Thursday 30 September 2021

Correct chess?

 During the current school holidays, the ACT Junior Chess League is running a number of online events, for the benefit of our local players. One of the (small) outcomes is that some of our less experienced players are starting to play what could be termed 'correct' chess moves. By this I mean moves that look sensible to other chess players, as opposed to hanging pawns, moving h pawns before castling, developing rooks via h3 etc

Then I came across this ...

Carlsen, Magnus - Duda, Jan-Krysztof
Meltwater Champions Final 2021

Wednesday 29 September 2021

The big old passer

 There is a saying about passed pawns, in that they look scarier on the 2nd rank than they do on the 7th. However you do still need to keep an eye on them, as they can still get out of control.

mhummel (2095) - Connor5566 (1836) [C42]
ACTCA Tuesday Rapid - 28 Sep, 28.09.2021

Tuesday 28 September 2021

Some new chess authors(?)

 Over the last couple of days I decided to have a look at what chess books were being sold on eBay. Turns out that (a) there are heaps and heaps and (b) there are a number of authors I have kind of heard of/not heard of. By this I mean the following

  • Magnus Anand
  • Magnus Fisher
  • Robert Morphy
  • John Carlsen
I suspect if I looked deeper I might even find books by Bobby Botvinnik, Boris Kramnik and even Viswanathan Tal!

Sunday 26 September 2021

Some International Chess

 One area of the world that has fully embraced online ches if the Asian Chess Federation. They are now organising a large number of online events, for both junior and open players. The most recent one was the East Asian Girls Championship, which was organised by the Thailand Chess Federation.

As travel is no longer an impediment to taking part, a number of local players took the opportunity to take part. Shriya and Shakthi Karthik played in the Under 14 and Under 12 sections, while Shivani Sundar played in the Under 8's. For each of the players it turned out to be tough going, as there were plenty of platers from other countries with greater experince.

The best score was achieved by Shriya Karthick who scored 4/9, including a quick win in the 2nd round

Karthik,Shriya (1379) - Prem Kumar,Hanushreeya (1024) [A27]
Eastern Asia Youth Chess Championships - Bangkok, Thailand (2.17), 24.09.2021

Saturday 25 September 2021

Slowly, slowly

 Harry Press mentioned the following game to me, as an example of converting space into a winning advantage. It was played at the Sharjah Masters, which is currently being held in person. What is interesting about this game is that White builds up his advantage move by move, until Black runs out of decent choices. Maybe Black was a little passive in his choices, but it still like White won without too much effort.

Salem,A.R. Saleh (2679) - Niemann,Hans Moke (2609) [E04]
4th Sharjah Masters (3.6), 19.09.2021

Thursday 23 September 2021

Sigeman Chess Tournament

 If you want to watch some serious (non online) GM level chess, the Sigeman Chess Tournament has just begun. It is being held in Malmo, Sweden and is an 8 player round robin. In the field are a mixture of young talents (Sarin and Keymar) and some more experienced GM's (Gawain Jones and Nigel Short). The first round began around an hour ago, and is being covered live by Each round begins at 10pm (Canberra time), and with the civilized time limit of 40/100m,20/50m,15m+30s inc from move 1, there should be hours of entertainment.

Tuesday 21 September 2021

Neville Ledger 1930 - 2021

 Neville Ledger has passed away at the age of 81  91.  For many years he was the backbone of the Tasmanian chess scene, as a player, organiser, administrator and chess retailer. He ran a mail order bookshop from his home for may years, being particularly adept at providing rarer and hard to get titles. A strong supporter of Correspondence Chess, he was a regular advertiser in the Australian Correspondence Chess Quarterly.

As a player he was a Tasmanian State Champion (in 1965) and the Burnie Club Champion on numerous occasions. He held a number of positions with the Tasmanian Chess Association over the years, including being TCA President in 1977-78. Apart from being a bookseller, he also produced the Tasmanian Chess Magazine until 1991, and produced a multi volume history of chess in Tasmania. 

Feeling rusty

 After a few months concentrating on running online events, I recently made the effort to play a bit more. I've never been that great at (fast) online chess, and my most recent efforts have confirmed this. One issue (apart from lousy openings), is that it does take me a while to warm up, meaning I drop a few games early in events. After that it does get better, but we'd all be champions if you could ignore our losses! 

