Thursday, May 31, 2007

Noble Park in PR Drive

Nice job by Dromagoj in the Dandenong Star.

A Bespoke Chess Set Sir?

When I am a multimillionaire, from all this blogging naturally, I might just pop into 853 Madison Avenue and order a bespoke chess set. Only after I've also bought a bespoke $10,000 suit, of course.

[I]n 1973 Ringo Starr commissioned Asprey to create a gold and sterling silver chess set modeled from castings of his ringed fingers, bestowing a blessing for the bishop, forming a fist for the castle, etc. Today, anybody with a penchant for astronomically expensive conversation pieces can walk into the new Madison Avenue store and order a replica of this set or, budget and imagination permitting, create a unique army of chess pieces forged in the image of their own favorite anatomical part.

From the New York Times (may require registration).

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

200,000 Page Views

Well I might as well celebrate it. But the other night, after some shameless self-promotion on other more famous blogs, I managed to hit an important milestone. We achieved 200,000 pageviews! That took a little while - just under 2 years since we opened for business and I'm quite happy about that.

Page views, however, are not as important. In terms of visits per day we get just a tad above 200 by both new and repeat visitors. (The highest I ever got I think was nearly 1000 during last year's Olympiad, but then again that was thanks to you-know-what). Two-hundred plus or so is nice - it's just right and well exceeds my initial expectations.

Anyway, I'm talking about all this because, well, here I am sitting here with a nice glass of Printhie Cabernet Merlot (from Orange), my mind is racing, it's 9PM at night and, believe it or not, still working away (I work from home at night). You know, I'm finding myself quite busy with work that I just have so little time now for blogging. And I'm seriously taking up a new hobby - well, an old one actually but only more seriously this time. Photography! I'm thinking maybe it's time to close down TCG. I only mentioned that to a couple of guys during the SIO, but now I'm telling you.

I should make it to my 2-year anniversary and then we'll see what happens after that.

What do you reckon boys and girls?

Monday, May 28, 2007

What is Aronian's Secret?

Make that "who is Aronian's secret". Early this month the Armenian master defeated GM Vladimir Kramnik 4-2 in their rapid match - a very impressive achievement with some wonderful play. Now playing in the World Championship Candidate's matches in Elista, it looks like Aronian's excellent fortune is set to continue. His secret? The answer is here.

Do I hear wedding bells?

And I've just spotted a radio interview between Arianne and SBS Radio's Filipino program. Download the MP3 here. "There are so many beautiful women in chess", she said. Where?

Just diverting our attention now to something less romantic - those guys in the ACF and NSWCA better get moving over to soon. I'm pretty sure that that's Matthew Sweeney playing one of his usual set pieces. I am so looking forward to a reunion of familiar foes.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Wake Up Philippines Chess!

This might take a little while to load, and I've no idea what's wrong with, but the May 6 issue of Bobby Ang's column is worth a read. It's actually written by guess columnist Manny Benitez.

Let’s call a spade a spade. We Filipinos are too conceited to admit our weaknesses. Why, our players don’t even want to have their games published because they fear that their chess “secrets” will be known by their rivals! What secrets are they talking about? If they mean their bankruptcy of ideas, then I agree.

One solid proof of how Philippine chess has stagnated is the fact that we still rely on Torre to take up the cudgels for the rest of our so-called masters who may not even know who Ruy Lopez was or that chess originated in Asia. Ignorance—that is the bane of Filipino players!

One can only hope that this excoriating attack will, indeed, be enough for a wake up call to RP chess leaders. Well, let's pray.

4.5 Points for Sevillano in US

As we might already know by now, Alex Shabalov has won the 2007 US Chess Championships with a score of 7/9 points. That was a very powerful performance by Shabalov that involved 6 5 straight wins, 2 draws (against Ehlvest and Gulko), then capped off with a final round victory over Sergey Kudrin.

