Sunday 30 July 2023

2023 ANU Open - Ikeda wins

 IM Junta Ikeda has added yet another title to his large collection, winning the 2023 ANU Open. Starting the day on 4/4 he defeated Fred Litchfield in round 5, before playing a 95 move draw against the rapidly improving Harvey Zhu. Harry Press (4.5) tied for second with CM Lalit Prasad, after Prasad scored an upset win over FM Fred Litchfield. Harvey Zhu and Terrance Tang shared the 1600-2000 rating prize, while Leiming Yu capped a fantastic tournament by winning the Under 1600 prize.

Matthew Dwyer scored 6 ins from 6 games to finish first in the Minor event. However he had to be content with the Best Unrated prize as he does not currently have a ACF/FIDE rating. This left Larry Cheng and Olamide Fasakin sharing the first place prize money, finishing on 5/6.

The tournament attracted a good field of 68 players, which was a substantial increase over last years turnout. The new venue at ANU was ideal for the tournament and hopefully it can be used for next years event. The event was strongly supported by the ANU Chess Society, with a number of members taking part in the tournament. There is even talk of returning to the days of a full blown chess festival, with simuls, computer chess and other activities being organised. 

Saturday 29 July 2023

2023 ANU Open Days 2

 IM Junta Ikeda has taken the outright lead in the 2023 ANU Open. He scored another 3 wins today, including an important Round4 victory over third seed Harry Press. He is half a point ahead of 2nd seed FM Fred Litchfield, after Litchfield took a bye for the evening round. As Litchfield is the only player on 3.5, he faces Ikeda in the morning round. 

In third place are Press, Terrence Tang, Harvey Zhu and Leiming Yu. Yu has been the real surprise of this event, scoring 3/4 against players rated 500 points ahead of him. He faces Tang in round 5, and based on current form, has good chances to go into the final round on 4/5.

In the Minor (Under 1600), it is the unrated players setting the pace. Matthew Dwyer is on 4/4, half a point ahead of Andrew Blakers on 3.5. Also sharing 2nd are junior players Eshaan Extross and Leon Sostaric. Blakers, who won the ACT Junior Championship in 1973(!) is making a competitive comeback after 50 years, having been one of Australia's leading researchers in Solar energy systems. 

Tomorrow mornings round starts at 10am, with the final round at 2pm. Live coverage of the top 4 boards can be found at the results link, which is

Friday 28 July 2023

2023 ANU Open - Round 1

 The 2023 ANU Open and Minor (Under 1600) tournaments began today, with a total of 67 players. The Open section has 31 players, with IM Junta Ikeda as the top seed. While the top 5 seeds all scored wins against their lower rated opponents, there were a few upsets further down. Leiming Yu, Jonah Gear and Dev Raichura all score upset wins, while Masaki Horikawa held his higher rated opponent to a draw.

The Minor (Under 1600) had 36 players, and once again almost all games went according to rating. Paul Dunn lost to unrated Matthew Dwyer, while experienced junior player Eshaan Extross escaped with a draw against debutant Andrew Blakers. 

The return to the Australian National University was welcomed by all, and the tournament saw a number of current and former ANU staff and students take part. The playing room is spacious and well lit, and quite close to coffee shops, bars and take aways. The only thing missing was live coverage of the top boards, but this will start tomorrow (round 2 @ 10 am)

All the results can be found at which also has a link to the live coverage

Thursday 27 July 2023

Reading the Riot Act

 The Riot Act is a Canberra institution, starting off as local discussion forum, before transforming itself into a local news platform. It was one of the sites I used to read regularly when I was working, although in retirement my readership is more sporadic. 

