Monday, April 30, 2007

Gareth Charles in Temptation

We understand from a couple of people that Sydney chess player Gareth Charles will appear on the Channel 9 programme, Temptation. Don't know exactly when he's supposed to appear - perhaps he already did! Anyone know more info?

SACA Website Down

I often like to check what's happening in other states' chess websites to find out some news. Tonight, as at 20:45 AEST, the SA Chess website is unavailable. Instead of the usual content, we get this:

Welcome to the future home of your website

Hosted on Windows 2003 Server

Holding Page

If you have reached this page by trying to access your web hosting package, it has not yet been created. Please allow up to 5 minutes for your web space to be created.

If after 10 minutes your site does not show up correctly, please contact support at

Thank You.

Thankfully, the domain still belongs to Alan Goldsmith. We wouldn't want some opportunistic squatter taking that over, now would we?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Campo is Alive!

About a week ago, I received enquiries from Raymond Keene's editor, James O'Fee, to see if I could help in ascertaining the condition of Campomanes. (I helped these guys last year, too, over the Turin Incident). For some weird reason, these guys seem to think that Campo may be dead. In this blog post, James writes:

Rumours are now sweeping the chess world that Campo has, in fact, died. While this is not, perhaps, likely to be true, the rumours will continue and perhaps increase in intensity until there is an authoritative statement on the former President's condition.

Say what? What rumours? Never heard of such rumours. Several days later, and thankfully so, James' blog managed to find their own answer. Nope, Campo is very much alive. And a quick check with Casto Abundo confirmed the same. Mr Abundo informs me that, "Mr. Campomanes is recuperating in Baguio City. He needs several months more of physical therapy. He is determined to recover from the accident."

Book on Eugene Torre

Fans of the Pinoy legend grandmaster Eugene Torre can now look forward to an important cultural artefact in RP chess. Former RP men's Olympiad captain Bobby Ang, our friend in Manila Raul Sol Cruz (acting as researcher) and the man himself, GM Torre, will produce a book entitled "40 Years of Philippine Chess (Eugene Torre and His Games)". Expected release date will be December 2007, a very appropriate Christmas present for Torre fans!

Mr Ang announced this wonderful news last week in his column for Business World:

We also look at the historical perspective and Eugene himself wants to include crucial games that he lost. For example there is this game with Gyula Sax of Hungary in the 1982 Biel Interzonal, where he only needed a draw to qualify for the second consecutive time to the Candidates' matches. Or his game against Zoltan Ribli of Hungary in their candidates' match – Eugene got winning chances but botched it and even lost the game. What would have happened had he qualified for the next round? Would he have managed to get by former world champion Vassily Smyslov?

I certainly can't wait for the book. You know what, I seem to recall from way back when I was a kid in Cebu, there was already a book about Torre and his games. My memory is a little fuzzy about that so I wonder if some of our Pinoy readers can confirm this. I think the cover had Torre standing on a beach or somewhere rather.

Friday, April 27, 2007

USB Online Chess

I don't know if there are some out there who hate playing with a mouse. Maybe you rather have the closest approximation to a face-to-face game by using a board that's somehow connected to your computer. Well now there is a solution.

USB Chess! More from Sci Fi Tech. But perhaps it is not so ideal for bullet games, which is what I mostly play online these days.

Oliver - Smerdon, 1-0 Annotated

SIO 2007
Oliver, Gareth
Smerdon, David
Annotations by Gareth Oliver

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Bd2 Nb6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. e4 Bg4
7...Nxd4 is not good for black because of 8. Nxd4 Qxd4 9. Nb5 Qxe4+ 10. Be2 and black has big problems on c7 8. Be3 Bg7 9. d5 Ne5 10. Be2 Bxf3 11. gxf3 O-O 12. Qb3 This is already a very comfortable position for white.

After 12. Qb3

12...Qc8 12... f5 We analysed this alternative after the game with the idea 13. f4 Ned7 14. e5 g5?! Where black has good play. However simply 13 0-0-0 should give white a fine position.

13. h3 Preventing Qh3 and allowing f4 to be played without it being followed by Ng4 13...c6 14. Rc1 David had missed this move in the game. Now cxd5 can be met strongly with Nxd5 giving black no easy way to weaken the strong white centre. 14...Kh8 15. f4 Ned7 16. Bf3 Rd8 17. O-O 17. dxc6 and taking the f pawn may also have been strong. 17...e6?!

After 17...e6?!

Desperately attempting to break the centre and gain some counter play. 18. dxe6 fxe6 19. Qxe6 Ne5 20. Bg4 20. Qxc8 Nxf3+ 21. Kg2 Nh4+ 22. Kg3 Raxc8 23. Kxh4 Which is a worse version of the game. 20... Qxe6 Removing the white squared bishop first with Nxg4 may have been a good idea given how troublesome it was later on. 21. Bxe6 Nd3 22. Rc2 Re8 22... Nxb2 23. Bxb6 axb6 24. Rxb2 Bxc3 25. Rxb6 Here white is better, however the endgame would still be very difficult to win.

23. f5 gxf5? This gives away the e4 square allowing the white knight to activate 24. exf5 Nxb2 Here David believed that the position would transpose into the previous line, only having given white doubled pawns however 25. Ne4! Threatening both Nd6 and Ng5. 25...N2c4 26. Bc5 Ne5 26... h6 27. Kh1 appears to be very strong for white, for example. Kh7 28. Rg1 Bh8 29. a4 Ne5 30. Rb1. 27. Nd6 Re7 28. f4 Nd3 29. Ba3?!

After 29. Ba3?!

