Friday, June 30, 2006

Arianne: I'm Serious

It's nice to know that Australia's most famous chess player, at least for the moment, is a regular blog reader. Here's a quick email to her fans.

I'm in Sicily at the moment, having a mini holiday and studying chess. I have analysed all my games from Turin and Lodi and have been playing hours of blitz online. I've gained 200 points in 2 days.

I am serious about this man. I have so many tournaments but I need to get my rating back up and it requires hard work which I am doing now. No year 12, no nothing. Just chess this year and this is the point.

Good luck to her.

Pretty Chessers

The UK's Herald maybe a tad behind but at least they can give their readers this little gem. A quote by Keti Arakhamia-Grant of Scotland:

I think the origins of what Arianne is doing are because there's not enough sponsorship and interest in women's chess, so each individual may be trying to attract attention in other ways. I think Arianne is the one who has won from the situation in Turin. She got her photos printed, which she would never have got if she was just playing chess because I don't think she's a strong player. It's nice there are beautiful women, but we're here to play chess. I'm too passionate about the game itself and I think that element distracts from it.

We should inform readers that Danny Gormally took it upon himself to be jealous and punch his dance-floor rival, Levon Aronian. There is no evidence whatsoever that he was told to do so by the alleged self-promoter Arianne Caoili.

In any case if the young Aussie has come out with a singing contract, what's the problem? She's a budding singer, so why not use the situation? We say, good luck to her singing career if she turns out to be better in it than chess.

Arianne, however, may not be about to abandon chess completely. She was spotted last night spending a good couple of hours on the Internet Chess Club playing a few games of blitz.

READ: "You can be pretty and still win at chess"

Preparation for Psychometry

Are you about to be psychometrically tested? In order to do well, there's a few things you can do to measure up. The Times of London has this one tip:

6. Play chess. Strategic games are useful preparation for cognitive or abstract reasoning tests. Create diagrams of how systems, such as that in a library, work, Bywater suggests.

From "Take care to measure up".

Chess - The Common Ground

Muammar Gaddafi, Yasser Arafat and former Israeli PM Menachim Begin all had something in common. They all played chess. In fact, according to Pinoy journo Frank "Boy" Pestaño, Arafat respected the Israeli Begin because he played chess!

READ: "Chess-playing heads of states"

Protest Against Chess

Why don't these people find something else to do?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Multiplayer Mobile Chess Game

There are some online chess addicts out there who spend their days and nights on multiple online chess servers. If you're one of these, you can now use your mobile phone for real-time game play.

Press release from Cellufun:

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- June 27, 2006 -- Cellufun, LLC, a leading provider of real-time multi-player games that can be played on existing, older, and next-generation mobile phones, today unveiled Cellufun Chess, the only free, multiplayer chess game supporting both real-time and PBM play on more than 500 handsets. During an 8 week soft launch, more than 125,000 people downloaded the game and are posting enthusiastic reviews.

More of that press release.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Indonesian Chess Worries

It seems that Philippine chessers are not the only ones to worry about Vietnam's rising dominance in the South East Asian chess scene. Next door neighbours the Indonesians are keeping a close eye on the Vietnamese.

At the recent 7th ASEAN Age Group Chess Championships in Jakarta, the hosts walked away with 10 gold medals and came second place overall on medal count behind Vietnam (RP was third). But that was not considered enough of an achievement.

Says Percasi secretary-general Sebastian Simanjuntak, "We must admit that we lack extraordinarily good young talent at present...We had 15 chess players on average in every class in the seventh ASEAN Chess Championship, compared to Vietnam's five, but they outclassed our players easily".

More from The Jakarta Post.

Goodbye Germany!

After 93 minutes of play, it was nil all in Australia vs Italy. Then, in yet another questionable decision by a referee - it's penalty to the Italians. It was over for the Aussies. Italy go through to the quarter finals.

Well done to the Italians. Despite being a man down for most of the second half, they held steady and, in fact, created the most chances to score.

I've just checked the news blogs and already there are some rather silly ideas being spouted out by some embarassing Australians. One suggestion is to introduce "video referees". Nothing could be more stupid! C'mon guys. This is football. This is life. We leave our fates to human judgement, human errors. This is what makes this game beautiful because anything can happen!

But enough of that. Let us celebrate this amazing Aussie achievement. Here are the goals we scored in the tournament - courtesy of bit9466.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


GM Rogers, in his column for the Sun Herald today, talks about a chess in schools initiative in Castelemaine, Victoria. The grandmaster also mentions an Australian Council for Educational Research article with a subtitle, "Chess Generates Genius".

We have not been able to find that article online (it's possibly not available). But in our efforts, we discovered that the Castlemaine initiative actually has an accompanying blog called Chess-Squared. Their aim is to "supplement lessons plans being developed that explore mathematical concepts gained by learning and playing regular chess."

Chess-Squared has already even come to the attention of one Susan Polgar! We welcome Chess-Squared to the blogosphere and wish the program all the best.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Kasparov on Human Rights

Earlier this week, ex chess number one Gary Kasparov wrote a piece for the Financial Teams in which he accused Terry Davis secretary-general of the Council of Europe, and who supports the Russian president Vladimir Putin, of placing himself "in opposition to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch".

Kasparov goes on to say:

The European Court of Human Rights receives more individual complaints from Russia than any other nation. Mr. Davis would hold that the increase in complaints is a sign of progress instead of a reflection of Russia’s descent into a full-blown dictatorship.

Such an attitude does great damage to the credibility of these organizations and sacrifices their moral authority. The same is true of the World Trade Organisation, which is considering Russia’s admission. Any benefits from this bartering on trade and human rights have been for our authoritarian rulers, not for the Russian people.

In a letter to the Financial Times, Terry Davis states his response.

Sir, Chess is a game in which there are two opponents, and everything is black and white. Politics and international affairs are different, but this important distinction is unfortunately ignored by Garry Kasparov in his article "Investors must not sell out Russian liberties" (June 20). He is wrong in several important respects.

Capa's Problem Solved

Take a look at the following position. It is a problem composed by the great Josel Raul Capablanca. What is so special about this position is that, for almost 100 years, it was said to have no solution. That is, until a man and his cat came along.

White to play and win (by JR Capablanca)

It is such a difficult problem that even Capablanca's own suggested solution was actually proved to be a mistake! Can you find the solution?

More from Armenia Now.

Dima Kills Them

Oliver Dimakiling is the 2006 RP Blitz champ. He went home with P10,000 for his efforts. From Journal Online.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Glory! Glory! Glory!

Amazing! Unbelievable. Wonderful. Tremendous. Awesome. Beautiful! What more can I say? The heroic Australian football team made it into the round of 16 in the World Cup after drawing with Croatia this morning. And what a bizarre game too with one Croatian player being issued 3 yellow cards before he was red carded!

No matter, we made it. I am just absolutely beside myself. I couldn't stop singing this morning, belting out a couple of arias in the bathroom. Woohoo! And who cares if Kewell may have been offside? At least for once we deserve a bit of refereeing decision on our side. Would you believe that two obvious in-goal penalties were missed by the officials? Once was a rugby tackle on Viduka and the other a handball by a Croatian.

By the way, the ref and both linesmen were English. Funny that!

Photo courtesy of Vince Caligiuri , from the SMH.

Bring on the Italians! C'mon Aussies!! My God, at this rate, I'll be so adequately inspired I might even qualify for Linares next year.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

2006 Malaysian Chess Festival

Our man in KL Andrew Ooi has just emailed us about the above event. It's on again this year and the basic details are below. More are available from Andrew's blog that includes downloadable forms.

26th ASTRO Merdeka Team Championship
Date: 19-20 August 2006
1st prize: RM 10,000

Dato Arthur Tan 3nd Malaysia Open
Date: 21-27 August 2006
1st prize: USD 4,000

Malaysia Challenge 2006
Date: 20-26 August 2006
1st prize: RM 1,500

Last year, a bunch of Aussies, including Aussie number one Ian Rogers, participated in the festivities.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Study vs Natural Talent

You're a seasoned tourney player, you've studied plenty of theory and you're all booked-up. Condident in your "chess education", one day you sit across the board to play blitz against some guy, whose name is "Parramatta" (would you believe?), who has never read a single line of theory and bang[!] - he whips you. Thank God that didn't happen to me today - but, it did happen to a strong player. Poor fellow. He couldn't believe it.

Only in Russia - Chess Killer

This sort of thing can only happen in Russia. Alexander Pichushkin has been dubbed the "Crazy Chess Killer" for allegedly planning 64 murders - one for each square of the chess board.

More from

Vietnam Dominates Junior Event

Vietnam, it seems, is absolutely determined to be the supreme chess nation in South East Asia. They have just concluded the 7th ASEAN Age Group Championships, held in Indonesia, with 70 gold medals, 29 silvers and 30 bronzes.

Team RP bagged 18 medals overall that included 7 golds. Third place overall on medal count was the host Indonesia who finished the event with 10 golds, 31 silvers and 12 bronzes.

Pinoy journo Ignacio Dee informes The Closet GM that the Filipino boy to keep an eye on is 9 year old Jan Emmanuel Garcia. Apparently, this kid will be the next Wesley So.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

English Player of the Year

For the first time in its history, the English Player of the Year award has been given to a woman player. In 2006, the award goes to Jovanka Houska.

