Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mating in City of Churches

If you haven't had enough chess after the Gold Coast or just want to get in some weekend action, then a couple of days in the city of churches could be just the thing. On 4 and 5 July will be the Freytag Checkmate Open, dubbed as "South Australia's #1 Weekend Chess Event".

Already registered to participate are two GMs - David Smerdon and Daryl Johansen.

Sadly, I won't be there. I've just checked webjet.com.au as well as flightcentre.com.au and for the cost of flying to and from Adelaide, I might as well head over to Bangkok!

But if you're going, I recommend checking out the Emily Grace Hotel on 232 Waymouth Street, Adelaide. It's the perfect joint for some R&R after a hard day's OTB combat.

Monday, June 29, 2009

GM Jones Wins GC Open

Englishman grandmaster Gawain Jones turned from keen spectator of the just completed Zonal tournament to top seed and eventual winner of the 7-round Gold Coast Open. He outpointed his rivals with 6 points, dropping a single game to IM Puchen Wang of New Zealand.

For Wang, who is on a chess scholarship at the University of Texas, it was a good outing overall as he also took out Zonal champ, David Smerdon. But the Kiwi himself also dropped a point to none other than Sydney junior Max Illingworth! Both finished with 5.5 points along with GM-elect Smerdon and IM Stephen Solomon.

Top finishers are as follows:

6.0 Jones
5.5 Wang, Smerdon, Solomon, Illingworth
5.0 Xie, Schon, Morris, Wongwichit, Jones, B.

Yours truly finished with just 2.5 points. I actually considered finally "coming out" by beating FM Gene Nakauchi in the first round, but then I thought, nah. Maybe next time.

In round 3, I played my only other victory. This one was against Western Australia's Marc Vlietstra.

Gold Coast Open 2009
The Closet Grandmaster
Vlietstra, Marc

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. a4 Once essayed by no less than super-GM Magnus Carlsen. He beat fellow super-GM Alexander Morozevich with it back in 2006 Biel tournament. Look up that game and compare its finish to this one. 9...Nh5 10. b4 f5 11. Ng5 Nf4 12. Bxf4 exf4 13. Rc1 Bh6?! apparently aimed at dissuading Ng5-e6. But I play the move anyway since I figured that the resulting position was OK for white, plus I was kinda curious about what will happen. 14. Ne6 Bxe6 15. dxe6 f3 16. Bxf3 Bxc1 17. Qxc1 c6 18. Rd1? (18. Re1 might have been better in order to support that e-pawn.) 18... Rf6 19. exf5 Nxf5 20. b5 Qc7? 21. bxc6 bxc6 22. Nb5 Qb6

Position after 22...Qb6

At this moment I began to consider 2 moves: a4-a5 and c4-c5. You know, playing for tricks. But I was doing my head in, losing time and so finally settled on the text! 23. Nxd6 Nd4 24. c5 Nxf3+? (24... Qb4 25. e7 Re6 26. e8=Q+ Raxe8 27. Nxe8 Rxe8) 25. gxf3 Qb3 26. e7! Qxf3 27. Qc4+ Kh8 28. Qd4 Kg8 29. Re1 (I was seriously even considering 29. e8=N Rxe8 30. Nxe8 Rf7 31. Rd3 just for the sake of promoting to a knight.) 29... Rf4 30. e8=Q+ Rxe8 31. Rxe8+ Rf8 32. Qc4+ Kh8 33. Rxf8+ Qxf8 34. Qf7 Qb8 35. Qe8+ Qxe8 36. Nxe8 Kg8 37. Nd6 1-0

It was a fun tournament overall and there were quite a few notable moments. IM Solo and his opponent Tristan Stevens shared a laugh OTB when the former tried one last desperate trick to avoid defeat: promote to a Queen that, if captured, would have led to stalemate.

Then there was the wonderful struggle between the young kid Alex Stahnke and David Castor. Castor lost that one, but the sizable crowd appreciated both their efforts and gave a loud applause!

Finally, there is my new mate, the PNG's Joselito Marcos. Like a typical Pinoy this man played to hustle. Down to his last few seconds, he somehow moved quick enough, eventually raising his time back to over a minute, and created enough confusion OTB that his opponent, Vlietstra, was forced to defend a won position! It was amazing to watch. Still, Marcos lost. The next day he insisted that it was only because he gave the wrong check.

There was one other thing I learned from Marcos. PNG chess politics. My God, that's ugly.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Smerdon and Caoili Win Zonal

I'll post a summary later on about the just completed Zonal tournament, but for now let me just say congrats to both David Smerdon and Arianne Caoili for winning their respective events. Quite apart from their OTB performances, these two really impressed during the closing ceremony. Articulate and intelligent, both are very good representatives of our game.

Winners: GM David Smerdon and WIM Arianne Caoili

Congratulations also to the following title earners.

Of course, we already know about James Morris, but also walking away with well-earned FIDE master titles are New Zealand's Michael Steadman and Bobby Cheng. For Steadman, his last round bout showed that there is justice in chess. Overwhelmingly winning his position thanks to 2 passers and a piece up, Steadman steadily found his position deteriorate against the determined defence of one Ronald Scott.

Then just as he was cruising to a fantastic victory, Scott blunders and walks into a mate in one!

Among the women Kiwi Olympiad rep Sue Maroroa earned her woman international master title, while the ACT's Emma Guo as well as Wollongong's Vaness Reid both secured the WFM variety.

I'm also pretty sure that there were a couple of WCM titles earned, but as one player at the venue asked upon hearing about WCMs, "What's that?"

