Monday 30 May 2022

2022 ACT Championship - Title shared between Sardana and Ikeda

 The 2022 ACT Chess Championship ended in a tie for 1st place, between the top two seeds, IM Rishi Sardana and IM Junta Ikeda. Unusually, the two winners did not actually play each other, instead getting to 6 points by beating other players.

The morning round saw previous leader Cameron McGowan lost to Fred Litchfield, which threw the tournament wide open. Going into the final round, there were 4 players on 5/6, with Sardana against Litchfield and Ikeda against McGowan. Sardana struck first, beating Litchfield after winning a piece in the middlegame, while Ikeda eventually triumphed after tactics went in his favour. Other results saw a 6 way tie for 3rd, involving most of the top seeds.

The final day saw a lot of interesting chess, with Michael Kethro winning a nice king an pawn ending in the final round. However the most outrageous finish of the tournament was probably in the game shown here

Press,Harry - Lo,Willis [C52]
2022 ACT Championship 30.05.2022

Sunday 29 May 2022

2022 ACT Championship - Rounds 4 and 5

 Cameron McGowan has continued his good start to the 2022 ACT Championship, winning both his games today to lead on 5/5. After beating top seed IM Rishi Sardana in a complicated game, he backed up to beat FM Michael Kethro in round 5. This puts him ahead of Sardana, IM Junta Ikeda, Fred Litchfield and CM Hui Li, who are all on 4 points. Kethro had a particularly tough day, playing 100 moves against Ikeda, the last 50 being a RvB ending (no pawns!), before starting his round 5 game on a short break. 

While McGowan leads the tournament, the destination of the championship title is less clear (as it is restricted to ACT residents). Ikeda has the easier start in the morning round, but is likely to face a difficult final round opponent. Sardana has to overcome the always solid Hui Li, while Litchfield is playing McGowan on the top board.

2022 ACT Championship - Rounds 2 and 3

 The 2nd day of the 2022 ACT Championship was a lot tougher for the top seeds, with not everyone escaping unscathed. 2nd seed Junta Ikeda drew his third round game with Willis Lo, while 4th seed Fred Litchfield had a similar result in round 2 against James Phan. 

On the other hand IM Rishi Sardana reached 3 from 3 with a win over Harry Press in the afternoon round, joined by Cameron McGowan and Michael Kethro. Kethro showed good technique to convert a rook and pawn ending against CM Hui Li, from a position he thought might have been drawn. 

With 8 players within half a point of each other at the top, it is too early to pick a likely winner. McGowan and Sardana are on the top board for tomorrows round, with Ikeda and Kethro on board 2. The winner of those games will likely be paired together in round 5, when the outcome of the tournament should become a lot clearer. 

Saturday 28 May 2022

2022 ACT Championship - Round 1

 The 2022 ACT Championship began this evening, with almost all games going to the ratings favourite. The only upset was a win by unrated Muhammad Yunus over veteran player Thomas Mautner. On the top boards, some players had to work a little harder to secure the point, but all eventually did so.

Tomorrow mornings second round will see some closer contests on all boards. The top seeds are likely to face experienced Canberra club stalwarts, while the middle group of players on half a point will be looking to kick start their campaign with a win.

The top 4 boards for this event are being broadcast live. You can find the link to the broadcast, as well as the tournament results and pairings at

Thursday 26 May 2022

2022 ACT Chess Championship

 The 2022 ACT Chess Championship begins tomorrow, and it is already looking to be the strongest (and maybe largest) edition in a number of years. The top seed is IM Rishi Sardana, who has moved back to the city of his birth, for work. IM Junta Ikeda is 2nd seed, ahead of a field of young challengers including Cameron McCowan, FM Michael Kethro, Fred Litchfield and Harry Press. The tournament has been bolstered by the entry of a number of players from NSW, who are eligible for the prize money, but not the championship title/

The tournament begins tomorrow evening at Campbell High School (next to the War Memorial). There is one round on Friday, with 2 rounds on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Full results can be seen at and once I organise the links to the live coverage, you should be able to follow the top 4 boards live.

Tuesday 24 May 2022

The half forgotten dreams of my youth

 Every now and then I dig up one of my more dubious openings from my youth. While the Schliemann in and of itself isn't that bad, there are some pretty dubious lines, especially now with chess engines ruining most gambits. I ventured the Mohring variation, which is known to be poor as long ago as the early 1980's, hoping my opponent might miss the best line. When he played 12 moves of theory I began to (a) regret my decision to choose this line and (b) try and remember what I used to know 35 years ago. Luckily he missed the the correct defensive move (13.d4!) and after that his position collapsed very quickly.

