Chess Olympiad is about to start. This Division consists of 38 seeded teems as well as the 12 teams the qualified from the Base Division. There will be 5 pools of 10 teams each, with the top 3 teams from each pool being promoted to Division 3.
If you want to follow the action you can do so via The only issue is that the pairings aren't listed by team, so you have to click on particular games before you see who is playing for who. Of course if you are an avid follower (like myself), you will soon recognise the names and therefore their counties. 

Wednesday 29 July 2020

A very tough game

While is mainly used by fast chess players, there is an active 'turn based' community on there as well. While I'm not super involved, I do play a few 2 or 3 days per move games, just to kepp my CC skills up.
The following game was very tough for me, and for a long time I wasn't sure how I was going to win it. It was only around move 50 that I started to get on top, as if I hadn't been able to get my queen to f4 then I couldn't see any other winning chances.
On the hand I'm gald my opponent did play so well, as this event was a tournament for PNG players, and he is likely to be a member of the PNG Olympiad team in 2021(?).

L0rd_V0ldermort (1830) - shaunpress (2403) [C55]
PNG Tournament March 2020, 28.03.2020

Tuesday 28 July 2020

2020 FIDE Online Olympiad - Day 3

The final 3 rounds of the Base Division of the 2020 FIDE Online Olympiad have been played, and the 12 teams going through to the next round have been decided.
In Pool A, Myanmar qualified as expected, but the 2nd place finish of Brunei was a bit of a surprise. Pakistan and Oman tied for 3rd on 13 match points, with Pakistan ahead on game points. 5th place Fiji could be proud of their efforts especially as an extra win against either Pakistan or Oman would have qualified them instead (They narrowly lost both matches 2.5-3.5).
In Pool B Lebanon was the dominant team , with Qatar and Bahrain finishing 2nd and 3rd. Liberia and Burundi tied for 4th on 10 match points, with Liberia going through with 28.5 game points to 27. Burundi's drawn match with San Marino was the difference, especially as San Marino only fielded 3 players in each match (as they had no female players).
Pool C was even closer, with 3 teams tied for 4th. Cyprus was the runaway winner of this group, with Aruba in 2nd and Haiti third. Mauritania, Libya and Saint Lucia all tied on 10 match points, but it was Mauritania's 3 6-0 wins over the bottom teams that provided them with a much better game point total than the other 2.
Division 4 starts this Friday (31st July) at 6pm Canberra time. With 5 pools in this Division, the start times are every 2 hours, with Pool A consisting mainly of Asian teams. After that the groups are generally geographical, with care taken to make the group strengths even.

Sikivou,Taione (1865) - Yousuf,Azeem Makhdoomi (1779) [A00]
2020 FIDE Online Olympiad (7.5), 27.07.2020

Monday 27 July 2020

2020 FIDE Online Chess Olympiad Day 2

After the second day of the 2020 FIDE Online Chess Olympiad, the potential qualifiers from the Base Division are becoming clearer. In Pool A (which I am an arbiter for), Myanmar has won all 6 matches so far and will qualify. Below them Brunei (10), Oman (9), Fiji (8) and Pakistan (7) are battling for the remaining 3 promotion spots. Fiji and Pakistan have a match in hand as the entire country of Somalia lost their internet connection yesterday, and they will hopefully be playing these deferred games today. The crucial match will be Fiji v Pakistan as this will probably decide the final qualifier.
In Pool B Lebanon are easily winning, and some are tipping them to qualify from their next division (Div 4) as well. Bahrain, Burundi and Qatar are the next 3 teams, and should qualify, although Liberia (3 points back) have a slightly easier set of Day 3 pairings and may make a late charge.
Pool C is quite competitive, although Cyprus (12) should have no problem going through to the next division. Then there is a group of 6 teams who all have chances, depending upon the final day results.
I was going to feature an interesting game from one of the divisions, where a player was checkmated with 30 of the 32 pieces still on the board (it was a smothered mate btw). But on closer inspection, I saw that the winner hung their queen at one point (which was then missed by the opponent), and slightly quicker mate, (with all pieces on the board) was missed. Instead I will direct you to which show the standings for Pool A, as well as giving you links to the other pools. There is also a link on the page to allow you to view and download the games played so far.

