Saturday 30 December 2023

2023 World Rapid and Blitz - Day 4

 Day 4 of the 2023 World Rapid and Blitz turned out to be pretty wild. The big news story was the game between Nepomniachtchi and Dubov in Round 13. They agreed to a draw after dancing their knights around the board for 12 moves, reaching the starting position (with the knights have swapped starting squares). The Fairplay team immediately alerted the Chief Arbiter, who scored the game 0-0. An appeal was lodged, but at 2:15 am it was rejected.

There was another appeal earlier in the tournament, around whether a clock was pressed, or whether it was faulty. This took an hour to resolve, throwing out the schedule considerably. And finally there was a technical issue with the pairings in the later rounds, resulting incorrect results being recorded on some lower boards (NB This was my responsibility as the tournament pairings officer to avoid, which I did not, and fix, which I did).

There was even some chess, with the day ending with 6 players tied for 1st on 9/12. Day 5 sees 9 rounds played in the Open (and 8 in the Women's), so an eventual winner may take some time to determine.

Friday 29 December 2023

2023 World Rapid and Blitz - Day 3

 Magnus Carlsen emerged as the winner of the 2023 World Rapid Championship, after 13 rounds of very tough play. His last day could be described as an exercise in tournament management, as he started with 2 wins (including beating his closest rival Vladimir Fedoseev) before finishing with 2 draws. With the final round games on the top boards also being drawn, he finished on 10/13, half a point ahead of Fedoseev. Behind the top two were 12 players on 9 points, with Yangyi Yu finishing with the Bronze Medal on tie-break.

The Women's Rapid saw a three way tie at the top, which necessitated a playoff match between the top two finishers on tie-break. After the initial 2 games, Anastasia Bodnaruk and Humpy Koneru were tied 1-1. The next game (sudden death) was drawn, but Bodnaruk won game 4 and the title. 

GM Anton Smirnov had a solid finish, scoring 2/4 on the last day to finish the event with 7/13 (+5=4-4). Felix Xie (NZ) finished with 3.5, and will no doubt benefit from the experience.

Today is the first day of the World Blitz Championship. There will be 11 rounds today, and 10 tomorrow.

Thursday 28 December 2023

2023 World Rapid and Blitz - Day 2

 Day 2 once again saw a number of upsets in the Rapid section of the 2023 World Rapid and Blitz. Magnus Carlsen started with another win, before slowing down with draws in the next 3 rounds. This allowed Vladimir Fedoseev and Yangyi Yu to catch him on 7/9. There is now a large pack of 13 players half a point off the lead.

One player who bounced back strongly after a slow start was GM Anton Smirnov. After score 1.5/5 on  day 1, he reeled of 3 straight wins  and a round 9 draw to end day 2 on 5 points. New Zealand representative Felix Xie would also be pleased with his second day results, scoring 2/4 to move up to 2.5/9.

Today is the final day of the Rapid, with 4 rounds to be played. In the case of a tie for 1st place, there will be playoffs arranged, which may involve up to 8(!) players.

Wednesday 27 December 2023

2023 World Rapind and Blitz - Starting day 2

 Day 2 of the 2023 FIDE World Rapid and Blitz is starting shortly. Day 1 went well (at least from my perspective), with lots of exciting chess, and no major incidents. There were a number of upsets on the first day, with a number of very strong GM's suffering at the hands of some younger talents. Given the faster time limit, it was no surprise that the top boards saw a number of players outside the top 50 take their turn in the spotlight of the top boards. 

There will be 4 rounds today in both sections, starting at 9pm Canberra time. There has been a lot of effort put into the live coverage of the games, so you are pretty much spoiled for choice when it comes to watching the event. Below is one of the games that attracted my attention while I was checking the game results.


Tuesday 26 December 2023

That did not start that badly

 Round 2 of the 2023 World Rapid and Blitz has begun, after the 1st round saw a number of upset results. The top 4 boards were all drawn, with Lev Aronian being the highest seeded player to collect the full point. This also the other top seeds disappear into mid-tables, with the exception of Magnus Carlsen, who gets to play on board 1 regardless of his score.

As for my job as Pairings Officer, things went quite smoothly. Everyone turned up, which is quite remarkable for an event of this size, and the first round results were processed both efficiently and accurately. The only delay was caused by displaying the next round pairings, which relied on getting the giant TV's in the playing hall to work, which did take some time.

2023 World Rapid and Blitz - starts today

 I've arrived in Samarkand for the 2023 World Rapid and Blitz, but there has been very little time for me to post an update. I spent around 36 hours traveling (mainly due to long lay overs between connections), before catching a few hours sleep on my arrival. The it was straight into the work of preparing for the tournament, which starts on the 26th.

As with all these events, the first major task is seeing who has/hasn't arrived. With 320+ players across both sections, there is always a chance that some players do not make it. In some cases it is visa issues, while in at least one case, trying to by tickets at the last minute failed due to no seats left on the planes. So while the expected field has been posted, nothing is official until 10am Samarkand time. 

If I do my job correctly (as the Pairings Officer for the Open section) play will begin at 3pm local time, which is 9pm Canberra time. The first day will see 5 rounds of the rapid, followed by 4 rounds on each of the next two days. I can tell you that Magnus Carlsen drew the white pieces at the opening ceremony, but who his first round opponent will be won't be known for a number of hours.

Saturday 23 December 2023

On the road

 I am heading off later today to be a Pairings Officer at the World Rapid and Blitz Championship. Eschewing the traditional method of travelling to Samarkand, I will still be in transit for the next 36 hours. To pass the time a little light reading, in the form of the decisions made by FIDE Council at its most recent meeting

Thursday 21 December 2023

Pocket Sets

 While doing some random Xmas shopping the other day, I came across some 'cheap and cheerful' chess sets. The kind that would never do for a competition game, but might be handing for a casual game on Boxing Day. It occurred to me that if serious chess players were given the choice between miniature sets, and oversized 'sculpture' sets, they would probably take the miniature set.

Bobby Fischer was said to carry one with him at all time, and Ulf Andersson used one on the way to becoming the highest rated Correspondence Chess player in 2002. Just in my line of sight as I type this are 5 such sets, and I suspect I have another half dozen scattered around the house. So if you are looking for a gift for another chess player, bigger is not necessarily better.

Monday 18 December 2023

Late nights and whiskey

 Except there was no whiskey.

For the last week and half, I've been attending various sessions of the 2023 FIDE Congress. This of course is from the comfort of my own home, as the whole congress was being held online. This started as a result of covid, but has continued for the non Olympiad years.

All very good in that counties that normally don't send a delegate in the off years were well represented, but not so good for delegates representing Oceania federations. Most meetings started at midnight Canberra time, and usually ran until 4 or 5 am in the morning. This meant that Oceania was probably less represented than other regions, although that made a difference overall is not clear.

Anyway, the major outcomes from the meetings that I attended were

  • Three new federations from Zone 3.6 (Oceania). Tonga and Vanuatu are now full member Federations, while New Caledonia is an Affiliated Member (can participate in FIDE events, but not vote at General Assembly's)
  • Term limits for the FIDE President are abolished (only a few years after being implemented) 
  • The 2028 Olympiad is to be held in Abu Dhabi. Genoa, Italy was the other bidder, and the deal breaker for them seemed to be getting visas for players from non-European countries. 
  • The proposed changes to the FIDE Rating System were approved (including the compression of ratings below 2000). These changes will take effect on 1st March 2024.
There were probably more important decisions, but for now, this is all my sleep deprived brain can remember,

Saturday 16 December 2023

Why no drop for mate?

 This is a follow up to a question asked in one the comments to a previous post.

I'm not sure this is the definitive reason why there is no "drop for mate" in Transfer (Bughouse), but at least in my memory, this rule was active in Canberra around 1983. In that year the Australian Junior Chess Championship was held in Canberra, and was organised by Nathan Stirling. On the opening day there was an introductory event, consisting of blitz and transfer.  For the transfer we were given the choice of allowing drop for checkmate, or not. IIRC the majority chose to allow 'drop for mate', and that was the rule adopted. I can remember winning at least one game using this method.

However in subsequent local events, the majority choice was 'no drop for mate'. At the time I assumed that both rules were equally used, and it was only after bughouse was played on the internet that it became clear that 'drop for mate' was the standard rule. However, Canberra has stuck with its preference, arguing that it requires greater skill to finish the game, rather than relying on a lucky break.

Friday 15 December 2023

2023 World Rapid and Blitz

 The player lists for the 2023 World Rapid and Blitz have been released. Magnus Carlsen is the top seed in the Open events, while Wenjun Ju is the top seed for the Women's Rapid and Tengjie Lei for the Women's Blitz.

