Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Chess Master

I'm always looking to experiment with new forms of content so that you, dear readers, are continually entertained. Looking at other blogs, not necessarily chess related, I notice video files embedded in posts. These are courtesy of YouTube.

Over at the YouTube site I found a number of chess videos. This one below is the first interesting one I saw. It's a snippet of what appears to be a doco. Would you take lessons from this guy?

RP's Olympiad Heroes

A chance meeting inspires our favourite chess columnist to correct what he calls an "injustice". In this latest article, Bobby Ang tells gives a little story about one of the Philippines' chess heroes - GM Rosendo Balinas.

I do remember reading the "The Rosendo Balinas Story" some years back, when Bobby used to send his articles in PDF format. But I seemed to have lost those old files. I hope our friend Mr Ang can republish them somewhere. They are a treasure.

Ermacora Diary - Round 9

I got here just after Round 9 got under way. I always have a bit of trouble finding out the table of the teams I'm interested in. Blame the organisers who keep changing the location of the noticeboard. Anyhow I've managed to take some photos which I'm about to send to you. Cathy and Ian are in the corner near me, Ian with a runny nose. Not far away is Phil Viner picking at the Italian keyboard of the Chinese PC. I had a surprise visit yesterday from Leonid Sandler who is the captain of the Women's team. Today I took a photo of the PNG team of which Cathy is the captain, with Shaun Press as a player (he was born in PNG).

I don't easily meet the players because I am not staying in the Olympic Village. They enter the Oval by a back entrance and come directly inside the cordoned off playing area. In fact they are like the Roman gladiators who emerged from underground tunnels into the arena, or here in modern Italy the soccer team who do the same!
Cathy reminded me that I could enter the playing area as a photographer in the first quarter hour of play. As it is, from outside the cordoned area, my photos tend to favour the last boards!

I was asking why Smerdon was not playing today. It's all a matter of GM norms strategies, or tactics. He would have had black today against a stronger player. We want him to have good winning chances! Norms at the Olympiad carry an extra bonus too.

Still windy today and much cooler, a relief from yesterday's heat. The horizon has cleared and the Alps, a spectacular chain of mountains, line the horizon, some still with snow.

In the game of Italian politics, Turin the reddest city in Italy has just re-elected a socialist-communist mayor by a large margin. Only Milan and Sicily have supported the right wing parties. The big avenue near the Olympic village is name Corso Unione Sovietica!

With the Chess Olympiad coming to an end, Italians and Australians will very soon turn their attention to World Cup soccer in Germany.

- Larry Ermacora

For the next couple of weeks, during the Olympiad, we will feature a guest blogger - Larry Ermacora. He will be providing reports all the way from Torino after having been officially accredited by Olympiad officials as a journo for this blog.

Larry is a well known personality in Australian chess circles. He was an administrator in both Western Australia and New South Wales. And, in 1990, he was awarded the highly coveted Koshnitsky medal.

Round 9 - Torre Wins

Last night Team Philippines drew their match, 2-2, with the all-GM outfit of Romania. Mark Paragua on the first board seemed to lose his way in the opening and was never in it. The Pinoy super-GM went down to current European Champion GM Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu in just 24 moves.

On boards 2 and 3, those old warriors grandmasters Torre and Antonio saved the day for RP by beating their rivals. Torre downed Andrei Istratescu, the same player that Australian GM Rogers defeated in round 2; while Antonio won a nice Rook endgame over GM Nevednichy.

Twelve-year old Wesley So, on board 4, lost a tough game to Levente Vajda. The Philippines is slated to play against South East Asian neighbour Malaysia in the next round. That one should be interesting.

After very narrow wins over the previous 2 rounds, Australia lost to Egypt last night 2.5 - 1.5. With Rogers stricken with illness and IM David Smerdon enjoying a well-earned rest, the honour of leading the Aussie charge fell on the shoulders of young IM Zong-Yuan Zhao. The Sydneysider deserves a huge pat on the back. He drew with Egypt's number 1, GM Ahmed Adly.

Australia vs Egypt, round 9 (Photo by Larry Ermacora)

IM Lane, on second board, went down to IM El Taher while Wohl posted his fourth win a row beating fellow IM Imed Abdelnabbi.

Victoria's Nicolas Speck, however, playing on board 4 is running the risk of being benched for the remainder of this event. Speck once again lost IM Mohammed Ezat. Ezat, by the way, played in the 2001 Australian Open in Canberra.

The Aussie women last night reversed their fortunes by defeating Guatemala 2.5 - 0.5. Laura Moylan, on board 2, drew with WIM Mazariegos.

Australia vs Guatemala, round 9 (Photo by Larry Ermacora)

Round 10 Pairings

Australia - Scotland
Philippines - Malaysia
NZ - Ireland

Australia - Moldova
Albania - Philippines
Panama - NZ

More details from the WZ site and the Official site. I've also added the official logo on my right-bar. Click on it and you'll see a post with essential Olympiad coverage.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Capa - Best of All Time

According to chess program Crafty, the great Capablanca was the best of all time. Guest blogger Larry Ermacora gives us an update on his interest in computer chess.

As I was saying:

My interest in computer chess led me early this morning to the University of Turin for the 5th International Conference on Computer and Games. I stayed for the two opening topics: Automatic Chess Tutor and Computer analysis of World Chess Champions. In the Tutor part it was said that at present computers can't explain why they make a move whereas humans can.

What we need from computers is evaluation of positional aspects not just numbers, ie computers that can turn numbers into comments in everyday chess language, give the reason why a move is good, with position evaluation. David Levy told me the other day that the next thing computers wil learn to do is to annotate our games in a far better way than some can do now. Computers must also learn when to comment and when not to comment to cut down on reems of output, produce comments for GMs and comments for weaker players. So the project is for a Chess Tutor and annotation program.

The other topic dealt with computer analysis to determine who has been the best player of all time. Surprising, based on a number of criteria the computer Crafty decided Capablanca was the best followed by Kramnik and only then Karpov and Kasparov!!

- Larry Ermacora

See also: "A Conversation with David Levy", by Robert Huntington

Photo: Chinese Chess

Somewhere in there is the next world champion, I bet.

Ermacora Update: New Way to Cheat

I don't know if you were aware of it but there are TWO women playing in the Men's teams. This is allowed by FIDE, but not the reverse. Playing a woman for many men is a psychological handicap I think. I lost to a little girl once, a game published in the daily newspaper but delicately handled: they put NN instead of my name!

I watched the Russian No1 woman play the other day. I stopped because whereas games at almost all other tabled were finished, the Russian women were all still at it. Alexandra was holding her head tightly, screening out side vision. Well she might, she was in trouble with K + R vs K + R and 2 pawns. In the interview in Italy she had been asked which piece she liked best. The pawn she said, because it has this won derful dream of becoming a Queen! Well Alexandra tried very hard in that game to stop this pawn dream coming true but in the end she had to give up. Unlike the loose hair in the glam photo o her I sent you, she had a very long pony tail and very high heels, definitely the model type. Must make the girls with the burkas a bit envious perhaps.

Putting your hands over your ears or the long hair could hide a micro listening device in ear, ear-ring, have you thought of that? At least that has occurred to me. With games moves instantly available on the Internet, players could get real time help in some hidden way. I don't say that is happening but maybe it could become a problem. FIDE doesn't seem to have considered this electronic possibility for cheating, whereas they worry about doping. In fact in a throw-away newspaper here in Turin I read today that the anti-doping enforcer of the Federation has arrived and that in the next few days chessplayers may be tested (by blood tests at the end of the games). Let's hope that Ian's anti-biotics don't mess up his blood! There are enough scandals in Italy and we want chess to have a clean image.

A clean image. Is that one of the considerations in the FIDE Presidential elections about to take place?

Bye for now.

- Larry Ermacora

For the next couple of weeks, during the Olympiad, we will feature a guest blogger - Larry Ermacora. He will be providing reports all the way from Torino after having been officially accredited by Olympiad officials as a journo for this blog.

Larry is a well known personality in Australian chess circles. He was an administrator in both Western Australia and New South Wales. And, in 1990, he was awarded the highly coveted Koshnitsky medal.

Round 8 - Australia Beats Qatar

Playing against a team that featured a former world champion, last night the Australian men brought jubilation to their fans when they beat Qatar 2.5 - 1.5. An outstanding achievement!

On board 1, IM David Smerdon, our hero for this event, drew with GM Mohammed Al-Modiakhi. He was ably supported by fellow IMs Zhao and Wohl who also won their games. On board 3, IM Gary Lane lost to ex-Women's World Champ GM Zhu Chen.

Australia will front up against another team from the Mid-East tomorrow, Egypt.

The women's team, on the other hand, appear to be going through a black hole. Our team went down to Kyrgyzstan 3-0, the team's second straight shutout defeat. It is now getting quite desperate and it makes me wonder if there is a team email to which we can send messages of support. We'll figure that one out. In the mean time, send the team your shout outs via this post's comments section. Go Aussies!

Finally, heartache of heartaches, Team Philippines lost to mighty China 3.5 - 0.5. Only GM Antonio managed to save the day by drawing against Zhang Zhong. I must admit, when I saw Darwin Laylo bang out his pet Scandinavian against Zhang Pengxiang, I thought, "You crazy bastard!" Then I realised, well, if you're going to play a super-GM, you might as well play what you know.

The Pinays split the points evenly with a stronger Iranian side 1.5 - 1.5. Sheerie Lomibao defeated WIM Atousa Pourkashiyan (2311) on board 1, while Catherine Perena drew with WGM Shadi Paridar (2210) on board 2. Team rookie Sherily Cua went down to her opponent.

Round 9 Pairings

Egypt - Australia
Romania - Philippines
New Zealand - IBCA

Guatemala - Australia
Philippines - Turkey
NZ - Tajikistan

More details from the WZ site and the Official site. I've also added the official logo on my right-bar. Click on it and you'll see a post with essential Olympiad coverage. Robert Huntington's blog is a must-read.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Ermacora's Diary: Rogers with Flu

I got here a bit earlier today. It's rather hot now, though the day started cooler. The Press Room airconditioning is not working well, so not much relief here, apart from a bottle of cool mineral water, courtesy of the management.

