Sunday 30 June 2024

Some lucky scheduling

 From the end of July I plan to be travelling for around 12 weeks. My trip starts in Kazakhstan, with the 2024 World Rapid and Blitz  Teams event. The onwards to the UK, before attending the 2024 Chess Olympiad in Hungary. A bit of sightseeing across Europe afterwards, before a possible excursion to play in the 2024 Guernsey Open, before heading home.

There was a 10 day gap in early October to fill in, but the announcement of Season 2 of the Global Chess League looks to have solved that issue. it slots neatly in the gap of the 3rd to the 12th October, and will be held in London. Last years event attracted a lot of interest, and I expect this years tournament will be even more popular. Not sure I can organise media access, but if you don't ask, you don't get!

Thursday 27 June 2024

Helmut Ackermann

 The ACT Chess community has lost another of its veteran chess players, with the passing of Helmut Ackermann. He was a former ACTCA President and tournament organiser, as well as being a regular club competitor for many decades. 

He was involved in running the Woden Chess Club when I first started playing club chess, and he was always helpful in telling me what I needed to know as a new tournament player. We would have played together in various rapid and blitz events, but I do not seem to have any record of facing him at longer time controls. 

He also took part in the very first Doeberl Cup in 1963, and made sure he attended the event as often as he could, including earlier this year. Having moved on from tournament chess as he grew older, he still was a regular participant in the casual chess meetings at the Canberra Southern Cross Club. 

His passing breaks a link with the Canberra chess scene of the 1950's and 60's and he will be missed.

Tuesday 25 June 2024

Play it like you sac'ed it

 If you find yourself down a pawn in the opening, a good piece of advice is to play it like a gambit. Aim for quick development and open lines, as way of making up for your oversight. Just sitting back and letting the game proceed normally doses not usually work

Radisich,Matt - Sengstock,Steven [B01]
Belconnen Cup (5), 25.06.2024

Sunday 23 June 2024

Not a chess puzzle

 Can you work out what day of the week Abby was born on, based on the following conversations?

Abby and Barry know the day of the week they were born on, but not the day of the week the other was. Both know that Barry was not born on a Monday, and they are told (by someone who knows both birthdays) that they were born on consecutive days of the week (eg Tue, Wed), although not necessarily in a specific order. 

They are then asked alternately whether they know the day of the week the other was born on, starting with Abby. "No", "No", "No" "No", "No", "Yes!" (3 No's by Abbey, 2 No's and a final Yes by Barry). What day of the week was Abby born?

If you can't find a solution, or the question was simply worded badly, then you can see the answer below.

Wednesday 19 June 2024

Surprise Opening, surprise player

 While there is no rule that says that players of a certain style must play a certain style of opening, it is always a little surprising when a well know player breaks that rule. Reading about Akiba Rubinstein, I discovered that in a tournament organised shortly after the end of World War I in Sweden, be basically played the Kings Gambit as White whenever he had the chance. It did not do him any harm, as he finished in 1st place, albeit against a fairly weak field.

But when facing stronger opposition, he did not seem to shy away from this opening choice other, as the following slashing win demonstrates.

Rubinstein,Akiba - Hromadka,Karel [C30]
Maehrisch Ostrau International Masters Maehrisch Ostrau (4), 05.07.1923

Monday 17 June 2024

Disturbing image of the day

 I was looking through my newsfeed when I glanced at an articled concerning Assisted Dying. What was more concerning was the accompanying photo was of two elderly gentleman playing chess. No idea why.


Thursday 13 June 2024

The Top Ten

 I've just received an email from the FIDE Historical Commission, asking me to nominate the 10 best male and 10 best female players in history. This is part of the celebrations for FIDE's 100th Anniversary.

I've probably attempted this a couple of time previously on this blog (at least for the list of male players), although I will have to go searching. The actual deadline for submissions is very short  (1rth June), but if you think you can help me out here, I'm willing to listen to suggestions in the comments section. NB The request is the 10 'best' players, which indicates that playing strength is the overriding consideration, which may rule out 'significant' players, who may have had an impact on chess greater than their results would show.

Wednesday 12 June 2024

2024 NSW Open - Final Day

 The final day of the 2024 NSW Open ended with a couple of surprise winners, after a very tough day of chess. Going into the final round there were 7 players tied for the lead on 5/6. The top board pairing saw IM Igor Bjelobrk and FM Gary McNamara reach a rook and pawn ending which ended in a draw when McNamara won a rook, but had to return it shortly afterwards to eliminate the last pawn on the board. On Board 2 IM George Xie was unable to break down CM Reyaansh Chakrabarty's solid play, and that game was drawn as well. Board 3 saw Willis Lo have the best of it for most of the game against Terrence Tang, until an attempt to avoid a bishop and wrong colour rook pawn finish blew up in his face, resulting in an unexpected win for Tang. And on Board 4 WCM Bayasgalan Khishigbaatar defeated Zhiyuan Shen to join Tang as the only players on 6 points. There was a 5 way tie for third, with the players on the top 2 boards joined by FM Michael Kethro, who defeated Yifei Hu on board 5. 

The Under 1600 section had an even stranger finish, with first prize being shared by the players who finished 5th! This was due to ACF unrated players being ineligible to win cash prizes (apart from the unrated prize). Edward Rust won the event on 6.5/7, followed by Vu Ky Anh Nguyen and Bumbayar Khurtsgerel on 6, with Matthew Ottley on 5.5. However, each of these players did not have an ACF standard rating meaning that Steve Hemsley, Arav Callan, Terry Gao, and Winston Yuan picked up the cash with 5/7 (with another 4 unrated on the same score also missing out!)