Jovanka, despite the east European sounding name, was born in South London. She is one of the few English chess professionals around these days and proudly boasts a WGM (International Woman’s Grand Master title), is qualified at male International Master level and has aspirations to become England’s first proper female Grandmaster.

From the ECF site.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Best Wood for Pieces

What is the best wood to use for chess pieces? According to this chess retailer's blog, it depends. Apparentl, traditionalists prefer Ebony, while those with aesthetics top most on their list prefer Bud Rosewood.

The deep colours possible with Bud Rosewood are quite beautiful and the chess sets really have a warmth that people remark on and find beautiful. I’m not yet seasoned at this game - but I understand that there is little distinction made across retailers in differentiating between Red Rosewood, Bud Rosewood, and Redwood. Redwood is from the Californian Redwood, whilst the other two are synonymous and are from the root of the Rosewood tree, Bud Rosewood being the more often used term. Some customers just go straight for Ebony, I find it it also depends on the set - some just look better with the classic Ebony finish, or it’s cheaper Ebonized equivilent.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Argentina 6 - 0 Serbia & Montenegro

This morning, the world was treated to one of the finest displays of power football ever seen at the World Cup. Argentina splattered the Serbia & Montenegro team 6 - 0.

And how about that Saviola-Crespo-Cambiasso combo? Saviola feeds to Crespo, who backheels to Cambiasso, who fires, and bang: GOAL!

Our sympathies to Goran.

More Gormallygate...Sort Of

Former Pinoy Olympiad skipper Bobby Ang could not deny it. He says, "Well, I was Arianne’s team captain during the 2000 Istanbul Olympiad and noticed the impact she makes by simply walking into a room. On or off the board she is a knockout!"

One of the guys at the park, he must be over 50 years old, cannot stop talking about Arianne. "Oh if only I were 30 years younger", he says.

We also understand that Turin was not the first where two boys have fought over Arianne. There is some chatter about a similar incident during a Doeberl Cup. Men and boys really cannot help themselves.

So, it is with a "sympathetic voice" to Danny Gormally that Alex Wade puts in his two cents worth to the now infamous "Gormallygate".

READ: "Chess, love and rivalry"

Friday, June 16, 2006

Euwe: "Alekhine lives!"

This is not really about chess but there is a little tid bit about Max Euwe.

Former world chess champion and then Fidé president Max Euwe had reportedly exclaimed, after being defeated by a Nepalese competitor in the late 1970s, "Alekhine lives in Nepal!" The homegrown chess master was Baburam Bhattarai, the Communist ideologue, and later a senior standing member of the politbureau of Communist Party of Nepal. Mr Bhattarai, who abandoned a promising career in chess to pursue politics, says chess is to Communists what water is to duck. According to him, Communists were chess cognoscenti.

And that's it. The rest is about Nepalese politics. But if you want to, you can read the entire article here.

Songs China Bound

In his column last Monday, Peter Parr informed his readers that Raymond and Angela Song will be leaving Sydney and move to Shanghai, China for the next 2 years. We understand that they left yesterday.

Raymond, 12 years old, is the current City of Sydney champion while sister Angela is the Australian U18 Junior Champion.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Joga Bonito

OK, here is another non chess post. This one is just too hard to resist. Check out

You're going to need a lot of broadband for this one. What Nike has done is just awesome. The coolest bit isn't so much all the fancy Brazilian displays and videos but this concept of "the chain". I'm thinking of submitting my own video doing a bit of that bicycle kick!

7th ASEAN Age Group

A young Filipino player is in the joint lead of the 7th ASEAN Age Group tournament currently being contested in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports that 24th seeded Joel Pimentel defeated 5th seed Christer Jon Aplin of Singapore to remain undefeated on 4/4 points.

More from INQ7.

Jenni Oliver Resigns

We are informed that Canberra chess organiser Jenni Oliver has resigned from various administrative roles. This surely is a tremendous loss to Australian chess. Courtesy of ACT Junior Chess League PR officer Libby Smith, here is a short sample of Mrs Oliver's chessic achievements.

  • Jenni identified a number of problems with management of the Australian junior team overseas. In 1998, she worked with Lionel Smerdon and Marge Lip to bring a new structure to the management.
  • Jenni and [husband] Tony have sponsored and organised a number of grandmaster coaching camps for the team travelling to the World Youth Chess Championships.
  • Jenni and Tony have had a pivotal role in the development of the NECG (& now ERGAS) Elite Australian Squad including the organisation of the program in its first two years and hosting the first training camp.
  • Team Captain of the Belconnen Team, which took part in the inaugural Australian Teams Championships in Caloundra.
  • ACT State delegate to the Australian Women’s Chess League since 1999 and has organized the Dorothy Dibley matches as well as contributing the ACT news for the magazines
  • Revamped and reinvigorated ACTJCL's tournament schedule. Young players in the ACT have the opportunity to play in many more tournaments, and in a greater variety of tournaments, than their counterparts in other states.
  • Under Jenni's leadership, ACTJCL became more financially sound than ever before, enabling the organisation to make long overdue equipment purchases.

In Australia's liveliest chess bulletin board there is a thread that reads more like a collection of tributes to a permanent passing. Well, The Closet Grandmaster believes in a more optimistic approach. The Australian chess public ought to reject Mrs Oliver's resignation and beseech her to reconsider.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Serge Sarkisian for President

Clearly, in some parts of the world, a stint in chess politics can lend a big hand to one's bigger political ambitions - being president of a whole country. Serge Sarkisian, Armenian Chess Federation boss stayed with the Armenian team throughout the Turin Olympiad a couple of weeks ago. According to Eurasia Daily Monitor, "Some government officials and even army generals who joined in the celebrations [of Armenia's win in Turin - TCG] were quick to claim that this fact was key to the Armenian chess triumph."

From Eurasia Daily Monitor

Carl Gorka in Border Mail

Melbourne chess coach Carl Gorka (2074 ACF) was quoted by the Border Mail: "I was a kid when I started and I just didn’t stop playing...Most kids do stop at some stage and some, like me, stay geeks the rest of their lives".

Surely we can do better than perpetuate this image of being "geeks".

READ: Student have all right moves

George Xie: NSW Open Champ

Look closely at this position. You would think it was a study. It's not. The position arose in Illingworth - Wright at the just concluded NSW Open. Max Illingworth has just played 33. Qd3. What is black's move that now forces resignation?

M. Illingworth - N. Wright, after 33. Qd3

After a week of gloomy weather, the sun finally revealed itself on Monday - last day for the tournament. Bondi Beach was back to its sunny self. Gorgeous twenty-somethings were out and about, sipping latte, kissing, cuddling - watching and being seen. The Gertrude & Alice Cafe Bookstore, across the road from the venue, was packed to the rafters. I order two espressos and the checkout chick says, "Sorry sir, but there's a 30 minute wait for coffee". Thirty minutes? You gotta be kidding me! Such a travesty, I thought, would never happen in Sydney. I just walked out.

I hop on over to Lorezini's, next to the Hakoah Club. This joint has fewer people. I order my espressos. They arrive fast and quick. I'm happy. Off to chess.

A view of Bondi Beach last Monday

FM George Xie won the event on the perfect score of of 7/7 points. Throughout the event, George didn't meet the top seed, Hungarian international master Andras Toth. The visitor, sadly, was having a bad time scoring only 3.5 points. Andras lost to Tomek Rej and Canberra player Gareth Oliver. Welcome to Australia Andras!

There was high drama just before the start of round 7. Play was delayed because apparently, according to arbiter Charles Zworestine, a player had secretly altered the results in the computer. Charles had to double check everything. I left early so I'm not sure if the culprit was ever discovered but one can presume that this person will be in for some heavy penalty from the state association.

NSW Open 2006
Illingworth, Max
Wright, Neil

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. f3 e6 6. e4 exd5 7. e5 Qe7 8. Qe2 Ng8 9. Nc3 Bb7 10. Nh3 c4 11. Be3 axb5 12. O-O-O Qb4 13. Nf4 Ne7 14. Qf2 Qa5 15. Bb6 Qa6 16. Bc5 Qh6 17. Be3 d4 18. Rxd4 Nf5 19. Nxb5 Nxd4 20. Nxd4 Rxa2 21. Nd5 Ra1+ 22. Kd2 Qg6 23. Nc3 Bb4 24. Nc2 Rb1 25. Bxc4 Rxb2 26. Bd3 Qc6 27. Bd4 O-O 28. Qe3 Rc8 29. Be4 Qa4 30. Rc1 Bxe4 31. fxe4 Qb3 32. Qg3 Rc4 33. Qd3 Nc6 0-1

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Chessbase on Gormallygate

At long last, Chessbase has released their promised version of that punching incident. Except for GM Yasser Seirawan's role in apparently breaking up the fight, I'm not sure that we're learning anything spectacularly new. There are links to all the usual known news reports and that's about it.

But at least CB does provide some pictures of the party. If you look closely, there's IM Gary Lane and New Zealand's Puchen Wang somewhere in there. We love the photo of an Angolan chess player.

