Wednesday 29 November 2023

More wacky ideas

 This was prompted by a query concerning whether the result for resigning was different from the result from being checkmated.

A number of years ago I experimented with an alternative scoring system for club events. IIRC it was something like 4 points for a win plus a bonus point if you won in under 30 moves. Losing players earned a bonus point if they lasted longer than 40 moves, plus an extra bonus point if they were (a) lower rated and (b) weren't down material at move 30. All very complicated, and it didn't survive past the test event.

But would the game be different/better if a player received a fractional point if they resigned, rather than dragged the game out to checkmate (winner still gets 1, but 0,1 if you resign v 0 if you get mated). Or even better, you lost fractional points for every rejected draw offer in a game you go on to lose.  

Sunday 26 November 2023

Transfer is back

 After a break of a few years, the ACT Junior Chess league Transfer Tournament is back. This is the traditional end of year event for the ACTJCL, but is open to all players, regardless of age. The details are

The ACT Junior Chess League presents the ‘2023 Transfer Chess Festival’

Can you play transfer chess? Maybe you don't even know what transfer is? Come along to this fun and fabulous tournament, celebrate another sensational year of chess in the capital … and we'll teach you to play transfer! Your chess may never be the same again! Transfer is a team game. You can register as a team of two, or register alone and we'll find a partner for you on the day!

When: Sunday 10th December 2023. Registration starts at 12:45pm. Play commences at 1:15pm and prize giving at around 4:15pm.
Where: Campbell High School Library, Treloar Crescent, Campbell.
Who: All ages are welcome, including parents. The various rating categories (and prizes) should allow all players to compete and have a fun day!

Cost: $30 per team. Individual registrations are welcome @ $15 and we will find you a partner on the day! FREE pizza for ALL participants
Time Limits: Games will be played with 5 minutes per player on the clock. Games are won by checkmate or on time. Games are not "touch-move" and partners may assist and advise each other. Full rules will be explained on the day!
Awards: Champion Team & Runner Up Trophies and rating group prizes where the total team rating does not exceed 1500 or 1000. Trophies will also be given for the best family team. Ratings are in accordance with the ACF normal (not quick) list of 1 December. Teams may only win one prize but everyone (even your parents!) get a ribbon!

Entries: The ACTJCL registration process has moved online. Please register via preferably by Friday 8 December 2023.
Spaces are limited, and you are encouraged to book early to avoid missing out! Please help us to run the best event possible by entering in advance. Late entries will be accepted on the day if space permits.

Thursday 23 November 2023

The Big Centre

 The concept of long term advantages is sometimes difficult to explain to new players. They always want to be "doing something" with their pieces, rather than build an advantage, and then lower the boom. Even simple concepts such as occupying the centre fall by the wayside, as there isn't an immediate payoff. I've occasionally used the following game as an example, but the normal response is "didn't he just keep losing material". Well of course, but in part, it was because my position was better to start with.

Press,S - Yusof,A [D90]
34th Olympiad Istanbul TUR (7), 04.11.2000

Tuesday 21 November 2023

Sharp lines, watch your fingers

 If you choose to play sharp lines, sometimes you get cut. Here is a recent example from the 2023 European Teams Championship. The line chosen by White is supposed to be drawn with best play, but Black either wanted more, or simply mixed up his lines. It ended badly.

Theodorou,Nikolas (2619) - Radjabov,Teimour (2745) [C43]
24th European Teams Budva MNE (6.1), 17.11.2023

Sunday 19 November 2023

2023 Vikings Weekender - Day 2

 IM Junta Ikeda has won the 2023 Vikings Weekender with a score of 4.5/5. He defeated Roger Farrell in the final round to grab outright 1st, and relegate Farrell into a tie for 3rd place. Harry Press had a chance to catch Ikeda with a final round win over FM Fred Litchfield, but a tough round 4 draw against Farrell made it difficult to lift for a final round win. Instead the game was drawn, which was enough for Press to take outright 2nd on 4. Third place was shared between Farrell, Litchfield and Willis Lo, who won his final round game to finish in the prize money.

The Minor (Under 1600) was won by Masaki Horikawa on 4.5/5. He defeated Shriya Karthik on the top board, who went into the final game on 4/4. The loss by Karthik left her in a  way tie for 2nd, with Kamal Jain, Larry Cheng, Lukacz Walijewski and Dev Raichura. 

With this years event only being 5 rounds, there were lots of shared prizes in the lower categories, with 3 way ties being the norm. 

Overall it was a good tournament, with hard games throughout. However 5 rounds isn't ideal for a tournament of this type, so next year it will hopefully be extended to 6 rounds, with more entries being accepted into each category. 

Full results can be found at along with a link to replay the games

2023 Vikings Weekender - Day 1

 This years Vikings Weekender fells like a bit of a throwback to the 1980s. Due to venue constraints the tournaments (Open and Under 1600) are only 5 rounds, with 3 on the Saturday and 2 on the Sunday. As a result, both events are already pretty cut-throat affairs, with a single loss leaving players with a very tough assignment if they hope to take 1st place.

