Saturday, 24 July 2021

2021 ACT Winter Open - Day 1

 The 2021 ACT Winter Open got off to a cold start (in terms of weather), but a good one, in terms of participation. With a temperature of 5c outside, the players were grateful to be inside the Campbell High School  Library, and out of the wind and freezing rain. 

For the first time the tournament had a Friday evening round, and apart from a few pre-planned byes, everyone else turned up to play. The Friday evening start is usual in weekenders in the UK, but hasn't really been tried/worked for Australian events. Given the good numbers for this tournament (maxed out at 64 for space reasons), it is something that should be continued next year.

In terms of play there were no upsets in the 20 player open section. IM Junta Ikeda won a nice attacking game against James Aldrich, while Harry Press showed the importance of choosing the correct exchanges against Lachlan Ho. Given the size and strength of this field, round 2 already sees some all titles match ups, with CM Hui Li playing FM Michael Kethro on board 2.

There were more upsets in the Minor (Under 1600), including a loss by top seed Matthew Maltman against Hunter Sanchez. In a curious game, Sanchez looked to be aiming for a draw in a queen plus lots of pawns ending (Sanchez being a pawn down), but when I returned, it was a Q v 6p ending, which Sanchez (having the queen) converted. A few of the unrated players also surprised there rated opponents, meaning that the likely winner of the 44 player tournament way no appear for a few rounds yet.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

2021 ACT Winter Cup

 The 2021 ACT Winter Open starts tomorrow event, as an almost entirely local event. Nonetheless all 64 places have been filled, with a couple of extra players on the waiting list. 

One pleasing thing is that it has attracted a strong field of local players in the Open section. A couple of players who missed the ACT Championship have also joined in, including FM Michael Kethro, Harry Press and Willis Lo. The Minor (Under 1600) tournament has a field of 44 players, and should provide an interesting clash between promising juniors and experienced tournament players.

You can follow the tournament at The top 4 boards should be broadcast live, starting from 7:00pm tomorrow evening (23rd July).

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

International Chess Day

 Today (20th July) is International Chess Day. I'm not really sure what this entails, although teaching people how to play chess is surely part of it. If it is, I at least did my bit, doing some school and private coaching, and then donating some rating points to the more deserving at my local club!

Sunday, 18 July 2021

2021 George Trundle Masters

 The Auckland Chess Club has just hosted the traditional George Trundle Masters, which is a series of RR events for top NZ and overseas players. Of course this year was missing the overseas players part, but the event still attracted a strong field. The top section was won by IM Anthony Paul Garbett with 7/9, while CM Richard Meng won the qualifiers with 7.5. Full results can be found at 

While I wasn't really following the action while the tournament was taking place, I did have a look at a few games after the event was over. One that struck me as particularly interesting was this short game from the Masters, where the London System gets beaten up pretty badly. This may have been a prepared line for Black btw, as 6. ... e5 is perfectly sound, and after the exchange of pawns, is even winning (7.Qh5+ is better for White).

Zhang,Jasmine - Morrell,George [B13]
George Trundle Masters, 07.2021

Thursday, 15 July 2021

A familiar theme - with a twist

 Smothered mates in the opening usually occur when a knight makes it to d6 or d3. It certainly happened in this game, but in a small twist, all 32 pieces were still on the board when it did.

chesspatzer46 - brojangled

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

2021 Online Olympiad

 After last years Online Olympiad proved quite popular, FIDE are organising another Online Olympiad this year. Even with this year not being an Olympiad 'year' it does make sense to organise such an event, as this may become the norm post-covid anyway.

It will run from the 13th August to the 15th September and will use the same format as last year. Each division will be a mix of seeded teams plus teams that qualified from the lower division. The top 8 teams from Division 1 will then play a KO final to determine a winner (or winners!).

The tournament will be hosted on Further details can be found at

(** I will be a paid official at this event **)

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

2021 World Cup Day 2

 Due to the time zone differences, most of the action in the 2021 World Cup is happening past my bedtime. I can tell you the GM Elshan Moridiabadi has made it through to the 2nd round, although it appears that his opponent did not turn up. This also happened in a few other games, with some players having travel difficulties, either covid related or not.

Oceania representative CM Elmer Prudente lost is first game yesterday, and is in a bit of trouble today. Australian representative GM Bobby Cheng drew against his almost identically rated opponent yesterday, and todays game is still even as I type this. This match might be headed to tie-breaks. 

However Round 2 is when the real actions starts as the top 50 seeds join the action, with Carlsen, MVL and other top players up against the winners from round 1.

Monday, 12 July 2021

2021 World Cup

 The 2021 World Cup is underway, using the new format that was introduced after the 2019 event. The first round sees 78 matches, while the top 50 players get a bye into the second round. I did not manage to make this year (as either a player or official), so I am following it online. There are a number of places where you can watch the games, including (which has the benefit of including analysis), and on youtube (which is the official FIDE stream). Elmer Prudente from Guam is the Oceania representative (which was my job last time), and will have a tough time playing the 51st seed on tonight's round. 

Sunday, 11 July 2021

A pretty vicious burn

 Garry Kasparov had a pretty rough time of it at the Croatia Rapid and Blitz, scoring a disastrous 0.5/9. The obvious explanation is simply lack of practice, and this seemed to contribute to both poor opening play, and a shortage of time when he did get some decent positions. The other possible reason (connected to opening choices) is that theory has moved on over the last 20 years, some positions that Kasparov thought were playable may no longer be so.

When I mentioned the result to my daughter she replied "That's the same score that I got in my most recent chess tournament!" (She stopped playing around the age of 8)

Thursday, 8 July 2021

2021 ACT Winter Open - 23-25 July 2021

 The ACT Chess Association is holding the ACT Winter Open on the 23rd (Friday), 24th and 25th of July this year. This event is in place of the ANU Open, which is unable to be held at the ANU this year. Instead it will be held at Campbell High School, which is where the ACT Junior Chess League run their events.

With the Covid situation still be in flux (especially in Sydney), the event is being restricted to 64 players (across the Open and Minor tournaments), and obviously will only be open to players who are allowed to enter the ACT. If this changes (eg restrictions are eased or lifted) the numbers for this event may be increased. The full details are

ACT Winter Open/Minor 2021 (formerly ANU Open)

23rd, 24th and 25th July

ACF Rated and FIDE rated*

Campbell High School, Treloar Cres, Campbell ACT (next to War Memorial)

Time control: 60m + 30s

Open and Under 1600 sections (Both FIDE Rated)

6 round swiss
Round 1 Friday 23rd July 7pm 
Rd 2 Sat 24th 10am , Rd 3 2pm, Rd 4 6pm
Rd 5 Sun 25th10am , Rd 6 2pm - Prize Giving 6pm

$3600 in prizes. 1st Open $1000. 1st Minor $400

Currently limited to 64 players across both sections - Book early to avoid disappointment

Entry free: $80 ($60 concession) - GM, IM, WGM, WIM Free

(* Games involving players FIDE 2200+ will not be rated as per FIDE Rating regulations. All games will be ACF rated)

Enter at

Contact: Shun Ikeda 0435-917-800 (M)

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Not always drawn

Another game in the ongoing Press v Hosking matchup. This time it wasn't drawn!