Just a curiousity. On the way in I checked with some locals and it turns out that the nearby mile-long building within which the opening ceremony was held had in fact been the famous FIAT car factory with a car racing track on the roof (for testing new cars). It is now transformed into shopping centres, conference rooms, etc with some contributions by Renzo Piano, an Italian architect who built a building in Sydney too [Aurora Place, actually; it was completed in year 2000 - TCG].

In the entry hall, I checked out the Chess Computer World Tournament. After 6 rounds the leaders are Shredder (2810) and Junior (2800) with 4 points each. Zappa, rated 2830, is on 3.5 with three others.

My interest in computer chess led me early this morning to the University of Turin for the 5th International Conference on Computer and Games. I stayed for the two opening topics, ie Automatic Chess Tutor and Computer analysis of World Chess Champions. More on this topic later.

I went down to have a look at Australia's line-up (3.15pm) and was amazed to see that Gary Lane is playing a girl on board 3 of the Men. Well it's GM Zhu Chen from Qatar. So here is a photo scoop.

GM Zhu Chen - IM Gary Lane, Round 8

Another bit of late news: Cathy just told me that Ian has come down with the flu. She's given him antibiotics and he should be OK tomorrow.

- Larry Ermacora

For the next couple of weeks, during the Olympiad, we will feature a guest blogger - Larry Ermacora. He will be providing reports all the way from Torino after having been officially accredited by Olympiad officials as a journo for this blog.

Larry is a well known personality in Australian chess circles. He was an administrator in both Western Australia and New South Wales. And, in 1990, he was awarded the highly coveted Koshnitsky medal.

Romance Blossoming?

I've finally received my daily emails from the Australian squad in Torino. Like I said, if you haven't subscribed - then you're nuts as you are missing out on some juicy gossip.

For example, international master Zhao informs his readers that one of the Aussie girls might be in the middle of a particularly rosy romance. Can this be good for her or a distraction?

Find out more by donating $50 or more. Details to:

Brett Tindall
Olympaid Appeal
PO Box 463
NSW 2135

Include your name, contact details and please state what the money is for.

Round 7 - RP Crush Iceland

The Philippines men's team bulldozed Iceland last night 3.5 - 0.5. Iceland's Hlifar Stefansson, playing against Paragua on board 1, blundered horribly on his 21st move and walked straight into a mate in one. Antonio and Dimakiling also won against grandmaster opposition. According to the Juha Kivijärvi's website, these two currently have the highest rating performance on the RP side.

Darwin Laylo drew against GM Daniel Henriksen.

The Pinoys have a huge assignment in the next round: the might of China!

After that heartbreaking loss to Albania yesterday (with Speck checkmated), the Aussies played well today to down Luxembourg 2.5 - 1.5 points. Wohl brought home the win on board 4.

Australian Men's team (photo by Larry Ermacora)

Torino Olympiad
Weber, Jean-Marie
Wohl, Aleks

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 d6 7. g3 Bd7 8. Bg5 h6 9. Bxf6 Qxf6 10. Bg2 Bc6 11. Nf3 a5 12. b3 Be4 13. O-O c5 14. Qe3 Bxf3 15. Qxf3 Qxf3 16. Bxf3 cxd4 17. Rfd1 e5 18. Bxb7 Ra7 19. Bd5 Nd7 20. e3 dxe3 21. fxe3 Rb8 22. Rab1 Kf8 23. Bc6 Ke7 24. Bxd7 Rxd7 25. Rd5 Rdb7 26. c5 dxc5 27. Rxc5 Ke6 28. Rxa5 Rxb3 29. Rxb3 Rxb3 30. e4 h5 31. Ra6+ Ke7 32. Kg2 Rb2+ 33. Kg1 Re2 34. Ra4 g5 35. h3 h4 36. gxh4 gxh4 37. Rb4 Re3 38. a4 Rxh3 39. a5 Ra3 40. Rb5 Kf6 41. Kh2 Ra4 42. Rb6+ Kg5 43. a6 f6 44. Kh3 Rxe4 45. a7 Ra4 46. Rb7 Ra3+ 47. Kh2 f5 48. Rg7+ Kf4 49. Rh7 Ra2+ 50. Kg1 Kg3 51. Rg7+ Kf3 52. Rg5 Kf4 53. Rg7 e4 54. Rh7 Kg3 55. Kf1 f4 56. Rg7+ Kf3 57. Kg1 e3 58. Rb7 Ra1+ 59. Kh2 e2 60. Re7 Rxa7 0-1

Women's team vs Vietnam (photo by Larry Ermacora)

The Aussie girls, however, suffered another 3-0 wipeout losing yesterday to the powerful Vietnamese side. Moylan lost in just 28 moves. Koshnitsky and Caoili lasted a little longer but both games were painful. Caoili probably took a hot pawn with 21. Qxe6+ for it seemed to give the Black player some tempi. The finish was nice.

Caoili - Le, after 45. Qc4

The game continued 45...Qg2+ 46. Nxg2 hxg2+ 0-1

Round 8 Pairings

Qatar - Australia
China - Philippines
Costa Rica - New Zealand

Australia - Kyrgyzstan
Iran - Philippines

More details from the WZ site and the Official site. I've also added the official logo on my right-bar. Click on it and you'll see a post with essential Olympiad coverage. Robert Huntington's blog is a must-read.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

13th GM for India

India can celebrate its newest grandmaster in Neelotpal Das. Parimarjan Negi has also just been awarded the IM title - making him India's youngest ever international master.

By the Stateman.

Round 6 - Speck Checkmated!

While his team-mates managed to draw, Nick Speck got himself checkmated on board 4 thus allowing Albania to defeat the Aussies 2.5 - 1.5. Truly a horrible loss and leaves us wondering: did Speck not see that? Maybe it was time trouble.

Led by Sydneysider Irina Berezina, the Australian women delivered a 3-0 shutout to Algeria. Laura Moylan, apparently feeling better from shopping therapy, has got her mojo back playing a nice game - winning a pawn, dominating the c-file then simplifying. Ngan Koshnitsky won quickly in 24 moves. Berezina's opponent seemed a tough a nut to crack but eventually collapsed under pressure on the King-side.

2006 Olympiad - Torino, Italy
Toubal, Hayet
Moylan, Laura

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nf3 g6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Bg7 6. e4 d6 7. Be2 Nc6 8. Nb3 O-O 9. O-O Be6 10. f3 Na5 11. Nxa5 Qxa5 12. Be3 Rfc8 13. Qb3 Nd7 14. Nd5 Bxd5 15. cxd5 Nc5 16. Bxc5 Qxc5+ 17. Kh1 Qc2 18. Bd1 Qxb3 19. axb3 Bxb2 20. Ra2 Bd4 21. Be2 Rc3 22. Rb1 Rac8 23. Rd2 Be3 24. Rdd1 a6 25. h3 h5 26. Kh2 h4 27. Bd3 Bf2 28. Kh1 Kg7 29. Kh2 Kf6 30. Rd2 Bg3+ 31. Kg1 Rc1+ 32. Rd1 Rxd1+ 33. Rxd1 Rc3 34. Bc4 b5 35. Be2 Rxb3 36. Ra1 Be5 37. Rc1 Bd4+ 38. Kf1 Ke5 39. Bd1 Rc3 40. Rb1 Bc5 41. Ke2 Rc4 42. Ra1 Rb4 43. Kd2 Rb2+ 44. Bc2 b4 45. Kc1 Bd4 46. Rxa6 b3 47. Bd1 Ra2 1-0

My beloved Team RP defeated Ecuador 3-1 with Eugene Torre being the only setback on the first board. Torre lost to fellow grandmaster Franco Matamoros. Twelve-year old Wesley So continues to make his nation proud by this time winning over IM Plinio Pazos on board 4.

And we should also mention the excellent performance of our next door neighbour Indonesia. After the sixth round, the Indonesians have collected 15.5 points. Yesterday they defeated the mighty Iceland 2.5 - 1.5.

Round 7 Pairings

Australia - Luxembourg
Philippines - Iceland
Guatemala - New Zealand

Vietnam - Australia
Philippines - Finland
Algeria - New Zealand

More details from the WZ site and the Official site. I've also added the official logo on my right-bar. Click on it and you'll see a post with essential Olympiad coverage. Robert Huntington's blog is a must-read.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Olympiad Photography

We have found a couple of excellent sites that feature some photos from the Olympiad.

Chess Pics (by "Pufichek")
Chess Vista (by Frits Agtenderbos)

And we agree with Frits: Anna Sharevich is a photographer's dream.

Ermacora: No Rest For Chips

Today 26 May is the first rest day at the Olympiad. However, there is no rest for computers. The World Chess Computer Championship is still on today (as are all the Open Tournaments). Zappa is the favourite computer in the absence of Hydra. Others are Junior, Shredder, Fritz, Rebel, all ex world champions.

The question was raised by an Italian programmer whether it is fair when testing software to have differences, sometimes very great, in the hardware used. Zappa, backed by commercial sponsors, has 512 processors which examine 100 million positions in a flash while poorer programmers have the backing of much more modest machines. There are other tournaments where the chess programs all have to have the same hardware. That seems fairer.

Well, those who defend the way the world championship is run say that such differences don't matter: ultimately it is how good the software is, i.e. the chess knowledge programmed into it. The example is given of the Formula 1 car races and the relative importance of the driver (software) and the car (hardware). You can have a more powerful car but if the driver is no good...

They make a similar analogy with the America's Cup. Should all software be tested using the same hardware? No, powerful hardware doesn't win over smart software they say. Do you find that convincing?

I went to a lecture and discussion panel on computer chess today at the university of Turin, IT department. On stage were Cianciarini, Levy, Schaeffer and Van den Herik. Is there less interest in computer chess (artificial intelligence)? The former International Computer Chess Association is now the International Computer Games Association, having accepted a few other games also (bridge, go, draughts, etc).

