Thursday, 31 December 2009

2009 Australian Player of the Year

Despite some outstanding individual performances in 2009, for me there is pretty clear choice for the (Chessexpress) 2009 Australian Player of the Year.
GM David Smerdon started the year both as an IM, and as the winner of the 2009 Queenstown Classic. He then moved his rating over the 2500 mark at the NSW Open, to confirm his GM title. A win in the Oceania Zonal booked a trip to snowy Siberia where he held GM Leinier Dominguez at bay in 2 classical time control games and then 3 rapidplay games before one bad move sent him home again. And as the icing on the cake, he was also the winner of the 2009 Yulgilbar - Think Big Grand Prix Series.
Congratulations David, and I look forward to next year being just as successful.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Nice Geometry

As I've stated before, I prefer to read the solution to a chess problem than actually solve it. I admire the cleverness of the problem setter in terms of how the solution looks, rather than how hard it is. And solutions that have a particular 'twist' to them appeal to me the most.
An example is the solution to the diagrammed position. It is a mate in 3, and the main line has an appealing 'shape' to it. To help you discover this shape, I'll give you a solution that doesn't work. The obvious 1.Qb1 (threatening Qb8#) fails to 1. ... Bg3, covering the target square. So you need to find another plan.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Deep thought for the Day

What are the odds that the best chess player in the world has never played chess?
This thought has occured to me over the years, especially after my trip to the Solomon Islands earlier this year. The basic thrust of the article is that societal factors influence both discovery and progress in a particular field. "Where are all the great Norwegian Australian Rules footballers?" is another way of thinking about it.
Now chess is a lot more universal than 'niche' sports, and it is easier to at least know what it is. But even so, there are still barriers that exist to impede progress to a higher level of play. Top of my list of things needed to progress would be access to organised competition, even ahead of access to coaching or books. Certainly this is the lesson I took away from the Solomon Islands, where a years worth of organised chess (individual and teams events), has taken local chess past countries like Papua New Guinea, where hardly any organised chess exists.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Korchnoi and Spassky halve out

The match between Boris Spassky and Viktor Korchnoi ended all square after 8 games. The second half of the match saw 2 wins for Spassky and 1 for Korchnoi, but the final game ended in a draw after only 11 moves. No surprise really, although it is a result that is more indicative of an older generation.
Overall this is a better result for Spassky than Korchnoi, as Spassky hadn't played a FIDE rated game in 7 years. I'm assuming that this doesn't signal a comeback from the former World Champion but if the 'chess nostalgia' circuit takes off, he could make a little cash via that route.

Korchnoi,Viktor (2567) - Spassky,Boris (2548) [A28]
Match Elista RUS (5), 24.12.2009

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.a3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Qc2 Be7 7.e3 a6 8.Bc4 Nb6 9.Bd3 Qd7 10.b3 f5 11.e4 g5 12.exf5 g4 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 14.Be4 Nc6 15.Ne2 Bf6 16.Rb1 Qd6 17.h3 gxh3 18.Rxh3 Bd7 19.Rd3 Qf8 20.Bxc6 Bxc6 21.Re3+ Kd7 22.Bb2 Nd5 23.Qd3 Bxb2 24.Rxb2 Qxa3 25.Rc2 Rae8 26.Qd4 Kc8 0-1

Sunday, 27 December 2009

How not to publicise a tournament

Since the start of December I have been bombarded with press releases from the "World Championship" tournaments being held in Las Vegas by the World Chess Federation. Some of them are totally laughable, with my favourite being "FIDE take notice of World Chess Federation". The notice was in the form of a warning not to deal with this organisation.
The other press releases fall under heading of "totally pointless". They breathlessly announce that player X has beaten player Y, and now leads tournament Z. What they miss is all the other essential information that a press release needs, such as how many players are in the event, and how the other leading players might be performing. This information (including tournament crosstables) seem to be well hidden, both in the press release, and on the web page of the organisers.
I suspect that this type of PR will continue until there is a sudden announcement that some 2100 player is the new "World Champion", followed by a complaint a few days later from the "World Champion" that they have had trouble cashing their winners cheque.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Hastings Chess Congress

There are a number of traditional post-Christmas chess events, with the Hastings Chess Congress probably the most famous. For many years the top event was a strong round-robin, with a mixed field of top UK players and overseas masters, but these days it has fallen victim to economic necessity, and has become large swiss, like so many other events on the chess calendar.
Nonetheless it has attracted a strong lineup of players, with details to be found here. I was particularly pleased to see a preview of the tournament by Stewart Reuben, as he had been suffering from poor health a few months ago. Hopefully he is fully healed and back to his organising best.

Friday, 25 December 2009

A couple of different draws

Here is an interesting chess problem for Christsmas Day (and most of Boxing Day as well). It was composed by Rinck, and I came across it in "The Complete Book of Chess" by Horowitz and Rothenberg. At first I thought it was cute due to a stalemate motif, but as I was setting the diagram in Chessbase, Fritz showed me another interesting line, if Black refuses to 'play along'. My source was silent about the slightly longer line, which is a little surprising. For anyone involved in chess coaching it would also serve as a useful exercise in trying to deal with all attempts at counterplay.
White to play and Draw.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

What to do on Christmas Day?

In my family, Christmas Day tends to follow the same pattern. Early rising to open presents, then a big Christmas lunch, and then an afternoon spent wondering why there isn't any decent sport on TV.
Now the lack of sport on Christmas Day wasn't always so. For example Australia got rolled by the West Indies back in 1951, with the final days play being the 25th of December.
Of course having to play on Christmas Day may be an inconvenience to some, but to others it is just another day (at least culturally and religiously). Last year the Asian Clubs Championship was run over the Christmas period, which probably inconvenienced some teams. However it still got a good turn out, and there was even a round held on the 25th. Here is a game played on that day, resulting in a crisp win to Indian player Deep Sengupta.

Sengupta,D (2441) - Weerawardane,R (2127) [B53]
1st Asian Clubs Al Ain UAE (1), 25.12.2008

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 a6 5.Bc4 e6 6.Bb3 Nc6 7.Qd3 Nf6 8.Nc3 Be7 9.Bf4 0-0 10.0-0-0 Ne8 11.h4 Na5 12.Be3 b5 13.e5 Nxb3+ 14.axb3 Bb7 15.Ng5 g6 16.Nxh7 Kxh7 17.h5 f5 18.hxg6+ Kxg6 19.Bf4 Bg5 20.Ne2 Be4 21.Qg3 Rg8 22.Bxg5 Qc8 23.Bf6+ Kf7 24.Rh7+ 1-0

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Who killed Emanuel Lasker?

or 2 gift suggestions for Christmas.

If you are looking for a last minute gift for a chessplayer, and which to avoid the obvious novelty drinking chess set etc, then I have 2 possible suggestions.
"The Yiddish Policeman's Union" by Michael Chabon might be described as intellectual 'police procedural' but as the plot revolves around the murder of a man who carried the alias 'Emanuel Lasker' it has enough chess content to qualify as a 'chess' gift. And in the main the chess content is done well enough, with a few real life and historical players getting a mention.
The other gift is the box set of one of the best television series ever produced, 'The Prisoner'. I gave it a wrap last year, and if you didn't get it then, you can always get it now. Not only is there an episode called 'Checkmate', but chess as a motif runs through the series. Worth getting, both for the chess, and everything in it as well.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Ancient Chess Columns

Earlier this year I had a post about Google providing on line archives to newspapers such as The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Paul Dunn recently informed me that the National Library of Australia already performs this service. They have digitised issues from 1803 through to 1954. The direct link to this service is here and at least when I clicked on it, the featured article was a chess column in the SMH from 22 December 1906. I assume that the featured newspaper changes each day so you may not be as lucky as I was. If not, just type "chess" into the search box and wade your way through the 38000+ links that come up!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Annotation by reputation

The diagrammed position comes from a game between Alekhine and Capablanca. It was from the 1914 St Petersburg tournament and it is Black (Capablanca) to move. In The Art of Chess Combination, Eugene Znosko-Borovsky heaps praise on the game continuation 1... Nxg2 2.Kxg2 Qg4+ 3.Kf1 Qh3+ 4.Ke2 Rxe3+ 5.fxe3 Qxe3+ 6.Kd1 Qxe1+ and disparages the 'variation without a surprise' 1. ... Qg4 2.Qb7 d5 3.f3 Qe6 4.Bxf4 Rxe1+
As it turns out the second variation is actually stronger than the first, although Znosko-Borovsky missed a brilliant sting in the tail. After Rxe1+ he simply states that Black wins the exchange at the price of the menace to the d pawn. However, if after 5.Kf2 Black finds 5. ... Rh1!! then he wins the other rook as well!
I wonder if part of the reason why Znosko-Borovsky didn't look too deeply at the second continuation was that he simply decided that if Capablanca played it, then it must be best.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Real golden oldies

I was surprised to see that Korchnoi and Spassky have jumped on the 'golden oldies' bandwagon, and are currently playing a match in Elista. The surprise mainly comes from the fact that Spassky is pretty inactive these days, although he still has a rating of 2548.
Korchnoi is much more active, and just finished giving a couple of simuls at the London Chess Classic. This may account for Korchnoi's win in the first game, although Spassky did draw the second.

