Monday, December 31, 2007

Latest Problems in RP Chess

In his weekend newsletter, Manny Benitez is reporting certain new problems in Philippine chess. Firstly, a 5-man team that was due to fly out to India for the Asian Team Championships are still in RP because they could not get visas or plane tickets. The newsletter also reports that the team did not receive any preparation and, to date, still doesn't have a manager. And although still unconfirmed, one of the selected grandmasters is said to have left the team "in a huff". That GM has since been replaced by an international master instead.

The Asian Team Championships is slated for 2 - 11 January, 2008.

Secondly, and this is possibly the larger problem for RP chess right now, citing journo Iggy Dee as source, Mr Benitez reports of a possible breakaway faction within the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the NCFP was rumored to be on the verge of a schism, with a breakaway faction deciding to hold a separate election of officers. The separatist faction will time its own election on January 19, sources have told Dee. The NCFP board under its president, former Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr., is set to hold its election of officers in Tagaytay City on January 19. Dee said he learned from an insider that the breakaway faction intends to hold theirs also on January 19 in Quezon City.

No names were given as to the composition of the separatist group. Definitely interesting to watch developments in the next couple weeks. These are, however, not exactly the most auspicious beginning for this Olympiad year.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Zhao in Spanish Campaign

IM Zong Yuan Zhao is in category 10 event in Mondariz, Spain. He has 2.5 points after three rounds. Details here. Some brief analysis and comments here over at Chess Chat.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Debate Over Isle of Lewis Chessmen

One of my favourite places is the British Museum. I shall never forget my first visit there a couple of years ago, seeing for the first time things that I'd only ever read about. The Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles and a large collection of centuries old samurai swords were unforgettable. No less impressive, of course, is the central Reading Room (which houses the Paul Hamlyn Library). Yet besides the feeling of wonderment was the sense that much of it were out of place, stolen from elsewhere. To this day, for example, debate at times erupts over the Elgin Marbles. Should they be returned to Greece? And now a mild controversy along similar lines is taking place between the BM and, this time, Scotland.

This morning I heard a news report on BBC radio about one of our game's greatest known treasures, the Isle of Lewis chessmen. Of the 93 pieces only 10 remain in Scotland, where the artefacts were first discovered way back in 1831, with the larger bulk being housed in the British Museum. Effort is now underway to try and return the chessmen back, according to the Scottish side at least, to their rightful home. In this report from Scotland on Sunday, Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond is quoted as saying, "I find it utterly unacceptable that the Lewis Chessmen are scattered around Britain in a bizarre parody of the Barnett Formula. And you can be assured that I will continue campaigning for a united set of Lewis Chessmen in an independent Scotland".

So, what's your take? Should these chessmen be returned to Scotland?

Indian Players Oppose AICF

Two recent decisions by the All India Chess Federation, switching from the swiss system to RR for the National A tournament and using players' FIDE ratings to decide Olympiad duties, have been met with opposition from players. The Chess Players Association of India (CPAI) has posted a copy of an email on their website calling for a reversal of these changes.

The India Times paper quotes a CPAI member as saying, "We were not consulted before these decisions were announced. We are not happy with these changes and have informed AICF president (N Srinivasan) and secretary (D V Sundar) about it. We have also sought a meeting with the officials".

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Google Won't Save Hotel

Next year's ogranisers of the Doeberl Cup are doing something interesting. They're sending out newsletters. Yesterday I received the second issue and that was good because it reminded me to actually make my reservations for accommodation.

Unfortunately, most of the hotel selections listed here are a bit pricey, so I've settled for the least expensive, the YHA located on Akuna St. I stayed there a couple of years ago for the ANU Open and this joint isn't so bad. On the other hand, if you're considering a cheapo alternative like the City Walk Hotel, you might as well forget it. These City Walk guys are utterly hopeless. Not even Google can save them!

You may have better luck than me but all those contact details listed on the City Walk's web page are useless. The phone number redirects to a recorded message which says that they're busy. After waiting and waiting, plus numerous tries over a couple of days, I just gave up. No one answers. The email address bounces and I'm not about to fax anything in this day and age. Are these guys still in business?

Anyway, that's my rant for this cool Christmas Day in Sydney. I hope you all have a good one wherever you are.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Indian Fed Switch to FIDE Ratings

The All India Chess Federation has reportedly amended the way it selects team-members for Olympiads. Selection will now be based on players' FIDE ratings.

The AICF has decided to select the Indian team for the Olympiads based on the rating list of FIDE, the world governing body of chess. In fact, this is something the AICF should have done long, long ago. Up until now, the Indian teams — men as well as women — for the Olympiads were picked purely on the basis of the performances at the National ‘A’ championships: the top finishers make the squad (along with a few seeded players like World champion Viswanathan Anand). That is a bit like selecting Indian cricket team based solely on Challenger Trophy; pick the players with the best batting and bowling averages and leave out even a proven performer just because he was going through a bad patch or couldn’t play in the tournament because he was nursing an injury.