Yes, while there is still a quest for the best chess computer, the academic interest seems to have waned. Commercially there is a lot more money in the pop computer games young people play nowadays and lucrative prospects in that market for chess programmers. Levy told me that there could be a revival in future in human vs computer challenges with the computer giving odds, e.g. a pawn less vs the human World Champion (with all his pawns and perhaps a $1M purse inducement to overcome the possible humiliation).

In fact it was said that more and more, the play by computers resemble that of humans (games become hard to distinguish). But as computers will be playing better than human world champions, perhaps the time has come where humans should learn to play like computers!
And we still don't have computers that learn by themselves from their games. It will be even worse for humans then.

Ah, but it seems that an Australian researcher has concluded that humanity is also getting more intelligent. He did this apparently by a close study of movements in Elo ratings of top chess players over the years. He found that younger and younger players achieve very high Elos. So there is hope for humanity yet.

- Larry Ermacora

For the next couple of weeks, during the Olympiad, we will feature a guest blogger - Larry Ermacora. He will be providing reports all the way from Torino after having been officially accredited by Olympiad officials as a journo for this blog.

Larry is a well known personality in Australian chess circles. He was an administrator in both Western Australia and New South Wales. And, in 1990, he was awarded the highly coveted Koshnitsky medal.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Cheating Finns?

In round 3,the Jamaicans caused one of the tournament's surprises when they drew their match, 2-2, against Finland. Untitled Russel Porter beat GM Westerinen on board 4. It seems that this little match actually involved a controversy over the "touch move" rule reminiscent of that famous incident between Kasparov and Polgar.

The story is coverd in this item from Nation News of Barbados as well as by The Chess Drum.

Olympiad - Round 5 Results

A mixed day for the Aussies yesterday as the boys defeated South Africa 3.5-0.5 while the girls were blanked out by Slovenia 3-0.

Ian Rogers managed to only draw against Watu Kobese (2390) on board 1. His team-mates, however, played sparkling attacks with David Smerdon living up to a nickname we bestowed upon him early this year - "Atakador"! IM Zhao playing black relied on his Najdorf Sicilian and proceeded to give his opponent a lesson. A very nice game by Zhao. Wohl opened 1. b3. The big man sent Daniel Cawdery packing with 31. Rxe6.

Well, what happened to WIM Moylan? Looking at her game on the official site, it seems she just dropped that Bishop for nothing. Time trouble? I think she might need more shopping therapy after that.

And a bad day for Irina Berezina as she seemed completely outplayed from the opening phase. Muzychuk topped off her attack with the gorgeous 48. e7+. Caoili, on the other hand, resisted as much as she could but the material deficit permitted no tricks whatsoever.

Playing against Lithuania - Mark Paragua went down to GM Eduardas Rozentalis, on board 1, while both Torre and Antonio drew their games. The Philippines' was saved by Darwin Laylo who banged out his favourite Scandinavian Defence. The match finished 2-2.

Former AP chess journo Robert Huntington has some things to say about the venue and the "(dis)organisation" of the Olympiad. You can read the rest of his musings here.

Pairings for Round 6

Australia - Albania
Ecuador - Philippines

Australia - Algeria
Belarus - Philippines
NZ - Costa Rica

More details from the WZ site and the Official site.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ermacora: All Things Considered

I'm about to quit for the day when this note from our man in Turin hit my inbox. Larry Ermacora talks about ex-commies, FIAT, Italian politics, and comes close to solving an Australian chess mystery. We name his day's memo after NPR's "All Things Considered".

Thursday 25 May. Daily Chat before 5th Round. First a weather report. It's been mostly sunny and warm here in Turin, with only a slight attempt at rain a couple of days ago. Last night it got rather cool but a maximum of 24 is forecast for today. We are very close to massive mountains (The Alps) where it was snowing yesterday, causing serious difficulties to the cyclists of the Tour of Italy who were climbing there. The Tour (like all F1 races) has a big following in Italy. Note that an Australian cyclist was in the lead in the early part. With all the publicity it is now getting here chess can aspire to an improved following, though the future of chess spectating is clearly on the Internet; someone will have to find a way of making the Internet viewers pay a small amount of money for the pleasure. FIDE perhaps could show some initiative there! Kirsan please note.

The players may well complain about their Spartan bedrooms. I myself am in a modest room (near the main rail station) and to get to it, in the absence of a lift, I have to climb 110 steps! At least I don't have to pay a gym to get my exercise! I have an attractive bar/caffé downstairs with good cappuccinos and a bewildering variety of croissants with various fillings. The place is called Malabar. I told them there is a Malabar in the north of Western Australia.

The FIDE presidential campaign is gathering pace here, competing with the Italian political scene still at boiling point. We get daily press releases. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov claims the support of 80 federations, including Japan. To counter the "FIDELITY" slogan of the incumbent, Bessel Kok, the Dutch rival candidate has come out with "The right move..for a Bona FIDE".

Italians witnessed recently a similar hard contest on a much grander scale. In the bitterest national elections, the centre-right lost government (PM Berlusconi) and the centre-left squeaked in (PM Prodi). A thing that amazes foreigners is how many red flags with the hammer and sickle are carried by demonstrators in Italy. Ex communists are now presidents of the lower house, the senate and of Italy. Their past admiration for the Soviet Union has not done much good for Italian chess unfortunately. The very place where The Olympiad is being held is at the heart of Lingotto land where the FIAT (Fabbriche Italiane Automobili Torino) car manufacturing plants once were, with very militant communist trade unions. (Fiat, after nearly going bust, is now recovering market share with their popular family cars).

Today I am preparing most of this at home on my old PC in the peace and quiet of my room. (If anyone wants to comunicate direct with me, my email is ) The computers in the Press Room all have Italian keyboards, at times a bit confusing, e.g. to do @ you have to press Ctrl+Alt+key next to L. Interestingly, those PCs are all Chinese Lenovo, i.e. ex IBM. They work well. There is a monitoring room to check that all the Olympiad electronics are working. Certainly the Olympiad requires a big organisation. The space available in the Oval (formerly the ice skating rink at the winter Olympics) makes the whole show very spectacular. The only similar covered space that I have seen in Oz is the Exhibition Halls at Darling Harbour in Sydney. So, find good sponsors NSWCA! Pity Frank Lowey has chosen to back Aust. soccer with his millions. Apparently he also has an interest in chess.

A curious linguistic difference I noted here is that in Italian they speak of Chess Olympics (Le Olimpiadi degli scacchi), whilst in English we persist with the singular The Olympiad. According to the experts Olympiad refers merely to the period between the Olympic games. So the name is better in Italian as it clearly associates it with the Olympic Games. Take note Kirsan! I see that FIDE also supports the new International Mind Sport Association (chess, bridge, draughts and go).

The open tournaments ancillary to the Olympiad have now started in the other enormous space adjoining the Olympiad Hall. I think he entry was E30 (just over $A50). They expected 400 entries: they may have got even more. Certainly the rows and rows of tables (one per game) with the players at the ready looked very impressive from the balcony where I was. They start these tournaments at 7pm after the Olympiad games are finished. That floor is so big it contains also tables for analysis and electronic display boards.

And then in the other large space of the entry hall, the World Computer Competition will get under way today. This entry hall area also has chess supermarkets, chess bookshops,etc as well as the FIDE President electioneering kiosk. A busy noisy area, but the computer competitors nearby will not complain of the noise.

I still have to see the results of the Olympiad fourth round, and the draw for the 5th, when I go to the Oval this afternoon -- I don't expect much good for Australia at this stage. But I could be pleasantly surprised. I should catch up with the fortunes of the Philippines, NZ and Italy as well.

I hope you liked at least some of the photos I sent yesterday, if nothing else that French Impressionist painting of a game of chess (MSP!). The Italian chess magazine Torre & Cavallo (Rook & Knight) for which Ian Rogers also writes, has an interview with the No1 Russian woman player Alexandra Kosteniuk. She has also worked as a model and sells her photos from $US 6 to 36 according to format. I include a free copy as free publicity for her.

I think I will end today's chitchat, before you throw too many virtual rotten tomatoes at me. Check out the games. Use your brains.

- Larry Ermacora

PS. I got here just before 3pm and placed myself near the Russian table very close to where Alex Morozevich was going to sit. Kramnik and Svlidler were already sitting down opposite their Armenian opponents, but Grischuk and Morozevich appeared only as the clocks were started. Very frustrating as Morosevich was only a metre away from me wearing the same jacket with the coat of arms, but I could not see it clearly. I am sure the mystery of whether it was the Australian badge would have been quickly solved if he had shown up a minute earlier!

Support the Aussie Teams

If you haven't already done so, why not make a donation of $50 or more to the Aussie Olympiad Fund? Those who do will receive "by email a daily bulletin from the Australian team, including notes to some games." I haven't donated myself. Silly me! After having read one of the emails, I will now.

The writing is absolutely brilliant and a must-read. Here's a sampler written by our round 4 hero, IM David Smerdon:

Ian's opening bored me to tears, but he maintains it was fine and even - shock! - interesting. Grandmasters, eh? Unfortunately his speculative attack was no match for Bigfoot [Peter Heine Nielsen], and as the game heightened (pun!), Ian's pawns were in short (haha!) supply. In the end, holding the queen ending proved to be a tall (I'm so witty!) order, and even a desperate stalemate swindle proved to be a long (okay I'll stop now) shot.

[Brief interlude from Ian himself: "You know what they say - big feet, big rating." Comic genius.]

Later on David talks about laundry, a Chinese restaurant, treachery by the men's team captain, the Aussie girls getting hitched and tops it all off with an annotation of [the-already-hitched-to-a-rock-star-boyfriend] Caoili's game.

But one more thing: somebody please tell these guys to stop using the word "blog".

Larry Ermacora: Will Oz Players Cry?

Round 4 has just got underway, being 3pm Wed 24/5 here (11pm Sydney time). It's going to be tough for Australia today, outgunned on all boards, against Denmark for the men and against Serbia & Montenegro for the women. (Actually Montenegro broke off from Serbia in a political referendum last weekend, so perhaps the women's match is not legal? Politics has interfered just a little here so far, with two wrong flags being shown, for Chinese Taipei and the forbidden Japanese Imperial flag.)