All the events are incredibly strong, with the 200+ players in the Open, and 125 in the Women's event. The venue is Samarkand in Uzbekistan and the tournament runs from the 26th to the 30th of December. 

Full details of the tournament can be found at I will be onsite at the event, as I am one of the Pairings Officers for the tournament. Unlike the Chess Olympiad (where I have also filled this role), the turnaround times will be a lot quicker that one round a day, with the blitz schedule being 1 round every half an hour.

Wednesday 13 December 2023

An ideal game?

 I once read that Capablanca described the ideal chess game as one where a player played positionally correct moves, forced the win of material, and won with the last remaining pawn on the board. While I'm not convinced that all moves were positionally correct, it at least fulfilled the last of Capablanca's conditions.

Cheng,Larry - Press,Shaun [D03]
Swiss Festive Fun --- (6), 12.12.2023

Sunday 10 December 2023

Bakers Attack ? !

 I played in the annual Transfer (bughouse) event held in Canberra each year, with middling results. However, when I had the opportunity I wheeled out was I vaguely remembered was an opening called "Baker's Attack". It is an early sacrifice on f7, using 1.Nf3 2.Ne5 and 3.Nxf7. The the idea is to go the hack, either with an early Qh5+, or with e4 followed by Bc4+ 

However, I've failed to find an online reference to it, which may mean I am misremembering the name, or that it is even a real thing. Nonetheless, it did give me a few wins, even if isn't quite effective under the rules that are normally used in the ACT*

(*It has been a long tradition in Canberra Bughouse events that you cannot for a piece for checkmate. You can drop for forced mate, but not for an instant mate)

Friday 8 December 2023

Just the right amount

 After a game involving direct sacrifices, and a game which was more restrained, this game lands somewhere in the middle. It does involve an attack on the king, with a piece sacrifice, but the offer of a piece was more to distract White from the best defence, rather than the overrun the White position. And unlike the other 2 games, play wasn't the best for either side, with stronger moves being available at various points.

Horikawa,Keisuke - Press,Shaun [C56]
Swiss Festive Fun --- (4), 28.11.2023

Wednesday 6 December 2023

Slightly less violent

 After yesterdays lesson in targeting the king, a slightly more restrained game, in this case played by myself. In the end my opponent took a few liberty's in the opening (taking both centre pawns gives White too much play), and never quite untangled himself. At move 17 I was planning to play Be3 with the idea of winning the exchange after 18.Nc7, but I realised it was stronger if I reversed the move order. The game ended when my opponent flagged in a losing position.

Press,Shaun - Grcic,Milan [E04]
Swiss Festive Fun --- (5), 05.12.2023

Tuesday 5 December 2023

Some Street Chess carnage

 This game was played in the final round of a recent Street Chess event. I'm not sure of the provenance of 8.Qd2 (due to a broken Chessbase database), but after move 11, White was well ahead.  The only difficult question seemed to be the timing of the sacrifice on h6.

Press,Harry - Li,Hui [D55]
Street Chess (7), 02.12.2023

Monday 4 December 2023

London Chess Classic

 The London Chess Classic has returned, albeit in a much smaller form than in pre-covid years. It is now consists of a single 10 player RR, rather than the mix of GM event, Open swisses, monster rapids, and other events. 

The GM event is strong as usual, with 4 English GM's against 6 visiting players. There are a couple of interesting inclusions, including Gukesh, who is trying to qualify for the 2024 Candidates, and Hans Neimann, on a hot streak after winning in Zagreb last week.

At this stage 2 rounds have been played, with some interesting games on show. GM Michael Adams (current World Seniors Champion) won a very nice game in round 1, against his slightly higher rated opponent. If I had to take a lesson from the game, it would be the player who kept the better pawn structure, had the better result.


Adams,Michael (2670) - Tabatabaei,M. Amin (2694) [C50]
13th London Classic 2023 London ENG (1.4), 01.12.2023

Friday 1 December 2023

Some surprising endgames

 Today I helped run a school chess event in country NSW. It was a small affair, with 34 players taking part, and the emphasis was on fun and learning, rather than competition. Despite the relative inexperience of a lot of the players there were still some games that attracted my attention. Specifically, there were a number of endgames that may well have appeared in stronger events, even if that wasn't the intention.

In no particular order I saw

  • K+Q v K+R (win for the Q)
  • K+B+N v K (at least twice, both being drawn)
  • K v K (drawn of course)
  • K+2N v K+P (eventually drawn. I guess they haven't studied Troitzky as yet)
And while there were a few drawn K+QvK games (either by stalemate or exhaustion), there were more than a few conversions, which was pleasing to see.

Wednesday 29 November 2023

More wacky ideas

 This was prompted by a query concerning whether the result for resigning was different from the result from being checkmated.

A number of years ago I experimented with an alternative scoring system for club events. IIRC it was something like 4 points for a win plus a bonus point if you won in under 30 moves. Losing players earned a bonus point if they lasted longer than 40 moves, plus an extra bonus point if they were (a) lower rated and (b) weren't down material at move 30. All very complicated, and it didn't survive past the test event.

But would the game be different/better if a player received a fractional point if they resigned, rather than dragged the game out to checkmate (winner still gets 1, but 0,1 if you resign v 0 if you get mated). Or even better, you lost fractional points for every rejected draw offer in a game you go on to lose.  

Sunday 26 November 2023

Transfer is back

 After a break of a few years, the ACT Junior Chess league Transfer Tournament is back. This is the traditional end of year event for the ACTJCL, but is open to all players, regardless of age. The details are

The ACT Junior Chess League presents the ‘2023 Transfer Chess Festival’

Can you play transfer chess? Maybe you don't even know what transfer is? Come along to this fun and fabulous tournament, celebrate another sensational year of chess in the capital … and we'll teach you to play transfer! Your chess may never be the same again! Transfer is a team game. You can register as a team of two, or register alone and we'll find a partner for you on the day!

When: Sunday 10th December 2023. Registration starts at 12:45pm. Play commences at 1:15pm and prize giving at around 4:15pm.
Where: Campbell High School Library, Treloar Crescent, Campbell.
Who: All ages are welcome, including parents. The various rating categories (and prizes) should allow all players to compete and have a fun day!

Cost: $30 per team. Individual registrations are welcome @ $15 and we will find you a partner on the day! FREE pizza for ALL participants
Time Limits: Games will be played with 5 minutes per player on the clock. Games are won by checkmate or on time. Games are not "touch-move" and partners may assist and advise each other. Full rules will be explained on the day!
Awards: Champion Team & Runner Up Trophies and rating group prizes where the total team rating does not exceed 1500 or 1000. Trophies will also be given for the best family team. Ratings are in accordance with the ACF normal (not quick) list of 1 December. Teams may only win one prize but everyone (even your parents!) get a ribbon!

Entries: The ACTJCL registration process has moved online. Please register via preferably by Friday 8 December 2023.
Spaces are limited, and you are encouraged to book early to avoid missing out! Please help us to run the best event possible by entering in advance. Late entries will be accepted on the day if space permits.

Thursday 23 November 2023

The Big Centre

 The concept of long term advantages is sometimes difficult to explain to new players. They always want to be "doing something" with their pieces, rather than build an advantage, and then lower the boom. Even simple concepts such as occupying the centre fall by the wayside, as there isn't an immediate payoff. I've occasionally used the following game as an example, but the normal response is "didn't he just keep losing material". Well of course, but in part, it was because my position was better to start with.

Press,S - Yusof,A [D90]
34th Olympiad Istanbul TUR (7), 04.11.2000

Tuesday 21 November 2023

Sharp lines, watch your fingers

 If you choose to play sharp lines, sometimes you get cut. Here is a recent example from the 2023 European Teams Championship. The line chosen by White is supposed to be drawn with best play, but Black either wanted more, or simply mixed up his lines. It ended badly.

Theodorou,Nikolas (2619) - Radjabov,Teimour (2745) [C43]
24th European Teams Budva MNE (6.1), 17.11.2023

Sunday 19 November 2023

2023 Vikings Weekender - Day 2

 IM Junta Ikeda has won the 2023 Vikings Weekender with a score of 4.5/5. He defeated Roger Farrell in the final round to grab outright 1st, and relegate Farrell into a tie for 3rd place. Harry Press had a chance to catch Ikeda with a final round win over FM Fred Litchfield, but a tough round 4 draw against Farrell made it difficult to lift for a final round win. Instead the game was drawn, which was enough for Press to take outright 2nd on 4. Third place was shared between Farrell, Litchfield and Willis Lo, who won his final round game to finish in the prize money.

