Sunday 31 March 2024

2024 O2C Doeberl Cup - Day 3

 GM Hrant Melkumyan is on track for another Doeberl Cup win, starting the tournament with 6 from 6. In the morning round he defeated reigning Australian Champion IM Rishi Sardana, and then IM Mihajlo Radovanovic in the afternoon round. He is now a full point ahead of second place with 3 rounds to play.

One of the players in 2nd place is FM Albert Winkelman, who has good chances of scoring an IM norm. He has a performance rating over 2500 and his round 7 pairing against GM M Venkatesh gives him the required mix of opponents for a valid norm. Also in 2nd place are IM James Morris, IM Peng Cheng, and FM Fred Litchfield. Despite Litchfield's good score (5/6), starting the event with a round 1 loss has meant that the field he has faced is well below the level needed for a title norm!

Day 3 also saw the holding of the traditional Doeberl Blitz event. This year there 2 events, and early starting Under 1600 blitz and the regular late event Open. GM Anton Smirnov won the 120 player Open blitz with 8/9, ahead of a field that included GM Mitrabha Guha, IM James Morris, IM Mihajlo Radovanovic and WIM Heather Richards.

Today will see Melkumyan face James Morris on the top board, Peng Cheng against Litchfield on the 2nd board, and Winkelman v Ventatesh on board 3. Lower down a closely watched pairing involves IM Gary Lane against Ryan Lane on board 11.

Saturday 30 March 2024

2024 O2C Doeberl Cup - Day 2

 Day 2 of the 2024 O2C Doeberl Cup saw the rest of the sections join up with the Premier. 413 players in total sat down to play when all events officially began at 1pm on Friday, which is once again, a record entry for the tournament.

Round 3 of the Premier had a sensation on the top board,  with GM Hrant Melkumyan having a walkover win againt GM M Venkatesh. Suffering the effects of jet lag, Venkatesh overslept, missing the 1pm start, and the 30 minute deadline to show up. The extra rest probably assisted Melkumyan, as he won a very long round 4 game against IM Peng Chen to reach 4/4. In joint second are IM Rishi Sardana, IM James Morris, and FM Albert Winkelman. Sardana and Morris drew their Round 4 game against each other, while Winkelman drew with Indian GM Mitrabha Guha.

As for the other events, there were the usual upsets across the top boards, especially in the Major and Minor,  with less than half od the top 10 seeds getting to 2/2. Full results from all events can be found at

Friday 29 March 2024

2024 O2C Doeberl Cup - Day 1

 The 2024 O2C Doeberl Cup began with the first 2 rounds of the Premier section. This year's field includes 4 GM's, 8 IM's and 38 titled players overall. While the top boards saw the usual rating gap between top half an bottom half, this actually shrunk on the lower boards, in part due to the recent changes to the FIDE Rating System. Consequently there were a few upsets in the first round, and even into the second.

Defending champion GM Hrant Melkumyan started the tournament with 2 straightforward wins (including one over Harry Press). 2nd seed Mitrabha Guhu found round 2 a lot tougher, salvaging a draw against FM Michael Steadmen (NZ) from a position where he was a lot worse. IM Das from India and IM Ikeda from Canberra were also held to draws by their lower ranked opponents in the 2nd round. 

Round 3 has 10 players on 2/2. The top board will see GM Venkatesh face GM Melkumyan in a game that will be an early indicator of how the tournament may work out for both players.

The rest of the tournament sections start today, with last years record entry already broken. Across the 5 section there are 415 players taking part. The action begins at 1pm today. GM Darryl Johansen is providing onsite commentary of the Premier section, while games are being broadcast (on a 30m delay) at Lichess 

Ashwath Kaushik (1986) - Sardana,Rishi (2476) [B96]
Round 1, 2024 Doeberl Cup, 28.03.2024

Wednesday 27 March 2024

2024 O2C Doeberl Cup - Starts tomorrow

 The 2024 O2C Doeberl Cup begins tomorrow, with the first 2 rounds of the Premier. The pairings for the Premier are available at As with any large tournament (416 players in total) there have been a couple of hiccups. We lost a couple of GM's at the last(ish) minute, in at least one case due to the sudden scheduling of a national teams event. On the other hand the event has attracted a larger than usual group of titled players, so there will be plenty of exciting games.

The first round begins at 1pm tomorrow, with round 2 at 7pm. There will be live coverage on Lichess while GM Darryl Johansen will be providing live commentary on site. If you are in Canberra, feel free to drop into the Canberra Southern Cross Club in Woden. Spectators are welcome.

For results, links and further information head to

Monday 25 March 2024

2024 O2C Doeberl Cup - Arriving GM's

 With the 2024 O2C Doeberl Cup starting on Thursday, the first of the visiting GM''s are starting to arrive. The 2024 Commonwealth Champion GM Mitrabha Guha is arriving early tomorrow, and will be soon followed by a number of other strong players. Coming off a number of recent good results, Guha looks to be in form, and may prove a threat to tope seed GM Hrant Melkumyan, who is aiming for his third win in a row (and 4th overall).

Mitrabha,Guha (2526) - Rohith Krishna S (2410) [A36]
202 Commonwealth Championship, Round 9

Friday 22 March 2024

Simple questions with simple answers

 Saw this on youtube (no link cause I am lazy)
"Is checkers a better game than chess?" No

2024 O2C Doeberl Cup - 1 week to go

 The 2024 O2C Doeberl Cup starts in a week, and at this stage the event is very close to breaking last years attendance record. The Premier is the strongest it has been for years, with 5 GM's, 8 IM's and 27 other titles players. Both the Major (Under 2100) and Minor (Under 1800) have reached capacity, while there are a few spots left in the Mini (Under 1500) and the Under 1200 event. 

