Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Olympiad Fund Appeal

Brett Tindall, who is this year's appeal coordinator, has released some useful information for those wishing to contribute to the Australian Olympiad Fund.

Donations can be sent to the following address.

Olympiad Appeal
PO Box 463
NSW 2135

Cheques should be made out to the Australian Chess Federation and ensure to include your name and contact details. Brett can be reached at email: sydneyacademy at iprimus dot com dot au.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Brain Explosion

In a won endgame, I suddenly picked up a pawn and lost. Having touched the pawn, I had to take it and that, unfortunately, lost me a piece! Have you ever had one of those situations when you calculate a line and, for some reason, your brain somehow just latches on to it? No matter that the situation has changed, your thinking and, therefore, your muscles still follow that line in your head. This is exactly what happened to me yesterday against former world title contender, Jose Escribano.

There is no point seeing the game as I am too distraught. It's a miracle I can still manage to post.

I leave you instead a fine game by current New South Wales state champ, Andrew Bird. He and his opponent, Herman Rachmadi, are following the game Vallejo Pons - Kasparov, Linares 2005, until Rachmadi deviated with the novelty, 12. Bb4.

City of Sydney 2006
Bird, Andrew
Rachmadi, Herman

1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 e6 3. c4 dxc4 4. e4 b5 5. a4 c6 6. axb5 cxb5 7. b3 Bb7 8. bxc4 Bxe4 9. cxb5 Nf6 10. Be2 Be7 11. O-O O-O 12. Nc3 Bb4 (12... Bb7 13. Bf4 Bb4 14. Na4 Nbd7 15. Qb3 Nd5 16. Bg5 Be7 17. Bd2 a6 18. b6 Bc6 19. Ne5 Nxe5 20. dxe5 Nxb6 21. Nxb6 Qxd2 22. Nxa8 Qxe2 23. Nc7 Qxe5 24. Qg3 Qf5 25. Rxa6 Be4 26. Ra7 Bc5 27. Ra5 Bxf2+ 28. Qxf2 Qxa5 29. Nxe6 Bxg2 { 0-1 Vallejo Pons,F (2686)-Kasparov,G (2804)/Linares ESP 2005}) 13. Nxe4 Nxe4 14. Qc2 Nf6 15. Bg5 Be7 16. Bd3 Nbd7 17. Ne5 Bd6 18. Bxh7+ Kh8 19. Be4 Rc8 20. Qd3 g6 21. Nxd7 Bxh2+ 22. Kh1 Ng4 23. Bxd8 Rfxd8 24. Qh3+ 1-0

A view of the Open Section.

On board 1, Xie defeated Neil Wright. The same-coloured bishop endgame was difficult for black and Xie eventually won. The timely 56. b6! was the important breakthrough.

City of Sydney 2006
Xie, George
Wright, Neil

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. dxe5 Nxe4 5. Qd5 Nc5 6. Bg5 Be7 7. exd6 cxd6 8. Nc3 Nc6 9. a3 Be6 10. Qd2 d5 11. O-O-O Ne4 12. Bxe7 Qxe7 13. Nxe4 dxe4 14. Nd4 O-O 15. Nxc6 bxc6 16. Qe3 f5 17. f3 Rad8 18. Be2 Bd5 19. Qc3 Rd7 20. Kb1 Rfd8 21. Rde1 Qg5 22. Rhg1 Qh4 23. Qe5 Qf6 24. Qxf6 gxf6 25. f4 Be6 26. Kc1 Kf8 27. Rd1 Ke7 28. Rxd7+ Rxd7 29. Rd1 Rb7 30. b3 c5 31. Kb2 Rd7 32. Rxd7+ Kxd7 33. b4 Kd6 34. c4 Bf7 35. Kb3 Be8 36. Kc3 Kc6 37. Kd2 Bf7 38. h3 Kb6 39. g4 Be6 40. Ke3 Kc6 41. gxf5 Bxf5 42. Bg4 Bg6 43. f5 Bf7 44. Be2 a5 45. b5+ Kd6 46. Kxe4 Be8 47. Bf3 Bf7 48. Kd3 Kc7 49. Be2 Be8 50. Ke3 Bf7 51. Kd3 Be8 52. Bf3 Bf7 53.Bd5 Bh5 54. Ke4 h6 55. Bg8 Kd6 56. b6 Kc6 57. b7 Kxb7 58. Kd5 Be2 59. Kxc5 Bd3 60. Be6 1-0

And on board 2, Laura Moylan justified her board 3 selection for the women's Olympiad team by downing the strong Tomek Rej. I have the game with me but Laura has made a special request not to publish it. This is for security reasons, I suppose; that is, to avoid Olympiad opponents from preparing against her. We cannot even name the opening system. I'm guessing that her arsenal has been through a massive overhaul at the Sydney Academy of Chess. One can only imagine the fearsome firepower that she has in store for her opponents!

WIM Laura Moylan, seen here playing against Tomek Rej

One more game, from the u1700 section. Tracey, playing black, looked to be doing alright. He then overpressed and forgot all about the knight on f6 .

City of Sydney 2006
Christensen, J.
Tracey, M.

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. Bc4 c6 5. dxc6 Nxc6 6. d4 e6 7. Nf3 Rc8 8. Bb3 Na5 9. c3 Nxb3 10. Qxb3 Bc6 11. Qd1 h6 12. O-O Bd6 13. b3 Bb8 14. Ba3 g5 15. Ne5 Qc7 16. g3 h5 17. Nd2 g4 18. Ndc4 Qd8 19. Nxc6 Rxc6 20. Qd3 h4 21. Rae1 Qd5 22. Nd2 Qh5 23. Re2 hxg3 24. fxg3 b5 25. Rxf6 Ra6 26. Bc5 Qd5 27. Qxb5+ 1-0

Finally, Peter Parr made a special visit to the tournament venue today issuing gift certificates to some players. (Actually, I guess it must have been to everyone since the special gift of a glass chess set was for the first 100 entries, but there are only 44 players!) I will be redeeming my reward tomorrow and I will report on what it's like.

More pictures in my flickr account.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

"These games are crazy"

I'm supposed to be preparing against a former world title challenger and writing an article for Intchess (a Singaporean chess magazine) but my attention is completely occupied by today's round 6 from Morelia, Mexico. Such awesome fights. As I write these words, at any moment now Topalov should resign! He is being smacked by Vallejo.

And what better way to observe the games than through my brand new Fritz 9? The multiboard view when logged on to playchess is fantastic. Just take a look at the screenshot below.

But while I observe the games on playchess, I find the webcast on ICC an absolutely must. Hosted by IM Bill Paschall and GM Greg Kaidanov, ICC's coverage completes an excellent overview of some ideas, plans, tactics and so on.

Anyway, to the games. With a draw against Aronian, Leko maintains the lead on 4.5 points. For those who consider Leko a complete bore, like moi, maybe we'll all end up eating our words when this tournament is concluded in Spain.

In Ivanchuk - Svidler, the Ukrainian played the only way he knows how - exciting chess.

Linares - Morelia
Vassily Ivanchuk
Peter Svidler

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Bg5 Ne4 5. Bh4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 dxc4 7. e3 Be6 8. Qb1 c5 A novelty 9. Qxb7 Why not? As IM Paschall observed, theory has b7-b6, so Qxb7 must definitely be a threat. 9...Bd5 10. Qb5+ Nd7 11. Nf3 Rb8 12. Qa4 cxd4 13. cxd4 Qc8 14. Rc1 e6 15. Bxc4 Rb4 (15... Bb4+ 16. Kd1 (16. Kf1?? Bxc4+) 16... Bxf3+ 17. gxf3 Qb7)

After 15...Rb4

16. Qa6 Bb7! (16... Qc7 17. Ne5 (17. Bg3?? Bxc4) 17... Rb6) 17. Qa5 f6 18. Nd2 Bxg2 19. Rg1 Qc6 20. Rxg2 Qxg2 21. Bxe6 Bd6 22. Rc8+ Ke7 23. Rxh8 Kxe6 24. Qd8 Qg1+ 25. Ke2 1-0

In Radjabov - Bacrot, the Frenchman didn't manage to achieve anything out of the opening phase. Radjabov just piled on the pressure which eventually culminated in the win of a piece in the endgame phase.