Korchnoi,Viktor (2567) - Spassky,Boris (2548) [E21]
Match Elista RUS (1), 19.12.2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 b6 5.Qb3 a5 6.Bg5 Bb7 7.e3 h6 8.Bxf6 Qxf6 9.Be2 d6 10.0-0 Bxc3 11.bxc3 Nd7 12.Qa4 Ke7 13.Rab1 Rhd8 14.Nd2 Kf8 15.Bf3 Bxf3 16.Nxf3 Qe7 17.e4 e5 18.Rfe1 Kg8 19.Qc6 Nf6 20.c5 Qd7 21.Qxd7 Nxd7 22.cxd6 cxd6 23.g3 Rac8 24.Re3 Rc7 25.dxe5 dxe5 26.Kg2 Rdc8 27.Rd1 Nf6 28.Nxe5 Rxc3 29.Rxc3 Rxc3 30.Rd8+ Kh7 31.f3 Rc2+ 32.Kh3 Rxa2 33.Nxf7 Ng8 34.Nd6 Rd2 35.e5 a4 36.Ra8 b5 37.f4 b4 38.Rxa4 b3 39.Rb4 b2 40.Rb7 Rc2 41.Nf5 Kh8 42.Ne3 Rd2 43.Nc4 Rc2 44.Nxb2 h5 45.Nd3 Nh6 46.Rb2 Rc7 47.Rb1 1-0

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Ikeda strikes again

Junta Ikeda has continued his recent run of successes with a win in the 2009 ACT Rapidplay Championship. The 42 player field attracted a number of strong Canberra players including GM David Smerdon, FM Endre Ambrus, Yi Yuan, Andrew Brown, Tuan Le and Junta Ikeda.
The key game was the Round 6 clash between Ikeda and Smerdon. Smerdon had scored 5/5 up until this point, and Junta was half a point behind. In an exciting game, both players tried to take advantage of the exposed nature of the others king, but it was Ikeda who finally triumphed, with his Queen and Rooks doing the damage. A neat last round win over Andrew Brown left him on 6.5/7, just in front of Smerdon on 6.
The event was held outdoors and the large field enjoyed beautiful weather throughout. The event organisers, the ACT Chess Association plan to hold it on the Saturday before Christmas in future years, and were particularly pleased with the size of the entry.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Miniature of the Month - November 2009

This month's miniature is a surprisingly quick loss by Hikaru Nakamura. It could almost be classified as an opening trap, although one that Blacks creates for himself with a poor 9th move.

Becerra Rivero,Julio (2557) - Nakamura,Hikaru (2710) [B29]
USCL QF 2009 ICC INT (1), 11.11.2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nc3 e6 5.Nxd5 exd5 6.d4 Nc6 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Qxd5 d6 9.Bc4 Qe7? [9...Be6 10.Qd3 Nb4 11.Qb3 Bxc4 12.Qxc4 Rc8=] 10.Bg5 f6 (D)
11.0-0-0! dxe5
[11...fxg5 12.exd6 Qf6 13.Rhe1+ Kd8 14.Qxc5+-] 12.Rhe1 And Nxe5 is a threat that Black decides he cannot meet. 1-0

Thursday, 17 December 2009

2009 ACT Rapidplay Championship

The ACT Rapidplay Championship will be held this Saturday in Canberra City. The ACT Chess Association has decided to schedule this event on the last Saturday before Christmas each year, with the intention that it becomes a regular, end-of-season, event on the Canberra chess calendar.
Here are the tournament details

2009 ACT Rapidplay Championship

Date: Saturday, 19th December 2009
Time: 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
Venue: City Walk, Canberra City (where Street Chess is held)
Entry Fees: $10 adult, $5 juniors (Under 18 years as of 19th December)
Prizes: $100 first prize minimum, other prizes dependent upon entries.
Format: 7 round swiss
Time limit: G/15 minutes

This event is open to all members of the ACT Chess Association and ACT Junior Chess League.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Junior Elite Training Squad

The Australian Junior Elite Training Squad (formerly the Ergas Squad) has a new sponsor. The new sponsor is Johns-Putra Limited, headed by Geraldine Johns-Putra, an active tournament player in the 1990's. These days she runs a succesful London legal consulting practice "focussing on cross-border China mergers and acquisitions. Its mission is to help clients build bridges between China and the West and to secure success across cultures."
Johns-Putra Limited will fund the 2010 JETS Program, including a coaching camp in Sydney in July. The JETS squad, founded in 2000, features 30 of the best junior players from around Australia, with an emphasis on developing the skills of young talents of 14 years or less.

For further information please contact Geraldine Johns-Putra, on +44 (0)20 7286 7664 or at, or Ian Rogers, Deputy President AJCL, on +61 (0)416599230 or

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Gelfand wins World Cup

Looks like experience triumphed over enthusiasm, with Boris Gelfand winning the FIDE World Cup with a 3-1 win over Ruslan Ponomariov in the blitz tie-breaks. After the main match was drawn 2-2, the players first played 4 games of rapidplay (1 win each and 2 draws) before moving onto the blitz. Gelfand won the first game, Ponomariov the second. After Gelfand won the 3rd game, Ponomariov needed to win the 4th to keep the match alive but as the following game shows, Gelfand scored the third and decisive victory.

Ponomariov,Ruslan (2739) - Gelfand,Boris (2758) [D23]
World Cup Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (7.12), 14.12.2009

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Qb3 dxc4 5.Qxc4 Bf5 6.g3 e6 7.Bg2 Nbd7 8.0-0 Be7 9.Nc3 0-0 10.Re1 h6 11.e4 Bh7 12.a3 Rc8 13.b4 a5 14.Bf4 Nh5 15.Bd2 Nhf6 16.Qb3 axb4 17.axb4 Qb6 18.b5 c5 19.e5 c4 20.Qa4 Nd5 21.Nxd5 exd5 22.Bh3 Qc7 23.b6 Nxb6 24.Qb5 Qc6 25.Ra5 c3 26.Bf4 Nc4 27.Qxc6 Rxc6 28.Rxd5 c2 29.Rb5 Rb6 30.Rxb6 Nxb6 31.Bc1 Bb4 32.Bd2 Nd5 33.e6 Re8 34.exf7+ Kxf7 35.Rc1 Bxd2 36.Nxd2 Nb4 37.Bf1 Rc8 38.Nb3 Na2 39.Ra1 c1Q 40.Nxc1 Rxc1 41.Rxa2 Bd3 42.Rb2 Rxf1+ 43.Kg2 Ba6 44.d5 Rd1 0-1

Monday, 14 December 2009

High Court Chess

Via Paul Dunn comes news of a chess tournament for staff at the High Court of Australia. It was the first time such an event was held, and the arbiter for the final was the Chief Justice of the High Court, Chief Justice Robert French.
Here is the report on the final from Rita Gibson

Yesterday at lunchtime the final game of the High Court's inaugural
chess tournament was played between associates Ben Mostafa and Zelie
Wood, on a beautiful marble chess set presented to the Chief Justice in
appreciation by the ANU law students' society. The game was limited to
20 minutes per player (thanks to Mr Paul Dunn who generously loaned the
chess clock) and after considerable bloodshed (of chess pieces only of
course) the time limit was reached without a checkmate. Congratulations
to the winner, Ben Mostafa, of Justice Hayne's chambers. The Chief
Justice awarded the prize bottle of champagne and the winner's name will
be inscribed on the Chief Justice's perpetual chess trophy."

Ben Mostafa, 25, played some chess in his junior years at Sydney Boys
High School before swapping the hobby for more active pursuits. He
nevertheless retains a soft spot for the game, though admits it has been
some time since he had a game with a chess clock running. "I recall
going to one tournament when I was quite young, but that would have been
more than a decade ago now, and I haven't seen a chess clock since!"
says Ben.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Not quite straight away

Back in early 1983 I was a spectator at the Australian Open being held in Sydney. On one of the evenings after the days play was finished there was a lecture given by various members of the 1982 Olympiad team. I was only 16 years old at the time, but as I was just getting into chess I sat through the whole lecture, willing to brave the dangers of late night Sydney public transport to get home. (I actually shared the bus ride to Central Station with Stephen Solomon, but at the time I had no idea who he was and assumed he was just some random, but large, chessplayer).
One of the games shown in the lecture Ian Roger's win over Alon Greenfeld. At the time Ian was experimenting with 1.c3 (the Saragossa Opening) and as the lecturer was quite proud of his win. One of the key points came on move 7, where after a number of preparatory moves, Ian triumphantly declared "Now I can play e4". At this point his co-lecturer, Darryl Johansen, pointed out that if it was so important, then surely move 1 would have been the time to do so.

Rogers,Ian (2365) - Greenfeld,Alon (2385) [A00]
Luzern ol (Men) Luzern (6), 1982

1.c3 Nf6 2.Nf3 b6 3.Qc2 Bb7 4.d3 g6 5.Bg5 Bg7 6.Nbd2 0-0 (D)
7.e4 c5 8.Be2 Nc6 9.0-0 d5 10.Rfe1 Qd7 11.Bf1 e5 12.a4 h6 13.Bh4 Rae8 14.Rad1 d4 15.Nc4 Nh5 16.Qb3 Ba6 17.Bg3 Kh7 18.Qa3 Nxg3 19.hxg3 f5 20.exf5 gxf5 21.cxd4 Bxc4 22.dxc4 cxd4 23.g4 a5 24.Nh4 Nb4 25.Nxf5 e4 26.Qh3 d3 27.b3 Rf6 28.Nxg7 Kxg7 29.g5 Rfe6 30.gxh6+ Kh8 31.Rxe4 1-0

Saturday, 12 December 2009

The early piece sac

As someone who never understood the position nuances of opening play, most of my opening theory has been aimed towards forcing lines where I get some sort of material gain/mating attack. I am quite partial to lines involving gambits and sacrifices but again this is geared towards mating attacks (eg the Traxler, Muzio or BDM).
However I am impressed by early sacrifices which don't lead directly to mate, but the slightly more subtle 'initiative'. Probably the most obvious (and unsound) example of this is the Halloween Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nxe5??!) where White does get to push the Black knights around for a while.
While arbiting Street Chess today I saw a game involving similar ideas, but in this case it was entirely sound. White decided to offer a piece for threats on the e file, and black decided to return the piece as a way of dealing with them. Unfortunately this allowed White to set up a mating threat which surprisingly Black missed.

Fitzpatrick,Brian - Yuan,Yi [C80]
Street Chess , 12.12.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.Re1 Nc5 7.Nc3 Nxa4 8.Nxe5 Be7 (D)
9.Nd5 0-0 10.Nxc6 dxc6 11.Nxe7+ Kh8 12.Qh5 Nb6 13.Re4 Nd5 14.Qxh7+ 1-0

Friday, 11 December 2009

CCLA Record - Vol 1 No. 1

Australian chess Archivist Paul Dunn is currently undertaking a project to convert old issues of The CCLA Record (the predecessor to Australian Correspondence Chess Quarterly) to an electronic format, so old issues can be stored and distributed easily.
The first issues of the magazine (from 1948/49) were quite slim at only 8 pages. I am not sure who the editor was, but I suspect is was Max Salm, as he was both the CCLA Publicity Officer at the time, and annotated the games in the magazine. If he was it is fitting that the first game published was a win of his, which I present here, complete with his annotations.

