Tuesday 30 April 2024

A family affair

 It isn't always the easiest thing to play someone in your immediate family, but it is sometimes necessary. In small events (local local club tournaments) it cannot always be avoided, although I was a little fortunate in avoiding my son in a lot of tournaments (I started with 3 wins in standard chess, but that was it for me).

In bigger events it is less likely to happen, but depending on the profile of the players, it can often draw a crowd.

Botez,Andrea (1879) - Botez,Alexandra (1970) [D02]
Sardinia Worldchess https://lichess.org/study/oBL0 (3.48), 29.04.2024

Saturday 27 April 2024

2024 ACT Teams - Rescheduled to 5th May

 The 2024 ACT Teams Rapid Championship is being held on Sunday, 5th May 2024, at Campbell High. This event is open to all ACTCA members as well as all members of the ACTJCL. The format of the tournament is teams of 4, playing 7 rounds of 15 minute chess. The last event was held in 2022 and a good time was had by all.

Tournament Details
Date: Sunday 5th May 2024 - Registration from 9:30am, Prize giving at 3:30pm

Venue: Campbell High School, Trealor Cres, Campbell ACT

Rounds: 7

Time control: G15+5s

Prizes: 1st, 2nd and 3rd placed trophies. Medals for the best scorer on each board. Bonus prizes for best dressed team, best work/social team. The Larko Cup will be awarded to the best official club team

Team Rules
1. Teams consist of 4 players (+1 reserve if you wish)
2. The average rating of boards 2,3 and 4 must be below 1850 (FIDE Rapid). Board 1 can have any rating you wish! If a player does not have a FIDE Rapid rating, then ACF Quickplay will be used. Unrated players will count as 1400 (NB FIDE is increasing players ratings on 1st March 2024)
3. Teams must play in rating order (players within 50 points of each other may swap)
4. Players without a team are welcome as teams will also be formed on the day
5. Each team will appoint a captain who is responsible for results etc

Cost: $10 per player (Pay on the day)

Lunch: A nutritious lunch will be provided by the organisers

Pre-registration: To make organising a little easier, teams can be submitted to Shaun Press shaunpress@gmail.com There will be a lucky door prize for teams that pre-register

Rated: This event will be ACF and FIDE Rated.

Thursday 25 April 2024

Anzac Day Hybrid

The team representing the ACT Junior League has won the 2024 Anzac Day Junior Hybrid Event, its 2nd win in 2 years. The event brought together 5 teams representing ACT, Victoria (Hobson Bay), NSW (JZMC), Western Australia (Kingsley CC) and Christchurch NZ (ISCC). The event was a 5 round RR, played over 6 games per match.

The ACT team scored 18.5/24, with HBCC on 13, JZMC 12, ISCC 9.5 and KCC 7. Despite the margin of victory, the event was a lot closer than the scores indicated with a number of games in the final round ACT v HBCC match looking like they could go either way. 

The tournament was organised by IA Casey Goh (HBCC) and was played with a time limit of G30m+15s inc. Four players score 4/4, Okitha Babaranda (ISCC), Olamide Fasakin (ACT), Dev Raichura (ACT) and Olaoluwa (ACT).

Eleutherios,Thomas - Hari,Dhruv (1486) [B76]
ANZAC Day Inter Club Juniors Hybrid Frie Tornelo INT (5.1), 25.04.2024

Monday 22 April 2024

That was wild

 A very spectacular Candidates event came to an end with an amazing finish. Gukesh ended up winning the event outright, but only after Caruana and Nepo drew in 100+ moves. A real tragedy for Caruna, as he had two winning positions, which he failed to convert. Watching the game online was a real roller coaster, as the game went from equal to winning for Caruna to drawn, back to winning for Caruana, and finally drawn. As a result Gukesh will play Ding Liren for the World Championship title, which given Ding's recent form, may see Gukesh become the youngest World Champion ever.