The Minor (Under 1600) was won by Masaki Horikawa on 4.5/5. He defeated Shriya Karthik on the top board, who went into the final game on 4/4. The loss by Karthik left her in a  way tie for 2nd, with Kamal Jain, Larry Cheng, Lukacz Walijewski and Dev Raichura. 

With this years event only being 5 rounds, there were lots of shared prizes in the lower categories, with 3 way ties being the norm. 

Overall it was a good tournament, with hard games throughout. However 5 rounds isn't ideal for a tournament of this type, so next year it will hopefully be extended to 6 rounds, with more entries being accepted into each category. 

Full results can be found at along with a link to replay the games

2023 Vikings Weekender - Day 1

 This years Vikings Weekender fells like a bit of a throwback to the 1980s. Due to venue constraints the tournaments (Open and Under 1600) are only 5 rounds, with 3 on the Saturday and 2 on the Sunday. As a result, both events are already pretty cut-throat affairs, with a single loss leaving players with a very tough assignment if they hope to take 1st place.

In the Open section, Roger Farrell and Harry Press lead with 3/3. Farrell beat FM Michael Kethro in the evening game, while top seed IM Junta Ikeda drew with FM Fred Litchfield. Press and Farrell are paired in round 4, with the winner looking good to win the overall event. Of course Ikeda and Litchfield cam overtake them, but either (or both) need to win both games tomorrow.

The Minor (Under 1600) is equally competitive, with 3 players leading on 3/3. Simon Louie and Shriya Karthik share the lead with Masaki Horikawa, but Horikawa will miss the morning round, leaving it as essentially a battle between Louie and Karthik. 

Tournament results can be found at and there is also a link to the live coverage of the top games.

Friday 17 November 2023

2023 Vikings Weekender

 The 2023 Vikings Weekender begins tomorrow, with the first round at 10am Canberra time. The top section is quite strong for such an event, with almost all of Canberra's top players taking part. IM Junta Ikeda is the top seed, with FM's Michael Kethro and Fred Litchfield also taking part. The Minor (Under 1600) will also be quite competitive, as the restriction on entries for the top section means a few players have been moved down from the Open to this section.

The tournament results, plus live games from the top section can be found at 

Thursday 16 November 2023

I have now seen this happen

 While most players know the shortest checkmate for Black (2 moves) and the shortest for White ( 3 moves), they normally do not appear in real life, unless there is some funny business going on. So when I did see it in real life the other day I was certainly shocked. 

The game was between two young juniors, and it was certainly a proper game (it certainly wasn't arranged). It ended in a win for White after 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Ke7 3.Qxe5# In fact the checkmate cam as a surprise to both players, as they weren't sure it was a mate, and spent a couple of minutes before they were both convinced it was. When I asked the Black player what happened, she simply said "I touched my King, and had to move it"

Monday 13 November 2023

What is a Master?

 One of the other factors in my somewhat infrequent positing is the work I am doing as the Secretary of the FIDE Qualification Commission. It isn't so much that the work is time consuming, but more that topics I may have posted about in the past are now part of my official duties, creating a conflict between public comment and private knowledge. 

However some queries are vague enough that I can talk about them in a non official way. One query was basically 'When are you allowed to call yourself a Grandmaster?' The obvious answer is, anytime you want. This is because that while Grandmaster is connected with chess, the title does not necessarily belong to chess (indeed it dates back to the 18th century). But the follow-up question 'When can you call yourself a chess Grandmaster?" is slightly more tricky. I'd still say you can if you wish, but under these circumstances, expect a lot of push back within the chess community. Over the years I have seen a number of complaints about players/coaches passing themselves off as "Chess Masters", although it is usually the case that a parent or player describes the coach as a "master", and the coach does not correct them :)

Of course you still shouldn't call yourself a 'FIDE Grandmaster' if you do not posses the title, not because of the Grandmaster part, but the FIDE part.

Friday 10 November 2023

Where has Shaun gone?

 Short answer - Nowhere

Longer answer - overrun with work 

But best answer - Growing my moustache for Movember. You can donate at

Monday 6 November 2023

Angelo Matthews - Flag fall?

 In a first for International Cricket, Angelo Matthews has been dismissed "Timed Out". Playing Bangladesh, the Sri Lankan batsmen failed to face up to the first delivery after a dismissal within the 2 minute deadline. The cause of this was issues with his helmet strap, as he was at the wicket within the time limit. But Bangladesh appealed and the Umpire had no choice but to give him out. 

Sunday 5 November 2023

Oops, I forgot to castle

 Another game that shows the perils of not castling. In this case Vasilly Ivanchuk (who is old enough to know better) comes a cropper against the Worlds youngest GM, Abhimanyu Mishra

Mishra,Abhimanyu (2592) - Ivanchuk,Vasyl (2653) [B66]
2023 FIDE Grand Swiss Douglas (10.39), 04.11.2023

Friday 3 November 2023

Belconnen represent

 There was an interesting pairing in round 8 of the 2023 Isle of Man Grand Swiss. Australian Champion Temur Kuybokarov was up against 2023 Doeberl Cup winner Hrant Melkumyan. Although Melkumyan plays under the Armenian flag, he has been resident in Belconnen (a suburb of Canberra, Australia), for the past few years.

Both players had solid events (ie lots of draws), and this game ended with a shared point. But it was not a colourless draw with Black attacking an exchange down. White returned the material to reach a rook and queen ending, which was eventually drawn after an exciting battle over passed pawns.

Melkumyan,Hrant (2650) - Kuybokarov,Temur (2584) [D41]
FIDE Grand Swiss 2023 Villa Marina, Douglas, Isle of (8.33), 02.11.2023

Wednesday 1 November 2023

2024 O2C Doeberl Cup

 Entries are now open for the 2024 O2C Doeberl Cup. Last years event smashed all records in terms of the size of the event, with 403 players entering. The addition of the Mini (Under 1500) event was a big success, and the format for 2024 will be the same as 2023. 

The only small change to the tournaments will be an additional blitz event for Under 1600 players, starting a little earlier  on the Saturday evening (6pm). This gives younger players a chance to play in a FIDE rated blitz event, without having to stay up until midnight, like this year.

As we often see the tournaments filling up a few weeks before the start, registering early is recommended. Full details (and registration links) can be found at

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

Monday 30 October 2023

The 50 move rule?

 I've had a couple of interesting experiences with the 50 move rule over the years. During the last round of a past Sydney International Open, 2 players dragged the game well beyond the point where they could claim, one because he thought he was winning (at that stage he was not), and the other because he thought you could only claim if there were no pawns on the board (NB This was prior to the 75 move rule coming into effect).

Going in the other direction, it appears a recent game at a tournament I was the arbiter for ended in a draw after the players reached move 50 and basically agreed that the game was drawn. Note: this was 50 moves in total, starting from move 1, with plenty of pawn moves and captures being played during the game. Both were new juniors, so I can't really blame them, although they simply recorded the result, without checking with me first!

It did remind of a case from an Olympiad(!) where an arbiter stepped in to declare the game drawn after 75 moves, misunderstanding the then new 75 move rule, thinking it applied from move 1, rather than from the last pawn move/capture. The game was quickly resumed, although I'm not sure what happened to the arbiter

Sunday 29 October 2023

Not every day you draw with a former World Champion

 CM Helen Milligan is a regular competitor on the seniors circuit. Having just finished playing in the 2023 Asian Seniors, she immediately travelled to Italy for the 2023 World Seniors. After starting with 1.5/2, she found that he 3rd round opponent was former World Champion GM Nona Gaprindashvili. If she might have felt nervous before the game about playing such a legend, it did not show during the game, where she looked to be the player making most of the threats. Towards the end Gaprindashvili went for a line where she had 2 pieces for the rook, but some nice tactics from Milligan restored the material balance, and the game was agreed draw in a position still slightly favouring Milligan.

Gaprindashvili,Nona (2267) - Milligan,Helen (1947) [E73]
World Senior Women's Championship (3.3), 27.10.2023

Friday 27 October 2023

2023 Grand Swiss

 It seems that the end of the year has been 'back loaded' with a number of important events. The 2023 Grand Swiss is underway, and has once again attracted a stellar field. 106 of the 114 players are GM's, with 7 IM's and 1 2300 rated untitled player. While Temur Kuybokarov is flying the Australian flag, Canberra resident GM Hrant Melkumyan is also taking part. Both have got off to good starts, going into round 3 on 1.5/2. The 50 player Women's event is also strong, with 16 GM's and 6 WGM's in the field.

