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