And did the current FIDE Champion, Topalov, approach this game with too much confidence? He played too quickly and it seems this was one factor that contributed to his loss. Or, as the ICC commentators speculated, maybe we're seeing the same illness that befell both Spassky (apparently known as the "Lazy Bear") and Kramnik. Once these guys achieved greatness, it was all downhill from there.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Torre Speaks Out

As if like a zen monk, Torre said, "Like chess, we should always make the right move, we should avoid illegal moves". After the recent exchanges between Campo and the NCFP's Sammy Estimo, Torre's injunction is a welcome call for calm. Let's hope the rest of RP chess will listen.

From Sun Star.

"Look at the mirror"

Continuing the tit-for-tat between Campo and NCFP officials, the old fellow has now swung back. Says Campo:

The brilliant non-sequitur deduced by the NCFP secretary general that I was the cause of the RP debacle in the SEAG because I ensured the change of play dates for the World Cup 2005 in Russia, so that Mark Paragua could not play in Manila, truly provokes amusement

At least from afar, all does not appear well for RP chess. So much bickering. With their FIDE payments still outstanding, plus yet another political crisis looming in the land, it seems our players will be too distracted for the Torino Olympiad.

More from the Journal Group.

Friday, February 24, 2006

FM Igor Goldenberg Annotates

FM Igor Goldenberg and international master David Smerdon were joint first placers at the recent Drouin Open in Victoria. These two slugged it out in the fifth round and the FIDE master came out on top. Goldenberg also won against the same opponent last month at the Australian Championships in Brisbane.

This post is a special treat. Igor annotated his all-important game against Smerdon for the chess fans in Australia's most lively chess forum, Chess Chat. I bring it here for our international readers so that they may also enjoy it. My thanks to FM Igor Goldenberg for giving me permission to display this game to a wider audience.

Annotations by FM Igor Goldenberg

Drouin Open 2006
Smerdon, David
Goldenberg, Igor

1. e4 c5 2. c3 Nf6 3. e5 Nd5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Bc4 Nb6 6. Bb3 d5 7. exd6 Qxd6 8. Na3 Be6 9. d4 Bxb3 10. Qxb3 cxd4 11. Nb5 Qd7 12. Nbxd4 Nxd4 13. Nxd4 g6

After 13...g6

(13...e6 and 13... e5 both playable here. The move in the game creates problems for black.) 14. Nb5! Threat Nxa7 is quite unpleasant 14... a6 15. Nd4 Qc7 (15... Nc8 would be more cautious and accurate, as knight protects important e7 square and will have to move anyway, thus saving atempo) 16. Be3 Nd7 17. O-O-O Bg7 18. h4?! (18. Rhe1! prevents castle. 18... Rd8 19. Qc4) 18... Nc5 (18... O-O? 19. Ne6!) 19. Qa3 (19. Qb4 saves tempo) 19... Rc8 20. h5 O-O 21. Qb4 Rfd8 22. Kb1 Rd5 white still have some initiative, however after 23. h6? pendulum swings to black. No attack and permanent weakness on h6 makes black's position preferable (23. hxg6 hxg6 24. Nf3=)

After 23. h6?

23... Bf6 24. Nb3 Nd3 25. Qe4 Rcd8 26. Rd2 (26. Bd4? Nxf2; 26. Nd4? Nxb2 27. Kxb2 27... e5) 26... e6 27. Bd4 Ne5 (27... Bxd4 28. Nxd4 28... Nc5 more cautious, but black was affraid with some phantom threats on g7 and wanted to keep dark-coloured bishop) 28. Qf4 Qe7 29. Bc5 Bg5 30. Bxe7 Bxf4 31. Bxd8 Bxd2

After 31. Bxd2

32. Nxd2??
(32. Bf6 or 32. Bb6 leads to an endgame with small advantage for black [weak h6 pawn!], but quite defensible. Now black get big, almost decisive advantage as rook gets to the 2nd rank) 32... Rxd2 33. Bg5 Rxf2 34. Rd1 f6 35. Be3 Rxg2 36. Rd8+ Kf7 37. Rh8 g5 38. Rxh7+ Kg6 39. Rxb7 Kxh6 40. Rb6 last mistake (40. Bd4 leaves some practical chances) 40... Nc4! forces rook endgame that is easily won for black as pawns are much more advanced 41. Rxe6 Nxe3 42. Rxe3 g4 43. c4 f5 44. c5 f4 45. Re6+ Kg5 46. c6 Rh2 47. c7 Rh8 48. Kc2 g3 49. Re7 f3 50. Rd7 Rc8 51. Kd3 g2 52. Rg7+ Kf5 53. Ke3 Rxc7 54. Rg3 Rc1 55. Kf2 Rf1+ 0-1

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Aussie Olympiad Appeal

Every Olympiad year the ACF runs the Olympiad Fund Appeal. It's a program that allows chess fans Australia-wide to donate to our team's campaign costs. A good idea! Yet, this year, and just months away from Torino, it seems that the ACF isn't running the program at all. There is normally some mention of it in the ACF newsletter, but nope, it's not there.

You'd imagine "Olympiad Fund Appeal" in big bold letters on the ACF's homepage and it's not there either. What in the world is going on?

And in other news relating to Australia's Olympiad campaign, both Manuel Weeks and Jason Lyons have applied for the captaincy of the Open team. Both are fine gentlemen and very competent persons. We are very gladdened, especially, by Mr Lyons' continued positive outlook on his contributions to chess. His determination to rise above politics and do what is best for Aussie chess is tremendous. The selectors should be reminded of Jason's near unequalled ability to secure sponsorships. In 2002, he managed to convince condom-maker, Ansell, and the New South Wales state government to sponsor the teams. A wonderful effort!

International Master Leonid Sandler is the sole applicant for captain of the women's side.

(You know, just an aside, my dear readers - I've just had a moment of brilliancy. I think I'd like to be captain of the women some day. They could do with somebody like me).

Pinoy Fed Hit Back at Campo

Sammy Estimo, secretary general of the NCFP, and GM Eugene Torre have struck back at the claims made by Florencio Campomanese. We reported Campo's statements yesterday.

According to Estimo, Campomanes himself can be blamed for RP's disastrous showing at the 23rd SEA Games when he, Campo, allowed FIDE to stage the World Chess Cup at the same time as the SEAG. "This man-made disaster deprived us of the services of Grandmaster Mark Paragua -- the lone Southeast Asian super GM and the most bemedalled Filipino athlete in the 2003 Vietnam SEA Games", Estimo was quoted as saying.

But hang on a minute, if I remember right, Paragua didn't even qualify for the team. (Brian Jones' report in the Australian Chess Magazine of December 2005 confirms this). And when he asked to join the rapid crew, the NCFP denied the request! In any case who cares who was absent or not from the RP squad? Without being harsh on the Pinoy players in SEAG, the job was left to them. And it was up to the NCFP to give the guys maximum support. Period.

More from the Inquirer.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Internet Champs - Round 1

The Australian Junior Internet Championships kicked off with massive demolitions on Sunday, 19 February, on the Internet Chess Club.

New South Wales routed Tasmania 11-1, while the Australian Capital Territory defeated their Queensland opposition by the same score. And despite a public feud between two parents in the Victorian camp, the young chessers still managed to demolish their next-door rivals, South Australia, 9 - 2.

Full results are available here.