OK - here's my favourite game from the event.

2009 Oceania Zonal
Solomon, Stephen
Bjelobrk, Igor

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 Bg4 6. Bd3 Nf6 7. O-O Be7 8. Nbd2 O-O 9. c3 c6 10. Qc2 Nbd7 11. Nh4 g6 12. h3 Be6 13. Nhf3 Re8 14. Ng5 Nf8 15. f4 Nh5 16. Nxe6 Nxe6 17. f5 Nef4 18. Ne4 Nxd3 19. Qxd3 d5 20. Nf2 Bd6 21. Ng4 Ng3 22. fxg6 Ne2+ 23. Kh1 Ng3+

Position after 23...Ng3+

24. Qxg3 Bxg3 25. gxf7+ Kh8 26. fxe8=N Qxe8 27. Bh6 Qh5 28. Rf3 Bd6 29. Raf1 Rg8 30. Bf4 Bxf4 31. Nf6 Qg5 32. Nxg8 Bd6 33. Nf6 h5 34. Rf5 Qg3 35. Rxh5+ Kg7 36. Rh7+ 1-0

GM Rogers commentated on this game in round 8.

Friday, June 26, 2009

James Morris Bags IM Title

With a last round draw against IM Stephen Solomon, Melbourne's FM James Morris (who, by the way, only received his FM certificate yesterday from FIDE) elevated his title to that of international master.

Live Blog - Zonal Round 9

Norms in Zonal

Here's what has been confirmed so far this morning. Tomek Rej and James Morris go home with norms. Although if Rej wins, he goes home with the title! Igor Bjelobrk needs to win.

In the women, the info I have is that Anton will need a win to secure the WFM title. If she draws, then she'll need other results to go her way. But I know that Caoili will do everything she can to stop Anton.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Live Blog - Zonal Round 8

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

CoveritLive is Down

The live blogging widget is currently undergoing maintenance. Not much we can do about that. Transmission from the zonal is interrupted.

Live Blog - Zonal Round 7

IM Rujevic in SA Open

Here's a little tidbit of news that I obtained courtesy of PNG Olympiad rep Rupert Jones. Melbourne's IM Mirko Rujevic, who is here in the Zonal tournament, will participate in the upcoming South African Open. But the most interesting aspect is that Mirko will play his games via the net, specifically through www.chesscube.com.

Also participating in the SA Open via chesscube.com will be GM Gawain Jones and New Zealander IM Puchen Wang. To ensure that the whole thing is kosher, IA Gary Bekker will supervise all the games. Play will take place in Gary's house.

Good luck to these guys. Hopefully the 2.30AM starting time will not be too much of a challenge.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Arianne Caoili Grabs Lead

The much anticipated showdown between the first seed, IM Irina Berezina, and the second seed, WIM Arianne Caoili, turned out to be a fizzer. A draw.

Of both players it was Arianne, holding the white pieces, who had the better position. She knew that and wasn’t happy about the result. Later in the officials’ room she was harsh on herself saying, “I'm totally gutless". That is, referring to her decision to settle the game peacefully.

But Arianne did step on the pedal again by beating the ACT’s Emma Guo in the second session yesterday afternoon. With that win the Aussie women’s number two increased her tally to 5.5 points after six games and ensured that she maintains a clear full point lead from Irina who faltered in the sixth round by conceding another half point to the much less fancied, Sally Yu.

Let’s not take anything away from the young Sally, however. She played well and handled the endgame finish impressively.

Over in the men’s section, three players share the lead with 5 points apiece. These are Smerdon, Bjelobrk and Morris.

Newly minted grandmaster David Smerdon unexpectedly went down to Bjelobrk in the fifth round but then exacted “revenge” on Sydney’s FM Greg Canfell in the sixth. Now Greg is a seasoned player but, for some strange reason, his play against Smerdon showed no signs of his long experience. The 3-IM norm holder went down to David in just 21 moves.

Inside the officials’ room, GM Ian Rogers, who is providing live commentary, was at his jocular best.

No doubt following the recent news about the so-called “Utegate”, GM Rogers observed that David could have joined Macquare Bank and become Gordon Gecko; but instead he joined the Treasury and will become Godwin Grech!

Finally, how about FM James Morris of Melbourne? So far he hasn’t dropped a single point. His win over IM Lane, especially, was beautiful. According to Swiss Manager, Morris’ rating performance here is around about 2500+. It’s an impressive display and an emphatic “up yours” to those who place a question mark over his “FM” title and that, I have to admit, includes yours truly.

GM Rogers on Comeback?

Courtesy of Peter Parr's latest column I've just now learnt that GM Ian Rogers saw OTB combat last month in the 22nd Mohd Badshah Memorial Open Chess Championships in Fiji. He finished the event with a perfect score.

As far as I know this is Rogers' first serious action since he announced his retirement nearly 2 years ago at the Lidums Checkmate Open. So, is GM Rogers making a comeback? We'll have to ask him tomorrow.

Oceania Zonal Heads for NZ

I've just stepped out of the Oceania Zone meeting and I can let slip this unofficial news that the next Oceania Zonal tournament is likely to be held in Rotorua, New Zealand. That will take place in 2011. The critical missing piece now is funding. No dates have been set.

The meeting which is currently under way and attended by FIDE general secretary Ignatius Leong and hosted by the zone president Garry Bekker isn't quite as dull as I've been led to believe. There were plenty of genuine discussions around the status quo of chess and its future in the various member states. From my perspective, it seemed to be a mixed bag.