29. Bxb6 axb6 30. Nf7+ Rxf7 31. Bxf7 was stronger than the game continuation 29... Bd4+? 29... Nd5 This would have been very irritating, while white still appears to have large amounts of pressure, there is no longer a clear win. 30. Kh1 c5?? while this appears to be the logical move, the position falls apart quickly from here. Again Nd5 would have been stronger, although the bishop check has improved white's position. 31. Rd2 Rd8 32. Nf7+ 32. Ne4! This is a bit stronger as the black night is now trapped! 32...Nb4 (32... Be3 33. Bb2+ Rg7 34. Rxd3 Rxd3 35. f6) 33. Bxb4 cxb4 34. Rfd1 32... Rxf7 33. Bxf7 Nb4? a final blunder that allows a nice finishing finesse, although the position is losing anyway. 34. Bxb4 cxb4 35. Be6! 35...Bf6 36. Rxd8+ Bxd8 37. Rg1 1-0

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Is the ACF Backing Down?

As you can see, we’re now back online, but I’m tired and still jetlagged. My body clock seems to be still completely out of whack – waking up at 3AM and never managing to fall back sound asleep. I can barely bring myself to post something. Still we must endure, I suppose.

Waiting in my mail box last Sunday was, sure enough, the latest NSWCA newsletter. Exactly as our anonymous correspondent informed us – that latest issue was completely rubbish, full of old stories, embarrassing layout and utterly a waste of paper. When are these guys going to learn that most of their members have internet access these days? Stop wasting paper and simply publish everything online. Oh, but blimey, the website is equally laughable!

That’s our quick little swipe for the day. Someone who just can’t seem to control himself is our old mate Matthew Sweeney. Problem is this guy runs the risk of not being able to do anything else but taking pot shots at the chess politicos in this country. He’s even got a new blog for this purpose. Only Caissa knows how long this latest venture will last.

In Mr Sweeney’s second entry, he reports of a special little meeting that took place at the Sydney International Open.

“Several head honchos sat in a room and decided that a proposal by the Australian stalwart Peter Parr might have legs.”

If true, this is just extraordinary! After weeks of stonewalling it now appears that the ACF (and I guess the NSWCA) have at last taken a sniff of reality and finally knocked themselves silly in their collective heads. Well, we can at least hope and pray that this is the case.

Guys, guys – pick up the bloody phone, send an email, be pro-active and work with Mr Parr. How hard is that?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Gareth Oliver - Interview

The revelation at the recently concluded SIO was none other than Canberra player Gareth Oliver. From a most unexpected seeding of 55, the Computer Science student pulled off a couple of big upsets including a win over GM-norm hunter and countryman IM David Smerdon. Most important of all, Gareth was the only player to score an IM norm from the SIO event.

It's amazing to know that the SIO was, ironically enough, going to be Gareth's last chess tournament for a very long time.

Mom, Jenni Oliver, informs me that, "He felt his chess was bad, he wasn’t enjoying tournaments and there was no social side". She added, "I had to pull out every motherly ploy to get him to agree to play the SIO – I always hoped he would enjoy it and it would revitalize his chess interest."

TCG is very glad to bring our readers this interview with Gareth. Of course we're also very thankful that he's taken some time for this out of his obviously very busy schedule. There is actually an accompanying game analysis of Oliver vs Smerdon but, for some reason, the file we received seemed a bit corrupted. An emergency email is on its way and hopefully we can present that soon.


Did you expect to play as well as you did?

I actually expected to do rather badly in the tournament! I have not been doing much chess since the beginning of the year, no actual playing just coaching, and did very little in the way of preparation for the tournament itself.

What's your secret for that excellent performance anyhow? Give us a few tips.

Probably the biggest reason that I did so well was that I was completely relaxed coming into the tournament. I was seeded 55 and had no expectations of doing well, which always tends to bring out your best chess. I was also completely fresh, having not played the Doeberl and I always find that if you play two tournaments back to back you do not play as strong a chess in the second. Finally, while I have not been playing any chess recently, my mind has still been kept awake in that form of thinking by maths and physics at uni, so that may have kept me reasonably sharp.

I understand from a reliable source that this was going to be your last tournament. Why was that?

As always with these things there was a combination of different reasons. One of the big ones was time, as with uni and a number of other different things I now wish to do I don’t have the time to play regularly or do as much study as I should.

I also found that I was not looking forward to playing in this tournament. Chess has always been something I do because I enjoy it, and if I had lost my enthusiasm for it then it would be best to take an extend break from any tournament chess till I actually wanted to do it again.

Now that you turned out a good performance here, will you consider sticking it out in chess or will that be it for a while? Any chance you'll go hunting for that second or third norm?

The tournament has certainly invigorated me, although more of that comes from enjoying the chess games I played and the social side of the event than the result itself. I will probably not playing large amounts of chess but I thinkn that now I will play the major local tournaments and consider some of the overseas ones.

Your win against Smerdon wasn't your first one against an IM. You also beat Zhao in Doeberl last year (and a draw with Lane). How would you rate your game with Smerdon; that is, which was tougher and why?

I’m not really sure how to rate them in terms of toughness. In my game against Zong, I never really felt like I beat him, more that he beat himself. He sacked a pawn for an attack, which I managed to hold off and so subsequently won the ending. Against David I felt that I actually beat him, by improving my position etc, so in that way the game was much tougher as I had to do more than simply defend.

Other than chess, what have you been up to in life?

Currently I am at uni studying a computer science degree, along with physics as elective subjects. I have been doing Kendo (essentially Japanese fencing, using a Katana equivalent weapon) for a year, as well as learning some Viking era sword fighting.

