Friday, October 30, 2009

Arbiter Caught on Tape

Over on Chess Chat, they are talking about a very strange arbiter's decision that was caught on tape. Instead of resulting in, what seems to me, a likely win for black - the game ended peacefully. Take a look!

Pay close attention to the positions at 0.51 and 2.33.

Australian chess mandarin and deputy boss of the Australian Chess Federation, Bill Gletsos, summarises it neatly in his usual brutal style: "Total screw up by the arbiter".

Chess in Warrnambool

Well, of course, chess isn't nerdy. Kudos to those pupils over at the Warrnambool East Primary School!

3rd Asian Indoor Games

The powerhouses of Asian chess are once again gathering in the Hanoi, Vietnam for this year's Asian Indoor Games event. The Pinoy team will have the services of GM Paragua, GM "Joey" Antonio and WFMs Catherine Perena as well as Sherily Cua.

The Indonesians, on the other hand, have made an interesting decision. Instead heading for Vietnam, the Indon team will head for a tour of Europe in the hope of gaining tough practice for the 2011 Southeast Asian Games. The Jakarta Post has the details on this one.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Varshavsky Strikes Again?

The National Sudoku Championship event in the US finds itself in a minor controversy due to alleged cheating by a certain Eugene Varshavsky. What makes this of interest to chess fans is that back in 2006, a player in the World Open, in Philadelphia, was among a number of players also suspected of cheating. His name? Yep, Eugene Varshavsky!

NPR has the juice.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

FIDE Creates Player Market

These recent rule changes (taking effect from 1 July, 2010) governing the transfer of players from one federation to another has at last placed an "official" value on players' heads. Destination federations must now pay up, a so-called "compensation fee".

For example, a GM rated 2700+ will cost €50,000; it's €30,000 for anyone rated 2600 to 2699 and €10,000 for a GM rated below 2600.

So, for Serbian GM Dejan Antic, who so desperately wants to move Down Under - the ACF will now have to fork out as much as €10,000 or roughly AUD$16,200 based on today's exchange rates.

The new rule was suggested by FIDE General Secretary Ignatius Leong and when I asked him about that, his point seemed to me perfectly valid. Said he: "Several federations have been investing in developing their players and receive nothing when players transfer. Hence, the adopting federation pays a compensation fee to the previous federation. Federations adopting players should be ready to pay both transfer fee and compensation as otherwise they benefit from other federations' long-term investment and simply takeover a "ready product".

On one level all of this makes sense. For at last we now recognise, not only the value of players, but also the investments made by their originating federations.

Imagine, just for a moment, if GM Zong Yuan Zhao suddenly decides to head for China and play for that country: to rediscover his roots, as it were. Why should the ACF not receive compensation from the Chinese? That's €10,000, thank you very much. I can just imagine the ACF boss rubbing his hands with glee!

And there lies another side effect of these new rules. By placing values on players' heads, FIDE has effectively also created a market. Now it will be possible for federations to trade players between themselves. Of course - federations being federations, busy with admin matters and politics - someone else must worry about the buying and selling. Who else should fill that gap but brokers?

With these developments, I might just consider a whole new career. After all, who's going to stop me from adding a little extra % for moving one player from fed X to fed Y?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sachdev Walks Down the Aisle

I wonder if India has its own "Dancing with the Stars" program. They sooo need to get this chick Tanya Sachdev in that show. There's a real chess champion who can make chess utterly sexy. She's even managed to march down the catwalk for local Indian fashion design team Ashima-Leena.

When asked what it was like to walk down the ramp for the first time, Sachdev said, "After playing chess for so long I always thought walking the ramp would be easy, but now I can easily say that chess is much easier. Initially I had butterflies in my stomach, but once I was there, it was good fun."

From the Times of India.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Obama is World Champion

Adding to his totally undeserved Nobel Peace Prize, the big talking all promise messiah-like United States president, Barack Obama, stuns the world by becoming the next World Chess Champion. Yes, you read that right.

The World Chess Federation today announced that Barack Obama had become the world chess champion, nudging aside former undisputed champion Viswanathan Anand of India.

The news surprised some in the chess world, because Obama has never participated in tournament play. But FIDE officials said they felt certain Obama could become world champion if he ever decided to try.

Others were less surprised. Hungarian grandmaster Judit Polgar noted the world championship is just the latest in a string of triumphs for the American president.

From the Tampa Bay Online.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Paragua To Break World Record

The 500-board simul world record that is currently held by Iranian GM Morteza Mahjoob could soon be broken by Pinoy GM Mark Paragua. Marlon Bernardino reports that the Mark will aim for 600 boards!

