Friday, February 27, 2009

Topalov to Challenge Anand

It's all over now. Veselin Topalov beats Gata Kamsky in their match 4.5 - 2.5, thus allowing the Bulgarian to challenge India's Vishy Anand for the world championship title later this year. There's only one question: when exactly is bloody thing happening? As Peter Doggers noted in his report here, "Unfortunately FIDE has been very silent about the next World Championship Match, which is scheduled for 2009."

World Chess Challenge
Topalov, V.
Kamsky, G.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 c5 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. Ngf3 cxd4 6. Bc4 Qd6 7. O-O Nf6 8. Re1 Be7 9. Nb3 Nc6 10. Nbxd4 Nxd4 11. Nxd4 O-O 12. c3 Bd7 13. Qf3 Qb6 14. Bb3 a5 15. Be3 Bc5 16. Rad1 a4 17. Bc2 Qxb2 18. Bg5 Nd5 19. c4 Bxd4 20. Qd3 f5 21. Qxd4 Qxc2 22. cxd5 Qxa2 23. Qb6 a3 24. Be7 Rfe8 25. Qd6 Ba4 26. Qxe6+ Kh8 27. Ra1 Qc4 28. Rec1 Bc2 29. Qd7 a2 30. d6 b5 31. Qb7 Reb8 32. Qc7

Position after 32. Qc7

32...Rc8 33. Qxc4 Rxc4 34. d7 Bb1 35. Rd1 Kg8 36. d8=Q+ Rxd8 37. Bxd8 Bc2 38. Rdc1 b4 39. Rxa2 b3 40. Ra8 Kf7 41. Rb8 Ke6 42. Re1+ Kd5 43. Be7 Ra4 44. Bf8 Ra7 45. h4 1-0

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Memorial for a Champion

I've just been informed this afternoon that there will be a Jewish memorial for Serge Rubanraut this coming Saturday at 11AM. It will be held at the Sydney Chevra Kadisha, 172 Oxford St, Woollahra.

Serge, a former Australian chess champion, passed away last October due to a heart attack.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rich Arab Buys Linares

For three years, from 2006 to 2008, the Linares tournament was split between two venues - the traditional home in Linares, Spain and the Mexican city of Morelia. This year it's back to just the one venue for this so-called "Wimbledon of Chess". And, of course, it's in Spain.

However, from next year, it looks like we'll see this event being held once again in two separate cities - Linares, as usual, and somewhere in the United Arab Emirates. ChessDom first mentioned it here, but this news item in Monster & Critics seems to confirm the UAE plan as a definite go.

The thirty-one year old real estate magnate Sulaiman Al Fahim is the man responsible. He was quoted as saying, "From 2010, the tournament will be held in Spain and the UAE".

I wonder what Israeli GM Boris Gelfand thinks about all this. After all, it was only a couple of weeks ago that we had this unfortunate incident.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Schoolboy Tops Newcastle Open

I'm more than a little late on this one, but it's worth posting about nonetheless. A couple of weekends ago, Sydney junior Max Illingworth achieved the most remarkable victory in his chess career by coming outright first in the 2009 Newcastle Weekend tournament with a score of 6.5 points from seven games. His run included wins over IM Gary Lane and FM Vladimir Smirnov. Only the Sydney-based Pinoy FM Jesse Sales was able to inflict a slight blemish with a draw against the eventual champion.

Below is Illingworth's win over Smirnov, courtesy of GM Ian Rogers' column in last Sunday's Sun Herald.

