Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fischer's Last Note

Today's issue of the Good Weekend, a magazine insert that comes with the weekend edition of the Sydney Morning Herald, has a short article on Bobby Fischer. Author John Carlin mainly writes about the ex-World Champion's last days in Iceland and especially about the very few people with whom Fischer had regular contact. One of those people is psychiatrist Magnus Skulason.

Just before Fischer died, Skulason spent an entire night by his bedside. "Once, towards dawn, he woke up and said his feet ached and asked if I could massage them. I tried my best, and it was then he said his last words to me and, as far as I know, to anybody. Responding to my hands on his feet he said, 'Nothing is as healing as the human touch.'"

Skulason, who said he believe the human touch was something Fischer had craved all his life, told me he was surprised at how much he missed Fischer now he was gone. The psychiatrist was at pains to note that, for all his tyrannical tendencies, the hermitic genius could sometimes exude great warmth. All those I spoke to in Iceland who had known him said the same thing.

Of interest to Fischer aficionados is that their man had apparently written a final note which is to be found at Fischer's favourite bookshop, Bokin. It was a request for a comic book and read simply, "They'll Do it Every Time! by Jimmy Hatlo (cartoons) 40s or 50s" and signed, "Bobby F".

Unfortunately, the GW article doesn't seem to be available online. But for more on Skulason, Fischer and the Bokin - read this article again, in The Smart Set, which I'd posted last January.

See also Fischer - Andersson, Siegen Exhibition, 1970.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Caoili: Do I look like a temptress?

For some strange reason, Arianne Caoili made an apperance in last night's episode of A Current Affair. You may have to scroll through their videos and find the one called "Hot Moves Chess Girl".

In the report, Arianne talks about her current focus, which is mainly her studies in international relations, her dancing exploits (which was good for her body, she says) and, of course, chess.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Terrorists Attack Junior Chessers

The recent World Youth Olympiad in Turkey seemed like a world away from geopolitical trouble, yet the truth is that the event came very close to hitting world headlines for all the wrong reasons. Michael Grossman, father of one of Australia's representatives in the event, Alex Grossman, reports that the opening ceremonies was actually the target of a bombing attempt by Kurdish separatists!

Courtesy of the AusJCL:

The most unexpected aspect of our recent experience was the terrorist attempt to bomb the opening ceremonies. I'm not sure whether this was covered in the Australian media, but we were quite startled when the news emerged.

A "parade of nations" had been scheduled for the evening of August 19 in downtown Mersin. The event was cancelled right before we were scheduled to depart the hotel.

Apparently, a Kurdish separatist group had decided to detonate a bomb at the ceremony in the hope of assassinating both the local Mayor and Governor. They were planning to specifically target the Turkish delegation.

Somehow the police learned of the plot and surrounded the car carrying the explosives whereupon the driver blew himself up. The explosion was audible from the playing venue, but none of us knew at the time what the noise represented.

They never did reschedule the parade of nations!

And here is a report of that incident in the local press.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

News from Western Australia

Latest CAWA newsletter is now available and includes a report on the currently ongoing WA Open. Tristan Boyd actually now leads that event on 7 points, followed close behind by Haydn Barber on 6.5, while Time Hare has six.

ACF versus Kids and Parents

Canberra chess organiser Shaun Press has a devastating post today over on his blog.

As far as I can tell it's a dispute over monies between the Australian Chess Federation and a "state" junior chess association, the ACTJCL. Basically it's a case of the big boys telling the kids and their parents, "pay up or else!" Well, somebody did pay up and that was none other than the ex-ACTJCL boss, Libby Smith, who apparently forked out near 2-grand of her own money to settle the whole thing. Seemed like a dumb idea I thought, but, as it turns out, her move has forced the ACF into an embarassing spotlight.

OK, by the time I reached this point in my post I have only this question: what's the ACF collecting all this money for anyway?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Indians Win Youth Olympiad

The World Youth Olympiad is over and once again the Indians have finished on top. Both India and Russia actually amassed 28.5 points each, but the Indians held the superior tiebreak.