I brought my old laptop along today and it connected OK in the press room. Yesterday I watched Ian Rogers here with his snazzy notebook editing at lightning speed excellent photos, taken by Cathy I think. Every now and then he jumped from that to the game shown on the next screen for quick discussion of move possibilities with his neighbour, zac, zac ,zac. Seeing Ian all hyped up made me feel the old man I am. Apologies to your readers, I have just turned 76!

I have a few photos, stills extracted from my video camera film, not as clear and sharp as Cathy's. I will shortly see if I can attach some to this email.

Is that Paris Hilton?

Last night I went to see the opening of a "chess lounge", actually in the middle of one of the main squares in the city centre. They set up giant set pieces and proceeded to teach chess, in an amusing way, to the gathering public. Unfortunately for the organisers it started to sprinkle with rain and they had to beat a hasty retreat to the nearest arcade.

However, it wasn't that bad as free goodies to eat and drink were being offered to chess lovers by the caffè-bars in the arcades surrounding the square. The arcades in the historic centre are beautiful, the most extensive in Italy (similar to in height and width to the arcade going to the Opera House in Sydney. So, yes, a lot is being done here to publicise chess. The Italian soccer season has just ended, with a big scandal about fixing of games, so maybe a lot of disgusted soccer fans will take up chess instead! But I still don't see many spectators here: it costs 5 Euros for a silver ticket that gives access to the stands and walkways surrounding the very large playing area, whilst with a E20 gold ticket you may walk the carpeted aisles inside the playing floor.

In any case, as I have said before, very few boards are close enough to the cordoned areas. The organisers were expecting 1500 spectators a day. Anyone with Internet at home can follow the games much better there as I keep saying. A pity that you in Australia have to sleep as well. Actually Amiel, let me know if the Internet has been satisfactory for you. Irina Berezina hinted that her husband had some problems in that regard.

I heard (was it yesterday?) that the youngest player in the Olympiad broke down and cried when told by her captain to resign a hopeless game. Poor girl! It takes a lot of nervous energy to concentrate so intensely for so long, and then to see the game slipping away from you. A win is so sweet. Will some Oz players cry today?

How are the Philipines going? The men are playing Colombia today and on ratings they should come through. The women instead will have a tough fight against Kazakhstan.

Bye for now.

- Larry Ermacora

For the next couple of weeks, during the Olympiad, I temporarily surrender some blog real estate to a guest blogger - Larry Ermacora. He will be providing reports all the way from Torino after having been officially accredited by Olympiad officials as a journo for this blog.

Larry is a well known personality in Australian chess circles. He was an administrator in both Western Australia and New South Wales. And, in 1990, he was awarded the highly coveted Koshnitsky medal.

Olympiad - Round 4 Results

Wednesday was another dark day for the Aussie men's team after having been blasted by Denmark 3.5 - 0.5. Playing with the black pieces, Rogers lost to GM Heine Nielsen on board 1. Once again, IM David Smerdon on board 2 duties, held a much stronger opponent to a draw. David's opponent must have thought himself a sure win afer 48...Rxd6.

After 48...Rxd6

But now our hero, playing White, hits the Dane right in the gut with 49. Rd2! Re6 50. Rd6 a3 51. Rxe6+ Kxe6 draw! Lane and Speck also lost their games.

Women's captain Leonid Sandler would have had good reason to celebrate last night after his crew outpointed the stronger Serbia & Montenegro team 2-1. Berezina and Koshnitsky drew their games on boards 1 and 3 respectively. Caoili, on board 2, defeated WGM Chelushkina.

The Pinoy men cannot have been very happy of their round 4 output when they only managed to split the points on all 4 boards against Colombia. That match finished 2-2. As expected, the Pinay women lost to Kazakhstan 0.5 - 2.5 points. Catherine Perena on board 2 drew against her WIM opponent.

Round 5 Pairings

South Africa - Australia
Philippines - Lithuania
Venezuela - New Zealand

Slovenia - Australia
Philippines - Italy B
Moldova - New Zealand

More information on WZ site. See also, official bulletin, Turin Moves No. 3 [727Kb].

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Olympiad Bulletins

The Turin Organising Committee have now released the first bulletins from the tournament. Turin Moves 1 and Turin Moves 2.

Turin Moves 2 has a special "interview" with Australian women's skipper, IM Leonid Sandler.

Flag Faux Pas

Not once but twice! Turin Olympiad organisers displayed the wrong national flags for both Japan and China. The organisers had to issue two separate apologies.

To Japan:

The Organising Committee of the 37th Chess Olympiad wishes to express its sincerest apologies to Japan for the un-forgivable mistake of having shown the forbidden Imperial fl ag at the Opening Ceremony.

It goes without saying that there was no intention of off ending the great nation of Japan or its people who have our total admiration. We renew our profoundest apologies.
And to China:

To: The Chinese chess Association

Mr. Wang Ruinan

Dear Sir,

We are extremely sorry about the incident which happened on the occasion of the running ceremony of the 37th chess Olympiad. The incorrect flag and incorrect name Chinese Taipei Team was introduced and this is exclusively our fault. We assure you this happened as a pure technical mistake and without any bad intention. We hope that you & your people can accept our sincere and deepest apology. We assure you that all the necessary steps will be taken to ensure correct display of fl ags and names in future events.

We appreciate that you have been very cooperative in resolving this problem from very beginning.

The apology will be also published on the website and in the offi cial bulletin. We would like to thank you once again for your understanding and we wish you all the best.
The CCA cannot possibly have a certain degree of confidence in the Turin organisers for up to now, the same apology is not available on the official website.

Larry Ermacora in Turin

Today I got to the playing floor as the third round was starting. I was there as a photographer. We are allowed to take photos in the first 15 minutes of play. I spotted the women's' boards first before they started and I spoke to Irina, our No 1. She seemed happy and smiling as usual and recognised me. We chatted a while and she gave me a fairly long list of shortcomings regarding the players' accommodation in the Olympic village (which is nearby and joined to the Oval playing area by a long suspension footbridge). Ian Rogers had similar complains the other day saying the accommodation was Soviet style, Spartan I suppose: rooms with not much more than a bed in them.

After a long walk around I also spotted the Australian male team, not far from where the Russians were being filmed by professionals. Alex Wohl noticed me while I was using my little video camera on him. They were playing by then, so we didn't get a chance to talk. Rogers was not playing today.

I have a fair bit of film from which I will be extracting some stills, probably tomorrow. I will have to bring my computer in for that and plug in in the Press room. Things are beginning to work a little better today and I can follow the games on the monitors provided. I hope that you in Oz can do likewise, though it might cost you some sleep. I am quite impressed by all boards and clocks being connected for instant broadcasting on the Internet. It has been estimated that nearly two million players around the world watch this live chess show on the Internet.

The Oval here is not overwhelmed by spectators yet, though one of the throw away papers in town mistakenly reported that over a million spectators were here at the Oval.

Amongst the countries participating I was glad to see Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan , here in spite of strife at home. Many of the ladies wear their traditional head covers which adds a bit of colour and photo opportunities. In fact the Olympiad is getting good publicity in the press and on TV in Italy.

- Larry Ermacora

For the next couple of weeks, during the Olympiad, I temporarily surrender some blog real estate to a guest blogger - Larry Ermacora. He will be providing reports all the way from Torino after having been officially accredited by Olympiad officials as a journo for this blog.

Larry is a well known personality in Australian chess circles. He was an administrator in both Western Australia and New South Wales. And, in 1990, he was awarded the highly coveted Koshnitsky medal.

Olympiad - Round 3 Results

It was a touch surprising to see IM David Smerdon take on the board 1 duties yesterday against 2673-rated Rustam Kasimdhanov of Uzbekistan. The Aussie did a hec of a job with his White pieces eventually reaching a draw. Australia lost the match 0.5 - 3.5 points.

Viewing the games on last night I asked the admins why the Smerdon game wasn't relayed. One staffer came back, "because Smerdon is not a top player". Ridiculous, I thought, considering that more than half of the games that Playchess actually showed were between lower rated and unknown players! Maybe next time Playchess can improve on their attitude.

The Australian women won their match against Luxembourg 0.5 - 2.5 points. Feldman, on board 1, can be slightly disappointed with the drawn result. But these girls are doing quite well so far and we wish them well. Let's hope that there won't be too many distractions especially among the younger members of the team. Girls, unlike boys, are easily distracted after all.

As for the Philippines, the Pinoy men ended their games peacefully from boards 1 to 3. Only FM Dimakiling, against Varuzhan Akobian of the US, lost his encounter. It was a 1.5 - 2.5 finish for the USA. The Pinays outpointed Switzerland 1 - 2 points.

Round 4 pairings

Denmark - Australia
Colombia - Philippines
NZ - Portugal

Australia - Serbia & Montenegro
Philippines - Kazakhstan
NZ - Guatemala

More detailed coverage, at Wiener Zeitung's site.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Larry Ermacora's Report

I am here today (Mon it's now 4.30 pm) for the 2nd round that started at 3pm. So far as I know Australia made a clean sweep yesterdayin both men's and women's events. The games are sent on the Internet as the moves are made on wired boards and clocks. Pity the players don't wear T-shirts with the country name in big letters because, like yesterday, it is impossible to make out who the teams are from the outer perimeter of the huge playing area. EVEN BINOCULARS WOULD NOT HELP MUCH. If you receive the games on your home computer , believe me you have an excellent seat at the ring.

Even from the inside of the playing area, those who pay 20 Euros to enter are cordoned off and kept to large isles. Tomorrow I will go on the playing floor to take photos with my video camera. I already have many panoramic views with some zooming in, but no sign of Australians or Pinoys yet!

The press room from where I'm typing this is well equipped with computer but their system has been very slow and in fact today it's not working , in the sense that we can't view the games. The FIDE president is busy electioneering trying to get re-elected here in the next few days. He issues daily bulletins called FIDELITY!

