Monday 29 November 2021

2021 World Championship - 3 games, all draws

 The 2021 World Chess Championship is on a rest day today, with the first 3 games all being drawn. This extends the draw streak in classical World Championship games to 17, with the last decisive games being Carlsen's game 10 win over Karjakin in 2016. 

Although the first 3 games were interesting, it was something else that struck me. In the age of streaming, what matters isn't how exciting the games are, but instead, how exciting the commentators can make them look. I did a quick surf across a number of streaming sites and noticed that in almost all of them, exciting novelties, possible breakthroughs, and amazing variations were being discussed, while the players themselves looked far less excited (and exciting). This, I may add, isn't a bad thing, as chess being an online spectator sport is one of the more surprising things to happen in the last few years. For this online commentators and streamers should be thanked, especially as the increasing accuracy at the top level is making the result more predictable. 

Sunday 28 November 2021

2021 Vikings Weekender - Tie for 1st

 The 2021 Vikings Weekender has ended in a tie for 1st place between CM Paul Russell, and Harry Press. The finished on the unusually low score of 4.5/6, although this was only one of many things that was slightly unusual about this event. 

Both scored last round wins to take 1st place, with Russell beating WFM Alana Chibnall and Press beating CM Anthony Fikh. Tied for 3rd place were Fikh and Fred Litchfield on 4 points, while Ryan Can and Matt Radisich one the rating prize on 3.5.

Due to the small size of the field, almost all games had an effect on the final standings. Curiously the 2 winners did not play each other, not did the top 2 seeds (Press and Litchfield). Press started the tournament with a draw and after 3 rounds was only on 50%, while Russell lost his first round, before winning his next 3 games. 

In the Minor Somon Vos was the outright winner on 5/6. Larry Cheng finished second on 4.5, while Nomon Vos, Joe Marks and Thomas Gatzen-O'Keefe tie for 3rd on 4.

Overall the small numbers made the tournament easier to run, although it was impacted by a number of withdrawals. The reasons were many and varied, but strongly indicated the existence of some sort of curse on the event. Sporting injuries, sudden family health emergencies, and flooded roads were some of the causes, while one player leaving the venue after a late night loss on Saturday found that their car would not start, and had to taxi home and back the next day. 


Press,Harry - Fikh,Anthony [B10]
2021 Vikings Weekender Canberra, Australia (6.1), 28.11.2021

2021 Vikings - Days 1&2

 The 2021 Vikings Weekender began with a much smaller field than last years 60. The main cause was the short notice, with the event only confirmed 2 weeks before it started. There were also a couple of last minutes withdrawals, leaving the tournament missing a few titled players.

The upside is that both events are very competitive, with any number of players in contention for the $1000 1st prize. Top seeds Harry Press and Fred Litchfield dropped points over the first 4 rounds, with CM Anthony Fikh leading on 3.5/4, followed by WFM Alana Chibnall and CM Paul Russell in 2nd place on 3. For top seed Press it could have been worse, as in a R+B+P v R+5P, he managed to win all the pawns to reach R+B v R, but failed to make any progress towards checkmate once the 50 move count began. Then on move 104 of the game his opponent lost on time (30 second increment is being used), despite no checkmate being in sight.

In the Minor, Somon and Nomon Vos lead with 3.5/4. Both took half point byes in the first round, and won all 3 games on Day 2. They play in round 5, but as almost all tournament games between the twin brothers have ended in quick draws, there should be a traffic jam at the top going into the final round.

To see the tournament standings and links to live games, click on this link


Friday 26 November 2021

2021 Vikings Coverage

 If you wish to follow the games and results from the 2021 Vikings Weekender, you can do so at 

The first round is tonight at 7:00pm Canberra time, with subsequent rounds at Saturday 11:15 am, 3pm, 7pm and Sunday 11:15am and 3pm. I hope to have 4 DGT boards running over all rounds

Thursday 25 November 2021

I accept your offer of a resignation

 One of my pet peeves as an arbiter is when players offer a draw by putting out their hand. This happens a lot in junior events and is often done by players in a losing position to try and save half a point (when the opponent isn't sure what happens and shakes the hand thinking it is a resignation). Such incidents almost always end in tears, which is another peeve of mine (there is no crying in chess).

