Thursday, July 31, 2008

New Wave Chess

These might be the "world's lightest, simplest" chess board - but they'll stand up to strong winds! According to the official site, "The pieces can't be blown away or shaken out!"
Thanks to CNet's Crave gadget blog.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

US Olympiad Team

The maestro GM Ian Rogers might be questioning the "team harmony" of the Aussie women's team, but I wonder what he'll make of the US women's crew? Thanks to one of our more avid US-based readers, I've just now found out about the 2008 US Olympiad team. Here's the announcement courtesy of the USCF. Yep, that's Irina Krush and Anna Zatonskih right there on the same side!

Of course, we don't need to reminded of this.

My correspondent asked for my thoughts. Well, here it is. As far as I'm concerned, these two fine lassies should set their personal differences aside and behave professionally. It's not about them, after all, but for their country. If they're incapable of proper behaviour, then send them home packing.

Update on Aussies

Quick update on Aussies in action overseas.

FM Jonathan Humphrey ended his Politiken Cup campaign with a final score of 6.5 points from ten games. His run finished with a win over local player Dara Sevkan Akdag. And here is Jonathan's eighth round draw against an international master.

Politiken Cup 2008
Brunello, Sabino
Humphrey, Jonathan

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. a3 e6 7. Bc4 Nxe4 8. Nxe4 d5 9. Bd3 dxe4 10. Bxe4 e5 11. Nb3 Qxd1+ 12. Kxd1 Nc6 13. Re1 f6 14. Bxc6+ bxc6 15. Re3 Be6 16. Rc3 Bd5 17. f3 a5 18. Be3 a4 19. Nd2 Be7 20. Bc5 Rb8 21. Bxe7 Kxe7 22. b4 axb3 23. cxb3 h5 24. Kc2 g5 25. Re1 g4 26. b4 Rhg8 27. g3 gxf3 28. Nxf3 Rg4 29. Nd2 h4 30. Nf1 hxg3 31. hxg3 Ke6 32. Re2 Rh8 33. Kb2 Rd4 34. Ne3 Bf3 35. Rf2 Be4 36. Nc4 Rh1 37. Nd2 Bd5 38. Nb3 Rdd1 39. Nc1 Rdg1 40. a4 Rh3 41. Ne2 1/2-1/2

Over in the Netherlands, Alex Wohl has 3.5 points so far after six games in the ongoing Netherlands Open Championships. No change to his form; just beating or, worse, drawing, to lower-rated opposition, then going down to GMs. In the last round, India's GM Chanda Sandipan.

Open Kampioenschap 2008
Wohl, Aleksandar H
Sandipan, Chanda

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O c6 7. d3 Bd7 8. e4 Qc8 9. d4 Bh3 10. Re1 Bxg2 11. Kxg2 Na6 12. h3 e5 13. Bg5 exd4 14. Nxd4 Nc5 15. Qf3 Nfd7 16. Rad1 Bxd4 17. Rxd4 Ne6 18. Qe3 Nxd4 19. Qxd4 f6 20. Bh6 Rf7 21. Qxd6 Ne5 22. b3 Qd8 23. Rd1 Qxd6 24. Rxd6 Re8 25. Be3 Rd7 26. Rxd7 Nxd7 27. Bxa7 b6 28. Na4 Ra8 29. Bxb6 Nxb6 30. Nxb6 Rxa2 31. Nd7 Kf7 32. e5 Ke6 33. Nxf6 h5 34. g4 h4 35. Ne4 Kxe5 36. Ng5 Rb2 37. Nf3+ Kf6 38. g5+ Kf5 39. Nd4+ Kxg5 40. Nxc6 Rxb3 41. Ne5 Rc3 42. Nf3+ Kh5 43. Ne5 Rc2 44. Kf1 Rc1+ 45. Kg2 Kh6 46. Ng4+ Kg5 47. Ne3 Kf4 48. Nd5+ Ke5 49. Ne3 Ke4 50. Nf1 Kd3 51. Ne3 Ke2 52. Ng4 Rxc4 53. Ne5 Rf4 54. Nxg6 Rxf2+ 55. Kg1 Kf3 56. Nxh4+ Kg3 57. Ng6 Re2 58. Kf1 Re6 0-1

Finally, over in Biel - Sarah Anton managed to win over Heinz Hofer, of Switzerland, to improve her tally to three points from 5 games in the 9-round event. Note that immediately after Biel, Sarah will fly over to Turkey to battle it out against juniors from across the globe in this year's World Junior Chess Championships. She will be joined there by Canberra's Gareth Oliver.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What's Wrong With Chess?