Salm,Maxwell Charles - Jack,Dr.I.B [B73]
CCLA Class I-III, #24 Tourney corr Australia, 1948

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be2 g6 7.Be3 Bg7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Qd2 d5 More usual is 9...Bd7. According to MCO the text is quite playable. 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxd5 Nxd4 12.Bc4 Nf5 13.Rad1 Be6 14.Qb4 Qc8 15.Bc5 Kh8 Subtly countering the threat of 16.Bxe7. 16.b3 Protecting the loose bishop, thus renewing the threat to Black's weak e-pawn. [16.Bxe7 can be met by 16...Nxe7 17.Nxe7 Qxc4 So far the game has followed Pilnik-Iliesco, Mar Del Plata 1943, won by the latter. MCO leaves off at this stage, but implies that Black has a slight advantage. It would seem this appraisal of the position is "annotation by result", as White forces are well posted and the attack is far from spent.] 16...Re8 17.Rfe1 [If immediately 17.Bxe7 Bxd5!;
or if 17.Nxe7 Nxe7 18.Bxe7 Bxc4 19.bxc4 a5!] 17...Bf8 What else? Black could hardly profess to have equality in this bottled up position. 18.Ne3 Ng7? [Better to seek freedom for his pieces with 18...Bxc4 but after 19.Qxc4 Black's lack of development is a serious handicap.] 19.Bb5! b6 20.Bd4 Rd8 21.Be5! Threatening 22.Rxd8 Qxd8 23.Bc6! Rc8 24.Rd1 winning a piece. 21...Qb7 In avoiding one danger, Black puts his head into another noose. Even after [21...Rxd1 22.Rxd1 Black is hard pressed to find an answer to White's other threat of](D)
22.Qa4! Wins the exchange forthwith. 1-0

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Taking the path well travelled

In Correspondence Chess, access to books and databases is pretty important. Certainly in almost every CC game I play, I will utilise both Chessbase and whatever opening books I have in my library, to improve my chances of winning. Sometimes this means that the game you play may only involve a few moves of original thought before getting a decisive advantage, or, as in the case of the following game, no original thought at all.

Press, Shaun v The Knight of the Square Table
Chessworld Friendly

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.e5 Ng8 8.Bc4 e6 9.0-0 Bc5 10.Ne4 Bb6 11.Qg4 g6 12.Bg5 Qc7 13.Nd6+ Kf8 14.Qf4 f5 15.Qh4 h6 16.Be7+ Nxe7 17.Qf6+ Kg8 18.Qf7#

The whole game, up until move 16, had been played back in 1980, with J. Franklin Campbell defeating Lee Jerger.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Gelfand v Ponomariov

The final of the 2009 FIDE World CUP KO will be played between Boris Gelfand and Ruslan Ponomariov. Gelfand qualified with easy, beating Karjakin 2-0 in regulation time, while Ponomariov went into overtime against Malakhov before winning 4-2 (3-1 in the playoffs).
Here is Gelfand's crushing win in the second game.

Gelfand,Boris (2758) - Karjakin,Sergey (2723) [D45]
World Cup Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (6.2), 06.12.2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.Bd3 0-0 8.0-0 dxc4 9.Bxc4 b5 10.Be2 Bb7 11.Rd1 Qc7 12.Bd2 e5 13.Rac1 a6 14.b4 Rfe8 15.Bd3 Bxb4 16.Ng5 h6 17.Nxb5 axb5 18.Bh7+ Kf8 19.Bxb4+ c5 20.dxc5 Bc6(D)
21.Be4 Nb8 22.Nh7+ Nxh7 23.Bxh7 g6 24.Rd6 Re7 25.h4 h5 26.Bxg6
fxg6 27.Qxg6 Rxa2 28.Rcd1 Rf7 29.Qh6+ Rg7 30.Qf6+ Kg8 31.Rd8+ Kh7 32.Qf5+ Rg6 33.Qxh5+ Rh6 34.Qf5+ 1-0

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


Trawling through my old archives I came across an interesting game from the 2002 Olympiad. It was played on the lower boards, and while it wasn't flawless chess, it did contain one interesting feature. From move 16 to move 20 White marches his pawn from a2 to a8, whereupon it promotes (of course).
The notes to this game originally appeared in an early "Open and Shut" column for Australasian Chess

Volpinari,D (2048) - Besse,Timothy [B84]
Olympiad Bled SLO (11), 06.11.2002

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e6 7.0-0 Be7 8.Be3 b5 9.Bf3 e5 10.Nf5 0-0 11.Nd5 For the previous 10 moves both players have followed established theory, which on the lower boards of the Olympiad is quite impressive. This move for White is a novelty, although Fritz chose it after a mili-seconds thought. 11...Nc6 [11...Nxd5 12.Qxd5+-] 12.Ndxe7+ Nxe7 13.Nxd6 h6 14.Qd2 Be6 15.Rfd1 Qc7 (D)
In the problem world the idea of moving a pawn from its starting position to promotion is known as Excelsior. It is a much rarer occurence in over the board play. 16.a4 Rfd8 17.axb5 Bc4?? [17...Nc8 18.b6 Nxb6 19.Qb4 Nbd7 allowed Black to hold on.] 18.b6 Qc6 19.b7 Rxd6 Allowing the pawn to fulfil its destiny 20.bxa8Q+ 1-0

Monday, 7 December 2009

London Chess Classic

The strongest tournament to be played in London in 25 years kicks of tomorrow. The London Chess Classic has the top 4 English players (Short, Adams, McShane and Howell) and 4 Super GM's (Carlsen, Kramnik, Nakamura and Hua) playing an 8 player RR. Alongside it will be a number of side events as well. Today is the drawing of lots, with the first round starting at 1400 GMT (1 am Canberra time) tomorrow.
Visit the official website for more details.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

2009 Australian Schools Teams Championship

The 2009 Australian Schools Teams Championship (not to be confused with the National Schools Championship) finished earlier today in Melbourne. Interestingly the 2 open sections (Secondary and Primary Schools) were won by Victorian teams, while the 2 girls sections were won by Queensland teams. Scotch College was the winner of the Open Secondary section, with Mount View the winner of the Primary. Somerset College finished first in the Girls Secondary, with Sommerville House winning the Girls Primary.
In the Girls Primary, ACT representatives Curtin Primary finished second, while Radford College placed third in the Girls Section. In the Open Primary Kaleen tied for 4th while Radford finished 5th in the Open Secondary.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

The Dreaded Maroczy Bind

Over at Chessvibes there is an article concerning chess and rock music. One of the songs highlighted is "Bad losers on Yahoo Chess" by Half Man Half Biscuit (who also authored the classic "We built this village on a Trad. Arr. Tune.") They also discuss a couple of other songs and video clips that reference chess, but they miss one very obvious entry.
The New Zealand/Australian band Dragon once released a song called "The Dreaded Maroczy Bind". When I was first told this I found such a song title so unbelievable that I bet $20 that it was just a wind up. I was $20 poorer when I was shown a copy of "Dragon's Greatest Hits" with said song on it.
The explanation for the song and the title was that their songwriter Paul Hewson was not just a musician, but also a serious chess player. One of their big hits "April Sun in Cuba" was more subtly chess themed, being inspired by Capablanca, although he doesn't get a mention in the song.

Friday, 4 December 2009

OK, don't take my rooks

One of the greatest games ever played (IMHO) was the clash between Steel and Amateur, Calcutta 1886. In the game White sacrifices his queen, and then 2 rooks, all the while marching his king up to a6 the effect a brilliant (if avoidable) mate.
Part of the charm of the game was that White chose an opening that exposed his king to attack. These days such games are a rarity, but not completely unknown. Just last month 2 strong US players chose to repeat the exact opening of the Steel v Amateur game, at least up until move 8. However Black tried a different line, and while I'm not sure whether White appreciated the significance of the change, Black quickly reached a winning position.

Pruess,D (2389) - Moreno,Ale (2391) [C25]
USCL SF 2009 ICC INT (1), 18.11.2009

1.e4 e5 2.f4 Nc6 3.Nc3 exf4 4.d4 Qh4+ 5.Ke2 d5 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.exd5 0-0-0 8.dxc6 (8. ... Bc5 was played by Amateur) 8. ... Nf6 9.cxb7+ Kb8 (D)
This move works against Bc5 but fails dismally in this game 10. ... Bxf3+ 11.gxf3 Re8+ 12.Ne4 Qh5 13.Kf2 Nxe4+ 14.Kg1 Bb4 15.Qxb4 Qxf3 16.Qe1 Ng3 0-1

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Mmmm, Chess Pie

Chess Pie is apparently a staple desert pie from the southern states of the USA. I've never tried it (and now cannot, for medical reasons) but it sounds deadly (sugar, brown sugar and corn flour/syrup are just some of the ingredients).
It's name apparently has nothing to do with the game of chess, and may be a corruption of 'jest (just) a pie' as in "What are you eating?" "Jest pie".
If you want to give it a go (for Christmas desert) you can find a recipe, and some history, here.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

national Interschools Final

The national Interschools Final (not to be confused with a National Interschools Final or even the Australian Schools Teams Championship) was held in Melbourne on the 30th November&1st December.
The Australian Capital Territory was represented by a few schools, and all of them did well. In the Primary section Kaleen Primary finished 7th and Curtin Primary 10th, out of a field of 24 teams. Jamie-Lee Guo (Kaleen Primary) picked up bronze medal for scoring 6/7 (and edging out Michael Kethro from Curtin on countback).
In the Middle High School section (years 7-9) Alfred Deakin High finished third in a small field of 7 teams. Angus Gruen scored a bronze with 5.5/7.
In the Open High School section Alfred Deakin High did one better, finishing second in a 13 team field. This was particularly meritorious as the Government Education system in the ACT runs a High School/College model, where High Schools only go to year 10. Joshua Bishop completed the hat-trick of bronze medals, scoring 6/7 for a third place finish.
The winner of the Open Secondary was Aukland Grammar (from New Zealand obviously), while another NZ School, Sommerville, finished second in the Middle High School section.
Final standings can be found at the home page of the event organisers, Chesskids.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Ugly, ugly openings

Is 1.... f6 the ugliest reply to 1.e4? Possibly, although maybe 1. ... f5 deserves that title. I'm not even sure 1. e4 f6 has a name, although I know that 1.e4 f5 2.exf5 Kf7! does (The Tumbleweed if you are interested).
However while 1. ... f6 may be ugly, I have at least one game where it claims a high profile victim. Thomas Barnes used it against Paul Morphy back in 1858, and pulled off a victory. In fact the unheralded Barnes seemed to have quite a good record against Morphy (at least compared to everyone else), so may be it was the offbeat that put him off his game.

