Friday, 30 June 2023

A quick prioritisation tool for chess

 (NB Shamelessly stolen from the original Eisenhower Matrix )

Start by thinking about the various skills involved with playing chess. The decide if you (a) Know/Don't know it and (b) it is important/not important

Then prioritise according to the following

Not important + Don't know - Ignore

Important + Don't Know - Learn

Not important + Know - Remember

Important + Know - Practice

The trick is moving these skill topics between categories. When you first start out, Checkmate with KQ or KR is important, so you firstly learn (Don't know -> know), and then practice. After a while you can shift this from Important to Not Important (mainly to make room for more important items), when you simply need to remember it.

This method becomes more effective if you attach it to a goal. 

Thursday, 29 June 2023

Even more slightly weird kids rules

 This terms Interschool competition finished up yesterday in Canberra, and it gives me a chance to write yet another post on "rules kid's think are real". NB I have probably mentioned a few of these before

  • You can castle to avoid checkmate - "Ummm, no" "Some people say you can" "OK, but I'm the arbiter and I'm telling you you can't castle out of check" "But some people say you can" (Added bonus - he changed the score on the result sheet to show he had won)
  • Castling involves exchanging any two pieces on the back rank - To be fair, the player had never seen castling before and was attempting to copy what their opponent had just done
  • You both get a point if the game is a draw - Because neither player lost :)
  • You have to wait a move before replacing a pawn with the promoted piece - Actually this is a common belief, even if it is not a rule
  • Pawns "save up" their double move if they don't use it immediately - I even thought this was a rule when I was 6
  • You get less points if your opponent resigns rather than being checkmated - This would actually speed up a lot of school competitions

Tuesday, 27 June 2023

Time to ditch NAPLAN

 NAPLAN is a test the school kids in Australia have to do every 2nd year (odd numbered grades), and is supposed to measure whether schools are performing or not. In actuality the results are dependent upon the socio-economic level of the students, and are mainly used by parents and the media to 'rank' schools based on some imaginary scale. As you can guess, I really really, really hate NAPLAN. 

While abolishing all together is my preferred solution, I do offer an alternative. Replace NAPLAN with a nation wide interschool chess competition, divided into geographical zones. Results aren't necessarily based upon the scores in the tournament (although that is one factor), but instead on how many children from a school can follow basic tournament instructions and rules. Simple things like, remembering your own name, understanding that board 22 is after board 21, and my personal favourite, waiting for your opponent to turn up, instead of coming back to me and saying 'my opponent isn't there' while the opponent waits to tell you the same thing.

I feel this is a much fairer way of determining if a school is giving value for money in the field of education.


Sunday, 25 June 2023

Major League Chess

 The current big event running at the moment is the Global Chess League, from Dubai. It is a cross between tradition team events, and T20 Cricket leagues, with teams not so much representing countries or regions, but represent franchises. The new league has 8 teams and has attracted most of the worlds top players. On the plus side it is actually being played in person (rather than online), although the G/15m+5s time limit is geared towards instant gratification rather than slow contemplation.

The most interesting feature is the scoring system - with a match win (over all 6 boards) earning a team 3 points, while drawn match is worth 1. However in the individual games a win for White is worth 3 points, but a win for Black is worth 4 (with 1 for a drawn game). So the effect is that in the case of a drawn match (in the traditional sense) the team with more Black wins, wins. 

Friday, 23 June 2023

Summer in Prague

 There are a few Australian's enjoying chess in the northern hemisphere summer. FM Albert Winkelman has just finished an event in Teplice before moving onto an event in Slovakia next month. Meanwhile FM Fred Litchfield is playing in Prague International Chess Festival (along with David Canon and Lillian Lu). This event has a couple of elite GM round robins plus a big open event. Litchfield started with a win in the first round, but is up against a 2400 rated IM in round 2.

 While all games were drawn in the top RR event, there was more excitement in the Challengers event, as the following game shows.

BARTEL,Mateusz (2609) - STALMACH,Richard (2436) [C02]
Prague International Chess Festival 2023 Hotel Don Giovanni Prague, Pra (2.5), 22.06.2023

Wednesday, 21 June 2023

Increasing levels of jerkitude?

 The diagram position is *not* from one of my games. However it is pretty close to the finish I played recently. The position of the pieces on the queenside are as played, but I have modified the kingside pawns for the purpose of making this post.

