Sunday 30 April 2023

That was all very silly

 The headline says it all. More thoughts to come later ...

Saturday 29 April 2023

Shortest unique game?

 This was originally going to be a post about a 'proof game', then a post about sharp practice, but it is now something even more interesting.

A brief report from one of the club events in Canberra mentioned a game that ended in mate after 4 moves, and involved a queen sacrifice. As the moves weren't given I tried to work out what had happened. Unable to do this, I then searched for 4 move games ending in mate in Hugebase, and came up empty. Finally I spoke to one of the players involved or explained what had happened .

The game began with 1.e3?! f5 2.Qh5+ g6. At this point White then picked up the bishop on f1, but quickly put it back. Looking across to his opponent, he sheepishly picked up again and played 3.Be2 The unsuspecting Black thought White had blundered the Queen and played 3 ... gxh5?? and was hit with 4.Bxh5#  Black, who filled me in on what had happened, thought the whole thing quite funny, and blamed himself for not spotting the ruse. 

As I have been unable to find a game resembling this in Chessbase, I am now wondering whether this qualifies at the shortest unique game even played? Earlier examples are welcomed

Thursday 27 April 2023

Stay calm, draw the next game

 After the catastrophe that was Game 12 of the 2023 World Championship, Nepo seems to have followed the old Russian advice of drawing the game following a loss. Even then he was a little fortunate, as Ding looked to have a promising position around move 20, before the game reached a kind of dynamic equality.

So it may come down to a single game, or failing a decisive result, a playoff. Based on the nervous play of both players, I do not think I can predict a result here. It may come to nerves rather than skill, something both players seem to have troubled controlling.

Wednesday 26 April 2023

Tuesday 25 April 2023

Junior Hybrid Friendly

 Four teams took part in a Hybrid Friendly organised today by the Hobson Bay Chess Club. The teams consisted of 6 junior players representing Invercargill (NZ), ACTJCL (ACT), Kingsley Chess Club (WA), and Hobson Bay Chess Club (VIC).

Each team played a central venue, and were supervised by an onsite arbiter. Hosted on the Tornelo website, the event was a teams round robin, played with a time limit of 30m+15s. After the 3 rounds were completed, the ACTJCL team finished in 1st place, winning all their matches (4-2,4-2, and 5-1). Invercargill finished 2nd with 2 match wins, Kingsley CC third with one win, and HBCC finished 4th. 

All matches were hard fought, and often the final margin of victory was dependant on the last few moves in the last game to finish. There were certainly a few games where players escaped from certain death, either through a clever swindle, or a simple show of generosity from their opponent.

Sun was the competitiveness of the event, only 2 players (out of 24) scored 3/3. They were Hansula Babaranda and Owen MacMullin. MacMullin was part of the winning ACTJCL team, and set the team on the road t first place with this nice round one win.

MacMullin,Owen - Pyvis,Ben (872) [C65]
ANZAC Day Inter Club Juniors Hybrid Frie Melbourne VIC, Australia (1.12), 25.04.2023

Forming ranks

 Finding brilliancies by Rashid Nezhmetdinov isn't a particularly hard task, as he played a vast number of them. However some stand out for other reasons, including the one below. After 15 moves White has most of his attacking force lined up across the third rank, which is normally not that threatening. But the jump of the knight to d5 sets the attack in motion, and it finishes with a nice set of scrifices.

Nezhmetdinov,Rashid - Kotkov,Yuri M [C67]
RSFSR-ch 17th Krasnodar, 1957

Sunday 23 April 2023

An old manual pairing system

 I've spent the last 3 days in Sydney, attending a CCLA meeting, buying and collecting books, and generally having a small break from Canberra. One book I picked up (courtesy of GM Ian Rogers) was the Australian Chess Championship Yearbook 1971-72. I have a few of these books (although not this one), and they are more than just a games collection. They often contain lots of extra information about chess clubs of the time, short biographies of players, and current rules and regulations.

In this edition, there were the Swiss Pairing Rules for the 1971 Australian Championship. The most interesting feature was the ordering of players. This was as follows

1. Score, highest first

2. Colour difference (0,+-1,+-2)

3. Sum of opponents ratings - lowest sum first

4. Start rank

Then starting at the top an opponent was found for the top remaining player by choosing a player from the highest scoring group, with the greatest opposite colour difference, and the highest SOR. Of course players could not play the same opponent a second time. This was done until a third of the pairings had been done, when pairings from the bottom  were worked out, until the bottom third had been done. Then the middle group was paired (top down I assume). There were minor rules to deal with groups that could not be paired, as will as determining colour for players with an identical colour history.