But I draw you attention to it, because they have just published a nice article on Street Chess (complete with pictures of me sporting my current beard). I even revealed some 'secret' chess moves that players might not know about ('Clickbait' warning. They are castling, en passant and promotion)

So check out the article at and then stay for the other cool news stories.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

2023 ANU Open (AKA Winter Cup) - Updated Venue

 The 2023 ANU Open is returning to the Australian national university, after arranging a venue on campus. The new venue is in the centre of the ANU, right next to eateries, coffee shops and the ANU Bar. The updated details for the tournament are

ANU Open 2023

28-30 July (One round Friday evening, three Saturday, two Sunday)

Format: Open section and Under 1600 Section (ACF)

Time control: 60m+30s inc (FIDE Rated except for players 2400+)

Schedule: Round 1 Friday 28th 7PM,

Round 2 Sat 29th 10am, Rd 3 2pm, Round 4, 6pm

Round 5 Sun 30th 10am, Round 6 2pm Prize giving 6pm

Entry Fee: $80 ($60 concession) - GM, IM, WGM and WIM Free

Prizes: $1000 1st Open, $400 1st Minor $3600 in total

Venue: Room 2.02, Marie Reay Teaching Centre, University Avenue, Australian National University

Booking link:

Monday 24 July 2023

Oskar Hellman

 The ACT chess community is mourning the passing of Oskar Hellman, who died on Sunday. An active participant in ACT events for as long as I had been involved in Canberra Chess, Hellman was a regular participant  at Street Chess, making the 2 hour journey from his home near Wombeyan Caves to Canberra almost every weekend of the year. Since 2010 he played in 462 events, which was to most of any player during this time span. Born in 1935, Oskar was the oldest active player at Street Chess, but was happy to take on any opponent, especially the younger brigade. 

Prior to retiring to the Southern Highlands of NSW, he worked in the steel industry, and was an active player in Wollongong, Southern Sydney and elsewhere. His winter holidays often took him to North Queensland, where he participated in, and won, and number of events. He was a regular participant in the Doeberl Cup, first playing in 1978, and winning the Minor (Under 1600) in 2001. 

An attacking player at heart, he was particularly fond of playing, and winning with, the Blackmar-Diemar Gambit. He scored a number of fine wins with this opening, even against players who knew it was coming. 

Oskar is survived by his wife Monika, and children. As one Canberra's longest serving players, he will be missed.

Hellmann,Oscar - Riggs,Robert [D00]
Capitol Territory-ch Australia, 1994

Sunday 23 July 2023

2023 Women's World Championship

 Ju Wenjun has retained her Women's World Championship title after a last game win over challenger Lei Tingjie. The match was tied at 5.5 each (1 win each and 9 draws), before the final game. Although the 12th game started with the Colle System, it game soon heated up, when Wenjun decided to create a pair of passed pans on the queenside. A sequence of moves that left Wenjun with two knights for a rook looked to be good for Lei, but the ending proved to be better for the knights, and Wenjun won the game, and the match.

Wenjun Ju (2564) - Tingjie Lei (2554) [D04]
FIDE Women's World Championship Shanghai/Chongqing CHN (12.1), 22.07.2023

Saturday 22 July 2023

Off the mark

 International Arbiter Lee Forace is organising a new round robin event in Canberra. With the support of Looking for Gamers (located at Kambah Village), the 10 player round robin has attracted a field of players rated between 1600 and 2300. The other point of interest is the international nature of the field, with 4 federations represented (Australia, Italy, Libya, and Papua New Guinea).

I'm seeded 5th in the event, and started the tournament with a win over Jordan Brown. He probably missed a couple of chances to equalise in the opening (and I did not play it as well as I should), but I was able to build up a space advantage. When he tried to activate his pieces, it created a couple of other weak points in his position, and I was able to win a piece after invading on c7. I was both pleased to start with a win, and the beat Jordan, who has been a difficult opponent for me recently (I lost the last time we played). The next round is in 2 weeks time, and I get to play Harry Press!

Press,Shaun - Brown,Jordan [A32]
LFG Invitational --- (1), 21.07.2023

Thursday 20 July 2023

International Chess Day

 Today (July 20th) is International Chess Day. This attracted the attention of the Canberra Times newspaper, and they did a feature story, with photo's, on the after school chess program at Kaleen Primary school (NB I am one of the coaches for this program).  Interestingly, this is the same Canberra Times who just three weeks ago canned the weekly chess column that had been running for over 50 years.

