Monday, December 31, 2007

Latest Problems in RP Chess

In his weekend newsletter, Manny Benitez is reporting certain new problems in Philippine chess. Firstly, a 5-man team that was due to fly out to India for the Asian Team Championships are still in RP because they could not get visas or plane tickets. The newsletter also reports that the team did not receive any preparation and, to date, still doesn't have a manager. And although still unconfirmed, one of the selected grandmasters is said to have left the team "in a huff". That GM has since been replaced by an international master instead.

The Asian Team Championships is slated for 2 - 11 January, 2008.

Secondly, and this is possibly the larger problem for RP chess right now, citing journo Iggy Dee as source, Mr Benitez reports of a possible breakaway faction within the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the NCFP was rumored to be on the verge of a schism, with a breakaway faction deciding to hold a separate election of officers. The separatist faction will time its own election on January 19, sources have told Dee. The NCFP board under its president, former Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr., is set to hold its election of officers in Tagaytay City on January 19. Dee said he learned from an insider that the breakaway faction intends to hold theirs also on January 19 in Quezon City.

No names were given as to the composition of the separatist group. Definitely interesting to watch developments in the next couple weeks. These are, however, not exactly the most auspicious beginning for this Olympiad year.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Zhao in Spanish Campaign

IM Zong Yuan Zhao is in category 10 event in Mondariz, Spain. He has 2.5 points after three rounds. Details here. Some brief analysis and comments here over at Chess Chat.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Debate Over Isle of Lewis Chessmen

One of my favourite places is the British Museum. I shall never forget my first visit there a couple of years ago, seeing for the first time things that I'd only ever read about. The Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles and a large collection of centuries old samurai swords were unforgettable. No less impressive, of course, is the central Reading Room (which houses the Paul Hamlyn Library). Yet besides the feeling of wonderment was the sense that much of it were out of place, stolen from elsewhere. To this day, for example, debate at times erupts over the Elgin Marbles. Should they be returned to Greece? And now a mild controversy along similar lines is taking place between the BM and, this time, Scotland.

This morning I heard a news report on BBC radio about one of our game's greatest known treasures, the Isle of Lewis chessmen. Of the 93 pieces only 10 remain in Scotland, where the artefacts were first discovered way back in 1831, with the larger bulk being housed in the British Museum. Effort is now underway to try and return the chessmen back, according to the Scottish side at least, to their rightful home. In this report from Scotland on Sunday, Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond is quoted as saying, "I find it utterly unacceptable that the Lewis Chessmen are scattered around Britain in a bizarre parody of the Barnett Formula. And you can be assured that I will continue campaigning for a united set of Lewis Chessmen in an independent Scotland".

So, what's your take? Should these chessmen be returned to Scotland?

Indian Players Oppose AICF

Two recent decisions by the All India Chess Federation, switching from the swiss system to RR for the National A tournament and using players' FIDE ratings to decide Olympiad duties, have been met with opposition from players. The Chess Players Association of India (CPAI) has posted a copy of an email on their website calling for a reversal of these changes.

The India Times paper quotes a CPAI member as saying, "We were not consulted before these decisions were announced. We are not happy with these changes and have informed AICF president (N Srinivasan) and secretary (D V Sundar) about it. We have also sought a meeting with the officials".

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Google Won't Save Hotel

Next year's ogranisers of the Doeberl Cup are doing something interesting. They're sending out newsletters. Yesterday I received the second issue and that was good because it reminded me to actually make my reservations for accommodation.

Unfortunately, most of the hotel selections listed here are a bit pricey, so I've settled for the least expensive, the YHA located on Akuna St. I stayed there a couple of years ago for the ANU Open and this joint isn't so bad. On the other hand, if you're considering a cheapo alternative like the City Walk Hotel, you might as well forget it. These City Walk guys are utterly hopeless. Not even Google can save them!

You may have better luck than me but all those contact details listed on the City Walk's web page are useless. The phone number redirects to a recorded message which says that they're busy. After waiting and waiting, plus numerous tries over a couple of days, I just gave up. No one answers. The email address bounces and I'm not about to fax anything in this day and age. Are these guys still in business?

Anyway, that's my rant for this cool Christmas Day in Sydney. I hope you all have a good one wherever you are.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Indian Fed Switch to FIDE Ratings

The All India Chess Federation has reportedly amended the way it selects team-members for Olympiads. Selection will now be based on players' FIDE ratings.

The AICF has decided to select the Indian team for the Olympiads based on the rating list of FIDE, the world governing body of chess. In fact, this is something the AICF should have done long, long ago. Up until now, the Indian teams — men as well as women — for the Olympiads were picked purely on the basis of the performances at the National ‘A’ championships: the top finishers make the squad (along with a few seeded players like World champion Viswanathan Anand). That is a bit like selecting Indian cricket team based solely on Challenger Trophy; pick the players with the best batting and bowling averages and leave out even a proven performer just because he was going through a bad patch or couldn’t play in the tournament because he was nursing an injury.

From The Hindu.

Azmaiparashvili Wins Singapore Masters

FIDE veep GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili and Singapore's Zhang Zong topped the 4th Singapore Masters Open International Tournament on 7 points apiece ahead of forty-two other participants. Azmai is overall winner on tiebreak. GM Chanda Sandipan of India totalled 6.5 points while six players, including RP's IM J.C. Sadorra, scored 6 points.

Other Pinoy scores are: Dimakiling and Paragua, 5.5 points; Gonzales, 5 points; Andador, 4 points.

Here is Sadorra's fine win over Indian IM Girinath in the fifth round.

4th Singapore Masters
Julio, Sadorra
Girinath, P D S.

1. Nf3 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. g3 d6 4. d4 e6 5. Bg2 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3 a5 8. b3 Qe8 9. Re1 Ne4 10. Qd3 Qg6 11. Bb2 Bf6 12. Nd2 Nxc3 13. Bxc3 Nc6 14. e4 e5 15. d5 Nb4 16. Qb1 f4 17. a3 Na6 18. Bxa5 h5 19. Kh1 h4 20. gxf4 exf4 21. Qc2 Bg4 22. Bc3 h3 23. Bf1 Qh5 24. e5 Bh4 25. Bd4 Rf5 26. Qd3 dxe5

After 26...dxe5

27. f3 Bxe1 28. fxg4 Qxg4 29. Bxh3 Qh4 30. Qxf5 exd4 31. Qe6+ Kh8 32. Rxe1 Nc5 33. Nf3 Nxe6 34. Nxh4 Nc5 35. Ng6+ Kh7 36. Bf5 Kh6 37. Nxf4 Nxb3 38. Rg1 g5 39. Ne6 Rg8 40. Rg3 1-0

Friday, December 21, 2007

Wii Chess Screenshots

The first screenshots and video demos of the new Wii Chess have just been released by Nintendo. Below is a screenshot courtesy of CVG. More are available from the official site.

Image courtesy of

However, at least based on what's been available so far, we agree with Wired that this game is just ugly!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My 2007 Xmas Wish List

I think I've done this every year around about this time. I basically post a list of things chessic that I'd love to have in my stockings for Christmas. For 2007, here's hoping that Santa will slide down my chimney and deliver these little goodies:

1. Play the Ruy Lopez (Andrew Greet)
2. Lifetime membership to and
3. A guide for Black in Ruy Lopez (Sverre Johnsen and Leif Erlend Johannessen)
4. The complete "My Predecessors" series, by Kasparov
5. A first edition My 60 Memorable Games, by R. Fischer
6. Mega Database 2008
7. 102mm Double Weighted Staunton (Boxwood and EbonyWood) chess set
8. Fritz 11
9. Dell XPS M1330 laptop
10. More time

The last two in that list are a bit irregular. But I would love that new lappy to load all those chess software goodies while still leaving enough horsepower for all the other things I do (like graphics and games). And the last is self-explanatory. Luckily, over this last week, and with the office in quiet mode (sort of), I've actually been able to play blitz after work again.

Anyway, merry Christmast to all!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Chess in The Wild Duck

I was just reviewing the many images I took from my recent UK trip and I was quite happy to rediscover this little gem. Somewhere in the Cotswolds, I (along with my companions) stumbled across this scene in the back of a pub.

Giant chess in the Wild Duck Inn

It's in a joint called the Wild Duck Inn. I tell you folks: the English people cannot cook. Their food is terrible, their coffee is crap. But here in the Wild Duck, I had my first ever decent meal in England. And I've been there a few times. Good stuff!

Make sure you drop by if/when you're somewhere in the Cotswolds.