As with most pairing systems of that time, the rules were more of a "guideline for arbiters" and I assume that there were cases when a D.O.P simply decided that a set of pairings "looked right"


Friday 21 April 2023

Another surprise encounter

 These days I keep running into surprise chess fans. Today's encounter was a book shop in Sydney, after I had inadvertently stole $117 worth of books. I had purchased them the day before, but the credit card transaction had not been completed before I left the store. Realising my crime, I returned today to settle accounts. I described my purchases to a different manager than yesterday's, as "chess and gardening books". She immediately asked me if I had watched the previous nights game, referring to the current World Championship match. I said that I not, but was aware that Ding had failed to convert a promising position. "Yes, he missed a few chances" was her considered reply.

Wednesday 19 April 2023

Once upon a time

 When I was 8 years old I moved back to PNG (where I was born) from Melbourne. The big junior sport at my school was Soccer, although Rugby League was also played. As the season was about to start I was listening to some of my classmates saying how good they were. Deciding to join in the conversation I mentioned how I had scored some massive number of goals when I lived in Melbourne. So they invited me to join the team, with the first trial match being that upcoming weekend.

The only problem with my claim is that I had never played a game of soccer in my life. And as the day approached I knew I was about to get found out. In fact it was quite soon after the game began that the coach realised that my claims to being a prolific goal scorer were complete fiction, although he at least thought to ask my dad before he dragged me. My father of course informed him that this was my first game of soccer ever, and at half time I was relegated to defence. I felt very ashamed of this lie, both at the time, and even now, almost 50 years later. As it turned out I ended up as the goalkeeper next season, and we finished runner up that year.

In what is hardly a surprise, it turns out kids lie. I certainly did, to make myself look good, but was quickly found out. What was interesting was my father did not get mad about this, as he thought it was both funny, and that my embarrassment at being caught was punishment enough. I contrast this to some parents who reflexively defend their child, even when the facts are clear. Sadly this happened a couple of times in recent tournaments I was involved in. And while I understand that parents can be over-invested in their child's competitive career, based on my own experience, it is better that children face up to their mistakes, rather than have them explained away.

Monday 17 April 2023

2023 World Championship Match

 For an event that many people had written off before it had started, the 2023 World Championship Match is attracting a lot of attention. This is mainly due to the fact that the first 6 games have already seen 4 wins, 2 to each player. And while this may be a sign of nerves for both players, it does make a change from the previous few matches, where a drawn game was the most likely outcome.

So far in this match Nepo has taken the lead, only to see Ding equal the score with a subsequent victory. Such was the case last night, with Ding turning the London System into an attacking weapon.

Liren,Ding (2788) - Nepomniachtchi,Ian (2795) [D02]
FIDE World Championship 2023 Astana, Kazakhstan (6.1), 07.04.2023

Saturday 15 April 2023

2023 Oceania Youth Championship - Final Day

 FM Cameron McGowan is a new International Master after winning the 2023 Oceania Junior Championship. We scored a very impressive 8.5/9, leaving him 2 points ahead of FM Daniel Gong from new Zealand and CM Hamish Bassig from Australia. New Zealand FM Sravan Renjith has earned a provisional IM title for finishing top of the Under 18 sub group, but will need to get his rating over 2200 to be awarded the title.

Lillian Lu won the Under 20 Girls event with 7.5/9, earning a provisional WIM title. WFM Alaina Vincent finished 2nd on tie-break ahead of  CM Nadia Braganza and Ekaterina Gratchev. 

Thursday 13 April 2023

2023 Oceania Youth - Past halfway

 The 2023 Oceania Junior and Youth Championship has played 6 rounds, and the tension is quite noticeable. FM Cameron McGowan leads the main event (Under 20 Open) with 5.5/6, beating 2nd seed FM Albert Winkelman in round 6. CM Hamish Bassig is in 2nd on 5/6, with FM Daniel Gong in 3rd. As this event is awarding titles on both Under 20 and Under 18 categories, top 2 (or possibly 3) is the goal for potential IM's, while top 6 is the target for potential FM's.

The Under 20 Girls is even closer with a 4 way tie at the top of the table. Lillian Lu, Alaina Vincent, Ekaterina Gratchev and Om O'Carroll are on 5/6, and are battling it out for the top 3 places. For other players across the tournament, there are both titles (Under 16 Open, Under 14 Open and Under 12 Open are offering them as well), while there are medals on offer for all ages.

There are 3 rounds to be played in this event. You can keep an eye on the scores at although sadly there is no live coverage

Tuesday 11 April 2023

The Unicyclists did not show up

 The 2023 Oceania Junior and Youth Championship began today at Campbell High School in Canberra. 204 players entered, although a couple of late withdrawals forced a change to some of the events.