Former US presidential candidate Ross Perot on chess: "As far as I can see, the point is to get from one side of the board to the other and kill the king. What I can't understand is why it ought to take so long to do it".

From Chess, America and Ross Perot.

Smerdon Takes Out ANU Open

This weekend one of Australia's most prestigious tournaments was played in Canberra. It is, of course, the ANU Open. Shaun Press has been covering that event over at his blog.

And the winner? IM David Smerdon. Congrats to him! A fine outing for Australia's board 2 in the men's Olympiad team.

However, David's counterpart on the women's side, Arianne Caoili, had one of those weekends that's worth quickly forgotten. She lost to two local men, Ian Rout and the ever dangerous Milan Grcic. This is yet to be confirmed, but a Sydney-based source tells me that Arianne's loss to Grcic in the fifth round was particularly stunning. A rook and 3 pawns up to Grcic's single rook, Arianne went from winning, to drawing, to lost! I'd love to see that.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Jonathan Humphrey in Politiken

Thanks to our anonymous poster for this info. Queensland's FM Jonathan Humphrey is currently playing in the Politiken Cup, in Copenhagen. He's doing alright with 5.5 from eight games. The last round was a draw against the 2482-rated IM Sabino Brunello from Italy.

Rybka 3.0

Yeah, OK, OK. It's been kinda slow this morning. But when I saw for the first time these latest Rybka packages, I couldn't help thinking about Rogue.

Right, I'm off to the movies.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wohl Contests Dutch Open

Continuing on his mini Dutch tour, Alex Wohl is now playing in the Netherlands Open Chess Championships, in Rheden. He was on 2/2 before going down to second seed GM Milos Pavlovic of Serbia in the third round.

2008 Open Kampioenschap
Pavlovic, Milos
Wohl, Aleksandar H

1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 b6 3. Nc3 Bb7 4. e4 Nf6 5. e5 Ne4 6. Bd3 Nxc3 7. dxc3 Nc6 8. Bf4 Qc7 9. Qe2 e6 10. O-O-O h6 11. Bg3 O-O-O 12. h4 Be7 13. Rd2 d6 14. Bg6 Rhf8 15. Rhd1 Nxe5 16. Nxe5 dxe5 17. Rxd8+ Rxd8 18. Bxf7 Rxd1+ 19. Qxd1 Bxg2 20. Bxe6+ Kb8 21. Qe2 Bd6 22. Bd5 Bxd5 23. cxd5 c4 24. Qe4 b5 25. Kd2 Qf7 26. f3 Qh5 27. Qg4 Qf7 28. Qe6 Qf6 29. Ke3 Kc7 30. Qxf6 gxf6 31. Ke4 Be7 32. h5 Kd6 33. f4 Kd7 34. fxe5 fxe5 35. Bxe5 a5 36. Bf4 Bf8 37. Kd4 Ke8 38. d6 Kd7 39. Kc5 1-0

600 Year Old Chess Piece

A chess piece dating back to the 14th century has been found in Veliky Novgorod, in Russia.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Poker or Chess?

Unexpectedly, a friend of mine emailed me today to ask this one-liner: which do you prefer, poker or chess?

My own answer, quickly written while having my curry chicken for lunch and seated at my desk in the office (yeah, how sad), was surprising even to myself. I said something along the lines of chess having some concrete artifacts of knowledge, while the card game doesn't. And that poker is essentially guesswork. So, I prefer chess.

To which my friend said something about how much harder chess actually is. And also that poker is more social, while the rewards are even larger. Undoubtedly! He added that in chess, a 1200-rated player could never dream of beating a 2400-rated one, but in poker it can happen in a short space of time.