More on that meeting in a later post.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Live Blog - Zonal Day 3

High Emotions in Gold Coast

Day two saw the most bizarre incident so far in the Zonal tournament. Playing black against Sydney's IM Irina Berezina, Kiwi lass Sue Maroroa resigned her position after just 8 moves into the game. I watched her sobbing as she and Irina exchanged scoresheets. So, did Maroroa somehow walk into a trap? Was she losing a piece? Neither. Check it out

Berezina I.
Maroroa S.

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. O-O O-O 5. d4 d6 6. c4 c5 7. d5 b5 8. cxb5 1-0

It's a line that's been around since the 1940's and recently witnessed in the game, Nikolic - Burg, Noteboom Memorial 2009, 1-0. Over on his live commentary, GM Rogers let us all in on the story.

By the way, not so long ago Caoili's main rival Irina Berezina was handed a free point when her opponent, Sue Maroroa, could not handle being asked not to talk to her boyfriend (GM Jones) during the game and resigned in tears on move 8. Sue had been playing well this tournament but it is amazing that a player would expect to be allowed to leave the playing hall to chat with anybody during a Zonal tournament.

Later during my live blog session, GM Gawain Jones confirmed this by saying, "Sue's okay. The [was] someone [who] had complained to the arbiters about us "talking" (cheating e.t.c) and said that she was not allowed to talk to me which upset her. Unfortunately after this she wasn't able to concentrate but hope to be back tomorrow."

In another incident players were left bemused when suddenly, in the midst of all that silent concentration, a sound, as if like a tweeting bird to me but apparently more like an aeroplane to IM Gary Lane, slowly but steadily grew from a low noise to a full-throated crescendo! Joselito Marcos, you naughty boy!

Instant death, we all thought. Nope, not for Marcos. The arbiter on duty at the time, Gary Bekker, at first issued only a warning. A warning? The rules are absolutely clear cut: no mercy. Thus, after a few more minutes, Mr Bekker returns to Marcos (who was by now actually seriously considering his next move and possibly thinking that he was a lucky sod) and tells the PNG player the real deal. Sorry mate, you're out!

The first game today will feature a most unexpected name on board 3, FM James Morris of Melbourne. At the half way mark he is undefeated on 3.5 points after posting two straight victories yesterday against more fancied players, Steadman and Ly. Morris' first assignment this morning will be IM Gary Lane.

Down on board 6, the 3-IM norm holder FM Greg Canfell will be seeking to make amends after losing last night to GM Zhao. Greg seemed quite upset about that setback so hopefully he's cleared his head for today's battles.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Live Blog - Zonal Day 2

Unexpected Finishes at Zonal

This being Queensland you do tend to see a few strange things. Like yesterday at lunch time, for instance, I spotted some bloke who was dressed all in pink! From head to toe. As if that wasn't bad enough he sported some serious VPL. For the uninitiated that's "visible panty lines".

Over the board there were a few, let's say, unexpected outcomes but not quite as strange as a pink-clad fellow. In round 1 the Stevens - Xie contest clearly had the white player holding the advantage after he nabbed 2 pawns by the 37th move. But in time trouble, Stevens opted for suboptimal moves and the situation abruptly turned sour for him.

The game is worth a look

2009 Oceanic Zonal Open
Stevens, Tristan
Xie, George

1. e4 d5 2. d4 dxe4 3. Nc3 e5 4. dxe5 Qxd1+ 5. Kxd1 Nc6 6. Nxe4 Nxe5 7. Bf4 Nf6 8. Nxf6+ gxf6 9. Nf3 Ng4 10. Bg3 Bf5 11. Bb5+ c6 12. Re1+ Kd7 13. Nd4 Bg6 14. Be2 h5 15. h3 Nh6 16. Bc4 Bc5 17. Nb3 Bb6 18. Bh4 Rhe8 19. c3 Nf5 20. Bxf6 Bxf2 21. Rxe8 Rxe8 22. Kd2 Be3+ 23. Kd1 Bf4 24. Bd4 h4 25. Bd3 Kc7 26. Kc2 Ng3 27. Bxg6 fxg6 28. Bf6 Re2+ 29. Kd3 g5 30. Nd4 Re3+ 31. Kc4 c5 32. Nb5+ Kc6 33. Nxa7+ Kb6 34. Nc8+ Ka6 35. Rd1 Re6 36. Be7 Nf5 37. Bxc5 b5+ 38. Kb3 Kb7 39. Ne7 Nd6 40. Nd5 Nc4 41. Nxf4 gxf4 42. Rd7+ Kc6 43. Re7 Rg6 44. Kb4 Nxb2 45. Bd4 Nd3+ 46. Kb3 Rxg2 47. Rh7 Nc1+ 48. Kb4 Rb2+ 0-1

Round two's match up on board 1 for the women, Reid - Berezina, looked set for a massive upset for the white player. Commentating on that encounter via Chess Theatre, GM Ian Rogers was impressed with Reid. Then at a crucial moment, just when Berezina was eking out a fightback, came an unexpected draw offer. So, a draw!

But how about Norris - Ford on board 20 of the Open section? After a long, long struggle Norris finally found himself in a winning position. With both players holding 2 Queens each, all Norris had to do was deliver check with the right Queen. He didn't! Instead, he accidentally produced a stalemate.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Live Blog - Zonal Round 2

Live Blog - Zonal Day 1

Oceania Zonal - Day 1

Thirty minutes now from the start of hostilities.