4th Singapore Masters Open

The Singapore Chess Federation is presently hosting a chess convention that includes a series of seminars for administrators as well as two tournaments, a Masters section and a Challengers section. The Masters section is quite strong with 8 grandmasters in attendance as well as a number of IMs.

Pinoy fans will be interested to know that RP is well represented there by the familiar names like Paragua, Dimakiling and Gonzales. Unfortunately, Mark Paragua and Jayson Gonzales lost their second games to Chinese players Wan Yunguo and Shen Siyuan respectively.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Congrats All Around

For the last few weeks, I've been pretty much out of touch with chess current affairs that I didn't even know the finalists in Khanty-Mansiysk! My thanks to my friend Francisco Plaza for keeping me abreast on that front. After work, during our regular blitz meets, Francisco provides a quick run-down of results. So I guess it's congrats to Kamsky.

But there are two other guys who must truly deserve our congratulations. Firstly, to Zhong Yuan Zhao who last week secured his first ever GM norm in Budapest. According to GM Ian Rogers in his Sun Herald column yesterday, Zhao will now make 2 other attempts to secure the remaining norms before coming back to Oz. There is an invitation only event in Spain followed by Gibraltar in Jan '08. Good luck Zhao.

And while Aussies are still dreaming of their next grandmaster, Pinoy chess fans had an early Chrissy present when Wesley So finally secured a third GM norm last week. Our mate Kiko has all the details. Congrats indeed!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Gangsta Chess

A friend of mine sent me this video snippet while I was away a couple of weeks ago. It's a scene from a season 1 episode of The Wire, a TV drama in the US. Some segments may be NSFW so you may like to put on your head phones or tone down the volume.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Wii Chess

If you own a Wii game console, you'll soon be able to play chess with it. For the time being, though, the game will first hit European shelves in early 2008, while there's still no clue about an Australia release.

UK box art

German publication Der Spiegel is the widely cited source of this information. According to Der Spiegel, Wii Chess will feature online as well as local multiplayer capabilities.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Kasparov Resigns From Prez Race

News wires are reporting that Gary Kasparov will drop out of next year's Russian presidential race. He is quoted as saying, "My electoral campaign finishes tomorrow".

From Forbes:

While Kasparov's move might grab headlines in the West, it is likely to cause no more than a flicker in Russia, where his defeat, like that of all other opposition parties, is a virtual given. Medvedev, Putin's successer as presidential candidate for the United Russia party is expected to sweep to victory in March, a win made all the more certain by last week's parliamentary elections.

See also a report from the BBC.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Back from Amsterdam

Back at last, unfortunately. After 2 weeks, we're at work again, and back to blogging. I'm sure I don't need to tell you how liberating it is not to have to worry about routine. Wake up anytime, do anything, sleep whenever.

So I did check out the Max Euwe Centre in Amsterdam. It was easy enough to find: just got on the no. 5 tram at Centraal Station and off right in front of the Van Gogh Museum. Not exactly the highlight of my trip, but still worth seeing. Out of all things I saw there I was most impressed by this large collection of index cards on openings. Thousands upon thousands of opening lines all written by hand! Imagine doing all that work back in the day.

And if you admire Euwe, the small museum dedicated to his life is a must-see.

But I was there to play chess. Unfortunately, being mostly a serious joint for quiet study, there was not a clock to be seen in the centre. Well I didn't see one for playing blitz anyway. One of the staff members calmly informed me that if I wanted to play blitz, I had to go to a pub. Sure enough, he pointed me to the appropriate place.

Schaakcafe de Laurierboom

Located on Laurierstraat 76, Schaakcafe de Laurierboom replaces the old Schaakhuis Gambit, previously located on Bloemgracht 20, that has since closed.

I quite like the place, a typically Amsterdam pub that seems like it's been there for centuries. Jazz posters as well as picture portraits of the great chess players featured on its walls. While mostly darkish inside, there is a spotlight over the boards to provide ample lighting. Fortune, though, escaped me as it happened to be some sort of St. Nicholas celebration that day, on the 5th December, and everyone usually remains at home with their families. Hardly anyone came except for a couple of tourists who busied themselves with a game of backgammon.

When no one, who seemed to be interested in a game of blitz, came along, I left as soon as I finished my Leffe. So off I went to the red light district.

The guys in the Max Euwe Centre gave me two other chess cafes. You can also visit the Schaakcafe Het Hok, on Lange Leidsedwarsstraat 134, and the Bridge-Schaakcafe 2 Klaveren on De Clercqstraat 136.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Lost in Amsterdam

Still alive! After a couple of days in the Cotswolds, in England, I'm now in Amsterdam. Got in on the weekend. Despite its downsides, like the lousy customer service and short days, this city is now officially a favourite. There are plenty to love about Amsterdam.

Of course there are the famed coffeehouses and sex joints for those who cannot get enough of their kind of services, but being a drinker myself, I've pretty much settled into the city's plentiful cosy little pubs. Too many good joints to name. Also, when here, check out Amstel Bock beer - a good one that. While for consumerists, the shopping here is even better than in Sydney (though it's hard to beat London's Oxford St).

And oh, gents, the female Swiss tourists are particularly friendly. Make sure you speak of sun and surf back home. Even an Asian bloke like moi can get away with it.

So my first couple of days here has been good so far except that yesterday I hit my first disappointment. The so-called Gambit chess cafe is no longer where Chessbase said it would be. Bloemgracht 20 has been completely curtained up, the chessboard above the doorway gone, and the place abandoned. I was quite sad about that. I hope that they've just relocated. I popped into a nearby pub where a couple of young guys, coincidentally, where playing chess and asked what ever happened to Schaakhuis Gambit. No one could help me.

Any of our readers know what happened to Schaakhuis Gambit?

Anyway, after a whole day on foot, I returned to my hotel. Popped the TV on and who should I see on Dutch television but none other than Loek van Wely himself! He was being interiewed for Holland Sport. I obviously couldn't understand a single word of it but it looked to be a complete riot of an interview. Surely, only in the Netherlands do you see that.

I'm off. Hope to catch a couple of museums today as well as the Max Euwe centre. But I hope even more that this weather holds up.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

PayPal Founder on Chess

After a long flight I am again here in my second most beloved metropolis. Despite the usual delay at Heathrow's baggage claim, this cold and the grey skies - I'm feeling quite good.

Let's see: a gay flight attendant who apparently took a fancy to yours truly slipped in a nice bottle of '05 Turkey Flat shiraz in my luggage; at Bangkok, our pilot announced the ALP's win in the federal elections (yeah baby!); and finally - I've just checked in to the Victoria Park Plaza and scored a room upgrade thanks to a very friendly Spanish lass. Though I think she just took pity on my exhausted countenance.

A good trip so far.

Anyway, on the plane I read this interesting take on our game by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. Thiel who, according to Fortune magazine, "was once ranked among the top under-21 chess players" in the U.S. says:

Taken too far, chess can become an alternate reality in which one loses sight of the real world...My chess ability was roughly at the limit. Had I become any stronger, there would have been some massive tradeoffs with success in other domains in life.

The entire article can be read here.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Off to England!

Apologies for the lack of updates over the last couple of days. Terribly busy at work! Plus, of course, there's this trip over to the UK that I just actually finished packing for right at this moment. After many late nights and running around over the last couple of days, I'm just about ready to hit that Qantas skybed on QF1. I fly out this afternoon.

Now, of course, today is the federal election in this country. But more than this election, those in the New South Wales chess community will also be thinking about another choice in leadership: who to vote for as their next association president in this afternoon's NSWCA annual general meeting in Rooty Hill. Sadly, I will not be there.

My bet is that most of the same guys will retain their positions. The truth is no matter how much we may complain about the association's performance, there's hardly anyone else who's willing to put their hands up! And those who do, perhaps out of some momentary surge of idealistic passion to make a difference, will quickly realise that the business of council is largely uninteresting and occupies plenty of time if it's at all to be taken seriously.

And here's another thing: running a chess association demands certain skill sets. How many in the pool of chess players actually know something about organising a tournament? How many understand the basic arithmetic of the ratings system? How many understand the politics of chess?

I leave you with those for now. Good luck to everybody, have a great time in whatever, as I am sure I will. After the UK, I'll be visiting Amsterdam for a few days too. I hope to get in some chess when I'm there. See you soon!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Extra Chess Blogging Tips

Shaun Press has been writing about chess blogging in the last couple of issues of the Australian Chess Magazine. He's got a few tips on, for example, how to include games in blog posts, posting images, and blogging for your club. Next month he promises to cover advertising and their effects on blogs. I wonder what that will be about, but it should be interesting. Anyway I thought I'd slip in a couple of extra tips, too.