Press,Shaun - Hosking,Ian [A50]
Belconnen Rapid, 06.07.2021

Monday, 5 July 2021

'The' model Queen's Gambit

 The credit for the development of the Queen's Gambit as a serious opening is usually (and rightly) given to Harry Pillsbury (at the 1895 Hastings Tournament). As late as the mid 19th century is was regarded as somewhat offbeat, and only merited 13 pages in 'The Chess-Players Handbook" by Staunton (of which 6 pages were example games). By contrast the King's Gambit ran to 105 pages in the same book, which shows the level of interest analysts had at the time. 

Nonetheless, in the period between 1847 and 1895 it did get used occasionally, most memorably in the following game between Steinitz and Anderssen. What is strange about this game (which has quite a modern look about it), is that it took another 2 decades to catch one, despite the comprehensive nature of Steinitz's win. A few other masters did (including Blackburne!) but I can only find 37 games that used this variation (D55) between 1873 and 1894.

Steinitz,William - Anderssen,Adolf [D55]
Wien International-01 Vienna (1), 11.08.1873

Sunday, 4 July 2021


 If you are looking for a fairly lightweight Chess Database then ChessX might fit your needs. It is designed to work with PGN files and is particularly suited to entering games from tournaments (at least that is what I use it for). As with most software I recommend, it is open source and cross platform, so it will run under Windows, MacOs and Linux. It has integrated support for Stockfish, or you can add your own UCI or Xboard compatible engines. The other selling point is that is currently being maintained, which means that new features are still be added (or you can add them yourself!)

Things that are possible

 Earlier in the year I tweeted about how well the Doeberl Cup went, showing some pictures of the 335 player field. A few people (from OS) commented about the lack of mask wearing, which then provoked a reply from someone who asked if wearing a mask affected the ability to play chess well.

Based in a single (non scientific) sample, it probably doesn't, or if it does, everyone is equally handicapped. Today's Street Chess event was played indoors, which due to current ACT health regulations, meant that everyone over the age of 12 was required to wear a mask. In the end the top seeds finished at the top, and even a few players who expressed annoyance at having to put a mask on, found themselves in the prize money as well. The only disadvantage for me (as an organiser) is that there were a couple of new players, who I have no clear idea what they look like!

Friday, 2 July 2021

Oldest and youngest

 While the chess world is taking notice of Abhimanyu Mishra, who is about to become the worlds youngest GM at the age of 12 (when the title is confirmed) I am also impressed by Salvador Dias Carias, who has been awarded the FM title at the age of 88. In the case of Carias, the title was awarded for his achievements in the 1960's and 1970's, when he achieved a published rating of 2300. 

Both achievements are newsworthy, and should give some hope to both younger and more senior players.

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Who was that masked chessplayer?

 The local chess clubs in Canberra normally play at licensed clubs (eg Eastlakes Gungahlin or Tuggeranong Vikings). Due to the new Covid restrictions in place in the ACT, playing chess while masked up is now mandatory. At least at Gungahlin this evening, this seemed to be a minor inconvenience, and even some of the younger players (Under 12 years are exempt) still wore masks, either for safety, or simply to appear more grown up.

However you can remove your mask if you are eating or drinking, so at least one enterprising player parked a drink next to him soon after the game started, and played without his mask for the rest of the game. For those collecting data in whether this helps or hinders your chess it was mask 1 - no mask 0

Monday, 28 June 2021

One reason I don't play online

 This post was originally going to be another one about very short losses by people who should know better. I downloaded the latest set of games from TWIC and sorted them by length, to find likely candidates. I quickly discovered that almost all the miniatures I was looking at occurred in online events. I'm assuming with the games played at a fast time limit (3m+1s) that mistakes will happen, but these were pretty horrible. Clearly the online chess boom has made chess more popular, but at least in this format, there is a price to be paid.

Here is one example of what I am talking about!

Zhukov,Anton (2174) - Boyer,Mahel (2412) [A01]
Titled Tuesday 15th June INT (5), 15.06.2021

Saturday, 26 June 2021

The heavy piece middlegame -> ending

 Most people regard chess as a game of three phases. Opening, middlegame and endgame. This is taught in instructional books, and is often used in chess programming. However, the transition between the phases isn't always clear. In the following game, it contains elements of both the middlegame (significant material on the board, not safe to bring the king out) and the ending (pawn promotion is the goal). John Nunn might consider this a 'tactical ending', while Mihail Marin refers to it as the 'Fourth Phase'. It turned out that the win depended on both features being present, with the lack of king safety allowing tactics that assisted pawn promotion.

Press,Shaun - Brown,Jordan [E11]
Belconnen Cup, 22.06.2021

Thursday, 24 June 2021

2021 World Cup draw announced

 The draw for the 2021 World Cup has been published, although the new format leaves it looking a little weird. The top 50 players now get seeded into round 2, but they are included in the first round (all paired against Bye). After that it becomes a normal 128 player knockout.

Possibly the changes have encouraged Magnus Carlsen to play this year, although a number of players in the top 20 are missing, although the cause is likely to be connected to travel difficulties. Such difficulties resulted in the top 3 qualifiers from the Oceania Zonal pulling out, and our spot now goes to CM Elmer Prudente from Guam. The short notice has not done him any favours, and he is running a gofundme campaign to help fund his trip.

Australia and New Zealand are also entitled to enter one player each, with Australia being represented by GM Bobby Cheng and NZ by FM Allan Fan. Full details for the event can be found at 

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Coaching for grown ups

 While there is a lot of coaching activities for junior players, there is a lot less for older players. Partly this is because there is less desire and time in the adult community for such things, but it is fair to say, junior coaching is where the money is.

I do a mixture of both (adult and junior coaching), but I rarely charge for adult coaching. In part because there isn't enough adult coaching on offer, but also because I'm happy to talk chess for an hour in return for coffee and cake (or a fabulous Moroccan Chicken and Rice lunch one of my students cooked for me)

GM Alex Baburin is also dipping into this pool, offering coaching and webinars for older players. His website even has a dedicated section for adult coaching His latest offerings are two webinars for players above 25 years of age, over the next couple of weeks. The two topics are 'Calculate like a chess pro' and 'Mastering Basic Rook Endings'. They are at reasonable times for players on this half of the world, starting at 7pm in the evenings. If you wish to find out more about these courses, just click on the above link for further details.

Monday, 21 June 2021


 I've been looking into the topic of tie-break systems again, and one of the challenges is how to define the difficulty of the field. Opinions on this seemed to be split pretty evenly, so I am interested in what other people think or prefer.

Here are the general choices

A) The more points my opponents score, the harder the field is for me (eg Buccholz)

B) The higher my opponents ratings are, the harder the field (eg Average of Opponents Ratings)

C) The earlier I hit the lead, the stronger my opponents will be (eg Sum of Progressive Scores)

D) If I have more games with Black, then the tougher it is to win (eg Most games with Black)


Sunday, 20 June 2021

This is too good to ignore


Classical hack

 There are two reasons why I am showing the following game. 1) It has a nice mate and 2) I am testing how this blog handles newer pgn file formats 

(** Update: It did not work as expected, which is a bit of shame as I had annotated this one)

Steinkuehler, Guenter - Blackburne, Joseph Henry [C54]
London, 1863

Friday, 18 June 2021

2021 NSW Open - Photos

 If you want to see some good photos (and not so good ones of me) from the 2021 NSW Open, you can see them at 

Many thanks to Sabrina Koetsier for taking an uploading these pictures


 Bananas are supposed to be good for your chess. GM Max Illingworth famously brings a bunch to the board for every game, while IM Gary Lane once convinced an entire Olympiad team that this was the secret to winning more matches.

