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.