Wednesday, November 30, 2005

New Zealand's Future

Visiting NZ, grandmaster Nigel Short thinks he's found our neighbour's chess future. They are the young juniors Harry Wuan and Bobby Cheng.

On Bobby, Short says, "Bobby was the last player left at the table . . . But that six-year-old was just incredible, he was really, really good."

From Stuff.

Grand Prix Tease

That master of promotion, Brian Jones, has been teasing the Australian chess public. If Mr Jones were a woman, he'd quite likely make the perfect pole dancer. He turns you on and leaves you wanting for more.

On the hot looking 2006 GP official site, Mr Jones announces: "23 November 2005 7.02pm - Sponsorship for 2006 Grand Prix found. Details to be announced soon". And a couple of days later added, "Here is a small clue to wet (sic) your appetite. The prizes for the 2006 Grand Prix will include some overseas air fares".

All good stuff. Now some folks are guessing it might be an airline. But I'm betting it's a condom company!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

World Chess Cup

So much news to cover! Some days there's hardly anything.

Anyway, I suppose I should mention that somewhere in cold Siberia a lone Australian (well, his chaperone doesn't count) is battling away against the world's best chessers. He is, of course, international master Gary Lane. And who else but an Aussie would have the luxury of a walkover when his opponent, Akopian, failed to front up? Gary is into round 2. I'm sure he won't mind me saying, "lucky bastard".

But there is also another player that I should like to mention. Who else but a lone Filipino - the Philippines' latest GM, Mark Paragua.

Unlike his much distracted countrymen back home, Paragua is doing the Pinoy chess culture proud. He needed no luck. Crossing swords with GM Segei Movsesian, the Pinoy grandmaster vanquished his opponent 1.5-0.5. On the return match, Paragua forced a resignation after 41 moves when he was already up by 2 major pieces.

This wonderful news brings much needed comfort to our Philippine nation after our chess team failed to win the gold medal in the individual rapid chess event in the 23rd South East Asian Games. We might need a miracle to win the teams event - but I hope they can do it!

Coming From Behind

Well, evidently we're a bit behind the news. Thanks to Boylston Chess Club, it seems that the news item on the World Chess Beauty Contest had already struck the blogosphere a day earlier.

Here is an item from the New York Times, no less, that mentions Vaness Reid straight out of the first paragraph.

There are also entries from the Daily Dirt as well as Susan Polgar.

To Susan Polgar, all I can say is: well, like, whatever! At least I had a hand in this.

A Nation of Chessers

In cities right around the world, there is bound to be some park or street corner that is home to chess players. In Sofia, Bulgaria - that special place is right in front of the National Theatre Ivan Vazov.

The Sofia Echo sets the scene:

Even when the brisk autumn air chases away park fans in the sunny afternoons, the chess fanatics are still there. The place with the marble chess tables near the fountain is usually crowded.

The group of chess lovers is often clamorous, but always concentrating, with more gazers and supporters than real players; each viewer a potential undercover chess player. One thing is for sure: everybody here is an expert on everything, always ready to give his opinion.

Read more here.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Sex Appeal

After the flurry of news regarding Vaness, Melbourne's The Age newspaper has now picked up the story through AAP.

Soft Pawn by The Age.

Vaness Reid on Top

The chess world has known about it for some time but now it seems that even the mainstream media has caught on. The World Chess Beauty Contest features 3 Australians the last time I checked. These are Vaness Reid, Shannon Oliver and Queensland's, Arianne Caoili.

Aussies will be glad to know that Wollongong player, Vanness, has been on top of the rankings for at least a couple of months now.

The Independent Online had this to say:

The World Chess Beauty Contest ranks a 16-year-old Australian as the world's most beautiful woman in the game. Vanessa Reid plays competitive chess and indeed once represented Australia at a tournament in Malaysia and played in New Zealand this year. But ranked only 47,694th among both men and women, she is no grandmaster.

The Joannesburg-based Mail & Guardian also mentions the young Aussie's exploits.

