Thursday, December 30, 2010

Park Players Set Free

It wasn't a joke, as it turns out, but it was very dumb. Thankfully, it looks like good sense prevails.

A judge has tossed out summonses against five men busted for playing chess at Inwood Hill Park.

The judge's action Tuesday came after civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel agreed to take on the bizarre case, involving a total of six people charged with violating park rules.

"We won't be satisfied until all of them have their cases dismissed," said Siegel, former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "There was no reason for the police to issue these summonses."

More in Play on: Judge tosses suit against Inwood Hill Park chess players.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Spanish Club Blitz

With the Australian Open coming up next weekend, the boys over at Town Hall have the perfect warm up event. Next Saturday we'll have a friendly blitz tournament in the Spanish Club. Yes, despite earlier bad news, this epicentre of Sydney's Spanish-speaking community and host to many a long nights of blitz over the years managed to survive and is very much alive and kicking.

So turn up at 2PM this Saturday, 1 January for a few rounds of blitz. There should be at least 9 official rounds plus real prize money. Although we have a few boards and clocks, we ask that you bring along your own sets and clocks, too, just in case.

Note that games are expected to start at 3PM. This is to allow more folks to come in as well as enjoy some beers before hostilities begin.

The Spanish Club is located at 88 Liverpool St, Sydney.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ryobi's Chess Ad

It seems that the Christmas quiz was a bit too hard for our readers. So no one scores the prizes on offer. Anyway, here are the correct answers: (i) Ryobi and (ii) False. Yep, IM Stephen Solomon has, in fact, beaten GM Ian Rogers in a weekender. I was there the first time it happened.

First, the Ryobi ad.

And now, the game.

Fairfield Summer Cup 2001
Rogers, Ian
Solomon, Stephen

(The in-game comments were those I wrote for the NSWCA/ACF bulletins back in 2001!)

1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 d5 3. e3 c6 4. Nd2 Nbd7 5. Ngf3 e6 6. Bd3 Be7 7. O-O h6 8. Bh4 b6 9. c4 Bb7 10. Bg3 O-O 11. cxd5 exd5 12. Ne5 c5 13. Qf3 a6 14. Rac1 Ra7 15. Rfe1 c4 16. Bb1 b5 17. Qf5 Re8 18. e4 Nxe5 19. dxe5 Bc8 20. Qf3 Bg4 21. exf6 Bxf3 22. fxe7 Raxe7 23. gxf3 d4 24. b3 Qa5 25. Red1 c3 26. Nf1 Rd8 27. Rd3 Red7 28. Rc2 Qb4 29. Re2 a5 30. e5 Rc8 31. Ne3 Qa3 32. Nc2 Qb2 33. Re1 a4
Right about now, Solomon was down to his last 5 minutes. There is nothing like a Solo in blitz mode. He moves the pieces swiftly and efficiently. Earlier, Lee Forace asked him how many moves he could make in 1 second. Solo’s reply? Five moves! 34. b4 a3 35. f4 Rc4 36. f5 Rxb4 37. e6 fxe6 38. fxe6 Re7 39. Nxd4 Rxd4 40. Rxd4 c2 41. Rd8+ Kh7 42. Bxc2+ Qxc2 43. Rd7 Rxd7 44. exd7 Qd2 45. Re7 b4 46. h3 b3 47. Be5 Kg6 48. axb3 a2 49. Bxg7 Qd1+ 50. Kg2 Qd5+ 51. Kg1 Qg5+ And with a little smile, Rogers resigns 0-1

Sunday, December 26, 2010

In the Minds of Masters and Chips

Is this how a chess computer thinks?

Hat tip to

Obviously, there's nothing there about having a contemplative turn of mind.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Chess: a pan-Indian Game

Anand would like to see chess become a "pan-Indian" game.

It's definitely a good sign to see more and more players coming from rural areas. Whether it is Olympics, Asian Games or Commonwealth Games and even cricket, most of these sportspersons are making India proud. I think it is a significant change in Indian sports. For me, I would like to take chess to the rural areas and make it a pan-Indian game.

Starting with this world record attempt, Anand's dream might just come true. One day.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Evil Chess

There's a cool new show that's set to air on US TV screens next month - "The Cape". But what's interesting is that for some reason, the evil villain is called "Chess". Check out the trailer.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

ICC Xmas Contest

Alright Aussie chess fans, if you missed out on GM David Smerdon's "Impossible Christmas Quiz" or if GM Kavalek's is just a bit too challenging, then I've got one that should be fairly straightforward. This is really all in good fun for the Christmas season and I must thank both the Internet Chess Club as well as John Henderson for this opportunity.

Here are the questions.

- Which power tool maker is currently running an ad on Aussie TV that contains a chess theme?
- IM Stephen Solomon has never beaten GM Ian Rogers in a weekender. True or False?

The first 2 readers with correct answers to both questions will each win 6-month ICC memberships. All entries must be received by the stroke of midnight on 25 December AEDT. Please email your entries plus full name to "theclosetgm at gmail dot com".

Find out more about the ICC here .

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Taking Risks Against Pretty Players

Here's one for male readers.

Ever wondered what you'd play against an attractive female chess player if you had the chance? Maybe a Spanish against Arianne Caoili? How about the safe Berlin against Anna Muzychuk? Perhaps a Queen's Gambit when sitting across Tatiana Kosintseva?

Well, you would all be too safe and boring.

According to a recent study, men adopt riskier strategies when playing against a gorgeous female opponent.

In this study we explore to what extent performance and risk taking are affected by the attractiveness of the opponent in chess games. We find that men, but not women, take more risk in chess against more attractive opponents of the opposite gender. Moreover, this elevated risk taking is not beneficial for performance: if anything it is instead costly since the coefficient is rather stable and mostly negative.

I'm partial to Elisabeth Paehtz myself. Given the chance I know exactly what I'd play against her.

The study, "Beauty Queens and Battling Knights: Risk Taking and Attractiveness in Chess", can be downloaded from here.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Who you lookin' at?

Mr Big of Indian chess?

Nope. Just a scene from a Bollywood film. I don't suppose they'll have anything like this one, though.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cricketers Need a Carlsen

As I type these words the Australian cricket team are at the receiving end of some serious whipping by their English opponents. And it's ugly. 4-65 going into lunch. From where I'm sitting, these once-arrogant Australians have zero hope of a comeback. Zero chance of regaining the Ashes. That is, unless they can show the same sort of merciless fury as Magnus Carlsen did in the just completed 2010 London Classic.

After posting 2 losses from three games, Carlsen proceeded to knock 'em dead, beating, coincidentally, all three Poms in the event. Of course, it should be said that Carlsen really benefited from the irregular scoring system, the football method. But to my mind the football system is the just way to reward a "winningest" performance and here was no better an illustration.

In the women's invitational, the attractive WIM Arlette van Weersel won with a score of 8 from nine. While the antipodeans, Shannon Oliver and Natasha Fairley, settled for just 3 and 2.5 points, respectively.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mud Chess (NSFW)

I guess we've all heard of chess boxing. But, I now discover, that there is another sort of "fighting sport" that's been somehow combined with chess. Mud Chess, they called it. As far as I can tell this variant of our game has been around since the 80's.

Check it out (links to a video on YouTube). A warning: this one isn't too risque, at least to my taste, but it might run afoul of some corporate policies. Hence, I've not posted the vid directly here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shannon Castles Long

After getting off to a brilliant start when she beat top seed IM Susan Lalic in the first round, Shannon Oliver's campaign in England suffered multiple setbacks. She strung together what GM Smerdon calls "queenside castling". It was only in the fifth round that she prevented anything worse by drawing with NZ's Natasha Fairley.

Anyway, here is the Canberran's win against Lalic.

London Chess Classic Women
Oliver, Shannon
Lalic, Susan K

1. e4 c5 2. c3 e6 3. d4 d5 4. exd5 exd5 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. Be3 Qb6 7. Qb3 c4 8. Qxb6 axb6 9. Nbd2 b5 10. Be2 b4 11. O-O bxc3 12. bxc3 Bd6 13. Rfb1 Nge7 14. Ne1 O-O 15. a4 f5 16. g3 f4 17. Bxf4 Bxf4 18. gxf4 Ng6 19. Ng2 Nce7 20. Nf3 Ra6 21. Ne5 Raf6 22. Bg4 Nxf4 23. Nxf4 Bxg4 24. Rxb7 Rxf4 25. Rxe7 Be2 26. Rb1 R4f5 27. Rbb7 Rg5+ 28. Kh1 h6 29. h4 Bf3+ 30. Nxf3 Rg4 31. Ne5 1-0

Very nicely played that.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Vishy: India's Chess Millionaire

When he beat Nigel Short in round four of the London Chess Classic, Vishy Anand also grabbed a share of the lead with local grandmaster Luke McShane. Both now have 3 classical points (8 football system points) apiece.

