Friday 31 May 2024

Aged like sour milk

 Having suggested that the format of the 2024 Norway Chess event was contributing to overly drawish play, the next 2 rounds of the Open section saw 5 decisive games out of the 6 played. What really kicked things off seems to have been Prag beating Carlsen in a very simple and stylish manner. Carlsen then bounced back with a 4th round win over Caruana, while Prag went down to Nakamura. In the mean time Ding's struggles continue, losing to Caruana and Firouzja in successive rounds. At this stage Firouzja leads by half a point over Carlsen. The Women's event is a little more clear cut, with Vaishali leading by 2.5 points!

Praggnanandhaa, R vs Carlsen, Magnus
Norway Chess 2024

Quick easy practice

 If you are looking for some easy practice, then Youtube might have the answer. I'm not talking about instructional videos, but a fairly easy chess engine you can play through their website. Under the new heading of 'Playables' Youtube have added a whole pile of web based games. One of the games is 'Chess Classic' While it isn't very good (at least the lower levels) it does provide a quick way to play some casual online chess. As for the practice bit, if you are just learning chess, then beating easy chess engines is one way top get better. It helps you sharpen your basic tactics without getting crushed later in the game. As per an earlier recommendation, start at the easiest level and play until you can win 3 games in a row. Then move up to the next level. It worked for me when I first started playing chess, and it is a good way to get to the 'not dropping pieces' stage of your game.

Wednesday 29 May 2024

Fighting against draws

 The 2024 Norway Chess event started a few days ago, with a strong group of players in both the Open and Women's sections. As in previous years, they are using a scoring format (3,1,0) that is designed to create a winner and loser for each pairing, even if the games themselves fail to do so. If the normal game is drawn, an Armageddon game is played, with winner getting an extra half point (so drawn games always score 1.5-1.0)

While it might make the scoreboard look interesting, this hasn't necessarily carried over to the board. All 6 games in the Open section have been drawn, with 5 of the 6 in the Women's section also going that way. And while there is a restriction of draw offer before move 30, Ding v Carlsen in Rd 1 still ended in a 14 move draw, after a repetition occurred out of the opening.

Hopefully the action will heat up as players work out what they need to do to finish at the top of the field.

Monday 27 May 2024

2024 ACT Championship - Final Day

 IM Junta Ikeda has won his 11th ACT Championship, repeating his 7/7 score he also achieved in last years tournament. His round 6 game against FM Michael Kethro left him a point in front with 1 round to play, but a win over NSW junior Reyaansh Chakrabarty in round 7 kept his 100% record intact. 2nd place was shared between FM Michael Kethro, CM Lalit Prasad, and ACT junior, Masaki Horikawa, on 5.5. Horikawa started the tournament seeded 20th, so his 2nd place finish was quite an achievement. 

Oladoyan Fasakin and Somon Vos shared the Under 2000 prize, while the Under 1600 prize was shared between Simon Louie, Jerry Cheng, Lohit Hegde, Aarav Rawat and Olamide Fasakin. Padma Gyalpo was the best FIDE unrated player,

While the first 3 days went pretty smoothly, day 4 was filled with drama. On opening the venue, it became apparent there was no power. Round 6 was started, while the cause was investigated. It turns out that there was an 'unscheduled power outage' in the suburb, which not only meant no lights in the playing area, but no live game broadcast as well. Fortunately there was enough natural light in the venue to allow the round to proceed. The promised repair time (by EVO Energy) came and went, and further enquiries were made. Power was then restored to the suburb, but not, it turned out, to the small area where the venue was located. Another promised repair time was missed, followed by a more general 'sometime between 1pm and 4pm'. With round 7 starting at 2:45pm it soon became clear that if the lighting was not restored, the games would finish in darkness. 4pm passed by without EVO delivering on their promise, and games were moved to areas closer to the windows. Even this proved unsatisfactory and the organisers were reduced to trying to light the inside of the venue with car headlights from the outside. I even added a new arbiting skill to my toolbox, walking through the bush to where the workman were located to either (a) get an estimated time of repair or (b) a supply of industrial strength torches to light the venue. Just as I reached the worksite I was told it had been fixed and the lights would be back soon. At 5:35pm (35 minutes past sunset) the lights did in fact come on, 8.5 hours after they went out. There were half a dozen games still in progress, and the tournament eventually finished under playable conditions.

As the Chief Arbiter, I would like to thank all the players for their understanding in what turned out to be very difficult conditions. While I am sure some players last round results were impacted by the poor (non-existent) lighting, they recognised that this was outside the control of the organisers and arbiters.