One participant in yesterdays interschool event showed me another way that they can help your chess. Early on she told me that her mother had written (actually carved) a message on the banana skin, and I (Mr Grumpy) replied "As long as they aren't chess moves". On one side it read "Woot!! Chess" and on the other "Good Luck". So far so good, but her mother even carved a couple of chess pieces at the end. Although I remembered what happed to Wesley So at the US Championship, I decided that this was harmless enough to let it go. But if I find banana carving becoming a thing, I may have to revise my opinion.

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Caught in the middle

 After a slow start to the 2021 Belconnen Cup (0.5/2) I have started to catch the leaders, after 3 straight wins. In what should be an important lesson to newer players, in each game I was winning before my opponent castled. In fact in two of the games, my opponent failed to castle at all. Here is the latest win, highlighting the difficulties you can run into if you fail to get your king out of the centre.

Press,Shaun - Teymant,Roy [D11]
Belconnen Cup, 15.06.2021

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

A great escape

 Normally a game that holds up the end of a weekend tournament isn't that enjoyable, either to the players or organisers. However, there are exceptions, and the following is one of them. While the first half of the game involved a lot of manoeuvring of pieces, but little progress, FM Clive Ng decided to spice things up with an exchange sacrifice. The only problem with this approach was that it now meant he was worse, and after a few more moves, was in fact lost. The only ray of hope for Ng was the fact that his king was stalemated on h2, which gave him a drawing defence. When Anthony Fikh pushed his g pawn up the board, Clive was faced with being a whole rook down, but this actually helped him. After Rxg3, the 'desperado' rook sprang to life, offering itself to the Black king. As any capture lead to stalemate, Fikh was forced to march his king across the board, and after Ng found the very rare rook fork of king and rook, the draw was secured.


Ng,Clive - Fikh,Anthony [A29]
2021 NSW Open Sydney, Australia (7.7), 14.06.2021

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

2021 NSW Open - Fernandez and Ikeda share the spoils

 GM Daniel Fernandez (ENG) and IM Junta Ikeda (AUS) have tied for first in the 2021 NSW Open, both with an undefeated 6/7. They started the day with draws in the 6th round (Fernandez against IM Gary Lane and Ikeda against IM James Morris), before both winning their final round games. Fernandez defeated Kerry Lin on the top board, while Ikeda beat Gary Lane on board 2.

The minor places were filled by IM James Morris, Sterling Bayaca and Harry Press. Due to the large field in the Open (78 players) and results in the earlier rounds, Fernandez and Ikeda did not play each other. Only Lin and Lane played both of the winners, while the field was much more varied for the other top finishers.

The Under 1600 tournament also saw a tie for 1st place, with Savin Peramunetilleke and Jason Pan finishing on 6/7. Pan lost to Peramunetilleke in round 4, but was able to catch up by winning his final round game against unrated Benjamin Tee. Tee who score an impressive 5/7, actually started the event with a bye, due to the alphabetical sorting of the unrated players in this tournament!

The tournament was very successful, with the 140 places on offer filling up 3 weeks out. Apart from the usual issues with poorly behaved junior players, the tournament ran pretty smoothly. Quite pleasing were the number of new (adult) players taking part, some of whom did very well.

Final crosstables for the tournament are at (Open and Minor)

Ikeda,Junta - Lane,Gary [C78]
2021 NSW Open Sydney, Australia (7.2), 14.06.2021

Monday, 14 June 2021

2021 NSW Open - Day 2

 With 5 rounds of the 2021 NSW Open completed, GM Daniel Fernandez, IM Junta Ikeda and IM Gary Lane share the lead on 4.5/5. In round 5 Fernandez once again demonstrated his creativity in complex positions, sacrificing a piece early on against Fred Litchfield, before reaching an ending a whole rook down, but with an avalanche of pawns as winning compensation. Lane got to 4.5 after Harry Press sacrificed a piece in the early middlegame, but this proved unsound, giving lane a quick win. Ikeda also had a quick win, punishing CM Isaac Zhao after Zhao went pawn grabbing in the opening.

Tomorrow mornings round has Lane against Fernandez and Morris against Ikeda. As none of the 4 have played each other yet, this will effectively be a playoff for the top board pairing in the final round.

Saturday, 12 June 2021

2021 NSW Open - Day 1

 The first day of the 2021 NSW Open saw a capacity field of 140, and plenty of tough chess. There is still a bit of a logjam at the top of the tournament, although a number of top seeds have decided to have a bit of a sleep in, taking a half point bye for tomorrow mornings round. Nonetheless, GM Daniel Fernandez, IM Junta Ikeda and IM Gary Lane are all hoping to get ahead of the field with wins in the morning round.

With 8 DGT boards in operation there was plenty of chess to follow online. One quick game from round 2 was this win by Fred Litchfield over Ashley Rambukwella

Litchfield, Fred -Rambukwella, Ashley [E33]
2021 NSW Open, 2021.06.12

2021 NSW Open - Live Coverage

 The 2021 NSW Open is up and running, with a maximum sized field of 140 players. Due to venue restrictions, we cannot have spectators in the playing hall, so following the event online is the best you can do. The top 8 boards of the Open are being shown live at this link. As I type this, Board 1 has already finished,but the remaining 7 games are still in progress.

Thursday, 10 June 2021

On the road - again

 If my memory hasn't completely gone, this weekends NSW Open will be my first 'away' weekend event since early last year. I'm not going as a player mid you, but as an arbiter. The last event I directed outside Canberra was the 2020 Australian Championship and since then it has either been local events, or online ones.

The good news for the organisers is that there will be 140 players in attendance (actually the maximum allowed). The bad news for spectators/parents is that this is close to the venue capacity, so only 'essential' staff are allowed in the playing area. Otherwise you will have to follow the tournament online via

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Yet another non rule

 The start of the local interschool competition always brings with a new set of 'non' rules, that children assure me are the correct rules (at least according to Dad). I in fact got two today, although is quite an old one, long since discarded.

The totally new one, was when a king makes it to the other side of the board you get one of your pawns back. Not quite sure where this even came from, but the possible logic behind it, is that as you cannot promote to a king, a kind of reverse promotion provides compensation for this. 

The very old one was 'bare king'. One of the players claimed a win on the grounds that he had captured all his opponents pieces. I explained to him that the goal in chess is the 'checkmate' your opponent, not just take everything. Fortunately he then proceeded to do this, and scored a point anyway. 

The most audacious attempt to alter the rules was by a 5 year old who simply declared he had won, ran off to the score table to enter the result, and then refused to return to the board to explain exactly why he had won. As you can guess, he did not actually win (and his opponent did)

Monday, 7 June 2021

Late night sports

 The French Open is currently being broadcast, and the Tour de France isn't far away, but of course, the late night sports I'm talking about is the Superbet Chess Classic. It starts late evening Canberra time, and while there are plenty of commentary choices, the one that I have settled on St Louis Chess Club coverage via youtube. Both Yasser Seirawan and Maurice Ashley are part of the commentary team, along with team of supporting GM's. 