We'd love to hear your impressions of the Sydney International.

I found the SIO an excellent tournament all round. The venue was very good, particularly in terms of its location as there was many tasty restaurants in easy walking distance which resulted in great social gatherings, at least for us younger players after the final round each day. The field itself of course was fantastically strong, giving Australians the much needed opportunity to play against that level of field without having to travel overseas. While the two games per day is not ideal, the shortening of the tournament is worth it as it makes it much easier to fit into peoples schedules.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Headin' Home

Now at Heathrow en route to Bangkok then off to Sydney. At last, some free internet access and free vinos courtesy of BA. Popped into the London Chess Centre this afternoon, home of TWIC. Just for the sake of buying something from the joint, I bought Shenk's The Immortal Game: A History of Chess. (Two years ago I bought a chess-themed tie that I've never been game to wear in public). A good book, the man behind the counter said. He was a nice chap, even included a freebie Chess magazine. That was kind of him. I said I write a blog and he said he's never heard of it! Jesus was I insulted.

But at least some readers do think of me and that always warms the heart. They keep me up-to-date on what's happening. Like this guy:

TCG, you will be excited to learn that the latest NSWCA newsletter has just come out. I am sure you can't wait to get back to the land of Oz to read it and have a good laugh! I tell you, it is getting worse. Still only 4 pages long [and bottom 1/4 of each page is blank]. This issue is mostly mindless rehashing of results from tournaments that have already finished long ago [Aussie Open, Australia Day Weekender etc].
Thanks for that matey.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

RP Open - Preliminary R8 Standings

Some brief score updates:

6.5 - Wang Yue
6.0 - Ni Hua, Wang Hao
5.5 - Torre, Dimakiling, Sadorra
5.5 - Antonio, So

Filipino results
Torre d. Hamed Nouri,
Dimakiling d. Paragua,
Sadorra d. Nadera,
Antonio drew with Nava
Wesley drew with Utut Adianto

A Visit to the King's Head

Just got back from a night of blitz and a couple of pints at the Wargrave Arms - home of the King's Head CC. A wonderful night, played about a dozen games and only lost 2. The locals kept asking me what my rating was and I kept saying I was a beginner. They wouldn't believe me.

If you ever come to London, I recommend dropping by. They're friendly there but with all the familiar banter I hear back in Sydney. Plus the pub serves some good beer and reasonably good food. I had the coq au vin - cost me about 7 quid - and that wasn't too bad.

Regrettably, the King's Head lads only meet on Tuesday evenings and I'm leaving this Friday. I wonder if there's another central London club that meet on Thursdays? I'll have to ask my mates from S&B.

RP Open Update - Round 5

Well here I am on the other side of the world. I must say, while busy with work, I am enjoying myself in London. It's certainly been the warmest time I've had here. On my previous visits I'd always been confronted by a bitter cold, one could hardly see the sun. But last Sunday I was met by a most unexpected and glorious sunshine. Problem is it made the pollution, a brown haze, very clear! Scary.

Anyhow, very sorry for the zero updates over the last couple of days. I promise though that we've got some good content lined up including a possible interview with an ACF mandarin. I wanted to leave Sydney with that exclusive already posted but I just didn't have the time.

For the moment, here's an update of scores from the Philippines.

5.0 points – W. Yue (China), L. Chao (China)
4.5 – E. Torre, N. Hua (China), Z. Zhong (China), Z. Jun (China)
4.0 — R. Antonio, M. Paragua, O. Dimakiling, B. Nadera, E. Fernandez, W. Hao (China), E. Maghami (Iran), U. Adianto (Indonesia), L. Shilong (China), Z. Ziyang (China), S. Megaranto (Indonesia).
3.5 – V. Akobian (US), A.Sukandar (Indonesia), L. Babuth (India), W. So, R. Nolte, H. Nouri, J. Sadorra, F. Donguines.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Antic and Timoshenko Top SIO!

News just in: grandmasters Dejan Antic and Georgy Timoshenko have finished on 7.5 points apiece to split $7,500. However, standard tiebreaks will be applied to decide the recipient of the winner's medal.

Timoshenko drew with Mikhalevski in the final round while Antic defeated GM Murray Chandler.

Bernardino Shock Win Over Shipov

In between packing my bag, here I am observing the SIO. According to the official site, top seed Russian GM Sergey Shipov has just been shot down by Pinoy visitor Marlon Bernardino. This is truly amazing!

UPDATE (as at 7.19PM): Flight delayed by four hours so I have nothing better to do but quickly pop onto the net. Just as well for me as all this drama in the SIO is attracting a great deal of attention especially that of GM Shipov's dramatic loss to Bernardino earlier today. IM Javier Gil has quickly assembled an annotated version of the above game. Check that out here.

And in a battle between Australia's only two grandmasters in round 9, Daryl Johansen gets one back over compatriot GM Ian Rogers. A nice one for Daryl.

Out of Sydney

TCG will not be at the SIO today. Gotta pack and get ready for a long flight. Lucky the weather where I'm heading to is a little warmer these days. I hope you guys enjoyed both our Doeberl and SIO coverage. It was fun to do for me. Over the last week or so traffic to the blog has increased some 100% - still nowhere near the numbers I hit during the Turin incident, but the sudden spike has been remarkable. It was also very nice to be approached by some people who said they read the blog and enjoyed it. That's great.