Just outside the officials' room the players slowly gather, catching up with old friends, while I see a few prepping up at the last minute. I think most would rather normally be outside, what with that long stretch of beach just a short walk from here, but the weather has been unkind. It's pouring rain! Not exactly what I'd expected in the Gold Coast.

As far as the venue is concerned, who can complain? We are, of course, inside the Outrigger Twin Towns Resort, so as one might expect the facilities are almost perfect. The floor space is a bit smaller than at the SIO or Doeberl, but there's still plenty of room left for players. So, it's comfy for them. I don't know, however, if that will remain true once the spectators start piling in.

For our online fans, action can be viewed via 4 DGT broadcasts plus 10 using the Monroi device. This is the first time I've seen these Monroi things and, on first impressions, these could prove the death of DGTs. Heaven only knows why any proper-minded organiser should have to continue lugging around these DGT boards from event to event.

And, of course, you can also follow GM Ian Rogers' coverage online. That's something new!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Off to the Zonal

I'm off to the Zonal tomorrow, catching an early flight and hopefully arriving in time for the first round. As usual I'll be live blogging from up there and providing updates, insights as well as, of course, photos. Just remember: first round will be at noon local time, followed by the second at 1800 hours.

It should be fun.

Unlike the many participants who all must be going through some last minute prep right about now, I hardly have to do anything at all. So I'm sitting back, relaxing, and sipping a glass of cheapo Bordeaux. See you all tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Out with "Zero Default Time"!

Back in 2001, Melbourne's Roland Brockman was a keen supporter of the then new concept of 90m + 30s time control. Scroll down to the bottom of this old ACF newsletter and you can see him take on a couple of heavy-weights. Well, I think we can safely say that Roland was the clear winner of that argument.

But now it seems that after nearly 8 years of quietude, the Melburnian is set for yet another confrontation. And this time he's taking on an even bigger opposition. None other than FIDE! Roland isn't happy about the so-called "zero default time" rule.

In this email to Oceania Zone president, IA Gary Bekker, Roland writes:

I must confess to you [Gary] that I am on the Bandwagon again. You will recall my many years of campaigning for use of the increment instead of guillotine finishes. That battle seems to be all but won. Now however I have a new bee in my bonnet, namely the 'zero tolerance rule' which means that you have to be at the board the instant play starts or you will be forfeited. I.e. even if you are there minutes before the start but get out of your seat to grab a pen you can be defaulted. This rule made a complete farce of the recent Chinese championship, much of which has been written, eg: on chessbase.com.

Now [FIDE general secretary] Ignatious Leong informs me that this ludicrous rule will apply in the upcoming Commonwealth Championship in Singapore. I politely pointed out to him that this would be unlikely to be popular and cited the example of Bobby Fischer who was a few minutes late for his first game with Spassky in 1972; he was caught in traffic.

So here we go again, albeit I think that popular opinion among chessplayers will be much louder and more forceful than in the increment/guillotine debate. At any rate I'll forget any thoughts about going to Singapore this year. The Aus Major in North Sydney is looking good once again.

I think most people would agree with Roland here. The whole concept of a zero default time is totally ridiculous. In any case, the relevant rule isn't supposed to take effect until 1 July this year, so how these organisers can get away with this farce is, quite frankly, beyond me! Obviously, of course, it will already be enforced in time for the said Commonwealth event.

Worth noting, however, is that the Australian Chess Federation has opted for sanity. According to ACF big wig Denis Jessop, the national body will enforce, not the strict "zero default time" but, 30 minutes. Well done to them. All federations should follow their lead.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Master of the Treasury

Look at what just popped up in Google News. Grandmaster David Smerdon smiling straight to camera! It's courtesy of the Public Service News service. I didn't even these public servants had that.

Back at Treasury, Mr Smerdon joined the Corporations and Financial Services Division’s Market Integrity Unit last year as part of the graduate intake and loves the challenging work environment.

“Working at Treasury is similar to chess,” he said. “It’s quite complex. I find it interesting.”

He said the Department had been very supportive of his exploits, allowing him time off to compete in events.

Read more in Treasury checks mate with chess title.

Monday, June 15, 2009

More NSW Open Pics

I've posted just a few more photos from last weekend's NSW Open. These ones were taken with an old Canonet QL17 and using an Ilford XP2 Super 400 B&W film. I have to say, I really like that old school feel!

Here's a shot of Hu - Broekhuyse which eventually finished a draw.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Canterbury Winter Swiss

The Canterbury Chess Club in Sydney will host this winter tournament starting from tomorrow evening and running until 3 August. Play will take place at the Lakemba Services Memorial Club, Corner Quigg Street and The Boulevarde.

View Larger Map

Note that to allow for play in the current grade match competion the second round will be played on June 29 and not June 22. Time control will be 60 minutes plus 30 secs. per move.

Under-18 players must be accompanied by adults.

For other details please contact Geoff Britton at G dot britton at iinet dot net dot au.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fischer's Stuff Sold

From Macauley, "It was all over in seconds. Bobby Fischer’s library filled three glass cases in on the Mezzanine level of Bonhams nd Butterfields auction house on Madison Avenue in New York. The hundreds of chess books in various languages, issues of chess-related periodicals, proofs for Fischer’s My 60 Memorable Games, and assorted notes and other miscellanea were sold in one lot for a “hammer price” of USD $50,000, plus a $11,000 Bonhams commission."

He also has a video!

Video courtesy of Chess.FM

Read more in Sold: Fischer's Library.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Where is Max?