Of interest to us is the play of Pinoy-American IM Enrico Sevillano. This guy completed his outing with a 50% score overall. In the last round, Sevillano, a former Philippine Olympiad rep (last appearing for that country in 1994), essayed the Benko Gambit against Akobian. It was an exciting but disappointing finish for Sevillano.

More coverage is also available on Chessbase with some interesting little detail about Shabalov's secret for success.

Thursday, May 24, 2007 in Beta Launch

I’m sure we’ve all entered into our browser one day and saw nothing. It's a very obvious domain name after all. Well it seems that 2 years ago, the name was bought by some clever so-called “webpreneur” in Palo Alto, California with designs on creating the “the #1 online chess community!” launched in beta mode last week and, from what I see, things look very exciting.

What I Like
The site is FREE to join, so far anyway. But site owner Erik, with whom I exchanged emails today, said that premium services may be made available at some point in the future. has ambitions to be an all-in-one chess players paradise - for coaches, tournament organisers, players. As expected there is a forum for discussions, news, an events calendar and, something of some interest to me, a blogging service. I took this last one for a little whirl and it ain't bad.

Creating blog posts was easy-peasy. You can read my first post Hello World now. (See also my test posts in the forum with a demo of game annotation). What impressed most was inserting games. Except for the cut-and-paste of the PGN, everything was at a click of the mouse! Total snap.

Also cool is the email service. Not so cool is that we're limited to attachments of only 10Mb and storage of 50Mb. Peanuts, hardly useful. As Erik says, he's not Google!

There is a play function but right now it seems to be only against the computer. The developers, however, are promising the standard user-vs-user ability soon that includes correspondence game play as well. If the site takes off, who knows, they might very well prove a challenge to ICC and Playchess. But that's I guess wishful thinking.

What I don't Like
My first gripe was from the sign-on. There was no confirmation of user credentials via email, so make sure to write down your user ID and password somewhere in case you forget one or both of them.

And the homepage layout reminds me of my personalised iGoogle and netvibes. There are "modules" (or grids) of content around the page. Problem for is you can't actually move these modules around to your liking or even turn them off. For example, "Newest Members" is right smack bang in the middle of my page. Well, I actually care less about who these guys are and more about, say, recent news or blog posts.

There is no way to see my profile as others see it which is a feature that I liked over at LinkedIn. It would also be useful, I think, to have a small dashboard with quick links to common actions like "write a blog post", "read/write email", etc. Right now all I see is a "My Home" link and even that is oddly placed as it's located in the upper right corner of my screen.

For a while I kept wondering where the "Home" link was. There isn't one! If you didn't know that the icon in the upper left does the same job as "Home", then you're likely to be lost. Then again, that's a really minor issue.

Lastly, I do want to see some greater customisation for the blogging service. I'm talking templates, layouts, a personalised URL (i.e. - the works!

All in All could potentially be the game's social networking site of choice! What they need now are some good and relevant content first of all and the crowds will follow. It sounds like they're putting out the call for some help in that regard so any potential bloggers, writers or journos should best sign up now and get in touch.

In terms of functionalities, the basics are there but I'm not sure I'll migrate my blog any time soon. Speaking for myself only, being tied too closely to a chess site for my blogging purposes, when I'm often opinionated, could present some problems. For those who just want to share something about their chess lives like recent tournament performances, games, book reviews, whatever - then will probably do.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Buy Me a Title

Twelve-year old Rhys Cumming has just won a 65,000 GBP scholarship to play chess. Are you kidding me? In AUD that's about $162,500 - more than the combined budget of the ACF and all state/territory chess bodies in Australia. With that kind of dough maybe Rhys can migrate Down Under, become an Aussie citizen, then buy himself a FIDE master title! Oops, that's low TCG. Sorry dear readers, couldn't quite help myself.