Taking on mostly 600 patzers at the same time, well, that's always an achievement, ain't it. Frankly, GM Paragua, the first Pinoy to reach "Super Grandmaster" status as Bernardino reminds us, ought to try and return to that elite company. Stick to serious chess, not this sideshow stuff.

But then again, when you've got a giant like a certain Wesley So casting such a shadow, what can you do?

By the way, go to the FIDE database, select Philippines, list by rating, then search. I get zero results. Nada.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Queen to Play

Attention Mr Reading and his supporters, here's a film for you, "Queen to Play". From the Miami Herald:
Attention all nerds and former high-school science-club members: Finally, there is a movie that shares your belief that chess should be a magnet for hot babes and sex. The French drama Queen to Play (Joueuse) is more eloquent and dignified -- here, chess serves as a gateway for self-discovery -- although the end result is still sex.
If that Mr Reading reference is a bit lost on some, then read here. Anyway, I found this trailer. Looks good, must watch this one, I think.

Aussies in World Juniors

The World Juniors are on again, this time in Argentina. Melbourne's Sarah Anton and Canberra's Emma Guo are participating in the girls, while the sole Aussie boys representative is Sherab Guo-Yuthok.

The official website in English is here, but the page downloads so slowly that I recommend accessing the critical info from the Argentina chess fed homepage here. Live games are also available.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

FIDE Tax on Tardiness

Has the FIDE Presidential Board lost its mind?

Last week, the executive Board met in Halkidiki, Greece. The report on that meeting by Herman Hamers (available for download from the ECF website) notes the following discussion item:

A proposal by the Presidential Board that players who fail to appear at the start of a game, not only lose the game by default, but also give them a penalty of €500 (a second time €1.000 and a third time €2.000) met a lot of opposition and was taken back. Possibly it will return next year in the General Assembly.

Are they kidding? A €500 fine for being late? Heaven help the poorer teams who can barely scrape together their air fares!

Feel free to vent or say what you want here or over on the ECF forum where discussion was sparked off by John Saunders. As John said in that thread, "The zero default time rule is bad enough without FIDE trying to make money out of defaults. The fact that they should even propose such an absurd penalty shows that they are completely out of touch with most of the world's competition players."

Too right!

NZ Chess on Facebook

The New Zealand Chess Federation is taking a dip into a whole new way of connecting with their audience. They're on Facebook! Thanks to Helen Milligan, the NZCF now has a fan page on the popular social networking site.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Holey Wohly

My memory seems to keep telling me that I've heard of this before, but I can't be absolutely certain. Anyway thanks to's archives, I've just now read an article that talks about an opening named after Aussie international master Alex Wohl. It's the so-called "Holey Wohly".

Alex, of course, is a long-time campaigner who continues to have good successes. He topped a tourney in Wiesbaden this year and, more recently, the Munich Open (with a performance rating of 2600+).

Here's the article by Tony Miles on the Holey Wohly.

By the way, as I searched around the net for that Yermolinsky - Wohl game that Miles mentions in the article (and which is, I think, the same game mentioned here in the third paragraph), I also stumbled upon another system that happens to have the Miles/Wohl connection. This one will be particularly special to our South Australian readers. It's the "Adelaide Counter Gambit".

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Chess Notation

Thanks to reader 'Scott' for pointing this out.

A Mr. Slavoljub Stojanović, of Serbia, clearly had too much time on his hands as he apparently just woke up one day and decided to invent a whole new chess notation. Chessdom has the juice.

I've quickly scanned through the accompanying PDF document that describes this new chess notation and my first impression is that it's simply ridiculous!

I wonder if Mr. Slavoljub Stojanović is joking.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chess League in Indonesia

Percasi, the Indonesian Chess Association, is embarking upon an exciting development - a national league.

Local hero GM Utut Adianto was quoted as saying, "With the league, we expect chess players will take part in regular tournaments necessary to hone their skills while they can earn financial income from their game."

More from the Jakarta Post.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Up the Nerds

It's been a long while since we've had a such a rowdy little post - one that brought out a number of luminaries, including no less than legend IM Guy West. Even I hadn't expected it.

That little post, "Not a Real Geek", about Canberra chesser Jeremy Reading, who appears in the Channel 7 reality show Beauty & the Geek, turned out to be a touchy one. As you saw, I had a poll up accompanying that post and now the results are in!

On the proposition that "Jeremy is damaging chess", we had 48 voters, of whom 24 disagreed while 21 agreed; 3 people were undecided. Well, that's just too close to call if you ask me. This is very scientific stuff, you understand.

