Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sydney Open in Trouble

After just three years of existence, the Sydney International Open has well and truly established itself as the premiere chess open event in the country. Strong foreign masters, good prizes and a cosmopolitan setting are just a few reasons to make the SIO experience pretty special. But now the event is in big, big trouble. This year's edition could very well be the last!

Brian Jones, the SIO's organiser, has just sent a note to say that this year's SIO suffered a deficit of $2,890 due largely to a fall in sponsorship revenue. And as if that wasn't enough, the Pratt Foundation's 3-year support also ends in 2009. Thus, the tournament now faces a funding gap of $8 - $10,000. If that isn't filled, then the 2010 edition will not happen.

That is, unless Brian can find a saviour! Pledges of support, sponsors or fund-raising opportunities are encouraged to submit proposals by 30 September, 2009 to Mr Jones. Go past that date and the 2010 SIO is a dead duck.

Brian Jones' contact details can be found here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

2009 ANU Open

Just received a Facebook invitation from Shaun Press to this year's Australian National University Open Chess event. I think I played there back in 2004, I can't remember exactly. It was my first and last time. The problem is hopping down to the nation's capital once a year is more than enough. After all, I was just down there for the Doeberl Cup. Plus, the ANU Open is also right smack bang in the middle of winter. And my God, in Canberra you'll freeze your ass off.

Anyway, it's actually a good event and held right in the country's most prestigious uni. If I were going, I'd pop down on a plane. Qantas currently has a special fare on offer for $69 one-way and I've just also checked Virgin Blue who have fares for $65, also one way. Note that these prices may not include extra charges for baggage, etc.

Oh, by the way, if you're heading down there and need a warm, cozy place to relax in after a hard day's OTB combat - pop into the Phoenix pub. It's on 21 East Row in Civic. Brilliant joint this - simple, rustic, good beers and good music.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Szuveges Reclaims a Life

When it was announced on Chess Chat, Australia's most popular chess bulletin board, that Grant Szuveges had made a comeback to chess as Melbourne Chess Club boss, there was one thing that immediately sprang to my mind. I had to interview this guy. A quick email and he gladly agreed.

However, as work pressed on (add in the Doeberl Cup and SIO), this turned out to be an impossibility. Meanwhile, Melbourne personality Elliot Renzies managed to organise a separate long, long interview. That whole impressive conversation can be read here. Thankfully, though, Grant never forgot about my initial request and, feeling a bit embarassed about my inaction, I managed to finally organise myself.

The last time Grant and I met was way back in 1999 at the Sunshine Coast Australian Chess Open in Queensland (one of my best tournament experiences ever). I still haven't forgotten Grant's exploits in blitz, playing chess for money late into the early hours. If I remember correctly, he basically needed the cash for his next fare to wherever he was headed next. Such was the life of a young man who was out to have as much fun as he could.

Soon after the Open we find Grant in the highly controversial Oceania Zonal, also in Queensland. It was from there that he took home an FM title. That was followed by the 37th Doeberl, then in the year 2000 he appeared in his last two Australian biggies - the Begonia and finally, the 38th Doeberl. Then, at least according to available game records, he was off to Europe. There on the other side we find the Melburnian in his last few over-the-board action. At the Haarlem Open, Grant pulled off a win on the white side of a KID against no less than Russian IM Evgeni Ragozin. It's a fine victory!

Haarlem AKN op Haarlem
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0–0 6.Be2 e5 7.d5 a5 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bh4 Qe8 10.Nd2 Nh7 11.0–0 Na6 12.a3 Bd7 13.Nb5 h5 14.f3 Bh6 15.Qc2 f5 16.exf5 Be3+ 17.Kh1 gxf5 18.Qc3 Bb6 19.b4 Qg6 20.c5 axb4 21.axb4 dxc5 22.bxc5 Bxc5 23.Nxc7 Bd4 24.Qc4 b5 25.Nxb5 Rfc8 26.Rxa6 Qxa6 27.Qb3 Qa2 28.Nxd4 exd4 29.Qb6 Be8 30.Qxd4 Bf7 31.d6 Ra4 32.d7 Rd8 33.Qb6 Rxd7 34.Bb5 Qxd2 35.Bxa4 Rd4 36.Qb8+ Kg7 37.Qe5+ Kg6 38.Qg3+ Kh6 39.Qc7 Rxa4 40.Qxf7 Rxh4 41.Qe6+ Kg5 42.Qe7+ Nf6 43.Qg7+ Kf4 44.Qg3+ Ke3 1–0

And then, POOF! The man just ups and disappears. Grant Szuveges gives up chess. Completely. Here at last we learn why. And, to my surprise, it's nowhere near as dramatic as even I imagined! In short, he had a life to reclaim. Read on.


First, I want to explore Grant Szuveges - the man himself. In your interview with Elliot Renzies you freely admitted that you had an alcohol problem. How did you manage to get out of that?

