Thursday, October 30, 2008

In Florence

I couldn't go on for another week without at least an irrelevant post. I promise, once we hit the Olympiad, we'll be back full time. That is, until I get back on my vacation again immediately after Dresden and head for Paris!

Well, right now I'm in lovely Florence, Italy. Much better than Rome, with cheaper food and drinks. But My God, this constantly falling AUD is giving me palpitations.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Where Am I?

Reader asks me what happened as there been no blog entry in a week. Well, clearly not a good reader. I'm on hols. At least from work and from chess. But guess what? Today, on my way back from seeing the Sagrada Familia here in Barcelona, I walked past a shop, near La Rambla that specialises in chess boards. Nothing especially irregular except that they sell a chess set that's desgigned to be played by 3 people! I might grab one of these.

That's about all for now. Other than that, and as I said a few posts below, I'm en route to Dresden. We'll definitely do some serious action then. For the time being, I'm eating and drinking my way through Spain.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

RIP Serge Rubanraut

Just heard the bad news from Sydney. One-time Australian national chess champion (1976), Serge Rubanraut, passed away peacefully last Sunday from a heart attack.

I just spoke to Francisco Plaza not more than 10 minutes ago and I understand that the funeral will be held this Friday, though it´s not confirmed exactly what time. For those who wish to attend the memorial, please contact Carey Cowling on 0424-462-910.

On a personal note, I knew Serge mostly from meeting him in Hyde Park and, latterly, spending time with him and the boys in Town Hall as well as the Spanish Club on Friday nights. He was a good man, always willing to share his chess knowledge with us mere patzers. Even after all these years, and long away from the cutthroat of competition, Serge still had the moves.

I have a couple of posts on Serge which you´ll read here. So long Serge.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Is Chess a Sport?

Just got back from a long, long walkabout around the city of Valencia and waiting for me is a message about some kind of top priority! Well, take a look for yourselves: IS CHESS A SPORT? Focus On The Player!

Australia's only chess bulletin board that truly matters, Chess Chat, even gets a mention.

Chess Popularity Rising in Victoria

I´m sitting here in Valencia, Spain, reading my emails when this item comes in.

The popularity of chess has risen among junior ranks in the past decade, with a growing number of Victorian schools including the game in their curriculum. Many hire professional coaches to take classes during school hours, and run clubs at lunchtimes and after school.

A decade ago there were only a couple of businesses making a dollar from chess coaching. David Cordover, founder of market leader Chess Kids and former national junior chess champion, says there are now 13 businesses in Victoria alone.
From The Age.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Eugene Torre Speaks Out

Here's something in my inbox from Bobby Ang that I thought we better post quickly. This ought to clarify once and for all the behind the scenes story involving Eugene Torre and the RP Olympiad qualification tournament which he, of course, "missed".

The Philippine Grand Finals, which also served as the qualifier for the Olympiad team, took place from July 1-13, 2008. GM Eugene Torre’s letter of request for inclusion to the Chess Olympiad Team dated June 16, 2008 was handed, a day or two later, to the NCFP. The request to be seeded, therefore, was made two weeks BEFORE the Finals, and not during nor after. Mr. Recah Trinidad posted this letter belatedly, on Sept. 25, in his column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, without mentioning the date. GM Torre wants it to be known that he had nothing to do with the publication of this letter, for it led to the wrong impression that he asked to be seeded even after the composition of the Philippine team was announced. The unfortunate timing of this column was a disservice both to Mr. Prospero Pichay, the President of the NCFP, and also to Eugene himself as it may have left a lasting negative impression on both parties that neither of them deserved. So a good advice to everyone contributing his opinion is to exercise a little caution and show some respect. Be responsible. Temper the enthusiasm to contribute an opinion based merely on hearsay or rumor (or maybe even from some unseen hand). Let us not heap additional garbage to that already clogging the Internet.

That came from Bobby's column today for Business World Online. Read more here.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Olympiad Bound

It's that time again folks. I'm off to the UK again this evening, laying over for a couple of nights in London, before heading off to Spain and a few other countries. This is my own little "grand tour". After what seems like only a blip I finally hit my decade with my employer and, therefore, my long service leave.

And yes, on the itinerary is Dresden! We'll definitely be doing some on-the-spot blogging from the Olympiad. Thankfully I managed to score a press accreditation, so I should have no problems bringing you the action near live. I'm absolutely excited and looking forward to this event as it will be my biggest ever! Who knows, maybe we can teach these big boys a lesson or two in how to actually make chess more exciting.