Importantly, placing third was none other than the boys from RP, so well done to those guys! Chessdom is reporting that GM Wesley So will walk away from the event with an extra 15 ELO points, thus bringing him closer to 2650. Bring on the Olympiad! Bring on the Aussies!

Team Australia, by the way, ended the tournament third from the bottom with 11.5 points overall.

Zhao in Brazil

As I mentioned the other day, GM Zhao is in Brazil playing in some round-robin event. Thanks to Jenni Oliver we now have a link. Zhao is currently playing in the 2nd Euwe Stimulans tournament in Brazil. Some of our alert readers, particularly those from NZ, will recall that it was in last year's edition that Puchen Wang finished third overall behind Simutowe and Barua.

GM Zhao has 2.5 points after three games.

2nd Euwe Stimulans Tournament
Zambrana, Oswaldo
Zhao, Zong Yuan

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. O-O-O Rb8 11. Bb3 Na5 12. Bh6 Bxh6 13. Qxh6 e5 14. Nde2 b5 15. h4 b4 16. Nd5 Nxb3+ 17. axb3 Nxd5 18. Rxd5 Rb6 19. h5 g5 20. f4 Bg4 21. Nd4 gxf4 22. g3 fxg3 23. Rg1 Qh4 24. Kb1 f6 25. Ne6 Rf7 26. Rd3 Qxh5 27. Qd2 Bxe6 28. Rdxg3+ Kf8 29. Rg8+ Ke7 30. Qe1 d5 31. exd5 Bd7 32. Qf2 Kd6 33. Ra8 Qf5 34. Qe2 Bb5 35. Qe1 Qf4 36. Qd1 Rbb7 37. Rag8 a5 38. R8g4 Qf2 39. R4g2 Qa7 40. Rd2 a4 41. Qg4 Bd7 0-1

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Rogers: Womens Championship, a Farce

He had a go at the event last week, and he's had another go again this week. GM Ian Rogers, in his column last Sunday for the Sun Herald, wrote of the upcoming Women's World Chess Championship:

The many Georgian competitors appealed to the world body FIDE to change the venue but, with the blithe statement that chess and politics should not mix, the protests were dismissed out of hand.

Nalchik was already considered dangerous thanks to regular guerilla attacks - Sydney's [IM] Irina Berezina refused her invitation months ago - but now the withdrawals are coming thick and fast. For the Russians, whose women players have been outclassed by the Georgians for forty years, this may be viewed as an opportunity rather than a problem.

Then today, the Aussie grandmaster went straight for it:

So on Thursday the farce known as the Women's World Championship will begin with multiple walkovers, and end with a Champion more akin to paper than diamond.

He's right about that, of course, but at least we'll get a few good laughs out of the whole sorry situation.

It won't, however, be as much laugh as I had courtesy of the Opals, the Aussie women's basketball team. After all their tough pre-game trash talk, the Opals were completely humiliated by the powerful Americans in their gold medal match last night in Beijing. I think there's a lesson there somewhere.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Championship? What Championship?

This evening, I found myself in the middle of an expletive-filled conversation with a well-known chess personality. And I assure you, dear readers, all the effing didn't pour forth from yours truly. I behave myself quite well to be honest. No, my interlocutor was solely guilty. But I don't blame him. The situation is understandably frustrating.

Here's a pop quiz: what "important" event is taking place in Sydney and which also just happens to feature a well-known IM?

Yes, yes - I can look in the usual places, but there are no updates there either! And oh, the cursing personality informs me that the IM beat a GM! If you want to see the game, I'm afraid we'll have to pray to for that.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Aussie Four in Youth Olympiad

They may not have the over-rated celebrity of their compatriots in Beijing, but four young Australian chessers are in Turkey just quietly going about their business in the World Youth Olympiad. After receiving a drubbing in the first round - the Aussie team rebounded to draw their second match at 2 points all against Turkish side Isek Aquamatch, then proceeded to beat Syria, 2.5-1.5, in the third.