Saturday 25 July 2020

2020 FIDE Online Olympiad - Day 1

The 2020 FIDE Online Olympiad is up and running, with the first pool games in the Base Division (Division 5) under way. Pool A has already finished for the day, with Myanmar and Fiji in the lead with 3 wins from 3 matches. The fact that Myanmar is leading isn't that much of a surprise, as they have a GM and IM on their top 2 boards, but Fiji are a bit of a dark horse. They have a pretty solid team, but the real secret is being organised, as a few of the other teams dropped points when players failed to log on for their games.
As with any new event there have been a few teething issues, but by the third round everybody was pretty much on board with how it was supposed to work. Even teams like Laos, who are pretty new to this sort of event managed to get connected and even won a match against Somalia.
The main difficulty so far is being able to watch all the games online from a single place. However, (the event hosts) are now providing links to the games and also an entertaining live stream. Just visit the homepage to find these.
The Base Division runs until Monday, with the top 4 teams from each pool being promoted to Division 4. That section will then start next Friday, with another 3 days of chess. It will be interesting to see how 'deep' into the tournament some of the bottom teams get, especially as there are a couple of underated teams seeded into the bottom section.

Friday 24 July 2020

2020 Online Chess Olympiad starts tommorow

The 2020 FIDE Online Olympiad starts tomorrow, with the first pool of matches. The event sees 163 teams broken up into 5 divisions, with a promotion system used to help determine the eventual winners. The tournaments starts with the 'base' division (or Division 5), where there will be 3 pools of 10 teams. They will play a round robin over 3 days, with the top 4 teams in each pool being promoted to join the next 38 teams in Division 4. After that there will be 5 pools of 10, with 15 teams being promoted, joining another 35 teams.
Today was a trial run for the playing teams, and also for the organising team. Various aspects of the event were tested (including automatically starting games), and thankfully everything pretty much worked. The main concern for tomorrow is seeing everyone turn up on time, and avoiding any connection issues from the home countries.
Pool play begins at 5pm Canberra time, with 3 rounds, each starting on the hour. Pool B and Pool C will also start tomorrow, at 10om, and 3am (the next day) respectively.
(NB I will post links to the online coverage when they become publicly available)

Tournament Number 3

As of last night, the ACT Chess Association has organised 15 online Blitz events, 18 online Rapid events and 3 online Standard events since early March 2020. While numbers for some of the events have been a little low (especially the Monday blitz events), they have been well received my the Canberra chess community.
Last night the third Standard event finished with a win for Matt Radisich, who scored 5.5/6.  This was the second tournament win for Matt in this series, having won the first standard tournament with the same score.
While I have seen comments about the unsuitability of long time control events in online chess, these events seem to be working well for us. The time limit of 45m+15s is the right balance between what would be used in club chess, and not to long as to drag out the evening. One round per week is also good, and the length of the event (6 weeks) is also similar to a normal club event. But probably the best proof that the format is working (at least for those that entered), is that there were no withdrawals from the tournament, and only one case of players forgetting to turn up.
So well done everyone!

Thursday 23 July 2020

I have broken Civ VI

Without a doubt, the Civilization series of games are the best computer games ever made. Since the first Civilization, they have been a constant time waster for me. And after almost 30 years of playing them, I am pleased to say I have broken Civ VI.
Based on tips from PotatoMcWhiskey (youtube channel here) I can usually beat Deity level with any civ by before move 300. (NB He usually wins around move 140!). The key to victory is usually a simple one. Research defensive techs at the start  (Bronze working, archery, masonry) and beeline culture to Political Philosophy. After that build the Apadana in your capital (2 envoys for every new wonder in the city), and then keep building wonders. As long as you have 4-6 cities in total, and survive any early wars  (hence walls and archers), the path to victory is assured. Normally I end up with a diplomatic victory, but if I am looking for achievements, culture, science and domination victories are achievable.

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Never argue with a taxi driver

(NB This post has nothing to do with taxi drivers)
I've been following the fortunes of a couple of big Victorian (Australia) online events with a mixture of fascination and horror. It seems that a combination of event size and anonymity has lead to some players complaining about the results of some other players. Now rather that either let the organisers handle it in a quiet manner, the loudness of complaints has led to what I would regard as an inevitable conclusion.
Assuming I have read the public confession of one of the players correctly, they decided to fight fire with fire. It was claimed that a recent winner had been receiving engine assistance, so another player 'gave that boy a taste of his own medicine' by which I assume is as admission of engine use. As a follow up, the player being accused of cheating has been removed from the standings, although his opponents results (and final placing) remains!

Monday 20 July 2020

The greatest game ever?

