Monday 31 August 2020

Gold to Russia and India

 (*** I was an arbiter for this event, and while I was not part of the appeals panel, I was aware of a number of facts that were considered by them. I post as an individual, and not in any official capacity connected with the Online Olympiad ***)

After considering an appeal by India, FIDE have awarded joint gold medals to India and Russia for the 2020 FIDE Online Olympiad. With the match tied after the first round (6 draws), and 3 further drawn games in the second round, 2 Indian players suffered connection difficulties, and lost on time. In an investigation carried out immediately after the completion of the game, it was discovered that Cloudflare had suffered and outage which prevented internet traffic from being routed to in a timely manner. Based on this, and other factors, it was decided that Russia and India would share first place. The full details of the decision can be found at 

One question that was asked soon after this decision was published, was "What about Armenia?" They had suffered a similar issue in their quarter final against India, and had refused to continue the match when their appeal was rejected. 

While I sympathise with Armenia, there were 2 distinct differences. The option to declare joint winners could have only been made in regards to the final. For QF's and SF's, any decision would have had to provide an ultimate winner, so as to advance to the next round. Secondly, the cause of the outage that affected India was clearly and quickly identifiable, something that wasn't the case with Armenia. The tournament had seen a number of connection issues similar to Armenia's (eg internet failure, power loss, overthrow of government), and in all cases, they were treated in the same way (a loss for the player concerned). In the final however, the failure of tournament infrastructure was the culprit, which is why I assume a different decision was reached.

If I had been asked (which I wasn't), I had a different suggestion. But as it turns out, my suggestion would not have been practical, due to the same internet issues that affected the match in the first place.

Sunday 30 August 2020

The Olympiad Final?

 (Disclaimer: I am an arbiter for this event, but am not working on the final match)

It looks as though Russia has won the 2020 FIDE Online Chess Olympiad, although India are currently appealing due to 2 players suffering lag/disconnection in the final game. At the time of posting this, the appeal is still being heard, so to pass the time, here is an amazing game played in the first match of the final.

Vidit,Santosh Gujrathi (2636) - Nepomniachtchi,Ian (2778) [A00]
2020 FIDE Online Olympiad (1.1), 30.08.2020

Saturday 29 August 2020

Chess Fanatics

 The 2020 Olympiad Semi-Final between Poland and India was a real roller-coaster ride, with Poland winning the first match 4-2, India the second 4.5-1.5, and then India winning the Armageddon playoff to advance to the final.

The topsy-turvy nature of the match was best demonstrated by the Indian fans on, who had poured into the chat rooms to follow each game. At it's peak there were over 2000 observers for each game, and when it looked like India were going to get knocked out, they didn't hold back in their criticism of the Indian team. However, when India bounced back in the second match, they piled back onto the bandwagon, and suddenly the criticism that occurred in the previous hour simply disappeared! Quite remarkable, but then again, nothing out of the ordinary for most other sports teams and their supporters.

Friday 28 August 2020

Now I'm not that sure ...

 I've never been a fan of 'Armageddon' as a way of breaking ties in chess, preferring to see sets of 2 games continue indefinitely.  One reason for my dislike is that I've always assume that having draw odds is better than having the extra time (ie having the choice gives you an advantage). But the final game of the China v Ukraine Olympiad match has me thinking.

After the match as shared with two 3-3 results, a single Armageddon game was to determine the outcome. Ukraine won the toss and chose to be White (and start with 5 minutes). Black started with 4 minutes, but if the game was drawn, Black would win. What seemed to happen next was that Black decided to dig in for a draw, but wasn't able to move fast enough, as there was no increment. Eventually Black ran out of time, and Ukraine qualified for the next round. 


Shevchenko,Kirill (2425) - Liu,Yan (2427) [A00]
2020 FIDE Online Olympiad (3.1), 27.08.2020

Thursday 27 August 2020

2020 FIDE Online Olympiad - Finals Weekend

 The final weekend of the 2020 FIDE Online Olympiad begins tomorrow (Thursday). The first day will see the teams that finished 2nd and 3rd in their pools play, to decide who meets the pool winners in the quarter finals. Each match consists of 2 rounds over 6 boards, so that each team has an even number of white and blacks. For a team to progress they need to either win both matches, or win one and draw the other. This follows on from the main event, where match points (MP) was the first scoring method. If the match score is tied, then a single game playoff will decide the winner. Before the playoff 1 category will be chosen randomly (Open, Women, Junior Open, or Junior Female), and each team will nominate a player from that category. As the category for the playoff isn't known in advance, teams with strength across all categories are favoured.

