Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Five Players Face Suspension

Joey Villar of The Philippine Star reported that the NCFP is about to suspend five players suspected of game fixing. This piece of news has even reached as far as China!

Meanwhile grandmasters Antonio and Paragua are spearheading an RP team, Tagaytay City, in the 2007 Asian Inter-cities chess championships to be held in Tehran, Iran from 1 to 9 March. Tagaytay is the defending champion from the 2004 event.

Shaun Press on the Blogosphere

Chess organiser Shaun Press is now on the blogosphere. Check out his "Chessexpress" blog which will "mainly cover issues related to playing, coaching, studying, organising, and enjoying chess."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Irish Chess Union Go Online

Here's a lesson for our Australian chess politicians. The ICU has just moved their journal to the internet. There will also be a separate e-zine for younger players. I wonder if "e-zine" is even in the vocabulary of Australian Chess Federation officials.

ICU PR officer Mark Quinn says, "We are making use of the flexible format of the internet...This generation is the future of Irish chess. They will be more likely to stay involved if we encourage them and let them realise that there's a whole world out there."

More from Electric News. The journal can be read here. It's an absolutely massive publication - some 44 pages, packed full of reportage, games, pictures and tables.

A tip for the NSWCA: stop sending those paper wasteful newsletters. Go online! Send me PDFs instead.

Sanchez Misses Out on Norm

Alex Wohl finished with 5.5 points in the FIJ Open. He managed only a draw in his last 3 games - dropping his 7th and 9th rounds to GM Zelcic and IM Mongranzini respectively but drawing his 8th with FM Robert Hess.

IM Joseph Sanchez, of the Philippines, was aiming for a GM norm til the last round but sadly lost out to IM Marin Bosiocic. Overall, the lone Pinoy rep collected 6.5 points

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Bolens: I sacrifice too much

Johny Bolens was up to his usual antics as he lost to Polish talent Dariusz Swiercz in their round 4 game. At an important moment, the local man suddenly began to wave his arms about, clasping his hands and every now and then looked upwards as if beseeching the high heavens. He did all these while seemingly muttering some prayer. Even his opponent, Dariusz, couldn't help himself and began to laugh.

It was all just a bit of trickery by Bolens. I've seen it before. You'd think he was winning, apparently celebrating some diabolical combo - in fact, he himself has realised that he's lost!

Playing his trusted anti-Sicilian maneouvre (1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bc4), Bolens quickly coaxed a sharp position against the 12-year old. The Polish visitor, however, remained calm throughout and defended well enough. As we say at Hyde Park, Bolens just managed to only trick himself.

Bolens actually offered a draw after his 23. Rxd6. During the post mortem he had nothing to say but, "He was losing, but I played incorrectly".

My fourth round game against Ivan Zirdum was completely atrocious. Not worth talking about in detail. I should really take up poker, you know, like Jason Hu. Today he was seen wearing a bright red shirt with "I Love Poker" printed on it. Jason had a good win over Max Illingworth in the 4th game.

However I did score a win against my good friend and blitz sparring partner Toby Lewski in the third round. Toby's been around for yonks. I think he even won an Australian Championships reserves back in the 70's. These days you'll see him spend hours with Charles Ghenzer at the Town Hall chess club (just a pretend club, really). In the faster time limit, Toby has a big score against me. But today, I managed to get one back.

For other results, I leave that to our fellow blogger Trent Parker. Poor guy nearly had a heart attack this morning when he heard a phone ring with a familiar ringtone. Luckily it wasn't his. And one of our foreign visitors has a special request of the NSWCA: please update the website with the next round's pairings. Let's hope they can manage that.

More photos from the event are available in my flickr stream.

City of Sydney, First Day

The 2007 City of Sydney event began yesterday at the North Sydney Leagues Club with another slightly disappointing turnout of players. Our mate TCN gives the exact numbers here in this post with a detailed account of yesterday's results.

Got to the venue just in time for a last minute entry. Ninety bucks that cost me! Damn, these chess tournaments are so expensive these days, I said to the NSWCA treasurer. For that kind of money I could be having a nice 3-course meal at one of Sydney's finer joints. Aah but anyway it's only one of two tournaments I play these days so I suppose it's not so bad a hit to the bank account.

