Tuesday 30 May 2023

No Chess Column?

 GM Ian Rogers has announced that the Canberra Times plans to drop his chess column from the Sunday paper in a couple of weeks. Ian has been writing the column for a few weeks short of 30 years, while the column itself has been in existence since 1968. Also likely to go is the Bridge column, which has had the same editor for its entire lifespan, Len Dixon, who is 101 years old!

Sadly this has been a trend in the print media of late, with Ian's Sydney Morning Herald column dropped in 2020, only to be saved by a concerted letter writing campaign. Quite possibly this will have the same effect on the Canberra Times, so I encourage everyone to get to work. If you want your complaints/opinions published, then an email to letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au will do. You can also contact the editor directly at  johnpaul.moloney@canberraTimes.com.au - or make your concerns know to feedback@canberratimes.com.au

** Corrected email address **

Monday 29 May 2023

2023 ACT Chess Championship - 10th title for Ikeda

 IM Junta Ikeda is the ACT Chess Champion for the 10th time, after finishing on 7/7 in the 2023 Championship. He completed his perfect score with wins over CM Hui Li in round 6 and Terrence Tang in the final round. A point behind was FM Michael Kethro who finished his event with a nice attacking win over Malik Amer. CM Hui Li tied for 3rd place on 5.5, along with up and coming junior player Thomas Gatzen-O'Keefe. Seeded 15th in the tournament Gatzen-O'Keefe won his last 4 games to pick up a share of the third place prize, as well as some rating points.

Michael Rolph finished on 4.5 the win the best FIDE Unrated prize, while Olamide Fasakin had the biggest rating gain in the tournament. Gatzen-O'Keefe was the winner of Rating Group 1, while Jonah gear was the best scoring player from Rating Group 2.

Full results from the tournament can be found at http://tournaments.streetchess.net/actchampionship2023/

Junta Ikeda - Hui Li [D36]
2023 ACT Championship (6), 29.05.2023

Sunday 28 May 2023

2023 ACT Championship - Day 3

 IM Junta Ikeda is closing in on his 10th ACT Chess Championship, after winning two important games today. In round 4 he defeated Harry Press after Press sacrificed an exchange for insufficient compensation, and then defeated 2nd seed FM Michal Kethro in round 5. With 2 rounds to play Ikeda is on 5/5 and leads by half a point over CM Hui Li, and visiting player Terrence Tang. Li is paired against Ikeda in round 6, and looks to be in form, having defeated Press in round 5. Tang and Kethro play on board 2, with kethro hoping that Li can open up the event with a result against Ikeda. Malik Amer, Daniel Lee and Michael Rolph are also on 4 points, and remain in contention for the prizes.

Saturday 27 May 2023

2023 ACT Championship - Day 2

 The leading group in the 2023 ACT Championship has been whittled down to 4 players, after rounds 2 and 3 today. Top seed IM Junta Ikeda had a quick win over Tim Pearce in the morning round, before winning a tougher fight against Malik Amer in the third round. FM Michael Kethro also had to work hard on round 3, outplaying Oladoyin Fasakin in a Knight v Bishop ending. Harry Press scored two attacking victories to also move to 3 points, while Daniel Lee beat Harry Johnson to become the final member of the 100% group.

Tomorrows round 4 sees Press v Ikeda on the top board,  with Kethro v Lee on board 2. CM Hui Li is on board 3, having played a long and ultimately drawn game against Terrence Tang. He will be playing local junior Owen MacMullin, who is also on 2.5, with two wins (and a bye).

Tomorrows round starts at 10:30am and you can follow the top 4 boards at either http://tournaments.streetchess.net/actchampionship2023/ or on Lichess (just search for the 2023 ACT Championship broadcast)

Friday 26 May 2023

2023 ACT Championship - Day 1

 The first round of the 2023 ACT Championship saw most of the top seeds get through without too much trouble. It wasn't until board 15 that the results started to go against rating. Mark Scully was beaten quite convincingly by Owen MacMullin, while Olaoluwa Fasakin upset fellow junior Larry Cheng. The top 4 boards saw fairly easy wins for the top seeds, although FM Michael Kethro had to overcome determined resistance from Joshua Liang. 