2009 Newcastle Open
Smirnov, Vladimir
Illingworth, Max

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Nf5 d5 7. exd5 Bxf5 8.dxc6 bxc6 9. Qf3 Qd7 10. Bg5 e4 11. Qd1 Nd5 12. Nxd5 Qxd5 13. Qxd5 cxd5 14. O-O-O f6 15. Be3 Be6 16. Bb5+ Kf7 17. Bc6 Rd8 18. Bxa7 Bd6 19. Bb6 Bf4+ 20. Be3 Be5 21. c3 Rd6 22. Ba4 Rc8 23. Bd4 Bxd4 24. Rxd4 f5 25. g3 g5 26. h4 h6 27. hxg5 hxg5 28. Rh6 Rcd8 29. Bd1 Kg7 30. Rh5 Kg6 31. a4 f4 32. gxf4 gxf4 33. Kd2 f3 34. Rh1 Kf5 35. b4 Rc6 36. Bb3 Rdc8 37. Rc1 (Rogers gives 37. Bxd5 Rxc3 38. Bxe6+ Kxe6 39. Rxe4+ Kf5 40. Re8 as winning for White.) 37... Ke5 38. b5 Rxc3 39. Rxc3 Kxd4 40. Rc6 Rxc6 41. bxc6 Kc5 42. c7 Kc6 43. Ke3 Kxc7 44. Kd4 Kd6 45. a5

Position after 45. a5

45...e3 46. Kxe3 d4+ 47. Kxf3 Bxb3 48. Ke4 Kc5 49. f4 Bd5+ 50. Kd3 Bc4+ 51. Ke4 d3 52. Ke3 Kd5 0-1

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rybkagate in Aeroflot

Well, in case you've not heard it, we have yet another case of "Toiletgate". I'll have to come up with a new name for this one! How about Rybkagate? Yes, OK, that will do.

ChessVibes were the first to report that the Aeroflot 2009 top seed, GM Shakhryiar Mamedyarov withdrew from the event as a protest against what he alleges to be cheating by his last opponent GM Igor Kurnosov. Mamedyarov lost the game in a quick-fire 21 moves! The Azeri wrote a letter to the organisers in which he said:

During the game my opponent went out of the playing hall after each move, took his coat and withdrew himself [to] the toilet. After suspicion of unfair play on move 14 I offered a draw, he refused. We quickly played 11 moves, [and] on the 12th move I played a move which confused my opponent. The next moves from him were given as first choice by Rybka, which quickly allowed him to win the game.

What is strange is that if Shakhryiar already suspected cheating as early as move 14, then why in hec didn't he do something about it right there and then? After all, at that stage Kurnosov had gone to the toilet no less than 14 times! And another question: how was Kurnosov supposed to have carried out the cheating? Use of a hand-held device? My imagination is thinking that it was carried out by phone, with a distant friend examining the position with a computer then relaying the recommended move either verbally or by text. There's only one problem with this. In the same ChessVibes report, our Dutch reporter quotes arbiter Geurt Gijssen as saying, "After the game I asked him [Kurnosov] to show the contents of his pockets, but all that we found was a pack of sigarets (sic), a lighter and a pen."

This is all more than a tad unfortunate, but mostly, in my view, for Kurnosov. The poor guy now stands accused of cheating in front of the whole chess world. For the time being, he has my sympathies. If there's one important thing that can be surely learned, it is that matters like this one ought to be first and foremost handled discreetly. Only when there is maximum certainty should anything be allowed out in the public domain.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

2009 Aeroflot 2009

So much chess and so little space! While both ChessVibes and Chessbase are doing a good job at keeping us all current on proceedings in that match and Linares, they're still missing one big event. And for this, I must thank ChessDom.

Our friends in CD are showing the most comprehensive coverage of all big events these days and one tournament for which they have master commentary is the annual Aeroflot Open. I am very impressed especially with the attention they give to one GM Wesley So!

After winning the C group in the Corus tournament, the young Pinoy GM headed off to Russia where, after 5 games, he has so far garnered 2.5 points. Last night, he sadly lost the white side of a Spanish against GM Eltaj Safarli of Azerbaijan.

Aeroflot Open 2009
So, Wesley
Safarli, Eltaj

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Qe2 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. Rd1 Bb7 9. c3 d5 10. d3 Re8 11. Nbd2 h6 12. a3 Bf8 13. Nf1 Na5 14. Ba2 c5 15. b4 Nc6 16. Ne3 d4 17. cxd4 Nxd4 18. Nxd4 exd4 19. Ng4 c4 20. Qf3 Nxg4 21. Qxg4 Qb6 22. dxc4 Rxe4 23. Qg3 Qe6 24. Qd3 Re8 25. Bd2 Qg6 26. Qh3 Rh4 0-1

High risk play by Wesley that yields a nil result.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Chess in B&W

A little while back, I used to stop by nearly everyday at the chess pit in Sydney's Hyde Park. On warm sunny summer days we'd stay there as late as 10PM! But now, I much prefer the food hall at Town Hall station.

