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 https://sites.google.com/view/2023oceaniazonals/home

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 chess24.com (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 chess24.com (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 https://lichess.org/broadcast/2023-bob-wade-masters/round-2/fJTfKnnW

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 http://chess-results.com/tnr714023.aspx?lan=1

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

chess.com broadcast

CAWA Broadcast

Open Results (chess-results.com)

Open Results (Vega)

Minor Results (chess-results.com)

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 cawa.org.au/livegames 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!)