Yesterday I re-met an Italian chess player I have known in Rome . He is here as a medical assistant to the three Italian teams (as the host country they are allowed extras). Anyway this guy has all sorts of ideas and substances (herbal and artificial) that the teams could take. Not doping he stressed but natural substances to help you along. He's written a book on the subject (on sale here). Perhaps ACF should get a copy. It is treating Chess as a Sport. He told me however that the Italian A Team was a bit wary of trying anything fearful it might some opposite, negative effects.

The weather here is overcast and fairly hot but the playing hall seems comfortable. At least the airconditioning is working! That's all for now.

- Larry Ermacora

For the next couple of weeks, during the Olympiad, I temporarily surrender some blog real estate to a guest blogger - Larry Ermacora. He will be providing reports all the way from Torino after having been officially accredited by Olympiad officials as a journo for this blog.

Larry is a well known personality in Australian chess circles. He was an administrator in both Western Australia and New South Wales. And, in 1990, he was awarded the highly coveted Koshnitsky medal.

Olympiad - Round 2 Results

What an awesome outing by Rogers' boys. They vanquished a powerful Romanian outfit 3-1. Aussie numero uno, Ian Rogers took out super-GM Itratescu on board 1. It was a game that provoked praise from former AP chess reporter Robert Huntington. On board 3, IM Zhao defeated Vajda. Smerdon and the world famous writer Gary Lane drew their encounters against stronger opposition.

On the distaff side, the Aussies could not quite mirror the men's achievements. By coincidence, the Aussie women were also playing Romania - a powerful team. We lost 0.5 - 2.5. Only WIM Ngan Koshnitsky managed to hold the draw on the third board.

The Pinoy men, with Paragua on board 1, split the points evenly with Luxembourg 2-2.

David - Paragua, draw
Bakalarz - Laylo, 1-0
Berend - Dimakiling, 0-1
Brittner - So, draw

The Pinays breathed life into their campaign by wiping out Ireland 0-3.

Pairings for Round 3

Australia - Uzbekistan
Philippines - USA
New Zealand - Estonia

Luxembourg - Australia
Switzerland - Philippines
New Zealand - Kenya

For more detailed coverage, go to Wiener Zeitung's site.

Our Man in Torino

For the next couple of weeks, during the Olympiad, I temporarily surrender some blog real estate to a guest blogger - Larry Ermacora. He will be providing reports all the way from Torino after having been officially accredited by Olympiad officials as a journo for this blog.

Larry is a well known personality in Australian chess circles. He was an administrator in both Western Australia and New South Wales. And, in 1990, he was awarded the highly coveted Koshnitsky medal.

Let me also thank GM Ian Rogers for directing Larry to myself.

Here is our man's first report: (Actually it's for round 1 but, for some reason, it was not received! Email problems).

Round 1

Yesterday, after running into Ian and Cathy Rogers and Shaun Press, I snuck in to the Opening Ceremony though I did not have an official invitation. I can't say it was really worth it with the usual load of boring speeches where everyone thanks everyone. However, a famous Italian composer of film music, Morricone who also plays chess, had composed a hymn to chess. Also, more importantly, Piero Angela very well known on Italian television for his cultural programs, speaking excellent English said he was preparing a program on chess.

This should be good publicity for the game and may be SBS in Australia could use it when it comes out. (There was also an excellent adjunct to Italian national TV news the other day covering chess and how good it was for the mind and putting in a strong plug for chess in schools.) There was a long parade of all the nations participating (140 male teams and 117 female, I think)The ceremony ended with the Fide President declaring the Olympiad open and then the orchestra entertained the remaining crowd.

Today I got myself accredited as a journalist for the Closet Grandmaster. Though they had no record of previous applications I had no problem in doing it on the spot by smiling and speaking in both Italian and English!

The Oval is an enormous playing area, so big that you one would find binoculars useful. My pass doesn't allow me access to the playing area but only to the surrounding stands which give a good overall view but certainly one can't see the play on the boards. Even with access to the playing floor one is restricted to aisles from which one can only see the nearby boards. In fact, from where I was, I was not even able to spot the Australian teams in this sea of players.

It may be easier tomorrow when hopefully they will put up visible signs of country names or flags. Of course the games are all available instantly on Internet, so I don't need to add to that. There is an area here where the top four games and the Italian teams' games are projected on large screens. I haven't heard anyone giving live analyses though.

There is also a large area set aside for open tournaments to start in a couple of days. I am thinking of entering if there is one low enough for me. Other than chess, I am enjoying exploring the town of Turin whose centre, by the river Po and once a royal capital, I find very attractive.

- Larry Ermacora

Monday, May 22, 2006

Arjun Vishnuvardhan: Indian Prodigy

Another Indian prodigy is hitting the headlines. Arjun Vishnuvardhan was unbeaten in the US National Game 60 Championship.

From DNA

Olympiad Round 1

An excellent start for both Aussie teams. The men zipped Macau 4-0, while the women delivered the same fate to lowly Libya, 3-0.

Our beloved Pinoys also won 4-0 for the men and the women scored only a half point against Germany 2.5 - 0.5 point. Well done to Sherily Cua, on board 3, for holding back WGM Vera Juergens (2330) and achieving the draw.

The Kiwi women were nailed 3-0 by Belarus. But New Zealand's mens' side caused the tournament's first minor hiccups for one of the top teams by holding the powerful USA 2.5 - 1.5 points. FM Roger Nokes was the only loser on board 3 - against GM Greg Kaidanov.

Round 2 Pairings

Australia - Romania
Luxembourg - Philippines
Ethiopia - New Zealand

Australia - Romania
Ireland - Philippines
Bangladesh - New Zealand

Official site

Saturday, May 20, 2006

All Set for Torino

I'm excited! Are you excited? The 37th Chess Olympiad is due to commence today and I can't wait. Some of us support more than one team. In my case, at least, I'm cheering for the both the Aussies and Pinoys. But, like I said, if it comes down to a showdown between these two teams, then the Pinoys have my vote! The Pinoy men definitely outgun the Aussies and it will be kangaroo steak all around.

Now you're asking, so who do you think will win TCG?

I want to say, "not the Russians". But these guys are top seeds with a team rating average of 2730 - way ahead of the second seed Indians who have an average of 2688. Led by the powerful but boring Kramnik, these guys might as well be handed the gold medals. Just look at the line-up: except for board 6, all of them are 2700+!! Then again, board 6 is none other than 58th Russian Champion Sergey Rublevsky (2687).

What are we saying? Rating is rating and anything can happen.

As mentioned, the Indians are second seed - their highest seeding ever at this event. I reckon these guys will be chasing the Russians right through to the end. And they can draw inspiration from no less than Vishy Anand who is playing on board one. Like my beloved Pinoys, the Indian team have taken a very serious approach in their pre-Olympiad preparation by attending a training camp in Goa. No wonder then that the Indian men's coach, Elizbar Ubilava is rather upbeat.

In chess you cannot predict anything. More than 100 countries would be taking part and 10-15 countries can easily fight for medals. But we can hope for some medal with the world's strongest player Anand in our side.

What about that other Asian nation, China? At least as far as the men's competition is concerned, I don't think the Chinese men will be in striking distance. They are definitely a rising powerhouse - but it will be several more Olympiads before we see the Chinese men's team on an Olympiad podium. But you'll never know.

Champions from Calvia, the Ukrainians will surely want a repeat performance. Two years ago, these guys blasted off to the best of starts by crushing the opposition 4-0 in the first 3 rounds. Then in the fourth, Ukrainian number one Ivanchuk defeated Morozevich pushing Ukraine to a 2.5 - 1.5 win over Russia. If these two teams meet again, the mighty Russians, with all that ELO firepower, will be hunting for revenge! This year, I'm picking another top 3 finish for Ukraine; they are stronger and more exprienced.

And look at the Armenians. In Calvia, they came third collecting a total of 36.5 points - 9.5 of which were the hard work of Rafael Vaganian. Rafael put in a whopping rating performance of 2818! Unfortunately, he's out this year. They'll come close, but my tea leaves tell me that there will be no top 3 finish for these guys.

Of the rest, the only serious threat are the Americans. Team USA will enjoy the services of the resurgent Gata Kamsky. His present showing at MTel must certainly bring smiles to US skipper John Donaldson. Kamsky sure knows how to time a comeback! But can he sustain it for the next couple of weeks? And, of course, the US have that lunatic (I mean it nicely) Hikaru Nakamura. I dare him to bang out 2. Qh5 in Turin. I would love to see that.

So here's my pick for placings: (1) Russia (2) Ukraine (3) India

Campo Looks Back

As the Philippines begins its campaign in Turin this weekend, we recall the country's first Olympiad all the way back in 1956.

The Filipinos overcame culture shock in seeing the great figures of world chess in Moscow’s Red Army Central Theatre, where the chief arbiter was grandmaster Igor Bondarevsky, later to become more famous as the trainer of world champion Boris Spassky.

"We fought in every game, despite our lack of experience. We showed team spirit in squirming out of many tough situations," Campomanes said.

The Filipinos’ grit was rewarded. Placed in Group 4 with powerhouses Hungary arid Romania, the Filipinos were blanked only once—against Czechoslovakia. Cardoso’s triumph against Georges Thibaut of Belgium was cited as one of the gems of the Moscow Olympiad.


Olympiad Essentials

Here you'll find some online coverage of the Olympiad.

The Official site. Not particularly good but does have live game transmission.

For tables, team lists, pairings and results - look no further than Wiener Ziertung. Updated daily.

Turin Moves - a PDF bulletin available from the FIDE website.

Chessbase is also covering the event, of course.

The British Chess Magazine covers results for the British and Irish teams here.

Russian Chess has downloadable games.

Ex-AP chess journo Robert Huntington is on the ground and maintains his blog All Things Human. Updated daily.
Mig's The Daily Dirt has an American flavour but always fun to read.

Chess Pics (by "Pufichek")
Chess Vista (by Frits Agtenderbos)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Draws are for Cowards!

The presently running MTel event is impressive for its fighting chess. This has, of course, much to do with the "no short draws" rule.

The players should not talk during the games; additionally they should not offer draws directly to their opponents. Draw-offers will be allowed only through the Chief-Arbiter in three cases: a triple-repetition of the position, a perpetual check and in theoretically drawn positions.