From The Hindu.

Azmaiparashvili Wins Singapore Masters

FIDE veep GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili and Singapore's Zhang Zong topped the 4th Singapore Masters Open International Tournament on 7 points apiece ahead of forty-two other participants. Azmai is overall winner on tiebreak. GM Chanda Sandipan of India totalled 6.5 points while six players, including RP's IM J.C. Sadorra, scored 6 points.

Other Pinoy scores are: Dimakiling and Paragua, 5.5 points; Gonzales, 5 points; Andador, 4 points.

Here is Sadorra's fine win over Indian IM Girinath in the fifth round.

4th Singapore Masters
Julio, Sadorra
Girinath, P D S.

1. Nf3 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. g3 d6 4. d4 e6 5. Bg2 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3 a5 8. b3 Qe8 9. Re1 Ne4 10. Qd3 Qg6 11. Bb2 Bf6 12. Nd2 Nxc3 13. Bxc3 Nc6 14. e4 e5 15. d5 Nb4 16. Qb1 f4 17. a3 Na6 18. Bxa5 h5 19. Kh1 h4 20. gxf4 exf4 21. Qc2 Bg4 22. Bc3 h3 23. Bf1 Qh5 24. e5 Bh4 25. Bd4 Rf5 26. Qd3 dxe5

After 26...dxe5

27. f3 Bxe1 28. fxg4 Qxg4 29. Bxh3 Qh4 30. Qxf5 exd4 31. Qe6+ Kh8 32. Rxe1 Nc5 33. Nf3 Nxe6 34. Nxh4 Nc5 35. Ng6+ Kh7 36. Bf5 Kh6 37. Nxf4 Nxb3 38. Rg1 g5 39. Ne6 Rg8 40. Rg3 1-0

Friday, December 21, 2007

Wii Chess Screenshots

The first screenshots and video demos of the new Wii Chess have just been released by Nintendo. Below is a screenshot courtesy of CVG. More are available from the official site.

Image courtesy of

However, at least based on what's been available so far, we agree with Wired that this game is just ugly!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My 2007 Xmas Wish List

I think I've done this every year around about this time. I basically post a list of things chessic that I'd love to have in my stockings for Christmas. For 2007, here's hoping that Santa will slide down my chimney and deliver these little goodies:

1. Play the Ruy Lopez (Andrew Greet)
2. Lifetime membership to and
3. A guide for Black in Ruy Lopez (Sverre Johnsen and Leif Erlend Johannessen)
4. The complete "My Predecessors" series, by Kasparov
5. A first edition My 60 Memorable Games, by R. Fischer
6. Mega Database 2008
7. 102mm Double Weighted Staunton (Boxwood and EbonyWood) chess set
8. Fritz 11
9. Dell XPS M1330 laptop
10. More time

The last two in that list are a bit irregular. But I would love that new lappy to load all those chess software goodies while still leaving enough horsepower for all the other things I do (like graphics and games). And the last is self-explanatory. Luckily, over this last week, and with the office in quiet mode (sort of), I've actually been able to play blitz after work again.

Anyway, merry Christmast to all!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Chess in The Wild Duck

I was just reviewing the many images I took from my recent UK trip and I was quite happy to rediscover this little gem. Somewhere in the Cotswolds, I (along with my companions) stumbled across this scene in the back of a pub.

Giant chess in the Wild Duck Inn

It's in a joint called the Wild Duck Inn. I tell you folks: the English people cannot cook. Their food is terrible, their coffee is crap. But here in the Wild Duck, I had my first ever decent meal in England. And I've been there a few times. Good stuff!

Make sure you drop by if/when you're somewhere in the Cotswolds.

4th Singapore Masters Open

The Singapore Chess Federation is presently hosting a chess convention that includes a series of seminars for administrators as well as two tournaments, a Masters section and a Challengers section. The Masters section is quite strong with 8 grandmasters in attendance as well as a number of IMs.

Pinoy fans will be interested to know that RP is well represented there by the familiar names like Paragua, Dimakiling and Gonzales. Unfortunately, Mark Paragua and Jayson Gonzales lost their second games to Chinese players Wan Yunguo and Shen Siyuan respectively.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Congrats All Around

For the last few weeks, I've been pretty much out of touch with chess current affairs that I didn't even know the finalists in Khanty-Mansiysk! My thanks to my friend Francisco Plaza for keeping me abreast on that front. After work, during our regular blitz meets, Francisco provides a quick run-down of results. So I guess it's congrats to Kamsky.

But there are two other guys who must truly deserve our congratulations. Firstly, to Zhong Yuan Zhao who last week secured his first ever GM norm in Budapest. According to GM Ian Rogers in his Sun Herald column yesterday, Zhao will now make 2 other attempts to secure the remaining norms before coming back to Oz. There is an invitation only event in Spain followed by Gibraltar in Jan '08. Good luck Zhao.