Friday night (Canberra time) will see the quarter finals, with semi-finals on Saturday, and the Final on Sunday.

Wednesday 26 August 2020

More classics to be aware of

 The Reti v Tartakower 1910 game is a well known classic (where Reti sacrifices his queen on d8 to then play a double check), but it did have some predecessors. One such game (which I've only just discovered) was played 46 years earlier, took slightly longer, but ended in pretty much the same way.

Maczuski,L - Kolisch,Ignaz [C45]
Match Kolisch-Maczuski +2-2=0 Paris (1), 03.1864

Sunday 23 August 2020

A close finish in store

Pool B of the 2020 FIDE Online Chess Olympiad starts in a couple of hours, and a very exciting finish is in store. In almost all previous pools of the Online Olympiad, there have been 1 or 2 countries which have been clear favourites for promotion, and have lived up to that expectation. In this case there are 5 teams within 2 points of each other, and a lot of them will play their closest rivals today. When supervising the games yesterday, I thought one team or other was looking good for qualification, only to be brought back to the pack in the following round. 
If you want to follow the last round action for this pool (and all the others), you can either follow live commentary at or look at the games on (under events) or

Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar (2761) - Ivanchuk,Vasyl (2686) [A00]
2020 FIDE Online Olympiad (4.4), 22.08.2020

Saturday 22 August 2020

Alekhine reborn?

 The following game was played at Street Chess today. At first I wondered how sound White's piece sacrifice was, but after a few more moves White gained an overwhelming initiative which soon resulted in a forced mate.  Black did make one major mistake (14 ... N8h7) but this did not detract from how White won the game. Making constant threats to drive the Black pieces to worse squares even reminded me of how Alekhine used to win his games.

Press,Harry - Radisich,Matt [C41]
Street Chess 22.08.2020

Friday 21 August 2020

2020 FIDE Online Olympiad Top Division

 The 2020 FIDE Online Olympiad gets super serious tonight, with the Top Division starting. There are 40 teams broken up into pools of 10 teams, playing a round robin over the next 3 days. The top 3 teams from each pool then go into a knock out, with the winner of each pool going straight into the quarter finals, while teams 2 and 3 play a match against the 3rd and second placed teams from the other pools, to determine to other quarter finalists. The it is a straight knockout until a single winner is determined.

Pool A begins at 6pm this evening (Canberra time), with the next pools starting at 3 hour intervals. You can watch the action at chessbomb, or if you have a account, then this link should work as well

Wednesday 19 August 2020

I did find this funny

 There was a story in a UK Sunday paper about the sudden increase in the popularity of online chess has made the E-Sport community unhappy. (The story is here, but behind a paywall). The two main points are about the amount of money being paid in prize money, and whether chess is an 'E-Sport' as it is the same sport whether it is played on a board or via a computer.

I suspect I find this funny, mainly because people all getting 'butt-hurt' over things outside of their control is almost always funny. I also saw a retort to the second point, which argued the same standard could be applied to e-sport versions  of games like FIFA or NBA, although the e-versions of these sports usually require less skill to play, which is why they are 'E-Sports'. 

But having read the article, it also shows that FIDE really did miss the boat when it came to capturing the online chess market. The fact that has taken less than 6 months to catch up to other 'E-Sports' shows that with the right amount of planning (and foresight) chess could have been well ahead of the field 5 years ago,

Monday 17 August 2020

Canberra chess restarting

 Covid-19 restrictions in Canberra have been eased once again, and as a result the various clubs are restarting face to face play. The Tuggeranong Chess Club had their first meeting this evening, and the Canberra Chess Club is starting a 3 week rapid on Thursday. The Gungahlin Chess Club is still sorting out details with its venue, but hopefully there will be some good news on that front shortly.

One thing that will change is the amount of online chess being organised by the ACTCA. As the events were scheduled to match the times of the local clubs, these events will begin to disappear. The Monday night blitz is already gone, while the current Thursday standard event will run till completion (3 weeks to go), before stopping as well. The one event that is likely to keep running is the Wednesday Rapid, as it doesn't clash with any of the other clubs, and has generally been a popular event. 

Australia just miss out on promotion

 Australia has just missed out in qualifying for Division A of the 2020 FIDE Online Olympiad, after a rough day 3 of the competition. Holding a 2 point lead over closest rival Indonesia, the campaign began to go off the rails after Indonesia beat them 5-1 in round 7. Australia were better in a number of games in that match, but fell apart under time pressure. The win by Indonesia allowed them to join Australia on 10 match points, and move ahead on game points (which was the first tie-break).