The Round Robin

 For the first time in over a decade, I have signed myself up for a Round Robin event. In the past I have done pretty well in this format, although I fear the run may soon come to an end. If my memory hasn't failed me, the last RR I played was in the Solomon Islands in 2009 (I did finish first). Probably the crucial game for me was the following win over FM Lee Jones. He missed my idea in the middle game, and the threat of taking on f3 meant he had to give me a lot of material, so he chose to resign instead.

Jones,Lee (2117) - Press,Shaun (2076) [D45]
Solomon Islands Honiara (7), 27.09.2009

Monday 17 July 2023

The pawn is dead, long live the pawn

 When trying to 'gamify' chess to small children, I usually tell them that the pawn has one hidden power, and one super power. The super power is the ability to transform into another, stronger piece when it reaches the end of the board. And the hidden power is that hs the weakest power of all the pieces. So anything it attacks is either more valuable or at worst, of equal value.

And to demonstrate ...

Press,Shaun - Khadkar,Sameet [D77]
Gungahlin Rapid ---, 11.07.2023

Sunday 16 July 2023

Wax on, wax off

 One of the roles of any chess club, or chess tournament , is to help newer players improve their chess. In earlier days, this usually involved to gift of wisdom from a more experienced player at the competition of a game. As I have noted elsewhere, this has often been replaced by a quick trip to the laptop, so see how. many centi-pawns your first choice moves lost.

However it is still possible to pick up some good training tips as events, even if some of them come out of left field. One such suggestion given to a new, but struggling player, was to watch the movie 'Karate Kid' , especially the 'wax on, wax off' scene. The intention was to demonstrate the importance making some chess concepts so ingrained, that there was no need to spend time thinking about them. Now whether this is a real thing is open to debate, but in this specific case, the advice seemed to work. Having only won a couple of games over the last 4 months of Street Chess, the player concerned not only exceeded that total, but did so by winning 3 games in a row. For a sample size of 1, it looks like an effective training method!

Wednesday 12 July 2023

2023 Winter Cup (AKA ANU Open)

ACT Winter Open 2023

28-30 July (One round Friday evening, three Saturday, two Sunday)

Format: Open section and Under 1600 Section (ACF)

Time control: 60m+30s inc (FIDE Rated except for players 2400+)

Schedule: Round 1 Friday 28th 7PM,

Round 2 Sat 29th 10am, Rd 3 2pm, Round 4, 6pm

Round 5 Sun 30th 10am, Round 6 2pm Prize giving 6pm

Entry Fee: $80 ($60 concession) - GM, IM, WGM and WIM Free

Prizes: $1000 1st Open, $400 1st Minor $3600 in total

Venue: Campbell High School, Treloar Cres Campbell ACT

Booking link:

Monday 10 July 2023

2023 NSW Rapid Championship

 Junior player Harvey Zhu was the surprise winner of the 2023 NSW Rapid Championship. Seeded 12th in the tournament he scored an impressive 6.5/7, finishing a full point clear of 2nd place. After a 2nd round draw, he reeled of 5 straight wins, beating IM George Xie in round 6 and FM Alexis Vargas Arteaga in the final round. 

In 2nd place were 12 players tied on 5.5/7, including Xie, Vargas Arteaga and top seed FM Jason Hu. Hu had a rough start, losing in round 1 after dropping a queen, and drawing his 4th round game. With the large field of 134 players, a single lost point was enough to drop players out of the running.

Despite the size of the field the event ran quite smoothly. There were no major disputes and the tournament was played in good spirits. The NSWCA also doubled the advertised prize pool due to the large entry, with the winner taking home $600 for 1st. With ACF Rapid ratings being used to seed the tournament, the rating prize winners were a mix of adult and junior players, instead of the usual case of underrated juniors taking home the cash.

Full results can be seen at

(*I was a paid official for this event *)

Saturday 8 July 2023

How many rounds?

