Sunday, December 31, 2006

Australian Open Update

Round 3 of the Australian Open saw the first big clashes on boards one to three with each game going to the higher seeded player. I quite liked this game, Johansen vs Smirnov. It's very typical of Smirnov's style of play. He just goes straight for the throat. But GM Daryl Johansen is a very solid player.

Daryl's next opponent is the only other Aussie grandmaster, Ian Rogers.

And as promised, the organisers have produced the first of their regular bulletins. The first one can now be downloaded here. A PGN file is also now available.

Official site

Sadorra Gets IM Norm

This is yet to be confirmed but Pinoy journo Marlon Bernardino has submitted a news report to RP press stating that FM Julio Catalino Sadorra has earned an IM norm from the Singapore Masters which ended yesterday. Wesley So, on the other hand, failed to bag a GM result. A last round draw with Vietnamese IM Vinh Bui was insufficient to meet norm requirements.

So and Sadorra had a total tally of 6 points each. Other Filipino results are as follows:

5.5 - Enrique Paciencia
5.0 - Luis Chiong IV, Roderick Nava
4.5 - John Paul Gomez, Ronald Dableo, Chito Garma, Anthony Makinano
3.0 - Alfredo Paez

Chinese grandmaster Zhang Pengxiang was the outright winner on 7.5 points. Complete round 9 results are now available while final rankings are here.

The Aussies, Raymond and Angela Song, appeared to have had a tough time scoring only 3.5 and 3 points respectively. Jim Rogers also posted just 3 points in the Challengers section.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Old Chess Manuscript Found

A chess strategy manuscript written by Luca Pacioli has been reportedly found in Italy.

UPI is currently reporting this story.

Double Win by Song Siblings

The Song siblings scored wins in yesterday's round 8 at the Singapore Masters. Raymond defeated FM Daniel Howard Fernandez while sister Angela was a winner against Indonesia's Basri Hasan. Going into the ninth round, Ray has 3.5 points while Angela is currently on three.

After scoring a hat-trick of wins from the fifth to the seventh rounds, including a win over Indonesian GM Susanto Megaranto, Wesley So stumbled last round in his bid for a GM result. So remains on 5.5 points which is, according to a report I've seen from Marlon Bernardino, just a point shy of that grandmaster norm. This means that So finds himself in a must-win situation against Vietnamese IM Vinh Bui in the ninth and final round.

Other Pinoy high scorers are Chiong, Sadorra and Ranola. All have 5 points after 8 games. Early pace-setter JP Gomez, who began on 3/3, faded somewhat on 4.5 points. He dropped his last 2 games to GM Wu Wenjin and IM Ashot Nadanian.

More results are available here.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Australian Open 06/07

One of the biggest tournaments in Australia began yesterday - the Australian Open. Disappointingly, however, this year's edition has suffered from a very poor turnout. Just 58 players are participating. Canadian GM Mark Bluvshtein is top seed for the event.

First round results are already available. Nothing special there except for a handful of draws and an upset. On board 11 Queenslander Alex Jule held the 2189-rated Malcolm Tredinnick to a draw. Our keen readers will remember that Alex was the giant killer in Queenstown, New Zealand earlier this year where she downed local IM Russell Dive.

Speaking of New Zealand, Kiwi visitor Hilton Bennett, who sports an ACF rating of 1983, lost out to West Australian Marc Vlietstra (ACF 1735).

The organisers have promised regular bulletins as well as live games broadcast.

A Lesson from Poker

Can chess learn a lesson or two from poker? Jennifer Shahade - blogger, author, web editor of the USCF's website and US women's champion - thinks so. In a longish interview with the Gothamist, she talks about range of issues like her fascinating book, "Chess Bitch" (a must read).

Chess can learn a lot from poker. First, chess media and sponsors should emphasize its glamorous aspects: worldwide traveling, parties and escape from real world responsibilities. Poker made it big on the travel channel, after all.

I deeply believe in chess on TV, even for those who don’t know the rules. Chess can learn from poker on making itself telegenic. Elements that could make chess work on TV include lots of graphics demonstrating the basic moves, funny, entertaining commentators and background on the personalities and careers of the players.

And the biggest challenge in a simul? Finding the right shoes!

Read more from the Gothamist.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Song vs Song in Singapore

The Songs, Angela and Raymond, had to play each other in round 5 of the Singapore Masters and the game ended a draw. Both now have 1.5 points each. Alone in the Challengers section, Jim Jones has just 1 point from his win over Seah Xun-Hang in round 2.

