Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Spassky and Fischer Reunite

The IceLand Review reports of Spassky's upcoming visit to the country. The visit is in celebration of Iceland's first grandmaster, Fridrik Ólafsson. Though still unconfirmed it is possible that Spassky and Fischer, who now lives in the country, will be reunited.

Inside Philippine Chess

Back in Queenstown, I had the good fortune of meeting IM Tibor Karolyi. I just had to buy his work, "Judit Polgar - The Princess of Chess", and he happily signed it for me. One must be careful when reading this work and to treat it merely as a collection of games. There are extensive and apparently original analysis.

However, the book has been criticised for being flawed particularly since Karolyi had not actually bothered to consult with his subject - Judit Polgar. Karolyi even gives the wrong date of birth for Judit! And there are those "ugh" moments like this little gem: "Judit does play chess like a man, but she has a disadvantage. As a woman, it must be hard to fight at full capacity at certain stages of her monthly cycle - but she does it".

For it's strange English and lengthy analysis, it's sometimes difficult reading this book. And so, it was with some happiness that I laid my hands on another book yesterday afternoon.

Waiting for me at home was a special gift from the world's best chess columnist, Bobby Ang. He had sent it to me from the Philippines. It is his 2000 work, "Inside Philippine Chess". It is only proper for me, then, to say "Salamat po'!"

The book is a collection of Bobby's articles that appeared in Business World between 1998-99. While being mainly a record of Pinoy chess, we do swing from topic to topic. There is a whole subsection on Fischer and one on computers. The front cover says, "book one" which seems to suggest that there is a book two or three and so on. I cannot wait to read the next edition!

I must make an admission: I am quite envious of Mr Ang. Not only is he a superb writer, he is also the husband of a perfect wife. From the introduction:

I will start off this book by talking about my wife, Dr. Anne Tan-Ang, a medical doctor (obstetrician-gynaecologist) with clinic at the Chinese General Hospital. She is the perfect wife: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent (no, she is not a boy scout). One trait which is particularly appealing in her is that she has been fully supportive of my chess.

From a purely chessic point of view, it is that last which is most important. But to Bobby's list, I will add some little extras - like big hips, culinary skills and certain other things. (So you see, I'm already distracted. No wonder I play so badly).

Naturally, I have only quickly scanned this book, yet already, I can tell it's one of those unputdownable ones that will occupy me for the next couple of days. If you are a lover of Philippines chess or just chess in general, I'd recommend buying this book.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Fast Chess

In Queenstown, some players entertained themselves with 1 minute bullet. No, not that online version, but OTB. It is an absolutely awesome thrill ride, even better than playing on ICC!

A friend of mine filmed a game between Junta Ikeda and Jason Chan (who calls himself the 1-minute grandmaster) battling it out in this exciting game. Download the video file from here (3Mb).

Please note that the link will expire in 7 days.

Australian Olympiad Team - 2006

A week ago, Dr Kevn Bonham, Selection Coordinator for the Australian Olympiad Squads, annnounced the names of applicants. These are the following for both men's and women's.

Open team:

Nick Speck, GM Ian Rogers, IM Zong-Yuan Zhao, FM Igor Goldenberg, IM Alex Wohl, IM Gary Lane, FM George Xie, IM David Smerdon, IM Stephen Solomon, IM John-Paul Wallace

Women's team:

WIM Ngan Koshnitsky, WFM Angela Song, WIM Arianne Caoili, WIM Anastasia Sorokina, IM/WGM Irina Berezina, WIM Biljana Dekic, WIM Laura Moylan

Now of course everyone will have a say in who should go. And so, it is only correct that I should have mine. For the men's side my picks are Rogers, Smerdon, Zhao, Lane, Speck and Xie. That's right - no Daryl Johansen, no second grandmaster.

For the women's I would choose Berezina, Sorokina, Caoili and Moylan.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Bird Pecks on Top Seeds

OK, that's a bad one. But hey, I'm blaming junior Max Illingworth for that. This afternoon, he hopped around the playing hall looking for DOP Charles Zworestine as he had a suggestion for a title to this story. Max's idea was "Bird Flies Over Top Seeds in Australia Day Weekender". Too long, I think - so here I've shortened it a bit. Thanks for the idea anyway Max.

NSW Champion (2005) Andrew Bird today won the Australia Day Weekender tournament. He was undefeated throughout scoring 6.5/7 points, only conceding a draw in the last round to Jason Hu. Andrew's scalps included a string of powerful opponents including FM Xie, Kuan-Kuan Tian and Vladimir Smirnov. This result as well as the $500 first prize, I'm sure, should more than compensate for his less than stellar showing in the Aussie Championships a few weeks ago in Brisbane.

While Bird can celebrate his fine victory, Igor Bjelobrk, on the other hand, must be wondering what in the world happened. My guess is, he's just plain exhausted. Just a few days from Queenstown and playing some strong opposition there, Bjelobrk's energies were nowhere with him over the whole weekend. Today, he lost another game - this time to Kevin O'chee.

NSWCA Australia Day Weekender
O'chee, Kevin
Bjelobrk, Igor

1. e4 e6 2. d4 c5 3. Nf3 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Qc7 6. c4 Nf6 7. O-O Nc6 8. Nxc6 dxc6 9. Nd2 e5 10. b3 Bc5 11. Bb2 Bg4 12. Be2 h5 13. h3 Rd8 14. hxg4 hxg4 15. Bxg4 Qa5 16. Bh3 Rxd2 17. Qe1 Bb6 18. b4 Qxb4 19. Bxe5 Qa5 20. Rb1 Qxe5 21. Qxd2

After 21. Qxd2

After the game, Kevin and Igor examined the following line 21...Rxh3!! 22. Rfd1 Qh2+ 23. Kf1 Qh1+ 24. Ke2 Qxg2 25. Qf4 Re3+ 26. Kd2 Nxe4+ 27. Kc2 Rc3+ 28. Kb2 Qxf2+ 29. Qxf2 Bxf2 22. Rfd1 Qh2+ 23. Kf1 Rxh3 24. Qd7+ Kf8 25. Qc8+ Ke7 26. Qxg4 Rd3 27. Qg5+ Ke8 28. Rxd3 Qh1+ 29. Ke2 Qxb1 30. Qe5+ Kf8 31. Qb8+ Ke7 32. Qxb7+ Kf8 33. Rd8+ 1-0

Chess really is a tough game. FM George Xie, who finished equal second, asked: "How come chess is so hard? Only 32 pieces!"

Overall, I was satisfied with my own performance - finishing on 4/7. I lost only to Rej and Neil Wright (in the final round).

