Wednesday 31 March 2021

2021 O2C Doeberl Cup - Starts tomorrow

 The 2021 O2C Doeberl Cup premier begins tomorrow, with Rd's 1 and 2 of the Premier being played. The pairings for the first round are available at One of the top seeds, GM Anton Smirnov, will definitely be off to a slower start,  as he has to take a half point bye in the first round due to a University exam. But it looks as though he isn't the only one, as a number of players are missing rounds on the first day.

The Major, Minor and Under 1200 events will start on Friday. There is live coverage of the top boards on, starting at 1:30pm tomorrow. GM Ian Rogers is doing live commentary at the venue (Southern Cross Club, Woden), with the evening session the best time to watch.

(*** I am the Chief Organiser of the 2021 O2C Doeberl Cup ***)

Tuesday 30 March 2021

2021 O2C Doeberl Cup - Important annoucment

 Due to the current Covid outbreak in Brisbane, the ACT Government has updated travel advice for anyone travelling from the Greater Brisbane area. This advice can be found at 

While players outside this area are currently not affected (and transit through Brisbane Airport is allowed), if you are travelling from anywhere in Queensland (or have recently been in the affected areas), please check this advice. While the organisers have contacted all Queensland registered players by email, there is a chance you may not have received it.

If you are now unable to play due to this travel advice, please contact the organisers ( to arrange a refund on your entry.

Sunday 28 March 2021

Oceania Zonal - Final Day

 GM Temur Kuybokarov (AUS) has one the 2021 Oceania Zonal, after a marathon playoff against GM Anton Smirnov (AUS).  Both players won their final round games to finish on 6.5/7. The first playoff games (25m+10s) were drawn, with the next set (10m+10s) ended with one win each. The 5,+3s games were also drawn, leaving the top spot to be decided by an Armageddon game. Smirnov had the choice of colour and chose Black, meaning he had 4m against 5m (with a 2s increment from move 61) but a draw was good enough to win the title. In an exciting game, Kuybokarov won a queen for 2 pieces but tough defence from Smirnov meant that both players were down to their last few seconds, but Kuybokarov swapped everything off to reach a won king and pawn ending.

Both players still share first place, and under the new World Cup regulations, should both qualify for the World Cup (Kuybokarov as Oceania Champion, Smirnov as Australian selection). FM Nick Croad (NZ) finished in 3rd place, with Elmer Prudente (Guam) the best of the 'small' chess nations.

Saturday 27 March 2021

2021 Oceania Zonal - Day 3

 With 1 round left to play, GM's Anton Smirniov and Temur Kuybokarov share the lead on 5.5/6. They drew with each other in Round 6, and have won all their remaining games. New Zealand FM Nic Croad has also recovered from his tough start to now be in outright third with 4/6.

The final round is tomorrow morning at 11am , and the most likely outcome is a tie for 1st between the two Australian GM's, with a playoff match to follow.

Anton_Smirnov (2083) - Thubalkain_Dabuae (1617) [B35]
Oceania Zonal 3.6 (5), 26.03.2021

Thursday 25 March 2021

2021 Lifeline Bookfair

 The 2021 Lifeline Bookfair started a day early, almost catching out a few collectors. I made the effort to turn up around opening time, although I did not pick up many chess books this time. As usual, the majority on offer were ones I already own, but I did notice another box under the table labelled 'chess'. However the unwritten rule at the bookfair is you *do not* touch the books under the tables, so I may have to return another day to see if they have been put out.

One interesting item I did get was a good condition 'Autobridge' for $4. This was a pre-computer age device that allowed you to practice Bridge by yourself, through the use of pre-printed cards and sliding panels. While not a serious Bridge player myself, it is just the kind of thing I collect (when not buying chess books)


All but the Premier

 With a week to go, all sections of the 2021 O2C Doeberl Cup have exceeded their initial entry limits, with the exception of the Premier. We have extended the maximum number of players in most sections as a result, in part because I would hate for anyone to miss out. As a result I expect total entry to be around 350 players, which will of course be a new record.