JP Gomez, Wesley So and Yves Ranola are the leading Pinoy point scorers with 3.5 points each after five games. Gomez drew with Indonesian GM Susanto Megaranto in round 5 while So and Ranola defeated Madjibov and WGM Xu respectively.

More round 5 results.

No Disqualification for Topalov

From Bulgarian news sources we hear that FIDE has apparently turned down a request to disqualify Veselin Topalov. There was an earlier report that FIDE may disqualify the Bulgarian grandmaster for three years for his claims that Vladimir Kramnik received assistance from the KGB - a violation of FIDE's Code of Ethics.

Read the Focus News.

Topalov and Kramnik are set to meet again for the first time, since their World Championship duel, in the Corus Chess tournament next month.

10 Year Ban for Cheater

Umakant Sharma, the Indian player caught cheating with a wireless device, has been slapped a 10-year ban by the All India Chess Federation.

From DNA India.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

JP Gomez on Fire in Singapore

John Paul Gomez is on fire! So far he is on a perfect 3 out of 3 in the Singapore Masters section after beating GM Wang Rui in round one, FM Graham Chua in the next, then he pulled it off again by beating GM Li Shilong in the third!

The other notable round 3 result was FM Roderick Nava's victory over Vietnamese GM Nguyen Anh Dung. Still in his early 20's, Roderick is another member of the Philippines' young guns. In 2005, he participated in the World Juniors in Istanbul. Columnist Bobby Ang had a little story about that experience and also features an annotated game in this December 2005 writeup.

In an all-Pinoy match-up, Eric Gloria vanquished IM Ronald Dableo; while Wesley So, much under the spotlight, has steered his tournament back on track by winning rounds 2 and 3 after a first round loss to China's GM Zhao Jun.

For complete updates, check out

Sweeney's "Three R's"

Bureaucrats in the Australian Chess Federation and the New South Wales Chess Association, especially president Bill Gletsos, must all be scratching their heads. A question that must be surely plaguing their minds is: how will we ever shut up this Matthew Sweeney guy?

While the NSWCA may be absolutely intent on extending his ban for alleged foul and crude language, Brian Jones, Australia's most prominent organiser and publisher, has no problems giving Mr Sweeney space in his magazine - Australian Chess.

In what looks set to be a regular fixture, the enfant terrible of the local chess scene now has his own column - "Matt's Corner". For his first effort, Mr Sweeney writes about the three R's- rulers, reformers and revolutionaries.

Matthew Sweeney:

State based rivalries and politics threatens to direct energies away from chess administration, and toward power play. Chess can ill afford to waste its time on the self interests of individual states when everyone could benefit from a unified national strategy for the promotion of chess. If you want chess to grow in Australia, get involved - tell your state association that you want national direct elections for ACF executive positions.

UPDATE: Mr Sweeney did send his cheque for $10 and membership application to the NSWCA. This is what they wrote back (quoted from the Australian Chess Club Forum):

We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 24 December 2006 and your Application for NSWCA Membership for 2007.

Unfortunately your Membership Application was not accompanied with a letter of apology for your crude, foul and vulgar language and an assurance that there will be a cessation of such language in future.

Accordingly, your Application for Membership has been rejected and we return to you your cheque for $10 and advise that your membership will not be accepted until the apology and assurance requested are given.

What a laugh. And with that, we can at least thank the New South Wales Chess Association for the entertainment. These guys are a bunch of jokers.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Coins for Armenian Team

The Armenian central bank has issued a commemorative coin in celebration of their chess team's win of the 37th Olympiad. Naturally, the coin is made of gold.

From A+ Armenia.

Singapore Masters & Challengers

Boxing Day was no rest for a group of Filipino and a three Aussie chessers as they opened their campaign in this year's Singapore Masters and Challengers event. Rated 2432, IM Enrique Paciencia spearheads the RP contingent that also includes fellow IM Wesley So - who, of course, last week won the 2nd Prospero "Butch" Pichay Open.

With 14 grandmasters, mostly from China, in the Masters section - there will be plenty of opportunities for the Filipino players to score those highly sought-after GM norms. Also hoping to improve on their international ratings as well as sharpen their skills will be Aussie juniors Angela and Raymond Song. All power to these two as they mix it up against some awesome opposition. A third Australian, Jim Rogers of Queensland, is in the Challengers section.

