Saturday, January 31, 2009

How the Poms Lost America

From King, Queen & Knight - A chess anthology in prose and verse, compiled by Norman Knight and Will Guy, published by Batsford, 1975, (p. 110):

On the day preceding the night on which George Washington had determined to cross the Delaware and attack the British at Trenton, an Englishman in the neighbourhood dispatched his son, with a note to General Rahl (sic) to warn him of the approaching danger.

The General, being deeply absorbed in a game of chess when the note was presented, without withdrawing his attention from the game, throughtlessly put the note in his pocket.

After the battle next day, when General Rahl was brought in mortally wounded, the note was found unread in his pocket.

of New Jersey, in a speech to the Natural History Society of Newark, NJ.

The Battle of Trenton was fought on 26 December 1776, at a time when hitherto the British had been successful in their campaign against their revolting American colonists.

"Until that hour", says George Bancroft, in his
History of the United States of America, "the life of the United States flickered like a dying flame". And from the English side, "All our hopes", exclaimed Lord George Germain (afterwards Lord Sackville), "were blasted by that unhappy affair at Trenton." The action certainly marked the turning of the tide and the beginning of the American successes. Consequently General Rall's unforunate preoccupation in a game of chess may be said to have lost the British their first empire and to have altered the course of history.

I've had King, Queen & Knight for years and I think I've read it twice now. It's a fascinating read. There are sections on - "Chess and War", "Chess Quarrels", "The Humour of Chess" and also "Chess and Love" - among many others. If you can get your hands one, grab it!

While the example I gave above came from "Chess in History", here's one from "Chess and War" (p. 166).

It has also been imagined that playing at chess is of use to a soldier, because the stratagems, etc, used in that game, bear some resemblance to those used in war: and yet it does not appear, from fact, either that able commanders have been generally distinguised for their skill in playing chess, or that the best chess-players have therefore made commanders.

Miscellaneous Observations relating to Education (1792)

Aronian Has a Secret

The other day I received a note from video journo Macauley Peterson as he wanted to share a couple of interesting tidbits about the presently ongoing Corus tournament. I have to say, bravo to Chess FM for bringing us these irregular angles to chess.

The first is this one wherein both Ivan Sokolov and David Navara discuss the Sokolov Prize as well as some aspects of GP-related news. Then there's this! The convo starts off normally, talking about chess, but then veers off towards the most unexpected subject. Aronian reckons it's his secret, one colour for each player. But I reckon he's just hiding something!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fly to Canberra

It seems that my tip late last year on planning for Queenstown worked out rather well for some folks. Well here's another one and this is especially for those who, like me, now prefer to fly instead of being on the road for hours and possibly being snagged in traffic.

If you're in Sydney and heading off to this year's Doeberl, you could more easily head down by flying. I've just spotted and booked a $116 return trip ticket on Virgin Blue. Even cheaper if you have only carry-on. For those in Melbourne, it's slightly more expensive - about $136 return.

2009 Gibraltar Chess Festival

One of the world's great opens is on again - the 2009 Gibraltar Chess Festival. It's one of those tournaments that, I think, is really worth paying a visit one day. Maybe when all this global recession is over.

As you see in the list of admin staff, this year Australia's Manuel Weeks takes over from Stewart Reuben as TD. But there's another admin member that caught my attention, and given the recent discussions in Queenstown about the slow update of the PGN file, I thought it interesting. Gibraltar has a guy named Henning Friese who acts as "games inputter". Other organisers should take note.

Anyway, we already have some hot action from round 1. Here's a top seed nearly losing his head. What would you play as white?

Position after 23...Kg8

The game eventually ended a draw thanks to white's incorrect continuation later on.

For those who like to stay up late (or wake up early) live games are available here from 0100 Sydney time, while GM Conquest provides commentary here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Saving Kids From Chess

Would teach your kids how to play chess? I ask because I know of at least 2 parents who said no point blank. And these guys are chess players!

During last year's Australian Chess Championships I recall a particular Melbournite saying that he doesn't want to teach his young son how to play chess because the game is just too (I think he used the word) "tragic". We can all probably understand what he meant by that. Chess is demanding! Not only to the wallet, to your time - but to your spirits, most of all. While the wins can bring about joyous heights, those losses, too, can exact a pretty heavy toll - like nights of tossing and turning thinking about where you went wrong. I've had a few of them.

But another player has an entirely pragmatic reason. He wants his kid to take up tennis, make millions, and then take care of mom and dad when the appropriate time arrives. He fears, however, that it may be too late. With so many chess pieces lying around the house, the toddler has had ample exposure to the game. Before long she'll be beating grandmasters left right and centre.

So, would you teach your kids the game?

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Long and the Short

A quick flight from Queenstown to Christchurch, a few hours sight-seeing, another flight bound for Sydney, then home. For me, it was too easy. Some fellow travellers, however, weren't so lucky. While in Christchurch I ran into a bunch of Canberrans who actually drove for 8 hours or so all the way from Queenstown. They slept in Christchurch for a night, got on the same plane as me for Sydney, only then to follow-up that trip with another 3.5 hours of driving back to the capital. But, of course, even that cannot be as bad as the experience of our European friends who must now countenance at least a day of travel back to their homes.

Anyway, I just happened to be reviewing some games from Queenstown when, and this being Australia Day and all, I just couldn't help notice a peculiar coincidence. Both the longest and shortest games currently included in the available PGN involve Aussies!

The longest game features GM Darryl Johansen, with the black pieces, up against the new NZ champion IM Anthony Ker. After 62 moves, the following position was reached.

