Monday 28 February 2022

Blitz boost

 One thing that I overlooked when planning the 2022 Doeberl Cup was to increase the prize money for the Blitz event. There were over 120 players in 2021, although almost all the top players gave it a miss. Based on (a) the size of the field and (b) attracting stronger players, the prize pool for the 2022 Kinford Consulting Doeberl Cup Blitz has been increased 50% to $890. First prize is now $250 (up from $150), while other prizes have bee added (or increased).

Once again the tournament will take place on Saturday night (16th April) and will be both FIDE and ACF rated.

Junior chess back on in Canberra

 The ACT Junior Chess League held the first face to face junior chess event of the year, the ACT Junior Lightning Championship. An enthusiastic group turned up to play in the 11 round event, with a mixture of experienced players, and newcomers trying the event for the first time.

In the end Charles Huang proved unstoppable, with a perfect 11 from 11. In second place was Larry Cheng, with Connor Amoore in outright third. 

The tournament ran smoothly (with no crying!), and the event followed the required health protocols. As we were playing at one of local Canberra High Schools, we did require masks for all players, but this don't seem to be a problem. Hopefully there will be a few more events on the calendar, especially as a warm up for this years Doeberl Cup.

Friday 25 February 2022

2022 Chess Olympiad in serious doubt

 As a consequence of the Russian invasion of The Ukraine, FIDE are looking at whether it is appropriate to hold any major chess events in Russia in the foreseeable future. A brief statement was released by FIDE on this matter, indicating that they plan to consult with the relevant commissions and federations.

Already there has been a number of comments by leading players (and other chess identities) asking that the Moscow Olympiad either not take place, or be moved (which is less likely). A few have gone as far as to ask for the resignation of FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, based on his connections with the Russian government. 

At this stage Federations have not been asked for their opinions. However I am aware of at least a few officials (including myself), who would find it impossible to attend the Olympiad under the present circumstances. Of course if Russia remains under sanctions, it may be impossible for a substantial number of teams to attend anyway, as travel to and from Russia may be blocked.

*** Update ***

Soon after this post was made, FIDE have decided that the 2022 Olympiad will not take place in Moscow. Where it will be instead is to be determined

Thursday 24 February 2022

Slow start, strong finish

 Modern Opening Chess Theory (MOCT) was a publication that covered various events in the 1960's and 70'. I picked up a copy of issue No. 104, which covered the 1969 Palma de Mallorca tournament, and was written by Bob Wade. The tournament was probably the strongest event in 1969 ( it included Spassky, Petrosian, and Korchnoi), but was won by Bent Larsen. What was remarkable about this was that he started with 2 losses and was only on 2/5, after losing a 3rd game. He then scored 10/12 to finish outright 1st on 12/17. Petrosian finished 2nd on 11.5, although the 14 move final round draw showed he was content with 2nd, rather than fighting for 1st

Here is the 1st game for Larsen in the event, where he was beaten by the enigmatic Henrique Mecking

Larsen,Bent - Mecking,Henrique [A08]
Palma de Mallorca Palma de Mallorca (1), 1969

Regional Representation

 Mark Scully, sometime chess player, sometime lawyer, once wrote that in times long past, the earth consisted of at least 10,000 independent territories. This has now been reduced to around 195, give or take a few self declared/non recognised territories (eg Principality of Hutt River) FIDE have slightly less member nations, although they have extended membership to a number of non-country federations

The International Correspondence Chess Federation follow a similar model. However, with Correspondence Chess less constrained by travel, they also organise events for 'States and Regions'. A multi divisional championship of these bodies is currently running, and has attracted a large entry. Australia has a NSW team, as well as an Australia East, and Rest of Australia Team. And although the Rest of Australia Team isn't doing that well, it has scored some nice individual wins. 

Freire,Daniel J. (1787) - Eade,James V. (2243) [E45]
WLS/SRCCC/21/D4 (WLS) ICCF, 28.01.2021

Tuesday 22 February 2022

2022 O2C Doeberl Cup - 7 weeks out

 Just a quick update on the 2022 O2C Doeberl Cup. Entries for the tournament have already passed to 100 mark (in fact 120 at the time of this post). The Premier already has 5 GM's, 1 WGM and 4 IM's registered. With overseas visitors now allowed into the country, a number of OS players have already registered.