With last years Blitz event attracting a field of 177 players, this years Blitz will have 2 sections. There will be an early starting Under 1600 event (beginning at 5:30pm on the Saturday), and the Open event (starting at 7:30pm). And for the first time since 2019 there will be an onsite commentator, with GM Daryl Johansen covering all 5 days of the tournament.

Tuesday 19 March 2024

I was today years old

 I only learned today that the line 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 f5?! was the Rousseau Gambit. I'd heard this opening discussed numerous times within the Canberra chess scene, but for some reason I thought it was a different opening, and the moves above were just sort of dodgy Italian/Latvian hybrid (The Italvian Opening?). I'd even played it in the past at fast time limits, albeit with little success.

Despite it's poor reputation it sometimes works out for Black. Here GM Dejan Bojkov comes undone against Pavel Dimitrov in what appears to be a brutal kingside hack.

Bojkov,Dejan (2514) - Dimitrov,Pavel (2304) [C50]
BUL-chT-A 62nd Sunny Beach (1.3), 19.09.2012

Sunday 17 March 2024

Roll your own openings

 Every time someone mentions the Jobava London to me, I feel compelled to point out that the true author of this opening was Canberra junior player, Gary Wilson. Indeed, Wilson was playing it before Jobava was born (Nov 1983), so credit where credit is due.

I'm now seeing a similar case, although to be fair, it isn't an exact copy. Anna Cramling has created her own opening, The Cow. Not so much an opening as a system, the basic moves are e3,d3,Ne2-Ng3,Nd2-b3,Be2,Bd2. White allows Black to opportunity to build the big centre, before trying to dismantle it.

If White played 1.d4 (instead of d3), it would be very similar to a system that Canberra player Erik Jochimsen has been playing for years. The early knight manoeuvre to g3 is a staple of the system, followed by the development of the white squared bishop. Now I'm not sure what Anti-Cow strategies have been developed, but once local players targeted the knight on g3 with a h pawn thrust, Jochimsen found the opening was not as effective as he had hoped it would be. But ever the optimist, Jochimsen has stuck with it, keeping faith with his invention.

Thursday 14 March 2024

Some important AGM's

 If you are a Canberra resident (or live close by) there are a couple of important Annual General Meetings coming up.

The ACT Junior Chess League AGM is on Sunday 17th March 1:30pm at Campbell High School (during the ACTJCL Autumn Allegro). It is open to the parents of members of the ACTJCL. The ACTJCL has been running without a full committee for the last few years and so there is a need for parents to step up and fill the executive roles.

The ACT Chess Association AGM is being held on Thursday 28th March 7:00pm at the Canberra Southern Cross Club, Woden. This is during the Doeberl Cup, so members can drop in a spectate the Premier, before attending the AGM. Unlike the Junior Chess League, the ACTCA has been running with a full committee (who are re-standing this year), but that should not prevent interested members from attending.


Monday 11 March 2024

Burning bridges

 One advantage higher rated players often have, is that their lower rated opponents feel the need to do something dramatic, to try and avoid being ground down. I fell into this trap recently, blundering a piece to a faulty combination last week at my club, while the example below came from the final round of the Ballarat Begonia Open. While top seed GM Gawain Jones would be expected to win this final round clash, his opponents over optimistic attack made the task a lot simpler.

Jones,Gawain (2618) - Chan,Kris (2071) [E90]
Begonia Open 2024 Ballarat, Australia (7.1), 11.03.2024

Saturday 9 March 2024

Some blindfold practice

 Try and visualise the following position - White:Kf1, Rd6, Pa7,d7,g3,h3 Black: Kd8, Ra2, Pg5,g6,h7

How do you play as white?

(From the book Cognitive Chess by Konstantin Chernyshov)

Despite getting the position in my head quite quickly, it still took me around 5 minutes before I worked out the winning idea. See how well you can do.

Tuesday 5 March 2024

A proper GM event

 The headline is a little dramatic, in that there are lots of proper GM events. But the Shenzen Masters kind of feels like a pre-covid GM event, rather than the an event that is squeezed between the next online KO/Rapid/Troll-fest that seems to be prevalent today. Four local GM's and 4 foreign GM's in the 2600-2800 range has seen some entertaining games. 

The one game I picked from the tournament is a 30 mover, surprisingly won by Black using the Petroff. In the end the sneaky black pawn on b2 made all the difference.

Erigaisi,Arjun (2738) - Bu Xiangzhi (2671) [C43]
5th Shenzhen Longgang Shenzhen CHN (2), 01.03.2024

Sunday 3 March 2024

2024 Olympiad

 It might seem a long way off, but the wheels are already in motion for Federations planning to attend the 2024 Chess Olympiad. It will be held in Budapest in mid September, but Federations are already able to register their attendance. In fact the deadline for doing so is sometime next week, so the organisers are clearly trying to have a solid estimate of numbers well in advance.

Although the actual team registrations are not open as yet, I do note that the New Zealand Chess Federation is off to an early start, having already selected their squads. Normally the Australian teams are selected some time after Easter, while for other teams in the region selections are often complicated by availability of players (due to work/financial issues).

Friday 1 March 2024

Xmas day for chess players

 The 1st of March FIDE Rating List saw the proposed rating 'compression' come into effect. All rated players under 2000 were given a rating boost, based on the formula New rating = Old rating + (0.4 * (2000 - Old rating)). So for a player rated 1001 that would bee 400 points, while a player rated 1990, that would be 4 points. 

From a local point of view there ware 2 main effects. Firstly, lots of players qualify for higher categories in the upcoming Doeberl Cup. Secondly, there may well be a lot of 'farming' going on, as older players regain some of the points previously lost to younger players (ie rather than avoiding junior players, it may be an advantage in playing them as their ratings increased by a greater amount)