I know a lot of readers play both games. What say you about this?

An Aussie in Biel

The Biel International Chess Festival began last Saturday with a lone Aussie in the event. It is, of course, Victoria's Sarah Anton who is playing in the "General Tournament" section. After the first round, Sarah is so far on nil.

Another familiar name to Aussie chess fans, and very definitely to our friends in Malaysia, is none other than Mas Hafizuhelmi. The 2386-rated international master who is gunning to be his country's first GM is off to a good start with 3/3 in the "Master Tournament" section of the festival. In the third round yesterday, he scored a big upset by beating the 2520-rated and 14th seed Russian GM Mikhail Ulibin. That game isn't up on the site yet, but as soon as it becomes available we'll post it here.

Mas' next opponent will be a toughie in top seed GM Ivan Ivanisevic of Serbia.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

GM Spotting in WA

A reader wrote to me about three weeks ago saying, "On the bus from the airport to central Perth, I happen to look out the window, as you do, and I saw Darryl Johansen waiting for a bus. The question is: has Darryl Johansen moved to WA from Vic?"

I must apologise to our correspondent for this late update but only now did I manage to find the answer. It turns out the GM Johansen was visiting Western Australia between 23 June and 2 July. He also gave a couple of simuls and we have photos of that event courtesy of the CAWA website.

Matthew Sonter in Ruth Coxhill

Back from his stay in the Czech Republic, Matthew Sonter is straight into action in the Ruth Coxhill Memorial tournament in Queensland. Sonter will replace Axel Stahnke who agreed to stand aside. Opening shots in this RR event will commence tomorrow. Live coverage should be available here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rogers Questions Women's Team

GM Ian Rogers on the Olympiad team in his column today for Sydney's Sun Herald:

[T]he Australian women's team is notable both for its high average age and for the faith the selectors have shown in players with modest Olympic records. It has been six years since a current member of the women's team scored above 50% at an Olympiad and team results have been declining.

In particular, [IM Alex] Wohl must be scratching his head at the twist of fate which saw him - the star of Torino 2006 - dumped while Arianne Caoili, who equalled a record losing streak at the 2006 Olympiad, is promoted to board two in the women's team.

In truth the selectors' hands were tied by the Australian Chess Federation's single selection criterion of playing strength. A number of selectors have already complained that a better team result would probably be achieved if other factors such as past Olympiad performances and team harmony could be given consideration.

Team harmony? I hadn't realised that these guys were having problems on that front the last time around. What's the grandmaster talking about, we wonder.

Seriously - it's difficult to see how "team harmony" could be justified as a factor for selection. For one thing, how are the selectors supposed to know if certain players will form an harmonious bunch? And even if the selectors did have such knowledge, the whole selection process could quickly result in biased outcomes: viz., selecting only those who "get along". It's a bad approach as far I'm concerned.

Instead, the message should be made emphatically clear to these players: you put your hand up for the job, you do it as a team. Leave the bitchiness at home.

Maybe these women need somebody who can sort them out. That risky task will fall to one of these guys - IM Leonid Sandler, IM Andras Toth and Oleg Korenevski - applicants for the women's team captaincy. Good luck boys.

Information about Australia's selection procedure is available here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Philippine Team Board Order

Bobby Ang writes in to say that the official board order for RP teams have now been set. They are as follows:

Open Division
1 GM Wesley So
2 GM Buenaventura Villamayor
3 IM John Paul Gomez
4 GM Jayson Gonzalez
5 GM Darwin Laylo

Women Division
1 Catherine Perena
2 Shercila Cua
3 Daisy Rivera
4 Chardine Cheradee Camacho
5 Cristy Lamiel Bernales

Friday, July 18, 2008

Australian Olympiad Team

Just as the Philippines finalised their Olympiad teams (and many others around the world including Cuba yesterday), the Australian Chess Federation a few days ago announced their "provisional" selection. Provisional because those who put their names in but failed may still have the opportunity to appeal. Well, let's hope the unsuccessful ones can behave themselves. Better luck next time I say. Time to get on with things - you know, like team bonding, sharpening up those openings, etc.