READ: "Party Time at the Chess Olympiad"

Monday, June 12, 2006

Australia 3 - 1 Japan

We are a chess blog, but tonight we take a moment to celebrate Australian history. For the first time ever, Australia won a game in the World Cup finals. Australia defeated Japan 3 - 1. Actually, that should have been 3-0 but the Egyptian referee was incompetent and allowed a dubious Japanese goal. Next stop, Brazil!

Correction to Bernardino's Statement

We like to be correct, honest and fair. To that end, we do, from time to time, rely on our loyal readers to keep us on the straight line. Dear readers, if you spot something wrong, feel free to email TCG. That's exactly what one tipster did.

In this report by Marlon Bernardino, he says, "A group of young Pinoy chess gladiators, accompanied by NCFP Chairman for Countyside Development Dr. Jenny T. Mayor and head coach NM Almario Marlon Bernardino, Jr. and some of their parents will invade the Indonesian capital..."

At the urging of an anonymous tip, we double checked with Marlon and he now offers a correction. Despite his request to keep this "off the record", TCG feels that his on the record blunder ought to be counterbalanced with an equally on the record correction.

Neither Dr Jenny Mayor nor Marlon Bernardino are going to Jakarta. The reason? "Budget contraint", says Marlon.

IM Norms for Pinoys

Here's a quick update from our Pinoy contributor, Mr Bernardino.

Eugene Torre booked a top 10 finish and three Filipinos gained IM norms in the just concluded 148 man–field 2nd San Marino International Chess Open.

Torre (ELO 2543), ended his ninth and final round match in a fighting draw against the top seeded GM Sergei Tiviakov (ELO 2669) of the Netherlands using the black pieces after 47 moves of an Owens Defense to score 6.5 points.

Wesley So, Darwin Laylo and Oliver Dimakiling earned IM norms. This was revealed yesterday by RP Turin Olympiad men’s head coach lawyer NM Samuel “Sammy” Estimo.

GM Vadim Milov of Switzerland, former winner of the Australian Open in 1999, was the overall winner of the event. He and GM Varuzhan Akobian scored 7.5 points, but the Swiss held the superior tiebreak.

San Marino Open 2006
Bhat, Vinay
So, Wesley

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. Nc3 Bb7 5. a3 d5 6. cxd5 Nxd5 7. e3 g6 8. Bb5+ c6 9. Bd3 Bg7 10. Na4 O-O 11. e4 Nf6 12. Qe2 c5 13. Bg5 Bc6 14. b3 h6 15. Bh4 g5 16. Bg3 Nh5 17. Rc1 cxd4 18. Bxb8 Bxa4 19. Bc7 Rc8 20. Bxd8 Rxc1+ 21. Kd2 Rxh1 22. Bc7 Rc8 23. Ne1 Rxc7 24. Qxh5 Bxb3 25. e5 Bf8 26. Qg4 Bxa3 27. Qxd4 Bd5 28. Qa4 Bf8 29. h3 Bc6 30. Qg4 Rd7 31. Qc4 Bc5 32. Ke2 Kg7 33. Qa6 Rd4 34. Qc8 Ba4 35. Qa6 Rb4 36. Nc2 Bxc2 37. Bxc2 Rb2 38. Qd3 Rc1 0-1

Last Round Loss for Arianne

Arianne Caoili finished her Lodi campaign on 4.5/9 points. She lost to IM Paolo Vezzosi in the last round in just 24 moves.

2 Festival Scacchistico Int. Lodi
Vezzosi, Paolo
Caoili, Arianne

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 c6 4. e3 e6 5. Nbd2 Nbd7 6. Bd3 Bd6 7. O-O Qe7 8. Re1 c5 9. cxd5 Nxd5 10. Nc4 cxd4 11. e4 Nb4

After 11...Nb4

12. e5 Bc5 13. Bg5 f6 14. exf6 gxf6 15. Bf5 Nf8 16. Nfe5 fxg5 17. Qh5+ Kd8 18. Nf7+ Kc7 19. Nxh8 Qf6 20. Re5 Bd6 21. Nxd6 Qxe5 22. Nhf7 Qf4 23. g3 Qd2 24. Nc4 1-0

Playing in the same tournament is fellow Australian international master Alex Wohl. The Australian big man, who put in a stunning 7/8 performance in the Turin Olympiad, collected 5.5 points overall.

2 Festival Scacchistico Int. Lodi
Wohl, Aleksandar
Castellanos, Renier

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Qc7 8. Bxf6 gxf6 9. Qd2 Nc6 10. O-O-O Bd7 11. Kb1 Be7 12. Bc4 O-O-O 13. f5 Nxd4 14. Qxd4 Kb8 15. Bb3 h5 16. Qd3 Rdg8 17. Qh3 Rg4 18. Rhf1 Qc5 19. g3 Qe3 20. Rd3 Qg5 21. Rdf3 Rg8 22. Rf4 Bd8 23. a3 Bc8 24. Nd1 Rxf4 25. Rxf4 Bc7 26. fxe6 Rh8 27. Qf1 fxe6 28. Rxf6 Qe5 29. Nc3 h4 30. Qf4 d5 31. Rf7 hxg3 32. hxg3 Qxf4 33. gxf4 dxe4 34. Nxe4 Rh1+ 35. Ka2 Rf1 1/2-1/2

Details are sketchy at the moment, but last night we received word from Pinoy journo Marlon Bernardino of a possible defection by Arianne Caoili back to Philippine ranks. Mr Bernardino cites RP men's coach Sammy Estimo as the source:

WIM Arianne Bo Caoili wants to don the Philippines colors once again. This was revealed by RP Turin Olympiad men’s head coach lawyer NM Samuel “Sammy” Estimo, incoming executive director of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP).

"Arianne (Caoili) talked with me regarding this matter during the last round of the Turin Olympiad. She wants to represent the Philippines at the 2006 Doha Asian Games this coming December and other international events like the 2007 Thailand SEA Games and the 2008 Dresden World Chess Olympiad in Germany”, said Estimo in an exclusive interview with NCFP publicist Filipino and US chessmaster Almario Marlon Bernardino Jr.

"I told her that it is possible , as in the case of Filipino Canadian Alex Pagulayan in billiards and Filipino American Cecil Mamiit in tennis during the 2005 SEA Games in Manila , but we should first discuss it in the NCFP Board and she should also hurdle the qualifying round, in which she agreed” added Estimo, a two-time Olympiad member.

We have sent urgent messages to Arianne via email and SMS to seek clarification of this stunning development, but so far there has been no reply.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Pinoy Chessers in San Marino

We have another update of Filipino performances at the 2nd San Marino event courtesy of Marlon Bernardino.

Pinoy GM Eugene Torre defeated GM Dmitry Svetushkin of Moldova using the white pieces to create a seven-way tie in fourth spot after the eight and penultimate round of the 2nd San Marino International Chess Open Saturday at the Kursaal Congress Centre in Republic of San Marino.

With the crucial win, the 54-year-old Torre has now 6.0 points, the same output of last round opponent top seed GM Sergei Tiviakov of the Netherlands, GM Vladimir Epishin, GM Baadur Jobava and GM Levan Pantsulaia of Georgia, GM Jaan Ehlvest of Estonia and GM Nenad Sulava of Croatia.

RP's top ranked player GM Mark Paragua (2617), defeated IM Subbaraman Vijayalakshmi of India to lead the huge group of 5.5 pointers along with last round assignment IM Bartlomiej Heberla.

Sensation FIDE Master Wesley So, 12 years old, put himself in good position to grab his 2nd IM norm by drawing with GM Pawel Jaracz and notching 5.0 points in eight games. So will face Italian top player GM Michele Godena in the final round.

NM Rolando Nolte halved the point with GM Stefan Djuric of Yugoslavia to join compatriots newly-minted IM Oliver Dimakiling and reigning national champion NM Darwin Laylo got stuck at 4.5 points.

Official site

Chess in Bondi

In their on-going experiment to improve tournament attendance, the NSWCA decided to hold this year's NSW Open at the Hakoah Club in Bondi - a short walk from the world famous beach. With a venue like that you'd think player numbers would go through the roof. Not so. Numbers this year are down significantly on 2005. Just 84 players turned up.

Last year, there were 114 players that included both GM Ian Rogers and IM Stephen Solomon.

We wonder, why such a low turnout? Distance is the likely principal culprit. Travelling from the southwest of Sydney, it took me nearly 2 hours to reach the venue. A jampacked traffic on Oxford St made it worse. For those in private vehicles there is the extra cost of parking fees.

There may be other reasons, too. The football World Cup in Germany, broadcast live into the early hours of the Australian morning, could be distracting some players. Actually, that's my reason for not playing. Plus this horrible cold weather is making it terribly hard to crawl out of bed.

The venue, however, does offer those who drive in with their private vehicles a novel experience. Being a Jewish club, making them a prime target, Hakoah subjects their visitors to a thorough counter-terrorist inspection. Vehicles are checked for bombs.

The venue

Top seed for this event is international master Andras Toth (2439), aged 24, from Hungary. He will be in Australia for the next 2 years to work as chess coach.

IM Andras Toth from Hungary

Joining Toth at the top are Igor Bjelbork (2369), George Xie (2316), Tomek Rej (2209) and Raymond Song (2195). Also in attendance is WIM Laura Moylan, board 2 for the Aussie women's Olympiad team. Poor Laura must still be suffering from jet lag. In round 2, she sat herself down at the back of the tournament hall and took a quick power nap. That rest must have done her some good as she defeated former world title challenger, Jose Escribano.

