Sunday, 10 December 2017

Age and Wisdom

I spent the day helping run the traditional end of year Junior Chess League event, the ACT Transfer Championship. Transfer is of course better known as Bughouse (although not so much in Australia), and is a favourite of juniors far and wide. However, despite the tournament being run by the Junior Chess League, it is in fact open to players of all ages.
Of the 21 teams who took part, the top places were mainly (but not exclusively) occupied by the older players. FM Michael Kethro and Jamie-Lee Guo (playing as Arjang FC) were unbeaten, scoring 13/13. 2 points back were John Cullen and Josh Tomlin, tied with Louie Serfontein and Luc Bailey. In the case of Tomlin and Cullen, they actually had less transfer experience than their younger opponents, but were still ale to beat most of them.
One possible reason is that to play Transfer well, you do have to be 'clever'. And by this you have to not only think about the moves, but also the broader context. Some moves are better than others, not because they are 'good', but because they're more likely to cause the opponent to make a mistake. When you are younger such thinking doesn't come easy, but as you get older, looking for flaws in the 'system' is part and parcel of life.
Overall most teams played it pretty straight (not a lot of trash talking, no distraction techniques etc) which was demonstrated by the fact I had to deal with very few issues.  Possibly the weirdest one was where two teams found both kings in check on one board, and confused by this, just decided to agree to a draw!

2018 Australian Championship - Early entry deadline approaches

The 2018 Australian Championships is being held at the North Sydney Leagues Club from the 2nd to the 12th of January 2018. Alongside the Championship will be the reserves event (Under 2150) and the 7 round Classic (for Under 1800).
The deadline for the early entry discount is approaching so if you are planning to play, you better enter soon. Entry for the Championship is restricted to players rated above 2150, although I do note that players rated below that have applied to be considered. Otherwise it is the Reserves or Classic, depending on how much time you can spare. There is also a FIDE Rated Blitz on the 7th (the only rest day), where the new FIDE Rules for blitz will be in effect (2 illegal moves lose!).
The tournament website is and contains an online entry form as well as other tournament details.

(NB I am a paid official for this event)

Friday, 8 December 2017

Two GM norms at Young Masters

The 2017 Lidums Australian Young Masters produced not one but two Grandmaster norms, one for IM Bobby Cheng (AUS), and one for IM Kanan Izzat (AZE). Both secured the norms with draws in the final round, finishing on 6.5/9. This also left them tied for first place, half a point ahead of GM Vasily Papin in third.
While two GM norms in a 10 player Round Robin is rare, it was helped in part by the fact that a couple of players were out of form. IM Ari Dale struggled to get going in the event, although he did win his last round game against GM Moulthun Ly. FM Chris Wallis and FM Patrick Gong both had early wins, but found the rest of the event tough going. Cheng scored 3/3 against the back markers, although Izzat drew with both Dale and Gong. IM R Praggnanandhaa had an early setback with a loss against Izzat and was unable to repeat his GM level performance from the World Junior. Sukanadar played a number of interesting games, but eventually finished on 4. Ly's last round loss to Dale dropped him down the table, while Demuth only lost 1 game, but with 6 draws, was destined for a mid table finish.
FM Yi Liu (AUS) won the IM event with 6/9, but this wasn't enough for an IM norm. However I am assuming that this win will result in an invite to the GM group next year, where he will be playing for both IM and GM norms.

2018 Australian Junior Championships

The 2018 Australian Junior Chess Championship is being held from the 13th to the 21st January 2018, at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. The event will be run across a number of age groups, with specific schedules for each. The Junior Championship itself is open to all eligible players Under 18 years of age (on the 1st January 2018) and will be a 9 round FIDE rated event. There is also events for Under 16, 14, 12, 10, and 8 years players (along with girls events for Under 18's down to Under 8's).
Players from the ACT have an extra incentive to take part in this event, as the ACT Government is providing a grant of $2000 for travel assistance. This is will be shared by all ACT players taking part in the tournament, with the grant being handled by the ACT Junior Chess League.
Details of the tournament can be found at the tournament website.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Obscure amazon items

There was a degree of excitement today, as Amazon opened its Australian 'shop' for the first time. Early reports indicate that this wasn't as momentous an occasion as expected, with nothing too ground breaking hitting the market, and prices not being much lower than normal Australian retail.
Of course I had to test the system by seeing what chess items they had. Turns out all the usual books, although Amazon seem to sell a lot of titles by obscure authors. In some cases they are reprints of out of copy right works (eg 'Chess' by RF Green) or more recent works aimed at the beginner/school market.
In the end the only item of note was a neon sign that read "Chess Player Parking Only". I don't know whether Amazon have vastly overestimated the number of chess centres in Australia (which seem to be the obvious market) or if it is intended as a 'gag' gift to be placed at the end of the garage on Christmas morning. I think the second theory is more likely to be correct.

Monday, 4 December 2017

A new wrinkle

This time last year I was just about to head off to a cold and damp London to play some chess at the London Chess Classic. A year later I am sitting in a cold and damp Canberra (while suffering from an awful cold), watching the action from afar.
The first two rounds of the LCC have seen all the games drawn, but the Open event has had some interesting games. One that caught my eye was a win by Jonny Hector, where he played a move in Two Knights that I was unfamiliar with. On move  8 the queen has a number of squares to go to, but d7 would not have been my choice. Nonetheless it turned out OK for Black, although Hector did not gain anything that he would not have got from other choices. It wasn't until White took the rook on f8 that the game came to a sudden finish, as the check on g5 was enough to win the game.

Campos Chacon,Marco (2040) - Hector,Jonny (2493) [C56]
London Classic Open 2017 London ENG (1.25), 02.12.2017

Saturday, 2 December 2017

The perils of time trouble

The first round of the 2017 Australian Young Masters GM event saw each game end with a decisive result. Some of the games were pretty one sided, but a couple swung back and forth. Probably the most dramatic games was between Praggnanandhaa and Ly, where the game was eventual decided in what I assume was mutual time trouble. Praggnanandhaa had a nice advantage from the opening, and Ly decided to sacrifice an exchange on move 26 in return for some attacking chances. He almost got it back to equality around 35, but he decided not to exchange queens, and Praggnanandhaa was once again on top. Then at move 46 there was a spectacular double blunder, with both players missing how strong 46. ... Re2!! was. If Ly had spotted it the game would have been drawn, while if Praggnanandhaa had foreseen it he would have probably chosen 46.Qxf2 rather than 46.Kh1. Instead Ly played 46. ... Ra2 and after that Praggnanandhaa had the game in the bag.

Praggnanandhaa,R (2509) - Ly,Moulthun (2486) [C50]
2017 Lidums Australian Young Masters GM Adelaide (1.1), 02.12.2017