Thursday, 23 March 2023

The Phalanx

 Two pawns abreast was some simple positional advice i once heard spoken by IM Robert Jamieson. Having central pawns side by side usually serves two purposes. The first is to efficiently cover the 4 squares in front of them, and the second is to support the necessary pawn break often needed to transform the position into a better on. On the following rapid game, I had the former, but not the later. But this was because my opponent felt the lack of space in his position required a pawn grab, which unfortunately for him, was unsound.

Press,Shaun - Rowe,Arief [D06]
Gungahlin Rapid (1), 21.03.2023

Monday, 20 March 2023

Game 1

 In a collection of games, often the 1st game sets the tone. If it is a collection of a players best games, the choice of the first game normally shows some kind of breakthrough, or indication that a new chess talent is born. In P.H. Clarkes book on Petrosian "Best Games of Chess 1946-1963", the first game fits this bill, although it is somewhat atypical of how Petrosian would play in later years. A quick tactical win, after his opponent created too many weaknesses on the queen side.

Petrosian,Tigran V - Kotkov,Yuri M [D30]
URS-ch U18 Leningrad, 1946

Sunday, 19 March 2023

Old school

 I was checking out some of the online events tonight, and I came across the HIT Open in Slovenia. The Chief Arbiter is a colleague if mine from the Olympiad (WGM Ana Srebrnic) but it was some of the names of the players that I found most interesting. GM Alexander Beliavsky  is playing, along with other older GM's like Nigel Davies and Stefan Djuric. Of course there are a few younger GM's in the field, but it is good to see some of the legends from earlier times still having a hit.  Oh, and the other interesting feature is the tournament does not seem to offer prizes as such, but instead "Reimbursement of Expenses" for the best scoring players (which of course have the same cash value as prizes!)

Chubakov,Sultan (2190) - Beliavsky,Alexander G (2499) [E01]
Hit Open 2023 Nova Gorica, Slovenia (2.8), 17.03.2023

Friday, 17 March 2023

Wednesday, 15 March 2023

When you find yourself on Board 236

 Having played at the far end of the playing hall on a number of occasions, I do sympathise with players who find themselves on board 200+. So here is a shout out to the following two players, who decided to brave the European Championship.

Kovac,Mihael (1784) - Orlovic,Lucie (1004) [C00]
23rd ch-EUR Indiv 2023 Vrnjacka Banja SRB (8.236), 10.03.2023

Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Top 10 books

 Canberra IM Junta Ikeda has updated his blogging platform which can now be found here (Entering your email address to access the content isn't mandatory).

One of his most popular posts is the list of the 10 books that helped him become an IM. While I won't repeat the list here, it looks to be a pretty solid list. I have 8 or 9 books on the list, but I'm pretty sure I have not studied them with the same effectiveness as Junta did. The two most interesting choices were John Watson's "Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy", and "Life and Games of Mikhail Tal". The Watson book can be seen as a modern update to "My System", which normally turns up on lists like these, while the Tal book fills the criteria of having one game collection annotated by the player themselves.

If you wish to check out the list, or read a number of other interesting articles, I suggest you head over there sooner, rather than later.

Monday, 13 March 2023

ACF Newsletter

 The Australian Chess Federation Newsletter, which has lain dormant for the last year, is back up and running. In part this is due to Miles Patterson joining the editorial team, providing the required push to get it going again. Designed t cover recent Australian chess events and activities, it also provides a useful resource for anyone looking to find out about upcoming events, and chess activities in various states and cities.

The latest version can be found at while previous issues can be found at

Sunday, 12 March 2023


 William Norwood Potter is one of those chess players who could be considered 'almost famous'. Playing in the 1870's and 80's, he was a contemporary of Steinitz, and according to Lasker, had a degree of influence on Steinit'z development as a positional player. Later noted for his writing, he was also a pretty handy player, narrowly losing a match to Zukertort, 8-6 (+4=8-2). He at least had the satisfaction of winning the following minature

Zukertort,Johannes Hermann - Potter,William Norwood [C01]
Match Zukertort-Potter +4-2=8 London (10), 25.11.1875

The only move is the best move

 Here is a game from the 2023 Ballarat Begonia Open, played in the 2nd round. White looks like he has whipped up quite an attack, but ends up biting off a little too much. The turning point is move 19, where Black only has one sensible move, but once it is played, White is going downhill.

Gibson,Kyle - Bjelobrk,Igor [C48]
Begonia Open 2023 Ballarat, Australia (2.2), 11.03.2023

Friday, 10 March 2023

2023 Ballarat Begonia Open

 One of Australia's biggest (on longest running) events, begins tomorrow. The 2023 Ballarat Begonia Open runs over the next three days, and has attracted record field of over 220 players (smashing last years record). The 7 round event is being played in 1 section (with accelerated pairings), with 2 games on Saturday, 3 on Sunday and 2 on Monday. There will be live coverage of the top boards.