White to play and lose

In the real game I had basically calculated this ending position about 15 moves before. My opponent then resigned before I had a chance to queen the kingside pawns. But after the game there was a discussion about whether I should just get a boring queen, or the slightly more exciting rook. Then someone asked if I could get a bishop or even a knight. In the real game the answer was no (as a pawn was promoting on f1 or h1) but in this position Black can actually win with all 4 promotions. But to under-promote for the win may be taking it a little too far. So If I was to rank the promotions in terms of 'jerkitude' it would be (after 1.g4 gxf4 2.f5 g3 3.f6 g2 4.f7) 4 ... g1=N 5.f8=Q Ne2# at the top, followed by 4 ... g1=B 4.f8=Q Be3#, then 4 ... g1=R# with 4 ... g1=Q# being the least "jerk" move.

BTW this position does not appear to be original, as Chessbase said this position had been investigated 7 previous times in their online search database!

Monday, 19 June 2023

Near miss for Winkelman

 Young Canberran FM Albert Winkelman is currently playing in Europe, after a stop over in the Middle East. He has just finished playing in the Teplice pen in the Czech Republic, and fell just sort of his first IM norm. After 7 rounds he was in with a good chance (over 2450 PR) but a loss to GM Vlastimil Babula in round 8 left him needing a win over IM Audi Ameya in round 9.  Alas for Winkelman it was another loss, leaving him short of the required TPR. However it wasn't all bad news, as he did pick up 35 rating points, pushing him back towards his previous career peak of 2294.

Saturday, 17 June 2023


 Today at Street Chess I saw a pretty rare sight. King and 2 bishops actually mating a king. Normally when this position is reached the defending side will resign, which is why I don't recall ever seeing it in an actual game. In contrast KBN v K is often played right to the finish, as the defending side normally starts with the expectation that their will be some mistake that will save them, but when this turns out not to be so, will then give the opponent the 'satisfaction' of delivering mate.

Thursday, 15 June 2023

One way or another

 In chess there is often a fine line between winning and losing. At the club level, almost every game contains one or more missed chances, often not noticed until the silicon monster goes to work.

And so it was on Tuesday night at the Eastlake Gungahlin Chess Club. Ian Hosking went down in flames against Jerry Cheng, after Cheng sacrificed a rook for a devastating attack. But a few moves earlier, Hosking had the chance to play an unexpected, but incredibly strong move, which would probably have flipped the result from a loss to a win. Can you spot it?

Hosking,Ian - Cheng,Jerry [B13]
Belconnen Cup 13.06.2023

Tuesday, 13 June 2023

2023 NSW Open - 3 way tie for 1st

 The 2023 NSW Open ended in a 3 way tie for first, after some dramatic last round action. IM Mihajlo Radovanovic started the final round a point behind IM Gary Lane, but a win for Radovanovic over Lane left them both on 6/7. In the all ACT clash FM Michael Kethro beat Harry Press to join the front runners, and relegate Press from the prize list. Ahn Quan Nguyen quickly cleaned up Jeremy Plunkett on Board 4 to finish in outright 4th place, with FM Sterling Bayaca, FM Jack Rodgers, Geoff barker, Zachary Yu, and CM Hui Li finishing in a tie for 5th on 5 points.

In the Minor event (Under 1600), Trent Parker held on for a draw against CJ de Mooi to reach 6 points, along with promising junior Alex Thuaux. Parker had beaten Thuaux earlier in the event, but had drawn his last 2 rounds, allowing Thuaux to catch up with a final round win.

 The 150 player event ran quite smoothly this year. The event capacity was reached about a week before the event, prompting calls for a larger venue to found next year. The policy of not allowing spectators in for the first 2 hours seemed to be a good compromise, meaning each round could start without the room being over crowded but people could watch when the action heated up. 

Even the parents were well behaved this year (!), apart from one unfortunate incident involving a (non playing) parent and a junior player. The NSWCA investment in new DGT boards was also welcome, with 8 games from each round being broadcast without any issues.

Full results can be found at the tournament website,

Anh Quan Nguyen - Jeremy Plunkett [C42]
Round 7: Anh Quan Nguyen - Jeremy Plunke, 12.06.2023

Monday, 12 June 2023

2023 NSW Open - Day 2

 IM Gary Lane leads the 2023 NSW Open on 5/5, at then of the 2nd day of play. He started of with a win over Willis Lo in round 3, before beating Harry Press in round 4, and Samuel Asaka in the final round. He leads Sterling Bayaca by half a point, and the 2 players face each other in round 6. A group of 6 players trail Lane by a full point, including top seed IM Mihajlo Radovanovic. Radovanovic missed 2 rounds today due to work commitments, but returned to beat FM Jack Rodgers in the 5th round.

Trent Parker leads the Minor on 5/5, a half point ahead of Terry Gao and Jonluke Corona. Gao and Parker play in round 6, while Corona is up against Roland Brockman.