Australian Junior Internet Championships
Wallis, C
Obst, J

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. Nf3 g6 5. Bc4 Nb6 6. Bb3 Bg7 7. Qe2 O-O 8. O-O Bg4 9. exd6 cxd6 10. h3 Bxf3 11. Qxf3 Nc6 12. c3 e5 13. dxe5 dxe5 14. Be3 Qc7 15. Na3 Na5 16. Rfd1 a6 17. Bxb6 Qxb6 18. Nc4 Nxc4 19. Bxc4 Qc7 20. Bd5 Rab8 21. c4 h6 22. Rac1 Kh7 23. c5 f5 24. c6 e4 25. Qa3 bxc6 26. Rxc6 Qf4 27. Bb3 Rfd8 28. Rxd8 Rxd8 29. Qc5 Rd7 30. Qc4 Rd8 31. Qe6 Qg5 32. h4 Qg4 33. Rc7 Rd1+ 34. Bxd1 Qxd1+ 35. Kh2 Qd2 36. Qe5 Black resigns 1-0

In this next game Alex Jule, Queensland, drops a piece with 22...Qc7. Last month, she made headlines when, at the Queenstown Chess Classic, she vanquished IM Russell Dive of New Zealand.

Australian Junior Internet Championships
Ikeda, Junta
Jule, Alexandra

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 e6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. cxd5 exd5 7. Bd3 Bd6 8. Qc2 h6 9. Bd2 Nb6 10. h3 Be6 11. Ne5 Bxe5 12. dxe5 Nfd7 13. f4 Qh4+ 14. Kf1 Nc5 15. Be2 g6 16. Be1 Qe7 17. Bf2 Bf5 18. Qd1 O-O-O 19. a4 Ne4 20. Qe1 Nc4 21. Nxe4 Bxe4 22. Qc3 Qc7? 23. a5 Rhe8 24. b3 Nxe5 25. fxe5 Rxe5 26. Rc1 a6 27. Ke1 Rg5 28. Rg1 d4 29. exd4 Re8 30. Kd1 Rxa5 31. Re1 Bxg2 32. Bg4+ Kd8 33. Rxe8+ Kxe8 34. Bg3 Qd8 35. Rc2 Bd5 36. Be5 Qg5 37. Qxa5 1-0

Australian Junior Internet Championships
Yu, Ronald
Hendrey, Thomas

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. d4 Bg4 4. f3 Bf5 5. Bb5+ c6 6. dxc6 Qa5+ 7. Nc3 Nxc6 8. Nge2 O-O-O 9. Bxc6 bxc6 10. O-O e5 11. Bd2 exd4 12. Ne4 Qb6 13. N2g3 Bxe4 14. fxe4 d3+ 15. Kh1 Bd6 16. Bg5 Bxg3 17. hxg3 Rd6 18. Qf3 Re8 19. cxd3 Re5 20. Bh4 g5 21. d4 Rxe4 22. Bxg5 Ree6 23. Bxf6 Rxf6

After 23...Rxf6

24. Qxf6 Rxf6 25. Rxf6 Qxd4 26. Rxf7 Qxb2 27. Raf1 Qxa2 28. Rxh7 Qa3 29. Rff7 Kd8 30. Rh8+ Qf8 31. Rhxf8# 1-0

Campomanes Takes Aim

Ex-FIDE head Florencio Campomanes has spoken out on the recent troubles of RP chess. Says Campo, "We used to teach countries like China, Vietnam and India. Now they have surpassed us." He also lamented the fact that the Philippines has produced only 6 grandmasters.

Well, just take a look at Australia - only 2 so far! And Campo's criticism of seeding top players into big tournaments probably has merit. The problem with the top players, with the greatest respect to them, is that they're getting old and will naturally decline in powers. So maybe, it's time to make way.

Campo will act as chairman of the jury of appeals for the Olympiad in Torino, Italy later this year.

More from ABC-CBN Interactive and the Manila Bulletin.

Ice Chess

Whose pieces melt first will lose! This is an interesting idea on ice sculpting.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bloody Convicts!

This is a funny snipe on the nation's past by the Boylston Blog. Thank Christ I'm a blow-in.

Venezuela Give Chess a Boost

Last year, the Venezuelan government launched two projects to boost the popularity of chess in the country. This year, they have something called 2006 Mision Ajedrez - "a program to massively foster the practice of chess in the South American nation".

From Prensa Latina.

And in the Philippines sports pages today is the ordeal of NCFP head, Go Teng Kok. The Manila Standard reports: "DESCRIBING his ordeal as the 'longest 45 minutes of my life,' national athletics and chess chief Go Teng Kok survived what could have been a fatal airplane crash aboard a Singapore Airlines flight recently."

The aircraft, on its way to Manila from Singapore, had apparently suffered a malfunction in its landing system which forced it to go back. In the news report, it seems that Go hadn't helped the situation when he pulled out his cell phone to call relatives thinking it was his last few moments! Clearly, our man Go is highly imaginative.

The paper quoted him as saying: "Parang ’yung pelikula ni Bruce Willis (Die Hard). Ang daming fire trucks and police na naghihintay habang nagla-land kami." [Translation: It was like a Bruce Willis movie (Die Hard). There were a lot of fire trucks and police waiting while we were approaching to land]. That's Pinoys for you - so dramatic! And I'm the same.

Once, on a flight from London to Bangkok, my aircraft suddenly struck turbulence. I immediately put on my shoes, secured my luggage, my passport, everything - thinking that was it! The guy next to me just looked at me funny and shrugged, then went back to sleep.

Who's The King?

Writing for the International Herald Tribune, Brad Spurgeon ponders over the challenges of our game. Since Kasparov's departure, he says, the chess world has seen itself at a "turning point".

The chess world is grappling with a paradox. Never has chess been so popular a pastime, and yet its supreme champions are almost unknown. There is sharp disagreement about who, exactly, is world champion, and the World Chess Federation, known by its French acronym, FIDE, cannot decide how best to run the sport or raise money for it.

Some weeks ago I discussed briefly with Peter Parr the upcoming elections for the FIDE leadership. His take is rather pessimistic. Peter could well remember that time when then FIDE supremo, Campomanes, stood in front of a crowd of delegates and began to frantically wave his fist about as if in the Black Power salute! The audience was enthralled and the Great Campo had pulled off yet another magic trick. He retained the presidency.

The same thing will happen in May 2006. Kirsan will do whatever he can to retain power. One magic trick, for instance, could be to forgive the debts of countries like the Philippines. Easy peasy.

More from the IHT.

Disappointing Numbers at COS

The City of Sydney championships opened on Sunday at the New South Wales Bridge Association Centre in Surry Hills. Turnout was low - truly a disappointment for the state association. I can imagine the new administration scratching their heads wondering what in the world do they need to do to excite players. Here is a venue that is right in the heart of the world's most beautiful city, highly accessible, plenty of pre-game activities - but no players! Well, only about 40 or so anyway. I'll have the exact numbers next week plus some photos.

I did manage to sneak away with a player list. Here are some of the top players.

George Xie, Tomek Rej, Andrew Bird, Johny Bolens, Laura Moylan, Raymond Song, Pat Halpin

Actually, there are two sections to this event and I'm playing in the stronger one. I'm hoping to play enough FIDE rated players to complete my second FIDE block. Also I think the tougher opposition will do me some good. My dear fans, wish me luck!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Australian Olympiad Team - 2006

The Australian Chess Federation has announced the two teams for this year's Olympiad in Torino. They are:

OPEN TEAM (in board order)

1. GM Ian Rogers
2. IM David Smerdon
3. GM Darryl Johansen
4. IM Zong-Yuan Zhao
5. IM Gary Lane
6. IM Alex Wohl

WOMENS TEAM (in board order)

1. IM/WGM Irina Berezina
2. WIM Anastasia Sorokina
3. WIM Laura Moylan
4. WIM Arianne Caoili

Overall, the teams look very competent and fairly solid. Alex Wohl's selection is a touch surprising, however. An informal poll of Aussie chess fans actually rated him lower than Nick Speck (who recently performed remarkably in Gibraltar, earning his third IM norm along the way). I certainly would have opted for Nick.

The women's team is correct and reflects the selections of the same informal poll. Based on form, I would say that Arianne's placing below Laura Moylan was the right decision. If Arianne were playing for the Philippines again, she'd likely be slotted on first board.

And speaking of the Philippines, I should mention that this year is the 50th anniversary of that country's participation in the Olympiads. Actually, we missed one, 1962 (Varna, Bulgaria), when President Macapagal placed on a ban on travel to communist countries. The four brave Filipinos who flew to Moscow way back in '56 were Florencio Campomanes, Glicerio Badilles, Carlos Benitez and Rodolfo Tan Cardoso.