Great to be interviewed by someone who gets right into it from the word go! When I said that I had an alcohol problem, I was telling the truth - but we must keep it in context. Though I had an alcohol problem, I was certainly not an alcoholic! When I was 18-22, I was one of those people who lived every weekend like it was a buck's party or a footy trip. I'd spend Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in the pub or at a party or at the nightclubs, recover on Sundays and then get up and go to work Monday to Thursday. As of Thursday night, we would start again!

I was never someone who drank to help me sleep or anything like that, I just really enjoyed having quite a lot of beers - almost every weekend. As for getting out of it (I like your wording), well I just simply quit drinking full stop - totally cold turkey. I didn't need to go to AA or anything. I just used my willpower and didn't do it. I didn't drink a drop for the next 3 and a half years. I'd still go out with my friends - but I'd have a soda water or a coke or a hot chocolate. Being an extrovert I didn't really find it that difficult to socialise without alcohol. These days I hardly ever drink - I'd have about 10 or 12 beers over a whole year! The last time I had one was last October when I was in Hungary, Slovakia and [the] Czech [Republic]. The beer over there is nice, so I'd have a pint of it if I was having a gulasch or a traditional meal - nothing major though. I'm not in the habit of drinking these days. When I was young though, it was a totally different story - I imagine that it is probably fairly similar for a lot of people - they drink a lot when they are young and then they grow out of it. I guess that's what happened in my case in a way.

I presume it was partly tat which led to your retirement from chess. Any other reasons?

Actually after I quit drinking, I really wanted to study more chess - I even remember going to [David] Cordover's shop and buying $200 worth of books. I also prepared some different openings. But then I quit chess for other reasons. I had a falling out with some chess players and I was working a lot and mixing with other people - it just felt like the right time to go. The lack of drinking wasn't really a part of it - but what it (the lack of drinking) did do, was clarify a few things. I had become a very one-dimensional person when I was a chess player - chess was my life. I had a whole life to reclaim. I had so many interests which I had just let go of so that I could play chess. I've often said that after quitting chess, my life improved a lot - I earnt more money, I hung out with better people, I had better relationships, I had more interests, I read more books, I watched more football, I travelled more, I spent more time in the gym working out (running, cycling, weightlifting, etc) and more time going to the beach and swimming. And thus, I became much healthier. I leant German, I got back into drawing, the list goes on and on.

You know, an ex MCC president, Fred Esling, was said to deplore alcoholic excess. Do you share the same view?

Actually I didn't know that - I didn't even know who Fred Esling was! Do I share the same view? Hmmm, possibly. I dont think that I "deplore" it, but I do see it as totally pointless and really a bit sad actually. I love my own natural state of mind and I find it a bit strange that people feel that they need to alter theirs with alcohol to feel good about themselves. It's a shame to see kind, intelligent, creative, imaginative people waste their time drinking or taking drugs or eating bad food or smoking. Objectively, I think society would be better without excessive drinking, but it doesn't bother me that much - I'm not going to tell other people how to live their lives. I pride myself on being a health concious person. I eat well and exercise enough. I'm a good cook and I genuinely enjoy cooking. Kelly (my partner) is also a good cook, but she cooks differently to me, so we have a diverse, balanced diet. The one problem I do have though is that I eat way to much chocolate. It's not so bad when I'm exercising a lot because I just burn it off - but being so busy with MCC, I will have to be careful to exercise when I have time and not eat so much of it. I'm not happy with the amount of exercise I'm doing at the moment.

OK, I cant help but ask this: we're all curious about how your FM title helped you with the chicks!

Ha ha ha. Who's "we"? You lot will have to get yours and find out first hand! I was only half serious when I said that - but when you think about it, of course it helps. How can it not? It's a talking point and adds another string to your bow. It's something interesting about me I suppose. I'm fortunate enough to have never had any problems in that department anyway though - even before I got the title. I'm an extrovert and I'm easy to talk to. An FM title is just an added extra, another thing to talk to me about. Actually, what I did find was that girls always wanted to have a game of chess with me. Interestingly enough though, I've been with Kelly for 3 years now and not once have we ever had a game! I only found out that she could play about a month ago! She obviously loves me for me - not for a chess title.

Now I note that you've been to 45 countries. I like to travel myself. What's your favourite city or country and why?

Actually in relation to your last question, the 45 countries is probably even better than the chess title - it gives you even more to talk to girls about, ha ha ha. What is my favourite? Hmmm, a lot of people ask me this and its never easy to answer. I've spent so much time overseas that I've been to 27 of them more than once, and of those, 18 three times or more. (I worked out these useless statistics late last year on a plane or a train or somewhere). I guess I like different places for different reasons. In Asia, I love Nepal. It's just a really interesting country. I enjoy the Himalayas but I also like the lowlands with all of the animals - I've done safaris there in Chitwan National Park, where I've seen Indian rhinos, sloth bears (a mother and 2 cubs even!), deer, monkeys, crocs, snakes etc and ridden through on elephants. I also like Malaysia and Thailand for their coral reefs and snorkelling opportunities. In Europe, my favourite country is probably Slovenia - its a nice cross between the German speaking world and the Slavic world, and it is very pretty, with nice nature. It's easy to get around and it has things I'm interested in like lakes, forests, caves and cycling. I like other parts of the former Yugoslavia too though, especially Belgrade and Dubrovnik.