In Round 1, John Paul Gomez scored a big upset by beating GM Wang Rui (2463). A full list of Pinoy results are available here. The three Australians are yet to get off the mark. Raymond lost as white to FM Graham Chua of Singapore while sister Angela suffered the same fate to the 2244-rated Ahmad Bachtiar of Indonesia. Angela has a date with RP's FM Julio Sadorra in the next round.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Santa Dearest, I want...

1. "My Predecessors..." series by Kasparov
2. Fritz 10
3. Chessbase Mega Database 2007
4. The Immortal Game: A History of Chess by David Shenk
5. and a Playstation Portable



Merry Christmas from TCG

Before I forget, let me wish you guys a merry Christmas. And to those playing in tournaments, like the Aussie Open, good luck and happy hunting! If you don't read again until next year, then let me also wish you a happy and prosperous 2007.

It's been fun this year. We covered quite a bit of news and even scored some real hits. I think I've said it before but "Gormallygate" was a real catalyst for the blog. That single story brought in a large amount of traffic from across the world thanks mostly to search engines and cross-links from fellow bloggers. We even scored a citation in no less than For this reason, Gormallygate takes the prize for the biggest blog story of 2006. It all began with this post.

Without hesitation I'd have to say that our second biggest story was none other than the Turin Olympiad. But for that I shall be forever indebted to our man in Turin at the time, Larry Ermacora. Larry, a former recipient of the Koshnitsky Medal (awarded for chess administration), provided blog readers with very memorable updates directly from Turin. You can read his unforgettable writings again in our May and June archives.

For the third biggest story, I'd have to say that it was what we dubbed "Forum Wars". Earlier this year, Matthew Sweeney set up a rival chess site to Australia's most popular chess bulletin board - Chess Chat. Our series of posts, including open threads, generated quite a bit of debate. Read them again here, here and here.

The fourth item on my list isn't really a single story as such but a bunch of them. These posts had a common theme, something close to my heart: the story of Philippine chess, its renaissance, its young heroes and their achievements. There were so many posts, just look in my archives if you wish, but we satisfy ourselves with just this single post. Young Wesley is currently spearheading a movement by young masters in RP who seem determined to retake RP's place as a chess powerhouse in Asia.

Finally, who can forget the ugly events of the World Championship in Elista earlier this year between Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov? I suppose it is near impossible to forget especially when the Bulgarian just keeps reminding us! Worth remembering though was that very satisfying 45. Rb7+ by Kramnik that finally signalled the end of Topalov's challenge.

Other big stories this year were the (6) Queenstown, won by GM Murray Chandler, and (7) City of Sydney tournaments, taken out by Raymond Song - mainly because - well, I played in both them. And then there was Arianne Caoili's appearance in (8) Dancing with the Stars. Too bad she didn't win in the end - but what a thrill ride for the 19-year old. None of us expected the whole thing. One day she was just a regular chesser then, suddenly, she was on our TV sets the next!

While not so big a story in terms of word or post count, Queenslander Moulthun Ly's recent performances was important news for TCG. Last October he competed in the Essent Open, in The Netherlands, and finished with 5 points - good enough for his second IM norm. (Moulthun's first was at the World Open). There is really no doubt about Moulthun's talent. Let's hope that the complete IM title isn't too far away. Then again, why settle for the IM? With so many young and talented players, Australia today is in a good position to finally produce a third home-grown grandmaster. Sadly, however - with such an absence of leadership - that may yet be a just a dream. The chess bureaucrats in this country are too busy banning people.

In tenth spot, my pick is our recent coverage of an unusual tournament condition of entry in a little-known Tasmanian tournament. No sign yet if the Burnie Chess Club has decided to discard the ridiculous rule for later events. Let's hope they do!

And that's our quick roundup of 2006. Of course, our dear readers may have different picks. As usual, your comments with nominations are welcome. See you next year and, if you have any tips, do drop us a note!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Wesley So Wins Open

Pinoy international master Wesley So, just 13-years old, has just finished on top of a strong field in the 2nd Prospero "Butch" Pichay Open in the Philippines. Scoring 7 points, he outpoined two grandmasters and a strong field of his fellow IMs. For his win, Wesley goes home with a cheque for P100,000.