The tournament attracted a field of 176 players, an increase over the last few years. The new venue was looked upon favourably by the players, and the change of schedule to a maximum of 2 rounds per day was very popular. The BSW Chess Association are looking to expand the event next year, with additional prizes and possibly an extra section being added to the weekender.

Monday 10 June 2024

2024 NSW Open Day 3

 The third day of the 2024 NSW Open ended with a couple of surprises at the top of the leaders board. Young CM Reyaansh Chakrabarty defeated FM Michael Kethro in round 4 and drew with IM Gary Lane in round 5 to reach 4.5/5. He was joined by FM Gary McNamara and Willis Lo, levaing the 3 of them half a point ahead of the chasing pack. he group of players on 4 includeds IM's Lane, Igor Bjelobrk and George Xie, along with a number of other top seeds.

Today's 6th round will see Chakrabarty and McNamara meet on board 1, with Lo facing off against fellow Canberran Michael Kethro on board 2.

Steve Hemsley holds a half point lead in the Minor, having won his first 5 games. Unrated player Edward Rust is on 4.5 and the two are playing in this mornings round. 

The final round of the tournament begins at 3pm this afternoon, and the top games of the Open can be followed at

Sunday 9 June 2024

2024 NSW Open Day 2

 The 2nd day of the 2024 NSW Open ended with 5 players still sharing the lead. A few quick draws in the days third round contributed to this, although a number of hard fought battles were also a factor. 

IM's Igor Bjelobrk and Gary Lane were held to draws by their CM opponents (Kendrick Zhang and Yifei Hu) on boards 1 and 3. IM George Xi picked up the full point against Kye Walls, as FM Michael Kethro and FM Gary McNamara. CM Reyansh Chakarabarty and FM Clive Ng were the other 2 players to reach 3/3. 

In the Under 1600 event, 2nd seed Steve Hemsley was joined by 2 unrated players (Edward Rust and Cory Yang) along with Lucas Lin, Kamal Jain and Arav Callan. A few strong player who stumbled early are still close behind, setting up a tight finish for this event.

Saturday 8 June 2024

2024 NSW Open - Day 1

 The 2024 NSW Open started with a new innovation, a Friday night round! As a result the event is now held over 4 days, with a slightly easier schedule for players, with 2 rounds on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. 

The new tournament venue (Novatel @ Rooty Hill) has seen a record turnout of 176 players across two sections (Open 96, Minor 80). There was some concern that the Friday night round might result in increased bye requests for that round, but the number of byes on Friday, matched the number of byes that were requested for the previous Sunday night round.

As for the tournament, 15 players have started with 2/2. Most of the top seeds are in this group, although a first round loss by one of the pre-tournament favorites precipitated his early withdrawal from the event.  The Minor (Under 1600) also has a big tie on 2/2 (12 in total) but in that tournament, likely winners can possibly come from anywhere. Among the regular participants in this section are a few unrated/stale-rated dark horses, which makes finding a likely winner quite difficult.

   If you want to follow the live games from the top 8 boards you can do so at Up to date results and pairings are  at noting that issues with the vegaresults sight may require you to click the alternative results link instead.

Friday 7 June 2024

2024 NSW Open

 The 2024 NSW Open is being held across this coming long weekend (All hail King Charles). It looks like here will be around 180 players across the Open and Under 1600 section. This is an increase over last year, due in part to a new venue. The old Russian Club could only accommodate 150 players (at a very tight squeeze) while the new venue (Novatel at Rooty Hill) has a lot more room. The other change is extending the schedule to 4 days, meaning Sunday only has 2 rounds, rather than 3 as in previous years.

If you want to check out the results you can follow the tournament at Other cool stuff like a lnk to the live games will come later

(I am a paid official at this event)

Tuesday 4 June 2024

Half remembered opening theory

 I guess half remembered opening theory is better than none, at least under certain circumstances. Facing a Goring Gambit in a very recent game, I remembered a recommendation from George Botterill where Black plays Bb4, follows up with d6 and then takes on c3 with the bishop at the correct moment.  So far so good, but I could not remember what happens next. Fortunately my opponent chose a line that Botterill did not recommend,  although I then chose a response that wasn't good either. But the long and the short of it was that I seemed to have the better of the opening, my opponent sacrificed material for play, and after3 hours, I managed to grind out a win in a R+B+N v Q position (I had the bits, not the queen)

If you are interested the line is supposed to be 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.c3 dxc3 5.Nxc3 Bb4 6.Bc4 d6 7.Qb3 (7.O-O Bxc3 8.bxc3 Bg4! is given by Botterill as best) 7. ... Qe7 (and 7. ... Qd7 is better) 

Sunday 2 June 2024

What is up with Ding?

 The short answer, is that I have no idea. His poor run of form has continued, losing his last 3 classical games at 2024 Norway Chess. The most common explanation is a combination of recent poor health, and the psychological letdown after winning the World Championship. This may be so, but then again ...

When I played him in 2019, he had just flown in from St Louis, where he had beaten Magnus Carlsen in a playoff to win the 2019 Sinquefield Cup. He was clearly unwell when he played me, and at one point I was convinced he was going to fall asleep at the board. Nonetheless, he went all the way through the tournament, only losing in the Final. Of course the level of opposition is slightly below what he is currently facing, but at least in 2019 he was still able to win while suffering from poor health.