Anyway, just this afternoon, I stopped by at Hyde Park and saw some old and some new faces. Here's a snap I took of the usual round of lightning.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chess Tribute for Ledger

More than a year after his sudden death, a 3-piece sculpture has been installed on Perth's Swan River in honour of Aussie actor Heath Ledger. Fittingly, two of the pieces are chess boards, obviously a reflection of Ledger's fondness for the game, while the third piece features a yin and yang design. The scuptures were the work of Perth artist Ron Gomboc. There's a photo of him and his works here, courtesy of The West Australian.

Meanwhile, The Australian paper quotes Ledger's mother, Sally Bell, as saying: "As for the chess theme, not many people know that Heath was passionate about chess and was close to becoming a Grand Master."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

GM Handoko Passes Away

Indonesian GM Edhi Handoko has passed away due to a heart attack. He was only 48 years of age. More in the Jakarta Globe: "The celebrated champion, who began his career in the mid-1970s, was know to challengers and fans alike as a man who not only understood the game, but as a man who passed a wealth of knowledge on to the next generation."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Q&A with Maya Chiburdanidze

Just got my grubby hands on the latest New in Chess magazine. I could tell you about Grischuk's (his game against Alekseev in Elista) and Gelfand's (against Aronian in Dresden) excellent annotations or Kramnik's counter salvo against Kasparov or the latter going on again about the world championships; or maybe I could tell you to read Hans Ree who pokes damn good fun at Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. But no, I won't direct your attention to those. The one thing that gave me a chuckle was on the last page - in the "Just Checking" section. If you're not familiar with it, it's that part of the magazine where a player gets to answer one of those Q&A interviews. This month's guest is Georgian women's powerhouse, Maya Chiburdanidze. Here are just a few tidbits.

What was the most interesting book you ever read?
Patericon - Sayings of the Ancient Ascetics

What music do you like to listen to?
Silence. It's the most beautiful music in the world.

Who or what would you like to be if you weren't yourself?
An Anthonite monk.

If you've ever seen Maya in person, then you'll know why I find all this a bit funny, yet somehow, kind of fitting!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sanchez Grabs GM Norm

It looks like the Philippines is set to have it's eleventh ever grandmaster. IM Joseph Sanchez finished the just completed 23 Cannes International Open with 6.5 points from nine games, enough for him to bag his third and final GM norm. All he needs to do now, of course, is raise his rating to the required 2500 level mark and he'll be a GM.

Bobby Ang reports that Sanchez led the tournament until the last round when he was finally beaten by the Morrocan GM Hichem Hamdouchi. GM Bauer was declared winner on tiebreak.

Below are the list of Pinoy GMs to date.

Eugene Torre
Rosendo Balinas Jr (deceased)
Rogelio Antonio Jr
Buenaventura Villamayor
Nelson Mariano II
Mark Paragua
Wesley So
Darwin Laylo
Jayson Gonzales
John Paul Gomez

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Couple of Chess Photos

It's been a rainy Saturday morning here in Sydney, so I thought I'd spend the time indoors post processing some photos from my Euro trip late last year. I came across a couple of shots with a chess theme. This one below was in Paris and it is, of course, Alekhine's grave.

It was in the Montparnasse Cemetery where a number of cultural and intellectual luminaries are also buried, including the likes of Baudelaire, Simone de Beauvoir, Durkheim and Cesar Vallejo.

And then there is this. Yes, the Lewis Chessmen, taken in the BM.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Details on FIDE Dope Panel

More details of the FIDE Doping Hearing Panel, which came out as a result of that doping scandal involving GM Ivanchuk, have now been released, courtesy of ICC journo Macauley Peterson.

The basic argument in Ivanchuk’s defense was as follows: After the final round match pitting the United States against Ukraine, Ivanchuk, who had lost to Gata Kamsky, was approached by International Arbiter Abraham Dorner (Israel), who informed him of the need for a drug test. Although the match selection and board number had been randomly determined in advance in accordance with FIDE regulations, no “Doping Control Officer” was present along with Mr. Dorner, therefore Ivanchuk had technically not “refused” a drug testing request.