It's pleasant to receive a little surprise from time to time. The other week I asked whatever happened to former Aussie Junior chess champ Max Leskiewicz. Well, it turns out that the man is an avid reader of TCG! He wrote in to say a few words and also to reveal a couple of tidbits.

Now retired from chess for 10 years, Mr Leskiewicz has since earned himself a PhD in law from the University of Edinburgh and is actually embarking on a second one, this time in Philosophy, at the University of Lausanne, in Switzerland.

From what I can gather courtesy of Google, Mr Leskiewicz is quite a prolific writer on legal matters. Check it out. And yes, he is now known as Maksymilian Del Mar.

Australian Championships 1998
Reilly, Tim
Leskiewicz, Max

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O 6. Be3 Nbd7 7. Nh3 e5 8. d5 Nh5 9. g4 Nf4 10. Nxf4 exf4 11. Bxf4 Ne5 12. Be2 f5 13. gxf5 gxf5 14. Qd2 fxe4 15. Bg5 exf3 16. Bxd8 fxe2 17. Qxe2 Bg4 18. Qxe5 Bxe5 19. Rg1 h5 20. h3 Raxd8 21. hxg4 h4 22. O-O-O h3 23. Ne4 h2 24. Rgf1 Kg7 25. Rf5 Rxf5 26. gxf5 Rh8 27. Nf2 Rh4 28. b3 Rf4 29. Nh1 Rg4 30. a4 Rg2 31. Re1 Rg1 32. Rd1 Rg2 33. Re1 Kf6 34. Rd1 a5 35. Re1 b6 36. Rd1 Bf4+ 37. Kb1 Kxf5 0-1

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Hanks and Breyer's Problem

In case you missed it, Canberra's Bill Egan made a little comment to my post about John Hanks' passing. It's worth quoting here separately:

In his Canberra Times obituary Ian Rogers mentions Hanks' propensity to write "20-page letters" on issues that attracted his attention. Not quite 20, but I received a densely written three-pager commenting on my having, as Editor of the Bulletins for the 2000 Australian Open in Canberra, presented the final position from Breyer's famous 50 move retro problem as a draw. Amongst much other interesting information re the history of the Open, John gently chided me: " I mention purely (underlined) as a matter of interest, that your remarks re [the diagram] are not really accurate. I can accept that in the position 50 moves with no capture or pawn moves have been played. But that does not (double underline) make it a draw. All it means is that White can (before making a move) claim a draw whilst on Black's last move, before moving, he too could claim a draw. As it is, White to move will win with ease." John then went on to provide some analysis to support his claim, finishing, "All draws have to be agreed or claimed - the sole exception is stalemate."

I think this provides a good example of John's courteous but firm commitment to accuracy. I'm not sure if it "cooks" Breyer's composition, which was a remarkable concept from any perspective.

And thanks to Bill I can present here that problem composed by Gyula Breyer which was published in the Chess Amateur of February 1922. Using retro analysis, prove that this position is drawn by virtue of the "50-move rule".

Monday, June 08, 2009

Smerdon Earns GM Title

He's done it! IM David Smerdon has finally earned the GM title after just 5 rounds in the 7-round NSW Open this long weekend. He posted enough wins, including one over IM Gary Lane, to gain the required number of FIDE rating points and reach the magic 2500.

To add that little cherry on top of his grandmastership, David then also went on to actually win the event and go home with the $1,250 winner's cheque. His total tally was 6.5 points from seven games.

Top placers were as follows:

6.5 Smerdon
5.5 Lane, Bjelobrk, Canfell
5.0 Rej, Ayvazyan, Ambrus, Illingworth, Xie, Charles

In the final round Smerdon led the field with 5.5 points while four of his nearest pursuers were on 5. Therefore, a win in the last round against Tomek Rej was vital. Sydneysider Tomek, however, had other ideas. Tomek pressed and pressed, eventually even causing Australia's latest GM into severe time trouble.

Smerdon - Rej, 1-0

I suppose feeling the extra pressure over-the-board and annoyed by the ridiculously loud chatter that emanated from the arbiters' desk, Smerdon had just about enough. He let loose with a thundering, "Ssshhh....Oi, shut up!"

NSW Op 2009
Smerdon, David
Rej, Tomek

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Bc5 5. Be3 Qf6 6. c3 Nge7 7. Qd2 a6 8. Bc4 O-O 9. O-O b5 10. Be2 Bb7 11. f4 d6 12. Kh1 Rad8 13. b4 Ba7 14. Bf3 h6 15. a4 Ne5 16. axb5 Nc4 17. Qe2 Nxe3 18. Qxe3 Rfe8 19. Qd2 Ng6 20. Nc6 Bxc6 21. bxc6 Qxf4 22. Qxf4 Nxf4 23. Rxa6 Bb6 24. g3 Nd3 25. Nd2 Ne5 26. Be2 Ra8 27. Rfa1 Rxa6 28. Rxa6 Kf8 29. Nb3 Nxc6 30. Bb5 Nb8 31. Ra8 Nd7 32. Ra6 Nb8 33. Ra8 Nd7 34. Ra1 Rd8 35. Bxd7 Rxd7 36. c4 c6 37. Ra6 Rb7 38. Na5 Bxa5 39. bxa5 Ke7 40. Rxc6 Ra7 41. c5 Rxa5 42. Rc7+ Ke6 43. cxd6 Re5 44. Kg2 Kxd6 45. Rxf7 Rxe4 46. Rxg7 Re6 47. g4 Ke5 48. Rf7 Ra6 49. Kg3 Rg6 50. Kh4 Ke4 51. h3 Ke5 52. Kh5 Ra6 53. Rh7 Kf4 54. Rxh6 At this moment Rej became visibly upset and actually lightly banged the table with a clinched fist. He tried one more move, but it was pointless. 54...Ra5+ 55. Kh4 1-0

Exactly a week ago I posted the classic game Viner - Crakanthorp, a game that involved a piece sac on the square g5. FM Greg Canfell must have surely paid attention to that one. Witness what he did to Pinoy-Aussie Raul Samar.