Sunday 26 May 2024

2024 ACT Championships - Day 3

 IM Junta Ikeda has taken the outright lead in the 2024 ACT Chess Championship, after another 2 wins on day 3. He beat CM Lalit Prasad in the morning round, and then CM Hui Li in round 5. Li had drawn with FM Michael Kethro in the 4th round before being outplayed by Ikeda in the days 2nd round. Kethro defeated Harry Johnson in the 5th round to move to 4.5, and will now play Ikeda in Round 6 tomorrow. Reyaansh Chakrabarty recovered from his round 3 disaster to win both game today and is tied for 3rd alongside Prasad, Thomas Gatzen-O'Keefe and Tim Pearce.

Saturday 25 May 2024

2024 ACT Championships - Day 2

 The 2nd day of the 2024 ACT Championship saw the top seeds having a much tougher time of it, than on the first day. Both IM Junta Ikeda and FM Michael Kethro had to convert drawn rook and pawn endings into wins, while 2nd see Reyaansh Chakrabarty blundered into a mate against Ian Hosking after 16 moves.

The Round 3 game between Oladoyin Fasakin and Ikeda saw the evaluation needle swing back and forth, including a missed mate in 2 for Oladoyin when both players were in time trouble. Eventually Ikeda was able to pose enough problems and a misplaced rook spelled the end for Fasakin. It was a similar story in the Kethro Vos game where an over pressing Kethro gave Vos a brief chance to win material in a Rook and Bishop ending, before Vos failed to defend the R+P V R ending.

After 3 rounds there are still 5 players on 3/3. With another 2 rounds tomorrow, a likely winner should emerge, although in prevoius years, this tournament has often been decided by final round results.


2024 ACT Championship - Day 1

 The 2024 ACT Chess Championship has started with a large field of 56 players. As an open event it does have a significant 'tail' but the top end of the event still has a number of strong players. IM Junta Ikeda and FM Michael Kethro are the two favoured local players, with Reyansh Chakrabarty (NSW) checking in as number 2 seed.

The first round went according to seeding, with one exception. Tim Pearce dropped an exchange to local junior Louis Chen, who then methodically reduce material until Pearce was left in a lost king and pawn ending. Paul Dunn held out the longest against a stronger opponent, until walking into a game ending tactic against CM Lalit Prasad.

You can see the tournament results at and live broadcast (top 4 boards) at

Thursday 23 May 2024

2024 ACT Championship begins tomorrow

 The 2024 ACT Chess Championship starts tomorrow, running across the Reconciliation Day long weekend. As of this evening here are 52 players entered, with IM Junta Ikeda and FM Michael Kethro as the top seeds.  As it is an open event, there are also a bunch of interstate players taking part, noting that while they are eligible for prizes, they are not eligible for the Championship title. 

The first round is at 7pm tomorrow (Friday) and and has 2 rounds on each of the following days. It is not too late to enter, and you can do so via

Sunday 19 May 2024

Let's start at the start

 There is an interesting chess event running across the weekend in Morocco. The Morocco Chess Week is featuring Casablanca Chess which is a fixed opening variant. At the start of each round the players are given a famous game, and the move on which they can vary from the given move. They have a couple of minutes to study the game/position and then they play a 15 minute game. 

At the end of Day 1 Carlsen leads with 2.5/3, ahead of Nakamura on 1.5, with Anand and Amin on 1. Of most interest from this event is that the Evan's Gambit was chosen in Round 1, and White (Carlsen and Nakamura) both won. Carlsen then defeated Nakamura in round 3, in a g4 Sicilian.

Someone on the internet did ask if such games could be rated, and I said no. If people are confused as to why (as a lot of people seemed to be), rated games must be played according to the FIDE Laws of Chess. And in 2.3, the initial position of the chessboard is given. These games do not start in the defined position.

Nakamura, Hikaru v Amin, Basem
Casablanca Chess 2024

Friday 17 May 2024

Milan Ninchich (1957 - 2024)

 It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Milan Ninchich. Milan was an active player on the Canberra chess scene for over 30 years, having moved here from Perth after taking a government job in the nation's capital. On arrival he became an active member of the Belconnen Chess Club, participating in numerous club and weekend events. A player who enjoyed attacking chess, he proved to be a challenging opponent, and the games he produce (win or lose) were always enjoyable to play through. 