This does not take into account the traditional Doeberl Lightning Tournament (sponsored this year by Kinford Consulting), which will be held on Saturday evening from 7:30pm. Normally around 40 to 50% of the main entry takes part in this event, which means there should be well over 100 players taking part. For this event we only take entries on the day, so the good news that if you want to play in the Doeberl, but cannot make the entire weekend, you can always turn up for this.

(** I am the chief organiser of the 2021 O2C Doeberl Cup **)

Tuesday 23 March 2021

Another time waster

 I probably shouldn't be mentioning this in the lead up to the Doeberl Cup, but if you need a break from hardcore chess study, you can try But be warned, it is quite addictive

Monday 22 March 2021

On hybrid chess

 The first weekend of the 2021 Oceania Zonal has been completed, and unsurprisingly, the lead is being shared by GM Anton Smirnov and GM Temur Kuybokarov, both on 4/4. This is one of the first official FIDE hybrid events, and while it has run quite smoothly, it still doesn't feel like 'real' chess to me. 

The obvious difference is not having two players at the same venue, and this certainly gives the game a different feel. There also seems to be less intensity about the game, although this might depend upon the make up of the field. But in terms of a direct comparison between OTB and Online Chess it is more Online than OTB, with the only difference being an arbiter is present.

Others of course may have a different experience when playing/arbiting but it has not convinced me that this is the way of the future for chess. Possibly the only change that could change my mind would be if it was a completely immersive environment, with the players (and arbiters) using VR goggles to simulate an actual playing hall!


Sunday 21 March 2021

2021 Oceania Zonal - Day 1

 The grand experiment of a hybrid zonal has begun, with the 2021 Oceania Zonal starting today. In the Hybrid format, the players still play online, but are supervised in person, by a local arbiter. While the format was created as a reaction to Covid related travel restrictions, the vast distances between Oceania federations was another reason to try it.

7 federations are represented (PNG being the only one missing, in part due to the Covid situation there), with Australia having 2 representatives, and the rest 1. After the first day, the 2 Australian GM's (Kuybokarov and Smirnov) lead with 2/2, although Smirnov had to work very hard to win his 2nd game. On the other hand the tournament 3rd seed, FM Nick Croad (NZ) had a very tough time, as he was paired against both GM's. As the tournament is a round robin, he won't be the only player facing back to back GM's, as the seedings have them grouped together. 

The tournament is being hosted at and the games can be watched on a 30 minute delay. The remaining playing days are the 21st, 27th and 28th of March, with the rounds starting at 11am and 5pm Canberra time on each day, except for the final day, when there is only an 11am round.

Anton_Smirnov - Nic_Croad [C69]
Rated Correspondence game (1), 19.03.2021

Friday 19 March 2021


 Although the Bongcloud continues to hog the headlines at top level chess, there are a few other openings that are equally deserving of attention. 

One of these is the Tennison Gambit, which can either be played after the Reti or the Scandinavian. The Reti move order is slightly better (as 1... d5 is more likely than 1.e4 d5 2.Nf3) but you may only want to use it against Scandanavian players, in much the same way as the BDM can be used against 1.e4 d5 2.d4!

As with most 'rare' gambits it isn't particularly sound, but against an unwary opponent, bad things will happen.

Otto M. Tennison - NN,
New Orleans, 1891

Thursday 18 March 2021


 With at least 2 sections of the 2021 O2C Doeberl Cup hitting the theoretical 'pairing limit', acceleration may have to be introduced into the pairings for the first time. For the uninitiated, the method used is to pair the top half of the tournament against themselves, and pair the bottom half in the same way.

However, there is a little more science to this, and even now, not all events do this correctly (eg Ballarat). The approved (Baku) method is to add a bonus point to the players in the top half for the first 2 rounds, and a half point to these players in the third round (NB for 9 round events it is 3 rounds with a bonus point, and 2 rounds with half a point). This method has been used at Hastings (where I was an arbiter), and no one seemed to even notice it was in use.