The tournament is currently up to round 3 and the link for this round is 

Saturday, 5 June 2021

ACT Interschool 2021

 After a break last year, the ACT Junior Chess League interschool series is up and running for 2021. Term 1 saw one of Girl's zones held, while the open Primary School zones are about to commence for term 2. The North Canberra/ Gungahalin zone is running this Tuesday, and it looks like around 100 players will take part. Over the following weeks 2 other zones are being held, while Term 3 will see the Secondary events taking place.

One thing that is slightly concerning is that not all the event information is getting passed on to the school's chess player. So if you are a junior player in Canberra, and you haven't heard about the upcoming events, head over to and pass the information on to your schools chess teacher.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

London 1932

 While not as well known as the London 1922 International Congress, the 1932 London Tournament was still quite an event. The event was won by Alekhine with 9/11, ahead of Flohr who finished a point behind. Sultan Kahn, Maroczy and Tartakower also played, and the tournament saw Vera Menchik* add more members to he 'club', beating G.A Thomas and William Winter.

The second place finish by Flohr was part of a successful run early in his career that saw him touted as a possible World Championship contender. However he was not able to raise the stakes for such a challenge and by the end of the 1930's his cautious, positional style, saw him fall behind his contemporaries. Nonetheless, the following game from the 1932 event showed what might have been.

(* btw Menchik's mothers maiden name was Illingworth 

** Many thanks to IA Roly Eime for sending me the 1932 London Tournament book) 

Flohr,Salo - Milner Barry,Philip Stuart [E33]
London International Masters London (5), 05.02.1932

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

The easy rook ending

 Rook endings are difficult to play, as even a pawn advantage isn't enough to secure the point. However I have seen both recently, and in the past, the easiest way to play them is when you have an extra rook! This was spotted in 2 games at my local club last night, and in one of my games from the 2004 Olympiad. 

Despite having to play a rook up for 30 moves, the highlight was after the finish when a passing IM congratulated me on converting a 'difficult rook ending'. To be fair, clearly they hadn't expected my opponent to play as many moves as they did.

Niyontegereje,Edison - Press,Shaun (2070) [C55]
Calvia ol (Men) Mallorca (Spain) (8.61), 23.10.2004

Monday, 31 May 2021

2021 ACT Chess Championship - IM Junta Ikeda 7/7

 IM Junta Ikeda has won his 7th ACT Chess Championship, with a apt score of 7 wins from 7 games. Having entered the final day leading on 5/5, he defeated Miles Patterson in the morning round, before beating Wenlin Yin in the last round to score 100%. Fred Litchfield also finished the day with 2 wins, to reach 6/7 and outright second place. There was a 5 way tie for third, with Wenlin Yin, CM Hui Li, Harry Johnson, Sankeerten Badrinarayan, and Saffron Archer all on 5 points. Johnson, Badrinarayan and Archer also shared the Under 1900 prize, while Archer was the best scoring junior.

Jame Minogue scored 4.5 to win the Under 1500 prize while Louis Serfontein scored 3.5 to be the best Under 1200. With a near record field of 52 players the ACTCA was able to offer over $2000 in prizes. Also notable was the number of players earning their first FIDE ratings, including 6 year old Dev Raichura, and 86 year old Thomas Mautner. 

Full results from the event can be found at along with a link to a replay of the top 4 boards from each round. The rest of the games will be available shortly (once the tournament arbiter types them in!)

Sunday, 30 May 2021

2021 ACT Chess Championship Rds 4 & 5 (AKA not my best day as an arbiter)

 IM Junta Ikeda is now the outright leader of the 2021 ACT Chess Championship, with 5 wins from 5 games. He won an exciting game against 2nd seed Fred Litchfield in the 5th round, leaving him a point ahead of the pack.  The win was even more noteworthy as Ikeda played with the black pieces, due to a misunderstanding about the pairings. This started when Litchfield won his 4th round game against CM Hui Li after Li failed to appear before the forfeit time. Going into the 5th round Ikeda and Litchfield were the only players on 4 points, and knew they should play each other. However they assumed that Litchfield was to be white (based on their respective colour history), overlooking that defaulted games do not count for colour. Of course I failed to check the pairing, and it was well after the 10 move mark (up until when games can be restarted) that I realised what had happened. Even more bizarrely, defaulted games don't count as played games, so Litchfield is paired with CM Hui Li again, this time in round 6!

In the chasing pack on 4 are Litchfield, Li, Miles Patterson, WFM Alana Chibnall, Wenlin Yin, and Adrian de Noskowski. Safron Archer (3.5) is currently the best placed of the junior players, while Octogenarian Thomas Mautner is enjoying his comeback to competitive chess, with decent score of 3/5.

The final 2 rounds are tomorrow at 10am and 2:30pm and are being played at Campbell High School, Treloar Cres, Campbell, ACT.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

2021 ACT Championship Rds 2&3

 The 2021 ACT Chess Championship is almost at the halfway point, with 4 players sharing the lead on 3/3. IM Junta Ikeda is still undefeated after beating Adian de Noskowsi and WFM Alana Chibnall, and he is joined by Fred Litchfield, CM Hui Li, and Malik Amer. Tomorrow mornings pairings see Ikeda play Amer, and Li play Litchfield. There is another group of players on 2.5/3, who are also looking to make a run tomorrow. Two of those players (Miles Patterson and Sankeerten Badrinarayan) played one the tournaments more interesting games, which you can see here.

The tournament has 2 more days to run, with rounds at 10am and 2:30pm on both days. If you are in Canberra you can drop in to spectate at Campbell High School, and if not,  you can follow it online at

2021 ACT Chess Championship - Round 1

 The 2021 ACT Chess Championship has moved from it's traditional Canberra Day long weekend (in March), to the Reconciliation Day long weekend (in May). On the one hand this has seen a big increase in entries (52 players), but on the other, a few of the stronger players have had to give it a miss due to university exams.

With a large field, the chances of first round upsets was diminished, and in fact there were none in the first round. The top sees went 23-0, although Fred Litchfield had to work hard to overcome a determined James Minogue. Cam Cunningham was another who put up a good fight (against WFM Alana Chibnall), but his habitual time trouble once again caused problems.

The results from the first round, as well as a link to the live broadcast of the top 4 games, can be found at tournament runs for another 3 days (finishing on Monday 31st May), with rounds at 10am and 2:30pm Canberra time.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Had the jab

 Today I received the first of my two Covid vaccine jabs. When I mentioned to someone this morning that I was doing this he was horrified, and asked me why I was doing this. "Because I'm not a f**king idiot" was my fairly direct reply. He then proceeded to tell me that after the injection, magnets would stick to my arm. In the service of science I have tested this claim. It is of course BS.


  • Had the injection
  • Tested my arms with magnets
  • Have had absolutely no ill effects
  • Understand the difference between doctor's advice and advice from some guy watching you tube

Wednesday, 26 May 2021


 One common question asked is "What is the difference between a GM and an FM?" (in terms of skill level). Now there are lots of correct answers (fewer mistakes, deeper calculation etc), but as the following game demonstrates, knowing when to strike (and when to play h3!).