What can I say? Unbelievable! After our win in the Miss Universe last year, I think Australia has found itself an entirely new achievement. After all, we can't win in rugby, not in cricket, and hec, not even in netball!

Empire Strikes Back

Continuing our special coverage of recent association AGMs, we have just been informed of some interesting developments down south. Never a boring bunch, Victorians produced their own little drama at their annual general meeting.

A loyal Victorian fan of yours truly writes in:

There was a moment of drama early in the meeting when the easy acceptance of Croydon to move from provisional affiliation to full affiliation was not mirrored in the next motion to affiliate the Dark Horse Club. Apparently one large south eastern Club was concerned that Dark Horse does not disclose an address for club activities. At first vote count, it seemed that the vote would be tied at 4-4 and a casting vote required. Oddly, none of the four were willing to speak against the motion, leaving all other delegates in the dark as to the issue of concern. Dark Horse’s credentials as a chess club were in evidence since they collected the A Grade Interclub trophy for 2005, whereas the nay-sayers did not even field a team in A Grade. This matter was resolved on the second count at 8 to 4.

Perhaps in an effort to avoid this controversy - Chess Victoria tightened its entry criteria for affiliation by Clubs. From next year onwards, only incorporated clubs will be able to have the status of fully affiliated. This means Geelong and Dark Horse will need to take action to become incorporated else they lapse back to provisionally affiliated.

More significantly, however, and in a move which seemed to have stunned the members present, the Chess Victoria president announced a proposal for the formation of a Chess Victoria Junior Chess Council to be headed by experienced chess organizer,
Gerrit Hartland.

My loyal fan again:

After the AGM, CV Executive members were handed a planning document covering Junior Council purposes, membership, procedures, voting entitlements, responsibilities, and standing agendas. One might be inclined to think that the Empire is striking back to tackle recent problems caused by competing commercial interests and missed opportunities.

Finally, Chess Victoria welcomes new faces: Garry Lycett and Grant Bultman. While Steve Frost was elected as auditor for the first time.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Revolutionaries Outflanked

In an outflanking maneuver, not seen since the days of the Great Battles of the Hellenes, the NSWCA ancien regime today beautifully executed a play that forced the would-be challengers, Jason Lyons and Peter Parr, to spit the dummy and walk out of today's annual general meeting.

"They've really got all the bases covered", was about all Mr Lyons could say.

The trouble began when Mr Bill Gletsos, incumbent president, suddenly announced that he was, in fact, standing for re-election. This came after an apparent agreement from weeks earlier that he would not stand in order to assure Mr Lyons a likely victory.

According to Bill, he made no assurances whatsoever that he wouldn't stand for re-election. But when I spoke to Mr Peter Parr earlier in the afternoon, his take on the so called agreement was the exact opposite.

The details are sketchy and, no doubt, these will be a hot topic of debate between both camps in weeks to come. All this makes me wonder if the agreement was crystallised over verbal exchanges or emails. If the latter, then perhaps Mr Lyons and Mr Parr can be persuaded to share so that we, the chess public, can decide for ourselves.

Mr Gletsos' 2-step cha-cha was finished off nicely when he apparently declined Mr Lyons' application for membership into the NSWCA. To stand for office or to partake in discussions (including to vote) in the AGM, one needs to be a member of the NSWCA. Fair enough. But since Mr Lyons already had his application form with him, and his intention was clear, what grounds did Mr Gletsos have to decline the application? Was there supposed to be a cut-off time?

On the flipside, here's a question for Jason: why, oh why, did you only think to submit an application form today? Sorry mate, but that strikes me as piss-poor planning.

In other news from today's AGM, Bill Gletsos did make some positive announcements. Next year's City of Sydney tournament will be played at the Bridge Centre. This is a dramatic move and one which truly deserves congratulations. And if this trial venue turns out to be a success, Bill informed his audience that it is also likely that the State Championships later next year will be held at the same location. We can only cross our fingers and pray.

Moreover, in an announcement that got me nodding in heartfelt agreement, there will be now two, that's right - two, Teams Challenge events in 2006. This is based on the massive success of this year's edition and which drew much positive feedback. Again, well done!

