Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Shirov in Video Report

Here's a video report from the New Tang Dynasty Television of the Gold Coast Chess Festival. Shirov is quoted as saying, "It is exciting to play this kind of sharp chess and create fire on the board."

Kasparov: Chess in a Tragic State

Macauley has an interesting interview with Kasparov post the K-K Match in Valencia. Here's a bit I managed to transcribe of Kasparov speaking.

At the end of the day I think the match is a success, not only for me personally but mainly for the game of chess.

Chess is really in a tragic state now because while 25 years ago, even 15 years ago we saw chess being played in the big cities and still being followed by the mainstream press, now it's quite an obscure game. And it's a fault primarily of FIDE and also of the leading players who did nothing to promote the interest of chess.

Listen to the audio recording here on the Chess.FM site.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Press for First

Canberran and my fellow blogger Shaun Press bagged first place in the just completed Solomon Islands International. From his Facebook status update he scored 7.5 from nine games. (And who else should congratulate him first on Facebook, but none other than Nigel Short?)

I can't imagine that anything too exciting happens much in the Solomons, but over the weekend it seems that the visiting chessers were treated to some C-grade Aussie celebrity. None other than talented swimmer Stephanie Rice dropped in on Honiara apparently to promote child vaccination.

No doubt she got a couple of those blokes excited.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Trap. Dominate. F**k!

Over the past week we saw the two great K's reprise their rivalry in Valencia with the much younger Kasparov showing that he still "got game". Kasparov, a wannabe politician, won the match 9-3 overall.

Perhaps out of consideration for their busy schedules and advancing age, the two combatants were spared the long slog of a classical match-up. The games were at rapid and blitz time controls. This provoked Englishman IM Malcolm Pein to observe, "It is a little bit like one day cricket gaining pre-eminence over Test cricket,” and further quoted by the Tele as saying, "As a little bit of a traditionalist I am just a little concerned with losing the purity of the slow game where you get the highest level of chess."

That, however, is not our quote of the past week. Well, it's a sort of old quote but I only found it today!

Courtesy of Bill Prince, writing in of all places, I stumbled upon a gem by GM Nigel Short:

Finally, on the radio this morning, I heard a fascinating discussion about speed chess, and in particular, the difference between "blitz chess" and "bullet chess". Apparently, the former requires all moves to be made within 10 minutes, the latter in one. Not surprisingly one of the fine minds being interviewed on the subject found bullet chess "rather stressful".

Anyway, it reminded me of a brilliant piece Julian Barnes once wrote about the young British chess tyro Nigel Short, who, when asked to explain his methodology, refrained from the expected liturgy of chess-speak, to describe it thus: "Trap. Dominate. F---"

Again, genius.

Genius, indeed. Nigel Short, too, shows that, like his erstwhile Russian rival Kasparov, he still got game. The Englishman beat Ukrainian Zahar Efimenko, 3.5-2.5, in their match that took place last week.

UPDATE: An anonymous poster tells us that the correct quote may, in fact, be "DTF, standing for Dominate, Trap, F--- (in that order)".

GM Shirov in Australia

The Gold Coast seems to be the one place Down Under where super grandmasters drop in. Back in June we saw none other than GM Lev Aronian. And this weekend, we have GM Alexey Shirov. The Spaniard is currently a guest at the 2009 Gold Coast Festival.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Chess Tourney in the Islands

The Solomon Islands International tournament, which was quickly put together by Oceania Zone boss Gary Bekker, began yesterday in the SI capital of Honiara. There are four Aussies including my fellow blogger Shaun Press, FM Lee Jones, Kerry Stead and FM Brian Jones. For the tiny island nation, a tournament like this seems like a big deal. Hec, a couple of the Aussies even made it to today's front page of the local Solomon Star News.

Shaun should have daily coverage over on his blog. I'd link to the Solomon Island news item, but that website is so ridiculously slow that I won't bother.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Game to Rival Chess

Chess players love strategy games. Quite apart from chess, just check out the number of WoW games (on laptops, obviously) that go on in hallways or analysis rooms during any tournament. And it's not just among the juniors either, as WoW is equally popular among adults.