So for the moment I am cruising along at around 50%, but hopefully more practice will lead to more wins.

Saturday 18 September 2021

Attention to detail

 One of the things I thought was great about "The Queens Gambit" was the attention to detail. The equipment looked legitimate, the games and moves looked real, and even some of the casting of extras was spot on. In fact one of the casting choices was the very brief scene where Nona Gaprindashvili was featured (for no more than a couple of seconds). 

However the creators are now being sued over this scene, for the line that "she has never faced men". Gaprindashvili is asking for $5M, although I would be surprised if she will get this (NB I am not a lawyer). When I saw the scene, I (and any serious chess player) knew this was not correct, as she had  played in plenty of events against male players. Indeed the line was so inaccurate, I had assumed that they were implying that she had neve faced men "at this level". And while that is also incorrect, the producers may make this argument, if it ever gets to court.

What I suspect will happen is that a correction is made to the scene (or it just gets removed from future prints), an apology given (noting that the book and series are a work of fiction), and everyone moves on. 

Thursday 16 September 2021

Russia win 2021 Online Olympiad

 After nearly a months play, Russia has emerged victorious in the 2021 Online Olympiad. After finishing as joint champions in 2020 (with India) they went one better this year, beating the USA in the final, winning both legs 3.5-2.5. Despite losing the final, the USA can also be proud of their finish, scoring come from behind wins over both Kazakhstan and India  in the knockout stage. 

The Online Olympiad attracted 155 teams, which is on par with (or better than) most Olympiads. For the lower ranked countries it was an opportunity to play some international chess, while for the stronger teams, it was a chance to make a mark on the world stage. 

While nothing definite has been announced at this stage, there is an expectation that this event will continue, in the non (OTB) Olympiad years.

Kosteniuk,Alexandra (2517) - Krush,Irina (2392) [A00]
2021 FIDE Online Olympiad (2.3), 15.09.2021

Wednesday 15 September 2021

Speaking of mouseslips

 Just to follow up from yesterdays post, here is one game from the Olympiad that did see a mouseslip. Two important points to note (1) White was losing in this position anyway and (2) One reason why the Olympiad finals used match points rather than game points was to reduce the effect such slips had on the overall results. 

Dubov,Daniil (2770) - Erdos,Viktor (2614) [A00]
2021 FIDE Online Olympiad (1.1), 13.09.2021

Tuesday 14 September 2021

The limits to sportsmanship

 As is the case with Online Chess, some games are decided by external factors. In the current Online Olympiad players have lost by disconnection, or blundered material through a misclick or mouseslip. On more than one occasion a 'sporting' result has been agreed, which normally leaves everyone involved with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

That is, until it gets serious. During the knock out stage of the Olympiad there have been a few games where the players have misclicked. Despite suggestions from spectators, there have been no draw offers or repetitions, and the games have ended with a decisive result. As, in my opinion, they should have. Players should not feel pressured to bail out an opponent's mistake, especially if the game was running in their favour any (as the games I saw were). While it is unfortunate that games might end prematurely, this is preferable to adding another level of gamesmanship to tournaments, where the easiest way to secure a draw in a worse position if to actually blunder badly (not that I am saying this was the case here). Operating the playing equipment correctly is as important in online events as it is in OTB tournament.

Sunday 12 September 2021

School Chess in Lockdown

 The local ABC television station did a quick report in what students were doing to keep busy and engaged during the current Covid lockdown. Chess was one of the activities featured.

Some v Most v All

 A few years ago Stewart Reuben suggested that if more than one person does not understand what a regulations means then it should be rewritten. Personally I think that that requirement is too strict, but the "Rule of Some, Most, All" should apply.

Basically if only some people understand a rule or instruction, then it is the underlying system that needs fixing. An example is having to line up for something, and being faced with confusing signage.  In only some people understand it it, the system of queuing is probably broken. If on the other most people get it right, then the signs need to be made clearer. But if everyone understands it (where the value of everyone is say 1 in 50), then the fault shifts to the customer. 