And after strained relations this year, over the Grade Matches stuff-up, there are signs of a thaw between the NSWCA and the Sydney Academy of Chess. Three SAC representatives managed to get themselves into the 2006 NSWCA Council that is mostly comprised of the old guard. Andrew Bird will hold the VP post, Brett Tindall is the new tournament officer while ex-junior powerhouse, Laura Moylan, will replace Lloyd Fell as communications officer.

Finally, I should make mention that the 2005 NSW Lightning Champion is international master Zhong Yuan Zhao. He routed the opposition finishing on 11/11 points.

IM Zhao in action against Jason Hu
For more photos, check out my flickr set.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Short Duct Tape

British GM Nigel Short, who is on tour in New Zealand, took on some 30 challengers the other day and won 28, drawing 2. One of those who manage to tie down the former world-title challenger is Hilton Bennett. For those who don't know, Mr Bennett is a frequent visitor to Aussie shores, having played in a number of Aussie Opens and Doeberls.

One of the simul challengers, Hugh Forlong-Ford, described the experience against Short like this:

In one sense it was excellent because . . . you got the chance to take the stage with someone who's right up there, and we don't often get the chance to see such quality at work. But at the same time it was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. He just bound me up in duct tape. Pin after pin after pin.

I wonder if Mr Short has any plans to make a quick stopover in Australia. More from Stuff.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Maitland's Obsession

The New South Wales town of Maitland is obsessed with chess - the local paper, Maitland Mercury, reports. Three of the town's young woodpushers, Trent Armitage, Matthew Thompson and Brandon Hopkins will be in Sydney tomorrow to compete in the Country Districts Primary Schools One-Day Chess Team final.

Big Business in Chess Sets

Americans, to my absolute amazement, apparently buy "tens of millions of chess sets each year". That is, according to Elizabeth Gann,quite possibly America's only woman specializing in chess sets. She's a dealer.

The NYT:

The market for antique chess sets is quite strong. In June 2003, Sotheby's sold a 1923 Russian porcelain set for $22,800, on which the Reds (Communists) fought the Whites (Capitalists). At the same sale, a 19th-century Indian set that depicted Bengal fighters and their British colonial overlords sold for $21,600. Last year, Christie's London sold an early-20th-century amber animal set for $65,000, a world record for a set of that kind. Even without a Bobby Fischer, interest in chess grows.

I'll probably never be able to afford one of these sets. But I wouldn't mind test driving them with a few rounds of blitz! That Russian porcelain set sounds most appropriate for a game or two.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Latest Action Hero

Veselin Topalov has another title to add to his personal collection. After winnng the FIDE World Champion title, he has enjoyed much attention in his home of Bulgaria. This time, the country has accorded him honour of "Action Hero" for 2005.

Topalov shared the limelight with Ivet Lalova.

From SNA.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

6/13 for George

Sydney's George Xie ended his World Juniors campaign in Turkey today with a loss to Andrey Kvon. The Australian completes the event on 6 points. His tail-end finish wasn't so positive but did face fairly tough opposition so can be forgiven. More important, of course, is that George brings home a final IM norm. As previously noted, he now needs to just get his rating over the 2400 mark and the international master title is his.

We say well done indeed George! Next stop, 2400 rating, then that grandmastership. I almost can't wait.

Anti-draw Slugfest

Sick of all the draws in chess, Bainbridge Island (in Washington state in the US) resident Clint Ballard had this to say: "It just sends the wrong message about chess. It’s like they don’t put anything on the line ... As a chess fan, it completely kills the dramatic suspense. It’s so predictable."

So, on 10-11 December this year, Clint and his mates will host a chess "slugfest" using an entirely different scoring system.

From the Bainbridge Island Review.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Draw for Xie

FM George Xie drew his 12th round game against Marko Krivokapic to go up a notch to 6 points. Xie will face Andrey Kvon of Uzbekistan in the 13th and final round.

GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov maintains the his lead on 10 points. His closest chasers are Ferenc Berkes and Tomi Nyback who are both on 8.5 points.

Official site.