When you manage a blog or any website, you'll want to know about traffic. How many people are reading your site, where they come from, how long they stay for or which of your content is the most popular are just examples of web metrics that you would be looking at. Sounds complicated and expensive. Luckily, not so! You just need to sign up to anyone of the many services out there that provide web metrics tracking. A lot of these are free.

Google Analytics, like many services offered by Google, needs no payment. Just sign up. It's an awesome tool that can nearly match the functions of other paid-for premium services available today. You get a lot of information and I mean a lot! I recommend it.

Alternatives to Google Analytics are Site Meter and Stat Counter. Both are also available for free, though they do offer upgraded services that you have to pay for. I actually use these two in the background just as a second and third opinion to what I get from Google. Both are quite good, straightforward and easy to use.

My next tip is to install a commenting system that is more sophisticated than what you get by default with your blog software. The problem with the default system, like the one on my blog, is the lack of "threaded" discussions ala what you see in online forums. Fortunately for we bloggers there are some clever people out there who've thought long and hard about this and come up with solutions. There are three services I know of that you can sign up with. These are SezWho, Disqus and Intense Debate.

I installed Intense Debate a couple of weeks ago then removed it again almost immediately. It wasn't because I saw something wrong with the service, but more that I didn't want my regular readers to be confronted with a whole new and unexpected way of interacting with me. I basically just wanted to check what the system looked like. Other than that, it looked easy enough for blogger and reader.

That's all for now. I suppose in my next post about chess blogging I can talk about how to actually promote your blog, drive traffic to it, without relying on some unexpected mention in a Shaun Press article! I must thank him one day for mentioning TCG.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sponsorships in Decline

This is not really about chess, but I couldn't help thinking about a chess angle when I read the article in today's AFR. Neil Shoebridge reports of a research study by Sweeney Research into Australians' sports sponsorship awareness and sporting interests. Unfortunately, the AFR article is for subscribers only, so I can't link to it from here.

Mr Shoebridge:

The value of the $1.5 billion Australian companies pump into sponsoring sporting events, teams and competitions each year has been called into question by research that show awareness of most sponsorships is declining.

The latest edition of Sweeney Research's 21-year old sports report shows that fewer consumers are aware of big-spending sponsors such as Nike, adidas and Foster's Group than a year ago.

Our reporter goes on to cite some figures. Examples: awareness of Uncle Toby's sponsorships falling from 31% to 27%; adidas' figures dipping from 26% to 20%, and Speedo's from 20% to 12%.

All this seems almost like a total downer to those who dream of big bucks for chess. Not really. The Sweeney Research study focuses on awareness and not on levels of engagement or ROI. As Sweeney director Todd Deacon was quoted in the article as saying, "Some companies might generate low awareness of their sponsorships but get good results in terms of engagement with specific groups of customers."

That surely explains why I still think of "Cepacol" and I know you blokes only stick to "Ansell".

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Universal Chess Portal

The second part of FIDE's press release on its 78th Congress has an interesting little item that caught my eye.

The President of the Turkish Chess Federation, Mr. Ali Yazici hosted a gala dinner for all the participants, where he made a presentation of an Universal Chess Portal created by the Turkish Chess Federation for spreading news, promoting chess events, registering participants in tournaments and other matters and said that any Federation is welcome to join this system.

A chess portal? I wonder what that is. Maybe a website. Whatever it is, it sounds quite ambitious.

And speaking of the Turkish Chess Federation, note that the World Youth Championships for U8, U10, U12, U14, U6 and U18 years old - girls and boys is due to start today in Antalya, Turkey. A large contingent from Australia will be in attendance.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chess Master Title = Degree?

Well that was an interesting little discussion you guys had over the "Antic Case". I'm particularly thankful to those who made long and considered comments. A couple of academics even made an appearance. Cheers.

Accompanying that, of course, was our poll and the numbers are in. Those who agree or strongly agree that a chess master title is equivalent to a university degree win hands down.

Yet I'm not now sure that this is all settled. That's because I'm still honestly struggling to understand how or on what basis we can even compare the pursue of chess excellence and scholarship (and by this latter term I refer specifically to those areas of study that are typically found in a university prospectus). It's also why I posed the question in that Antic post.

I do like Dr Smirnov's take on this. Says he, "[A]s an economist I would suggest to ask who is more useful for the society (a PhD or GM). I believe the answer is also obvious."

So, who is more useful?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Parr: NSWCA is a secret society

If you're Peter Parr, hunting season is around about this time every year in New South Wales chess. As far as this Sydney chess personality is concerned, he's gunning for the heads of his old familiar foes: the entire lot of the NSWCA. As usual, though - he takes aim at his favourite, that man, the association head Mr Bill Gletsos.

In his most recent internet posting, Mr Parr sets about hoping to grab the agenda for the upcoming annual general meeting later this month. That post goes on, and on, and on. A mixture of reminiscing, political bitch slaps, and complaints about the usual. For this little blogger, it was hard to decide what part to quote. But I choose this bit.

I have become increasingly concerned in recent times of the policy of the secrecy that the NSWCA council has adopted under the regime of President Bill Gletsos. I know that Brian Jones has often expressed the view that the NSWCA should not be a secret society and I share the same view. It is of course the policy of the NSW Bridge Association and most organisations to advise their members(we do have rights)that minutes of their monthly council meetings appear on their web site. The Gletsos regime has confirmed in writing that all the minutes of the monthly NSWCA Council meetings are confidential and will remain confidential only to be seen by members of the council. Even at the AGM there is no report from the secretary - not one sentence. What are in these secret minutes that are so secret that no member must ever read or discuss them. Furthermore the regime has confirmed that no member has any right to be advised of the financial situation of the NSWCA before the AGM on 24th November 2007. It is in my opinion un-Australian that the Gletsos regime has made laws of their own - not made at any AGM and we live in fear of our financial situation.

So why exactly are those council minutes confidential? What are these politicians hiding? Our local and foreign readers can read the whole thing here in Australia's most popular chess bulletin board. You might like to take a few deep breaths and brew yourself a cuppa before you go and read that. (And by the way, I always recommend peppermint tea. It cleanses the system).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Penalty Chess

A reader sent this in. When you're kind of bored with regular chess, here's an idea to add something different. (WARNING: Video does contain some mild swearing. Not safe for work).

Saturday, November 10, 2007

White King and Red Queen

A new book is out that will surely fill the shelves of chess fans as well as students of Cold War politics. David Edmonds, writing for The Times, reviews Daniel Johnson's White King and Red Queen.

Edmonds: "Chess was particularly appealing to Soviet intellectuals — novelists such as Pasternak, musicians such as Prokofiev. As Johnson explains, 'Chess was one of the very few officially sanctioned areas of intellectual freedom.'"

You can also read a short extract here.

Is the NSWCA a Joke?

Members of the NSWCA would have by now received a mailout from their association advising of the upcoming Annual General Meeting and the State Lightning Championship on 24 November. But it seems a handful of you also received their ID cards. One of our friends certainly did.

Our friend wrote in: "One interesting item included is my NSWCA member card with date of issue 06/11/2007 and expiration date of 31th December 2007. Does it mean I need it only to attend the NSWCA AGM and the Lighting tourney? I scanned and attached it here to see the joke. It's not funny."

Well, NSWCA, is this a joke? Our tipster may not think this funny, but I surely am laughing!

German Beats American in Chess Boxing

I woke up this morning to the ABC's Newsradio and they had a report on the first ever World Chess Boxing Championships in Berlin. It was an audio-only version of the BBC's video report that you'll find here, while the text is here.

The sport's inventor Dutch artist Iepe Rubingh had the best line: "If you move the pawn, it's like moving your jab. If you come with the knight, it's like a hook. If you come with the rook, it's a straight right. And if you march in with the queen, it's a knockout".

Photo from WCBO site.

Congrats to German police officer Frank 'ANTI TERROR' Stoldt for winning the event! He won via a checkmate in round 7, apparently with "only seconds to go".

Friday, November 09, 2007

Polgar in the SMH

Spotted this right now in the Sydney Morning Herald: My Brilliant Brain.

Polgar herself undergoes a variety of chess-related challenges and medical examinations during the course of this documentary, with an MRI scan revealing that her devotion to chess has physically rewired her brain - the part of the brain that normally looks after such things as chess has effectively hijacked the face-recognition bit. This means that she can recognise clusters of chess pieces - and what they mean in the context of a game - in supercomputer time.

