Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Check Out The Speed Chick

I can assure you, I've got no connections with these Eleviv guys, but when I saw the vid(courtesy of a recent poster's blog) I just couldn't resist.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Seeking the Endgame

Just heard this being advertised on BBC Radio. On Friday, 10 September, the BBC Radio will air a special doco on chess. It's called "Seeking the Endgame", hosted by Simon Terrington.

Bobby on Bobby's Legacy

There's been plenty of news over the last couple of weeks on the whole Bobby Fischer saga and, in particular, whether or not he fathered a child with one Marilyn Young, apparently his then "live-in partner". We now know that he didn't. The DNA tests said so. As far as I'm concerned, the science is conclusive and that's that.

But in his column today for the Philippines' Business World, Fischer's long-time friend Bobby Ang still has something to say about the whole thing.

Through mutual friends Marilyn Young was introduced to him, they fell in love and lived together in a house in Baguio Country Club. Then Ms. Marilyn got pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl, Jinky.


When the baby came out Bobby was initially skeptical: "how come the baby does not have blue eyes?" was the question he kept asking. However, after some time he seemed to relent and recognize the baby as his own. I do not know whether he ever brought them abroad to vacation, but even after Fischer left the Philippines he used to send them money, postcards and gifts through a mutual friend.

Maybe Marilyn had another boyfriend before Bobby Fischer, maybe the paternity test was flawed -- I don’t know. What I do know is that Bobby Fischer treated Jinky like his own daughter. And for someone like him who is not used to being close to anybody that is saying a lot.

And that is all I have to say about that.

READ: Whatever the DNA tests say, Jinky deserves something.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pissing Off the Neighbours

Last night a pretty young Japanese lass surprised the hec out of me when she suddenly blurted out, "salamat". That's "thank you" in Filipino. I won't tell you what she was thanking me for.

Ever since I moved to Japan I've always actually been surprised at how popular the Philippines is among Japanese. Many of them have visited RP and consider Pinoys to be friendly as well as a wonderful people.

However, Pinoys are not always in the good books of all its neighbours. The Malaysians, for example, have a good reason to be unhappy with their RP neighbours, at least with the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.

This weekend the now 7 year old DATMO will begin in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. But also this weekend is another big event to take place in the Philippines - the inaugural $100,000 Campomanes Memorial Cup! No less than the big honcho himself, current FIDE boss Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, will attend the opening ceremony.

So, here we have a well-established event clashing with a brand new one. What the hell is going on? Australian grandmaster Ian Rogers has the reason.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Facing a Dutch Storm

The two guys from Down Under set off to earn their international master titles, but, sadly, they've ran into some Dutch trouble. After 6 rounds, FM Tomek Rej has garnered only 1 point courtesy of two draws, while fellow FIDE master Michael Steadman is barely doing any better. The Kiwi is on one and a half.

Here's Rej losing to candidate master Tex de Wit.

BDO Toernooi (Challengers)
Rej, Tomek
De Wit, Tex

1. d4 d6 2. c4 e5 3. d5 g6 4. Nc3 f5 5. e4 Nf6 6. Bd3 Bg7 7. Qc2 fxe4 8. Nxe4 Nxe4 9. Bxe4 O-O 10. Be3 Nd7 11. h3 Nf6 12. g4 Nxe4 13. Qxe4 c5 14. Nf3 b5 15. Nd2 bxc4 16. Nxc4 Rb8 17. O-O Qh4 18. Kg2 Bf5 Dead on-the-spot. White drops a piece. 0-1

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Antonio Could Get Boot

Something funny going on in the Philippine chess camp. One of their top bets may be in trouble with the federation for heading off to the US and playing in several tournaments. From GMA News:

“The US tournaments are three days only and are not sanctioned by FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs, or World Chess Federation) thus the quality of competition is not that high," said NCFP executive director Willie Abalos.

Pichay earlier asked members of the national men and women teams to compete in two FIDE-sanctioned events in the Philippines – the 6th Pichay Cup and the 1st Florencio Campomanes Memorial Cup – since top GMs will compete in both tournaments.

The Pichay Cup is ongoing while the Campomanes Cup opens on Saturday.

Abalos added that they had already asked Antonio to return immediately so he could compete in the Campomanes Cup or else lose his spot in the national team.

More in NCFP plans to drop GM Antonio from RP chess team.