In outright second place was Ronald Dableo. With thanks to Marlon Bernardino, final standings by points and tie break are as follows:

1st 7.5-IM Wesley So
2nd 7.0-IM Ronald Dableo
3rd 6.5-IM Darwin Laylo
4th 6.5-GM Mark Paragua
5th 6.5-IM Oliver Dimakiling
6th 6.5-GM Nelson Mariano II
7th 6.5-NM Julius Joseph de Ramos
8th 6.5-IM Yves Ranola

IM Title for George Xie

Australia has a new international master. George Xie has, at long last, earned the required number of points to reach a rating of 2400 and thus earn the IM title. He achieved the feat thanks to an undefeated performance in the Dandenong International Chess Festival. The complete standings are as follows:

G.Xie 9
D.Johansen 8
J.Sales 7.5
I.Goldenberg, V.Smirnov, D.Antic 7
D.Stojic 6
C.Depasquale 4.5
E.Levi 4
C.Gorka 3
D.Hacche 2
M.Dizdarevic 1/7

Sadly for Pinoy FM Jesse Sales, his loss to GM Dejan Antic in the last round meant that he'll have to wait another day for that IM norm.

Beers with a Champion

Last night, I had a few Christmas drinks with some chess folks in Criterion Hotel. Among us was one Serge Rubanraut. For those who need reminding, Serge was the 1976 Australian Chess Champion.

Serge is still pretty much in good health, thankfully. Even manages to put in a few paid hours of coaching - just for a couple of close friends for now I think. It keeps him busy. You'll also see him at Hyde Park, chatting to old friends and, maybe, play a few games of blitz. I have to say, he's still got some moves even after all these years. Beyond the national championship n '76, Serge also appeared for the Australian men's Olympiad squad in that same year. Here is a nice game against Italy's Andrea Grinza.

In 1980, Serge fronted up for another Australian Championships, this time in Adelaide, South Australia. The man had a very interesting motivation for playing in that event. He was there, he said, to meet "pretty females". (For an excellent round-by-round account of this tournament, see GM Ian Rogers' Australian Chess Into the Eighties).

It's been a while since Serge's last official competitive game. Over the years he's occupied himself with, for instance, writing a book. That one is entitled, Ugly Australian. So far it remains unpublished. He also writes essays and dabbles in poetry. He promised to let me publish one or two of them. That should be interesting.

Topalov Faces Ban

The Sofia Weekly is carrying this report that Veselin Topalov is facing a ban by FIDE for his latest outbursts against Vladimir Kramnik. In an interview with a Spanish paper, translations available in Chessbase, Topalov claimed that his Elista opponent received assistance from the KGB. (Actually, maybe he meant the FSB - the KGB's successor?)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Former NSWCA Man Speaks Out

In yet another embarrassing turn of events for the New South Wales Chess Association, and especially for its president - Bill Gletsos - former NSWCA official Trent Parker is having a go at his ex colleagues. Writing about the NSWCA's ridiculous threat to effectively extend Matthew Sweeney's banning, Mr Parker, in his blog writes:

This movement has Bill Gletsos written all over it. I do not believe that there had been a vote on this and if there was I would like to know what the result was. The councils last meeting was after the NSWCA AGM as it always is. If no reply is recieved i will be requesting to see the minutes for that meeting. Further evidence; When I was on council, Bill was suggesting to the Council that Matt's membership does not have to be accepted on many occasions. I just thought that Bill was having a bit of a joke. I did not think that Bill or the NSWCA would fall that low.

From Blog of a Chess Nut.

Well, Mr Parker, they have certainly fallen that low. So low, in fact, that all their hits are hitting well below the belt. What we need now is leadership from Bill Gletsos. We demand that he rally his troops, pull their heads in together, do the right thing, stop being such a bunch of (in Sweeney's words) "vengeful and malevolent" bureaucrats and accept Matthew Sweeney's membership.

It is time for the NSWCA to return to its real business: to promote and encourage the game of chess! Stop playing politics and witch hunts!

Jesse Checkmated!

Pinoy FM Jesse Sales, currently residing in the Australian state of Victoria, walked into a mate against Dusan Stojic in round 9 of the Dandenong Chess Festival. A terrible loss which nails Jesse to 5.5 points. Apologies in advance to our Pinoy readers for presenting this game.

Worth a mention also is Vladimir Smirnov's draw with GM Daryl Johansen. Vladimir is a regular blitzer in the Sydney's Hyde Park and Town Hall train station where some locals hang out for some post-work relaxation. He frequently drops by with his son who has also learned to play chess. It is very nice to see Vladimir do well in this tournament.