That's all for now. For the moment, we have this nice game by Neil Wright against Canberra's Milan Grcic - a sharp and wily tactician.

NSW Open 2006
Grcic, Milan
Wright, Neil

1. d4 d6 2. e4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nbd7 4. Nf3 e5 5. Be3 c6 6. Be2 Be7 7. O-O Qc7 8. a4 Nf8 9. a5 h6 10. h3 g5 11. dxe5 dxe5 12. Nh2 Ng6 13. Ng4 Nf4 14. Nxf6+ Bxf6 15. b4 Be7 16. Rb1 Nxe2+ 17. Qxe2 h5 18. f3 Be6 19. Qf2 g4 20. f4 gxh3 21. f5 Bc4 22. Rfd1 Rg8 23. Qf3 Rxg2+ 24. Kh1 Rg4 25. Qxh3 Rh4 26. Qxh4 Bxh4 27. Rg1 f6 28. Na4 Qe7 29. Bc5 Qh7 30. Rg6 Bg5 31. Rg1 Bf7 32. R6xg5 fxg5 33. Rxg5 h4 34. Nb2 h3 35. Nd3 Qh4 36. Rg1 Qxe4+ 37. Kh2 Qxf5 38. Be3 Qf3 39. Rg3 Qe2+ 40. Bf2 O-O-O 41. Kxh3 0-1

Danny Gormally: "I Fell in Love"

Fearing that Arianne Caoili may be depicted as a "temptress of the chequered board", England's Danny Gormally has now come out of hiding.

From Melbourne's The Age newspaper:

Well, I went up to him [Lev Aronian] and I punched him. Which is very embarrassing to me," Mr Gormally said.

"Basically, I hit him because I was jealous. Obviously, I've got problems with alcohol and anger, which I need to deal with.

"I was jealous because he was dancing with her — maybe I was also a bit jealous because he's the world No. 3 and I'm the world number two hundred and something.

Read: "I fell in love, says chess brawl man"

Also from The Age is an article about how "Gormallygate" can turn out to be a PR bonus for Australian chess (or chess in general). There is even a quote from Chess Victoria's Gary Wastell.

The federation isn't going to modify its activities in any way because of her particular personal attributes, but if they happen to provide a bit of an interest at a superficial level, well that's a little bonus.

Update from Lodi: After 8 rounds, WIM Caoili is on 4.5 points. She drew with IM Izsak Gyula in the 8th and defeated FM Tarik Rrhioua in the 7th. IM Alex Wohl is presently on 5 points.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Arianne Watch

In my inbox last night was an hastily written email from WIM Arianne Caoili. In response to an article written by Fiona Hudson (for Sydney's Daily Telegraph) Arianne said that her comments regarding Lev Aronian were "taken completely out of context". Arianne goes on to say that "the media are making things up".

In fact, Arianne has now updated her finger notes on the Internet Chess Club. The 10th line reads: "media low-lifes are misquoting constantly, telling lies and making up all sorts of things out of context. enough already, it is embarassing for everyone involved."

However, the woman international master did indicate that this piece by Roberta Mancuso was "THE CORRECT STORY" (yes, she wrote it in caps).

Also, the Times of London has a follow-up on their first Arianne story. In today's issue, Arianne says that she prefers to be known as the Sharapova of Chess and not the Kournikova of Chess.

The Times claims that they broke the story about the punching incident. If by "breaking the story" we mean "first mention" then doesn't that mean this post? There was also this by the Irish women's team captain, Mark Orr.

OK, there were no names, so how about the round 12 report by John Saunders of the British Chess Magazine which we later acknowledged here?

But to be absolutely exact, the first we heard about the incident (names included) albeit to a limited number of subscribers, was via the Australian Team email from Turin. No, The Times did not break the story.

A full transcript of the interview between Arianne Caoili and The Times is available here (where the howler that Arianne is Australia's number 3 is repeated).

Friday, June 09, 2006

Reflections on Turin

It's as if that name Arianne Caoili follows us everywhere. We even spot it here in Daaim Shabazz's Reflections on Turin.

Daaim was not the only person to compain about what he calls the "long march" between the player's village and the venue. Ireland's board 5 for the men, FM Colm Daly sent me an email in which he said (and we have his permission to quote):

Ironically I was in Turin and had a bloody awful time [was quite unwell really] and after arriving the night of the third round and then performed so awfully when I did play, I actually left on the Friday before the 3rd last round. Such was my eagerness to get out of there. [Just my personal perspective]. I liked Turin but hated the whole Olympic village and set up generally.

Forcing people to walk 20 minutes to and from a venue in such heat, each time they play and then added to this the living conditions. This was easily the worst Olympiad I have played in [been to 5 now in total] No fridge, actually little or nothing save for a bed and a table and chair!

And we cannot resist this:

Seems alot of the Ozzy girls are a fiesty lot. [Well they seem to have alot more personality than the hordes of eastern European women players who could hardly be much less interesting.]

One has to see the funny and human side to all this.

We reckon Mr Daly is an OK bloke.

Pinoys on Jakarta Mission

We've received another press release from those boys in the NCFP. I asked if they have a website. Answer? NO! Well why not?

Last night, I spoke briefly to NCFP director Dr Jenny Mayor. He surprised me somewhat when he suddenly blurted out the names of some of his Australian "friends": Brian Jones, Lee Jones, Elpidio Bautista and even our Olympiad blogger Larry Ermacora.

Now, dear readers, you might be thinking that this here blog is now an unquestioning mate of those folks in the NCFP. I assure you - not quite! They send us a bit of info, mainly reportage, then we share it. Besides, where else can you get good and up-to-date Pinoy info?

We'd really like to ask them a question or two about Casto Abundo.

A group of young Pinoy chess gladiators, accompanied by NCFP Chairman for Countyside Development Dr. Jenny T. Mayor and head coach NM Almario Marlon Bernardino, Jr. and some of their parents will invade the Indonesian capital to represent the Philippines in the annual regional gathering of future Southeast Asian Grandmasters - the 7th ASEAN Age-Group Chess Championships. The tourney will run from June 11 to 20, 2006 at the Mercure Convention Center in downtown Jakarta.

Team manager Cong Pichay said, "I see a bright future for Philippine Chess. These young kids are capable of beating tough players. In my reign, I'll see to it that their talents will not be wasted. A few years from now, they are our next world-beaters."

NCFP Spokesman Dr. Jenny Mayor remarked "We should concentrate on our young players.They are the future of Philippine Chess.Our Countryside Development Program is now bearing fruits."

Larry's Whereabouts

Larry Ermacora, our guest blogger during the Olympiad, has sent in a quick update on his whereabouts. He's now somewhere in Croatia. Sadly, there was a slight mishap. On the train from Torino, Larry's digital camera, that provided all of our Olympiad photography, was stolen. We wish our friend the best of luck.

Like Whatever!

Arianne Caoili may have "remained silent" to the AAP but she did have plenty to say to

Aronian is going to be world champion, everybody loves him. I am some sort of beauty, OK, whatever ... so people are interested...

He and I are very good friends, very.

On a chessic note, Arianne has scored 3 points after 6 games at the Lodi tournament.

We also learn from the Lodi organisers this interesting news (in Italian):

Giornata intensa a Lodi con la stampa alla ricerca della bella giocatrice australiana. Arrivati a Lodi gli inviati dell' Australian ( il piu' grande quotidiano australiano) e del Sidney Telegrof. Numerose le richieste della stampa italiana per le interviste alla Caoili. Probabilmente la giocatrice si concederà ai media Sabato sera 10 Giugno durante la Simultanea 100 scacchiere di cui sarà certamente protagonista.

Pinoys in Italy

Righto, back to normalcy and direct our attention to truly exciting, more interesting, juicy news. Honest!

Last night, the National Chess Federation of the Philippines' press officer Marlon Bernardino emailed in a press release regarding Pinoy performances in Italy. It seems that some Pinoy chessers moved on to other events immediately after the Olympiad. Well, publishing press releases verbatim isn't really our thing, so we'll just quote the more interesting parts.

REIGNING PHILIPPINE OPEN CHAMPION No. 58 NM Darwin Laylo (ELO 2406) settled for a truce with No. 21 and 16-year-old GM Yuriy Kuzubov (ELO 2554) of Ukraine using the white pieces to fortify his GM title norm bid in the fourth round of the 2nd San Marino International Chess Open Wednesday at the Kursaal Congress Centre in Republic of San Marino.

Laylo, whose stint here is supported by Lipa City (Batangas) Mayor Vilma Santos has now 3.0 points on account of 2 wins, 2 draws after four games of play.

National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) spokesman and six-time RP executive champion Dr. Jenny T. Mayor said. "The performance of our lowly-rated players clearly shows the deep bench of Fili-pino talents back home."


After leading the in the second round, the 54-year-old Eugene Torre, RP’s long-time vanguard, bowed to No. 49 IM Mikulas Manik (ELO 2450) of Slovakia in the third but bounced back in contention by demolishing No. 67 Leonardo Valdez of Italy in the fourth.

While the 22 year old Paragua, the country’s highest rated player, after suffering his first setbacks at the hands of IM Manik in the second, clustered back to back wins against No. 84 Alban Delorme and No.58 Giulio Borgo of Italy, respectively.


