Friday 30 December 2022

People are the worst (well a subset of them)

 I was just watching the live stream from the 2022 World Blitz Championship. It was the final round of the Women's event, and so the commentators thought it was important to cover that, rather than the 2nd last round of the Open event. A sensible decision, especially as this was apparently the only round from the Women's event that was covered in full.
But the whinging in the comments section. It was full on. All the misogynistic stereotypes about women's chess were on full display, along with the smokescreen about wanting to see 'higher quality' chess. Given the level of comments by most of the people in this feed, the only criteria being used was 'men = higher quality' rather than any demonstrable ability to actually spot good moves in advance. There were some attempts at speaking out against the prevailing attitudes, but the comments ran 3 or 4 to 1 against the decision to cover the final round of the Women's. 

Wednesday 28 December 2022

A tactical blunder

 Sports have a lot of 'unwritten rules'. They exist to make sure everyone stays within what is considered acceptable behaviour, even if the the actions are not technically illegal. In baseball for example, showing up a pitcher after hitting a home run is likely to get yourself drilled by a pitch at some point in the future.

South Africa seemed to not be aware of this during today's Test match against Australia. Bowling short pitched deliveries to tail end batsmen was for a long time considered 'out of bounds', in part because the players your were trying to hit had the ability to return fire when you batted. So hitting Mitchell Starc on the helmet in failing light might have seemed like a  good idea, but only for the time it took Australia to declare their innings closed, and let South Africa bat in the same conditions. In the end they were lucky to escape with just one wicket down, with rain ending the days play.

But as this is a chess blog, here is a tactical blunder from the 2022 World Rapid. On move 46 White missed a check that would have led to a forced mate, and instead let Black escape with a draw.

Niemann,Hans Moke (2592) - Maghsoodloo,Parham (2656) [E11]
2022 FIDE World Rapid & Blitz Championsh Almaty (8.8), 27.12.2022

Tuesday 27 December 2022

Hastings 2022-23

 After a break of a few years, the historic Hastings event has returned. While no longer attracting the huge numbers it did in the past, the Masters section has 13 GM's in its 101 player field. It will also attract plenty of players for the supporting events, which include AM swisses, weekend tournaments, and evening blitz. This is the 96th edition of the tournament, and barring any world shattering disasters, the 100th edition should be in 2026. When I visited the event (as an arbiter) in 2016, I promised to return for the 100th, a promise I do plan to keep.

Tournament homepage is here. 

Monday 26 December 2022

World Rapid and Blitz

 The 2022 World Rapid and Blitz has just started. As it is being held in Kazakhstan, the time zone difference isn't that bad, with play starting in the evening (Canberra time). As I type this it is up to the third round of the Rapid, with Carlsen in some trouble against Tomashevsky. The tournament is exceptionally strong, with 178 players in the Open, and 98 in the Women's Championship. Bobby Cheng is the sole Australian representative, seeded 111th at the start.

Given the importance of th event, it is being covered at most online sites. I'm currently watching it via chess24 (Peter Leko commentating), but I may sample a few other sites over the next few days.

Sunday 25 December 2022

Maybe I should have got this

 Over Xmas lunch today, I was alerted to yet another online chess variant. FPS Chess combines the strategy of chess with the madness of First Person Shooters (FPS). Instead of straight forward captures, it looks as though you have to fight mini-battles to determine who gets removed from the board. It is PvP (no computer bots), so the only downside is waiting around for an opponent.

It can be found at and at this stage, looks like it is free to play

Saturday 24 December 2022

Call me old fashioned

 I saw a suggestion from Magnus Carlsen that the future of chess is fast time limits and online events.  Call me old fashioned but I hope this is not going to be the case. My main objection is obviously aesthetic, in that higher quality games are played at slower time limits, but the other is more practical.

If the events are played online, new players will struggle to get a look in, Why? Because without an existing OTB track record,  there will be an assumption that they are cheating. And if there is a decline in OTB events, where will they get this track record? Combine this with the fact that fast chess leads to more superficial styles of play, then even if they start with OTB blitz and rapid, they will struggle to match players who have greater experience at longer forms of chess. 

So not really a fan!

Thursday 22 December 2022

Who am I reading?

 After another periodic update of my chess book collection, I decided to look at which authors were well represented in my collection. 

It may not come as a surprise that Fred Reinfeld is at the top of list, although this probably reflects the quantity, rather than quality of his work. Second place is GM Raymond Keene, again another prolific author. However the next two authors on my list are both prolific, but at least in my case, regularly read. GM John Nunn comes in third place with  19 books, and I usually have one or two of his books at hand (including one I was working with today). Close behind is Andrew Soltis (17), which reflects his recent publication record (it seems like a new book every 6 months), and the fact that the seem to appear at my local book shop on a regular basis.

IM Gary Lane is in 5th place, carrying the torch for Australian authors, although the majority of his works were done when he played under another flag. I was surprised by the fact I also have 14 titles by GM Neil McDonald, as this kind of snuck up on me. I didn't realise I had purchased that many, but the quality and readability of his books is very high. Indeed, my latest purchase "Chess: The Art of Logical Thinking", is a real find, as it is a modern take on Chernev's classic "Logical Chess: Move by Move". 

Monday 19 December 2022

A close finish

 Two very close finishes occurred in sport today. The slightly more well known one was the win by Argentina against France in the World Cup (3-3 followed by 4-2 on penalties). The other was Nakamura beating Carlsen 14.5-13.5 on the 2002 Speed Chess Championship (on This is Nakamura's 5th win in this event, showing he is quite good at this format.

I suspect both matches were very exciting for those who were able to watch the games (I confess I missed both due to the early morning starts). 

However the best take away for me was a comment I saw on Facebook (which probably came from somewhere else). "What will English fans do when England win the World Cup? Switch off the Playstation and go to bed" 

Saturday 17 December 2022

2022 ACT Rapidplay Championship - Results

 Harry Press is the 2022 ACT Rapidplay Champion, winning the 56 player event with 6.5/7. He started with 6 wins before agreeing to a short final round draw with Jonah Gear. Tied for 2nd were Fred Litchfield and FM Michael Kethro on 6/7. Gear won the Under 1800 prize with 5.5/7, while there was a 5 way tie for the Under 1200 prize, including Street Chess veteran, Sunny Yoon.

The turn out was the largest ever for this event, and the largest group of players for a Street Chess run event. Thanks to the assistance of a number of players in helping set up and pack away, the event did very well to only run 30 minutes over time!

If you are interested in seeing the final crosstable, it is available at the ACT Chess Association website.

Friday 16 December 2022

A far sighted move

 One of the difficulties in playing a GM is that almost every move they play is exact. Even in positions where there seems to be a choice of moves, the move chosen seems to be the move required by the position.

In this recent game, White looks to win without much effort, albeit due to Black missing White's real intentions at a number of points. But playing through the game, I was struck by how important 10.e5 was in the overall scheme of things. White's whole game revolved around the squares the pawn controlled, forcing Black to make a number of concessions to deal with it's surprising power. Given that it was only the 4th or 5th best choice for Deep Fritz, I do wonder if Safarli was already planning how the game might finish when choosing this move.


Safarli,Eltaj (2616) - Wecker,Martin (2150) [B30]
Chessable Sunway Sitges (1.19), 12.12.2022

Thursday 15 December 2022

Getting adopted

 As I am not as young as I used to be, I'm not up with the lingo that young people use. But one phrase I did pick up over the last few years is 'Getting adopted'. Apparently this refers to losing 10 games in a row against a particular opponent, although it is mainly used in online chess.

It has popped up recently because GM Fabiano Caruana  was 'adopted' by GM Magnus Carlsen during the 2022 Speed Chess Championship on In their Quarter Final match, Carlsen won 22-4, including 11 wins in a row during the 3m+1s and 1m+1s portions of the match. The other amazing thing about this match was that Carlsen did not lose a game, with Caruana drawing 8 games and losing the other 18.


Tuesday 13 December 2022

2022 ACT Rapidplay Championship - 17 December 2022

 The 2022 ACT Rapidplay Championship is being held on the 17th December 2022 at 11am at King O'Malley's, City Walk, Canberra.