Position after 62...Nxh5

Play continued: 63. Be3 Ng3 64. Bf2 Ne4 65. Bh4 Nd2 66. Be7 Nf3 67. Kc2 Ne1+ 68. Kb2 Nd3+ 69. Kc2 Nf2 70. Kb2 Ne4 71. Kc2 Kb5 72. Bb4 Kc6 73. Kd1 Nf2+ 74. Kd2 Nd3 75. Ba3 Kd7 76. Ke3 Ke8 77. Kf3 Kf7 78. Kg4 Kg6 79. Be7 Nf2+ 80. Kf4 Kh5 81. Bd8 Ne4 82. Ba5 Kh4 83. Bb4 Kh3 84. Ba5 Kh4 85. Bd8+ Kh5 86. Ba5 Nf2 87. Bd8 Nd3+ 88. Kf3 Nc1 89. Be7 Na2 90. Bb4 Kg5 91. Ba5 Kf5 92. Bb4 Nc1 93. Be7 Nb3 94. Bb4 Nd2+ 95. Ke2 Ne4 96. Kf3 Ng5+ 97. Ke3 Kg4 98. Be7 Ne4 99. Bb4 Ng3 100. Bc5 Nf5+ 101. Ke2 Kf4 102. Bb4 Ke4 103. Bc5 Ng3+ 104. Kf2 Kd3 105. Kxg3 Kxc3 106. Kg4 Kb3 107. Kh5 c3 108. Bf8 Kc4 109. Kg6 Kxd4 110. Kf6 c2 111. Bh6 Kc3 112. Kxe6 d4 113. Kf7 d3 114. e6 d2 115. Bxd2+ Kxd2 116. e7 c1=Q 117. e8=Q Qc2 1/2-1/2

The shortest game actually features two Aussies, indeed fellow Victorians. Here, Sarah decides she's had enough after just 11 moves against FM Eddy Levi.

2009 Queenstown Chess Classic
Anton, Sarah
Levi, Eddy

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. d4 Bg4 4. Nf3 Qxd5 5. Be2 Nc6 6. c3 O-O-O 7. O-O Qh5 8. Bf4 e5 9. h3 exf4 10. hxg4 Nxg4 11. Qc2 Rd6 0-1

Of course not all games from the event have actually been entered yet which, we hope, will be corrected in no time at all. So it may be that we'll find another longer or shorter game in the collection.

Finally, before I really forget to say anything about it - congratulations must go to IM Anthony Ker for becoming once again New Zealand's national champion. It is his tenth! The only other man to have won it more times was none other than the late great Ortvin Sarapu.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Smerdon Wins Queenstown Classic

He lost in the end. But, it made no difference. IM David Smerdon is the 2009 Queenstown Classic Champion, scoring 8 points overall. His last round stumble to GM Gawain Jones was the only setback in what was a truly outstanding performance.

At the closing ceremony, David informed the crowd - mostly Kiwis, but with also a boisterous Aussie contingent - that these days he mostly plays for fun. He didn't even come here for those oh-so-crucial ratings points that will make him a grandmaster. Just for fun! And now with an extra $10K in the bank, I'm sure he can have just a little bit more fun away from the chess board!

A bunch of very happy Aussies

The winner also let the audience in on a little secret. Why did GM Murray Chandler, the inaugural winner from 3 years earlier, pull out from this year's event? What else, but apparently to give David a chance! Serious.

All in all this was yet another unforgettable Queenstown tournament. Numbers were way down, sure, probably caused by that familiar reason, the financial crisis - but most of us still had plenty of fun. Some folks much more than others. How else to explain the less than stellar play of the tournament's top female masters, for instance? Even the seemingly constant complainer, Victoria's Richard Voon, allowed himself a few laughs.

But perhaps the one man who, for ten days, seemed like the centre of attention in nightclubs, pubs and bars was none other than Victoria's Malcolm Pyke. Now Mr Pyke had fun aplenty! The girls just love this guy, with cameras snapping in his direction. All thanks to his particularly unusual dance moves.

Finally, it is not certain if this tournament will ever happen again. With the low turnout this year it's probable that 2009's Queenstown Classic could very well be the last. In many ways, that seems tragic. If this is, indeed, the end - then we are only left with these simple words to GM Chandler: thank you.

And for those of us who've come here twice now, and who are smitten with this place and this here event, we must echo IM David Smerdon's words last night in his speech.

"Please hold it again".

UPDATE: I've now uploaded more photos from last night's closing. Click here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Live Blog - Queenstown Round 10

Go David!

My database records the game Smerdon - Jianu, World Juniors U10, (1-0) as the earliest game specimen featuring the Alapin by the 24 year old Australian. But no doubt there are a few more unrecorded games even much earlier than that. What is clear is that David's long love affair with this system remains undying. He's had a few losses but the wins far exceed the setbacks.

Yesterday's match in the penultimate round, Smerdon - Mastrovasilis, would have involved some serious preparation on both sides. And it was the Greek grandmaster who changed course from Smerdon - Ris, Hoogeven 2006 (0-1) with 8...Nc6. At the 30th move, the computer's evaluation was that the situation was about even. But with his time running short, Mastrovasilis went for an exchange of Queens that suddenly gave an edge to David. In another seven moves, he was lost. Let there be no doubt: Mastrovasilis resigned his position.

As if there wasn't enough said about their outstanding campaign here across the Tasman, the Victorians again showed excellent play with Chow and Saw drawing with their more classy opponents. On board 16, Dusan Stojic even managed to draw against Englishman Mark Lyell after finding himself in an awkward spot right out of the opening - the Schliemann of the Ruy Lopez.

Congrats to Ikeda, Drummond, Duneas and Levi who each beat the foreign women - Zawadzka, Krivec, Smokina and Motoc respectively. I can only speculate on what's going on with these women. Can't seem to keep their minds on the job. Maybe having too much fun in this fun capital of the world!

With one round to play, our current leader, IM Smerdon, needs only a draw with GM Jones to bag this tournament. On the other hand, a win, it seems, will mean that he'll be just one FIDE rating point short of that all-important 2500 rating mark to finally reach the height that he has so longed pursued. To become a grandmaster.

Go David!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Live Blog - Queenstown Round 9

Shirtless in Queenstown

Strange, mysterious, baffling. Those were just a few of the adjectives thrown about yesterday either here in the playing hall or on the net. First, who can really explain Gawain's 15-mover disaster against Mikhalevski? Essaying the Benko, and with the Israeli declining that second pawn with Shirov's old favourite 5. b6, the Englishman seemed to forget that old dictum: a lone Queen make not an army. A pawn down and sans development Jones opted for the only move. Indeed, in my view, an honourable move: resignation. There was no point bashing out useless pushes here and there against a 2600+ player. Doing so would have been an insult to the audience, to himself and, most of all, to Viktor.

After the loss there was no doubt that Gawain was terribly upset. He quickly walked out, passing the arbiters' desk as he crumpled his scoresheet in his palm. Whatever was on his mind yesterday, let's hope he forgets it today.

Second, how in the world did IM Smerdon win that? Yes, that one against Bischoff, where he was lost. Rozentalis thought so. I think even a complete novice would have thought the same. But such is the wonderful beauty of chess that anything can happen, decisions are made that lead to all kinds of possibilities. Thinking that the German was winning, Smerdon accompanied his 38...h5 with a peace offer. Bischoff declined, but his response of 39. Ree7 was clearly suboptimal.