The Chief-Arbiter is the only authority who can acknowledge the final result of the game in these cases. He will be advised in his decisions throughout the tournament by GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili, FIDE Vice-President.

But more important really is the performance of one Gata Kamsky. No wonder GM Nigel Short is quite impressed.

So far the tournament has been notable for the resurrection of the American legend Gata Kamsky, who quit chess for a decade in the 90s. One would have thought that his return to this stratosphere would have been all but impossible. Indeed, in his initial comeback games, the accumulated rust was clearly visible, but in Bulgaria he appears to have struck some form, defeating Vishy Anand for the second time recently.

Bandal Clan Parts 3 & 4

Continuing his series on one of RP's established chess families, Bobby Ang delivers his part 3 and part 4 on the Bandal Clan. Actually these last 2 instalments were written by a Bandal man - Judge Rosendo Bandal Jr.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Art and Chess Curiosities

Here is an interesting site that we've recently come across courtesy of Chess Chat. Check out Art et curiosités échiquéennes. The section on paintings is quite fascinating.

Cheaper than Kasparov

Can't afford Kasparov? Well, how about Lennox Lewis? For just $1000 you can sit across the boxer in a game of chess.

Fancy Quotes

You guys would have already noticed the big fancy quotation marks that I use for "block quotes". I have to thank Andrew Ooi for these. Cheers mate.

Chess Life Editor Dies

Here's a sad piece of news from the USCF. If you're a long-time collector of the USCF's Chess Life magazine - you'll know the name Burton Hochberg. At age 73, he passed away last weekend.

As an established editor and friend to all in the chess world, he was always generous in offering a hand to junior editors trying to secure work. In addition to his journalistic and editorial activities, Burt authored several chess books.

Those who knew him will remember him also for his kindness and his enthusiasm for life, and for his passion for music. Although he was trained in classical piano, he loved to play Scott Joplin rags for his wife, Carol, and his friends. He will be deeply missed by friends, family, and an entire generation of chess enthusiasts.

From the USCF.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Don't be scared

In my SMS inbox this evening was a text message from a highly placed source.

First, a question: has Raymond Song become so powerful that even our best local 2000+ rated players are running scared of him? According to our source, during the big boards match last night, a particular player requested not to be paired against Raymond - who, at 12 years of age, is the current City of Sydney champion.

Why so scared?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Careless Cartoons

With the current World Champion as one of their own, you'd think that the Bulgarian press would know better.

"Siropulo said she objected to being drawn as 'a pawn on a chess table'."

From Sofia Echo.

Meet Sue Maroroa

She is already described as "one of the hottest young prospects" in New Zealand. Fifteen year old kiwi girl Sue Maroroa will represent her country at the Turin Olympiad that is due to commence later this month.

From Stuff.

"We will f*** you!"

We just had to say one or two things about this recent item on Chessbase (actually, originally appearing here). As you can see, Bessel Kok makes the stunning revelation about the FIDE Deputy President's behaviour.

When Ali Nihat Yazici and I, announced the launch of The Right Move back in November 2005, the FIDE incumbents reacted with a typical cocktail of arrogance, apathy and ignorance. Deputy President Makropoulos, kindly rang up his Turkish counterpart to inform him “We will f*** you.”

I'm like sooo tempted to make an ethnic joke! But hey, our mate Georgios Makropoulos is only trying to pull off what his Greek soccer team did a couple of years ago: winning by not coming from behind.

I was chatting to ex-Olympiad captain Peter Parr about the FIDE elections yesterday and he seems to think that the Chess Fidelity ticket will lose come crunch time. Well, we can only hope.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Whose Money?

According to this report by the Manila Bulletin, the new NCFP boss is spending P130,000 per player.

A somewhat cynical Pinoy reader wonders, "where does the money come from?"

Fair question!

Torre to Set Olympic Record

Eugene Torre, of the Philippines, is about to set an Olympiad record. From the Manila Bulletin:

The 53-year-old Torre spearheads the Philippine team that leaves tonight for Turin, Italy, site of the three-week long Olympiad. The chess Olympiad is held every two years.

Torre first saw action in the Olympiad at the age of 17 in 1970 in Siegen, Germany, playing board two behind the now-retired International Master Rodolfo Tan Cardoso.

Two years later, Torre assumed the top board in the Skopje Olympiad, a position he held until two years ago in Mallorca, Spain.

In an Olympic career spanning nearly four decades, Torre has compiled a record of 85 wins, 104 draws and 34 losses.

His 137 points is fourth in the all-time list of most points scored behind Portisch, Miguel Najdorf of Argentina and Svetozar Gligoric of Yugoslavia.

Third on the list of most matches played – 223, Torre is just eight matches shy of equaling the record held by Portisch.

Torre credits his durability to physical fitness and his insatiable appetite for the game.

Pinoy chess fans can be happy that their team seems to have good balance, a yin and a yang, or whatever you call it. Torre at one end and the 12-year old So on the other end. Beautiful! I have good feelings about it all. Good luck Team Philippines!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

First Podcast - COS Lightning

Here is another experimental project - podcasting. Not sure how this all works. But we'll see. For our first effort, we feature the City of Sydney Lightning, played today at the North Sydney Leagues Club. Winner was none other than blitz powerhouse, IM-elect George Xie on 10/11 points.

powered by ODEO

Feedback will be appreciated.

EDIT: Still talking on MSN to arbiter Jason Lyons. The game Slavko Trkula vs Dr Smirnov actually finished a draw. That's what happens when you have an unscripted podcast!

Mama's Day

Today is, of course, Mother's Day. So give your mom a big hug. We are especially grateful to chess moms. There they are in every tournament supporting their little ones. And some of them even do more than that. There's the likes of those two Canberra dudettes, Libby Smith and Jenni Oliver - both dedicated chess moms but also volunteers! All power to them.

Philippine Chess Team

A well-funded Philippine team is sending a large contingent to Turin. There will be 24 persons in all. For the first time, apparently, the country is sending in alternate players - NM Rolando Nolte, NM Roderick Nava, WNM Shercila Cua and 14-year-old WNM Kimberly Jane Cunanan.

The complete team list is available here from Sun Star.

You know, I nearly forgot about the connection between Vishy Anand and the Philippines (which is mentioned in passing in that report above). Back in 1978, Anand's father was sent to RP to work on some assignment for the railways. It also happened to be a time in RP history when a terrible sickness befell the entire archipelago - chess fever! The kid Anand was stricken by this sickness. There is a story about him solving the chess puzzles aired by a local TV chess show ("Chess Today"). It got to a point where the producers would call up and asked him not to participate in the solving contests in order to give the other kids a chance!

Vishy also won a gold medal in an inter-schools comp playing for one of the country's most prestigious institutions - De la Salle University.

Kamsky with Black

Wow! Kamsky beat Anand last night with black at the MTel tournament. After a miserable performance at Corus, the American seems to have jolted himself back into the powerhouse that he once was.

Mtel Masters 2006
Anand, V.
Kamsky, G.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. h3 Bb7 9. d3 d6 10. a3 Qd7 11. Nbd2 Nd8 12. c3 Ne6 13. d4 Rad8 14. d5 Nf4 15. Nf1 Ng6 16. Ng3 c6 17. Bg5 cxd5 18. Bxf6 Bxf6 19. Bxd5 Nf4 20. Bxb7 Qxb7 21. Qc2 g6 22. Rad1 d5 23. exd5 Rxd5 24. Rxd5 Qxd5 25. Rd1 Qe6 26. Qe4 Rb8 27. Ne2 Nxe2+ 28. Qxe2 Re8 29. Qe4 h6 30. g4 Bg5 31. Nxg5 hxg5 32. Qd5 Kg7 33. Qxe6 Rxe6 34. Rd7 Kf6 35. Kf1 Rc6 36. Ke2 Ke6 37. Rd8 e4 38. f3 exf3+ 39. Kxf3 Rd6 40. Re8+ Kd5 41. b3 Rf6+ 42. Kg2 Rc6 43. Re3 f5 44. gxf5 gxf5 45. Rg3 Ke4 46. a4 bxa4 47. bxa4 Kf4 48. Rf3+ Ke5 49. Re3+ Kf6 50. Rd3 f4 51. Kf3 Ke5 52. Kg4 Rd6 53. Rxd6 Kxd6 54. h4 gxh4 55. Kxh4 Kd5 56. Kh3 Ke4 57. Kg2 Ke3 0-1

Kamsky is currently leading by a half-point on 2.5/3.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Feelings with Attitude

Chess Association of Queensland PR man, Bill Powell wonders why chess is not a sport. He cites 3 reasons. One of those is:

2. Players who only think of what is in it for me rather than think what can I do for chess.

It is as old as the hills, It was first said to me 31 years ago and also this year: “If the tournament makes a profit are you going to increase the prize money?" Well now, the same people never say "Oh your tournament had a loss so we will take less prize money".

The same people never take into account all the expenses involved in running an open tournament and display a negative and/or selfish attitude to chess.

All the local football codes pay over $100 joining fees and only play for medals. This makes our lot look ridiculous compared to other sports and that is why we are so small.

All open tournaments should be run on business lines and should all make a profit for the organisers, thus giving them capital for running the next event.

And how do we correct this? Mr Powell finishes with an inspired beauty: "To make an omelette one must crack eggs".

Paragua To Lead RP

This week, ex-RP Olympiad captain Bobby Ang wrote:

I think that the powers-that-be in Philippine chess will ask GM Eugene Torre to lead our team again. This would be his 19th straight Olympiad, in 18 of which he was the top board. The latter is a world record. My guess is that our board order will be: bd01 Torre, bd02 Paragua, bd03 Antonio, bd04 Laylo, bd05 Dimakiling and bd06 So.

As it turns out, the powers-that-be have decided on Mark Paragua to banner the team on board 1. Torre will be posted to second board and grandmaster Antonio holding down board 3. We can only agree with this decision.

In preparation for Turin, the RP team have been in training in Tagaytay city. The sessions apparently included "mental toughness" training. RP federation head Prospero Pichay said, "I told the players that nobody is exempt from going to Tagaytay. If they don’t want to go, they’d be replaced".