Details are:

  • Venue - King O'Malley's, City Walk, Canberra ACT (inside City Walk Arcade if it is raining)
  • Date - 17 December 2022 11:00am (Entries from 10:30am to 10:55 am)
  • Entry Fee - $10 adults, $5 juniors (under 18)
  • Prizes - $150 1st + other prizes ($350 in prizes were awarded in 2021)
  • Rounds - 7
  • Time control - G/15m
  • ACF Rated 
  • ACTCA/ACTJCL Membership reqd - 2023 membership can be paid here
(* I am a paid official for this event *)

Sunday 11 December 2022

I have books (for Xmas)

 ** This is a shameless commercial **

If you are looking for a fantastic XMAS present for your children, other peoples children, nephews, nieces or even for yourself, then I have a deal for you.

I have a large collection of Gambit "Chess ... for Kids" books. The titles are

  • Chess Openings for Kids
  • Chess Opening Traps for Kids
  • Chess Tactics for Kids
  • Chess Endgames for Kids
  • Chess Strategy for Kids
  • Chess Puzzles for Kids
  • Chess For Children
I am letting them go for $20 each, but if you grab 3 it will be $50 and $80 for 5. At this stage this offer is just for the local Canberra chess community but I can post them (depending upon postage charges).

Interestingly, I have already sold a few sets of 5 (the first 5 listed above), but to adult players rather than kids. The main reason for this is that a couple of books (Chess Strategy for Kids and Chess Endgames for Kids) are actually just good introductory books for all ages. 

As with most books that teach you chess, the work you put into working through them is the real key to improvement. In this case the content is broken up into smaller chunks, making progress a lot easier to track.

If you do want to grab a book (or a set) just shoot me an email at

Friday 9 December 2022

Winding down for Christmas?

 When I first started playing club chess, the local clubs always had around a 6 week break at Christmas time. Finish just before Christmas, and then restart in February. When I found this wasn't common in other Australian cities I was somewhat surprised. 

Fast forward 40 years and it isn't that common in Canberra either. Certainly Street Chess has always run non stop during the holidays (with the exception of Saturday being the 25th), and both eh Canberra Chess Club, and the Tuggeranong Chess Club stating in mid January. Only the Gungahlin Chess Club has stuck to the old traditions, with a late January restart on the calendar. 

But it seems there is going to be plenty of chess over the holidays, with the Australian Open in Perth from the 2nd to the 10th of Jan, the Oceania Zonal in Melbourne  from the 23rd to the 28th Jan, and the Australian Junior from the 12th to the 20th of Jan. And if you are in Canberra, the ACT Rapid Championship is on the 17th December from 11am to 2:30 pm

Thursday 8 December 2022

Capturing thin air

 The idea of targeting and occupying weak squares can be a strange concept when coaching younger players. Having been instructed to look for checks and captures,  being asked to now look to 'capture squares' can be confusing. In some instances such advice will be ignored, but in other cases, it can lead to over thinking, where more substantial targets are ignored. 

In trying to locate a good example, I cam across this very fine game by Botvinnik against Donner. Occupying c6 with a knight is clearly the goal, but fortunately, it creates enough direct threats that the concept of 'good pieces lead to good tactics' is also easy to show.

Botvinnik,Mikhail - Donner,Jan Hein [A14]
Amsterdam GAK Amsterdam (4), 15.12.1963

Monday 5 December 2022

The Ironman

 I have just updated the Street Chess tournament statistics ( Although the tournament has now been running for 30 years, the stats only cover the time when pairings were done by computer (2009). Looking through them I realised I missed one significant milestone last Saturday.

Oscar Hellman (who has been playing almost every Saturday since Street Chess started) racked up his 3000 tournament game. Noting that this is only based on games since 2009, I suspect the real total is closer to 7000 games! Close behind him is Miles Patterson (2800 games), although Patterson's pre-2009 career is shorter than Hellman's

Saturday 3 December 2022

More things that are not chess

 I've hit a bit of a dry spell with this blog lately. I suspect the main reason is that the effects of covid on OTB chess are still being felt. This has resulted in more online events (which I don't really follow), and faster/shorter events, which I don't take that seriously. 

The other reason is that paradoxically, having more free time (due to retirement) has resulted in me having less free time. I've ended up doing a lot more coaching than ever before, which makes it harder for me to organise the time for other (important) tasks. The knock-on effect is that instead of chess being an alternative to work, it is just part of my work.

On the bright side, I finally knocked off all the possible achievements at Faster Than Light (FTL). I managed this in part because things like FTL are now the break from chess, that chess used to be!

Thursday 1 December 2022

The end of Movember

 A big thanks to everyone who contributed to my Movember fundraiser this year. Thanks to a last minute anonymous donation, I hit the $500 target that I set at the start of the month. This was also helped by the Street Chess tournament on Saturday, so a big thanks to everyone who took part.

Now the only remaining task is to shave it off in anticipation for next year!

Sunday 27 November 2022

A variation on a theme

 The 2022 World Seniors has just finished with GM Zurab Sturua winning the Over 50, GM John Nunn winning the Over 65,  WGM Elvira Berend winning the Over 50 Women's title, and GM Nona Gaprindashvili winning the Women's Over 65 title (her 8th Senior world championship!).

Playing through some of the games I cam across this interesting brevity. It is almost a 'Greek Gift' sacrifice, but only if the soldiers charged first, and then the horse was dragged through the gates. By that I mean, after the sacrifice on h7 was played, the Queen checked first, before the cavalry arrived. In fact Black gave up after the queen check, which i think was a little premature. Certainly White is winning, but there isn't a direct mate.

Raynes,Paul (2205) - Pastor Alonso De Prado,Alberto (2026) [D02]
30th World Senior Chess Championship 202 Assisi (ITA) (5.25), 19.11.2022

Thursday 24 November 2022

Street Chess Movember Fundraiser 26 November

 This Saturday is the annual Movember Fundraiser at Street Chess in Canberra. All entry fees will be donated to Movember, and there will be some extra give aways for best scoring (and best looking moustaches). And if you don't have time to grow a mo, I will accept drawn on or pasted on versions.

Come along to City Walk, Canberra City (outside King O'Malley's) from 10:45 to register. Entry is $10 for rated players, $5 for unrateds and $1 for Under 16 years. 

If you can't make it, I am also happy to accept donations at

Well calculated

 One of the more spectacular games from the 2022 Vikings Weekender was the round 2 match up between Fred Litchfield and Glenn Ingham. Litchfield demonstrated the adage that 'good moves come from good positions' by finding a winning queen sacrifice in a position that was already in his favour. But while most of the combination relied on checks and captures, there was still the necessity to find a quite move or two, which Litchfield did.

Litchfield,Fred - Ingham,Glenn [D30]
2022 Vikings Weekender Canberra, Australia (2.4), 19.11.2022

Tuesday 22 November 2022

2022 World Team Championship

 The number of international events is on the increase, which is surely a good sign. One big event currently running is the World Team Championship. 

This years event sees a new (and faster) format, with 2 groups of 6 teams, qualifying for an 8 team KO final. The big change is with the time limit, as the games are now played at 45m+10s, with 2 rounds per day. I must confess I am not a fan of this change, in part because I worry that this may become a suggested new time control for the chess Olympiad. 

After 4 of the 5 preliminary rounds, most of the usual suspects are in the lead. China is leading one group, which they would fine satisfying, as they did not attend the Olympiad this year. The other group is led by Uzbekistan, which sets up a potential China-Uzbekistan final. The other surprise is the USA sitting in last place in their group, although the team bears no resemblance to their Olympiad team. is the link you want to click on to follow all the action. 

Sunday 20 November 2022

2022 Vikings Weekender - IM Junta Ikeda wins

 IM Junta Ikeda has won the 2022 Vikings Weekender, with an undefeated 5.5/6. He won his round 5 and 6 games today, to finish half a point ahead of IM Stephen Solomon. Solomon was tied with Ikeda going into the final round, but could only draw with Fred Litchfield, after getting a worse position out of the opening. Queensland junior Micah Young finished in 3rd placed, defeating Macau Olympiad player CM Hui Li in the final round.

The Minor was won by James Minogue and Nick Beare, on 5/6. The two winners drew their round 5 game, leaving Minogue half a point in front going into the final round. However Beare was able to catch Minogue with a crushing win over Jerry Cheng, with Minogue only drawing with Andrew He.