OK, maybe I'm missing something here, maybe the players have some sort of contract with the NCFP that requires them to do as they're told. But in the absence of such a formal agreement, isn't Antonio, as are all other players I imagine, a free agent?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Limit to the Presidency

The 81st FIDE Congress will take place later this year between 23 Sep to 4 Oct. I attended one of these during the Dresden Olympiad 2 years ago. While it all seemed a bit chaotic at times, the chess body at least has the good sense to properly set out an agenda and to actually publish relevant documents in good time.

Some of the agenda items for the upcoming meeting are interesting reading. From the list it looks like there is at least one national federation out there that has some good sense.

A proposal from Ukraine:

The Ukrainian Chess Federation would like to submit the following proposition for changes in the Electoral Regulations of FIDE:

No person can be elected to a position of FIDE President for more than two consequential terms.

We would like to get your opinion on the matter and to put forward the proposition to the Executive Board.

Yes, I can just imagine the current incumbent really giving that some serious thought! It should be noted that the Ukrainians have declared their support for the Karpov camp in the race for the FIDE presidency.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Comparing Chess and Sport

Here's a timely follow-up to my earlier post, "Let's Just Blame Plato". Famous chess arbiter Stewart Reuben compares chess and sport across a number of different dimensions.

Climax of a Tournament
The use of the Swiss system or round robin does not lend itself to a satisfactory climax. Only a knockout can achieve this. Then there is the problem of resolving ties; well football has exactly the same problem and the resolution is just as unsatisfactory.

Chess is a difficult game to understand and there are no shortcuts. It has been said that most of the people viewing snooker on TV don’t know the order of merit of the colours. They simply rely on the commentators to give some idea. People watch poker tournaments and all they really understand is that the chips represent money and huge sums are wagered.

Read more in English Chess Federation's website.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Preppy Chess Board

You don't normally find the preppy sort of man or woman in the chess scene. But fashion house Ralph Lauren, which is about as preppy as a brand can get, has the chess set for these kinds of people.

Hat tip to the Luxist.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chess Cartel

If you've got iTunes, click on Radio on the left then scroll down to the "Hip Hop / Rap" genre section. Among the stations available is "Chess Move Cartel". From what I can gather it's basically some sort of music production house with a particular focus on hip hop and rap. And, of course, they also have a Facebook page.

No idea why the call themselves Chess Move Cartel, but the work sounds pretty cool. Here's a line, although it sounds like a quote from a movie, from one of the samples on their website: "A game of chess is like a swordfight. You must think first before you move!"

Friday, August 20, 2010

FM Nakauchi in Tokyo

Well, I've got Graeme Gardiner to thank for this post. It turns out that Queenslander FM Gene Nakauchi (中内 仁) dropped in on my town recently and I didn't even know it! Nakauchi-san was here to play in the Japan Open that ran from 13 to 16 August. He finished with 5.5 points, enough to bag second place and 120,000 yen!

That's him in second place on the left small green table. Photos from the event are available here.

I should also say thanks to my Tokyo-based mate Edu Cabrol. He supplied the info contained in this post. Edu also tells me that super GM Hikaru Nakamura played and won this event in 2009.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bundaberg Weekender

News from Bundaberg:

SOME of Australia's best chess players will hone their strategies for this weekend's Bundaberg Weekender tournament.

Organiser Allan Menham and John Harris said the competition would have the strongest line-up the city had ever seen, with 30 already booked in.

While competition will be fierce, the man to beat will be International Chess Master Stephen Solomon.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

RIP Craig Van Tilbury

Last June, Shaun Press told us about the passing of Bill Hook, many times a representative for the British Virgin Islands Olympiad team. Well now there is yet more sad news for the IVB. FM Craig Van Tilbury, recently board one for that team in the Dresden Olympiad, has just passed away. He died of a heart attack.

The New York Times reports: "Though he was not an elite chess player (he earned the international title of FIDE master, which is below grandmaster and international master), he was quiet and unassuming, which made him popular with a wide circle of acquaintances in the chess world, where people are not always known to check their egos at the door."

There's already a tribute video on YouTube.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bridging the Gender Gap

From NPR:

"I just don't see the point having these separate women's titles," says Krush, who was born in the former Soviet Union but grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. "I'm not sure what they indicate. Women can play with men — they do play with men now. They can earn the same titles as men."

Women-only titles may add to the problem. At least that's what International Master Matt Shankland thinks.

You can also listen to an audio report here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Aussie Trio in World Juniors

Just a couple of rounds remain in the 2010 World Juniors in Poland and Russia's GM Dmritry Andreikin appears to have the title all stitched up. He leads on 9 points from GM Jon Ludvig Hammer of Norway who has seven and a half.