After a fine start in the first two rounds by settling a draws against Ukrainian GM Kuzubov and No. 39 Dutch GM Karel Van Der Weide (ELO 2482), 12-year old FM Wesley So, who hails from Bacoor, Cavite bowed to No.51 German Fide Master Erik Zude (ELO 2426) in the third but beat No. 126 Silvan Omeri of Italy in the fourth.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Update from Lodi

We have an update from the Italian town of Lodi where our now famous woman international master is playing. After 4 rounds of play, Arianne Caoili is on 1.5 points. The other Australian in the event, and hero of the Australian men's Olympiad team for his outstanding 7/8 performance, international master Alex Wohl is on 2 points.

Italian paper Corriere della Sera also has a mention of the so-called "Gormallygate".

Chessbase - Way way behind

It must really be a slow news day at Chessbase. If you check out the Chessbase homepage, they currently have an item called, "Must-watch video: Pawns in Love". The teaser reads:

We found beautiful chess animation on Google Video, the open online marketplace where people share their kinematic efforts (it's all free and legal). The film by Brent Forrest is a love story set on a chessboard – impressive to watch a real game develop – and to the strains of Johann Strauss' Fledermaus overture. Bet you've never seen a pawn cry.

Well, actually, yes we have. We saw it for the first time courtesy of the Chess Maniac way back in March this year.

Politics of Chess

You think maybe those guys from The Chaser were paying attention to this week's events?

The world is, essentially, black and white. Right and wrong. Truth or lie. Do or die. For the pieces that reside in the world of chess experience this stark dichotomy on a daily basis. Their world, such as it is, allows for only restricted movement. They have no real freedoms at all. Worse still, as with the real world, the white pieces have the pick of the action, always allowed to move first, in essence always dictating the moves of the black pieces.

More from The Chaser.


SMH blogger Dominic Knight opened with "I don't know much about the heady world of international chess" and should have stopped right there. Instead, he goes on to take cheapo shots at you-know-who.

Well, he gets something right: "Okay, onto the next quirky internet story."

READ: Porn to Queen Four

Aussie Uni Rapid Event

I should really get paid for this. With this sudden spike in traffic, I sometimes wonder, why did I have to start a blog on chess? I mean, why couldn't it have been a blog about, I don't know, abalone or something? I hear those things cost a bloody fortune.

Righto, here's a freebie promo for the Australian universities Rapid Play Championships.

# Dates: Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 July 2006 (note the change of dates; no play on Friday 13 July)
# Venue: Level 4, Wentworth Building, Sydney University (corner of City Rd and Butlin Av, Darlington, NSW)
# Tournament Format: Open Swiss
# Time Limit: 20 minutes per side + 10 seconds per move from move 1
# Format: Universities may send as many players as they like. (Bona fide under graduate and post graduate students). The player finishing first will be the Australian Universities Rapid Champion and receive a trophy. There will be trophies for second and third place as well. Any university is eligible for the Team prize. However the best 3 scores will be added together to determine the Australian Universities Rapid Team Champion. There will be trophies for the teams finishing first, second and third.
# Social Evening: A social get-together will be held after the first day. The emphasis is on the social side as well as the chess for this competition! There will be pizza, beer and soft-drinks and will start immediately after the last round on the 13th. There is no cost involved and all entry fees after the trophies and incidental costs will be added to sponsorship and put towards the social evening.
# Entry fee: $10 per person, payable on the day.
# Director of Play: International Arbiter Dr Charles Zworestine.

Crikey! We got a mention

Those enlightened folks at can surely be considered truly cultured. If only at least for having categorised what they call "Sexy punch-up good for chess" under Sport.

Yours truly scores a mention here.

But my feelings are hurt. Folks, it's Grandmaster - with a 'd' (not "Granmaster").

NSW Open 2006

While we have the world's eyes on this blog, we might as well give a freebie promotion to the New South Wales Chess Association's Category 5 tournament due to be held this weekend.

Full details are available here.

As you can see, the venue is in Bondi. That's right, exactly where the world famous Bondi Beach is located. With this horrible "London weather" we're having in Sydney at the moment, you have another reason to stay indoors for the whole long weekend. The weather bureau says it will rain throughout.

Arianne Caoili's Statement

Arianne has now made an official statement. The first blogger to point this out is Stefano Bellincampi. Out of courtesy to him, I direct you to his post here.

The statement was apparently obtained by the organisers of the Lodi tournament in which WIM Arianne Caoili is playing.

This morning, Sydney's SMH features the story on the front page. Yesterday, they had this sentence on their website: "She [Arianne's mom] said Aronian was a 'lovely gentleman' and he and her daughter were an 'item' at the moment.

Today, in the print version it became: "Her mother, Annette, referred to her daughter and Aronian as a "hot item", and said the Armenian star was "a very nice gentleman".

Readers can easily take this to mean that our WIM and the world number 3 are dating. Last night we spoke to Annette directly. All that Annette actually meant was that it was natural for the media to make an item out of a "pretty girl" being seen with the world's best players.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Gormallygate: Howler Tracker

OK, with so many media agencies now running with this story, written by journos who know nothing of chess, we thought we should keep a track of some blatant howlers and maybe clarify a few things.

Dear readers, you're very much part of this process. If you spot anything, we'll add it in.

Is Arianne a grandmaster (GM)?
No. She is a woman international master (WIM). This title is a good few notches below that of a GM. Arianne does hold "norms" for higher titles: one international master (IM) norm and 2 woman grandmaster (WGM) norms.

Is she ranked number 3 in Australia?
No. We can look at this using both the international rating (FIDE) and the local rating (ACF) lists. On the international list, Arianne is ranked 66th in Australia; on the ACF list she comes in at 38th overall.

UPDATE: A reader notes that WIM Arianne Caoili did play on board 3 for the Australian women's team at the recently concluded Olympiad in Torino, Italy.

Has she ever reached a rating of 2400 (FIDE)?
I've heard this claim myself but I have not been able to confirm it. It's likely to be untrue. Actually, Arianne once played under the surname "Bo" but there's no record of her having reached 2400 with that surname.

Can we consider her the "Kournikova of Chess"?
In fact, as has been pointed out elsewhere on the net, this label belongs to another chess player - that overexposed Russian, Alexandra Kosteniuk. See this one, for example.

For our journo readers, here is the first real Kournikova of chess -

Is this a fair label?
We say, well who cares? Some readers suggest that to be dubbed "Kournikova of chess" is an insult. ACF boss Denis Jessop thinks so. Says he: "I think that the Kournikova of chess is actually a sort of insult as AK [Anna Kournikova] was attractive but never won a major event".

It is true, AK never won a major singles event, but she was a successful doubles player. Here is her entry in Wikipedia.

Danny Gormally - England's world no. 4?

This item by an Australian media agency claims that GM Danny Gormally is "England's world no. 4". He isn't. Gormally did play on board 4 for England in the recently concluded Olympiad, in Turin. Gormally's score was 1.5 points out of 5 games.

It had to happen

Finally, someone did it! The link below even has scanned images of the Times articles.

We checked whois and the domain name is registered to Irish player FIDE Master Colm Daly.

A Love Spat?

It's the Daily Tele's turn.

SMH on "Gormallygate"

It was only a matter of time before an Australian press got in on the act. First off the mark is the Sydney Morning Herald. Oh, and that main photo is by yours truly.

SMH: Chess beauty triggers 'Gormallygate'

EDIT (7 Jun, 4.08PM AEST): The SMH has since replaced the main photo with one of Arianne's glamour shots.

EDIT (7 Jun, 4.25PM AEST): Further updates by the SMH with quotes from ex-ACF boss Graeme Gardiner and Arianne's mother, Annette.

ACF Boss: Times Inaccurate

Australian Chess Federation head, Denis Jessop has now responded to The Times article in which he was quoted. Mr Jessop made the following remark in an Australian chess forum:

[I]n the tradition of some journalism, the quote is not quite accurate. I said that I was aware of an incident having happened but knew insufficient details to make a statement. I said that the team captain had not reported it but if he did the ACF would look into it.

I have no intention of launching my own inquiry (ie an ACF inquiry) unless the ACF receives an adverse report.

It seems from the BCM article in particular that GM Gormally was the main actor

So far, Arianne Caoili has not responded to numerous requests for comment from The Times. It may be that she has no access to the internet. The Scachierrando blog informs us that both she and Australian IM Alex Wohl are participating in some tournament in the nothern Italian town of Lodi.


And it just keeps on rolling on. Now we even have a name for it: "Gormallygate". Stephen Moss, of The Guardian has an interesting take:

Let's accentuate the positive. The public has at last been given an insight into the true nature of chess: an essentially Darwinian struggle for power and sexual supremacy. Grandmasters - young and frequently in search of a girlfriend but without the money to buy a woman dinner or the ability to make any small talk beyond the latest innovation in the Ruy Lopez (Steinitz Defence Deferred) - love to use sexual terminology to describe their games. They talk about "rogering" their opponents ... and worse. The notion of bondage - tying up your opponent with a view to eventually killing the king - is central to chess. For young men, chess is sex by other means. If the public grasp this, the game will surely have a bright future.

From: "Comment is Free" blog.