Anyway, we leave the last word to WIM Arianne Caoili, who is currently studying OS, in response to IM West:

However, my only real point is, that the whole nerd image will not make chess popular, which a lot of us are interested in doing.

Maybe, Guy, you have alluded to a very valid point: that chess will never be popular because the great unwashed aren't attracted to chess naturally.

Sad but true? I was hoping that one day, chess for young people would be a good distraction from mindless crap such as drugs etc, etc - a way to focus our energy into something useful. I just don't see this whole thing as good publicity to market chess to the great unwashed.

Maybe there will be other ways.

Other than that, go the nerds!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

SA Open Report

Back in June this year, I mentioned the South African Open. It was an innovative event in that it featured players from as far as Melbourne who participated and played their games via the online chess playing site,

Now months later, ChessCube have released a report and in it, Melbourne's IM Mirko Rujevic scores a special mention under the subheading, "Glitches":

There were only two major glitches.

On Wednesday 08‐07‐2009 in the Mirko Rujevic vs Solomons game (round 8) there was a mouse slip on move 21 by Solomons.

On move 21 Solomons, playing black, executed 21...Bxd5 on the physical board but then played 21...Bc6 on the computer. He immediately realized his mistake and called the attending arbiter while also using the online functionality (the online system notes the position and clock times of the players).

Unfortunately Rujevic also responded immediately to the move, obviously thinking he was winning and not seeing that Solomons had called the arbiter.

After the arbiters confirmed the situation between themselves, Solomons asked for a takeback which was accepted. However, for an unknown reason he could no longer move a piece after this ‐ it could be because Rujevic already replied to his mistake. This left no other course of action but to reconstruct the position, using the player's notation sheets and noted position, and reset the clock to the correct time using the noted times.

The report can be downloaded from this post on the ChessCube blog. Hat tip to Sarah Blake over there for bringing this to my attention.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Zatonskih Bags Championships

Really rubbing salt into Irina Krush's wound, international master Anna Zatonskih has clinched her second straight US women's championships title with a round to spare. This time there is absolutely no dispute. No playoffs. No controversial rulings. No tantrums.

Anna scored 8.5 points from nine games, dropping just a single draw to Camilla Baginskaite. Krush, on the other hand, managed just 5.5 points and even ended her run with a loss to Tatev Abrahamyan in the ninth and final round.

Meanwhile, over on the Wall Street Journal, Barbara Jepson argues that it's time we dumped women's chess titles.

The time has come to drop gender-segregated titles for women, which make even less sense today than when they were introduced in 1950 (WIM) and 1976 (WGM). "I don't see their benefit," says 25-year-old IM Irina Krush. "Women's titles are really a marker of lower expectations." Ms. Krush, part of the bronze-medal-winning American women's team at the 2008 Chess Olympiad in Dresden, tied for third place with 18-year-old rising star Alisa Melekhina in the U.S. Women's Championship, which concluded yesterday at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. Top-seeded IM Anna Zatonskih, 31, won first prize.

In some idealistic future, it might be best to phase out such separate tournaments for females as well. But those events remain valuable at this point for several reasons. "All-girls tournaments allow participants to make friends, share hotel-room expenses, and compete in Open tournaments," says two-time U.S. Women's Champion Jennifer Shahade, author of "Chess Bitch," an informative and entertaining history of women in the game. "So rather than take women away from mixed competition, I think they actually encourage them to compete in the end."

Read more in Abolish Women's Chess Titles.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

ACF Membership Scheme

In the 8 September, 2009 issue of the Australian Chess Federation newsletter - former Olympiad men's team captain Peter Parr proposed an ACF Membership Scheme. Actually, that proposal seems to be more about financial matters than an actual membership scheme as such.

Now in the latest newsletter we have the ACF's response through their veep, Denis Jessop.

Speaking of newsletters, also out is CAWA's October newsletter. The first positive news there is about Tristan Boyd winning yet another state championships. Congrats to him.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chess, A School of Silence

There's plenty of quite impressive and must-watch chess-related videos at the moment. Of course, ChessVibes has the juice on the recent discovery of Fischer memorabilia, presented in vid format, while one of our RP-based readers pointed our attention to this.

And now the NY Times features an old French doco film of Marcel Duchamp. It runs for nearly an hour and comes with subtitles.

Interviewer: "The problem with this game is that I came here to ask lots of questions, but chess makes you silent."