Bischoff - Smerdon, 0-1

Later, and I mean, way, way later - a number of woodpushers found their way to what is now our fave local - the Buffalo Club. Thursdays mean that it's "Buff Ugly" night when some guys and gals take the gear off to the delightful screaming of the other guys and gals. Some are too drunk to know where they are, let alone what exactly they're up to.

While this particular chesser may not have been entirely inebriated, let's just say brave, I can tell you that s/he stood there, on that bar, with just the undies and a wet t-shirt. As to their identity, my lips are forever sealed.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Live Blog - Queenstown Round 8

Traffic is Up

From a blog traffic perspective at least, this Queenstown tournament is proving tremendously successful. Readership has blasted upwards, very nearly matching the heights back in 2006 when "Gormallygate" hit the headlines and when a number of mainstream non-chess sites, including Australia's, actually linked to my blog. Numbers are also higher now than during my Dresden coverage but I suspect that this is due to the time difference.

The boost in traffic is thanks mainly to inbound links from the event's official homepage as well as Chessbase. The German-based website actually has a new report featuring a handful of my photos here (you'll see a few more on my Flickr stream).

But, of course, I should really thank you guys who come in every day for some friendly banter on the live blog. It's really thanks to you that this whole thing has been a big success. Thanks also to those who may be asleep during our live broadcast but still read through our live blog's content every day. Like GM Gawain Jones' mom, for example!

Yesterday's action saw tactics galore. In Stojic - Motoc, the white player went nuts with a 2-piece sacrifice. The game was actually following an old encounter from 1973 until Stojic deviated with 26. c4. It made no difference to the final outcome. He still lost. I suspect that Motoc may be familiar with that whole variation because she moved pretty fast. At around about move twenty, the Romanian still retained some 90 minutes on the clock!

Australia's Andrew Brown faced off another Queen's Indian Defence by a Kiwi, this time IM Paul Garbett. Garbett applied pressure down the c-file with the rook pair battery aided by the queen on a6, but the young Aussie quickly shifted the focus of battle with a timely 19. d5. Suddenly threats of checkmate either on the 8th rank or on the g7 square appeared! This kind of pressure was too much and Garbett eventually lost a piece, finally the game.

And how about that Smerdon game? The Australian, after beating Rozentalis yesterday, edges ever nearer to that coveted GM title. I don't know, but David's play seems different - maybe it's just good preparation, it's also determined, with a clear aim. Every day I see him take his seat, he's looking relaxed and knows exactly what he's up to. Anytime now we can all forget about his IM title.

Just before the start of round 8, former NZ champion Graham Haase approached David and asked what happened to his game yesterday. Mr Haase, you see, was observing the game just until Rozentalis' knight sacrifice.

David's reply? "Aah, I won. That's why I'm here". He meant board 1.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Live Blog - Queenstown Round 7

Victorians in Da Kiwi House

Back in round 1, a tournament appeals committee was formed and it comprised of Hilton Bennett, Lawrence Cooper, Han-Joachim Hecht, Brian Jones as well as Herman van Riemsdijk. Thankfully these five have not been called upon to rule on a dispute of any sort. So far no arguments, no disputes, maybe just questions over some small aspects of the Laws - but that's about it. Which speaks pretty well for the general atmosphere of the event - full of hard combat but, when the hostilities are over, foes immediately become friends. It's still at times difficult to imagine, perhaps even accompanied with a small amusement, that anyone could subject their friend to such tremendous pressure over-the-board that the sufferer of this pressure can look almost mad - talking to themselves while looking for that next move. Such is chess.

Today's round features six Victorian Aussies on the top 10 boards. A detail that certainly did not escape Mehmedalija Dizdarevic's attention. These Mexicans can bloody well play chess.

Not quite on the top 10 is another Victorian, my friend Richard Voon. We've been sparring over a few blitz games so much over the last couple of days that he's been mistaken as my dad! For his age, Voonie is still pretty tricky with the tactics. However, for some strange reason he plays better in the evening than at night. In our match yesterday morning I whipped him 8-1, then in the evening we go blow for blow til about 10PM. He won that one with a net lead of 3-0. We could've gone on longer but I had a party to attend. Perhaps I'll tell you more on that later.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Live Blog - Queenstown Round 6

Where's the PGN?

Readers are complaining that the PGNs are not coming in as quick as it should. This is justified. If a more modest event like the just completed Australian Open, in Manly, can manage it - then why not the Queenstown Chess Classic? On this note, every effort is being taken to correct the situation. Gary Bekker conscripts anybody he can see who's standing around doing nothing. But, of course, entering games into a database isn't exactly an exciting task. One poor lass who was on the job, and who sat next to me yesterday, looked like she was about to die from boredom!

It's not only readers who are complaining.

"In fucking Europe, the next round's pairings are up in 2 or 3 minutes. Here it's 2 or 3 hours!" said Dizdarevic.

At the current rate, the next pairings are posted around about 11PM or so. A big issue for some who really want to get in some early prep in the evening instead of doing most of it in the following morning when they really would rather be out on a sight-seeing tour. I must say, Dizdarevic has my sympathies.

Kudos, however, must go to the organisers for responding to the necessary when needed. For example: cross tables, mysteriously omitted from the website during the first couple of days, were later added. And yesterday three clocks were made available to anyone who wanted to play blitz. That's a good thing, for this event has so far been fairly quiet - not a lot of noise going on; noise that, in my view, add significantly to the atmosphere of an event. Other organisers ought to take note: let people have some fun!

There'll be a couple of tough action today on the top boards. Johansen, after a near unbelievable win over Steadman, fronts up against the top seed, while Gawain Jones' will be wanting to see this Englishman cement his lead as he today faces the rested Rozentalis. Rozentalis comes back to the event after doing some sight-seeing in Milford Sound.

Finally, Chessbase already has updates in Spanish and German.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Live Blog - Queenstown Round 5

Kiwis Draw in Queenstown

The venue is located on top of a mildly steep hill. By the time I reach the point where the road levels off again, I'm huffing and puffing for my life. Just as well, this sedentary business for woodpushers and bloggers alike makes for a pretty unhealthy lifestyle. We all need a little jolt through the system, something, anything to get the blood flowing. And if the uphill walk isn't enough, there is always anyone of the dozen or so "extreme" activities on offer here in this so-called "adventure capital" of the world. Apart from a bungee jump, there's a freefall swing from the top of a cliff face down to the bottom of an opposite cliff! Or one could go parasail. I saw someone do exactly that as I went on my walk this morning through the Queenstown Gardens. Seems like a cool thing to do.