Cunningham,Cam - Press,Shaun [C63]
Belconnen Cup, 24.05.2022

Sunday 22 May 2022

2022 Asian Seniors Championship

 If you are turning 50 years old (or more) this year, then the 2022 Asian Seniors Championship may be of interest to you. It is being held from the 14th to the 22nd of October, in Auckland, New Zealand. It will be a 9 round swiss and apart from an enjoyable week of chess, title and title norms are on offer. I played in 2017 and I highly recommend this event to those who are able to take part.

Brief details are available at 

Saturday 21 May 2022

Speaking of elections ....

 A change of government in Australia is expected after the results of today's Federal election. While this may not have direct effect on chess in Australia, I do know a couple of chess players are closely connected with the Labor Party, and this maty lead to some small wins over the next three (or more) years!

Friday 20 May 2022

More Vintage Chess Programs

 While following up my research into Zork, I cam across a website that lets you play vintage chess games (and other games) in your browser. has a set of old Dos chess programs which look to be fully playable. I played one game against Sargon V, which I won, although the user interface lead me to play 1.e3 by accident. I did play it on Level 1, which was good enough not to hang pieces, but not strong enough to spot a mate in 2 (albeit one I also missed for one move)

Thursday 19 May 2022

FIDE Elections

 For a while it looked like Arkady Dvorkovich was going to be re-elected as FIDE President without a challenger. Then the Russian invasion of Ukraine upended that calculation, although it still seemed like a number of potential challengers were still laying low.

First out of the blocks was Enyonam Fumey (Former FIDE Secretary) with Stuart Fancy as his running mate. Then Dvorkovich officially announced he was running, with former World Champion Viswanathan Anand as his Deputy. And just today Andrii Baryshpolets, a US based Ukrainian GM has announced he also plans to run. 

The Fumey camp has released an early set of policies and positions, while Baryshpolets is campaigning on the promise to bring better management to FIDE (especially regarding sponsorship and income). The Dvorkovich team are touting their first term record, although they may make more policy announcements later.

As for coverage of the election, it has been fairly muted so far (at least in my readings). The stand out comment so far was from one incredibly stupid commentator (who shall remain unnamed) that the Fumey campaign "created" to get Dvorkovich re-elected. Definitely wrong on that count, but being wrong has never been a concern to the commentator in question.

** I am also running for the job of FIDE Zone 3.6 (Oceania) President, at the request of outgoing President Paul Spiller **

Tuesday 17 May 2022


 For those of a certain generation, Zork was one of the great computer games. While it wasn't the first "Adventure Game" it was probably the first great adventure game. A few years ago I came across a link to the source code for the program, which on one level is fantastic. The slight drawback is that is written in MDL which is a long obsolete modelling language. Nonetheless, if you want to see how the original Zork was written, you can do so here

Monday 16 May 2022

Extra Help

 In the lead up to his match against Bobby Fischer, Mark Taimanov played a training match against a couple of Soviet GM's. To make the match harder for Tamainov, his opponents were allowed to consult with books (no engines in those days), or move the pieces on the board while analysing (they had a separate board and room for this). While Taimanov didn't win the training matches he felt it helped him, that was until he lost 6-0.

So my question is - If you add either the ability to reference books, or be allowed to move pieces while analysing, how much stronger would you be? 100 points, 200 points or more

Sunday 15 May 2022

The 37% rule

 I came across an article on decision making, called "The 37% Rule". Basically it suggests that you spend the first 37% of the time you take to make a decision to collect and collate information about the decision. Then when you come across an option that exceeds the best option you identified initially, you take that option and stop searching. If you don't find a better choice, then take the best option from your initial research.

How does this apply to chess then? On the one hand it probably doesn't, but on the other it may help solve the problem of time management. If you reach a critical phase of the game, and you feel that deep analysis is required, firstly, set aside the amount of time you think it will take to make a decision. The spend the first third of the time analysing your most promising choice (or choices). Then analyse some other lines, and if you find a line you think is better, play it. If not use all your allotted time and then take the best choice. 

Without any practical testing, I have no idea if this will work. Some obvious issues arise if you analyse the wrong lines first, but I think that this would be a problem no matter how you manage your time. What it may help with is helping you avoid analysis paralysis, where you can't choose between options. It also will help you allocate your time better, by in some case speeding you up, and in others slowing you down!

Friday 13 May 2022

Reti's lesser know miniature

 Reti's quick win over Tartarkower in 1910 is quire well known, but there was another game between the two player, from the same tournament (or at least the same cafe), which finished even more quickly. Assuming I have the complete game score, the game only went for 9 moves. Alas, it wasn't as spectacular, with a draw being agreed between the two players, rather than a move like Qd8+ hitting the board!