Of course, there's actually a lone Aussie in the Juniors section, Sherab, while sister Emma and fellow Canberran Tamzin Oliver are both in the Girls'. After eleven games, Sherab has only 4 points. Disappointing perhaps, but one of his points included a win over 2277-rated Maarten Larmuseau.

World Junior U20 Championship
Guo-yuthok, Sherab
Larmuseau, Maarten

1. f4 g6 2. e4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. Bc4 c6 6. a4 O-O 7. O-O Nxe4 8. Bxf7+ Rxf7 9. Nxe4 Rxf4 10. Qe1 Rf8 11. d4 Bg4 12. Ra3 Qd7 13. Qh4 Na6 14. Bh6 Bh5 15. Bxg7 Kxg7 16. Ng3 Bxf3 17. Raxf3 Nb4 18. c3 e5 19. Nh5+ Kg8 20. Nf6+ Rxf6 21. Rxf6 Qe7 22. Rxg6+ 1-0

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chess Anytime, Anywhere

There's absolutely no doubt that chess is one of the most easily accessible games around. It's even more true nowadays that there are all manner of portable devices - from netbooks to personal game consoles and, of course, phones - that allow just about anyone to play a game anytime.

Here are a couple of recent releases. First, there's something called "Battle vs Chess" and, for the Nintendo DS, "Absolute Chess".

Yet, despite its ubiquity, chess still struggles to crack the mainstream.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sun, Surf and Chess

Sun, surf and chess. The three important things in life. Over in the upcoming 2010 Gold Coast International Chess Festival, it's perfectly possible to have all three right in the one place! Looks pretty good to me especially as the whole event runs during the Christmas season. And, as it happens, I'll be Down Under by then. Might just make a small detour to Queensland before heading back to Tokyo in the new year.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sacs Gone Wrong

From the ongoing WA Chess Championships, Akef sacs way too much.

2010 WA Closed Championship
Akef Saleh
Ryan Sam

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O b5 6. Bb3 Bc5 7. Qe2 Nd4 8. Nxd4 Bxd4 9. c3 Bb6 10. d3 Bb7 11. Be3 Bxe3 12. fxe3 O-O 13. Nd2 d5 14. exd5 Bxd5 15. e4 Bxb3 16. Nxb3 Re8 17. Rf5 Qd6 18. Raf1 Rad8 19. R1f3 c5 20. Qe3 c4 21. dxc4? a bad choice. He ought to have kept the file closed. Now, black has a direct line along the d-file. Better was 21. Rxf6! gxf6 22. Qh6 Qxd3 23. Rxd3 Rxd3 24. Nd2 21... bxc4 22. Rxf6 gxf6 23. Qh6 Kh8 23... Qd1+ 24. Kf2 Qc2+ 25. Kg3 looks stronger 24. Nd4 exd4 25. Rh3 Kg8 26. Rg3+ Qxg3 27. hxg3 d3 28. Qxf6 d2 29. Qg5+ Kf8 30. Qh6+ Ke7 31. Qg5+ f6 32. Qc5+ Kf7 33. Qh5+ Kg7 34. Qg4+ Kh8 35. Qd1 Rxe4 36. Kf2 Re1 37. Qxe1 dxe1=Q+ 38. Kxe1 0-1

Monday, August 09, 2010

Seeing Through The Head

Current Estonian federation boss and supermodel Carmen Kass is a woman who definitely knows what she's talking about.

"Chess trains you to see through the head. You can make better choices, you can analyse good and bad, and you can see further. Life is a chain of command - basically, one thing leads to another, and if you make the wrong move, there are consequences", she was quoted as saying by no less than Vogue!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Food and Chess in the Freezer

International master Aleks Wohl is recovering some form. The itinerant Australian is currently playing in this year's Arctic Chess Challenge and is scoring well, including a win over GM Vadim Malakhatko!

This is Aleks at his tactical best.

