Saturday 30 October 2021

Crunching the numbers has an interesting article that looks at performances in some of the greatest tournaments in history. 12 events were chosen, starting with London 1851, and players estimated elo rating were calculated using the CAPS system. 

Of course the earlier events had reasonably low performances (due to a lack of accurate play), but once into the 20th century there were some players getting quite high estimates (eg Capablanca 2726 at St Petersburg 1914). One interesting feature was that tournament winner often did not have the highest estimated rating, with some like Averbakh having the top TPR of 2759 at the 1953 Candidates, despite finishing 10th, and Euwe having the 2nd highest, despite coming 2nd last!

It is worth noting that the margins between the players became a lot smaller in the 21st century, which isn't a surprise as modern players train against the very tool that is now judging their play. By 2013, the CAPS scores had risen by so much, that 7 of the 8 players at the London Candidates played above the 2700 level.

 The article itself is here, if you wish to have a look at it, with the disclaimer that models like these do reward accuracy over creativity (which is noted in the article itself) 

Friday 29 October 2021

This one was pretty nuts

 A number of Australian players are taking part in the Asian Youth Online Championships, including a few from Canberra. Most of them warmed up a few weeks back in the East Asian Online Youth, and this is reflected on the improved scores on Day 1. Getting tournament experience is a great way to improve, even if, as this game shows, it helps you bounce back from a seriously lost (-16 at one stage) position.

Liang,Joshua (1247) - Mkahal,Raghid Ahmad [B23]
Asian Youth Online Chess Championships - New Delhi, Delhi, India (3.44), 29.10.2021

Wednesday 27 October 2021

The Grand Swiss

 In a sign that things *might* be getting back to normal, the FIDE Grand Swiss has just started in Riga. Normally held on the Isle of Man, it was moved to Riga for this year, as initially it was thought that it would be easier to travel to Latvia, rather than the UK. Then a spike in Covid cases put Latvia in lockdown, but the Latvian government gave the event a special dispensation, so it is now going ahead (although a couple of players decided to pull out).

There is one Australian player in the 108 player field, GM Temur Kuybokarov. He is seeded 101's in the tournament, but in a such closely packed field (the 54th seed is rated less than 100 points more than him), I suspect form is going to count for more than reputation.

The tournament (and the Women's Grand Swiss) are being covered on (and I suspect other websites). As no big event is being run without live commentary these days, you can also find plenty of that if you look around.  

Monday 25 October 2021

Blink and you'll miss it

 Things happen quickly in blitz games, and sometimes even quicker than that. Black went for the jugular with 8 ... Ng4, although White could have defended with 9.Qe2. Instead 9.Rf1 was a plausible try that was hit with 9. ... Nxh2. But event then White was only a bit worse after 11.Kd2. 11. ... Ke2 was the start of the very rapid end. (To be fair to White, I fell for a similar idea as Black in a Traxler, which is an opening I have played for 35 years!)

Connor5566 (1828) - Mattrad (2065) [C30]
ACTCA Monday Blitz - 25 Oct, 25.10.2021

Sunday 24 October 2021

Take the shot

 With OTB chess resuming in NSW, Victoria and ACT in the next few weeks, the vaccination status of players is likely to become an important topic. The Box Hill Chess Club in Victoria is requiring all tournament participants (and I assume spectators) to be fully vaccinated, although this now means that players under the age of 12 are excluded from playing at the club (as currently there is no vaccine for them).

I also believe that a similar requirement is also in place for Contract bridge events, although the effect on under 12's is significantly less. 

I'm not sure if the Australian Chess federation is taking a position on this (although it may have been discussed at their council meeting last week), but this does not preclude State Associations and local clubs on setting their own rules. As of today, I am advising players in events I organise to bring proof of vaccination with them, as I do not wish them to be caught out by venue rules. 

Friday 22 October 2021

Before the internet

 I have just received a number of wondaful, and historical, publications from Roly Eime (IA). Included in this collection was the "The Book of The First International Radio Chess Match Australia versus Great Britain" which was played in 1947. The match itself was played by cable (Telegraph) and not directly by radio, and took 18 hours over 2 and a bit days to complete. 

As Australia had already beaten France and Canada is recent matches, the books compiler, M.E, Goldstein, said that the match was to decide the chess supremacy of the Empire. In the end the 'Mother Country' won 7-3, although Lajos Steiner scored a win for Australia on the top board.

