Monday, February 28, 2011

A Little Bullet Excitement

OK, it's only bullet, but the guy was an IM and since it's about the only chess I play these days, I thought I'd share it. I think it's called the "Shirov-Shabalov Attack", I can't remember, but it's definitely one that gets the adrenaline going, whether in OTB chess or online.

I remember once being on the white side of this opening against Tomek Rej when I decided to offer him a draw, just to see how he'd react. He said, "you gotta be joking!"

ICC 1 0
Internet Chess Club
The Closet GM
{my opponent}

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 e6 5. Qc2 Nbd7 6. e3 Bd6 7. g4 h6 8. Rg1 Qe7 9. g5 hxg5 10. Rxg5 g6 11. Bd2 dxc4 12. Bxc4 e5 13. O-O-O exd4 14. exd4 Kf8 15. Re1 Qd8

Position after 15...Qd8

16. Bxf7 Rh7 17. Bxg6 Rg7 18. Nh4 Nb6 19. Rgg1 Nbd5 20. Nf5 Bxf5 21. Qxf5 Qd7 22. Qf3 Be7 23. Bh6 Qd6 24. Ne4 Qf4+ 25. Bxf4 Nxf4 26. Qxf4 Black resigns 1-0

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Art of Chess in Queensland

Queensland chess fanatics should head off to the University of Queensland's Art Museum to check out "The Art of Chess". It's that same travelling exhibit that visited Bendigo last year.

There's more information here in the university's news section.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sit Straight for Better Results

I've just noticed that GM Nigel Davies' blog is pointing to me. After a quick look around, I can tell you, The Chess Improver blog is worth following. His content is instructive but sometimes he veers off into the most unexpected and makes you wonder. Take his recent musing over the possible connection between posture and thinking.

This relationship between posture and thought has been highlighted more recently as I’ve become involved in Tai Chi. In this case proper intent is the key to a stronger posture, and it’s amazing the difference it makes.

This leads me to wonder if people can improve the quality of their thinking by improving their posture. I’ve tried googling for this and only come up with some studies showing a change in brain waves in people who meditate. Also intriguing is a recent finding that visiting a chiropracter (sic) can reduce blood pressure.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Help Christchurch

Since moving to Tokyo, I do now get my fair share of tremors. Most are barely noticeable. After the first time I felt a real shake, I logged onto Facebook and made a joke about it. But the 6.3 magnitude quake that struck the New Zealand city of Christchurch yesterday was no joke.

By the latest count, some 75 people have perished. Roughly two hundred or so are still missing.

I understand that there are quite a few members of the NZ chess community who are based out of Chrischurch or around the surrounding areas, among them being the affable FM Steven Lukey. Yesterday I saw that he posted a message on Australia's chess bulletin board, Chess Chat. I'm glad he's alright. Still, no news has been heard of other chessers in the area. But I'm hoping, as I'm sure we all are, that they escaped.

For many Australian chess players, of course, Christchurch is actually an important stop en route to and from New Zealand tournaments. I've been there twice myself for Queenstown. While very small compared to many other cities, Christchurch is stunningly beautiful.

I also remember well the giant outdoor chess set just outside the famous cathedral that now stands half destroyed. I can only imagine what it must have been like for the regular chess folks when the temblor struck.

If you want to help, please contact the usual charities.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sexy Chessers Play Poker

If WIM Caoili ever gets tired of chess as well as the politics, and this week's excitement may just push her over the edge, there's always the alternative career popular among many of her fellow women players. Poker.

Almira Skripchenko and Dinara Khaziyeva are today making the headlines in the world of poker for making it into the finals of something called the World Poker Tour Celebrity Invitational in Los Angeles.

I had no idea those two were celebs. But anyway, there you have it.

If Caoili does defect, there's always the prospect of earning a lot of money, but I don't know if she'll ever get away from those pesky photographers. Poker does like its women.

And by the way, just so we're clear here: I never had to give her the "command" to smile. She always smiled at me.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Caoili: The Philippines' Prodigal Daughter

This current spat between WIM Arianne Caoili and the Australian Chess Federation ought to serve as ample opportunity for the ACF's opposite number in the Philippines, the NCFP, to snag back their prodigal daughter. In case we need reminding, Caoili actually began her Olympiad career in RP colours, appearing for that country in 2000 and 2002, before switching allegiance to Australia from 2004 onwards.