Short in NZ Tour

Queenstown Chess organiser, Paul Spiller, happily speaks of GM Short's tour in the "Land of the Long White Cloud" (Aotearoa). This week, Short will be in some town called Pakuranga.

Maitland Concentrates Perfectly

Maitland High School has taken out a division of the Junior Chess League Country Secondary Schools Knockout.

"We started off competing against 27 schools and we are thrilled to have won the second division", school coordinator Michael Scobie was quoted as saying.

The editors over at the Maitland Mercury could do well to practice their concentration. This story is repeated on the same page!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Two-time Stumble

After 11 rounds, George Xie suffered two losses in a row. In round 10 he went down to IM Evgeny Romanov followed by another setback to IM Andrey Zhigalko in round 11. The Australian remains on 5.5 points.

Xie will face the untitled Marko Krivokapic (2361) in the next round.

World Junior Championship (Boys) U20
Xie, George Wendi
Zhigalko, Andrey

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 Nf6 4. e5 Nd5 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. cxd4 d6 7. Bc4 Nb6 8. Bb3 d5 9. h3 Bf5 10. Nh4 Bxb1 11. Rxb1 e6 12. g3 a5 13. O-O Be7 14. Ng2 a4 15. Bc2 Nb4 16. Bd3 O-O 17. Nf4 Qd7 18. Qg4 Nxd3 19. Nxd3 Kh8 20. h4 Rfc8 21. Bg5 Bf8 22. h5 h6 23. Bd2 Nc4 24. Rfd1 Nxd2 25. Rxd2 Rc4 26. b3 axb3 27. Rxb3 Raa4 28. Qd1 Rxd4 29. Qb1 Ra7 30. Rdb2 Qc8 31. Rxb7 Rxb7 32. Rxb7 Rxd3 33. Kh2 Rd1 34. Qb3 Rd2 35. Rb8 Qc5 36. Kh3 Rxf2 0-1

Official site.

Check the Inmates

World renowned Princeton University in New Jersey, USA, has come up with an interesting idea. For the past 3 years, the university's chess club has visited the local state prison to play chess with some very mean bunch of people.

Who knows what the idea is supposed to be: community relations, just teaching prisoners the game, or just something to do? But I tell you what, if it were myself, I wouldn't go anywhere these inmates. One of them was overheard to have said to a chess player: "Make sure you lose at least one, or we're not letting you leave". Umm....scary!

From the uni's student paper, The Daily Princetonian.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

NSWCA Annual General Meeting

Readers in the state of New South Wales are reminded that next weekend, 27 November, is the NSW Chess Association's Annual General Meeting. The event will commence with the usual lightning championships. This will be followed by the meeting proper which is set to see a changing of the guard.

More details here.

Igor Ivanov Dead, Age 58

On 17 November, Igor Ivanov passed away of brain cancer in the US state of Utah. Born in 1947 in Leningrad, Russia - Ivanov learned the game when he was just 5 years old. During his career he scored wins against Karpov, in 1979, and draws against such luminaries as Spassky and Kasparov. He became a grandmaster only this year.

Tributes from TWIC by John Donaldson and the Salt Lake Tribune.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Kasparov Dissenting

Gary Kasparov is one of 23 people signing a letter, published on the Moscow Helsinki Group, denouncing the suppression of human rights and dissent in Russia.

In brief from the Moscow Times.

George Earns IM Norm

Australia is soon to gain its next International Master in George Xie of Sydney. The youngster scored two straight wins in rounds 8 and 9 against stronger opposition. In round 8 he downed International Master Luka Lenic of Slovakia on the black side of a Queens Indian.

Then in round 9, he faced another 2400+ player in Armenian, Levon Babujian who is still an untitled player. Again, our mate proved himself more than capable and won! Thus he is now on 5.5 points and thereby earning his final IM norm requirement. All that George needs to do now is reach the 2400 rating mark and he becomes a full IM!