For Torino, it will be exciting to see a near all-GM Pinoy team. But speaking to Pinoy-Aussie player Angelito Camer yesterday, he asked: will RP be permitted to play in the Olympiad if the NCFP has not paid their dues to FIDE? Well, that's the bloody question, isn't it?

Anyway, good luck to the Aussies!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Mysterious Verse

Would you believe that only now did I purchase GM Ian Rogers' book, Australia at the Yerevan Chess Olympiad? I was at the first round of the City of Sydney, walking around bored and so decided to buy this book. It's turning out to be an interesting little read. Take Rogers' report on the Aussie team's round 8 match-up against Turkey.

Rogers opens with "Today [IM Stephen] Solomon demonstrated that he was not a normal chessplayer - rather a being in human form with supernatural powers. Solomon's game with Olcayoz could be analysed for months but even Scully and Mulder would be unable to determine how Solomon managed to scrape a draw".

Without further delay, let's take a look at what Australia's number one player is getting all corny about.

Yerevan Olympiad 1996 (Men)
Olcayoz, Alper
Solomon, Stephen J

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. Bg5 c5 4. e3 Qb6 5. Qc1 Ne4 6. Bf4 d5 7. c3 Bd6 8. Bxd6 Qxd6 9. Nbd2 Nc6 10. Qc2 Nxd2 11. Qxd2 O-O 12. Bd3 Re8 13. O-O e5 14. Nxe5 Nxe5 15. dxe5 Qxe5 16. Rfe1 Bf5 17. Bxf5 Qxf5 18. Rad1 Rad8 19. Qd3 Qe6 20. Qb5 b6 21. Qa4 g6 22. a3 h5 23. h3 Re7 24. Rd2 Red7 25. Red1 Qe5 26. h4 f6 27. Qc6 Kf7 28. Rd3 Qe6 29. Qa4 Qe5 30. Qc6 Qd6 31. Qa4 Ke7 32. Rxd5 Qxd5 33. Rxd5 Rxd5 34. Qxa7+ Ke6 35. Qxb6+ R8d6 36. Qb8 Rd8 37. Qc7 Rd1+ 38. Kh2 R8d2 39. Qb6+ Kf7 40. a4 Rb1 41. Qb7+ Kf8 42. b4 cxb4 43. cxb4 Rxf2 44. a5 Rfb2 45. a6 Rxb4 46. Qc8+ Kg7 47. a7 Ra1 48. a8=Q Rxa8 49. Qxa8 Rxh4+ 50. Kg3 Rg4+ 51. Kf3 f5 Rogers: "Magic! Black has achieved the perfect blockade". 52. Qa1+ Kh7 53. Qf6 Re4 54. Qc6 Rg4 55. Ke2 Kg7 56. Kd3 Kh6 57. Qb7 Rh4 58. Qb8 Rg4 59. Qh8+ Kg5 60. Qd8+ Kh6 61. Qc7 Re4 62. Qc1 Kg7 63. Qb2+ Kh6 64. Qf6 Kh7 65. Qf8 Rg4 66. Qe7+ Kh6 67. Qc7 h4 Rogers: "Why not move the rook from g4 to e4 and back and then agree a draw? That's not Solomon's style. With the draw in hand he decides to take the maximum risk possible without actually losing. In the mean time Solomon's teammates were tearing their hair out in frustration." 68. Qh2 Kg5 69. Ke2 Rg3 70. Kf2 Rg4 71. Qe5 Re4 72. Qd6 Rc4 73. Qe7+ Kh5 74. Kf3 Re4 75. Qf6 Re8 76. Qg7 Kg5 77. Qc7 Kf6 78. Qf4 Re4 79. Qh6 Rg4 80. Qf8+ Kg5 81. Qh8 Re4 82. Qd8+ Kh6 83. Qd5 Re8 84. Qc6 Re4 85. Qf6 Ra4 86. Qh8+ Kg5 87. Qd8+ Kh5 1/2-1/2

The grandmaster further reports that teammate IM Alex Wohl was so impressed with this effort that he was moved to pen an epic poem dedicated to Stephen Solomon. Alex apparently read his work to an enthralled audience. Sadly, due to the unprintable nature of that poem, GM Rogers only quoted the concluding lines. They read:

You have to say that Steve sure has guts
And balls the size of coconuts

Now, dear readers, I suspect your reaction is similar to mine. I am absolutely intrigued and demand to find out more about the poem. An email is on its way to IM Wohl. I'll get the rest of that poem, no matter what!

Svidler The Mauler

How else was I suppose to spend a sunny Sunday but to listen to some nice music and watch the games live from Morelia? And what a treat of a game was Svidler - Topalov! The Russian played attack, sacking a pawn on the 16th move thereby creating what later turned out to be a future madonna.

Peter Svidler
Veselin Topalov

After 15...h4

16. f5! Nxe5 17. f6 Rh5 18. Ne4 g6 19. Bf4 c5 20. Nf3 Nxf3+ 21. Rxf3 Be6 22. Rfd3 "He [Svidler] has a serious advantage," said GM Seirawan, on the playchess.com site. It is hard to disagree. 22...c4 23.R3d2 c6 c4 23. R3d2 c6 24. Ng5 Bc5+ 25. Kh2 Bd5 26. Re2+ Kf8 27. Rde1 b5 28. c3 a5 29. a3 Rc8 30. g4 hxg3+ 31. Kxg3 Be6 32. h4 Kg8 33. Re5 Bf8 34. Nxe6 fxe6 35. Rd1 Rh7 36. Rxe6 Rb7 37. Re4 Kf7 38. Bg5 Re8 39. Rxe8 Kxe8 40. Kg4 Rh7 41. Re1+ Kd7 42. a4 bxa4 43. Re5 c5 44. Bf4 Rh8 45. Bg3 Bh6 46. Re7+ Kc6 47. Bf4 Bxf4 48. Kxf4 Rh5 49. Re5 Rxh4+ 50. Kg5 Rh5+ 51. Kxg6! Rxe5 52. f7 Re6+ 53. Kg5 Re5+ 54. Kg4 Of course not 54. Kf4. Re4+ 55. Kg3 Re3+ 56. Kf2 a3 57. f8=Q axb2 58. Qc8+ Kb5 59. Qb7+ Ka4 60. Kxe3 Ka3 61. Qb5 a4 62. Qxc5+ Kb3 63. Qb4+ Kc2 64. Qxa4+ Kxc3 65. Qa5+ Here, GM Greg Kaidanov, commentating on Chess FM suddenly noticed that 65. Qb5?? is simply met by 65...b1Q!! 66. Qxb1 stalemate. Kc2 66. Qf5+ Kc1 67. Qf1+ 1-0

And the punters welcomed, if sarcastically, Peter Leko's win today against Francisco Vallejo. But let's see the Hungarian's playing attitude against the 2700's.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Aussie Muljadi in Jakarta

Australian player Harris Muljadi, who is currently back in his homeland - Indonesia, played well in a G10 tournament held in Jakarta recently. He scored 6.5/9 points. Below are the placings, courtesy of the excellent Indonesian site, indochess.com

1 TIRTO 8 41.0 53.0 45.50
2 EDDY 7.5 42.5 49.5 38.25
3 IRWANTO 7.5 40.5 50.5 40.00
4 JAMALUDIN 7.5 37.0 52.0 44.00
5 SUDUNG T. 7 37.0 54.5 39.25
6 DEDE LIU 7 37.0 48.5 33.50
7 ARTHUR PAAT 7 35.5 47.5 34.00
8 IRAWAN TJHIN 7 35.0 51.5 38.00
9 AGUS SURATMAN 7 32.5 51.5 38.25
10 YUSUF 7 31.5 42.0 33.75
11 JOHAN G. 6.5 39.0 51.5 33.00
12 SUKIRMAN TEDY 6.5 38.0 57.5 38.25
13 HARIS MULYADI 6.5 33.0 45.0 29.25
14 ASMAT ROJALI 6.5 32.0 49.0 34.00
15 ANDY 6.5 32.0 46.5 30.50
16 RICKY RISMANTO 6 34.5 53.5 33.00
17 BAGJA BUDIMAN 6 34.0 45.0 27.00
18 ASEP SUMANTRI 6 33.5 51.0 30.50
19 CHAERUMAN 6 32.0 48.5 29.00
20 IKHWAN PUTRA 6 31.0 47.5 28.50

2006 La Union Open

GM Rogelio Antonio Jr heads into the 2006 edition of this annual event as the top seed. The first phase of the tournament is a normal swiss, after which the top 16 then go into the main draw. I'm guessing that the 16 players then play in what I think they call the "Campomanes System". Hopefully one of our Pinoy readers can confirm.

