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