Also, from the UK press is an item by the Telegraph. But c'mon! "Violent feud"? The Philippines media, too, has already picked up on the story. I could provide links, but they look to be just based on other net sources so nothing interesting there.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Anger Management and Chess

The Times has another piece on the whole punching incident.

Read: "WNxBQ; BNpunchesWN; British grandmaster i.s.o. anger management"

Times of London on Gormally

Last night, yours truly received an interesting email from London. It talked about The Times of London wanting to do a story on THAT punch and asked me if I could stay up a little longer while arrangements for contacts and interviews are made. After a series of emails and a chat on MSN, the night ended, I thought, unsuccessfully as we couldn't get a hold of the main players.

I was wrong. Ray Keene and Rajeev Syal, Times reporters, still managed to file a story that even includes a quote from ACF head, Denis Jessop.

The story: How Dare You Take My Queen?

Joshua - Robot Chess

It's now back to the usual routine. So here's a short but interesting little tidbit about robot chess!

From Robots.Net.

Olympiad - Last Words

Our man in Turin, Larry Ermacora, was going to send some closing remarks but returned late from dinner last night. Having a taste for the good things in life, Mr Ermacora, an Italian by the way, prefers to take his time and enjoy. Yesterday, his annoyance at the Armenia - Hungary match was salved only by, what else[?], food.

I've just come back from a picnic lunch on my own on the grass under a grove of young trees here in the Olympic park. I had tramezzini (Italian sandwiches), focaccia, kebab and some fruit and tap water. It's a gloriously sunny day and the mountains, still snow-capped, ring the whole horizon. Why, one might ask, stay inside playing chess without even a bite to eat?

With such a thought, I feel a little more sympathetic towards the Armenians and Hungarians, happy with their draws, now enjoying their lunch, the sunshine and a good drink.

By the time he returned from dinner, the press room was already closed, way ahead of time apparently. So it is left up to me to end our Olympiad coverage.

All in all, blogging the Olympiad has been a lot of fun. We enjoyed it and we hope that you enjoyed reading. In the eleven months that this blog has been live on the blogosphere, we've never received so much traffic than over the last two weeks. Readers came from around the world. I was even surprised to see incoming links from an Armenian chess forum!

But one story really did it - THAT punching incident and it all began with the Australian team email.

In breaking news about the Bermuda party last night, Armenia's gold medal chances have taken a dive after their top board was hit in the face by England's Danny Gormally. Apparently they were fighting over one of the Australian players...

Wait - there might be more. The Australian women's captain, IM Leonid Sandler, has promised: "[W]hen I will return I promise to tell all". We can't wait.

That's it then. For the next one we hope to be there on site in Dresden. It should be fun.

You'd think that with the Olympiad over, it's back to normal sleep patterns. Not quite! In just a few days, the football World Cup kicks off in Germany. Australia is in it for the first time since 1974. I'm tipping our boys to at least survive Group F - a real tough one. Go Aussies!

Monday, June 05, 2006

RP Final Results

Two years ago, in Calvia, the RP men's team finished in 19th spot. This time around, they drop to 44th with 28.5 points. Australia (posn. 29), Indonesia (posn. 40) and Vietnam (posn. 39) have all placed higher than RP - somewhat mildy souring the RP men's campaign.

Armed with 3 grandmasters, Brazil was never going to be easy. Paragua crossed swords with Giovanni Vescovi and that game ended a draw but not before some incendiary exchanges. The Brazilian's 22. Rxc5 was probably not necessary but it certainly made for an interesting game. With that move, Vescovi gave up the Queen for Bishop and Rook. For some moments in the end phase, it seemed as if Paragua was in trouble. Thank God he drew.

Philippines vs Brazil, round 13 (Photo by Larry Ermacora)

Antonio and Torre also drew their respective games. Dimakiling, who was playing for two kinds of norms (GM and IM) lost his game and thus settled only for the IM version. The match was therefore a win to Brazil 2.5 - 1.5.

Last night, the RP women's side finally had their 6-game unbeaten run ended by Slovenia. RP lost their match 2.5 - 0.5. Pinay rookies, Perena and Cua, who have been the team's heroes, were completely outplayed by their WGM opponents. It was left to veteran Beverly Mendoza to eke out a draw against the strong WIM Jana Krivec on board 3.

Philippines vs Slovenia, round 13 (Photo by Larry Ermacora)

The Pinays can celebrate, however, for having significantly improved their position in the final standings ladder. In 2004 they found themselves in 48th spot. Thanks to some determined effort, in particular by the team rookies, the Pinays end Turin in 26th position.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Australian Final Results

The Olympiad is over for the Aussies and they went out with a bang.

What a satisfying win it must have been for GM Rogers. Tonight he defeated Peru's numero uno Julio Granda. It was only the Peruvian's third such loss in this event. All other boards were resounding victories for Australia thus wiping out Peru 4-0. Zhao completely dominated his opponent but Wohl's game was gorgeous. The Australian big man again demonstrated his endgame skill and finished off nicely. Smerdon took a little longer than his colleagues but also won beating IM Emilio Cordova.

Just like their male counterparts, the Aussie women ended their Turin stint on a high by defeating the lowly Irish 2.5-0.5. Moylan handled the board 1 duties and only drew. Caoili benefited from an imprecise piece sac by her opponent and eventually won. Ngan, on the other hand, caused some temporary worries when the official site's game viewer indicated her as having lost. In fact, she won (as confirmed by Arianne herself when I chatted to her on MSN).

Virtually Live Pics

Well, sort of! Here are some more photos from Larry. Our man couldn't contain himself. Says he: "And here are our warriors ready to fight to the last drop of blood! Shame on the cowardly Armenians!"

Right on man.

Australia vs Peru, round 13 (Photo by Larry Ermacora)

Rogers, on board 1, is facing Julio Granda (described by Helen Milligan Jacob Aagaard as "probably the strongest player in chess history not to have an opening repertoire") of Peru. At this time, 2 hours after start of play, all Aussie positions are in good health.

Australia vs Ireland, round 13 (Photo by Larry Ermacora)

At the second hour mark, board 1 and 3 are doing well. Arianne Caoili on board 2 is under siege with her opponent sacrificing a piece early. Her country hopes that Arianne can hold.

IM Alex Wohl, board 4 (Photo by Larry Ermacora)

A Disappointing End?

This is the first report from our man in Turin, Larry Ermacora. The match Armenia - Hungary ended, well, you be the judge.

Got here before half past ten this morning and immediately came across a sensation or a disappointment in the final round. At the men's top match Armenia-Hungary the players had already left and all four boards showed draws. RAI Italian Television had set up an enormous camera next to this table for live transmission. Too bad for them. Why is this allowed by FIDE?

Armenia vs Hungary, round 13 (Photo by Larry Ermacora)

OK Armenia had the gold medal in the bag, but why deprive the paying public of a show?

- Larry Ermacora

For the next couple of weeks, during the Olympiad, we will feature a guest blogger - Larry Ermacora. He will be providing reports all the way from Torino after having been officially accredited by Olympiad officials as a journo for this blog.

Larry is a well known personality in Australian chess circles. He was an administrator in both Western Australia and New South Wales. And, in 1990, he was awarded the highly coveted Koshnitsky medal.

Ray Keene Blog

Raymond Keene has a blog! As might be expected, he's also posted about the whole punching incident. He's even more colourful using the term, "chess hooligans". Pity that Mr Keene his co-blogger James O'Fee can't bother to check the correct spelling of Arianne's surname.

Impala Publishers Blog

See in particular Keene's take on the FIDE Elections results.

Danny Gormally

Enough teasing. Danny Gormally was our naughty English grandmaster who punched Levon Aronian's face at the Bermuda party. Actually, I buried this info in the comment's section of this post.

From the BCM site:

From what the BCM has been able to gather from various sources present in Turin, the facts appear to be as follows: annoyed that a young lady player (Arianne Caioli of Australia) preferred to dance with Levon Aronian of Armenia, Gormally landed a punch on the world number three. Thankfully the blow did not do any real damage but the Armenian delegation was understandably incensed that their top board should be treated in this way. To keep the peace, the English delegation decided that Gormally would have to be sent back home immediately.

Such a behaviour by a man is a sure sign of insecurity. But the BCM let's us in on more. The BCM quotes Nigel Short (writing for the Guardian):

Danny is clearly wrestling with demons of his own. When the entire hall rose for a minute's silence as a mark of respect for the victims of the Indonesian earthquake, England's fourth board remained slouched in his chair. Suffice it to say that he lost miserably. While everyone can be excused the occasional poor result, bad form combined with bad attitude is less easily forgiven.

In a word: disgraceful!

A Heartfelt Piece

Reading this article just about breaks my heart. Robert Huntington:

Bessel Kok’s campaign was probably the last hope of reforming FIDE from within. Four more years of Ilyumzhinov and the situation may be past all hope of repair. A structure needs to be created such that commercial sponsors are convinced that they are supporting an ancient and noble challenge and expression of the human spirit and not a mad dictator who talks to aliens and whose aides murder journalists. I know FIDE’s motto “We are one family” (gens una sumus) but some families are so dysfunctional that the only healthy thing to do is move out.

I know that, if undertaken, it will be a long and difficult task with uncertain prospects. And I have no real concrete proposals. But there are those with far better connections, knowledge of the details, and organizational skills than I. Let’s hope that they step forward now.