Caruana,Fabiano (2803) - Nepomniachtchi,Ian (2758) [D35]
FIDE Candidates 2024 Toronto, Canada (14), 21.04.2024

Saturday 20 April 2024

Yeh, nah

 Sometimes a trap is so tempting, so obvious, and so spectacular, that there is no way it could work. And in a lot of cases you would be right. But sometimes you play it anyway, and it turns out that it really doesn't work. The game below is an example, except the trap did work. To preserve the identities of the perpetrator and the victim, I'm leaving the names off. The moves given are what *should have happened* if Black had played 7. ... Qb6. Instead he chose 7. ... Qd6?? and resigned after 8.Ne5+ Kd8 9.Nxf7+ 7. ... Qb6 would have been -3 for White with the correct follow up

FM White - Mr Black
I'm not telling Swiss

Friday 19 April 2024

Down to 4

 After a couple of exciting rounds, the 2024 Candidates is down to 4 players. There is a 3 way tie at the top, with Nepo, Naka, and Gukesh all on 7.5, with Fabi on 7. Nepo and Nakamura have the toughest assignments, playing each other in round 13 and then Caruana and Gukesh respectively in the last round. Gukesh has an out of form Firouzja in round 13, while Caruana is playing a much tougher Prag. At this stage Gukesh seems to have the best run home, but this could all change if Nakamura can pull off the big final round comeback. 

Caruana,Fabiano (2803) - Vidit,Santosh Gujrathi (2727) [C54]
FIDE Candidates 2024 Toronto, Canada (12.4), 18.04.2024

Tuesday 16 April 2024

Of shoes and ships and sealing wax ...

 I was asked by one of my readers about whether I was going to comment on the latest happenings in the Candidates Tournament. My initial inclination was to say no*, but with todays extra spice I've changed my mind.

Yesterdays fun started when Chief Arbiter Aris Marghetis asked Alireza Firouzja to stop making so much noise with his shoes when walking around. Apparently this had disturbed at least one other player, who had complained to Aris. Firouzja was not happy about the request, and after the round complained on social media. 

As an Arbiter, I've also had to deal with this issue from time to time. It usually occurs when the venue has hard wood floors, and more formal shoes (ie not sandshoes) are being worn. Normally such requests are handled in good spirits, although not always.

Having dealt with yesterdays issues, another Firouzja related incident occurred in todays round. Normally no spectators/seconds/family members are allowed on the playing floor after the round starts. However this as relaxed for later rounds, with access for the first 15 minutes for family etc being allowed. However, when Firouzja father was asked to leave he made a bit of a scene, and outside said he was going to call the police on the organisers. Again this looks like a case of a reasonably normal request being treated with outright hostility. Again in my experience as an arbiter, players/parents/spectators who insist on everyone else being potential lawbreakers are the ones that react the worst when regulations to protect the integrity of the event are applied to them!

*By way of explanation. At one point in the lead up to the Candidates I was asked if I was available to be one of the Deputy Arbiters. I did say yes, but it then turned out they rolled the job of Deputy Arbiter and Fairplay officer into one position and I was the odd one out. I've also worked with Aris Marghetis in the past and he is an excellent arbiter, especially in the area of  'crowd control'. So anything I write on this topic is going to support the decisions he made.

Saturday 13 April 2024

Watching rather than writing

 I'm a big fan of reading about chess (and most other things) but I am falling into the trap of watching more chess than reading (or writing). Maybe this is just me catching up with the times, or just part of my continuing descent into laziness. It probably hasn't been helped in the short term by picking up my usual cold after running an interschool event (120 players at the ACT Girls Primary Championships). 

Having said that I will probably stick to writing as (a) I have a good face for radio and (b) it probably takes *more* effort to produce visual content than it does to produce written content.