Coverage of the event can be found at

Wednesday 25 October 2023

2023 World Seniors

 The World Seniors is one event that seems to grow in popularity each year. The 2023 edition begins today in Italy, with 300 players across 3 sections (50+, 65+ and Women's 50+). Each event is headed by a GM, with Michael Adams the top seed in the 50+, John Nunn in the 65+ and Nona Gaprindashvili in the Women's. Australia only has one representative (Aurel John-Buciu) but New Zealand has 7. There are also 27 GM's playing across the event, with 16 in the 50+

Due to the timezone difference I don't think the frst round has started just yet, but you should be able to keep up with the tournament at

Monday 23 October 2023

School Playoffs

 The 2023 ACT Interschool Competition has come to an end, with the playoffs for the ACT representatives to the Australian Schools Teams Championship being held over the weekend. The selected teams are Gold Creek (Girls Primary), Majura (Open Primary), Lyneham (Girls Secondary), Radford (Open Secondary).

The competition was hard fought across the weekend, although each event finished with a clear winner. What I did find most interesting was that almost every player had an ACF Rating ID, which shows that players are transitioning from school only chess, to club and weekend chess. That this has not previously been true  is one of the things that has been noticeable with ACT teams in recent years, especially when playing stronger teams from other states. Against other 'school' players they have held their own, but against 'serious' players, the results have been pretty one sided. 

But even in 2023 I'm not expecting miracles, just a more competitive performance from the ACT teams.

Friday 20 October 2023

And the LFG Blitz

 After the completion of the LFG Round Robin, most of the players took part in a blitz round robin. Once again Harry Press proved to be the strongest player, winning with 7/8 (losing only to Fred Litchfield). Litchfield and Malik Amer tied for 2nd on 5.5/8. I didn't do quite as poorly in this event scoring 4/8 (+3=2-3) although once again my tournament run was derailed by a loss to Harry Press.

Tuesday 17 October 2023

LFG Round Robin

 The LFG Round Robin has finished with a comprehensive victory for Harry Press. The event was organised by IA Lee Forace and involved a number of the higher rated Canberra players. In the end it was a tournament that saw the top players dominate the lower rated players (including myself).

Harry Press finished on 8.5/9, conceding a single draw to Wenlin Yin. Ties for 2nd were FM Fred Litchfield and Fabrizio Magrini on 7. Yin finished in 4th place on 6.5. With such heaving scoring at the top (+22=2-0 against the bottom 6 players), it wasn't a surprise that no one else scored 50% . The best of  these players was Sankeerten Badrinaryan who scored 4/9, with Malik Amer (3.5), FM Shaun Press (2.5), Jordan Brown (2.5), Steven Sengstock (2) and Matt Radisich (1.5) rounding out the places.

Despite my own result, it was an enjoyable and important tournament. Many thanks to Lee Forace for organising it, and with plans to hold it again next year, it may quickly become one of the ACT's important chess events.


Sunday 15 October 2023

2023 Asian Seniors

 The 2023 Asian Seniors has just started in Tagatay, The Philippines. I played in last years event (50+) in Auckland, but did not make the trip this year. One player who did back up from last year was Miles Patterson, who finished 2nd in the 65+ section. His result earned him an FM title (conditional upon rating), and an IM norm. This years 65+ section looks to be about th same strength as last years tournament so he may have chances to earn a 2nd IM norm. On the other hand the 50+ tournament looks to be a bit strong than last year, although a bit small. GM Rogelio Antonio is the top seed and there are 4 other IM's in the field.

Ramos,Ernesto - Patterson,Miles (1879) [C01]
12th Asian Senior Chess Championship Knights Templar Hotel, Tagayta (1.7), 15.10.2023

Friday 13 October 2023

Another obscure club game

 I have a bit of a backlog of blog posts, in part due to being busy with the FIDE Chess for Freedom event which ran over the past few days. So the clear the backlog, I will begin positing some of my 'obscure club games' which have been played in recent weeks.

Press,Shaun - Horikawa,Masaki [E01]
GungahlinCC --- (4), 10.10.2023

Tuesday 10 October 2023

2023 Vikings Weekender

 The 2023 Vikings Weekender will be held on the weekend of the 18th and 19th of November. A return to the traditional venue of the Vikings Club, Erindale, means that the entry numbers will be restricted to 60 players. There will also only be 5 rounds (no Friday night round) and as a result, only 24 players can enter the Top section, with 36 players in the Under 1600 section.

The booking link is

Full details are

18th and 19th November 2023

5 round FIDE Rated Swiss*

Vikings Club, Erindale, ACT

Time control: 60m + 30s

Open and Under 1600 sections (Both FIDE Rated)

Round 1: Sat 10:15am Round 2: Sat 2:15pm Round 3: Sat 6:15pm Round 4: Sun 10:15am Round 5: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 - Max 24 players in Open, Max 36 players in Under 1600 (In the case of oversubscription for the Open, players may be moved down to the Under 1600)

Erindale 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.

Saturday 18 November 2023 10:00 AM - Sunday 19 November 2023 7:00 PM (UTC+11)


Erindale Vikings Club

Ricardo St, Wanniassa ACT 2903

Saturday 7 October 2023

Match fitness

 In recent times I have gone into my tournament games a little under done. Unlike events like the Olympiad, I usually don't have a lot of time to prepare for club and local games. Weirdly I managed to play a good game today, and it might have something to do with a warm up event I played a few hours earlier. 

As a reward for a pretty tough two weeks of chess, I organised a Transfer tournament for the kids who attended the ACTJCL Bootcamp. It was 11 rounds, and as there was an odd number of players, I played to keep the numbers even. I even played the final 2  rounds solo, where I managed 1 win and 1 loss. Now I'm not saying that Transfer (or Bughouse) is the ideal preparation for a serious game, but possibly the act move moving the pieces (very quickly) helped get me into shape.

Tuesday 3 October 2023

An old line revisited

 A few weeks ago the following game was played in the LFG Round Robin. To the spectators, Black's 8th move came as a real surprise, as it was believed that sacrificing the exchange (championed by Blackburne in the 19th century) did not give Black enough compensation. But by playing a new move (9. ... Qc7) Black set White a significant number of problems. Eventually White lost their way and Black was left with a winning position. It seems that the line actually works for Black, although trying to find other examples was difficult (only a few games against 1900 rated players). So further investigation may be required before the exchange sacrifice is totally rehabilitated.

Magrini,Fabrizio - Press,Harry [C58]

Monday 2 October 2023

Bring out your books ...

 Saturday 7th October is the date of the very 1st Street Chess "Buy, Swap or Sell" chess book day. From 10am you can come along to sell your old chess books, swap books with anyone else who has brought books in, or simply buy what is on offer. A few of the Street Chess regulars will be bringing in their books to sell, including myself, who is using it as an opportunity to clear some duplicates from my collection.

The sale starts at 10am on Saturday 7th October outside King O'Malley's, City Walk, Canberra City. Street Chess will be running as usual from 11am but feel free to drop in a bit earlier than usual to pick up some bargains.

Friday 29 September 2023

ACT Junior Championship

 The 2023 ACT Junior Championship finished with a win by Dev Raichura, who scored an impressive 7/8. He only lost to last years champion Phong Huynh, but won all his other games. Olamide Fasakin was 2nd, with Masaki Horikwa winning the third place trophy on countback.

Although a number of older juniors skipped the event, it was still an impressive win for Raichura. The other significant thing about his win, is at the age of 8 years old, I am almost certain he would be the youngest winner of the ACT Junior Championship. He has also scored a number of wins over strong Canberra players in club events, so I expect his rating to jump up in the near future.

Wednesday 27 September 2023

The ten threat rule?

 Garry Kasparov once said if you make ten threats in a row, your bound to win as your opponent will eventually make a mistake. But I've now seen a different version attributed to Boris Spassky.

"It takes 10 threats to beat the World Champion". But it also mentions that you should beat a beginner with 1 threat, and lowly rated player with 2 threats, and average player with 3 threats, a strong club player with 4 threats etc

Now the only place I have seen this is in a facebook post (which flashed past my eyes too quickly), and haven't been able to find it anywhere else.

Tuesday 26 September 2023

2023 ACT Junior Championships Under14/12

 The first event in the 2023 ACT Junior Championship was completed today, with Owen MacMullin winning the Under 14 title. He did so after defeating Masaki Horikawa in a playoff game, after they had tied for 1st on 5/6. Having drawn there tournament game, they played each other in a single rapidplay game (G/15m), with MacMullin taking advantage of an opening mistake by Horikawa to win quite quickly. 

The winner of the Under 12 titles was Sanat Hegde, who was the youngest player in the 29 player field. He scored 4.5/6 to finish ahead of Rohan Jain and Ethan Li, who both scored 4.

The main event, the ACT Junior Championship starts tomorrow and will be played over 3 days. Alongside this event will be the Under 8 championship and the Under 10 championship, which will both be single day events.