There are a couple of plusses and minuses which are worth noting. 

  • A player in the lower half can get to 3/3 without playing anyone seeded above them (rare but possible)
  • When the acceleration stops, the middle pairings look like round 1 pairings (although the gaps between seeds are a little smaller)
  • A number of lower half players can be on 2/3, while a similar number of top half players can still be on 1/3.
However, these do fix themselves up over the remaining (non-accelerated) rounds. And if the aim of acceleration is to find a clear winner by having the top seeds play each other earlier*, then it does work.

*I ran a test with a 64 player 6 round event, and the top 2 seeds met in round 5 with 4/4. Using the traditional method, this would be a round 5 paring with the players on 5/5.

Tuesday 16 March 2021

An ancient Chinese puzzle

 This has been described as 'an ancient Chinese puzzle' by H.E. Dudeney, although I suspect there is a bit of creative license in play.

It is White to Mate in 3, under the condition that each White piece must be moved once, and only once.

HE Dudeney
Mate in 3

Monday 15 March 2021

2021 O2C Doeberl Cup - A record entry?

 A couple of sections for the 2021 O2C Doeberl Cup have filled up. At this stage if you still wish to play, you will either need to enter an section that you are eligible for (ie Premier instead of Major if you are rated between 1800 and 2000) or put yourself on the wait list (by emailing the us at the tournament email address). 

I am currently working on creating more space for players who still wish to enter, noting 2 important issues. A) Tables and Equipment B) Pairing large fields

Keep an eye on as the information will be updated regularly

(I am the chief organiser for this event)

Sunday 14 March 2021

Come back and fight, you cowards

 In the world of Correspondence Chess, Thematic tournaments are still a thing. Players start with a set opening and play each opponent with both White and Black. The idea is to extend current opening theory, or just to see who handles specific positions better. 

One recently completed event concerned my favourite opening, the Traxler (or Wilkes-Barre). Despite the whole opening being under a cloud, two interesting things emerged from this event. Firstly, no one dared play Nxf7, which shows that this line is considered better for Black in the CC community. Secondly, despite Bxf7+ being considered the refutation of the Traxler, Black in fact won a few games. Below is one of these games.

Michalek,Martin (2128) - Cvak,Rudolf (2461) [C57]
WSTT/5/17/F ICCF, 05.05.2019

Saturday 13 March 2021

The 1000 player tournament

 While the entries for the 2021 O2C Doeberl Cup look like they may exceed 300, they still pale in comparison to some online events. The 2021 World University Blitz tournament currently has an entry of 1002 players, which is one of the biggest organised events I've ever seen. The tournament will be held over 2 days, with 20 rounds in total to be played. It will be held on the Tornelo platform and will start at 2pm UTC (which is 1am Canberra time!). There are a few Australian players brave enough to play, including a team from the University of Sydney. A full list of entries can be found at

Thursday 11 March 2021

2021 Interschool

 In a very promising sign for face to face chess, the 2021 ACT Interschool Chess competition began today. The first event of the calendar was to North Canberra Primary Girls Championship, and 32 very enthusiastic players took part. 

The winning team was Kaleen Primary, while Mother Teresa and Gold Creek tied for second. The next event is the South Canberra Primary Girls Championship, while next term will see the open championships.

Wednesday 10 March 2021


 For Australian television viewers, tune into SBS at 6pm this evening to see Fred Litchfield's appearance on Mastermind. His specialist subject is 'Magnus Carlsen'.

(If you miss it, it should be available on the SBS catch up service later)

Monday 8 March 2021

Tasmanian Championship

 Normally this weekend is when the ACT Chess Championships are held, as it is a long weekend here. However, the ACTCA has decided to move it to Reconciliation Day Weekend in late May, to avoid clashes with other chess events.

One of those events was the 2021 Tasmanian Chess Championship, and local player Miles Patterson ventured south to take part. As a non Tasmanian resident he was not eligible for the title, so he had to be content with winning the tournament on 6/7. Despite it being a non ACT event, the final round saw 3 players with ACT connection on the top 2 boards, with long time Canberran Ian Rout drawing with Patterson to take a share of the title, while Will Rumley (who started his chess career in Canberra), played Kevin Bonham. In that game Bonham won, meaning that Rout and Bonham were joint Tasmanian Champions.