The 50 player event saw a lot of interesting chess. The time limit of 60m+30s saw an improvement in endgame play, compared to the previous 60m+10s format. And the move to 3 rounds on the Saturday saw a drop in the number of bye requests, as well as giving players longer breaks between each round. 

Full results from the tournament, plus replays of the top games are available at

Beare,Nick - Cheng,Jerry [B07]
2022 Vikings Minor 20.11.2022

Saturday 19 November 2022

2022 Vikings Weekender - Day 2

 At the end of the 2nd day of the 2022 Vikings Weekender, 3 players share the lead on 3.5/4. The top 2 seeds, IM Junta Ikeda and IM Stephen Solomon drew their round 4 game to reach 3.5, where they were joined by Oladoyin Fasakin, who also drew in the last round of the day. His opponent, Matt Radisich, is one of the surprise packets of the event, have reached 3/4, despite being seeded 11th at the start. Also on 3 points are CM Hui Li, Fred Litchfield and Queensland junior Harvey Zhu.

In the Minor event James Minogue leads with 4/4. He reached this score with a careful win against top seed Kamal Jain, nursing home his final pawn while trying to avoid a K+N+B v K ending (Jain was trying to sacrifice his knight for the last pawn). Nick Beare and Peter Cai share 2nd place on 3.5, with Minogue playing Beare in tomorrows first .round.

All the action begins at 10:15 tomorrow (Canberra time), with live coverage of the top 4 games available at

2022 Vikings Weekend - Day 1

 The Vikings Weekender has always been a bit of a hidden gem on the Australian Weekend circuit. Run in 2 sections, it usually attracts between 50 to 70 players, has a fairly strong set of regular players (1 or 2 IM's, plus assorted 2000+ players), good prize money ($3000+) and an excellent venue. Unlike the more crowded events elsewhere, it always has a somewhat relaxed feel about it, even when players are striving for prizes and rating points.

This year event has attracted 50 players, which might have been more if some of the players who had entered early had not pulled out. The top section is larger than the Under 1600 section (!), with IM Junta Ikeda and IM Stephen Solomon the headline acts. Both players won in the first round, although Solomon had to find a nice finish to secure his point. FM Michael Kethro played the longest game of the round, winning a tricky rook and pawn ending against David Esposito on Board 3. There were a couple of upsets and one draw, which shows how difficult events like this can be. The Minor event (Under 1600) saw fewer upsets, although Linda Qiang beat local player Roy Teymant. 

Round 2 starts at 10:15 am tomorrow, with 3 rounds (at 60m+30s) being played on Saturday. At this stage the top 2 boards are being broadcast, although that should be increased to 4 (assuming I can source some replacement hardware). The full results, parings and links to live coverage can be found at 

(** I am a paid arbiter for this event **)

Friday 18 November 2022

2022 World Seniors

 The 2022 World Seniors has just begun in Italy, and as is normal, there are a mix of well known players and enthusiastic amateurs. It is being run in two section, 50+ and 65+, and somewhat surprisingly, there are more players in the 65+ section than the 50+ section.

Top seed on the 65+ section is GM John Nunn, who started the event with a smooth, and somewhat instructive win over his first round opponent.

Nunn,John D M (2580) - Sursock,Sameer (1976) [B28]
30th World Senior Chess Championship 202 Assisi (ITA) (1.1), 15.11.2022

Thursday 17 November 2022

New FIDE Commissions

While this may be of minor interest to the wider chess community, FIDE have announced the new Commissions for 2022-26. There has been quite a shakeup, with a number of new commission chairmen and secretaries. In some cases previous chairman have been moved to other commissions, while in others, new appointments have been made.

In my own case I have moved from Rules Commission (where I was a member/councillor) to the Qualifications Commission, as Secretary. This commission is responsible for both Titles and Ratings, as well as Transfers. 

The full details of new commission members can be found at , while what each FIDE Commission is responsible for is listed at

Monday 14 November 2022

2022 Vikings Weekender - Reminder

 The 2022 Vikings Weekender begins this Friday (18th November), and there are still a few places left (13 at the time of posting this). As space at the venue is limited, there is a hard cap of 60 players, across 2 sections. Surprisingly it is the Under 1600 section that has fewer players, with the Open section looking quite strong.

The tournament is a 6 round swiss, with 1 round on the Friday, 3 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. The time limit is 60m+30s and both sections (Open and Under 1600) will be FIDE rated.

Full details at (or

Saturday 12 November 2022

Hilton Bennett (1955 - 2022)

 Absolutely tragic new from New Zealand. Hilton Bennett has passed away at the age of 67. He suffered a serious heart attack a few days ago, and despite the best efforts of medical staff, he never regained consciousness, and died today (12 November).

For those that knew Hilton, he was one of the genuinely good guys of chess. He was an avid player and organiser, a serious book collector, and someone with an absolute love of the game. I knew him for over 20 years, crossing paths at various tournaments (the last just 3 weeks ago), and working together on a number of chess projects. 

He was a frequent participant in Australian chess events (including a number of Doeberl Cups), a familiar face at chess Olympiads (as a NZ team captain, or team supporter), and a constant presence at the major New Zealand events. He was a strong player, earning his CM title in 2013, as well as being an International Organiser and FIDE Trainer. In his last major tournament, the 2022 Asian Seniors 65+ he finished equal 3rd, missing out on an FM title on countback. 

His passing will be greatly felt, not just in New Zealand, but in the world wide chess community.

Bennett,Hilton Petrie (2134) - Kanikevich,Alexander (2410) [B02]
Doeberl Cup 45th Canberra (2), 06.04.2007

Thursday 10 November 2022

ACT Interschool 2022

 I've had a hectic few weeks,  finishing up the 2022 ACT Interschool Championships. Due to covid related issues, the various sections finished a lot later in the year than usual, which has caused some issues with playoffs etc.

Overall it was a successful year, with one of the highlights being the 94 player final for the Girls Primary Section, which was the biggest single event for any section this year.

The winning teams in each section were

Primary Girls : Kaleen Primary

Primary Open: Majura Primary

Secondary Girls: Merici College

Secondary Open : Canberra Grammar

There were also playoffs* to select the ACT representatives for the Australian Schools Teams Championship, and surprisingly, in the Open sections, went to the teams that finished second in the school finals. Kaleen beat Majure 4.5-3.5, while Radford College beat Grammar 5-3.

Congratulations to all the winning teams, and well done to everyone who took part.

(*The playoffs are played at the same time limit as the ASTC, rather than at the G/15m time limit used for local interschool)

Tuesday 8 November 2022

I think I have turned 40 (as a chessplayer)

 I'm pretty sure my 40th anniversary as a tournament chess player is coming up, in a few days. Unfortunately my first events were 'Allegro' tournaments, and so I don't have game scores. 

What I do remember is turning up to the Woden Chess Club towards the end of 1982. On the first night there was an interclub event taking place, so I just played casual games, which I lost quite badly.

The next week they started an Allegro event, which was 4 rounds a night with a time limit of G/15m. I started off with 0/8 but eventually recovered to finish on 4/15. Combing through back issues of the Canberra Times, it appears that this event started on the 9th or possibly the 16th of November. 

As the format was a time handicap event, it might be said that wasn't a real tournament, and if so, the 1982 ACT Junior Championship would then be my first proper tournament. After that it was a slow climb (last in the 1983 Australian Junior), but certainly an enjoyable one.

Saturday 5 November 2022

Opening the doors

 I saw two separate chess events in the last 2 days which show that if you hold chess events, you will find chess players.

The first was in Port Moresby, where GM Nigel Short is visiting as part of his new role as FIDE Director of Chess Development. Although the main purpose of his visit (which includes another 6 countries), is to talk to Federations, there is also a PR component to the trip. He played a 20 board simul at the Vision City Mall, attracting a crowd in the hundreds to watch. With PNG chess affected by Covid for the past 2 and a half years, getting such a crowd to spectate was a fantastic result.

The second was at Street Chess today. Whether it was the weather (in that it wasn't raining), or for other less tangible reasons, a bumper crowd of 39 players took part. Most pleasing was the number of new players who turned up, trying tournament chess for the first time. For most, it was a return to chess having stopped playing in high school, while for others it was the move from school chess to 'proper' chess.

In both cases, the main take away was an appreciation from all involved that having events like this was what inspired them to take it to the next level.

