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