Australia then scored a bit of an upset in the following round, drawing 3-3 with Germany, while Indonesia lost to pool leaders Bulgaria. However in the final round, Australia were up against Belarus, who had under performed over the first 2 days. They clearly found their form at just the wrong time for Australia, winning 3.5-2.5. Indonesia then walloped Bangladesh 5.5-0.5 to overtake the Australians in the final standings, and joined Bulgaria and Germany as the three teams going through.

Full crosstable, results and games can be found here

Sunday 16 August 2020

And then Shirov did this

 While I don't get to watch many games during the 2020 Online Chess Olympiad, I did have the pleasure of seeing this while waiting for results from other games.

Dvirnyy,Danyyil (2550) - Shirov,Alexei (2629) [A00]
2020 FIDE Online Olympiad (4.1), 15.08.2020

Saturday 15 August 2020

Looking for clues

 Once a game is finished (in the past at least), there was often a post-mortem. However in this fast paced world of ours, the time for doing this is often quite limited. Instead post game analysis is done at home, usually without both players present.

In the following game, which was played at Street Chess today, White took advantage of a seemingly obvious move by Black to launch a quick, and eventually overwhelming attack. The move in question was 13. ... Bd7, which was a lot worse than say 13 ... Bxd3. When I fed this into chessbase, the first clue was that the evaluation jumped in White's favour. But the other, and more interesting clue, was in the output from the Chessbase Cloud engine, which stores previous analysis from Chessbase users. In the case of this game, the position after White's 13th move had been searched over 1000 times. After I entered 13. ... Bd7, this number dropped to 1 (which I assume was me!). This, more than anything else, points to it being the cause of Black's defeat.

Press,Harry - Chibnall,Alana [B90]
Street Chess , 15.08.2020

Fire on the virtual chess board

 The 2020 FIDE Online Olympiad is starting to become real serious, with a number of high profile players joining the fray. Pool C (of which I am an arbiter for) saw both Anish Giri and Alexei Shirov turn our for the federations, although Shirov had a much better time of it than Giri. Shirov finished the day with 3/3, while Giri only managed 0.5/3. 

The Australian team also started with a bang, scoring successive 6-0 wins, before being brought down to earth, losing 2-4 to Bulgaria. However, the size of their opening wins, and some other results in their pool, leave them with high hopes of qualifying for Pool A.

Shirov,Alexei (2629) - Martins,David Pires Tavares (2223) [A00]
2020 FIDE Online Olympiad (1.1), 14.08.2020

Friday 14 August 2020

When is the round over?

 A recent story from Iceland raises the question about how far does an arbiters (or chess associations) jurisdiction extend. In this specific case a player was removed from an event due to a very loud dispute over where the  board should be placed. At some point after the round had finished, the two players paths then crossed (away from the event) and further words were exchanged. The organisers argued that while they could rule on the initial case, the subsequent meeting was away from their control and they could take no further action.

I've heard of a number of situations similar, if not identical, to this. A round of the ACT Chess Championship was held up a number of years ago because two players would not agree on which set to use. The argument went on for at least an hour before a decision was made. Another incident (involving at least one player from the previous one), centered around how close a table should be to the wall, and ended with all the pieces on the floor of the chess club. And at an Australian Open a number of years back, hotel security was called because two players were having a heated argument in the car park over a parking space. In all three cases the organisers took the path of least resistance and no further punishment was visited upon the players.

Thursday 13 August 2020


 Thursday morning is my usual exercise morning for me, which involves a very painful 5:30am wake up. While I don't necessarily see it as part of chess routine, keeping fit normally won't hurt your chess playing ability (unless you then fall asleep at the board).

However, I did see online a combination of chess and exercise that might be worth trying. The board and clock is placed on a flat piece of grass and the two players then have to assume the 'plank' position. When it is your move you can move to the pushup hold (ie arms fully extended), so you can see the board, move your piece, and press the clock (which is quite a challenge!). Then while your opponent is thinking you drop to the plank hold, until it is your move. If you break the hold (by collapsing) you lose the game. 

So there is an extra piece of strategy involved in doing this. You can take more time over each move than normal, hoping that your opponent will collapse, but if they don't, then you will find yourself short of time. The ultimate extension of this strategy is to not move at all, hoping that your opponent cannot hold a 5 minute plank, but if they can, then you are doomed.

