Friday 31 March 2023

2023 Oceania Junior and Youth Update

 Just a quick update on the 2023 Oceania Junior and Youth Championships. Current entries are getting up to 140 players, and there is a hard limit of 200 players for the tournament (due to the venue size). The good news is that while some age groups will have to be merged, this will make the awarding of direct titles easier. Under the relevant FIDE regulations, if an age section has less than 8 players or has less than 3 federations involved, the section will be merged with the next section (almost always moving up). In the merged section, the lower group only requires 6 players and two federations to be present for titles to be awarded for that age group. As it now stands, this means  all of the age groups will be able to award direct titles, although the younger groups (Under 12 and below) may end up as one large section.

I've set the deadline for entry as late as possible (10th April), but there is a limit on entries. So if you wish to enter, or see who else has, then get to the website ASAP

(** I am the Chief Organiser for this event ** )

Wednesday 29 March 2023

ACT Interschool kicks off

 The ACT Interschool Chess Competitions kick off tomorrow, with the 2023 ACT Secondary Girls Final being held at Merici College. Continuing the trend of increased numbers for chess events, this years tournament already has 55 entries, well up from last years 30 players. The team of players from Lyneham High School are probably the favourites, and a win for them would make up for missing out last year (by not having a team!). However both Canberra Grammar and Radford College might be looking for a different result, while defending champions Merici College will also be in the mix.

In term two, the Primary and Secondary Open zone events will be held, with the Open finals in term 3. These events are organised by the ACT Junior Chess League, and usually attract big fields. if you are a junior player in Canberra, and your school is not sending a team, then get on to your teachers to organise one!

Monday 27 March 2023

2023 Dubbo Open - Day 2

 Top seed Dominic Fox has won the 2023 Dubbo Open, with an unbeaten 5.5/6. Starting the day on 3/3, he defeated Jonathon Harding in the days first round, before drawing with Tyler Milson. In the final round he was up against Braiden Cox, who needed a win for a chance for first. Fox won with a nice attack to secure the $550 1st prize. Blake Lynch finished outright second on 5 points, with Kye Walls and Fritz Vander Wal tied for 3rd on 4.5. The Under 1600 prize was shared between Lee Forace and Tim Hanrahan. The Under 1250 prize was won by Sean Boag and Rijul Saini was the best Unrated.

Once again the tournament was a pleasure to run. There were a number of new players competing in their very first weekend event, but as an arbiter I think I only had to deal with a single issue (an illegal move in one game). Everyone looked like they had a good time and are already looking forward to next years event.

Sunday 26 March 2023

2023 Dubbo Open - Day 1

 At the end of the first day of the 2023 Dubbo Open, 3 players share the lead with 3/3. Top seed Dominic Fox has been joined by Ky Walls and Jonathon Harding after they all went through the first day with 3 wins. Close behind are Trevor Bemrose and Tyler Milson who are on 2.5, after drawing their round 3 game.

The tournament once again attracted a good field of 37 players, with a solid bunch of players at the top. Unlike previous years where there was a surprise IM or GM in the field, this year has the Under 2000's battling it out  for the title.

Last night also saw the traditional time handicap blitz. While a number of younger players benefited  from have 5 minutes against the 1 or 2 minutes for their opponents, Braiden Cox emerged victorious with 5/5. There were the usual tales of injustice and woe (which earned extra prizes), but good fun was had by all.

Current standings for the event are available at

Friday 24 March 2023

The Dutch Stereotype

 I caught an episode of the tv series "Van der Valk" (2020 remake) this evening. I remember watching the original series as a child (probably on a Friday night on the ABC). While it is a pretty standard "police procedural" there was one nod to the setting of the series. Towards the end of the episode, Van der Valk was and the new team member played a game of chess, with the new member winning. "We need someone who can think 4 moves ahead" was the closing comment.

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.