Morphy,Paul - Barnes,Thomas Wilson [B00]
London m1 London, 1858

1.e4 f6 2.d4 e6 3.Bd3 Ne7 4.Be3 d5 5.Nc3 dxe4 6.Nxe4 Nd5 7.Nh3 Be7 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qh6 Bf8 10.Qh4 Bg7 11.0-0 0-0 12.c4 Nxe3 13.fxe3 f5 14.Neg5 h6 15.Nf3 e5 16.Qxd8 Rxd8 17.Bc2 exd4 18.exd4 Bxd4+ 19.Nxd4 Rxd4 20.Rfe1 Kf7 21.c5 Be6 22.Rad1 Nc6 23.Rxd4 Nxd4 24.Ba4 g5 25.Rd1 Rd8 26.a3 f4 27.Nf2 Ne2+ 28.Kf1 Rxd1+ 29.Bxd1 Nd4 30.Ke1 Kf6 31.Kd2 Nb3+ 32.Bxb3 Bxb3 33.Ng4+ Kg6 34.g3 h5 35.Nf2 Kf5 36.Kc3 Bd5 37.Kd4 c6 38.b4 Bg2 39.gxf4 Kxf4 40.a4 Bf1 41.Ne4 h4 42.Nd2 Be2 43.Ne4 g4 44.Nf2 Kf3 45.Ne4 Bf1 46.Ke5 Bd3 47.Ng5+ Kg2 48.Kd6 Kxh2 49.Kc7 Kg3 50.Kxb7 h3 0-1

Monday, 30 November 2009

Smoking - bad for your chess

If you haven't already caught this, Chinese players Wang Yue and Li Chao were eliminated from the 2009 FIDE World Cup after turning up late for their playoff games in the third round. The reason for the lateness was that they were outside the playing hall having a smoke. Alerted that their games were about to start, both players rushed inside, but it was too late, and the games were declared loss.
The most astonishing thing about this (apart from the obvious problems with 0 minute forfeit times) was that Li Chao didn't even smoke before the tournament, and only took it up to join Wang Yue's 'smoking group'.
Chessvibes have coverage and comment here, while there is an interview with the 2 players here.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Ikeda wins 2009 Vikings Weekender

Former Australian Junior Champion Junta Ikeda successfully defended his Vikings Weekender title, winning the 2009 event with a perfect 6/6. The two crucial games were is win in round 5 over second seed FM Endre Ambrus, and final round win over 3rd seed Andrew Brown. In both games Ikeda was often below 10 seconds on the clock (the time limit was 60m+10 sec increment), but managed to not only hold poor positions, but convert them into wins.
Second place was shared between Ambrus, and weekend circuit regular Trent Parker. Both finished on 5/6 with Parker defeating the higher rated Milan Grcic in the final round to grab $250 in prize money.
Full tournament results can be found here.

Ikeda,Junta - Brown,Andrew
Vikings Weekender 2009 Vikings (6), 29.11.2009

1.Nf3 c5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Bg2 e5 4.c4 g6 5.d3 Bg7 6.a3 Nge7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Nc3 d5 9.cxd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxc3 11.Nxc6 Nxd1 12.Nxd8 Nxb2 13.Bxb2 Bxb2 14.Ra2 Rxd8 15.Rxb2 Rb8 16.Rfb1 b6 17.a4 Bd7 18.a5 b5 19.Rc1 Rdc8 20.a6 Rb6 21.Kf1 Kf8 22.Ke1 Ke7 23.Bb7 Rc7 24.Rbc2 b4 25.Kd2 Be6 26.Ra1 b3 27.Rb2 c4 28.Rc1 Kd6 29.Rc3 Kc5 30.e3 Rd7 31.Bc8 Rxd3+ 32.Rxd3 Bxc8 33.Rd8 Bf5 34.Kc3 Rxa6 35.Rd1 Bc2 36.Rd8 Rc6 37.e4 Bxe4 38.Re2 f5 39.f3 Bxf3 40.Re5+ Kb6 41.Rd4 a6 42.Re3 b2 43.Kxb2 Kc5 44.Kc3 Be4 45.Rxc4+ Kb5 46.Rxc6 Kxc6 47.Kd4 a5 48.g4 Kb5 49.Kc3 h6 50.h4 Kc5 51.Re1 a4 52.h5 gxh5 53.gxf5 Bd5 54.f6 Kd6 55.Rd1 h4 56.Rxd5+ Ke6 57.Rh5 Kxf6 58.Rxh4 Kg5 59.Rxa4 h5 60.Kd3 h4 61.Ke3 h3 62.Kf3 1-0

Saturday, 28 November 2009

2009 Vikings Weekender - Day 1

The 2009 Vikings Weekender has got off to a good start, with a field of 57 players fronting up. It is a little weaker than last year but the field once again contains the usual mix of under-rated juniors, veteran Canberra players, and a small group of interstate visitors.
As the tournament is one big swiss (rather than broken into sections) the day ended with 6 players on perfect scores. Junta Ikeda, Andre Ambrus, Allan Setiabudi, Arthur Huynh, Ian Rout and Andrey Bliznyuk all scored 3 wins. Given the number of players at the top it may not be until the final round that a clear leader will emerge.
One player who is hoping that the leaders knock themselves out is 3rd seed Andrew Brown, who drew with Nick Beare in the 1st round. Brown had R+N v R+B+P but the confined nature of Beare's king meant there were a few tricks to watch out for. And while Brown tried most of them, when it became clear that the only one left was to hope for a win on time, Brown instead offered a draw, which Beare happily accepted.
Full results for Day 1 of the tournament can be found at Ian Rout's website.

Friday, 27 November 2009

March of the Dignified Pieces

While "March of the Dignified Pieces" sounds like something by Saint-Saens, it is instead the description of the diagram to the right. It comes from the 1823 book "Practical Chess Grammar: or, An Introduction to the Royal Game of Chess: In a series of plates."
I'm still trying to work out what the instructive value of this diagram actually is, but to me it is still visually appealing, although only in the same way that a map of the London Underground is. (Click on the diagram for a clearer view)

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Why don't you resign?

There is a famous story attributed to Korchnoi concerning an Olympiad game. Playing a weak opponent he is soon up a piece. The game progresses and soon he has won another piece. Suddenly he says to his opponent "Do you speak English?" "Yes" says his opponent. "Then why don't you resign?" growls Korchnoi.
While I'm not sure how true the story is, it is always tempting to demand that of an opponent, especially when you are clearly winning. However on some opponents such a comment would be clearly wasted, as they clearly believe that "no one ever won a game by resigning"
One player who this applies to is English IM Michael Basman. David Levy gives a selection of Basman "swindles" in his book "Play Chess Combinations and Sacrifices", swindles that generally kick off long after 'decent' players would have stopped the clocks. However one swindle he declined to publish was a particularly painful loss he had to Basman, where Basman sacrificed a queen in an inferior position. The sac wasn't that helpful, as Levy's advantage actually increased but eventually the succession of short term threats all got to much for Levy who blundered and lost, 18 moves later!

Levy - Basman,Michael J [B03]
Glasgow Glasgow, 1968

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.f4 Bf5 6.Be3 e6 7.Nc3 g5 8.fxg5 dxe5 9.dxe5 Nc6 10.Nf3 Nb4 11.Nd4 Be7 12.a3 (D)
12. ... Qxd4 13.Bxd4 Nc2+ 14.Kf2 0-0-0 15.Bxb6 axb6 16.Qc1 h6 17.g4 Bh7 18.h4 hxg5 19.h5 Bc5+ 20.Kf3 f5 21.gxf5 Bxf5 22.Rh2 Nd4+ 23.Kg3 Nb3 24.Qe1 Rd4 25.Be2 Rd2 26.Rd1 Rxb2 27.Bf3 Rxh2 28.Kxh2 g4 29.Bg2 Rxh5+ 30.Kg3 Be7 31.Qh1 Rxh1 32.Rxh1 Bxa3 33.Rh8+ Kd7 34.Bxb7 Bb2 35.Bc8+ Ke7 36.Rh1 Bxc3 37.Kf4 Nc5 38.Rd1 Nd3+ 0-1

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Smerdon out in the tie-breaks

It took GM Leinier Dominguez 6 games before he finally broke through against Australian GM David Smerdon. After both games were drawn in the Regulation match, they played 4 games at G/25m+10s per move. The first 3 games were drawn before Dominguez won the final Rapid play game, after David suffered from a 'brain explosion'. Dominguez goes through to the second round where he is up against rising Italian star Fabiano Caruana
For David's perspective on the whole experience, visit his new blog at

Monday, 23 November 2009

Bobby Cheng wins World Under 12 Championship

Australian Junior Bobby Cheng has become the World Under 12 Champion, finishing outright first in his division in the World Youth Chess Championships in Turkey. Cheng secured the victory with a win over the tournament top seed in the final round. Although representing Australia, Cheng started his chess career in New Zealand, a point not missed by their media.
Almost as good was in the Under 8 Championship where Anton Smirnov finished in a tie for second place, although he missed a medal on countback.
Of the Canberra juniors who played, Yi Yuan scored 7/11 in the Under 14's, Emma Guo scored 6 in the Under 14 Girls, while in the Under 18 Girls Tamzin Oliver scored 4.5 and Alana Chibnall scored 4.

Vaibhav,Suri (2344) - Cheng,Bobby (2202) [C05]
WORLD YOUTH CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP 2009 (U1 Antalya (11.1), 22.11.2009

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ndf3 cxd4 8.cxd4 a5 9.Bd3 a4 10.a3 Nb6 11.Ne2 Na5 12.0-0 g6 13.Qc2 Nb3 14.Rb1 Bd7 15.g4 Rc8 16.Nc3 Nc4 17.f5 Nxd4 18.Nxd4 Bc5 19.fxg6 Bxd4+ 20.Kh1 hxg6 21.Bxg6 Nxe5 22.Bh5 Bc6 23.Qe2 Bxc3 24.bxc3 d4+ 25.Kg1 Qd5 26.cxd4 (D)
26. ... Rxh5 27.gxh5 Nd3 0-1

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Smerdon draws first game

Canberra GM David Smerdon got off to a promising start, drawing with GM Leinier Dominguez in the first game of the 2009 FIDE World Cup KO. Despite being outrated by almost 200 points, and starting with Black, Smerdon was better for most of the game, before the position was repeated. This gives Smerdon a chance to wrap up the 2 game match with a win tonight. Smerdon's chances of an upset victory are improved by the fact he has White in tonights game.
As I write this, Dominguez v Smerdon Game 2 has reached an equal position after 21 moves, which means that the match may go to a playoff tomorrow.

