Friday, August 31, 2007

FIDE Finishes Off African Nightmare

First, let me apologise for being very slow today with publishing some comments. I've actually been on an offsite training session which occupied the whole day. All about project management! Very, very exciting stuff. Not!

Anyway, if you've not seen it, FIDE has just published the latest judgements by its own Ethics Commission. There are five listed here with the two most famous cases being currently featured by Chessbase. But do you remember the case of the so-called "African Nightmare" in which our own Alex Wohl was involved?

Our first post about that incident is here, followed by this and finally this direct response from Alex.

To make this brief, FIDE's Ethics Commission took notice of the case and handed down this ruling:

In relation to the complaint under art. 2.2.3 of the CoE, the EC decided to accept and confirm the punishment handed down to the Accused by CHESS, extending its effects to the FIDE events, namely that for a period of three (3) years the Accused, Jackie Ngubeni, is banned from organizing, or in any manner being associated with, any FIDE rated international tournament in South Africa or FIDE events everywhere.

The decision of the EC is to take effect immediately, is extended to all FIDE events and is to end on the 31st December, 2009.

Have a good weekend all!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Fly or Die Suckers

Speaking of games, Sean Tan's post alerted me to another online gaming site, Strange name, but the main thing is they have their own reasons.

Says the site, "FlyOrDie was an excellent choice for us because this name symbolises our commitment and enthusiasm which we, like knowledge and professionalism, put behind our products". Good enough for me.

Apart from chess, Fly or Die has checkers, reversi, pool and even go. Could be worth a look.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

No dough, no glam, no chicas

"Take cover!"

"Watch out for that sniper in the tower."

"Stay back! Stay back!"

As you've noticed, there's no report from me on the second round of the NSWCA State Championships last Sunday. This is because I found myself, instead, in the middle of a war. A pretend one. I was at the 2007 World Cyber Games Australian final held at Sydney's Luna Park. It was my first time. Saw a report about the event in the 6 o'clock news and I thought, hec, why not try something new.

The exchange above between teenagers screaming orders at one another was typical of what happened during the final showdown of "Gears of War". Those boys were deadly serious. They had to be. Whoever won that 4-on-4 team combat would proceed to represent Australia at the World Cyber Games Grand Final in Seattle later this year. Not even a couple of gorgeous promo chicas in skin-tight outfits could disturb them. I particularly liked the two in short shorts who looked more at home in Sexpo. And Australia's representative to the last Miss Universe, Erin Mcnaught, hardly had a lascivious eye cast her way. Well, except from me! (Erin was there for Cybershack).

So there I was in a whole new world. It was all alien to me as, I'm sure, I was to them. But it was fun, adrenaline rushing all round, full of excitement and the familiar drama of victory and defeat. Those who lost looked as if they were just about ready to rush up the Harbour Bridge, a short walk outside, and jump off. While those who won could hardly contain themselves. And if you're into some serious PC hardware for gaming, then the Cyber Games are a must. Finally - to complete the picture, they also had a rap artist and some big wig from Samsung (the major sponsor) attending the event.

Anyway, I mention all this because as I was walking around the hall I couldn't help thinking: chess hasn't got a bloody chance!

We talk a lot these days about these thousands of chessers in the junior ranks. But, honestly, how many graduate to the senior ranks before they get snagged by other distractions, certainly more lucratives ones, like poker and video gaming? Before last Sunday I had no idea about the concept of a pro gamer. Those guys get sponsorships and earn plenty of money. Plus they still pick up those essential life skills along the way - like communication, strategic thinking, analytic and so on.

If you're a parent, let's be real here. Wouldn't you steer your kid to gaming and away from chess? Put it this way: there's no dough in chess, no glam, and no chicas! That's it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Parr Fires One at NSWCA

In his column today, Peter Parr fires one across the bow of the NSWCA:

There have been 11 different Sydney CBD venues in the last 40 years. 1999 saw 68 at Burwood, 2001 - 58 at Parramatta. Entries at Ryde-Eastwood 2002 - 2006 were 81, 72, 69, 45, 47. The solution is not easy with no permanent chess centre - 11 evening rounds as in the 20th century rather than afternoon rounds in the 21st century, a less crowded NSW calendar, state membership a requirement to be rated, a central venue, personal invitations to the leading players, a major sponsor and nine months planning are some ideas.

OK firstly, yes, that's exactly how it's printed so I'm guessing the column is a victim of some bad editing by an SMH staffer. But secondly, no, no way I support evening rounds. Bad idea Pete. As for a chess centre, we're not going there again, are we?

Aussies and Kiwis OS

It was a Chinese one-two in KL as Chao Li roared to a 9 point victory while compatriot Yunguo Wan placed second on 8.5 points. The Australian contingent's scores are as follows:

6.0 - IM Gary Lane, FM Brett Tindall
5.5 - Chris Wallis, Max Illingworth, FM Brian Jones
5.0 - WIM Laura Moylan
4.5 - Eugene Schon, Roland Brockman
3.5 - Justin Tan

New Zealanders Paul Spiller and Hilton Bennett played and drew against each other in the final round to post 4.5 points each.