Giant Chess in Queenstown

Months after that very memorable tournament, Queenstown seems to be retaining its connection with our game. A giant chess set will now be created at Coronet Peak to complement the mountain biking activities.

Operations manager Alli Edwards: "These giant chess set pieces are so much fun. There is just something fascinating about walking amongst the pieces while considering your next move. The pieces are scaled to regular chess size with the King standing 640mm tall".


Oh by the way, our deal offer to Murray Chandler still stands.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Update of Dandenong Festival

By special request we have another game from the Dandenong Festival. This one is a win by Sydneysider FM George Xie over Chris Depasquale. George, by the way, needs just 25 more ratings points to be awarded the full international master title.

And here is an amusing line from the Star News: "Melbourne underdogs are turning international chess champions into pawns – and are ready to throw them on the barbie this summer."

Papoose in Da House

A what is in the house? Papoose! In an interview with Sound Slam, he briefly talks about chess:

Every wise man knows that life is like a game of chess. I was just passing the word on to people that don't know. Chess is a very strategic game, and so is life, there's obstacles that we got to face to overcome them. Just me noticing that metaphor myself, I had to put it into song format, and that's what I did. As far as the process and how long it took, when it comes from the heart, you don't even notice. The hours, you don't even notice them. Time flies when you're doing something that you love and enjoy doing.

Read the full article here. Not exactly my style of music, but it's interesting.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

2nd Prospero "Butch" Pichay Open

RP masters are once again in action in a local tournament. After 4 rounds of the 2nd Prospero “Butch” Pichay Jr. Cup National Open Championship, 13-year old IM Wesley So is in the sole lead on 4 points. Wesley defeated Oliver Dimakiling in the fourth game. Courtesy of Marlon Bernardino, here are the standings:

4.0 points-IM Wesley So
3.5 points-GM Mark Paragua, GM Nelson Mariano II, IM Darwin Laylo, FM John Paul Gomez, NM Oliver Barbosa
3.0 points-IM Oliver Dimakiling, IM Ronald Dableo, FM Fernie Donguines, FM Emmanuel Senador, FM Jan Emmanuel Garcia, FM Julius Joseph De Ramos, NM Rudy Ibanez, NM Rustum Tolentino, Jerome Balico, Paulo James Florendo

NSWCA Bullies Matthew Sweeney

Just a day after we have some warm words to say about the NSWCA, we immediately find ourselves completely gobsmacked at their seemingly complete stupidity. Led by president Bill Gletsos this body seems intent on behaving like a schoolyard bully. No, actually, make that the Ministry of Censorship. They recently sent Matthew Sweeney the following letter:

Dear Matthew,

It has been noted by Council that your ban on participating in NSWCA events and activities is due to expire on 31th December 2007. It has been further noted that your crude, foul, and vulgar language, is still evident on websites associated with chess and available to the public.

The council hereby advises that should you intend to apply for membership under the constitution of the NSWCA for 2007, an apology for your crude, foul and vulgar language and an assurance that there will be a cessation of such language in the future, should accompany your application for membership.

You should be aware that clause 3(1) of thew constitution provides the following:
" ...The council of the NSWCA shall have the right to refuse the application of any person who has been suspended ...

We look forward to receiving your genuine apology and assurance with your application for membership.

Yours faithfully,

So, recognising that the ban is over, the NSWCA is pretty much doing everything it can to stop Matthew Sweeney from becoming a full participant in NSWCA events. Just how low can these guys get?

Why in the world does the NSWCA concern itself with Mr Sweeney's pronouncements on a internet bulletin board? How does Mr Sweeney's online behaviour affect NSWCA events and their members? Whatever crude language that Mr Sweeney has to say, they surely affect only himself; that is, to possibly make him look crude and foul in the eyes of the general public! In other words, the public can decide for themselves. We don't need the NSWCA's protection.

This afternoon, I had the good fortune of accosting Bill Gletsos in Chess Chat's online chat facility. I asked him, "On what basis do you not accept Matt Sweeney's application for membership after his current ban expires?"

His reply was predictable: "That is a matter between Matt and the NSWCA. It is no business of yours."

On the contrary. When the state's chess association pokes its nose in matters that doesn't concern them (someone's language in an internet site) - it is, in fact, everyone's business.