NSW Op 2009
Canfell, Gregory
Samar, Raul

1. e4 e6 2. d3 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. Ngf3 c5 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 Be7 7. O-O O-O 8. e5 Nd7 9. Re1 Qc7 10. Qe2 b5 11. h4 a5 12. Nf1 b4 13. Bf4 Ba6 14. Ne3 Nb6 15. Ng5 h6 16. Qh5 hxg5 17. hxg5 g6 18. Qh6 Rfc8 19. Ng4 Nd7 20. Nf6+ Nxf6 21. exf6 Bf8 22. Qh3 e5 23. Bf3 Nd4 24. Kg2 Nf5 25. Rh1 Nh6 26. Qxh6 1-0

For his efforts, Canfell gets a cheque for $510 (along with Lane and Bjelobrk) while the 6 playes with 5 points received $75 apiece. Pinoy readers will be interested to know that Kimberley Cunanan was also in the event and she finished with 4.5 points, enough for $135.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Antiques Derail Open Trip

On my way to the NSW Open in Parramatta yesterday, I decided to stop by at a couple of my favourite antique shops. There was plenty of time anyway, I thought. I never made it to Parramatta.

Instead, I spent a few good hours checking out some old cameras (being a novice collector) and ended up buying my first ever Olympus Trip 35's! Two of them in one afternoon. Happy about those. Then popping into the second antique shop, I spotted an old Yashica Electro 35 GSN! Gorgeous and in perfect condition, so I bagged that too.

I'll try and make it to Parra tomorrow - probably test driving one of my new old cameras. The Yashica's 45mm f/1.7 lens should work perfectly in low light and all for less than $100!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Big Opens This Weekend

This weekend is, of course, the big NSW Open tournament in the historic city of Parramatta. IM David Smerdon will lead a powerful line up there that includes famous author IM Gary Lane and the 2009 Aussie Open co-winner IM George Xie. Our Pinoy readers will be interested to know that RP will be represented by current Sydney resident FM Jesse Sales.

Sadly I won't be playing. Instead, I'll be indulging in some food and vino at the Manly Food & Wine Festival on Sunday. However, I'll definitely be dropping in tomorrow for the first day of play.

Over down south in Victoria, the Box Hill CC will host their own big state open. That, too, features in impressive list of combatants as no less than English grandmaster Gawain Jones leads the field.

Good luck to all players.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Barcenilla is New Pinoy GM

Pinoy chess fans rejoiced today as they learned of news that yet another of their countrymen has become the next grandmaster. Campaigning in the Copper State International Chess Championships in Arizona, USA - international master Rogelio Barcenilla beat GM Zviad Izoria of Georgia to bag his third and final GM norm.

That game is available on the USCF website.

Barcenilla will be the Philippines' 12th grandmaster. The others are Wesley So, Eugene Torre, JP Gomez, Mark Paragua, Rogelio Antonio Jr., Darwin Laylo, Joseph Sanchez, Bong Villamayor, Jayson Gonzales, Nelson Mariano and the late Rosendo Balinas Jr.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Chess, Music and Dance

It's on again at the Old Boys Chess Club. This just in.
Bunker down this Thursday in your favorite home away from home as your friends at ***CHESS CLUB*** take you on another trip into the world of chess and vaguely chess related activities.

Get your moves down to El Hutcho Relaxo and witness the only respectable* way to spend a Thursday night.

Your dear friends at ***CC*** have the delicious cream of the local scene. This month, king your fellow chess thugs to the sounds of....

A veteran on the UK and Sydney party scene, Mashy P takes the very best in Dance Hall, Electro, Grime, World Beats, hip hop and reggeton, shakes them, drinks them and then regurgitates it into your ears...in a way that you like.
Key words: Vibe Tribe, Ohms not Bombs, Uberlingua, Trash n Treasure, Vector Punk, Reclaim The Streets, renegade Parade, Tortuga and Mekanarky. http://www.myspace.com/shmedia

Reintoducing the tallest man in Dub Step...BFG brings it large with impeccable mixing and track selection that is sure to vibrate your pieces off the board, rendering ***CHESS CLUB*** in to just ***CLUB***. BOOM!

An old ***CC*** favorite, Lego can be scene any where from the Trash n Treasure parties to DIY Markets to Kooky to Loose Ends to a gutter near you at 4AM...Trash-Core at its finest.

So get up and get down to Hutch-Town. 7PM till always.

Sound: Snowball "Jermy" Dudley
Lighting: BarryCore & ***CC***
Snack attacts: Fry-Master Steve.
Chess: you(z)

BYO board and cold coins from your hips to our hat. dig.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

John Hanks Passes Away

We've just learnt of this sad news that Australian chess legend John Hanks has passed away in Melbourne. Victorian player Malcolm Pyke made the announcement yesterday afternoon on Chess Chat.

I will try an update this post with a couple of Mr Hanks' games later tonight.