If Caoili does return to the RP fold, I see it only as a win-win, albeit obviously a loss for Australia. The WIM gets to play in a stronger zone (plus a fair few other Asian events if she makes herself available for those), while the Philippines' women squad receives the services of a reliable point-scorer.

The only question really here is: just how serious is WIM Arianne Caoili? Or was all that just an empty rant?

I hereby challenge her to switch!

While many in Aussie chess will no doubt greet such a move with a derisive, "good riddance", the NCFP and Pinoy fans will surely greet Caoili with a heart-warming embrace.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Expats Rant at Aussie Chess

In a tandem attack, IM Alex Wohl and WIM Arianne Caoili deliver some very harsh words on Australian chess politicians. Alex has a problem with information, while Ari has a problem with, well, a lot of things.

Let me sum up my argument by giving an example of a piece of oration Levon once gave me over some gambas a la plancha: ‘Arianne, you’re playing men here. You can’t rely on tricks, yoyo emotions and crappy openings. These guys know their theory, and they fight. You can’t possibly compare a 2400 female and a 2400 guy – just have a look at the source of their rating points’.

If we get rid of gender related divisions/prizes/conditions altogether, then the ‘market’ for women to garner their rating points and experience will be larger and more competitive, and thus over time Oceania women chess players in general will not only be stronger but also more interesting to talk about in chess terms.

Firstly, if you're wondering what "gambas a la plancha" is, that's grilled prawns. I'm partial to gambas al ajillo myself and the best ones I've had were back in Valencia. Secondly, if you're wondering why Arianne never made it to the last Zonal in Rotorua, it's possibly because the ACF pissed her off!

You can read more of this, including Arianne Caoili's letter of protest to the ACF/NZCF over on IM Wohl's blog, Doubleroo.

UPDATE (20 Feb. 11.09AM): The Australian Chess Federation's Dr Kevin Bonham responds to WIM Caoili on Chesschat.

Learn Chess with AR

No, not with me, but with "augmented reality".

A couple of students from the Universitat Polit├Ęcnica de Catalunya, in Spain, have just come up with a novel way to teach chess. All you apparently need is a PC with a webcam, a chess set and a specialised software to make the whole AR thing happen.

The Science Daily reports:

To use the system, learners play with an ordinary chess board but move the cardboard markers instead of standard pieces. The table is lit from above and the webcam focuses on the board, and every time the player moves one of the markers the system recognises the piece and reproduces the move in 3D on the computer screen, creating a virtual representation of the game.

For example, if the learner moves the marker P (pawn), the corresponding piece will be displayed on the screen in 3D, with all of the possible moves indicated. This is a simple and attractive way of showing novices the permitted movements of each piece, making the system particularly suitable for children learning the basics of this board game.

Maybe I'm just not seeing it, but I don't see the point in this.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Laylo Finishes in Style

Well, how about that? Laylo bags a crucial last round win over Gavrilov to raise his total to 7 points and finish in second place overall on tiebreak. The last game had plenty of very nice moves. Laylo's attack is just so free-flowing, it's beautiful.

Aeroflot Open 2011 B
Laylo, Darwin
Gavrilov, Alexei

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 d6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. O-O Bf5 8. d5 Na5 9. Nd2 c6 10. e4 Bg4 11. Qa4 cxd5 12. cxd5 Bd7 13. Qb4 Qc7 14. e5 Ne8 15. e6 fxe6 16. Bh3 Nf6 17. dxe6 Bc6 18. Nde4 Nxe4 19. Nxe4 Qb6

After 19...Qb6

20. Qe1 Inviting the guy to play the obvious next move. 20...Bb5 21. Be3 Qd8 22. Ng5 Bxf1 23. Qxf1 And, of course, now the Queen is ideally positioned! Clever stuff. 23...Nc6 24. Bg4 Ne5 25. Qh3 h6 26. Nf7 Nxf7 27. exf7+ Kh7 28. Be6 Qa5 29. Rc1 d5 30. Rd1 Rad8

After 30...Rad8

31. Rd4 Rd6 32. Rh4 g5 33. Qf5+ Kh8 34. Rxh6+ Bxh6 35. Bd4+ 1-0

In the A section, Vietnamese GM Le Quang Liem retained his title with another outstanding performance.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

So Withdraws from Aeroflot

The Philippines currently only has reps in the B and C groups of the ongoing Aeroflot Open after the country's number one, Wesley So, withdrew from the A section. Six rounds in, Wesley, who made his way to Russia after Corus, managed only 2.5 points, including a second round loss to the 2557-rated Shomoev.