Our good "success" in the past few days can be partly credited to the event organisers in Doeberl and the SIO. They pretty much let me have access to information like scoresheets, for example. I think these guys realise that bloggers these days can really do their events a big favour by generating interest and excitement. The best thing about blogging, net access permitting (preferably cheap), is that it is very immediate and sometimes offers a different perspective to the usual. I rather hope that more chessers in the Australian chess scene will take up blogging. I'd be especially interested in regular tournament goers who can provide first hand reportage from other states. Trust me guys, blogging is cheap and easy.

Before I forget, and speaking of generating interest for events, I should take time to mention a new chess tournament. Phil Bourke and his club mates over at the Blayney Chess Club will host the inaugural Blayney Open on 8-9 September, 2007. For more details, you can email philwillb at bigpond dot com.

Good luck to all players in the SIO. It's a great event that I hope can become a regular fixture in the local scene. The best thing about this kind of tournament, with strong opposition, is that it seems to bring out the best of our future stars. You only need to look at the likes of Ikeda, Oliver and recent twin IM-killer Tomek Rej to realise this. And as for Shipov, well, he seems to have had too much weight placed on his shoulders. Here's a guy that many probably thought would give our boys a lesson. Publicity Officer for the SIO Cathy Rogers describes Shipov's performance here as a "dismal showing". Note that the SIO actually has its own blog hosted here.

That's all for now. I'll be back to Sydney next weekend. See you across the board somewhere!

RP Open Update - Round 4

Herein are the most recent figures from our man in Manila. Prelim results only.

Wang Hao drew with Zhang Zhong
Ghaem Maghami drew with Ni Hua
Wang Yue beat Utut Adianto
Megaranto drew with Akobian
Nouri drew with Joey Antonio
Rolando Nolte drew with Zhao Jun
Li Shilong beat Barlo Nadera

Standings after fourth round:
3.5 - Zhang Zhong, Wang Yue, Wang Hao Ghaem Maghami
3.0 - Ni Hua, Akobian, Li Shilong, Megaranto, Torre, Maga, Nouri

Friday, April 13, 2007

RP Open Update - Round 3

Latest from the pool report courtesy of Iggy Dee.

3.0 points — W. Hao (China), Z. Zhong (China), E. Ghaem (Iran)
2.5 points – N. Hua (China), W. Yue (China), U. Adianto (Indonesia), V. Akobian (USA), S. Megaranto (Indonesia), H. Nouri
2.0 points – R. Antonio, Z. Jun (China), L. Shilong (China), E. Torre, W. So, O. Dimakiling, R. Nolte, B. Nadera, F. Donguines, L. Chao (China), J. de Ramos, M. Maga, A. Cabe, J. Sadorra, R. Nava, R. Andador
1.5 points – M,. Paragua, Z. Ziyan (China), A. Makinano, R. Bitoon, E. Bagamasbad, R. Legapsi, X. Deshun (China), E. Fernandez, T. Montoyo

Smerdon Loses to Oliver!

Canberran Gareth Oliver has created sensation here by beating Australia's next hope for a home-grown GM, international master David Smerdon. Yesterday, Gareth victimised an FM, today an IM. Who knows, maybe tomorrow a GM!

Early top board results:

Timoshenko - Rogers, draw
Antic - Mikhalevski, draw
Bakre - Chandler, draw
Zong - Bjelobrk, draw
Oliver - Smerdon, 1-0
Smith - Toth, draw
Xie - Wallis, 1-0
Matamoros - Pyke, 1-0
Johansen - Chow, draw

And guess who just walked in as a special guest? Peter Parr, of all people! Now he's talking to me about Quinteros who apparently came here in 1978. Peter and Quinteros played a lightning game for some press conference which ended a draw. The whole thing was shown on Aussie TV. Those were the days!

GM Quinteros Drops In

Grandmaster Miguel Quinteros dropped in today to play a simul. Well, not really. Local player Francisco Plaza, of Chilean parentage, played a simul outside of the Town Hall venue and it seems that he was mistaken as the Argentinian GM! Can you believe that?

The round 7 games just began about 20 minutes ago and I've added some more photos to my SIO set.

Preparation is a very common practice these days. Even sub-2000 players do it. But for grandmasters, it's an absolute must. Here's a photo of GMs Johansen and Antic preparing together.

Last night I learned of a sub-2200 player who actually hired a second! He was initially listed as one of the participants but then pulled out at the last minute. It's my understanding that this player will now participate in the Temptation game show and will fly down to Melbourne for a taping.

Tomek Rej Defeats Solomon

Sydneysider Tomek Rej this morning defeated IM Stephen Solomon! A wonderful result for Tomek but he's not going home with $100 for that win. Igor Bjelobrk, instead, is the happy recipient of 100 bucks for today downing GM Matamoros in a big upset. Other results are:

Antic - Rogers, draw
Smerdon - Timoshenko, 0-1
Mikhalevski - Ly, 1-0
Chandler - Atzmmon-Simon, 1-0
Bjelobrk - Matamoros, 1-0
Garbett - Zhao, 0-1
Rej - Solomon, 1-0
Toth - Oliver, draw
Repplinger - Xie, 0-1

I stepped out of the venue about a couple of minutes ago and there is only one game left - Hvistendahl v Caoili. The position is better for Black, I think; she has a couple of minutes left to Hvistendahl 50+ seconds.

I might also mention that the early start of 9.30AM is definitely way too early for some players. There is one participant here who is walking around in pyjamas!

Sam Chow in The Australian

Today's The Australian newspaper features a short piece on Sam Chow. The Victorian 19-year old described his draw with Shipov a couple of days ago as "as good as a win".

From The Australian.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Gareth Oliver Special

FM Vladimir Smirnov doesn't appear to be having a positive tournament at the SIO. He lost twice in a row now, first to a GM (which is to be expected), then most surprisingly to ACT player Gareth Oliver.