Dominguez Perez,Leinier (2719) - Smerdon,David (2525) [B76]
World Cup 2009 0:59.08-1:30.17 (11), 21.11.2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Bd4 Nxc3 13.Qxc3 Bh6+ 14.Be3 Bxe3+ 15.Qxe3 Qb6 16.Qxe7 Be6 17.Bd3 Qe3+ 18.Rd2 Rfe8 19.Qh4 Bxa2 20.Qf2 Qe5 21.Be4 Rab8 22.Qd4 Qa5 23.Rd3 Qg5+ 24.Rd2 Red8 25.Qc3 Rxd2 26.Qxd2 Qf6 27.c3 Rd8 28.Qe3 Qe5 29.g3 Bb3 30.Re1 Qa5 31.Bb1 Qa1 32.Qe7 Qa5 33.Qe3 Qa1 34.Qe7 Qa5 ½-½

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Chess in Movies - A slight twist

I finally got to see "The Avengers" movie tonight (on Satellite TV). Apparently it got savaged by the critics when it first came out, although this maybe because it didn't get the transfer from the TV series 'quite right'.
It did however contain a slight variation on the ' is clearly smart as they can play chess' trope. Uma Thurman's character (Emma Peel) was playing a game of chess against Ralph Fiennes character (John Steed). While he was moving the pieces on the board she was busy doing something else and simply shouted out her replies, essentially playing blindfold. This idea was also used in 'Searching for Bobby Fischer' and is clearly intended to show that the character isn't just smart, but 'really, really, smart'.
The scene also contained two interesting 'artefacts'. One, they were using English descriptive (Queen to Rook Five), although the movie seems to be set in the 1990's (when it was made). Two, the director utilised the hoary old chestnut where a check from Steed (Knight to king seven check) was met by a checkmate from Peel (Queens takes knight, checkmate). However I may be mistaken about the second one, as my attention did wander at times.

Friday, 20 November 2009

2009 World Cup

Play in the 2009 FIDE World Cup kicks off tomorrow. This evening sees the opening ceremony, with the first game of Round 1 starting at 15:00 Khanty-Mansiysk time ( or 21:00 Canberra Time). The Oceania representative is GM David Smerdon, who is seeded 114th out of 128 players. In the first round his opponent is Cuban GM Leinier Dominguez Perez. As with the first round of chess events I am never sure how well the live coverage will operate, but here is the official site, so you can have a look tomorrow evening.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

2 Queens - A blessing or a curse?

White to move in the following position. A second queen is about to appear on the board, but Black is counting on the perpetual check to halve the point. So White played 1.c8(Q) and Black duly played Qe1+ followed by Qe5+ and the game ended in draw. It was only in the post mortem that spectators pointed out that White could have played ... what?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

WYCC 2009

The 2009 World Youth Chess Championship is at his halfway point and Australia has 2 players leading their respective events. In the Under 8 Championship Anton Smirnov is tied for first with 5.5/6. In the Under 14 Championship Yi Yuan also has the same score and is sharing first place with IM Core Jorge.
Yi is one of Canberra's strongest juniors, and while Anton isn't a Canberra boy these days, he was born in the nations capital. Some other Canberra players taking part are Emma Guo in the Under 14 Girls (3.5/6) and Alana Chibnall and Tamzin Oliver, both in the Under 18 Girls, and both on 1.5/6

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The return of Zipf's Law

Last year I did a post on Zipf's Law, in terms of popularity of chess clubs. But like any good idea/explanation/system it can turn up in other places.
In this link from the American Physical Society, there is a discussion on the research done in the area of chess openings. Specifically, the popularity of chess openings. It turns out the popularity of opening moves does follow Zipf's Law with a distribution that seems to mirror the distribution of such diverse subjects such as website popularity, city populations and word usage.
The article in the link is only a review of the work btw. Click through to the pdf document for the actual study.

Monday, 16 November 2009

The Sokolsky

Having just finished an article on 1.b4 for Australian Correspondence Chess Quarterly, I've come to the conclusion I'm not a big fan of the opening. Possibly it is because it is one of the few off-beat openings I haven't tried, but to me White just doesn't get enough out of it. Staking a claim on the queenside is a little premature, given that the centre is yet to be contested.
However it does have its devotees so here is a game where White manages to grab more than a fair share of the centre by gambiting two pawns and quickly crushing Black.

Zylla,Johannes (2267) - Yeung,Chun Keung (1642) [A00]
WSTT/3/06/Semifinal 1 - Sokolsky Openin ICCF, 25.04.2008

1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 f6 3.e4 Bxb4 4.Bc4 Ne7 5.f4 A line suggested by Bobby Fischer. 5...exf4 6.Qh5+ Ng6 7.a3 Bd6 8.Nf3 [RR 8.d4 c5 9.Nd2 Nc6 10.Nb3 Nxd4 11.Nxd4 cxd4 12.Bxd4 Qc7 13.Bb3 Be5 14.Bxe5 fxe5 15.Qe2 Qc3+ 0-1 Hasler,U (1993)-Coelho,W/ICCF Email 2000] 8...Qe7 9.0-0 Kd8 10.d4N [RR 10.Nc3 c6 (RR 10...Ne5 11.Ba2 Nxf3+ 12.Qxf3 Be5 13.Rad1 Nc6 14.Kh1 Nd4 15.Qd3 c6 16.Nd5 cxd5 0-1 Simmelink,J-Engbersen,J/corr 1991) 11.d4 Bc7 12.Rad1 d6 13.e5 Nd7 14.exd6 Qxd6 15.Rfe1 Qf8 16.Kh1 f5 17.d5 c5 18.Ng5 Nde5 19.Ba2 Bd7 20.d6 Bxd6 21.Nb5 Bxb5 22.Bxe5 Kc8 23.Bxd6 Qf6 24.Bf7 Rd8 Bonte-Yperen,B/NLD/C/BV83/79 1983/1-0] 10...c6 11.Bd3 aiming to win a piece with e5. 11...Qe8 12.e5 fxe5 13.Nbd2! exd4 14.Bxd4 Qf7 15.Bc4 [15.Nc4 was even stronger. 15...Bc7 16.Bxg6+-] 15...Qf8 16.Ng5 b5 17.Nf7+ Kc7 18.a4! Ba6 19.axb5 cxb5 20.Rxa6! Nxa6 21.Ne4 bxc4 22.Qa5+ 1-0

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Kramnik wins Tal Memorial

I suspect that while Kramnik wouldn't be considered a shock winner of this event, not many pundits picked him for first before the event began. However he started the event with a number of fighting games and was rewarded with an early lead which he then maintained throughout. A couple of other players kept pace but then fell back. Second place was shared by 'the good' Ivanchuk and a surging Carlsen, who score his 2 wins in the final 2 rounds. Aronian and Anand tied for 4th but Anand would be dissapointed with his final game (and Aronian delighted) after he was crushed by Aronian in 25 moves. Indeed he was busted by move 15, and the final 10 moves were just the crash in slow motion.

Anand,Viswanathan (2788) - Aronian,Levon (2786) [D15]
Tal Memorial Moscow RUS (9), 14.11.2009

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.e3 b5 6.c5 Nbd7 7.Bd3 e5 8.Nxe5 Nxe5 9.dxe5 Nd7 10.e6 Nxc5 11.exf7+ Kxf7 12.b3 Nxd3+ 13.Qxd3 Qg5 14.g3 Qf6 15.Bb2 Qf3 (D)
16.Rg1 Bg4 17.a3 Re8 18.Rc1 b4 19.axb4 Bxb4 20.h3 Bxh3 21.g4 Bxg4 22.Rg3 Qf5 23.Qd4 Re4 24.Qa7+ Qd7 25.Qb6 c5 0-1

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Paddy Connell

Paddy Connell, one of the great characters of the Canberra chess scene in the 1990's passed away early last week. Although he hadn't been involved in chess for the past decade (having found religion), he was still fondly remembered by those who knew him.
As a player he was a fan of the off-beat opening, and even once played the Irish Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nxe5??!) against me. His approach to analysis was simply to let the opponent do it for him ie he would play the move that struck his fancy, and leave it up to the opponent to prove whether it was sound or unsound.
Patrick (as he was christened) was also a hard working chess organiser, running Street Chess every Saturday in Canberra for nearly a decade. It was here he showed a passing familiarity with the english language when he introduced a rule which read 'non-aspersive adversarial banter is permitted between consenting equals' (which should simply read 'sledging is allowed').
For those in Canberra who wish to attend the funeral service it is at 10:00 am Monday 16th November at William Cole Funerals, Belconnen.