Thursday 3 November 2022

A daring choice

 FM Albert Winkelman took part in the just completed 2022 Asian Continental Championship. A good start saw him in with a chance of an IM norm, but a final round loss meant he fell a little short. As a consolation he did pick up around 30 rating points, as well as scoring a couple of highly rated scalps.

On such scalp came in the following game, where a daring sacrificial idea paid off. Usually sacrificing a knight for 2 pawns after h3-g4 isn't as good as it looks, but in this case it was barely worse than simply retreating the bishop. So much so, that one wrong move from his opponent, and Winkelman was winning quite easily. However the road to victory isn't always easy, and a missed opportunity gave his opponent a narrow drawing path, which was missed. After that it was plain sailing

Shahil,Dey (2395) - Winkelman,Albert (2229) [C55]
Asian Continental Chess Championship-202 New Delhi (4.37), 29.10.2022

Tuesday 1 November 2022

2023 O2C Doeberl Cup

 Entries for the 2023 O2C Doeberl Cup are now open, and if you visit you will see that there have been some big changes made to the tournament.

The most significant one is the addition of an extra section (The Mini), which is for players rated below 1500 (ACF). Connected with that is the change in the rating limits for the Major (now Under 2100), and the Minor (now Under 1800). The reason for this is to balance the numbers in each event, and to make the pairings a little more sensible. The prizes for the Major and Minor are unchanged, while the Mini adds an extra $1700 to the overall prize pool.

The always popular Blitz event also sees an increase in the prize pool, with 1st prize being increased to $500. With the extra prizes added further down, the total prizes for the Blitz is now $1290. Entry fees remain unchanged from previous years, although there has been a change to the withdrawal policy (due to events filling up quickly, and then player withdrawing just before the cutoff).

The regulations concerning tournament eligibility have been simplified, with players able to use either there ACF or FIDE rating to move to a higher section (if allowed). Now to qualify for the Premier, you need to either have an ACF rating above 1900, or a FIDE rating above 1900. This also applies to the lower sections.

The venue is the same (Southern Cross Club, Woden), but with the expected increase in players for 2023, it is hoped some extra rooms can be allocated to the event.

(** Disclaimer: I am the Chief Organiser of this event ** )

Monday 31 October 2022

2022 Vikings Weekender

 A reminder to get your entries in for the 2022 Vikings Weekender on the weekend of the 18th, 19th and 20th. Due to space restrictions the event is capped at 60 players, and 50% of the seats are already sold. 

The venue is the Vikings Club at Condor ACT, and it will be a 6 round 60m+30s FIDE rated event, run in 2 sections. To enter, just visit

Friday 28 October 2022

Entry points

 In Michael Stean's classic "Simple Chess" he points out that open files don't always operate on a "first come, first serve" basis. As Nimzovitch first pointed out, the role of the open file is to get your rook to the 7th or 8th rank. 

In this game from the current Bangkok Open, GM Hrant Melkumyan demonstrates this quite effectively, opening a file that his opponent already has a rook on, but one without entry points into Black's position. After the Black rook moves to b8, it is Black that not only takes over the b file, but also the 7th and 8th ranks. After that, White is forced to defend a host of weak pawns, which eventually, he is unable to do.

Markovitz,Neil (1962) - Melkumyan,Hrant (2645) [A37]
20th Bangkok Chess Club Open 2022 Shangri-La Chiang Mai Hotel, C (1.2), 22.10.2022

Wednesday 26 October 2022

Examples of Master Play

 In the pre-computer days, the most common way to improve at chess was to study games played by stronger players. So entrenched was this method that most "How to Play Chess" books included a collection of master games, usually with very light annotations. 

One example was from the Meises update to RF Green's "Chess". It included 33 games, including the following early example, from 1834. Given the lack of notes (or analysis) for the game, I suspect the expectation was that the reader would play through the game, and basically improve by self realisation. While this may sound unrealistic today, it was a method that seemed to work.

De Labourdonnais,Louis Charles Mahe - McDonnell,Alexander [D20]
Match Labourdonnais-McDonnell(3) +6-5=1 London (5), 1834

Tuesday 25 October 2022

Old computers - old website?

 While doing some research on older model chess computers I came across The Spacious Mind webpage. it is dedicated to old desktop chess computers and vintage software, and looks to be a good resource for anyone interested. The only issue is that it seems somewhat incomplete, with around half the pages "Coming Soon". Also the design is a little 1990's, which has me wondering if it is deliberately going for the 'retro' feel, or it really is just very, very old.

Sunday 23 October 2022

2022 ACT Teams Championship

 After a break of 2 years, the ACT Teams Championship returned for 2022. Once again it was a 7 round Rapid (15m+5s) and 12 teams took part (well 11 + a scratch team to avoid the bye). A number of teams took their chess seriously, a few teams took their outfits seriously, and at least one team did both! 

The winning team was King Charles III, which consisted of CM Hui Li, Charles Huang, Larry Cheng and Jerry Cheng. They finished half a point ahead of The Wise Guys, who did in fact win the prize for Best Dressed Teams. In third place was Bishop's Monarchy, which like KCIII was a junior heavy team.

Tuggeranong Chess Club won the Larko Cup for the best official Club team, beating the Canberra Chess Club on countback.

The event was enjoyed by all who took part, and will almost certainly run next year, with a bigger turnout expected.

Friday 21 October 2022

2022 Asian Seniors - Early results

While some games are still in progress, early results from the 2022 Asian Seniors have determined a lot of the top places. 

The over 50 event saw a number of quick draws on the top boards, leaving IM Gary Lane in outright first on 8/9. In 2nd place was FM Arlan Cabe (PHI) with 7, and FM Alexi Kulashko (NZL) in third place on 6. Both 2nd and third also earn IM norms, which might be enough for Kulashko to claim the title, as he had some previous norms for the New Zealand Championships. 

In the Over 65 event FM Efren Bagamasbad took a quick draw to secure first place on 7.5/9. Miles Patterson defeated David Lovejoy to finish outright 2nd on 7/9, while third place still depends on a couple of games currently in progress. For Bagamasbad, the win earns him an IM title, as he had previously been rated well above the required 2200 lifetime rating in the past. Patterson earns his first IM norm for his 2nd place, while the third place getter will also collect an IM norm. 

As for myself, I took a short draw in the final round, in part influenced by trying to finish in positive territory (3 wins, 4 draws, 2 losses), as well as a long game the previous day.

Ebenezer,Joseph - Press,Shaun
2022 Asian Seniors

Thursday 20 October 2022

Things are crook in Tallarook

 There is one round left to play in the 2022 Asian Seniors, but the event has been hit by a covid outbreak. Round 8 saw a number of games unplayed (won/lost on forfeit) and it is unclear who will make it for the final round.

As things stand IM Gary Lane holds a one point lead with 7.5/8 in the Over 50 event. The only player who can catch him is FM Arlan Cabe, who is on 6.5. FM Alexei Kulashko is in 3rd place on 6 points, and is hoping to finish in the top 3 to collect his 4th (or 5th) IM norm.

In the over 65 event FM Efrem Bagamasbad also holds a 1 point lead, on 7/8. Miles Patterson is a point behind on 6, with FM Bob Smith and Hilton Bennett on 5.5. 

There has been a draft set of pairings released for both events, but this may change, depending on RAT's and other factors.

Tuesday 18 October 2022

A glorious swindle

 The charm of events like Asian Seniors (apart from the chess), is the social get together.Tony Dowden is currently playing this event, and doing quite well.  On the way to dinner one evening he recounted the time he pulled off an outrageous swindle against IM Alex Wohl. As he tells it, decided to offer a hot pawn, which Wohl took. The follow up was to offer up the exchange, which Wohl, also took. He then 'allowed' his bishop to be trapped, which Wohl should not have done. After Wohl played the fateful move, Dowden unleashed Qxf2+, which lead to a forced mate. 'Oh, that's mate' was Wohl's final reply.

Wohl, Aleks - Dowden, Tony
New Zealand Championship

2022 Asian Seniors - My first win

 After 4 rounds of the 2022 Asian Seniors I am 1.5/4. I lost in the first round to IM Gary Lane, drew my 2nd round, and won my third round game. Sadly my upwards trajectory did not continue, losing in round 4 to Gordon Morrell. At the time I thought I was just being outplayed (which I was), but I did miss a somewhat obvious saving move towards the end, which I saw but dismissed due to overthinking the position.

