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