 I saw a question on one of Facebook arbiters groups, asking how many rounds for a 16 player tournament. Most arbiters suggested 5 rounds (sqrt(n)+1 rounds, where n is the number of players) while the most imaginative answer was 15. This is technically correct as the original question did not specify a format. A few did suggest 4 rounds would do, factoring the chances that some games would be drawn.

Whether the latter answer is correct will be put to the test at tomorrows NSW Rapid Championship. The event has a field of 142 and is scheduled for 7 rounds. The risk is that if all games are decisive there is a chance that 2 players may score 7/7, without playing each other.  Of course this almost never happens, but it is still dependent on how many games per round are expected to be drawn. Doing a rough, back of the envelope calculation, I estimate around 12 to 15% of games in each round (between players in the leading group) need to be drawn to find a clear winner. So apart from some interesting chess, I will also have one eye on whether my calculations match reality.

(** I am a paid arbiter for this event **)

Thursday 6 July 2023

2023 Women's World Championship

 The 2023 Women's World Championship is already 2 games in, although both games have been drawn. It is an all Chinese matchup with Wenjun Ju playing Tingjie Lei. Most pundits have Ju as the favourite for this match, based on match experience.

The first game was a Ruy Lopez Berlin variation, although it wasn't as drawish as the opening may indicate. In fact White sacrificed a pawn in the opening, but regained it with a better position. However, Jun was able to reach a rook and pawn ending, and by that stage it was definitely drawn.

Lei Tingjie (2554) - Ju Wenjun (2566) [C67]

Tuesday 4 July 2023

Taking the only chance

White to play

The final round of the 2023 Belconnen Cup at the Eastlake Gungahlin Chess Club saw a tricky King and Pawn ending on the 2nd board. In the diagrammed position White pushed the b pawn, with the plan of distracting the Black king long enough so as to stop the king side pawns. It turned out that (a) the plan worked but (b) Black missed a winning idea.

The line that was played was 1.b6 Kc6  2.b7 Kxb7 3.Kxd5 Kc7 4.Ke5 Kd7 5.Kf6 g4 6.Kg5 h5 7.Kxh5 f5 8.Kg5 Ke6 9.Kf4 Kf6 10.e4 fxe4 11.Kxe4 Kg5 12.Ke3 1/2/12

While watching the game I wondered if moving the h pawn first was better, as the king does not need to move to c6 straight away. The the threat of g4-h4-g3 is hard to meet for White. In the post mortem the brains trust of GCC members could not find a win, but with some computer assistance, it turns out that the win was there.

1...h5!! 2.b7 Kc7 3.Kxd5 g4 4.Ke4 h4 5.Kf4 f5! 6.e4 g3 7.hxg3 h3! 8.Kf3 fxe4+ 9.Kf2 Kxb7 10.Kg1 e3 -+

Other first move tries for White are equally bad, so in the end, he did well to save the half point.

Monday 3 July 2023

The art of making (chess) art

 Chess photography is a popular (although not very lucrative) pastime. There is something about the settings, the personalities, and range of emotions that seem to attract photographers to the sport. For people like me (using my low res smart phone) it is to recognise people who come each weel to Street Chess. For more prolific photographers (with their better equipment) like Cathy Rogers or Dr Helen Milligan, it is a way of documenting the chess events they attend.

But for some at the top, it is a way to make a living, as well as provide an insight into the world of top level chess. Courtesy of regular reader Jim, there is a CNN article about Maria Emelianova, who is a regular fixture on the professional chess circuit. Previously she appeared as a player, but now she pushes the shutter button, rather than the clock. Her career started in 2010 and now she is employed by as their in house photographer. Nice work for a chess player and chess fan!

Saturday 1 July 2023

Castles for mate

 Street Chess continues to amuse, with a wide collection of the very best and the very worst of chess. Landing more in the former category than the latter is a game that was played in today's edition. Black quickly loses control of the squares around his king, enabling White to drag the king into the centre, and then finding one of the rarest checkmates.

Albert,Max - Rawat,Dhruv [B45]
Street Chess ---, 01.07.2023