The most recent occurrence of this problem happened the other night at my local club. The game between an older and very experimented player and a young junior player ended in a draw, at least according to the junior player. But the result on the computer showed a win for the opponent, so in my role as "fill in" arbiter, I called both players across to see what had happened. The older player said his opponent had resigned, while the younger player said that a draw had been agreed to. It turns out that the younger player could not find a move to play so simply said "draw" and put out his hand. The older player did not here any draw offer, and assumed his opponent was offering his hand in resignation.

Having gathered the facts (and had the players to reconstruct the position to check whether the draw offer had any merit), I explained (at some length) to the younger player that his opponent was quite entitled to the win at this point. However the older player sportingly offered to continue the game from the last position, an offer that the younger player was quick to accept. The older player then proceeded to demonstrate that the resignation would have been justified by winning in a few more moves. 

Good sportsmanship from the older player, and hopefully an important lesson learned for the younger one.

Tuesday 23 November 2021

2021 World Chess Championship - My fearless prediction

 The first game of the 2021 World Chess Championship Match is on Friday 26th November, at 11:30pm Canberra time. For this match there will be a maximum of 14 games, followed by tie-breaks if necessary. It runs until the 16th of December, with rest days every 2 or 3 rounds.

As with most World Championship Matches I usually give a prediction before the start. Looking back at some old posts I did predict Anand beating Kramnik in 2008 (and winning the World Championship tournament in 2007). Since Carlsen became a challenger and then World Champion, I have usually played it safe and predicted a Carlsen win by 2 points. This means I have got the winner right, even if I have got the margin wrong. 

So my bold prediction for the this match is: Carlsen. And the margin of victory: 2 points! 

Why mess with a winning(?) formula ...

Sunday 21 November 2021

2021 ACT Interschool Finals

 After a lot of interruption (and a lot of effort), the 2021 ACT Junior Chess League Interschool Finals were held this weekend. Due to ongoing Covid restrictions they were held online for the first time, and despite some small hiccups, the whole thing went well. 

Each final was restricted to a maximum of 6 teams of 4 or 5 players, although we ended up with less than that in each section. Where qualifiers had been held in person, the winning school (or schools) was invited, while for other Canberra zones we just had to choose based on rating. The tournaments were held on Lichess using a swiss format (although players did not play team mates), and supervision was via zoom. Most players played from home, although one school played from a single venue, as they had teams in both the Primary and Open sections.

The winners were:

Grammar (Open Secondary)

Lyneham High (Girls Secondary)

Turner School (Open Primary)

Kaleen (Girls Primary)

At this stage we are hoping that the teams will be able to take part in the Australian Schools teams Championship in a fortnight. The only issue we face is getting a suitable venue in Canberra, as the ASTC organisers insist that the teams all play from one venue, a condition we may not be able to meet at short notice.

Saturday 20 November 2021


 After quite a long wait from the first announcements until now, I finally purchased a copy of 'Humankind', which is Civilization type game that lets you develop societies from hunter gatherers to rocket scientists.

I had a first play last night (which is why this post is late!) and found it enjoyable (even on my creaky old PC). Didn't do fantastically well on my first run, but I assume that is because I missed a lot of nuances in play (too many cities too quickly get penalised, for example). But like CIV VI (and Chess), the early days are usually quite difficult before the right ides and strategies become apparent. 

Thursday 18 November 2021

Calling all grumpy old men

One of the more common excuses for not playing tournament chess is "too many annoying children". While I think this isn't really a good excuse ('beat them early and often' is my motto), there is no denying that have a bunch of small kids running around playing 'tips' during your game can be off putting.

So while the 2021 Vikings Weekender isn't designed to be a 'no juniors' event, the vaccination requirement for the event, and the timing of the roll out of vaccinations for Under 12's in Australia, means that Under 12's won't be playing (and we won't be getting a visit from Prime Minister Trump either). As junior players do make up a significant number of entries in chess events these days, the ACTCA is expecting that overall entries may be affected. However, this also provides an opportunity for all the grumpy old chess players out there to turn up, knowing they will be safe from juniors who are out to either give them colds (or worse) or to take their hard earned rating points off them. So if this sounds appealing visit the tournament website and get your entry in today!