Now, there could be yet another game that will distract chess players' attention. It's called Arimaa. Arimma fans even have a world champion and the two-time winner Karl Juhnke said, "Arimaa is a modern abstract strategy game with potential to rival the majesty of classics such as chess and Go."

Read more in Chess Reborn Beyond Computer Comprehension.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Coach Makes Geek Show

Chess in Australia is once again set to have its own 15-minute of fame on mainstream TV. Well, sort of. Remember Beauty & The Geek? Canberra-based chess coach, Jeremy Reading, has made it!

Since I have no idea who this guy is, you'll have to spot him here:

See Channel 7's official programme site for more details.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Searching for Fischer's Father

A fascinating article by Peter Nicholas for the LA Times.

How was Bobby affected by the secrecy and the contradictions surrounding his father's identity? What was it like for him to learn that the man whose name he bore was not his father -- and to find out only after Nemenyi's death that this mysterious figure with the thick accent was his flesh and blood?

There is no way to know. But these experiences may help explain Fischer's venomous anti-Semitism and his denial of his own Jewish ancestry.

As a teenager, he told a magazine writer he was Jewish only on his mother's side. Years later, he wrote to the Encyclopedia Judaica asking that he not be listed as a Jew.

Read more in Chasing the king of chess.

Giant Chess Sets Invade

It is not only Canberra City (the Australian capital) that has recently had a giant chess set installed right in its centre. London, too, features a giant chess set, bigger than the one in Canberra I imagined, right bang in Trafalgar Square.

Photo from

Dubbed "The Tournament", it's actually a creation of Spanish designer Jaime HayĆ³n and is a part of the on-going London Design Festival.

From the Art Daily:
The chess pieces are supported by a wooden base on castors so that they can be moved around easily, and there is a metal frame within the ceramic form to provide stability. The chess board is made of mosaic glass tiles created by Italian tiling specialists, Bisazza. Rising above the giant tiled chessboard are elevated platforms where players sit in large, high-backed chairs directing their pieces around the board. The London Design Festival are actively encouraging the general public to apply to take part in the chess games and come down and play or simply watch and enjoy this community spectacle.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Promoting Chess in Australia

There's a so-called chess guru down in Mexico who reckons that Australian chess must be losing something like 5000 players per year. Yes, you read that right: five thousand players! Heaven only knows how he came up with that number and, more importantly, where we'll find the people to fill the gap. Well, perhaps in the nation's nursing homes.

According to our guru:

This is an area which one would suspect has great potential for the future. We keep hearing about the aging population – more and more people with time and money on their hands looking for something to do. They’re less likely to be physically capable of taking up basketball, ice-hockey or football… but want a challenging and social ’sporting’ environment. Plus take into account the benefits of chess; slowing dementia, preventing Alzheimer’s, keeping the mind active, combating depression etc.

But to promote chess, I've got another idea. Actually, I borrow it from the May 1951 issue of Chess World. A ball. You know, dancing. These events were apparently once regular fixtures on the chess calendar. Hard to believe.

A certain Denis Howard wrote in.

Older hands say that he former chess balls in Sydney were memorable events - the sort any player of dancing age (15 to 80) could not bear to think of having missed - but the organisers are confident of eclipsing even those efforts in splendour and jollity.

All players who swing the light fantastic are requested to arrange parties - chiefly of non-players of course, but it is hoped that a good percentage of dinkum chessists will be present.

This will not be one of those emasculate affairs ending at midnight. Eight till one is the programme.

There you have it. Them oldies really knew how to party back in the day.

Friday, September 18, 2009

2009/10 Czech Tour Info

There is nothing, I think, that anyone of us would like to do more than simply packing up, like right now, and head off to Europe to play chess. And there's not a nicer place to drop into than the Czech Republic. For those lucky enough to do exactly that, the following info that I've just received from Dr Jan Mazuch will be useful.

Below are the relevant links for the 2009/10 Czech Tour.

24.-31.10. 2009 10th LIBEREC OPEN (Liberec hotel)

14.-21.11. 2009 3rd SOUTH BOHEMIA OPEN (Cesky Krumlov, Vltava hotel)

5.-12.12. 2009 1st PILSEN OPEN (Central hotel)

By the way, when in Prague do check out the Reduta Jazz Club. For affordable but well-equipped accomodation that offers a little bit more than the average hostel, take a look at Miss Sophies.