Proceedings began with a belated award ceremony for the 2006 New South Wales Chess Championships won by FM Greg Canfell last year. NSWCA treasurer Norm Greenwood handed over a very nice little trophy - a silver cup. Normally they give you the shield, which you have to give back of course, that has all the Champs' names but I think this is the first time the officials have handed over a take-home trophy. I got the impression that Greg really loved that one.

Mr Canfell is the top seed, from memory. I'll have to get a complete list of players for tonight's update. Of note is the participation of a certain Dariusz Swiercz. He's a 12-year old from Poland and already a FIDE master!

The kid was lucky, I think, to get a draw in the first round. Against Hamish Selnes, Dariusz was the exchange down with his time winding to less than 60 seconds. The local player, unfortunately permitted a repetition.

As TCN repoted, I lost my first round game to Tomek Rej. Quite an OK effort considering that this was my first normal game for a long time. It was followed by a draw when, really, I should have lost!

I better just shoot of here now. There's an extra 20 to 30 minutes travelling time this weekend because of trackwork on the rail line. More updates later tonight.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Open Thread

Another slow week for TCG that one. Well, being busy at work didn't help either. But our post on Peter Parr's chess by the beach did hit a few nerves and discussion is going hot. Please post your comments there.

A number of Australians are in action overseas. There's the trio in Aeroflot: Smerdon, Weeks and Attwood. Latest news is that IM Smerdon has drawn his final round game against GM Ahmed Adly of Egypt for a total point tally of 4.5 points. FM Manuel Weeks didn't really have a tournament to remember. He lost his last game to fellow FIDE master Ishaq Ahmed (2120) and ends his stint there on the miserable 2 points. And in the C section, James Attwood outpointed his compatriots to finish on 5 points overall.

Over in France IM Alexander Wohl is now in joint lead, on 5 points, after six games of the FIJ Open. Pinoy player IM Joseph Sanchez is also up there on a similar score.

Finally, I'm all set for tomorrow's City o Sydney. No prep, no nothing! I'm just going to turn up. Actually, I just hope I can avoid the drink tonight - else, there's no way I could drag myself early enough to travel all the way to North Sydney.

Have a good weekend everybody.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sanchez in Leading Pack

IM Joseph Sanchez of the Philippines is still unbeaten in the 2007 FIJ Open in France. He bolted to a 3/3 but drew his fourth round game against Theo Hommeles. Alex Wohl is still also without loss - so far winning 2 and drawing 2.

Grandmasters Palac and Mladen, of Crotia, are leading on 4 points.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Transformers Chess Set

Back in the old days, I'm talking 80's here, I used to be crazy about this cartoon show - Transformers. Anyone else remember them? You know, Autobots versus Decepticons. I used to love them. Still do. Anyway, Transformers fans can now play chess while also doing pretend battles with the robot protagonists. SOTA Toys are set to release a Transformers chess set and we have the first look courtesy of

Actually, I was always partial to the Decepticons. That the Autobots, most of them anyway, couldn't fly used to just piss me off.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Smerdon Draws with GMs

IM David Smerdon moved up to 3 points after 6 games in the 2007 Aeroflot Open 'A2' section. He drew his fifth and sixth round games against grandmasters Sergey Kudrin and Alexei Iljushin respectively.

After his 2/2 start, James Attwood, playing in the 'B' section, struck a bump in the third round when he lost to Sergei Volkov. He then managed to steer back to a win in the fourth but has since lost his last 3 games.

Manuel Weeks is having the worst time among the Australians. The Men's Olympiad captain has so far only collected 2 points from 7 games (4 losses, 2 draws and a win).

Russian grandmaster Stanislav Novikov currently leads the main section (A1) on 5 out of six games of play. Three other Russians - Jakovenko, Alekseev, Tomashevsky plus the Amernian, Minasian - are on 4.5 points.

Monday, February 19, 2007

We Call For Action!

Yesterday afternoon I witnessed one of the best games of football ever and the emergence of a new Australian sporting legend. In the A-League grand final, Melbourne Victory and Archie Thompson enacted a gruesome destruction of South Australian side Adelaide United winning the title by the tennis-like scoreline of 6 to nil.