So far, however, Anand's most significant victory in London was his win last Friday over the Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, the young kid who's been often touted as a future Wold Championship challenger. That game showed two things: first, that the Norwegian still has a lot to learn and, second, why Vishy is the highest prize money earner in Indian sport.

Yep, you read that right. According to India's Deccan Herald anyway. Says, the paper:

In the year 2010 Anand won a whopping Euros 1.2 million (60 per cent of the prize fund as the winner) for winning the World Championship in Sofia and an additional Euros 50,000 for agreeing to play in Sofia, Bulgaria — the host country of his opponent. In addition Anand participated in three other Grand Slam events where his prize earnings were close to Euros 200,000. At the moment Anand is engaged in another Grand Slam event at London and would add to this figure.

More in Making megabucks the mental way.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Talking Nonsense

The problem with so much art, particularly so called "modern" art (or are we now "postmodern"?), is that they're too over-hyped and way overpriced. Like this one:

New Link to London Games

The PR operation behind the ongoing London Chess Classic seems to be quite professional. Their updates come to us very fast. Here's a round 2 picture of Kramnik v Nakamura.

Picture courtesy of the London Chess Classic

This game is currently still being fought out as I type. By the way, if the official site seems to be experiencing some problems. Here's an alternative link to follow the games live.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

It's an English Week

It really must be England's week. After their cricketers humiliated the once mighty Australians, here is Luke McShane vanquishing the biggest name in chess of the moment.

2nd Chess Classic London

1.c4 c5 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.0-0 Nh6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Bxh6 Bxh6 9.Nxd4 Ne5 10.Qb3 0-0 11.Rfd1 Nd7 12.Qa3 a5 13.b4 Ra6 14.b5 Ra8 15.e3 a4 16.Rab1 Bg7 17.Ne4 Qb6 18.Nc6 Re8 19.Nb4 f5 20.Nc3 Qc5 21.Nxa4 Qa7 22.Na6 bxa6 23.b6 Nxb6 24.Rxb6 Rb8 25.c5 Be6 26.Rdb1 dxc5 27.Rb7 Rxb7 28.Rxb7 Qa8 29.Nxc5 Qc8 30.Qxa6 Bf7 31.Bc6 Rd8 32.Nd7 Rxd7 33.Bxd7 Qc1+ 34.Qf1 Qxf1+ 35.Kxf1 Bc4+ 36.Kg1 Bxa2 37.Ba4 e5 38.f3 Bh6 39.Bb3+ 1-0

Of course, for Carlsen it is really just a temporary glitch; for the hapless Australians, however, the signs are that it will be a very long, long period of misery.

Note that alongside the main event is a women's invitational. Chessdom has a preview. Shannon Oliver, taking time off from med studies, will represent Australia. Let's hope that her performance will be better than the cricketers. And turning out for the Kiwis (who, by the way, have an even worse cricketing side than the Australians), is Natasha Fairley who has one of the best smiles in chess I reckon.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

How the Aussies Got Thrashed

I don't usually post two videos immediately after each other but this one really can't be helped.

In case you're wondering how the Australians lost that cricket test match by an innings and 71 runs, have a gander at this.

Like the captain, they're pretty boys, not cricketers, more worried about the next big paycheck from the next commercial gig like this one.

I appreciate that not all of our readers understand cricket. Well, this defeat is like Manny Pacquiao pounding the face of his opposition with a left, a right and an uppercut before a KO. It's like your favourite football team trouncing the other side 10-0. Or a bit like Hussain Bolt leaving the rest of the field by a good 2 seconds to the finish line. It's a bit like this.

WCh Women, Turkey
Sebag, M.
Vasilevich, I.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Nc3 Be6 10. h3 h6 11. g4 Ne7 12. Nd4 Bd7 13. Ne4 Ng6 14. f4 h5 15. Ng5 Bc5 16. Be3 Ke8 17. Rae1 hxg4

Position after 17...hxg4

18. e6 fxe6 19. Ndxe6 Bd6 20. Bc5 Bxc5+ 21. Nxc5+ Ne7 22. Re5 1-0

Monday, December 06, 2010

High Rise Chess Match

High above the city of Melbourne was this tense chess match. Awesome stuff!

Some details in the Melbourne Leader.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Who's More Corrupt?

Speaking of quizzes, I've got a new poll question. But before we get to that: I think by now you've all heard about FIFA's decision to award the 2018 and 2022 Word Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively. Russia I can understand, just, but Qatar? Qatar? It makes me wonder how much those rich sheikhs paid off the football body.

I mean, talk about a very bad idea. Last I checked this part of the world isn't exactly all friendly and welcoming. And then there's the heat - 40 to 50 degrees celsius in June! The hosts have promised airconditioned stadiums, but what about outside? Spectators and visitors can't all be indoors. Which also makes me wonder what the Qataris plan to do about all those women who strip near-naked under a bright sun (and there'll be plenty of that in Qatar) or when the mercury just slightly nudges past 30 degrees. Have them all covered up I suppose. Yeah, that'll be a fun World Cup!

Anyway, here's the poll question. Who do you think is more corrupt - FIDE or FIFA?

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Grinch's Xmas Quiz

I love Christmas. Always have ever since I was a kid.

There are the usual stories about family gatherings, presents and food, but I was actually more fond of all the ruckus that we kids used to make. The best part was setting off pyrotechnics to scare the crap out of people. Those things had fancy names like "triangles", "whistle bombs" and "watusi". Whistle bombs were my favourites. Think of them as little play dynamite with real BANG! If you were careless, you probably blew off a finger or two, if not a whole hand!

These days I'm no longer setting off anything, of course, what with me being a responsible adult and all. But, now that I live in Japan, the upcoming "bonenkai" season might just be a good enough reason to regress! Temporarily, that is, at least until "shinenkai".

Bonenkai literally means "Forget the year party". It's the thing during this time of year when the locals behave like good little Catholics: they eat, they drink and be merry.

Aftermath of "bonenkai"?

Our mate GM David Smerdon, on the other hand, will not be doing any of that. I doubt if he's ever heard of bonenkai, though we all know he's heard of Christmas. But, he hates it. He hates Christmas! Maybe instead of calling him the Aussie "Atakador" or, as has been his long-time moniker, "smurfo", we should start calling him GM David "The Grinch" Smerdon.

Still, this year he seems to have had a slight change of heart. In association with the Internet Chess Club, GM "The Grinch" is playing quizmaster to what he calls "[t]hirty-two questions of pure, unadulterated festive joy", the Impossible Christmas Quiz.

Well, perhaps not so impossible. This one was easy: "How many languages does Aussie chess starlet Arianne Caoili speak fluently?" One. And I'd bet all my ICC rating points on that!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Rooty Hill Chess Club - UPDATED

Rooty Hill Chess Club, in Sydney, is in the local news. This also comes with a bit of chess wisdom or two.

THE best rule to follow when playing chess is to learn when to break the rules and only ever plan one move ahead.

You just never know what your opposition’s next move might be.

Ken Macgillivray, 79, of Cambridge Park, has played chess for 60 years. He is a member of Rooty Hill Chess Club.

He started at 19, surrounded by co-workers who spent their lunchbreak playing.

More in Rooty Hill Chess Club has all the right moves.

UPDATE (2 Dec): Well, as you saw in the comments, the club is in trouble. In fact, I also separately received the same info from Peter Parr who said that Rooty Hill CC is being asked to cough up $400 for use of their club rooms, for the evening each weeknight! Tough times are hitting the host club, but very sadly, it looks like the subsidiary clubs, like the chess guys, are copping the brunt.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pissed Off with ICC

This post has an update.

Tonight, as is my usual routine these days, I logged in to the Internet Chess Club. Or at least I tried to. I couldn't. It turns out that my account expired just yesterday. That's right - my damn account has expired for only 24 hours and ICC prevents me from logging in!

Any attempt I make to log in just automatically redirects me to this renewal page. There you'll see various methods to extend your account, including this one:

On the ICC, type extend while logged on ICC
Just log in with your registered name. You will be prompted for payment information if your ICC account has expired. Or, after you log on ICC, type extend

Well I would do that except that I can't actually do it! I couldn't log in.

OK, I used the secure web form, but it would have been easier to allow me a couple to a few days of grace to log in and actually extend my account from the inside the app instead of being redirected to a browser. If I'm not mistaken, that's how it used to be.