Anyhow, debate over this terrible situation of softly-softly titles in the Oceania zone continues over at Chess Chat. Last time I checked it now appears that there is a big question mark over whether titles that were supposedly earned in Fiji actually met FIDE's own regulations. And in case you missed it in our last post below, New Zealand's Michael Freeman has made a comment:

When it was agreed in Elista to trial the new zone, the agreement was for 4 years, not 8.

I support Ian's comments about the titles, and the fact that normal performance requirements should be required. Ian is right that many players in zones, not just Oceania took advantage of the rules to get titles, and that the rules were tightened. Howver, I agree they were not tightened enough.

This is not the first time that debate over soft FM titles raged Down Under. Newbies to the local scene and foreign readers are directed here, scroll down to the 1999 section then click on issue no. 16, 9 May, 1999. Just keep reading for a few issues after that one.

Monday, May 21, 2007

GM Rogers on the Soft Titles

Goran Urosevic offered to ask GM Ian Rogers some questions on our behalf and he's come back here with a wonderful effort. Australia's number one walks us through a brief history of the soft titles problem and also offers some ideas on how to fix it. More than that, we also briefly touch upon the question surrounding the Australian Championships.

The same video can be seen on the site. Our deepest thanks to Goran for this and, of course, to GM Rogers.

UPDATE: I'm at work now and I can't see the video. Let me know if you guys are experiencing any problems.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sevillano in US Championships

A familiar name to our Pinoy readers is IM Enrico Sevillano who is currently competing in the Frank K Berry 2007 US Chess Championships. So far the ex-RP rep has 2.5 points going into the sixth round. He defeated US international master Jay Bonin yesterday in a nice game.

GM Alexander Shabalov is so far undefeated and leads on 5/5 points.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Missing Zonal Results

Issue no. 403 of the ACF's newsletter hit my inbox yesterday. There's no mention of the recently concluded Fiji Zonal's there. Whatever, let's just assume that the content didn't make it by press time. But you know some dirty minds will wonder if the ACF guys just didn't want extra attention on a familiar issue all over again. I'm talking here about soft FM titles. There's currently a hot discussion going on about this over at Chess Chat with one guy calling the soft titles, "Bi-Lo" titles. Ouch! That must hurt.

Also of interest in the latest newsletter is a brief entry about the latest ACTCA AGM. The ACF reports simply, "In a secret ballot Mos Ali was elected by 14 votes to 13. The remaining executive positions, except for the Treasurer, were filled unopposed." However the juicier details can be found in Chess Express.

Incumbent President Mos Ali was also nominated. Sadly he started his case for re-election by smearing his opponent, and only stopped when challenged by an outraged member of the audience. He defended his approach by indicating that in an election, "anything goes". A paper ballot was used for the election and at the close of counting the vote was tied 13-13. After some confusion Mos Ali used what I believe to be his casting vote to re-elect himself as President.

He re-elected himself? What the...? I'm not too au fait on the rules but is that even allowed? Imagine this happening in NSWCA. There'd be a total uproar. So far I haven't seen any significant commentary on the net, certainly not on Chess Chat and there's only 3 comments in Shaun Press' blog. Maybe those guys in the ACT are way too nice.

OK, so here I am thinking: Stephen Mugford was co-organiser of the Australian Open, what about Mr Ali? What has he done? Anyone? Fair questions. I really do want to know.

By the way, I just noticed this link to the Sunshine Coast Chess Club - host of the 1999 Australian Open. Yes, I have very good memories. Very nice!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ian Rogers Video Interview

Our friend Goran is involved with a new chess site, In one of the first emails I received about them, they described their aims thus:

It will have extensive coverage of chess events. But we do not only want to concentrate on big events. We find that the future development of chess starts in smaller and medium rank tournaments.

We also believe we have to make coverage about such events on every continent. Right now the web is full of reports about championships in Russia, Europe and the USA. But few people talk about tournaments in Australia, South America, Africa, and Asia. Our goal is to equaly present each tournament that deserves attention.