Unfortunately - the Australians lost to another Turkish team, Turkiye - Mersin, in the fourth round on a score of 1 point to three. Isaac Ng, manning board 2, was the sole winner over Ahmet Olcum.

The Aussies have 5.5 points after 4 rounds.

For local readers hoping to avoid seeing an Australian side finish behind the Poms, I'm afraid there is only bad news. The Mother Country has sent in a capable crew led by the 2259-rated Zhou Yang-Fan.

In other news, Jenni Oliver informs me that GM Zhong Yuan Zhao is off to Brazil to play in an RR grandmaster tournament. We'll provide updates as soon as we can find a website!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Chess in the Freezer

This item on Chessbase about chess in the Arctic Circle reminded me of Paul Glissan's chess experiences on the opposite end of the Earth.

My opponent was from Kiev, and was very much stronger than the electrical engineer. We played 5 games over several hours, watched by all the Base members and visitors from the "Molchanov". The home-made vodka flowed freely. National pride was at stake! The end result was 2½-2½. Pride on both sides was saved. I enquired whether my opponent had played Club Chess in Kiev. "Street club" was his reply. This is similar to Hyde Park Chess in Sydney, on tables under the trees in the squares and meeting places in Kiev. And for money! I then understood why Kiev produced stronger chess players than Murmansk.

From Mr Glissan's Chess in the Freezer.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Aussies in World Youth Olympiad

After the World Juniors, the youngsters have moved on now to the World Youth Olympiad which is also held in Turkey from 17 to 24 August and played over 10 rounds. This time Australia is represented by (in board order) Alex Grossman, Isaac Ng, Thomas Feng and Joshua Ng. Sadly for the Australians, they ran into a red-hot Greek side who gave the Aussies a 4-0 thrashing in the first round.

On the other hand, the Pinoys are serious about their business. They are spearheaded by no less than GM Wesley So who finished with a fine performance last week in the World Juniors collecting 8.5 points. In a supporting role to So are Haridas Pascua, John Datu, and Jan Emmanuel Garcia.

In the first round, the RP boys themselves dished out a 4-0 blank out of an unfancied Turkish girls team.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Aussie Open Goes to Beaches

It's official. The 2009 Australian Open will be held at the Manly-Warringah Rugby Leagues Club from 2 to 11 January, 2009. NSWCA treasurer Norm Greenwood sent an email last night to his state association's members telling of this news.

I advise that the ACF has accepted a bid by Chris Dimock (President Manly-Warringah Rugby League Club Chess Club [MWRLCCC]) and Fred Schuetz (member of MWRLCCC and of norths chess club) for the FIDE-rated Australian Open Chess Championship to be held at Manly-Warringah Rugby League Club, 563 Pittwater Road, Brookvale from Friday 2 January to Sunday 11 January 2009 as per the Playing Schedule below.

In addition to the main event, there will be a separate Under 1600 Tournament (provisionally to be called the Manly Classic Event) and the Australian Lightning Tournament to be held on Tuesday 6 January 2009. Because of time constraints there will no separate Australian Rapid Tournament.

Nick Chernih has accepted the position of Chief Arbiter for this event.

The official site, beginning with a press release, is here, while the Manly-Warringah CC site is here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Nice Chess Story

"If you can learn to get over some of the obstacles on a chess board, you can get over some of the obstacles in life", Russell Davis, an inmate in the Howard County Detention Center, in the US.

From Chess helps inmates put pieces in order.

Canberran Beats Icelandic FM

It had to happen sooner or later. GM Wesley So finally faltered in the World Juniors losing his eleventh round game to the surging international master Arik Braun of Germany. But the Filipino recovered somewhat by then drawing his penultimate game in the event against GM Eltaj Safarli to raise his score to 8 points.

England's GM David Howell and Indian grandmasters A. Gupta and Parimerjan Negi share the lead on 9 points, while Braun and Safarli are close behind on eight and a half.

Canberra's Gareth Oliver can be happy with his 5.5 points so far going into the last match tonight against yet another FM, Shaj Grover of India. In the eleventh round, Oliver beat Iceland's FM Gudmundur Kjartansson.