I'm also a big fan of Bulgaria and France. I tend to like the smaller countries in Central and Eastern Europe more than the bigger countries further west, as they are a bit cheaper and thus you can have a better time as you don't worry so much about the exchange rate! I like Europe in general for its castles and its bears. I went to Argentina last year and cycled in the Andes - my first time back on the bike since a potentially fatal accident at the end of 2006 (I was pretty lucky there - every day is a bonus now). It felt good to riding again and I really loved Argentina and want to go back. I'm studying Spanish as part of my course at uni actually so it may come in handy. Of the rest, I also enjoy outback Australia and I loved New Zealand too - but I've only been once for 10 days which isn't enough really. Maybe I can go back on the way to or from Argentina. My big dream though, is to go wildlife watching in southern Africa - I've read lots of books about it. I think the feeling would be a bit like the one I get from the Australian outback. Papua New Guinea, Borneo and Japan are also on my to-do list.


In the second part of this email interview, Grant Szuveges turns to more serious matters. There he delivers a left-and-right-hook combo at the cause of problems he witnessed in his beloved Melbourne Chess Club. Not one to miss!

Monday, April 27, 2009

2009 US Chess Championships

Over the weekend I received an email from the US telling me about the upcoming US Chess Championships to be held from 7 to 17 May. It will be a 24-player field with more than US$200,000 in prize money. The venue will be the brand new facilities at The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, in Missouri.

When looking at the website I was very impressed, especially, by this "Press Kit". It's something that organisers of major events should emulate for it has just about all the basics down pat and them some. For example, there are some historical tidbits, a list of famous people who played chess and a bio of players. Very useful for non-chess educated MSM journos! Most of all I quite like the site itself. It's simple and elegant, very unlike some of these ridiculous ones you see with heavy images or, worse, non-accessible flash components.

By the way, of interest to our Pinoy readers is that ex-RP man IM Enrico Sevillano, born in my beloved province of Cebu, will also be competing. We'll certainly be barracking for this guy.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Aussie Chess on TV

The April 1974 issue of "Chess in Australia" magazine has a report entitled, "Interstate Chess Match by Television". By TV? I can't believe it.

CIA reports that the 4-board match was between Sydney's St. George Leagues CC versus Melbourne's Ormond Chess Club. The event "was a T.V. first for Australia and, no doubt for the world", the CIA said. In board order, the participants were as follows (first named player is Sydney): John Kellner v Les Irving; Narelle Kellner v Doug Simmonds; Colin Burnes v Spiro Harris; and John Stirling v George Gallanis. The last two were ages 14 and 15 respectively.

St George won the match.

And speaking of TV and chess, the same issue of CIA has an item about a so-called "Superstar Open Weekend Congress" in which Peter Parr is described as NSW State Champion (in 1968) and, wait for this, as a "T.V. personality". How the hec did that happen?

Much later in 1974, in the November issue we find an ad for a book - "The Australian Chess Championship 1974". Does anyone have a copy of this book that they want to sell? It sounds like an interesting one. It apparently features a history of Aussie chess written by Mike Winslade, a section on the system of Australian Master Points written by John Hanks and a study on Australia's top players at the time.

If you've got a copy to sell, email me.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

GM Jones in MCC Weekender

Just received an email from Melbourne Chess Club boss Grant Szuveges. English grandmaster Gawain Jones will compete in the MCC Anzac Day Weekender this weekend. Key times are as follows:

round 1 - 11AM Saturday
round 2 - 3PM
round 3 - 7PM
round 4 - 11AM Sunday
round 5 - 3PM

Entries will close at 10.30AM 10.00AM. The prize giving is slated for 6.30pm and that will be quickly followed by a simul by recent Queenstown Classic winner IM David Smerdon. It'll cost $20 to play in the simul and all proceeds will contribute towards the MCC building fund. Note that Smerdon is also a participant in the weekender event.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Chess Player (A Short Film)

This is kinda weird.

The Chess Player (Short Film)
by OandPProductions

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chess in Google Books

I must tip my hat, so to speak, to Mig for this one. In a recent post Mig talked about Google Books, a service from the search engine behemoth that allows users to search for books, read scanned pages and, in some cases, even download a book as a PDF. For obvious reasons the service has been the subject of various lawsuits from publishers and authors alike. Anyway, whatever one may think about this service - it is rather intriguing and, after trying it out for a few minutes, I found it quite useful.

For instance, searching for "chess" I immediately stumbled across these 3 books which I thought might be of interest.

The first is Mathematics and Chess by Miodrag Petković. That one should provoke interest from some our maths aficionados. And then there's this, Thought and Choice in Chess by Adrian de Groot. Well-read readers will recall that de Groot presented the so-called "Position A" to participants in the famous 1938 AVRO tournament, in the Netherlands. Below is that same diagram. See if you can do better than Salo Flohr who was apparently the only one amongst the matters who missed the win. de Groot passed away a couple of years ago aged 91.