Today, we will miss two overseas stars as they've opted to take their byes just as the action is hotting over-the-board. Jana Krivec and GM Rozentalis will not be here as, I suspect, they'll be out there jumping off a cliff or perhaps taking a crazy ride down a canyon on a tiny inflatable boat.

But, as we know, over-the-board action can have its own adrenaline rush. Yesterday's board 1 clash, Smerdon - Mikhalevski, saw a Sveshnikov Sicilian that surely had the audience on the edge of their seats. Some lovely dancing there by the Australian. One peculiar detail is that Mikhalevski's queen didn't move until the 35th when she exchanged with her opposite number. This game finally ended peacefully, one of only 8 games drawn in yesterday's round.

As impressive were the excellent outings of the local men, Smith, Croad and Steadman. They, too, drew their matches against more fancied opposition. Croad was clever, eventually reaching a position where he faced Wells' K and R pawn, but allowing himself that crucial tempo to hit the f1 square, thus drawing. Smith, too, deserves kudos aplenty. Despite being quantity and quality down for a good stretch of his duel, he defended well enough to also reach a drawn K+P ending. A disappointment for his Brazilian foe who earlier declined the New Zealander's peace offering.

On board 11, the steady climb of GM Johansen back to the top boards continued. With a R pair versus Stojic's Q, the wily grandmaster knew that patience was in order. He was spot on. Stojic over-reached with a pawn push, creating a weakness in his camp. That was all that Johansen needed.

Today we see an all GM action on the top 3 boards. That will be a delight to our internet viewers. While on board 4, IM Smerdon, needing the critical rating points to finally gain that GM title, will be up to something against England's GM Peter Wells. We'll also be keeping an eye on board 10, Ikeda - Motoc. The Romanian visitor's play so far has not been particularly impressive. Junta could so some damage. He's done it before, he can do it again.

Finall, for those who have been asking, I've finally created a Flickr set for Queenstown. Click here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Live Blog - Queenstown Round 4

Bollywood Comes to Queenstown

"I played a Dutchman and he plays the Dutch Defence! Shit!"

That was Richard Voon who lost yesterday to Freddie van der Elburg. When he gets going, he really gets going. He'll tell you whom he loves, and whom he hates. And he ain't got too much lovin' right now for the Queenstown organisers. After yesterday's round he was taking aim, not at the big wigs within FIDE, but at a much closer target. He wanted to shoot, no longer the aging Campo, but Paul Spiller! Figuratively speaking, naturally.

Richard's complaint is the tournament's policy of using the FIDE ratings for competition purposes but using (in the order that's applicable) NZCF, followed by ACF, then finally FIDE ratings for the purposes of allocating prize monies. "It's not fair", he insisted.

He has a point. At least one of the arbiters agrees that there is no logic to it. Why use one rating for seeding people, then use another rating system to allocate prize money?

The problem for Richard is that this particular, unusual, policy was conveyed in advance. It's there in B&W on the entry form. Had he read the tournament conditions carefully, he would have seen it. Richard admits, "If only I read the fine print, I wouldn't have come."


This morning, Bollywood came to town. A film crew had set up right in the main thoroughfare. It's the standard formula: a romance, all singing and all dancing, full of pretty young things; she plays all coy and runs off while he, with that ridiculous bouncy manga hairstyle, chases after her down the street. GM Rozentalis was among the bemused crowd and we chatted a bit.

Bollywood in Queenstown

Rozentalis, all the way from Lithuania, is here on a holiday. First time he's been to this part of the world. I asked if he'll drop by in Oz en route back to Europe. No, was the answer. He has commitments in various European leagues to attend to. But he might have stopped over for the Australian Open if only that had been organised in time. Sadly, it wasn't, so Australia came off the agenda. An opportunity missed by the Aussies.

Then later, on my way to lunch, I ran into Malcolm Pyke. Being a Catholic, he'd just been back from Sunday mass.

Last night we spent a jolly good time in a karaoke bar. This Victorian nearly had the two of us ran out of town. For some strange reason he suddenly decided to sing some unknown Aussie song in front of a crowd of Kiwis! So unknown was it that it wasn't even in the playlist. Sans any accompaniment, brave Mr Pyke stood there singing his heart out. There were boos and jeers and somebody in the back shouting, "kick him out!" Thank heavens, we survived, although I don't know how.

A few more Bourbons for Malcolm and the local Tui for me, by 2AM we were done. But poor Malcolm must have been still recovering by morning. He'd gone to mass with the Anglicans!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Live Blog - Queenstown Round 3

Forgetting About Kotov

I had an amusing conversation with Melbourne's Richard Voon yesterday about the whole business of allowing byes in this event. What is the point of giving free half points when you're here to play chess? In no other sport are participants given free points, he said, only in chess! My explanation that it's basically to give participants, some of whom travelled from the other side of the world, a chance to see the area was completely written off!

From today onwards, we will see the participation of another Australian, FM Geoff Saw. I met him back in Christchurch a few days ago as we arrived from Oz. It seems that he's taken advantage of a couple of byes to do some touristing. Another who's taken a bye is Jana Krivec who, no doubt, will be off jumping off a perfectly good bridge and possibly also go on a calming leisurely walk along the banks of Lake Wakatipu. We won't see her in today's round 3 action.

Smart move by Jana, if you ask me. Get in some R&R before facing off her fellow masters. For today, we are finally beginning to see some high ELO action on the top boards. Melbourne's IM Guy West sees a tough assignment on board 2 against Rozentalis, while the local fans will be rooting for a number of their boys - Garbett, Croad and Ker - who all play grandmaster opposition. Another one to watch is local junior Daniel Shen. Yesterday, it was his turn to pull off a stunner by defeating visitor WGM Alina Motoc.

So far, the arbiters have not been challenged with a tricky situation. But they did have to address a question yesterday from IM Wohl and Pablo Williams about the recording of moves. When to do it? That one was dealt with swiftly. In fact, it's pretty straightforward. Move first before you write it down. So those who read "Play Like a Grandmaster" (or was that in "Think Like a Grandmaster"?) can now forget the Kotovian prescription of writing down first before moving. But as I was live blogging, a thought suddenly popped into my head about the moving of pieces.