But of course, ladies and gents, we're not here to talk football. We're here to ask the important question: will the New South Wales Chess Association and their national counterparts, the ACF, be like legends and lend their support to former Olympiad captain Peter Parr in his attempt to seal an Australian Chess Championships in Sydney for 2008? Or will these chess bodies be more like the Adelaide United side - impotent, lost and (like their coach, John Kosmina) completely useless?

Last week we received an email from a strong and well-known player, a Sydneysider, who wishes to remain anonymous. He had this to say:

I, like yourself and the great majority of chess players (particularly in Sydney), am hoping that Peter Parr will be successful in organising the Australian Championships at the end of this year. But as you know, it is incredible just how little support he has received from the ACF and NSWCA.

Incredible alright! We are just completely stunned. Since our first post about this issue, there have been very little signs that either the NSWCA or ACF have done anything or are about to do anything. All we have, in fact, is a prolonged silence from familiar and ordinarily argumentative voices. I'm talking about the likes of NSWCA supremo Bill Gletsos, ACF veep Denis Jessop (himself the immediate past president) and seniors selections coordinator Dr Kevin Bonham. Again we touched base with Peter Parr today and he confirms that since last January's national conference in Canberra and since the last NSWCA council meeting at the end of last month, there's been no helpful response whatsoever except for that rather dismissive 2-sentence email. No proactive action!

Yet our correspondent, quoted above, insists that we remain constructive in this post. And so we'll try.

We understand that the NSWCA will have their next council meeting near the end of this month. Here's a tip to Mr Gletsos and his co-councillors. Monsieurs, we call upon your good nature and positive graces to discuss Mr Parr's ideas very seriously and ultimately give him your proactive support. After all, we are always talking about how desperate times have become as we suffer a decrease in willing organisers (especially for those big events). It's important that you take the next step, pick up the phone, drop him an email, fax him - or whatever is your preferred method - and tell Mr Parr that you'd like to have a go. You know of his very clear intentions. Now do something! Act gentlemen for the good of our game in our fine state.

We further suggest that post the council meeting, Mr Gletsos come out immediately and make a public announcement, Chess Chat will do, and state clearly the NSWCA's plan of action.

I should like to quote our good friend international master Alex Wohl. In that earlier post, Chess By The Beach, he made the following comment:

The Hakoah club has been an excellent chess venue in Sydney's most famous suburb since I started playing chess in the late 70's.

The club has hosted tournaments of all kinds, GM internationals included, encouraged many juniors (myself included) and has generally promoted chess in the eastern suburbs for decades.

To hold the Australian championship at the Hakoah club would be beneficial to the image of chess and draw players that a venue in an industrial area or a remote rural location would not.

The only excuse for not encouraging this bid would be an even better one. Let's hear it!

In closing I sincerely hope, as do most players in New South Wales I suspect, that Bill Gletsos can set aside politics and work with Peter Parr. Bill, please do the right thing. Take the lead mate. Take the lead.

Wohl in FIJ Open (France)

IM Alexander Wohl is currently participating in the FIJ Open (Festival International des Jeux), section A, in France. The Australian beat Romuald Delabaca in the first game and is scheduled to meet Christopher Debray (2278) next.

Pinoy readers will note that IM Joseph Sanchez is also in the event. Sanchez is also on 1 point. His next opponent is the 2330-rated FM Francois Fargere.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Two Draws for Smerdon

It's 2 draws so far for IM David Smerdon in the opening shots of the '07 Aeroflot Open. He faced WGM Xiaobing in the first round, followed up in the second by the Qatari IM Husein Nezad. Smerdon's Olympiad captain, Manuel Weeks, is already facing a difficult time. The Australian FIDE master, rated 2229, lost to the strong WFM Valentina Gunina (2347) and in the next game to IM Vladimir Onoprienko (2354).

But a third Australian, James Attwood, is having a better of it with a neat 2/2 scoreline. James will make a board 3 appearance tomorrow against Sergei Volkov.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

NCFP: Please explain . . .

