Thursday 31 August 2023

Random Rounds

 Under the FIDE Title regulations, you cannot 'arrange' the order of rounds in a tournament to benefit a particular player (or players). This mainly applied to Round Robin events, where an event might not have the correct mix of foreign players but a norm might be achieved if the player plays the right mix over a shorter set of rounds eg claiming a 9 game norm from an 11 round event (NB Even this is no longer possible as all rounds must be counted for a RR norm).

However, it is the case that  norms do count if the rounds are ordered randomly. Historically, this used to be a thing, with the idea that it made it harder to prepare for an opponent. One famous example was the 1924 New York International, where each round was specified by random at the start of the day. It probably did not make a real difference , although the eventual winner (Emanuel Lasker) started off with a bye in round 1. Nonetheless the tournament saw each of the 11 players finish on a unique score (no tied places), so it may have had the effect of making each round as important as any other.

Yates,Frederick Dewhurst - Reti,Richard [B18]
New York International Masters-01 New York,NY (19), 13.04.1924

Tuesday 29 August 2023

Boy, that de-escalated quickly

 The dispute between and Hans Neimann seems to have come to a sudden end, with both parties agreeing to 'move on'. have reinstated Neimann's access to the platform, and while they stand by the results of their previous investigations, are allowing Neimann to return with full access rights to the server, and to events they host. As an added bonus, Magnus Carlsen, who sparked the whole issue when he withdrew from the 2022 Sinquefeld Cup after losing to Neimann, has also stated that he is happy to play against Neimann if their paths cross in future events. 

My uneducated guess is no money changed hands as part of the resolution, although I assume both parties did run up some legal fees on the way to this happy ending.

Sunday 27 August 2023

Word Teams Rapid

 The international chess calendar is becoming increasingly crowded, with one event finishing and another starting almost immediately. The World Cup finished late last week, and a number of players headed off to Germany to play the newly created World Rapid Teams Championship. 

It looks as though anyone could enter a team, and while there are some incredibly strong teams at the top, there are a number of club teams at the tail end of the field. Sitting somewhere in the middle is a team representing the FIDE Management Board, containing 4 GM's an IM, one WFM, and the FIDE President as the reserve player. He has only played 1 game but has a 100% score. He is listed on the team sheet as a FID player (under the FIDE flag, which does make sense), but his rating profile still has the Russian flag next to his picture.

Dvorkovich,Arkady - Jasinska,Iga [E61]
2023 World Rapid Team Championship Dusseldorf (4.6), 26.08.2023

Thursday 24 August 2023

Carlsen wins World Cup

 Magnus Carlsen has defeat Pragganandhaa 1.5-0.5 in the rapid playoffs to win the 2023 FIDE World Cup. Although the event qualifies the top 3 place getters for the upcoming candidates series, Carlsen's prior decision to not play in the upcoming World Championship cycle means his victory was all about winning one title he has not won yet. 

Unburdened by the pressure of further progress, Carlsen instead demonstrated why he is still the best player in the world, scoring a number of seemingly effortless wins on the way to fist place. He did of course lose a game early on the Vincent Keymar, but after rebounding in the must win second game of that match, seemed to have everything under control (although there were still a few shaky moments along the way).

For Pragganandhaa, finishing as runner up both qualifies him for the Candidates tournament, as well as signalling his arrival at the top tier of world chess. Still only a teenager, he will no doubt become one of the worlds strongest players over the next 5 years.

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Pragg v Carlsen

 The World Cup Final is under way with Praggnanandhaa playing Carlsen. Pragg was the surprise winner of the semi final match against Caruana, while Carlsen beat Abasov. Although Pragg has had a fantastic run throughout the event, I expect Carlsen will win without much difficulty.

Nonetheless I do have a soft spot for Pragg, as he was very briefly a neighbour of mine during the 2016-17 Hastings International. He was in the room next to mine at my hotel, and even at that stage he showed the tenacity required to become one of the worlds top GM's.

Saturday 19 August 2023

Prep pays off

 One of the advantage of Round Robin play is you cn prep for a specific opponent, or prepare a set of openings. Capablanca famously used to choose a set of openings to use in an event, usually sticking with those openings until the end. 

In yet another game from the Looking For Gamers round robin, Harry Press chooses to push the d pawn in the Ruy Lopez, without playing c3 first. While this does not give White any particular advantage, it has the benefit of throwing off an equally well prepared opponent.

Press,Harry - Badrinarayan,Sankeertan [C88]
LFG, 18.08.2023

Thursday 17 August 2023

Chess in the far far future

 I am currently "hate-watching" the second season of Foundation, and chess gets a mention in the third episode. As the series is set a long way into the future, it is a little surprising they went with chess, and not some invented game. The actual reference involves a 'castling device' which allows 2 bodies to swap positions, in almost the same way as a king and a rook can. It is employed by Hober Mallow, initially to pull of a robbery, and then eventually to cheat death.

Note: the term "hate-watching" refers to watching a tv show or movie that you know is complete garbage, but you feel compelled to watch it any way. This definitely applies to the Foundation tv series.

Wednesday 16 August 2023

The raging rook

 Last night I played a game that was almost a brilliancy. Utilising my rook, I managed to organise quite a good attack on my opponents king. Unfortunately, when the time came to find the knockout blow, I bailed out. Instead of rewarding my rook sacrifice with a win, I decided that half a point was reward enough. Even after the game I didn't see the correct move, which only became clear with some silicon help.

Press,Shaun - Radisich,Matt [E66]
LFG --- (4), 15.08.2023

Monday 14 August 2023

World Under 16 Olympiad

 The World Under 16 Olympiad has begun, with Australia fielding 2 teams. The top team almost pulled of an upset, narrowly going down to top seed Kazakhstan 1.5-25, scoring draws on the top 3 boards. Australia 2 had a tougher time, losing to Ukraine 2 0.5-3.5.