Round 6 starts at 9:30 am tomorrow, with the top 8 boards from the Open being broadcast at Go to for links to the results and the broadcast

Saturday, 10 June 2023

2023 NSW Open - Day 1

 The 2023 NSW Open started with 75 players in both sections (Major and Minor), although a couple of last minute withdrawals (illness etc) made each field a little smaller. The Major had 14 players rated above 200, with the top 8 players rated above 2200. New arrival IM Mihajlo Radovanovic is the top seed, with IM Gary Lane seeded second. Both players started the tournament with 2 wins, as did 10 other players. Despite the rating gap in the early rounds there were still a number of interesting games. Bevan Clouston looked to have a crushing attack against CM Hui Li, but Li survived and by the end had enough technique to mate Clouston with KBN v K. Jack Rodgers was held to a first round draw by Kye Walls, while FM Cameron McGowan was beaten by Micah Young in round 2.

The Minor event saw more upsets in the early round than the Major, with only 5 of the top 10 seeds scoring a win in the 1st round. The 2nd round saw more upsets so that only 2 players from the top 10 starting Day 2 on 2 points.

If you want to follow the results online, and live coverage from the top 8 boards, go to and follow the links

Thursday, 8 June 2023

For the King

 I'm heading off to the NSW Open tomorrow. This weekend is quite popular with various chess associations, as it is a good weekend to hold a 3 (or 4) day chess event. Unlike Easter, which is dominated by the Doeberl Cup, each Federation usually does it's own thing. The one change this year is of course the title of the weekend. It kind of feels strange to call it the "King's Birthday Weekend". In fact this will be the first title change since I began playing tournament chess, especially as the first weekend event I played in was the NSW Queen's Birthday Weekender way back in 1983.

Tuesday, 6 June 2023

2023 Asian Championship

 The 2023 Asian Championship is underway in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The 86 player event is a qualifier for the World Cup, and has attracted a field that contains 15 GM's at the top, but also a large number of local players towards the tail. There are no representatives from Australia (or even that Asian powerhouse, Russia) but Stuart Fancy (PNG) is flying the flag for Oceania. Despite being one of the lower rated players, he did grab half a point of an IM in the 2nd round. 

Current results are here, and there are links to the tournament website from that page.


Abdyzhapar,Asylbek (2282) - Fancy,Stuart (1930) [A00]
Asian Continental Chess Championship 202 Almaty (2.32), 05.06.2023

Sunday, 4 June 2023


 I used to comment that if I could form a chess club from everyone who turned up to chess clubs/tournaments just once, it would be twice the size of any club in Canberra. It turns out that I could now do this with everyone who was simply a new player on the June 2023 Rating List for the ACT. A record 138 new players were added to the list, which is twice the size of the Gungahlin Chess Club, which is currently Canberra's largest. Not all players received a rating, or played more than 1 or 2 rounds in an event, but it is still quite a remarkable number.

Saturday, 3 June 2023

On Delay

 One of the difficulties in broadcasting tournaments over the internet is implementing the delayed broadcast. As part of anti-cheating methods, games are often 'delayed' by 15 to 30 minutes, so there is little chance a player can be signalled by an accomplice during the game.

Implementing this delay  turned out to be a tricky task however, as this feature did not come with the DGT broadcast software. A few people (including myself) programmed a solution to this option, saving timestamped snapshots of the files, and then uploading after the delay time had been reached. At least one online server (chess24) offered this as a service, although setting it up was often tricky.

But recently Lichess introduced a delay setting as part of their standard broadcasting service. It simply added an extra option where the delay period was specified, and the server did the rest. One tournament who is now using it the Trusts Open which is currently running in New Zealand. The tournament has attracted 180 players (a big turnout for NZ), with 42 players in the top section. Based on the time zone differences the 3rd round starts at 7:30am Canberra time, so you can probably watch some of the action over breakfast.

Here is a nice game from round 2 where White looked like they cruised to victory, although Black did miss a saving check on move 25 

Xie,Felix (2307) - Sole,Michael D (1910) [E04]
Trusts Open - (2.2), 03.06.2023

Thursday, 1 June 2023

Dubai Open 2023

 Local FM Albert Winkelman is currently playing in the 2023 Dubai Open. He has had a pretty solid start in what is a strong event, scoring 2/5 against 4GM's and an IM. Although his points have come from draws (plus one loss) he has picked up rating points from each game due to the strength of his opponents. 

The field isn't quite as strong as the recently completed Sharjah event, but it still attracted 49 GM's in the 86 player field. For the non GM's this can lead to some tough games, as this game from the 1st round demonstrates.

Bai,Adelard (2409) - Chigaev,Maksim (2628) [E17]
Dubai Open 2023 - Category A Dubai Chess & Culture Club, Un (1.12), 27.05.2023