Anyway here are the lists, starting with the boys.

Board 1 GM Zong-Yuan Zhao
Board 2 IM David Smerdon
Board 3 IM Stephen Solomon
Board 4 GM Darryl Johansen
Board 5 IM George Xie

A solid and well-experienced team of Olympiad veterans that features only one newcomer, IM George Xie. George must be thanking the heavens for that one.

I think the lineup here would be exactly like most punters' picks except perhaps for that last spot. With Wohl's late entry, I thought he might just make it. I guess his recent patchy output was enough to dissuade most, if not all, selectors from giving him another berth. His current run in Leiden is a good example.

And so, for only the second time since 1982 1978, there is no Ian Rogers (he did not play in 1998 according to We might at first consider this to be a cause for worry, but we all know that this time when the Aussie young guns take the lead was an inevitability. In both GM Zhao and IM Smerdon, Australia holds very capable warriors. The latter himself took first-board duties on four occasions in Turin, while Zhao was given that honour once and drew against GM Adly of Egypt.

So I think we're good.

Rogers being Rogers, I'm sure that he won't be too distant from his former team-mates. I wonder if he'll apply for the captaincy. There is no better candidate. Still, the stress might be too much - so I doubt if the long-time Aussie number one will nominate. More than likely, Rogers will act as the team's eminence grise - furnishing advice here and there on tactics, strategies, on some diabolical opening discoveries and general words of wisdom. The fellow is as important now in this transition period, playing a part in the background, as when he was on active combat duties.

And now for the girls.

Board 1 IM Irina Berezina
Board 2 WIM Arianne Caoili
Board 3 Giang Nguyen
Board 4 WIM Laura Moylan
Board 5 WIM Biljana Dekic

All familiar names, though I was a tad surprised with Dekic's selection. I was seriously expecting Queenslander Alex Jule to earn a ticket. Here it is clear that the selectors opted for a low-risk policy by avoiding two newcomers, in Jule and Giang Nguyen. We agree with that. Certainly, Dekic is a seasoned international campaigner and herself a veteran of seven straight Olympiads, from 1990 to 2002. In fact, she held first board duties (in Novi Sad 1990 and Manila 1992) until Irina Berezina appeared on the scene.

And how could the selectors go past ex-dance starlet Arianne Caoili? She's always pretty darn hard to overlook. I can only hope that there is no repeat of you-know-what. Then again, with a super-GM now firmly in tow, other suitors better come with a big one. Like a 2700+ rating I mean.

Good luck to all teams.

Now I notice that the ACF's Olympiad Appeal seems to have slowed down a little. The amount received so far is way less than 50% of target.

Just a reminder to our readers that the teams will be providing exclusive "blogs" to all Appeal contributors. This is basically an email newsletter and, I tell you, it's a must-read. There are delightful tidbits about life in the Olympiad as well as fully annotated encounters. Here's a sample from 2006 by Laura Moylan. I've removed her initial in-game commentary and taking you straight to the funny bits. Ladies and gents, this is a true Australian classic.