Chessbase had earlier featured this on their site. I so have to get myself pay TV!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Look Right, Vote Now

My post last Sunday seems to have generated some discussion. I'm particularly glad about the participation of a couple of serious folks. Anyway, just for fun, I've put up a poll. Just look right, below my profile, and vote now!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Johansen Wins Elwood Bendigo

GM Daryl Johansen won the Elwood Bendigo Bank tournament in Victoria yesterday. He tallied 6 points, a half point ahead of five players that included GM Dejan Antic. A complete cross table is available here.

Last week, we featured Dromagoj Dragicevic for beating IM Gary Lane in the Surfers Paradise Open. But in this game, he fell victim to my good friend Nick Kordahi.

2007 Elwood Bendigo Bank
Dragecivic, Domagoi
Kordahi, Nicholas

1. e4 c5 2. c3 Nf6 3. e5 Nd5 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. cxd4 e6 7. Nc3 Nxc3 8. bxc3 d6 9. exd6 Bxd6 10. Bd3 Bd7 11. O-O Rc8 12. Ng5 Qa5 13. Bd2 Be7 14. Nf3 O-O 15. Re1 Rfd8 16. Ne5 Be8 17. Re3 Bf6 18. Nc4 Qc7 19. Rh3 g6 20. Qf3 Bg7 21. Bh6 b5 22. Nd2 b4 23. Ne4 f5 24. Bxg7 Qxg7 25. Ng5 Qe7 26. Qe3 h5 27. Bc4

After 27. Bc4

27...Nxd4 28. Nxe6 Rxc4 29. Nxd8 Ne2+ 30. Kf1 Re4 31. Qd2 bxc3 32. Qd5+ Kh7 33. Re3 Rxe3 34. fxe3 Qxe3 35. Qf3 Qg1+ 36. Kxe2 Bb5+ 0-1

Very nice tactics by black! My thanks to him for supplying the game file.

(EDIT: Note that I have replaced the Chesspublisher playable gameboard application with a static diagram instead. There seems to be a problem with our external host, and CP isn't properly displaying).

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sydney gets $68K Chess Fund

If you saw the title and your heart suddenly skipped a beat with excitement, you can forget it. For that bit of news was from 20 years ago! The latest issue of Australian Chess magazine mentions of a little tidbit from the old Chess in Australia:

It was reported that the Chess Centre (Sydney) Building Fund had reached a total to date of $68,000.

I did not know that!

Just as interesting was another tidbit that 20 years ago, the ACF lost its Federal Government funding of about $30,000! Disaster.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Antic Denied Aussie Residency

GM Ian Rogers today, in his column for Sydney's Sun Herald, has interesting news about Grandmaster Dejan Antic's quest to become an Australian. Antic, currently under the Serbian flag, was denied permanent residency by an Australian government bureaucrat. Here's Rogers:

Earlier in October Antic had heard that his application for permanent residency had been rejected on the grounds that his Grandmaster title "cannot be considered comparable to three years post secondary (Year 12) study."

The VetAssess bureaucrat who made this decision was clearly unaware or unconcerned that the Migration Review Tribunal had already ruled that the lesser International Master title was equivalent to at least five years tertiary study, and that the average time required for a player to go from International Master to Grandmaster - if indeed the GM level is ever reached - is an additional seven years of study, far more intensive study than that required for a basic tertiary degree.

That's not the first time I've read/heard that a chess master title is equivalent to tertiary study. But is it really?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

No Gold for RP

The chess is over in the 2nd Asian Indoor Games in Macau. Nine gold medals were there to be won and not one makes its way to Philippine shores. India dominated by bagging 5 golds, 2 silvers and 1 bronze. The Chinese have 3-1-2 count, while Qatar secured the last remaining gold available courtesy of Zhu Chen.

Photo courtesy of official site

No gold in chess for the Philippines but they do take home one in Muay (Thai Boxing). That was by some guy named Sumido Ruben in the Light Welterweight 60kg - 63.5kg division.

Friday, November 02, 2007

NSWCA AGM Coming Up!

In just three weeks, eyes in NSW chess will once again focus on their Annual General Meeting slated for this coming Saturday, 24 November. Note that this year's venue, according to the association's calendar, will be the Rooty Hill RSL CC, club of long-time association heavyweight Peter Cassetari. Why way out there, I wonder. Whatever, but pity the poor bastards who live somewhere past Strathfield! If there was a big demotivator for attending an AGM, it's surely having to drive (or catch the train) to that part of Sydney.

I don't know about you but this year seems less noisy in chess politics in New South Wales. No talk of revolution this time around. There have certainly been fewer controversies as far as I can tell. No big stuff up over grade matches. No funny business over some club championship. But our keener observers, anti-NSWCA almost by instinct, will point to other complaints. Feel free to leave a comment and file those complaints.

As for me, I only have a couple of questions. Who will lead us next year? And how much money have we lost since that massive $11K hit in 2006?

Actually, I did have a few more questions than that which I'd sent over to NSWCA boss Bill Gletsos. Here's what I asked him:

1. Bill, this may seem a bit late but I think it's still important. In the last AGM the treasurer reported an $11K loss from tournaments. Is this the biggest loss in the history for the Association?
2. What specific actions is the NSWCA taking to prevent the same from happening in 2007?
3. And how are we tracking?
4. Give us your overall assessment of the state of chess in NSW as you see it.
5. No doubt there are those factors that are entirely beyond your control but which have a profound impact on the chess scene. Briefly, what might those be?
6. And just a quick question on the NSWCA newsletter - the printed one. In this day and age of many things electronics, do you still intend to continue this service?
7. Finally, I'd like to ask a question about the Australian Championships. I think our readers would like to know: what was really stopping you from joining forces with Peter Parr?
8. Thanks very much for your time Bill. Are you a fan of TCG?

I sent those in July. No replies received to date to any of them. I didn't even get an answer to the last one.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Game of the Year?

I had not seen this until SMH chess columnist Peter Parr showed it to me yesterday. Could this be the 2007 game of the year (if there was such an award)?

Here is American superstar Hikaru Nakamura producing a truly stunning attacking masterpiece. The sacrifice just came out of nowhere. Just imagine yourself playing like this! If I could play like this, I would die happy.

Magistral D'Escacs in Barcelona
Krasenkow, M.
Nakamura, H.

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. b3 a5 7. Nc3 c6 8. d4 Nbd7 9. Qc2 b6 10. e4 Ba6 11. Nd2 c5 12. exd5 cxd4 13. Nb5 exd5 14. Nxd4 Rc8 15. Re1 b5 16. Bb2 Re8 17. Qd1 bxc4 18. bxc4 Qb6 19. Rb1 dxc4 20. Nc6 Rxc6 21. Bxf6 Krasenkow must now be feeling good about himself! He was about to be shocked.

Position after 21. Bxf6

21...Qxf2+ 22. Kxf2 Bc5+ 23. Kf3 Rxf6+ 24. Kg4 Ne5+ 25. Kg5 Rg6+ 26. Kh5 f6 27. Rxe5 Rxe5+ 28. Kh4 Bc8 0-1 There is no stopping Rg6-h6 mate.

Kavalek has an annotated version of the above game here. Fittingly, Nakamura won the Magistral D'Escacs tournament in Barcelona with a score of 7 from nine.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Aagard Wins Arco

IM Alex Wohl drew his last round game against GM Igor Naumkin to end his Arco tournament on 7 points from nine rounds. It was a 4-way finish at the top, but Scot GM Jacob Aagard was declared winner on tiebreak.

On the other hand, last year's champion IM Roland Salvador pulled off a win in the last game to settle with 6.5 points.

And by the way, I just noticed that there is another Filipino player in Arco. It is FM Virgilio Vuelban who also totalled the same tally as his compatriot.

Top finishers in Arco:

7.0 - Aagard, Serafimov, Wohl, Naumkin
6.5 - Salvador, Vezzosi, Lazic, Vuelban, De Santis

Back home, the Surfers Paradise Open was won on the weekend by GM Dejan Antic. Scoring 6 points from seven games, Dejan finished above both GM Roland Schmaltz and Moulthun Ly who each totalled 5.5 points. Surely, though, the highlight of this event must be the disastrous run of one IM Gary Lane. The popular author could manage only 4.5 points. His weekend included this terrible loss to Victorian player Dromagoj Dragicevic.