Meanwhile over in the Netherlands' Euwe Stimulans event - another Kiwi, Puchen Wang, scored 6 points to finish third overall behind Simutowe and Barua. Puchen powered through his last 2 games beating GM Barua and then the legendary Nona Gaprindashvili.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Chess Freak in Aussie Idol

Look, I swear to God, I only watch it because there is nothing else to watch on TV. In any case, if you didn't know it already, my very high brow and well-cultured chess friends, the latest season of Australian Idol is on again. I won't dwell too much on this but it seems that one of the contestants, Daniel Mifsud of Sydney, was once a "chess freak".

He was quoted by the Sunday Tele today as saying, "I used to be a chess champion. In Year six at school I won my Sydney class tournament."

Well I reckon we should vote for this guy. He can sing too. Check out his MySpace for some sample tunes.

A Rogers Classic

The great Aussie chess star's retirement has hit the pages of the Washington Times. In his latest column, David Sands features news of Rogers' sad announcement last month and also gives an analysis of Rogers - Huebner played way back in 1988 in New Zealand. That game is an Australian classic, it seems, that I, admittedly, had not previously seen. Worth examining for any student of the Sicilian.

Read Mr Sands' column here. The game should be available in any descent database but here is the PGN anyway for your convenience.

[Event "Wellington+"]
[Site "Wellington"]
[Date "1988.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Rogers, Ian"]
[Black "Huebner, Robert"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B92"]
[WhiteElo "2575"]
[BlackElo "2595"]
[PlyCount "77"]
[EventDate "1988.03.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "NZL"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2004.01.01"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be7 8. Be2 O-O 9. g4 Be6 10. g5 Nfd7 11. Qd2 Nb6 12. h4 N8d7 13. O-O-O Rc8 14. Kb1 Nc4 15. Bxc4 Rxc4 16. f3 Qc7 17. h5 Rc8 18. g6 fxg6 19. hxg6 hxg6 20. Nd5 Qd8 21. c3 R4c6 22. Rdg1 Nf8 23. f4 exf4 24. Nxf4 d5 25. Nxd5 Rc4 26. Bd4 Bxd5 27. Rh8+ Kf7 28. exd5 Qxd5 29. Rf1+ Bf6 30. Bxf6 Qe4+ 31. Ka1 gxf6 32. Re1 Qf5 33. Nd4 Qg5 34. Qh2 Rxd4 35. Rxf8+ Kxf8 36. Qh8+ Kf7 37. Qxc8 Qe5 38. Qxb7+ Kf8 39. Qh1 1-0

Lastly, if you've not seen it - an audio recording of Ian post his retirement announcement is available on the SACA website. With thanks to sources in Chess Chat and note, too, Jonathan Paxman's tip on how to handle the "ogg" file. (No idea if Jonathan is related to Jeremy Paxman who's been hitting the headlines in the UK yesterday).

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Lane and Moylan Lead Aussies

Eight games have been played in the Malaysian Open and below are the Australian scores. After beating GM Chandler in the sixth round, it was a case of the Wang bump for Lane as he lost to IM Rui Wang then to Li Wang in the seventh and 8th games respectively.

4.5 - IM Gary Lane, WIM Laura Moylan
4.0 - Chris Wallis
3.5 - Max Illingworth, FM Brett Tindall, FM Brian Jones
2.5 - Roland Brockman, Eugene Schon
2.0 - Justin Tan

New Zealanders Hilton Bennett and Paul Spiller are also playing in the event, by the way, and both have 3.5 points. GM Murray Chandler is way off the mark himself on just 4.5 after yesterday defeating Jing Zhang. And Helen Milligan moves up to 3 on account of a draw in the eight game with Bryan Lee.

At the moment there are two surprise leaders - the untitled Chinese players Weiqi Zhou (2469) and Chao Li (2529). Both are on 6.5 points apiece.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Hip Hop Chess Fed Announce Tourney

Where in the world is Kerry Stead? Kerry's an old chess mate of mine whom I haven't seen him in a couple of years. I'll never forget that time back in '99 when Nick Kordahi and I, driving behind Kerry up in Buderim (during the Australian Open '99), nearly killed ourselves with worry because we thought Kerry had driven himself off a friggin' cliff! Nick and I just sat in his car in stunned silence until we arrived back at the motel. To our relief Kerry had already parked and waiting for us. But that whole experience was pretty frightening.

Anyway, the reason I suddenly thought of Mr Stead is that he's online moniker happens to be "HipHopBandit" and I'm wondering if he's signed up with this mob, the Hip Hop Chess Federation. These guys hit the news streams this morning as they've just announced their inaugural Annual Chess Kings Invitational to be held in October this year in San Fran.

Says co-founder of HHCF, Leo Libiran:

We are proud to host an event that showcases an authentic, intelligent trend in Hip-Hop...Hip-Hop has always been about more than bullets and bling and the fact that so many fantastic rappers, chessmasters, martial artists and graf writers have donated their time to the children is proof of this in itself.

Read more from PRWeb.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Puchen Wang in Euwe Stimulus

New Zealand's Puchen Wang is competing in the Euwe Stimulus tournament in the Netherlands. There are two 10-player RR sections, international and regional with Puchen playing in the former. The international group is reasonably strong with 4 grandmasters and 2 international masters. Note that while Puchen's title on the event site is still "FM", the Kiwi actually earned a full IM title from this year's Zonal in Fiji.