And while Aussies are still dreaming of their next grandmaster, Pinoy chess fans had an early Chrissy present when Wesley So finally secured a third GM norm last week. Our mate Kiko has all the details. Congrats indeed!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Gangsta Chess

A friend of mine sent me this video snippet while I was away a couple of weeks ago. It's a scene from a season 1 episode of The Wire, a TV drama in the US. Some segments may be NSFW so you may like to put on your head phones or tone down the volume.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Wii Chess

If you own a Wii game console, you'll soon be able to play chess with it. For the time being, though, the game will first hit European shelves in early 2008, while there's still no clue about an Australia release.

UK box art

German publication Der Spiegel is the widely cited source of this information. According to Der Spiegel, Wii Chess will feature online as well as local multiplayer capabilities.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Kasparov Resigns From Prez Race

News wires are reporting that Gary Kasparov will drop out of next year's Russian presidential race. He is quoted as saying, "My electoral campaign finishes tomorrow".

From Forbes:

While Kasparov's move might grab headlines in the West, it is likely to cause no more than a flicker in Russia, where his defeat, like that of all other opposition parties, is a virtual given. Medvedev, Putin's successer as presidential candidate for the United Russia party is expected to sweep to victory in March, a win made all the more certain by last week's parliamentary elections.

See also a report from the BBC.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Back from Amsterdam

Back at last, unfortunately. After 2 weeks, we're at work again, and back to blogging. I'm sure I don't need to tell you how liberating it is not to have to worry about routine. Wake up anytime, do anything, sleep whenever.

So I did check out the Max Euwe Centre in Amsterdam. It was easy enough to find: just got on the no. 5 tram at Centraal Station and off right in front of the Van Gogh Museum. Not exactly the highlight of my trip, but still worth seeing. Out of all things I saw there I was most impressed by this large collection of index cards on openings. Thousands upon thousands of opening lines all written by hand! Imagine doing all that work back in the day.

And if you admire Euwe, the small museum dedicated to his life is a must-see.

But I was there to play chess. Unfortunately, being mostly a serious joint for quiet study, there was not a clock to be seen in the centre. Well I didn't see one for playing blitz anyway. One of the staff members calmly informed me that if I wanted to play blitz, I had to go to a pub. Sure enough, he pointed me to the appropriate place.

Schaakcafe de Laurierboom

Located on Laurierstraat 76, Schaakcafe de Laurierboom replaces the old Schaakhuis Gambit, previously located on Bloemgracht 20, that has since closed.

I quite like the place, a typically Amsterdam pub that seems like it's been there for centuries. Jazz posters as well as picture portraits of the great chess players featured on its walls. While mostly darkish inside, there is a spotlight over the boards to provide ample lighting. Fortune, though, escaped me as it happened to be some sort of St. Nicholas celebration that day, on the 5th December, and everyone usually remains at home with their families. Hardly anyone came except for a couple of tourists who busied themselves with a game of backgammon.

When no one, who seemed to be interested in a game of blitz, came along, I left as soon as I finished my Leffe. So off I went to the red light district.

The guys in the Max Euwe Centre gave me two other chess cafes. You can also visit the Schaakcafe Het Hok, on Lange Leidsedwarsstraat 134, and the Bridge-Schaakcafe 2 Klaveren on De Clercqstraat 136.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Lost in Amsterdam

Still alive! After a couple of days in the Cotswolds, in England, I'm now in Amsterdam. Got in on the weekend. Despite its downsides, like the lousy customer service and short days, this city is now officially a favourite. There are plenty to love about Amsterdam.

Of course there are the famed coffeehouses and sex joints for those who cannot get enough of their kind of services, but being a drinker myself, I've pretty much settled into the city's plentiful cosy little pubs. Too many good joints to name. Also, when here, check out Amstel Bock beer - a good one that. While for consumerists, the shopping here is even better than in Sydney (though it's hard to beat London's Oxford St).

And oh, gents, the female Swiss tourists are particularly friendly. Make sure you speak of sun and surf back home. Even an Asian bloke like moi can get away with it.

So my first couple of days here has been good so far except that yesterday I hit my first disappointment. The so-called Gambit chess cafe is no longer where Chessbase said it would be. Bloemgracht 20 has been completely curtained up, the chessboard above the doorway gone, and the place abandoned. I was quite sad about that. I hope that they've just relocated. I popped into a nearby pub where a couple of young guys, coincidentally, where playing chess and asked what ever happened to Schaakhuis Gambit. No one could help me.

Any of our readers know what happened to Schaakhuis Gambit?

Anyway, after a whole day on foot, I returned to my hotel. Popped the TV on and who should I see on Dutch television but none other than Loek van Wely himself! He was being interiewed for Holland Sport. I obviously couldn't understand a single word of it but it looked to be a complete riot of an interview. Surely, only in the Netherlands do you see that.

I'm off. Hope to catch a couple of museums today as well as the Max Euwe centre. But I hope even more that this weather holds up.