Thursday 31 December 2020

2020 Chessexpress Player of the Year

 While there has not been a lot of chess activity in 2020 (for obvious reasons), there was still enough for me to select the 2020 Chessexpress Player of the Year. 

The most significant tournament of the year turned out to be the 2020 Australian Chess Championship, hosted by the St George Chess Club. A number of strong young players took part, and one of these players, GM Temur Kuybokarov, was a well deserved winner. He then shifted to the online word, playing for Australia in both the Online Olympiad, and more significantly, as part of the team that won the Asian Online Cup. He also made significant contributions to chess in Western Australia in 2020, and so for all these achievements, GM Temur Kuybokarov is the 2020 Chessexpress player of the year.

Megaranto,Susanto (2517) - Kuybokarov,Temur (2134) [A00]
Asian Nations (Regions) Men Online Cup 2 (2.4), 23.10.2020

1.a3 strikes again

 The opening move 1.a3 is a much underrated weapon, and continues to claim victims. While I have often used it to play a reverse Scotch system, John Michas used it to claim space on the queenside, playing it as a delayed Solkosky. In fact the position he achieved by move 23 was so good that he missed a couple of quicker wins, but still had enough up his sleave to win the double rook ending.

Michas,John (1755) - Wilson,Norm (1450) [A00]
2020/AUS/5242 (AUS) ICCF, 30.11.2020

Tuesday 29 December 2020

I feel like Homer Simpson

 FIDE have just (re)announced amended regulations for next years World Cup, which is likely to be held in Sochi, Russia. The event has been expanded to 206 players, with each country in the top hundred (based on rating) getting to nominate a player. Previously, this was the teams that finished in the top 100 at the 2020 Olympiad, but this has obviously needed to be changed. There is also players qualifying from zonals and continental championships, as well as players qualifying by rating.  

The other change is that the top 50 players get seeded into the second round, with 156 players playing the first round. There are also similar changes to the Women's World Cup, although the smaller size of the event (103 players) means that only the top 39 countries (by rating) will get to nominate a player directly.

The full details and regulations can be found here

Monday 28 December 2020

Currently +1

 The last big event of 2020 (or the first of 2021) is the Airthings Masters which is being played online on The format is a 12 player RR, with the top 8 players then going through to a KO final. Currently there is a 6 way tie for the lead in the qualifier, with 4.5/8 (+1) being enough for a share of equal first. The reason for such caution has a lot to do with the format, as +1 or even 50% should be enough to get the players through to the next round. Nonetheless there has been some interesting games, including this quick win for Wesley So against Anish Giri.

Giri,Anish (2731) - So,Wesley (2741) [A14]
Airthings Masters | Prelims (3.4), 26.12.2020

Saturday 26 December 2020

The Game of Death Part II

 While I haven't quite solved my computer problems (and they may be more widespread than just Chessbase), I did manage to get a copy of the game I was searching more. It was played by Max Euwe in the 1950 Luzern Christmas Tournament, and while a nice game, I only chose it due to it's proximity to Christmas. 

Kaliwoda,Kurt - Euwe,Max [C96]
Luzern Christmas 5051 4th Luzern (1), 26.12.1950

Friday 25 December 2020

The Game of Death Part I

 As it is Christmas Day, I had hoped to choose a game with a Christmas connection to show you. Unfortunately, the game I planned to show you keep crashing my copy of Chessbase. As a result this post has now turned into story about how I am checking my database for errors, and hopefully repairing the data that I have. If successful, then there will be a part II tomorrow, where I actually show you the game.

Thursday 24 December 2020

Sac rook, get rook

 I have just finished another stint as an online arbiter, this time for the 2020 World Youth and Cadets. When mentioning this someone the other day, they asked me who were the winners. "No idea" was my very honest reply. In fact this is quite common for me, especially in events where I am not the chief arbiter.

The main reason is that I am focussed on my role supervising players, and less on the tournament results. However, I do get to see some interesting games in greater detail than I would if I was busy collecting results etc, including this one from the 3rd place playoff of the Under 10's Championship. 

White gets a strong attack against the Sicilian, and decides to sacrifice a rook to expose the king. Black looks like he is faced with mate, but is able to sac one of his rooks to force the exchange of queens, at which time it is almost equal. However White has an extra pawn on the kingside and this turns out to be the decisive feature. 