Results for the Under 14/12 tournament can be found here

Sunday 24 September 2023

Almost the Olympics (Asian games)

 Chess is once again featuring at the Asian Games. And looking at the team lists, a lot of countries are taking it very seriously. In both the Men's and Women's events, at last half the fields are GM/WGM, with the Men's tournament having the bottom half starting at 2383 (GM Raymond Song).

I'm not sure if there is any live coverage of the games, as a quick check of the official games website did not having links to it. But you can at least see the results at

It is a 9 round event (over 4 days) and will be followed by a team event (Men's and Women's)

Friday 22 September 2023

2023 World Junior

 The 2023 World Junior Championship has started in Mexico City. Top see is GM Hans Neimann and there are 153 players in the Open section, and 85 in the Girls section. Australia has 3 representatives taking part (plus one arbiter). IM Cameron McGowan and FM Albert Winkelman are both seeded in the top half of the Open, while WCM Jody Middleton is playing in the Girls section.

The first round has been played (wins for McGowan and Winkelman, loss for Middleton) with the 2nd round starting in a few hours. Results can be found via although the live coverage seems to be missing at this stage.

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Games that are real, but are unreal

 I am trawling through the latest collection of games from The Week in chess, looking for some quick finishes/opening traps. However, with a enormous amount of chess now being played online, sudden ends to games have less to do with players overlooking threats, and more to do with misclicks and failed pre-moves. But even OTB games aren't immune to a version of this. Some blunders can only be explained by a player touching the wrong piece and being forced to play the losing move (well, that's the most charitable explanation I can think off). Here are a few examples

Khanin,S (2570) - Schitco,Ivan (2533) [D20]
Texas Collegiate Finals Brownsville USA (3.6), 17.09.2023
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e4 b5 4.a4 a6? 5.axb5 axb5?? 6.Rxa8 1-0

Gronkowski,Dariusz - Kubicka,Anna (2284) [A03]
Szansa Open Rapid 2023 Warsaw POL (1.16), 17.09.2023
1.f4 d5 2.c4 Nf6 3.cxd5 Nxd5 4.d3 e5 5.fxe5 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Ne3 7.Qa4+ b5 8.Qxb5+ c6 9.Qa4 Qh4+ 0-1

Varga,Gabor (1911) - Kozak,Antoni (2427) [B06]
10th POL-HUN Rapid 2023 Katowice POL (5.23), 09.09.2023
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.f4 d5 4.e5 Bf5 5.Bd3 e6 6.Bxf5 gxf5 7.Nf3 Bf8 8.0-0 Ne7 9.c3 Ng6 10.Ng5 h6 11.Qh5 hxg5 0-1

Kiss,Rebeka Anna (1754) - Navara,D (2688) [B25]
10th POL-HUN Rapid 2023 Katowice POL (1.1), 09.09.2023
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.f4 Nc6 6.d3 Rb8 7.a4 e6 8.Nf3 Nge7 9.0-0 0-0 10.Be3 b6 11.Qc1 Nd4 12.Nb5 Ne2+ 0-1

Monday 18 September 2023

2023 ACT Junior Chess Championship - Coming up

 2023 ACT Junior Championship and Age Championships

When: Monday 25th September – Friday 29th September

Schedule: Monday 25th Under 14/Under 12 Day 1

Tuesday 26th Under 14/Under 12 Day 2

Wednesday 27th Under 18 Day 1, Under 8 (Only day)

Thursday 28th Under 18 Day 2, Under 10 (Only day)

Friday 29th Under 18 Day 3

Tournament Format and Entry Fee

Under 18 9 rounds Wed-Fri FIDE Rated $90 60m+30s TC

Under 14 6 rounds Mon-Tue ACF Rated $60 60m+30s TC

Under 12 6 rounds Mon-Tue ACF Rated $60 60m+30s TC (May be combined with Under 14)

Under 10 6 rounds Thu ACF Rated $30 30m+30s TC

Under 8 6 rounds Wed ACF Rated $30 30m+30s TC

Players may play multiple events if age and schedule allows (eg Under 8’s can play Under 10’s as well, and even Under 14/12)

$10 discount for ACTJCL members

$20 discount if playing all 5 days (ie $130 for entry in Under 18 and Under 14)

Third and subsequent child from one family are free

Enter @


Monday 25 September 2023 9:00 AM - Friday 29 September 2023 5:00 PM (UTC+10)


Campbell High School Hall

Trelaor Cres, Campbell ACT 2612

Friday 15 September 2023

Congratulations FM Rupert Jones

 FM Rupert Jones has been recognised by the English Chess Federation for his many contributions to chess. Although resident in The Peoples Republic of Yorkshire, he has represented both Botswana (where he worked in the 80's and 90's) and Papua New Guinea (where he was born). To get an idea of all the things he has achieved you can read the citation at Also recognised was IA Alex McFarlane, who I have had the pleasure of working with on a number of occasions.

Well done Rupert and Alex

Wednesday 13 September 2023

A bit of a bluff?

 The current Gungahlin Chess Club tournament, the Korda Classic, ended in a tie for 1st between Miles Patterson and Riley Byng. However, the last round games saw both games decided by an element of bluffing. In Riley's game he had been outplayed in the middlegame, but in a lost ending he saw a chance for a swindle. However, when it arrived on the board, he realised it didn't work, due to a miscounting of pawn moves. However, his opponent made the same mistake in counting the pawn moves, and chose a losing line.

In the Patterson game, he was well on top when his opponent played a surprising queen sacrifice. As he had not considered this possibility, he had to carefully check the follow up moves. In doing so he realised that he had a little tactic at the end which kept his advantage, which was enough to win the game.

Patterson,Miles - Raichura,Dev [D34]
Korda Classic (7), 12.09.2023

Monday 11 September 2023

Pistols at dawn?

 The idea of settling a chess related dispute through playing a match goes a long way back, and at least has the befit of being less violent than actually shooting at each other. Indeed there seems to be a current dispute in Australian chess involving this conflict resolution, although it seems the lower rated player is not so keen on accepting the challenge (Noting that some point the past the same player had challenged other, lower rated players to matches in a similar way!).

Of course the risk is that it actually doesn't settle much, as shown by an old joke I found in "Chess with the Masters" by Martin Behim.

Burletzki (a coffee house player) arranged a 6 game match with a German master named Kohlein. Kohlein one the first game. Burletzki said "I made a silly mistake". Kohlein won the 2nd game. "You can't be expected to win every game". Kohlein won game 3. "I'm not in form today". Kohlein made it 4 in a row. "He's not a bad player". Kohlein picked up win number 5. "I think I underestimated my opponent". And after Kohlein won game 6, Burletzki admitted "I believe the man may well be my equal"

Friday 8 September 2023

Championship Chessmate


I'm always on the lookout for slightly offbeat chess products, and was fortunate to find one at todays Lifeline Bookfair (well it was Miles Patterson who found it first, but left it for me). "Championship Chessmate" was a 1972 product made by Hoi Polloi, and was a early version of  'Choose the move'. Inside the carboard sleeve was a card containing the moves of a chess game (in this case, the games from the 1972 Fischer v Spassky match).  You revealed the moves by sliding the card down, so they showed up in the cut-out slots at the bottom of the sleeve. In this way you could try and predict the next move of the game, without clumsily covering up the pages of the book.

While the original had 20 games from the match (Game 2 was not included), the copy I have only has games 4+5 (double sided printing on a single card). A bit of searching reveals that copies can still be purchased online, with the entire set of cards. Of course the other option is to simply make my own cards, not just of the original games, but of other matches and players. 

Apart from this item, I did pick up a few other books at the bookfair, and will return tomorrow to see what else is on offer.

An outbreak of knight moving pawns

 For some strange reason, I had not one, but two beginners ask me if pawns could move 1 square forward and then take diagonally on the same move (basically a knight move). Of course I said no, but it did get me thinking. If a pawn can move 2 squares forward on the first move, why can't it take by moving 2 squares diagonally on the first move. 'Because' is probably the best answer, although it may make the game a little different if it could. I assume that such a variant does already exists, although the closest I could find was Berolina Chess, which isn't the same thing.

Monday 4 September 2023

More silliness

 One of the reasons why my blog posts have become infrequent is due to a lot of high level chess being played online. Pre-covid there were a lot of high level events running OTB, but now, a lot of top players clash in online events, with fast time limits. While this is entertaining for the online audience (which is of course the point), it does leave me a little cold. 