World Junior Championship (Boys) U20
Lenic, Luka
Xie, George Wendi

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 b6 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Bg5 Bb7 6. e3 h6 7. Bh4 g5 8. Bg3 Ne4 9. Nd2 Nxc3 10. bxc3 Bxc3 11. Rc1 Bb4 12. h4 Rg8 13. hxg5 hxg5 14. Rh7 Be4 15. Rh6 Nc6 16. f3 Bg6 17. d5 Na5 18. e4 Qe7 19. Be2 g4 20. Bf4 e5 21. Be3 Bc5 22. Nf1 O-O-O 23. Qd3 gxf3 24. gxf3 Nb7 25. Kd2 Rh8 26. Bxc5 Nxc5 27. Qe3 Rxh6 28. Qxh6 Na4 29. Kd1 Qb4 30. Qd2 a5 31. Qxb4 axb4 32. Kd2 Kb7 33. a3 Nc5 34. Kc2 bxa3 35. Ra1 f5 36. exf5 Bxf5+ 37. Kc3 Ra8 38. Bd1 a2 39. Kb2 Bb1 40. Nd2 Nd3+ 41. Kb3 Rf8 42. Kc3 Ne1 43. c5 Rf5 44. Nxb1 axb1=Q 45. Rxb1 Nxf3 0-1

Grandmaster Shakhriyar Mamedyarov leads the boys tournament on a staggering 8.5/9 points with a massive rating performance of 2959. His only draw came in the 5th round against GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek of Poland.

Official site.

Out Again

A few days ago it was reported that Indonesian GM Utut Adianto will play in the SEA Games due to be held in RP later this month. But now it seems that he is, in fact, playing in the World Cup, in Siberia.

Adianto confirmed his participation in the Russian tournament in an email to Pinoy GM Eugene Torre. This development has been welcomed by the Pinoy chess squad.

Noli Cruz of Tempo writes (some Tagalog).

Friday, November 18, 2005

Xie on 3.5 Points

George Xie, of Sydney, beat Amanov Mesgen (2273) to move up to 3.5 points at the World Juniors in Turkey. His next match is against IM Lenic Luka (2476). According to some calculations it seems that Xie is still on track for his final IM norm.

Official site.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Philippines Chess A Shambles

What else is new?

Go to the FIDE ratings database and look for Paragua. Being RP's highest rated player and newest GM, you'd surely expect to see his name. But nope, nothing there. OK then, how about searching for all Pinoys. Nada! No result!

What happened? Is the FIDE database corrupted? Has RP been wiped off the planet? Nope. My friends, those drongos are at it again. The national fed, NCFP has fallen in arrears with their payments. As is their typical action, FIDE withheld publication of Pinoy ratings. For a country that is about to go into chess combat in the SEA Games, on home soil no less, this kind of humiliation in front of our neighbours is the last thing we need.

Speaking of Paragua, it seems that the poor bloke is being ostracised by the head honchos within the NCFP. His request for funding has not been endorsed. We recall that Paragua failed to qualify for the SEA Games team but was later offered a slot anyway by the NCFP. Paragua declined and, instead, opted to play in Malaysia which, of course, scored him a spot in the World Cup. What we're seeing here is an ugly bitch fight.

More from Tempo (in English).

Kasparov in the books

Called the United Civil Front, Kasparov's inter-regional social organisation has finally been registered by the Russian Justice Minisry.

According to Kasparov, the group's aim is:

[to] work to preserve electoral democracy in Russia. We have started to set up the United Civil Front together with those who share our views not because we like the word ’front’, but if the authorities declare a war on us, we should somehow respond to this.

From Mosnews.

Kok to Contest Fide Post

Bessel Kok, organiser of the world chess trophy is reported to be in the contest for post of FIDE president. He has the support the following federations: Dutch, Turkish, Czech, Maltese and Slovak.

The full press release is available here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Adianto in SEA Games

In a decision that is set to send shivers up the spine of other SE Asian chessers, Indonesian GM Utut Adianto has decided to play in the 23rd SEA Games in the Philippines later this month.

However, NCFP boss Sammy Estimo remains positive.

"[Indonesia's line up is solid] but still I believe that we have a deepest team in the field", Estimo was quoted as saying.

