Thursday, March 05, 2015

NZ's Natasha Fairley in The Bachelor

This is a bit unexpected. New Zealand chess rep, Natasha Fairley, who I'm sure plenty of Australian chess players know very well, will appear on local television in NZ as one of the young women who will vie for the affections of "The Bachelor New Zealand". The show will beginning screening on March 17. If you're outside of NZ, I guess there's always the recaps on YouTube.

I suppose I should say good luck to Natasha. I hope she gets her man. But honestly, I never thought she'd be the type to be needing to do this sort of thing. She ought to be "The Bachelorette"!

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Jule Surprise

The past week has been a Chinese trifecta. Zhao Jun won the Hastings tournament, Ni Hua pulverized almost everyone at the Aussie Open and then there's also Zhao Xue who bagged the Kiwi Open. The two Zhaos winning were complete surprises. After all, they weren't exactly the favourites.

But here's another surprise. Out of the blue, I've just learnt that Australia's WIM Alexandra Jule is a New Zealand champion! Well, joint champion at least anyway. It turns out that she holds dual nationality, Kiwi and Australian. And by virtue of her 6 points, among a group of locals on a similar score, WIM Jule is officially a national champ. How about that?

Congrats WIM Jule.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Australian Chess Open 2015

I meant to post something about the ongoing Aussie Chess Open much earlier, but with the rush to head back to Tokyo and immediately having to start work after a very non-Japanese 3-week vacation, this post is much delayed.

In fact, I actually turned up for the first round and live tweeted direct from the event. That was a first for me (live tweeting), and I think more events should probably do it. Tweeting, or live blogging as I once did many moons ago, always gives an extra dimension to a tournament. Despite recent advances in video coverage, there's something about the burst of text that is quite exciting. And after all, not every board can be viewed live and not every tournament can afford video coverage. Tweeting is cheap and easy. All you really need is a smartphone.

Anyway,  if you're not already following yours truly, you can find me here.

My impression is that this Aussie Chess Open has been reasonably well-organised. I could certainly appreciate the organisers' enthusiasm. The venue itself, Castle Hill RSL Club, is very good. The only problem is that it is pretty damn far! Perhaps it's not such a problem if you have private transport, but for those many who must rely on what passes for public transport in Sydney, the trip to Castle Hill can be a real trek. Door-to-door from south west Sydney, it took me almost 2 hours to reach the venue. It was exhausting!

That wee complaint aside, I've really enjoyed following the tournament by remote.  Lots of exciting games, especially by Australia's young guys. I particularly enjoyed the finish of Morris - Jones. Thankfully, we have a video of it courtesy of Gary Bekker. Although, it must be said, I'd have much preferred the, ahem, CM simply let the IM do most of the talking.


After 8 rounds, the Chinese super GM Ni Hua leads with 7.5 points followed by Khusnutdinov on six and a half. Not too far in the chase on 6 points apiece are Aussies Illingworth, Cheng and Schon. The latter is doing very well, indeed, for, as I understand it, he's bagged an IM norm. I'm no expert on the rules for norms, but here's hoping that a local or two will earn themselves the more coveted GM norm. That would be nice.

For pairings and results, click here; for photos courtesy of Cathy Rogers, click here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Chess Christmas Cheer

Look what I spotted in Sydney's Pitt St yesterday. When I saw the chess boards, my first thought was that Pablo Williams, The Jamaican Champion, must have expanded his operations! You can usually see him here this time of year. But, nope; no Pablo. This bloke who's hosting the simul is, in fact, none other than Sydney local Jason Chan.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Chess on The iPad

I don't get much chess action myself these days, at least not over the board. But I still follow the top events closely. Thanks to Apple, I can do this, last night's World Championship game that ended it all for Vishy ("screwed"). That is my iPad tethered to my iPhone. And in case you're wondering, the red is a not too shabby Chilean merlot.

When I tweeted this last night, a couple of folks asked me what the app is. It is Playchess for the iOS, which is not too bad. I like the game board. But I think the Chess24 app is way better overall. Chess24's game board is not to my liking but you get access to their video coverage and the app is free!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Vishy Anand Is Screwed

Boom! Just like that, Magnus Carlsen goes one up against Anand in their ongoing combat for the World Chess Championships. And it is only game two. Last year, it took until game five before we saw a decisive result. Honestly, why do we even bother?

Early this morning on Twitter I was amused to see a number of experts - GMs, journos and even an ex-World Champion herself - offer suggestions to the Anand camp. That perhaps Vishy should re-strategise and get a shrink. GM Jonathan Tisdall suggests that the Indian should play like, well, Vishy; that is, the younger, fearless Vishy. Play the Sicilian, tweets Tisdall. Mark Crowther, of TWIC, reckons it is time for plan B. But what that is supposed to be is unclear.

Without being disrespectful of the man, the fact is Anand is simply outclassed. This, my friends, is the bottom line. The Norwegian is too good. GM Nigel Short said it best: Anand is basically screwed.

So I say, save yourselves some late nights and get some sleep. Nothing to see here folks.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Guardiola on Chess

Former Barcelona football club coach Pep Guardiola had this to say about chess:

The process of picking a line-up is a bit like sitting in front of your chess pieces. You’ve no idea how similar the two things are.

You can read more about his observations on chess here

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

End of Chess in New York Times?

Is it really the end of the chess column in the New York Times? Many people certainly thought so when this appeared at the foot of the 11 October edition.

Then again, perhaps not.

As quoted by Poynter, a spokesperson for the NYT said, "We are considering eliminating the chess column in order to keep freelance costs in line. A final decision for the column (on all platforms) has not been made yet.”

However, just to be sure that chess doesn't get the cut from the NYT's pages, you could take the pro-active approach and write to the paper's exec editor. The email addy is

Monday, October 06, 2014

Evelyn Koshnitsky, 1915-2014

Such is the world today that the first thing I log on to is my social media feed. And one of the first tidbits I read this morning was a status update from a friend with the very sad news that Evelyn Koshnitsky has passed away, aged 99. Actually, it looks like the first news of this is via Kevin Bonham over on ChessChat.

I did not know Mrs Koshnitsky deeply, but I certainly knew of her reputation and the immense good she did for Australian chess over the decades.

Cathy Chua has a brief mention specifically of Evelyn Koshnitsky in an old post:

Evelyn Koshnitsky has made her life’s work the promotion of chess among the young and her special passion has been to get girls to play. First in Sydney and then in Adelaide from the early 1960s when the couple moved there she cajoled, begged and bullied support. Manpower, money, venues – she is an expert at getting what she wants from parents, schools, government, business – whoever might have something of use.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Illingworth GM Hunting in Hungary

UPDATE (16 Sep): Max scored 3.5 from the last 4 rounds of his event. Thus, he not only won that tournament but also gained himself a GM norm!

(Original text below)

International master Max Illingworth, who starred for Australia at the Tromsø Olympiad last month, is extending his European stint in the hunt for another GM norm. And obviously in the process, hopefully, also raise his rating ever closer to that magic 2500.

Max is currently in the First Saturday GM event in Hungary. After 5 rounds there, the Sydneysider is undefeated on 3.5 points. With 4 rounds to go, he'll be desperately needing to double that tally for that prized grandmaster norm. Looking at his upcoming opponents, I must say that his chances are very good, indeed.

Good luck Max!