And I'm not convinced the players are taking it seriously either, as shown in the latest outburst of silliness. The newly reinstated Hans Neimann was playing against Kramnik at (NB it wasn't part of an organised tournament). After Neimann won with the Black pieces, a second game was played. The first few moves (Neimann as white) went 1.e4 f6 2.d4 g5 So in this position White can checkmate with 3.Qh5# Instead Neimann decided to out troll Kramnik's troll opening by resigning rather than mating.

Now I'm not sure what the point was that either players was aiming for, but it clearly wasn't rating points!

Sunday 3 September 2023

Father's Day Special

 To commemorate the late Oskar Hellman, a special Father's Day weekend event was held at Street Chess today. Thanks to the generous support of tournament regulars Lee Forace and Harry Johnson, we were able to award a number of extra prizes. These prizes included both a Senior and Junior prize (1st and 2nd place), and a Best Female prize. But as an added bonus, there was a prize for players who scored points with the Blackmar-Diemar Gambit (3 winners here), and a prize for the Best Father. With 38 players taking part, the tournament resulted in a lot pf happy players, who were a little surprised they went home with more money than they turned up with!

Thursday 31 August 2023

Random Rounds

 Under the FIDE Title regulations, you cannot 'arrange' the order of rounds in a tournament to benefit a particular player (or players). This mainly applied to Round Robin events, where an event might not have the correct mix of foreign players but a norm might be achieved if the player plays the right mix over a shorter set of rounds eg claiming a 9 game norm from an 11 round event (NB Even this is no longer possible as all rounds must be counted for a RR norm).

However, it is the case that  norms do count if the rounds are ordered randomly. Historically, this used to be a thing, with the idea that it made it harder to prepare for an opponent. One famous example was the 1924 New York International, where each round was specified by random at the start of the day. It probably did not make a real difference , although the eventual winner (Emanuel Lasker) started off with a bye in round 1. Nonetheless the tournament saw each of the 11 players finish on a unique score (no tied places), so it may have had the effect of making each round as important as any other.

Yates,Frederick Dewhurst - Reti,Richard [B18]
New York International Masters-01 New York,NY (19), 13.04.1924

Tuesday 29 August 2023

Boy, that de-escalated quickly

 The dispute between and Hans Neimann seems to have come to a sudden end, with both parties agreeing to 'move on'. have reinstated Neimann's access to the platform, and while they stand by the results of their previous investigations, are allowing Neimann to return with full access rights to the server, and to events they host. As an added bonus, Magnus Carlsen, who sparked the whole issue when he withdrew from the 2022 Sinquefeld Cup after losing to Neimann, has also stated that he is happy to play against Neimann if their paths cross in future events. 

My uneducated guess is no money changed hands as part of the resolution, although I assume both parties did run up some legal fees on the way to this happy ending.

Sunday 27 August 2023

Word Teams Rapid

 The international chess calendar is becoming increasingly crowded, with one event finishing and another starting almost immediately. The World Cup finished late last week, and a number of players headed off to Germany to play the newly created World Rapid Teams Championship. 

It looks as though anyone could enter a team, and while there are some incredibly strong teams at the top, there are a number of club teams at the tail end of the field. Sitting somewhere in the middle is a team representing the FIDE Management Board, containing 4 GM's an IM, one WFM, and the FIDE President as the reserve player. He has only played 1 game but has a 100% score. He is listed on the team sheet as a FID player (under the FIDE flag, which does make sense), but his rating profile still has the Russian flag next to his picture.

Dvorkovich,Arkady - Jasinska,Iga [E61]
2023 World Rapid Team Championship Dusseldorf (4.6), 26.08.2023

Thursday 24 August 2023

Carlsen wins World Cup

 Magnus Carlsen has defeat Pragganandhaa 1.5-0.5 in the rapid playoffs to win the 2023 FIDE World Cup. Although the event qualifies the top 3 place getters for the upcoming candidates series, Carlsen's prior decision to not play in the upcoming World Championship cycle means his victory was all about winning one title he has not won yet. 

Unburdened by the pressure of further progress, Carlsen instead demonstrated why he is still the best player in the world, scoring a number of seemingly effortless wins on the way to fist place. He did of course lose a game early on the Vincent Keymar, but after rebounding in the must win second game of that match, seemed to have everything under control (although there were still a few shaky moments along the way).

For Pragganandhaa, finishing as runner up both qualifies him for the Candidates tournament, as well as signalling his arrival at the top tier of world chess. Still only a teenager, he will no doubt become one of the worlds strongest players over the next 5 years.

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Pragg v Carlsen

 The World Cup Final is under way with Praggnanandhaa playing Carlsen. Pragg was the surprise winner of the semi final match against Caruana, while Carlsen beat Abasov. Although Pragg has had a fantastic run throughout the event, I expect Carlsen will win without much difficulty.

Nonetheless I do have a soft spot for Pragg, as he was very briefly a neighbour of mine during the 2016-17 Hastings International. He was in the room next to mine at my hotel, and even at that stage he showed the tenacity required to become one of the worlds top GM's.

Saturday 19 August 2023

Prep pays off

 One of the advantage of Round Robin play is you cn prep for a specific opponent, or prepare a set of openings. Capablanca famously used to choose a set of openings to use in an event, usually sticking with those openings until the end. 

In yet another game from the Looking For Gamers round robin, Harry Press chooses to push the d pawn in the Ruy Lopez, without playing c3 first. While this does not give White any particular advantage, it has the benefit of throwing off an equally well prepared opponent.

Press,Harry - Badrinarayan,Sankeertan [C88]
LFG, 18.08.2023

Thursday 17 August 2023

Chess in the far far future

 I am currently "hate-watching" the second season of Foundation, and chess gets a mention in the third episode. As the series is set a long way into the future, it is a little surprising they went with chess, and not some invented game. The actual reference involves a 'castling device' which allows 2 bodies to swap positions, in almost the same way as a king and a rook can. It is employed by Hober Mallow, initially to pull of a robbery, and then eventually to cheat death.

Note: the term "hate-watching" refers to watching a tv show or movie that you know is complete garbage, but you feel compelled to watch it any way. This definitely applies to the Foundation tv series.

Wednesday 16 August 2023

The raging rook

 Last night I played a game that was almost a brilliancy. Utilising my rook, I managed to organise quite a good attack on my opponents king. Unfortunately, when the time came to find the knockout blow, I bailed out. Instead of rewarding my rook sacrifice with a win, I decided that half a point was reward enough. Even after the game I didn't see the correct move, which only became clear with some silicon help.

Press,Shaun - Radisich,Matt [E66]
LFG --- (4), 15.08.2023

Monday 14 August 2023

World Under 16 Olympiad

 The World Under 16 Olympiad has begun, with Australia fielding 2 teams. The top team almost pulled of an upset, narrowly going down to top seed Kazakhstan 1.5-25, scoring draws on the top 3 boards. Australia 2 had a tougher time, losing to Ukraine 2 0.5-3.5.

However Round 2 saw both teams bounce back with good results. Australia 1 beat Uganda 4-0, while Australia 2 beat South Africa 2 3-1. The top Australian team now plays the 3rd team from Kazakhstan (they have 5 in total!) while team 2 plays the third team from The Netherlands. 

The official website is here, where you can all the details, results and live coverage.

Saturday 12 August 2023

Another nice LFG win

 The current LFG invitational has seen the field break into 3 groups. At the top are the tournament favourites (Press H, Litchfield and Magrini), the players in the middle who are aiming for a plus score, and a few at the bottom looking for their first points. I'm probably at the bottom of the middle group (now on 1/3), but hope to move up before I get to the top seeds.

Here is a nice win from Fred Litchfield of Matthew Radisich, which demonstrates the difference in strength between some of the tournament players.

Litchfield,Frederick (2134) - Radisich,Matt (1677) [D30]
Looking for Gamers Invitational (8.3), 04.08.2023

Wednesday 9 August 2023

Have your say on ratings

 The FIDE Qualification Commission is inviting comments on proposed changes to the FIDE Rating System. The details fo the changes are at and you can send your comments to (NB As Secretary of the FIDE QC, I do get to read them).

We have already received a number of submissions, but you have until the end of September to comment. After this date QC will go through the submissions and see if there are important ideas we may have missed. 

Monday 7 August 2023

Secondary Chess in Canberra 2023

 Today saw the North Canberra Secondary Zone event for 2023. This followed on from the South Canberra Zone held earlier in the year.

The event was won by Radford College with 23.5/28, half a point ahead of the Lyneham High No. 1 team. The 3rd place team was the Lyneham High No 2 team. The most remarkable thing about todays event was that there were 170 players taking part, which I believe is the largest school event ever held in Canberra. With the South Canberra Zone attracting 91 players, this is almost 1% of the total secondary school enrolment playing in this years interschool event. 