Why I mention this is that I keep running into this situation when running chess tournaments (IRL and online). Most people get it, but the line between most and all can sometimes be blurred. And how I deal with that, usually then depends on my mood at the time!

Thursday 9 September 2021

A very fine line

Another game where the difference between winning and drawing was decided by a single move. In this case it was 29.Qc2 (which loses) versus 29.Qd8 which would have lead to a draw.

Jumabayev,Rinat (2562) - Ding,Liren (2836) [A00]
2021 FIDE Online Olympiad (4.1), 09.09.2021

Tuesday 7 September 2021

An instructive King and Pawn ending

 Rapid chess isn't known for deep endgame analysis, but it can still throw up some interesting positions. In tonight's ACT Online Rapid there was a very interesting K+P ending, which both players found some very good moves, and some not so great ones. Given the time control (10m+2s) it is unfair to criticise the missed wins (and draws), but I have highlighted them anyway, to show the turning points in the game.

Of particular interest is the last variation, which shows how K+Q v K+Q isn't always an automatic draw.

RapanasCorner - chesslh [D53]

Sunday 5 September 2021

Street Chess - back online

 Street Chess has been out of action for a month, but with the ACT extending the covid lockdown for a few more weeks, I've decided to revive the online version.  It will be run at the same time, and with the same format as regular Street Chess, although it will be hosted at this year. Like the other ACT based events, it is open to members of the ACTCA Fast Chess Club on lichess. If you are a Canberra player and want to play, apply to join the team, making sure you include your real name in your application.

Saturday 4 September 2021

Australia fall short

 Going into the final day of the 2021 Online Olympiad, Australia had high hopes of qualifying for the top section, but a couple of unfortunate results put paid to this. Having won in round 7, the slipped up against Kyrgyzstan in round 8, losing 3.5-2.5. This meant they needed to be Shenzen (a second China team, representing the event sponsors), but lost 5-1, to finish in 4th pace for the 2nd year in a row.  Top board Temur Kuybokarov had the best score with 5.5/8, but the rest of the team hovered around the 50% mark for most of the tournament. 

FM Albert Winkelman scored exactly 50% (3.5/7) including winning a nice game in Round 8 against his opponent from Kyrgyzstan

Winkelman,Albert (2257) - Degenbaev,Aziz (1795) [A00]
2021 FIDE Online Olympiad (8.3), 04.09.2021

Thursday 2 September 2021

The king is not an attacking piece

 Despite Steinitz's arguments to the contrary, the king doesn't usually fare well out in the open. A good example is the following game from the 2021 Online Chess Olympiad

Weng,Yu-Hsin (1000) - Cheng,Chao Xin (1440) [A00]
2021 FIDE Online Olympiad (3.1), 02.09.2021

Wednesday 1 September 2021

Extended lockdowns

 I'm pretty sure that everyone in Canberra is aware that the current lockdown has been extended for another 2 weeks (17th September at the moment). So OTB chess looks unlikely for the near future (noting that I did get a phone call on Saturday asking me where all the Street Chess players were!)

So it is now a steady diet of online events, both to play, and to watch. One event to watch is the 2nd Division of the 2021 Online Olympiad. The Australian team has been seeded into this division, and is in Pool A. This is the first of the pools to start playing tomorrow (2nd September), with their games starting at 6pm. There will be 3 rounds per day, with the top 3 teams going through to the top division.

Last year Australia narrowly missed out, but this year they look at having a better chance of qualifying. There closest rivals will be Indonesia and China 2( Shenzen), while Bangladesh and The Philippines are fielding strong teams as well. Australia will play Bangladesh in the 1st round tomorrow, and of interest to Canberra viewers will be the performance of local lad, FM Albert Winkelman, playing in the Under 20 slot.

Chess sets of the well connected

 The ABC (in Australia) has just finished running a 2 part special on "Fox and the Big Lie", about how Fox News in the USA echoed the false claims that Trump's 2020 election loss was due to fraud. And while I found the whole thing interesting there was one political thing that struck me. In a lot of the interview scenes there seemed to be a lot of chess sets in the background, I assume belonging to the people being interviewed. So I wander, are they sets for use, or just for show?