Surfers Paradise Open
Dragicevic, D.
Lane, IM Gary

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.d4 d6 7.Qb3 Qd7 8.dxe5 Bb6 9.Nbd2 Na5 10.Qc2 Nxc4 11.Nxc4 Qe6 12.Nxb6 The first new move, according to my database. 12...axb6 13.exd6 Qxd6 14.0–0 Ne7 15.Rd1 Qg6 16.Bf4 Bg4 17.Qd3 And now, as if forgetting the lessons in his own popular books on tactics and mates, IM Lane commits a most terrible error. 17...Bxf3?? 18.Qd7+ 1–0

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wohl Leads in Arco

With one round to play, IM Alex Wohl shares the lead on 6.5 points alongside GM Igor Naumkin in Arco. Alex's last game was somewhat unfortunate for our Pinoy readers as the Australian defeated IM Roland Salvador.

Arco Open A
Salvador, Roland
Wohl, Aleksandar

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Bf4 Bg7 5. e3 O-O 6. Be2 c5 7. Ne5 Nc6 8. O-O cxd4 9. exd4 Bf5 10. Nxc6 bxc6 11. Na4 Nd7 12. g4 Be6 13. Qd2 f6 14. Bg3 a5 15. Qc3 Qc8 16. Rae1 Bf7 17. f4 Re8 18. Bd3 Qb7 19. b3 e6 20. f5 e5 21. dxe5 fxe5 22. fxg6 Bxg6 23. Bxg6 hxg6 24. Qd2 Qb4 25. Qg5 Re6 26. c4

After 26. c4

26...d4 27. h4 e4 28. c5 d3 29. Bf4 Qd4+ 30. Be3 Qe5 31. Kg2 Qxg5 32. hxg5 Ne5 33. Nb6 Rd8 34. Nc4 Nxc4 35. bxc4 Rb8 36. Rb1 Rb4 37. a3 Rxb1 38. Rxb1 Re8 39. Re1 a4 40. Bd2 Bd4 41. Bb4 e3 42. Kf3

After 42. Kf3

42...Bxc5 43. Bc3 Re7 44. Rh1 Rh7 45. Rb1 Rh2 46. Ke4 d2 47. Ke5 Rf2 48. Ke6 Rf7 49. Rh1 Re7+ 50. Kf6 Rd7 51. Kxg6 Bd4 52. Bb4 Bg7 0-1

A great win by Alex. He will now face GM Naumkin in the final round.

Indians Dominate Chess in Asian Indoors

The 2nd Asian Indoor Games opened in Macau on Friday and already the first gold medals in the chess event have been won and secured. Team India are absolutely killing everybody as they bagged the gold in the Team Rapid, Women's Individual Rapid and Men's Individual Rapid events.

On the other hand, RP has so far only managed to win a bronze in the Women's Individual Rapid section and that medal came courtesy of Catherina Perena.

See here for a detailed medal tally of all sections in chess.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

New Feature in Blogger

I've been waiting for Google to build this into their blogging service for some time. And it's finally here. It is now possible for you to be notified of any follow-up comments in any one of my posts. All you have to do is tick the box ("Email follow-up..") as shown. Just one catch! You'll need to sign up for a Google account. This stops anyone from using someone else's email address.

Hopefully, some of our regular commenters will find this new feature useful. It should help you keep a track of new comments to old posts.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Salvador Leads Arco

Thank God for online chess, especially bullet chess. You see, the long hours at work isn't doing my usual post-work rounds of blitz any good these days. Last Wednesday we finished in the office at midnight! Not exactly conducive to a healthy lifestyle. But thanks to ICC, I can log-in when I get home and put in a few rounds of bullet chess before hitting the sac. I get through about dozen games in no time, which is enough, then off straight to bed. And I'm even managing to improve my flagging technique. Walloped the same GM twice recently.

Speaking of online chess, now's an even better time for Australians to sign up or renew that online chess subscription. The Aussie dollar yesterday hit a 23-year high against the greenback and ICC (or whatever is your preferred service) is cheaper than ever! And here I was a couple of months ago thinking that US$0.84 was high.

Anyway, our friends over in Rooty Hill CC have asked me to put up a little something about their upcoming 2nd "Saturday Rapidplay" Chess Tournament to be held on 3 November next month. My old friend Leo Tenorio tells me that, "[t]his is now the biggest one day chess tournament in Australia in terms of cash & prizes". Sounds like a good one.

Over in Arco, IM Roland Salvador leads with 5.5 points after six rounds. It will be recalled that it was here in this same event that Roland secured his third IM norm last year. Alex Wohl is on 4.5 points.

Time to sign off. Have a good weekend all.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Anand in Time Magazine

From Time magazine: India's Great Chess Hope.

Chess has become a younger man's game over the past couple of decades. The average age in tournaments used to be in the mid-30s but now "with computers and the nature of the game itself, the average age is probably down in the early 20s," says Anand, who at 37 predicts he'll play competitively only for another eight years or so. "I've always managed to stay motivated and I work hard at it," says the champion, who divides his time between India and a small village outside Madrid. Just as with other top Indian sportsmen, Anand's endorsement is sought after by marketers, who use his image to advertise cookies and a malted hot drink. He is also a "brand ambassador" for NIIT, a corporate training company that has taken chess into more than 5,000 schools across India. "I'm very optimistic about the next generation of Indian players," he says. "You're already seeing that in women's chess, where some of the highest rated women in the world are Indian."

Monday, October 22, 2007

Wohl and Salvador Relax in Arco

IM Alex Wohl and RP's IM Roland Salvador are together again in the 29th Festival Scacchistico Internazionale Open in the Italian town of Arco. The 9-round tournament began last Saturday and will end this coming weekend. With only 700 euros (plus a cup) on offer as first prize, this event isn't exactly one of the richer events in Europe. But who cares about the money? Just check out the location. Absolutely gorgeous!

As far as the games are concerned, two rounds have been played and our two faves are on 2/2. Also playing in the event, by the way, is Scotland's GM Jacob Aagaard.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Surviving the Holocaust

From the UK's Daily Mail. There is a chessic bit to this one.

[I]n 1944, the Nazis invaded Hungary and began deporting Jews. Roman was taken to a Gestapo officer for interrogation, but when he arrived, he noticed the officer had a chess set in his room and asked him if he played.

"Roman's brother had been a Polish chess champion before the war, and the German had once played in a competition against his brother.

"The officer asked Roman if he played too, and when the Pole said he did, but not particularly well, the German replied, 'OK, let's have a game. And if you win, I will save your life.'"

Read on: Revealed - The extraordinary family who defied Hitler - and survived the Holocaust.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

New Pinoy Chess Club

Apologies for having been no updates yesterday, but when things go wrong at work, they really go wrong! So anyway, just a few quick updates then.

It looks like another Filipino chess club has just been formed in Sydney. This time, SBS Pinoy Radio executive producer Ronald Manila is involved. We don't have too many details about this outfit yet but we do wish them luck. Not really the first time that a Pinoy chess club has been tried. About two years ago, I was involved with the last one and like any new group, we had some serious ambitions. Unfortunately, I think we seemed a bit lost long before we got down to some serious business! I hope Ronald's crew will do better.

Over in the Essent Open, Australia's three reps must surely have few complaints; all are going well. Jule has 5.5 points, one point behind leader Andries Mellema with one round to play. While in the Open section, Smerdon and Humphrey have 5 and 4.5 points respectively.

Lastly, the preliminary list of entrants to the upcoming Commonwealth Chess Championships in India has just been released. Alex Wohl's name is there and it looks like he'll soon be joined by IM David Smerdon as well as Shannon and Gareth Oliver.

That's all for now. Back to work for me!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Egyptian Wins World Juniors

The Egyptian grandmaster Adly Ahmed is this year's World Junior champion, scoring 10 points overall after thirteen games. He edged out the Russian Ivan Popov who finished with 9.5 points in total. In the final game, Ahmed defeated Germany's GM Georg Meier while Popov could only manage a draw against fellow Russian GM Dmitry Andreikin.

Top standings are as follows:

10 - Ahmed
9.5 - Popov
9.0 - Hao, Andreikin
8.5 - Meier, Pashikian, Rodshtein, Negi, Jones

RP's Wesley So closed his long campaign positively with a win over IM Giorgi Margvelashvili. The Filipino, who celebrated his fourteenth birthday during the tournament and a second GM norm, scored 7.5 points in total.

On the other hand, Aussie Vincent Suttor ended the event exactly as he opened it: with a loss. He went down to Thibaur Vandenbussche to finish with 4 points.

In the Girls section, Russian WIM Vera Nebolsina is the champion as she, too, posted 10 points overall. But unlike Ahmed, Vera only needed a safe draw in the last round to secure victory.