2008 World Junior Chess Championship
Kjartansson, Gudmundur
Oliver, Gareth

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. h3 O-O 6. Bg5 h6 7. Be3 e5 8. d5 Na6 9. Bd3 Nh5 10. Qd2 Nc5 11. Bc2 Nf4 12. Bxf4 exf4 13. Qxf4 f5 14. Nge2 fxe4 15. Qe3 Nd3+ 16. Bxd3 exd3 17. Qxd3 Qh4 18. g3 Qh5 19. f4 Bf5 20. Qd2 Qf3 21. Rf1 Qd3 22. g4 Bxc3 23. bxc3 Be4 24. Qxd3 Bxd3 25. Rd1 Bxc4 26. Rd4 b5 27. a4 Rae8 28. Rf2 a6 29. Kd2 Re7 30. Ng3 Rfe8 31. Rf3 Re1 32. axb5 axb5 33. f5 g5 34. Rf2 Kf7 35. f6 Rb1 36. Ne4 Bxd5 37. Rxd5 Rxe4 38. Kc2 Ree1 39. Rdf5 b4 40. cxb4 Rxb4 41. Kd3 Ree4 42. Rc2 Rbd4+ 43. Kc3 Rc4+ 44. Kd3 Rxc2 45. Kxe4 Rc4+ 46. Ke3Rf4 47. Rxf4 gxf4+ 48. Kxf4 Kxf6 49. h4 c5 0-1

Australia's only rep in the girls section has 4 points.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Undefeated So in Juniors

GM Wesley So remains undefeated in the World Juniors in Turkey after ten rounds. He is on 7.5 points, the same score as German international master Arik Braun, just a half point behind current sole leader GM Maxim Rodshtein.

Yesterday, So downed England's GM David Howell.

2008 World Junior Chess Championship
So, Wesley
Howell, David

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. c3 d6 9. d4 Bg4 10. Be3 exd4 11. cxd4 d5 12. e5 Ne4 13. Nc3 Nxc3 14. bxc3 Na5 15. Bc2 Qd7 16. Qd3 g6 17. Bh6 Rfe8 18. Ng5 Nc4 19. h3 Be6 20. Qg3 Ba3 21. Qh4 Be7 22. Qf4 a5 23. h4 Ra6 24. Re2 Bf8 25. Bxf8 Rxf8 26. h5 Qe7 27. g3 Bc8 28. Nf3 f6 29. hxg6 hxg6 30. Qh4 Qg7 31. exf6 Raxf6 32. Ng5 Nd6 33. Rae1 Qh8 34. Qxh8+ Kxh8 35. f4 Kg8 36. Rh2 Re8 37. Re5 c6 38. Rh6 Kg7 39. Rh7+ Kg8 40. Rc7 b4 41. Rxe8+ 1-0

Aussies Gareth Oliver and Sarah Anton are on 4.5 and 3 points respectively.

Ask The Man

From, How to win at Chess.

Resist the urge to make attacks on your opponent until you can handle losing the attack. The only way you can do that is to fully develop your pieces. In other words, set about applying strategies geared toward development without too much concern for launching an offensive.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Torre vs So

Last Friday, RP's Inquirer newspaper reported on an upcoming match between Pinoy legend Eugene Torre and Wesley So. The players will fight over a prize totaling some P1 million (about AUD$25,000 / USD$22,5000).

Read here.

The Conquest of Britain

GM Stuart Conquest is the new British Champion after beating fellow grandmaster Keith Arkell in a 2-game play-off. Conquest, who visited New Zealand last year, had opportunity to win the event outright in the final regulation game but could only manage a draw against Simon Williams, while Arkell defeated Gawain Jones.

The eventual champion overcame Arkell, 1.5 points to a half in their play-off.

This game below was the tournament's game of the day from round 10.