UPDATE (30 Nov): It looks like the guys at the ICC spotted this post and handled the situation. Let's just say that I continue to be a happy customer.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Beauties on Top of Old Men

WIM Arianne Caoili was the worst scorer among the "Snowdrops", but she did walk away with two wins against a couple of legends. I quite like the one over Velimirovic.

Snowdrops vs Old Hands
Caoili, Arianne
Velimirovic, Dragoljub

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bf4 d6 4. h3 Bg7 5. e3 O-O 6. Be2 b6 7. O-O Bb7 8. Bh2 Nbd7 9. Nbd2 Qe8 10. Rc1 e5 11. c4 e4 12. Ne1 Qe7 13. b4 c5 14. Nc2 Rad8 15. Nb1 cxd4 16. Nxd4 Ne5 17. Nc3 Rd7 18. Qa4 a6 19. Qb3 Rc7 20. Na4 Nfd7 21. Rfd1 Rfc8 22. Rc2 Nd3 23. Bg4 N3e5 24. Be2 h5 25. Nb2 Nc5 26. bxc5 bxc5 27. Qa3 cxd4 28. exd4 Nf3+ 29. gxf3 Qg5+ 30. Kh1 Qh4 31. d5 Qxh3 32. Qe3 Re7 33. fxe4 Qxe3 34. fxe3 Rxe4 35. Bxd6 Rxe3 36. c5 Rce8 37. c6 Bc8 38. Bf1 Bf5 39. Rf2 Bg4 40. Rd3 Rxd3 41. Nxd3 Rd8

Position after 41...Rd8

42. Ne5 Bxe5 43. Bxe5 Rxd5 44. Bf6 Rc5 45. Rd2 1-0

The team of young women, the Snowdrops, won the match 18 - 14 thanks to hits by Humpy Koneru and Viktorija Čmilyte. Caoili totalled just 3 points (4 losses, 2 wins and 2 draws).

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turks Admit Pay Offs

From the NY Times' Gambit blog:

A recent audit of the Turkish Chess Federation reported that the federation paid voters to help win an election for the right to host the Chess Olympiad in 2012.

Rumors of corruption have long plagued the chess world, where it is a commonly held assumption that elections of officials and decisions about where to locate tournaments are determined by bribery. But the disclosure by the Turkish federation may be the first time that anyone has admitted it so matter-of-factly.

Tell us something new.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Fighting in the Snow

When he can be bothered to update his blog, IM Aleks Wohl's stories are always interesting, full of side details on his latest culinary adventures, travel and the like. Of course, there's also plenty of chess - like this one, for example.

He dropped into Marianske Lazne, in the Czech Republic, to witness proceedings in the so-called "Snowdrops and Old Hands" or perhaps better known as "young gorgeous chicas versus old fogeys" tournament. This one is of interest because it happens to include Aussie women's numero uno, WIM Arianne Caoili.

Live games are available here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Harvard Bound Smerdon

In a post over on his blog, GM Smerdon gives the reason for why he didn't become a pro: "Basically the answer is because I’m not good enough, but I usually prefer to save face and instead tell them about that other passion that has taken over my career path, behavioural economics."

It now turns out that he may have another reason. He's aiming for a spot in the Ivy League. Last week he was one of 8 recipients of the Sir John Monash scholarship and will be on his way to Harvard University in the US. Congrats David!

More in The Australian.

Hat tip again to Graeme Gardiner for that story.

Queenstown Classic Is On Again

From a purely business point of view, last year's Queenstown Chess Classic was a disappointment. The GFC had just struck and it seemed as if people, particularly Australians, were holding off a big spend on travelling. In that sombre economic reality, there were whispers that perhaps the tournament, now a much-loved event after just two editions, might never happen again.

Last year's winner, GM David Smerdon (then an IM), in his winner's speech, was moved to plead, "Please hold it again."

Well, David and the rest of us, have just received a piece of good news. It's on again! I've just got this press release from the folks over at the NZCF courtesy of Helen Milligan.

The New Zealand Chess Federation is delighted to announce official confirmation of the 2012 Queenstown Chess Classic, to be held 15th-23rd January 2012. The $50,000 sponsorship is being provided by New Zealand Chess Grandmaster Murray Chandler.

The tournament will be a nine round Swiss-system, staged over nine days. As with the previous Queenstown events of 2006 and 2009, the 2012 Classic will be a fully-fledged International Open tournament. The 119th New Zealand National Championship will also be incorporated within the event. The venue will be the ballroom of the Millennium Hotel, Queenstown.

Previous Queenstown events have attracted numerous international players, including masters and grandmasters. Opportunities for international title norms are once again expected to be available.

For further information see the tournament website, which will be updated regularly over the coming months:

So guys, start saving the cash. Take it from me, this event is a total blast!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

SA Prez Favours Chess

Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa, reckons that it's about that chess made a comeback to schools in SA.

He's decried TV and Video, saying these don't teach children the same level of patience, strategic thinking, concentration, analytical skills and the attention to detail that they would gain from what he calls "this timeless intellectual game".

"It is an important game in many respects, the main benefit being that it contributes to the development of strategic thinking as well as concentration, analytical skills and problem solving. These are traits that are important for school going children," he said.

Thanks to Graeme Gardiner for the tip.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Commie Beats The Nazi

It's not very often that TCG inspires others, but when it happens it's as equally satisfying as it is amusing. Dave Shapland, of the Hebden Bridge Chess Club over in the UK, dropped in to say that my "Nazi Chess Board" post apparently inspired one of their members to "re-create" the score to that game between Lenin and Hitler.

[Q]uite by chance only a few weeks ago, after a pleasant exchange of banter with someone I played a game against online, I stumbled across our humble blog's first exclusive scoop!

You see, the person I had been playing against turned out to be none other than Lady Cynthia Blunderboro whose Father, Horace (the 4th Duke), was instrumental in organising the game and was actually present when it was played. Most importantly of all however, he kept Hitler's copy of the score sheet!

Read more about this amazing tale in "Lenin vs Hitler: Who won?"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Japanese Invitation to Event

Got this in the mail last week. It's an invitation to a tournament in Nagano, Japan. You can't see it properly here, of course, but this thing is a postcard size with quite elegant paper. Imagine the NSWCA sending out invitations on something like that.

According to this, first prize is 95,000 yen or (or roughly AU$1,150; US$1,135; €835). Second and third prizes are 25,000 yen and 15,000 yen, respectively. Now I could head over to Nagano and enjoy a nice weekend trip to a gorgeous area of Japan, but there's only one problem. A reserved seat on the Shinkansen will set me back almost 20,000 yen!

Friday, November 19, 2010

E.T. Invented Chess

Part 3 of the NY Times' interview with Kirsan is out. Yep, he reckons ET invented chess.

I do, indeed, consider chess a gift from extraterrestrial civilizations. Chess is one of the world’s oldest games. But where was it invented? In India? But an ancient set of figures was also found at excavations in the Bulgarian town of Plovdiv. And two years ago, the president of Mongolia showed me chessmen discovered when they were searching for the grave of Genghis Khan and excavated a kurgan. There have been similar finds in Latin America and other parts of the world. And in those times, of course, travel was almost impossible. But the rules of chess were almost identical everywhere. It is hard to imagine that people in different parts of the world many thousands of years ago simultaneously thought up an identical game with the same rules just by chance.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Arrested for Playing Chess

This must be a joke.

A squad of cops in bulletproof vests swooped into an upper Manhattan park and charged seven men with the "crime" of playing chess in an area off-limits to adults unaccompanied by kids, the New York Post reported Thursday.

The chess tables where they were ticketed for "failure to comply with signs" were in a fenced-in area where posted notices read, "Adults allowed in playground areas only when accompanied by a child under the age of 12."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kirsan Speaks to the People

The NY Times' chess blog, Gambit, is featuring a 3-part interview with FIDE supremo, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. What makes the questions interesting is that they came courtesy of the paper's readers. Today's first set of questions has the following from Kirsan:

The results of the election speak volumes about who has the sympathies of the chess world at the moment. At the same time I’m always open to collaboration. Immediately after my victory in the elections I had constructive talks with representatives of the United States and Spanish Chess Federations. And President [Robert von] Weizsäcker of the German Chess Federation became a member of FIDE’s executive committee. There is no antagonism between us. But we do share a goal –- the development of chess around the world. There may be differences in our approaches, but the aim is the same. We all love chess and are ready to go to great lengths for its development.

