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!