In blitz, am I allowed to pick up a captured piece with my left hand, say, and move the capturing piece, then press clock, with my right hand? You know very well the mechanics of what I mean.

The weather here on this Saturday in Queenstown is less hospitable than it has been over the first couple days of the tournament. Players woke up to a greyish sky and the temperature has fallen to about 18 degrees celsius. Canberra's Bill Egan, though, wasn't dissuaded from a morning walk in just a t-shirt. I ran into him in the town centre, not far from where the local arts and crafts market is being held. He was just on his way to do some shopping before getting into some real work on chess.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Corus Begins Today

While all this is going on in New Zealand, the first of the grand slams is set to begin today in Wijk aan Zee. I am, of course, talking about Corus. This year is a special one for Pinoy chess fans as in group C, GM Wesley So is the top seed. ChessVibes has a summary of that group here. And our friends over at ChessDom wil be providing some live commentary courtesy of GM Dimitrov, IM Perunovic and the new addition to their team, GM Iotov.

Live Blog - Queenstown Round 2

Twin Upsets in Round 1

Times are tough, as we know. And that perhaps explains why numbers for this second edition of the Queenstown Chess Classic are markedly down on the first edition held way back in 2006. This year, only some 120 players have turned up compared to the near 200 or so who descended upon this most beautiful spot of New Zealand three years earlier.

Numbers aside, this year's edition is missing three local legends. GM Ian Rogers is now, of course, retired from over-the-board combat while the Classic's creator, GM Chandler, latterly felt unwell and decided to withdraw. Then there was the passing late last November of New Zealand's international master Robert Graham Wade. Wade, though, is well remembered in the tournament; there are news clippings of his obit from various UK papers pasted onto a display board, located in a hallway right where Wade himself once delivered a lecture. Who can forget that round 2 game in 2006 between, appropriately enough, Chandler and Wade? A hard fought draw.

But whatever shortcomings the present edition may have, they are at least balanced by the presence this time of well-known grandmasters. Israel’s Viktor Mikhalevski, who played in the 2007 Doeberl and SIO events, is the top seed. His last campaign in the antipodes wasn’t exactly very successful and his “drawn” result (against local man Hilton Bennett) that flashed up on the live broadcast yesterday would appear to repeat that experience. Happily for his fans and equally sadly for Kiwis, it was merely an error. The Israeli was, in fact, victorious. England’s GM Peter Wells, who captained the English men’s team in Dresden, is also here along with German grandmaster Klaus Bischoff. The latter is known, especially, to readers of Chessbase.

As usual, the Aussies are well-represented and already a couple of Aussie juniors have made their mark. Both products of the Canberra junior mill, Andrew Brown and Sherab Guo-Yuthok yesterday scored the tournament’s big upsets so far. Andrew defeated fellow Aussie GM Daryl Johansen, while Sherab downed the Moldovan visitor Karolina Smokina. Another Australian didn’t quite win in the end but came very close. Sarah Anton thought she was winning, her fellow Melburnites thought the same and I, too, am certain that she had a win somewhere. Unluckily, she overlooked an important detail and lost. Anyway, what’s an Aussie chick to do after a lost game but, naturally, party? With little hesitation – Sarah joined up with me, Dromagoj and birthday boy, Malcolm Pyke for a night out of dancing in the Buffalo Club.

You gotta love these Victorian players. They are full of colour, not to mention strident opinion. Here’s just a couple from Richard Voon. “There are too many stupid people running chess.” He was complaining about all the silly new rules such as the proposed “zero time” limit and this business about having to register before round 1. If you’ve paid and entered, then that’s all that matters, he said. And on Campomanes: “I would’ve shot him”.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Aussie Juniors Rise to Challenge

The first round began today in the Queenstown Chess Classic with yet another big representation from the Australians. More particularly, it was a delight to see two fine performances from Aussie juniors.

On board 10, Canberra's Andrew Brown continued his upset-scoring ways in 2006 by this evening defeating GM Daryl Johansen. I dont't have the game score for that yet, but we'll have that up ASAP when I get it. What I do have is the PGN to what is perhaps a more modest upset but no less worthy of our congratulations. Again, another Canberra junior, this time the seasoned weekend warrior, Sherab Guo-Yuthok, downed his opponent - Moldovan visitor, WGM Karolina Smokina. By the endgame phase, it was the Aussie who looked to be smokin'; his play was excellent.


2009 Queenstown Chess Classic
Smokina, Karolina
Guo-Yuthok, Sherab

1. d4 b6 2. Nf3 Bb7 3. g3 e6 4. Bg2 f5 5. c4 Nf6 6. Nc3 Bb4 7. O-O O-O 8. Qb3 c5 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. Bf4 Qe7 11. Rad1 d6 12. Na4 e5 13. Nxc5 bxc5 14. Bc1 Nc6 15. e3 Rad8 16. Nd2 Rd7 17. Nb1 e4 18. f4 exf3 19. Bxf3 Ne4 20. Nc3 Ne5 21. Nd5 Qe8 22. Qc2 Qg6 23. b3 Rdf7 24. Bb2 Nxf3+ 25. Rxf3 Ng5 26. Rff1 h5 27. Qg2 Re8 28. Bc1 Re4 29. Rf4 h4 30. Rxe4 fxe4 31. Nf4 Qh6 32. gxh4 Nf3+ 33. Kh1 Nxh4 34. Qg3 Rf5 35. Ng2 Qh5 36. Rg1 Nxg2 37. Qxg2 Qf3 38. h4 Rh5 39. Qxf3 exf3 40. Kh2 Rxh4+ 41. Kg3 Rh5 42. Bd2 Kf7 43. Bc3 g6 44. a3 a6 45. b4 Ke6 46. bxc5 Rxc5 47. Bb4 Rh5 48. Rd1 Rg5+ 49. Kf2 Rg2+ 50. Kf1 d5 51. cxd5+ Bxd5 52. Rd4 Re2 53. Bc5 Rc2 54. Bb4 Bc6 55. Rd2 Rc4 56. Kf2 Bd5 57. Rd4 Rc2+ 58. Rd2 Rc1 59. e4 Bxe4 60. Rd6+ Kf5 61. Rxa6 Rc2+ 62. Kg3 Rg2+ 63. Kh3 f2 64. Ra7 Ke6 65. Re7+ Kd5 66. Rd7+ Kc4 67. Rf7 g5 68. Bd6 Bd5 69. Rc7+ Kd3 0-1

Live Blog - Queenstown Round 1

Saved By Kiwis

Seven AM and I'm walking around an empty Christchurch CBD looking for a cafe. Little did I know that at that moment, my flight to Queenstown had been altered from 0900 to 0741! After earlier cancelling one of my flights, the morons at Qantas never even bothered to tell me about this latest change! Consequently, as I entered Christchurch Domestic at about 8AM this morning, I was shocked to read "Final Call"! Of course, I missed it.