The other important fact to note was the number of high-ish rated players taking part. The top 10 seeds were rated over 1500 and 30 players in the field had a current ACF Rapid rating. This compares to a few years ago when very few participants had any sort of rating at all.

All this is good news for junior chess in Canberra. Both the size of the fields and the strength of the players show that junior chess is on the up in the nations capital.

Sunday 6 August 2023

2023 ACT Women's and Girls Chess Championship

 2023 ACT Women's and Girls' Chess Championship - 10 September

7 rounds, 15m+ 5s per game. Rated by the Australian Chess Federation (Quickplay List)

Schedule: Sunday 11th September - Check-in 9.30am Round 1 10am Round 2 10:45am Round 3 11:30am Round 4 12:15am

Lunch Break 1pm-1:30pm

Round 5 1:30pm Round 6 2:15 pm Round 7 3pm Prize Giving 3:45pm

Prizes - 1st $250 2nd $125 3rd $75 Trophies for 1st, 2nd, 3rd + Medals for U14, U12, and U10

Max. two half-point byes available for Rounds 1-4.

Entry fee $20 Adults, $10 Junior. WGM, WIM, WFM and WCM Free.

+ Novices event for unrated players - Free entry with medals for 1st, 2nd and 3rd (Same schedule as Championship)

Entries close Saturday 5pm 9 Sept.

Register at

Friday 4 August 2023

Back to 50%

 The much anticipated Press v Press clash in the LFG Invitational ended in a victory for youth. I didn't help my cause by blundering a pawn in the opening, although I received enough compensation for it that it could have been described as a pawn sacrifice. Where I really went wrong was not connecting a couple of separate plans together, to form one cohesive strategy. I looked at ideas around winning the c5 pawn with Rc1 and attacking the king with moves like d6. It turns out that if I played 16.d6! Black can only stop Plan B by allowing me to execute Plan A. Instead I just focussed on Plan B (which fails on its own) and eventually gave away most of my pieces!

Press,Shaun - Press,Harry [E10]
LFG --- (2), 04.08.2023

Thursday 3 August 2023

2023 World Cup

 The 2023 World Cup is underway in Baku. Australia started with 4 representatives (2 from the Oceania Zonal and 2 qualifying from the Olympiad), although that number dropped to 2 after Round 1. GM Bobby Cheng drew his round 1 match 1-1, but lost the playoff, while WGM Jillin Zhang went out in regulation. GM Temur Kuybokarov won his round 1 match, but is already down 1 game against Yu Yangi. He needs to win the 2nd game to send the match into overtime, but as I type this, he stands slightly worse going into the ending. Julia Ryjanova is holding her own in her round 2 match against higher rated Zhongyi Tan, having drawn the first game, and looking OK in a sharp position in the 2nd game.

Of course the big interest is in former World Champion Magnus Carlsen's participation. Having given up his title, a win in this event would provide an interesting dilemma. Would he see it as a sign that he retired too soon, or simply as proof that he does not need a title to demonstrate how good he is. of course there are a number of other players trying to stop him from winning this event, including Nakamura, Caruana and Nepomniachtchi. 

Plenty of online coverage (eg Youtube) but you can get the results and games from the official site

Tuesday 1 August 2023

Playing e4 and d4

 Conventional opening wisdom has White playing e4 and d4 in tandem. i.e. If you start with e4 then d4 is a desirable move to play, while if you start with 1.d4 then e4 becomes a goal. Of course how long between one and the other is open to debate. But once you have played it then d5-e5, and d6-e6 might even improve your position further!

Junta Ikeda - Terrence Tang [E16]
Round 2: Junta Ikeda - Terrence Tang, 29.07.2023

Sunday 30 July 2023

2023 ANU Open - Ikeda wins

 IM Junta Ikeda has added yet another title to his large collection, winning the 2023 ANU Open. Starting the day on 4/4 he defeated Fred Litchfield in round 5, before playing a 95 move draw against the rapidly improving Harvey Zhu. Harry Press (4.5) tied for second with CM Lalit Prasad, after Prasad scored an upset win over FM Fred Litchfield. Harvey Zhu and Terrance Tang shared the 1600-2000 rating prize, while Leiming Yu capped a fantastic tournament by winning the Under 1600 prize.

Matthew Dwyer scored 6 ins from 6 games to finish first in the Minor event. However he had to be content with the Best Unrated prize as he does not currently have a ACF/FIDE rating. This left Larry Cheng and Olamide Fasakin sharing the first place prize money, finishing on 5/6.

The tournament attracted a good field of 68 players, which was a substantial increase over last years turnout. The new venue at ANU was ideal for the tournament and hopefully it can be used for next years event. The event was strongly supported by the ANU Chess Society, with a number of members taking part in the tournament. There is even talk of returning to the days of a full blown chess festival, with simuls, computer chess and other activities being organised. 

Saturday 29 July 2023

2023 ANU Open Days 2

 IM Junta Ikeda has taken the outright lead in the 2023 ANU Open. He scored another 3 wins today, including an important Round4 victory over third seed Harry Press. He is half a point ahead of 2nd seed FM Fred Litchfield, after Litchfield took a bye for the evening round. As Litchfield is the only player on 3.5, he faces Ikeda in the morning round. 

In third place are Press, Terrence Tang, Harvey Zhu and Leiming Yu. Yu has been the real surprise of this event, scoring 3/4 against players rated 500 points ahead of him. He faces Tang in round 5, and based on current form, has good chances to go into the final round on 4/5.

In the Minor (Under 1600), it is the unrated players setting the pace. Matthew Dwyer is on 4/4, half a point ahead of Andrew Blakers on 3.5. Also sharing 2nd are junior players Eshaan Extross and Leon Sostaric. Blakers, who won the ACT Junior Championship in 1973(!) is making a competitive comeback after 50 years, having been one of Australia's leading researchers in Solar energy systems. 

Tomorrow mornings round starts at 10am, with the final round at 2pm. Live coverage of the top 4 boards can be found at the results link, which is

Friday 28 July 2023

2023 ANU Open - Round 1

 The 2023 ANU Open and Minor (Under 1600) tournaments began today, with a total of 67 players. The Open section has 31 players, with IM Junta Ikeda as the top seed. While the top 5 seeds all scored wins against their lower rated opponents, there were a few upsets further down. Leiming Yu, Jonah Gear and Dev Raichura all score upset wins, while Masaki Horikawa held his higher rated opponent to a draw.

The Minor (Under 1600) had 36 players, and once again almost all games went according to rating. Paul Dunn lost to unrated Matthew Dwyer, while experienced junior player Eshaan Extross escaped with a draw against debutant Andrew Blakers. 

The return to the Australian National University was welcomed by all, and the tournament saw a number of current and former ANU staff and students take part. The playing room is spacious and well lit, and quite close to coffee shops, bars and take aways. The only thing missing was live coverage of the top boards, but this will start tomorrow (round 2 @ 10 am)

All the results can be found at which also has a link to the live coverage

Thursday 27 July 2023

Reading the Riot Act

 The Riot Act is a Canberra institution, starting off as local discussion forum, before transforming itself into a local news platform. It was one of the sites I used to read regularly when I was working, although in retirement my readership is more sporadic. 

But I draw you attention to it, because they have just published a nice article on Street Chess (complete with pictures of me sporting my current beard). I even revealed some 'secret' chess moves that players might not know about ('Clickbait' warning. They are castling, en passant and promotion)

So check out the article at and then stay for the other cool news stories.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

2023 ANU Open (AKA Winter Cup) - Updated Venue

 The 2023 ANU Open is returning to the Australian national university, after arranging a venue on campus. The new venue is in the centre of the ANU, right next to eateries, coffee shops and the ANU Bar. The updated details for the tournament are

ANU Open 2023

28-30 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 28th 7PM,

Round 2 Sat 29th 10am, Rd 3 2pm, Round 4, 6pm

Round 5 Sun 30th 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: Room 2.02, Marie Reay Teaching Centre, University Avenue, Australian National University

Booking link:

Monday 24 July 2023

Oskar Hellman

 The ACT chess community is mourning the passing of Oskar Hellman, who died on Sunday. An active participant in ACT events for as long as I had been involved in Canberra Chess, Hellman was a regular participant  at Street Chess, making the 2 hour journey from his home near Wombeyan Caves to Canberra almost every weekend of the year. Since 2010 he played in 462 events, which was to most of any player during this time span. Born in 1935, Oskar was the oldest active player at Street Chess, but was happy to take on any opponent, especially the younger brigade. 

Prior to retiring to the Southern Highlands of NSW, he worked in the steel industry, and was an active player in Wollongong, Southern Sydney and elsewhere. His winter holidays often took him to North Queensland, where he participated in, and won, and number of events. He was a regular participant in the Doeberl Cup, first playing in 1978, and winning the Minor (Under 1600) in 2001. 