There's plenty of content on the site already. Right now the major news is Mtel. It is there that our friend Goran managed to stop GM Ian Rogers for a short video interview. Good one. Check it out here. I just love Ian's life, hopping here and there, just seemingly no worries but chess.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

NY Times Chess Blog

The New York Times has started a new chess blog dubbed "Gambit" and the guy running the show is Dylan McClain, The Gray Lady's chess columnist. Business began in time for the 2007 US Chess Championships. For extra coverage of that tournament, check out Mig's Daily Dirt, the USCF, and other blogs (just look down my right side bar).

ICC Eats Up Rivals

We have Chess Ninja to thank for this one. The Internet Chess Club (ICC) recently acquired two competitors, WCN and Chess Live. Those two will now instead form one entity they call World Chess Live. The new WCL site may be accessible but it looks like formal services won't commence until 29 May.

Press releases are here, here and here.

I guess this move isn't really surprising. It's what tends to happen in a marketplace with an ambitious player right from the get go. By the way, and I know this is a re-run for many of our well-informed readers, this article by Brad Stone on the history of ICC is worth reading.

I did have some experience with WCN (none with CL), thanks to our friend Goran Urosevic who kindly gave me a free gold subscription, and it was always hard to imagine them lasting for much longer. If Joel Berez, ICC CEO, is to be believed - WCN's memberships have been recently declining. No surprise there. Out of my 3 services - Playchess, ICC and WCN - this last chess server was by far the least of my faves and after a short period of addiction, I eventually gave up. My special problem was with the interface: it wasn't very friendly and reminded me of the old Yahoo! chess UI, very "cartoony". Plus the community on WCN wasn't quite as noisy as I saw on ICC and Playchess. Those remaining WCN members can count themselves lucky; you guys are moving to better services.

All this makes me wonder what Playchess' next move will be, if any. Or maybe there's nothing to worry about. After all, a lot of people, like myself, would have dual memberships.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Josh Waitzkin on NPR

Further to our post last Friday, Mr Josh Waitzkin, the former chess prodigy, has also since appeared on the US radio station NPR. You can listen
to the interview here. Takes about 30 minutes but fascinating stuff!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Good Times at Box Hill

Good morning! Here's a cheerful start to the week.

In case you missed it, our friend in Victoria, Trevor Stanning, and who serves as Box Hill CC's treasurer, dropped by and posted a response to our post last Friday. In contrast to a couple of posters who reported a downturn in chess activity, the Box Hill guys are experiencing a boom.

I notice the posts to date, on this OPEN thread you have provided, have all looked at the glass as half empty.

Just for a counter-balance, the ROOKIES Cup event today (clash with Mothers Day) had a near record turnout of 50, and in no small way this is due to the influence of our new non-chess playing President Gladys Liu, the mum of two ERGAS squad members. Our Tuesday coaching numbers are up by 25% and we are looking for a fourth coach to participate in the 90 minute session.

We have now opened for business in a new session...Sunday arvo., due to numbers who can't be handled in our other sessions. We are about to sign a deal with the local Traders Association to run a monthly SIMUL in their 'town square'. An earner for juniors who are trying to finance trips to tournaments.

How do these guys do it?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

It's Zhao's Zonal

I guess I have to extend my congrats to IM Zhao for winning the Fiji Zonal. The Sydneysider's final score was 7/9 points. And according to our friend Bill Gletsos, NSWCA prez, an IM title goes to Igor Goldenberg but fellow blogger Shaun Press isn't so sure.

But how about those 2 FM titles? Look, with respect to these kids, here's a word: SOFT! There's a very good discussion about this over at Chess Chat.

Deep Blue Programmer Interview

In this 10th year anniversary special of Deep Blue's win over Kasparov, Murray Campbell, the guy who moved the pieces (and one of the programmers), gives an interview to Wired.

Wired: What are Deep Blue’s roots, and on what technological principles did its forebears operate?