More details, including photos, are available from the official site.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Essent's Triple Aussie Treat

In fact, contrary to yesterday’s post, there are actually three Australians playing in Essent. In addition to Smerdon and Humphrey, Queenslander Alexandra Jule is also there playing in the Amateur 1 group. She’s going quite well with a score of 2.5 points out of three games.

Graeme Gardiner, of the Gardiner Chess Centre, informs me that Alex is presently in doing her gap year. After Essent, she'll be competing for Australia in the World Youth Olympiad in Turkey.

Yesterday’s results in the Open section were good for the Aussies as Smerdon drew against Nijboer while Humphrey, holding the black pieces, posted a win over Tom Meurs. Smerdon, on 2.5 points, must now play GM Jan Smeets and Humphrey, who is on two, will face FM Rasmussen.

KID's Good Little Wife

There are many reasons why we choose a particular opening. It could be that a system suits our style of play, or we like certain kinds of positions that arise from them; or maybe we just like to emulate our heroes. But last Friday night, during the regular blitz and beer with friends, I heard of a whole new but never expected reason.

My friend said to me: "You know I play the King's Indian, right? Well King's Indian has to have a wife. So I play the Queen's Indian, too!”

We just about fell off our seats in laughter.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Aussies in Essent Open

My thanks to Goran of ChessDom for prompting me about this year's Essent Chess Tournament. In the Open section are two Australians, IM David Smerdon and FM Jonathan Humphrey. Two rounds have been played so far and Smerdon is on 2/2 while Humphrey has one point.

Follow the event via the official site.

NCFP Website Disappears

For the last couple of days I've not been able to view neither the NCFP official site nor their forum pages. The body's domain name,, is currently pointing to an unrelated page. See below.

Checking the WHOIS database tells us that at least the domain still belongs to the NCFP. The registrant's postal address is located in the House of Reps in Quezon City.

Let's hope that these guys can get themselves back online soon. This situation is really not a good look.

Suttor Wins One in Juniors

Losses over the last 4 rounds have pegged Wesley So back to six points after ten games in the World Juniors. He is 1.5 points behind current leaders IM Avetik Grigoryan of Armenia and grandmasters Wang Hao, China, as well as Ivan Popov of Russia.

So lost rounds 7 and eight to Adly and Wang Hao respectively, but managed to pull one back in the ninth by beating IM Sasha Kaplan. But in the last game finished overnight, So suffered his third loss in the tournament, this time going down to GM Abhijeet Gupta.

The good news for RP chess fans is that So has now earned his second GM norm as reported by the Manila Times.

Aussie Vincent Suttor is now on 3 points with three more games to play. After benefiting from a 1-point bye plus his two draws, including one against FM Victor Nithander, Vincent finally won a game in the ninth round against Haik Vardanian.

India's international master Dronavalli Harika leads the girls section with 8.5.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Wanted for Simul

My post the other day on overlooked an important detail. I forgot to add that Jelle is looking for "anyone who'd be interested to take on 20+ average to less-than-average chess players, mostly single, good looking girls". FIDE masters or better preferred. No joke, he's serious! If you're interested, just drop me a line.

Of course, currently out of work WIMs, particularly ex temporary celebrities, are also welcome . Just to even the crowd.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kasparov with Fox News

The ex-Champion's publicity keeps rolling on. Last Sunday, he appeared on Australia's channel 9. Now, he's just recently spoken to James Rosen of Fox News.

Here's Rosen: "Now you said earlier today that there is a dangerous misconception that the Russian people are too immature for democracy. But are there not some national characteristics of the Russian people that inhibit them from making strides toward democracy, and that cannot be blamed exclusively on Putin, such as continuing anti-Semitism?"

And Kasparov:

I think that trying to find natural characteristics that might inhibit the nation from joining democratic club could lead us nowhere. I'm sure if, if, if the same characteristic were applied in 1945, Germany and Japan would never, would never make it to the club of the democratic nations. As for anti-Semitism, I think that Germany or Austria, and even France, they could easily compete with Russia on this very sad, sad record. I also think that the current history of democratic development on the global scale proves that there are no nations that are immune from democracy or nations that are doomed to stay under dictatorships. Korea: the same country, divided by two. One is the most brutal dictatorship, another one is flourishing democracy and market economy. China! You have China and Taiwan. So, in my view, you know, if you look around, so — we understand that it's not about traditions. It's about the willingness of the ruling elite and also the international situation and pressure that helps countries and nations move in the right direction.

The whole transcript can be read here.

No Rugby for These Boys

From New Zealand's Hawkes Bay Today: Chess is choice for these boys.

Chess is cool. Honest. Just ask Lee Kire, captain of Peterhead School's intermediate chess team. "I like it because it makes you think," the 13-year-old said.

"The best part is saying checkmate."

Lee was a member of the school's intermediate team that, along with the primary group, came third representing the region at the National Interschool Teams Chess Tournament in Palmerston North late last month.

It is believed to be the first time a school has had two podium finishes, and continues the school's formiddable chess reputation - the primary team placed second at the same competition last year.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Chess and a Booze Up

Sooner or later those regular weekend tournaments will tire you out. Same bunch of guys and stressful. One day the bell rings in your head and you realise, "Hec! I want out". If you've had enough of that scene or just want a little break from tournaments - then consider this.

A couple of years ago, avid chesser and entrepreneur Jelle Marechal (the name's Belgian), and who currently lives in Sydney, launched his venture, It's a site that basically connects people who want to organise and participate in many forms of social activities - from sailing, moonlight walks, lunches, touch rugby and, of course, play chess!

These days there is a group dedicated to our game, but with a little twist. Calling themselves the Social Chess Explorers of Sydney, the group explores and experiences the city via the chess board.

Jelle: "We play chess to inject a purpose into public parks, on beaches, pubs and streets. A pleasant way to enjoy the outdoors, discover new places, meet folks and have a chat. Chess is a social game. Our idea of a perfect activity is a couple of chess boards, a bottle of red or Belgian Trappist, a Miles Davis tune and a ray of sunshine."

Some past venues have included the Lord Dudley (Woollahra), Carrington Hotel (Surry Hills), Chelsea Bar (Chatswood) and Hyde Park.

I was curious about the demographics of these little chess get-togethers, so I asked. Jelle assures me that it's a "pretty" group, with a typically 50/50 split between men and women, ranging in age from 25 - 44. In fact, at that Lord Dudley do there were 8 girls and two boys. Well, I'm signing up!

The next chess-related event will be the Chezz, Jazz 'n Boozz, in Kings Cross. Details here. Note that does charge a subscription fee. Make sure that you check the terms and conditions.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Oh No! Another Loss

The gods are really not smiling upon Vincent Suttor. Whatever it is, he must have absolutely pissed them off. Time to make amends, I say. But seriously, it was yet another setback in round 6 that leaves the lone Aussie on 1 point courtesy of a bye. And it's not about to get easier as Vince must play the Swedish FIDE master Victor Nithander, rated 2367.

After drawing with GM Georg Meier, Wesley So now shares the lead on 5 points with Egyptian GM Ahmed Adly. These two will face each other in round 7.

If you happen to read French - then check out this analysis of the round 5 encounter between Wesley and England's David Howell. Thanks to a reader for pointing us to that site.

By the way, happy birthday to Wesley. He turned 14 today.

Boyd Grabs WA Title

Tristan Boyd was undefeated over the 9-round WA Championships to take out this year's state title event. Boyd's total score was 8 points, a half point ahead of second placer Jay Lakner.

Complete tournament info is available here and PGN is here.

In other Western Australian news, the state's chess body is having a hard time finding volunteers. An "interim council" is running the show for CAWA when "no one would stand for each major executive position" at the AGM late last month. A special meeting is planned to address future direction. We'll be closely watching.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Wohl on 6.5 Points in Munich

Two losses pushed IM Alex Wohl down to just 6.5 points along with two other players in the Offenes Internationales Schachturnier in Munich, Germany. GM Cyril Marcelin won the event with 7.5 points out of nine games.

In round 2, Wohl fell to his first setback with a loss to Winfried Basener (2210) then later in round 5 to Markus Lammers (2335).

Aussie Slump, Pinoy Triumph

It really has been a tough campaign for Aussie junior Vincent Suttor in the World Juniors in Armenia. Our optimism for him in round 4 wasn't quite realised as Vincent once again slumped to his fourth straight loss. He went down to Slovak Martin Zvarik. The only reprieve came in fifth round thanks to a 1-point bye. Better than nothing.

Vincent's next assignment will be the Iranian player Ibrahim Momeni who hit the news in round 2 for refusing to play against his Israeli opponent. My bet is still on Vincent to win this game.