Mr Oliver, a bright young man who is currently studying Computer Science at the ANU, is a humble fellow and a gentleman. Tonight I had the good fortune of having dinner with him, along with about 20 other SIO combatants at some pizza place in Parramatta. His game today against Smirnov caused a little discussion among some guys that included no less than GM Ian Rogers.

Take a look at this! Gareth drops the Lady but is left with a surging attack. Smirnov cannot hold for much longer.

Black will be left with a whole piece up after, say, 23. Kf1 Ne3+ 24. Qxe3 Bxe3 25. Kxg2 c1=Q

Philippine Open Results - Round 2

Thanks to Iggy for the following. Here are some prelim round 2 results (TBC):

Wang Yue, d Rolando Nolte, 1-0
Fernie Donguines lost to Ni Hua, 0-1
Wang Hao beat Manny Senador, 1-0
Ronald Bancod lost to Zhang Zhong, 0-1
Ghaem Maghami beat Mirabeau Maga, 1-0
L. Legaspi lost to Utut Adianto, 0-1
Varuzhan Akobian beat Roderick Nava, 1-0
Zhang Ziyang drew with Joey Antonio,
Rod Panopio lost to Eugene Torre, 0-1

I think we're the only blog/website so far with these updated scores and I'm very happy about that. For complete round 1 details, the NCFP site has them.

Shipov Disaster!

Russian GM Sergey Shipov had a disastrous round this morning when he lost to 2168-rated Indian Manthan Chokshi. Chokshi is the third player at this tournament to take out a grandmaster after IM Simon Ansell defeated GM Victor Mikhalevski yesterday and IM Andras Toth downing local GM Daryl Johansen also this morning.

Chokshi, it seems, is a coach back in India. As I understand it, he apparently plans to move here to basically perform the same job.

These upsets are really starting to worry the top rated players. A few moments ago FM Vladimir Smirnov had a few quick words with me about his round 5 opponent Joshua Christensen. I assured my Russian friend that all he has to do is to be very careful.

The crowding around the stage, where the top 12 boards are played, has finally got to the organisers. Spectators are now banned from going up there. Brian Jones, however, informs me that this new policy is not going to be strictly enforced. Instead, they'll just observe the crowds closely and when it gets too much they'll simply politely ask folks to leave. I think that's good.

It's pretty much the same approached they've taken with respect to the "no draws under-30 moves" rule. It's not strictly enforced. Certainly, there are no incentives for the players to abide by it.

That's all for now. More updates later.

All GM Contests Begin

It will be an interesting morning today as we begin to see the first all-GM match-ups in round 4 of the SIO. Antic and Timoshenko will slug it out on board 1 (Timoshenko to win) while Matamoros and Bakre will meet on board 3 (I'm picking the Ecuadorian to win).

Israeli visitor Victor Mikhalevski, who lost to Englishman IM Simon Ansell yesterday, will meet Homer Cunanan. That should be a fairly easy one for the grandmaster. Our hearts and support go to the locals, of course, who are making their first appearance on the stage (top 12 boards). That is one hec of an experience for them to be playing side-by-side with the elite. Yesterday's killer, Joshua Christensen, will do battle on board 10 against Kiwi FM Robert Smith. Good luck Joshua!

And on board 11 is the all Aussie Chow - Hu contest. Being a New South Welshman I'm going for Hu. We just can't have these southerners coming here, you know, and scoring points off our boys.

Unfortunately, there will be no photo coverage today dear readers. We'll resume that tomorrow.

NCFP Slams Door on Players

Based alone on prize money and player list, there is an even more impressive open event currently happening in the Philippines - the 2007 Philippine Chess Challenge. However, unlike the Australian organisers, our Pinoy hosts are, well, seemingly next to completely useless. Where is the website? There are some folks over at the NCFP's own bulletin board that are getting frustrated.

If the NCFP can afford a US$40K prize fund, surely they can spare a few dollars to pay some local IT dude to maintain a cheap website. What is happening here is totally unacceptable! With players like Akobian, Wang Hao and Ni Hua plus our illustrious locals, this tournament could have generated a lot of worldwide interest via the net.

The only news we have so far is hardly a positive one. Pinoy journo Ignacio Dee sent me a copy of the pooled report which you can read here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Christensen Upsets Dragicevic

Joshua Christensen rated 1605, a former winner of the minor section in the Doeberl Cup, today caused an upset by beating Dromagoj Dragicevic, rated 2196, in round 3 of the Sydney International Open. The win comes after Joshua's draw yesterday against Arianne Caoili (who lost her third round game to IM Paul Garbett of New Zealand).

IM Leonid Sandler observed that Joshua is "playing like a 2000 rated player".

Other early results just before I left the venue about an hour ago are:

Matamoros - Smirnov, 1-0
West - Rogers, 0-1
Goldenberg - Chandler, 0-1
Oliver, G - Bakre, 0-1
Shipov - Illingworth, 1-0
Moylan - Chow, 0-1
Caoili - Garbett, 0-1
Dragicevic - Christensen, 0-1

Evelyn Koshnitsky Visits SIO

The grand woman of Australian chess is today the special guest at the Sydney International Open. Still looking quite healthy, Mrs Koshnitsky was very interested in the top games and paid special attention to those involving Aussie female players.