Campbell: Claude Shannon, the famous computer scientist and mathematician proposed that chess was a grand challenge for these new things called computers -- if you could get a computer to play chess at the world champion level, you had done something really special.

There was a turning point in the '70s when it was realized that, if you let computers do what they do best -- that is, search through as many possibilities as they can as quickly as they can -- and stop the pretense of trying to emulate how humans play, you actually got better performance.

And so, from that day on, computers, including Deep Blue, tended to be focused on searching through as many possible chess moves as they could in the amount of time that was available for a computation.

Read more in A Decade After Kasparov's Defeat, Deep Blue Coder Relives Victory.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Challenge of Chips

Another article on humans and computers. This one is from Slate by William Saletan.

The remarkable thing about us isn't our supremacy over computers. It's our interaction with them. Yes, chess programs have been getting smarter. But they didn't do that on their own. Humans design the hardware and write the code. Grandmasters test and refine it. The machines get smarter because the code gets subtler because the programmers get wiser. That's how Deep Junior, the machine that played Kasparov four years ago, eclipsed Deep Blue's skill with just a fraction of Deep Blue's computing power.

Read more in Chess Bump.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Open Thread

Just some bits and pieces to end the week.

In the Fiji Zonal, IM Zhao and FM Goldenberg are in the lead with 5 points apiece after 6 games. A highlight so far seems to be this kid Gene Nakauchi. It looks he's in the running for an FM title. Wow!

Thanks also to some helpful readers I've managed to ID the Torre book that I asked about. The book is called "Beyond The 13th Move". My cousin happens to be in RP now so hopefully she can pick up a copy!.

And Remember Josh Waitzkin? He seems to have transformed himself into some sort of self-help guru and recently released a book, "The Art of Learning".

Finally, no word yet from the ACF on the state of our national championships - not here and not on Chess Chat. It's like these guys are just totally ignoring the whole thing. The normally combative Dr Kevin Bonham, usually the ACF's spokesperson on this blog (though he often insists that he speaks only for himself), is nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he's away. No matter as it boils down to this: nobody is willing to take on the financial risk - not Mr Parr, not the NSWCA and, as far as we can establish, certainly not the ACF. What we do know is that an approach has been made to ACF head Gary Wastell to possibly broker a deal that will involve a shared profit/loss arrangement between the NSWCA, the ACF and an organiser (not necessarily Peter Parr). Can the championships be saved?

Have a good weekend all!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Australian Championships: Is It Happening?

What is happening with the Australian Championships? But first, let's remind ourselves of the NSWCA's and the ACF's respective raison d'etre.

The NSWCA: "To encourage, promote, maintain and control the playing of Chess in the State of New South Wales".
The ACF: "[T]o foster and control the game of chess throughout Australia".

These words can be found here and here.

It's important to quote these dear readers because it's not at all clear to us if these two bodies are actually doing what they're supposed to do.

As reported by two other bloggers, Matt Sweeney and ex-NSWCA man Trent Parker, a meeting took place on the second last day of the SIO tournament. It seems it was agreed that the ACF and the NSWCA will finally give Peter Parr's proposal a chance after weeks of doing everything they can to stonewall the idea. Another positive outcome was that a meeting was supposed to have taken place between Parr, NSWCA boss Bill Gletsos and university academic Jonathan Paxman to try and approach the University of Technology, Sydney (where Paxman is employed) and secure a venue - possibly for free.

Has the meeting with the university taken place? NO! And why not?

Well it now seems, and this is according to Mr Parr, that both the NSWCA and the ACF are completely washing their hands of the event! Holy Moly. Nearly half way through the year and still we're nowhere any clearer if the all-important event is happening or not. What in the world is going on?

Making The Right Decisions

I was walking past a newsagent the other day and spotted an interesting cover title in the latest issue of New Scientist magazine. It read: "Making Up Your Mind: Ten Steps to Better Decisions". I just had to stop and buy that one. The magazine poses a straightforward question: can science help us in making the right decisions?