Standings, details and games can be found at

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Albert Vasse

 I've just seen the sad news that Albert Vasse has passed away. He was most notable as the founder of DGT systems, the company responsible for developing both the digital board/broadcast technology and digital chess clocks, both off which are heavily used across the world.  Although he retired from running the company a number of years ago he was still an active arbiter and organiser, with the occasional stint as a player. I would often run into him at the various Chess Olympiads (where we would share a beer and conversation), although he would turn up at other events, such as the Gibraltar Open (where he was often the arbiter supervising my games). 

Always an enjoyable companion at major chess events, he will be missed by all in the chess community.

Nwachukwu,Chino (1926) - Vasse,Albert [B34]
Gibraltar Masters 10th Caleta (8), 31.01.2012

Tuesday, 7 March 2023

Too old and too slow

 Recently my blitz abilities have decreased somewhat dramatically. I really am getting too old and too slow. To fix this I am trying to practice against various crippled versions of Stockfish on Lichess, not to work on my moves, but mainly to work on my speed. Here is a recent effort

Sunday, 5 March 2023

Is it getting easier to play chess?

 There is no doubt that chess is undergoing a real boom at the moment. Events are attracting record numbers of entries and the number of players online is so large that chess servers are falling over.

Conventional wisdom is the combination of lockdowns ending and the Queens Gambit are the proximate causes. But I wonder if there is also a second order effect. 

In previous posts I have commented on how "hard" chess is. If you are a new player there is a real barrier to joining the chess community, and that barrier is ability. Despite the rhetoric of chess clubs being welcoming and encouraging beginners etc, they can be quite forbidding, especially if you start of losing a large number of games. But with larger number of new players joining at the same time, it may be a little easier to start competition chess, as there are a number of people sharing the same journey.

I've certainly noticed this at Street Chess over the last few months. previously a new player would turn up, find it tough going (even if they were pretty good but inexperienced), and despite encouragement, would often disappear. Now, with numbers topping 40 players each week, new players turn up in groups, and often finish with 2 or 3 wins under their belts. As a result I am now seeing more returns the following week.


Saturday, 4 March 2023

Dubbo 2023

 The next few months are going to be very busy, if you are a keen and active chess player. Next weekend is the Ballarat Open, while early April sees the O2C Doeberl Cup and the 2023 Oceania Junior and Youth Championships. But in between these events is one of my favourites, the 2023 Dubbo Open

It is on the weekend of the 25th and 25th of March, at the Dubbo RSL Club, Dubbo NSW. It is a 6 round event with a time limit of 60m+30s. 1st prize is $450 and each year sees a mixed field of strong players, and the more casual tournament competitors. I've been attending for around 20 years, firstly as a player, and then as an arbiter, and I highly recommend it, especially as a warm up for the Doeberl.

If you want to find out more information, just visit

Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Russia moves to Asia

 The big decision out of the Asian Chess Summit was the acceptance of the Russian Chess Federation as a member of the Asian Chess Federation. The CFR gave a presentation about how Russia wanted to join with the growing chess powerhouse that is Asia, but the obvious question of "Why now, exactly?" was strangely ignored. There were a few legal questions raised, as this was the first time a Federation had changed continents. The main issue was, could the CFR join the ACF without leaving the ECU, or would joining the ACF fulfill the condition of leaving the ECU. Much to late it occurred to me that the simplest solution to all this was for the CFR to resign from FIDE itself, and then apply to rejoin FIDE as part of the Asian Chess Federation at the next General Assembly.

As for the vote it was 29 yes, 6 abstentions, and 1 no. I attended as the voting delegate for the Papua New Guinea Chess Federation, and PNG was the single no vote.

Monday, 27 February 2023

The streak remains

 I'm pleased to say that my winning streak against Airline inflight chess programs continues. Turns out the 'Copyright 2000' message on the splash screen is a big clue about the strength of the program, and even on the harder levels, piece blunders were common. 

To break the monotony I also played some Texas Hold-Em (winning as well), and 'Who wants to be a millionaire' trivia. I did not know that the worlds largest Buddhist temple was in Indonesia.

Thursday, 23 February 2023

2023 Asian Chess Summit

 I am heading out of town (Canberra) to attend the 2023 Asian Chess Summit next week. It was intended to be the 2022 Asian Chess Summit, but for various reasons it ket getting shifted. 

Normally these events are mainly about networking and providing updates, but there is one contentious issue on the agenda. The Russian Chess Federation is applying to join the Asian Chess Federation, and leave the European Chess Union. The obvious cause of this is because Russian players are currently excluded from European events, and so the RCF is trying to 'jump ship'. There are a number of knock on effects if this does happen, including the decision by FIDE to allow Russian players to transfer to European federations at no charge, and to be entitles to represent their new federation immediately. 

Full details of FIDE's position on this can be found at

Monday, 20 February 2023

Play the game, watch the movie

 Normally movie and tv adaptions of popular computer games do not work particularly well. I even tested this theory by trying to watch the World of Warcraft movie. Of course there are exceptions ....

Sunday, 19 February 2023

Do you play for ratings or conditions?

 One of the tasks attached to my role as FIDE Qualification Secretary is to answer requests and comments concerning the FIDE Rating System. Sometime these are technical questions (eg "Why wasn't tournament X rated?") but some are to do with the operation of the rating system itself.