So cited headaches for his withdrawal.

Meanwhile, in the B section, GM Darwin Laylo is having one of his best outings. So far he hasn't dropped a game! Going into today's final round, Laylo is one of 4 players on six points, just a half point behind joint leaders Kobanov and Kotanjian.

Aeroflot Open 2011 B
Laylo, Darwin
Kalegin, Evgenij

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. Nc3 O-O 5. g3 d6 6. Bg2 Nbd7 7. O-O e5 8. e4 h6 9. h3 Nh7 10. Be3 Ng5 11. Nxg5 hxg5 12. f4 exf4 13. gxf4 c5 14. f5 cxd4 15. Bxd4 Ne5 16. Nd5 Re8 17. c5 dxc5 18. Bxc5 Bd7 19. f6 Bh6 20. Ne7+ Rxe7 21. fxe7 Qe8 22. Qd5 Bg7 23. Rad1 Bc6 24. Qd2 Bb5 25. Qxg5 f6 26. Rxf6 Bxf6 27. Qxf6 Nd7 28. Rxd7 Bxd7 29. Bd4 1-0

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Searching for Chess

Maybe I read this somewhere or perhaps somebody told me, but apparently more books are published under the letter "C" thanks to chess. Which is probably right considering the amount of printed matter that exist today under the subject of "chess". By sheer book count chess is arguably very popular.

Which made me wonder: what about online? How many blogs out there are about chess? Or news sites, e-zines, Facebook pages - basically, websites of any kind talking about chess? I don't know and I'm not inclined to find out any time soon. For imagine how much work that will take.

But I did find out the number of times in a month that "chess" is entered into Google by people searching for chess or anything related to chess.


That's according to Google's Keyword Tool which actually also tells you the relevant search phrases containing "chess".

And who, you may ask, are the most avid seekers of all things chess? The Mongolians!

Now, 6M searches for chess might seem like a high number, but this doesn't even come close to "sex", at 338M searches, or "facebook" which comes in at a staggering 2.5 billion!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kichijoji Weekender

The light snowfall over Tokyo during the last few days seemed like a good reason to stay indoors. The skies are dark and the streets wet. Snow looks pretty atop houses and by the sides of alleyways, but I really hate snow.

So yesterday, I decided to drop in again at the Kichijoji Chess Club. To my delight they were running a 3-day long weekend tournament. Unfortunately I arrived too late and, at any rate, Sunday, the last day, just happens to be the Tokyo Real Ale Festival in Asakusa, and there's no way I was going to miss that!

I did stay for bit and took a couple of photos (with the iPhone), however, and here's one of them. The rest are in my flickr stream.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Adventurous Mikhalevski

French writer Pierre Mac Orlan (1882 - 1970) apparently said this:

"There are more adventures on a chessboard than on all the seas of the world."

He's probably right. Especially when you see games like this one from round 6 of this year's Gibraltar.

2011 Gibraltar Masters
Akobian, Varuzhan
Mikhalevski, Victor

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. f3 c5 4. d5 Bg7 5. e4 d6 6. Nc3 O-O 7. Bg5 h6 8. Be3 e6 9. Qd2 exd5 10. cxd5 Re8 11. Nge2 Nbd7 12. Ng3 h5 13. Be2 a6 14. O-O b5 15. Bh6 h4 16. Nh1 Nh5 17. Bxg7 Kxg7 18. a4 b4 19. Nd1 f5 20. exf5 Nb6 21. fxg6

Position after 21. fxg6

21...Rxe2 22. Qxe2 Nf4 23. Qe4 Qg5 24. g4 Nh3+ 25. Kg2 Nf4+ 26. Kg1 Bd7 27. Ne3 Nh3+ 28. Kg2 Nf4+ 29. Kg1 Re8 White is totally paralysed. He can't do much now, except this... 30. Nf5+ Kg8 31. Qb1 Nh3+ 32. Kg2 Nf4+ 33. Kg1 Nh3+ 34. Kg2 Nxd5 35. Nf2 Re2 36. Nxd6 Bxg4 and it's mate in 6! 0-1

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Iran Strikes at Israel

Pissing contests between the Jewish State and the Iranians are almost a weekly headline. Much of it provoked by the Iranian leader's vitriol (including a denial of the Holocaust), not to mention, their alleged nuclear programme. Luckily, neither side has made any sudden movements. For who knows how nasty that could turn out to be?