Novendra,Priasmoro (2502) - Atakhan,Abtin (2319) [C11]
Asian Hybrid Continental Chess Champions (6.14), 21.05.2021

Monday, 24 May 2021

On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at

 Opening a dedicated 'Chess Centre' is a bit of a risk, as without a large (paying) membership, generating enough income to keep it going can be a bit of a challenge. However, some enterprising lads in the Yorkshire town of Ilkley have taken a risk and opened The Chess Centre. It is a modest sized venue (fitting around 16 players inside) but from the look of the pictures (and a report by ChessExpress's intrepid correspondent Rupert Jones*) it seems to be a very stylish club. When visiting the old country, I do on occasion travel to that part of the UK, and when restrictions are lifted I am keen to drop in.

The news from Ilkley inspired me to look at what is on offer in Canberra, in terms of space and cost for a similar venture. The main challenge is in finding an affordable, but desirable location. The best I can find in my near vicinity is around 90sqm of space for $500 pw in Gungahlin, and something similar (but a little smaller) in the City (and zoning may be another issue). At that size around 40 people could fit in (based on 6sqm per 4 players), but whether that is enough to support such a centre is another question. Food and drink sales would help (if allowed), but even then, it looks more like a labour of love than a commercial success!

(*Rupert Jones also managed 6-0 in local cricket match, taking a hat trick along the way!)


Sunday, 23 May 2021

I thought this was bonkers

 Everyone loves a good second half comeback, especially if it is from a team or player you support. Here is an example from the Asian Continental where White (GM Temur Kuybokarov) looked dead lost for quite a while, before recovering to win at the death. It does of course help to have a pawn on the 7th rank quite early in the game, but that can only help you so far. Finding a way to stay in the game is the other half of the equation.

Kuybokarov,Temur (2549) - Urazayev,Arystanbek (2429) [C78]
Asian Hybrid Continental Chess Champions (3.7), 21.05.2021

Friday, 21 May 2021

King safety?

 The 2021 Asian Continental Championship started today, and began without any serious issues. Almost all games went according to rating, although there were a few hard fought draws, and one rating upset.

I was supervising (from afar) a couple of countries including Kazakhstan, which interestingly had 4 female representatives among the 6 players taking part. One of the more interesting games I watched was between IM Arystanbek Urazayev and FM Munkhdalai Amilal from Mongolia. Apart from the well played mating attack, the other interesting feature was that White did the correct thing by castling to safety, while Black allowed his king to get caught in the centre. And yet it was Black who emerged victorious.

Amilal,Munkhdalai (2033) - Urazayev,Arystanbek (2429) [B45]
Asian Hybrid Continental Chess Champions (1.26), 21.05.2021

Thursday, 20 May 2021

2021 Asian Continental Championship

 The 2021 Asian Continental Championship is being organised as a hybrid event, with the top 7 players qualifying for the 2021 World Cup. There are currently 85 players entered, with GM Temur Kuybokarov as the sole Australian representative. Although the regulations normally only allow players rated above 2300 (plus one nominated player per member federation), this years event sees a number of players who are below the cutoff. 

The tournament is being run on the Tornelo platform and begins at 4pm 21 May Canberra time. Each group of players is being supervised by a local arbiter, while there will also be remote supervision from tournament arbiters (** I am one of these arbiters **). If it turns out that a player who finishes in the top 7 has already qualified for the World Cup (eg Kuybokarov from Oceania), then the place goes to the next highest finishers. Another interesting twist is that the prizes ($16,000US) will not be shared in case of a tie, but instead awarded in tie-break order!

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

A seven goal thriller

 It is a rare game where there are 5 promotions. Excluding fakes (which are these days well known) there have been as few as 3 games where 6 promotions took place. So while I think that 5 promotion games (with 7 queens appearing in total) are a little more common, it is still noteworthy when they occur. 

Sadly I was on the wrong end of this one!

Yang,Minchen - Press,Shaun [C45]
Belconnen Cup, 18.05.2021

Monday, 17 May 2021

The idiot-proof chessboard

 Today I attended the funeral of Keith Robertson, a long-time member of the ACT chess community. One of the pictures used for the service was of Keith in front of a birthday cake that was in the form of a chessboard. However the baker (or designer) got a bit carried away, as the board was a 9 by 9 board. While this may seem like an obvious blunder by a non chessplayer, it does have one desirable feature. Each corner of the board was a white square, meaning it was impossible to orient the wrong way (the bottom right hand square is always white). 

On the other hand, a board of this type has two other drawbacks. Firstly, if the pieces are arranged from outside in, the all the bishops for both sides are on white squares as well. Secondly, there is the need for an extra piece. My initial thought was the Empress, which moves like a rook and knight, although the presence of two 'queen' like pieces may unbalance the game entirely.


Sunday, 16 May 2021

An interesting Zugzwang


The diagrammed position shows an interesting Zugzwang, which was inspired by a game played at Street Chess today. Despite being a rook up Black is completely lost, as the rook has no safe squares, and once the king moves to f8, g7+  forks king and rook.

The actual game (which sadly I don't have), was even more entertaining than the position shown. White simply lost a piece in the opening (for 2 central pawns), but managed to whip up enough threats against the Black king to make a game of it. Then with the attack raging, Black found a sneaky queen check to force queens off, and I assumed it was done. Returning later, Black was still up a piece (R+N v R), but White had pawns on g6 and h6. White then moved his rook to threaten 'insta-mate' but stopped one square short of safety, allowing NxR. But after PxN the zugzwang position, similar to the one shown, appeared on the board, and after Black had made all his pawn moves and exchanges on the queenside, there was nothing left to do but resign!

Thursday, 13 May 2021

The next American World Champion?

 A number of years ago I read about a curious sequence of American Chess World Champions. The claim  concerned Morphy, Capablanca and Fischer (with Capablanca being rebadged as an American for the purpose of the claim!). Each was born soon after the passing of the previous player, as though their chess talent was being passed along like the Dalai Lama. 

If this claim is accurate (and I am definitely not saying it is) the the next American World Champion was born soon after the passing of Bobby Fischer in 2008. Doing a little research is seems that the most likely candidate (at least at this stage) is IM Abhimanyu Mishra, who has just turned 12, and is currently aiming to become the youngest GM in history. 

Here is a quick win over GM Vladimir Belous, and while it isn't quite "Game of the Century" stuff, it still shows how dangerous he is.

Mishra,Abhimanyu - Belous,Vladimir [A58]
CCSA Spring GM, 2021

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Always double check


White to play and Draw

One criticism of younger players is that they are very slow to resign. Nonetheless this is starting to change where I play chess, and as an added bonus, the "offering a draw in a lost position" has almost completely disappeared. 

The side effect of all this is that in recent times there have been a few junior players who have resigned prematurely. In most cases they were certainly worse, but there was no harm looking for a few tricks before tipping the king. However the following position was a more drastic example. 

White had gone from an even ending to a difficult one in the space of a few moves, and eventually ended in this position. At first glance he is going to lose his h pawn and the f pawn will promote for Black. After some thought he resigned (which confused his opponent), missing the saving idea. 1.Kxh7 Kg4 2.Kg6! threatens the f pawn, and sets up an escort for the h pawn. Both players can race their pawns towards the back rank, but they queen on successive moves, leaving a drawn ending. 

Sunday, 9 May 2021

A good old fashioned Simul

 Over the weekend was a series of junior raining events, organised by the ACT Junior Chess League Secretary Kate Woodley. On Saturday a number of our new juniors players played in 3 round Round Robins, to get them used to playing longer time control chess. 25 players took part and was enjoyed by everyone, even those who missed out on winners medals.