It's an interesting article and while not about chess, there is definitely, to me at least, some relevance to woodpushers. Here are the 10 tips below with our take on how these can apply to our game.

1. Don't fear the consequences
"A major factor leading us to make bad predictions", the magazine says, "is 'loss aversion' - the belief that a loss will hurt more than a corresponding gain." OK, this bit in the article is more about life choices in general but there is a chess lesson here I think.

I'm sure most of us have found ourselves in a position wherein things are not so clear. Should I sac or should I not? Push the pawn or retreat a piece? It's often difficult and confusing. But in such situations there is probably some instinctive move that you already have in mind. You know it might be risky, yet on the other hand, in that particular situation (like a time trouble, say), taking a little risk could unsettle the opposition and bring home the point. As the NS mag concludes this section, don't always play it safe!

2. Go with your gut instincts
An Indonesian friend of mine told me a long time ago, don't think too much; thinking's not good for you, he said. Well, he was joking of course and offered the remark, and still does these days to unsettle his opponent, during a blitz game.

NS: "It stands to reason that extra information can help you make well informed, rational decisions. Yet paradoxically, sometimes the more information you have the better off you may be going with your instincts. Information overload can be a problem in all sorts of situations, from choosing a school for your child to picking a holiday destination. At times like these, you may be better off avoiding conscious deliberation and instead leave the decision to your unconscious brain".

3. Consider your emotions
What the...? I told you this is about life - not about chess. Honestly, it's important. The lesson here is clear: emotions might be a key component in "the neurobiology of choice, but whether they always allow us to make the right decisions is another matter". Look, I'm sure I saw it in some kung-fu movie some time back: the master says, don't fight when you're angry for you'll only beat yourself. How true is that? I'm sure there are players out there that you just, well, dislike. I don't have too many of them, thank God, but it could be just a player who gives you grief - you know, someone who beats you more than you beat them. Just sit down, relax, it's another game. So boys, check your emotions at the door.

4. Play the Devil's advocate
In other words, consider alternatives. Yeah as if we really need reminding. If you've read anyone of the many self-help chess books, from Kotov to Rowson, then you know something about the idea. Still it's worth reminding ourselves and combatting what the writers call (actually it's a long-established concept), the confirmation bias.

5. Keep your eye on the ball
Don't be sidetracked by irrelevancies is what they're saying. At times, when only little information is at hand, irrelevant data can come to the fore and easily sway our decision making.

6. Don't cry over spilt milk
Cut your losses while you still can is the message. Avoid the "sunk cost fallacy", the magazine says. Falling for this fallacy occurs when we continue to commit to a project or course of action on account of the investment we've already made even though such persistence is a bad one. New Scientist cites the Concorde project as their example.

Is there a lesson in chess? I reckon so. Ever continued a failing attack just because you've already invested a pawn or two? Once you sense that the attack is failing, bail out. If you happened to sack a piece, then only God can help you. Find another plan if you still can. And the lesson need not be about material. How about when you insisted on a specific line only because you already spent so much time thinking about it? Again, a big no-no. Best to take a deep breath, relax and reconsider.

7. Look at it another way
It goes without saying. Make the effort to examine your moves from another angle. I suppose that can mean actually viewing the board, physically, from a different point of view. Ever wonder why we always seem to find good moves when spectating? I notice that some players actually stand behind their opponents, though I find it annoying when done to me. So long as the opposition doesn't mind, why not?

8. Beware social pressure
Chessers are very prone to this problem. You only have to consider the openings that go in and out of fashion. But just because everyone plays that line, why should you play it? Do you even understand it? Another lesson is to question so-called authority. The gents over at the Streatham & Brixton blog have a good example for us all in this post last month.