And if you're looking to check out the local strip joints, my suggestion is to stay away. That is, unless you have plenty of cash.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Anderson Chess Collection

I missed this one while in Melbourne - the Anderson Chess Collection in the State Library of Victoria.

This collection was originally donated to the Library in 1956 by Magnus Victor Anderson, a Melbourne accountant and keen chess player. Anderson personally looked after the collection for the next 10 years, purchasing books including a selection of rare early publications, writing out catalogue cards and answering various requests from the general public. By the time he died in 1966, the Anderson Chess Collection had expanded from 1500 books to over 6000 volumes.

Well, that's another reason to pop down there some time soon.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Photos from MCC Allegro

I've added a handful of photos from the weekend's MCC Allegro event. Below is a shot of a whole bunch of kids going about with their own mini comp, while the main allegro tournament took place right next door.

Inside the Melbourne Chess Club

The MCC is very nicely located right in Fitzroy, just off one of the trendiest strips in the country, Brunswick St. There are pubs, bars and plenty of shopping all around.

When in Melbourne I recommend a stay at the Hotel Enterprize. The joint is cheap and centrally located, just a short 3-minute stroll from the Southern Cross railway station. And for a night out, pop into the Red Violin.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tiviakov Rocks Dutch Champs

Peter Doggers, editor in chief over at, has just emailed a bunch of us about this most stunning development that has emerged in the currently running Dutch Championships. The top seed GM Sergey Tiviakov withdrew from the event after just the third round.

After the opening ceremony, which was held last Friday, Sergei Tiviakov walked over to his townsman Sipke Ernst, his opponent in the last round, and offered him a draw. Ernst accepted, but then Tiviakov added that he could’t play on Sunday, because he had to play in the Croatian league on Monday. Ernst suggested him to contact the arbiter, which Tiviakov did. At that point the arbiter and tournament director didn’t object (yet).

After the third round (Tiviakov had drawn with Bitalzadeh, lost to Swinkels and beaten Miedema) the organizers told him that they couldn’t allow it. As stated in the players’ contract, which was signed by Tiviakov, all participants have to attend the opening, closing and all rounds. If he wouldn’t appear in the playing hall, his game would be declared lost by default. Tiviakov immediately decided to withdraw from the tournament, which thus lost its top seeded player.

To my mind, that Tiviakov had a problem with his scheduling isn't quite as important an issue as the whole pre-arrangement of his last round result with opponent Sipke Ernst. We complain about non-fighting draws, but this, well this one must surely cut more deeply into the sensibilities of chess fans every where. How is this practice even allowed?

Read more in Sergey Tiviakov: "I had no choice but to leave the Championship"

Monday, September 14, 2009

PE for the Mind

Lindsay, from Time Out magazine's New York branch, sent me a chess story that appeared in their issue no. 47. I quite like like this notion of chess being "PE for the mind".

“A lot of parents know their children are not going to be grandmasters,” says Jerry Nash, scholastic director of the U.S. Chess Federation. What these adults hope is that chess will be PE for the mind, strengthening the skills their kids use in the classroom.

Indeed, that’s the guiding principle behind New York’s biggest chess program, Chess-in-the-Schools (CIS), which offers free in-class chess instruction at 76 elementary and middle schools, reaching 20,000 kids. CIS has produced several national championship teams and inspired imitators in other local schools. It’s a scale of chess instruction matched nowhere else in the United States.

From "Chess for New York City Kids".

Sunday, September 13, 2009

GM Smerdon Breaks Simul Record

GM David Smerdon has just broken the Australian record for what he calls the "Most Consecutive Simultaneous Games". That is distinct from the usual kind of large simul, the Aussie record for which is actually held by IM Robert Jamieson (over 145 games).

Here's David explaining how he did it and the special reason behind it.

As part of a charity event called "Gimme Shelter", which was basically a big sleepout to raise money for homeless children, I was tasked to provide some entertainment through chess simuls. Beforehand, as it was clear I'd be going for a fair chunk of the evening, we tried to chase up the Aussie record for most consecutive simultaneous games. According to the Guinness world regulations for the record, one person can play any number of simultaneous boards, with players subbing in and out as games finish, so long as the simul continues without a break (and the 'simul master' scores more than 85%).