After five games, Puchen has 3 points. He lost in round one to Zambia's IM Simutowe but managed to beat IM Wily Hendriks and secured draws against grandmasters Olafsson and Panno.

The talented IM Simutowe leads on 4.5 points. For more, visit the official site.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Spoilt Chess Kids

Wow! Did you see this? According to FIDE, winners of the currently ongoing Asian Youth Championships 2007 in Al-Ain, UAE will be awarded with pure gold medals! These kids are just so spoilt, you know. Just check out the venue. And 5-star accommodation? Wow!

Speaking of spoilt chess kids, tonight I saw an episode of House entitled, The Jerk. It's about some 16-year old chess prodigy that falls to some mysterious illness and the unorthodox Dr House then has to try and fix him. Problem is this prodigy is a complete dick! You just wanna smack him.

Anyway in one scene, while Dr House and the kid play blitz, the following dialogue takes place:
House: Bird's Opening. Passive approach. Sign of a coward.
Nate: Sicilian Defense. Sign of an idiot.
What the...? I suppose we can put that down to ignorant scriptwriters. Or perhaps some of you think that there are some truths in those lines?

WGM Leads in KL

The latest info from KL shows that WGM Ruofan Li of China Singapore is the current sole leader in DATMO on 4 points. She's having a cracker beating IM Hafizulhelmi Mas and GM Murray Chandler in the fourth and 3rd rounds respectively. IM Gary Lane is right up there with the leaders on 3.5 points. Also on three-and-a-half are Pinoy players Hamed Nouri and IM Barlo Nadera who will play each in the fifth round.

Note that Melbourne player Geoff Saw is not actually a participant in this event. I listed him here but only because the official site clearly indicated him as a registered player. In fact, I can still see him being paired against Justin Tan for the first game. By the way, that's Justin Tan of Melbourne - not the now "old" JT of Sydney!

Victorian player Chris Wallis. Photo courtesy of official site.

And lastly, readers will also notice that IM Wesley So has dropped off! It now turns out that he's suffering from chicken pox and obviously had to withdraw from the event.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Kasparov Warns Australia

Holding about 50 percent of the world's uranium deposits, Australia stands to cash in billions from uranium exports. And so in just the past few days, the Howard Government committed to a controversial decision to sell uranium to nuclear-capable India. Naturally the Labor opposition party is worried that this could prove problematic with India's neighbour, Pakistan.

However, the deal with India looks set to be upstaged by a potentially bigger sale. Also under consideration is a deal for Australia to sell uranium direct to Russia. And who should be firing off warnings down our way but none other than anti-Putin campaigner, Gary Kasparov.

Kasparov has reportedly told Australia's Bulletin magazine: "Should Australian uranium end up in the wrong hands… Australia will not be able to act innocent or to claim ignorance". This is being reported here, by ninemsn, and here by the Bulletin.

Nur's Romanian Chess Tour

After finishing with 3.5 points at the International Romanian Open, Nur Yachou is back in action at the "M. Sadoveanu" International Chess Festival. He has 2 points so far going into the fourth game. Nur's next opponent is IM Mihai-Lucian Grunberg who sports an ELO rating of 2472.

Those interested in following our friend's progress, especially those in Melbourne, can view live games from 11PM AEST.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Pinoy Teams Dominate Merdeka

RP teams took out first to third spots in the 2007 ASTRO - IGB Merdeka Team Rapid tournament in KL. Apocalypse Manila lived up to their name by blasting all-comers to post 28 points in total. In second spot was Laguna Evertel who collected 26.5 points/15 match points, while in third was Quezon City who also scored 26.5 points but with only 14 match points in total.

For details, go to Andrew Ooi's

Chessdom Exclusives in Mexico

Our friends at Chessdom have scored an important exclusive. They will be the official media partner of the World Chess Championship to be held in Mexico next month. The guys have promised reports, videos and games commentary. I wonder if they'll also have some kind of "live blogging" direct from the venue. Or even guest blogging by the participants - a bit like how the USCF did it for their championships. That'd be cool.

While on the Chessdom site I noticed a link to Chess Strategy - Goran's blog, one of my earliest friends on the blogosphere. I thought he'd closed that one down but it seems he's still posting away some rather good stuff. Worth a read.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

NSWCA Championships Disappoint

The NSWCA is in big trouble.

Today's opening round of the association's premiere event pulled in only 32 players, a miserable figure by any standards. There was the usual talk of what might be causing this malaise. The familiar answers were given. NSWCA boss Bill Gletsos must be wondering what else he can do. Of concern to him, most of all, will be his coffers. Just a few months from November's AGM, the signs are that we could be heading for another massive financial loss.

Top seed in the Championship is FM Greg Canfell who is playing in what he calls his "comeback" tournament. He'll play in more events from now on, he said. Truth be told, the association should thank him profusely for even bothering to turn up. This year's edition, after all, is "lesser" than in previous years as the event will run for just 7 rounds, two less than normal practice. Plus imagine the title heading for the cabinet of anyone between 1800 to 2100. I mean no disrespect to these guys but if that tragedy occurred, then the NSWCA ought to rescind the result!