NSWCA Australia Day Weekender
Rosario, Amiel
Rej, Tomek

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 e6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. g4 dxc4 8. Bxc4 Nd5 9. a3 Nxc3 10. Qxc3 Nf6 11. Bd2 b5 12. Bd3 Bb7 13. e4 a6 14. Qc2 c5 15. dxc5 Bxc5 16. Bc3 (16. Qxc5 Qxd3 17. Bb4 Qxe4+ 18. Kf1 Nd5) 16... Rc8 17. Rd1 Qe7 18. h3 h6 19. Rg1 Qc7! 20. g5 hxg5 21. Nxg5 Qh2 22. Kf1 Rh5 23. Qe2 (Tomek had the idea of 23. Rg2 Qxg2+ 24. Kxg2 Rxg5+ 25. Kf1 Ke7 26. Qd2 Rh5 but it seems to me that White is better.) 23... Rxg5 24. Rxg5 Nxe4 25. Rg2?? (25. Bxe4 Bxe4 26. Ke1! is the move I missed Qh1+ 27. Kd2 Rd8+ 28. Kc1 Rxd1+ 29. Qxd1 Qxh3) 25... Qh1+ 26. Rg1 Ng3+!! 0-1

Top scorers were: Bird, 6.5; Xie, Hu 6; Smirnov, Tian, Illingworth, Wright, Dunn, Atzmon-Simon, Bolens, Chek 5.

The 5-pointers I think went home with $10 each.

Chess Battle on PSP

Games maker Konami has announced a chess game for the popular PSP hand-held games console. From MobileTech Review.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

"Offer yourself a draw!"

Such was Tomek Rej's response to me when I offered him a draw on the 7th move of our fourth round game today at the Australia Day Weekender in North Sydney. We both couldn't help a good little chuckle. Tomek is some 600 points above my own rating and I thought I'd be a bit cheeky. He went to win what was possibly the sharpest game I have ever played.

After such a horrible outing in Queenstown, I was determined to make amends. At the third round mark, I was on 3/3. This is my best start ever. In round 2, I managed to beat Johny Bolens (2095); and in round 3, I got lucky against Stephen Twigg (2070).

The game against Twigg involved a near-death experience. At some moment, one wrong square for my King and I'd be mated. Lucky for me his time was down to less than 2 minutes. So, when I'd exchanged down to my K+R versus his K+B, I decided to run my clock down to less than 5 minutes in order to blitz him. The trick worked. My opponent immediately blundered away the Bishop and the rest was easy.

But today's news story is Max Illingworth's victory over Igor Bjelobrk. The New Zealander must still be tired from Queenstown. He was nowhere to be seen in the following game. The young Illingworth played beautifully - sacrificing a pawn here and there to optimise his pieces. Good stuff!

NSWCA Australia Day Weekender
Illingworth, Max
Bjelobrk, Igor

1. d4 e6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 d6 4. Nc3 Ne7 5. e4 exd5 6. cxd5 Ng6 7. Nf3 Be7 8. Bd3 O-O 9. h3 Nd7 10. O-O a6 11. a4 Bf6 12. Nd2 Nf4 13. Nc4 Nxd3 14. Qxd3 Ne5 15. Nxe5 Bxe5 16. f4 Bf6 17. e5 dxe5 18. f5 b6 19. Be3 Bb7 20. Rad1 Rc8 21. Ne4 Kh8 22. g4 Be7 23. f6 gxf6 24. Rf5 Rg8 25. Ng3 c4 26. Qe4 c3 27. bxc3 Rxc3 28. Rh5 Rg6 29. Nf5 Bf8 30. g5 Qc8 31. Qh4 h6 32. Nxh6 Bxh6 33. Rxh6+ Rxh6 34. Qxh6+ Kg8 35. gxf6 Qf8 36. Qg5+ Kh8 37. Qh5+ Kg8 38. d6 Rc2 39. Qg5+ Kh8 40. d7 1-0

And here is my game against Bolens.

NSWCA Australia Day Weekender
Rosario, Amiel
Bolens, Johny

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Be7 4. Nf3 O-O 5. Bf4 d6 6. e3 b6 7. Be2 Bb7 8. Qc2 h6 9. h3 a5 10. O-O Na6 11. a3 c6 12. Rfd1 d5 13. Ne5 Rc8 14. g4 dxc4 15. Bxc4 Nd5 16. Qe2 Nac7 17. Bg3 Nxc3 18. bxc3 b5 19. Ba2 Nd5 20. Qc2 Qe8 21. Bb1 f5 22. e4 fxe4 23. Qxe4 Nf6 24. Qe2 c5 25. Ng6 Rf7 26. Qxe6 Rc6 27. Qe2 c4 28. Ne5 Bf8 29. Bg6 Re6 30. Qc2 Rxe5 31. dxe5 Qc6 32. Bxf7+ Kxf7 33. f3 Qxf3 34. Kh2 Nxg4+ 35. hxg4 Qxg4 36. Qf2+ Kg8 37. Rd8 Qh5+ 38. Bh4 Qxe5+ 39. Kg1 Qe4 40. Rxf8+ Kh7 41. Qf5+ 1-0

Finally, ex New South Wales junior champion Kuan-Kuan Tian ignites his comeback with a pretty Queen sacrifice.

NSWCA Australia Day Weekender
Tian, Kuan-Kuan
Trkulja, Slavko

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. e4 Bb4 4. Bd3 d5 5. e5 Ne4 6. Nge2 c5 7. f3 c4 8. Bxe4 dxe4 9. fxe4 Qh4+ 10. Ng3 Bd7 11. O-O O-O 12. Rf4 Qe7 13. a3 Ba5 14. Qe2 b5 15. Nh5 Bb6 16. Be3 Nc6 17. Qg4 g6 18. Nf6+ Kg7 19. Qh3 Rh8 20. Qh6+ 1-0

Queenstown Minor Titles

It seems that the press team at the Queenstown Chess tournament have just got up and left. There is no round 10 media release and, so far, details on the rapid and blitz winners are missing.

Well, lucky for you dear readers, yours truly was there on the spot!

In the rapid championships, local player Puchen Wang was declared official champion. Grandmasters Hecht and Sermek came equal first on points score. The event was rather interesting for me as it was the first time that I'd seen IM Wohl play in a fast time limit. And my God, he's good! He made the normally reliable IM Ker look like a total bunny.

Later in the day, the blitz championships were held. New Zealand does things a bit differently. Instead of playing one big swiss they have a 7 rounder elimination from which the top 8 finishers (which must include the top 2 kiwis) then proceed to a 7-rounder RR. The rest of the field now comprise a reserves section and play another 7 round open.

In the top section were: Zhao, Ker, Dive, Smerdon, Solomon, Shanmugan, Tabatt and Karolyi. And the winner? Australia's international master Zong Yuan Zhao. Zhao has now won 3 strong blitz titles - the NSW, the Aussie and NZ. For this reason, Zhao deserves a nickname. He is a "Demonio". The guy is just a maniac.

IM Anthony Ker was official blitz champion after finishing as the top kiwi scorer. He garnered 3/7 points. The day wasn't really a good hunting trip for the local players. Dive, for instance, managed only the measly half a point.

Top scorers in the reserves were: Wang, Green: 6; Lane, Smith: 5.5; Ikeda, Nyberg, Armstrong, Rosario: 5.