UPDATE: As promised, below is a game by John Hanks - a win over fellow Victorian S. Lazare at the 1948/49 Australian Championships in Melbourne. Hanks actually finished second in that tournament, scoring 9.5 points from 13 games, behind CJS Purdy who tallied 11.5 points overall.

On Hanks, M.E. Goldstein, reporting about the tournament in Chess World (February, 1949) wrote: 
The runner-up, 22-years-old John Hanks, surprised players who had failed to realise the advance he has made recently, or judged his form by his result in the Victorian Championship in which he was out of practice. Well versed in opening lore, he can play a solid positional game or a dashing sacrificial attack (as against Armstrong and Lazare). Moreover, he is undoubtedly the best end-game player of the rising generation, as witness his flawless technique against Bowman and Shoebridge.
The following game occurred in round 10 and was judged winner, by a certain Mr. T.J. Edwards, of the first brilliancy prize in the tournament. (The second brilliancy prize went to Watson - Karoly, 1-0).

Annotations, including the symbols, are by C.J.S. Purdy but here I quote only the critical parts. I have also left intact the old school game notation within his text. For example, "N-B1" as a move for Black would be "Nf8" in our lingo.

1948/49 Australian Chess Championships
Hanks, John N
Lazare, Stefan

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Bg5 Nbd7 5. e3 c6 6. cxd5 exd5 7. Bd3 Bd6 8. Qc2 h6 9. Bh4 O-O 10. Nge2 Re8 11. O-O-O Qa5 12. h3 b5 13. g4 g5 14. Bg3 Bf8 15. h4 Bg7 16. hxg5 Nxg4 17. Bh7+ Kh8 18. gxh6 Bxh6 19. Rxh6!! "!!" given by CJS Purdy who then goes on to say, "A fine sacrifice based on the positional idea that a fianchetto Bishop is a great bulwark, also to bring in White's other Rook with a bang, and giving no time yet for...N-B1". 19...Nxh6 20. Rh1 Kg7

Position after 20...Kg7

21. Rxh6!! Purdy again: "And this second sacrifice, besides making the game a memorable one, had the practical advantage over the solid 21. R-N1 (which seems to win) of offering White a sure perpertual check if he found a nigger in the woodpile". [TCG: Yes, you saw the "N" word. The phrase even has a Wikipedia reference]. 21...Kxh6 22. Qf5 Kg7 23. Bh4? Purdy: "Courageously burning his boats. He had a perpetual with 23. Q-N5 ch, etc., but the proper winning move, as pointed out by Koshnitsky, was 23. N-B4!, introducing another piece into the attack." 23...Re6 24. Nf4 Rh6 25. Nh5+ Rxh5 26. Qxh5 Nf8?? Purdy: "An oversight in clock trouble leading to a pretty finish. After 26...Q-B2, the best chance, White again has a perpertual check but also a probable win by 27. N-K2! - again the motif of introducing new force rather than moving pieces already engaged in the attack." 27. Bf6+! Kxf6 28. Qe5# Purdy: "The error on move 23, which might have lost the game, spoils the brilliancy from an artistic standpoint but it was a most pleasing specimen of adventurous chess. Lazare's failure to proceed with his own attack on move 13 was very unlike him." 1-0

Monday, June 01, 2009

Brilliancies from Down Under

(NOTE: TCG received a complimentary copy of the book, Australian Chess Brilliancies, for this review).

Chess books of the game collection category – best games, most instructive, most beautiful, whatever – are always beset with an obvious problem. That is, the difficulty in selecting which games to include in the first place. For the author it is a challenge firstly of defining some rules and hopefully persuading the reader to agree. And that’s without mentioning the sheer volume of games to examine, some of which lying dormant in old magazines. Such was the enormous task that author Kevin Casey set out to do.

The ex-American who now resides in the northern Australian state of Queensland has recently published a book entitled, "Australian Chess Brilliancies – Creative Attacking Chess from Down Under". In it Kevin, himself a master level player and, would you believe, an ex-champion of Alaska (1980 and 1981) presents 29 games (this odd number is unexplained) which he describes as “some of the finest and most creative attacking games ever produced by Australian chess players”. A pretty big claim if ever there was one!

But first, what exactly is a “brilliancy”? According to Casey it is “a game which features spectacular attacking play, unexpected sacrifices, stunning moves and a very high level of creative imagination.” To make his point clear he cites Polugaevsky – Nezhmetdinov, 0-1, 1958 Soviet Championships and Cifuentes – Zviagintsev, 0-1, 1995 Wijk aan Zee as examples of this definition, then includes a couple more that came close but no cigar. These latter examples are described as “error-rich-almost-brilliancy”, “pretty-but-not-really-necessary-sacrifice” and the “might-have-been”. Also out were games played at rapid and slower time controls.

In a prepared Q&A Casey says, “I was really quite brutal in the culling process. I waded through an absolute ton of games, many virtually unknown (even to Australians), and extracted a scant few of the very best. From the beginning my aim was quality, not quantity. I place a high value on soundness, stalwart defense, sheer ingenuity and originality in the attacking concepts. And yes, a stunning and totally unexpected move that rocks you back in your seat while you’re playing over the game certainly has its place too.”

So how did he do? Very well, in fact, but I have a couple of complaints.