White to move and win

Finally, roughly along the same lines as de Groot's book is Chess Player's Thinking by Pertti Saariluoma. This one seems like a heavy read, but a quick glance at some chapters tells me that this could be quite interesting.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Congrats GM Darryl Johansen

GM Darryl Johansen is the 2009 SIO champion after securing the gold medal thanks to a superior tiebreak. For his numerous fans it is a well-deserved victory especially since, even by his own admission, he doesn't exactly win too many these days. During his speech the Melbourne GM, who celebrated his 50th in February, thanked the officials but also inserted a little shot at the venue. It sometimes left little to be desired, he said.

GM Johansen in his speech today

Well done also to IM George Xie for his first GM norm. After falling short by a half point last week in the Doeberl Cup, this time he made certain of it by actually winning. He needed only a draw. For Xie, the excellent back-to-back performances in both the Doeberl and now the SIO are a big step up from his rather disappointing debut in Australia's Olympiad squad last November. At the rate he's going, Xie could soon become a full GM in two to three years.

And spotted at the venue yesterday afternoon was none other than local legend Lloyd Fell. These days, the old man can barely talk but still manages to navigate the Sydney public transport system by himself all the way from Punchbowl to Parramatta! I watch him from a distance as he shuffles slowly about and I am filled with worry. Sometimes I think that he is about to fall over.

Both IM Gary Lane and myself were busy snapping photos at Lloyd. Here's one I took of both these guys and a couple of portrait style images here and here.

See you all again next year, Caissa willing.

Exciting Finish at SIO

A cold rainy morning has greeted the players on this last day of the 2009 Sydney International Open. For local fans, there is much excitement as we see an all Aussie contest on board one between Melbourne's GM Darryl Johansen and current numero uno GM Zong Yuan Zhao. Johansen is leading the field outright with 6.5 points which means that only victory over his much younger and very tough opponent will bag him the title as well as the $5,000 first prize.

If anyone is wondering why the 50 year old Darryl is playing well, it is surely because his approach here seems to be extra determined. He spends plenty of time preparing for the next encounter. And this morning I spotted him in the Pie Face cafe, in the still empty Westfield mall, going through games on Chessbase, no doubt looking for a weakness in GM Zhao's armour. Old romantics who have long been fans of Darryl since the '80's will want to see this man post what should be a remarkable win.

Local eyes, too, will watch proceedings on board 6 as IM George Xie makes yet another attempt to secure that much sought after GM norm. He failed by a half point in last week's Doeberl, but here all he needs is exactly that: a draw. His opponent this morning, however, the Indian IM Saptarshi Roy will be one tough ask.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Live Blog - SIO Round 8

Beautiful Chess: Oliver - Brown

Parramatta today is abuzz with market sellers flogging anything from antique telescopes, wagyu beef sausage, second hand clothes, organic vegies and Colombian coffee. Players and regular locals alike are even treated to a musical quintet composed mainly of musicians no older than ten years of age! It's a fine day out here, so if you can make it - pop over to watch a few games of chess and relax outside for some social games.

Yesterday's round 6 all-ACT match between Gareth Oliver and Andrew Brown saw what must be one of the most fascinating games so far in this event. Essaying the Bayonet Attack against Brown's KID, Oliver pursued the usual plan of Q-side advance. But he ill-timed his thrust, losing his Lady to the neat counter 18...c5. Oliver opted to press on anyway thanks mainly to Brown's inactive army. According to Fritz 11 Oliver's cause was simply pointless. Thanks to Oliver's doggedness we are treated to a wonderful specimen of combative chess, one that is full of optimism, patience and determination!

2009 Sydney International Open
Oliver, Gareth
Brown, Andrew

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Be2 O-O 6. Nf3 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. b4 Nd7 10. Qb3 a5 11. Be3 axb4 12. Qxb4 b6 13. Nd2 f5 14. f3 f4 15. Bf2 g5 16. a4 Rf6 17. a5 bxa5 18. Rxa5 c5 19. Rxa8 cxb4 20. Nb5 Nc5 21. Rfa1 Qb6 22. R1a7 Bf8 23. Nb3 Qd8 24. Nxc5 dxc5 25. Rc7 Ra6 26. Rb8 Ra1+ 27. Be1 Ra5 28. Rxc5 b3 29. Bc3 Ra8 30. Rxa8 Qb6 31. Bb4 Nxd5 32. Raxc8 Nxb4 33. Kf1 b2 34. Nc3 Qxc5 35. Rxc5 Bxc5 36. Bd1 White offers draw. 36...Bd4 37. Nb1 Kf7 38. Ke2 Ke7 39. Kd2 Kd6 40. Be2 Kc5 41. Bf1 Na6 42. Kc2 Kb4 43. Be2 Nc5 44. Bf1 Nb3 45. Be2 Na1+ 46. Kd2 Be3+ 47. Kd1 Nb3 48. Bf1 Nd4 49. Bd3 Bc1 50. Bf1 Kb3 51. Bd3 h5 52. Bf1 Ne6 53. h3 Nc5 54. Be2 h4 55. Bf1 Na6 56. Bd3 Nb4 57. Ke2 Nxd3 58. Kxd3 Be3 59. Nc3 Bc5 60. Nb1 Bd4 0-1

One fellow who, I suppose like most of us, ought to take a closer look at the position is FM Smirnov. In the following position, he whispers to me, "Have a look at my position."

