Sunday 31 July 2022

2022 Chess Olympiad - Day 2

 The 2nd day of the Chess Olympiad seemed more hectic than day 1. This was due to the fact that it was the first weekend round, and the venue was swarming with spectators. Outside the entrance to the main playing hall, there were hundreds of autograph hunters, waiting for players to emerge after their games had finished. Inside the hall the number of spectators was also larger, although this didn't cause any significant issues for the players.

Day 2 saw a couple of big guns emerge. Magnus Carlsen played his first game, winning against Georg Meier from Uruguay. After his draw yesterday Aronian was rested for Caruana, but is a semi upset, Paraguay scored 1.5 against the top seeded US team. The biggest upset of the round was Zambia beating Denmark 2.5-1.5.

Australia continued its winning ways in both the Open and Women's events. The Open team scored 3.5 against Morocco, and the Women's team scored 3 against New Zealand. As a result Australia played Poland in the Open and Cuba in the Women's. 

PNG went down 0-4 to Qatar, but Nauru scored a credible 1.5 against the higher rated Honduras. With 2 rounds out of the way, the 'real' tournament is starting for a lot of the lower ranked teams, although PNG still have a tough opponent in the shape of Mozambique. 

Zrikem Nassim - Zhao Zong-Yuan [D05]
WCO (2), 2022.07.30

Saturday 30 July 2022

2022 Chess Olympiad - Round 1

 Round 1 of the 2022 Chess Olympiad has been run and done, with no upset results in either tournaments. The vast majority of matches ended 4-0 to the rating favourites, although both the USA and Norway dropped half a point. No match finished closer than 3-1, with Sri Lanka drawing 2 games against Hungary being the closest thing to an upset result.

PNG went down 4-0 to Zambia, although Stuart Fancy and Rupert Jones held out for quite a while. Australia scored 4-0 wins in both the Open and Women's, as did New Zealand. The other Oceania countries suffered similar fates to PNG, but hopefully round 2 will see some improved results. 

Pairings for round 2 are available at (with the link to the Women's event at the top)

Friday 29 July 2022

2022 Chess Olympiad has started

 As I write this, the 2022 Chess Olympiad is just underway. While the Olympiad has had a history of late round 1 starts, the first moves for this one were played at 3:06 local time, a mere 6 minutes after the scheduled start. Just as impressive was the fact that only 4 teams in each section did not arrive for the first round (and were not paired). So the event has started with 182 federations, which was a number that surprised even the organisers. 

As for the action, a number of the top teams have rested their top boards (no sign of Carlsen as yet). The Indian team is obviously the centre of attention, being placed on Board 1 for each match, although seeded 2nd. Further down the usual suspects have gathered, including teams from PNG, Fiji and Guam. 

My work with the Technical Administration Panel has kept me quite busy, including the need to finish this post so I can run across to the 2nd playing hall to spot missing teams!

Wednesday 27 July 2022

2022 Chess Olympiad - First Impressions

 I always enjoy getting to the chess olympiad a few days early, as it gives me a chance to see what goes into organising such a large event. For the 2022 Olympiad, what goes into this one, is a massive army of volunteers and staff. 

This started with me being met at the airport (actually on the airbridge), before being taken directly through customs (via the express lane) , and after collecting my luggage, being driven to my hotel. After a solid nights sleep, and a quick breakfast, I went and inspected the venue.

The venue is split into two areas, with the top boards in the existing convention centre, while the rest of the event is in a larger, purpose built, structure. Both venues are fairly spacious, with good lighting and air conditioning. The second hall has spectator areas, but as a result, space is a little tighter.

In terms of organisation, it has been pretty good so far. When I arrived both venues had already been set up (DGT boards for every match), although there was some last minute wiring and fixing going on. I spent a lot of the day helping get the TAP (Technical Administration Panel) office set up, and then checking the software that will be used to do the pairings. Tomorrow the main task will be checking on the arrival of the teams, to see who gets included in the pairings. As the drawing of lots is not going to take place until the opening ceremony, pairings won't be available until Thursday evening. Fortunately this gives us enough time to solve any last minute issues that arise.