Wednesday 17 November 2021

2021 Asian Online Amateur

 Another week, another Asian Chess Federation online event. This week it is the Asian Amateur Championship, which is being held as a 9 round rapid event over 3 days (and yes I am an arbiter). 

While Australia hasn't really embraced these online events*, other countries have. There is a sizeable New Zealand contingent, while even Macau has a representative, although in this case it is CM Hui Li, currently resident in Canberra. At the end of the first day he is tied for first place on 3/3, along with 15 other players. With 150 players in the tournament, it will of course take more rounds (at least 7), before a likely winner is known.

(* Australia doesn't really embrace offline events in Asia either)


Li,Hui (1970) - Jain,Sachi (1395) [C99]
Asian Amateur Chess Championship - Open Oman (3.9), 16.11.2021

Monday 15 November 2021

Do not attempt

 While not in the business of giving out free advertising to big corporations, I was intrigued by the new Sony Playstation advertisement, which has a very chess heavy theme. While I am linking to the full 2+ minute clip, the shorter TV edit has an interesting cut, where the chess game is followed by the caption "Do not attempt" for the next scene. Of course it concerns parkour rather than chess, but still, an interesting sentiment.


Saturday 13 November 2021

2021 ETC

 Signs that OTB chess may return to normality within 12 months continue to appear. The 2021 European Teams Championship has kicked of in Slovenia, and the 9 round events has attracted a very strong field. There were 39 teams in the Open, and 31 in the Women's Section. Azerbaijan were the only team to win 4-0 in the Open in round 1, and their Women's team repeated the score in their event. 

The event is a 9 round tournament, and will be covered on all the major chess sites. I had a quick look through the games from the first round, and the following quick win for Black caught my eye.

Koykka,Pekka (2353) - Parligras,Mircea-Emilian (2576) [C47]
23rd European Team Chess Championship 20 Catez, Slovenia (1.2), 12.11.2021

Friday 12 November 2021

Vikings 2021

The ACTCA is happy to announce that the 2021 Vikings Weekender is taking place from Friday 26th November until Sunday 28th November. Details are

Dates - 26th, 27th and 28th November 2021
6 round FIDE Rated Swiss*
Lanyon Vikings, Heidelberg St, Condor, ACT
Time control: 60m + 30s

Open and Under 1600 sections (Both FIDE Rated)
Round 1: Friday 7:00pm Round 2: Sat 11:15am Round 3: Sat 3:15pm Round 4: Sat 7:15pm Round 5: Sun 11:15am Round 6:Sun 3:15pm

1st Prize Open $1000, 1st Prize Minor $500 (All other prizes dependant upon entries)

** Entry conditions: All players must be fully vaccinated (two shots) and present proof to the organisers. Masks must be worn during play **


Lanyon Vikings Club
Heidelberg St, Condor ACT 2906

Entry fee: $65 ($45 Junior/Concession) GM, IM, WGM, WIM free

Maximum of 60 players

Wednesday 10 November 2021

The thing about ratings

 I am in the process of building a web based rating management system, partly for my own interest, and partly as a proof of concept for a couple of chess organisations. In doing so I thought I would refamiliarise myself with the FIDE Rapid and Blitz  Rating Regulations, a found some differences from standard system that I had either forgotten, or failed to notice.

For example:

  • The maximum number of rapid games in a day is 15, and for blitz, 30
  • You have to score at least 1 point in your first event for it to count towards your rating. (It is only 0.5 for the standard list)
  • Every either has a k factor of 20, or 700/total number of games played, if you play more than 35 games in a period.
  • The maximum difference between two players rating is 735, rather than 400 in the standard list
A lot of these differences do make sense, in that there is the potential to play a lot more games of rapid/blitz in a month, although it does lead to slower rating changes for players that don't.

Tuesday 9 November 2021

Once a knight, always a knight. Five time a night ....