Position after 26...Qxf3

Yes, it does look scary. But Cheng now simply and calmly replies with 27. Qd2. His intention is pretty clear to anyone watching the game, except for his opponent! Smirnov returns to his seat and himself, almost without any extra thought, plays just as calmly, 27...Qxh3(?). To which Cheng replies with the staggering 28. Qxg5. I can only imagine what FM Smirnov must have felt inside.

Cheng won the game some moves later after Smirnov was forced to surrender the second rook to prevent white from queening. With that win, Cheng, formerly of New Zealand now living in Melbourne, is on the verge of becoming the youngest ever Aussie to score an IM norm!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Live Blog - SIO Round 6

Live Blog - SIO Day 3

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Strange Blue Device

I received this email from a reader asking me about a strange blue device that was used by one player to record his moves. The email reads:

I noticed one player in round 7 using a blue hand held device for recording of his moves, and not using the pen/paper at all. What gives - is this a new trend for move entry? And how to cope when all players are using them? Maybe you did not notice this, but surely one rule for all would be the principle. I am assuming he transcribed the moves back to paper before handing it in.

Yes, I did notice it and the player in question was Amir Karibasic of the Kings of Chess club up in the Gold Coast. He used the device for every single one of his games. The device is actually a Monroi PCM. Before anyone gets all excited, this device is FIDE approved and is, in fact, used in a number of tournaments around the world including the US Champs and the big Gibraltar Open.

It's actually been around for a few years now and will be used in the Oceania Zonal later this year.

After each game, Amir's results were validated by an arbiter (the arbiter affixes his signature digitally) and in case of disputes, the arbiters always relied on the opponent's paper scoresheets.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gun Shots in Parra

Welcome to south west Sydney. As the action hotted up over-the-board today, gun shots rang out in the nearby Westfield shopping centre when three armed men robbed a jewellery store. Details here.

Live Blog - SIO Round 2

Don't Fork Yourself

There are all sorts of disasters over the board: missing mates in one, walking into a mate, dropping a piece, resigning from a winning position, whatever. But what about resigning from a knight-fork (of one's K and Q) when the knight moved like a bishop? Well, that's exactly what Paul Broekhuyse did today against Sarah Anton.

With Paul's Q on f4 and the K on c3, Sarah Anton played her knight from c4 to e2! Both Q and K are forked. Except, of course, that it's actually an illegal move. Not realising the big error, Paul promptly resigned, the scoresheets signed and the result reported.

It wasn't until much later that Paul himself realised the mistake. But there was nothing to be done. The result stands.

CORRECTION: In fact, Paul's black K + Q stood on the f6 and c5 squares respectively. Anton then played the illegal Nf5-d7, apparently forking both monarchs. Here is the full game score.

2009 Sydney International Open
Anton, Sarah
Broekhuyse, Paul

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. f3 e5 6. Nb3 Nxe4 7. fxe4 Qh4+ 8. Ke2 d5 9. h3 Bg4+ 10. hxg4 Qxh1 11. exd5 O-O-O 12. c4 Qh4 13. Kd2 Bb4+ 14. Nc3 Rhe8 15. a3 Bxc3+ 16. bxc3 e4 17. Kc2 Ne5 18. Be3 Nxg4 19. Bxa7 e3 20. Bd3 Qf2+ 21. Qe2 g6 22. Rf1 Qxe2+ 23. Bxe2 f5 24. Nd4 Nf2 25. Bb6 Rd7 26. Nb5 f4 27. Re1 Re5 28. Bf3 g5 29. Bd4 Rf5 30. Bxe3 fxe3 31. Rxe3 Rf8 32. d6 g4 33. Bd5 Kb8 34. Be6 Rg7 35. d7 Re7 36. Nd4 Kc7 37. Nb5+ Kd8 38. Nd4 h5 39. Kd2 h4 40. c5 Rxd7 41. Bxd7 Kxd7 42. Ne6 Rf5 43. Ke2 h3 44. gxh3 gxh3 45. Nd4 h2 46. Nxf5 h1=Q 47. Kxf2 Qb1 48. Nd4 Qa2+ 49. Kf3 Qxa3 50. Rd3 Ke7 51. Kf4 Qxc5 52. Ke4 b5 53. Nf5+ Kf6 White now played 54. Nf5-d7+. Both players missed the obvious and Paul resigned. 1-0

Live Blog - SIO Day 1

Lessons From Chess

As we head out today for the 2009 Sydney International Open, I thought it rather nice to remind ourselves of the important things in life. But here, I depend on the words of ex World Champion GM Garry Kasparov. At the recent SuperNationals, in Nashville, Tennessee in the United States - Kasparov told his mostly young audience:

For most of my life, my life was chess. That will not be the case for most in this room. What is important is to take chess, and what chess teaches you, everywhere for the rest of your life. The enjoyment, the concentration, the work ethic, the pride, the friendship - all are more important than rating points or the ability to find a mate in four. But for a few, chess is like a native language, as beautiful as any music, as any work of art. And maybe it will become as special to you as it was, and is, to me.