Right from the content page I couldn’t help notice that among the whole collection of twenty-nine games chosen by Casey only 2 were from the 70's, 6 from the 80's, 13 from the 90's and 8 from the noughties. That’s right – none from the 19th Century to the 1960’s! Surely, I thought, the great champions of the past must have produced at least one or 2 gems that satisfied Mr Casey's demanding standards. Well, evidently not. Names like Jamieson, Koshnitsky, Hamilton and Steiner are nowhere to be seen. But hey if they didn’t play a brilliant game according to our author’s definition, then I suppose that’s fair enough.

Still, I really must show this little old classic. Either it was never considered or made it only as far as Mr Casey’s cutting floor. J. Stegert, in the January 1968 issue of Chess in Australia, considered it as “possibly the greatest match-game ever contested between Australian masters.”

Australian Championship Match, 1913 (7th Game)
Viner, William S
Crakanthorp, Spencer

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Qxd4 Nc6 4. Qe3 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Bd2 O-O 7. O-O-O Re8 8. Qg3 Nxe4 9. Nxe4 Rxe4 10. Bf4 d6 11. Bd3 Re6 12. Nf3 h6 13. c3 Bc5 14. h4 Qf6 15. Ng5 Re7 16. Ne4 Qe6 17. Bg5! Re8 (17... hxg5?? 18. hxg5+-) 18. Rde1 Ne5 19. Bc2 Qg4 20. Qh2 hxg5? Finally grabbing the piece, but he should have preferred (20... Bb6) 21. hxg5 At last, the white player has what he wanted - the opening of the h file. And now, to the finishing touches. 21...Kf8

Position after 21...Kf8

22. f4 Ng6 23. Qh8+!! Nxh8 24. Rxh8+ Ke7 25. Rxe8+ Kd7 26. Ba4+ (W. Viner gives 26. Nf6+ as quicker, for now 26...gxf6 (26... Kc6 27. Nxg4) 27. Ba4+ b5 28. Bxb5+ c6 29. R1e7#) 26... b5 27. Bxb5+ c6 28. Nf6+ Kc7 29. Nxg4 cxb5 30. R1e7+ Kb6 31. Rxf7 a5 32. Rxg7 b4 33. Nf6 1-0

Howzat for “spectacular attacking play, unexpected sacrifices, stunning moves and a very high level of creative imagination”?

My second complaint is that two games just didn’t really feel like they fitted in. These are Solomon – Harris, 1-0, 1998 Hervey Bay Open (game 7) and Georgiev – Rogers, 0-1, 1993 Biel (game 15). Both these games, while definitely blessed with beautiful finishes, just seem a bit, I don’t know, simplistic. In the Solo game the attack is a familiar routine, while in the Rogers encounter the Aussie GM delivers a Bishop sac that immediately forces surrender. So what? Big deal.

Finally, and this is a minor complaint, Casey could at least have included a list of sources - be they databases, books, journals or whatever. I tend to look at this to compare notes on the analysis, for example, or just to see what books might actually be worth purchasing for my collection.

All that said the rest of this book is a fine collection of truly wonderful contests, gorgeous sacrifices and ultimately, brilliant games. Plenty a times we have seen Rogers – Milos, 1-0, 1992 Manila Olympiad, but here it certainly belongs in Casey’s book. And if you cannot get enough of this game’s inner secrets check out also GM Christiansen’s discussion over on ICC (user credentials required).

There is also Reilly – Leskiewicz wherein black, the Aussie junior champ in 1997 (whatever happened to him?), stuns his opponent with the most unexpected Queen sacrifice. Not one to be outdone as far as Queen-sacs go, check out game 24 where we see the then 15-year old IM David Smerdon abandoning his Lady against no less than IM Stephen Solomon. That epic battle is amply narrated by Casey and I must thank him for this as it's the first time that I've seen this game. An amazing encounter.

Now I understand that IM Greg Hjorth is back in the country after many years of teaching at UCLA. What better way for us to acquaint ourselves with his chess talents than with game 14, Hjorth – Johansen, 1-0, 1983 Commonwealth Championships? There’s a lesson there about long diagonals.

All in all this is a book worthy of inclusion in anyone's chess library. Given the rarity of books about Aussie chess, local readers should simply buy this as a matter of instinct. And foreigners, too, could also learn something about chess Down Under. Casey in his prepared Q&A: "This is a games collection rather than an instructive chess manual, so its primary role is entertainment and as an historical record of great Australian chess games."

Finally, let's take a look at a game from the book. While there are certainly many to choose from, this one is my fave.

Brisbane CC Championships 1998
Flynn, Chris
Stawski, Nicholas

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxd5 Qxd5 11. Nxc6 Qxc6 12. O-O-O Be6 13. Kb1 Qa4 14. a3 Rac8 15. Bd3

Position after 15. Bd3

15...Rc3 16. Qc1 Rb3 17. cxb3 Qxb3 18. Bc4 Bxc4 19. Qc2 Qa2+ 20. Kc1 Bb3 21. Qb1 Bxb2+ 22. Kd2 Bc1+ 23. Kxc1 Rc8+ 0-1

Local readers can purchase this book directly from the publisher by sending a cheque or money order to Kimberley Publications, P.O. Box 6095, Upper Mount Gravatt QLD 4122. Total cost is $19.95 plus $3.00 postage and handling ($22.95 total). Buyers from overseas can contact kimpub at bigpond dot net dot au.

Tao Becomes a Fellow

A couple of years ago, South Australia's Terrence Tao bagged for himself the very prestigious Fields Medal. Now he has a new honour to add to his CV. In April, the UCLA academic was elected to the class of 2009 American Academy of Arts & Sciences fellows for his work and contributions to society at large. Read more here.