Sunday 24 July 2022

In transit

 After a 4 year break, I am heading off to the Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India. It will be an early start from Canberra, and I expect to reach the hotel quite late tomorrow night. I'm heading off a few days early as I am back on the Technical Administration Panel for the tournament, which involves a lot of work before the event actually begins. Hopefully teams will have successfully navigated the visa process, and that covid won't be an issue. 

So probably no blogging tomorrow, but after that, I should post regular updates from the tournament

That one chance


Black to play and win

Sometimes when all hope looks lost, there is still one final chance you need to take. The diagrammed position was from a Street Chess game today (the Black rook may have been on a different square on 2nd/7th rank). White was up an exchange (2R's v RN), and having promoted, had an extra queen as well. But it was Black to move, and Black (Simon Louie) find the only move to win the game. 1... Rg2+ left White with a choice about taking the knight, but either way, 2... g5 was checkmate! 

(NB The board is shown from Blacks point of view)

Friday 22 July 2022

2022 ACT Winter Open

 An update on the details, entries and conditions for the 2022 ACT Winter Open (AKA ANU Open)

ACT Winter Open 2022

29-31 July (One round Friday evening, three Saturday, two Sunday)

Format: Open section and Under 1600 Section (ACF)
Time control: 60m+30s inc (FIDE Rated except for players 2400+)

Schedule: Round 1 Friday 29th 7PM,
Round 2 Sat 30th 10am, Rd 3 2pm, Round 4, 6pm
Round 5 Sun 31st 10am, Round 6 2pm Prize giving 6pm

Entry Fee: $80 ($60 concession) - GM, IM, WGM and WIM Free

Prizes: $1000 1st Open, $400 1st Minor $3600 in total

Venue: Campbell High School Library, Treloar Cres Campbell ACT

NB Masks are required to be worn inside the venue for players and spectators

Book here - ACT Winter Open

Current Entries - Open

Roland Brockman
Oladoyan Faskin
IM Junta Ikeda
Glenn Ingham
Daniel Lee
Fred Litchfield
Lalit Prasad
Leiming Yu

Current Entries - Minor

Reyansh Ahuja
Connor Amoore
Ethan Li
Riley Byng
Larry Cheng
Jerry Cheng
Cam Cunningham
Paul Dunn
CM Bill Egan
Olalowua Fasakin
Olamide Fasakin
Joshua Liang
Jason Gillard
Masaki Horikawa
Tomoki Horikawa
Keisuke Horikawa
Kamal Jain
Dev Raichura

Thursday 21 July 2022

Carlsen decides not to defend title

 The news that Magnus Carlsen will not defend his World Championship title is spreading quite quickly across the chess world. He had hinted that this might happen, but I for one was quite surprised that he has decided to go down this road. He isn't retiring from chess (like Fischer did), and is in fact taking part in the upcoming Olympiad. But we once again return to a situation where the World Champion isn't necessarily the worlds strongest player.

The immediate result is that it will be a Nepo v Ding world championship match, as they finished 1st and 2nd at the 2022 Candidates. Interestingly, neither player is taking part in the Olympiad, as neither players country will be there. The longer term effect is yet to be seen, but Carlsen's decision may (a) lead to a change in how the World Championship is to be decided, and (b) may have some effect on the upcoming FIDE elections.

Tuesday 19 July 2022

By turning up

 I have just managed to win a rapidplay tournament at my local club with a pleasing 5.5/6. But the secret to this wasn't that the time control suited me, or that I was in good form, but something simpler. I turned up for all 6 rounds (3 weeks), which gave me a distinct advantage. A couple of close rivals had enforced absences (covid), while some had other commitments get in the way. Fortunately I wasn't affected by these issues, which maximised my winning chances!

Press,Shaun - Grcic,Milan [D02]
Gungahlin Rapid (6), 19.07.2022

Monday 18 July 2022

Fancy a trip to Bali?