Arctic Chess Challenge 2010
Malakhatko, Vadim
Wohl, Aleksandar H

1. d4 e6 2. c4 b6 3. a3 g6 4. Nc3 Bg7 5. e4 Bb7 6. Nf3 Ne7 7. Bg5 h6 8. Be3 d6 9. Bd3 Nd7 10. Qd2 a6 11. Bc2 c5 12. Rd1 g5 13. O-O g4 14. Ne1 Nc6 15. Ne2 Qe7 16. b4 cxd4 17. Nxd4 Nce5 18. Qe2 Rc8 19. Bb3 Bxe4 20. Bc1 Bb7 21. Nec2 Rg8 22. Kh1

Position after 22. Kh1

22...Nf3 23. gxf3 Be5 24. Rg1 Qh4 25. Rg3 Bxg3 26. fxg3 gxf3 27. Qf2 Rxg3 Bang! The rook is off limits. 28. Ne3 Rh3 29. Kg1 Qxf2+ 30. Kxf2 Rxh2+ 31. Kg3 Rh5 32. Nxf3 Ke7 33. Re1 Rg8+ 34. Kf2 Bxf3 35. Kxf3 Ne5+ 36. Ke2 Rh2+ 37. Kd1 Nd3 38. Rf1 Rg3 39. Bd2 Nf2+ 40. Ke1 Nd3+ 41. Kd1 Nf2+ 42. Ke1 Ne4 43. Bc1 Rhh3 44. Ke2 Rxe3+ 0-1 Quality down and quantity down, no hope.

Now compare this game to Duneas - Wohl from last year's Queenstown. If there's a learning here it's don't give Aleks the long diagonal!

After Malakhatko, the Australian then faced Mikhail Kobalia. From his blog, "I diligently prepared, got a good position out of the opening against GM Kobalia but then showed why it's better to relax and climb Mountains. Losing meant that tomorrow I cannot make a GM Norm anymore because I needed someone at least 2540 and got a 2500."

Another thing. Over the last decade, the affable IM has not only travelled the world over and enjoyed the culinary delights of his destination, but he's managed to also play some 1,006 rated games! I only found out about that thanks to this blog post from the ACC.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Let's Just Blame Plato

Hampton Stevens is surely asking for trouble from many chess fans. According to his definition, sport must have 3 key qualities: "people compete at it, computers can't do it, and aesthetics don't count". And by that definition, chess is definitely no sport!

Take chess, for instance. Obviously, people compete at it. Obviously, artistic merit doesn't count—no panel of judges scores players on how prettily they move the pieces. But chess is a game, not a sport because it doesn't require anything physical. You don't even need to be human. Computers play it—better than we do.

Now about that notion of sport requiring some form of physical activity: this old ACF bulletin (from way back in 2001, in fact) has an interesting letter from one Jeremy Gilling. Says he:

Why not accept that all sports involve a combination of physical and intellectual effort, with marathon running (perhaps) at or near one end of the spectrum and chess at the other? You should also be aware that chess played at the elite level is physically exhausting. Physical fitness is rewarded by better results across the board.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

UAE Slaps Kirsan's Face

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's campaign for the FIDE presidency claims to have 81 supporting federations. The latest to join is Cyprus. Whether true or not, that long list of Kirsan's supporters consists mostly of, well, let's just say that they're not exactly powerhouse chess nations (excepting, that is, The Philippines).

On the other hand, Karpov's campaign has only attracted about 22 nations or so. At least that's how many I spotted in that ridiculous scrollbar with the flags! They may be few, but many are some of the heavyweights in world chess: US, Germany, England. The latest to sign up is definitely one heavy, though if not chessically, then at least financially. It's the UAE.

This latest news about the UAE's choice of candidate is interesting because just yesterday, Kirsan himself was in the Emirates to promote his campaign. Obviously, he did a terrible job!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

James Morris: I was scared

This is kind of old, but it's new to me. International master James Morris, of Melbourne, on how he became an IM in 7 days.

When I discovered my opponent I nearly fainted. IM Stephen Solomon! Solomon is the current Australian Champion. I had beaten him a month earlier, but that would just make him stronger: he was out for revenge! I have to admit, I was scared…

I went into the final round nervous and jittery. I played the opening inaccurately and found myself worse. I began to knuckle down and defend but wasn’t sure whether it would be enough. To refresh my mind I got up and looked at the other games.

Read more over at the Sunraysia Chess Club.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Hunting for IM titles

A couple of guys from Down Under are on a hunt for their international master titles in Europe. Tomek Rej, with 3 IM norms already in the bag, and Kiwi FIDE master Michael Steadman, who I think has only one IM norm, will be battling it out in the upcoming Deelnemers BDO Challenger Tournament 2010 in The Netherlands.

Rej just needs to score enough rating points to elevate his rating to 2400 to be a licensed IM, but it'll be a tougher task for Steadman. In this event alone, Steadman will need 6 from nine to bag a norm. Of course, the Kiwi will be also be hoping to get in some good practice before heading out to join his compatriots in Khanty-Mansiysk for the Chess Olympiad.

Good luck to these guys!