Reti,Richard - Tartakower,Saviely [C36]
Wien Vienna, 1910

Wednesday 11 May 2022

SEA Games

 While I was in Thailand, there were a number of news stories about the South East Asia Games, which were about to start in Vietnam. It seemed to be a pretty big deal in Thailand, and probably in other countries as well.

One sport that is part of the program (and is a full medal sport) is Chess. Medals are being awarded for standard chess, as well as rapidplay and blitz, for both Men and Women (I'm assuming that there is no Open section). Although both events are small, they are very strong, with every participant holding a title. The homepage for the Games is although following the chess results is a little difficult. A better link for the chess tournaments can be found at 

Chess is also a medal sport at the Asian Games, although this years games have recently been postponed due to Covid, and will now take place next year.

Tuesday 10 May 2022

Clearly better for black?

 The position below is from a game I played tonight, and is just before a draw was agreed. Weirdly Deep Fritz thinks that Black is clearly better in this position. Sure Black is a piece up, but the knight cannot jump across the board to engineer a very unlikely mate. I guess this shows that there is still some differences between humans and chess engines.

Sunday 8 May 2022

2022 ACTJCL GM Simul

 GM Hrant Melkumyan, winner of this years Doeberl Cup, took on 18 ACT junior players in a simultaneous display today. While a number of players made him work for his wins, and there was a drawing line that might have been missed in the final game, he ended up with a perfect 18 wins and no losses.

However the quality of play was quite high in most of the games, although the GM technique of picking up small pieces of material at regular intervals was on full display. While every player survived the first hour, and most reached 20 moves, it was in the middlegame where most players came undone. A few players did survive to the ending (including one game that went past 60 moves), but in those cases, the positions were hard to save.

Nonetheless it was a great learning experience for the ACT players, resulting in requests that it (a) be repeated and (b) why isn't their a simul for grown ups as well!

Melkumyan,Hrant - Cheng,Jerry [A12]
2022 ACTJCL GM Simul , 08.05.2022

Saturday 7 May 2022

A triple knightmare

 The early underpromotion to a knight is a well known trap in the Budapest Gambit, but it can be even more devastating in other circumstances. The following game may well be the quickest underpromotion checkmate there is, unless someone has constructed a shorter game.

Amateur - Goetz
Strassburg, 1880

Friday 6 May 2022

Heading Back

 My current trip to Bangkok was the first international trip in around 2 and  half years. While it was to attend an important FIDE PDC meeting, it was also a warmup for travel to the Olympiad in a few months. Overall  it was a pretty smooth trip (so far), although there is a lot more paperwork to fill out. Both the enter Thailand, and to return to Australia requires you to submit proof of vaccination, otherwise you still need to be tested. The other main issue is that there are far few flights to book. In my case I could only get separate domestic and international tickets, and while I was able to make my outgoing connection in Sydney easily enough, going in the opposite direction may be a little trickier.

Thursday 5 May 2022

The paid volunteer

 At the moment I am in Bangkok, attending a planning and development meeting for Asian chess federations (wearing both my PNG and Oceania hats). One topic of discussion is finding volunteers to implement programs that are usually required by developing federations (eg coaching and tournament organisation). For developed countries (both chess and economically) finding volunteers is hard, but aided by the large population of funded retirees. But for poorer countries this pool of resources is almost non-existent.  So one suggestion is that each developing federation receives funding for a program officer, whose job it is is to implement these programs. The ultimate goal is to create enough chess activity that the federation would then be able to generate enough funds to support additional programs (travel assistance, high performance training), and eventually become economically self sufficient. Of course it is  leap to go from volunteer to paid, (and nothing has been agreed to as yet), but it may offer a path for federations to grow.

Monday 2 May 2022

2022 ACT Championship - 27th, 28th, 29th 30th May

ACT Championships 2022

ACT Championships 2022

27-30 May 2022 (Friday evening through Monday Reconciliation Day)

7-rounds FIDE/ACF Rated Swiss Format

Venue: Campbell High School

Prize pool $2350

1st Prize $1000

2nd Prize $500

3rd Prize $300

+ $550 in rating prizes

Entry link:

Treloar Crescent, Campbell (near War Memorial)

Schedule: Friday 27 May (First Round in the evening)

Saturday 28 May – Monday 30 May (Rounds 2 to 7)

Time Controls:

90 minutes per game with 30 second per move increment from move one (Fischer)

Director of Play:

FIDE International Arbiter Shaun Press

Friday 27 May 2022 7:00 PM - Monday 30 May 2022 5:00 PM (UTC+10)

Players and spectators will be required to wear face masks while in the playing area