2008 British Championship
Conquest, Stuart
Haslinger, Stewart

1. c4 Nf6 2. d4 c6 3. Bf4 d5 4. e3 a6 5. Nf3 e6 6. Nc3 Bb4 7. a3 Bxc3+ 8. bxc3 Qa5 9. Qb3 dxc4 10. Bxc4 Nd5 11. O-O O-O 12. Bg3 b5 13. Bd3 Qxc3 14. Qb1 Qa5 15. Bxh7+ Kh8 16. Bd6 Rd8 17. Ne5 f5 18. Bg6 Rxd6 19. Nf7+ Kg8 20. Nxd6 Qd8 21. Nxc8 Qxc8 22. e4 Nc3 23. Qb3 Ne2+ 24. Kh1 Nf4 25. exf5 Ra7 26. Rae1 Re7 27. Qf3 Nxg6 28. fxg6 Nd7 29. Rxe6 1-0

Our local readers might be interested to know that the upcoming 4th European Individual Chess Championships will have an Aussie connection. Read more here.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

For Cheap Chess Players

Forget $500 or even $50. This one's even less than a cheapo. From the current issue of TimeOut Sydney and in their "Free Activities" section:

Giant Chess

You might have to wait for a game but it will be worth it - Hyde Park's giant chess board has a match happening every day all day and is a kooky, cool way to get your gaming action for free. Built in 1972, Hyde Park's chess pit rivals that of New York's Washington Square and Paris' Les Halles.
Hyde Park, near Market & Elizabeth Sts, Sydney 2000

Friday, August 08, 2008

Play Magnus for $500

By coincidence my post yesterday about Magnus Carlsen was immediately followed by one of these regular promo emails from ICC. The Norwegian wunderkind is going to play 18 of his fans, in a simul, on the Internet Chess Club - all for the sake of GM Dusan Popovic.

The 18 seats are available on eBay. While 12 seats will be offered in a "Dutch Auction", six seats are sold at a fixed price. For the latter, you'll have to cough up $500. That's greenbacks!

I'd grab one of these myself (honest!), but with the recent slide of the AUD against the USD, there's not a lot of chances with that.

More details are on the ICC homepage.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Arise King Magnus?

Melbourne's The Age newspaper boldly declares, "The search for Bobby Fischer is over."

Now, for those of you who argue that chess is a game, not a sport, and therefore has no more right to be discussed in these pages than, say, the world cluedo championships, you're probably right.

Regardless, the rise of "Magnificent Magnus" has chess fans hopping. They've needed a new Bobby Fischer ever since the last one was exiled to Iceland after being excommunicated from the US for lauding the twin tower attacks. True story.

From 'Magnificent Magnus' one move from checkmate.

Frankly, I don't know. The kid's talented alright, but the new Fischer (whatever that means)?

Gareth Oliver Beats Turks

Gareth Oliver last night raised his score to 2 points after round five of the World Juniors in Turkey. He defeated Turkish player Ekrem Bugra Gokcek. In the second round, the Canberran scored his first win by beating Berker Ozoglu, also from Turkey.

2008 World Junior Chess Championship
Ozoglu, Berker
Oliver, Gareth

1. c4 Nf6 2. e3 g6 3. b3 Bg7 4. Bb2 O-O 5. Nf3 d6 6. d4 c5 7. Nc3 Bg4 8. Be2 Nc6 9. d5 Nb4 10. a3 Na6 11. h3 Bf5 12. Nd2 Nc7 13. g4 Bd7 14. f4 e6 15. e4 exd5 16. exd5 Nfxd5 17. cxd5 Bxc3 18. Qc2 Qh4+ 19. Kd1 Nxd5 20. Kc1 Qf6 21. Bxc3 Nxc3 22. Bd3 Bb5 23. Bxb5 Nxb5 24. Kb1 Nc3+ 25. Kb2 Nd5+ 26. Ka2 Rfe8 27. Rac1 Re2 28. Rhe1 Rae8 29. Rxe2 Rxe2 30. Rb1 Qd4 0-1

Meanwhile, Sarah Anton has had a terrible run since her lone victory in round two over WFM Marsel Efroimski. Last night the Victorian player dropped yet another game to a certain WFM Sarolta Toth (I wonder if she's related to current Canberra-based coach IM Andras Toth).