What has happened to that game fixing scandal in RP? Well, the NCFP's internal affairs committee (IAC) is now taking over from the fact-finding committee (FFC) in the body's investigation. The latest news we have is that the IAC has sent a "please explain" to those alleged to be involved in the scandal.

Meanwhile our blogger friend over at Philippine Chess has an exclusive interview with two of the accused game fixers, Ronald Dableo and Darwin Laylo. Dabelo himself makes an emphatic denial (partly in Tagalog):

Maaamoy sa ere? game fixing? Kahit kelan di ako nagbenta ng laro, di ko kailangan, chess is my profession. I have a coaching job in one of the universities in Manila, I have a PSC monthly allowance and of course am from the Philippine Air Force.

Among the trio is also local columnist Bobby Ang who makes this interesting observation:

You know what? Nobody in the media is really giving much attention to this except one contributor who does not, in anyway, qualify to be called a journalist.

Australia Trio in Aeroflot

The sixth 2007 Aeroflot Open is due to commence and will feature three Australians. David Smerdon is in the A2 group with the likes of Abhijit Kunte and Vietnamese star Quang Liem Le. Australian Olympiad captain Manuel Weeks is in the B group while a third Aussie, James Attwood (FIDE 2125), is in the C group. Our best wishes to these guys!

I hope they turned up OK yesterday at the airport. I just love the organisers' message on their website: "Please, watch for signs and listen to loud-speaker information at the airport and be patient.Everyone will be taken care of."

There does not appear to be any RP players listed. (I recall that last year GM Paragua was listed then failed to turn up).

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"The Ways of Terror"

I have the NZCF site to thank for this.

Israeli artist Uzi Rapoport has an interesting exhibition currently showing at the Tel Aviv Chess Center. This latest collection uses chess to convey such messages as "He's the King: Terror is on its way" or "Dark Horse" and "Death in the Family".

"The Ways of Terror"

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Grandmaster of Dissent

Ex World Champion Garry Kasparov, says a senior US official, is proving himself to be a "a masterful dissident opposition organizer". Yet another Kasparov related piece from WaPo:

If any ordinary person predicted trouble ahead for the cocky and seemingly untouchable KGB-regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin, you might say he ought to have his head examined.

But if the head happened to contain one of the most formidable brains of our era, you might at least listen to the argument. Garry Kasparov, legendary world chess champion and now a leader of Russia's political dissidents, possesses such a brain. And having peered two or three or 10 moves into the future, Kasparov says that Putin's petro-Kremlin autocracy may be more brittle than it seems as it approaches a promised presidential succession next year.

More from Fred Hiatt, "Kasparov's Gambit".

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Good Vibes for 'Smurfo'

International master David Smerdon, known as "smurfo" on the Internet Chess Club, has just won the inaugural Chessvibes blitz tournament. Smerdon's final score was 13.5 points. GM Rogers also played and finished with 11 points.

Keep an eye on the Chessvibes blog as we might see one of those delightful videos featuring the Aussies!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

ACP To Investigate Topalov

Russian online newspaper Kommersant is reporting news that the Association of Chess Professionals is preparing moves to investigate Veselin Topalov for alleged cheating.

Kommersant's report features a video snippet, by an unnamed Dutch fan, of Silvio Danailov that may apparently be used in any investigation. In the video, Topalov's manager can be seen making "some unusual movements with his hands, running them along his neck then raising them to his mouth and touching his neck again".

I'm no fan of controversial Bulgarian duo but this video thing strikes me as ridiculous. How would that work exactly? A combo of "unusual movements" so that certain gestures are for pieces and others for square coordinates?

Our so-called "Dutch informant" was quoted by Kommersant as saying:

I noticed a tall man in the audience doing something very strange...A friend of mine told me that that was Silvio Danailov, Veselin Topalov’s manager. He was continually coming and going from the auditorium and using his cellular phone outside. Then he would return to a corner where he could see Topalov, cough and do other things that looked like signs for Topalov. I noticed that no one else was concerned by it, although the signs were obvious.

I'm afraid that if that's all they have, then the investigators basically have nothing. Looking at the video, I can't see anything unusual about Danailov's behaviour at all.

More from "World’s Best Chess Player Suspected of Immoral Ties".