Lucky for me, these local Kiwis are, not only nice, but also very efficient. The young lady manning the Qantas service desk quickly managed to find an available seat on an Air NZ flight departing in just 30 minutes. So, I made it.

And here we are, once again, in absolutely beautiful Queenstown. It's a fine sunny weather with the current temperature at a very agreeable 25 degrees celsius (77 deg. fahrenheit for our somewhat backward American readers). Almost an overwhelming reason for any player to abandon the woodpushing and, instead, laze about by the shores of Lake Wakatipu. On that note, I'm now withdrawn from the event and, instead, do what we usually do. In any case, I've just scored a gig with a big publication and I simply can't stuff that one up.

As I type, players are now marching in, picking up their show bags (yes, the organisers are handing out show bags and ID cards to everyone) and we're all getting ready for the opening. Keep an eye on the live blog.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

One Day to Queenstown

Presently now in Christchurch, NZ, en route to Queenstown. I leave for the tournament tomorrow first thing in the morning. And what do I do as soon as I land here but head off to Cathedral Square to play chess with the local park regulars? Unfortunately, there was no board to be found except for the giant one, so I headed back to my hostel to catch some Z's.

I'm exhausted you see. I've been too busy over the last couple of days sorting out some photographic equipment as well as doing some regular work stuff. One downside of going on leave from work is all the handover you have to do! Hence, there was no post yesterday.

So, from tomorrow onwards, we should be back to the familiar programming of the live blog. It will be fun!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Xie and Wohl Win Aussie Open

In case you've not heard the news - international masters Alex Wohl and George Xie came out equal first in the just finished Australian Open. Thanks to his superior countback score, Alex gets to hold onto the trophy. Both players gave nice speeches, with George reading from prepared notes while Alex expressed how nice a place Manly is to play chess.

The following game was judged by FM Greg Canfell as winner of the tournament's brilliancy prize.

Australian Open, Manly
Tan, Kevin
Papp, Alexander

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 Rc8 11. Bb3 Ne5 12. h4 h5 13. Rdg1 Nc4 14. Bxc4 Rxc4 15. g4 hxg4 16. h5 gxh5 17. fxg4 Bxg4 18. Bh6 Rxd4 19. Qg5 Ne8 20. Rxh5 Bxh5 21. Bxg7 Bg6 22. Bxd4 Nc7

Position after 22...Nc7

23. Bh8 e5 24. Bf6 Ne6 25. Qh4 1-0

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Zhao Wins Second Steiner

For a second year running, GM Zong Yuan Zhao is the recipient of the ACF's official player of the year award, the Steiner Medal. In his typically humble way, GM Zhao accepted his award from ACF boss Gary Wastell with a bow plus, of course, a heartfelt thanks. After such a fruitful 2008, GM Zhao is definitely a worthy recipient.

(I wanted to check other multiple past winners but the ACF's website seems to be offline right now).

Another worthy winner is Dr. Charles Zworestine. Charles takes home the ACF's 2009 Koshnitsky Medal, which is given for chess administration.

However, very surprising was yours truly receiving the gong for chess journalism - the 2009 CJS Purdy Medal. I had absolutely no idea! Not even a hint when Mr Wastell rang me last Friday reminding me about today's closing ceremony. He said something about taking photos or something. So I turned up. It was pretty frightening having to walk up to that stage and give a little speech.

Honestly guys, I am humbled. This blog was meant to be just a little hobby, a small project to tell the world about the goings-on in Sydney chess. And now this. The thanks really need to go to you, dear readers, who keep coming back to read.

Thank you.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Russia, Not Soviet

Just stumbled upon this Youtube video of a couple of guys playing blitz in New York's Washington Square Park. For most of the game, things are normal. It's in the last half minute or so that I just bursted out laughing.

Check out the old guy's tattoos. Pretty intimidating! I wouldn't argue over misplaced pieces with this fellow. In the opening seconds, he says to the younger opponent, "It's called Russia, not Soviet".

Note also the Chronos clock that they're using. We've got a couple of these in Hyde Park. Good clock, very durable construction. I like it because resetting the time is even easier than on the DGTs.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Chessvibes on Dunnygate

You know that it's a slow news day in one of the world's leading chess news sites when the editors publish something that, well, they really didn't want to publish. ChessVibes today has a follow-up post to what I have dubbed "Dunnygate". In case you're not sure of why you're reading a little story in CV's exalted pages about an Aussie event, doubtless far removed from most of their intelligent readers, Peter Doggers, editor, carefully reminds us that it's all for the sake of "human interest". Talk about excuses!

It's a strange but also interesting post by Peter, one filled with apparent dilemma.

When in November 2007 a Dutch player was banned for two and a half years after after he got caught with a PDA during a game, in an official national league, it was not a question: we had to publish the story. But in a column by Arne, published two years ago, we’ve already expressed our doubts surrounding the subject of cheating in chess - the article’s title was “Moral decay or exaggerated hype?”

Normally we would never write about some local under-1600 tournament and one could argue that the case can be compared to petty theft; a small violation that’s simply… not interesting. Besides, shouldn’t we protect the kid, who made a silly mistake - something we’ve all done at that age?

But wait, isn’t using external electronical (sic) assistance enough reason to publish such a story? Isn’t it against our complete set of beliefs, against the essence of the game, to give yourself the opportunity to find the strongest move in a position with (almost) absolute certainty?

In my case, the conscience is clear (Chessexpress and Lousy can speak for themselves): it was worth publishing. As I said in the comments section of the ChessVibes post, the incident occured in an Australian national chess event. Why wouldn't we, all three local bloggers with a mention of Dunnygate, post about it? As far as I'm concerned, it is a matter of public record that somebody from the U1600 section was removed from the crosstable (creating a bye). It wouldn't take long for anyone to ask why.

Furthermore, cheating in a chess tournament is a serious offence in my book and, I presume, for most of our readers. Notwithstanding that this offender is a mere 14-year old, his transgression has potentially serious ramifications on the event as a whole. It's no wonder, then, that at least one of Shaun Press' readers has offered the inevitable speculation (press "cancel" if you're prompted to log in).