As far as anyone knows, Jamieson also held this (albeit less popular) record at 145 for the same simul. As well as Jamieson, I also checked with Graeme Gardiner, David Cordover and Shaun Press (who supplied the sets) - but happy to be proved wrong if in fact there's another record floating around somewhere. Anyway, the point of the evening was more to raise money for the cause than anything else (my simul was sponsored by MindGames, who donated towards the charity cause).

I played 156 games on 18 boards for five and a half hours. I won the first 155, but the last game, which finished at 2.30am, was a draw! As far as authenticity goes, I have signatures for each of the 156 games, as well as around a hundred witnesses...and everyone could play at least a bit - none of the games was a four move checkmate! - but to be fair, like I said, this probably isn't as impressive as the one-large-simul record anyway.

Apart from that chessic success, the effort also produced some $24,000 in donations. If you'd like to contribute, GM Smerdon's donation page is here.

Here's a press release with a picture of the record-breaking GM.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

TCG Beats FM

I could tell you about the bumpy landing, or the same sinister skies that greeted me this morning, the same ones that I left behind 5 years ago during my last visit; or I could tell you about all the beautiful women that roam around Melbourne's back alleys; I could tell you about the shopping on Chapel St, or maybe the civilised bar scene as well as the European style public transport system that leave Sydney's versions in abject shame.

No, I won't tell you about all those things that I see here on my visit to Melbourne.

The only news that matters today is this. Yours truly beat local FIDE master Michael Baron in the last round of the Melbourne Chess Club Saturday Allegro to share first place with 5.5 points from 7 games. I'm so excited that I can't even remember the name of my co-winner!

Anyway, we're off to the Gypsy Bar, the event's very kind and very appropriate sponsor.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Arianne: Chess Players are Egoist

Our mate Macauley just sent us some nice info on an interview he did with none other than WIM Arianne Caoili, winner of the Women's Oceania Zonal a couple of months back.

"It was fun. Yeah, it was a lot of fun. And I was very relaxed because it's not like it's the world to me to go to the Women's World Championships, but hey I won! So, I was happy."

When asked if she's improved her game by spending time with current love Lev Aronian, the Aussie gave a big, "Yeah".

Listen to Macauley's podcast over on Arianne and Aronian.

If there's a disappointment about this interview it is that Ari seems to have now abandoned her jazz ambitions. That's a real pity! I'm pretty sure that somewhere in my CD collection is one Arianne Caoili belting out a few classics!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

2nd Lake Woodcroft Chess Festival

My old mate Leo Tenorio sent me this message today. He's got a new event happening.

On September 26, 2009 the Woodcroft community will be having its annual Lake Woodcroft festival. Thus, the Woodcroft Festival Committe in coordination of the Rooty Hill RSL Chess Club is organising the 2nd chess tournament as part of the annual festivities at Lake Woodcroft. Same as last year, the tournament's format is swiss system and the rate of play is 15 minutes each (Allegro) The tournament fee is only $10.00. The prize is the biggest in Australia as far as allegro tournament is concerned.

Venue is the Woodcroft Neighbourhood Centre, Woodcroft Drive, Woodcroft NSW. Registration is 10:00 am. Round 1 starts at 10:30 am. For more details of the tournament, please visit our website.

For those players travelling by train and coming from the Parramatta area, get off at Doonside station and exit to the right. Likewise, those coming from the Penrith area, get off at Doonside station and exit to the left.

If you are not familiar with the place and wish to be picked up from the station, just let us know so that a courtesy car will be coming to pick you up.

In case you're like me and have no idea where Woodcroft is, then this link to Google Maps might help.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Playing Chess to Survive

For some, chess is a bit more than just a game.

"It was a headache. It was just too much," says Jones, 51. As he recounts the events that led him to his present circumstances, there is little self-pity, only resignation over more hard times ahead. He spends most of his time at the park now, where he plays chess to make quick cash. Most games have small wagers, $1 to $5. Jones is apparently skilled at chess: He estimates his income at $50 to $100 a week, which he uses for food, cigarettes and beer.