Here is my third round game, where I won a pawn in the middlegame, and eventually a second going into a Queen ending. These can be very difficult to play, even materially ahead, and my opponent certainly tried everything he could to hold the draw.  However once I started marching my king up the board it turned out my checks were more damaging than his.

(NB I am including the game as a gif, as an experiment to see how it works on this blog)


Ha, Timothy - Press,Shaun

2022 Asian Seniors, Round 3

Sunday 16 October 2022

2022 Asian Seniors

 3 rounds have been completed in the 2022 Asian Seniors, with IM Gary Lane the outright leader in the 50 years and over event, while FM Efrem Bagamasbad and Miles Patterson are joint leaders in the 65 years and Over event.

Lane beat FM Leonard McLaren in the morning round and FM Arlan Cabe in the afternoon round. He leads IM Anthony Ker, FM Alexei Kulashko and IM Paul Garbett by half a point. In tomorrows round, Lane is playing Kulashko on the top board.

The 65 and Over event saw, a couple of upsets on the top boards, with Bagamasbad beating FM Ewen Green, and Patterson beating FM Bob Smith. Oddly, the two leaders do not play each other tomorrow, as both a white in rounds 2 and 3, and cannot receive a third white in a row.

If you wish to follow the tournament, the best link is

There is a link to the crosstables, as well to the live games being carried on lichess.

Friday 14 October 2022

2022 World Junior

 The 2022 World Junior Championship is being held on the island of Sardinia, Italy (somewhere I have always wanted to visit). There are 2 Australian representatives, FM Albert Winkelman in the Open, and Jody Middleton in the Girls.

After 3 rounds, Winkelman is on 2/3, winning in both rounds 2&3. He defeated IM Jagadeesh Siddarth, and will play IM Jose Veiga in round 4. Having started the event playing 3 IM's in 4 rounds, Winkelman is already well placed to aim for an IM norm from this tournament.

Middleton is on 1/3, having also playing a tough (and titled) field. Showing the strength of this tournament, her round 4 opponent is 2138 WFM Laman Hajiyeva. 

You can follow the event at

Wednesday 12 October 2022

3rd GM norm for Raymond Song

 IM Raymond Song looks to have had a productive trip to Europe, scoring his 2nd and 3rd GM norms over the northern summer.  In June he tied for 1st in the Silver Lake Open (Serbia) with 7/9, with a 2603 performance rating. After a few more events, he scored his 3rd norm at the October First Saturday event in Budapest, finishing on 7/9 and performing at 2610. 

Song, who formerly played for Australia (and NZ), now represents Chinese Taipei and only needs to get his rating above 2500 to confirm the title. Currently he is just short (by 3 points if I can add up correctly), and should be able to get his live rating above 2500 at his next event.

Tuesday 11 October 2022

I never had the guts

 Early on in my career I used to play the Scotch Gambit line of the Italian quite a lot (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd 4.Bc4). The idea was to aim for a Two Knights Defence as White, while avoiding the mainlines of the Italian game. One game that was given as a guide on what not to do was Meek v Morphy, where Meek played 5.Ng5 after 4. ... Bc5. As Morphy won brilliantly, the conventional wisdom was 'Do not play this opening'. And when I did face this line as White I chose the safer 5.O-O 

It appears that conventional wisdom may have wrong about this, as Awonder Liang belted Lev Aronian with this exact line. He even played the same sacrifice as Meek (adorned with a ? by Yusopov and others), and instead of losing like Meek, went on to win! Most impressively, he used the vey principals that propelled Morphy to victory, albeit from the other side of the board.

Liang,Awonder (2608) - Aronian,Levon (2755) [C44]
U.S. Championship (5.2), 09.10.2022

Sunday 9 October 2022

Scisys beating

 As I have written previously, my first chess computer was a Scisys Chess Champion Pocket Chess. I credit this computer with helping learn a lot about chess in my early days, and I still have as part of my vintage chess computer collection.

However, as I got better at chess I began to beat it more easily, even on the harder levels. As an example here is a game I recently found in an old collection of scoresheets. It was set to level 6, which meant it thought for around 20 minutes a move, but event with this amount of thinking, it only lasted 12 moves.

Scisys - Press,Shaun [C50]
Computer Match, 1985

Friday 7 October 2022

Smooth as silk

 Here is another game from the 2022 European Club Cup. To my untrained eye, this is the kind of game that I wish I could play, even against club opposition, let alone titled players. White seems to have everything under control, even after sacrificing a pawn, and the win almost looks like it was inevitable from move 1. Of course it wasn't, but it does show the importance of piece activity out of the opening. A game worth studying and understanding.

Van Foreest,Jorden (2694) - Wedberg,Tom (2395) [E07]
37th European Club Cup (1.2), 03.10.2022

Thursday 6 October 2022

2022 European Club Cup

 The 2022 edition of the European Club Cup has attracted plenty of media attention, due in part to the participation of World Champion Magnus Carlsen and FIDE Deputy President Vishwanathan Anand. This year sees over 70 teams taking part in the Open and Women's section, in part due to the rule that each federation can send up to 5 teams. While this has increased the number of teams taking part, it has also seen a few Australian players sneak in as well. The Celtic Tigers team has both Fedja Zulfic and Chris Skulte playing for them, with the team scoring 1 win and 2 losses after 3 rounds. 

Round 2 saw Zulfic draw against his higher rated opponent, in a very combative game.

Zulfic,Fedja (2157) - Heinola,Vesa (2265) [B28]
37th European Club Cup (2.3), 04.10.2022

Tuesday 4 October 2022

When the pressure is off

 With chess players starting competitions at very young ages, it is always a balancing act between trying to get such players to behave in the correct 'chess' manner, and not to end up pushing them too hard. 

During a school holiday coaching day, I saw a couple of different approaches, that seem to have different results. The first was an older junior who seemed content to win as many games as possible using Scholars Mate. While it looked good on the scoreboard, it was also clear that he wasn't actually learning how to play better chess.

The second was a young player who was worried about coming last (or scoring poorly) in the blitz tournament we ran. As a compromise, I told him (and his opponents) that he was only playing 'friendly' games, although they were played at the same time limit as everyone else, and he was included in the tournament pairings. The only difference was that his opponents scored a point for the game, regardless of the real result. With the pressure off (and slightly easier pairings) he finished with 5 wins from the 7 games he played, and even composed a song to celebrate this fact!

Sunday 2 October 2022

2022 Vikings Weekender - Save the date

 2022 Vikings Weekender

18th, 19th and 20th November 2022

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 10:15am Round 3: Sat 2:15pm Round 4: Sat 6:15pm Round 5: Sun 10:15am Round 6:Sun 2:15pm

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

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

Maximum of 60 players

Lanyon Vikings is a Licenced club. Players under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult at all times in the upstairs gaming and bar areas. Please also note that bar/meals service will not be available until 11am.

Friday 18 November 2022 7:00 PM - Sunday 20 November 2022 7:00 PM (UTC+11)


Lanyon Vikings Club

Heidelberg St, Condor ACT 2906

Entries at

Friday 30 September 2022

2022 ACT Junior Chess Championship

 Phong Huynh is the 2022 ACT Junior Chess Champion, after surviving a tense final day of the competition. Sharing the overnight lead with Masaki Horikawa on 5/6, both players lost their round 7 games to open the tournament right up. Richard Ji then took the lead on 5.5/7, but a round 8 draw with Dev Raichura (and a 2nd loss of the day to Horikawa), left Huynh, Ji and Muhammed Yunus tied for 1st on 6/8. As they had already played each other, it came to to games against other opponents. Both Huynh and Ji won their games, while Yunus missed a tactic against ACT Girls Champion Shriya Karthik and resigned material down. Under the tournament tie-break rules, Huynh was awarded the 1st place trophy due to his win over Ji earlier in the tournament.

The 15 player tournament was hard fought, in part due to relatively closeness of the field. There were few easy games (even after a loss or two) and all but Ji suffered at least 2 losses.