So desperate is the situation of absent players that even yours truly was asked to participate. I'll think about it, I said. I just blog these days. But who knows? This might just be the event when I'll finally come out! Somebody's gotta give that Greg a challenge, you know.

One who'll never miss a championship is the octogenarian, Lloyd Fell. But he very nearly didn't make it. It seems he was confused about the venue and turned up miles away over in West Ryde. Realising his error he very quickly made his way to Parramatta. Unluckily for him the clocks had already ticked by for 30 minutes when he arrived. He wasn't happy. To his annoyance, the NSWCA officials were this time uncharacteristically efficient. Said Lloyd, "The bastards started on time!"

Not too long after, though, Mr Fell was again happy. As if decades younger, Lloyd today played with his usual tactical vigour and beat Herman Rachmadi. With a smile he asked me, "Did you like that finish?" Oh yeah I did. It was a nice one. Rachmadi would lose the queen to avoid mate.

Other results I managed to see were:

Canfell - Huyhn, 1-0
Javier - Tomas, 1-0
Kordahi - Baterowicz, 1-0

Tournament sponsor Integra have provided something kind of cute. Pens! No Montegrappas these ones but they fit snugly between the fingers for a smooth glide on paper. They even come with their own sleeves. You've just got to have one. Even Lloyd loved them, too, and he has a warning for those with nice pens.

"Never play with a with a good pen," said Lloyd, "you'll lose it. Chess players are all thieves". He was only joking.

As an aside I should mention a thing or two about the upcoming Australian Chess Championships in Jan '08. There are hopes, I learned this afternoon, of a super GM participating in the tournament. No names - but this guy is said to be on his way to a poker tournament in Melbourne. Chances are slim, but let's pray this player can be persuaded to make a detour. And as for advance entries, at least a couple of international masters may attend. I hope they do!

Until next week then. For another take on the NSWCA Championships, you might want to check The Chess Nut.

DATMO Opens on Sunday

Several Australians will open their battles tomorrow in the Malaysian Open in KL. The list of Aussies include:

Max Illingworth
WIM Laura Moylan
FM Brian Jones
IM Gary Lane
Eugene Schon
Roland Brockman
FM Brett Tindall
FM Geoffrey Saw
Justin Tan
Christopher Wallis

A smaller number of Pinoys are also in attendance. Their campaign will be spearheaded by IM Wesley So who will aim for a GM norm performance there.

Six grandmasters are also playing and among whom is Englishman GM Murray Chandler. These guys will need to be extra careful as the organisers have placed a bounty on their heads. Players of any rank can win a maximum of $100 for every time they beat a GM.

Good luck to everyone. Meanwhile, I'm off to the NSW Championships this afternoon.

Vishy Anand: FIDE Unfair

Mr Press reckons he's tired of being *ucked around. But he and the rest of us should spare a thought for Vishy Anand.

It looks like anyone can buy into a rematch and keep the title race going forever. This time, FIDE has managed to start with a solution and finish with problems. It is difficult to evaluate who got a better deal, Kramnik or Topalov — both get a match. Both matches are unnecessary in my view .If we have a format it amounts to something.

From the Hindustan Times.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Aussie Youth Squad Photos

At last we have some nice pictures of the Australian Youth Olympiad team who competed recently in Singapore. I must thank both the photographer, Cathy Rogers, and Jenni Oliver, who conveyed these photographs to me this morning. It's always very difficult to select the best shot when you have so many to choose from. But I think this one below, of the whole squad, is apt.

Full Olympiad squad

For our RP readers, here's a photo of the RP team in action against Australia 1. You'll remember that this encounter ended 2-2 with the Philippine team actually fighting to hold the draw. Almost hard to believe!

Australia 1 vs Philippines

I have also uploaded more photos in my usual flickr account.

IMPORTANT: Please note that these photos are copyright of Cathy Rogers and may not be used without her expressed permission.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Graeme Gardiner at CISCCON

Following my Chess in Schools post yesterday, a reliable informant tipped me that former ACF head Graeme Gardiner will be attending the CISCCON in Scotland. We checked and sure enough, Graeme, along with wife Wendy, is heading out today for the conference. In fact, I should have looked at that CISCCON site a little more closely because his name is actually listed under Parralel Sessions in the Conference Programme. Graeme will present a paper entitled, Positive Moves in Australian Chess with Particular Regard to Autism.

Other Australian representatives at the conference will be Sam Grumont (Castlemaine Innovations and Excellence Mt Alexander, Victoria Schools Cluster Coordinator) as well as Dr Steve Tobias, Steve Carroll and Harry Poulton (James Cook University) who, Grame informs me, are all working on the same project relating to mathematics and chess. These guys actually have a related blog, Chess Squared where you'll also find this post.

Hopefully we can all read the papers soon post the conference. All sound very interesting.

Aussies OS Update

Just a quick round up of other Aussie results OS (apart from Smerdon and the World Youth).

IM Alex Wohl ended the XVII Open Internacional de la Pobla de Lillet on 6/9 points. The last round was a draw against GM Thomas Luther. There's a picture of Alex here.