Evelyn observing Moylan - Chow

Live broadcast of games is still unavailable but the guys are doing everything they can to correct this. It seems that some special hardward was missing from the whole set up. They've also purchased a special router for wireless connectivity to make net connection within the venue a little better. Cross fingers that all will be fine soon. Lectures by IM Leonid Sandler has also commenced. For those interested and who wish to drop by, this is upstairs in a large room with big projector screen. The set up there is quite impressive and it's definitely worth a look.

I have now added more pictures from day 2. Note that these new images are from round 3 as I was working from home this morning. Apologies for that.

Sam Chow Holds Shipov to Draw

Pinoy FM Jesse Sales admitted himself that he was lucky to beat Dizdarevic. In a winning position, Dizdarevic dropped his guard committing a crucial error. Dizdarevic said that his position was so winning that he could fall asleep! Problem is he actually did (figuratively speaking, that is) and allowed Sales to retake the initiative.

Other interesting results:

Chow - Shipov, draw
Chokshi - Zhao, draw
Gibbons - Ly, 1-0
Hu - Garbett, draw
Vlietstra - Stojic, 1-0
Illingworth - Pyke, 1-0
Mendes da Costa - Ayvazyan, 1-0

Well done to Sam Chow for scoring a draw against top seed Sergey Shipov.

Games from SIO

Downloadable games are now available courtesy of Rooty Hill CC. Not a very pretty site but good enough for now. Thanks should also be extended to Lee Jones and Shun Ikeda for coding the games.

Get Ready for Day Two

It's just 10 to 8AM and I'm barely into my croissant. I've just managed to drag myself out of bed with a mild hangover. A few drinks with a couple of IMs last night didn't help. Good food, good conversations, including about prosthetic shlongs, was excellent fun. We'll do again apparently tomorrow, champers night in a pub across the players' hotel, so I'm looking forward to that.

As usual, a fairly easy going round yesterday for the top half of the field. But Kiwi visitor Vivian Smith spoiled the fun for local Malcolm Tredinnick. (Note that Malcolm also has pictures of last Jan's Gibraltar chess tournament here). For the grandmasters first rounds are more like quick warm ups. GM Rogers had only spent about 30 minutes of his time against Mike Canfell. And I'm sure I saw a little smile on Dejan Antic's face as he made a deadly move against Oleg Korenevski.

So easy are first rounds that some players even take the time to tell a joke. A friendly 2000+ Victorian pulled me aside and said something like: A man walks into surgery for a vasectomy. He is well-dressed, expensive suit, shoes, the lot. The doctor says to him, 'Why are you dressed up for a vasectomy?'. The man says, 'My mother always told me, that if you want to be important, you should always dress up'.

Get it? The joke sounds better with a Russian accent.

Other players take the time to show-off. Our friend from RP, Pinoy journo Marlon Bernardino wondered how my game was going. I'm not playing, I said. "And your game?" I asked him.

"Massacre!" was his reply.

Our readers may wonder if the SIO will present live games. The answer is they're making the effort. There was some sort of problem with the cabling or something was missing. Gary Bekker has been temporarily enlisted to see if he can help. Else, Brian Jones has considered some primitive methods of somehow relaying the moves on the net: via emails, for example.

Finally I should mention an interesting tidbit. It turns out that the NSWCA is a bronze sponsor of the SIO to the tune of $500. Half of that money is actually a personal contribution of association boss Bill Gletsos. TCG understands that this sponsorship has been criticised from a certain angle. I say that this is a ridiculous criticism and, on this occassion, the NSWCA and especially Bill deserve our congratulations.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Near Live from the SIO

Hostilities have kicked off at the inaugural SIO tournament here in Parramatta. The local mayor opened with the Orangutan in the traditional opening ceremony. As always, something always goes wrong. The start of the opening ceremonies was delayed because one of the sponsors had apparently gone on a walkabout. Other than that, everything is advancing along smoothly.

There are a number of notable names in Australian chess here. I see IMs Guy West and and Leonid Sandler. The latter will be providing game commentaries, I hear - if only they can actually sort out the wireless connection. Even the normally invisible NSWCA president Bill Gletsos is here too. Ah, and there's Gary Wastell - the big man of the ACF himself. I'm just way too shy to talk to the guy. He looks mighty serious, I have to say - what with that bluetooth wireless device attached to his ear.

Welcome back to chess Arianne Caoili. After a long lay-off she sounds quite excited to play again. She's forgotten what 1.d4 is all about, she says. Well, you know, I know something about 1.d4; that's all I play!

Arianne Caoili - back to chess and already attracting some attention

And I see some familiar Kiwis, too. The Smiths, Garbett. Nice of them to return the favour after Queenstown. I hope they have a great time. Parramatta isn't anywere near like that gorgeous New Zealand adventure capital, but this Sydney town does have its fine features. For example, I just love the fact that there are half dozen internet cafes within a stone's throw from the venue.

The Town Hall itself is quite small, hence the cap on entries. There's just enough room to be comfy between boards and along the aisles. Also, the top 12 boards are situated on the stage. In some sense this is a good idea but I don't know what the organisers will do with the crowd if they then want to watch the top games. There is no room up there! Brian hasn't said that he'll ban people from going up on the stage. No problem for me so far as I can get away with being a pretend "photographer"!

View from the balcony

Silly me, I forgot to bring my laptop battery to the venue. So I'm signing off now. TCG will try to give near live pics every day of the event except for next Saturday - the last day. I'll be on a plane for London then. Sad really as the final day is often the most exciting.

I have more photos from the event here.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Last One From Doeberl

Just one more post on Doeberl. Here's a picture of Rogers, Mikhalevski and Timoshenko in post game analysis of the last round board 1 encounter. With them are IM Stephen Solomon, who later demonstrated a drawing maneouvre for White (by keeping the f-pawn on f2), Norwegian visitor Emil-Lion Nomat and Lloyd Fell, who attended his 45th Doeberl Cup.