To allow everyone to be eligible for titles, the tournament is now being run in 5 sections. The Under 20 and Under 18 sections are now one event, as are the Under 16 Open and the Under 14 Open.  The Under 12 Open Tournament has been joined by the Under 10's and Under 8's. The Girls event is also now one section. While medals will be awarded in all age groups (20 down to 8 for both Open and Girls), the number of direct titles on offer has been reduced. (NB A previous post on this topic quoted the pre 2017 regulations, which have now been tightened up).

As a result the tournament got off to a slower start, as sorting out new groups (and transfers) took some time. All parents understood the issues and the reasons for the delay, except for one parent who spent most of the day abusing me on many and varied topics. However the tournament was back on track by the second round, with the arbiting team doing a fantastic job of dealing with the difficult start. Indeed they were even required to rearrange the main playing hall to accommodate a group of Unicyclists who had a previous booking on the space. But this effort was for nought, as the Unicyclists did not show up!


Monday 10 April 2023

2023 O2C Doeberl Cup - Three times the charm for Melkumyan

 GM Hrant Melkumyan has won his third O2C Doeberl Cup with a dominant display in this years event. Having previously finished 1st in 2019 and 2022, his 8/9 in this years event saw him finish half a point ahead of GM Temur Kuybokarov. He secured first place with a win over IM Ari Dale, finishing with 7 wins and 2 draws (against Kuybokarov and IM Rishi Sardana). Kuybokarov defeated FM Matthew Clarke to finish outright 2nd on 7.5. Tied for 3rd place were IM James Morris, IM Rishi Sardana, GM Daniel Fernandez and FM Fred Litchfield, on 6.5. Three of the top 6 (Melkumyan, Sardana and Litchfield) are Canberra residents, which capped a fantastic event for the ACT chess community.

The Major saw a 4 way tie for 1st on 5.5. In countback order, the winners were Baneshi Kiamerr, Thogata Randheer, Micah Young and Chloe Fan. The Minor was won by Kang Chai over Maickel Rodriguez on countback (both 6/7), and the Mini saw a 3 way tie between Jonah Gear, Mark Stokes and Nathan Arav. With Gear being ineligible for the place prizes (as an unrated player) the trophy went to mark Stokes on countback.

The tournament itself was a fantastic success,  with 403 players across 5 sections.  This is the largest open event in Australian chess history, and with the Kinford Consulting Blitz attracting 176 players as well, almost 600 players took part over the 5 days (allowing for some double counting!)

As the Chief Organiser for the event it was both exhausting and rewarding. It would not have been possible without the assistance of Chief Arbiter IA Alana Chibnall and her arbiting team, as well as Shun Ikeda and the amazing group on volunteers. As a reward for their fantastic work, most of the volunteers and some of the arbiters are now backing up for the 2023 Oceania Junior Championship which runs for the next 5 days in Canberra!

2023 O2C Doeberl Cup - Day 4

 The 2023 O2C Doeberl Cup has reached its final stages, with GM Hrant Melkumyan holding a half point lead over GM Temur Kuybakarov. Melkumyan and Kuybakorov drew their round 7 game, before Melkumyan defeated IM Brodie McClymont in the days second game. Kuybakrov only drew with IM James Morris in round 8, to fall half a point behind Melkumyan. On 6 points are Morris, IM Rishi Sardana, FM Matthew Clarke, and IM Ari Dale. Melkumyan plays Dale, while Kuybokarov is up against Clarke, Rounding out the top pairings are Sardana against Morris on board 3, with GM Daniel Fernandez playing McClymont of board 4.

In the Major (Under 2100), Khimaer Baneshi and Randheer Thogata are tied on 5/6, and play for all the marbles in todays round. Nick Beare holds a half point lead going into the last round of the Minor (Under 1800), while Mathew Juszczynski has a similar lead in the Mini (Under 1500)

Play commences at 930 am this morning at the Canberra Southern Cross Club, with prize giving this afternoon at 230 pm

Sunday 9 April 2023

2023 O2C Doeberl Cup - Day 3

 After the tournament started with a few upsets (and semi-upsets), the last few rounds have seen the top seeds reclaim their spots at the top of the Premier. GM Hrant Melkumyan (ARM) and GM Temur Kuybokarov lead on 5.5/6, and will face each other in Round 7. In outright 3rd on 5/6 is more of a surprise, with FM Dusan Stojic getting there by beating IM Junta Ikeda and GM Samy Shoker in rounds 5 and 6. On 4.5 is large pack of players, including local (ACT) players, IM Rishi Sardana and FM Fred Litchfield. 

The Major, Minor and Mini events are well underway, although the large fields see a number of players at the top. The 2 day Under 1200 tournament was completed yesterday with Unrated Benjamin Rathjen scoring 6/6. Under the rules for this event, he picked up the Best Unrated player prize, while Nicholas Lee picked up the first place trophy with 5.5/6 

IM James Morris scored a perfect 9/9 to win the $500 in the Kinford Consulting Doeberl Cup Blitz, once again employing the "Wing Dings" opening to great effect. A record field of 180 players took part in the tournament, which did not finish until midnight!