And well done to Matthew Sonter, of Queensland, who played in the Prima Pack Cup in Olomouc. Starting with 0/2, Matthew hunkered down to avoid further defeats finishing on 6/10 points in the six-player double RR event. He placed third overall behind Parligras, with 8 points, and Cagasik, on 7 points.

In the separate IM C section tournament in Olomouc, WIM Petra Blazkova had a much harder time. A former coach at the Gardiner Chess Centre, the Czech national posted 6 losses, 4 draws and 1 win.

Lastly, in the Romanian Open, Nur Yachou has 2.5 points after 6 games. He will play WIM Paloma Gutierrez next. Paloma, by the way, was a recent visitor to Australia and played in the Sydney International Open.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Chess in Schools

Talk of chess in schools isn't new but it was again featured a couple of days ago in an Australian broadsheet. But while educators in Australia are still talking about it - over in Aberdeen, Scotland - chess has been part of the school program since at least 2001. The success of this program has eventually led to the Chess in the Schools and Communities International Conference to be held later this month at Aberdeen University. A conference coordinator and researcher, Dod Forrest, speaking about a research study into chess in education said:

We found that the chess-playing group of children showed improvements in reading comprehension and behaviour compared with the group which did not play chess, based on the teacher's assessment of some of the more difficult children in class.

The big question is why is this happening. We can look at the reading skills, before interaction with chess and afterwards, and something improves but we don't really know why.

The approach in Scotland is very ambitious. There's even talk of Chess Scotland paying for a development officer to coordinate the interaction of school-based chess with the greater chess scene. But volunteer coaches? That just won't work, in Australia at least, with a number of for-profit firms now already operating in schools anyway. I've always wondered, though, what these outfits are actually teaching!

Read more from The Scotsman.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Arts of Islam

I suppose I should have expected it given the long history of Islam and chess, but when I saw an old chess piece, apparently the King, at the Arts of Islam exhibit I was a bit surprised. It was the last thing I thought I'd see there. I think it was from Iran. Standing some 6 inches tall, the board must have been of a fairly large size.

Anyway, that lone piece was the only chessic object in the whole exhibit. If you don't have an interest in the Islamic subject or art in general, there's no point paying the $15 entry fee. However, if you do, it's money well spent on a leisurely weekend. Don't miss room number 6. A haunting experience, just beautiful!

WA Championships 2007

Thirty-four players are vying for the 2007 WA Chess Championships. Tristan Boyd is once again the favourite but will face tough challenges from Tim Hare and Jay Lakner. After 2 rounds, 7 players are undefeated including the lone foreigner, from Victoria, Franz Oswald and the unrated Srdja Stepanovic.

While you're on the CAWA site, do take time to revisit The site has been around for some time but I've just rediscovered it now. But I'm highlighting that site today because I just noticed that it's built using Joomla - an open source CMS. For chess people with the adequate IT skills, Joomla is worth looking at if you're thinking about volunteering some time to create a nice website for your favourite chess association or national body.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Village Chess Shop

When in New York, drop by over in the Village Chess Shop. I've never been there but it looks like a cool place to visit. There's nothing quite like it in Sydney. Peter Parr's joint, while located in the hip and happenin' Surry Hills, doesn't even come close. If one day Peter did move up to an on-street store, instead of being down at basement level and spruced up the place a bit, then Chess Discount Sales could have potential. Right now you walk into CDS and basically meet-and-greet with chaos! But it does add something of character.

I learned of the Village Chess Shop thanks to The Sartorialist.

Doctors Take Out Teams

A Russian team of PhDs won yesterday's NSW Teams Challenge 2 event. Calling themselves the 3 Musketeers the team included IM Alex Matros, FM Vladimir Smirnov, Kazimir Kolossovsky and Smirnov's son, Anton. No, Anton doesn't quite have PhD just yet but given that both mom and dad have one, it won't be long before the kid will have one too!

In second place were the Sydney Academy of Chess team followed by Parramatta 2. My own team Parramatta 1 was disbanded after just two rounds. This happened because our board 2 player had some kind of medical emergency and was driven home by our board 1. And our board 4 had an urgent business to attend to. It was a disaster and left me orphaned. Lucky for me somebody pulled out of the Nuclear Hormones team and I quickly replaced him. It was funny because I actually managed to play against another team twice!

It was a fun day of team chess overall, as it usually is, but lacked the competitive feel of previous editions. It will be a real pity of this event dies out.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Nur Yachou Beats IM

Nur Yachou has just beaten an international master in round 1 of the Romanian Chess Open. Playing black, the action began early with Nur's 12...Nxf2! That was a good start for the Victorian player who is currently working in Romania. His next opponent is FM Christian Chirila, rated 2345.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Aussie Champs Website Launched

The Parramatta RSL CC launched their 2007-08 Australian Chess Championships website a few days ago. It's simple, clear and looks to have all the basic info needed if you're considering playing in the event.

One thing you'll notice is the odd schedule with the first half of this event being quite demanding. Then we slow down to a rate of one game a day from round 6 onwards. That's understandable really as it speeds up the event but also caters to the tougher fights in the business end of the tournament. However, I have to say, the 10.30AM starts are a bit early.