We should mention that Mr Matthew Sweeney currently maintains his own bulletin board - the Australian Chess Club Forum. Their members, though infrequent posters, include a number of prominent chess organisers in Australia who are evidently happy to interact directly with Matthew.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dandenong Festival Update

RP's Jesse Sales, who is so far unbeaten in the tournament, had a good win over Victorian player Igor Goldenberg in round 4 of the Dandenong International Chess Festival.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Smart Move by NSWCA

At least for me anyway. I arrived home today with the latest NSWCA newsletter in my letterbox and the first thing I read was some good news from our state chess administrators. The 2007 City of Sydney tournament will be played to a different format. Instead of spanning across 9 Sundays, at one game a week, the event will next year be played over just two weekends - 24-25 February and 3-4 March.

Of course, the change won't suit most players but for time-poor folks like myself, it's definitely the ideal choice. The event will have 7 rounds and played at a rate of 2 games a day (except the final Sunday). That will still make the City of Sydney fully compliant with FIDE rating requirements which, again, is another incentive.

I'm marking this one in my calendar.

ASTC Handbook

The chess organisers in Canberra continue to show the rest of Australia exactly how it's done. Libby Smith, tournament director of the Australian School Teams Championships, and crew have produced an outstanding handbook for that tournament. I especially like how sponsors and business partners have very prominent positioning.

Download the booklet here.

About the experience of producing the publication, Libby had this to say (in a posting in the now comatose Australian Chess Club Forum), "A lot of swearing, near-divorce moments and banging my head against things (plus the sponsorship of FUJI Xerox & Canberra Tourism) led to the end result."

And while we're at it, we might as well remind everyone of the upcoming events in Canberra later this month and in January 2007. The Junior Championships will begin mid-Jan while the Australian Open begins in just a few days time.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Dandenong Chess Festival

Noble Park CC is hosting a strong tournament - the Dandenong International festival. The event includes the Australian Masters as well as a FIDE-rated reserves tournament. Some of our Pinoy readers will be interested to note that FM Jesse Sales is playing in the Masters section against the likes of grandmasters Daryl Johansen and visitor Dejan Antic. The latter drew against FM George Xie in round one then lost to Victorian player Eddy Levi in round three. (The round 2 game Antic-Gorka will be played next week).

The festival will run until 23 December.

I notice also that the Noble Park website has a link to the blog. Thanks very much for that. All power to these folks. According to their website, they have "big plans for the future".

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Kasparov Marching Forward

This morning I woke up to the voice of Gary Kasparov as he was being interviewed by the BBC radio. He was talking about Russian politics, the slow death of democracy in that country and the effort of an opposition front, "The Other Russia", to try and stem the powers of Russian president Vladimir Putin. As reported by Chessbase, Kasparov will today, Moscow time, lead a protest march in the Russian capital.

What is happening in Russia sounds very alarming. If you believe the ex-chess world champion, Putin is forming himself into a 21st century dictatorial tsar whose regime, according to some dissidents, is guilty of the same bad habits as the old Soviets.

In an interview with Britain's The Times newspaper, Kasparov has mixed feelings about his country's political fortunes:

If we can keep The Other Russia united for the next six months there will be more and more losers in the Kremlin battle who are looking for other options. The momentum will be on our side. It gives me some optimism, although not much because it could go either way. There could be repressions and arrests.

Let's hope that Kasparov can keep himself fairly safe. From time to time, it's tempting to think that the same fate suffered by Alexander Litvinenko could also befall the chess maestro - a horrible thought, I know. After all, Putin himself has his own supporters. The Independent reports that on Sunday, a pro-Putin march is being organised by the "Nashi" youth movement that is expected to attract as many as 100,000 people.

Jesse's Mother Arrested for Threat

Jesse Gilbert's mother has been arrested by British police for allegedly threatening to kill Ian Gilbert, Jesse's father. Last Thursday, UK time, Ian Gilbert was cleared of rape charges by the Guildford Crown Court.

Angela Gilbert was quoted as saying, "We believe that Jessie died because of the evil acts of one man, who stole her childhood and systematically destroyed her".

From the Evening Standard.

Jason Chan's Blog

Here I am, on this dreary Saturday morning, researching some topic to write about when suddenly I found an interesting incoming link to my blog. I thought the URL looked a bit familiar - "1mingrandmaster". Well there is only one and genuine 1-minute grandmaster I know. Lo and behold, the incoming link was Jason Chan's blog - "Life and the Universe According to Jason Chan"!