On Sunday, GM Anton Smirnov took on 18 of Canberra's higher rated juniors, in a good old fashioned simul. Simul's seem to be less common these days, although I am not sure of the reasons (probably online chess is to blame, but it may be something else).

After 2 and half hours of play, Smirnov finished with 16 wins and 2 draws. He drew with Lachlan and Oscar Ho, dropping a piece early against Oscar, but recovering later, and reaching a rook and pawn ending down a pawn against Lachlan, but holding that position as well. There were other tough games he faced, including holding off a strong attack from Charles Huang, and getting the best of a complicated position against not so junior (and Saturday tournament arbiter) Max Albert.

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Hybrid Chess is a mixed bag

 While there was a lot of work put into developing the FIDE rules for Hybrid Chess (including work done by myself), how it would actually work was a different issue. Thus year has seen a few hybrid events, and while it has generally worked well, there have been a few issues of note.

The 2021 Oceania Zonal was held over 2 weekends, with players from around the Pacific. Weirdly, the challenge wasn't getting the players to enter, but finding enough arbiters. There were 20 officials for 8 players(!), which was an unexpected feature. On reflection this should have been obvious, given the need for 1 or 2 venues for each player, but for an event which usually get's by with 2 or 3 arbiters, this was a big change.

The current Zone 3.3 Championship is also having issues, including a few caused by Covid itself. As players are supposed to play from a central venue (rather than from their own homes) and venue/travel restrictions can cause problems for the players. This seems to be the case for some Malaysian players, who have been affected by sudden government restrictions.

And the final issue (from an entirely different event) is the effect of misclicks (eg mouseslips)  on the result. In a game where a player had a mate in 2 starting with Qh7+ followed by Qh8, the queen was moved directly to h8, turning a win into a loss. While the result is unfortunate (and the fault of the player), the fact this almost certainly would not occur in OTB has raised questions about the FIDE rating of such games.

Friday, 7 May 2021

Sixty four squares

 When I started this blog a number of years ago I had a couple of ideas for a name. My first choice was 'sixtyfoursquares' but it turned out this had been taken* My second choice 'chessexpress' was surprisingly available, and as it turned out, was probably a better choice anyway (in that it contained both my name, and the raison d'etre for its existence.)  

However the original name has popped up again, through the website This isn't a blog, but a site that tests you on 100 positions, and then breaks down your strengths and weaknesses. I believe the intention is to extend the site to provide specific training in these areas, but this is still in the development stage. 

Having completed the test I was impressed that my results were pretty close to my current rating. On the other hand, I was surprised that I scored poorly in some areas that I thought I was strong in, while scoring better in areas I thought I was terrible at. It is free to register for the test at the site, and while I await further developments, it is still a worthwhile exercise to try and asses you chess strengths and weaknesses.

* NB This new site is not connected to the sixtyfoursquares blog, which seemed to fall apart after three posts in 2005!


Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Chess was the real winner

 The continuing Hosking v Press rivalry continued at Gungahlin Eastlake Chess Club last night. Dodging my opening preparation, 1.b3 was IM Hosking's weapon of choice (disappointing those who had 1.b4  in the opening sweep). At one point I though I had a big advantage but this was not quite true. So I went in for a sharp line where a rook sac by White led to a perpetual. White duly obliged and the game was over after 16 moves (and around 90 minutes of play).

Hosking,Ian - Press,Shaun [A05]
Murphy Memorial (6), 04.05.2021

Monday, 3 May 2021

Keith Robertson (1930-2021)

 Keith Robertson, a long time player and organiser on the Canberra chess scene passed away earlier today.  For many years he was President and main organiser of the Canberra Chess Club, as well as being a regular player at the Woden Chess Club, the ANU Chess Club and most recently, the Southern Cross Chess group. He was involved with the ACT Chess Association for many years, helping write the current associations constitution, for which he was awarded the initial Life Membership of the ACTCA.

Outside of chess he was an accomplished musician, training for the choir as a young student, and as a skilled pianist, often performing at aged care facilities and for community groups. He was generous with his time and energy, particularly with junior chess players. His generosity extended to donating his chess library to Campbell High School, where his books now form the basis of one of the best school chess libraries in Canberra.


Press,Shaun - Roberston,Keith [C33]
ANU Spring Rapid, 09.09.2009

Sunday, 2 May 2021


 Looking at the games from the 2021 Zone3.3 (Hybrid) Championship I came across this curious opening. To be honest I think I have seen it before (and may have even blogged about it), but Qe7 on move 2 is rare enough that I thought I should feature it again. No happy ending though, as White scored the point, albeit after a long hard struggle.

QUIZON,Daniel (2319) - VELARDE,Jerish John (1896) [C40]
Zone 3.3 Zonal Chess Championships 2021 (1.13), 01.05.2021

Friday, 30 April 2021

More games than you know how to play

 While following up a link for the 2021 ICGA Computer Olympiad, I cam across the boardgame playing platform Ludii. It allows you to test intelligent agents for a wide variety of boardgames, and is being used for the 2021 Olympiad. The good news is that even if you aren't a developer you can download the Ludii software (at no charge) and simply play an amazingly large variety of boardgames yourself.

(*Thanks to Milan Ninchich for putting me on to this)

Thursday, 29 April 2021

A very old windmill


White to play and win

While the "Windmill" is a rare but useful tactical idea, it may be a lot older than most players assume. The most famous example comes from the 1920's (Torre v Lasker), but there is at least one example that dates back to the 1590's. Given as a puzzle by Polero, White wins by a succession of checks and discovered checks. However the original position had the Black queen on e8, resulting in a far shorter (and non thematic) win. Tim Krabbe  in his book "Chess Curiosities" suggested the correction shown here.

I will leave the answer as an exercise for the reader, but hopefully it isn't too difficult.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Ian v Magnus

 The 2020/21 Candidates has ended in a win for Ian Nepomniachtchi after a very intense last 3 rounds. Of the 12 games played in round 12,13 and 14, 10 of them were decisive, which is almost unheard of at this level in modern times. Nepo even lost his final round game, but still finished outright first after Anish Giri also lost. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave ended up in 2nd place after his final round win, while Ding Liren recovered from a horrible first half by winning his last 3 games.

As a result Nepomniachtchi will play Magnus Carlsen in the World Championship match later this year. Going early in my predictions, I think Carlsen will once again retain his title, but that there will certainly be more decisive games (in regulation) than there were in the Carslen Caruana match. 

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Getting better by simply playing

 Starting out in serious chess is often a tough gig. On the one hand most people know enough to understand how to play decent chess, but putting it in to practice is a lot harder. Even playing online, which is something that didn't happen 30 years ago, doesn't always prepare you for competitive chess.

However for some players, improvement is simply about playing. I'm not sure why this is (and why it isn't the case for every player), but every now and then I just sense that a new player knows what good moves are, but hasn't yet learned how to find them. In such cases, I feel that playing is far more important than coaching, as self discovery is more helpful than extra instruction. Not always of course, but more often than you would think.

Monday, 26 April 2021

He chose poorly

 In what is a hopeful sign for the rest of us, it seems that it is possible for top GM's to screw up there opening theory and lose in short order. Case in point, GM Wesley So getting it very wrong against GM Gawain Jones and going down in flames in a Two Knights.