We can only hope.

Our readers might also like to read this post by my fellow blogger Michael Goeller of The Kenilworthian. I know, I know, Chessbase has a link to the New Yorker article but Michael was the first to mention it.

Pinays Win Again!

Last night the Philippine Women's team, with rookies at the helm, continued their winning streak by trouncing Estonia 2.5 - 0.5. Catherine Perena, on board 1, playing the white side of a Rubinstein Nimzo won a piece early after some careless play by WIM Tsiganova. The win was nicely brought home with a timely return of that piece with 48. Bxg6+!!

Sheerily Cua drew on board 2 while veteran Beverly Mendoza executed a sweet finish against WFM Valeria Gansvind to secure the victory. The Pinays will go into the 13th round against the awesome Slovenians who will have the services of two WGMs.

The Pinoys drew their match 2-2 against Switzerland. Mark Paragua posted his fourth loss but he can console himself for having gone down to a true living legend, Viktor Korchnoi. Both Antonio and Torre drew their games. FM Oliver Dimakling, of Davao, defeated IM Richard Forster. Forster possibly miscalculated and missed that 48. Qxd4 was actually a check!

Team RP will face the strong Brazilian side in the final round.

Against the team from the Faroe Islands, the Aussie boys were expected to deliver a wipeout win. They came close with IM David Smerdon only drawing on board 2 against fellow international master John Rodgaard. The Aussies won that match 3.5 - 0.5.

The Aussie women's team had a familiar opponent playing on board 1 for Italy "A". IM Elena Sedina, formerly of The Ukraine, was the 2005 Australian Open Champion. Sadly for Aussie fans back home, WIMs Moylan and Caoili (boards 1 and 2 respectively) continue their bad run losing their games last night. Both of them have just 3 points each. But they can thank, once again, Ngan-Koshnitsky (on board 3) for saving them with a win over WGM Adina Maria Bogza.

Last Round Pairings

Brazil - Philippines
Australia - Peru
Iraq - NZ

Philippines - Slovenia
Australia - Ireland
Puerto Rico - NZ

More details from the WZ site and the Official site. I've also added the official logo on my right-bar. Click on it and you'll see a post with essential Olympiad coverage. Robert Huntington's blog is a must-read.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Ermacora Diary: Bad Food & FIDE

Round 12 today, so we are close to the end. In fact the area next to the Olympiad Hall is being prepared for the Closing Ceremony at 6.30pm tomorrow night. The last round will start at 10am tomorrow.

Armenia is pulling ahead in the Men and just about got it in the bag. In the Women Ukraine is at the top but not by a big margin. A winner, and by a big margin, was Kirsan Ilyumzhinov who will be President of FIDE till 2010 to the regret of some. I attended the General Assembly yesterday, spending six hours there, three of which were spent watching an empty stage while proxies, signatures, etc were being checked in a back room and the fate of Uraguay, Peru, Bosnia decided: could they vote or not? That became a heated issue, settled by a timely and cool Presidential intervention. I must say I thought Kirsan in his speech and general countenance was impressive. He seemed very relaxed. Perhaps he practices yoga.

The Philippines had declared before the election that they supported Kirsan. Australia had not. I noticed the Hon. Former President Campomanes seeking out Phil Viner, no doubt to do some hard lobbying. Garry Bekker was there too, looking rather dapper and spreading bonhomie amongst delegates he knew. I decided good delegates are chessplayers who look comfortable in a suit and tie. Bald heads qualify too: that, it has been proven, is a sign of intelligence. There were many bald heads there and few women.

Sorry I didn't get my report in yesterday. I prepared it, but then my computer decided to go on strike, froze and what I had written was lost. I'm afraid I had to call it a day and chose to go to dinner with the Rogers, Manuel weeks, Tim Reilly and others at an Italian restaurant outside the Olympic Village. Highly recommended by Ian and Cathy it turned out pretty good. Food in the Village varies from very good to fairly awful. Ian thinks it's just awful. He has a number of other complaints about the Village. All I can say is The Olympiad requires a gigantic organisation, including an army of volunteers: don't you in Australia ever think about getting involved!

Today the male Australian team plays the Faroe Islands. I'm afraid our team has been losing ground. The loss to the Dominican Republic yesterday was particularly bad for us as David Smerdon lost his chance of scoring a final GM norm and now Alex Wohl won't get strong enough opponents in the two remaining rounds to score his GM norm. The Aust. Women are doing better. Today they face Italy A. So I will have divided loyalties.

Australia vs Italy A, round 12 (Photo by Larry Ermacora)

I notice that Arianne Caoili, who was not playing yesterday, is on board 2 today. She's created quite a stir outside the Olympiad Hall by encouraging a competition of another kind amongst some top male players by playing one against the other. I don't listen to rumours much but it seems that no less than Aronian was punched by a rival while dancing with Arianne.

WIM Arianne Caoili (Photo by Larry Ermacora)

Amiel I'm afraid that Alexander Morozevich has given up wearing his wind cheater jacket, as it's now too hot for it. I have it on good authority that yes the emblem on the blazer is Australian. Apparently he visited Australia. No, I don't know but probably yes, Arianne may have something to do with that too. She's half Filipino I heard, so it's all your fault. Hot blood.

- Larry Ermacora

For the next couple of weeks, during the Olympiad, we will feature a guest blogger - Larry Ermacora. He will be providing reports all the way from Torino after having been officially accredited by Olympiad officials as a journo for this blog.

Larry is a well known personality in Australian chess circles. He was an administrator in both Western Australia and New South Wales. And, in 1990, he was awarded the highly coveted Koshnitsky medal.

Unethical Board Order

I've just returned from watching the Da Vinci Code. If you read the book, don't bother seeing the movie. Tom Hanks was wasted! That's all we're going to say about that.

Back at home now and what do we do but catch up on some reading? With so many things happening at this Olympiad, we sometimes overlook some interesting little tidbits that really deserve more inspection. For example, take a look at the Mongolian men's board order.

Here's what the BCM had to say about it:

One irritation for the Welsh squad was the board order of the Mongolian team. In board order (starting from board 1) the Mongolian squad is rated 2303, 2124, 2322, 2042, 2270... and 2433. That's right - the Mongolian board SIX is rated 2433, more than 100 rating points above any other member of the team. He is also a GM, whereas the rest of the squad are either FMs or untitled. Leighton Williams needs to play a third GM to have a chance of a GM norm, but he cannot play someone from the wrong end of the opposition team. How come Mongolia is allowed to get away with what most of us would regard as blatant cheating? Will FIDE allow the Mongolian board six to receive a board medal if he gets the requisite score? Anyone who has ever played team chess knows that you are expected to arrange your players in descending order of strength from board 1 down. But, as far as I can see, there is no written FIDE regulation governing the board order in Olympiads. Most self-respecting competitions have regulations which prevent the manipulation of the board order, but apparently not the Olympiad.

The Welsh team report consider this "unethical board order". What say you dear readers?

British GM Sent Home

We have an update on this story. The Irish team blog says:
I didn't actually witness the following story, so I can't vouch for it's veracity but what I heard was that a star Armenian player was punched by an English grandmaster at the "Bermudan" party (the traditional main party at Olympiads) while dancing with a very pretty girl who plays for Austraila. The Armenians (who are currently in a comfortable lead in the Olympiad) did not take kindly to this and the English grandmaster has been sent home for his own safety.
We hear from a very reliable source that the English GM was actually allegedly bashed by the Armenians.

Curious Coffee Break

As we know now, of course, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has just got himself re-elected as FIDE president. Here is the breaking news from Chessbase that includes an analysis by David Levy.

The FIDE website is not slow to make the announcement.

But what we find interesting is this little piece by Robert Huntington. Robert reports of a 10-15 minute coffee break that turned into a long 2-hour delay. What was happening during those 2 hours?

Round 11 - Pinay Power

"Wow" is about all I could say when I woke up this morning. The RP women's chess team have just drawn their match with Lithuania 1.5-1.5 in the 11th round of the Turin Olympiad.

Team veteran WFM Sheerie Lomibao lost to IM Viktorija Cmilyte on board one. RP's fortunes were rescued on board 2 when rookie Catherine Perena drew with 2423-rated IM Ciuksyte Dagne. It was then left to another team rookie Sheerily Cua to bring home the extra point by winning a tough 89-mover game over Daiva Batyte.

Two years ago, the Pinays finished in 48th place. This time it looks like they are well on the way to a higher placing. C'mon ladies! Their next assignment? Estonia.

On the men's side, the Pinoys went down to the star-studded Netherlands team 3-1. Antonio lost to van Wely, while Laylo was edged out by Nijboer. We expected Paragua to hold his own against Sokolov on board one and sure enough, the game was a draw. But how about Eugene Torre? Playing in his 19th consecutive Olympiad, a record, the guy must be on some sort of viagra (as one reader suggests). Eugene drew with Sergey Tiviakov on board 2.

We could say amazing, unbelievable, or any such expressions of surprise. But we'd be insulting this great man. Still, we do not agree with Bobby Ang's opinion that Torre should have been on board one.