Prizes for the event are 1st P80,000 (A$2,105), 2nd P50,000 (A$1,315), 3rd P30,000 (A$790) and P20,000 (A$525) to the fourth placer.

I wish some of these big Philippine events have a website, no matter how basic. Even the national chess federation doesn't have a site!

Friday, February 17, 2006

AICF in Trouble

When I visited the Australian Championships in Brisbane earlier this year, I experienced one particular moment that will surely remain with me for some time. Comparing Philippine chess to the Australian situation, an IM (who shall remain nameless) said something like, "Australian chess, very small, but many idiots!"

No matter how much I try to believe this, the local environment is really not that bad. Take RP chess. The bastards over at the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) still haven't paid their dues to FIDE. We discovered this last year and I'm afraid that this dereliction of duty by the NCFP has its ill-effects. I'll let Bobby Ang tell you all about it.

And over the last few days, the latest news coming from India is that the AICF has been effectively muzzled. The Hindu reports that this governing body "has been restrained by the Madras High Court from collecting any funds from the Government or any other bodies or players in its capacity as a 'valid registered society'."

We might have our own issues here, as the drama queens keep reminding us sometimes, but I tell you - it's not that bad!

Ex-Prez Comes Out

After more than a year in "hiding", the much beleaguered ex ACF president, George Howard, has finally come out. Basically, he owed people, mainly money. And below are snippets of what he had to say in the ACF's latest newsletter.

I would like to formally apologize to the Australian Chess Federation (ACF), all the state associations, junior leagues and the chess public in general for my tardiness in payments as well as other issues. It was always my intention to pay all the fees but due to health reasons I found this overwhelming. I just needed some space and rest. Throughout this time, I still intended to pay the fees off.

And later, he lists exactly what he owed.

1. The $4000 Junior Development Fund was something I promised and will pay for
2. Rating fees will be paid for (like any tournament)
3. Karthick Rajendran was owed some money and I had promised to pay him for that. I apologise to Karthick as I know he needed the money at the time.
4. The Bulletins were a complete disaster - there were errors in keeping records of who paid, errors in backing up files on computers. I intend to pay for the ACFs reimbursement of people who paid for bulletins.
5. Any other fees that have not been listed above.

I suppose the important thing is that Mr Howard has made public promises. Any failure on his part now to deliver, preferably in a timely manner, means that those of us who were not in that ridiculous tournament can bear witness on behalf of those who were. And now even the whole world knows about it.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

City of Sydney

Sydney readers are reminded that the COS tournament is on again this weekend, Sunday, 19 February. I'm looking forward to this as it's my first biggie competition in Sydney for some time. Plus, at a leisurely rate of one game a week, there's plenty of time for preparation and to recover from any bad losses. Actually, I much prefer the faster pace of 2 games a day, but this is apparently not a popular option.

Worth mentioning, too, about the COS is that it's the first time, in a while, that we make a return to the heart of Sydney; the venue is in the Bridge Centre, not far from Central Station. It's also just a stone's throw away from Peter Parr's chess shop. I suppose, as a way to celebrate this momentous event, Peter is giving away, to the first 100 entries, a glass chess set and board. That should be interesting!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cathy Gives Back WIM

When I saw the movie King Kong recently, I was left with one reaction. Once and for all the movie demonstrates the irrationality of the second sex! (But my New Zealand mate, Andrew Stone, had the best to say about it: bestiality is just plain wrong).

I don't want to talk about Kong or movies. But I was reminded of it when I read Cathy Forbes' review of Jennifer Shahade's Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport.

The closing lines read:

In ‘women’s titles’ (WFM, WIM, WGM, Woman Champion) the word ‘woman’ means ‘inferior’. However, in Chapter Six and in correspondence, Shahade obliquely referred to my failure to harmonize practice with preaching – not having formally revoked my own ‘WIM’ title. So, thanks to Jennifer Shahade’s influential book, 15 years late but better late than never, my diploma and badge have been returned to sender. Thank you, Jennifer! Three Cheers! Buy her book! It’s really good.

Let me pose the question to you dear readers, did she do the right thing (giving back the title)?

I think not. Maybe it was a moment of irrationality, or some kind of implosion, or maybe - as seems clear - a sense of guilt, but giving back the title is an unnecessary act. It could be that Cathy is right, of course, (ie. woman = inferior, in the context of women's titles). But why should we take only this view? We could very well consider the range of women's titles as the lower rungs of titles on the path to that most coveted of all, the grandmastership. Most importantly, having women's titles is a recognition of women, thus, a form of encouragement. What's the problem?

Have your say!

I missed Bobby

I suspect most were wanting it. But realistically, I guess most of us realised it would never happen. I'm talking about Fischer and Spassky being reunited, if not for chess, then for some other reason. Spassky, as we noted earlier, had reason to visit Iceland.

From this account, the two ex-World Champions never met.

I was there hoping Iceland’s elusive new national Bobby Fischer might make an appearance, as was the Icelandic media who started speculating that he might over a week ago. I asked a man sitting next to me what he thought the chances were. He shrugged – who knew? – but personally believed that Fischer “will never play again.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Where's that column?

There's seem to be some problem over a missing chess column over in Western Australia. Writing in CAWA's website, local chess personality David Ellis informs his readers that this is the second time in 2006 that the games page has gone astray from the West Australian.

Any permanent death of a chess column can only have a terrible effect on the game. And so, we join Mr Ellis and all chess friends in WA to ensure that the chess column is retained.

Details for the newspaper are mentioned on the CAWA website.

Podcast of Aussie Chess

Despite their little foible over Jason Lyons' sacking, the organisers of theAustralian Junior Internet Chess Championships have made a wonderful announcement. In a first for Aussie chess, they will be podcasting on the tournament.

At this time, the event organisers are planning to discuss results, next round draw, interviews and some general junior chess discussion.

Todate, there are a few chess related podcasts but the most famous of those, I think, is Alexandra Kosteniuk's "Chess is Cool" program.

Laszlo Witt

For just a brief moment, we direct our attention to Canadian chess. Or more correctly, to one of that country's past superstars - Laszlo Witt.

Born in Budapest, Hungary - Laszlo learnt the game at age 8. He represented Canada in the Olympiads of '64, '66 and '70. Among his many national achievements was a perfect sore of 9/9 at the 1962 Canadian Chess Open Championships. But perhaps his most famous achievement was beating the great Bobby Fischer in a blitz game.

Laszlo passed away last year on 27 December. He was age 72. More in this belated obituary from the Toronto Star.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Mark Paragua Found

I asked, "where is Paragua?" Alas, we've found him! He is reportedly back in the Philippines after experiencing some problems with his airline ticket. It seems that Mark was carrying a one-way ticket which forced Russian authorities to send him home.

Now Pinoys are sometimes known for their hocus-pocus when it comes to immigration. But c'mon - buying a one-way ticket to Russia? My instincts tell me that the full story is yet to be told.

More from the Manila Standard.

Aeroflot Beauties

Played in the Hotel Gamma, in Moscow, the annual Aeroflot Open usually attracts Russia's and the world's best. According to Chessbase, there are some one million ELO points currently congregating in the Russian capital.

After 4 rounds, there have already been some tough games. But I picked the 3 below, all ending decisively, for their attacking flavour.