2006 Torino Women's Olympiad
Round 9
White Moylan, Laura
Black Mazariegos, Silvia

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. f4 e5 7. Nf3 Bg4 8. Be3 8...b5 9. a3 Nbd7 10. Be2 exf4 11. Bxf4 Qb6 12. Nd5 Qb7 13. O-O Nxe4 I couldn't believe anyone would have the guts to take that pawn, it looks insane! 14. Ng5 Be6 14... Bxe2 15. Qxe2 Qxd5 16. Nxe4 Ne5 17. Rad1 still looks pretty tops for me! 14... Nxg5 15. Bxg5 Be6 (15... Bxe2 16. Qxe2+ Ne5 17. Qe4 Rb8 18. Rad1 Black's position looks pretty ewww. 16. Bf3 I repeat the ewww comment.) 15. Nxe4 Bxd5 16. Bf3 O-O-O 17. Nxd6+ Here I stupidly thought forever and left myself with very little time for the rest of the game. It's quite funny because I have a bit of a cough, but when I get into time trouble I start coughing heaps. I coughed so much today that the arbiter brought me a drink of water! 17. Ng5 would have been much better, but I feared my attack would fizzle into nothing and I would just be a pawn down. I couldn't bear the thought of losing a third game in a row ("castling long"). 17. Nc5 is also good. 17... Bxd6 18. Qxd5 Qxd5 In the game I thought that 18... Qb6+ 19. Kh1 Bxf4 20. Bg4 would allow me to win the piece back on d7, but Fritz seems to disagree with me very much! I think my opponent didn't even see it at all because she slammed out Qxd5 very fast. Ian said the polite way to describe when you notice something like this in your game is "oops" (he censored my word). 19. Bxd5 Bxf4 20. Rxf4 f6 21. Be6 Kc7 22. Bxd7 Rxd7 I don't normally like to accept a draw so early but when you have 1 minute against half an hour and your opponent offers it's quite hard to say no! Especially after 2 x 3-0 losses! 1/2-1/2

So, dear readers, let's dip into those pockets and give these guys a little more extra. On that note, here's a memo to the NSWCA: what happened to that $65?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Philippines to Adopt Sofia

The latest issue of Chess Today carries a report by Bobby Ang on the recently concluded Philippine National Finals. The basic details of that event are already known, so Bobby takes time to write a quick review of the career of one GM Eugene Torre who, sadly, will be missing out on this year's Olympiad.

This breaks the consecutive-Olympiad streak of GM Eugene Torre, who did not participate in the Grand Finals. He was both Junior and Adult Champion in the Philippines in 1970 but gave way to the Asian Zone Champion Renato Naranja as top board player in the Siegen Olympiad. Eugene then registered a record by playing top board in 17 straight Olympiads, from Skopje 1972 up to Calvia de Mallorca in 2004. His 19 consecutive appearances in the Olympiad team (the 17 above plus 1970 Siegen and 2006 Turin) is also a record.

[NCFP president] Cong. Pichay lamented GM Torre's inability to take part in the competition, but averred that the rules for the selection to the Olympiad team were announced several months ago and he did not want to be the one to break them. Besides, most of the participants had to pass through elimination and semi-final tournaments to qualify, whereas the GMs were seeded directly into the Grand Finals.

And then adding this tidbit:

Cong. Pichay also took the occasion to announce that henceforth all official tournaments in the Philippines will be played under the so-called "Sofia Rules", where no draw offers are allowed and, to claim a draw, you have to go through the arbiter.

Sarah Anton: My best game

Victorian Sarah Anton, who is presently on tour on Europe, sent me this game via Facebook last night. And what a game! From her round 8 match in Saint Lo - here, she sacs a bishop as early as the eleventh move to eventually win against local Xavier Langlois.

Sarah enthusiastically tells me, "Look how the queen and knight worked together to restrict the two bishops and rook and the king to the back's [the] best game I think I have ever played".

Saint Lo International Chess Festival
Anton, Sarah
Langlois, Xavier

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Be3 Nf6 7. f3 Bb4 8. Qd2 a6 9. a3 Be7 10. 0-0-0 b5 11.Bxb5 axb5 12. Ndxb5 Qb8 13. Nd6+ Kf8 14. Bf4 e5 15. Bg5 Nd4 16. Bxf6 gxf6 17. Qh6+ Kg8 18. Rxd4 exd4 19. Nf5 Bf8 20. Qxf6 Ra6 21. Qd8 h6 22. Nd5 Qb7 23. Ne7+ Kh7 24. Qxc8 Qa7 25.Qc4 Rf6 26. Nd5 Rc6 27. Qxd4 resigned 1-0

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Philippine Teams Finalised

It's official. We've just heard from Bobby Ang that the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) has finally formalised the RP men's and women's squads for the 2008 Dresden Olympiad. The men's side will be IM John Paul Gomez, GM Wesley So, GM Buenaventura Villamayor, GM Jayson Gonzales and GM Darwin Laylo.