Without delving into details, the topic of 'underrated' players has come up. It turns out that this is a familiar topic to me, as when I was the Australian Ratings Officer way back in late 1980's, this was something I also dealt with on a regular basis. What hasn't happened over the past 35 years is a solution that makes everyone happy (that is also statistically sound).

One of the arguments about how the rating system is 'broken' is that it discourages strong players from playing open events with lots of lower rated players. But is that really the reason? Certainly the lure of playing other strong players attracts strong players to the event (and also lower rated players), but is the opposite true? I would like to think ratings is only one factor, and other issues like prizes and conditions are also important. 

Any way, when this issue came up 15 years ago I even made a blog post about it then. Click here

Friday, 17 February 2023

A model attack

 Study is still just as important and playing, and the improving player will combine the two. A collection of 'model' games can go a long way in helping you jump to the next level of chess understanding.  In the following game, white both demonstrates how to arrange pieces when you have 'hanging pawns' but just as importantly, how to launch an attack against a king that is not defended by a knight on f6.

Hansen,Curt (2485) - Georgiev,Kiril (2430) [D41]
Wch U20 Kiljava (11), 15.08.1984

Thursday, 16 February 2023

2023 Oceania Junior and Youth Championship

I am pleased to announce that the 2023 Oceania Junior (Under 20) and Youth Championships (U 18,16,14,12,10 and 8) will be taking place in Canberra from the 11th to the 15th April 2023. This is during the first week of the school holidays for most Australian states, and starts immediately after the finish of the 2023 O2C Doeberl Cup. It is open to all players registered in federations belonging to Zone 3.6 + players resident in New Caledonia. As a regional junior championship it will award direct titles to the place getters (depending on other conditions being met).

Full details of the tournament can be found at

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

Tuesday, 14 February 2023

A brilliant resignation

 When faced with a spectacular queen sacrifice by one of the worlds greatest players, the obvious thing to do is resign. Black certainly thought that resigning was the best move in the following game, as 10. ... cxd6 loses to 11.Bxf7# But both players overlooked one move ....

Capablanca,Jose Raul - Meyer,Leonhard B [C77]
New York rapid transit New York,NY, 05.03.1908

Monday, 13 February 2023

Clono - a quick review

 I decided to test out the Clono system at Street Chess yesterday. For anyone not familiar, it is an electronic scoresheet and game broadcast system that has recently been approved by FIDE* It runs on android devices, with the intended platform being 7 to 10 inch tablets. What I was testing was the feasibility of broadcasting games played at Street Chess in realtime

I provided a 7 inch android tablet to one of the players, to see how easy it was to (a) set up at my end and (b) to record a game in a rapidplay event (15 minutes per game).  It turns out that while the concept is good, it currently needs a lot of improvements to be practical.

The main issue I had as an organiser was that everything has to be entered by hand. Although I set up the tournament details a few days early (and you can find it here ), I had to enter each player involved by hand. I then had to enter the pairing for each round by hand (it currently only supports output from the Tournament Service paining program), as well as having to find out how to activate a new round (this took some time). As I was also trying to handle a 45 player event on a tight schedule, the game I was broadcasting often started late. 

There was also two technical issues. Firstly, once I had registered the tablet to a board (board 7 in the first round), I couldn't change that, so the pairing was on board 7 forever (even if it wasn't). The tablet can be tied to a specific player (so they can keep the same one), but I couldn't work out how to switch over to that. Secondly, despite fully charging the tablet, it ran out of charge after 3 hours. Now, while I understand that this is due to the choice of the tablet, it may force organisers to buy expensive models, simply for the longer battery life.

As for my tester, in the excitement of playing, he often failed to keep up with the moves. This is not surprising, as the tournament is played at a fast time limit, but it does defeat the purpose of using it as a reliable broadcast system. 

While I do plan to keep testing it, at this stage it isn't the solution I was looking for. Of course, rapid events may not be the target market for this system, but with a few little tweaks (supporting pgn pairing uploads for example), it could become a better system

(* I was a member of the FIDE Rules Commission when we approved the use of electronic scoresheets, although I am not aware of specific approval for the Clono system regarding FIDE rated events)

Here is the only completed game that was recorded, which wasn't the actual tournament game, but a casual game played after the first round.

Chia,Johanna - Radisich,Matthew [C50]
Street Chess 11 February 2023 Canberra, Australia (1), 11.02.2023

Saturday, 11 February 2023

2023 Lifeline Bookfair

 The 2023 Lifeline Bookfair was once again incredibly popular (and crowded). Once again I got there early, and was part of the first wave of buyers. Unfortunately this years chess collection was both a little smaller than the last few years, and mainly consisted of books I already owned. As a result I did not add to my chess collection, but did pick up other books of interest (A 1948 Tourist Guide to London for example)

One item I did see, but not buy, was a Kasparov 2000 RISC chess computer. It was only $60 but a lack of storage space in my study made the decision for me.