From Politics Daily.

A Case of Miscommunication

Yesterday I said that all three local GMs have entered next year's national championships. It says so on the official website. Well, it now turns out that at least one of those GMs is a non-entrant! He's never been approached by the organisers, and never communicated in anyway with them. What the . . .

An email is on its way to the organisers to seek clarification. It's probably just a case of miscommunication.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

GMs Sign up for Champs

The upcoming 2010 Australian Chess Championships is shaping up to be a strong one. All three local grandmasters - Zhao, Johansen and Smerdon - have entered. They will be joined by former champ and world famous author IM Gary Lane (who played in this year's British Championships) as well as another GM-hopeful, Sydneysider IM George Xie.

For more check out the event's simple but nicely laid out website. Well, my only complaint is that I have to print and apparently send off some entry form. That's not very environmentally sensitive, now is it?

Tournament organisers take note. Open a Paypal account. Being an ebay addict ("eprey" to some), I just love Paypal. Makes life easy.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Pure Pawn

Yet another online chess playing site has entered the fray. This one has the odd name of "Pure Pawn" and I have one of the developers to thank for alerting me to its existence. However, the site is not just about playing chess. The makers have also just added a wiki.

For most of its existence we've been content to sit in our corner of the Internet, but a few months ago we realized that there are virtually no useful chess wikis to be found. There are resources to be found, of course, but they are fairly spread out, and typically reflect a single person's analysis.

With this in mind, we set out to make a different kind of chess wiki. We've joined a game board to each wiki page, which allow us to illustrate each of the steps in an opening, for example, or show a full professional game, while simultaneously allowing for wiki-style analysis by our members. We can also take advantage of the games that've been played on the site, allowing for a certain level of statistical breakdown, too. Of course, the project is brand new and still experimental, so we're limiting edits to site members, and content to openings, games, and examples.

Their main problem now is basically a lack of participants. The site describes itself as "a quickly growing community of chess enthusiasts who you can play against either in real-time or in a correspondence-style matches", but when I logged in, there was nothing happening! Actually, I think their other problem is the lack of PR and that, I guess, is where this post comes in.

So guys, check the site out. Could be interesting. Go to

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Mac vs PC Chess Set

Being a PC guy, I know which side my money's on. PC peripherals will bitch-slap those Macs any day.

H/T to

Friday, September 04, 2009

Frenchman's Groggy Loss

We've got a couple interesting tidbits to end the week. First up is an item from the Indian Express: "[A] top-rated French player had to concede his game after he couldn’t sit through his match against his opponent. Reason — he showed up drunk at the venue, slept through his moves several times over, and eventually had to be carried off."

It's a rare thing to happen, I think, but it does happen. Read more in Drunk chess star dozes off, concedes match at Kolkata Open.

And then there's this. Is that Hitler against Lenin?

Photo: BNPS

This, along with a chess set, is now being offered on sale and is estimated to fetch up to £40,000. Not bad. Except that there is just an itsy-bitsy little doubt over the picture's authenticity. The UK's Tele paper has the juice.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Grandmaster Not Geeky Enough

This is a bit of old news, but I kinda forgot to post it. Remember this one? Well, sadly, Australia's newly minted grandmaster wasn't quite geeky enough! He didn't make it.

But will there be a chess player on the Channel 7 show? No one can say. I think it's all a bit hush-hush and all that. I guess we'll just have to tune in. Can't wait.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

2009 NSW State Champs

Just received an email from FM Brett Tindall. His outfit, the Sydney Academy of Chess, will host this year's New South Wales Championships at their premises on Level 1, 30A George St in Burwood. The main section will be a 10 player RR while the reserves will be an open Swiss. More basic details below.

When: From 23 September – 25 November
Format: Championship 10 player round robin – Reserves Open Swiss
Ratings: Both events will be FIDE rated.

Championship: 1st $1,000 2nd $600
Reserves 1st 2nd 3rd Based on entries
Reserve winner eligible to play in next years Championship

Time Control:
90 minutes plus 30 seconds per move
Entry Fees: Championship $100 Reserves $80

Schedule: 7pm every Wednesday night. Make up games are to be played Monday night in advance at SAC