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!")