To try and balance the numbers in each section, the entry requirements have been relaxed a little. Having a FIDE rating above the ACF cutoff now qualifies you for a section as well, meaning that it is easier to get into a higher section. The rule about using your rating at the time of entry still applies, so some players may wish to enter before the end of this month (before new ACF rating are published).

If you are planning to enter, head over to to register. All the event details are there, including accommodation options for the Easter weekend.

(** I am the chief organiser for this event ** )

Sunday 20 February 2022

ACT v SA - Junior Challenge

 The ACT and South Australia played a junior challenge tournament today, over 18(+2) boards. Using the Tornelo platform, and zoom supervision, the event was over 6 rounds, with a time limit of 15m+5s. It was played as a team swiss, which is like a normal swiss except players from the same team do not play each other. As the ACT had 18 players, and SA ended up with 20, a separate 2 player team (SA2) was required.

Having played under this format a few times, the ACT team shot out to quite a large lead. However, once the South Australian players got used to the format, the margin narrowed over the last two rounds. In the end the ACT scored 59 points, and SA scored 53. The top scorers were James Boyd-Norman (SA) and Minchen Yang (ACT), who both scored 5.5/6

Although players were asked to treat it like a normal event, there was still some games that dragged on for two long (either by failure to resign or agree to draws in drawn positions), and the issue of offering a draw when facing a sure loss still arose. In one incident a game reached K+R v K+R and as both players had plenty of time on the clock. One player even offered a draw, but his opponent refused, and played on instead. So when the second player blundered a rook (instead of exchanging rooks a few moves earlier), the cry of "Yes" that was clearly heard by all the other players could be excused!

Boyd-Norman,James (1479) - Cheng,Larry (1626) [B21]
ACTJCL v SAJCL Tournament Canberra ACT, Australia (5.1), 21.02.2022

Saturday 19 February 2022

Airthings Masters

 Another big chess series kicks off for 2022, with the Airthings Masters starting in a few hours. Part of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, the first event starts with an online rapidplay RR, with 16 players from around the world. The format has been sped up, to provide more exciting chess, so there will be 4 rounds per day in the preliminary section. The top 8 players will then qualify for the KO final.

For local (Canberra) viewers, the tournament begins at 4am, but you may be able to catch the last couple of games of the day, if you wake early enough. The official hompage for the tournament has more details, including schedules and tournament formats.

Friday 18 February 2022

Kind of unexpected

 Hikaru Nakamura has won the first FIDE Grand Prix event of the year, defeating Lev Aronian in the final 3-1 (Nakamura winning both rapid tie-break games)

The fact that both players qualified for the final could be considered a little surprising, given their age relative to the rest of the field. The fact that Nakamura then won the final was even more of a shock, as he has hardly lifted a piece in 2 years, concentrating on streaming instead. Nonetheless the result showed that the group of "thirty something" Super GM's still will take some beating by the next generation of GM's. 

Thursday 17 February 2022

Money Heist

"Bobby Fischer would've never faced Spassky with his girlfriend at his side."
This one of the more interesting quotes from the Netflix series "Money Heist". As with a lot of series that have the criminal mastermind up against the police, there is a lot of chess symbolism scattered throughout. The pensive stare at the chessboard, moving pieces to show the next stage of the plan, and just the general "chess = smart" vibe, this series employs a lot of these tropes. 
Nonetheless, they don't overdo it, instead using these shots only when necessary. The rest of the time, it is an incredibly enjoyable heist series, where the good/bad guys are always one step of the police. If you have the time to watch it, I highly recommend it. 

Wednesday 16 February 2022

Borislav Ivkov

 The first World Junior Champion, Borislav Ivkov has passed away at the age of 88. He won the title in 1951, which also signalled the start of a successful career. He qualified for the Candidates Matches in 1964 (losing to Larsen in the 1st round), and represented Yugoslavia in the Chess Olympiad 12 times. He also had the distinction of beating 5 World Champions (including Fischer) and being Yugoslavian Champion 3 times.