The tournament saw a larger than usual field of 55 players, which would have been larger (and stronger) if not for a few dop outs due to the flue and similar ailments (NB It was 1 degree above 0 when I left the venue this evening). The new venue (Eastlakes Club in Griffith) proved a winner with the players, both in terms of comfort, and facilities. 

Tomorrow will see rounds 2&3, and the results/live games can be found at http://tournaments.streetchess.net/actchampionship2023/

Extross,Eshaan - Pearce,Tim [B13]
2023 ACT Championship (1), 26.05.2023

Thursday 25 May 2023

+3 for the win?

 The 2023 Sharjah Masters is finishing today, and based on the current games in progress 6/9 may well be the winning score. On the one hand this is a low score for a 78 player event, but understandable when you see that it is an all GM tournament. Of course this will result in a large tie for 1st, unless someone on the top boards finds a way of converting an advantage (But wait, Erigaisi has a forced mate as I type this).

One player who has played win/lose chess has been Australian Champ Temur Kuybokarov, he is 4.5/8 at the moment, with 4 wins, 3 losses and a single draw. One of his wins was against GM Salem Saleh, where he was outrated by almost 100 points.

Temur Kuybokarov - A.R. Saleh Salem [C88]
Sharjah Masters 2023 Chess.com (7), 13.05.2023

Wednesday 24 May 2023

2023 ACT Championship Update

 Entries for the 2023 ACT Chess Championship close on Friday at 6pm (First round is at 7pm). At this stage the entry list stands at 47 players, with IM Junta Ikeda as the top seed. He is likely to be challenged by a group of younger local players, with Willis Lo and Harry Press the next 2 seeds.

The event is being played at the Eastlake Club in Griffth for the first time, with the club providing an excellent venue both in terms of space, and service. Meals will be available at the venue throughout (but no cheese toasties this year!). Based on the current entries, there will be at least $1500 in prizes, with $500 for 1st.

It is not too late to enter, and you can do so at https://www.trybooking.com/CIDPJ

The current entry list can be seen at http://tournaments.streetchess.net/actchampionship2023/

Monday 22 May 2023

Rule changes in other sports

 As a boy I used to keep up with the rules in lots of sports. Football, Cricket, Rugby  League, Australian Rules and even Baseball and American Football. This is one of the reasons I became a chess arbiter, as I found the actual rules of various sports interesting to learn (well except Rugby Union, which still confuses me).

So when I watched a recent episode of Ted Lasso, there was a football scene that immediately made me go "What?". At the kick off of the match, the ball was passed back to the new signing Zava, who immediately blasted it into the goal from behind the halfway line. My reaction was based on the belief that the ball had to be kicked forward at the kick off, which clearly did not happen. It turns out I was right, but only up until 2016. The rule was changed then so the ball could be kicked in any direction, forward or back. So my memory of having two players at the half way line was accurate (one taps it forward, then the second players passes it back), but is now out of date.

Saturday 20 May 2023

Tournament Technical Support

 Today at Street Chess I tried 2 new technical tools to support tournament coverage and broadcasting* 

Inspired by IA Helen Milligan, who uses both these products, I used Clono to broadcast a game a round, and VegaResults to publish the tournament results. NB Both of these have been around for a while (* and I had already tested Clono previously), but I decided now was the time to use both of them as part of my tournament infrastructure.

Clono is an electronic scoresheet app that runs on Android tablets. Players enter their own moves on the tablet (after they have been played), and these are uploaded to the Clono server. They can then be broadcast via the tournament link, to be observed in real time. For today's event I used a single tablet (Samsung A7 lite), which I paid $197 for. Overall it was a success, in part because this was my second attempt. To speed up the process I did not use real players names (as I would have to add a new player or players each round), but simply used White and Black. There is a bit of an overhead setting up the event on the Server (you have to enter tournament details, and then create a tournament section, even if it is a single section event). Then for each round you need to create a game (White v Black on Board 1 was always the game), and then update the active round for each section (so the tablet knows a new game is starting). Fortunately I was able to do this quickly, and did get 7 games recorded. For 3 games the moves were recorded by one of the players, but for the rest either I or a helper entered the moves while watching. NB To avoid helping the player, the software will accept illegal moves, although it is a simple task to correct them. The other important thing to note is that you do need an internet connection, both for the tablet, and for the PC managing the tournament. If you are interested, the full set of games is at https://clono.no/live/tournament/?t_id=515