Mrinmoy,Rajkhowa (1547) - Woodward,Andy (1975) [B90]
FIDE World Youth Rapid Champ - Finals - (12.2), 19.12.2020

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Chess with dogs

 The 1973 version of "The Three Musketeers" pooped up on tv the other day. I vaguely remember watching it as a child, but not too closely, as I missed the outdoor chess scene in it. Here is a (not great) clip from the movie, showing that the pieces were in fact various animals. So the challenge was not only to play good moves, but to choose pieces who were able to "stay" on the correct square.

Monday 21 December 2020

Into the sunlight

With most chess activity for 2020 taking place online, the question of whether this helps or hurts chess development is still to be answered. However, as chess emerges into the sunlight (in the form of OTB tournaments), it is likely that an answer is not long off. 

One OTB with interesting results was the 2020 Brisbane Xmas swiss which was held last weekend. 12th seed Byron Morris (1482) finished in 1st place, beating seeds 3 and 1 in the last 2 rounds to finish on 5.5/6. In equal 2nd was Benjamin Leong (1426) who was seeded 16th in the tournament. 

Further south, a number of juniors who performed well in online events have carried their good form into the Melbourne Chess Club Allegro, showing that improving during lockdown is quite feasible. Although the data points are pretty small at this stage, I suspect that there will be number of young players who will see quick rating jumps (from OTB chess), as the OTB system catches up with their online improvement.

Saturday 19 December 2020

2020 ACT Rapidplay Championship

 Fred Litchfield has won the 2020 ACT Rapidplay Championship, ahead of FM Michael Kethro on countback, after they both finished on 6/7. They drew their game against each, and both players also drew with CM Hui Li. Li conceded a third draw to WFM Alana Chibnall to finish on 5.5.

The event attracted a record field of 44 players, including a group who had travelled from Wollongong (a three hour drive!) . The Under 1800 prize was shared between Glenn Ingham and Harry Johnson, while Jack Zhuang won the Under 1400 prize. Joshua Lee and Lachlan Ho split the junior prize. With such a large field the final placings mainly depended on the results in the final round, and a number of players were a little unlucky to miss out on prizes. 

The ACT Rapid is the final ACT Chess Association event of the year. The ACTCA Calendar for 2021 will begin the the ACT  Lightning Championship, which is scheduled for the 2nd February 2021, to be hosted by the Gungahlin Chess Club. 

Thursday 17 December 2020

New wine, old bottle

 The oft repeated criticism of the old masters is that their attacks only succeeded because their opponents did not defend accurately. While this may be so, Daniil Dubov demonstrated that even against a modern GM, the old ways can still work.


Dubov,Daniil (2702) - Karjakin,Sergey (2752) [C54]
Russian Championship Superfinal Moscow (11.1), 16.12.2020

Wednesday 16 December 2020

I continue to surprise myself

 A lot of my opening choices, and opening knowledge is pretty poor. Even in openings I should know well, I often make big mistakes. So when I follow theory (even unintentionally) it comes as a pleasant surprise. 

The following game was played in an online rapid event this evening. While I basically remember some Najdorf theory, by knowledge of the Poisoned Pawn variation was restricted to a few games in the 1970's by Fischer and others. As it turns out the game was theory up until move 23 (according to my opponent) which came as a shock to me in the post mortem. While I hold out hope that I may remember more about openings than I realise, it is probably the fact that most of the moves were fairly obvious that is the real truth here.

shaunpress (1765) - chesslani123 (1829) [B97]
Live Chess, 16.12.2020

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Being part of the in crowd

 One regular piece of advice I give to new players is "keep coming back". This is usually the punchline to a long a boring story I tell about how I lost my first 8 competition games etc etc 

But one good reason for coming back even after a few losses has less to do with self improvement, and more to do with social acceptance. When you first start playing competition chess, a lot of the social norms aren't always obvious. And as a newcomer, this can make you feel like an outsider. This isn't intentional, but happens with most social groups (not just chess ones). So by sticking at it for more than one week, you can both pick up the social cues from the group, as well has become one of the 'regulars' which often helps when getting advice or simply asking non-obvious (to you) questions.


Sunday 13 December 2020

Anti - Pirc

 While I was never enough of a fan to play the Pirc as Black, I do acknowledge that it is still a difficult opening to face as White. The Austrian Attack would be my usual approach to playing against it, but I have been burnt by over extending in the centre and getting wiped out by the counter attack. Maybe I should try an play it like this ...