Negi Gets Second Norm

Just a few weeks after achieving his first GM norm at the Hastings tournament, Indian wunderkind Parimarjan Negi has now secured his second one. Negi is India's youngest international master and is also the country's youngest GM norm holder.

From India Times.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

10.2 Brouhaha

Just a few moments ago, controversy erupted here at the New Zealand rapid-play championships. The players in question were NZCF president Bob Smith and Aussie junior Andrew Brown. The latter held a theoretically won position with K+B+2P (f and c), while Smith had only K+B.

With 7 seconds remaining, to Andrew's 27 seconds, Bob then claimed a draw. Amazingly, kiwi IA Bob Gibbon declared the game drawn!

New Zealander FM Stephen Lukey then pitched in and questioned the decision. Other players also disagreed. How could the arbiter make such a decision? The discussion went on for some time with Lukey and Bob finally checking the rule book.

Meanwhile, Andrew Brown still remained seated at the board looking at the position. At this point, a couple of international masters joined him and showed the correct winning method. Andrew, as is permitted by the local rules, appealed.

FM Bob Smith returned, while he and Andrew were given 2 minutes flat each to continue play. Of course, Andrew now won.

"All it proves is that he plays better at 2 minute chess", was Bob Smith's comment in the end.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Congratulations - Murray Chandler

Grandmaster Murray Chandler yesterday was victorious, with 8.5/10 points, in the Queenstown Chess Classic. In equal second place were Aussies IM Smerdon and GM Rogers.

During the closing ceremony, GM Rogers informed the crowd that Chandler's last round opponent, GM Drazen Sermek, had actually offered a short draw. Chandler declined forcing Sermek to play. This was quite honourable of Chandler, now playing under the British flag, particularly since accepting the draw would have actually saved him money (he is the principal sponsor). You see, any breach of the "no short draws" rule incurs a penalty of some amount being taken off from any prize money by a player.

While GM Chandler was thanked by all at the tournament, I wish to also express my gratitude and appreciation for such a fine event. Grandmaster Rogers himself admitted last night that he thought Chandler would never be able to pull off organising a chess tournament in Queenstown. Chandler did, of course! An excellent tournament experience in the most beautiful part of the world! I personally cannot wait to make a return here.

My own performance was dismal. All I can say is, well, I was a bit distracted. But the upside is that the 2 weeks of chess has, at least, rekindled my desire for more competitive games. There'll be less and less online games for me. More OTB ones.

For the moment, this is all I will update. Perhaps I will post something longer later that will summarise the whole 2 weeks here in gorgeous Queenstown.

More photos from my flickr.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Chandler - Wade (Round 2)

The UK's Telegraph featured the second round game between these 2 ex-kiwis, Murray Chandler and Robert Wade. It was a fantastic effort particularly by the older Wade.

Article available here with some analysis.

And after 9 rounds, Chandler has taken the outright lead on 8 points. My tip to win the event, IM Alex Wohl (AUS), suffered another setback yesterday as he lost to German, Hendrik Tabatt. The finish was an endgame with the black player being a Bishop up.

Down in the lower boards, I managed to draw against 2000+ rated kiwi Duncan Watts. It was a simple enough game. My idea was to just protect and create a passed d-pawn. I most likely had a winning advantage throughout the middlegame, but sadly - I failed to calculate the most optimal lines and the game ended peacefully.

Today, my assigment is Frenchman Remi Soupizon.

And lastly, my good friend Arianne Caoili once again lost another game, this time to IM Vladimir Feldman. Arianne's games always seem to have her fans nervous. One cannot even bear to watch. She demands a lot from her positions but the downside is, she loses a lot of time. Of course, her opponents must react accordingly and they, too, begin to lose some valuable minutes. Yesterday, Feldman said [to Arianne], "I am so tired, you took away all my energy".

Paragua in Candidates Matches

Chessbase wonders if we can imagine Filipino GM Mark Paragua in the candidates matches. What a stupid question? Of course we can, and one day, he will be there.

In this article for Chessbase, renowned statistician Jeff Sonas lays out his alternative method of determining the 16 candidates. In a nutshell:

[I]t would be more sporting, and more interesting, if qualification were based, not upon the rating list, but upon a performance rating measure covering a specific time range. For instance, we could calculate each player’s performance across a particular calendar year, and allow some number of top players from each yearly performance list to qualify for the Candidates matches. So perhaps it could have been five players from the 2004 performance list, five players from the 2005 performance list, and five players from the 2005 World Cup, rather than the way FIDE did it. This would ensure that qualification is based only upon the players’ success during a single year, and not automatically “inherited” from success in previous years via a stagnant rating system.

Later this month Paragua will commence his European campaign in Russia. Let's hope that the cold weather does not affect him too much. We wish him all success!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Another Flickrista

It seems that there is another flickrista covering the Queenstown Chess Classic. Malcolm Tredinnick is the gentleman to IM Robert Wade's right in the picture below. And it seems he was not impressed with the sounds made by the tea equipment.

Malcom's flickr steam can be viewed here.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Chess Over Tea

This is how we ought to play chess. Seen in picture are fellow kiwis, Bill Frost and international master Robert Wade. I was quite amused to see the pair joust in a Caro-Kann while also taking tea. Both would calmly make a move on the board, sip, pour and move again. It was funny to watch.

The game ended a draw. Of course!

More pictures in my flickr account.
Official site

Worst Loss in My Life

Some 10 minutes ago, there was a sensational end to West - Solomon as IM Guy West, of Victoria, went down to IM Stephen Solomon. Mr West clearly had tears in his eyes and later yelled out a muffled, "Fuck[!]" in the hotel bar.

I also overheard him characterise the experience as the worst loss in his life. Even GM Rogers asked in surprise, "You lost that Guy?"

Meanwhile, IM Alex Wohl was reminded of what Gufeld had apparently said: "The chess board is like Africa - all black." Yet, despite his domination, Wohl also came off second best this evening.

Happy Day with Luck

I enjoyed my second stroke of luck yesterday when I beat Matthew McNabb (NZL) - a player who is some 500 points above me. Prior to the game, I did try to do some preparation - just looking at his games and his style. I noticed that he played the KID and was quite ready for that. Sydney player Vladimir Smirnov (who is a very powerful player himself) and I have played so many blitz games with the KID that I felt I was more than ready.

Sadly, Matthew delivered a big surprise with 1...d5. Aah, let's just play chess then.