Connell,Patrick - Green,Robert [D11]
ACT-ch Canberra, 1993

1.Nf3 c6 2.d4 d5 3.c4 Bg4 4.Ne5 Bh5 5.g4 Bg6 6.Nxg6 fxg6 7.Nc3 e6 8.Bf4 Nd7 9.Bh3 g5 10.Bg3 Ngf6 11.c5 Be7 12.0-0 0-0 13.f4 gxf4 14.Bxf4 Nxc5 15.dxc5 Bxc5+ 16.e3 d4 17.Na4 Be7 18.g5 Ne8 19.Bxe6+ Kh8 20.Qh5 Bd6 21.g6 Nf6 22.Qh3 Bxf4 23.Rxf4 h6 24.Rh4 Qe7 25.Rf1 Rae8 (D)
26.Rxf6 1-0

Friday, 13 November 2009

Endings you have to know

There are all endings we "have to know" ie ones guaranteed to bring home the point (or save the half point). The Lucena Position and the Philidor Position are 2 such examples, and of course there are many more. However I suspect the list of endings I "have to know" might not be as extensive as the endings a 2400 rated player has to know. And once you get into the 2700+ range the list might be both long and increasingly obscure.
Of course one of the reasons why club players don't collect as many positions as stronger players is that we aren't forced into as many endings, either due to our games being decided by "the last blunder" or that out opponents play inferior moves in these endings, making our task easier.
Such knowledge, and its application, was quite apparent in the round 6 game from the Tal Memorial between Kramnik and Ponomariov. In a R+P v B+P ending, Ponomariov's bishop was defending his pawn and White had to force a zugzwang position to win the pawn. According to the Chessvibes site this was a similar ending to the 1979 Timman v Velimirovic ending from the 1979 zonal, and while I have no reason to dispute the additional claim that every Dutch chessplayer now knows how to play this ending, I wonder how many other chess players (apart from Kramnik) are familiar with it as well.
The diagram position is not from this game but from a much older game between Euwe and Hromadka. A similar kind of ending (although White does not have a pawn), there is a right way and a wrong way to play it. In "Training for the Tournament Player" Dvoretsky says "you either know it or you don't"


Didn't quite get yesterdays blog post done in time as I was wrestling with malware on a couple of home computers. So treat this as yesterdays post, and today's will arrive at its usual time.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Petrosian's Butt Monkey

The late Eduard Gufeld was quite a figure on the international chess circuit. Even before the fall of the USSR he travelled quite widely to many western tournaments including the 1988 Doeberl Cup (which he tied for 1st in). It was rumoured however that part of the reason for this travel was as a 'messenger' for the KGB, in that in visiting overseas Russian communities he reminded them of who was watching from within the USSR.
The other odd thing about Gufeld is that he seemed to be on the receiving end of a couple of cruel barbs from Tigran Petrosian. In Dvoretsky and Yusopov's book 'Positional Chess' Dvoretsky describes a joint analysis session between the two. After being constantly outplayed by Petrosian Gufeld asked 'How is it that my position isn't better?'. 'Because my head is better' explained Petrosian.
Petrosian delivered an even crueller put down soon after Gufeld became a Grandmaster. Gufeld, not an immodest man I must say, walked up to Petrosian at a tournament and said 'Tigran, now we are equals'. At that moment a journeyman GM walked by (possibly Matulovic) at whom Petrosian pointed and said, 'No. Now you are his equal'.

btw Click for a definition of Butt Monkey

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Isle of Lewis Chessmen

The Isle of Lewis Chessmen is a popular news item, and another article concerning them has appeared on the BBC website. This article reports that there are doubts about the origin of the pieces.
Now the problem I've always had with the Lewis Chessmen is that they seem to predate the widespread popularity of chess in Western Europe. They were apparently manufactured during the 12th Century, a time where very little evidence of chess being played has been discovered. Of course far smarter people than me have done far better research on this topic, but I've always suspected that they were more likely to be figurines rather than part of a chess set. Of course, as the article says, they may have been used in another game called Hnefatafl, but the Lewis Hnefatafl-men isn't quite as catchy.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Transfer Tournament

Most Transfer Chess (or Bughouse if you insist) is played online, with the Free Internet Chess Server the place to play. Face to face tournaments are much rarer, although I did organise one such tournament about 15 years ago at the Doeberl Cup.
However there is still one big transfer tournament held every year in Canberra, and that is the ACT Junior Chess League Transfer Festival. It is on this coming Sunday (15th November) at the ACT Junior Chess Centre, Campbell High School, Treloar Cres Campbell (next to the War Memorial). It starts at 12:45 pm and finished at 5pm. Entry is $10 per player ($20 per team) and the entry fee includes free pizza at the prize giving. Although it is organised by the ACT Junior Chess League it is open to players of all ages. There will be trophies for the winners plus plenty of other prizes including oldest team, youngest team, best parent& child etc
Now while the organisers are content to just think of it as a local Canberra event, until I hear otherwise I would like to make two claims. Firstly, it is the biggest open transfer tournament in Australia, and secondly, the winners could make a valid claim to being the Australian OTB Transfer Champions!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

GM Weekend

The ACT Junior Chess League runs an annual Grandmaster Coaching Weekend, which is usually the culmination of the ACTJCL's Development Squad program for the year. For this year, GM Ian Rogers coached 3 groups of leading ACT juniors, alongside local coaches IM Andras Toth, and FM Endre Ambrus.
After lunch on the second day, Ian then played a 30 board simul against both the kids he coached, and all the other juniors who took part in the other coaching programs. At the end of 3 hours Ian had managed to score 28 wins, 1 draw (against Michael Kethro) and 1 loss (against Yijun Zhang).
Of course the fate of the simul giver is not to be remembered by any of their victories, but only by their losses, so here is the win by Yijun Zhang over Ian Rogers.

Zhang,Yijun - Rogers,Ian [C64]
ACT Dev Squad Simul, 08.11.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Bc5 4.0-0 Qf6 5.c3 Nge7 6.d3 h6 7.Re1 0-0 8.d4 Bb6 9.Be3 d6 10.d5 Nb8 11.Nbd2 Bg4 12.Qa4 Ng6 13.Bxb6 cxb6 14.h3 Bc8 15.Nc4 Na6 16.Bxa6 bxa6 17.Qc6 Bxh3 18.gxh3 Qxf3 19.Re3 Qh5 20.Nxd6 Nf4 21.Kh2 g6 22.Rg1 Kh7 23.Qb7 Qh4 24.Nxf7 Kg8 25.Reg3 Rxf7 (D)
26.Rxg6+ Nxg6 27.Rxg6+ Kh8 28.Qxa8+ 1-0

Saturday, 7 November 2009

More Broken Rules

If chess could be reduced to a set of guidelines that would work 100% of the time, then it wouldn't be much of a game. Case in point, the position on the right. It arose after the moves 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Qxd4 Nc6 4.Qe3 b6 5.Nc3 Bc5 6.Qg3 Qf6
Broken 'rules' include bringing the queen out early, moving the same piece twice and falling behind in development. So it was understandable that the winning move in this position was to break the rules again, by moving the knight a second time with 7.Nd5! Faced with multiple threats Black tried 7. ... Bxf2+ but it left White a piece up and the win was fairly straightforward.

Friday, 6 November 2009

How far ahead can you calculate?

The diagrammed position come from the David Levy book "Play Chess Combinations and Sacrifices" and was set as an exercise for a group of young players I coach. The point of the exercise wasn't to make their heads explode, but to show them that it is possible to calculate 17 or more half moves ahead, as long as you find the correct path.
To help them (and yourselves) on their way I gave them a few clues. (a) White will checkmate (b) every White move is a check (c) It is a mate in 8 if Black doesn't prolong the game through spite sacrifices.
As a group they found the first few moves in about 2 minutes, but then took another 3 or 4 minutes to get the remaining moves in the right order. Can you do better?

Thursday, 5 November 2009

2009 Tal Memorial

The strongest tournament of the year, the 2009 Tal Memorial, starts this evening (Australian Time). Actually it as already started as I write this, with the first round match between Carlsen and Kramnik already attracting a lot of interest.
There are plenty of places that are providing live coverage but I'll give a plug to two. Chessdom (who I recently mentioned) is providing coverage here. Chessvibes is also providing live coverage with expert commentary at their live games site. However they seem to be a similar system to what Ian Rogers used at the 2009 Oceania Zonal, with the same technical shortcoming of having to refresh your browser to show updates. A note on the site says they are looking into a solution for this.
With 8 of the current top 10 taking part, the eventual winner could be anyone. I break my usual habit of picking Peter Svidler, and go with the safe bet of Magnus Carlsen. I'll also be interested in seeing which Vasilly Ivanchuk turns up to the tournament.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

2009 Vikings Weekender

Keep the 28th and 29th of November free for the 2009 Vikings Weekender. This is the third of the three weekend events in Canberra (Doeberl and ANU being the other 2) and is the most 'community focussed' of the three tournaments. While the Doeberl attracts a big international field, and the ANU usually has a good turn out of titled players, the Vikings Weekender is geared more towards the local Canberra scene. That is not to say interstate visitors are not welcome, but the majority of tournament winners over the years have been local players, often at the expense of out-of-towners.
The tournament will be held at the Tuggeranong Vikings Rugby Union Club, Ricardo St, Wanniassa. It will be a single 6 round swiss with a time limit of 60m+10s per move from the start. First prize is a guaranteed $500, and the prize pool is usually above $1000 (depending upon entries). Full details can be found here.

(** Yes, I will be the Director of Play for this event, and yes it is a paid position **)

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A man with ambition

I've been cutting back on my online CC lately, as I've decided that it is not helping my chess (too much analysis, not enough decision making). But I received a challenge from a player I felt I couldn't pass up. The aptly named Chessnut* is in the process of trying to play against players from as many countries as possible. He is currently up to country 157 with Papua New Guinea the latest addition to his list.
Unfortunately I wasn't the most hospitable opponent, wheeling out the Schliemann Defence to the Ruy Lopez and hacking him in 14 moves. However, I am impressed by his dedication and I hope he makes his target of 200+ countries.

Chessnut - Press,Shaun [C63]
Chessworld, 03.11.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5 4.exf5 e4 5.Ng1 Nf6 6.d3 Bc5 7.Bg5 0-0 (D)
8.dxe4 Bxf2+ 9.Kxf2 Nxe4+ 10.Ke3 Qxg5+ 11.Kf3 Qxf5+ 12.Ke3 Qf2+ 13.Kxe4 Re8+ 14.Kd3 Qd4# 0-1

*NB This Chessnut is not the same Chessnut who is an Australian chess identity and occasionaly blogs at this link.

Monday, 2 November 2009

2010 O2C Doeberl Cup - Website Launched

The website for the 2010 O2C Doeberl Cup is up, with all the details for next years event. The Prize fund for the 3 big tournaments is almost $18,000. The Premier has a first prize of $4000, with a total prize pool of $12,350. The Major (Under 200) has a first prize of $1,500 while the Minor (Under 1600) has a first prize of $750, which is bigger than most Australian weekend events!
There have been a few changes this year, especially in the area of time controls (for the Premier) and round times. To bring the tournament in to line with FIDE's new time control for title tournaments, the time control for the Premier is now 40 moves in 90 minutes followed by an additional 30 minutes, with 30 seconds added for each move from move 1. This is the same as the time control for the Olympiad and either allows players extra time to play their endings, or simply provides time for a toilet break. The time controls for the Major and Minor will remain at 90m+30s per move.
Due to the slightly longer time controls for the Premier, the playing sessions now begin 6 hours apart (ie 1pm and 7pm on the first 2 days, and 9:30am and 3:30pm for the rest). The Lightning tournament also returns this year.
As in previous years each of these events has a maximum entry of 80 players, so if you wish to guarantee a spot in your preferred tournament you need to enter early. Just click on the 'Register' link on the web page.