Damod,Sajjad (1358) - Morshedloo,Amin [C45]
Asian Club Hybrid Chess Championship Tornelo (5.3), 07.11.2021

Sunday 7 November 2021

Grand Swiss 2021

 With 1 round to play in the FIDE Grand Prix French GM Alireza Firouja leads on 7.5, half a point ahead of Fabiano Caruana and Grigoriy Oparin. The sole Australian entrant, Timur Kuybokarov is mid field, having scored a solid 50% against a field entirely rated over 2600. He has 2 wins, 2 losses and 6 draws, and a win in the final round will see him finish well above his seeding. Along the way he scored the following nice victory


Kovalev,Vladislav (2634) - Kuybokarov,Temur (2549) [C78]
2021 FIDE Grand Swiss Riga (7.41), 03.11.2021

Saturday 6 November 2021

Hybrid Teams

 Hybrid Chess is one of the new innovations that has gained in popularity during the various covid lockdown periods. I have been involved as an arbiter for these events, an still have mixed opinions on how well they work (NB I was involved in the drafting of the FIDE Hybrid Regulations).

Of the events I have worked on, the format that seems to suit Hybrid Chess the best is for team events. Individual events can be a little messy to organise, especially small events like round robins. But team events have a more suitable arbiter(s) to player ratio. In the ongoing Asian Club Cup there are usually 2 officials per team or 2 teams, which is 1 to 3 or 1 to 6. However this also works best if there is a dedicated chess club to host the teams, which isn't a luxury that all countries have (almost all teams in this competition belong to full time clubs or organisations). It also reduces the average bandwidth requirements, as each player only needs a front facing camera, while the organisers provide the panoramic one.

Based on other experience, I'm not a fan of individual events in the hybrid format, as the arbiter to player ratio is 1 to 1, or even 2 to 1. Again having a single venue helps, but in geographically large countries (like Australia), this still causes problems for players not located in such a city.

So if I were to suggest which events could be held as a hybrid event in Australia (or Oceania) I think a 6 player team event might work, with the usual requirements for male and female players (plus juniors). Whether such an event does get organised is of course another question.

Thursday 4 November 2021

2022 O2C Doeberl Cup - entries open

 The details for the 2022 O2C Doeberl Cup have been posted at It will be held over the Easter weekend, which is 14-18 April 2022.

The most significant change from this years event, is that the rating limits for each of the tournament have been simplified. For the Premier, anyone with a FIDE or ACF rating above 1800 is eligible (plus title holders), while to get into the Major (under 2000), you need an ACF or FIDE rating above 1400 (and be blow ACF 2000 as well). In part this is to simplify the eligibility rules, but it is also to balance the numbers in each tournament. Entry fees are unchanged from this year, and the prize pool is still over $20,000

You can now enter at the tournament website, and 11 players have already made sure of their places for next year.

(** I am the Chief Organiser for this event **)

Tuesday 2 November 2021

This one fooled me

 Face to face chess is back in Canberra, and tonight was the first week back for the Gungahlin Chess Club. There was a healthy turnout of 20 players, and I assume that this number will grow during the rest of the year.

The last game to finish was a tricky king and pawn ending that had me fooled as a spectator. At first glance it seemed that White was clearly winning (due to an outside passed pawn), and when Black managed to draw the position, my first thought was that White went wrong somewhere. But when I fed it into Fritz, it turned out that the position was drawn all along. I thought White could gain a tempo somewhere, but not matter what he did, Black was able to trap the White king on the h file, leading to a book draw.

Teymant,Roy - Cunningham,Cam
Korda Memorial, 02.11.2021

Monday 1 November 2021

Sydney in the 60's

 The Australian National Sound and Film Archives has retrieved a number of short documentaries about Australian cities, and have made then available on youtube. I posted one about Canberra a few years back, and today I cam across one about Sydney. It was made around 1964, and shows Sydney just as the high rise developments were getting started.

Also included (at around the 8:30 mark), is a scene of outdoor chess, being played on council tables. I'm not sure where it was filmed (maybe Hyde Park),  but it may contain faces familiar to older players. There are also a number of other interesting scenes, including some very non-ohs work practices on high rise construction sites.