But what I can't really wait for is an apparent remark from Kirsan that chess was invented by aliens.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Parr: Australia Should Improve

I understand that once a upon a time Australian chessers played in that big yard called Asia. But, for whatever reason, Australia exited that yard to play in a smaller yard, with nations like, oh I don't know, Palau, Fiji and the Solomon Islands. (Yeah, go ahead and try finding them on the map)! Have you ever wondered why that is so?

I know. Because Australia likes to be a big dog, but in reality it's just a puppy. Put this puppy in among the genuine big dogs and the puppy whimpers.

In this third and final instalment of the interview with the retiring founder of Chess Discount Sales, Peter Parr, the man has one simple demand: "We must improve our standard of play. Australia should reinstate itself in Asia instead of trying to find more small islands in Oceania to compete against."

Can't really argue with that.


(TCG): By the way, and this one's for our Pinoy readers, I know you had a few dealings with Campo. What do you reckon of that bloke?
(Peter Parr): Campomanes really loved chess. He could have been a very successful businessman or politician – he dated the young Imelda Marcos! And later was a good friend of President Marcos. He dedicated his life to chess – and was very active in promoting the game widely in China and in numerous other countries. He was very good for chess despite his critics. He visited my chess shop on numerous visits to Sydney and played lightning all night.

Switching gears a bit now Peter, though I think you anticipated this one. Politics. There's too much to cover and many of us have read and heard the plenty you've had to say about many a topic - ratings, the ACF, the NSWCA, etc. On Aussie chess, I just want to ask you this simple question: what's the state of Australian chess today in your view?
Simple answer – mixed. The standard of play of our top players is similar to 40 years ago but all other major countries have dramatically improved. 2400 FIDE rating in 2010 and you are in the Australian Olympiad Team although ranked outside the top 2200 players in the world – tell that to tennis, swimming, cricket,etc! We must improve our standard of play. Australia should reinstate itself in Asia instead of trying to find more small islands in Oceania to compete against. Many of our leading players are getting older yet the youngsters are not good enough to replace them. The rate of play in weekenders and four rounds a day(!) needs review.

On the plus side Primary Schools chess around Australia is very encouraging. There are over 8,000 competing each year in inter-school competitions in NSW alone. Sales of chess products in Australia continues to increase at an ever increasing pace particularly with full containers of outdoor garden sets. Adult club chess at night is on the decline with an alarmingly few chess administrators under the age of 50 – this was not the case 40 years ago when many organisers were aged 20-40. We urgently need members of all states to assist in the administration of chess. FIDE recently described Australia as backward – blunt, but sadly true.

Anything you think urgently needs fixing? I hope to Caissa you won't say ratings!
You hit the nail on the head. Ratings – The Glicko rating system is only used in Australia – but rejected with good reason by the other 169 FIDE countries. The system in my opinion based on hundreds of complaints is very bad and suggestions of an ACF rating review have been firmly rejected. There is widespread discontent, yet [there is] no ACF review or discussion. We simply should return to a rating system adopted by FIDE and all major national federations.

You've been a very vocal critic of the NSWCA in the past, yet you're now that body's current boss. What's the working relationship like with my friend Bill Gletsos and all the other guys?
In the past I have been a critic if there is a serious problem. One NSWCA AGM I did not attend but found out by chance months later that the Association lost about $11,000 in one year! Unfortunately no-one at the AGM said anything – well they should have.

The council has worked well together since the AGM in November 2009. The executive have all attended every meeting. I get on with vice-president Bill Gletsos who I have known since he emerged from junior ranks (at Concordia Club) in the early 1970’s. Clearly I do not agree with him at all about Glicko and some other matters but in general terms we get on OK.

Is a role in state chess politics something that you'll be doing more in your retirement, then?
The last few months have been extremely busy since our 30% off everything retirement sale. I will of course have a lot more time in my retirement and will of course continue to help and promote the game of chess. There is so much to do at the grass roots level. We need to establish new chess clubs to replace those that no longer exist. There are 14 members of the NSWCA Council and as in any organisation we need new people with new ideas joining the administration and changes made and urgent reviews by majority vote.

Before we close Peter, we want to know, will we see "Peter Parr, A Memoir" any time soon?
The purchase of premises in the CBD for a Chess Centre open 12 hours a day seven days a week (as I had established 30 years ago – although only rented) is my long-term Goal which I will work on in my retirement.

And finally, are we ever going to see you back in over-the-board action at some point? You're still 2000+, right?
To be more precise 2227 (down from 2297). I would of course like to play again after retirement when I am not working 12 hours a day every day serving customers. I will play in a number of FIDE rated events overseas. Like hundreds of other adults who are currently inactive I will not play under the Glicko rating system where a modest result in a weekender can knock off 500 rating points when a correct rating system would only knock off 50 rating points. I put it to everyone that Australia is steadily losing many adult clubs and members due to Glicko.


CDS' 30% off everything sale is until Christmas 2010. The month of October 2010 with the sale has been their busiest month ever, Peter tells me, with some quality items selling out very quickly. The more you buy the more you save!

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Hurrah for Public Schools

Here's an answer to my question yesterday.

It turns out that the NSW Junior Chess League isn't just for moneyed private school kids. The York Public School was in the comp and their boys and girls were winners, reports the Penrith Press. Well done to them. Even more impressive is that they were all apparently complete novices. That's one thing you can say about the public school system: it produces robust character, winning kids.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Catholic Chess Kids Rule

What's going on here? Is the NSW Junior League only for private Christian schools? I see only mention of private schools. Whatever. Being a Catholic myself, I'm going for the Catholic schools. It's only proper.

From the Macarthur Chronicle:

The NSW Junior Chess League primary schools one-day tournaments began in the Macarthur region in 1981. The competition now features 33 district tournaments held across the state.

A total of 66 three-player teams from 13 schools competed in the league’s 2010 Macarthur district tournament, with 12 more teams and one more school than last year fielding nearly 200 players.

Players from St Peter’s Anglican Primary School, St Paul’s Catholic Primary School and St Andrews, Narellan, Campbellfield, Narellan Vale, Ruse and Currans Hill public schools also put their strategic skills to the test in the hotly contested event.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Koreans Lost Their Marbles

There's one sure way for The Philipines to go home with medals in a mix of colours from almost any inter-Asian sports competition. That's if chess is a fixture.

But from the 2014 Asian Games, RP may have to seek fortunes in other sports. The South Korean hosts are planning to exclude chess from their program. These silly bastards are also looking to drop "cue sports", presumably billiards, in which Pinoys are also good, cricket, rugby and even dance!

Dance, for crying out loud. What's wrong with dancing? All this is almost a good enough reason to call for a North Korean invasion.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Israel Lied to World?

Well, this is embarassing for Israel. Remember that so-called record set by GM Alik Gershon? It seems that the whole thing was completely bogus and thus forcing the Guinness World Records organisation to review how chess records are set.

It was Israel's own biggest selling daily that broke the story.

Israeli officials bent the rules in order to ensure the breaking of a Guinness chess record, Yedioth Ahronoth revealed Friday in a special investigative report.

Last month, local chess grandmaster Alik Gershon was said to have broken a record previously held by Iran in a marathon 19-hour match against more than 500 players.

Yet as it turns out, many of the players who took part in the mega-event did not meet the standards dictated by Guinness World Records.

Ahmadinejad and the mullahs must now be laughing.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On Carlsen's Withdrawal

Wow. When I read this pop up in the news, I thought, so what. So the guy withdraws, big deal. But almost a week since that letter from Carlsen, ChessVibes is still milking the story after seeing their comment numbers break records.

The long and short of all this is that fans' reactions are mixed: some support the Norwegian, others don't, while some are just plain confused. Even I got confused for a moment when our old mate Macauley appeared to accuse Chessbase of making up an interview!

Anyway, here's my take. Carlsen obviously wants change and he wants that quickly. He could have just as easily played on and his career (apparently something he's concerned about) would have remained intact.

So, he plays chicken with FIDE. When you're number one, not necessarily continuously but definitely consistently for the foreseesable future, you can afford to do that. The guy is saying, "show me your world champ, but I'll show you who's really numero uno".

It is just now a matter of watching who'll blink first. I'd like to say and believe that it will be FIDE, for I'm with Carlsen on at least this one point that the whole system of matches is not "sufficiently modern and fair". In fact, the idea of a match (or series of matches) is just plain old-fashioned. Matches hark back to the days when men challenged other men to a duel. Time now I say to dump that idea.

I think, however, that FIDE can afford to bide their time. After all many fans, and possibly players, still believe that one-on-one contests are the very heights of chess combat. Hec, even I get excited, especially when one guy is an absolute wanker. Think Topalov. It's really that sort of polarising effect that stimulates plenty of interest.