On the distaff side, recent Sydney visitor Catherine Perena will spearhead the attack and she will be joined by Shercila Cua, Daisy Rivera, Chardine Cheradee Camacho and Christy Lamiel Bernales. With a largely inexperienced lineup, the women will likely find it hard to emulate their counterpart's exploits in Turin (only Perena remains from that 2006 team).

After all that, you'd think that any other question marks about team composition have all been answered. However, one of our sources in RP mentions in passing that Pinoy legend Eugene Torre could yet find himself on the men's team if the NCFP caves in to his request to be included in the 5-man lineup. Well, our view is, let's have none of that nonesense! Legend or not, and with great respect to the fellow, stay home brother.

UPDATE @ 12PM, 14 Jul: Now confirmed. Eugene Torre and Rogelio Antonio are out of Olympiad team.

Monday, July 14, 2008

RP Mens Olympiad Team

Up north in RP - the National Finals, which also served as the Olympiad qualification tournament, is now over and finishing on top is IM John Paul Gomez. An extra bit of good news for him and his fans is that his performance there came with a GM norm as a bonus.

Here are the top placers:

13.0 Gomez
12.5 So
11.5 Villamayor
10.0 Gonzales, Laylo, Paragua

According to this report by local paper Tempo, the top three finishers have now secured their seats for Dresden. So I'm guessing that there will be some kind of playoff for the last 2 spots. We'll wait and see.

Gomez's only loss was in the penultimate round to GM Wesley So.

Philippines National Finals - Mens
Gomez, John Paul
So, Wesley

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 e6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. b3 Ne7 6. Ba3 Ng6 7. O-O Be7 8. d4 cxd4 9. Bxe7 Qxe7 10. Qxd4 O-O 11. c4 c5 12. Qd3 Bb7 13. Re1 f5 14. e5 Nf4 15. Qe3 g5 16. Nbd2 Kh8 17. Red1 Nxg2 18. Kxg2 g4 19. Qf4 gxf3+ 20. Kf1 Rg8 21. Nxf3 Rg4 22. Qe3 Rag8 23. Nd2 f4 24. Qc3 Qg7 25. Ke2 f3+ 26. Nxf3 Re4+ 27. Kd2 Rf8 0-1

Wohl Shocked in Leiden

He began well enough, winning his first game in only thirteen moves. Too well. In rounds two and 3, IM Wohl hit a couple of bumps. The second round was a draw against the 2086-rated Ducarmon. Round 3 was a shocker. Wohl lost to Kacper Dozdowski who sports a rating of only 2012!

Leiden Open 2008
Bongers, E.
Wohl, A.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. c3 Nf6 4. d4 Nxe4 5. d5 Ne7 6. Nxe5 Ng6 7. Qd4 f5 8. Nxg6 hxg6 9. Qe5+ Kf7 10. d6 Bxd6 11. Bc4+ Kf8 12. Qd5 Qe7 13. Be2 Bc5 0-1

Live games are available on the official site, but don't expect to see the Australian's games there any time soon.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ruth Coxhill Memorial

Just received an email from Graeme Gardiner about this tournament. It will run for nine Wednesdays from 23 July and finishing on 17 September. The lineup is as follows:

1. Froehlich, Peter
2. Ford, Daniel
3. Stawski, Nik V
4. Grigg, Sam
5. Jule, Sebastian
6. Muller, Jonas
7. Stahnke, Axel
8. Sarfati, Jonathan
9. Stahnke, Alexander
10. Nakauchi, Gene

Tournament organisers will use the Monroi system on three games during each evening of play and those will be broadcast live on the web. I don't have the link yet, but will likely be available from Graeme's website.

Wesley So Bound for Corus

Several weeks ago, I received word from our pals over at PinoyChess (whose website seems to be temporarily unavailable at present) saying that GM Wesley So, of the Philippines, has been invited to play in the Grandmaster C group of the famous Corus tournament early next year! I've since emailed tournament director Jeroen van den Berg and he confirms that this is, in fact, the case.

Wesley will likely battle it out against the likes of GM Tiger Hillarp Persson, GM David Howell and Mexico's IM Manuel Leon Hoyos who have all accepted their respective invitations.