Friday, February 09, 2007

Chess By The Beach

Early last month, Sydney Morning Herald chess columnist Peter Parr sent an open letter to ACF officials informing them of "provisional talks" between him and IM Vladimir Feldman of possibly holding the Australian Championships at the Hakoah Club. The club is located near a world famous icon, Sydney's Bondi Beach. In his letter Parr wrote:

All interstate players will appreciate the fantastic location at the World famous Bondi Beach - beautiful weather - long hot summer days - swimming in the best waters (no crocodiles ever seen at Bondi) - play your games in the mornings and beach all afternoon etc. For over 20 years in England I went to Leicester - York - Bath - Nottingham etc but the family always preferred the sea-side Blackpool, Aberystwyth, Plymouth etc for the annual British Chess Championships. During the last 39 years in Australia I consider Bondi the best location for chess and a family holiday.

To have the event held right here in Australia's numero uno metropolis and near one of the word's most famous tourist spots is a huge bonus. It's only natural, then, that the idea has generated some excitement. We understand that there was even an unsolicited interest from a university academic with an offer of working towards a free venue.

The ACF was supposed to have this discussed this proposal at their national conference in January but, so far, we haven't heard anything. The normally noisy ACF officials who inhabit Chess Chat, Australia's most popular online chess forum, have shied away from the relevant thread as if it was the Black Plague. What's going on?

We checked with Mr Parr and he informs us that all he's received from the ACF is a two-sentence email from ACF secretary Jey Hoole. The email merely acknowledges receipt of Parr's original letter plus an instruction to go and obtain some kind of endorsement from the NSWCA. However according to Parr, NSWCA officials were already copied in his original letter. The former Olympiad captain is very unhappy. So we wonder: are these two bodies, the ACF and NSWCA, playing catch with what could be an important opportunity? Whose head should roll if one of them drops it?

For the moment the Parr and Feldman idea appears to be dead in the water. Sad really. On that note, I hope the guys in the NSWCA and ACF a happy weekend.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

It's Linares Time Again

It's Linares time again later this month. The first half, like last year, will be in Morelia slated for 16 - 25 February 2007; second half will be in Linares itself between 2 to 11 March 2007.

Israeli grandmaster Alex Finkel has some preview notes on the World Chess Network:

In Linares there is only one player who is clearly inferior to all the rest, that's why it's going to be pretty difficult tournament for Magnus. On the other hand it might also be his chance as other players might try too hard to beat him (Naiditch's performance in Dortmund 2005 should be a source for inspiration for Carlsen!) . Another potential candidate to finish with negative score is Morozevich, who is traditionally performing rather poorly against the top players, but Moro is capable to beat everyone so his result will greatly depend on his form. I won't be surprised if he ends up a tourney at one of the top places, but I consider this scenario quite unlikely.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Rogelio Antonio in Sydney Open

Just received a note from Brian Jones that RP's GM Rogelio Antonio Jr has entered the Sydney International Open. That list of entries is quite impressive now with 10 grandmasters scheduled to participate. If you want to play, don't forget to enter and to submit that leave request to the boss.

Note also, that the SIO comes immediately after the legendary Doeberl Cup. Is it that time already? If you haven't made reservations for accommodation, you better do it now, quickly! I just did mine. And in case, you're looking for accommodation options, here is an old link on Ian Rout's website.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

More Than A Game

It is not only New York cabbies that pause now and then from a city's chaos to play a few games of chess. Autorickshaw drivers in India, too, are fond of the occasional blitz matches. But for these guys, chess is more than a game:

It doesn't matter that autorickshaws honk and cycle-bells ring as the pawns advance and the knights move — not even that a piece of sackcloth doubles for table and a scooter's backseat acts as a chair and that this is a communally-sensitive city. Here the 'shatranj ke khiladi', both Muslims and Hindus, play together, even during curfews. And, under rain as well. During the 2002 communal killings, the Muslim-dominated colony was largely free of violence.

From The Times of India.

Monday, February 05, 2007

ACP Survey on Draw Offers

The Association of Chess Professionals is conducting a survey on draw offers. All ACP members as well as anyone holding the titles of IM, WIM, GM and WGM are invited to participate in the survey.