(**Disclaimer: I am a paid official for this event **)

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Apparently it's all Korchnoi's Fault

I was planning to say no more about the World Chess Federation, but Stan Vaughan is just the gift that keeps on giving. Following the adage that any publicity is good publicity, I keep getting press releases from the organisation, despite the mocking tone of my previous posts about them. Actually a large number of chess journalists and bloggers seem to be on their 'drop list', but I may one of the very few that use the information they send.
The latest missive from the World Chess Federation concerns their press conference to promote the upcoming $7.5 million world championship match. The absolute highlight (for me anyway) was the revelation that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is an evil spirit who came through a portal that was created by Viktor Korchnoi when he played a match against the long deceased Geza Maroczy. Certainly an interesting theory, although conventional wisdom is that the moves of Maroczy (relayed by a spiritual medium) came not so much from the great beyond, but from a silicon brain.
There is even a video of the press conference. Click on this link if you wish to see the faces behind the madness.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

He who laughs last

The European Teams Championship finished earlier today with an interesting, and surprising winner. Having followed the tournament through both the traditional chess media, and Google News, I picked up a number of interesting side stories.
For example, the coverage of the Round 7 match between Armenia and Azerbaijan seemed to carry a little extra venom, due to the recent enmity between the two countries. With the match ending in a 2.5-1.5 win for Armenia, the Aysor (Armenia) news outlet couldn't resist a dig at the losing team with a headline that read "Azerbaijani chess players slaped(sic) in the face of their own media"
I don't know how much that article stung the Azerbaijani players but of course they had the last laugh, finishing as the winners of the ETC. Going into the final round tied with Russia, the picked up the 2 points with a win over The Netherlands (2.5-1.5), while Russia was held to a 2-2 draw by Spain.
Russia went one better in the Womens championship, finishing first on tie break, over Georgia.
Click for the results of the Championship and the Womens Championship.

Friday, 30 October 2009


To (some) non chessplayers, chess is simply a war game, without any shooting. You don't "take", you "kill", you pieces don't move, they "march". On the other hand, for most chessplayers, such direct terms can sound strange.
But I still see military terms used, although mainly in books from a previous age. Nimzowich in "My System" talks of getting your army to the frontier (ie the line across the middle of the board). And Isaac Lipnitsky's much acclaimed "Questions of Modern Chess Theory" there is a chapter titled "Mobilizing the Pieces". In Lipnitsky's case he may have chosen this term over the more pacific "Developing the Pieces" due to his military background (he was a Major in the Soviet Army during WWII).
Here is a game from the aforementioned book, with the usual moral that if you fall behind in development, you will get crushed. Of course I never seem to win like this in my own games, but maybe I need to read a few more chapters in his book (or find moves like 12.d5!)

Tolush - Alatortsev,V [C31]
Championchip Soviet Union, 1948

1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.Nc3 Qe6 5.fxe5 Qxe5+ 6.Be2 Bg4 7.d4 Qe6 8.Qd3 c6 9.Bf4 Nf6 10.0-0-0 Bxe2 11.Ngxe2 Bd6 (D)
12.d5! Nxd5 13.Nxd5 cxd5 14.Qg3 Bxf4+ 15.Nxf4 Qh6 16.Rhe1+ Kf8 17.Qa3+ Kg8 18.Re8# 1-0

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Chess as a sport

"Chess as a sport", not "Chess is a sport", which is another topic entirely.
The Asian Indoor Games is starting tomorrow in Vietnam, and Chess is one of the medal sports, alongside Track-and-Field, Fin swimming and Snooker (plus many others). More importantly, Chess is also a medal sport in the South-East Asian Games, which is a full sporting contest for South-East Asian Countries.
Why is this important? Simply because it avoids the semantic arguments about whether chess is a sport. One of the important aspects of the recent tournament in the Solomon Islands were discussions with the Solomon Islands government about support for chess through their sports commission. To this end, both myself and Oceania Zone President Gary Bekker stressed the importance of getting chess into the Pacific Games. This suggestion was met favourably by the SI Government btw.
Now to be honest, I can't see chess being a medal sports at the Olympics (unless they take up my suggestion of holding an Indoor Olympics + plus an Extreme Sports Olympics to fill the gaps between the winter and summer games), but getting it into regional games (Asia, the Pacific and Africa) can't hurt the development of chess in those regions.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Never let a chance go by

I'm not a great swindler. Once my position starts to sink, I'm usually the one drilling extra holes in the bottom of the boat. And when I do claw my way back from a lost position it is normally due to my opponents poor play, rather than my skill.
But there are exceptions, as this evenings game from the chess club shows. We join the action after I dropped a couple of pawns by simply failing to count the captures, although I do have tricks. My best hope was to clear a path for the pawn on c6 to promote, although with the bishop planted on d8, at best I was winning a piece. Of course to achieve even this I had to jettison all my pawns.

37.f4 exf4 38.e5 dxe5 39.d6 cxd6 40.Nxd6 e4 41.c7 Bxc7 So I've won the piece, but my opponent now has 5 pawns for it! But with my Rook heading for the 7th rank, and my knight close by, I spot a chance to set up a draw by perpetual. 42.Rxc7 e3 43.Ne8 Heading for f6. 43. ... Ra1+ 44.Kg2 e2 45.Nf6+ Kf8 46.Rd7 The key move. The rook has to be 5 files from the edge, so when the knight checks on f6 it also protects the rook on d7. 46. ... Rg1+?? So tempting, but so wrong. Instead planting the rook on h1 straight away stopped any tricks. 47.Kf3 Black missed this move. 47. ... Rh1 48.Kxe2 ½-½
Now before you ask, the perpetual has indeed disappeared, as the Black king can head to h8 (and not get mated). But with Black king confined to the back rank, my rook and knight can pick up enough black pawns to secure the draw.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


Every day or two I do a quick patrol of the sites on my blog roll (look to your left). While visiting the Chessdom site, I noticed they had added a new live coverage tool, which was developed by, and named after, Chessbomb. I've had a play with it and it looks really good. The site combines broadcast, computer analysis (from Rybka) and user comments into one interface.
For the moment they are only covering the European Teams Championship, and the time difference works against us here in Australia, but it is still worth visiting during the day, as the overnight broadcasts are archived. For example, two games worth looking at from Round 5 are the Sutovsky v Svidler game, and the Bacrot v Aronian matchup. Due to the magic of colour coded moves (and Rybka) you can see where the players went wrong at crucial junctures during the game.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Chock full o' nuts

The "Obama wins world chess championship" satirical article has popped up on a number of blogs, although to me it lacks two important ingredients of good satire, in that is is neither clever nor funny. But it did provoke an unintentionally hilarious response from Stan Vaughn, who I previously chronicled here. I present the entire letter Stan wrote to the Tampa Tribune, completely unedited. Nonetheless it would be delinquent of me not to point out that the claims made in this letter are demonstrably false.

Dear Mr. barton Hinkle,

Please be advised that the World Chess Federation, Inc considers your story in October 24th Tampa Tribune that it has declared Obama as WCF World Chess Champion to be inaccurate. Further, FIDE is the International Chess Federation and does not have any rights to the World Chess Federation tradenames and trademarks as World Chess Federation, Inc, a Nevada corporation, holds worldwide rights to the tradenames and trademarks for World Chess Federation. Further Fischer did not sign the 2002 Prague Agreement and further Anand turned down the opportunity in 2000 to play for the WCF World Chess Champion title so therefore any claim is not undisputed as further in 1992 FIDE Campomanes signed over legal rights to title of The World Chess Champion to Bobby Fischer. now deceased. Further should Obama wish to play in the upcoming WCF The World Chess Championship Qualifying Tournament in Las Vegas Dec 2-13 at Riviera he may only do so not representing USA as Kenya recently provided a certified copy of his Kenya Birth certificate and after his later Indonesian citizenship he never became a naturalized US citizen. You may have also heard that the US military is now revoking orders to go to Afghanistan for all military personnel who are filing court challenges to deployment orders in light that Obama is not eligible to be President nor commander in chief . Attached is a certified copy of his Kenyan birth certificate as provided by Kenya and further the so called certificate of live birth Obama provided allegedly from Hawaii has been certified a fake now as had photoshopped borders of different year than copy and experts proved had black and white pixels not green behind wording that had replaced earlier different text.

Now Mr Vaughn is also the organiser of the 'World Championship' match in Las Vegas later this year. Not that I was planning to attend mind you, but if I want to be exposed to this kind of craziness, I can save the air fare by instead watching the nutbags on Fox News from the comfort of my living room.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

3 queens in 5 moves

Even though Street Chess is a serious tournament (with prizes and rating points at stake), I still like play in the 'coffee house' style, especially just after I've lost a game. For those unfamiliar with the term 'coffee house', it is a style of chess based on speculative attacks, sacrificing material, and trying to win by bluffing your opponent that your attack is much stronger than it really is.
Yesterday I played a good example of all of the above, with the added bonus that the banter between myself and my opponent attracted the interest of a large number of spectators. I was black and my opponent opened with an interesting variant of the Colle, in which he develops his knight to g3, in part to support the thematic e4 break. I decided to go after this knight with my h pawn. By move 10 he had committed the cardinal error of moving some pieces twice in the opening, while others he hadn't moved at all. With my lead in development it was a question of where I was going to crash through, which he then answered for me by castling. I picked up a couple of central pawns while he decided to commit further sins by sending off his queen on a pawn hunting mission. I offered a piece soon after, which he declined, so I sacrificed it 2 moves later. In true coffee house style my 19th move (Qg5) looked quite strong, but actually wasn't. He firstly played a diversionary capture with 20.Nxc5 and after I replied 20. ... Bxg3 he thought for a while and then loudly exclaimed "But it's check!" 21.Qxd7+ Kf8 was quickly played, and then with a flourish he blocked any discovered attacks with 22.Qg4 This turned out to be a losing move as I now recycled my queen, not once but twice, all in the space of 5 moves. When the smoke had cleared I had a forced mate, and he was congratulating me on my 'lucky' win!