9. Limit your options
I'll never forget what my friend Nick observed many years ago. He said that the more he learned about chess - opening systems, plans, tactics and so on - it seems that the harder it was to select the best move! Anyone else find that? I know I do! It seems like the more I read about the QGD, say, I just get stuck! I can't move. It's as if I'm having to worry about so many variables.

And forget about plans or ideas within a system. How about having to learn all these openings?! Well, OK not all, but a lot. This is why, nearly as soon as I began tournament play in '96, I decided to specialise only in 1.d4. It made my life easier and not to mention cheaper. If I began playing 1.e4 now very frequently (as I do occasionally reel it out) I'd have to worry about a whole multitude of replies. That's just too hard.

NS: "[T]he idea that while we think more choice is best, often less is more. The problem is that greater choice usually comes at a price. It makes greater demands on your information-processing skills, and the process can be confusing, time-consuming and at worst can lead to paralysis: you spend so much time weighing up the alternatives that you end up doing nothing."

10. Have someone else choose
People typically like to make their own choices as it makes them feel happy, say Simona Botti of Cornell University as cited by NS. In reality, however, the process of making a decision "can leave us feeling dissatisfied. Then it may be better to relinquish control". This is a hard one. But I guess that's why we have cheats in our game! I'm talking about those guys who rely on chip power to make their moves for them.

Looked at another way, I suppose the study of theory, endgame positions, etc., fits in well with this rule. Imagine if we all had to invent our moves every time we sit down to play. How hard would that be?

OK, that's all for now. That took ages to write. Time for an update on the never-gonna-happen Australian Championships.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Goldenberg Leads Zonal

Thanks to an anonymous poster we now have an update from Fiji. Details are available on the FCF's website. (Oh my God, their site kicks the ACF's ass).

At the round 3 mark, Victorian FM Igor Goldenberg is leading with a perfect 3/3. He will face his toughest test yet in the next round when he plays against Kiwi player Puchen Wang who sports a rating of 2322.

Games are still not available. But we're hoping to arrange at least one IM-annotated game from this event, so look out for that post the competition.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

New Blog From Italy

I waited a little while before adding this new blog to my blogroll. Mida's Chess Corner is maintained by Italian FIDE master Dario Mione. He makes some very good and interesting posts most of which are full of game analysis.

Worth reading is this recent entry on our own GM Ian Rogers.

Quick Exit From Teams

It was the first Teams Challenge event today for 2007. There were 16 players teams in all. Our team, dubbed The Closet Grandmasters (actually Parrammata A), began well enough with a 4-0 drubbing of our young opponents. We had Romeo Capilitan on board one, Angelito Camer on two, Ahmed Faris on third board and I handled 4th board duties. Note that Romy Capilitan is now sporting a limp on his right leg. It seems that he sufferred a stroke some months back. Thank Christ the guy's alright. He still has it in him to pull off a stunner or two. Just weeks ago he beat IM George Xie!

I don't have a lot of information to share as I was in a little rush to get out of there - had to go to a motorshow in Lidcombe. Anyway, it was nice to see former Aussie Chess Champion (1970) Fred Flatow turn up. I think his team, Canterbury, may have been the top seeds as they featured George Xie, Adrian Rose, Ernesto Puzon as well as Flatow himself.

Fred Flatow in action for Canterbury

In round 2, we lost our match (I think it was a Sydney Academy team) 3.5 - 0.5. Disastrous really. Only Romy managed to hold a draw. At that point, it was time for me to leave and another Pinoy, Ed Agulto, took over.

So off I went to a modified cars exhibit. Here's a picture I took from the event.

Friday, May 04, 2007

G'Day! Welcome to Australia!

For our ignorant foreign readers, you might like to check out Edwin Lam's latest educational piece for Chessbase. We hope you'll learn something about our distant land. You know like "there are only two possible options of getting to Australia: by water, or by air". Gee...thanks for that!