Also the featured hotel on the website, the Marriott Parramatta, strikes me as a bit too pricey for the average chesser. $115 for twin share! Now I don't know if there are backpackers in Parra but there are plenty in the Sydney CBD. I'd suggest looking at those as options. Of course, if you're more the premium type, 5-star and all, then you obviously can't go wrong in the city. Whatever you choose, you'd be playing chess in Parra then heading back to the city's nightlife at day's end. You almost can't complain.

While the playing venue itself may not be to flash, Parramatta is a lively multicultural town with plenty of shopping and eating! You'll have plenty of fun.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Fightin' Words

In a result that will surely send shockwaves throughout the entire Philippine archipelago, the RP team could only draw with Australia 1, two games all. I have to say that I did expect these Aussies to be annihilated. Maybe they do have chess culture, after all. Now if only these Aussies can stop pretending to be giants in Oceania, among the likes of, err, Fiji and, umm, New Zealand, and take on the powerhouses in zone 3.2a then maybe - just maybe. Well done to the young Australians. I'm sure the RP boys would have secretly uttered to the Aussies: "See you at the Oympiad fellas. Some day!"

Have a nice weekend to my fellow Australians. I do love youse, you know.

RP vs Australia Showdown!

The scene is now set for what will be a temporary war between the once great Asian chess powerhouse of the Philippines and the Oceania giant Australia.

At the World Youth Under-16 Olympiad this morning, the Aussie 1 team failed to do what the RP boys did in round 7: beat India. But while the Aussies went down 2.5 - 1.5, with Mouthun Ly losing on board 1, the Philippines split the points evenly with their Singaporean rivals 2 - 2. Wesley So maintains his 100% record but will now face Moulthun Ly who will be under extra pressure to recover from that disappointing loss.

Ranked third in the field, way ahead of the 22nd ranked RP, Australia will be firm favourites to whack the Filipinos. Who knows what diabolical plans the Australian coach GM Ian Rogers has in store for my beloved compatriots? All eyes will be on the So vs Ly contest.

Down in the lower boards, Derek Yu seems to have recovered well enough from yesterday's mishap as he managed to draw his 7th round game this morning. Mrs Oliver informed us that Derek received a strike to the head with a golf club from team-mate Zhigen Wilson Lin during yesterday's R&R. Boys will be boys but these kinds of accidents are potentially damaging to the cause. They ought to be more careful!

FIDE To Build Chess Hotels

Last night, for some strange random reason, I was thinking about architecture - specifically, how lacking in great architecture the city of Sydney is. Apart from the Opera House and, possibly, the Coathanger - there is really nothing else! Compared to other great cities like New York, London or Paris - Sydney is pretty barren. It's upsetting. I like big beautiful things, you see, and I want to see more spectacular buildings around the place. Bring on back the age of the skyscraper I say!

This morning, as if by coincidence - the first chess item I saw in my news stream was a report from the Russia Info-Centre stating that FIDE "intends to build hotels in 165 countries" in the shape of chess pieces! Chess pieces? Are they kidding? If true, then these guys in FIDE are complete nutters. I may love chess but certainly not so much that I'd like to see these monstrosities, buildings in the shape of chess pieces, dotted all over my landscape or anyone else's landscape for that matter. These latest plans by FIDE ought to be shelved.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Setback for Wohl

IM Alex Wohl suffered a couple of setbacks as he lost to WIM Sopio Nikoladze then a draw with WFM Sopiko Guramishvili in the 6th and 7th rounds respectively.

One of the organisers emailed me to say that live games can be viewed here and there are also photos available on flickr.

RP Boys Aiming for Title

The Philippine team, ranked 22nd in the field, is playing brilliantly in Singapore and are now running just a point behind the Indians after 7 rounds. RP yesterday defeated the Indian team 3-1. Pinoy fans can thank their super player on board 1, IM Wesley So, who is yet to drop a point. Back in round 4 Wesley defeated the 2436-rated Tamas Fodor Jr of Hungary.

An Australia 1 vs RP contest will be the dream match and the 4th ranked Australians will surely be the favourties for that. Today, the Aussie juniors will be under plenty of pressure against the Indians and will be hoping to emulate RP's positive outcome against the Indian team yesterday.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Circus Loves Chess

After a busy week, first thing I do is pop down to play some blitz. It's relaxing and takes my mind off things.

It's no surprise, then, that among the multicultural cast of Cirque du Soleil, chess is the most popular pastime. You can just imagine how much pressure these people are under. One crucial error in their shows, and it's kaput!

"Cast members are constantly playing chess before shows - they put on their makeup and go play more chess. Chess boards are set up all over the circus grounds, especially in the kitchen", says an accordion/keyboards player.

From the Rocky Mountain News.

Aussie Junior Left at Hotel

Team Australia 1 is doing reasonably well in the U16 Olympiad in Singapore. After 5 rounds, the Aussies have collected 13.5 points, the same tally as the Pinoy team. According to team manager, Jenni Oliver, everyone is "playing their hearts out - getting some horrible positions, but turning them into draws and wins".

We received this email from Mrs Oliver overnight direct from the event:

I think the main feeling at the moment is exhaustion - for adults and players.