But our Pinoy readers will surely be happy with GM Wesley So. The young grandmaster is still undefeated and now has 3.5 points from five games, just a point behind current leaders Li Chao and David Howell. The other day our friends in ChessDom reported that So has just cracked the magic 2600-mark barrier. Let's hope that he can keep it up.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Chess Critic Renews Attack

While GM Wesley So battles it out in the World Juniors and while the rest of his team-mates are no doubt preparing for the Dresden Olympiad, the higher echelons of Philippine chess today comes under renewed attack. But first, a reminder of this and later, this parry from Bobby Ang.

The latest salvo over this "oursourcing" issue comes from the pen of one Sammy Estimo. Our Pinoy readers will need no reminding that Mr Estimo has lately been an ardent critic of the NCFP and, in particular, its current head Prospero Pichay. Just read my posts here, for example. Quoted in today's Philippine Daily Inquirer, Estimo writes:

The NCFP is a rudderless sports boat being run by two or three officials.

Important policy decisions are arbitrarily made and rammed down the throats of chess players. Grandmasters and national players are banned without due process only to be allowed to play again depending on the temper and caprices of NCFP leaders.

GMs Eugene Torre and Joey Antonio opted to be out of the Philippine team for the first time in 19 Olympiads.

Between them, they hold practically all national chess titles since 1970.

This is their way of protesting the uncertain state of Philippine chess under the present NCFP leadership, whose legitimacy is still pending before a court of law because the reigning officials were allegedly put into office by only 36 out of more than 500 voting clubs nationwide!

Read more in RP chess: Splendid or sick0?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

First Round in World Junior

Just a reminder that the World Juniors Championship is set to begin in Turkey. The Aussie duo of Gareth Oliver and Sarah Anton have tough assigments in the first round. Gareth is set to face Indian wunderkind GM Parimerjan Negi, while Sarah, who just finished competing in Biel and collecting 4 points from there, will front up against WFM Sona Pertlova.

Dress Code for Chessers

The organising committee of the upcoming 2008 European Club Cup has an interesting proposal for the event. Participating teams are encouraged to appear in uniforms. Here's why:

- A more common and suitable appearance in the sports market
- A more attractive picture for the MEDIA world wide
- Better information for the spectators and the arbiters in the playing halls
- Co-operation with major sports firms who may design special collection for the hundreds millions of chess players.
- Better promotion of Sponsors and Chess Organizations
- In the near future Clubs or National teams could add in the contracts with top chess players the commercial exploitation of their t-shirts.

Read the complete press release here.

Seems fair enough to me. Although if you're cynical, you'd think it was just some revenue raising by the organisers.

Anyway, attractive pictures for the world wide media doesn't always quite work. Just ask the Chinese.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Aussie Squad in Beijing Games

Nothing's official yet, but it looks like Australia may also send a squad over to the 1st World Mind Sports Games in Beijing from 12 to 18 October. And it looks like Cathy Chua, author of the essential book "Australian Chess at the Top", has applied to be the women's team captain.

We've no idea yet of the squad's final make-up, but I'm almost certain that WIM Arianne Caoili will also be heading over.

The Philippines, on the other hand, are sending in a crack outfit. GM Paragua will spearhead the men along side IMs Nolte, Sadorra and Garma with NM Carlos rounding them off. WNM Sherily Cua heads the women and she will be joined by C.R. Mariano, K.J. Cunanan, J.J. Fronda and R.J. Young.

Finding A Better Finish

US-based chess tournament organiser Tom Braunlich who recently presided over the 2008 US Chess Championships has written a fascinating article on the Theory of Playoffs. He concludes:

There is also value in having some consistency and standardization among the systems that we have in use for chess events. An outside observer looking at international chess and the myriad tournament forms, time controls, and championship systems we currently use might easily conclude it is all chaos. The variety of tiebreak systems one sees in these events, and total lack of guidelines in FIDE or USCF rules, serves only to increase this feeling of anarchy. Having guidelines to provide more consistency would help reduce that appearance to the public and would be to the advantage of the sport of chess.

Read more in Playoff Theory.