1.d4 d5 2.e3 Nf6 3.Bd3 e6 4.Ne2 c5 5.Ng3 Nc6 6.c3 h5 7.f3 h4 8.Ne2 Bd6 9.Nd2 Qe7 10.Bb5 e5 11.Bxc6+ bxc6 12.Qa4 Bd7 13.0-0 exd4 14.Nb3 dxe3 15.Qa6 h3 16.g3 Ne4 17.Qb7 Rb8 18.Qxa7 Nxg3 19.Nxg3 Qg5 20.Nxc5 Bxg3 21.Qxd7+ Kf8 22.Qg4 Qxg4 23.fxg4 e2 24.hxg3 h2+ 25.Kg2 exf1Q+ 26.Kxf1 h1Q+ 27.Kf2 Rh2+ 28.Ke3 Re8+ 29.Kf4 Rf2+ 30.Kg5 Qh6#

Saturday, 24 October 2009

2009 World Junior Championship

The 2009 World Junior Championship has already started in Argentina. Australia has 3 representatives playing, Sherab Guo-Yuthok in the Open, Emma Guo and Sarah Anton in the Girls. 3 rounds have been played, with Emma on 1.5/3 and Sarah on 0.5/3. In the Open, Sherab has yet to get of the mark, but I'm assuming some easier opponents will soon be coming his way.
The official website is having problems, so the best place to get results is the ever reliable The link for the Open is here, and the Girls is here.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Dead horse, meet stick

Over at the ClosetGrandmaster's blog, TCG is still trying to breathe some life into the whole "Beauty and the Geek" debate. He originally posited that the appearance of Canberra chess player Jeremy Reading was damaging to chess, but the debate, and the public vote, didn't quite go his way. He's having one more go at the topic, although I note with interest that Jeremy has been transformed in Mr Reading in the last post.
Now whether the 'geek' image is damaging to chess, or even whether someone is a 'geek' at all, probably depends on who is being asked. But here is a little test. Which one of these photos is of one of the top players in the world, and which is of a 'geeky' Australian television personality?

Thursday, 22 October 2009

European Teams Championship

You know you have too many chess friends on facebook when their status updates begin to look like a tournament crosstable. A case in point is a number of posts flagging the 2009 European Teams Championship which starts today. The event has 38 teams representing 37 countries (host country Serbia gets 2 teams) and unlike the Olympiad, there is very little "filler". Even the bottom seeded team, Monaco, has GM Igor Efimov on board 1. Interestingly they also have former FIDE Treasurer, Willy Iclicki as their board 4.
Most of the top teams have brought very strong players (Svidler, Topalov, Aronian etc) although Norway lost Carlsen at short notice.
The website for the tournament is and hopefully there will be live broadcasts of the games (implied from the website although I haven't found the link yet).

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The OMG Ratio

Years ago there was a tournament that offered a special prize for the "Most Efficient Use of Energy" (IIRC). This was calculated as the total number of moves played by a player in the tournament divided by the number of wins. The smaller the number the better. I believe the event was sponsored by a power company.
In the same vein is what I would call the OMG ratio. This is the number you get when you divide a players rating by the number of moves played in a game. In this case the bigger the number the bigger the OMG factor if said player loses the game. Excluding results due to mobile phone defaults, or simply not showing up (although in the case of Fischer this is still pretty big on the OMG scale), once you reach a ratio of 200+ you know something pretty spectacular has happened.
Here is an example from the 2001 FIDE World Championship KO. Motylev and Shirov play a messy QGA, when on move 12 Motylev finds a spectacular losing move.

Shirov,Alexei (2706) - Motylev,Alexander (2641) [D20]
FIDE-Wch k.o. Moscow (3.3), 02.12.2001

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e4 c5 4.d5 Nf6 5.Nc3 b5 6.Bf4 Ba6 7.Nf3 b4 8.Bxb8 bxc3 9.Qa4+ Qd7 10.Qxa6 cxb2 11.Rb1 Rxb8 12.Ne5 Qb7 13.Rxb2 1-0

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Romanas Arlauskas

Australian CC Grandmaster Romanas Arlauskas has passed away at the age of 92. Arlauskas was awarded the CC GM title after finishing 3rd in the 4th CC World Championship (1962-65). Originally from Lithuania, Arlauskas emigrated to Australia in 1948 and settled in Adelaide, winning the 1949 and 1968 South Australian (OTB) Championship.
Further information can be found in Peter Parr's Sydney Morning Herald chess column.

Arlauskas,Romanas - Lundqvist,Ake [B47]
4th CC World Ch Final 6265 corr ICCF, 1962

Notes by Arlauskas from the Adelaide "Sunday Mail". He regards the following as his "Best Played Game". 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.g3 a6 7.Bg2 Nf6 8.Nb3 Be7 9.0-0 0-0 10.Bf4 d6 11.Qe2 Rd8 12.Rad1 Rb8 13.a4 Ne5 14.Bc1! Defending the b-pawn in advance and at the same time planning a k-side attack. 14...Bd7 15.f4 Nc4 16.g4! b5 17.axb5 axb5 18.g5 Ne8 19.Qf2 b4 [After 19...g6 would have followed 20.f5! with a decisive attack as Black couldn't play 20...exf5 because of 21.Nd5] 20.Ne2 Bf8 21.Nbd4 Bc8 22.b3 Na5 23.Be3 g6 24.f5 e5 25.Ne6! A bold sacrifice which required precise calculations. 25...fxe6 forced. If [25...Bxe6 26.fxe6 Rb7 27.e7! Qxe7 28.Bb6 Ra8 29.Ra1 and wins.] 26.fxg6 Ng7 (D)
Allows White a nice little combination. Comparatively better was [26...Bg7 27.gxh7+ Kh8! 28.h4 Nc6 29.h5 Ne7 however after 30.g6 White's position would still have been superior.] 27.Qxf8+!!+- Rxf8 28.Rxf8+ Kxf8 29.gxh7 The point of the combination. 29...Ne8 30.h8Q+ Ke7 31.g6 1-0

Monday, 19 October 2009

Cave Chess

Susan Polgar's blog has a report of a blitz tournament that was played in Carlsbad Caverns in the United States. From the photos it looks as the games were played deep underground, and lamps had to be used to illuminate the boards.
When I was younger I did a little bit of spelunking, although chess was one thing I didn't do underground. I've crawled, swam and got lost in caves, and have even done some abseiling. Maybe next years trip to Blayney will involve a detour to Abercrombie Caves, with a few games of blitz to mark the occasion.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Blackburne's Shilling Gambit

There comes a time in every junior players career when they discover the venerable Blackburne Shilling Gambit. If all goes according to plan then 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4?! 4.Nxe5? Qg5 5.Nxf7 Qxg2 6.Rf1 Qxe4+ 7.Be2 Nf3# leads to the kind of quick win that juniors love. This discovery is then followed by attempts to play it at every opportunity, until their regular 'customers' get wise to the trap.
The problem with this trap is that Black's third move is both obvious and in a sense, wrong. Black chooses to both unprotect a pawn, and move the same piece twice in the opening, with no strategical gain. It only works if White 'plays along'
However, if you wish to demonstrate this trap in a way that doesn't seem to break so many opening principles, then this game, which I found in a 1998 issue of Chess in Russia, may do.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nd4 6.d6 Qxd6 (D)
7.Nxf7 Qc6 8.Nxh8 Qxg2 9.Rf1 Qe4+ 10.Be2 Nf3#

And a short, shameful confession. I won a game in my first serious tournament with the short version of this trap.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Minature of the Month - September 2009

I don't know whether 2600+ players decide that trying to grind down another 2600+ player is unproductive, but I am always impressed when both players try and mix it up. In the following game Sokolov tries a sharp sideline on move, which unfortunately blows up in his face. And bonus points for the game ending with a castling move!

Sakaev,Konstantin (2625) - Sokolov,Ivan (2657) [D17]
Serbian League Kragujevac SRB (5), 05.09.2009

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 Nbd7 7.Nxc4 Nb6 8.Ne5 Nfd7 9.e4 Nxe5 10.exf5 Ned7 11.a5 Nd5 12.Nxd5 cxd5 13.Qb3 g6 14.Qxd5 gxf5 15.Bb5 a6 16.Ba4 Qc7 (D)
17.Bf4 e6 18.0-0 1-0

Friday, 16 October 2009

Anand v Topalov 2010 Venue decided

According to the Sofia Sports Agency website, the 2010 Anand v Topalov World Championship Match will be held in Sofia Bulgaria in March 2010. The link to the story is here, and I assume the decision was taken at the FIDE Congress in Haldiki, Greece. For the moment the FIDE website has nothing on this story, but this may be due to the slowness in getting any news from the congress on to the website.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

2009 Victorian Championship

The 2009 Victorian Championship has just started, and as usual is a strong tournament. The field includes GM Darryl Johasen and IM's Sandler, Morris and Rujevic. The event is being played at a rate of 1 round a week, and unlike previous years, seems to be keeping a strict 'all games at the same time' format.
Already there has been one interesting incident in the supporting Reserves tournament, which I have covered here, on my Chess Rules blog.
Results and pairings for the tournament can be found at the ChessVictoria website.

Johansen,Darryl - Dragicevic,Domagoj [B07]
Victorian Championship Melbourne (2), 13.10.2009

1.d4 d6 2.e4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nbd7 4.f4 e5 5.Nf3 exd4 6.Qxd4 c6 7.e5 dxe5 8.fxe5 Bc5 9.Qh4 Qe7 10.Bf4 Bb4 11.0-0-0 Bxc3 12.exf6 Bxf6 13.Qg3 0-0 14.Bd6 Qe3+ 15.Kb1 Qb6 16.b3 Re8 17.Bc4 Nc5 18.Ng5 Bxg5 19.Qxg5 Ne4 (D)
20.Bxf7+ Kxf7 21.Qh5+ g6 22.Qxh7+ Kf6 23.Rhf1+ Nf2 24.Rd2 Bf5 25.Rdxf2 Qd4 26.Rxf5+ gxf5 27.Qh6+ Kf7 28.Rxf5+ 1-0

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

FIDE Congress

The 2009 FIDE Congress is happening as I post this. I had hoped to attend this year, but a shift in venue from Singapore to Haldiki in Greece made it difficult both in terms of time and money.
In non-Olympiad years the majority of the congress is taken up by technical meetings, as there is no General Assembly. My main reason for wanting to attend was to take part in the meeting of the Technical Administration Panel (TAP), which is responsible for Olympiad issues. I've received a brief report on the meeting from Nick Faulks who described it a 'purely technical' and confined to pairing rules for the 2010 Olympiad. The major decision to come out of the meeting is that Accelerated Pairings will not be used. I'm sure this will please most teams.