However Round 2 saw both teams bounce back with good results. Australia 1 beat Uganda 4-0, while Australia 2 beat South Africa 2 3-1. The top Australian team now plays the 3rd team from Kazakhstan (they have 5 in total!) while team 2 plays the third team from The Netherlands. 

The official website is here, where you can all the details, results and live coverage.

Saturday 12 August 2023

Another nice LFG win

 The current LFG invitational has seen the field break into 3 groups. At the top are the tournament favourites (Press H, Litchfield and Magrini), the players in the middle who are aiming for a plus score, and a few at the bottom looking for their first points. I'm probably at the bottom of the middle group (now on 1/3), but hope to move up before I get to the top seeds.

Here is a nice win from Fred Litchfield of Matthew Radisich, which demonstrates the difference in strength between some of the tournament players.

Litchfield,Frederick (2134) - Radisich,Matt (1677) [D30]
Looking for Gamers Invitational (8.3), 04.08.2023

Wednesday 9 August 2023

Have your say on ratings

 The FIDE Qualification Commission is inviting comments on proposed changes to the FIDE Rating System. The details fo the changes are at and you can send your comments to (NB As Secretary of the FIDE QC, I do get to read them).

We have already received a number of submissions, but you have until the end of September to comment. After this date QC will go through the submissions and see if there are important ideas we may have missed. 

Monday 7 August 2023

Secondary Chess in Canberra 2023

 Today saw the North Canberra Secondary Zone event for 2023. This followed on from the South Canberra Zone held earlier in the year.

The event was won by Radford College with 23.5/28, half a point ahead of the Lyneham High No. 1 team. The 3rd place team was the Lyneham High No 2 team. The most remarkable thing about todays event was that there were 170 players taking part, which I believe is the largest school event ever held in Canberra. With the South Canberra Zone attracting 91 players, this is almost 1% of the total secondary school enrolment playing in this years interschool event. 

The other important fact to note was the number of high-ish rated players taking part. The top 10 seeds were rated over 1500 and 30 players in the field had a current ACF Rapid rating. This compares to a few years ago when very few participants had any sort of rating at all.

All this is good news for junior chess in Canberra. Both the size of the fields and the strength of the players show that junior chess is on the up in the nations capital.

Sunday 6 August 2023

2023 ACT Women's and Girls Chess Championship

 2023 ACT Women's and Girls' Chess Championship - 10 September

7 rounds, 15m+ 5s per game. Rated by the Australian Chess Federation (Quickplay List)

Schedule: Sunday 11th September - Check-in 9.30am Round 1 10am Round 2 10:45am Round 3 11:30am Round 4 12:15am

Lunch Break 1pm-1:30pm

Round 5 1:30pm Round 6 2:15 pm Round 7 3pm Prize Giving 3:45pm

Prizes - 1st $250 2nd $125 3rd $75 Trophies for 1st, 2nd, 3rd + Medals for U14, U12, and U10

Max. two half-point byes available for Rounds 1-4.

Entry fee $20 Adults, $10 Junior. WGM, WIM, WFM and WCM Free.

+ Novices event for unrated players - Free entry with medals for 1st, 2nd and 3rd (Same schedule as Championship)

Entries close Saturday 5pm 9 Sept.

Register at

Friday 4 August 2023

Back to 50%

 The much anticipated Press v Press clash in the LFG Invitational ended in a victory for youth. I didn't help my cause by blundering a pawn in the opening, although I received enough compensation for it that it could have been described as a pawn sacrifice. Where I really went wrong was not connecting a couple of separate plans together, to form one cohesive strategy. I looked at ideas around winning the c5 pawn with Rc1 and attacking the king with moves like d6. It turns out that if I played 16.d6! Black can only stop Plan B by allowing me to execute Plan A. Instead I just focussed on Plan B (which fails on its own) and eventually gave away most of my pieces!

Press,Shaun - Press,Harry [E10]
LFG --- (2), 04.08.2023

Thursday 3 August 2023

2023 World Cup

 The 2023 World Cup is underway in Baku. Australia started with 4 representatives (2 from the Oceania Zonal and 2 qualifying from the Olympiad), although that number dropped to 2 after Round 1. GM Bobby Cheng drew his round 1 match 1-1, but lost the playoff, while WGM Jillin Zhang went out in regulation. GM Temur Kuybokarov won his round 1 match, but is already down 1 game against Yu Yangi. He needs to win the 2nd game to send the match into overtime, but as I type this, he stands slightly worse going into the ending. Julia Ryjanova is holding her own in her round 2 match against higher rated Zhongyi Tan, having drawn the first game, and looking OK in a sharp position in the 2nd game.

Of course the big interest is in former World Champion Magnus Carlsen's participation. Having given up his title, a win in this event would provide an interesting dilemma. Would he see it as a sign that he retired too soon, or simply as proof that he does not need a title to demonstrate how good he is. of course there are a number of other players trying to stop him from winning this event, including Nakamura, Caruana and Nepomniachtchi. 

Plenty of online coverage (eg Youtube) but you can get the results and games from the official site

Tuesday 1 August 2023

Playing e4 and d4

 Conventional opening wisdom has White playing e4 and d4 in tandem. i.e. If you start with e4 then d4 is a desirable move to play, while if you start with 1.d4 then e4 becomes a goal. Of course how long between one and the other is open to debate. But once you have played it then d5-e5, and d6-e6 might even improve your position further!

Junta Ikeda - Terrence Tang [E16]
Round 2: Junta Ikeda - Terrence Tang, 29.07.2023