(Sorry, no link to the video as I cannot re-find it)

Wednesday 12 August 2020

Resign or not?

 One of the issues with using online games as a source for research and study, is that sometimes come to an abrupt end. This is often due to connection issues, but unless you drill down into the source data (ie the extra tags that come with online games), you can never be quite sure it just wasn't an early resignation.

Here is one such game from the 2020 Online Olympiad. White is certainly better/winning after 13.Bg5, but did this move force a resignation, or was it just the last move before the internet dropped out?

Lohani,Sujana (1476) - Madelta,Glenda (1427) [A00]
2020 FIDE Online Olympiad (4.5), 01.08.2020


 More and more people seem to be signing onto the idea of using 'Sets' to decide important matches. Here is a flashback to 2018 

Tuesday 11 August 2020

A more permanent home

 As part of organising online events for the ACTCA, I've been doing short video summaries of each tournament or round. I do these on, in part because I find it easier to it 'straight to camera' rather than record and then upload. The only issue (up until now) is that they only stay online for 2 weeks.

Realising that some people want to re-watch them later than that, I am now uploading them to youtube as well. So far it is only the most recent 6 videos, but I plan to do this for all the recordings I make from now on. If you wish to have a look, you can now find them at

2020 FIDE Online Olympiad - Div 2

 The 2020 FIDE Online Olympiad is now up to Division 2, and is now looking a lot tougher for all teams. The 5 pools have been published, and Australia is in with a number of tough teams in Pool A. While the differing pools normally group teams together based on time zones (while balancing the strength), Australia has drawn Germany and Bulgaria, along with Indonesia and The Philippines. As only the top 3 teams in each pool advance to the next division, it will be a very tough ask. Based on previous divisions, 12+ match points is usually needed to finish in the top 3, which requires a minimum of 5 match wins.

Pool A of Divison 2 can be found here, and there are links to all the other pools (including past results)


Monday 10 August 2020

Officially good

 FM Geoffrey Borg was one of Malta's leading players, until a move into chess administration took him away from the board. However he returned to lead Malta in the current FIDE Online Olympiad, and despite a slow start, showed he can still play very good chess. In the following game he defeated IM Rafat Issa from Jordan, in a game where he looked in control throughout.

Borg,Geoffrey (2367) - Issa,Rafat (2392) [A00]
2020 FIDE Online Olympiad (7.2), 09.08.2020

Saturday 8 August 2020

Never give up hope

 Helping with the 2020 FIDE Online Chess Olympiad is taking up most of my time (hence the lack of regular posting), but as a benefit, I do get to see a lot of interesting games. Watching this one live, I was impressed with how Black decided to end it.

Gong,Qianyun (2322) - Kanyamarala,Trisha (1811) [A00]
2020 FIDE Online Olympiad (2.5), 07.08.2020

Thursday 6 August 2020

Ng4 is a nice find

It is always good to end a game with a nice tactical idea.

suprchess (1669) - mattrad (1635) [D08]
Live Chess, 06.08.2020

Wednesday 5 August 2020

Sixpence none the richer

I purchased a fairly old chess book recently titled 'Chess & Draughts How to Play Scientifically'. While I'm not sure how much it will add to my chess ability, it did contain a number of other interesting sections. 
One of these sections was titled 'How to form a Chess and Draughts Club' and even contains a model set of rules for the club. It recommends a committee of 7 members, with 2 secretaries, and elections held every 6 months! First prize for each competition is a Silver Medal, and if a player wins three such competitions, they get to keep it permanently. 
The other condition (which dates the book somewhat) is the a membership fee is to be paid quarterly, and is set at sixpence a quarter. Taking the value of a sixpence to be 5c at the time (1935), this would equate to  a fee of $2.44 a quarter.

Sunday 2 August 2020

A quick Olympiad win (Division 4 edition)

While I was collecting results from the 2020 FIDE Online Olympiad, I saw the following very quick win. I quickly realised that I probably saw this line 30 years ago when I was using the Grand Prix Attack as my main anti Sicilian weapon. Checking in my database it seems at least 9 players have fallen into this line, although the other games (all won by white) did go for at least a few more moves than this one.

Ndegwa,Jackson Kamau (1987) - Deng,Yu Dong Michael (1749)
2020 FIDE Online Olympiad (8.4), 02.08.2020

Saturday 1 August 2020

A not so simple question

How is it possible for Black to have a checkmate in 2 moves, without moving any of their pieces from the start position? 
(Credit to IA Shohreh Bayat for this question)