But a World Championship series sans the best is ridiculous. I hope FIDE will accomodate Carlsen: shorten the cycle, firm up the structure and remove privileges. Too hard?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I pledge to play better

I was in the Boy Scouts once and I remember that we used to have a pledge. It was something about duty to self, country, other people and God. But how about this - The Pledge of Chess?

I will consider every check and every capture on every move!
I will never trade a bishop for a knight without a good reason!
I will not stop developing until my rooks are active!
I will make a special effort to consider pawn moves that change the pawn structure (like pawn breaks!)!

Read more in USCL News and Gossip.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Nazi Chess Board

Is this the chess set used by Hitler and Lenin? Supposedly.

Read more in Guy Walters' blog.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Bulgaria, Birthplace of Chess?

An exciting new chess news site has just emerged courtesy of Russian journo Evgeny Surov. The problem for us is that it's in Russian. Check out Thankfully, we've got our man over at Chess in Translation quickly in on the action and obviously translating some of that good content into English. I just hope that he doesn't run into any copyright issues, but I figure he's got that angle covered.

The first intalment, for instance, features an interview with Aussie starlet Arianne Caoili's beau, GM Aronian.

Speaking of translations, I have no idea if something was lost in this next story. Then again, Kirsan being Kirsan, believer of the weird and wonderful, I'm willing to bet that he meant every word. The FIDE boss seems to think that Bulgaria could just be a place where chess actually originated.

Hat tip to CGaE on that one.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Kasparov: Innovation comes to a halt

I'm always impressed at how the ex-Champ Gary Kasparov seamlessly transforms himself from an angry polie one day to being some sort of guru the next, charming his way through a crowd of technologists.

Speaking at a technology event earlier this week, Kasparov told his audience that innovation in America, genuine innovation that aparently serves as a catalyst for economic advancement, has come to a halt. Quoted by Forbes, Kasparov said: "We are surrounded by gadgets and computers like never before. They are better each time; a little faster, a little shinier, a little thinner. But it is derivative, incremental, profit margin-forced, consumer-friendly technology — not the kind that pushes the whole world forward economically."

I suppose in some ways he's right. And here I have in mind, not just America, but specifically my current home of Japan. Here, you're surrounded by all kinds of tech that are basically eye candy or that don't really solve a problem at all.

You guys are probably yet to see these, but walk into any large electronics store in Tokyo today and you'll find 3D TV! Problem is, you've got to wear the appropriate googles to see the 3D effect (although Toshiba will soon fix that). And how about self-flushing toilets? Just about the only thing that these things won't do is actually wipe your butt.

But who the hec really needs 3D TV anyway? And why do we need self-flushing toilets? As it happens, I found myself in one of these poop units yesterday and the damn thing kept flushing itself. Turns out that there's some sort of censor inside that detects either your movements or your position or both. If it thinks your off the bowl, it flushes. So, lesson learnt: next time, I gotta sit my ass still.

All that said, I think that Kasparov is also wrong. Forbes reports that, according to him, the last piece of tech that was truly revolutionary was the Apple II! If he believes that then he's never heard of the mobile phone. Or the web! These two combined will totally change the way we consume information and, more critically, the way we buy and sell. In fact, it's already happening.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Chess, Curaçao and Commies

The problem with communism is that it's an ideology that is always desperate to get ahead. Commies, therefore, always do desperate things. Like cheat. In chess tournaments. Now please, don't ask me if players, pros and juniors alike, caught cheating in dunnies are commies. That's for another day.

Curaçao 1962 was and is one of the most talked-about chess tournaments ever mainly for the wrong reasons. Weeks after the event, Bobby Fischer wrote an article for Sports Illustrated magazine (published on August 60, 1962) in which he bluntly accused his Russian opponents of colluding against him. In other words, they just flat out cheated.

But between 1959 and 1962 the Russian dominance of the Candidates' Tournament became much more open than it had been before. At Curacao it was flagrant. There was open collusion between the Russian players. They agreed ahead of time to draw the games they played against each other. Each time they drew they gave each other half a point. The tournament winner, Petrosian, got 5 points of his 17 total this way. They consulted during the games. If I was playing a Russian opponent, the other Russians watched my games, and commented on my moves in my hearing. Then they ridiculed my protests to officials. They worked as a team.

It is perhaps thanks largely to Fischer's renown that we often think of him as the biggest victim of this collusion. However, reading the paper, "Did the Soviets collude? A statistical analysis of championship chess 1940–1978", by Moul and Nye, tells us something different.

The bigger victim to this commie cheating was another American in yet another famous tournament. Sammy Reshevsky in Zurich 1953.

I am talking about all this because Bobby Ang has just revisited the whole issue in his latest column for RP's Business World magazine. You can still read that article here.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Mixing Fashion and Chess

This is what we need: a mix of fashion and chess. Admittedly, there ain't no number one looking like a badly made-up klingon hanging off the arms of a rock star's daugher. But the site has all the right names - Ferragamo, Burberry, Kenzo and the rest. I'm partial to Paul Smith myself.

They've even got t-shirts on sale! Can you handle it, the shirts say. No, thanks!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Best Goal Ever

As I watched this very funny Man U goal over the weekend, I thought that it's a pity that football doesn't have anything like Appendix B.3.c, a rule for blitz, which says in part: "An illegal move is completed once the opponent’s clock has been started. The opponent is entitled to claim a win before he has made his own move."

OK, the Spurs team and their fans couldn't exactly claim an immediate win when Nani handled the ball, but they were at least entitled to a free kick. They thought so, anyway.

But nope! This is what happened.

I don't know, but that's almost like the equivalent of player A making an illegal move, B motioning to summon the arbiter, then A suddenly picks up a piece and, BANG, checkmates player B.

Art of Chess Exhibition

A storm, Halloween and some film development all combined to knock my whole chess schedule this past weekend. Hence, I just couldn't find the time to post. Tokyo isn't the most beautiful city, but you'll have plenty to see and do. It's a fast town and sometimes I do wish I was back Down Under, where life is slower and where I'll have time to check out the Bendigo Art Gallery's "The Art of Chess" exhibition.

Actually, it's a duo of exhibits, with the main one being a travelling exhibit from London, while the smaller component is a collection of chess sets and pieces by 13 Aussie artists.

Whatever some our concerned readers think of the Murdoch press, it is at least a Murdoch pressman who's written the longest piece I could find about the whole exhibition.

Rachel WHITEREAD, Modern chess set 2005

Friday, October 29, 2010

Chess Official Cries Sabotage

Look and sound familiar? Yes, in Botswana, too, they have problems.

Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) executive committee additional member, Alex Mpuisang has accused colleagues of sabotage following his recent trip to Russia for the Olympiad.

Mpuisang said some federation members have always mistreated him, and things came to a head after the trip to Russia.

What is it about chess organisations that makes them so politically charged? It's just chess!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chess with the Blow-ins

I don't really approve of boat people. They are queue jumpers. They step around the system. A minority of Australians, mostly rabid clueless Leftists, will argue otherwise and claim that these blow-ins deserve our compassion and ought to be let in, which is right. But, I say again, boat people are queue jumpers. Instead of order, we have chaos in our refugee system.

I'm pretty sure that the majority of sane Aussies share my views. But, of course, we are still a compassionate lot. That's why locals in the town of Weipa are showing some blow-ins an Aussie welcome by playing a few games of rugby league, cricket, and, of course, chess.

Perhaps the people of South Australia could consider a few games of chess with their soon-to-be neighbours. That should break down a few barriers, methinks. Not!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

France and Bacrot Strike

While his countrymen are busy going about their usual habit of striking and causing all kinds of mayhem, GM Etienne Bacrot is in China busy beating the best of them. Before tonight's round 7, when he lost to Topalov, Bacrot was in outright second place just behind Carlsen.

The Frenchman has been playing some very good chess. He'd beaten no less than Anand, Wang and Gashimov.

I remember pissing right next to this guy in the 2008 Olympiad's Bermuda Party while he tapped his forehead repeatedly against the wall and also mumbling something in French. He looked absolutely nothing like one of the world's best players. And I've gotta admit, I knew he was good, but I never actually realised that he was in the elite!

Of Bacrot's wins so far my fave is this one in round 4 against World Champ, Vishy. And kudos to the Indian for reeling out this variation.