Queenstown Chess Classic
Rosario, Amiel
McNabb, Matthew

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 dxc4 4. a4 e5 5. e3 exd4 6. exd4 Be6 I have absolutely no idea about this opening. OK, I thought, so he's won a pawn. I just began to remember some basic principles. If he wants to hold on to that pawn, so be it - I'm just going to develop normally, come what may. 7. Nf3 Nf6 8.Be2 Bb4 9. O-O O-O 10. Qc2 Na6?! This was an awkward move for my opponent. Even I did not understand it. I think the Knight belongs on d7. As it is now, the Knight is out of play for some time. 11. Rd1 Qc8 (11... Bxc3 12. Qxc3 Qd5 13. Ne5) 12. Bg5! Bxc3 13. Bxf6 Bxb2 14. Bxg7 Kxg7 (14... Bxa1 15. Bxf8 Qxf8 16. Rxa1 Nb4 17. Qc3 b5 18. axb5 cxb5 19. Ne5) 15. Qxb2

After 15. Qxb2

When I saw this position, my first thought was, "Hhmmm....tactics involving d5 push". 15...Bd5 16. Ne5 Qe6 17. Qc3 (17. Qxb7 c5 18. Qb2 cxd4 19. Qxd4) 17... b5 18. axb5 cxb5

After 18...cxb5

19. Nxc4?? a gross miscalculation that my opponent failed to exploit. I totally forgot about my Bishop on e2! (19. Qa5 Nc5 (19... f6? 20. Bg4 Qb6 21. Nd7 Qxa5 22. Rxa5 Nc7) 20. Qxb5) 19... bxc4 After the alternative 19... Qxe2 White is simply lost in my opinion. 20. Qg3+ (20. Ne3 b4) 20... Kh8 21. Ne5 Rg8 20. Bxc4 Nb8 I had calculated only 20... Bxc4 21. d5+ Qf6 22. Qxc4 Nb8 23. d6 Rd8 24. Qg4+ Kh8 25. Rac1 which is why I decided to sacrifice a piece. Objectively, my position is quite bad. But I was strongly motivated by the idea of removing Black's 2 passed pawns as well as activating my Rooks.) 21. Ra5 Rd8 22. Qg3+ Kf8 23. Qg5 Bxc4 24. Qxd8+ Qe8 25. Qd6+ Qe7 26. Qh6+ Ke8 27. Re5 Be6 28. d5 Nd7 29. Ree1 Nf8 30. dxe6 fxe6 31. Qh5+ Ng6 32. Qb5+ Kf8 33. Qc6 (33. Rd7 Qf6 34. Qc6 Re8 35. Rxa7) 33... Re8 34. Rd7 Qf6 35. Rxa7 1-0

My opponent held out for a few more moves even though after my 23. Qg5, he was already lost. I suddenly felt nervous at that point. "Don't muck this up," I reminded myself. When he finally extended his hand in resignation, I was so relieved!

On board 1 yesterday, IM Alex Wohl suffered a dent in his campaign as he lost to GM Murray Chandler. "I've played some smooth games with black in this tournament, but every game with white has been a disaster", said Wohl at the post-mortem.

I had not seen anything like that before. Here is an highly experienced chess player who was actually receiving some lessons from a grandmaster. Chandler pointed out tricks and ideas that Wohl had apparently not seen or considered.

(As an aside, I absolutely despise patzers who interrupt the top masters during their post-mortems. Why don't you do this or do that, they ask. In Queenstown, and everywhere else I've been - in fact, there's always one or two who make the most ridiculous suggestions. Why don't they just shut up I wonder. To sit there quietly and listen is to receive a lesson that's probably worth more than the tournament entry fee itself.)

The last game to finish was Brown - Caoili. Arianne most likely had a draw in the endgame but her desire for a win cost her dearly. She lost.

My photos on flickr
Official site

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Take it With Ray

In today's SMH:

TFF has been reliably informed that throughout the championship she [Angela Song] took a little, and sometimes a lot, of flak, from boys, who were disposed to the view that it was against nature that a girl should ever win a chess tournament in which males were also entered, and they didn't mind letting her know, either.

Pinoy Trio on Euro Hunt

IM Dimakiling will be joined by IM Gonzales and GM Marianio II on a tour of Europe. The trio follows the example set by Paragua who is presently campaigning on the continent.

The Sun Star reports:

The Filipinos will also try their luck in the Festival Aperto Atuti Individuale on March 18 to 26 in Milan, Italy; Ciudad de Dos Hermanas dubbed Cinco Abierto International on March 30 to April 7 in Dos Hermanas, Spain; and Oslo Easter Chess Festival on April 8 to 16 in Oslo, Norway.

Gonzales is due his last GM norm whereas Dimakiling is yet to earn his first one. Let's wish the trio the best of luck.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Queenstown - Round 6

Lucky win today when my opponent apparently forgot which direction the pawns moved. She walked right into a mate in one. Whew!

Meanwhile, my tip to win this event, IM Alex Wohl, continues on that path today as he downed fellow Aussie, IM Zhong Yuan Zhao. He and WIM Arianne Caoili had apparently made a pact - equal first! When Arianne and I walked into the venue this afternoon, she quietly said, "Zhong will lose today." Sure enough, he did!

Upsets Galore

The fifth round yesterday was a day of upsets. Most notably was IM Russell Dive's defeat at the hands of Aussie Girls U18 champ (2006), Alexandra Jule. It seems that Australian juniors are becoming Mr Dive's bete noir. Yesterday, he lost to 12 year old Raymond Song.

While the result on board 12 yesterday further left the locals stunned as yet another New Zealand IM lost to less fancied Sydneysider, Jason Chan. Mr Chan only took up chess about 5 years ago!

However, the first New Zealander to fall was Richard Sutton. And yes, you guessed it: another Aussie junior did the deed - Ben Lazarus.

Surprising was WIM Arianne Caoili's loss to Maciej Wojnar. The young Australian was terribly upset with herself but graciously admitted, "He outplayed me".

My photos on flickr
Official site

Thursday, January 19, 2006

From Porn to Pawn

In an absolutely stunning revelation, we have just learned that there is an ex-porno wannabe mogul playing in the Queenstown Chess Classic tournament.

The local paper, "Mountain Scene", writes: "A Queenstown woman regrets a previous flirtation with the porn industry but hopes it won't count against her regaining a spot on the NZ women's chess team."

Amy Carter-Milano first made the women's chess team at age 13. Then 2 years ago, she reportedly went public of a plan to start a porn movie company in Queenstown. Wanting to focus now on her passion, chess, Amy was quoted as saying, "It would be nice to have some closure - I still get people coming up to me in places like the produce department at supermarkets and saying they want to be a in a movie".

Humans Surpassed

The Scotsman reports of Topalov's prediction that in a decade, computers will be almost unbeatable. "At the present moment I don't fear humans. Computers I think are very strong", said Topalov.

In another view of the future, the Bulgarian believes that Fischer Random will soon take off.

From the Scotsman.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Kiwi Bobby

New Zealand's 8-year old sensation, Bobby Cheng is already attracting attention. He was onced singled out for praise by GM Nigel Short when the British grandmaster visited here some weeks ago.

After 3 rounds of the currently running Queenstown Classic, this little boy has so far scored 1 point

From Stuff.

Dive Takes a Dive

Today, Aussie junior Raymond Song scored a massive upset by beating New Zealander, IM Russell Dive. There was excitement around the table during the game's last few moments. GM Rogers and Ray's mother, as well as other spectators, stood around the table in excitement. Both players were on the edges of a win or loss - all that mattered was an accurate move. Ultimately, it was Song who prevailed when Dive failed to spot a crucial Bishop check.