Saturday 8 April 2023

2023 O2C Doeberl Cup - Day 2

 After 2 days of play in the 2023 O2C Doeberl Cup Premier, two Australian IM's share the lead. Former winner James Morris, and Queensland IM Brodie McClymont are the only players on 4/4. Morris had a good win of local FM Fred Litchfield, while McClymont defeated GM Samy Shoker in the evening round. All 4 GM's in the event have dropped at least half a point, with GM Melkumyan and GM Kuybokarov on 3.5, Shoker on 3 and GM Daniel Fernandez on 2.5. 

Dqy 2 saw the start of all the other events, with a record field of 403 players entering over the 5 sections. As only 2 rounds have been played in these tournaments (3 in the Under 1200), leaders in the 80+ player fields are many and varied. 

Tonight also sees the very popular Kinford Consulting Blitz event, which usually attracts a very large field. This year sees an increase in the prize fund ($500 1st prize), so it may also see some of the titles players having a go. Entry for this event is taken at the venue so turn after 6pm if you wish to enter. The evnt runs for 9 rounds and starts at 730pm.


Friday 7 April 2023

2023 O2C Doeberl Cup - Day 1

 The first day of the 2023 O2C Doeberl Cup saw the Premier play its first 2 rounds. There were a significant number of upset results, and by the end of the day, only 2 of the GM's in the event had maintained a perfect score. GM Daniel Fernandez drew with CM Hamish Bassig in the 1st round, while GM Temur Kuybokarov had a round 2 draw against FM Michael Kethro. GM Samy Shoker made it to 2/2 after beating Harry Press in the evening round, as did defending champion GM Hrant Melkumyan, who won against FM David Cannon.

Today will see the other tournament sections begin, with 400 players  taking part. The addition of a new section (the Mini) seems to have encouraged for entries, as this tournament has a field of 100. Play begins at 1:00pm and spectators are welcome. The tournament is being played at the Canberra Southern Cross Club (Woden ACT), and runs until Monday 10th April.

James Morris - Lalit Prasad [B40]
2023 O2C Doeberl Cup Canberra (2), 06.04.2023

Thursday 6 April 2023

See you all in 10 days :)

 The 2023 O2C Doeberl Cup is starting today. I've just packed the car with a metric tonne of chess equipment and am about to head to the venue. The Doeberl runs until the 10th and then it is straight into the 2023 Oceania Junior Chess Championship. That event finishes on the 15th of April, so I should surface sometime around the 16th of December.

Wednesday 5 April 2023

The 1000 puzzle challenge

 To try and motivate some of my chess students I have set them quite a big challenge over the next 3 weeks. I've asked them to do 1000 puzzles at before then end of the school holidays. This is approximately 50 puzzles a day, although they can do more/less in a day if they choose.

The rules are simple

1. The puzzle category is up to you (I am mainly working on endings, but have choses general tactics and some openings)

2. It doesn't matter if you get 100% (or even 20%). Just trying to solve them is the goal

3. But ... you should retry the ones you got wrong before you start the next days set

4. Your final score/rating does not matter to anyone but yourself

To see how hard it is, I am doing the challenge as well. At this stage I have completed 150 puzzles (3 days) an I'm guessing I have probably only got 50% to 60% correct (I started at 5/25!)

As I will be very busy for the next 12 days, I suspect I may have to solve the bulk of them in the last 5 days of the challenge

Monday 3 April 2023

One more weird rule

 With the Interschool chess season starting, my collection of strange rules continues to grow. In a recent competition there was a disputed finish because one player informed their opponent that "kings were not allowed to capture". I assume that the reasoning was that in other games the player was told "the king can't capture that piece", but wasn't given a reason (it would put the king in check). Unfortunately the game was completed (and the board reset) before I was told of this.

In a related event, I then made an announcement about checking 'strange rules' that an opponent insists are real, and gave as an example of a fake rule 'pawns must wait a turn on the back rank before being promoted'. Lo and behold, two rounds later, a game was played where one player insisted that this *was* a rule, because I said it was!

Sunday 2 April 2023

A brutal attack

 The Reykjavik Open is one of the bigger chess events held around the world. It is organised as one big swiss, and with 400 players entered, accelerating the pairings for the 9 round event makes some sense. This also means that the 1st round games are a little more interesting than non accelerated events. Board 2 saw just such a game in round 1 where GM Nils Grandellius launched a brutal sacrificial attack against  IM Peter Large. If you are taking notes at home, the sacrifice on h6 was based on having 3 attackers versus 1 defender on the kingside.

Grandelius,Nils (2658) - Large,Peter G (2227) [E16]
Reykjavik Open 2023 Reykjavik (1.2), 29.03.2023