Ivkov,Borislav - Penrose,Jonathan [D15]
Wch U20 final-A Copenhagen (6), 1953

Sunday 13 February 2022

How to improve

 100 Chess Maxims (by C.D. Locock) has a number of interesting pieces of advice for new (and experienced) players. The issue I have was published prior to 1933 (based on the note by the original owner on the inside cover, and a clipping from the Daily Telegraph dated July 24 1933, which came with the book)

Last last set of tips are headed "How to improve" and contain the following advice 

95. Play, if possible, with players rather better than yourself. Write down your games and play them over afterwards, preferably with your opponent, and try to find out how your play could have been improved. Play consultation games when you get the chance.

96. Play through the games (beginning with 1.e4) in the newspapers, taking the winning side and trying to guess every move made. You should take on the average, a minute or two for each move. When you can guess 60 per cent of the moves actually made, you will be well on the road to improvement.

97. When receiving odds always play an attacking game. If the odds are large, play P-Q4 early, even if it loses a pawn. It will often pay you to sacrifice a piece for two pawns in order to break up the opponent's position.

98. Especially when you have a winning game, remember the proverb, "More haste, less speed." Missing the best move will often necessitate dozens more. Having found what seems the best move, look for a better.

99. Don't "hover." It hinders your own view of the board, and is not fair to your opponent. Accustom yourself to playing "touch and move," since in match games this is compulsory.

100. Always know at every stage of the game exactly how much you are ahead or behind in material. You will improve more quickly by resigning a lost game and starting another, than by going on till you are mated.

Of the various pieces of advice, I do like 96, although very few players actually read games from newspapers. 97 is well out of date, although 99 is actually quite timely, as I warned a player for doing this at Street Chess on Saturday. But if I had to pick one, then it would be No. 100, especially the 2nd sentence. 

Friday 11 February 2022

Bishop or Fool

 The trip to the Lifeline Bookfair was almost incident free* and I picked up a few books while I was there. As usual I came home with some books I already owned, although in this case 2 of the 3 books were deliberate purchases (the third was an American reprint of The Mammoth Book of Chess, under another name). One book which I definitely did not own was "Assess Your Chess Fast" by GM Alberic O'Kelly de Galway. Published in 1976, it followed the tried and true teaching method of devoting a chapter to a specific topic, and then providing test positions at the end.  The topics were pretty mixed up, starting with "The Ferocious Pawns" and ending with "Hidden Strategical Possibilities in the Middlegame".

What was of singular interest was the font used in the diagrams. Everything followed the usual symbols except for the Bishop, which was represented by something more akin to a Jester. At first I thought this was little bit of anti-clericalism, but on further research it was simply a nod to the use of the word "Fou", which is the French word for Bishop (and literally means Jester)

*My only negative observation is if you are campaigning to keep your children safe, teaching them not to ride their bikes and scooters in front of traffic should be part of this.

Thursday 10 February 2022

2022 Lifeline Bookfair

 Tomorrow is the start of the 2022 Lifeline Bookfair. Hopefully i will be able to pick up a few new (second hand) chess books, although a little birdy has already told me that there may only be around 30 books on offer. This isn't actually a bad number, but most of them may be repeats of books I already own.

Normally a trip to the bookfair is a fairly placid outing, but if anyone has been paying attention to what has been happening in Canberra over the last week, it might be a little spicier. The book fair is located next to a major campground, which has hosted a large number of anti-vaxx/sov cits/no madate protestors. As any good protest (and I have been to a few) does involve disrupting what is considered acceptable behaviour, it will be see what happens tomorrow. 

Wednesday 9 February 2022

Happy 100 Yuri

 GM Yuri Averbakh has just turned 100 years old, which I'm guessing makes him the oldest GM ever. Born in 1922 his chess career start before World War II, but really flourished after the war finished. He played in the 1953 Candidates Match, and was a regular competitor up until the 1990's (an even played a few games as late as 2007). He was renowned endgame theorist writing a number of important books in this field.