This is a fantastic win for the young Australian and even I couldn't contain myself. Amidst all that silence I had to clap.

Round 3 Photos

Photos from round 3 of the Queenstown Chess Classic are now up. Click on the image below to go to my flickr account.

Seen above is the game Rogers - Geveke, 0-1 . Geveke's attack on the g2 square was just too much. This was a rather unexpected outcome to the game and surely dents Rogers' chances of a back-to-back after last week taking out the Australian Championships.

Here's my tip for a win on points score: IM Alex Wohl. Official champ (New Zealander) will be IM Paul Garbett.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Caoili Beats Civin

This morning, Arianne Caoili turned up late for her game. Apparently, she took the wrong turn somewhere and got lost. Not a good start I thought. At some point, when her game had finally got going, it seemed to me that she was in a slightly worse position. Civin managed to plant a pawn on d6.

But, a couple of hours later, I was quite surprised to hear of the result. Civin - Caoili, 0-1. I must admit, I was gobsmacked. After that terrible performance in Brisbane, it seems that this WIM is finally finding her form again.

And what a downer for GM Rogers? Today he lost to German visitor, Michael Geveke. After the post-mortem, the Aussie grandmaster amused himself by helping solve a 4000-piece jigsaw puzzle. I feel for him. I lost too!

Queenstown Link

We have a special request to post the Queenstown Chess Classic official website. I have posted it before, but here it is again: www.queenstownchess.com.

Monday, January 16, 2006

One Move at a Time

Today began with a visit from IM Alex Wohl. He dropped in at the hostel to take Arianne on her morning jog. Of course, being the keen blogger that I am, I could not resist asking a few questions. We talked about religion, chess, and (believe it or not?) credit cards!

About chess, he game me this tip. Just take it one move at a time. The thing to think about is to make sure that they next move you play isn't a blunder.

None of that must have entered my thick head because today I managed to draw with a player rated some 400 points below me. In fact, the draw was complete luck. I'm certain that my opponent, the junior player Emma Guo, had a win somewhere. I think, perhaps, I should stick to photography.

Sadly, I arrived late at the tournament hall this afternoon. Thus, I took only a handful of shots. According to the convention, flash photography only in the first 10 minutes. Anyway, I did manage to capture a couple of moments in the Chandler - Wade game. It was a tense game with Chandler's clock ebbing very close to zero. And quite amazingly, Wade still had at least 60 minutes left. But with the time control at 100m + 60s [per move from 1], Chandler had little risk of losing on time. He just had to play something decent. The game ended a draw. During the post mortem, Chandler graciously acknowledged Wade's performance.

"You played very well Bob, I have to say", said Chandler.

In Ly - Rogers, the players had a nice moment of humour between themselves. In the last few moments of the game, Ly teasingly moved his King to a losing square, but without completing the move. Both players smiled quietly to each other. It was rather nice.

Humpy's Woes

We may be stuck here in paradise but our coverage of world chess cannot cease. From The Hindu, we are informed of a problem faced by top woman player, India's Humpy Koneru. After losing her previous sponsor, BoB, to cricketer Rahul Dravid - the chess prodigy has found the going a lot tougher.

The Hindu's closing remarks are rather dark: "Only time will tell whether Humpy will be able to sustain interest in the sport or let her talent drift away to a point of no return".

Let's hope that The Hindu is proven wrong. Read here.

TVNZ on Queenstown

The tournament is receiving widespread coverage - particularly by the local papers. Today, there is a picture in the Otago Daily Times of Moulthun Ly and Bob Wade playing a friendly against each other.

And there's this item from TVNZ.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

My First Round

After "preparing" for a good two hours today against Bob Smith, I had to lose! I'm just beside myself. I saw nearly the same lines my much stronger opponent did - but, for whatever reason, I just chickened out.

Mr Smith is an Olympiad representative for NZ and I desired nothing more than to score a win against him. So, I frantically went through some of his games. I noticed that against 1. d4, he has a wide array of defences. But against 1. e4, he responds with either 1...c5 or 1...c6. I thought, well that makes it easy. There was only one problem. I never play 1. e4 or, at least, very rarely.

Also, I noticed the game Charles, G. - Smith, R.W. at the Auckland Zonals last year. For whatever reason, I had this feeling that Bob will reel out the Najdorf. And so...

Queenstown Chess Classic
Rosario, Amiel
Smith, Robert

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3 Nbd7 9. Qd2 Rc8 10. g4 Nb6 11. O-O-O Be7 12. h4 Qc7 13. Kb1 Nc4 14. Bxc4 Qxc4 15. g5 (15. h5 h6 16. g5 hxg5 17. Bxg5) 15... Nh5 16. Na5?! (16. Rdg1) 16... Qc7 17. Nd5 ( I had hallucinated on the line 17. Qf2?? Qxa5 18. Bb6 Qb4 19. a3 and after this move, Black simply plays ... Qc4 I completely overlooked that my knight on a5 had already been captured! Of course, later on I still managed to "lose" the piece. 17... Bxd5 18. exd5? (Bob suggested 18. Qxd5 Qxc2+ 19. Ka1 O-O 20. Nxb7) 18... Bd8 19. Nb3 Qc4 20. Rhe1 O-O 21. Bf2 f5 22. gxf6 Rxf6 23. Re4 Qc7 Now, I'm really losing the thread of my position. 24. c3 Qf7 25. Nd4? Not the best. But I thought my best try. Again, my problem is that I failed to look more deeply missing the simple Black defences that now transpire over the board. 25... exd4 26. Bxd4 Ng3 27. Rg4 Rg6 28. Rf4 Bf6 29. Bf2 Re8 I just gave up. My position is lost. 0-1

As I promised, I will be posting pictures on a daily basis. Click on the image below to go to my flickr album.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Philippines Chess Roundup

Were it not for Paragua's heroics, we could well dismiss 2005 as the Philippines' annus horribilis. The locals' performance on home soil in the SEAG was a complete catastrophe. It was in that event that our Southeast Asian neighbours, Vietnam, slapped the Filipinos around the 64 squares. And at the time of this writing, Philippines ratings are still absent from the FIDE website.

Let's hope that 2006 will be a better year.

All this reminds me of something I learned in the Philippines all those years ago when I was a little boy. Pinoys are like bamboos - we sway with the winds.

Here, the best chess columnist in the world, Bobby Ang, provides us a quick roundup of Pinoy performance in the 23rd SEAG. Dimakiling, by the way, has just been offered a coaching gig in Singapore. However, according to his father - "His coaching stint in Singapore is not yet confirmed. It, however, is a good offer. But he is having second thoughts because he still aims to be an IM then a GM."

And in this article, we find a familiar name. Her performance in Brisbane was bad, but she has promised that in New Zealand, "I will fight back". Of course, Arianne now plays under the Aussie flag.

With Paragua continuing his superb efforts abroad and possibly a new NCFP leadership, the signs are good. Or else, I may well renew my Catholicism and start praying again.