3rd Pearl Spring
Bacrot, E.
Anand, V.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. Ne5 e6 7. f3 Bb4 8. e4 Bxe4 9. fxe4 Nxe4 10. Bd2 Qxd4 11. Nxe4 Qxe4+ 12. Qe2 Bxd2+ 13. Kxd2 Qd5+ 14. Kc3 O-O 15. Qe3 b5 16. Be2 Nd7 17. Nxd7 Qxd7 18. Rhd1 Qe7 19. Kc2 a5 20. Bf3 Rac8 21. Qe5 g6 22. axb5 cxb5 23. Qxb5 Rc5 24. Qd7 Qg5 25. Qd4 Rfc8 26. Ra3 Rb5 27. Rd2 Rb4 28. Kd1 Rcb8 29. Ke2 Qb5 30. Ke1 Rxb2 31. Rxb2 Qxb2 32. Qxb2 Rxb2 33. Rxa5 c3 34. Rc5 Rb1+ 35. Ke2 Rc1 36. Kd3 Kg7 37. Rxc3 Rxc3+ 38. Kxc3 f5 39. Kd4 Kf6 40. Bd1 h5 41. Bf3 h4 42. Be2 g5 43. Ba6 g4 44. Bb7 e5+ 45. Kd5 f4 46. Ke4 1-0

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Smurf on Nanjing

As if the bloke's not getting enough PR, but in case you missed it, somehow, this coming Wednesday the Chess.FM's coverage of round 7 in Nanjing will feature none other than GM David Smerdon. The ICC's John Henderson even sent us this graphic to show for it. So make sure you guys tune in, for I'm pretty sure we'll be in for a uniquely "smurfo" flavour to commentating on a chess event. This one should be fun.

By the way, I noticed the other night a familiar voice on the ICC. GM Yasser Seirawan! I thought he was with Chessbase. Maybe the Americans gave him more cash.

SCN Interviews Smerdon

If you've not seen it, Singapore Chess News has an interview with GM David Smerdon. When asked about the game's potential to be commercialised:

The main obstacle standing in the way of commercializing chess, in my opinion, is its simplification and marketability to the average person. I think this is definitely possible, and in fact I have a few ideas as to how to make chess attractive enough for tournaments to be acceptable to television broadcasters and sponsors – whether it would actually work in practice is another matter. But poker found a way to bring the game’s complexities to the wider audience, and cricket’s Twenty20 founded a whole new brand of sponsor-friendly cricket that saw players’ salaries quadruple. There’s potential.

In Interview with Australia's GM David Smerdon.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Australia Beat Russia, 8-0

A real life knight, a Hollywood megastar, politicians and world chess champions are just some of the people who have made a pilgrimage to Sydney's famous Chess Discount Sales. As I told you a couple of weeks ago, this mecca of chess in Sydney is closing down - a very unfortunate event in the life of Sydney chess.

In this second part of our interview with Peter Parr, retiring owner of CDS, I learn something very new and interesting. And I bet not many of you know about it too.

Get this: Australia once held the title of World Tele Champion! Don't believe me? Read on.


Note that I am pasting the last question from part 1 as Peter added a new paragraph. Also, instead of being a 2-part series, this interview will now be split into three.

(TCG): You know, I never much thought that a living could be had from a chess business. But you've obviously done well for yourself. Any tips for budding chess entrepreneurs or former, ahem, rivals perhaps?
(Peter Parr): [In] 1979 I sold my two-storey house (for a profit) and decided to run a chess centre full time [on the] top floor 232 Sussex St near Sydney Town Hall. It was essential that as I was spending very considerable funds in rent and in setting up a chess centre with 80 very high quality chairs and 40 quality tables that the NSWCA support the Centre by holding all its major events there.

This was, of course, achieved with the whole-hearted moral support of all chessplayers in Sydney. I had over 300 annual financial members in nine months and the centre was open 11am – 11pm 7 days a week. My income was mainly from the centre selling coffee, memberships, ham and cheese sandwiches etc, and every NSWCA event was held there for over 5 years when my lease expired and the property was sold. Most unfortunate.

It is strange that over 30 years ago I was one of the oldest members of NSWCA council and now in 2010 I am one of the younger members of the NSWCA executive.

Cecil Purdy ran a successful chess business in the Sydney CBD for nearly 40 years as did I. Cecil in the late 1960’s told me that well over 90% of all business in a Sydney CBD Chess Shop is to non-competitive players. I soon came to realise this was very true. My advice to budding chess entrepeneurs is to run a chess business in the heart of the Sydney CBD – as it has been for the last 80 years or just buy CDS and continue for another 40 years. The basics of economics (I passed the bankers institute exam in economics in 1967) is supply and demand. Imagine if you will opening a department store, fish and chip shop or chess shop in a very distant suburb in the middle of nowhere – sure the rent is very low but how many customers drop in every day ? Literally many many thousands of chess enthusiasts live,work or visit the CBD and buy chess goods. Of course sales via internet is popular for some and we provide this service at a considerable discount but most business for thousands of our customers as at ‘ David Jones’ is casual over the counter sales. The ideal set up of course is to combine a chess centre with a chess shop in the heart of the Sydney CBD.

Tell us some of the great names who have dropped by in your joint. I'm sure there have been many.
World Champions Prof Max Euwe (and FIDE President), Boris Spassky, Anatoly Karpov, Nona Gaprindishvili,GM’s Keene(a keen cake eater), Adianto, Handoko, Rogers, Zhao, Johansen, Miles, Klovans (who died last week), Oll, Chandler, Norwood, Conquest, Szabo, King, Azmaiperashvili, Ftacnick, Christiansen, Gufeld many times, the three Polgar sisters, Leko, Gelfand, Adams, Galliamova, and many more GM’s, dozens of IM’s including Danailov (BUL) Donaldson(USA), van Riemsdiyk(BRA). etc, FIDE President Campomanes – many times, Keanu Reeves (with 3 beefy minders), Frank Sartor when he was Lord Mayor of Sydney, Sir Ron Brierley, a strong player – about 4 hours analysis one day; Dato Tan, Tim Fischer (ex deputy Australian Prime Minister – many visits), etc.

Now Pete, we all know that you've got some real treasures in there. I recall stumbling across the original scoresheets to the 1980 (I think) telex match between Russia (I think it was) and Australia. I wanted to buy them but you refused. Are there any other treasures that have come along your way and that you'll never let go.
Our first telex match with Russia in 1977 we lost. Jamieson drew with Tal, West lost to Garry Kasparov aged 12. I offered 5 draws and 2 losses for the 7 unfinished games which was rejected and 5 draws and 3 losses was agreed. In the latter part of our second telex match with Russia I as captain suspected Russia was playing at a much slower time control and after proving this to be the case I advised Peter Wallman, ACF President that we must claim the match 8-0 in our favour. This was agreed and I advised Campomanes who after investigation awarded the match to Australia. The massive World Tele-Trophy was flown from Moscow to Sydney and handed over by the Russian Ambassador to Australia to Senator Evans The Australian Foreign Minister in a Ceremony in Sydney attended by the members of the World Champion Team – Australia. Amiel I still have the score sheets – Pity the World Trophy was lost for ever probably!

OK, let's move on to the Olympiad. You were skipper 6 times, if I'm not mistaken. Great memories I'm sure. Tell us a couple you won't soon forget.
1976 Haifa,Israel – I was mistakenly given one of the two special suites in the best hotel! Three telephones – 3 toilets , bar, etc, unbelievable – after staying in a kibbutz near the Golan Heights.

Jamieson nearly got run over by a tank when buying a bar of chocolate on the main road.

Very heavy security – soldiers on all balconies and roof of hotel. All Eastern block countries boycotted the event. We lost to Olympic Gold Medallists USA on my 30th birthday.

I met Prof ELO and Ed Lasker! Campomanes was there but disappeared for some days (to rival small unofficial olympiad in Tripoli – maybe).

1978 River Plate Stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina. How can a Western Grandmaster lose to a Chinaman wrote the Giant GM Donner. Next day he was smashed and mated in 20 moves against China. He was furious and nearly knocked me over when he got up and stormed out.

An appeal by Sri Lanka (the father of GM Nakamura!) was ruled in Australia’s favour after I discussed the appeal with GM Yuri Averbach. I had a chat for about 10 minutes with ex-World Champion Euwe who, of course, remembered my father from an England-Holland Match. GM Harry Golombek, seconded by Campomanes awarded me the IA Title at the FIDE Congress. Hungary won above USSR.