Tempo reports.

Better Maths Through Chess

Is your child poor in Maths? Forget tutors! Play chess instead. Mathematicians in India claim that playing chess develops mathematical skills. Well I suppose we have the likes of Dr Vladimir Smirnov, Jason Chan and Bradley Loh - all guns in Mathematics.

Chess promotes the thought process in the light of which the complexities of the maths books appear very small in comparison to the moves of chess.

The Times of India reports.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Xie Beats Estonian

George Xie has gone up one point again by beating Estonia's Vitali Shlykov in round 5. The Australian now has a total of 2.5 points. Next stop is a tougher opposition in GM Moradiabadi Elshan.

Official site.

A chess debt

Madonna's hubby, Guy Ritchie owes actor Jason Statham a load of cash. All from playing loads of games of chess.

I played more chess with Guy on that set than I've ever played in my life...He owes me a lot of money because he lost so many times.

From As for myself, I think the most of I've ever owed from losing games is a schooner or two.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

World Junior Update

After 4 rounds, Aussie George Xie is on 1.5 points. He began his campaign positively holding GM Wang Yue to a draw in round 1. But in round 2, he lost to another grandmaster, Igor Kurnosov. Round 3 was a win against a low-rated opponent but in the last round, George dropped the point again - this time to strong IM Khairullin Ildar.

George's next assignment is Shlykov Vitali (2238) of Estonia.

World Junior Championship (Boys) U20
Xie, George Wendi
Wang, Yue

1. e4 c5 2. c3 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. Nbd2 Nc6 7. Bc4 Bxf3 8. Qb3 Na5 9. Bxd5 Nxb3 10. Nxf3 Nxd5 11. axb3 cxd4 12. Nxd4 e5 13. Ra5 exd4 14. Rxd5 dxc3 15. bxc3 Rd8 16. Re5+ Kd7 17. Be3 a6 18. Ke2 Bd6 19. Rd1 Kc6 20. Rf5 f6 21. Rfd5 Be7 22. R5d4 Rxd4 23. Rxd4 b5 24. Re4 Bd6 25. b4 f5 26. Rd4 Re8 27. Kd2 Be5 28. Rd3 g6 29. h3 Bc7 30. Rd4 a5 31. bxa5 Bxa5 32. g4 Bb6 33. Rb4 Rd8+ 34. Kc2 Ba5 35. Rb1 fxg4 36. hxg4 Bc7 37. Ra1 Rd7 38. Ra6+ Kd5 39. Kb3 Rd6 40. Ra7 Kc6 41. Kb4 h5 42. gxh5 gxh5 43. Ra6+ Kd5 44. Ra8 Kc6 45. Bf4 Rd8 46. Ra6+ Bb6 47. Be3 Rb8 48. Bxb6 Rxb6 49. Ra8 Rb7 50. Rc8+ Rc7 51. Rh8 Rf7 52. Rh6+ Kc7 53. Rxh5 Rxf2 54. Rxb5 1/2-1/2

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Pinoys Chase 5 Golds

Local paper, Tempo, reports. that the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) is aiming for at least five gold medals in the upcoming SEA Games due to be held in the Philippines later this month.

With the country's numero uno, GM Paragua, playing in the World Cup in Russia - the RP team will, instead, be led by GMs Torre and Antonio. Support crew are Dimakiling, Dableo and Barbosa. As reported in the Australian Chess Magazine, the circumstances surrounding the formation of this team were quite controversial. But no matter - all Pinoys should now pull together and dig deep into their Catholicism, say a dozen or two Hail Mary's, a few rounds of the Stations of the Cross and repent.

Goog Luck Philippine Chess!

Topalov a Fraud?

An Hungarian website has reported allegations that Veselin Topalov, recent winner of the FIDE World Chess Championship in San Luis Argentina, may have cheated. It seems that the allegations came from one of the participants who is still unnamed.

This from the Sofia News Agency.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Short Shot

Sitting in a cafe in Athens, Britsh GM Nigel Short fires a quick one at FIDE:

Next year people will be playing chess on their mobile phones...but FIDE are just not up to the job. They do not have any business skills to promote chess and they have not managed to harness long-term sponsorship for the game.