As it is World Chess Day, I thought I would present a game that some consider the greatest game of chess ever. It was played between Karpov and Kasparov in their 1985 World Championship Match, and ended in a glorious victory for Kasparov. At the time Kasparov's pawn sacrifice in the opening was considered very strong, although Karpov did find an equalising line in a later tournament.

Karpov,Anatoly (2720) - Kasparov,Garry (2700) [B44]
World Championship 32th-KK2 Moscow (16), 15.10.1985

Happy World Chess Day

Today (July 20) is World Chess Day. It commemorates the founding of FIDE on this day in 1924, and has become a more noticeable thing over the last few years. The theme for this year is about teaching, with the idea that chess players should take the day to teach the rules etc to someone new.
I doubt I will be able to successfully do that today, but I will be doing my usual chess coaching today, so I'm claiming partial credit.

Saturday 18 July 2020

Actual, real chess

There is an actual international chess event running right now, with physical games taking place. The 2020 Biel Chess Festival is starting tonight, with 8 GM's taking part. The first event is a Chess960 followed by a mixed format GM triathlon. The Chess960 event is already running, and if you visit the homepage, you can see the live coverage from GM Ian Rogers.

Friday 17 July 2020

Olympiad Update

It turns out there was a last minute rush of entries, so at last count there were 156 federations entered for the 2020 Online Olympiad. Based on my rough (and possibly inaccurate) calculations, the Base section will have 26 teams in it, with the top 15 moving up to the next section. There also seems to be at least 3 Canberra resident players taking part, noting that only one of them (Albert Winkelman) is actually representing Australia.
I also found out one of my jobs for the tournament. Entering 1750+ names into Swiss Manager!

Thursday 16 July 2020

2020 FIDE Online Olympiad

The 2020 FIDE Online Olympiad is almost ready to start, although a little later than first thought. Today is the last day for Federations to register, but it looks like there will only be enough teams for 4 divisions, rather than the planned for 5.
My federation, Papua New Guinea, is one such federation who isn't taking part. The main issue is that we don't have enough female or junior players to fulfil he entry criteria. This is entirely our fault, as over the years junior development has been sporadic, while female chess programs have been non existent.
However, I am still involved in the tournament, as an arbiter. I'm not sure what my exact role is at this stage, but if it is similar to the Asian Online Junior, I expect it will be supervising players via zoom.
The Tournament is supposed to start on the 22nd of July 2020 and finish on the 30th of August. However if the bottom division does not go ahead, then July 29th will be the actual start date.

Wednesday 15 July 2020

Pebble in the Sky

The correct answer to the question I asked below was Isaac Asimov in his novel 'Pebble in the Sky' (which was answered correctly by at least one person). Why I thought it an interesting quote was that the novel was first published in 1950, and certainly predated the popularity of 'Fischer Random' and pre-dated Fischer's chess career as well.
If you haven't read the story, Asimov also includes a full chess game in one of the chapters (describing it in the text, rather than listing the moves). Rather than invent something himself, he instead used a game from the 1924 USSR Championships, played by Grigory Levenfish. The only difference between the book and the game score I have been able to find is that the last few moves in the book were 28.Kg2 Qg3+ 29.Kh1 Qh3#

Verlinsky,Boris - Levenfish,Grigory [C84]
URS-ch03 Moscow (15), 1924

Monday 13 July 2020

When World Champion's walked among us like normal men

I'm currently evaluating software that processes pgn in bulk, doing a quick analysis of games using various chess engines. At this stage I am calibrating the results using older events where engine assistance (in opening prep) isn't part of the equation*
One event I am using is the Montreal 1979 Tournament of Stars. It was won by Tal and Karpov, and included almost all the top players in the world at the time. Tal started off the tournament with a win over Spassky, but the second most interesting thing from the game (after the moves), was the rating of both players. No 2800+ Super GM's here, just a couple run of the mill low 2600 journeymen!

Tal,Mihail (2615) - Spassky,Boris V (2640) [E94]
Montreal Montreal (1), 1979

*The reason being that it is a lot harder to differentiate between engine moves and 'remembered' engine moves when looking for evidence (or non-evidence) of engine assistance.

Sunday 12 July 2020

Serious skillage

With most chess events still being played online, there is now plenty of opportunity to cast an eye of some new talents on the Australian chess scene. The MCC Allegro (organised by the Melbourne Chess Club) has seen a couple of established tournament winners upset by at least one newcomer,  while the Box Hill Rapids have turned into quite a battle between some rapidly improving female players.
One game that really impressed me was the final round game between Jennifer Morrison and Chloe Fan. Although Morrison had at least a share of first place guaranteed, she still needed half a point for outright first. Under such circumstances there is a chance that the pressure may induce a serious mistake, but she was able to avoid any serious missteps and hold the position.