Whatever their discomfort about the matter, ChessVibes published the news anyway. Except, of course, that it was accompanied by an unnecessary qualification. The story, Peter wrote, "should be categorized as a human interest" because "it appeals to emotion". Looking at the comments that he's provoked, some of Peter's readers are clearly highly emotionally strung.

In his post, Peter also refers to this 2-year old article written by his co-editor, Arne Moll. That, too, strikes me as odd. Other than Chessvibes, I don't see anyone else talking about cheating in chess as a sign of "moral decay". Do you?

While we're still on this topic, our friends over at ChessDom also have a mention of Dunnygate. But are they paraphrasing or quoting yours truly? It's hard to tell. Anyhoo, thanks for the inbound traffic boys!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Chandler Says Thanks

From Queenstown's local paper:

I’m underwriting the tournament again for about $100,000 as a thank you to the NZ chess community, who were fantastic to me when I started out as a professional player in 1975 when I was aged 15.

See you all there next week! I'm just praying that I won't suffer from any further hiccups between now and then. Some genius in Qantas actually decided to cancel my return flight, Queenstown back to Christchurch. Consequently, I had to buy another ticket via Air NZ. Luckily the difference in prices wasn't all that significant.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Dunnygate in Aussie Open

This just in.

"Dunnygate" has erupted in the currently ongoing Aussie Open championships. We have just been advised by FM Brett Tindall that a player was caught red handed with what he described as a "hand held machine". It would seem that this player visited the men's toilet no less than six times during the course of a game!

In Australia's numero uno chess bulletin board, Chess Chat, NSWCA boss Bill Gletsos says that the player was expelled, he appealed and the appeal unanimously denied by the appeals committee.

Thanks to FM Tindall for sending us this specially annotated PGN.

1. e4 c5 2. b3 Nf6 3. e5 Nd5 Black visits toilet 4. Bb2 Nc6 5. Nf3 e6 6. g3 d6 Black visits toilet 7. Bg2 dxe5 8. Nxe5 Nxe5 Black visits toilet 9. Bxe5 f6 10. Bb2 Be7 11. f4 O-O Black visits toilet 12. O-O c4 13. Nc3 Bc5+ Black visits toilet 14. Kh1 Nxc3 15. Bxc3 Bd4 16. Bxd4 Qxd4 17. c3 Qc5 18. b4 Qc7 19. Qf3 Rd8 Black visits toilet for the last time 20. Rad1 a5 Black player forfeited, found in the toilet frequently visiting the cubicle using electronic assistance (handheld chess program). 1-0

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Indians Invade Doeberl Cup

I don't think I've mentioned the next edition of the Doeberl Cup and that's mainly because it seems way too early. But time flies quickly enough and before you know it, you're scrambling for accomodation or cheapo transport tickets. Might as well pencil it in now and sort out logistics. Like, for example, the 6 GMs who've entered. Notice, too, that the young Indian hottie IM Tania Sachdev is in the event. Well, talk about fancy moves! She's certainly got a few, let me tell ya.

If you're in the game for a little nice income, take a look at the major section. Top prize there is AU$1,500. Not quite the heights of the World Open, but still impressive by local standards. Probably for some of you, it's almost a good reason to go on a ratings diet and get back down to sub-2000 in time for April. Just a wee thought.!

By the way, the Doeberl organisers are also running a "design a t-shirt" competition. My entry is: "Chess960 Sux!"

Monday, January 05, 2009

Wohl Takes the Lead

IM Alex Wohl today snatched the lead in the Australian Open when he defeated FM Jesse Sales in their round 6 encounter. The Pinoy player dropped a piece and looked to be lost, but he, in fact, had a saving maneouvre.

Position after 48. Bg3

In this position, Sales, perhaps eager to recover the piece, continued with 48...h4. He lost by the 77th move. What would have been a better continuation?

Is darts a sport?

Surprising that the question, "is darts a sport?" is still being asked. But that's exactly what London's Times paper asked - with Giles Smith saying yes, and Patrick Kidd saying no. Here, Mr Smith could also very well be talking about chess:

[I]f we have nothing but confidence in calling darts a sport, then it's with reason. Things are sport because enough people choose to call them sport - to think of them that way and discuss them as such. To that extent, calling darts a sport is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In any case, the traditional objections melt away. “But you don't even have to be fit,” people say. Not in the conventional sense, no. And I'll go farther: you can even be fat. But you don't have to be fit to play golf, either, and no one ever says that Lee Westwood isn't svelte enough to be a sportsman.

Read more in The Times Online.

Interior Designer Needed

Dropped in on the Australian Open in Manly yesterday, but I spent most of my time catching up with a couple of old buddies and not so much watching the games. It was rather nice to see, especially, IM Alex Wohl who's visiting here with his young family. One lesson he learned, he said, was to never play chess while suffering from dengue fever as he did last year in the Philippines. Well, he's not suffering from that illness this time around as he's currently on 4.5 from five games.

Worth mentioning, too, from yesterday's proceedings is that the NSWCA has at last expressed its congratulations to Zong Yuan Zhao for attaining his grandmaster title. The association's treasurer, Norm Greenwood, gave a nice speech and GM Zhao himself responded by thanking everyone. Zhao reportedly said that he was glad to be able to attend this "weekender". We'll put that down as a Freudian slip.

Finally, if anyone of our readers knows of an interior designer who charges out at a reasonable price, please let me know. One of our very well-known chess personalities urgently needs one.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Action in Aussie Open

They haven't exactly got a prestige tournament, but the organisers of the currently ongoing Australian Open are at least keeping distant spectators very happy. Live coverage of the top 2 boards is given and results are up on the site very quickly. Most important of all is that the games are uploaded with little delay.

After just three rounds, we're seeing plenty of action. Here's just a couple that grabbed my attention. In the first game, Sydney junior Max Illingworth tries out the fashionable Shabalov Attack, a system which has featured in the arsenal of the likes of Morozevich, Aronian, Topalov and many more.