Olympiad 2006
Torre Eugene
Tiviakov Sergey

1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 d5 3. e3 c5 4. Bxf6 gxf6 5. c4 cxd4 6. exd4 Qb6 7. Nc3 Qxb2 8. Nxd5 Bf5 9. Qc1 Qxc1+ 10. Rxc1 Na6 11. c5 O-O-O 12. Ne3 Be4 13. Bxa6 bxa6 14. Ne2 e6 15. Rc3 Bc6 16. O-O Bb5 17. Nc4 Be7 18. Rb1 Rd5 19. Ne3 Rdd8 20. Kf1 Kc7 21. Rb4 Rb8 22. Rcb3 Rhd8 23. Ke1 f5 24. Nc4 Bxc4 25. Rxc4 Rxb3 26. axb3 Rb8 27. Rc3 h5 28. Kd2 h4 29. Kc2 Rg8 30. g3 Rh8 31. Rf3 hxg3 32. hxg3 a5 33. g4 f6 34. gxf5 e5 35. dxe5 fxe5 36. Ng3 Bxc5 37. Ne4 Bf8 38. Rc3+ Kd7 39. Rd3+ Kc6 40. Rd8 Rh4 41. Kd3 Bb4 42. Ke3 Rf4 43. f6 Bc5+ 44. Nxc5 Kxc5 45. Rf8 Kd5 46. Ra8 Ke6 47. Rxa7 Rb4 48. Ra6+ Kf7 49. Rxa5 Rxb3+ 50. Ke4 Kxf6 51. Ra6+ Kf7 1/2-1/2

The Aussies, too, had a mixed day. Playing against the much weaker Dominican Republic, the Aussie boys lost 2.5-1.5. Rogers, playing the black side of a sharp Benko, could only draw on board 1. Smerdon, who has so far performed admirably, lost to FM Lisandro Munoz (2342). Zhao and Lane drew with Mazara (2189) and Infante (2163) respectively.

Women's team captain IM Leonid Sandler can now at least calm his nerves a touch as his charges pulled off a somewhat imperfect match victory. Last night the Aussies defeated Tajikistan 2-1. Both Moylan and Berezina drew their encounters, while Ngan-Koshnitsky won hers.

Round 12 Pairings

Australia - Faroe Islands
Philippines - Switzerland
NZ - Andorra

Italy A - Australia
Philippines - Estonia
Angola - NZ

More details from the WZ site and the Official site. I've also added the official logo on my right-bar. Click on it and you'll see a post with essential Olympiad coverage. Robert Huntington's blog is a must-read.

Friday, June 02, 2006

FM Weng - A Tassie Connection

[More about the RP - Malaysia round 10 match-up. But no, we're not talking about Pinoys this time. In Australia's liveliest chess bulletin board, Chess Chat, ACF official Dr Kevin Bonham reminds one and all that FM Lim Yee Weng had actually spent time in the state of Tasmania - that apple shaped island south of the Australian mainland. I had not realised this! I immediately asked Dr Bonham if he could say a few words about FM Weng's exploits in Tassie. Kevo, as he is fondly known, kindly agreed. Below was his message to me. Instead of block quoting the doctor's words, we grant him guest blogger status so that we can read his words better.

I notice that we had an explosion of traffic from Malaysia right after our Round 10 report. So guys, this one's for you. - TCG]

Lim Yee Weng studied the final phase of his law degree at the University of Tasmania, arriving in the state in June 2003 and leaving in late 2004. He told me he was able to do so because Malaysia was also part of the Commonwealth and so similar general legal principles could be usefully studied in Australia.

When he first arrived it was soon obvious he was a strong player but he dropped no hints he was almost an FM. Only after he won an informal blitz tournament (in which I checkmated him after my flag fell in round 1 but he won all his remaining games) did we discover he was already FIDE 2267.

During his time in Tasmania he entered four weekenders. He won the 2003 Launceston and Hobart weekenders outright conceding draws only in the final round of each. In the 2004 Tasmanian Championships he scored 6/6 to easily win the event and the prizemoney but was ineligible for the title which went to Charles Chadwick who finished second on 4.5. In the 2004 Tasmanian Open he tied for first with FM Lee Jones - both scored 5/6, drawing with each other and both drawing from bad positions against Peter Billam. He also scored 100% in the tournament for the 2004 Hobart International lightning championship, but as a non-member was ineligible for that title.

Yee Weng was considering staying in Australia longer but felt that job opportunities were better back home and in early 2005 he told us he had decided to return to Malaysia for good. He was well liked in the Tassie chess community and many here will be pleased to hear of his recent success.

- Dr Kevin Bonham

Dr Bonham presently serves as secretary of the Tasmanian Chess Association. He is also the senior selections coordinator of the Australian Chess Federation.

Jubilant Pinoy Chess Media

As might be expected, the RP media are awash with coverage of the Turin, Olympiad. Local journos are especially pleased with both the men's and women's overwhelming victories in round 10.

Rey Bancod, writing for the Manila Bulletin called it the "Twin Kill". Nice.

Local fed boss Prospero Pichay probably has a lot to do with the teams' successes. And during the rest day, he and the team went on a tour of Milano. Let's hope that our Pinoy players are sufficiently relaxed and ready to tough it out against strong opposition tonight.

Here is Pichay quoted by the Manila Times:

The fighting spirit of our boys and girls is simply remarkable. They really want to surpass their performance in Mallorca... Let’s continue to pray for them. Their remaining opponents are sure to be heavyweights.

Meanwhile in RP, the nation's future stars are battling it out in the National Juniors Chess tournament. We can't provide any more details because the only paper covering this is Tempo and their content just doesn't come up in my newsfeed. Maybe some Pinoy readers can fill in the blanks here. Cheers.

Kok Doomed

According to some, Kok has no chance of winning. David Levy:

It is well known that in FIDE elections many promises are broken, so no one can be really certain.

But the people who are most genuinely in the know, those on the two election teams, paint a picture of a Kirsan victory. His guys are all smiles, while those I have seen today from the Bessel camp have an air of doom about them.

Even GM Ian Rogers is somewhat bearish. More from the Moscow Times.

MP3 Interviews in Torino

The Chess Drum has some interviews in MP3 format with various players in Torino. GM Sasikiran of India, GM Baburin of Ireland and Armenia's Levon Aronian are featured.

Larry's Diary - Rest Day

On the way in tonight I found out that Junior had won the World Computer Chess Championship. Here is an extract from the official press release from David Levy, President of ICGA:

The Israeli program Junior, developed by Shay Bushinsky and Amir Ban has won. Junior's score was 9 points out of 11 games (7 wins and 4 draws). This was the second time that Junior had won the World Championship. In second place, with 8.5 points was Shredder, another former world champion. This championship is an annual event organised by the International computer Games Association.

(No, I don't they cover video games, playstations).

Last night I saw the Da Vinci Code in Italian which made it even more mysterious. This afternoon I went to see a full feature film "Game Over Kasparov and the Machine". It was about the 1997 match K versus Deep Blue. A very well done documentary I thought, if slightly biased against IBM. Kasparov revisited the site of the match and had painful recollections, still insisting that in Game 2 Deep Blue had human assistance in the move that threw him off balance for the rest the match. The programmers on the other hand vowed that it was all their work. I think that later developments in computer play seem to vindicate the programmers.

A Lightning Competition is on at the moment in the large area adjoining Olympic Hall. There are 266 players--from 2500 plus down to unrated. The time limit is 10 minutes, instead of the 5 I usually associate with Lightning.

Campaigning for the FIDE Presidency is in full swing now. Fidelity Digest issued by the incumbant gives the impression it's all over bar the shouting. It seems thet Kirsan has a majority of Federations already commited to him. Today he is photographed with four FIDE Continental Presidents, also all on his side.

Garry Kasparov has also entered the election fray, with an Open Letter distributed today. He argues strongly in favour of Bessel Kok as being able to look after the professional chessplayers in a way that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is not. Kasparov says that this forray of his in FIDE politics does not indicate any plan on his part to return to an active role in the world of chess.

Of course one also hears rumors against Kirsan, such stories if true would easily make him an honorary member of the Sicilian Mafia. Of course there is no hard proof. In public Kirsan looks rather benign, almost loving, but you wouldn't let him kiss you on the cheek!

I understand that Phil Viner has clear instructions on how to vote from the Australian Chess Federation. I'd love to be there for the election to watch the goings on. But perhaps it will be over very quickly.

By for now.

- Larry Ermacora

For the next couple of weeks, during the Olympiad, we will feature a guest blogger - Larry Ermacora. He will be providing reports all the way from Torino after having been officially accredited by Olympiad officials as a journo for this blog.

Larry is a well known personality in Australian chess circles. He was an administrator in both Western Australia and New South Wales. And, in 1990, he was awarded the highly coveted Koshnitsky medal.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Fight! Fight!

The official Australian team email has this little request: "Please do not reproduce or republish this material until after the Olympiad concludes."

Fine, we'll respect this. But when the Aussie team tells us some rather juicy stuff, we cannot resist just a little hint.

Last night, the Olympiad took a little break and we hear that some players partied til dawn at some joint called "Hiroshima mon Amour". With a name like that, the liquor will surely flow, the hormones get going and anything can happen. And what do you know? The Aussie team email informs us that two top and well-known players from European nations had a little disagreement. One player hit the other player (a world top 10'ner no less) over the face. Apparently they were arguing over an Australian player.

My only question is: was it over a male or female Aussie player?