A GM and a Zebra

Michael Goeller, my fellow blogger over at The Kenilworthian, can't seem to contain himself over Rowson's latest effort - Chess for Zebras.

For those, like myself, who just want to worry about the chess, Mr Goeller warns, "They might also not be willing to read a lot of prose that is not specifically geared toward annotating games or reviewing opening theory, and Rowson's writing may strike them as a bit dense."

Dense alright. I have in my possession Rowson's first effort, Seven Deadly Chess Sins, and reading that book was like reading through a badly translated French sociological tome. Pick any paragraph and you'd be drop-dead snoring past the first sentence.

Yet I'm sure GM Rowson has many followers. So check out this post from The Kenilworthian.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Anand Looks Back on 2005

In an interview for DNA Sport, Indian grandmaster Vishy Anand sounds a warning to his rivals. He will do better.

Looking back at last year:

Chesswise I am very happy. I played some very beautiful games last year. My game against Michael Adams in San Luis was one of the best I played in 2005. My preparation was more deep. I found new areas to work on and was happy with the results. As a chess player I continued to grow, to learn and enjoy. If I had to compare 2005 with 2004 or 2003, it surely will pale in comparison. But as a stand-alone year, 2005 was good. My rating went up. I won some events and always finished second in all other events. I guess as a chess player it is a fantastic result. But when you are Vishy Anand, generally expectations can be very high.

From DNA Sport.

ACF Medals

Each year, the Australian Chess Federation awards 3 medals. These are the Purdy, the Koshnitsky and the Steiner Medals. This year the winners are FM George Xie, who receives the Steiner Medal, and Canberra's Jenni Oliver, who receives the Koshnitsky Medal.

No recipient was announced for the Purdy Medal.

The Koshnitsky medal is "[a]warded for chess administration on a national or state level". While the Steiner is awarded to the "Australian chess player [with] (greatest impact or notable achievement)". Congratulations to both George and Mrs Oliver.

A full list of past winners are available here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Queenstown Weather

Murray Chandler's brainchild looks set to be a huge event. Nothing like the big US and European opens, but big for Down Under standards. From the list of entries, it is very definitely an Australian invasion. It's good to see that I've got a few mates going.

Now if you're unfamiliar with NZ weather, it's actually fairly pleasant this time of year. However, as we're in the South Island, it could get pretty chilly. So, if you're coming along, do bring some light cold weather gear.

To give you a better idea of temperatures, the Metservice is what you need. The tournament commences this weekend. See you all there!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Cooked By A Kok

The disastrous Pinoy performance (or is that non performance?) at the recent 23rd South East Asian Games in the Philippines has left many a blood boiling. And Rey Bancod isn't pulling any punches.

Writing for Tempo, today, Mr Bancod knows exactly who to aim at. The Tempo item will soon disappear after a few days so let me quote the most delicious parts.


The good thing about the disaster is that we can learn something from it.

One lesson is that never, never abandon your troops in the middle of a war.

Go Teng Kok, the flamboyant president of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP), did just that to the horror of everyone.

No, no - no relation to Bessel - at least as far as I can tell. Let' hope so anyway. According to Bancod, GTK even went on to label some players as "selfish" and "greedy". In the Australian parlance, we'd call this guy a "bloody wanker". He sounds like one.

Bancod again:

Another thing that the NCFP may have overlooked is training, or the lack of it. The federation took almost an eternity determining the composition of the team to the Games. By the time, the final lineup was completed, the Games were just a few weeks away.

Maybe we should do away with lengthy elimination events – we can’t even agree on how to run them anyway, and just seed players that we think can deliver. With the World Chess Olympiad just four months away, holding elimination events would only eat up time that could be put to better use – like sending the players to train and campaign abroad.

With such a rich chess history as RP does, it is important that whoever are running the NCFP can actually get their act together for the sake of Torino. Anything less than a respectable finish, in the top 15, say, will surely not be acceptable. Last time, RP came 19th. We can do better!

Here is the Tempo news item.

A Song for Torino

Angela Song, who yesterday became the first female Australian Junior champion, was quoted by The Courier Mail as saying, "They pick the team early this year [for the 2006 Olympiad] and I'd really like to go . . . it would be fantastic."

Report from The Courier Mail.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Photography - Aussie Championships

These days, I am more busy taking chess photos than actually playing chess. It's a very satisfying effort. While not quite ready to stop playing tournament games, photography is likely to be something I'll do more often.

On my recent trip to Brisbane, I had plenty of opportunity to photograph the players and other personalities. And so, I must thank them first and foremost for their relax and welcoming nature. My only regret is that I failed to photograph all of the main Championship players. Next time then.

And how else to direct you to my flickr account but to present my most photogenic subject - Arianne Caoili?

WIM Arianne Caoili

Please feel free to browse through these images and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did taking them. I've also included some shots of touristy spots. For example, there is the Brisbane Casino - truly a fave of players and arbiters after the day's hard work. I don't gamble myself, but I hear a player or two lost a few quid.

For our international readers in colder regions, if it's sun and heat you want - then Brisbane is the place for you!

Instant Tournament Website

Aussie chess personality Jonathan Paxman, who is another one of these PhD'd chess types, has gifted the chess world a most brilliant idea.

Tired of ridiculous chess websites, Dr Paxman created SP2HTML version 1.0. His design is presently used by the Aussie Championships in Brisbane, Queensland as well as others in Spain and even Serbia.

Thank you Dr. Paxman.

Aussie Champs - Last Round

What an absolutely exciting tenth round it was yesterday. In the U18 Juniors, Sydney's Angela Song accomplished an almighty win against Canberra's Junta Ikeda. The game had everybody on the edges of their thongs and shoes. Some folks watched the game live on the viewing monitor, while others watched in the playing hall. Even grandmaster Ian Rogers appeared to be completely absorbed by it - banging out his verbal analysis. While Dr Zworestine and Gary Wastell debated over the correct approach for Angela. The good doctor was pretty certain the win was a certainty. He was right.

With that victory, Angela is now on full point ahead, on 8.5, going into the last round. So all she needs is a GM draw.

Over on board 2, Huang - Ly was in progress. When I glanced over to check this game, I was stunned to see that white was winning! I almost could not believe it. The Merciless Moulthun Ly drops another game. We can only surmise that his 2-game per day schedule must have tired him out. A great win for Justin Huang who promptly received a kiss and a hug from mother.

In the Championships section, Rogers' determination served him well yesterday as he downed fellow legend, Daryl Johansen. And on board one, Smerdon won against Wohl's cute opening system, 1. a3. Therefore, both Rogers and Smerdon move into today's last round still on the same score. The problem for Smerdon is that he has a much tougher assignment against FM Goldenberg while Rogers will front up against the much outclassed junior, Raymond Song.

No doubt Rogers will win against Song. But the GM will be praying that Goldenberg's illness yesterday will have already disappeared to at least secure a draw against David Smerdon. Whatever happens, this has been a truly exciting tournament!