Bulgankhan ,Ganzorig - Gholami Orimi,Mahdi [A43]
World Youth, 09.12.2020

Friday 11 December 2020

A modest haul

 The 2nd Lifeline Bookfair of 2020 was a little smaller than usual, but I was still able to pick up some books, and some other chess related items. The oddest one was a small wooden board and box, which had a board with holes to slot pieces in. I had hoped the pieces were wood, but instead were plastic. The great feature was that painted board had the white square in the wrong corner, which if it were a stamp, would make it valuable, but in this case, just makes it wrong.

I also picked up yet another vintage chess computer, this time a Tandy 1600. Now that my collection has reached double figures, it might even be time to start taking this aspect of my chess collection a little more seriously.  

Thursday 10 December 2020

ACT Rapidplay Championship

 The ACT Chess Association is holding its traditional end of year event, the ACT Rapidplay Championship, on the 19th December 2020. It will be held in City Walk, Canberra City from 11am, and as usual, a large entry is expected. Entry fee is $10 ($5 for juniors) and there is usually around $300 in prizes. This event will also be FIDE rated, for the first time.

With the following Saturday being Boxing Day, I will be asked whether Street Chess is being run that day. The answer is 'Of course it is'. So instead of trampling your fellow shoppers, come along to Street Chess instead, and work off that Christmas excess.

Wednesday 9 December 2020

A useful trick to know

 The European zone of the World Youth and Cadets Online event is significantly stronger than the other zones. The Under 18's has 4 GM's taking part, while the Under 16's has 1 GM and a number of IM's. As a result there have been a number of hard fought games in the early rounds, including the one below. While Black maintained a small edge for most of the middlegame, White missed a nice trick on move 38, and instead of regaining a piece, popped a rook istead.

Garrido Outon,Alex - Kacharava,Nikolozi [B11]
Word Youth, 08.12.2020

Sunday 6 December 2020

FIDE Congress 2020

 The 2020 FIDE General Assembly is being held online, for the first time.  While managing over 180 delegates in a zoom call may be difficult, previous 'in person' assembly's haven't seen a lot of talking by delegates, so this one may be easier to run than it first appears.

There are only a few contentious motions, although one may generate a lot of debate. The Iranian Chess Federation is being taken to task over the refusal of Iranian players to play Israeli players in tournaments, and unless the Federation does something about this, then they may be suspended by FIDE.

A slightly less contentious motion is to restrict national delegates to citizens or residents of the country they represent. PNG plan to support this motion, even when we thought it would exclude me as the FIDE delegate (as I am not a citizen and have not lived there since 1977), but a last minute amendment now also allows players who have played under the nations flag for at least 2 years to also become eligible.

While the public cannot participate in the congress, you can follow it live at Be warned, it starts at 1am Canberra time, and may not finish until the sun comes up in the morning.

Friday 4 December 2020

World Youth and Cadets - Americas

 The second qualifying zone of the 2020 Online World Youth and Cadets has finished, leaving 2 more to go. The Americas zone (covering North and South America and the Caribbean) was larger than the African zone, but once again ran pretty smoothly. The players quickly adapted to playing online chess in a remotely supervised way, and apart from some small technical issues, there were few problems.

The next zone is the European Zone on Monday (Tuesday morning for me) and this should be the real test, with 567 players currently registered. The links to all the tournaments, including replayable games through Tornelo can be found here

Talukdar,Rohan - Angel Soto,Miguel [D04]
Word Youth, 25.11.2020

Thursday 3 December 2020

Street Chess - known around the world!

 Street Chess has been featured in a very nice article at It is part of an ongoing series by WIM Alexey Root, on outdoor chess activity around the world. It contains plenty of recent photos, as well as a brief history of the event. If you wish to check it out, you can do so here

(**Disclaimer: I was a paid contributor to this article **)

Wednesday 2 December 2020

2021 O2C Doeberl Cup - Registrations open

 The 2021 Doeberl Cup website is now live, and you can register for next years event. Apart from the regular tournament information, there is also extra info on social distancing, and covid-safe policies that will be used in the tournament.

If you want to sign up (or just check out what is happening) you can do so at 

Zoom bombing

 The 2020 FIDE Congress is being held online this year. The commission meetings have just started, and the change of format looks to have resulted in an increased number of participants. On the other hand, the semi-public nature of the meetings has resulted in the "zoom bombing" of the QC meeting, by people looking for fun. This may be a "feature" of all commission meetings over the next week.

Tuesday 1 December 2020

4AM Eternal

 The final games of the 2020 World Youth and Cadets (Africa Zone) are just finishing up. For me, this has meant 4 nights of getting to bed between 4am and 6am, but  at least the next zone (Americas) starts at a civilized 10am for me.

Tou can check out all the results (plus preview the other zones) at