From Reuters.

West Ulverstone Tassie Champs

The 8-member team of West Ulverstone Primary School has won the Tasmanian Primary School Chess Team Championships. The Mercury reports that the school will now represent the Apple Isle at the Australian championships in Melbourne on 3 and 4 December this year.

School spokesman Russell Horton was quoted as saying, "This year the championships had its largest number of participants and the skills demonstrated were stronger than they have ever been in Tasmania".

More by Gill Vowles.

Question: which national championships is it?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Guardian on Chess Boxing

Stephen Moss:

Apologies if this piece is not up to my usual exacting standards but my nose hurts, on account of having been punched by a German policeman in Berlin. This should not necessarily be taken as a reflection of German policemen. We were both wearing boxing gloves at the time; we had also just started a chess game. This is not easy to explain. Where to begin?

Longish piece.

Lonesome Xie

The World Junior Championships begins today, in Turkey, and will finish on 23 November. Australia has a single representative in Fidemaster George Xie.

With the likes of Alekseev (2632), Berkes (2596) and L'ami (2541) - George will face a tough campaign ahead of him. But I think that's just how this ambitious young man likes it. We wish him all the best and hopefully he can earn his final IM norm.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Afterwork Chess

The other day I caught up with an old mate of mine - Nick Kordahi. I was on my way home and he, apparently, on his way to play chess. I asked where and he replied, "Just around the corner".

At first I didn't believe him. So I followed and sure enough, there in the food hall, next to Town Hall train station and just under St Andrews Cathedral is Sydney's newest chess hang-out.

All comfy and clean, away from the elements, the place is ideal. Hopefully this venue will actally survive unlike the old one over at Galleries Victoria. Of course, this can only happen if the dirty and foul mouthed crowd stay away.

Here's a picture I took yesterday.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Up Yours Sergey

In "Just Checking" section of NIC no. 7, the Soviet-born Dutchman, Sergey Tiviakov had this to say when asked, "What will be the number one chess country in the world 10 years from now":

Nothing will change in the current hierarchy. Russia will remain one of the strongest countries in the world because of the deep chess culture, as will Ukraine, probably. China, India and other chess developing countries have no chess culture and will not be strong enough to break the hegemony of the present leading chess countries.

While Russia, as well as the long established chess powers of Europe, will definitely remain at the top, it is hard to believe the claim that neither India nor China will break that hegemony. Of course this is just nonesense.

Their internal politics notwithstanding, the ambition of the AICF is enormous. And with Anand being one of that country's leading stars, chess is as popular as ever. Plus, only days ago, Harikrishna clinched the Essent title and is well and truly on the path to super-GM status which can only further heat the attraction for chess.

As for China, well, who's leading Beer Sheva then? Up yours Sergey!

New Beginnings - in a Mausoleum

I should like to congratulate the hard working folks over at the Box Hill chess Club. After having been evicted by a heartless local government from their very comfortable home, the club members scurried around to find a replacement. Well now the search is over.

Club treasurer, Trevor Stanning, informs us that a new venue has been found some 3 kilometres away. Check it out.

Looks like a bloody mausoleum!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Rogers Coaches Malaysians

The South East Asian Games is due to begin later this month. It will be the second time that chess will be part of the competition after having been introduced 2 years ago in Vietnam. From that tournament, Malaysia walked away with 3 bronze medals.

This time around, it may not be so easy. Two top players will be out of action due to some exam - Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM). However, they will still enjoy the services of top player Nicholas Chan as well as IM Mas Hafizulhelmi.

And, of course, the Malaysians have apparently secured the services of GM Ian Rogers for some last minute advice. With all the SEA powehouses in play, the Malaysians will surely have a tough time. But just for Rogers, we wish them all the best.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Turkey Needs Home

Our new Mexican mate, the Mechanical Turkey, needs a new home - a chess club, that is. It seems he may be taking up some sort internship with ANSTO with a posting at Lucas Heights. Heaven knows why anyone would want to work in that place, what with it being Al-Qaeda's number Aussie target. But there you have it.