Morrison, Jennifer (1751) - Fan, Chloe (1733) [D02]
Live Chess, 12.07.2020

Friday 10 July 2020

Who and when?

Who said the following, and when did they say it? "There were even the popular varieties, in which the original positions of the chessmen were decided by throws of the dice"

Thursday 9 July 2020

An interesting draw

The ongoing ACTCA online events continue to serve up some interesting games. The latest is a draw that was played on the top board of the 45m+15s event that is currently running, although it looks as though White missed a chance for a bit more at the end. I'm posting the bare moves here, but will probably analyse it at greater depth on my twitch stream tomorrow.

mattrad (1609) - DoctorWho64 (1640) [C01]
Live Chess, 09.07.2020

Tuesday 7 July 2020

Over 1000

Following on from my post about, I have finished cataloguing my collection of chess books. At this stage I have just cracked the 1000 book total, although there are some books I have more than 1 copy of, and there are other books I haven't been able to add.
In the case of multiple copies, I have tried to remove duplicates if they are the same publisher and edition, but leave them in if they are from different print runs. So I probably have 5 different entries for "Logical Chess: Move by Move" but am treating the 3 copies of BCO 2 as a single entry.
On the other hand I probably have at least 50 books I am yet to add, either because the ISBN number doesn't match what Amazon or Google has, or that they are in a foreign language (usually Russian). As an example I have a Russian language copy of '200 Open Games' by Bronstein, but without an ISBN number, it is very difficult to add it.
If you are interested in seeing what books I do have (or seeing how the website works), you can check it out here


I've just noticed that my Chessbase database photo has got an upgrade. In this case I'm no longer the 'fat Elvis' I was around 2000, when the picture was last updated!

Sunday 5 July 2020

Keep threatening checkmate

When you first start playing chess, it is quite an easy game. All you have to do is checkmate your opponent before they checkmate you. And the best way to do this is to keep threatening checkmate. Eventually they will crack.

Jeff_Memes (2332) - Chessplayersunchao (2340) [C67]
Live Chess, 02.07.2020

Saturday 4 July 2020

Donato Mallari RIP

Donato Mallari, a well known and popular Sydney chess player has passed away. Mallari was a very active player on the weekend circuit, and his death at a relatively young age (early 50's) has come as a real shock to the chess community.
As a player he had an attacking style of player, which made his games very interesting to watch. He was capable of upsetting almost anyone he faced, including GM Zong-Yuan Zhao in the 2013 Australia Day Weekender. Always a happy and courteous opponent, he will be missed by all.

Mallari,Donato - Vogel,Joerg (2069) [C02]
AUS-ch Major Cammeray (6), 07.01.2011

Thursday 2 July 2020

Well done White Rose

The first 4NCL Online teams event has finished with a win to Chessable White Rose. They defeated Guilford Young Guns in the final to become the inaugural winners. Despite it being a UK event, there were a couple of Australian connections. The White Rose team was founded quite a while back by Rupert Jones, who though living in England, and being born in Papua New Guinea, has travelled on an Australian passport for most of his life. One of the other successful teams (winning Division 4) was the Celtic Tiger Cubs, which I believe is managed by Chris Skulte (formerly of Sydney).

Wednesday 1 July 2020

Why does the Knight move like that?

As mentioned previously on this blog, I am currently working on a book about the history of the Laws of Chess. It is a joint effort, with IA Stewart Reuben and IA Alex McFarlane  also involved.
One question put to me by one of the players at Street Chess the other day was "Why does the Knight move in an L shape?" I actually had no idea, but during an online meeting with Stewart and Alex last night, Alex was able to give a pretty strong explanation.
The movement of the pieces in modern chess are based on their movements in Shatranj However, in Shatranj, the mobility of pieces were a lot more limited. The Fers (the modern day Queen), could only move one square diagonally. The Elephant (the modern day Bishop) could move 2 squares diagonally, jumping over the intervening square. The movements of the Rook and King were the same as they are now. If you placed a piece on the centre of a 5x5 grid, each square was reachable by at least one of these pieces, with the exception of 8 squares, which as it turned out, was an "L" shape away from the centre. Therefore the Knight was the piece that filled in those gaps.