Saturday 31 July 2021

ACT Women's and Girls Championship

 After a break of a few years, the ACTJCL is organising the 2021 ACT Women's and Girls Championships. It will on the weekend of the 11th and 12th of September, and will be a 6 round swiss (3 rounds on each day). There is quite a good prize pool ($500 1st prize) and is open to all female players (not just ACT residents). Entries open tomorrow, and details can be found at

Previous tournaments attracted good fields of between 25 and 40 players, and there has already been a lot of interest in this years event. A number of strong junior players are expected to take part, along with strong active and semi active adult players. Girls chess in the ACT is on a bit of an upswing at the moment (with good numbers in out junior events) so this should be a popular and competitive tournament. 

Thursday 29 July 2021

The Anti-Anti Marshall

 'Does every chess opening have a name?" asked one of my students recently. "I'm pretty sure they do, and if they don't, feel free to make one up" I replied, semi-seriously.

Now I have no idea if there is such a thing as the Anti-anti Marshall line, or if the following game qualifies, but after Bacrot chose an Anti-Marshall line against Carlsen, Carlsen sacrificed his e pawn any way. He also sacrificed a few other things after that, and now is 1-0 up in quater finals of the World Cup.

Bacrot Etienne (FRA) (2678) - Carlsen Magnus (NOR) (2847) [C88]
World Cup 2021 Sochi (41.1), 28.07.2021

Tuesday 27 July 2021

The Script

 Recently I have bee using a 'script' metaphor to describe how chess games usually go. The idea is to remove some of the mystery of the game for new players, showing how most experienced players think about general planning. Of course it doesn't cover every type of game, but it does seem useful for players in the sub 1500 range.

Act I - The Opening

  • Move 2 or 3 pawns at the start, to help develop your pieces
  • Bring out Knights and Bishops (either NNBB or NBNB)
  • Castle
  • Move the queen a little bit, to help connect the rooks
Act II - The Queen attacks

  • Look at the position of your opponents king
  • Look at the squares next to the king that aren't protected by any other piece
  • Target one of those squares with a minor piece (or rook)
  • Land your queen on that square for checkmate
Act III - So that did not work

  • Try and win material, the bigger the better
  • Use your advantage in material to win more material
  • When your opponent cannot defend their king (lots of squares only defended by the king), checkmate them with your extra pieces
Act IV - Are we still here?

  • Win material, the bigger the better
  • Use your extra pieces to capture your opponents pawns
  • Run one of your pawns to the end of the board and make a queen
  • Use the extra queen to checkmate your opponent
All very easy on paper, but hard to execute, especially if your opponent is trying to do the same to you. But having a plan, even one as broad as this, is better than having no plan at all. 

Sunday 25 July 2021

2021 ACT Winter Open - Win for Press

Harry Press has won the 2021 ACT Winter Open, finishing with 5.5/6. After beating FM Michael Kethro in round 5, he recovered from a losing position against Willis Lo to score the full point. In part he was aided by the need for Lo to win the game, as Lo avoided a repetition at one point, and in time trouble missed a saving move with his queen.

IM Junta Ikeda (5/6) finished in 2nd place after beating WFM Alana Chibnall in the final round, while Fred Litchfield took outright third on 4.5. With only twenty players in the top section, the competition was fierce throughout, with Press's 6 games all being against players who finished in the next 6 places.

Donghoon Shin won the Minor (Under 1600) section with a perfect 6/6. A win over Lee Forace cemented 1st place, and allowed young Canberra players Larry Cheng and Somon Vos to share 2nd place on 5/6. 

The new format of 6 rounds with a time limit of 60m+30s proved popular with the players, and organisers. There was extra time between the rounds for most players, while the 30s increment (instead of the previous 10s) resulted in better quality finishes, especially in the Open. This format will certainly be repeated next year, and may even become the new standard for other ACT events such as the Vikings Weekender.

Full results from this tournament (plus a link to the live games fro the Open) can be found at

Lo, Willis - Press, Harry [A20]
2021 ACT Winter Open, 2021.07.25

2021 ACT Winter Open - Day 2

 Harry Press and Fred Litchfield share the lead at the end of the 2nd day of the 2021 ACT Winter Open, on 3.5/4. In round 3 they both defeated higher rated opponents and then drew their round 4 game yesterday evening. In round 3, the top 4 seeds were aired together, with Press playing IM Junta Ikeda, and FM Michael Kethro against Litchfield. Both games went down to increments (30s added for each move), before Press and Litchfield scored wins. 

Both Kethro and Ikeda bounced back with wins in the 4th round to be on 3/4, where they were joined by WFM Alana Chibnall, who defeated Sankeertan Badrinarayan in round 4. With 2 rounds left to play, Press and Litchfield are in the box seat(s), but the small size of the field means that they will still have to overcome strong opposition to take the $1000 1st prize.

In the Minor Donghoon Shin and Charles Huang share the lead with 4/4. They are closely followed by Lee Forace and Larry Cheng in 3.5. Shin and Huang meet in round 5, with either Forace or Cheng waiting in the wings for a round 6 showdown.

Full results and a link to the live games from the Open can be found at

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.