1982 Lucerne, Switzerland. We played 10 of the top 20 seeded countries! Australia (Jamieson had to rest as he was above the GM norm) dropped to just below 20th in the last round losing 0.5-3.5 to Bulgaria. Jamieson shared the bronze medal with Garry Kasparov. I witnessed the fantastic game between Kasparov and Korchnoi – a real gem. 17 year old Nigel Short arrived late and sat next to me at the Commonwealth Association meeting. He asked me if I knew Campomanes. I told him that I knew him quite well and he would easily become FIDE President based on the dozens of countries he had visited. He thought Keene controlled the Commonwealth countries but after Campo’s speech – a brilliant orator he instantly realised Campo’s power and formed a long lasting impression which later led to the split between FIDE and the Kasparov-Short World Title Match.

1988 Thessalonika, Greece, I had a 45 minute chat with Karpov when he came to my hotel (with his bodyguard) after I returned his suitcase that had gone astray in Sydney.

1992 Manila Philippines – a fantastic free day reception when Aleks Wohl after a very considerable intake of food and drink was so sick on the bus that everyone deserted the bus which may have become unusable for some time. I was on the committee to determine the brilliancy prize for the 1992 Olympiad. Kasparov also on the committee asked me if I was a GM (everyone else was). I replied I was not but GM Gufeld the Chairman had asked me to be on the committee so all continents would be represented. I offered to stand aside if the committee wanted me to. Anand and Seirawan agreed I should stay. Kasparov said it was clear what the best games were. I asked the Chairman if we were voting for best game or brilliancy. Kasparov said it was best game not brilliancy. I showed the adverts throughout the bulletins stating brilliancy. Kasparov assured me the bulletins were wrong. Gufeld remained in petrified silence – he had once before disagreed with Kasparov! Kasparov showed his genius when various games were suggested by the panel he not only remembered all the games but said what was wrong with them. GM Rogers win over GM Milos was widely known as a brilliancy and discussed. Kasparov dismissed the game due to Milos playing badly near the end (as he put it). Kasparov said three games stood out as the best – they were in fact all Kasparov wins. Kasparov then said the best game was definitely his win over Ivanchuk but as the game was played at such a high level no-one else would understand it. He then gave another Kasparov game which ultimately was selected as the winner after I counted the votes just above Rogers in second place.

Any favourite players from among those you've captained?
Rogers tactical intuition in games and analysis as a youth in Argentina 1978 impressed me greatly – about 15 years later he suddenly asked me why I dropped him in round 3! Jamieson’s logic in Switzerland 1982 was above GM level (Each move of his crushing win over GM Unzicker - a judge by profession was played instantly) – a pity Jamieson retired from chess far too early.

Max Fuller played nine Olympiads mainly on board two with good results. He was stronger than many IM’s but just missed the title. He was awarded the Australian Master Title for Life after achieving way more than the tough 100 ACF Master points required. Sadly despite numerous requests the ACF still does not list him as an Australian Master on the ACF website but Fuller still hopes that this will occur in his lifetime. The ACF lists numerous players with lesser titles but still does not list its own Living Australian Masters which has been discussed numerous times.

Terrey Shaw played nine Olympiads like Stephen Solomon and Guy West and Max Fuller who are all great fighters no matter how good or bad the position. Johansen was clearly Australian number 2 for many years and he and Rogers on board 1 for Olympiad after Olympiad did well holding their own against strong opposition.

Rogers and Johansen have each so far played 14 Olympiads; Fuller, Shaw, West, Solomon and Dekic (W) 9. Clearly Biljana Dekic has set an excellent example for Australian Women’s Chess with her enthusiasm and dedication to the Women’s Olympiads for 20 years.

Of course, we've just had another Olympiad. We'd all love to hear your opinion on the current generation of players.
All our players at the 2010 Olympiad performed almost exactly in accordance with their FIDE ELO rating (shows what an excellent rating system Elo is! – GM David Smerdon was the biggest winner from open and women’s teams gaining 5.3 rating points).

The 2010 Australian Olympiad Team is about the same standard as our 1982 team but much older. The other problem is we were ranked in the top 25 countries 28 years ago but now we are outside the top 50 countries due to the considerable increase in the number of players at all levels in numerous countries (over 1350 grandmasters,over 200 above 2600, 890 over 2500 and 2350 above 2400). Australia is ranked world no 57 and we will have only 5 active FIDE rated players above 2400 – in rating order Zhao, Smerdon, Xie, Wohl and Johansen (Nov 2010 FIDE list). Sadly with only five of the top 2350 players (and none of the top 200) in the world Australia needs to improve a fair bit to return to the world top 50.


CDS' 30% off everything sale is until Christmas 2010. The month of October 2010 with the sale has been their busiest month ever, Peter tells me, with some quality items selling out very quickly. The more you buy the more you save!

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Beaten by a Can

H/T to Gambit.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

World Youth Championships 2010

The guys at ChessDom may not quite go toe to toe with the heavyweights of chess reporting, but from time to time they do deliver. For instance, they're currently hosting the web presence of the big World Youth Championships tournament in Haldiki. And over night, our friends in CD sent us over a couple of video links including this one which is the arrival of delegations. Yeah very exciting stuff right there.

Now to be honest, I can't remember if this was the one junior tournament that basically accepted anybody who could afford to go. So long as you had the dough, you went. In other words, there was no preliminary tournament, no selections, no nothing. Tournaments like these are basically private affairs. Nothing to be particularly excited about.

Still, I understand that there are Aussies in this event and, given that they'll be facing tough opposition, and it's always nice to have Australians, of course, they at least deserve our prayers.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kasparov on Same Old

Kasparov always has plenty to say. And he has plenty to say about pretty much the same thing. Frankly, he's getting boring. In this very impressive coup by a Belgian bloggger and reproduced in full by ChessVibes, we can basically summarise what Kasparov had to say simply as:

FIDE is bad.

Ilyumzhinov is bad.

I'm still upset over 1996.

Same old, same old.

But by the grace of Caissa, the interview took a somewhat interesting turn. Mr Jan Lagrain, our lucky Belgian blogger, turned matters towards fashion, a little bit on the Olympiad and that other perennial debate about whether chess is a sport or not.

On Magnus' choice of defence against GM Michael Adams in the recent Olympiad, Kasparov was blunt: "I don’t approve of this. In fact I think it’s almost an insult to play such an opening against someone like Adams, a well-known top player. In my opinion Magnus deserved to loose this game." Ouch!

But the former master (apparently, both Kasparov and Magnus have since severed their "apprentice-master" relationship, which I hadn't known til now) does approve of the Norwegian wunderkind's side career in fashion. I agree that this can only be good for chess. Perhaps that 2200-rated Paris Hilton should join him.

Anyway, there's just way too much political scandal in chess. If we're going to put this game on the map, what we really need is a scandal of the salacious kind. The Bermuda incident years ago is already a fading memory.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Getting Some Chess Action

For the non-chess PJ, covering a chess tournament isn't exactly the sort of assignment to get the adrenaline pumping. For them, a chess tournament is just downright odd .

Well, here's an idea for FIDE: they should encourage more of the Anna Sharevich type. "Think a 2200-rated Paris Hilton", said GM David Smerdon about her. She'll get anybody's pulse racing that one.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tindall is NSW Champ

It looks like New South Wales has a new champ. It's FIDE master Brett Tindall. He finished the event with 7.5 points from nine games. Sadly, the coverage of this event had been absolutely atrocious. The official NSWCA website, for instance, has only the usual tables, no games, nothing else and still no update of the final result.

I don't mean to be dissin' the champ, but I suppose when the event was as weak as it was, there was really no point making a song and dance about proceedings. Only 3 players out of thirty-four were rated over 2000 and there was only one other master player, FM Greg Canfell.

Still, the two FMs didn't quite go through the nine-rounder completely unscathe. Canfell lost to 1643-rated Mark Baterowicz (probably his biggest win ever), while Tindall lost to my good friend Nick Kordahi! Awesome show Nick. Must get my hands on that game.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Karpov: Kasparov hurt me

From Time magazine:

Now that his coup has failed, Karpov says that his old foe Kasparov was one of his main liabilities. "Of course this hurt me," he told TIME at a cigar club patronized by Russia's chess elite. "Kasparov's political activity made things very difficult for us in Russia." In Germany, France and Switzerland, however, Karpov had no trouble getting the nomination, so he and Kasparov pushed ahead with the campaign.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Antonio Makes Peace with NCFP

In the neverending series of twists and turns of Philippine chess politics, today we hear of the latest stanza in the GM Antonio versus NCFP controversy. In some ways this one doesn't really surprise. For, after all, how could do the country simply do away with its number 2 player?

After apparently apologising to the country's national fed (and I think partly due to the NCFP seeing the error of its ways, especially in light of the Olympiad results), GM Antonio is back in. He'll be joining Wesley So, J.P. Gomez and Darwin Laylo in the upcoming Guangzhou Asian Games, in China.