I played him at least 20 times (not counting offhand games) going back to the early 1990's. It was one of our early games that was the most memorable, as it was a game that I still consider my best ever. But without Milan's attempt to refute my opening as early as move 7 (an idea prepared in advance) the game would never have existed. As a result I have always considered him the 'co-author' of this brilliancy.

In later years his involvement in the chess scene was curtailed by health issues, but we would stay in touch, discussing computer chess (of which he had an avid interest) and other chess topics. He was also a prolific contributor to this blog, either in the comments section, or via emailed links to articles he found interesting. To me, Milan was the type of player any chess club or community needed, always cheerful and always welcoming to new players.

For local chess players who wish to remember Milan, his funeral will be at Serbian Orthodox Church of St Sava, Lambrigg Street Farrar at 1:30pm 23rd May 2024. He is survived by his wide Biljana and children Doug and  Nada. I'm sure I speak for the Canberra chess community in offering our sympathies at this difficult time.

Sunday 12 May 2024

A Recreational Player

 While reading through the regulations for the 2024 FIDE Rapid Teams Championship, I cam across a new chess term. In the document, there is a reference to a "Recreational Player". This is defined as a player whose rating has never been above 2000 on any of the FDIE Rating Lists (Standard, Raid or Blitz). 

The reason for defining such a players is that each team playing in the 2024 FIDE Rapid Teams Championship is required to field at least 1 Recreational Player per match (which in this case is over 6 boards). Given that 1st prize in the event is 100K (US) now might be the time to recruit your friends uncle who was apparently "a chess grandmaster, but before they had ratings"


Wednesday 8 May 2024

I've had better days

 I was looking through a few games by Vassily Smyslov, as I had just picked up a copy of his book on his early career (up until 1957). I was planning to show an early win against Gerasimov, but I realised I had posted it 14 years ago, So instead, I found a very short game, where a quick tactical blow brought about resignation. However in this case I suspect Spraggett resigned more out of disgust than anything else, as the position isn't lost, just "losing".

Spraggett,Kevin (2550) - Smyslov,Vassily (2595) [E11]
Candidates Tournament Montpellier (6), 1985

Sunday 5 May 2024

2024 ACT Teams Rapidplay

 A field of 19 teams turned out for the 2024 ACT Teams Rapidplay Championship. In previous years the field would be 10 to 12 teams, but this year saw a big jump in numbers. The ACT chess clubs were well represented by official teams, and there were school teams, junior teams, and teams that were just formed on the day.

In fact the winning team was just such a team, with Harry's Pushers (Harry Press, Milles Patterson, Jerry Cheng, and Padma Gyalpo) winning with a score of 21.5/28. They score heavily on the top 2 boards (13/14), but also had solid results on the bottom 2 boards to emerge as clear winners. In 2nd place were Underscore on 18.5, a junior team who scored a big 3.5-0.5 win in the final round to overtake some more fancied teams. In 3rd pace were Gungahlin A on 18, who also collected the Larko Cup for the best score by an official club team. 

The turnout was a bit of surprise for me as the organiser, and when I arrived at the venue was somewhat shocked to see around 25 players already waiting. After the process of registration (and team formation) was completed, the event got off to a quick start. By the end the 7 round tournament was even running ahead of time, which was also a pleasant surprised. And although we don't usually do a lot of teams chess in the ACT, this may change in the future, given the success of this tournament.

Saturday 4 May 2024

2024 ACT Chess Championship - 24th - 27th May 2024

2024 ACT Chess Championship

24-27 May 2023 (Friday evening through Monday Reconciliation Day)

7-rounds FIDE/ACF Rated Swiss Format

Venue: Campbell High School

Trealor Cres, Campbell (next to War Memorial)

Schedule: Friday 24 May 7:00pm

Saturday 25 May – Monday 27 May 10:00am and 2:30pm on each day

90 minutes per game with 30 second per move increment from move one (Fischer)

Director of Play:

FIDE International Arbiter Shaun Press

Friday 24 May 2023 7:00 PM - Monday 27 May 2023 6:00 PM (UTC+10)


First prize $500

Prize Pool: $1500+

Wednesday 1 May 2024

The Chess Player

 The movie "The Chess Player" popped up on SVS World Movies recently. A Spanish film, it tells the story of a chess champion who is imprisoned during the Second World War. It is a fairly simple film with a somewhat familiar plot (which I won't spoil) , but the chess scenes are quite well done. If you do want to have a look, the link to online streaming is (NB You may have to create a free account to view)