I had no idea Jason has been a regular blogger. He's been at it since December 2005. The blog, surprisingly for me though, is a lot less about chess (since I met and know him mainly through this beautiful game). Jason's post are quite personal and thoughtful. But while not about chess, a handful of chess personalities do make an appearance.

This post, under the category of "Amazing People I Know", about my good friend Nick Kordahi made me LOL. And it is difficult to disagree with this one about another friend of mine, Jose Escribano.

It is probably true that Jose could make his life a little easier and improve his image as seen by others, but I think he is largely a very considerate person and does not want to cause trouble. He is not perfect, but he usually thinks from the perspective of other people and tries to treat them well.

Canberra chess organiser, Jenni Oliver is also featured. We're just not sure if we agree with this: "She does not seem to make any enemies."

Jason Chan is presently completing his PhD thesis in Computer Science. He is actually one of the most intelligent I know. This guy once created a rating system for the chess players at Hyde Park, in Sydney. I remember that we all used to get quite excited about how we went after a day's play, what was our rating, who was on top, and so on. I miss those days actually.

Finally, I must say, Mr Chan might consider switching careers to Psychology! He seems to have the feel for it.

Singapore Masters and Challengers

One of the biggest events in Asia, the Singapore Masters and Challengers Open, is due to commence on Boxing Day. The event is often attended by some of the best Pinoy talents and this year is no different. Some familiar names are Mark Paragua, Wesley So, Oliver Barbosa and John-Paul Gomez plus many others.

Of interest to our Aussie readers is the participation of Raymond and Angela Song who are both currently residing in China with their parents.

The Australian and Pinoy entries will go head-to-head against some of the region's strongest players like grandmasters Zhang Pengxiang, Ni Hua, Utut Adianto and Indian female star Humpy Koneru.

As ususal, we'll try to keep an up-to-date coverage of this event. Hopefully there will also be a few games available for download.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Jesse's Father Cleared

As promised, here is an update on the Jesse Gilbert story. Her father, Ian Gilbert, facing several charges of rape was yesterday cleared of those charges by a court in the UK.

From the BBC and the Guardian.

Tournament in Kalgoorlie

A small tournament was held in the William Grundt Library in Kalgoorlie, WA. Monies raised went into toy boxes for the local hospital. A great effort it seems. Actually, that's an interesting idea: a chess tournament for charity with most proceeds going into some charity. Eastern chess administrators should consider it.

From the Kalgoorlie Golden Mail.

Indians Take Chess Gold

The powerful Indian team took out the team gold yesterday in the mixed team's classical chess event of the Doha Games. India's final total was 22.5 points after drawing with the Kazakhs in the last round at 1.5 points apiece.

Various news sources are quoting Humpy Koneru as saying, "It is a good feeling to win another gold for the country. We were confident of winning the title before the competitions started, and its great to have done it".

Team Philippines also had a peaceful end to their campaign by splitting the points with Turkmenistan. RP end Doha on 14.5 points overall.

Leading finishers:

22.5 - India
17.5 - China
16.5 - Iran
16.0 - Kazakhstan, Indonesia
15.0 - Qatar

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Jesse Gilbert Update

Some months ago we reported on the terrible news of Jesse Gilbert's death. I understand that the 19-year old was well-known to some Australians, especially those in the junior chess scene. Chessbase also featured an item on her life.

Since that news broke, Jesse's father - Ian Gilbert, 48 - has actually been appearing in court on charges of five counts of rape. Mr Gilbert denies those charges. The latest update is that the jury is now out and will return today, Thursday UK time, to deliver the verdict.

We'll, of course, let you know of the result as soon as we pick up the news.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

India Edge Closer to Gold

The Indian trio of Krishhan, Pentala and Koneru are powering forward to team gold as they hit the 18.5 points mark after 7 rounds of the mixed team's classical in the Doha Games. Yesterday they defeated the Iranians, coached by British GM Nigel Short, 2.5 points to half.

Team Philippines drew their encounter against Bangladesh at 1.5 points all. ROnald Dableo defeated GM Reefat Bin Sattar and while Darwin Laylo drew his game against IM Enamul Hossain. On board 3, RP's female rep Jedara Docena went down to Samima Akter. The Philippines now has 10 points in total.

Leading teams are:

18.5 - India
14 - China
13 - Kazakhsktan, Indonesia
12 - Iran, Qatar, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan

Russian Police Raid Kasparov

The offices of former world chess champion Gary Kasparov was reportedly raided by Russian police. Kasparov, now one of the most vehement critics of Russian president Vladimir Putin, leads the so-called "The Other Russia" - a pro democracy group.