Aeroflot Open
Sadvakasov, D.
Kulaots, K.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6 7. g4 h6 8. Bg2 Nc6 9. h3 Ne5 10. Qe2 Qc7 11. f4 Nc4 12. O-O-O Bd7 13. Kb1 Nxe3 14. Qxe3 O-O-O 15. Rd3 Kb8 16. e5 dxe5 17. fxe5 Nh7 18. Ne4 Ba4 19. b3 Be8 20. Rhd1 Be7 21. Nd6 Bxd6 22. exd6 Qa5

After 22. Qa5

23. b4 Qg5 24. Qf3 Rd7 25. Nc6+ 1-0

Aeroflot Open
Naiditsch, A.
Ganguly, S.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Be3 a6 7. Qd2 Nf6 8. f3 Bb4 9. a3 Ba5 10. Nb3 Bb6 11. Bxb6 Qxb6 12. O-O-O Qc7 13. g4 b5 14. h4 Ne5 15. Nd4 Rb8 16. h5 d6 17. Qg5 Rg8 18. h6 b4 19. axb4 Rxb4

After 19...Rxb4

20. Bb5+ axb5 21. Ndxb5 Rxb5 22. Nxb5 Qa5 23. Nxd6+ Ke7 24. Kb1 gxh6 25. Qxh6 Ba6 26. g5 Nfd7 27. Nf5+ exf5 28. Qd6+ Ke8 29. Rd5 Qd8 30. Rhd1 1-0

Aeroflot Open
Bu Xiangzhi
Shchekachev, A.

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 b6 3. g3 c5 4. Bg2 Bb7 5. O-O g6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. d4 cxd4 8. Qxd4 d6 9. Rd1 Nbd7 10. Be3 Rc8 11. Rac1 O-O 12. Qh4 a6 13. b3 Rc7 14. g4 h6 15. Bxh6 Bxh6 16. Qxh6 Nxg4 17. Qh4 Ngf6 18. Qh6 Ng4 19. Qh4 Ngf6 20. Nd5 Nxd5 21. cxd5 Nf6 22. e4 a5 23. Qh6 Ng4 24. Qh4 Nf6 25. Qh6 Ng4 26. Qg5 Nf6 27. Nd4 Rc5 28. Rxc5 bxc5 29. Ne6 1-0

Sunday, February 12, 2006

In Love and Chess

I saw this item pop up in Kotaku some days back but decided not to post it. Too chicken. I was hoping that one of the other regular chess bloggers would do it! None of them did (as far as I can tell).

With absolutely nothing interesting chessic to talk about this overcast Sunday morning, I might as well do the deed.

From Artmunk Games, is Lovechess 2: Age of Egypt. The press kit informs us:

With its combination of erotica and chess, LoveChess was the first erotic game that showed sexual action in a stylish, humorous and light-hearted way. Now, this unique concept got even better with the release of Lovechess : Age of Egypt.

I think I might park my Fritz 9 purchase for the moment and upgrade my graphics card instead! And a warning: the links above contain sexually explicit material that may offend some sensitive souls.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Funny Business

Long before the first moves are played, the new tournament, Australian Internet Junior Chess Championships, has found itself in the bog of politics. Jason Lyons, ex-Olympiad captain, seasoned organiser of chess events and qualified IA, was hired, sacked, rehired and sacked again!

On 29 December, 2005 - event coordinator, Alex Saint announced:

The state coordinators for the 2006 Australian Internet Junior Chess Championships are as follows:

NSW - Jason Lyons
ACT - Libby Smith
VIC - Kerry Lyall
SA - Alan Goldsmith
TAS - Phil Donnelly
WA - Don Smith

Then as late as yesterday, 10 February, with no warning whatsoever, Jason Lyons was suddenly replaced by a certain Michael Lip. I immediately sent a message to Mr Saint asking for an explanation. Shortly after my note, this announcement followed: "Michael Lip and Jason Lyons will be joint NSW coordinators in 2006. Subsequent years will involve the junior leagues voting in a coordinator."

OK, so there's no problem then - just a little confusion. Yet later that night, this:

After discussions with Dennis Jessop [ACF president], NSWJCL president Charles Zworestine and Richard Gastineau-Hills [NSWJCL treasurer], I have had to do a double back flip.

Michael Lip is the sole NSW coordinator.

I have spoken to Jason who has accepted my position and the position of the NSWJCL. He has been offered another role on the committee.

Kind regards,

It was Friday night and these guys are doing nothing but plotting for Jason's removal. My first thought was, you lifeless #$%@! Amazing. I'm actually sitting there with Jason, in a pub having a few drinks, while he takes a call from Alex. But let's just put that aside.

For the job of state coordinator, Jason, who is also an ICC tournament manager, appears to be very overqualified. Thus we ask, what was the problem with his appointment (which, by the way, appears to be unchallenged and without controversy for over a month)? And why has the New South Wales Junior Chess League made a whole lot of fuss about it now?

While we do maintain our good wishes for this new tournament, we cannot be expected to retain our respect for its organisers. Their shabby treatment of Mr Lyons (who, as recently as last month, was an arbiter in the national championships), in such a public manner, deserves the utmost condemnation. Their actions were without honour.

Where is Paragua?

Maybe I'm going blind but I cannot see Mark Paragua, of the Philippines, in the Aeroflot A1 pairings list. He's definitely entered, we can see his name in the list of entries. And by one account, he was en route to Moscow and looking forward to the tournament. But from round 2 onwards, he seems to have just disappeared.

The only time Paragua's name appears in the pairings was for round 1. It is clear that he forfeited that round. So where is he then?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Romance and Chess

We Filipinos are a romantic lot. One can say, very hopelessly. Just take a look at the movie list in RP. You can bet that more than half are about some kind of love story. And I remember very well some of the old love songs from my chilhood - particularly those in my dialect, bisaya.

Forgive me dear readers but I cannot resist. This one is exclusively for my Pinoy fans. Here's a little something for you - sang by Max Surban in my collection.

Igo na day, igo na day
Basin ako ug mamatay
Igo nang pag-paantus mo
Gisakitan ki'ng dughan ko
Pagka hapdus, pagka hapdus
Dili ko na maantos

Now, for the rough translation:

Enough my dear, enough my dear
Maybe I will die
I beg you - stop torturing me
My heart is in pain
Oh the pain, the pain
I cannot endure it

Alright, that's enough. There is a point to this, in fact. Frank “Boy” PestaƱo, writing for Sun Star Cebu ("Cebu" is a central province where I grew up), reminds one and all of chessers who've fallen in love. Take the story of Gufeld.

Eduard was in love with a beautiful girl and tried everything to win her heart – chocolates, flowers, letters – but nothing worked. Then one day he found out that she played chess. So, in his next letter to her, he used a few metaphors to describe his love for her.

He wrote: “You are for me the Queen on d8 and I am the pawn on d7!”

His chess metaphors won her heart and they lived happily ever after.

My God - if only it was that easy. Then maybe it is. It's like what IM Alex Wohl said: one move at a time! You just have to make sure, it's not a blunder. More from the Sun Star.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Chessbase Report

If you have not already seen it, here is something special. My thanks to Chessbase for accepting this submission. I had not expected this process to be quite so easy. All I did was asked if I could submit a report and the answer came back quickly saying, go ahead!

One other thing. Bobby Ang informs me that this little effort is the first ever by a Filipino! Well I say, with so many tournaments attended by strong Pinoy players in RP - I suggest to my kababayans - just email Chessbase and ask if you can submit a report. It's that easy!

Reign of Error

That is how grandmaster Yasser Seirawan characterises the current regime that runs our world body, FIDE. It is clear that Seirawan's letter, published originally in Chess Today, is really just a leg up for his mate, Bessel Kok, but the US grandmaster does score some points. One thing he said, which a Pinoy like me can appreciate is this:

It is Kirsan's money that has supported the FIDE organization, his rules, his formats and his administration. Again, I can't think of another single sports body where the President has to personally financially guarantee his vision for the "growth" of the sport. FIDE is addicted to the money of one person. It is not the product, chess, which is lacking it is the lack of capable, competent, professional administrators selling that product. Our cherished, noble sport that once held such high cultural importance has morphed. We have become a band of beggars.