There is a gruelling schedule of 2 games a day and by the time you add in all the analysis and preparation and bus travel to and from the hotel to the venue and back again, there hardly seems a spare minute. The coaches are starting at 7am and finishing at 11pm.

We've had a few hysterical moments - once when Andrew Brown was left behind at the hotel. We managed to get him put into a taxi and collected him from the entrance and rushed him to his board 5 mins after the round started, but he still managed to win.

Various people are now taking responsibility for making sure kids get woken up and transported. Everyone is working together for the team and helping out. Barbara Kinder has taken on the onerous job of organising the team coach's schedules.

The venue is Ignatius Leong's chess school - almost died of envy when I saw it.

Singapore Chess have done a fantastic job - it is all very well organised and friendly. They try and fix any problems and issues as quickly as they can. Osric Mooi particularly is a treasure. :)

We were a little disappoined at the 2-2 result with Uzbekistan. Moulthun played so well, but unfortunately could only get a draw out of it. All 5 members of the top team are playing their hearts out - getting some horrible positions, but turning them into draws and wins.

Australia's top team will play the Hungarians in the sixth round. Good luck to those guys!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Australian OS Results

While plenty of eyes are on the Youth Olympiad in Singapore, time now to check in on some other Australian results elsewhere.

Fans of David Smerdon can breathe a sigh of relief as he steered his Paks campaign back on course with a win in round 2 over Grunberg.

Full results are as follows:

Pataki, Gy - Yu, S, 1-0
Szabó, K- Flumbort, A, 1-0
Smerdon, D - Grunberg, M, 1-0
Tania, S - Papp, G, 0-1
Nevednichy, V - Grószpéter, A, ½-½

In Spain, Wohl lost his first crucial test in round 3 against GM Kogan. But the big man recovered winning his 4th and 5th games to now be on 4/5 points, with six other players, just a full point behind sole leader GM Mirzoev.

Finally, Matthew Sonter has 3.5 points after 7 rounds in a double RR tournament in Olomouc. Those who know Matthew will be glad to know that he has avoided further losses since his last one in round 2. His seventh round game would have been something special as he managed to get one back against Tomas Cagasik who beat the Aussie earlier in the event.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that Victorian and my good friend Nur Yachou is actually once again playing in the Predeal Open in Romania. The Open is due to start on the 11 August with Nur ranked 146th out of 168 players. Good luck Nur!

Aussies Being Neighbourly

Being just a few short hours away, Asia ought to be a boon for Aussies on a norm hunt. With the rise of moneyed tournaments within our region, Australian chessers should look closer to home - not only saving themselves the time, money and effort but, more importantly, building relationships.

Across Asia, from the UAE (yes, I'm casting a wide net) to Indonesia, there is no shortage of chess events within the region. Over in the United Arab Emirates, the Abu Dhabi Chess and Culture Club hosts two big events. The first of these, the Dubai Open, took place in April and was won by GM Levan Pantsulaia (2616) of Georgia ahead of 24 other GMs competing. In 2 weeks, the second big tournament, the 17th Abu Dhabi International Chess Festival, will take place from 12 - 20 August. The current list of players in the Master section is impressive. Eight grandmasters are over the magic 2600 rating mark! No Aussie hopefuls there, but at least one Pinoy - Hamed Nouri.

As the Abu Dhabi tournament closes, the Malaysian Chess Festival will begin in KL. As usual the top section Malaysian Open should attract some of the region's best talents. Last year's edition, for instance, featured the then 2600+ rated Mark Paragua, while no one will soon quickly forget Wang Hao's near unbelievable 10/11 performance in 2005. (Wang's title win, by the way, was capped off by that crushing last round victory over the now retired GM Ian Rogers). Any ambitious Aussie chesser gunning for norms should pack their bags and head north.

And the chess action is set to rise even more. Some weeks ago we reported that the ASEAN Chess Confederation recently announced the establishment of the ASEAN GP with the first leg expected to take place in the Philippines sometime in November this year. Another 5 more legs are scheduled before June 2008. At this time, I don't know if the ASEAN event will also be open non ASEAN members. Our calls to the listed contact number have been unanswered. Peter Long, executive director, has since replied to my email. He advises that everyone, including non- ASEAN members, can play and win prize money. But it seems that only ASEAN members can qualify for the overall prize fund and that's fair enough, I think.

But one event that will certainly exclude non-Asians is the 2nd Asian Indoor Games lo be held in Macau from 26 October to 3 November this year. Chess will be played across the 3 familiar disciplines of classical, rapid and blitz in both teams and individual formats. A pity, though, that Australia won't be a participant.

While Europe will remain the centre of the best chess tournaments - Asia is fast becoming a viable option for those looking for norms. There are plenty of opportunities here. Moreover, maintaining closer ties with our neighbours will surely have positive outcomes beyond the chess board.

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Loss for David

IM David's Smerdon's Paks Cup GM tournament began negatively with a loss to 2474-rated Gabor Papp.

Round 1 results:

Nevednichy, V - Pataki, Gy, 1-0
Grószpéter, A - Tania, S, 1-0
Papp, G - Smerdon, D, 1-0
Grunberg, M - Szabó, K, ½-½
Flumbort, A - Yu, S, ½-½

Games haven't been made available on the site except for the top section that, by the way, features legend Viktor Korchnoi.