That quote is courtesy of GM Lubomir Kavalek's chess column in WaPo (registration may be required, but it is gratis). The former world number one also happened to celebrate his 46th birthday last Monday, 13 April. Happy belated birthday GM Kasparov.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Arthur Huynh in Serbia

Sydney's Arthur Huynh has been spotted in a couple of tournaments in Serbia by Chessdom's Goran Urosevic. Arthur, who is on a tour of Europe, participated in both the Nis Open, scoring 5 points there, and the Kragujevac Open where he settled for just 2 points.

In the latter tournament, which ended yesterday, Arthur defeated local man IM Nikola Ostojic.

Dan Kragujevca 2009
Ostojic, Nikola
Huynh, Arthur

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 O-O 5. Nge2 d5 6. a3 Be7 7. cxd5 exd5 8. Nf4 c6 9. Bd3 Re8 10. O-O Nbd7 11. f3 Nf8 12. Bc2 Ne6 13. Nxe6 Bxe6 14. b4 a5 15. Rb1 axb4 16. axb4 b6 17. Qd3 c5 18. bxc5 bxc5 19. dxc5 Bxc5 20. Na4 Ba7 21. Kh1 Rc8 22. Rb7? Yes, a rook on the seventh. But on this occasion, it doesn't quite help - for now, white seriously leaves his back rank weakened. 22...d4!

Position after 22...d4!

23. Bb3? dxe3 24. Qxd8 Rexd8 25. Bxe6 e2! After this move, Fritz 11 calculates a mate in 12 moves! 26. Bxf7+ Kh8 27. Re1 Rxc1 0-1

By the way, if you look very closely at the photographs you'll notice that the tournaments used a mix of mechanical and digital clocks. The digital clocks, too, are a combination of different brands! It's a situation that Australia has departed from long, long ago. At least on that front, we Aussies have done something sensible.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Winning Deeply in Doeberl

Another Doeberl over, yet another memorable 5 days of chess in the capital. And for a second year running, a foreigner takes home the prize (US grandmaster Varuzhan Akobian won the 2008 edition). This year, Indian international master Deep Sengupta wins the Doeberl Cup on tiebreak. For Deep, his victory came with a nice little cherry on top after he also secured a grandmaster norm, his second.

IM Deep Sengupta

Among the local contingent, IM Xie and FM Rej came oh-so-close with both of them just a half point shy of a GM and IM norm respectively. Rej's game against WIM Kruttika was particularly exciting as both players pressed and prodded each other until their last few seconds. Commentating on that contest GM Ian Rogers seemed a tad nervous about Rej. Could the young FM's Queen be compromised? Will he crack? Luckily, of course, Rej calculated accurately enough but in the end managed only a draw.

One notable detail about the premiere is that in eight out of 9 rounds, at least 1 grandmaster lost a game. And everyone's favourite punching bag? Iranian GM Shojaat Ghane. He lost to Andrew Brown, Andrew Bird, Geoff Saw and Arianne Caoili.

But let us all spare at least a momentary thought to my good mate Nicholas Kordahi. Nick finished down the bottom of the premiere field. Horrible experience for him. Never one to dwell too long on failures, this afternoon Nick says to me that he'll now give up chess and in its place he'll go back to what he's good at.

Well, good luck to you brother.

The major section was no less exciting as a whole bunch of people actually had chances to at least share equal first. However, the final tally revealed two players on outright first with 6 points apiece - Sydneysider Norman Brendon and South Australia's Colin Cloudsdale. Cloudsdale was the winner on tiebreak. Both these guys lost just one game each - Colin to Tony Weller and Brendon to Kerry Stead. In the latter game, Kerry relied on his long love the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. It's an exciting game that's worth looking at. I'd show the PGN, but the dismally unreliable official website is once again nowhere to be seen.

Overall the 2009 Doeberl was a success. Two hundred and thirty seven players fronted up (an increase from last year's 229 and the 196 in 2007) and a couple of norms were gained, including the GM variety. The only serious blemish is, of course, the introduction of a dumbass event called Chess960. After years of Saturday blitz, we suddenly have this nonsensical variant. Apparently it's all about change, though I'm not sure exactly to what end. Here's an idea: have the blitz on Saturday and the Chess960 on Sunday. Hec, that gives the organisers one more source of revenue!

Speaking of traditions, we really cannot end without this shot of Tony Davis. Albeit of more recent vintage as far as traditions go, the wearing of that funny hat is how Tony ends his Doeberl campaign. Well done.

Victoria's Tony Davis, with top hat

For more photos from the Doeberl Cup, see my Flickr stream here.

The fun and agony doesn't end in Canberra. See you all in two days at the Sydney International Open!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Crackpot Chess in Doeberl

Last night for the first time in Doeberl, and hopefully the last time, the organisers put on a crackpot variant called Chess960. It was totally ridiculous! I think they attracted only about 47 players. That is way, way down on the usual 60+ or so who often front up to the annual lightning that's been around for years. While a couple of masters turned up, it was nothing like past blitz events that normally have the usual sharks. Frankly, I characterise last night's Chess960 as the biggest blunder in the recent history of the Doeberl Cup.