Monday 8 April 2024

Randomised positions

 While there is a belief that top level chess has a dependence on extensive opening preparation, I'm not convinced it is true. Certainly Carlsen seems to do well with his "make it up as I go along" opening approach, and a number of other players are following his lead. The following game from the Candidates certainly started with a surprise opening, but the evaluation of who was better seemed to swing back and forward throughout the game, indicating the while Prag may have been comfortable with the opening, he wasn't relying on it to deliver a victory.

Vidit,Santosh Gujrathi (2727) - Praggnanandhaa R (2747) [C70]
FIDE Candidates 2024 Toronto, Canada (3.4), 05.04.2024

Sunday 7 April 2024

Candidates Chaos

 The 2024 Candidates Tournament is underway in Toronto, and round 2 of the Open section saw 4 decisive games. Probably the most noteworthy was Vidit beating Nakamura, although Caruana's win over Abasov may be the most consequential. 

Going into the tournament, Caruana was probably the favourite, with Nakamura considered the player most likely to defy the odds. However, considering the rating spread of the field, I think the games between the leaders won't be as important as the games against the back markers (like Candidates events of old). So the win by Caruana was an important won, as was Nepo's win over Firouzja. If at the halfway mark someone is +3 (or more), then it may be all over for the rest of the field.

Caruana,Fabiano (2803) - Abasov,Nijat (2632) [B30]
FIDE Candidates 2024 Toronto, Canada (2.4), 04.04.2024

Friday 5 April 2024

Melbourne International Open

 With the Doeberl Cup run and done for another year, a number of players made their way to Melbourne for the new Melbourne International Open. The brain child of local organiser Walter Wolffs, the event has attracted both a large and strong field. And whether there were some residual effects from the Doeberl schedule, the first couple of rounds were a bit of a bloodbath for the top seeds. 

The top 4 boards saw the higher rated players only manage 1.5 (3 draws and a loss), with GM Darryl Johansen also a victim. After that things settled down a bit, although there are few GM's and IM's playing catch up. 

And while the net effect of this may be to provide lower seeded players a change to challenge titled players, the results aren't always pretty.

Venkatesh,M.R. (2382) - Li,Tedric (1990) [C00]
Round 4: Venkatesh, M.R. - Li, Tedric Melbourne International Open, 04.04.2024

Tuesday 2 April 2024

2024 O2C Doeberl Cup - Three in a row for Melkumyan

 GM Hrant Melkumyan has recorded his 3rd O2C Doeberl Cup tournament win in  a row, after a dominant performance in the 2024 edition. Going into the final round a full point ahead, he drew with GM Mitrabha Guha to reach 8/9. IM Peng Cheng also drew on board 2, to take 2nd place on 7/9. IM Arghyadip Das defeated FM Albert Winkleman on board 3 to take a share of 2nd, also ending Winkelman's chances of scoring an IM norm in the process. 

The Major was won by Bryan Yang on 6..5/7. He finished a point ahead of Elliot Wong, Ethan Chang and Daniel Wang. The Minor was shared between Austin Chen and Chee Seng Lue, who both scored 6/7. The Mini saw Aden Power finish with a perfect 7/7, a full point ahead of Alexander Warne.

Monday 1 April 2024

2024 O2C Doeberl Cup - Day 4

 GM Hrant Melkumyan ended the 4th day of the 2024 O2C Doeberl Cup with one hand firmly attached to the trophy. After a draw in round 7 against IM James Morris, he played a nice attacking game against FM Fred Litchfield to maintain his one point lead over the chasing pack. Chinese IM Peng Cheng holds down second place after beating Morris in Round 8, with the Indian trio of GM Guha, GM Venkatesh and IM Das in equal third.

Of interest to the Canberra Chess community is FM Albert Winkelmans final round games against IM Das. A win for Winkelman will secure him an IM norm, his first. Other Canberra players on the top boards are IM Junta Ikeda (Board 4) and FM Frred Litchfield (Board 7).

The final round will finish around 1:30pm today. You can see the final standings for the Premier, and the other events at www.doeberlcup.com.au