The Championship was the final event of the of the ACTJCL age championships. The winners of the other events were

  • Under 8: Echo Feng
  • Under 10: Max Mao
  • Under 12: Charles Huang
  • Under 14: Masaki Horikawa

Huynh,Phong - Ji,Richard [A21]
ACT Junior Championship, 29.09.2022

Thursday 29 September 2022

Not sure what went right here

 Sometimes you reach the end of a game, and despite a positive result, you aren't exactly sure why. This happened to me in a recent game, albeit one that had missed chances for both sides. Maybe what went right was not getting hit with 30.Rxf6! which leads to a better position after 31. ... Bxf6 32.Rxf6 Rxf6 33.Ng4! Instead the 'automatic' 30.Bxf6 enabled me to exploit my advantage on the queenside, although even then, it was my turn to miss the winning tactic. Fortunately there was still enough to convert the ending into a full point.

Pearce,Tim - Press,Shaun [E81]
Gungahlin CC (3), 27.09.2022

Wednesday 28 September 2022

A position to know


White to play

An interesting position was reached during round 3 of the 2022 ACT Junior Championship. White was trying to hold a rook and pawn ending 2 pawns down, when an opportunity suddenly presented itself. As the king is almost stalemated, White had the chance to force a draw by playing Rf3+. If the rook is captured the game ends immediately, while if the king retreats to e5, then White can check on e3, wither pushing the king to the d file or back to the f file. With the king on the d file, the rook can now keep the king away from the pawns, and White can hold a draw. If the king returns to the f file, more checks drive the king behind the pawns, where checks from the side (after a move like Rb3 for White) also reach a drawn position.

Sadly for White, he  missed the stalemate trick and after that Black was able to win in the end. 

Tuesday 27 September 2022

2022 ACT Under 14 Chanpionships

 Today saw the finish to the 2022 ACT Under 14 Championships. The field of 21 players was a mixture of established junior talent, and enthusiastic newcomers.  In the end the tournament was dominated by Masaki Horikawa and Charles Huang, who tied for 1st on 5.5/6. The subsequent playoff game was drawn, meaning that Horikawa won the Under 14 trophy on countback. As this event was combined with the Under 12 Championship, Huang collected that prize, meaning he has won the ACT Under 8's, 10's 14's and now the 12's over the last few years.

While some of the field was there for serious competition, the real highlight for most were the endless games of bughouse played between the rounds. Normally I frown on such frivolity as a chief arbiter, but as pretty much did the same thing when I was a junior I decided to let it slide this one time. There was even an informal bughouse event at the end of the day, with the tournament winners (Horikawa and Huang) teaming up together to win that as well.

Sunday 25 September 2022

Try and avoid this

 This example probably falls under the heading of "Do as I do, not as I say". I've always told young players to spend their time on understanding openings, rather than simply memorising moves. On the other hand, when I was young, I spent a lot of time memorising lines, especially lines which contained a number of traps. If White had followed my example, but not my advice, they may not have had their queen trapped so quickly. 

White - Black
Street Chess, 24.09.2022


 This years AFL grand Final has been run and done, with the Sydney Swans getting smashed by Geelong. During (or after) the coverage, I did see an advertisement for an insurance company which had a bit of chess in it. AFL legend Kevin Sheedy was one of the players, although the game was halted when someone ran through the game, smashing board, table, pieces etc. I'd post a link but I can't find one at the moment. 

If anyone does have a link, please post in the comments section.

Thursday 22 September 2022

2022 ACT Teams Championship

 After a break of a few years, the 2022 ACT Teams Championship is being held on Sunday, 23rd October, at Campbell High School. It will be a team of 4 tournament, played with a time limit of G15m+5s. It will be FIDE rated (Rapid) and there will be 7 rounds. Cost for the team is $10 per player, with trophies and medals being awarded. The last time it was held (in 2019) there were 10 teams, and hopefully this year will see more players (especially given the larger numbers at each of the clubs).

One interesting innovation this year is that a teams average rating is based on Boards 2,3 and 4 (and not board 1). The average limit is 1700, but this rule means you can have a strong board 1 player without forcing the team to have a lower rated board 4 (or even 3 and 4). The idea is to encourage some 'creative' recruitment, or simply to get the higher rated ACT players to turn out.

The event is being organised by IA Alana Chibnall (  ) and teams can enter by contacting her. If you don't have a team and want to play anyway, you can still enter, and extra teams will be formed on the day.


Tuesday 20 September 2022

Apparently 2.c4 doesn't win instantly

 Following the latest opening theory I tried to finish tonight's game with 2.c4. Instead my opponent decided to resist for a few more moves, but eventually the pawer of the c pawn did the business.

Press,Shaun - Cheng,Larry [E65]
Gungahlin CC (6), 20.09.2022

Monday 19 September 2022

Activity not age

 Former World Champion Garry Kasparov had a tough time of it in the Chess 960 event in St Louis, finishing with a single draw over 9 games. He did acknowledge that the main reason for his showing was a lack of recent activity. 

Usually a decline in ability is attributed to the effects of aging, but it is more likely that simply playing less is the real culprit. Both Korchnoi and Smyslov were able to play high level chess well into their 70's, outlasting much younger players who had retired earlier.

The JB Generation Cup is currently running, pitting new stars against old. Although the younger generation looks to have the upper hand, 53 year old Vasyl Ivanchuk did strike a blow for the seniors, with a good win over Anish Giri.

Ivanchuk,Vasyl (2678) - Giri,Anish (2740) [E51]
Julius Baer Generation Cup | Prelims (3.1), 18.09.2022

Sunday 18 September 2022

Grumpy old man

 In looking for articles for this blog, I usually have a few rough guidelines. They should be about chess (but not always), I should find them interesting (even if you do not), I try and avoid 'clickbait' (which I can usually do), and there should be at least one game on the front page.

So I went looking for an interesting game from recent events, and have run into an issue. While a lot more chess is being played and recorded than at any time previously, there is a lot more chaff to sift through. A lot of the online games (even played by strong players) are decided by blatant mistakes, or attempts to trick opponents into pre-moving the wrong response. This is both a function of the time controls (blitz or bullet), but also due to the method of play. In the case of a couple of OTB events I looked through, the data seemed incomplete, in that there were an enormous number of games lasting less than 10 moves, but finishing in unclear positions. I assume data entry issues in this case.

As a result I came up short, but I have also resisted the urge to return to an earlier time. As an avid book collector (and reader), I appreciate more and more the printed word, in so much as there is a degree of quality control before publication. Having just started to read Keres' book on the 1948 World Championship, I am struck by the amount of description he has put into every game, versus the somewhat sterile centipawn evaluation that newer players are familiar with.  

Of course this makes me sound like a grumpy old man (hence the title), but for newer players, grabbing an older tournament book and playing through the games and notes still has a lot going for it.

Friday 16 September 2022

Upcoming Junior Events

 If you live in Canberra (or close enough to it) and are a junior player, then there are a number of events coming up.

The 2022 ACT Junior Championship is being held between the 26th and 30th September. It is being run in different age groups, but the format is designed to allow younger players to play more than one event. (Fun fact: I played in the 1982 ACT Junior Championship, my first serious event)

The following week is the Spring Bootcamp, which is a week of coaching and chess. On this case the events are Lightning, Rapid and Standard, and the schedule allows players to play in 1, 2 or all 3 events.

You can register for the Championship here, and for Bootcamp, here.

Wednesday 14 September 2022

Theory v Practice

 The new version of the FIDE Laws of Chess are to be published soon, and will go into effect on the 1st January 2023. As a member of the FIDE Rules Commission, I have been involved in a bit of proofreading, hopefully to eliminate any glaring errors in both language and meaning.

This stands in stark contrast to my experiences earlier in the day. Visiting one of the Canberra schools i coach at, I had a number of interesting rules explained to me by 5 and 6 year old chess players. The main thing they had in common was that the 'rules' allowed my opponents to escape from fairly dicey positions. One example was having played Qh4+ (as Black) to attack the White king on e1, I was told that my queen could be captured by h2-h4, as that's how pawns move. When I tried to explain the correct rule I was told 'No, this is the real rule'

Tuesday 13 September 2022


 For anyone who has tried to teach young kids how to play chess, the clip below is amazingly accurate.

Sunday 11 September 2022

2022 ACT Women's Championship

 WFM Alana Chibnall is the 2022 ACT Women's Champion, after winning todays tournament with a perfect 7 from 7. 25 players took part in the tournament, which has returned to the ACT chess calendar after a gap of 8 years. The tournament was a 7 round Rapid, with a time control of 15m+5s.