 The details of the 2022 Asian Youth Championship have been announced, and is what will surely be a popular venue for Australian players, Bali is the host. It runs from the 13th - 22nd October and has sections for U18,16,14,12,10, and U8 (Open and Girls). As with all continental junior events, there are FIDE titles on offer for the winners and place getters, as well as medals. 

Given the cost of airfares between Australia and Bali, this may be one Asian event where a large number of Australian players take part.

Further details can be found at the event website

Sunday 17 July 2022

Fifty years ago

 It is currently the 50th anniversary of the Fischer v Spassky World Championship Match. While I was only 5 years old when it happened, in a way it was still my first exposure to serious competitive chess. This was because my father had a copy of the Gligoric book on the match, and it was probably the first chess book that I read, albeit 4 years after the match was played.

I still flick through the book (and a number of others about the match), revisiting the analysis. One game that was particularly interesting was the 5th game of the match. It was notable for a provocative knight move on 11, which allowed Spassky to double Black's pawns. However a few moves later, Spassky was forced to undouble the pawns, and Fischer was able to take advantage of some very poor decisions by Spassky later in the game. The win by Fischer tied the match 2.5-2.5, and a win in the following game gave Fischer a lead, which he never relinquished.

Spassky,Boris Vasilievich (2660) - Fischer,Robert James (2785) [A77]
World-ch27 Fischer-Spassky +7-3=11 Reykjavik (3), 16.07.1972

Friday 15 July 2022

The creative process?

 While it is always good to see chess on TV, it isn't always done correctly. There is an ad on Australian TV which finishes with a checkmate (loudly announced), which is in fact correctly played, But the weird thing is the chess clock (and old fashioned BHB clock) is facing away from both players, towards the camera. I assume this was done for artistic  reasons, but it could just as well have been placed on the far side of the board. Maybe they tried that, but didn't like the result.

Thursday 14 July 2022

The tricks my memory plays

 During a recent post mortem, I mentioned a quick win by Petrosian over Hans Ree in a tournament from the early 1970's. It was in the context of an early Qb6 against the Catalan, and the way I remembered it, Black was quickly punished for such a move.

Turns out I was wrong about most things that I thought I had remembered. It wasn't a Catalan, but an English (albeit with a kingside fianchetto). And Black was not punished for playing Qb6, but was instead punished by White's Qb3. The only consolation was that I did get the names of the players right, and who the winner was.

Petrosian,Tigran V - Ree,Hans [A29]
Hoogovens Wijk aan Zee (12), 26.01.1971

Wednesday 13 July 2022

Visa issues for thee

 On of the difficulties at the start of recent chess olympiads is having all the registered players turn up. The main cause for no shows is visa difficulties, as for a lot of countries getting a visa is a very difficult process. A lot of small Pacific nations do not have an embassy or consulate of the host country and have to send passports and forms to Australia or the Philippines months in advance.

On the other hand European countries rarely have this difficulty, as they either have free movement in the countries hosting the Olympiad, or the EU has reciprocal arrangements, making visa applications pretty straightforward.

Interestingly enough, India has an online application process, which makes applying for a visa pretty straightforward (although I had attempt it twice as a chose the wrong visa type first time round, an experience I recounted in a previous post). When I did get it right, it took less than 48 hours for the visa to be approved. And this has been the case with almost all countries, except one. Players traveling on a UK passport still have to apply in person, at a registered agent. This process takes quite a long time, as there is a long waiting list for face to face interviews (a requirement apparently). And a few people I know have left it to the last minute to get the ball rolling, so there is a risk that the no-shows won't be from countries that have usually had issues, but from a post-Brexit UK!

Sunday 10 July 2022

Howick Chess Centre

 The New Zealand Chess Federation has announced the opening of a new chess centre in Auckland. The Howick Chess Centre (in Howick!) is a joint effort by Paul Spiller and the NZCF, providing both a venue for regular chess activities, and as a NZCF Office for the storage of historical items, and as a shop for NZCF items. 

Recognising the economic reality of such a venture, the Centre will be running until at least July 2023, at which time a review in its operation will take place.