But perhaps luckier still is that both sides seem perfectly happy to conduct a sort of proxy contest away from the battlefield and onto the chess board.

When an Israeli broke Morteza Mahjoub's record for the number of simul games, the question was immediately put back to the Iranians. That question has just been answered emphatically, this time by another Iranian, GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami. The AFP has the details.

Just as well, really. In a real war, the Iranians have no chance.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Age Tribute to Hjorth

Guy Rundle on IM Greg Hjorth:

Discussion of natural genius irritated him; he insisted that immense hard work separated first rank mathematicians from many of those who fell short. Recent accolades, from the 2003 Karp prize to last year's Tarski lectures underlined that commitment. Widely regarded by colleagues as among the best mathematical logicians under the age of 50 in the world, he would have been a potential contender for any of the great mathematical prizes on offer. Yet his modesty was total. The only time he got excited about an award was when a fellow Australian won the Fields medal, the maths Nobel.

Hard work was also an approach he had taken to chess, something that had been a passion since he first became interested at the age of six, when he and his parents, Robert, a neurologist, and Noela, an artist, were living in London. Once he'd learnt the basics, his father remembers, ''there was no stopping him''.

UPDATE: The UCLA's Mathematics department also has a tribute to Greg Hjorth including a PDF file that contains pictures of the man while in action, both inside the classroom and over-the-board.

Monday, February 07, 2011

High Finish for Pinoy in Russia

International master Oliver Barbosa of the Philippines has turned in what must be a highlight performance of his career so far. Twenty-four year old Barbosa collected 7.5 points over nine encounters in the just concluded Moscow Open (section E). His last 2 round kills against a pair of grandmasters were absolutely crucial. Here's one of them.

Moscow Open 2011 - E
Kotsur, Pavel
Barbosa, Oliver

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. h5 Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 e6 11. Bd2 Ngf6 12. O-O-O Be7 13. Rhe1 O-O 14. Qe2 Qc7 15. Ne5 c5 16. dxc5 Nxc5 17. Kb1 Rac8 18. c4 a6 19. f4 b5 20. f5 bxc4 21. fxe6 fxe6 22. Qxc4 Nd5 23. Ng6 Qxg3 24. Rxe6 Nxe6 25. Qxd5 Qd6 26. Bb4 Qxd5 27. Nxe7+ Kh7 28. Nxd5 Rf2 29. Ne7 Rd8 30. Rc1 Nf4 31. Ba5 Rd7 32. Ng6 Nxg6 33.hxg6+ Kxg6 34. a4 Rxg2 35. Rc6+ Kf5 36. Rxa6 h5 37. Ra8 h4 38. Rh8 Ra7 39. Bd8 Ra8 40. a5 g5 41. b4 Rd2 42. Rf8+ Ke5 0-1

John Paul Gomez garnered 6.5 points while lone Aussie, the little kid, Anton Smirnov collected 4 points. Young Anton's most impressive win was in the third round over Denis Vorobjov, rated 2248.

The untitled Vladimir Belous won the section E event with 8 points overall.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

A Chess Day in Tokyo

A quiet day in Tokyo, so I decided to walk around my hometown and stop by over in the Kichijoji Chess Club. It's been months since my last visit and a few weeks since I touched real-live pieces. I'd had enough of ICC bullet games.

For 800 yen (roughly $10) I got to play a few rounds of 5-minute blitz and for another 100 yen, a rated game! Yes, pretty expensive by Australian standards. It's basically a pay-per-visit model. But folks don't seem to complain. And it's the sort of revenue raising that let's them rent the third floor of this building.

Part of the fees probably also went into the payment for one of Japan's top players (can't remember his name) to drop in a deliver a lecture. Roughly a dozen eager listeners, mostly young, attended. Of course, I couldn't understand a word of it.