And the last crucial moments of Mikhalevski - Rogers that the Aussie number one won in very fine style - just beautiful!

Rogers took home the total prize of $5,001. For a lot of people this was a most impressive result. A common theme in post event commentaries was that Ian's victory really proved that Aussies have the talent. Well, of course!

As for the tournament conditions overall, I did prefer the mixing of the premiere event with both the major and minor. Still the big problem, I think, was the lighting. In some sections of the playing hall, especially the majors top boards, the situation was very bad. Most importantly, it's quite disappointing that this big tournament doesn't have live internet coverage. I should be clear - this is not the organisers' fault. The Italo Club is just not up to scratch, at least, in this respect. Well, who knows, there might be change of venue for next year as Shaun Press hints at here and perhaps also a readjustment to format to allow for norms.

I have now uploaded photos from today's round 7. And some early batches of games can be viewed and downloaded from OzBase.

Rogers Wins Doeberl 2007

Aussie supremo GM Ian Rogers today defeated GM Victor Mikhalevski to win the Doeberl Cup with 6 points. In a fine endgame display, Rogers outplayed Mikhalevski to take out the title.

Here are some preliminary scores and round results.

Mikhalevski - Rogers, 0-1
Antic - Shipov, draw
Johansen - Smerdon, 0-1
Solomon - Matamoros, draw

6.0 Rogers
5.5 Solomon, Smerdon

In the majors section, de Noskowski went through undefeated finishing on 6.5 points. Local boy Sherab Guo-Yuthok was second on 5.5 points. While in the minors, congrats must go to former NSWCA councilman Trent Parker for finishing second on 6 points. His opponent actually failed to turn up for the last round. Jonathan Shen was the winner on 6.5 points.

That is all for now from Canberra. This ends our coverage here and I hope you enjoyed that. See you in Sydney folks where we will also be blogging regularly. Maybe in Sydney the foreign visitors can really make their mark as they've been slightly disappointing so far. All the best.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Wallis - Toth, 1-0

I don't have the game score yet but another upset was scored by another Australian Junior. Victorian Christopher Wallis defeated IM Andras Toth. It is certainly a fine day for Aussie juniors.

Who knows, maybe some day these young guys will one day be the next Smerdon. Smurfo, as he is known on ICC, has just drawn his game against GM Ian Rogers. It was an exciting game with both players queening a pawn. The position was such that one mistake would have meant goodbye on the spot.

Here are some partial results for round 5 in the premier event.

Wallis - Toth, 1-0
Rogers - Smerdon, draw
Ly - Matamoros, 0-1
Johansen - Stojic , 1-0
Antic - Hu, 1-0
Mikhalevski - Sales, 1-0
Morris - Shipov, 0-1

I must say, if you ever get the chance, do take the time to observe Sergey Shipov conduct a postmortem. You'll learn something. But more importantly, the guy is grandmaster yet is entirely full of humility. There is no pretense there whatsoever. He is very happy to analyse games even against the weakest (relative to him, of course) opponents. In his analysis of his game above against James Morris, he took time to explore lines where he would have lost. Many lesser mortals wouldn't have done that, insisting that they were winning right from move 1 as if it was fated!

I should mention that I just spotted some advertising for the upcoming NSW Open in June this year. They are professionally designed on what appears to be expensive paper. Let's see if all this will pay off.

BREAKING NEWS: Ikeda Beats Bakre

Not more than 15 minutes ago, local boy, Junta Ikeda has just defeated visiting GM Tejas Bakre. All the more impressive since Ikeda did it with the black pieces.

Ikeda is getting stronger and stronger. In last night's blitz he took out powerful blitz maestro Vladimir Smirnov. This is not the first time that the young man has beaten a GM. Two years ago (I think it was), he defeated Ian Rogers in the NSW Open and Dr Zworestine has just informed me that he should also have beaten Antic in one of their encounters. The boy certainly does pull out all he's got against GMs!!

Meanwhile, Rogers and Smerdon are facing each other on board 1. It is looking very tense. No other results yet from the premiere section. I will update some more later tonight if I have time.

Shaun Press, by the way, is also bloggin about this event. He has more games available here.

Lane vs Antic

I've managed to get net access again from the Forrest Inn. I've added more pictures up on my flickr site. And here is the game Lane - Antic.

Mobile Phone Rule Problems

Yesterday there were two incidents related to the so-called "mobile phone rule" that threatened to challenge the arbiters. In the first one, the Pinoy player Caesar Marquez lost the game because his phone rang out. At first, the arbiter on duty - apparently inexperienced - gave him "the benefit of doubt" and let him off! But the opponent, Bec Harris, protested and managed to have that initial ruling overturned by a second arbiter.

The second incident wasn't so clear cut. A switched off phone was accidentally activated and made an audible sound. Again, the player was given the benefit of doubt and was let off. However, the player felt quite bad about it and offered his opponent a draw despite being in a winning position (exchange up and pawn ready to Queen). The draw was accepted.

In yet another incident that I just learned about this morning, a player in the premiere section allagedly broke the mobile phone rule but no one said anything! Lucky.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Early Round 4 Results

Here are some round 4 results.

Smerdon - Solomon, draw
Matamoros - Mikhalevski, draw
Timoshenko - Goldenberg, draw
Shipov - Bakre, draw
Lane - Antic, draw
Toth - Pecori, 1-0
Lazarus, B - Ly, Moulthun, 0-1
Lin, Zhigin - Jager, 0-1

I'd post the exciting Lane - Antic but this hotel has suddenly changed their policy on connecting your laptop to their network. They won't let me do it!