In the Open section, Roger Farrell and Harry Press lead with 3/3. Farrell beat FM Michael Kethro in the evening game, while top seed IM Junta Ikeda drew with FM Fred Litchfield. Press and Farrell are paired in round 4, with the winner looking good to win the overall event. Of course Ikeda and Litchfield cam overtake them, but either (or both) need to win both games tomorrow.

The Minor (Under 1600) is equally competitive, with 3 players leading on 3/3. Simon Louie and Shriya Karthik share the lead with Masaki Horikawa, but Horikawa will miss the morning round, leaving it as essentially a battle between Louie and Karthik. 

Tournament results can be found at and there is also a link to the live coverage of the top games.

Friday 17 November 2023

2023 Vikings Weekender

 The 2023 Vikings Weekender begins tomorrow, with the first round at 10am Canberra time. The top section is quite strong for such an event, with almost all of Canberra's top players taking part. IM Junta Ikeda is the top seed, with FM's Michael Kethro and Fred Litchfield also taking part. The Minor (Under 1600) will also be quite competitive, as the restriction on entries for the top section means a few players have been moved down from the Open to this section.

The tournament results, plus live games from the top section can be found at 

Thursday 16 November 2023

I have now seen this happen

 While most players know the shortest checkmate for Black (2 moves) and the shortest for White ( 3 moves), they normally do not appear in real life, unless there is some funny business going on. So when I did see it in real life the other day I was certainly shocked. 

The game was between two young juniors, and it was certainly a proper game (it certainly wasn't arranged). It ended in a win for White after 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Ke7 3.Qxe5# In fact the checkmate cam as a surprise to both players, as they weren't sure it was a mate, and spent a couple of minutes before they were both convinced it was. When I asked the Black player what happened, she simply said "I touched my King, and had to move it"

Monday 13 November 2023

What is a Master?

 One of the other factors in my somewhat infrequent positing is the work I am doing as the Secretary of the FIDE Qualification Commission. It isn't so much that the work is time consuming, but more that topics I may have posted about in the past are now part of my official duties, creating a conflict between public comment and private knowledge. 

However some queries are vague enough that I can talk about them in a non official way. One query was basically 'When are you allowed to call yourself a Grandmaster?' The obvious answer is, anytime you want. This is because that while Grandmaster is connected with chess, the title does not necessarily belong to chess (indeed it dates back to the 18th century). But the follow-up question 'When can you call yourself a chess Grandmaster?" is slightly more tricky. I'd still say you can if you wish, but under these circumstances, expect a lot of push back within the chess community. Over the years I have seen a number of complaints about players/coaches passing themselves off as "Chess Masters", although it is usually the case that a parent or player describes the coach as a "master", and the coach does not correct them :)

Of course you still shouldn't call yourself a 'FIDE Grandmaster' if you do not posses the title, not because of the Grandmaster part, but the FIDE part.

Friday 10 November 2023

Where has Shaun gone?

 Short answer - Nowhere

Longer answer - overrun with work 

But best answer - Growing my moustache for Movember. You can donate at

Monday 6 November 2023

Angelo Matthews - Flag fall?

 In a first for International Cricket, Angelo Matthews has been dismissed "Timed Out". Playing Bangladesh, the Sri Lankan batsmen failed to face up to the first delivery after a dismissal within the 2 minute deadline. The cause of this was issues with his helmet strap, as he was at the wicket within the time limit. But Bangladesh appealed and the Umpire had no choice but to give him out. 

Sunday 5 November 2023

Oops, I forgot to castle

 Another game that shows the perils of not castling. In this case Vasilly Ivanchuk (who is old enough to know better) comes a cropper against the Worlds youngest GM, Abhimanyu Mishra

Mishra,Abhimanyu (2592) - Ivanchuk,Vasyl (2653) [B66]
2023 FIDE Grand Swiss Douglas (10.39), 04.11.2023

Friday 3 November 2023

Belconnen represent

 There was an interesting pairing in round 8 of the 2023 Isle of Man Grand Swiss. Australian Champion Temur Kuybokarov was up against 2023 Doeberl Cup winner Hrant Melkumyan. Although Melkumyan plays under the Armenian flag, he has been resident in Belconnen (a suburb of Canberra, Australia), for the past few years.

Both players had solid events (ie lots of draws), and this game ended with a shared point. But it was not a colourless draw with Black attacking an exchange down. White returned the material to reach a rook and queen ending, which was eventually drawn after an exciting battle over passed pawns.

Melkumyan,Hrant (2650) - Kuybokarov,Temur (2584) [D41]
FIDE Grand Swiss 2023 Villa Marina, Douglas, Isle of (8.33), 02.11.2023

Wednesday 1 November 2023

2024 O2C Doeberl Cup

 Entries are now open for the 2024 O2C Doeberl Cup. Last years event smashed all records in terms of the size of the event, with 403 players entering. The addition of the Mini (Under 1500) event was a big success, and the format for 2024 will be the same as 2023. 

The only small change to the tournaments will be an additional blitz event for Under 1600 players, starting a little earlier  on the Saturday evening (6pm). This gives younger players a chance to play in a FIDE rated blitz event, without having to stay up until midnight, like this year.

As we often see the tournaments filling up a few weeks before the start, registering early is recommended. Full details (and registration links) can be found at

(** I am the chief organiser for this event **)