Friday, 10 February 2023

2023 O2C Doeberl Cup - Entries passed 100

 This years O2C Doeberl Cup is start to take shape, with the entries already over the 100 mark. As in the last few years there are limits on the number of players in each event, so it might be a good idea to enter sooner rather than later, so you get the event you want. 

The Premier section already has 4 Grandmasters entered, and I am hoping to have another 3 or 4 in the field. With travel almost back to normal, the Premier may get a number of overseas players, which will make earning IM and GM norms easier.

If you want to enter, or see how much space is left in your preferred event, then go to 

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

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Explained - Chess

 If you are a Netflix subscriber, then here is something that may be of interest. The series 'Explained' consists of a number of short (25 minutes) documentaries, covering various topics. One of the topics covered in the 3rd series is Chess.

Narrated by Rainn Wilson (actor, chess player, and sometime streamer), it provides a good overview of how chess is played, what makes it interesting, and why it is important. A mixture of archival footage and modern interview, it does quite a good job of introducing chess to the viewer, with the time it has available. One of the 'hooks' it uses is the Lasker v Thomas game played in 1912, going over the moves of that game, while talking about other aspects.

The link to the series is or you can such search on your tv/tablet/computer. For me it was an enjoyable 25 minutes of viewing, and unlike a lot of other documentaries on chess, there was very little they got wrong!

Monday, 6 February 2023

Free Pairing Software

 If you are looking for some (FIDE approved) pairing software that won't cost you anything, then you might be interested in Chess Tournament Organiser Program. It is a free (and open source) program that does all the usual stuff you need to run chess tournaments. 

The website for download is I've had a quick play with it, but not enough to work out all the features. It does use JaVaFo to do the pairings (which means it is FIDE compliant), but extras like export/import of data, producing crosstables, and accepting late entries etc will have to be reported on at a later time

Saturday, 4 February 2023

Speculative fiction

In testing the bounds of what AI systems can produce, I asked one such system for an article on the 1948 World Championship Match. While the facts in the article are not particularly accurate, as a piece of 'alternative history' it isn't that bad.

 "The 1948 World Chess Championship was a historic event in the world of chess. It was the first time in 24 years that a World Chess Championship match had taken place, after the events of World War II had disrupted the world of chess and caused a hiatus in the championship cycle. The match was held between the reigning world champion, Russian Grandmaster Mikhail Botvinnik, and Dutch Grandmaster Max Euwe, who had won the World Chess Championship title in 1935.

The match took place from March 15 to April 24, 1948, in The Hague, Netherlands. It was a best-of-20-games match, with a time control of 40 moves in 2 hours, followed by 20 moves in 1 hour for the remainder of the game. The match was closely watched by chess fans and players around the world, and was seen as a decisive test of strength between two of the strongest players of their time.

Botvinnik was widely regarded as the favorite to win the match, as he had established himself as one of the top chess players in the world. He had won several major international tournaments and was known for his solid and positional style of play. Euwe, on the other hand, was considered a talented but somewhat inconsistent player, and many observers thought that he would struggle against Botvinnik's superior technique and experience.

Despite these expectations, Euwe put up a strong fight against Botvinnik and managed to win the match by a score of 13.5 to 8.5. Euwe's win was seen as a major upset and was celebrated by chess fans around the world. Euwe's victory was especially impressive given that he had taken a break from competitive chess in the years leading up to the match, and many thought that his skills had declined.

Euwe's win marked the beginning of a new era in the world of chess, as he became the first player to dethrone Botvinnik and reclaim the World Chess Championship title. The match was also notable for being the first time that a world championship match had been held using the modern time control of 40 moves in 2 hours, as opposed to the traditional time control of 30 moves in 2 hours.

In conclusion, the 1948 World Chess Championship was a historic event in the world of chess, marking the return of the championship cycle after the disruption of World War II. The match between Botvinnik and Euwe was a thrilling and closely contested battle between two of the strongest chess players of their time, and Euwe's win was seen as a major upset and a turning point in the history of the World Chess Championship."

Thursday, 2 February 2023

Another oddball rule

 You would think that the list of mangled chess rules would eventually have an end point, but it turns out there are always new additions. Courtesy of Jovan Petronic comes a slightly different take on how a pawn operates.

Along with the usual 2 squares at the star, and promotion when it reaches the end of the board, there is an additional, previously unknown power. "The player whose pawn captures the queen can also get back one piece he has lost or gain one additional piece"

If this bizarre rule has anything going for it, it is that it will reduce the number of queen exchanges ("12.Qxd6 cxd6 sucker!") 

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Won't somebody think of the adults

 The Eastlakes Gungahlin Chess Club began it's 2023 chess season this evening, with not 1 but 2 club events. In a throwback to the 1980's, the club start both a junior event (2023 Gungahlin Junior Championship) and a adult event (2023 Ramakrishna Memorial). The two tournaments are identical (7 rounds 60m+30s), but junior players have to play the junior event.