Vegaresults was also something I had tried a long time back, but had then forgotten about until recently. In fact my memory was so hazy, I completely blanked on how to use it, resulting in some 'Please Help' emails to the software's author. Fortunately he pointed me in the right direction, and I was up and running. To utilise the service, firstly create an account of the Vega Results server. Then in Vega click on the Vega Result Online tab at the bottom of the Player Archive screen to log in (using your email and password.). The (and this is the part I forgot!), right click in the bottom window to bring up the management menu. If you choose 'Event Manager' you can then add new events (trap for young players, you need to have a pdf of the event details to upload before it becomes visible). The most important step (after the event creation) is to link your online event to the event you have open in Vega, so that you can then upload tournament results and pairings (in much the same way as Swiss Manager links to chess-results.com). Again I used this for today's Street Chess event, and you see the results at https://www.vegaresult.com/vega/index.php?id=2084 NB If you aren't requiring payment for your events (or have people pay on the day), you can even set it up to accept registrations before the event.

Thursday 18 May 2023

Sharjah Masters

 Back in the day (before the dawn of the 21st Century), there was a kind of arms race between tournament organisers about who could organise the highest category tournament. The tournament was almost always a round robin, and the category was determined by the average rating of the field. However the category system was eventually abandoned by FIDE, and such measurements lost their value.

However, the competition between organisers seems to have been restarted, although it is now Swiss tournaments that seem to be the battleground. The current Sharjah Masters is a 78 player swiss, with all 78 players holding the title of Grandmaster. The bottom seed is still rated above 2500 and the 'bottom half' starts at 2607

One Australian player is taking part, GM Temur Kuybokarov. He was in the unfamiliar position of being the lower rated player in round 1, and lost his first game. There were a number of draws, and even 3 upset wins. However the top few boards went according to rating, including the game on board 2


Gukesh D (2732) - Vescovi,Giovanni (2606) [C65]
Sharjah Masters 2023 Chess.com (1), 17.05.2023

Monday 15 May 2023

Trigger Finger

 It seems I have come down with a case of Trigger Finger. This is a condition caused by an inflamed tendon in the finger, or in my case, the right thumb. It causes the joint to lock up, so bending or straightening  my thumb is quite painful.

While I am not sure how it happened, it may in fact be an Arbiter related injury! The constant setting of chess clocks for recent junior events may have had something to with it, especially interschool tournaments where a lot of time penalties were enforced. As for treatment, resting the joint is one recommendation. So with a couple of big chess events coming up (the ACT Championship and the NSW Open), I am calling on all players to try and avoid any illegal moves during the game.

Friday 12 May 2023

Three hours of Catalan

 I suspect one of the advantages of being an old school chess player is that you are used to spending 3 or more hours concentrating on a single task. This certainly helps when going on long drives, travelling overseas, or waiting for a parcel to arrive at the appointed time. It also helps when you decide to deep dive into a 3 hour video covering the Catalan.

Wednesday 10 May 2023

2023 ACT Chess Championship 26-29th May

 The 2023 ACT Chess Championship is being held across the long weekend of the 26th - 29th May. This year sees a new venue, at the Eastlake Football Club in Griffith (NB NOT where the Gungahlin Chess Club meets ). I had a look at the venue today and it has plenty of space, as well as club facilities for meals and refreshments. It is a definite improvement over Campbell High School Hall (no offence Campbell High!), making this years event a must play for local players.

Although this is a championship event, interstate players are welcome to take part, and are eligible for all prizes. However the title of ACT Champion for 2023 is awarded to the best scoring local player.