Patterson,Miles - Shepherd,Chris
Tasmanian Championship, 07.03.2021

Sunday 7 March 2021

A necessary underpromotion

 It is rare to spot a necessary underpromotion in the wild, but one did occur during the current Ballarat Begonia Open. Normally underpromotions are either designed to annoy your opponent, or playing to the crowd, but in this game, it was to avoid a stalemate trick. In this case a bishop would do just as well as a knight, but both Queen and Rook would definitely change the result of the game.

Rodgers,Jack (2100) - Fernandez,Daniel Howard (2466) [E46]
Begonia Open 2021 Ballarat (5.2), 07.03.2021

Saturday 6 March 2021

Is that a Bishop in your pocket?

 Under the Laws of Chess for Rapid and Bitz, after 10 moves from the start 'no claim can be made regarding incorrect set-up or orientation of the chessboard'. This is more likely to occur if the pieces are arranged incorrectly (eg king and queen on wrong squares), but it may also involve missing or additional material.

I'm not sure how this happened today at Street Chess, but there was one game that started with an additional bishop on d2 (which was cleverly disguising itself as a pawn!). It was noticed after 3 moves (when one player wanted to play d3) and was easy to fix. But I did point out to the players that in the unlikely event that it wasn't noticed until move 11, it would have to stay on the board.

Thursday 4 March 2021

2021 Oceania Zonal

 The 2021 Oceania Zonal is now going ahead as a 'hybrid' event. This means that the players will be playing online, but supervised by an in place arbiter. Due to the logistics of organising such an event, it will be a round robin tournament, with 1 player per country, except Australia, who can nominate 2 players.

The event is being held over the weekends of the 20th/21st and 27th/28th March with 2 rounds per day. The time limit will be the usual for a zonal, while the winner will qualify for the next World Cup. Whether the event is eligible for ratings and titles is not known at this stage as I believe this is to be decided on a tournament by tournament basis. 

I will post further details as they come to hand.

Goalie Chess

 I'm not sure I was the inventor of the following game, but if I wasn't, I have forgotten where I read about it.

Goalie Chess

  1. One player starts with 8 white pawns, the other with a black rook. The pawns are on their normal squares (a2,b2 etc), with the rook on e8.
  2. Players take turns, with white moving first. Pawns and the rook move according to the Laws of Chess
  3. White tries to get as many pawns to the other side of the board. Black tries to capture as many pawns as possible, without letting the rook get captured.
  4. Each pawn that makes it to the other end of the board counts as a goal (even if the rook could capture it on the last rank)
  5. Pawns are removed when they reach the other side of the board
  6. If the rook gets captured, all the remaining pawns count as goals.
  7. The game is played across two 'legs', with the players swapping sides
  8. Highest number of goals wins
I have used this as a training exercise with new players, as it allows them to concentrate on just one type of piece each. They seem to enjoy it, and can even be amended to make the goalie a bishop (hard), knight (harder) or queen (easy).

Tuesday 2 March 2021

2021 O2C Doeberl Cup - 7 GM's now entered

 The 2021 O2C Doeberl Cup is starting to look like one of the strongest Open events ever held in Australia, with 7 GM's in the entry list. From Australia GM's Smirnov, Kubokarov, Cheng, Tan and Johansen have entered, along with GM Daniel Fernandez (ENG) and GM Hrant Melkumyan (ARM). In fact the GM's almost outnumber the other titles players (IM's, FM's and CM's) although I suspect this will change soon.

As of March 1st, there are 142 players entered across the 4 sections, with the Minor (Under 1600) having the most entries. As there are hard limits on each of the sections (due to Covid regulations), if you are planning to play in the 2021 O2C Doeberl, you should try and enter sooner rather than later.

(** I am the chief organiser of this years event **)