For Pinoy chess fans, however, it's all been good news as they follow the steady progress of IM Wesley So. After five games, Wesley leads the field on 4.5 points. His run so far has included a win against English super talent GM David Howell in round 5. That game moved volunteer newsletter publisher Manny Benitez to release an extra issue over the weekend with the headline, "Wesley Whips British GM, Takes Solo Lead".

After white's 37. h4+, it won't be long before he delivers checkmate.

I should also mention a rather distressing news about our friend Mr Benitez. On Saturday, he was involved in a road accident in RP. Said Manny, "[M]y car was hit by a truck that dragged it for nearly two meters. I was the only one in the car and I thought it was the end of me." Thank the heavens Manny's OK! And if you don't already subscribe to his free newsletter, then you should do so very quickly. This humble little publication is worth a good read.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

African Chess Ambitions

From Newsweek: Dreaming of Checkmate. A good article on the advance of chess in the African continent. There's also a top quote in the article by the Malawian player, Alfred Chimathere.

Chess in America has typically been the reserve of the geeky eccentric, or the rich and effete. But in many parts of Africa, where the game is seen as a powerful tool for intellectual strength and self-improvement, it has developed a broad following. And because chess is so cheap, it is luring players who are just as likely to come from a rural village in Botswana or a South African township as from a European boarding school. Now two homegrown stars—Simutowe and Zimbabwean Robert Gwaze, who won the African Individual Championships last month and is heading toward becoming a grandmaster—are leading the way for other African players to break into the ranks of the world's best.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Suttor Facing High Mountain

It's a pretty tough going for Vincent Suttor in the World Juniors. Three games in and he's on zero points. All his opponents so far have been titled players - an IM in the first round followed by two FIDE masters. Vincent will face Martin Zvarik next. At least a draw or hopefully a win there should bring a boost to the Sydneysider's confidence.

An Iranian player, on the other hand, had politics on his mind in round two. Ibrahim Momeni was paired against Israeli player IM Leonid Gerzhoy. However, apparently in an act of support for the Palestinians, Momeni refrained from playing against his opponent. A smart move you think?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Crowd Chess

Here's something new. And my thanks to TechCrunch for the info. A new website called CrowdChess will let you play with up to thousands of people against another team made up of fewer or equally as many people!

Of course, we've all heard of something like 1 vs many (via the net). And in my office, too, the Tech guys play something they call "community chess". It's not strictly a team vs team or 1 vs team. But basically it's a game between mostly anonymous players. You come to the board at any time you like, as many times you wish, pick a colour and make a move. Once you've picked a colour, you stay with it until the game ends.

The Crowd Chess concept could have legs. From first thoughts it sounds fun. Perhaps useful for those occasional moments when you've got nothing better to do. I just don't know, however, if it will ever be accepted as being more "fun" than playing for yourself. After all, the concept does strike me as being a bit counter to the very essence of chess: individual triumph. Hence, I think we can safely assuage Erick Schonfeld's fears that Crowd Chess could destroy the game. People will play Crowd Chess, or some other variant, but will always, by instinct almost, go back to the original form. That of 1 vs 1, either via the net, correspondence or OTB.

Definitely a cool idea though.

Twin Disasters for State Champ

You might have seen last weekend's final cross table of the NSWCA Ryde Open wherein our good friend FM Greg Canfell didn't exactly turn out a positive performance. Well, after this post, I don't reckon he'll consider us a friend for much longer. Greg, sadly, suffered a twin catastrophe going down to IM Andras Toth and Sydney junior Max Illingworth. Disastrous!

Curious, I asked Greg for the PGN of his game against Max. No response, which is fine as I know he's busy.

So I asked Max (while on ICC). No joy there either. Apparently, Max has a tight lid on this game. It seems that the line took some time to develop and would preferably remain unseen until at least the upcoming Australian Championships! Perfectly understandable.

Anyway, just as I was giving up, this morning Greg came to the rescue and kindly sent me the PGN. Actually it's incomplete because he was down to his 10-second increment as the game entered its final moments. As we see, after 15. Ng4, black's position is way better. But Greg lost on time. Which is why this one's probably one of those that he'd prefer to wipe off the mental record very quickly.

2007 Ryde-Eastwood Open

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0–0 6.Nge2 c5 7.d5 e6 8.Ng3 exd5 9.cxd5 Nbd7 10.Be2 a6 11.a4 Qc7 12.Be3 Rb8 [which is, according to my database, the first new move - TCG]. 13.0–0 c4 14.b4? cxb3 15.Qxb3 Ng4! 16.fxg4 Qxc3 17.Qxc3 Bxc3 18.Rac1 Be5 19.Nh1 Nc5 20.Rxc5! [was an excellent practical choice by him and for the next 15 moves or so I made mistake after mistake as I got shorter and shorter of time - Greg Canfell]. 20...dxc5 21.Bxc5 Re8 22.Nf2 Bd7 23.a5 Rbc8 24.Bb6 Rc2 25.Bf3 Bb5 26.Rd1 Rec8 27.Be3 Ra2 28.g5 Ra1 29.Rxa1 Bxa1 30.Ng4 Rc3 31.Kf2 Rc2+ 32.Kg3 Kg7 etc., and Black lost on time. 1–0

Canberran junior Junta Ikeda won the tournament on 6 points from seven games. The only blemish was his loss to Igor Bjelobrk.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sydney Junior Drops First Game

The World Juniors began yesterday with a loss to Sydney's Vincent Suttor. He went down to IM Sasha Kaplan. This is one of those very long, 13 rounds actually, events so Vincent will have plenty of time to recover and hopefully posts some wins.

Also stepping up in this event are recent Asian Individual Chess Championships participants Wang Hao and Wesley So. With 15 grandmasters, the event is very strong and, more importantly, offers chances for Wesley to aim for a GM norm.

Good luck to Wesley and Vincent.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Waking Up to Kasparov

This morning, I woke up to the ABC's Newsradio announcing Garry Kasparov's candidacy for the 2008 Russian presidential elections. I thought nothing of it as Chessbase already featured the same last week.

Then, much later while enjoying my morning caffeine fix and as I was reading my first ever copy of Portfolio, on page 174, completely unexpectedly, I came upon Roger Lowenstein's review of How Life Imitates Chess.

If retired jocks can write inspirational books, I see no reason to ­exclude ­retired chess luminaries from the field of management advice, and perhaps ­executives will find Kasparov’s prescriptions useful. He has plenty of combat experience to draw on, such as his single most humbling moment at the chessboard, when he lost his title to Vladimir Kramnik. Kasparov blames the loss on his overconfidence; he warns executives against believing they can do no wrong and, especially, against surrounding themselves with lackeys to validate their opinions.

From Portfolio, an interesting business magazine from the Conde Nast stable. See also this story on the Eclipse 500 - one former tech exec's vision of affordable jet aircraft. But for now, I think I'll stick to my current obsession of one day buying one of these.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chinese Top Asians

It was a Chinese double in the 6th Asian Individual Chess Championship with Zhang Pengxiang and Wang Hao finishing on 8 points each.

But more important for us is the qualification of local boy IM Darwin Laylo who goes home with a ticket to Khanty-Mansiysk and, of course, that GM title. Our best wishes to Darwin and, let's not forget, Aussie IM Zong-Yuan Zhao. Zhao goes to Russia courtesy of his win in the controversial Oceania Zonal earlier this year.

Here's a full list of players who qualified to the World Cup from that Asian tournament in Cebu City.

1- GM,Zhang Pengxiang, 8
2- GM,Wang Hao, 8
3- GM,Kunte Abhijit, 7½
4- GM,Zhao Jun, 7½
5- GM,Megaranto Susanto, 7½
6- IM,Wen Yang, 7½
7- IM,Laylo Darwin, 7½
8- GM,Zhou Jianchao, 7½
9- IM,Gopal G. N.,7
10- M,Hossain Enamul, 7

More details including downloadable games are available from the official site.

Reilly Aims for Norm

This tournament has been a bit under our radar, but the 2007 George Trundle NZ Masters Tournament in Auckland features three Aussies - FM Tim Reilly, IM Stephen Solomon and GM Darryl Johansen.

Sydneysider Tim Reilly is just a draw away from an IM norm after last night beating local FM Bob Smith. But Reilly will have a big task ahead against visiting English grandmaster Stuart Conquest.

Meanwhile, across in Europe, IM Alex Wohl is in action in Munich. He won the first game against Adelbert Zohr.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Laylo, a GM

We start off with a reminder to all about copy posted in the comments.