Meanwhile, over in the Philippine National Finals, Wesley has 10 points after 14 rounds. IM John Paul Gomez continues to lead with 12 points overall. Thankfully, Paragua seems to have jolted himself and has been steadily climbing up the ladder to now hit 8 points.

Current top placers so far are:

12.5 Gomez
10.5 Villamayor
10.0 So
8.5 Gonzales
8.0 Laylo, Paragua, Garma

Wohl in Leiden Open

Alex Wohl is back in action, this time in the A group of the Leiden Open, after scoring an invitation from the organisers. Lucky fellow gets to stay at the "Oud Poelgeest" which, Alex tells me, is fat city! He defeated Erik Bongers in the first round and now has the 2086-rated Quintin Duncarmon next.

Live broadcast of games is available here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Max The Chess King

Well, that's according to Sydney local paper, The Manly Daily which quotes Max Illingworth as saying: "I usually spend at least two hours a day practising chess; either playing it or studying strategies."

From Meet Max: He's chess king of the castle.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Math and Chess Link

A study published by the Chess Academy, in Chicago, concludes that integrating chess and math in a workbook can improve a student's maths scores.

Our observations show that the effect of using a truly integrated math and chess workbook also provides mental entertainment and thought by pupils as more fun than traditional computation practices. Pupils were able to sit longer when working on math and chess integrated workbook than working on traditional computation worksheets.

Read more here. Now if you're wondering exactly how all this works, check out some examples on this page. I just don't know, seeing all those figurines and numbers to solve maths problems seems a bit weird. It doesn't quite work for me.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Sarah Anton in Paris

Victoria's Sarah Anton scored 4.5 points in the Open B section of the Paris International Open, the first event in her currently ongoing European tour. From there, Sarah will head off to the Saint Lo Chess Festival which is set to begin this Thursday and ending on the 16th July.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Paragua in Big Trouble

Eight games into the National Finals to determine RP's Olympiad reps, the one time super-GM Mark Paragua has posted only a measly 3.5 points! Maybe it was the jet lag after a flight across the Pacific, maybe it was that tough stint in the 1st Marshall CC International (which he topped, by the way, after another Armageddon playoff), or both, but Paragua needs to absolutely pull his resources in if he wants another Olympiad berth for his country.

In the first round of the currently running tournament in the Philippines, Paragua was shocked by the 2174-rated Haridas Pascua.

Philippine National Finals
Paragua, Mark
Pascua, Haridas

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 d6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 e5 6. Nb3 Be6 7. Be3 Nf6 8. Qd2 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxd5 Qxd5 11. Qxd5 Bxd5 12. O-O-O O-O-O 13. f3 b6 14. Bb5 Kc7 15. c4 Be6 16. Rxd8 Nxd8 17. f4 Nc6 18. Rf1 f6 19. Nd2 Nb4 20. fxe5 Nd3+ 21. Kc2 Nxe5 22. Kc3 Kb7 23. Bf4 Bd6 24. Ne4 Bb8 25. c5 Rc8 26. b4 Bd5 27. Kd4 Rd8

Position after 27...Rd8

28. Nd6+ Bxd6 29. Kxd5 Bxc5+ 30. Ke6 Rd6+ 31. Ke7 Bxb4 32. Bxe5 Rd5+ 33. Kf7 Rxb5 34. Bg3 Ra5 35. Kxg7 Rxa2 36. Kxh7 Rxg2 37. Rxf6 a5 38. Rg6 Bc3 39. Rg4 Be5 40. Kg6 Bxg3 41. hxg3 b5 42. Kf5 a4 0-1

With 9 rounds to go, Paragua has plenty of time to recover. Hopefully, he can. Current top standings, after round 8, are as follows:

7.5 Gomez
6.0 Villamayor
5.5 So
5.0 Garma
4.5 Gonzales, Laylo, Bancod, Carlos

A question of manners

The Courier Mail's Rory Gibson on his online chess experience:

We all expect common courtesy, but if the President of France can't get it, what hope have those of us running with the common herd?