My informal polling also indicated that most folks there, even including those who actually played in the Chess960, would have preferred the standard blitz. So I think that is that: Chess960 or Fischerandom is out the window!

Not to be deprived of our annual lightning fun, Richard Voon and I continued our contest from Queenstown. We considered it our own little world championship. I won 10 games to 9.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Live Blog - Doeberl Cup Round 6

Live Blog - Doeberl Cup Round 5

Missing Lloyd Fell

I'm getting a little caught up with the whole event that yesterday I just didn't bother to post anything. Losing my first game didn't quite help either! Fortunately, I managed to bounce back in round 2 after my opponent simply dropped his Queen for nothing.

One fellow who rarely blundered away the Lady, if ever, was Lloyd Fell. After some 40 plus years of attending this event, Lloyd is very sadly absent from this year's proceedings. He wasn't exactly in good shape the last time I saw him, sporting a couple of bruises as well as being visibly weaker than usual. Hopefully, he's alright.

Yesterday, was yet another forfeit by the mobile phone rule. Sebastian Jule resigned on the spot when he leaned over and somehow activated his phone by accident. There was nothing much to be said about it and the Queenslander calmly accepted his fate. More seasoned adults ought to learn from this well-mannered young man. I hear that someone in the Dubbo weekend event a couple of weeks ago even tried the old "it wasn't me, it wasn't me" defence! It didn't work, thankfully.

In other action from round 4, IM Lane pulled off a trap from one of his books to defeat Melbourne's Eugene Schon. A good reason to keep buying the prolific writer's outputs. While further up the board order, Canberra's IM Toth placed his King on the e7 square and there the hapless monarch eventually died, caught under heavy fire. Toth eventually resigned his position against visiting Indian WFM Nkrithika.

IM Sandler managed only a draw against the Singaporean junior FM Daniel Fernandez. The Melburnian wasn't happy with that one and walked around mumbling to himself. Also unlucky was Sandler's fellow Victorian Christopher Wallis. Wallis mishandled his opening and suffered a horrible loss to Queensland junior FM Gene Nakauchi.

2009 Doeberl Cup
Nakauchi, Gene
Wallis, Christopher

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. e4 dxe4 6. d5 Ne5 7. Qa4+ Bd7 8. Qxe4 Ng6 9. Nb5 e6 10. d6 Bc6 11. Qd4 Kd7 12. Nf3 a6 13. Nc7 Rc8 14. Bg5 f6 15. Rd1! Bxf3 (15... fxg5 16. Bc4) 16. gxf3 Ne5 17. Qxe5 fxe5 18. Bxd8 Bxd6? In his time trouble, Wallis chooses the wrong path. More resistant might have been 18... Rxd8 19. Bh3 Bxd6 20. Nxe6 Rb8 21. Nxg7+ Kc6 but of course, it's still a hard life. 19. Nxe6 Kxe6 20. Bh3+ 1-0

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Live Blogging Tool Down

Sadly, it looks like the Cover It Live website is down. I can't get to my page at all. I have no idea what their problem is, but this means no live blog like we normally do. I'll have to do it the old fashioned way! So just keep on refreshing my homepage.

7.37PM OK, it looks like the regular blogging widget may be live. Let's see

7.27PM Olympiad team mates Caoili and Oliver chatting to each other. Both are very nicely attired, thank you very much. Caoili tonight faces Neelotpal of India, while Shannon Oliver isn't playing in any events at all.

7.21PM Right now, we're into just the first few moves of every game. Of note is Stojic - Mas. That one looks to be a rerun of Stojic's game against Motoc in Queenstown earlier this year.

More Carrots Than Stick

This year's Doeberl has a new approach to the problem of short draws, more carrots than stick. Instead of the controversial "interventionist" policy, the organisers have this year adopted one that is more about "encouragement".

To be eligible for the 'Fighting Fund' prize (in the Premier Tournament), players must not have agreed to draws in under 30 moves during any round of the tournament. The aim of this rule is to encourage a competitive, fighting tournament, and we trust all players will adhere to this in a sportsmanlike manner. (NB This does not include claims of 'draws by repetition of position').

Doeberl Cup Kicks Off

A week and a half of chessic bless for diehard chess fans has just kicked off here in Canberra with the opening of the 2009 Doeberl Cup. After this event, players will pack their bags and head north to Sydney to compete in the Sydney International Open starting next Wednesday.

It's a quiet affair so far down here in the capital as Doeberl opens with just the premiere event on day 1. The field will greatly increase tomorrow, Friday, as players from both the major and minor sections turn up. Right now the organisers can feel at ease and relaxed. I think they're only challenge so far is that the internet seems to be down. I hear even the main Doeberl website is unavailable. Earlier, TD Shaun Press jokingly said that it was because some 300,000,000 Indians were trying to log on!