Zugzwang - A Novel

Yesterday, The Observer Review began an interesting little project. They will publish a novel in weekly instalments on the web (and presumably in print form as well). Ronan Bennett is the unlucky author for this monumental effort.

The novel is of interest to chess players if only for its title: "Zugzwang". By way of introduction, the paper describes the title as:

A chess term derived from the German: Zug (move) + Zwang (compulsion, obligation). It is used to describe a position in which a player is reduced to a state of utter helplessness; he is obliged to move, but every move only serves to make his position even worse.

The first 2 chapters can be read here.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Chess Official Shot Dead

Manuel Andrade, permanent secretary of the Angolan Federation of Chess has been shot dead.

Angop reports.

David "Atakador" Smerdon

I have to say something about this guy. His performance in this Aussie Championships is just mind blowing. 2700+ rating performance and a GM norm leave us dumb struck. What has he been eating? Whatever it is, he's eating something.

And so, in the fine tradition of the Philippines, we feel compelled to bestow upon international master David Smerdon a nick name. For his attacking prowess against the NSW champ, Andrew Bird, we hereby call David the Aussie "Atakador".

See the game here.

Magic Pairings

A funny thing happened in round 7. There were two pairings published. Here is what we, at first, saw on the Aussie Championships official site.

1 GM Chandler, Murray (5) - GM Rogers, Ian (4.5)
2 FM Xie, George (4) - GM Schmaltz, Roland (4.5)
3 IM Smerdon, David (4.5) - IM Lane, Gary (4)
4 GM Johansen, Darryl (3.5) - GM Ftacnik, Lubomir (4)
5 FM Bjelobrk, Igor (3.5) - IM Zhao, Zong-Yuan (3.5)
6 IM Wohl, Alex (3.5) - Smirnov, Vladimir (3.5)
7 IM Solomon, Stephen (3) - FM Canfell, Greg (3.5)
8 FM Humphrey, Jonathan (3) - FM Guthrie, Aaron (3)
9 Obst, James (2.5) - Song, Raymond (3)
10 Bird, Andrew (2.5) - FM Goldenberg, Igor (2.5)
11 WIM Moylan, Laura (2.5) - WIM Caoili, Arianne (2.5)
12 Pyke, Malcolm (2) - Ly, Moulthun (2.5)
13 FM Dougherty, Michael (2) - Booth, Stewart (2)
14 Frame, Nigel (1.5) - Lakner, Jay (1.5)

But this was later changed to what you see below (with results indicated).

1 GM Chandler, Murray (5) 0 - 1 GM Rogers, Ian (4.5)
2 FM Xie, George (4) ½ - ½ GM Schmaltz, Roland (4.5)
3 IM Smerdon, David (4.5) 1 - 0 IM Lane, Gary (4)
4 GM Johansen, Darryl (3.5) ½ - ½ GM Ftacnik, Lubomir (4)
5 FM Canfell, Greg (3.5) ½ - ½ IM Zhao, Zong-Yuan (3.5)
6 IM Wohl, Alex (3.5) ½ - ½ FM Bjelobrk, Igor (3.5)
7 IM Solomon, Stephen (3) ½ - ½ Smirnov, Vladimir (3.5)
8 FM Humphrey, Jonathan (3) ½ - ½ FM Guthrie, Aaron (3)
9 WIM Moylan, Laura (2.5) 0 - 1 Song, Raymond (3)
10 Bird, Andrew (2.5) 0 - 1 FM Goldenberg, Igor (2.5)
11 Ly, Moulthun (2.5) 1 - 0 WIM Caoili, Arianne (2.5)
12 Pyke, Malcolm (2) ½ - ½ Obst, James (2.5)
13 FM Dougherty, Michael (2) 0 - 1 Booth, Stewart (2)
14 Frame, Nigel (1.5) 0 - 1 Lakner, Jay (1.5)

It is easy to imagine the ill-effect of this major mistake: players naturally prepared for the wrong opponents. On game day, at least two players were reported to have simply refused to play. After some apparent cajoling, they eventually relented. A Sydneysider was walking around like a headless chicken looking for an arbiter to see what in the world was happening. An IM, I gather, walked into the playing hall in a sort of daze, not from a night of boozing, but from discovering that he's playing the wrong man!

The episode is a black mark in what is an otherwise fantastic event. In an effort to minimise damage, the organising team issued a letter of apology to all Championship players. It was signed by all the arbiters. Stay tuned while we seek a copy of that letter.

But here are some preliminary questions. Where did the second set of "phantom" pairings come from? Who created them? If the pairings were changed, for whatever reason, was that agreed to between all the arbiters? Even assuming agreement between all the arbiters, why were two pairings published in the first place?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Heading for Queenstown

As this Aussie Championships comes to a close, many players, including Rogers and Chandler, will battle it out again across the water in Chandler's home country, New Zealand. That tournament is set to be NZ's biggest ever.

In preparation for this event, due to begin on 15 January, the NZPA reports of another favourite son of NZ who will make a comeback after a very long absence. He is IM Bob Wade. At age 84, Mr Wade is likely to be one of the older participants.

Born in Dunedin, Wade left New Zealand in the late 1940s to play chess in Europe. He had already won the New Zealand championship three times. In 1950 his results earned him the international master title and he won the British championship in 1952 and 1970.
The news item can be read here.

What is interesting to also note is this regulation that there be no short draws excepting for certain special circumstances. I must say, it sure is a good idea. Queenstown looks set to be a fun tournament.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Negi on Course

Speaking of norms, Indian young gun Parimarjan Negi has just secured his first ever GM norm. Competing in the currently running Hastings Congress, the young Indian is weaving a magical performance. After 9 rounds, he is presently on 6 points after having defeated the likes of Lalic, Erenburg and Hebden. Negi's draw against Kuzubov in the 9th secured the GM norm.

It's also worth noting that Negi had also earned his last IM norm requirement in the fourth round. He thus became India's youngest ever international master.

Sunny Brisbane

Here I am in sunny Brissy. And what a day to arrive. History was made when, for the first time in a decade, IM David Smerdon scored a much conveted GM norm. He achieved the feat by vanquishing FM Xie in what looked to be a prepared line.

In the post mortem, Xie was gracious enough and was the first to congratulate Smerdon on his achievement. Their struggle was awesome and so mersmerised the crowd. But, and this is always something I am very proud to witness, is the ever enduring humility of these top players. It's very nice to see them analyse with each other and to reveal secrets and patzers like myself couldn't even begin to contemplate.

I should mention that Smerdon's achivement was not lost on the local paper, The Courier Mail. Smerdon, as well as up-and-coming young powerhouse Moulthun Ly, rated a mention. Never mind the factual error.

Lastly, it's nice to meet a few folks here. And I must thank Mr Malcolm Pyke. Despite having been traumatised by an apparently over zealous security guard at the hostel, where we are both staying, Malcolm did manage to find the best shower facilities. You sort have to use a compass in this labyrinth of a place. But - there it was, all comfy and excellent water pressure. Thanks mate.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Off to the Championships

Folks, I'm flying north tomorrow to pay a visit to the Aussie Championships in Brisbane. I'm looking forward to it. It should be good seeing some familiar places you see, perhaps, only once a year. And on Friday, I think I'll put my name down for the lightning. With all those young sharks up there - it'll be tough.