So how did it go? Quite well actually. Combined the 2 events had 41 players (22 in the Memorial, and 19 in the junior), which is about the same as last year in terms of entrants, and age split. One problem it did solve is that it reduced the number of 1st round mismatches, as almost all the games in the Memorial went past the 1 hour mark, although the junior events still saw must game finish in under 60 minutes.

It is worth noting that this will be the only time the club will split the events this year (back to combined swisses for later events), but as a format to start the year off, it certainly looks like it made most club members happy.

Last round dramas

 Last round games can do strange things to chess players. The final round of the 2023 Tata Steel tournament saw a dramatic change in the final standings, as did the last round of the 2023 Oceania Zonal. Often it is the player with the least to lose starts with the upper hand, and simply has to wait for the mistake. For the players in the 2023 Zonal, this is in fact what happened, resulting in not only a 6 way tie for 1st, but an IM title for FM Patrick Gong.

Solomon,Stephen - Zhao,Zong Yuan [C90]
2023 Oceania Zonal, 29.01.2023

Saturday, 28 January 2023

Kuybokarov and Ryjanove win 3.6 Zonal events

 GM Temur Kuybokarov and WGM Julia Ryjanova have won the Open and Womens Zone 3.6 Championship. While Ryjanova won her event outright (8/9), Kuybokarov had to win a playoff against IM Gary Lane to claim the title.

Going into the final round GM Zong Yuan Zhao held a half point lead over the field, but IM Stephen Solomon threw the tournament wide open after beating Zhao. One the other results had come in, there was a 6 way tie for first, involving Kuybokarov, Lane, FM Patrick Gong, FM Yi Liu, Solomon, and IM James Morris (all on 7.5). The playoff was between the top 2 finishers on count back (Kuybokarov and Lane), which Kuybokarov won 2-0. FM Patrick Gong finished 3rd on tie-break, but as it was part of a tie for first, he received the IM title. Liu was unlucky in this regard, missing out on the title by a very narrow margin.

Ryjanova needed at least half a point to ensure 1st place but made sure of it by beating WFM Kristine Quek to finish half a point ahead of WGM Jilin Zhang. WFM Vyanla Punsalan finished 3rd on tie-break, to earn a WIM norm.

Apart from the winners, who qualified for the next World Cup, the remaining interest was in seeing who could earn various direct titles. It turns out quite a lot, although in a large number of cases, there will still be rating requirements that have to be met.

Thursday, 26 January 2023

2023 Oceania Zonal - After round 6

 GM Zong Yuan Zhao is is outright first after round 6 of the 2023 Oceania Zonal, with 6 wins from 6 games. In today's only round he beat Rebo Fu, while GM Temur Kuybokarov and FM Patrick Gong drew. Kuybokarov and Gong share 2nd place on 5.5, while there is a large pack of players on 5/6. 

In the Women's event WGM Julia Ryjanova has also scored 6/6 and leads by 1.5 points. Sharing 2nd place are WGM Jilin Zhang, Luna Xu, and Om O'Carroll. Again there is a large group of players on 4 points hoping to catch Ryjanova.

Tomorrow there will be 2 rounds, starting at 10am. Board 1 sees Kuybokarov v Zhao, while FM Patrick Gong is up against IM Igor Bjelobrk. Gong is not only hoping for a win in this game, but is also on track for an IM norm, either by performance, or by placing in the tournaments top 3.

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

2023 Oceania Zonal - quick impressions

 I dropped in towards the end of the third day of the 2023 Oceania Zonal to get a quick overview of the event. Most of the games were completed by the time I arrived, so I am yet to get a sense of how large the event actually is.

The venue is quite nice, although the tournament is spread out across 4 rooms. All games being broadcast live are in one room, while the rest of the games are spread out. There is no specific analysis room, but players seem to be happy meeting in the foyer area. With so many players/rooms, the tournament has 5 or 6 arbiters who each have a room to supervise. There are alos a large number of volunteers, who handle things like bags and mobile phones.

As for the chess WGM Julia Ryjanova is the sole leader of the Women's Zonal. She has scored 5/5 and is a point ahead of Om O'Carroll and Jody Middleton. WGM Jilin Zhang  is off to a slow start (3.5), but has yet to play Ryjanova.

In the Open there are 4 players on 5/5. GM's Temur Kuybokarov and Zong Yuan Zhao have been joined by  FM Patrick Gong and Rebo Fu. Curiously 3 of the leaders are all from Western Australia, and all played in the recently completed Australian Open.

Tomorrow has a blitz event in the morning, with Round 6 starting in the afternoon. With 4 rounds to play, the field is starting to sort itself out, but it will take another round or 2 before a likely winner (or winners) will emerge.

Travel day for me

 Today is a travel day for me. Heading down to Melbourne in a couple of hours to catch the end of the 2023 Oceania Zonal  (and to hold at least one important meeting). By the time I touch down, four and a bit rounds should be completed, and a clearer picture of the eventual results should emerge.

Monday, 23 January 2023

2023 Oceania Zonal - Day 1

 The 2023 Oceania Zonal has started today, with big numbers in both events. So large in fact that to discuss standings and likely winners won't make sense until much later in the tournament. Instead I'd thought I'd pick one of the games from the top boards. 