Our Indian friends, of course, have plenty of reason to pay attention to this event as well as next week's SIO. An impressive complement of Indian masters including most of their women's national side have arrived here no doubt hoping to bag most of the prize monies. One to watch among the women is WIM Ruttika Nadiq. Already, she attracted attention from one Sydneysider. This hopeful young fellow said, "One of the Indian girls smiled at me".


Early in the first round, the Victorian player Denis Boumistrov fell to his own self-inflicted defeat when he apparently forgot to turn off his cell phone. The thing went beep-a-beeping about 20 minutes after the start of play. Boumistrov simply smiled the incident off, conceding the point to Indian IM Jha Sriram.

Lastly, I'll start with the live blogging tonight for round 2. We had a bit of a problem with the internet set-up this morning which is why some of you may have had problems with the live games viewer. All seems to be fine now, however, so we should be set.

UPDATE at 4.41PM

The first sensational result has come through. Local junior Andrew Brown has defeated visiting GM Shojaat Ghane when the latter apparently left his Queen en prise. Also a surprise loser was IM George Xie who went down to Iranian Zibaei Abdoulla, rated 2067.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Doeberl Bound

Well, it's that time again. I'm off on an early flight tomorrow for the Doeberl Cup. While I type these words I spot a few folks on ICC doing some last minute practice. Good luck to those folks and to everyone else! See you all down there.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Geelong Students Russia Bound

Seven students from Victoria's Geelong Grammar school will drop in on Kirsan Nikolayevich Ilyumzhinov. From today's The Age:

Kalmykia is the only place in the world where chess is on prime-time television.

This week seven students from the Geelong Grammar chess club will visit Chess City to learn from the world's best.

History teacher Justin Corfield, who is going with the students, first played chess when he was seven, under the guidance of his father.

He says chess teaches students to think strategically, to concentrate, to learn from their mistakes and plan their future direction.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Another Russian Prodigy

This one's from Russia Today, a news report about WGM Alina Kashlinskaya. She tells the journo, "I can play chess for ever and ever, I can create. No two games are the same, and I can always find something new."

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Dooleys Chess Club

A new club has just opened for business in Sydney, the Dooleys Chess Club. Founded by chess diehard Pinoy-Aussie Elpidio Bautista, Dooleys CC is hosted by the Dooleys Catholic Club in Lidcombe and opens from 12 noon to 6PM every Saturday. For the time being most members are Pinoys, including former weekend warriors Levi Descallar and Ed Agulto, but of course all comers are welcome!

The small group has so far managed to equip themselves with about six boards and 6 Excalibur clocks (which will hopefully be upgraded to DGTs). Already plans are underway for regular tournaments starting most likely with a fast time control event.

So, if you're not doing anything on Saturdays - come and pay the guys a visit. We're located just a short 3 minute walk from Lidcombe train station. For our Pinoy friends, the nearby "Bahay Kubo" restaurant would make the perfect stop after an afternoon's fun over the board.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Bronzed Aussie Chessmen

From the Brisbane Times:

THEY may appear a jumble of rooks, pawns and bishops, but this chess set tells the story of Phillip Wierzbowski's life.

The 32 bronze, Roman-style figurines are among the few items salvaged from Mr Wierzbowski's Healesville house that burnt down in the Black Saturday bushfires.

A North Ringwood couple, Jeff and Desma Noble, heard about the tragedy from a mutual friend. Professional jewellers, they are cleaning and polishing the 29 pieces that are charred but intact, and having three badly damaged ones recast.

Read more in A bronze chess set tells a family's tale.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Chess Culture

Let's talk about "chess culture" for a bit. I think the first time I read this phrase was in a Kasparov annotation of one his games (I can't remember exactly which one). At that time I didn't really think much of it. But lately I've been wondering: what exactly is chess culture? Never mind what Kasparov meant, what does it mean to you?

Of course, we probably have to start off with the concept of "culture" itself. And here we run into our first problem. According to Wikipedia, for instance, the concept is "difficult to define". Over on CARLA (the Univ. of Minnesota's Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition), they have no less than 10 definitions from various sources!

I bring this up because yesterday I met some young fellow named Clive. I mention the name in particular because he happens to be of Chinese parentage and I couldn't help myself asking him: "dude, your Asian parents gave you a name like Clive?" Anyway, that's beside the point. The important thing about Clive is that he is an honourable young bloke and, apparently, well-educated!

When someone else in our group yesterday recited the quote: "On the chessboard, lies and hypocrisy do not survive long. The creative combination lays bare the presumption of a lie; the merciless fact, culminating in a checkmate, contradicts the hypocrite", Clive knew exactly who said it. In the back of my mind I had only one reaction. My God, I thought, this young punk's got chess culture!

You see, I was under the impression that these young chessers these days only worry about opening theory. It turns out, I might be wrong. And I'm happy with that.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Wesley Enters Top 100

The Philippines' GM Wesley So has achieved yet another milestone with the release of FIDE's April rating list. Fifteen year old Wesley moves ever closer to that coveted super-GM status thanks to his new rating of 2641. That places him in 89th spot among the Top 100 players in the world!

To top off that wonderful news, Wesley has also just retained this year's edition of "Battle of the GMs".