While we appreciate your views and participation, it's important that you do not post protected content. If you'd like to share an article, it is best not to actually post the whole copy but, instead, just provide a link (if one is available).

Anyhow, one of our naughty readers wanted to share this article by Bobby Ang on a certain Darwin Laylo.

Darwin is doing very well in Cebu having just downed GM Le Quang Liem in the tenth round. He is now on 7 points and will face the sole leader, GM Zhang Pengxiang, for the final game.

But the more exciting news is that Laylo now has apparently gained enough FIDE points to boost his rating to the 2500 mark and thus becoming a grandmaster! The congratulations have already began to pour in on the NCFP's official forum. That's not all. A draw against Zhang Pengxiang in the final round will earn Laylo a ticket to the World Cup.

The other top performing Pinoy player in Cebu, GM Antonio, also has chances to score a ticket to Khanty-Mansiysk. But he must give it all as he'll need a victory over Indonesian grandmaster Susanto Megaranto.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Geurt Gijssen Caught Out!

To me, there is no great mystery about this decline of 2- or 3-day weekend chess in Sydney. It's simple! There's just far too many things to do which are often way more fun and worthwhile than chess.

A reminder once again folks that tomorrow is the Filipino Fiesta 2007 chess tournament in Rosehill Racecourse. Get out and about, mingle with the Pinoy crowd and chow down on some Pinoy food.

Also on this long weekend is the Manly Jazz Festival. Not really one to be missed! If you like your Latin music, not to mention those gorgeous Latina chicas, then head on over to Sydney's Darling Harbour.

But if you really insist on 3 days of sitting down, killing yourself with worry over your next move, then there's always the 2007 Ryde-Eastwood Open. You'll see the same faces, possibly play the same moves, and even come to the same results. How terribly exciting!

Finally, here's some really good spotting by the mob over in Chess Chat. Good comentary by well-informed and seasoned observers. Guert Gijssen really is a tosser sometimes. I hope one day he'll change his mind over the "no king capture in bliz" rule. It's one that truly pisses me off.

On that note: whatever you choose to do, hope you all have a good weekend.

Darwin Laylo Bags Final GM Norm

The official website of the 6th Asian Individual Chess Championship is reporting that IM Darwin Laylo has just bagged his third and final GM norm. He also has good chances of even becoming a full grandmaster, hitting the 2500 rating mark, by the tournament's finish if he can managed to score the required results. Laylo must achieve 1.5/2 from the last two games.

It will be a hard last two rounds for Laylo. His next opponent is Vietnam's GM Le Quang Liem.

With two rounds to go, China's Zhang Pengxiang leads on 7 points, followed close behind by three players on 6.5 points.

Australian Universities Rapid Ch.

It's on again at Sydney Uni. This year the university will host the 2007 Australian Universities Rapid Championships between 3 and 4 December! Participants from universities all over Australia are expected to take part in this event which should prove to be both an exciting tournament and a great social festival (with a definite emphasis on "social festival"). There will be a social evening on the first day while food will also be provided at lunchtime during the whole competition.

All undergraduate and postgraduate students of all universities in Australia are welcome . More information is available here.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Inquest into Chesser's Death

That awful news last year of Jesse Gilbert's death is still getting a mentioned in the British papers.

The BBC reports: "The inquest into her death will take place before the Surrey Coroner Michael Burgess at the old Epsom Magistrates' Court ."

Sydney Junior in Armenia

While we're all looking at Smerdon, Ly and Weeks over in Isle of Man, I should point out a couple of other Aussies in action OS. Victorian man Nur Yachou is playing in a round robin IM tournament in Romania.

Nur says that he's there to "further gain experience at playing against international masters".

But he began miserably as he lost the first 3 rounds. Then in the fourth game, Nur must have jolted himself because he beat IM Viktor Panush of Moldova. We'll see if we can get a hold of the PGN.

Then next week, the World Under 20 Juniors and Girls Chess Championships will begin in Yerevan, Armenia. Australia has only a lone rep in Sydney junior Vincent Suttor. All the best to Vincent. Thanks to Jenni Oliver for the tip.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

ACF Responds to Alex Wohl

I think this rarely happens, but this post has provoked a "formal" response from the ACF - specifically, from the ACF Selections Co-Ordinator, Kevin Bonham.

Actually I run a selections info mailout list precisely to address the problem of informing top players about upcoming selections chances, especially at times when the ACF Newsletter is delayed. Information on how to join this list was emailed to every top player I had an email address for shortly after the previous Olympiad selections. It was also recently published in the ACF Newsletter, and elsewhere. However for anyone who still somehow missed it, email with "Join selections mailout list" in the subject heading and you're in.Actually I run a selections info mailout list precisely to address the problem of informing top players about upcoming selections chances, especially at times when the ACF Newsletter is delayed. Information on how to join this list was emailed to every top player I had an email address for shortly after the previous Olympiad selections. It was also recently published in the ACF Newsletter, and elsewhere. However for anyone who still somehow missed it, email with "Join selections mailout list" in the subject heading and you're in.

Get Into Blogging

You might have read Shaun Press' article on chess blogging in the most recent Australian Chess Magazine. If you've been inspired to start a blog (certainly not necessarily a chess blog for that matter) and still just thinking about it, then let me say, "just do it already!" Individuals, clubs, state bodies and even the ACF should all start one.

For the latter two groups, just consider the advantages: no complicated web management, fast publishing, multi-user, cheap (in many cases free, like my current host) and strict content governance (i.e. you can stop potentially controversial comments or disable comments altogether).

If these guys consider blogging, I hope they don't do follow the example of AGIMO. Say what - AGIMO?

Never heard of them either - but that's the Australian Government Informational Management Office within the Department of Finance and Administration. AGIMO has recently published a discussion paper to guage the Australian people's view on whether the government should launch a consultation blog. Yes, these bureaucrats really are serious!

We agree with Duncan Riley, writing for TechCrunch:

Now whilst it’s great to see a sovereign nation officially consider a blogging strategy, I want what ever it is the soon-to-be former Government is smoking; the irony of launching a consultation paper on a consultation blog seems lost on them. Certainly deciding to run a blog based on a lengthy consultation process by itself seems to me to prove that they shouldn’t be blogging at all; after all, if the purpose of having a consultation blog is to gain feedback from the public, wouldn’t they just be better off launching the blog and taking feedback from the public via the blog rather than launching a consultation paper that probably cost six figures to come up with by a committee of high paid public servants who love nothing more than creating papers like this as a means to avoid real exposure to the will of the public? A little cynical perhaps, but reading a paper that describes blogs like 2002 called again can do that to you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

6th Asian Official Site

Our thanks to an anonymous poster for this info. We've now got an "official site" for the 6th Asian Individual Chess Championships in Cebu. Just point your browsers to I think that site may have been already around from day 1 or earlier. It's just that we didn't know about it!

The site should have everything we'll need: reports, games, results and so on. Enjoy.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Filipino Fiesta 2007

Ronald Manila, executive producer of the Pinoy program for SBS radio, sent an invitation to yours truly to this weekend's Pinoy Fiesta Chess tournament in Rosehill Racecourse.

If you guys aren't doing anything this Saturday, then I suggest trotting off to Rosehill for some Filipino culture - food, music, beauty contests and chess. Non-Pinoy Aussies are most welcome but bear in mind this rather amusing requirement: "The tournament is open to all Filipino-Australians and non-Filipino Australians provided that they are endorsed by a Filipino-Australian."

Thankfully, we've managed to come to an agreement with Ronald. If you're not "one of us", just mention TCG and you're in!

Megaranto Leads Asian

Indonesian grandmaster Susanto Megaranto is the surprise current leader on 4.5 points after five rounds in the 6th Asian Individual Championships. He is undefeated to date having only conceded a draw to GM Zhao Jun in the fourth round. Three players - Gopal, Zhang Pengxiang and Zhao Jun - are close behind with 4 points apiece.

RP's International master Darwin Laylo and GM Antonio are the highest placed locals with 3.5 points to their names. It was early in round 2 that Laylo caused an upset of sorts when he defeated GM Chanda Sandipan (2563) of India. Laylo was perhaps a tad lucky when the Indian played 28...Bc2. Might have been a miscalculation by Sandipan but it left him on the backfoot in the endgame.

My thanks to Manny Benitez for providing PGNs (up to round 4). Apparently these came courtesy of the NCFP so I guess I should extend my gratitude to them, too. But the workflow from whoever is coding the games to the NCFP webmaster is obviously still needing some work. Today, the only games I see on the NCFP site are from round 1!