NCFP executive director Willie Abalos was quoted by journos as saying, "So and Antonio will carry us in the individual event where we have a good chance of winning the gold. China, India and Vietnam are solid in the team competition."

That's one thing you can say about these Pinoys: they are ever so full of optimism.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Shogi Conquered by Computer

It was bound to happen sooner or later, although this one did take a long time to realise. For the first time ever, a computer program has beaten a human in the game of Japanese chess. There's more in this NHK report (in English) that also features a video.

The Australian Gizmodo blog is similarly carrying the story with this interesting tidbit: "...Western chess is a relatively simple game, with only about 10123 possible games existing that can be played out. Shogi is a bit more complex, though, offering about 10224 possible games."

10,123 possible games? I think they probably meant "possible moves" in an average chess game. But what's an average chess game we're talking about here? I sure would like to know more about these numbers, so if you have references, please post them in the comments.

UPDATE (13 Oct, 19:27): It's 10^123. See this New Scientist article. Hat tip to Adrian.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chess Discount Sales Shuts Down

After almost 40 years in business, Sydney's favourite chess store is closing down, thanks to the retirement of its owner, Peter Parr. This is all very good for Peter, of course, but Sydney will now lose a genuine institution.

I remember the first time I ever walked into that place way back in the late 90's. It's a cliche to say it, but the joint was an Alladin's Cave. Books and all kinds of paraphernalia - from Olympiad posters to old Russian text, historic scoresheets, you name it - filled this joint across its whole length from floor to ceiling. You could barely find the thing that you wanted, but the seemingly haphazard arrangement of things meant also the occasional fortuitous find.

One day I stumbled upon the original scoresheets to the telegraphic match between Australia and the then Soviet Union (I can't recall the year, but I think 1980). I offered to buy, but Peter flatly refused!

Nowadays you can, of course, purchase any chess book ever written online, with everything neatly categorised to get you started and checked out in under half a dozen mouse clicks (because that's what the e-commerce gurus say is best-practice). But, it is nowhere the same as walking into a mess of a place like CDS. And if you're really lucky, you might just run into a local legend or two. I believe Max Fuller is still a regular. Pat Halpin, too, can still be spotted from time to time. It was from Pat that I learned about the "Australian Attack" in the Sicilian Defence. You'll have to find out more from him about that one.

Most of our Aussie readers will have heard of Peter Parr. He is opinionated and sometimes controversial. Last I checked, he's no big fan of the current Glicko based rating system in Australia and he's had a few, very lengthy words to say about that. Yet, despite the reputation, this former Olympiad skipper and current NSWCA supremo is probably still largely unknown especially to our young readers.

Thus, we have today the first installment of this two-part interview with the man. Today we touch on the beginnings. Next time, we'll have the Olympiad, Campo and politics!

Note to reader: The interview was conducted via email. While the words are entirely Peter's, I made corrections to punctuation and layout for better reading.


(The Closet Grandmaster): I'm curious about how it all started in chess. I understand that your dad is a chess player. At what age were you when you first played?
(Peter Parr): I was at the 1946 British Championship and was at most British Championships in the 21 year period 1946-1967. I learned to play from my father at the age of four.

Any awards or notable achievements back in England?
My first London Under 14 Championship was in 1956 at the age of 10. I was featured in a large one page article in the London Daily Sketch as the youngest player and my father had scored 9/11 in the 1956 British Championship – the highest score ever for only second place!

I won the brilliancy prize for my win over Bill Hartston (later British Champion) in the London Under 14. Our school team [was] Sutton Grammar. Surrey won many inter-school competitions with my brother David on top board, Jos Haynes (later ACT champion), myself and Michael Prizant (now correspondence grandmaster) and his brother. I won the Felce Cup in Surrey 1965. Note : Surrey Champions are on the website but claims for some county titles e.g. Yorkshire Champions cannot be verified.

On that note, where in England is your family from?
My father, the then British Under 18 Champion, from Battersea Grammar School, London was giving a simultaneous exhibition in 1936 near his home at Clapham Common, London. A stray ball entered and my father threw it back to the girl, from Clapham North, who, of course, became my mother.

Of course, I suppose like a lot of Brits, you found a good reason to move Down Under. I don't imagine that it was just for the chess. Or was it?
I was working at Westminster Bank Wimbledon, London for four years where I became SMO (Senior Mechanisation Officer) on mechanised ledgers (before computers!) and was supervisor of 8 other employees (6 females, 2 males; one of the girls contacted me earlier this year clearly missing me after 42 years apart!) .

I played chess regularly for the bank and once played Sir Frederick Hoare, the Lord Mayor of London and founder of Hoare’s Bank where Queen Elizabeth II has her accounts.

Advertising at Australia House London for English migrants to move and live in Australia was widely marketed. I soon realised that wages were exactly double working in a bank in Australia compared to London and the cost of living in Australia [was then] only slightly higher than [in] London (times have changed of course).

The weather was much better, beaches etc, [were] far better than [in] dreary England and the assisted passage scheme meant I could travel to Australia on a five week voyage all expenses paid for just ten pounds. The only drawback of course was less chess than in London where I was ranked no 3 in my house. My application for a job at the age of 21 with ANZ Bank was approved by the London Head Office.

When did you move to the Lucky Country?
I set sail (I rose to the rank of AB in the Royal Navy Cadets) in February 1968 arriving in March 1968. My first game in Australia was round 1 of the 1968 Doeberl Cup in Canberra when I checkmated Lukic with a bishop on move 10 ! Later that year I tied for first place with IM Cecil Purdy (1st World Correspondence Champion) on 10/13 in a strong NSW State Championship beating John Purdy in the last round. I won the 4 game play-off match for the title 2.5-0.5.

Do you remember any first impressions of the local scene? Any particular personalities that made a mark?
In England I highly respected veteran Sir George Thomas who I met at many British Championships – a gentleman of the highest order - and the only player I met who was at the first Hastings Tournament in 1895.

In Australia the personalities that made a mark [were] Lajos Steiner, Garry and Evelyn Koshnitsky, John and Cecil Purdy and Fred Flatow.

Let's move on now to Chess Discount Sales and its beginnings. When did it all start? And I understand that the original store was somewhere near the CBD. What was all that like?
1972 had been a fantastic year with the Fischer-Spassky match. Myself, Max Fuller and John Kellner appeared on TV regularly each night demonstrating the latest dramatic games. Rosemary had taken over Cecil’s chess business and all players relied on chess informant as by far the best regular publication.

When the retail price rose very dramatically in late 1972, I discussed with a number of players if they would prefer to buy informant from me at about half price! I knew the editor, of course, GM Matanovic who defeated me in the Lidums International in Adelaide Jan 1971. The next issue I bought 40 copies and sold the lot in a couple of days making a profit even at the discount price. (A practice that continues for almost 40 years).

I then bought more books from overseas and Fred Flatow suggested that as I was selling chess goods at a discounted price I should call my business Chess Discount Sales. This was met with widespread approval and in early 1973 after paying a deposit on a dilapidated 2 storey house in Eveleigh St, Redfern I had 2 chess-playing tenants to pay off my mortgage and CDS was open 10am-2pm Monday-Friday.

I also had a full time job as a senior computer operator (midnight to 8am) with P & O Shipping Lines. I was also an entertainer for P&O (Chess Lecturer) on South Pacific Cruise Sydney/ Tahiti after TV programs.

You know, I never much thought that a living could be had from a chess business. But you've obviously done well for yourself. Any tips for budding chess entrepreneurs or former, ahem, rivals perhaps?
[In] 1979 I sold my two-storey house (for a profit) and decided to run a chess centre full time [on the] top floor 232 Sussex St near Sydney Town Hall. It was essential that as I was spending very considerable funds in rent and in setting up a chess centre with 80 very high quality chairs and 40 quality tables that the NSWCA support the Centre by holding all its major events there.

This was, of course, achieved with the whole-hearted moral support of all chessplayers in Sydney. I had over 300 annual financial members in nine months and the centre was open 11am – 11pm 7 days a week. My income was mainly from the centre selling coffee, memberships, ham and cheese sandwiches etc, and every NSWCA event was held there for over 5 years when my lease expired and the property was sold. Most unfortunate.

It is strange that over 30 years ago I was one of the oldest members of NSWCA council and now in 2010 I am one of the younger members of the NSWCA executive.


Chess Discount Sales is currently running a 30% off discount on all products. The store can be found at 72 Campbell St in Sydney. The nearest train stop is Central. Here's a map.

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