Tied for 2nd place were Shriya Karthik and Jo Mason, who finished 5.5, drawing their Round 6 game, after both losing to Chibnall earlier in the tournament. Unrated newcomer Kenisha Gaind won the Best Under 14 Years player, while 7 year old Echo Feng finished in a tie for 5th, and won the Best Under 12 Years player. With Gain picking up a medal for the Under 14 title, Claire Bradbery was the best Unrated player.

The tournament was sponsored by the ACT Junior Chess League, and all the players had an enjoyable day. There was a good mix of adult and junior players, with a number of players playing in there first non-school tournament. There were also a couple of players returning after a break of a number of years, including Jo Mason who tied for 2nd.

It is hoped that next years event will be a two day weekend event, with a longer time control, and a bigger prize pool. This year's tournament showed that such events can be successful, and with the ACT's reputation as the home of high quality events, a well funded Women's weekend event could be another such event.

Friday 9 September 2022

Spring Bookfair

 For those looking for good second hand chess books (in Canberra), this years Lifeline Bookfair has a good selection. There were around 30 books for sale when I passed through this morning, including a number that I already have in my own collection. I grabbed a couple of books (including a 2nd Edition of Basic Chess Endings by Reuben Fine), but I left plenty on the table. There was even at least one more box of books under the table, but the rules of etiquette frown on 'accidently' knocking it over!

The only issue for this year is that prices on some books have gone up. This may to be discourage commercial re-sellers from buying in bulk, or simply to reflect a fairer value, so it may be a more expensive trip if you decide to go. The Bookfair runs across the weekend, so there is still time to add to your collection.

Wednesday 7 September 2022

B+N v K

Moving on from the short games at the Olympiad, I decided to have a look at the longer ones. While waiting for the round to finish, I did witness a number of interesting endings, including R+B v R, N+R v R, and in the following game, K+N+B v K. 

White was winning in the late middlegame, but gave Black drawing chances once the ending was reached. However Black missed the best moves, and as his position crumbled, decided to sacrifice his last two pieces for the remaining pawns, hoping to escape in a B+N ending. However, White knew exactly how to play this, and only took 21 moves to checkmate Black. For those who have never played this ending, it is well worth studying the approach that White used, as real life positions can be different from text book positions usually given in ending manuals.

Berend,Fred (2307) - Gerena Rivas,Eliam (2102) [A45]
44th Olympiad Chennai 2022 Mahabalipuram, Chennai (10.1), 08.08.2022

Tuesday 6 September 2022

This is big

 The decision by Magnus Carlsen to withdrew from the 2022 Sinquefield Cup is big news, but the supposed reason behind it is definitely bigger news. Carlsen himself was very careful not say more than the minimum, but online commentators have been freely speculating about what happened in game against Hans Neimann.

At this stage I will not comment on whether the implied reason for withdrawing was valid, but I will point out that accusations of outside assistance seem to carry more weight if they come from a top 10 player than if they come from a lower rated player. Wesley So received a very quick hearing after his game against Petrosian in the online World Club Cup, but other cases have either taken longer to decide, or have been dismissed as 'sour grapes'.

Noting that all this has happened in the last 24 hours, it may be a few days or weeks before the full story comes out. 

Monday 5 September 2022

The Draw Master

 In the 2006 Chess Olympiad I went through the event with 1 win, 3 losses and 9 draws(!). On reflection this was probably too many draws, and I should have made a greater effort to convert my advantages. 

However this was topped by a player at a recent schools event I ran. The player in question drew his first 6 games, and was well on his way to a 7th draw when his opponent instead lost on time. What was remarkable about these draws were that they were all stalemates and I'm pretty sure the player in question was winning in each position. As some of you might now suspect, they seemed to be K+Q v K positions that 'went wrong'. Certainly the two positions I observed fitted this description, and I assume the others did as well.

Sunday 4 September 2022

Sinquefield Cup 2022

 The 2002 Sinquefield Cup started with one decisive game, and 4 draws. The one decisive game involved Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi , and resulted in another victory for Carlsen. Having gone through the game a few times, I'm still not sure what really happened, as Carlsen's position did not look appreciably better, until Nepo kind of fell apart. If I had to criticise a move 23 ... c5 did not look right to me, although Stockfish thinks it is perfectly fine. The problem I had with this move was that it created a target for White to aim at, and eventually Black misplayed the defence. Of course just sitting on the position might have resulted in a different set of problems for Black, and a different kind of conclusion.

Carlsen,Magnus (2861) - Nepomniachtchi,Ian (2792) [D35]
Sinquefield Cup (1.4), 02.09.2022

Friday 2 September 2022

Getting fit playing chess

 Alan Turing once invented a version of chess called 'Round the House Chess'. After you moved you had to run around the outside of the house, and if you returned before your opponent had moved, you had another move (and another run). A good way to keep fit, but apparently not the only one.

Someone has invented a version of chess called "Chesst". Every time you capture an opponents piece, you have to do a set number of push-ups, based on the 'point value' of each piece. (Pawn = 1, Rook = 5 etc).  Possible modifications include making your opponent do the push-ups as punishment for having pieces captured, and adding a pushup penalty for being in check. An even crueller version would be to replace push-ups with burpees.

Of course you can go the other way, and simply play chess while getting fit. Blindfold chess while cycling as a pair, or in a group is one such possibility. Another variant is while one player is thinking, the other is doing sit-ups (or even rowing), and swapping over when a move is played. For this I would certainly recommend using a chess clock, although this may lead to a trade off between losing on time and wearing your opponent out.

Wednesday 31 August 2022

How good are your rooks?

 Here is a simple test to see how good you are at using your rooks. It is White to move, and with the king trapped on g1, it is the rooks to do all the work. Find the right rook move, and you will find the right path to victory.

Monday 29 August 2022

Scholars Trap

 During the Olympiad (and possibly after), there was a lot of commentary about the quality of play on the lower boards. There were a few examples of Scholars Mate, and this was seen as evidence that not everyone had 'earned' the right to be there.

As a past Olympiad player  (and a recent official), I do not believe lines should be drawn in this way. If you are picked by your Federation to play, then you get to play. Both China and India were considered 'non chess' countries in the not so recent past, an opinion that would not be said out loud these days.

And speaking of Scholars Mate, in the following game, White was able to pick up a piece after Black failed to spot how strong simply threatening it could be.


Javakhishvili,Lela (2476) - Sahithi,Varshini M (2312) [E15]
44th Olympiad Chennai 2022 Mahabalipuram, Chennai (4.3), 01.08.2022

Cheng wins in Barcelona

 Backing up from his excellent performance at the 2022 Chess Olympiad, GM Bobby Cheng has just tied for 1st in a strong Open event in Barcelona. Winning his last round, he caught the 2 leaders (who drew on the top board) with an impressive score of 8/10. This result, combined with his Olympiad result will see him add around 40 points to his current rating, pushing him to around 2580.

Faced with a must win game in the final round, he found a long term piece sacrifice which kept his opponent under pressure, and then finished the game off with a mating attack.


Cheng,Bobby (2540) - Terry,Renato (2507) [A55]
23rd Sants Open (10.3), 28.08.2022

Friday 26 August 2022

2022 ACT Women's and Girls Championship - 11 September 2022

2022 ACT Women's and Girls' Chess Championship - Sunday 11 September 2022

7 rounds, 15m+ 5s per game. Rated by the Australian Chess Federation (Quickplay List)

Schedule: Sunday 11th September - Check-in 9.30am Round 1 10am Round 2 10:45am Round 3 11:30am Round 4 12:15am
Lunch Break 1pm-1:30pm
Round 5 1:30pm Round 6 2:15 pm Round 7 3pm Prize Giving 3:45pm

Prizes - 1st $250 2nd $125 3rd $75 Trophies for 1st, 2nd, 3rd + Medals for U14, U12, and U10

Max. two half-point byes available for Rounds 1-4.

Entry fee $20 Adults, $10 Junior. WGM, WIM, WFM and WCM Free.

+ Novices event for unrated players - Free entry with medals for 1st, 2nd and 3rd (Same schedule as Championship)

NB Players with ACF Ratings can only play the Championship event. Unrated players can choose to enter the Championship or the Novices Event.