Duchamp: "Chess is a school of silence."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Kasparov, the Freedom Fighter

Nearly missed this one. It's Kasparov appearing on CNN just a few days ago. Kasparov: "Fighting for freedom in my country is the most important thing now".

If the video doesn't appear in this post, just click here instead.

2009 Canterbury CC Open

Starting tomorrow will be the 2009 Canterbury Chess Club Open to be held at the Lakemba Services Memorial Club (Corner Quigg Street and The Boulevarde, Lakemba). It's a 7-rounder spanning over 7 consecutive Monday evenings.

Time control will be 40 moves in 90 mins, then 30 mins to finish. $500 in prizes will be split over 3 rating divisions and 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in each (tie break).

For enquiries, contact Henk Jens on hwj at zip dot com dot au.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Krush Fails in Revenge Bid

Remember that incident last year when Irina Krush not only lost the game but also her marbles? Well, it's on again in the 2009 US Women's Championships and fans would have have eagerly awaited the all-important round 3 match up between last year's finalists. Will Irina exact revenge against Zatonskih?

Nope! This is what happened.

2009 US Women's Ch.
Krush, Irina
Zatonskih, Anna

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Be7 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 O-O 7. e3 Ne4 8. Bxe7 Qxe7 9. Rc1 Nxc3 10. Rxc3 c6 11. Qc2 Nd7 12. cxd5 exd5 13. Bd3 Nb6 14. O-O Be6 15. Rb1 a5 16. Nd2 Nc8 17. Ra3 Nd6 18. Qc5 Qc7 19. Rc3 Rfc8 20. Rbc1 Qd8 21. h3 Bf5 22. Bf1 b5 23. Rb3 Nb7 24. Qa3 b4 25. Qa4 c5 26. dxc5 Nxc5 27. Qb5 Rab8 28. Qe2 a4 0-1

And, as can be seen in Macauley's and Jen Shahade's vid report, Irina was clearly disappointed. I suppose for her, it's a wound that will be left opened for at least another year.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Not a Real Geek

The first episode of the Australian version of Beauty & the Geek aired tonight on Channel 7. And, of course, we've been talking about this because among the so-called geeks is Canberra chesser Jeremy Reading. Looking at his performance in tonight's episode, however, I couldn't help but wonder how this guy made it past the auditions. He's simply no geek!

Compare him to Toby, who's studying for three degrees (maybe Jeremy should fix him up with Arianne Caoili), or Alan the Asian child genius (yeah, Asians are geniuses with nasty moustaches) or some physicist named Xenogene (he could be a Greek geek related to some chess big wig), our Jeremy is pretty, well, "normal".

Jeremy's geekhood seems to be founded solely on his chess-playing. And herein is my problem. Why should this guy put his mug on national TV, make a song and dance about his chess, and call himself a geek? Does he not, in fact, damage all chess players?

Have your say. Look right and vote in our poll!

By the way, in yesterday's Tele the following appeared:

Jeremy Reading is always on a mission to find his next challenge and starring in a reality television series was one of his ultimate goals.

After three attempts at
Big Brother and a single swipe at gaming competition Wipeout failed to deliver his 15 minutes of fame, he decided to look for thrills elsewhere by jumping out of a plane and taking part in a 42km triathlon.

"I've applied for heaps of other reality shows but I guess I just haven't been the right fit for those shows", the 24-year old Canberra resident says.

So he gets his 15 minutes of fame at the expense of ...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Carlsen Sees Red Luck

As Norwegian powerhouse GM Magnus Carlsen posts yet another win, his fifth, in the presently running Pearl Spring super tournament in China, I am beginning to wonder about his remarkable success in this event. Of course Magnus has been successful in past outings, but here it seems that his run has that extra "oomph" to it.

Except perhaps for his last game yesterday, Magnus is making it look so easy. Just take, for instance, his round 2 bout against Topalov. So smooth, very impressive. What, then, is Magnus' secret?

Well, OK, there's that partnership with Kasparov, but I reckon I found another reason.

It's that damn red shirt that the Chinese organisers have got him wearing!

In Chinese culture red can stand for all things positive: happiness, good luck, good health, whatever. Now compare that to what all the other players are wearing. A couple of them have that silvery/greyish colour, colours associated with death; same goes for Jakovenko's blue. Wang Yue wears green, a colour normally linked to prosperity, so that is possibly why he's not doing too badly.