Reports by Bloomberg and India's DNA.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cheating by Indian Player

Indian player Umakant Sharma was recently caught using some kind of electronic gadget during play. The All India Chess Federation is considering what to do with the guy.

From The Telegraph.

Levon Aronian in Queensland

We were a bit vague about this earlier but we now have permission to announce that Levon Aronian is in Australia. In fact, as I write these words he is on his way to visit Seaworld in the Gold Coast.

Doha Games Chess Update

We're trying folks, desperately trying to make an effort of updating - but the jet lag, sadly, is getting to me. I'm completely exhausted. I landed at 7.30AM last Sunday, home by 9AM, did my washing, then off to bed for a few hours. Still, the body clock hasn't quite readjusted.

Anyway there is a big sporting event happening in Doha, Qatar - the 15th Asian Games and chess, as I think you know, is one of the sporting events. So far six rounds have been played in the Mixed Team's Classical phase and team India is powering ever closer to gold. Yesterday - Krishan, Pentala and Koneru blanked out their Uzbek opposition 3 points to nil.

The Uzbeks comprised of Rustam Kasimdhanov, Aleksei Barsov and WIM Olga Sabirova.

Team Philippines (Laylo, Dableo and female player Jedara Docena), on the other hand lost out to Mongolia 2 games to 1. The boys drew their matches but Docena lost to WGM Munguntuul Batkhuyag.

Leading team scores after six rounds:

16.0 points – India
11.5 – Qatar, Iran
11 – China
10.5 – Kazakhstan
10 – Vietnam, Indonesia

The Philippines has 8.5 points.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The future of chess

In the wake of Fritz's victory over Vladimir Kramnik, George Dvorsky offers some interesting ideas about the way forward:

In regards to human versus machine situations, the only option at this point is to start handicapping the computer. Otherwise, there’s no point to these match-ups.


[A]s far as the advancement of chess is concerned, it is time for humans to take a backseat to the computers. Chessbots have moved beyond us now and are playing the most sophisticated matches in the history of the game.

From the Institute of Ethics and Emerging Technologies

On my way home

Aah, after a little under a fortnight - I'm finally on my way back home. Now sitting in this very comfy British Airways business lounge where I just had for myself a nice drop of Californian Cab Sav. Yumm! I should be landing back in Sydney on Sunday morning. And I know my dear avid fans just can't wait for me to get back to full steam ahead blogging.

My God, did we miss some real action? NSWCA annual general meeting, wanna-bes in Queensland failing to win office and, of course, the Doha Games were just some of the news we missed. No matter, there's always more to come. I hope so anyway.

Traffic to the blog has markedly fallen over the last few days. It'll take a lot to get it back up again. We need another Gormallygate!

Still, I really enjoyed my brief time here in the UK and Brussels. Loved the latter, especially the shopping. I don't know, maybe it was my already overheated credit card, but things seemed so cheap in Belgium! Couldn't help myself. Enough talk. I gotta catch my flight. See you when I get back.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Lost in Brussels

Just another quick update. After a few days in London (where a well-dressed Italian tried to rip me off just outside of Harrods for God's sake), I finally made it to the Brussels. This place is beautiful. I just spent a good couple of hours walking around the streets of the Grand Central Market. Tonight, the town put on a spectacular light show that illuminated the facades of the old buildings that surround the main square. Quite magical. And, of course, I could not really detain myself very much from immediately seeking out the city's most popular chess cafe, The Greenwich. Thanks to my old buddy Jelle Marechal, himself a Belgian, for recommending this place. This joint is exactly how one would have found it a hundred years ago. There were about two dozen old men playing there. It wasn't long before I found an opponent. He had an espresso, while I enjoyed a glass od Duvel. I won two games! Not a bad start.

That's about all the garbled post I can manage for now. My time is running out. The net access here in Europe is ridiculously expensive (not to mention the overpriced but hopelessly substandard sushi). See you next time.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fischer's Partner Vows Silence

Ah, we have some time now to update. Just one post, though, on this very chilly English morning. I'm actually off on a go-kart race later today.

There are so many things that the chess world would like to know about Bobby Fischer. And there is one person who holds a wealth of knowledge on the ex-world champion. But Fischer's long-time companion, Miyoko Watai, says that she will never reveal those details.

Link: Bobby Fischer's longtime companion still angry over treatment of chess icon