If you happen to visit Tokyo, the Kichijoji CC is on the Chuo line and just a 3-minute walk from Kichijoji station.

Kichijoji Club game
The Closet Grandmaster

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. d4 c6 5. Nf3 Nf6 6. Bd3 Bg4 7. O-O Nbd7 8. Bd2 Qc7 9. Qe2 O-O-O 10. b4 e5 11. h3 Bh5 12. Rfb1 exd4 13. Na4 Re8 14. Qd1 Bd6 15. c4 Bf4 16. g4 Nxg4 17. Nxd4 Ngf6 Fritz reckons that 17... Be3 is strong. 18. Bxf4 Qxf4 19. Qc2 Qxd4 20. b5 c5 21. Nc3 Ne5 22. Bf5+ Kb8 23. a4 Nf3+ 24. Kf1 Qf4 25. Ne4 Rxe4 26. Bxe4 Nxe4 0-1

Friday, February 04, 2011

Ivanchuk Wins Gibraltar

Super GM Vassily Ivanchuk is the winner in Gibraltar with a powerhouse output of 9 points from ten games. He conquered all, never dropping a point. Nigel Short was in second place with the equally impressive finish of eight and a half. The British man's only blemish was his loss to Chukky.

The only Australian in the event, IM Wohl, performed to his level finishing with 6 points overall. His ten games included a run-in with no less than legend Viktor Korchnoi. The game was a KID with Viktor on the white side. Of course, the old-timer won the encounter and after which told Alex, "Against some people you should not play the Kings Indian". Ouch!

You can play through that game over on Alex's blog.

Finally, while I didn't exactly cover this event regularly, I have to thank the Gibraltar press office for their daily media releases. Very professional, indeed, and some top-notch reporting.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Moscow Open 2011

The Moscow International Open Festival is a massive event. While the open is the feature tournament, there are actually a couple of round robins that include some impressive names - Kosteniuk in the women's, Alexeev, rated 2701, and Ivan Cheparinov in the men's.

But of interest to our readers is the main tournament because of some familiar names - Australia's Anton Smirnov as well as Pinoys GM John Paul Gomez and IM Oliver Barbosa.

Barbosa, especially, had an electric start. He got up to 4/4 before going down to Alexander Beliavsky in the fifth!

Moscow Open 2011 - E
Barbosa, Oliver"]
Beliavsky, Alexander G

1. d4 f5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. O-O O-O 6. c4 d6 7. Nc3 Qe8 8. Re1 Qf7 9. b3 Ne4 10. Bb2 Nd7 11. Qc2 Ndf6 12. Nxe4 Nxe4 13. e3 c6 14. Rad1 a5 15. a4 Be6 16. Nd2 d5 17. Bf1 g5 18. f3 Nd6 19. c5 Ne8 20. Bd3 Qh5 21. Bc3 Kh8 22. f4 Nf6 23. Be2 Qg6 24. Nf3 Ne4 25. Bd3 gxf4 26. exf4 Rg8 27. Ng5 h6 28. Nf3 Bf6 29. Bxe4 fxe4 30. Ne5 Qh7 31. Re3 h5 32. Kf2 h4 33. Rg1 Raf8 34. Ke1 Bxe5 35. dxe5 Rxf4 36. Bd4 Rf7 37. Kd1 Bg4+ 38. Kc1 e6 39. gxh4 Bf3 40. Ree1 Rfg7 41. Qd2 Qxh4 42. Rxg7 Rxg7 43. Rg1 Rxg1+ 44. Bxg1 Kh7 45. Kb2 Kg6 46. Be3 Kf5 47. Ka3 Qh3 48. Bh6 Qg4 49. Qxa5 d4 50. Qc7 e3 51. Qxb7 Qg6 0-1

After 5 games, young Anton, son of FM Vladimir Smirnov is on 2 points.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

New Doco on Fischer

Obviously as a follow-up to yesterday's post, one of our avid readers just sent in a tip about the latest doco on Bobby Fischer. This one called "Bobby Fischer Against the World", directed by Liz Garbus, recently premiered at Sundance.

I couldn't find the trailer, but here's Liz briefly talking about the film plus a brief clip.