Current Asian Seniors Champion IM Gary Lane plays both sides of the Ruy Lopez equally well (as I recently discovered). In this game he takes the Black pieces, and manages to destroy his opponents king side position before launching a winning attack. I suspect if the colours had been reversed, he probably would have won the same way, with the White pieces.

Ni,Lucas (1641) - Lane,Gary W (2343) [C60]
Oceania Zonal Open 2023 Melbourne, Australia (1.6), 23.01.2023

Sunday, 22 January 2023

2023 Oceania Zonal

 The 2023 Oceania Zonal starts on Monday 22nd January in Melbourne. In what may well be the largest Zonal ever held anywhere, there are over 250 players in the Open, and another 42 in the Women's event. While there is a chance to qualify for the next FIDE World Cup (1 spot only!), the real attraction is the chance to receive a direct title. A score of 50% is required for a CM title, while a score of 66% is need for an FM title. Players earning this title must also have a FIDE rating over 2000 for the CM title, and 2100 for the FM title, at some point in their career.

For online coverage just visit the tournament website at

I will be heading down on Wednesday, wearing both my Zone 3.6 President hat, and my FIDE Qualification Commission Secretary hat. I will do some on the spot blogging when I get there, and hopefully will be able to report on the good performances of players from the Pacific region.

Friday, 20 January 2023

2023 World Championship Match to be held in Astana

FIDE has just announced that the 2023 World Championship Match will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan from the 7th April to the 1st May. It will be played between Ian Nepomniachtchi and Ding Liren, after Magnus Carlsen (the current title holder) chose not to defend his title.

The full FIDE media release is here 

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

It's not the 11 O'clock News

 As reported earlier today, both Magnus Carlsen and Ding Liren (the Worlds top 2 rated players) both lost in Round 4 of the Tata Steel event. This is a rare event, although i suspect it has probably happened more recently that we think. 

Carlsen lost to Anish Giri for the 2nd time in his career (at standard time controls). Apparently the first time was 12 years ago, on the same day, during the same tournament. Ding losing to Praggnanandhaa is also pretty big news, with Ding possibly becoming the next world champion.

Nonetheless the game I want is not either of these. It is the Abdusattorov v Maghsoodloo clash, which Abdusattorov won. There was a particularly interesting position at move 30, where White had a discovered check, which could not be played due to the rook being pinned. The tactical jousting to deal with this was interesting (from both sides), but eventually there was enough in the position to give White the win

Abdusattorov,Nodirbek (2713) - Maghsoodloo,Parham (2719) [C84]
Tata Steel Masters (4.4), 17.01.2023

Losses for the top 2 - More at 11

 Both Magnus Carlsen and Ding Liren (currently the only 2 players rated above 2800) suffered losses in round 4 of the 2023 Tata Steel tournament. More on this when I get back from walking the dog!

Monday, 16 January 2023

Tata Steel

 The first big OTB event of the year is underway in The Netherlands. The Tata Steel tournament has attracted the usual strong collection of GM's, including the soon no-to-be World Champion Magnus Carlsen, He has had a pretty good start with 1.5/2, but the game of the tournament so far is Anish Giri's win over Gukesh. A piece sac followed by rook sac did not immediately lead to a forced mate, with the Queen and Bishop controlled enough squares around the exposed King to end the game quickly.

Giri,Anish (2764) - Gukesh D (2725) [D38]
Tata Steel Masters (2.6), 15.01.2023

Sunday, 15 January 2023

2023 Bob Wade Masters

The 2023 Bob Wade Masters is currently running in Auckland, New Zealand. Organised by Paul Spiller, this event commemorates the great New Zealand Master, IM Bob Wade. 
The top section for this years tournament has attracted a strong field, with 2 GM's (Samy Shoker and Elshan Moradiabadi) and 2 IM's (Gary Lane and Herman Van Riemsdijk). There is also two Challenger tournaments, with Miles Patterson (from Canberra) playing in Challengers 1. Each of these events is a 10 player round robin, and will be running until the 20th of January. The Masters is being broadcast live in a couple of places, including on lichess at

Saturday, 14 January 2023

Perpetually Checked

 Just an interesting game from the 1950's that I cam across. I don't have any details for it, but it does end a curious perpetual check, where each side is putting the other side in check. BTW If you play this line for Black, note that White wins with 8.Nc3!

White - Black [C41]

Friday, 13 January 2023

A Philosophical Question

Courtesy of the book "The Pleasures of Chess" comes the following philosophical question. If a pawn is captured en-passant, did it really reach the square it intended to move to? 

When I explain en-pas to new players, I normally start with the long ago decision to allow a pawn to move squares on its first move. I then move onto the notion that the opponent gets the immediate chance to capture it 'as though it only moved 1 square'. This is to compensate the opponent for the missed chance to take it, once the rules had been altered.

But the position to the right shows the flaw in this reasoning. If White plays 1.Bg2 is it checkmate or not? Under the Laws of Chess Black can play 1. ... d5, not only blocking the check, but checkmating White instead! But it could be argued that due to the potential en-pas capture (2. cxd ep) the pawn could never reach d5, and therefore could never block the Bishop check. So who has been checkmated here?