Jones,Gawain C B (2615) - So,Wesley (2741) [C56]
New In Chess Classic | Prelims (4.1), 24.04.2021

Sunday, 25 April 2021

2021 ACT Chess Championship

 For local ACT players, the ACT Chess Championship is happening at the end of May (over the Reconciliation Day long weekend). 

Full details are

ACT Championships 2021

28-31 May 2021 (Friday evening through Monday Reconciliation Day)

7-rounds FIDE/ACF Rated Swiss Format

Venue: Campbell High School

Treloar Crescent, Campbell (near War Memorial)

Schedule: Friday 28 May (First Round in the evening)

Saturday 29 May – Monday 31 May (Rounds 2 to 7)

Time Controls:

90 minutes per game with 30 second per move increment from move one (Fischer)

Director of Play:

FIDE International Arbiter Shaun Press

You can enter the event online via the ACT Chess Association home page. Just scroll down a bit and then click on the Register Here button (which will take you to the Trybooking website for the event.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

This is funny on a number of levels

Recently chess,com held an 'Immortal Game' competition. It was won by GM Supi for a nice win over World Chmapion Magnus Carlsen, but the runner up was GM David Smerdon for his win over CM Balaji in 2017. 

While the Supi win was more interesting on a technical level, it lacked the comedic gold of Smerdon's victory. His opponent won a pawn through a temporary queen sacrifice, but failed to notice what Smerdon was up to after  15.Rb1 If he had spotted what was coming he would have tried to free his position by playing c5 or Ba6 or Re6 or anything that didn't allow his pieces to be imprisoned on the queenside. After Smerdon swapped rooks on e8 Black was essentially down a rook and a bishop. This is where the fun then started. I'm not sure whether this was deliberate (or a mouse slip), but Smerdon simply donated one of his rooks to his opponent with Re8+ (instead of Re7). If you plug this position into an engine, it will claim the Black is now easily winning, and sticks to this assessment until the point where the White king advances far enough up the board. At this point the entire concept of Smerdon's play becomes clear, and after a few more pawn pushes, he mates his opponent with his last piece!


smurfo (2515) - ukchessbomber (2214) [C43]
Live Chess, 29.07.2017

Friday, 23 April 2021

The Method

 In the quest to play better chess, and number of methods for deciding the best move or plan have been proposed. These include the Purdy Method, the Kotov Method, the Moisenko System, etc etc. Of course, if there was such a foolproof system chess would be a lot less interesting, as it would simply be a battle about who could implement the best method correctly. 

Nonetheless one system I don't mind is that proposed by Karpov in his book "Find the Right Plan". He boils it down to a single concept "Restricting the mobility of your opponent's pieces is the most important law of chess". The book contains a number of examples of this in practice, and a large number of studies where the goal is to trap a piece or pieces. And although I don't always follow this "Law" it can come in handy when trying to find a way of improving your own position.

Brown,Jordan - Press,Shaun [C59]
Murphy Memorial (4), 20.04.2021

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

The big escape

 Having been caught by some very deep Fabiano Caruana preparation yesterday, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave looked to be on track for a second loss in two days, this time against Ding Liren. Ding had a big advantage in the middlegame, and if he had played 36.Rxb6 it wasn't clear how MVL could have saved the game. Instead Ding chose a plan the involved pushing his passed d pawn, which turned out not to work. Despite attempts to exploit MVL's exposed king, Ding wasn't able to find anything more than a draw. This missed opportunity leaves Ding at the tail of the field, while MVL stays in touch with the leaders.

Ding,Liren (2791) - Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime (2758) [E60]
FIDE Candidates Tournament (9.4), 20.04.2021

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Candidates resumes

 The 2020(1) Candidates tournament has resumed after a Covid induced break, and the 8th round has already seen some interesting games. As it is starting at the relatively kind time of 9pm (Canberra time), I  have decided to watch it on the big screen (TV) vi the youtube stream from chess24. 

The most interesting game (to me and the commentators) was the Caruana v  Vachier-Lagrave game, where Caruana produced some very deep preparation to cause MVL all sorts of problems in the opening and middlegame. As I write this the game is still in progress with Caruana holding an advantage, but MVL fighting to hold the draw.

However the highlight was the commentary, with Magnus Carlsen being drawn into a discussion of the Bongcloud opening, while looking like he was not quite fully awake for the morning start.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Torre v Adams

 While the Adams v Torre (New Orleans 1920) game is well known throughout the chess world, there was also Torre v Adams played around the same time. It too involved some spectacular play (a double rook sacrifice by White), but this time Torre was victorious.

Torre Repetto,Carlos - Adams,Edwin Ziegler [C13]
New Orleans New Orleans,LA, 1920

Friday, 16 April 2021

When dinosaurs roamed the Earth

 Kids often express amazement when I mention that a particular game I am demonstrating was played 150 years ago. It is as though nothing every really happened before about 1980 or so, and probably even later than that.

So I suspect this next game would totally blow their minds. It is both the first game in the 'Oxford Encyclopedia of Chess Games' and the first game in the various Chessbase 'Big Database' editions.

De Castellvi,Francisco - Vinoles,Narcisco [B01]
Causual Games Valencia, 1475

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Go programming

 While there is now a programming language called Go, there is of course still the game of Go. And if you are a fan of Humble Bundle, you might already know of the Machine Learning book bundle on offer for the next 4 days. One of the books on offer covers reinforcement learning in the game of Go. I've already purchased my copy, and will have a good read of it over the next few weeks. The only thing to note is that the authors didn't go full self reference by using Go to program Go. Instead it is Python and various libraries, although this is a good second language choice.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Another good bishop story

 My attempts at learning the Catalan (as White) have been hampered by the fact that most of my opponents avoid the main line. After 1.d4 I've had any number of Indian systems, a Dutch, and even the Albin Counter Gambit (which I lost). However, in a lot of these games the bishop on g2 has still turned out to quite a useful piece. This was once again demonstrated in a game I won last night.

Press,Shaun - Beare,Nick [A91]
Murphy Memorial (3), 13.04.2021

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

The Iron King

 In chess the definition of an "Iron King" is a little bit vague, but usually it refers to a king that marches up the board while being pursued by enemy pieces, and not only survives, but eventually contributes to the win. Probably the most well known example is Steel v Amateur from the 19th century, but other games do qualify. 

A new addition to the list is a game that was played at the Gungahlin Chess Club this evening. When I had my first look at the game, the White king was already on c4, and spectators were already starting to murmur. As I was busy with my own game, I did not see the next few moves, but when I discovered the king had gone to a6 to help with the mate on b7, I was more impressed than surprised. Of course in a game like this both sides missed their chances (Black had a couple of chances for a perpetual), and almost like the Steel v Amateur the was even a chance to save the day as late as move 21 (21. ... c6!)

White - Black [C44]
2021 Murphy Memorial Gungahlin (3), 13.04.2021

Chess for beginners - by beginners

 Surely a sign of the growing popularity of chess is the availability of chess magazines in the local news agency. "Chess for Beginners" was spotted by my wife while out shopping on Sunday, and so she thought it would make a nice addition to my collection, even if it weighed in at a hefty $20. Nonetheless it is a well laid out and colourful publication, with plenty of pictures and diagrams in its 160 pages.