I subscribe to an online chess site that allows you to play multiple games against people all over the world at any time of the day or night. When you open a board and start playing, there is a dialogue box on the page that enables you to chat to your opponent.

It's not there so you can indulge in lengthy conversations, but is more a device so you can say g'day or congratulations. In other words it is a courtesy tool.

You would not believe the number of people who will engage you in a game of chess but will not respond to a simple pleasantry.

What I have discovered is that I play differently against the people who remain steadfastly, rudely silent after I have said hello and wished them well at the start of the game.

I am more aggressive, mean-spirited (there is no point taking that pawn, but I am going to anyway just to rub it in) and satisfied if I win, or deeply disappointed if I lose. I want to reach through the computer and upend the board in their face, if there was one.

Those people infuriate me, because it's a question of manners.

From Your move. It's manners, mate.

By the way, here's the leaked footage (in French) of President Nicolas Sarkozy getting all upset at a sound technician.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Brunei Internet Tournament

Our Asian neighbour Brunei is about to embark on an entirely new concept for their local chessers - but foreigners, thankfully, are also invited. The BCF has just announced the inaugural Brunei Internet Chess Blitz tournament to be held this coming July 15. Games will be facilitated via the Internet Chess Club.

From the Borneo Bulletin.

Pinoy Legends Snub Dresden

While Aussie chessers are selected for Olympiad duties, their Philippine counterparts, on the other hand, have to go through the rigors of a qualifying tournament. Reports from RP earlier this week indicate that local legends, grandmasters Torre and Antonio, have opted out of that tournament, thus ruling them out of Dresden.

For Torre, missing the Olympiad this year will also mean breaking his 19 straight appearances in the competition. He told The Star paper, "I am not feeling well lately and it would be very difficult for me to still go through such kind of a grueling qualifying...I also think that it wouldn’t look good at my age to still play for RP team berths against our young players."

Not feeling well, eh? What about Antonio? When we last saw him here in Sydney a couple of months ago, he certainly looked as healthy as ever! Then again, heaven knows, what affliction can befall a man in just a few short weeks.

RP's Journal Online has another take: "[H]ighly-reliable sources said Torre and Antonio both wanted to be seeded to the national team to the Olympiad outright, a request turned down by NCFP president Prospero “Butch” Pichay and the members of the NCFP board."

Even without the two long-time legends, RP's potential lineup could still turn out to be very impressive, with 5 grandmasters and strong IMs entered in the qualification tournament. I predict these guys to finish way, way above their Aussie counterparts.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Glassy Pieces

Another chess set design to add to our collection. This one's courtesy of Yasmin Sethi.

Image courtesy of Yasmin Sethi

Alice Chess Set.

2008 Malaysian Chess Festival

Our man in KL, Andrew Ooi, has just sent me a link to this year's Malaysian Chess Festival details. Download them here.

Garry's Dangerous Game

The ex-World Champ Garry Kasparov writes a special web exclusive for Newsweek magazine. On what else but Russian politics.

I was fully aware from the start that our chances for success were terribly slim, and that I was one of the few Russians who could run away from the dangers. It has never been my style, on the chessboard or in life, to back down from challenges when the odds are against me or when there is a safer option. When there is a moral imperative at stake, you don't calculate the odds. It may sound strange coming from a chess player, but some decisions we don't make with our heads. We make them with our hearts.

In A Dangerous Game.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Indians Go Topless in Dresden

Quite a surprising development particularly in conservative India. The country's Daily News & Analysis website reports that, "The Indian team for the Chess Olympiad will be topless."

Chess Between Strangers

Timothy Taylor, writing in the Globe & Mail, reminisces of a time when a game of chess was that conduit between strangers.

In this professionalized environment, the travel chess set is highly anachronistic. From the era of Atlantic crossings and six-week visits to Venice for the air, the travel chess set was intended to give strangers a way to bridge the long gaps that used to arise while travelling: gaps in time created by inevitable delays, and the social gap between strangers, which could be bridged politely and enjoyably over a game.

Read more in Make the time for a slow game with strangers.