So MT wants to know if there are any chess clubs around that area of Sydney. For helpful comments please post directly in his blog.

2005 NEC Cup

No, not a chess tourney.

If you have not been to the ANU Open (chess) and you have not seen what a Go tournament looks like, well this is it.

Just look at that. They even have a fancy banner.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Sport of Academics

The Batemans Bay Public School scored a total of 20.5 points out of 24 to win the local inter-school competition reports Bay Post-Moruya Examiner.

Teacher Trina McCallum was quoted as saying, "Chess is a really helpful learning tool; it helps children learn to think strategically, it helps with forward planning and analytical thinking skills and self-esteem".

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Cultured Fellow

Finally, let me say that Australian Chess Magazine editor Brian Jones is truly a cultured gentleman. In his latest issue, he has a special mention of Philippine chess achievements and, of course, there is also the politics. Ugh! That's just ugly.

Just for that here's a little plug: Australian Chess Enterprises. But mate, the ads on page 45 are not "book reviews".

Between Dark and Dark

The latest Australian Chess Magazine is out. And in it are a couple of interesting items. The first that caught my eye was an ad for a book by David Lovejoy - "Between Dark and Dark".

I have not read this book but it sounds quite interesting. In the ad Lovejoy says:

You might know me. I'm the patzer halfway down the weekender losing to juniors. Or maybe I sent some of my rating points your way. But although I've never been at the top of the Australian tree I've had some great times playing chess over the years, and some of that is contained in my memoir Between Dark and Dark.

For a review, check out Drugs, fast cars and - gasp! - chess in the Echo. Please note that The Echo Newspaper is a paper founded by David Lovejoy.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Bendigo Bank Chess Championships

For our foreign readers, I wish to get one thing straight. The state of Victoria (sometimes we call it Mexico) is definitely stronger than the state of New South Wales (where Sydney is and where I live). They also have a much richer "chess culture". Normally for a Northerner like myself this is very hard to accept. But one need only look at the line-up of any Victorian tournament.

Take the recent Victorian State Championships. It featured a GM, international masters and fide masters. New South Wales can barely put together a tournament at all. And now, once more in Victoria, is this little tournament: the Bendigo Bank Chess Championships.

Jazz Like Chess

If you're a jazz lover, you might check out the Anthony Braxton Sextet. The Philadelphia Weekly says:
Anthony Braxton once gave up music to be a chess hustler. Not surprisingly, much of his composition style reflects similar aspects of the game. As with chess, Braxton's free jazz arrangements are based on highly theoretical rules and complex formations. Yet once a player is able to comprehend the versatility of these rules, there's greater flexibility to creatively improvise each individual move. With the saxophone often acting as Braxton's queen component, he's able to maneuver each note in boundless multiphonic intervals. All phony analogies aside, Braxton is a man who's reached legendary status with his fearless and influential sonic jazz sounds.

Rankings for Xbox

One of the most popular games consoles around is Microsoft's Xbox. Like chessers, Xboxers are also able to play online - in something called Xbox Live. In this interesting paper, Microsoft outlines exactly how they will rank XBox Live participants using a ranking system called TrueSkill™.

The paper makes mention of ELO, noting that it is used in chess but that it is inadequate where there are two teams or players involved.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Kamsky Finish 16th

Today, Australian sporting history was made. The mare MaKybe Diva became the first horse to win three Melbourne Cups. For our foreign readers, the Cup is the equivalent to the Kentucky Derby (US) or the Queen's Plate (Canada) or Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (France). Basically, it's THE race.

So why in the world are we talking about this in a chess blog? Well, because it just so happens that one 'Kamsky' ran in the race and finished 16th place! I wonder if the horse was named after you-know-who. We must find out.

World Wide Weird

The Australian has picked up the story I featured on this blog last Saturday. But, as you can see, what was originally in The Times' Middle East section has now been relegated to what The Aussie calls "World Wide Weird".

Only the uneducated and uncultured drongos of an Australian newspaper would consider such a story "weird".