The observation is a powerful one. It reminded me of the Marcos years. The problem with relying so much on the charity of one man is that it can have a stupefying effect. Before you know it, you're in so deep in his pockets you just can't get out!

More from Chessbase.

Australian Internet Junior Championships

n January 2006, the ACF approved a new national competition:
"The Australian Internet Junior Chess Championships"

This competition is run by volunteers from around Australia with delegates from every state. The idea was originally brokered by the South Australian Junior Chess League and for this, they truly deserve our utmost congratulations. The team has now also created the website: www.ausnetchess.org.

With so many juniors playing online these days, the AIJCC is a natural progression. 2006 is just a test run but I hope this venture every success!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Paragua in Aeroflot

The Philippines' highest rated player ever will begin his European campaign shortly at the 2006 Aeroflot Open. There are 4 sections in the tournament and our young hero is in section A1. Boasting some 86 grandmasters with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, rated 2709, as top seed - it will surely be a tough going for Mark.

More details from the Manila Standard.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Chat with the Chess King

On 9 February, 2200 and 2300 IST, fans of Indian grandmaster Vishy Anand can chat with the great man himself. This comes courtesy of rediff.com.

Face Lift for the NSWCA

According to the The Chess Nut, it looks like the New South Wales Chess Association (NSWCA) may soon have a new look logo. If true, then the association must quickly receive our support and congratulations. About bloody time, I say.

Trent Parker is the NSWCA's Publicity Officer.

Chess Movie Trivia

Our beautiful game has appeared in numerous films, from action to comedy to mysteries. Perhaps the best chess scene ever was in the original "Thomas Crown Affair". Chess was never so sexier.

So, just how well do you know chess in movies? Try out your trivia knowledge on these 15 questions from the Rocky Mountain News. Like this one: who was Hollywood's strongest chess player?

Unfortunately, the answers are given on that same page, just to the bottom. Be careful when you scroll if you don't want to see the answers.

Asian Chess News

Vishy Anand is reported to have agreed to play in the upcoming Olympiad in Turin. Anand's ex-second, Elizbar Ubilava, may coach the Indian team. Joining Vishy are Sasikiran and Harikrishna. The remaining 3 spots will be decided in the National 'A' tournament scheduled for March.

Meanwhile, in Jakarta - the Indonesians are preparing their chess arsenal for the 15th Asian Games due to be held in December this year. Like the Philippines, Indonesia failed to win a single gold medal at the recent SEA Games last year. This time they are determined to score better. Percasi, the Indonesian Chess Fed, have have been training 4 players in Bogor, West Java since January.

More from the Jakarta Post.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Big Break

Sydney's Dr Jonathan Paxman, who is the author of SP2HTMl 1.0, has just given yours truly my first ever big break into mainstream chess reporting!

In this report for Chessbase - all photos came courtesy of The Closet Grandmaster. Thank you Dr Paxman!

Queenstown Final Results

The organisers of this tournament have finally updated their last media release. Sort of. Now you can check the details for both the blitz and rapid, which were held a day after the main event. Details are available here.

You'll notice that one of the best game prizes was for Rogers - Susilodinata. I must admit, this really did deserve such a prize. The ending was quite a struggle. From time to time, GM Rogers would glance up at his opponent with a slight smile. I'm sure it was the grandmaster showing his appreciation both for the challenge as well as for his young opponent's fighting spirit.

Queenstown Classic
Rogers, Ian
Susilodinata, Andrean

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. Ne5 Nbd7 7. Nxc4 Nb6 8. Ne5 a5 9. f3 Nfd7 10. Nxd7 Nxd7 11. e4 Bg6 12. Be3 Qb6 13. Qd2 e5 14. dxe5 Bc5 15. Bxc5 Nxc5 16. Qd6 Qxb2

After 16...Qxb2

17. Nd5 Qxa1+ 18. Kf2 Qb2+ 19. Kg3 cxd5 20. Bb5+ Qxb5 21. axb5 Ne6 22. exd5 Rd8 23. Qb6 Rxd5 24. Qxb7 Rd7 25. Qc8+ Ke7 26. Qxh8 Rd8 27. Qxd8+ Nxd8 28. Ra1 Bf5 29. Rxa5 Bc8 30. Kf2 Kd7 31. Ke3 Kc7 32. Kd4 Kb6 33. Ra8 Kb7 34. Ra1 Kb6 35. Kc4 Be6+ 36. Kb4 Nb7 37. Ra6+ Kc7 38. Rc6+ Kd7 39. Rc3 Bd5 40. g3 g6 41. f4 h5 42. b6 Bc6 43. Rc1 Bf3 44. Rc7+ Ke6 45. Rc3 Be4 46. Kb5 Nd8 47. Ka6 Bg2 48. Ka7 Nc6+ 49. Kb7 Nxe5+ 50. Kc7 Ng4 51. h3 Nf6 52. Re3+ Kd5 53. b7 Kd4 54. b8=Q Nd5+ 55. Kd8 Nxe3 56. Qa7+ Kd3 57. Qxf7 Be4 58. g4 hxg4 59. hxg4 Ke2 60. f5 gxf5 61. g5 Kf3 62. g6 Bd5 63. Qh7 f4 64. g7 Kf2 65. Qh4+ Kf3 66. Kd7 Bg8 67. Kc6 Ng2 68. Qd8 Bf7 69. Qd7 Bg8 70. Qc8 Bf7 71. Qb7 Bg8 72. Qa8 Bf7 73. Kd6+ Kg3 74. Ke7 Bc4 75. Qe4 Ba2 76. Qc2 Bg8 77. Kf8 1-0

I should mention that the Indonesian, Susilodinata, is one of 3 players reported to have achieved an IM norm in Queenstown. The difference is that only he played 5 titled opponents as per the current FIDE regulations. He is only 15 years old.

Chess & Marriage

Despite Bobby Ang's example, chess and marriage don't always mix. A friend of mine, former winner of a section in the Doeberl Cup, recently returned from his country of birth all hitched plus a baby! This fellow is quite a competent player with a rating of near 2000 (ACF). But the missus has completely forbidden chess. Disaster!

Totally ignoring this lesson, another mate, also a strong player, has now moved back to his homeland to look for a wife.

I am left with only one question. What is wrong with these people?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Happy Birthday Boris

We almost missed it. Russian chess legend Boris Spassky celebrated his 69th birthday on 30 January. Here he is blowing out the candles!

Chess Movie Never Made

Bu Walker, of Detroit News draws up a list of "greatest sports movies never made". Among his list is Fischer vs. Spassky: Back to the geo-political intrigue.

The plot would go something like this:

You have an eccentric prodigy in Fischer challenging the Soviet chess dynasty in the midst of the Cold War.

Fischer, a control freak who rarely bothered to show up on time but dazzled with manic bursts of brilliant play, would be a dream part for many actors. You could even foreshadow his dark turn toward anti-Semitism and life on the fringe. Spassky was quieter but chafed against the same Soviet chess establishment that propped him up.

From detnews.com.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Unlucky Lukey

Well, it remains to be seen.

As a continuation to our Abnormal Norm story, we can now confirm that New Zealand's FM Stephen Lukey played only 4 titled players at the Queenstown Chess Classic. His titled opponents were GM Rogers and IMs Zhao, Lane and Van Riemsdijk. Thus he failed to meet the 5-titled opponents requirement for the IM norm.

It is worth quoting Peter Parr's words again:

THE FIDE Qualifications Commission were aware of the old rule that if two players competed in a Swiss event and played exactly the same opponents with exactly the same results, exactly the same performance rating it was absurd that one player (if a FIDE Master) scores a norm and the other non titled player does not get a norm. This was abolished and rightly so.