Thursday, 12 January 2023

2023 Australian Open - Final Day

 GM Temur Kuybokarov wrapped up the 2023 Australian Open with a final round win over Leah Rice. Kuybokarov finished on 9.5/11 to win the Australian Open for the third time in a row (although he did share first in 2017 and 2019). In outright 2nd was GM Jingyao Tin on 9, while there was a 5 way tie for third. 

Kuybokarov's win was fairly straightforward although he was in trouble against FM Yi Liu in their game. All the other competitors dropped at least one game, usually at the point where they couldn't afford to. This also meant that no one scored a title norm, as the low average rating of the fields meant a high score was required.

One notable feature of the tournament was some massive rating gains by younger players. Leah Rice picks up around 250 rating points, while a number of other players had increases of over 100 points. Partly this is due to the 40k factor that is applied to junior players, but there is also a bit of 'covid lag' where young players have been improving, but not playing enough tournaments to reflect this.

As an arbiter I found the event very well organised. The chief organiser Andrew Hardegen, with the assistance of the CAWA, put together a great venue, a professional organising team, and a tournament that ran like clockwork. I would also like to say (possibly for the first time ever) that the behaviour of the junior players was excellent! Hopefully the CAWA will be encouraged to organise more national events, as if they meet the standard of this tournament, then they will be well worth attending.

Full results for the tournament (and a link to the minor) can be found at

Tuesday, 10 January 2023

2023 Australian Open - Day 8

 Round 10 of the 2023 Australian Open saw GM Temur Kuybokarov maintain his 1 point lead over the rest of the field. Up against FM Chris Wallis, he played a fairly quick draw, to move to 8.5/10. Closest rival IM James Morris also drew, to reach 7.5, where he was joined by  GM Jingyao Tin, FM Yi Liu, FM Dusan Stojic, and Mars Qi, who all won their round 10 games.

Today's round sees Kuybokarov up against tournament sensation, Leah Rice (SGP). Rice was seeded 90th in the event, but has scored 7/10 and is now playing on the top board in the tournaments final round. 

The Minor is also set for a close finish, with Benny Chan leading by half a point over Chintushig Chinbat,  Jayden Arav, and Alexander Feldblyum. As they have already played each other, each will be hoping that other results go in their way.

Monday, 9 January 2023

Tournament techincal techniques

 For this years Australian Open, I decided to write code that put a delay on the DGT broadcasts. While I am aware that broadcasts websites can do this, it often requires having to contact them directly to request the broadcast delay. Writing my own code made rebroadcasting easier as I simply provided a link to the delayed broadcast and it can be shown by whoever wishes to cover the tournament. The only requirement for this to work (apart from installing python 3.x on your laptop) is you have your own hosting site.

Having set this up I did notice one interesting side effect. Most sites will show the correct time, except sites that use the DGT website code itself! The reason being is that one of the pgn tag used in the games.pgn file is [ReferenceTime] This is the time of day when the move was recorded, and would normally not be useful. However the DGT web software then adjusts the clock times using this value, meaning that the time left display for one or other player is out by the value if the delay! So if you are watching a delayed broadcast this is an issue.

The other technical issue I resolved was with the DGT 3000 clocks. Sometimes when the time needs to be adjusted due to an illegal move, restarting the clock simply sent you back to the adjust time menu a 2nd time. The reason for this is that you need to have the lever on the correct side to move *before* you begin adjusting the time. If you change the lever afterwards, it assumes you've either modified the wrong side, or simply broken something.  

2023 Australian Open - Day 6

 The 6th day of the 2023 Australian Open was the last of the double round days. Despite a scare in the morning round, GM Temur Kuybokarov maintained his full point lead, scoring 1.5/2. He drew against FM Yi Liu from a worse position before beating GM Darryl Johansen in the afternoon round. Tied for second are WGM Thi Kim Phung Ho and IM James Morris, on 7/9.  While it looks like Kybokarov has the tournament wrapped up, he faces FM Chris Wallis in round 10. Wallis defeated him in the 2020 Australian Championship, a result that the chasing pack hopes could be repeated.

Today was a rest day for the tournament, although the Australian Lightning Championship was held. James Morris scored a perfect 11/11 to take the title. The tournament itself ran smoothly, with no disputes to speak of. Indeed the whole event was played in good spirits, and everyone seemed to have an enjoyable time.

Saturday, 7 January 2023

2023 Australian Open - Day 5

 Seven rounds have now been played in the 2023 Australian Open, and GM Temur Kuybokarov has opened up a 1 point lead over the rest of the field. He defeated IM James Morris in Round 7 after a very sharp opening. However the real trouble started for Morris around move 40 when the endgame got away from him. There are 5 players tied for second place on 5.5, including top seed GM Jingyao Tin who beat GM Darryl Johansen.

In the Minor tournament Oscar Ho and Benny Chan share the lead on 6/7. Having already played each other, it may be a question of who makes the least mistakes in the race to the finish.