I realise that this is all a bit of a stretch, but I reckon that what we have here folks is a Chinese fix-up.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Kiwi Saves Aussie Tournament

After coming close to extinction, the Sydney International Open was last week saved thanks to a determined fund raising effort by a number of members in Australia's most popular chess forum, Chess Chat, but most especially thanks to a Hail Mary from kiwi grandmaster Murray Chandler. The SIO's organiser FM Brian Jones sent in this press release:

Entries are invited for the 2010 Sydney International Open and Challengers Chess Tournaments, to be held 7-11 April 2010.

The organisers have received financial support from a variety of sources and the principal sponsor for 2010 is GM Murray Chandler.

The venue is again the historic Parramatta Town Hall in Western Sydney and free hotel accommodation (twin share room) is offered to International Chess Grandmasters.

There are two nine-round FIDE-rated swiss tournaments, the Sydney International Open (SIO) and the Sydney International Challengers (SIC).

Cash prizes exceed A$16,000 and visas can be arranged on request for overseas players (please provide passport details).

More Information is available [on the official site].

For those players that want even more chess, the Doeberl Cup will be held in Canberra from 1-5 April 2010. See Transport from Canberra to Sydney on Tuesday 6 April 2010 will be provided free of charge for all overseas players.

We look forward to welcoming all players to Sydney and to Australia.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Russia Wins Youth Olympiad

Our Kiwi neighbours sent four school-aged reps over to Turkey to participate in the 2009 World Youth U16 Chess Olympiad. The event ran from 24 September to 3 October. Australia failed to send a team.

The NZ team consisted of Hans Gao, William Li, Sean Tang and Michael Zeng. Unfortunately for them, the opposition was a tad too tough as they managed to garner just 12 points overall and finishing third from bottom (out of 22 teams). Team Russia won the event with 30 points.

In round 7 the Kiwis scored what was perhaps their most impressive outing, a 2-2 draw with Turkmenistan. That encounter included the following win by William Li over the 2152-rated Govher Jorayewa.

2009 World Youth U16 Olympiad
Jorayewa, Govher
Li, William

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Qb6 8. Qd2 Qxb2 9. Rb1 Qa3 10. f5 Nc6 11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. Nb3 Qb4 13. Bd3 Qb6 14. Na4 Qa7 15. Nc1 b5 16. Nb2 Ne5 17. Nd1 Nxd3+ 18. Qxd3 Be7 19. Ne3 O-O 20. O-O Bb7 21. Kh1 Rad8 22. Qe2 Kh8 23. Ng4 Qd4 24. Nf2 Rg8 25. Nb3 Qa7 26. Ng4 Qa8 27. Nh6 Rg7 28. Rf4 Rf8 29. Re1 d5 30. exd5 Bxd5 31. Rg4 Rxg4 32. Nxg4 Qc6 33. Nh6 Qc4 34. fxe6 Qxe2 35. Rxe2 fxe6 36. Nd4 e5 37. Ndf5 Bc5 38. c3 Rc8 39. Rd2 Be6 40. h3 Bf8 41. g4 Bxh6 42. Nxh6 Rxc3 43. Rd6 Rxh3+ 44. Kg2 Rxh6 45. Rxe6 Rg6 46.Kf3 Kg7 47. Rxa6 e4+ 48. Kxe4 f5+ 0-1

Actually, I only found out about this event and the Kiwi team's participation thanks to this article in the NZ Herald.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Daniel Lapitan Stops Shirov

It's too early to tell if this kid is a future prospect, but when you put up a fight against a super GM and draw, well, you never know what the future holds. From the Gold Coast News:

Daniel was the only player to draw against the grandmaster and it was not by chance.

The young chess wizard said he and his father studied Mr Shirov's playing style in the weeks leading up to the simul.

"He played the opening move we expected him to play," said Daniel.

"Then, after that I knew he's really good at attacking.

"I was really happy after the game, everybody was congratulating me."

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Third Tao

Now we all know about Terry Tao and there is, of course, Trevor Tao. But how about Nigel Tao?

He's just popped up on the SMH homepage. The guy is another genius.

He has been working at Google Australia since 2006.

"It might have been genetics, it might have been upbringing, but part of it is [that] as kids we enjoyed reading about maths and ... messing around making programs," he said.

"I don't have a trophy cabinet like Terry does but I think I've done some good stuff."

Read more in Nigel makes Waves: Google's bid to overthrow email.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Sachdev: Where are the men?

From the Times of India:
So, with so much happening, doesn’t Tania get a lot of male attention? “Ah, where are they? No, I guess they get intimidated because I am a chess player. Moreover, I have a lot of time to do all that, right?” Absolutely, girlie!
Intimidated? She could be hanging around the wrong sort of blokes.