New South Wales Chess Association president, Bill Gletsos, shares Mr Parr's opinion. But most interesting is what grandmaster Ian Rogers informed Aussie chess fans in Australia's most lively chess bulletin board:

Regarding Igor's IM norm:
Advice was received (from overseas) before norms for Bjelobrk and Lukey had been achieved that the rules for title norms had been simplified in late 2004 with the wording about including your own title as part of your field no longer included. Since they had a valid norm under the old rules, it was advised that an application to the Titles Commission from the NZ Chess Federation to have possible Bjelobrk and Lukey titles norms approved (they hadn't actually been achieved at that stage) would most likely be accepted because it had never been intended by the Titles Commission that a norm which would have been valid 18 months ago should suddenly become not a norm because the wording about including your own title was no longer in the new rules.

I guess we'll have to wait and see. But I'd bet that Bjelobrk and Lukey will not have their norms approved. Let's just think about this. There was presumably a good reason why FIDE changed the rules. See Parr quote. So why in the world would FIDE, even as a one-off, suddenly ignore their own "current" rules?

Chess Chronicle

Sometimes even I surprise myself. This morning, I was checking on incoming traffic to this blog and noticed that there was a single visitor linking off a PDF document. The document was issue no. 13 of the Chess Chronicle. The publication is apparently the first ever semi-monthly online chess e-zine. (Let me make clear that I have no connection whatsoever with this business).

In this latest issue, I was happily surprised to see two citations of The Closet Grandmaster. One was of my post on Negi's second GM norm and the other was of my closing remarks on the Queenstown Chess Classic.

As it turns out, it is my fellow blogger, Goran Urosevic, who was the kind writer. Thank you my friend.

Actually, this site has already been quoted elsewhere for a wider readership. It was none other than by the esteemed gentleman, Bobby Ang. If you missed it, you can read it here.

Before I get ahead of myself, I should really thank the most important people of all. You, my dear readers.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Young Masters - Cuernavaca, Mexico

For Down Under chess fans who can't get enough top level chess, there is an interesting tournament happening in Mexico - a gathering of some of the world's best under 25 year olds.

The event is being conducted in Cuernavaca which, as Mig informs us, was the host of the Karjakin-Nakamura match last year. Games are broadcast live on the official site as well as on the usual paid chess servers. Because of the time difference between Mexico and Australia, games watching is very convenient!

Tournament Details
Players:10 (Cheparinov, Ponomariov, Volokitin, Karjakin, Vallejo Pons, Bruzon, Nakamura, Dominguez, Felgaer and Hoyes)

Games start at 2200 GMT / 0900 Sydney

Thursday, February 02, 2006

New Aussie IM

And speaking of norms...

Melbourne's Nick Speck is Australia's latest IM-norm achiever. Currently competing in the Gibtelecom Masters (from which he withdrew last year due to suboptimal performance), Mr Speck played marvellously well to secure his third and final IM norm requirement. Like FM George Xie, he now only needs to push his rating up to 2400 to be officially conferred the title.

In round 7 - Nick, who works as a chess coach, defeated Antoaneta Stefanova - the current Women's World Champion. The Gibtele tournament bulletin editors wrote: "The bulletin staff believe that Nick may be the first Aussie to have beaten a reigning world champion."

Here is that game.

Gibtelecom Masters Gibraltar

1 d4 g6 2 e4 Bg7 3 Nc3 d6 4 Be3 a6 5 f4 b5 6 Nf3 Bb7 7 Bd3 Nd7 8 a4 b4 9 Ne2 Ngf6 10 Ng3 c5 11 c3 Qa5 12 Bd2 bxc3 13 bxc3 Qc7 14 e5 Nd5 15 0–0 0–0 16 e6 fxe6 17 Ng5 cxd4 18 Nxe6 Qc6 19 cxd4 Ne3 20 Qe2 Nxf1 21 Rxf1 Qxa4 22 Kh1 Rf7 23 f5 Nf8 24 Ng5 Bf6 25 fxg6 hxg6 26 Nxf7 Kxf7 27 Qg4 Qa2 28 Rf2 Rc8 29 h4 Qe6 30 Nf5 gxf5 31 Bxf5 Qc4 32 Qh5+ Kg8 33 Rf4 Bg7 34 Rg4 Qf7 35 Qh6 e6 36 Bd3 Rc7 37 Qg5 Bd5 38 Qd8 Qe7 39 Qb8 Rb7 40 Qc8 Qc7 41 Qe8 Qf7 42 Qd8 Qh5 43 Be2 Qf5 44 Bf4 Qb1+ 45 Kh2 Rd7 46 Qe8 Qf5 47 Bh6 Qf6 48 Qh5 a5 49 Bb5 Rb7 50 Be8 e5 51 Rg5 Be6 52 dxe5 dxe5 53 Rg3 e4 54 Bc6 Rc7 55 Bxe4 a4 56 Bg5 Qe5 57 Qf3 Rc3 58 Be3 Rc4 59 Bh6 Rc3 60 Be3 a3 61 h5 a2 62 h6 Rxe3 63 Qxe3 Qh5+ 64 Kg1 a1Q+ 65 Kf2 Qf6+ 66 Bf3 Qhxh6 0–1

Abnormal Norm

During the closing ceremony of the Queenstown Chess Classic, the New Zealand crowd (as well as most visiting Aussies) proudly applauded the achievement of local favourite, FM Igor Bjelobrk. We were informed that Igor had just apparently attained his first ever international master norm.

It now turns out that there is a question mark, the size of Lake Wakatipu, over Igor's so-called norm.

Former Australian Olympiad captain and IA, Peter Parr, in his usually clinical method has called into question the validity of Igor's IM norm. He writes:

FIDE states Section B 1.45(a) -titles of opponents - at least 50% of the opponents shall be title-holders. Section 1.49(a) states 9 rounds - 5 title-holders. Section 1.7 states summary of requirements of opponents - 9 rounds - minimum 5 titled opponents.

Bjelobrk in Queenstown (10 round event) in 2006 played 5 opponents in the first 6 rounds (one bye) rating 1885, 2155,2096, 2186, 2226 (none of these opponents are titled). So it was clear after round 6 that with only four rounds to play it was not possible to play 5 titled opponents.

And later continues:

THE FIDE Qualifications Commission were aware of the old rule that if two players competed in a Swiss event and played exactly the same opponents with exactly the same results, exactly the same performance rating it was absurd that one player (if a FIDE Master) scores a norm and the other non titled player does not get a norm. This was abolished and rightly so.

The body with the final say in all of this is apparently FIDE's Titles Commission who are due to meet at the Turin Olympiad later this year. If the norm turns out to be invalid, we can only wonder as to whose forehead we should slap a big "I" for incompetence.

Finally we should make clear that Mr Bjelobrk is completely faultless.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Chess and the Global Economy

Fred Cederholm has been thinking hard about chess and the economy. He writes:

In chess and global affairs, there is really only one king, and that king must be free to move and to dominate everything else on the board/planet. The one true king of the planet transcends individuals, nation states, or governmental collectives. Since the Great Depression of the 1930’s, we have witnessed the evolution of a new dichotomy in the battle of the two kings. I refer to the US Dollar and oil. What will be the one true “King of the World"?

If you ask me, I reckon Fred's thinking too hard.

Olympiad Application Details

The Australian Chess Federation has now made available to the public the rating files and supporting comments from all team applicants. The page is available here.


We walked up that hill laughing our butts off at midnight. It was a mix of sadness and happiness for games lost and won.

Yesterday, I was only just two norms away
Now it looks as though I'll never play
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Suddenly, I’m not half the master I used to be,
There’s a blunder in every move I make
Oh, I resign so suddenly.

Why must I play I don't know, I cannot say.
All I want is a norm, now I long for yesterday.

Yesterday, chess was such an easy game to play.
Now I need a place to hide away.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Mm mm mm mm mm.

Arguing for Correspondence Chess

I've never had much interest in correspondence chess. Way too slow for me. I prefer OTB action, the bang on clocks, the nervousness and, from time to time, the excitement of travel. On the other hand, there are chessers out there who consider correspondence the truest kind of chess. Maybe it's all that extra time they have to think and consider their moves.

The Chess Maniac argues for correspondence chess for the following trio of reasons: quality, expense and friendship. And here are his 10 steps for playing correspondence chess.