I'm guessing the response hasn't been positive because the initial deadline of 31 January has now been extended to 5 March 2007. Here is the survey:

1. A draw offer should be:
a) allowed at any stage of the game (current FIDE rules)
b) allowed after 30 moves of the game are completed
c) allowed after 40 moves of the game are completed
d) allowed after 50 moves of the game are completed
e) not allowed at all (Corsican rule)
f) abstain

2. A draw offer, at the stage where it is allowed, should imply a time penalty in the case it is rejected:
a) yes
b) no
c) abstain

I don't want to spend too much time discussing this because I'm sure there are various websites/forums where the issue has been talked to death. But since I am a GM, albeit a closet one, I might as well make a public vote. My picks are 1.e and 2.b.

Just for fun here is a quick little poll that you guys can interact with. Of course, I make no claim that this is scientific. Actually, I've been thinking / experimenting with a poll feature like this so this is kind of like a test drive. Let's see hot it goes. Please provide feedback on usability, tech matters, etc, as usual. Any problems, let me know.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

All the best to Campo

No doubt that we've all read the Chessbase report on Campo's car accident in Turkey. I know some of our readers don't exactly like the Old Man very much, but I think we can at least be gracious enough to wish the former FIDE boss a speedy recovery.

The TCF are apparently looking after Campo. This report in ABS-CBN quotes Alli Nihat Yazici: "We would like to inform the Board of FIDE and the world of chess that the Turkish Chess Federation, governor of Antalya and mayor of Kemer will take care of our honorary president."

I met Campo only once, in 1999, when he was here for the QVB Chess Festival. Whatever anyone can say about him, I found him quite likable and gracious. Sydney personality and ex-Olympiad captain Peter Parr is another fan. All the best to Campo.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Game Fixing Investigation Continues

In so typical Filipino fashion, we're now going to wait two more weeks for some sort of finality to the whole game fixing fiasco in RP. NCFP boss Prospero Pichay appeared in a press conference yesterday in Quezon City where he said:

Under the by-laws of our constitution, it is the internal affairs committee which shall investigate things of this nature...They will be given two weeks to look into this alleged game-fixing or networking, because we don’t want to prolong the agony of the chess players themselves.

Some criticisms were actually aimed at the NCFP for allegedly having named those players under investigation. (See for instance Bobby Ang). On this note the NCFP head denies having released the names. Such a denial seems to me to only add further fuel to speculations that there is a faction in RP chess (referred to by some as the "old guard") who are intent on destabilising the careers of certain players. After all, somebody did leak those names.

Friday, February 02, 2007

For Avid Debaters

Just read about this new site called via TechCrunch. The folks at convinceme call themselves "the ultimate debating website".

I know it has nothing to do with chess. But chess folks are some of the most serial debaters and I thought, well, there's a perfect site for you lot. For example, the last most ridiculous argument I read last week between two chess heavies was reduced to arguing over the meaning of the word "any". Go figure!

UPDATE: As at 11.50PM, 2 Feb, the first time I checked again since I made this post - the site is redirecting to a web hosting firm.

Whose Eyes...? Answers Announced

The answers and a winner to the "Whose Eyes...?" competition have been announced by our friend, Frits Agterdenbos. Check out Fritz's Chessvista site.

I managed to guess only Nakamura, Kamsky, Paehthz, van Wely and Stefanova.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Moulthun on Target For Norm

We're hoping that by tomorrow morning, Australia will have another international master to its arsenal of chess talents. Moulthun Ly, with 4.5 points going into the ninth and last round of the 5th Gibraltar Chess Festival, finds himself in a must-win situation against the 2459-rated Subbarama Vijayalakshmi in order to secure his third and final IM norm.

Moulthun has so far beaten two international masters, Thal Abergel of France and Nana Dzagnidze of Georgia. In the penultimate game, Mouthun drew against European Women's Champ and recent conqueror of Indian star Parimarjan Negi, the Ukrainian Kateryna Lahno.

GM Ian Rogers and IM David Smerdon are also on 4.5 points. The grandmaster should win against Zoltan Revesz, while David may find chess writer IM Robert Bellin a difficult date. The last Aussie, Malcolm Tredinnick, has 3 points for his efforts.

Good luck to all the boys!