The only problem is it doesn't seem to be written by people who actually play chess. The first warning sign is on the cover(!), where the board is set up the wrong way (white not on right). This error is repeated on and off throughout the magazine, and even when the board is the right way around, the king and queen are sometimes on the wrong starting squares instead. 

And while most of the advice given is fairly harmless (and sometimes useful), one odd piece stood out. "Chess is not about dominating the board or taking the most pieces". Well actually, it usually is, but to demonstrate the point, they included a game. Without checking ahead I showed this game to a group of students today, thinking that it involved a brilliant set of sacrifices that led to a checkmate. In a sense it did, as in the magazine Black did win by checkmate. But when I showed the last moves I wondered why White did not choose a better defensive move, which avoided the mate and simply won. A bit of digging then revealed the truth. The game chosen actually ended in a win for White (instead of Black), but they simply changed White's last move to support the point they were making. Here is the real game (with 29.cxb4 and not 29.Nxb4) , instead.

(* Thanks to Ralph Jackson for suggesting the title to this post *)

Sliwa,Bogdan - Bronstein,David I [A81]
Gotha Gotha (4), 12.09.1957

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Games without dates

 I have just discovered a large pile of scoresheets containing games I played between the late 1980's and the year 2000. I knew I had them somewhere, but up until now, I wasn't sure where. The obvious thing is to now enter the games into my personal database to fill in the 12 year gap in my game records.

The only issue is a lot of them are both undated, and lacking information such as the event they were played in. They do contain my opponents name (normally), but even then it is a little unclear. As an example, here is a game which I think I played at the Doeberl, in either 1988 or 1999.

Thwaites,R - Press,Shaun [C63]
Doeberl, 1988

Friday, 9 April 2021

Thought of the Day

 "Remember that the laws are made to prevent arguments, not to cause them. Never attempt to use the laws to gain an advantage" The Backgammon Book by Oswald Jacoby and John R. Crawford

Some observations from this year's Doeberl Cup

 I am just in the process of finishing up most of the remaining tasks from the 2021 O2C Doeberl Cup, so now is a good time to reflect on the tournament, in my role as the chief organiser.

Overall I thought the tournament went really well. We may have lucked into getting a record size field, but we handled the extra number pretty well. Tournaments were accelerated for the first time (Minor and Under 1200), but this did not seem to cause any 'bad' pairings. However it is fair to say that the while acceleration did deliver single winners in each event (as opposed to ties in the other 2 tournaments), it did not 'narrow' the leading group as much as was expected.

The playing venue was large enough to comfortably handle the extra numbers, although anything above 350 may take up all the available space, even without social distancing requirements. The foyer area was a little crowded for my liking, despite our attempts to manage this space (more on this below). 

Pairings were produced and published quite quickly, and probably faster than when I was the chief arbiter. There were a few issues with bye requests being missed, but the arbiting team fixed those issues quickly. The Brisbane lockdown did not help some of the Queensland players, but we were both able to help them withdraw, and then re-enter the event as necessary.

The chess itself was quite exciting, with the Premier being one of the most closely contested events in recent years. Having 7 GM's certainly made the tournament quite the contest, and the final round saw 8 decisive games on the top 8 boards.

One thing I was pleased to see (and certainly did not expect) was that despite the easing of rules on withdrawals (due to Covid), only a few player pulled out of the tournament before the last round. I had expected a return to the bad old days of 'Sunday night headaches', but was happy to be wrong about this.

For next year we may change a few things, but nothing significant. Renaming the Premier to the Masters is under consideration, just to give it some extra gravitas. While the Blitz remains popular, an increase in prize money is on the cards, in part to attract some of the stronger players. The issue of dealing with the size of the field in the Minor is also under discussion, with a couple of solutions being suggested (more rounds at a faster time control being one of them).

The one disappointment was the behaviour of some young players, or more importantly, the supervision provided by parents. There were a number of issues with children ignoring the club rules, but this only happens if parents aren't being parents. Sadly, attempts by the staff at the results desk to deal with the situation were met with hostile reactions from some parents, which I personally think is unacceptable.  We are in discussions with the Southern Cross Club about how to deal with this, but the most obvious solution is to simply have parents supervise their children in the manner required at a serious chess event.


Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Castling is a good idea, even when it isn't

 Looking through some of the games from the recently completed O2C Doeberl Cup, I came across the following quick win by GM Anton Smirnov over Willis Lo. On move 17 Lo chose not to castle, and connected his rooks with Kf7. A few moves later his position started to get worse and it all fell apart by move 27. At least to my eyes, Lo would have done better to castle on move 17, although weirdly, after 18.Qd3, Kf7 would have been played anyway. The difference may be that by having a rook on f8 instead of h8, Black might have been in a position to defend the kingside a little better. 

Smirnov,Anton (2597) - Lo,Willis (2101) [D10]
Doeberl Cup Premier (3.4), 02.04.2021

Monday, 5 April 2021

2021 O2C Doeberl Cup - Final Day

 The 2021 O2C Doeberl Cup has ended with GM Justin Tan (AUS) and GM Daniel Fernandez tying for 1st place on 7.5/9. In an incredibly exciting final round, Tan defeated FM Jack Puccini (AUS), while Fernandez had to overcome tournament top seed GM Hrant Melkumyan (ARM). Tan won the tournament trophy on countback, while both players earned $4000 each for their shared first place. Along the way Tan played 5 GM's (out of a possible 6), and had a TPR of 2690.

GM Bobby Cheng (AUS) finished in outright third place on 7, after a win over local player Roger Farrell. Farrell, who was considered a future star of Australian chess in the early 1980's, made a strong return to high level chess almost 40 years later. Fourth place was shared by GM Temur Kuybokarov and GM Anton Smirnov, who both won their last round games to finish on 6.5.

The Major (Under 2000) tournament ended in a 4 way tie between Dylan Siow-Lee, Aiden Brady, Ryder Testolin and Lachlan Lee, all on 6/7. Remarkably for Siow-Lee, he was eligible for the Minor (Under 1600) section, and had strongly considered playing in that event instead.

The Minor (Under 1600) was won by Tedric Li, who started with 6 straight wins before a final round draw resulted in a winning score of 6.5/7. Vihaan Anup Kumar and James Gao finished in a tie for 2nd on 6. 

The tournament attracted a total of 330 players breaking the previous record set in 2014. This was helped by a growing interest in tournament chess from new players, with the Under 1200 event attracting 67 players, and the Minor a massive 123 players. Even the traditional Kinford Consulting Blitz event had a record field of 133 players, with ben Harris dominating the field to win with 8.5/9.

The 2021 O2C Doeberl Cup was organised by the ACT Chess Association and was supported by the Doeberl Family, O2C Consulting, Mr Baldev Bedi, Kinford Consulting, Street Chess, Matt Radisich and Paul Dunn. The arbiting team was headed by IA Alana Chibnall, assisted by IA Charles Zworestine, FA Nick Kordahi, Bevan Closton and Miona Ikeda. Tournament support was provided by a dedicated team of volunteers which included Shun Ikeda, Juliet Zhu, Mark Kethro, Louisa Hou, Milan Ninchich and Miles Patterson. GM Ian Rogers and WFM Cathy Rogers provided live commentary of the games, while Paul Dunn handled the game entry duties.

Results from the tournament can be be found at 

Fernandez,Daniel Howard (2466) - Melkumyan,Hrant (2663) [E70]
Doeberl Cup Premier (9.2), 05.04.2021