A worthy initiative by Paul Spiller and the NZCF, and one I am sure many other chess federations would like to emulate.  

Thursday 7 July 2022

The big collapse

 One thing I have noticed with a lot of younger players is the that they have a tendency to collapse in a heap when something goes wrong with their position. It could be something as simple as losing a pawn, or something as dramatic as realising the sacrifice they wanted to play doesn't work (and they then play it anyway). I suspect I probably did the same up until a point in my own career, but the fact that it happens still seems weird.

I did benefit from this in a rapid game I played recently. My opponent missed a tactic, possibly because they assumed it wasn't any good (2 pieces for a rook and 2 pawns). However they missed I was picking up a rook and a piece, so it was just a simple win of the exchange (and 2 pawns). But the game ending move was played a few moves later when they just blundered a rook, for reasons which were unclear to me.

Lee,Nicholas - Press,Shaun [B13]
Gungahlin Rapid (6), 05.07.2022

Wednesday 6 July 2022

Weird book statistics

 I have been updating my book collection with Librarything, and have discovered that it can generate a lot of statistics about my collection.  If I stacked my books in a pile, it would be 74 feet high, at around 4% of my books aren't written by a person(!). Of the 200 identified authors, 48% are still alive, while 48% have died. 98% of my books are in English, although a number were originally written in other languages (mainly Russian). But probably the most surprising, and somewhat disappointing statistic is that only 1% of the authors in my collection were female.

Monday 4 July 2022

2022 ANU Open - 29th to 31st July

 The ACT Chess Association is organising the 2022 ANU Open, after a break of 2 years. 

The details are

ANU Open/Minor 2022

29-31 July (One round Friday evening, three Saturday, two Sunday)

Format: Open section and Under 1600 Section (ACF)

Time control: 60m+30s inc (FIDE Rated except for players 2400+)


Round 1 Friday 29th 7PM,

Round 2 Sat 30th 10am, Rd 3 2pm, Round 4, 6pm

Round 5 Sun 31st 10am, Round 6 2pm Prize giving 6pm

Entry Fee: $80 ($60 concession) - GM, IM, WGM and WIM Free

Prizes: $1000 1st Open, $400 1st Minor $3600 in total

Venue: ANU School of Art, Childers St Acton (NB Venue still to be confirmed. The alternative venue is Campbell High School, Treloar Cres, Campbell ACT)

Book here - ANU Open and Minor 

Saturday 2 July 2022

2022 Olympiad Teams

 The team lists for the 2022 Chess Olympiad have been posted today. In the Open Olympiad, the USA are the top seeds, followed by Azerbaijan and India. Norway has moved up to 4th seeding, boosted by the presence of Magnus Carlsen on the team. Australia is currently ranked 28th, while PNG is seeded 166th.

In the Women's Olympiad, India, Ukraine and Georgia are seeded at the top. Australia starts in 35th place, which , like the Open team, is a pretty good seeding. 

You can see the Open teams here, while the Women's teams are at this link

Friday 1 July 2022

It might be all over

 The 2022 Candidates tournament has turned out to be a real bloodbath, with almost every round seeing 2 or 3 decisive games, every player scoring t least one win, but at the same time 7 of the 8 players suffering at least one loss.

The only thing that is clear at this stage is that Ian Nepomniachtchi would have to suffer a mind blowing collapse to not win the tournament, as he is 1.5 points in front with 4 rounds to play. This sets up a potential rematch with magnus Carlsen for the World Championship, although this may be one thing that isn't certain. While I'm not convinced by Carlsen's suggestion that he won't defend his title, he may be less inclined to play Nepo than any other challenger. Not for political reasons, but because he has already won a match against him. The same could be said of playing Caruana a 2nd time, but Carlsen may be motivated to win this time, as the previous match ended with 12 draws over the classical games.

For what it is worth, I expect another Carlsen v Nepo match, although finding a bidder might be tricky (due to political reasons). If the Olympiad proves to be a success, India might go for another high profile event, but it would most likely return to the Middle East.