In the 1950' and 60's he travelled to a number of non Warsaw-Pact countries, as part of chess goodwill tours.  He played in the Australian Championship in 1960, as a guest players, and scored 14/15. During that event he faced most of the leading Australian players, including former World CC Champion, CJS Purdy


Averbakh,Yuri L - Purdy,Cecil John Seddon [A34]
AUS-ch Adelaide (4), 08.10.1960

Tuesday 8 February 2022

A better understanding

 It has been a while since I have featured Lev Aronian on these pages, but the following game from the current FIDE Grand Prix caught my eye. It wasn't so much the effortless way he gained a winning advantage against Vincent Keymer, but how early in the game he did so. I would say he was clearly winning by move 18, but more so, was completely winning at move 24. 

I suspect Aronian new he was winning, and Keymer probably knew he was completely lost. Probably the only strong players who may have underestimated Aronian's advantage would have been various chess engines, who gave Aronian a pawn advantage at best. To a human, control of the 7th rank supported by the bishop on d6 was an 'eternal' advantage, but to an engine the win was beyond the search horizon.  It was only when the White king casually strolled up the kingside did Fritz et al realise what was about to happen.

Aronian,Levon (2772) - Keymer,Vincent (2664) [B13]
All Pools | Berlin FIDE Grand Prix (3.6), 06.02.2022

Saturday 5 February 2022


 Now, more than ever, is a good time to recognise to great work that King O'Malley's does to support the Canberra community. Chess players will already recognise O'Malley's as both the venue and sponsor of Street Chess, having provided a venue for chess players every Saturday for over 15 years. But they also support a number of charitable activities including Movember, World's Greatest Shave and Skin Check Champions. They also host a number of community activities such as painting classes, a Pint of Science and charity trivia competitions.

So today when a group of anti-vaxxer's turned up to the pub, I was not surprised that they dishonestly claimed that they were being discriminated against. Just as we were packing up after an enjoyable days chess I saw them go into the pub, mask less, and ignoring the check-in signs at the front. They then claimed they were refused service because they were not wearing masks and were unvaccinated. This is of course at odds with reality, as a number of players in the chess tournament were not wearing masks, and no one was asked about their vaccination status by the staff. The health regulations in the ACT require to wear a mask indoors, but there were plenty of empty tables outside. Indeed I saw a photo from another group of Anti-Vaxxers (outdoors and mask less) later on who were happily celebrating the days protest with a cold beer, purchased from King O'Malley's. 

The whole thing reminds me of a quote from Emmanuel Lasker "On the chessboard lies and hypocrisy do not survive long."

Friday 4 February 2022

Humble Bundle

 I'm a big fan of Humble Bundle, which is a fantastic source for eBooks and computer games. I have seen to odd chess item included in other bundles, but nothing above the 'Chess for Beginners' level. In case I have missed something, have they ever released a chess book, or chess software bundle?

The first night

 Eastlakes Gungahlin Chess Club is starting its first long time control event this Tuesday. The Ramakrishna Memorial will be a 7 round event, played with a time limit of 60m+30s Alongside this event will be informal 30 minute games, which will be suitable for new players who wish to learn the basics of tournament chess play (using clocks, recording moves etc). The full details for the club can be found at  (Scroll down for the Calendar)

The first night at any chess club can be daunting for new players. I can remember getting towelled up early on the Woden Chess Club (in 1982), before starting to put a few wins on the board. Curiously, despite losing more games that won in the first couple of years, I did win the very first long time control game I played at a chess club (at least according to my scorebook from the time).

Press,Shaun - Runciman,Alan [B01]
Woden CC, 28.02.1983

Tuesday 1 February 2022

2022 ACT Lightning Championship

 The 2022 ACT Lightning Championship was held this evening at the Eastlake Gungahlin Chess Club. A field of 27 players took part in the first ACT Chess Association event of the year. The 9 round event attracted a strong field, with the top 7 seeds rated above 2000, while the mid point of the field was around 1680.

The event was closely contested throughout, with Harry Press emerging victorious with 7.5/9. He was closely followed by Fred Litchfield on 7, with FM Michael Kethro on 6.5. Press got off to a slow start, losing to Wenlin Yin in round 3, before winning 5 straight (including wins over Kethro and Litchfield) before a final round draw with Max Albert secured outright first. This draw enabled Albert to win the Rating Group 1 prize with 6/9, while Masaki Horikawa won the Second Rating group prize with 4.5.