Venue: Campbell High School
Treloar Cres, Campbell ACT

Entries close Saturday 5pm 10 Sept.
Register at

Thursday 25 August 2022

2023 Australian Open

 The 2023 Australian Open is being held from the 2nd to the 10th January 2023, in Perth. The Open will be an 11 round event, with 3 double round days. First prize is $3000, and the total prize pool is over $10,000. There is also Minor event (Under 1600) running alongside the Open.

Full details for the tournament can be found at

Tuesday 23 August 2022

The Trojan Bishop?

 The 'Greek Gift' is the well known sacrifice on h7, followed by Ng5+. Although it is thought to be named after the Trojan Horse, the odd thing is that it is the Bishop which is sacrificed, not the knight. Here is a recent game where the Bishop is also offered as a gift, but on h5 rather than h7. But like in the ancient myth, it is an offer that should not have been accepted.

White - Black [A83]
Gungahlin CC, 23.08.2022

Sunday 21 August 2022

Playing it safe

 My ongoing trawl through games from the Olympiad has left me somewhat disappointed with the choice of openings. There were very few Kings Gambit's and most of the Two Knight's Defence's were met with the tame d3. Probably the best of the few Two Knight's proper was the following game, where White got tangled up on the e file, and dropped a piece due to a miscalculation.

Sharikhan,Shawal (1789) - Asllani,Muhamet (2235) [C59]
44th Olympiad Chennai 2022 Mahabalipuram, Chennai (1.3), 29.07.2022

Saturday 20 August 2022

Not one but two ideas

White to move

The diagrammed position occurred in a game at Street Chess today. While White is winning, a simple pawn race isn't the best path to victory. White needed to find a clever idea to gain an important tempo in the ending. He managed to do this, but then needed to find another idea to win the resulting Q v pawn ending. Without extra pawns on the board Black can rely on stalemate, but with the extra pawns, this defence no longer works. 

No answers, but White successfully found both ideas to win the game.

Thursday 18 August 2022

Czech Summer Chess

 The European Summer Chess Tour is a well known destination for Antipodean players, although Covid has restricted playing opportunities in the last few years. It does look like it is back to normal this year, and on young Canberran, FM Albert Winkelman, is giving it a go. He started with the Czech Open, before moving onto a GM event in Olomouc.  Being the bottom seed in the GM group is always going to be a tough ask, and his current score of 1.5/6 doesn't reflect how close he was in some games.

While looking through the games I did spot one very nice attack by Jonasz Baum, where a rook sacrifice lead to a position where White had to walk the tight-rope to avoid a loss. He did for a while, but eventually blindered, and quickly lost.

Lutsko,Artem (2407) - Baum,Jonasz (2412) [E49]
Olomouc Chess Summer 2022 - A Olomouc (CZE), Hotel Flora (5.5), 16.08.2022

Wednesday 17 August 2022

2022 British Championship

 The 2022 British Championship is well underway, and while it is happening on the other side of the world, there are a couple of participants who may interest readers of this blog. IM Gary Lane is taking part, and has all picked up first place in the Week 1 Open event. He scored 6.5/7 to win ahead of a small but strong field. He is also taking part in the championship as well, and is 3/4. One of the players tied for 1st is IM Brandon Clarke, who spent a few years in Sydney before returning to the UK.

Stewart Reuben is also taking part, albeit in the Seniors events. In the over 50 section he scored 3.5/6 before missing the final round (which had a 10am start!). He then backed up for the Over 65 section where he is 1/2, with his second round loss against top seed GM John Nunn. 

The Championship has quite a large number of events, including the British age championships. Full results and replayable games can be found at

Monday 15 August 2022

Through the centre then left at the h file

 Toby Brookfield is quite a dangerous player when he gets an attack going, something I discovered when I played him at the 2010 Olympiad. In the most recent Olympiad, he opens with the Centre Game, and when his opponents fails to take in e4 on move 8, is able to directly target the king. 

Once Brookfield plays h6 he is completely winning, although it took a few more moves before his opponent also realised.

Brookfield,Toby (1815) - Naipal,Hoolan (1785) [C22]
44th Olympiad Chennai 2022 Mahabalipuram, Chennai (3.2), 31.07.2022

Sunday 14 August 2022

Old but reliable

 The next miniature from the 2022 Olympiad involves an old idea that still seems to catch a lot of victims. I've seen shorter versions of this trap work against the Morra Gambit, but in this case it is against a more mainline Sicilian. 

Dobrovoljc,Vid (2398) - Diamant,Andre (2538) [B30]
44th Olympiad Chennai 2022 Mahabalipuram, Chennai (11.4), 09.08.2022

Olympiad Minatures

 There were a number of very quick games at the 2022 Chess Olympiad, although some were just ended with a simple blunder. This one was a little more subtle, with White missing an in between move that brought the game to an abrupt finish.

Mannhart,Marcel (2110) - Van den Brink,Peter (2167) [B23]
44th Olympiad Chennai 2022 Mahabalipuram, Chennai (10.1), 08.08.2022

Friday 12 August 2022

2022 Chess Olympiad - Day 11 (Part 2)

 The New Zealand team finished on 10 points ( 5 wins and 6 losses) which was probably a disappointment for them. However there we some good individual performances, with Daniel Gong scoring 6.5/9 in Board 1, and missing an IM norm by half a point. The New Zealand Women's team exceeded expectations, finishing on 11 points, with not player scoring below 50%. Board 2 player WFM Vyanla Punsalan scored 8/10 to help to team finish with an impressive 27 game points.

The battle between the smaller Oceania nations saw Guam, PNG and Palau all finish on 8 match points. Guam had the better tie break so claims the unofficial 'Islands' championship. The PNG team finished strongly after a slow start and had a chance for a category medal going into the final round. Points were evenly distributed across the team, although the 4/10 by Jeremiah Age on Olympiad (and indeed competitive chess) debut was a highlight. 

Fiji finished on 7 points, with Rudr Prasad the standout player with 6/9. Palau score 6 points, but Tito Cabunagan also scored 6/9, which is enough to earn a conditional FM title (a 2100 rating is now required as well). 

In the Women's section Fiji and Guam finished on 9 points, while Palau were close behind on 8. (Narau and PNG did not field Women teams).

Wednesday 10 August 2022

2022 Chess Olympiad - Day 11

 Uzbekistan has won the Chess Olympiad for the first time, finishing first in 2002 tournament on tie-break over Armenia. Both teams won their final round matches to score 19 match points, but Uzbekistan were well ahead on the Olympiad-SB tie-break. India 2 finished third after beating Germany 3-1, finishing a point ahead of India 1 and the USA.

Ukraine won the Women's Olympiad, also on tie-break, after finishing alongside Georgia, with 18 MP. India finished in 3rd place, and the Indian teams won the Gaprindashvili Cup for the best combined finishes in the Open and Women's section.

Australia drew 2-2 with Chile in the final round to score 14 points and tie for 25th. The women's team score 13 points to tie for 35th.

I am about to head to the airport after an exhausting 3 weeks in India. When I get back home, I will do a compete wrap on the results of the other Oceania teams, and an overview of the Olympiad.

Tuesday 9 August 2022

2022 Chess Olympiad - Day 10

 With 1 round to play,the 2022 Chess Olympiad looks to be a 2 horse race between Uzbekistan and Armenia. Armenia bounced back fro it's round 9 loss to score a big win over Azerbaijan 3-1. Uzbekistan looked to be losing to India 2, until a blunder by Gukesh on board 1 of the match saw Uzbekistan escape with a 2-2 draw. USA and India 1 both won their matches, to stay 1 point behind the leaders.

In the Women's Olympiad, India hold a 1 point lead going into the final round. Close behind are Poland, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine. So a win for India will give them gold, but a draw or loss will open it up for the pursuing teams.

Australia beat Albania 3.5-0.5 to move to 13 points, and a win today against the lower seeded Chile will result in one of the best finishes ever. The Women's team also won, and they are hoping for a strong finish in the last roound.

Somewhat surprisingly PNG have moved into the lead of the smaller Oceania federations. A 3-1 win over Guam moves them to 8 points, and an outside chance of a category prize. Fiji drew 2-2 with Togo, Nauru beat the Seychelles 3-1, but Palau lost 4-0 to St Vincent and the Grenadines.