Australian Open, Manly
Illingworth, Max
Voon, Richard

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. g4 h6 8. Bd2 Qe7 9. Rg1 e5 10. cxd5 Nxd5 11. Ne4 Bc7 (11... Bb4 12. O-O-O Bxd2+ 13. Qxd2 exd4 14. Qxd4 N7f6 15. Bd3 Nxe4 16. Bxe4 Nf6 17. Bc2 Bd7 18. g5 hxg5 19. Rxg5 Rh5 20. Rxg7 Rd5 21. Qh4 Rxd1+ 22. Bxd1 O-O-O 23. Bc2 Be6 24. a3 Bd5 25. Nd4 Kb8 26. Rh7 c5 27. Nf5 Qe5 28. f4 Qe6 29. Rh6 Rg8 30. Qxf6 Rg1+ 31. Kd2 Rg2+ 32. Kc3 Rxc2+ 33. Kxc2 Bb3+ 34. Kd2 Qd5+ 35. Nd4 Qg2+ 36. Ne2 {1-0 Kempinski,R (2567)-Geller,J (2480)/Dresden 2006/CBM 113 ext}) 12. O-O-O N7f6 13. Nxe5 Bxe5 14. dxe5 Qxe5 15. Nxf6+ Qxf6 16. e4 Nf4?

Position after 16...Nf4

17. e5! Qg5 18. Qe4 Bxg4 19. Bxf4 Qh5
20. Rd2 O-O? 21. Qg2 1-0

In this next duel, FM Jesse Sales, who is still registered with the RP federation, outcalculates his Danish opponent.

Australian Open, Manly
Mortensen, Henrik
Sales, Jesse Noel

1. e4 Nc6 2. Nc3 e5 3. f4 exf4 4. Nf3 d6 5. d4 g5 6. h4 g4 7. Ng1 Bg7 8. d5 Ne5 9. Bxf4 a6 10. Qd2 Bd7 11. O-O-O Ne7 12. Kb1 Nc8 13. Bd3 Nb6 14. Nge2 Nec4 15. Qe1 h6 16. Qg3 Qe7 17. b3 Na3+ 18. Kb2 Nb5 19. Bd2 O-O 20. a4 c5 21. axb5 axb5 22. Ra1 c4 23. Rxa8 Rxa8 24. Qe3 cxd3 25. Qxb6 dxe2 26. Qxb7 Rc8 27. Re1 Qe5 28. Qxd7 Rxc3 0-1

Finally, here we have the highly talented Tomek Rej coming out on top, with the white pieces, in a Noteboom varation against fellow Sydneysider Michael Dunn. Rej's bishop pair is just deadly, but his dancing around with the queen is sweet. His last move has got to be the "BOOM!" in Noteboom.

Australian Open, Manly
Rej, Tomek
Dunn, Michael

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c6 4. Nf3 dxc4 5. e3 b5 6. a4 Bb4 7. Bd2 a5 8. axb5 Bxc3 9. Bxc3 cxb5 10. b3 Bb7 11. bxc4 b4 12. Bb2 Nf6 13. Bd3 O-O 14. Qc2 Nbd7 15. e4 e5 16. O-O Qc7 17. Rfe1 Rfe8 18. c5 h6 19. h3 exd4 20. Bxd4 Bc6 21. e5 Nh5 22. e6 Rxe6 23. Bc4 Rxe1+ 24. Rxe1 Nf8 25. Ne5 Be8 26. Qf5 Nf6 27. Ng4 Nxg4 28. Qxg4 g6 29. Qf3 Rd8 30. Ba1 Nh7 31. Qe3 g5 32. Qe4 Bc6 33. Qg6+ 1-0

Saturday, January 03, 2009

New Laws of Chess

I've got NSWCA boss Bill Gletsos to thank for this. A number of days ago he posted a quick summary of the new laws of chess that are set to take effect as from 1 July. You can see all of them here. A downloadable draft document of the Laws in their entirety is available courtesy of the KNSB.

Now Mr Gletsos is right - the proposed new article, 6.7, what I call the "turn up on time rule", is the most controversial. And that's mainly because it's simply the most ridiculous. Like I said before, it has none whatsoever to do with chess! There are far too many situations that could arise that causes a player to be delayed. He might have a toilet emergency, for instance, as happened in Dresden; or have a little accident on the road; or be hassled by some overly officious club receptionist who just needs to see every damn ID card that proves you are who you say you are!

Still, at least as far as Article 6.7 is concerned there are 2 options under consideration. Lets hope option 1 is successful. Most sane tournament organisers, I think, will not be so harsh.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Short: 2 games is abomination

In his report for NIC on the Commonwealth Championships, which he won, GM Nigel Short was at his unrelenting best.

The imbecile who invented the concept of two games a day should have rusty nails driven into his most sensitive parts before being shot by firing squad. Even that is too lenient a punishment. Yes, I understand it is physically possible to play successive games of chess, just as it is physically possible to play two football matches, but that does not make it a good idea. No, this is an abomination, a degradation of our noble game, which only organisers of the lowest grade amateur tournaments, and FIDE, can possibly countenance.

Well, then, I wonder what he'll make of the Elwood Bendigo Chess Championships? As you can see, he's a confirmed entrant for this year's event, and yes, definitely a big coup for Aussie chess. I just hope that they told the guy that he'll be playing 2 games a day!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all. Hope you all had a good one. As for me, I spent the night with a few chess buddies directly under the Harbour Bridge. As far as I'm concerned, nothing ever beats the Sydney fireworks. There was hardly any chess talk, though, except for a brief discussion on - would you believe(?) - Peter Leko. It was decided that this guy was as boring as bat crap. That one was just kind of out of the blue, but there you have it. I'm almost tempted to hand out a "most boring player" of the year award!

On that note, Shaun Press now has his pick for the 2008 Aussie Player of the Year. And the gong goes to GM Zong Yuan Zhao. Hard to disagree with that one. Zhao was absolutely tremendous last year, topping off 2008 with an excellent outing in Dresden then followed by a brief stint as a gun-for-hire in China. He even has his own entry in Wikipedia which I only discovered today!

For a more international flavour - check out also Peter Doggers' (ChessVibes) nice wrap up of his 2008. Plenty of good stuff there, although I preferred much of his earlier work, especially those that included game walkthroughs by the players themselves. Like this one.

Year 2008 was definitely a biggie for TCG with Dresden being the main highlight. This year, we're off to yet another big one - the Queenstown Chess Classic, followed soon after by the regular fixtures (Doeberl and SIO) and, of course, the Oceania Zonal.

Finally good luck to all Australian Open participants. (I'd provide a link to the tournament website, but it looks like the NSWCA have ran out of bandwidth). A note to you guys, especially those staying in hotels/hostels south of the bridge, that if you want to play some blitz on Friday nights, you can catch some of us locals in the Spanish Club. Come join us. We'll teach you a few moves. OTB, that is.