World Youth Begins

Three of the 4 Aussie teams currently competing in the World Youth U16 Olympiad in Singapore were routed in yesterday's first round.

Uzbekistan downed Australia 3 by 4-0 while Turkey also meted out the same scoreline to Australia 4. The all-girl side of Australia 2 lost to Zambia, 3-1, with board 1 WFM Angela Song beating her opposite number. Australia's crack side, however - comprising of Ikeda, Lin, Song and Illingworth - blanked out their Hong Kong 1 opposition, 4-0.

The lone RP team began well enough by beating Switzerland 3 games to 1. RP's board 4 result, Robert Grafil losing to Swiss Nicolas Duport, was the only blemish.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Cebu Pride

A couple of news stories really warmed my heart this week. Just perfect for this cold Sydney winter. First, the chess story.

On Tuesday - FIDE posted news of the VI Asian Championships hosted by the Philippines from 18 to 30 September, 2007. What's special about this event is that it will be held in Cebu - the province where yours truly grew up all those years ago. But I haven't been back there for close to 20 years! I'm thinking that this tournament could just be the one good excuse to pay a visit. Well, just to blog about it, obviously.

Our next story comes courtesy of a Cebuano jailer.

Hitting the headlines this week was a series of videos posted on YouTube. These videos showed inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) getting down to some popular tunes like Thriller, Beebot and songs from the movie, Sister Act. Only in RP and only on Cebu! Oh I am just so proud.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Matthew Sonter in Olomouc

I have ex ACF boss Graeme Gardiner to thank for this information.

Queenslander Matthew Sonter is presently competing in a 6-man 2RR tournament, the Prima Pack Cup, in Olomouc. So far Matthew is on 0/2, losing to Cosmin Parligras and Tomas Cagasik in the first and second rounds respectively. In the third round, Matthew will have his first try with the white pieces against Englishman John Brooke. Good luck Matt.

Another familiar name, especially to Queenslanders, is Petra Blazkova who is playing in the IM C - Ave-Kontakt Cup section. The Czech woman international master had a 1-year stint as a coach with Graeme's chess centre on the Gold Coast. She, too, is on 0/2. I'm sure her ex-students and friends in Oz will wish her all the best in the coming rounds.

Aussies in Action OS

Several Australians will be in action this weekend and we'd like to wish all of them the very best of luck.

In Hungary, David Smerdon will be in action against the likes of grandmasters Yu Shaoteng and Vladislav Nevednichy in the Paks GM Cup tournament. First round of that event is slated for this Sunday at 1500 local time in Budapest.

Meanwhile, the U16 World Youth Olympiad kicks off tomorrow in Singapore. We'd expect regular updates on the SCF website so do look out for those. Australia has sent in 4 teams to this event. Our top side, ranked 4th in the event, consists of this country's top juniors led by 2 IM-norm holder Moulthun Ly.

RP, by the way, has sent just one team to Singapore and they are led by the 2516-rated IM Wesley So. All the best to these guys too.

And finally in Spain our friend IM Alex Wohl began positively in the XVII Open Internacional de la Pobla de Lillet as he won in the first round. "Easy" games so far but we wish him well for when he clashes with the big names in the later rounds.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

New Sydney Uni Site

The Sydney University Chess Club has a new president, Mark Longhurst, and a new website. Quite impressive. I like the clean design, very usable and accessible. They're actually adhering to web standards!

But what might be more interesting reading is the background to Jason Chan's departure as the club's president. He penned an open letter that is available for reading here. Tragic. But it sounds so bad I just wonder how these USU guys can get away with it! Seems almost like daylight robbery to me.

Fundraising for Mirakla Mithran

Yesterday's Parramatta Sun featured Mirakla Mithran who, along with Clarise Koh, will represent Australia in the U10 Girls 2007 World Youth Chess Championships in Turkey to be held later this year.

For a complete list of Australia's youth reps, click here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Smerdon in Paks Cup

We've just learned that IM David Smerdon, who last week earned his third and final GM norm, is back in Hungary to compete in the Paks Cup GM tournament. It's an RR event and the player list in David's section is as follows:

GM Yu, Shaoteng (2524)
GM Nevednichy, Vladislav (2523)
GM Grószpéter, Attila (2522)
IM Flumbort, András (2509)
IM Szabó, Krisztián (2482)
IM Papp, Gábor (2474)
IM Grunberg, Mihai (2472)
IM Smerdon, David (2461)
WGM Tania, Sachdev (2393)
UNT Pataki, Gyozo (2382)

We wish David all the best! Hopefully he can put in another powerful performance to get himself over 2500 by the time he comes back!

Wohl in Peculiar Tournament

Alex Wohl sure knows how to live the life. He's now somewhere in Spain playing in the 17th La Pobla de Lillet International Open. It is an event characterised by the organisers as "peculiar" and apparently "known by the possibility to combine a good holidays at the height of mountains with the opportunity to play a Summer Open".

Our friendly Aussie IM is seeded 6th behind grandmasters Kogan, Mirzoev, Movsziszian, Luther and IM Eva Moser. Play begins tomorrow. Daily stats should be available here.

Good luck mate!