Full details are

2023 ACT Chess Championship

26-29 May 2023 (Friday evening through Monday Reconciliation Day)

7-rounds FIDE/ACF Rated Swiss Format

Venue: Eastlakes Football Club

3 Oxley St, Griffith ACT (** NOT Gungahlin Club **)

Schedule: Friday 26 May 7:00pm

Saturday 27 May – Monday 29 May 10:30am and 3:00pm on each day

90 minutes per game with 30 second per move increment from move one (Fischer)

Director of Play: FIDE International Arbiter Shaun Press

Enter at https://www.trybooking.com/CIDPJ

Monday 8 May 2023


 When Abhimanyu Mishra became the world's youngest GM, I was somewhat dismissive of the achievement. Not because I did not think he deserved to be a GM, or even how he achieved it, but simply because it was an easier achievement than in the past (Yes, I know I'm sounding like an old man yelling at clouds).

However Mishra, who is currently playing in the Sigeman tournament in Sweden, looks to be "walking the walk" with a strong performance against a number of other strong GM's. As I write this he has score 2 wins and 2 draws to lead the 7 round event, which includes Svidler, Gelfand and Gukesh. Despite being the bottom seed, he looks to be in the right sort of company, as shown by this interesting game.

Mishra,Abhimanyu - Van Foreest,Jorden [E11]
Sigeman (2), 06.05.2023

Saturday 6 May 2023


 "Can you kill the king?" is a question I often get asked at school competitions. I give a firm no, followed by a somewhat longer explanation involving the practice of holding kings for ransom in medieval times. But for today, and today only, I was tempted to suspend this rule for Street Chess. What stopped me wasn't the fear of being hauled off to Belmarsh, but the fact that it was a FIDE rated event, and to be valid, the FIDE rules needed to be followed correctly.

Rapid Transit

 Today I ran my first ever "Rapid Transit" event, which basically occurred by accident. 

For those unfamiliar, 'Rapid Transit' is a form of Blitz chess, where clocks are not used. Instead the referee calls out to the players to move every 10 seconds, which they must do so, or lose on time. It was popular before the widespread of chess clocks, although it was difficult to police, due to dispute about players being slow to move.

In my case, it was for a training event where players had to simply check mate with K+RvK. As setting up clocks was taking too long, I simply had the players choose an opponent, and then every 5 seconds I would shout 'MOVE'. The round went on until I decided enough games had finished, and enough games were never going to finish. A point was earned if you checkmated with the rook, or if your opponent failed to do so with the rook. The colours were flipped and the same opponent was played. At the end of the round, I simply had players on 2 points choose an opponent on 2, etc etc

We managed to get in 5 games (2.5 rounds) and as a training exercise it actually worked quite well. The only downside was that I felt like a guard in a North Korean penal colony, barking orders at unwilling prisoners. Indeed my shout of 'MOVE' was echoed from the next room by a bunch of giggling high school students.

Wednesday 3 May 2023

Update on the 1000 puzzle challenge

 A few weeks ago I posted about the 1000 puzzle challenge. This was challenging my students to do1000 puzzles on lichess during the school holidays. It turns out that one of my students completed the challenge, which is an awesome effort. To put that into perspective, I could only manage 400 puzzles in the same time period, while other students hit the wall (so to speak) at around 250. 

So well done to Daniel Z!

Monday 1 May 2023

More thoughts

 While the 2023 World Championship was very exciting, I was not happy with how it was ultimately decided. I've long been opposed to what is a titled awarded awarded to the best 'long time control' player being determined by who is better at a completely different format. Lost in the excitement of Ding finding 46. ... Rg6 was the issue that Nepo would probably not have played 48.h4?? if the game was played until the normal time control. To me 46. ... Rg6 was a time scramble bluff, designed to induce 48. .. h4, a blunder even I saw coming while watching the match. 

FIDE for a long time has wanted shorter and shorter World Championship Matches, in part to encourage more bids from host cities/countries. But the major expense isn't venue/accommodation so having more days to complete the match should not be an issue. The move to 14 games (up from 12) was nice to see, but 16 games is better. And for the tie-breakers (if needed), starting with 60m+30 is better than diving straight into Rapid.

But well done to Ding for winning the match and becoming World Champion. I can bask in the very dim light of reflected glory, having played him in the 2019 World Cup, losing 2-0 in the first round.