And this is very helpful:

Once you touch down at the airport, there are three ways for you to get to Parramatta – where the SIO will be held. You can choose to take a cab from the airport direct to Parramatta – a journey that will take around one to one-and-a-half hour. Alternatively, a cheaper option would be to take the Airport Link to Sydney’s CBD Central train station. At the Central station, you need to change to another train that will take you directly to the Parramatta train station. The last, final and FREE option would be to get a friend in Sydney to come and fetch you at the airport!

In fact we locals just walk it. We like to go on walkabouts in this country. Takes about a couple days or so from Kingsford Smith to Parramatta. But that's alright, we stop by at a nearby river, camp and hunt for 'roos and wallabies. Thoroughly recommended!

And no, we don't mind you calling us 'Roos either. Now what do you call them Malaysians?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Ideal Chess Wife

A friend of mine, a reasonably strong player in the 1800s or so, got married and that was that. Goodbye chess! In fact I know a couple more of these guys who marched down the aisle and had to retire from the game. One of them seems like he's disappeared from the planet; I haven't heard from him in over a year since he tied the knot. It's a big pity really as these guys were very competent woodpushers and whose company were always very welcome.

One question that's been on my mind is: can chess and marriage mix? You see it's a crucial question because last weekend I was chatting to another mate of mine who said that he's looking for a wife. I didn't know what to say. I just had this funny feeling that I had to warn him of something.

Well, of course, chess and marriage can work. But the key here, I'm sure, is hitching with the right kind of woman, one with the proper kind of mindset. Over at The Chess Drum, there is a heartwarming story about a certain Charles Covington and his, wait for it, "help mate", Becky. It seems that Mr Covington has an example for us all. This is what he wrote to The Chess Drum:

I would like to thank my wife Becky for her time and patience in helping me to be a good chess player. We have been married for 41 years and Becky is my biggest fan. She bought chess books for me so that I could study to become a better player. I remember several times I would come home from work and she would have chess players waiting to play me. She would fix lunch and dinner for them. She would enroll me into chess tournaments without me even knowing it.

Sigh. I'm just feeling, like, oh-so-weak at the knees at the moment. Lucky bastard is all I can say. The complete article can be read here.

Oceania Chess Zonal

The Oceania zonal tournament is set to begin this weekend and will run until 12 May. The latest list of players is here. As usual, there are some fill-ins. Good luck to all the serious players. To the fill-ins, have a nice holiday and enjoy the sun.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


The South Australian Chess Association website is now back up and running. It's a simple site with readable layout. But it could do more with a little more content.

Teams Rapid This Sunday

The most exciting fixture in the NSWCA calendar is happening this Sunday - the teams challenge event. It's probably one of only 2 tournaments that I look forward to these days (the other being Doeberl).

A lot of guys will have already formed teams by now or close to the day - with friends, classmates or even family members. But if you don't know anyone, just turn up anyway and you'll surely find a team. Players who are interested in participating in the 2007 NSW Teams Challenge should attend the venue as early as possible so that we'll get the show going as quickly as possible.

Good luck and see you there!

Q&A With Kasparov

As previously noted, there are daily news items pertaining to Kasparov, but most are not very interesting - just talking about some rally or the ex world number one's latest run-in with the Russian police. This one, however, with Canada's CBC is passable.

The Other Russia movement you lead is diverse. It includes economic liberals, nationalists and Communists. Is that diversity a weakness in the long term?

Technically speaking, in the long term it might be a problem, but nobody is trying to create a political party here. This is a combination similar to what was created in Chile at the end of the 1980s, when all groups — Christian Democrats, Communists — got together to fight Pinochet in the referendum.

After winning the referendum they began promoting their own political and social agenda. Here in Russia we have a similar situation. We have one common ground based on our beliefs that we have to restore democratic processes in the country.

There is a program of national unity being worked out, and soon it will be published, and we agree on the sweeping political reforms of this package and even certain political and economic measure to cure this unbearable gap between rich and poor.