But what I'm really after are a few photos to add to the Closet Grandmaster's collection on flickr. So, do look out for those. And, if I get particularly lucky, we could return with some stories.

So see you up there or when I get back!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

In the Top 100

We are asked by the NSWCA president, Bill Gletsos, if Mark Paragua is, in fact, in the top 100. After all, Paragua's rating is 2618 - equal 99th place with Atalik and Istratescu. Naturally, we can only agree with Mr Gletsos' eagle eyes!

And so, I must correct myself. Paragua is definitely in the top 100 and not in 101st place. Mr Gletsos has the thanks of an entire nation for his attention to detail.

Meanwhile, the Manila Standard reports that Paragua is now gunning for the Top 50 by April - FIDE's next rating release. To that end, the young Pinoy GM will play in a series of events abroad. According to aforementioned paper, the list of tournaments include: "Moscow Open on Jan. 29-Feb. 6; the Aeroflot Open on Feb. 8-16, which will be held both in Moscow, Russia; the International Open Tournament Ciudad de Morelia on Feb. 20-28; the French Team Championships between April and May in France; the Spanish Team Championships between August and September and the German Team Championships between October and December".

For Pinoy readers, here is the link. I apologise to English speakers in advance if you cannot read the Tagalog portions.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Merciless Ly

Young Queenslander, Moulthun Ly is showing little mercy to his opponents. In the main Championships section of the Australian Championships, he has so far taken out IM Wohl and FM Guthrie - both higher rated and certainly more experienced opposition. On the other hand, Ly has lost to two other international masters, Zhao and Solomon. While the game against Zhao looked to be an opening accident, Ly's swordfight against Solo was a tougher struggle lasting some 55 moves.

But an even more remarkable thing is that Moulthun is also playing in the Australian Juniors Championships (U18)! Actually, he is the defending champion. After 5 rounds his score is 4.5 - half a point ahead of his nearest pursuers. This morning, he completely brutalised the black side of James Cronan's Scandinavian Defence. It was over in 25 moves.

(As an aside, it's worth mentioning that the current Championships hasn't been a happy hunting ground for the Scandinavian. After 6 outings, white has won five; black has won only one).

Finally, yesterday was definitely one to remember for the rest of Moulthun Ly's, hopefully long, chess career. He won the Australian Rapid Championships on a score of 6.5/7 points. The only blemish was a draw against third-place finisher, IM Solomon.

Xstrata Australian Championship 2006
Ly, Moulthun
Guthrie, Aaron

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 e6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. d3 d6 6. O-O Nf6 7. e5 dxe5 8. Nxe5 Bd6 9. Nc4 Bc7 10. Nc3 Qd4 11. Qf3 Bd7 12. h3 O-O-O 13. Be3 Qh4 14. Bxc5 Nd5 15. Nd6+ Bxd6 16. Bxd6 Qd4 17. Bh2 f5 18. Rfe1 Rhg8 19. Be5 Qh4 20. d4 Nb6 21. a4 g5 22. Qd3 Rdf8 23. Qa6+ Kd8 24. Qxa7 Nc8 25. Qc7+ Ke8

After 25...Ke8

26. d5! cxd5 27. Nxd5 g4 28. Rad1 Qd8 29. Nf6+ Rxf6 30. Qxd8+ Kxd8 31. Bxf6+ Ke8 32. hxg4 Rxg4 33. Rd4 Rg6 34. Be5 Ne7 35. Bd6 Bc6 36. Bg3 Nd5 37. Rc4 Bb7 38. a5 h5 39. a6 Bxa6 40. Rc6 Nb4 41. Rexe6+ Rxe6 42. Rxe6+ 1-0

The 2600 Club

FIDE has just released the latest rating list. As expected, Filipino player Mark Paragua has now breached the 2600 rating mark. He is the first Filipino player to achieve such a feat. It is an outstanding achievement but marred, slightly, by the fact that Philippines players are still unavailable on the FIDE website. This is likely because Philippine officials have so far failed to make the necessary payments to FIDE.

No matter, there is no point in dwelling on such laughable situations. What is important are the good. Apart from having reached the dizzy heights of super-GM status, Paragua is just also shy of the top 100 players list. Believe it or not, he is now 101st in the world!

Among the Aussies, Ian Rogers (2547) is still numero uno. He is followed by Zhao (2461), Johansen (2460), Wohl (2452) and Lane (2444). George Xie's recent successes overseas have earned him some 34 extra points. He moves ever closer to 2400 and that much coveted IM title.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Downloadable Bulletins

Bulletins for the currently running Australian Championships are now available on the official website. They can be accessed via this page. The site has apparently been the subject of a hacker attack - so the page may disappear again anytime soon. All seems well for now.

From round 2 onwards, Alex Davidovic provides readers with his annotations to at least two games! A sure highlight for me.

This effort is a marked improvement on those of the last Aussie major, the Mt Buller Australian Open. The bulletins for that tournament are lost somewhere in the ether of a corrupted compact disc.

Happy New Year!

I should take the time to wish all my readers and loyal fans a Happy New Year! And, of course, it's that time of year again for those resolutions. For me, maybe I'll finally out myself as a genuine grandmaster. Ha! That could take a while longer. Whatever your hopes and dreams for the coming 12 months - good luck.

If anyone should have a positive outlook on Aussie chess for 2006, it is local GM Ian Rogers. Writing in today's Sun Herald, GM Rogers has his eyes on what he terms a "generational change" at the top. That is, when he and Daryl Johansen (the only other Aussie grandmaster) will finally be replaced by younger guns.

Results from the ongoing Australian Championship and the subsequent Queenstown Classic in New Zealand will be critical. These two tournaments could conceivably be the events at which the two Australian grandmasters, who have dominated the local scene for two decades, were finally caught or overtaken by the new generation of players, led by [international masters] Zhao Zong and David Smerdon.

If the long awaited generational change at the top does indeed occur - showing the way for the tens of thousands of juniors now competing around the country - then 2006 could be a truly significant year for Australian chess.

I think all Aussie readers will surely share Rogers' positive outlook. It certainly is time for Zhao and Smerdon to step up. With the latter's victory over Johansen overnight in the Aussie Champs' round 4 - the signs are good.

And to those two international masters, I would add the likes of Moulthon Ly, George Xie and Raymond Song. It's only a matter of time.


What's the best excuse you've ever used when you turned up late for a game? Your cat died? Maybe the train was late? Or maybe that you had an attack of indigestion?

Failing to turn up for his round 3 game in the 58th Russian Championships, world number 17 Alex Morozevich claimed that his lateness was because the hotel was so comfortable! Writing for the Guardian, Leo Barden reports that staff even telephoned the Russian in his room. Still he slept like a baby.

Thus, we join Mr Barden in calling Mr Morozevich, MoroZZZevich.