So it looks like everything is in place for the Philippine team. However, there could be a minor problem. It seems some members of the 19-person Philippine delegation are still awaiting their visas from the Italian embassy.

Now just for fun, who will the Closet Grandmaster support if the Philippines and Australia play against each other? The Pinoys, of course!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Like Night and Day

Has anyone heard of or seen this movie - "Black and White Like Night and Day"? Apparently it was a "chess thriller".

[Wolfgang] Petersen moved to features with "One of Us Two" (1973), the story of a student who blackmails one of his professors. It, like his next picture, the controversial homosexual love story "Consequences" (1977), starred Jurgen Prochnow, an actor with whom he had worked on "Tatort". After shooting the chess thriller "Black and White Like Night and Day" (1978), he reteamed with Prochnow as the "old man" of "Das Boot" (1981), at the time the most expensive German film ever made (about $12 million).

If you're interested, here is the full interview (for film buffs).

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Indian Chess Searching for Sponsor

The All India Chess Federation is searching for a sponsor. Maybe they should worry about this first.

13-Year Old Girl in Olympiad

Twelve-year old Wesley So made headlines when he became the Philippines' youngest ever representative at the Chess Olympiads. While not quite as young as Wesley, a 13-year old Irish girl will represent her country in Turin.

From Ireland Online.

Abundo In Trouble

A couple of days ago, NCFP board member Raul Molintas demanded a special board meeting to address the confusion caused by Casto Abundo's actions. To recap, Abundo committed the NCFP's support for Ilyumzhinov's ticket when, in fact, at least 7 of the NCFP board members had given no such support.

NCFP boss Prospero Pichay has now agreed to such a meeting. From Tempo:

Sammy Estimo, the incoming NCFP executive-director, said Abundo faces sanctions, including losing his temporary appointment as FIDE delegate.

"Mr. Abundo has shown his bias for Ilyumzhinov. It is highly unlikely that he would vote for another candidate if and when the board decides to support Kok," said Estimo.

Estimo, who will captain the men’s team in Turin, is campaigning openly for Kok, saying he’s the best man for the job.

"The current FIDE leadership has treated the Philippines shabbily in the past. Some of our players have been barred from competing overseas. We have been de-listed from the world ratings not a few times," said Estimo.

Estimo cited the case of the country’s No. 1 player, Mark Paragua, who took over a year to earn his grandmaster title.

"The reign of terror and repression at FIDE must come to an end," said Estimo, who at one point became a victim of FIDE’s dirty tactics.

Aside from Molintas and Estimo, the other directors pushing for a board action on the FIDE elections are NCFP vice-president Ed Madrid, businessman Jess Torre, retired general Art Carillo, Dr. Jenny Mayor and former NCFP president Go Teng Kok.

From Tempo (but this link may disappear after 24 hours).

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Jamaican Champ in Madrid

Pablo Williams, a street hustler, has been spotted in Madrid. What a life? He's been all over the place, pulling off the same trick. And I think he's even using the same signs he used in Sydney. The signs read something like, "Sick father dying of prostate cancer. Need money to go and see him".

That second photo has Pablo playing against Carlos Muquitay, a poet/writer and Salvadoran political refugee.

Chess Drum Interviews

Daaim Shabazz has exclusive interviews of both Bessel Kok and current FIDE head Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

Kirsan is placing a huge bet on the Topalov - Kramnik "unification" match. Says the current president: "The Topalov-Kramnik unification match offers the chess community an excellent opportunity to start the next FIVE years of FIDE with renewed optimism".

In summarising his tenure:

My tenure has been eventful. I have had to juggle my chess duties with my other duties. Fortunately, I have had very capable people on the Presidential Board and the Continental Boards and various committees who have given me very strong support. The new World Championship format proved popular and allowed many more players to participate at the highest level. The Women's Championships were completed successfully though not without difficulties. In themselves, these were achievements, some might say improvement. I leave it for history to judge. The building of Chess City in Kalmykia, which is open to all players, remains a source of great pride.

Kok, on the other hand, and as might be expected dismisses the current FIDE leadership has having no vision and no long-term strategy. But why take this opportunity now to tackle the leadership of FIDE?

I can name a number of reasons. First, the decreasing lack of success that FIDE has had these last few years to attract public interest and corporate sponsors; second, to basically work again on a golden opportunity to reunify the Chess World after the efforts in Prague; third, the growing frustration of several hard working FIDE delegates with the slow pace in the changes that FIDE needs to become a modern sports Federation; fourth, the fact that I am semi-retired and have more time, and together with my colleague, Ali Nihat Yazici we wish to dedicate our energies and our love for chess to improving the situation we find ourselves in today.

There are two links: the Kirsan interview here; and the Kok interview here.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

FIDE Official Sparks Confusion

FIDE official Casto Abundo has generated confusion among the National Chess Federation of the Philippines board members by allegedly having already committed the board's support to Chess Fidelity - Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's ticket.

There is confusion because, according to reports, 7 NCFP board members said that they were not consulted and, in fact, some even had doubts over supporting the Chess Fidelity camp.

As a result, a former provincial governor and current serving NCFP board member, Raul Molintas, has called a special board meeting to tackle the issue.

Here is a report from Tempo. As this page drops off, let me quote the most important parts.

Molintas said his requested was prompted by reports that the Philippines has already declared open support to Ilyumzhinov.

"I was surprised to read in the website of Chess Fidelity that our delegate to FIDE, Director Casto Abundo, has committed the vote of NCFP in favor of FIDE President Mr. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov," Molintas wrote. "I was even shocked to read that the commitment is allegedly with the support of the majority of the Board of Directors of the NCFP."

Molintas was referring to a letter made by Abundo on April 15 committing the NCFP’s vote to Ilyumzhinov after claiming to have consulted with Pichay and majority of the NCFP board.

Molintas wondered how Abundo secured the support of the majority.

"Based on newspaper accounts, at least seven members of the board said that they were not consulted. In fact, they have misgivings in supporting the administration of Mr. Ilyumzhinov due to the alleged shabby treatment the NCFP got during his tenure," Molintas said.

Incoming NCFP executive-director Sammy Estimo, one of seven directors pushing for a collective vote, said Abundo’s action is regrettable.

"Mr. Abundo must be made to explain. Otherwise, we would be constrained to act against him," said Estimo.

Abundo, who barely won a seat in the 15-man board, was removed as FIDE delegate last year for his failure to look after the interest of the NCFP.

His reappointment as the country’s FIDE delegate raised not a few brows, considering his poor record, particularly in the case of Grandmaster Mark Paragua.

Paragua, the country’s top-ranked player, was made to wait for over a year before being conferred the GM title.

"Mr. Abundo did not only lift a finger to help Paragua, he was also part of the problem," said Estimo.

A member of the powerful rating and title committee, Abundo was in a position to intercede in behalf of Paragua, but he did not, according to Estimo.

Apart from Molintas and Estimo, the other directors supporting a common stand in the FIDE elections are NCFP vice-president Ed Madrid, businessman Jess Torre, Dr. Jenny Mayor, retired general Art Carillo and former NCFP head Go Teng Kok.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Bandal Clan Part II

Bobby Ang continues his brief look at Philippine Chess history. Here is part 2 of the "Bandal Clan".

And this is the link to part 1, in case you missed it.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Teams Challenge 1

The first of two teams challenge events this year took place today at the Ryde-Eastwood Leagues club. As expected, this format turned out to be very popular. Some 100 players, forming 25 teams, participated in the tournament. NSWCA president Bill Gletsos informed me that the number is higher than last year's.

The top seeds were the Koala team who came packing with no less than 3 titled players: IM Gary Lane, FIDE masters Lee Jones and Brian Jones, and Ben Harris. Based on the players' rapid rating, Ben actually held the 3rd board while Brian was posted to fourth.

Second seed were the defending champs Sydney University 1. The students were bannered by Tomek Rej followed by Jason Chan, Jason Hu and, on fourth board, the unknown Kenneth Chik. As early as round 2, Sydney Uni's board 1 had a little accident when he allowed himself to be checkmated by Vincent Suttor.

The remaining top teams, in seeding order, were Team Maybe, my team Parramatta A, and the Max Sac Hackers who featured NSW state champ Andrew Bird

As I had to leave early, we'll have to wait for the final results from the NSWCA. But as far as my own play is concerned, I was not too disappointed - scoring wins against FM Brian Jones and the dangerous junior Max Illingworth. I finished today on 5.5/7 points.

The NSWCA deserves a huge pat on the back for having organised this event. It is popular amongst Sydney chessers and draws out players who are usually inactive. For instance, Angelito Camer came to play for our board 1. And the team aspect is a shift from the usual weekenders were all that matters is your own individual result.

I am already looking forward to the next teams event in August. See you there!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Sex Ruin Decision Making

Well OK, after all these years we can be accused of perhaps overkilling this a bit. But at least now we can say that Robert Cowley has scientific research firmly on his side.

The Guardian reports:

A glimpse of an alluring woman is all it takes to ruin a man's decision-making skills and the more testosterone coursing through his veins, the worse the problem gets, researchers claim today.

RP Team Ready for Turin

The entire RP team is presently in training in Tagaytay. Men's skipper Sammy Estimo was today quoted by the Manila Bulletin: "We have a very good chance of approximating our performance two years ago in Mallorca, Spain. We have a fine mixture of veterans and young bloods in the team".

As part of their preparation, the Pinoy players were also issued with, wait for it Aussie readers, brand new laptops - courtesy of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.

Meanwhile the Australian Olympiad Appeal is still happening and I should remember to donate! At the moment, the Fund has so far collected some $2,850.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Grassroots Program Under Way

From Minda News: "The National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) will intensify the promotion of chess through its grassroots development program according to NCFP regional chief Engr. Ronnie Tabudlong."

Here's something that even I nearly forgot. Yours truly was born in Mindanao. It's that big island in the south.

Malaysian Fed on FIDE Elections

Here is an open letter from Dato' Tan Chin Nam. Our Aussie readers will recall that Dato' Tan was the principal sponsor of the QVB Chess Festival in 1999 - a level of chess activity that has since been sadly missing from Sydney.

The Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF) believes that the current election in which two tickets – Ilyumzhinov vs. Kok – are competing on a winner-take-all basis to be counterproductive for chess development. Instead, the MCF supports an alternative solution to that offered by this election.


We believe that a viable alternative is a joint Ilyumzhinov-Kok presidency. We are certain that the two candidates can create a heroic, historic moment in FIDE affairs by recognizing how their strengths complement one another and dovetail perfectly with FIDE's mission. Unity is strength.

Dato' Tan is to be respected for his candour and concern for our game. But we think that this proposal is not a good one. There can be no joint presidency. Such a model of leadership is a sure recipe for disaster. Disagreements and clashes at various levels are inevitable. Confusion will reign. And before you know it, we'll be right back to where we are now faster than you can say "checkmate".

Our thanks to Goran.

City of Sydney

Those bridge players are doing something right, surely. Wine, cheese, crackers were aplenty when we arrived at the venue. Yes, they have these during tournament play - courtesy of the New South Wales Bridge Association. Now why can't our own chess association, with $80 grand in the kitty, do the same?

Just kidding! But for a few moments, my thoughts were tempted towards dumping my chess and running away with bridge. Ah, but never! That'd be like doing a Prince Charles, you know. And I have way too much better taste.

Our round began late - a good thirty minutes or so while we waited for the bridge to finish. By the time we arrived, there was still a large number of bridge players hanging about, chatting, just generally socialising. The arbiter, Dr Charles Zworestine, seemed quite upset. He knew that, as usual, being the man on the spot, the chess players would blame him for this apparent confusion over scheduling. Of course, it wasn't his fault. We can point that somewhere between the NSWCA and the NSWBA.

Thankfully, it wasn't long before our chess business finally got off the ground. But Dr Zworestine had a last announcement.

The Bridge Association left us their remaining wine, cheese and crackers. And we, chessers, were more than welcome to help ourselves. I couldn't help thinking, poor chess people - only good for leftovers!

Raymond Song, of course, is our champion. We say again, congratulations to this wunderkind. Who knows where his rising chess powers will take him? It's early days and the last thing we want is to jinx him. Personally, I am very glad to bear witness to his progress. I recall very well a tournament, a few years ago, in Fairfield - a suburb in Sydney. We were paired against each other. I won quite easily. But only a couple of years later, at the ANU Open in 2004, he was already much stronger and won easily. He has neither stopped nor slowed down since. We hope Raymond Song reaches every greater heights.

Ray Song, seen here against Tomek Rej

Determined to stop Raymond was none other than the event's favourite, IM-elect George Xie. He was on 5.5 - a point behind Ray after 8 rounds. So he needed a win and for Ray to lose. By coincidence, George had to face Ray's sister, Angela Song - herself a talented player having won the Australian Junior U18 Championship in January. I am certain that there would have been some serious battle planning in the Song household during the week. But last Sunday, George Xie's superior understanding was just too much.

City of Sydney 2006
Song, Angela
Xie, George

1. e4 c5 2. c4 Nc6 3. Ne2 e6 4. Nbc3 Nf6 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Bb4 7. Nxc6 bxc6 8. Bd3 e5 9. O-O h6 (9... O-O 10. Bd2 Be7 11. Qe2 d6 12. Kh1) 10. Qa4

(10. Be3 Bxc3 11. bxc3 O-O 12. c5 d5 13. cxd6 Qxd6 14. f3 Be6 15. Rf2 Qa3 16. Qc1 Qa5 17. a4 Nd7 18. Qa3 c5 19. Bb5 c4 20. Rd2 Rfd8 21. Rad1 Qc7 22. Qd6 Rac8 23. g4 Kh7 24. h4 g6 25. Kh1 Qxd6 26. Rxd6 Rc7 27. Ra6 Ra8 28. Rdd6 1-0 Sebastian Knappke,D-Bort Mondragon,J/Aragon 1997/EXT 2003)

10... Bc5 11. b4 Bd4 12. Qc2 O-O 13. Bb2 Rb8 14. Rac1 Rxb4! Deep understanding? When I saw this move, I could not believe it. And I'm sure neither could Angela. 15. Ba3 a5 16. Bxb4 axb4 17. Na4 c5 18. Qb3 Bb7 Gorgeous. Black has nearly all the play. White's pieces are helpless. 19. Rce1 Bc6 20. Nb2 Qa8 21. Kh1 Nxe4 22. Bxe4 Bxe4 23. f3 Bg6 24. Nd1 Qb7 25. Ne3 Ra8 26. Nc2 Bc3 27. Re3 Qa6 28. Rxc3 bxc3 29. Qxc3 d5 30. Ra1 d4 0-1

A fine demonstration by George but by the time he finished, Raymond Song was already winning against Tomek Rej.

Quite amazingly, there were two other players who actually had a chance to catch Ray - Laura Moylan and Pat Halpin. Laura lost to Ben Ingram when she botched her position. While Halpin played one of the more exciting matches of the tournament. Here he drew against my first round conqueror, Ivan Zirdum.

Once again, Pat relies on an old workhorse - the Grand Prix Attack.

City of Sydney 2006
Halpin, Patrick
Zirdum, Ivan

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. f4 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. g3 d6 6. Bc4 e6 7. f5 exf5 8. d3 Nd4 9. O-O Ne7 10. g4 O-O 11. gxf5 gxf5 12. Bg5 Qe8 13. Nxd4 cxd4 14. Nb5 Qd7 15. c3 fxe4 16. dxe4 Ng6 17. Nxd4 Qg4+ 18. Qxg4 Bxg4 19. Nf5 Ne5 20. Nxg7 Kxg7 21. Bf6+ Kg6 22. Bxe5 dxe5 23. Rf2 Be6 24. Bxe6 fxe6 25. Raf1 Rxf2 26. Rxf2 Rd8 27. Kf1 Rd1+ 28. Ke2 Rb1 29. Kd3 Rd1+ 30. Rd2 Re1 31. c4 Kf6 32. Re2 Rd1+ 33. Kc3 Ke7 34. c5 Rd4 35. b4 b6 36. cxb6 axb6 37. a4 h6 38. Re3 h5 39. Re2 Ke8 40. Re3 Ke7 41. Rh3 Rxe4 42. Rxh5 Kd6 43. Rh3 Kc6 44. Rd3 b5 45. a5 Rh4 46. h3 e4 47. Rg3 Kd5 48. Rg5+ e5 49. Rg3 Rh6 50. Re3 Rc6+ 51. Kd2 Kd4 52. Ra3 Ra6 53. Rc3 Rg6 54. Rc5 e3+ 55. Ke1 Rg1+ 56. Ke2 Rg2+ 57. Kd1 Rb2 58. Rxb5 e2+ 59. Ke1 e4 60. Kf2 e3+ 61. Ke1 Kd3 62. Rd5+ Ke4 63. Rd6 Rxb4 64. Kxe2 Rb2+ 65. Ke1 Rh2 66. a6 Rxh3 67. a7 Rh1+ 68. Ke2 Rh2+ 69. Kf1 Ra2 70. Rd7 Kf3 71. Rf7+ Ke4 1/2-1/2

City of Sydney 2006
Rosario, Amiel
Bolens, Johnny

Playing Bolens always makes me nervous. He's quite tricky. But my victory over him in the Australia Day Weekender last January gave me some confidence. My aim was to win. I was on 4.5 and a full point will at least secure equal first for the U1800 prize with Nick Chernih (playing white against Andrew Bird) . 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 c6 5. Bg5 Nbd7 6. Qc2 h6 7. Bh4 Be7 8. e3 O-O 9. h3 b6 10. cxd5 cxd5 11. Bd3 Bb7 12. O-O a6 13. Rac1 b5 14. a3 Rc8 15. Qe2 Ne4 16. Bxe7 Nxc3 17. Rxc3 Qxe7 18. Rfc1 b4 19. axb4 Qxb4 20. Rxc8 Bxc8 21. Bxa6 Bxa6 22. Qxa6 At this point, my mood changed from wanting to win to just happily settle for the draw - so I offered it. Bolens accepted. 1/2-1/2

City of Sydney 2006
Chernih, Nicholas
Bird, Andrew

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O 9. Ndb5 a6 10. Nxd6 Qc7 11. f4 e5 12. Nxc8 Raxc8 13. Bxf6 Bxf6 14. Nd5 Qd8 15. g3 g6 16. Bh3 Rb8 17. Bd7 Bg7 18. c3 exf4 19. gxf4 Kh8 20. Bxc6 bxc6 21. Nb4 Qb6 22. h4 Rfd8 23. Qe2 a5 24. Rxd8+ Rxd8 25. Nc2 Bh6 26. Rf1 Rb8 27. Na3 Qd8 28. Qf2 Qd3 29. Qd4+ Qxd4 30. cxd4 c5 31. dxc5 Rc8 32. Kd1 Rxc5 33. f5 Re5 34. fxg6 fxg6 35. Re1 Bf4 36. Nc4 Rc5 37. b3 a4 38. e5 axb3 39. axb3 Kg7 40. Re4 g5 41. Kc2 Kf7 42. b4 Rc7 43. Kd3 Ke6 44. Rd4 Rd7 45. hxg5 Bxg5 46. Rxd7 Kxd7 47. Ke4 Kc6 48. Nd6 Be7 49. b5+ Kc7 50. b6+ Kd7 51. Kd5 h5 52. e6+ Kd8 53. Kc6 1-0

While this tournament was enjoyable for the most part, it dragged on too long. One game a week is, in reality, 9 Sundays gone! To make things worse, each round commenced at 6.30PM. I often did not arrive back home until some 5 hours later. From my point of view, there is an obvious improvement to the format. We ought to play 2 games on a Sunday. For a nine round event, there will have to be a single game on the last Sunday - thus the whole tournament will span 5 weeks instead of nine. But that's just me.

Previous reports:

Round 8
Round 7
Round 6
Round 5
Round 4
Round 3
Round 2
Round 1

Final standings and downloadable games