Friday, 6 January 2023

2023 Australian Open - Day 4

 Antother double round day saw the 2023 Australian Open reach the halfway mark. The big result of the day was the win by IM James Morris over tournament top seed GM Jingyao Tin. Tin was better for a lot of the game, but blundered on move 35, losing material, and then the game. The win moves Morris into a tie for 1st with GM Temur Kuybokarov, who had drawn with Tin in Round 5.

GM Darryl Johansen and WIM Hong Anh Nguyen are tied for 3rd, on 5/6. Johansen won an interesting game against longtime opponent FM Bill Jordan, while Nguyen was not able to find a win in the ending against the always resourceful CM Hui Li. 

Today's round 7 sees a clash between Kuybokarov and Morris, with Tin v Johansen on Board 2.

Jayden Arav has taken the outright lead in the Minor event on 5.5, half a point ahead of Benny Chan and Oscar Ho. As Arav and Chan have already played, Arav is facing Ho on the top board today.

Morris,James (2456) - Tin,Jingyao (2598) [B10]
2023 Australian Open (6.1), 05.01.2023

Thursday, 5 January 2023

2023 Australian Open - Day 3

 Although 4 rounds have now been completed in the 2023 Australian Open, the leading pack of players has only been thinned a little. GM's Temur Kuybokarov (AUS) and Jingyao Tin (SGP) are on 4/4, as is WGM Thi Kim Phung Vo (VIE). They are closely followed by GM Darryl Johansen, IM James Morris, WIM Hong Anh Nguyen, Yihe Fu and Tony Weller, all on 3.5. Of all the players in this group, 54th seed Weller is the most surprising (and possibly the most surprised!).  An upset win over Mark Vliestra in the 4th round moved him show ring, where he faces IM James Morris in the 5th round.

The Minor also sees three players on 4/4, Benny Chan, Lucas Lee and Jayden Arav. 

Today (5th Jan) is another double round day. Round 5 is happening as I type this, while Round 6 starts at 1530 Perth time.

Wednesday, 4 January 2023

2023 Australian Open - Day 2

 The 2nd day of the 2023 Australian Open saw rounds 2 and 3 take place, with the tournament top seeds emerging unscathed. Both rounds saw a number of promising juniors take on the top seeds, but experience prevailed over enthusiasm. However, included in the group on 3/3 is one surprise packet, Anna Rozuwiecka from Victoria. She upset FM Patrick Gong in round 2 and then beat Rob Maris in the third round. 

The Minor has 6 players on 3/3. There are 2 unrated players in this group (Tharanga Gunasekara and Leo Ross) along with the usual group of improving junior players.

Today is a single round day, with play commencing at 1400 Perth time.

Salasan,Haran (2002) - Johansen,Darryl K (2360) [A40]
2023 Australian Open (3.4), 03.01.2023

Tuesday, 3 January 2023

2023 Australian Open - Day 1

 The 2023 Australian Open began yesterday (2nd January), with 114 players in the Open event, and 54 players in the Minor. There were a couple of no-shows (due to visa and travel issues), but the event got off to a very smooth start.

The Open saw very few upsets, with the top 17 seeds all recording victories. There were four draws on lower boards, while lower rated players scored wins in four of the games. Round 2 sees some closer matchups on the top boards, although the rating gap is still around 500 points.

In the Minor there were 6 upsets results, involving 5 wins and a draw. However a couple of these can be attributed to the variability in rating accuracy of new and lower rated players. Just as in the Open, today's morning round will start to sort out the title contenders.

The CAWA (Chess Association of Western Australia) have done an excellent job in organising this event. The venue is located right on Scarborough Beach, and the playing hall is ideal for an event like this. It has been 28 years since the Open has been held in Perth, which is far too long, especially given the high standard of organisation.

Today is a double round day, with round 3 start at 1530 Perth time. The top 8 games are being broadcast on a 30 minute delay. The links for the tournament and broadcast are

Lichess Broadcast broadcast

CAWA Broadcast

Open Results (

Open Results (Vega)

Minor Results (

Minor Results (Vega)

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

Monday, 2 January 2023

2023 Australian Open - Live Games

 The (not so) live broadcast for the 2023 Australian Open is at You may notice that the broadcast is a little disjointed, but this is due to the 30 minute delay for broadcasting games, and the fact that I am testing some new software to manage this.


Sunday, 1 January 2023

Welcome to 2023

 The clock has just moved past midnight here in Canberra, so welcome to 2023. I suspect this year will continue to see chess getting back to a more normal state, although there may be a few hic-ups along the way.

For me, the first chess activity of 2023 starts tomorrow (2nd January). I am off to the 2023 Australian Open in Perth. This is the first proper Australian Championship/Open since Sydney 2020, and the organisers have done very well in attracting a strong international field. After the the 2023 Oceania Zonal in Melbourne is likely to be my next port of call, before spending a couple of months busy with the organisation of the 2023 O2C Doeberl Cup.

Hopefully 2023 will be as busy for you as it will be for me (at least in terms of chess!)