Another thing to note about the publication was that is was produced by The Australian Chess Federation, with the proceeds to assist in supporting other international matches for Australia. 

Alexander,Conel Hughes - Steiner,Lajos [C10]
GBR-AUS radio m London/Sydney (1), 04.10.1947

Wednesday 20 October 2021

ACT Chess for the rest of 2021

Good news, everyone! It looks like most of the face to face chess in Canberra in the next couple of weeks. At least one local chess club has been asked to resume in early November (by the venue management), and I suspect this means that venues are happy to host chess events once again. While the actual details are still being worked out (size limits, mask and vaccine requirements) I won't name the club, but will do so when reopening conditions are finalised.

The other event that has been up in the air is the 2021 Vikings Weekender, which may be back on the calendar again. It was planned to held in mid November, and if the venue is available at that time, the ACT Chess Association is keen to hold it, even at very short notice.

With Street Chess also resuming on the 30th October, most of the ACT clubs and events look to be back on. The only chess activity still affected by health orders will be the junior chess activities, which are restricted due to the junior venues normally being at schools, which still have some extra protections in place.

Tuesday 19 October 2021

Some good advice - which I should follow

 I saw a nice QOTD over at Lichess from Peter Svidler

The biggest tool for chess improvement would be playing against stronger opposition

It certainly works for me, although I'm not great at doing this a lot. I think it also shows how serious you are at getting better. Study and training are all very good, but it is when the pieces hit that board that really counts.

Rules shouldn't always be rules

 As someone who helps write the Laws of Chess, I am always surprised when people ignore common sense interpretations. Two recent cases attracted my notice, both involving draws.

In the first, a player who had K+Q resigned against a player with a lone King. Ignoring the possible reasons for this, the question was what should the score of the game be. Under the strict reading of the Laws of Chess, the point should go to the player with the King. Under the 'analogous situations involving a loss on time' approach, it should be a draw, although the arbiter may wish to adjust the score (downwards) for the player with K+Q.

In the second case, an online event had a 'no draw offer' before move 40, complicated by the fact that the server still allowed players to agree to draws before move 40. As a result, breaking that rule resulted in a loss, as opposed to just being told to keep playing in OTB chess. In one game a player tried to claim a draw by repetition, contacting the arbiter, but the arbiter was slow in responding, and the game continued. When the arbiter noticed the message, he then forfeited the player, on the grounds that a repetition claim still counted as a draw offer!

Saturday 16 October 2021

The return of Street Chess

 Fingers crossed, but Street Chess is planning to return to face to face chess on Saturday 30th October (in 2 weeks). The first set of Covid restrictions have been lifted in Canberra, with a further easing on the 29th. King O'Malley's, who hosts Street Chess is opening then, and the plan is for us to return on the Saturday. At this stage, masks will still be compulsory (an check ins), but the requirement to be vaccinated is still to be determined (btw 99% of Canberrans have already received at least 1 vaccine shot).

When I find out more information I will post it here, but for now, it is looking good for a restart of OTB chess in Canberra.

Friday 15 October 2021

Bxf7+ punished again

 Here is a recent Traxler where Bxf7+ (the chicken line) is still punished by Black. (Thanks to FM Rupert Jones for sending me this game)

Hattersley,Sam - Shapland,David [C57]
Leeds Uni CC 12.10.2021

Wednesday 13 October 2021

Enpas mate

 GM Nicholas Pert has won the 2021 British Championship, ahead of a much smaller field than usual (due to Covid in part). He scored 6.5/9 to finish half a point ahead of 5 other players. Along the we he scored an interesting win against promising Scottish junior Freddy Gordon. For most of the game a draw looked to be the likely result, until a mistake towards the end allowed Pert to finish with an unusual checkmate.

Pert,Nicholas - Gordon,Freddy [D37]
2021 British Championship, 10.2021

Monday 11 October 2021

The Hack Attack

 Even though it was from an online blitz game, this is still an impressive 'hack' by white to win in under 20 moves. It also shows the benefit of doing some extra opening preparation, as white analysed some of these lines in the days before this event.