An attacking player at heart, he was particularly fond of playing, and winning with, the Blackmar-Diemar Gambit. He scored a number of fine wins with this opening, even against players who knew it was coming. 

Oskar is survived by his wife Monika, and children. As one Canberra's longest serving players, he will be missed.

Hellmann,Oscar - Riggs,Robert [D00]
Capitol Territory-ch Australia, 1994

Sunday 23 July 2023

2023 Women's World Championship

 Ju Wenjun has retained her Women's World Championship title after a last game win over challenger Lei Tingjie. The match was tied at 5.5 each (1 win each and 9 draws), before the final game. Although the 12th game started with the Colle System, it game soon heated up, when Wenjun decided to create a pair of passed pans on the queenside. A sequence of moves that left Wenjun with two knights for a rook looked to be good for Lei, but the ending proved to be better for the knights, and Wenjun won the game, and the match.

Wenjun Ju (2564) - Tingjie Lei (2554) [D04]
FIDE Women's World Championship Shanghai/Chongqing CHN (12.1), 22.07.2023

Saturday 22 July 2023

Off the mark

 International Arbiter Lee Forace is organising a new round robin event in Canberra. With the support of Looking for Gamers (located at Kambah Village), the 10 player round robin has attracted a field of players rated between 1600 and 2300. The other point of interest is the international nature of the field, with 4 federations represented (Australia, Italy, Libya, and Papua New Guinea).

I'm seeded 5th in the event, and started the tournament with a win over Jordan Brown. He probably missed a couple of chances to equalise in the opening (and I did not play it as well as I should), but I was able to build up a space advantage. When he tried to activate his pieces, it created a couple of other weak points in his position, and I was able to win a piece after invading on c7. I was both pleased to start with a win, and the beat Jordan, who has been a difficult opponent for me recently (I lost the last time we played). The next round is in 2 weeks time, and I get to play Harry Press!

Press,Shaun - Brown,Jordan [A32]
LFG Invitational --- (1), 21.07.2023

Thursday 20 July 2023

International Chess Day

 Today (July 20th) is International Chess Day. This attracted the attention of the Canberra Times newspaper, and they did a feature story, with photo's, on the after school chess program at Kaleen Primary school (NB I am one of the coaches for this program).  Interestingly, this is the same Canberra Times who just three weeks ago canned the weekly chess column that had been running for over 50 years.

The Round Robin

 For the first time in over a decade, I have signed myself up for a Round Robin event. In the past I have done pretty well in this format, although I fear the run may soon come to an end. If my memory hasn't failed me, the last RR I played was in the Solomon Islands in 2009 (I did finish first). Probably the crucial game for me was the following win over FM Lee Jones. He missed my idea in the middle game, and the threat of taking on f3 meant he had to give me a lot of material, so he chose to resign instead.

Jones,Lee (2117) - Press,Shaun (2076) [D45]
Solomon Islands Honiara (7), 27.09.2009

Monday 17 July 2023

The pawn is dead, long live the pawn

 When trying to 'gamify' chess to small children, I usually tell them that the pawn has one hidden power, and one super power. The super power is the ability to transform into another, stronger piece when it reaches the end of the board. And the hidden power is that hs the weakest power of all the pieces. So anything it attacks is either more valuable or at worst, of equal value.

And to demonstrate ...

Press,Shaun - Khadkar,Sameet [D77]
Gungahlin Rapid ---, 11.07.2023

Sunday 16 July 2023

Wax on, wax off

 One of the roles of any chess club, or chess tournament , is to help newer players improve their chess. In earlier days, this usually involved to gift of wisdom from a more experienced player at the competition of a game. As I have noted elsewhere, this has often been replaced by a quick trip to the laptop, so see how. many centi-pawns your first choice moves lost.

However it is still possible to pick up some good training tips as events, even if some of them come out of left field. One such suggestion given to a new, but struggling player, was to watch the movie 'Karate Kid' , especially the 'wax on, wax off' scene. The intention was to demonstrate the importance making some chess concepts so ingrained, that there was no need to spend time thinking about them. Now whether this is a real thing is open to debate, but in this specific case, the advice seemed to work. Having only won a couple of games over the last 4 months of Street Chess, the player concerned not only exceeded that total, but did so by winning 3 games in a row. For a sample size of 1, it looks like an effective training method!

Wednesday 12 July 2023

2023 Winter Cup (AKA ANU Open)

ACT Winter Open 2023

28-30 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 28th 7PM,

Round 2 Sat 29th 10am, Rd 3 2pm, Round 4, 6pm

Round 5 Sun 30th 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, Treloar Cres Campbell ACT

Booking link:

Monday 10 July 2023

2023 NSW Rapid Championship

 Junior player Harvey Zhu was the surprise winner of the 2023 NSW Rapid Championship. Seeded 12th in the tournament he scored an impressive 6.5/7, finishing a full point clear of 2nd place. After a 2nd round draw, he reeled of 5 straight wins, beating IM George Xie in round 6 and FM Alexis Vargas Arteaga in the final round. 

In 2nd place were 12 players tied on 5.5/7, including Xie, Vargas Arteaga and top seed FM Jason Hu. Hu had a rough start, losing in round 1 after dropping a queen, and drawing his 4th round game. With the large field of 134 players, a single lost point was enough to drop players out of the running.

Despite the size of the field the event ran quite smoothly. There were no major disputes and the tournament was played in good spirits. The NSWCA also doubled the advertised prize pool due to the large entry, with the winner taking home $600 for 1st. With ACF Rapid ratings being used to seed the tournament, the rating prize winners were a mix of adult and junior players, instead of the usual case of underrated juniors taking home the cash.

Full results can be seen at

(*I was a paid official for this event *)

Saturday 8 July 2023

How many rounds?

 I saw a question on one of Facebook arbiters groups, asking how many rounds for a 16 player tournament. Most arbiters suggested 5 rounds (sqrt(n)+1 rounds, where n is the number of players) while the most imaginative answer was 15. This is technically correct as the original question did not specify a format. A few did suggest 4 rounds would do, factoring the chances that some games would be drawn.

Whether the latter answer is correct will be put to the test at tomorrows NSW Rapid Championship. The event has a field of 142 and is scheduled for 7 rounds. The risk is that if all games are decisive there is a chance that 2 players may score 7/7, without playing each other.  Of course this almost never happens, but it is still dependent on how many games per round are expected to be drawn. Doing a rough, back of the envelope calculation, I estimate around 12 to 15% of games in each round (between players in the leading group) need to be drawn to find a clear winner. So apart from some interesting chess, I will also have one eye on whether my calculations match reality.

(** I am a paid arbiter for this event **)

Thursday 6 July 2023

2023 Women's World Championship

 The 2023 Women's World Championship is already 2 games in, although both games have been drawn. It is an all Chinese matchup with Wenjun Ju playing Tingjie Lei. Most pundits have Ju as the favourite for this match, based on match experience.

The first game was a Ruy Lopez Berlin variation, although it wasn't as drawish as the opening may indicate. In fact White sacrificed a pawn in the opening, but regained it with a better position. However, Jun was able to reach a rook and pawn ending, and by that stage it was definitely drawn.

Lei Tingjie (2554) - Ju Wenjun (2566) [C67]

Tuesday 4 July 2023

Taking the only chance

White to play

The final round of the 2023 Belconnen Cup at the Eastlake Gungahlin Chess Club saw a tricky King and Pawn ending on the 2nd board. In the diagrammed position White pushed the b pawn, with the plan of distracting the Black king long enough so as to stop the king side pawns. It turned out that (a) the plan worked but (b) Black missed a winning idea.

The line that was played was 1.b6 Kc6  2.b7 Kxb7 3.Kxd5 Kc7 4.Ke5 Kd7 5.Kf6 g4 6.Kg5 h5 7.Kxh5 f5 8.Kg5 Ke6 9.Kf4 Kf6 10.e4 fxe4 11.Kxe4 Kg5 12.Ke3 1/2/12

While watching the game I wondered if moving the h pawn first was better, as the king does not need to move to c6 straight away. The the threat of g4-h4-g3 is hard to meet for White. In the post mortem the brains trust of GCC members could not find a win, but with some computer assistance, it turns out that the win was there.

1...h5!! 2.b7 Kc7 3.Kxd5 g4 4.Ke4 h4 5.Kf4 f5! 6.e4 g3 7.hxg3 h3! 8.Kf3 fxe4+ 9.Kf2 Kxb7 10.Kg1 e3 -+

Other first move tries for White are equally bad, so in the end, he did well to save the half point.