Do keep coming back, however, as I'll continue to blog leading up to Dresden albeit at less than the usual one post per day. But for now, adios, take care, and thanks for a another great year in 2008. To some of you, see you in Germany!

UPDATE: And oh, before I forget, as you can see in our highly scientific poll - the lightning lovers comprehensively beat these Chess 960 lovers to a pulp. But there's nothing we can do now. Chess 960, it seems, in 2009's Doeberl is a done deal. Goodbye lightning. Goodbye fun.

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Seat for a King

I wish I had one of these. Believe it or not, it even has a chess connection. Can you tell me how?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Tabloid Nabs Pablo Williams

I've got to thank a reader for this one. It looks like some folks in Scotland may not be too glad about Pablo Williams' antics. The Scottish Sun newspaper, a tabloid, had a so-called "exclusive" last month with the headline, "Check out this crook". Read the story here.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Where are the Aussies in Beijing?

Back in August I mentioned something about the 1st World Mind Sports Games in Beijing that was possibly going to feature the participation of both an Aussie men's and women's team. This was later confirmed as you can see in the comments section of that post. IM Leonid Sandler and chess writer Cathy Chua were going to be the captains.

Well, the Games have begun but, as far as I can tell, there are no Aussies. Perhaps they're saving themselves for later. The only events running so far are the individual men's and women's blitz and the Australians are nowhere in the results list.

Anyway, after 11 games local Hou Yifan is leading the women with 8.5 points, while the Philippines' Mark Paragua has 8 points, just a haf-point ahead of Hristos Banikas and Martin Kravtsiv.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Ang: No special treatment for Torre

RP chess writer Bobby Ang is in a pugilistic mood in his latest column for Business World Online. He delivers a right royal pummeling to a fellow scribe. Whoever that other unnamed scribe is, he deserves it.

This esteemed columnist, a respected sports commentator, should perhaps stick to basketball, where his knowledge, street smarts and experience is deep and respected.

Read more in A Little Knowledge.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Blayney Man Gets Lucky

Blayney Chess Club's PR man does get busy. Well, whether he's responsible for this or not is unimportant, but this report in the local paper is impressive.

These three wins gave Phil Bourke much needed inspiration on Board One where he was a pawn down and frantically struggling to maintain a strong defensive stance against the very wily and capable Dick Davies.

Then Dick erred slightly, allowing Phil to play a small combination to restore material equality and create some winning chances for him.

At this point, after considering for most of the game that resignation would be the only option, Phil offered a draw which Dick accepted.

Lucky Phil! Hopefully he's not too shy to share with our readers this apparently fine save.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Rowson: Chessers Are Outsiders

Grandmaster Jonathan Rowson isn't exactly one of my favourite chess writers. His book The Seven Deadly Chess Sins sits on my bookshelf and remains largely unread. I tried reading it once, long ago immediately after my purchase, but the paragraphs and their styling just reminded me too much of my undergrad years reading Sociology! Too highfalutin for my liking, yet I know it's trying to teach me something.

That said, GM Rowson is, indeed, an eloquent scribe. And so I was pleased to stumble upon an article of his wherein he talks about chess and sport, twin topics that will surely be of interest to local readers in light of this petition.

It's a curious thing being a chess player in the world of sport - a mixture of complete identification and complete alienation. You share the love of competition and enjoy the stories of upsets and comebacks. In fact, I sometimes feel chess could add itself to the list of sports and nobody would notice. But although very welcome, you remain an outsider, because nobody seems to think of you, even partially, as a sportsperson.

There is no malice in this position, it's just that chess is not in the sporting orbit of the UK, or The Anglosphere as a whole. I always remind SUS that chess is a fully fledged sport in most of the rest of the world, and I therefore present a constructive anomaly, encouraging them to clarify what they represent.

The defence of the status quo, at its most precise, is that the sine qua non of sport is structured competition decided by physical skill. You might argue that chess is broadly physical because mind and body are interdependent, and even, at a stretch, that games are decided by physiological skill (managing nervous energy). However, if the entry requirement for sport is strictly physical skill, then chess needs to look elsewhere for recognition.

Read more here. Note that I chanced on this article courtesy of the Chess Scotland website.

Also, make sure to scroll through GM Rowson's presentation slides for the SUS. On slide two there is a link to this YouTube clip.