Connor5566 (1823) - csrobins (1733) [C30]
ACTCA Monday Blitz - 11 Oct, 11.10.2021

Sunday 10 October 2021

The cat sat on my keyboard

 Under the rules of online chess, the player is held responsible for anything that happens at their end of the game, unless it can be demonstrated that the hosting server is at fault. This can include power outages, network failures, and in one case, the cat sitting on the keyboard. To preserve the dignity of the player involved, I won't use real names, but the cat-astrophe occurs at move 17 (if it isn't obvious already)

White - Black (cat) [D00]
Street Chess - 9 October 2021, 09.10.2021

Friday 8 October 2021

What a difference 35 years makes

 Around 35 years ago I had to defend a R v R+B ending. It was during an ACT Chess Championship and I failed to do so, being mated on about the 50th move (since the last capture). In those days FIDE had extended the number of moves required to claim a draw to 75, so I did not have a chance to claim, evein if I held out for a few more moves.

For the second time in my career, I had to hold this ending once again. It was played in an online event, although there was a 15 second increment, which certainly helped. This time I was much more successful, hanging on for the full 50 moves (121 moves in total). I did make one mistake during the ending (around move 91), but my opponent missed the correct reply, and I was able to defend after that. 

Probably the main difference between this game and the previous one was that I was more aware of the defensive tricks, including the 2nd rank defence, which I used. Apart from the checks from the side and behind, there was also a couple of stalemate tricks, which I suspect my opponent did not see until they landed on the board.

Wednesday 6 October 2021

Fixing the result

 A recent decision by the FIDE Ethics and Disciplinary Commission has brought up the topic of pre-arranged draws, again. In handing down a ruling concerning two players 'arranging' a beneficial result, the EDC made comment on whether agreed draws were a form of match fixing.

I'm a little surprised they strayed into this territory, and I'm not sure that their conclusions have cleared up any prior confusion. If I read the decision correctly it seems that

  • Agreed draws (without conditions) are OK (as they are defined in the Laws of Chess)
  • Agreed draws (with conditions) are bad (as they are forbidden by the Laws of Chess)
  • Pre-arranged draws are OK, but may be considered a breach of sportsmanship 
  • Pre-arranged wins/losses are bad, as this is match fixing
Points 1,2 and 4 seem pretty straightforward, but I am pretty sure that point 3 is open to question. Certainly a player may decide that a drawn game is to their benefit (either to guarantee a certain place in an event, to have a rest, or some other tactical reason), but such a decision does not need the prior involvement of an opponent. 

Tuesday 5 October 2021


 Another 'easy to state, hard to solve' maths/chess problem has been solved recently. The N-Queen problem now has an approximate answer to the question "How many arrangements can you have of n queens on and n by n chessboard, so that no queen attacks another?" For a standard board (8x8) it has been long known that there are 92 distinct arrangements, but this problem is the general nxn case, where n can be an extremely large number. 

The solution (0.143n)^n is of course an approximation (rather than an exact number), but it is close enough to the correct number for all n. If you want to see how this number was arrived at then a link to the paper is here. There is also a good article explaining what works was done to arrive at this number, while if you want to test some of the smaller solutions, there there is some python code here

Monday 4 October 2021

East Asian Junior Open

 This week it was the turn of the 'boys' to play in the East Asian Junior event (NB the event is titled 'boys' rather than 'open'). There were 7 players from the ACT taking part, and for all of them, this was their first international event.

The best performed players were Dev Raichura and Jerry Cheng, in the Under 8's section. Both scored 6/9 to finish towards the top of the standings. In the Under 12 section, Larry Cheng  scored 4.5/9, and would have been joined by Minchen Yang and Charles Huang, if final round results had gone their way.

The next event is the Asian Online Junior and is expected that some of the players who played this event will back up for that one.

Cheng,Jerry (1114) - Limpodom,Bhakorn [D02]
Eastern Asia Youth Chess Championships - Bangkok, Thailand (3.45), 01.10.2021

Sunday 3 October 2021

What was the question?

 I've often described chess as an examination where the players take turns at setting the questions. Sometimes your move is only an answer to the previous question, while other times it is both an answer and the next question rolled into one. But what happens if you forget to answer the question being asked? This.

Aronian,Levon (2782) - Duda,Jan-Krzysztof (2756) [C18]
Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals (6.1), 01.10.2021