Solomon Defeats Shipov

Apologies for the lack of updates folks. Only now did I find a net connection. Costs a fortune though!

Day 2 and already we have an upset. Jesse Sales has just beaten GM Daryl Johansen! I don't have the game but I have an even bigger news. IM Stephen Solomon, of Queensland, has caused a huge upset beating the top seed GM Shipov!!

FM Jesse Sales defeated GM Johansen in round 3

And here is the Solo v Shipov game. Black actually lost on time.

As for my own campaign, I'm actually off to my best start ever in the Doeberl. After 3 games, I have 2 draws (to local man Bliznyuk and Dr Tulevski) plus a win against the wheelchair bound Tamzin Oliver.

Total number of participants is actually down this year. I suspect that this has a lot to do with the SIO. Travelling down to Canberra for 4 days of chess and to be followed immediately afterwards by another biggie is surely a turnoff for some. Just as well, I guess, because this year's Doeberl has all the 3 events - premiere, major and minor - played in the Damiano Hall. So there's plenty of room of left. Apparently, there is some sort of renovation being done to the small room, where the premiere is normally held, and the lighting is quite poor. "Out with the rest of the masses" is how one Victorian visitor put it.

More photos in my flickr stream.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Smerdon: I was too nervous

The Chessvibes blog has a special interview with recent Bangkok winner IM David Smerdon. David gives an interesting insights into his performances as well as into his game against Pinoy GM Rogelio Antonio Jr.

I was just too damn nervous at these events. I’d put a lot of pressure on myself to get the norms while overseas, and travelling all the way to play Moscow only serves to exaggerate this importance. I never relaxed, and the chess games themselves became work, and only a means to the elusive ‘norm’. I didn’t enjoy playing at all.

Courtesy of Chessvibes.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Taking Kasparov Seriously

Hardly a week goes by these days that you don't see at least one news item on Kasparov's political ambitions in the news feeds. Here's one last week, another one earlier today and finally this appearing just 30 minutes ago (with a near unbelievable quote: "Kasparov's problem is that no-one under the age of 30 really knows who he is").

So you'd think, well, OK this guy is right into his politics. Good luck to him. Yet it still surprises me that, though now retired from OTB play, except for a special appearance at the Credit Suisse Zurich Blitz last year, the ex-world champion still takes time to make money out of the game. This week he stopped over in England for a series of media engagements. Plus there are his recordings for Chessbase and a regular column in NIC. I just can't help thinking: is this guy really serious with his politics?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Wesley So Surges Ahead

The April FIDE rating list has just been released and it's always interesting to see the changes, if any, of the various rankings (i.e. world top 10, Australian, top women, etc). For RP, there is a new number 1 - GM Rogelio Antonio Jr. who took over the number 1 place from GM Mark Paragua. Of special interest is the rise and rise of RP's wunderkind, IM Wesley So, who now sports an awesome 2519 and holds down number 4 for the Philippines.

1. GM Rogelio Joey Antonio Jr. (2539)
2. GM Mark Paragua (2532)
3. GM Eugenio Torre (2532)
4. IM Wesley So (2519)
5. IM Rogelio Barcenilla (2503)
6. IM Joseph Sanchez (2497)
7. IM Oliver Dimakiling (2491)
8. IM Darwin Laylo (2486)
9. FM John Paul Gomez (2469)
10. IM Jayson Gonzales (2461)

The Australians are, naturally, outrated by the Pinoys and there is nothing special to report there. For those with an interest in Australian numbers, check out FM Greg Canfell's excellent little website here.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Unstoppable Vladimir Smirnov

Top seeded Vladimir Smirnov routed all his opponents in today's City of Sydney Rapid event finishing on 7/7 points. Four players were equal second on 5 points; these were Hu, Bolens, Jason Chan and Andrew Furst.

Only 29 players turned up - another very disappointing number. If NSWCA boss Bill Gletsos doesn't think there's some sort of a crisis, he must surely think so now. NSWCA is looking like it's going to post another big loss come November. However, and to be honest, I just can't see a turnaround any time soon. Weekend chess these days, at least in Sydney, is just not so attractive.

Small turnout for the City of Sydney Rapid

Top finishers:

7.0 - Smirnov
5.0 - Hu, Bolens, Furst, Chan
4.5 - Rachmadi, Huynh, Nguyen
4.0 - Chernih, Rosario, Faris, Tulevski, Christensen, Badlwin, Nomat

More photos from this event are in my flick stream.

Today's venue, Parramatta RSL, is not far from the SIO venue, the Town Hall. It looks like the city is all set for the chess. There is a giant poster screaming, "Chess Festival". And the organisers are doing everything they can to promote, not only the SIO, but just about anything to do with chess - including today's rapid. This morning SIO co-organiser Vasil Tulevski played host to a photographer from the Parramatta Sun newspaper. So it looks like all systems go for what is set to be the biggest chess event in Sydney!

David Smerdon Wins Bangkok

We have breaking news from Marlon Bernardino on David Smerdon's win in the Bangkok Open. The Australian scored 7.5 points, a half point clear of three pursuers who included defending champ GM Joey Antonio. Fourth seeded Ian Rogers totalled just 6.5 points in all.

Smerdon defeated Anotonio in the fifth round.

7.5 points-IM David Smerdon (Australia)
7.0 points-GM RB Ramesh (India)
7.0 points-GM Dimitri Komarov (Ukraine)
6.5 points-GM Ian Rogers (Australia)