There's more over on Macauley's blog.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What Financial Crisis?

Forget India, forget China! Those two are often touted as the next superpowers in chess, possibly even taking over Russia. However, there's another country to keep an eye on. It is none other than Turkey! With their federation throwing so much cash around, there's motivation aplenty for their young players. Apparently a local bank is the main sponsor. I guess the financial crisis hasn't hit them hard.

Thanks to IM David Smerdon for this tid-bit. He'd quit his day job, he said, if only the ACF had the same sort of thing!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Victorian Bushfire Appeal

Something different, something worthwhile. I've been in this country for 20 years, and this bushfire disaster is just about the most mind-numbing event I've ever seen. We need to help the bushfire victims. Here's how:

The Salvos or 137 258
Red Cross or 1800 811 70
National Australia Bank

And Coles stores across the country will also donate all their profits from this Friday, 13 February, to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. So make sure you shop there this Friday.

Monday, February 09, 2009

2009 Canterbury Rapid

The Canterbury Chess Club 2009 Rapid Play Championships began tonight with 22 players. It's a standard G30 with nine rounds over three Monday nights (9, 16 and 23 February). Ex-Australian Chess Champion (1970) Fred Flatow is the top seed. So far, Fred is on 3/3. His only likely challenger for this year's title will be Ernesto Puzon who is also on a perfect score. My own tally is 2/3.

Here's a position from round 1 between Ashfaqur Rahman and Richard Blake. Blake, handling the black pieces, finds a neat combo to finish off the game.

2009 Canterbury Rapid
Ashfaqur, Rahman
Blake, Richard

1... Qb6+ 2. Kh1? (2. Qf2 Qxf2+ 3. Kxf2 Bxc3 4. Bxc3 Nxe4+) 2... Ng4 3. Rf1 With his time fast disappearing, Ashfaqur finds only the quickly losing move. But really, the alternatives are barely better. (3. Na4 Rxd1+ 4. Rxd1 Qe3; 3. Re1 Nf2+ 4. Kg1 Nxe4+) 3... Bxf1 4. Rxf1 Ne3 5. Qb3 Nxf1 6. fxe5 0-1

The club meets on Monday nights, from 7.30PM. They're presently looking for a TD, preferably someone who knows their way around computers and can quickly learn how to use Swiss Perfect. If you're interested, or just looking for a bunch of friendly guys to play chess with on Monday evenings - then drop by at the Lakemba Services Memorial Club, Corner Quigg Street and The Boulevarde, Lakemba. Or email Henk Jens at hwj at zip dot com dot au.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

No Databases, Just Chess

On my last day in Queenstown I had a brief chat to IM Alex Wohl who revealed that, for the last few months, he has gone about his business without the assistance of a database! No Chessbase, no Chess Assistant, no SCID. Nothing. Basically, he's just been playing chess. Well maybe it did him some good because, as far as he's concerned at least, his results have been very positive. He is, of course, a joint winner of this year's Aussie Open. And in Queenstown, he produced these two gems.

2009 Queenstown Chess Classic
Duneas, John
Wohl, Aleksander

1. d4 e6 2. c4 b6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 Bb7 5. Nf3 f5 6. a3 Bxc3+ 7. bxc3 Nf6 8. Bd3 O-O 9. O-O d6 10. a4 a5 11. Rb1 Nbd7 12. Ba3 Ne4 13. Qc2 Rf6 14. Ne1 Rh6 15. g3 Qg5 16. Be2

Position after 16. Be2

16...Nxg3 17. fxg3 Qxe3+ 18. Rf2 Qxg3+ 19. Kf1 Qh3+ 20. Ng2 Rg6 21. d5 Qxh2 22. Bf3 Ne5 23. Ne1 Qg1+ 24. Ke2 Nxc4 25. Qb3 exd5 26. Nd3 Re8+ 0-1

2009 Queenstown Chess Classic
Wohl, Alex
Johansen, Daryl

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Nc3 e6 6. e4 Qc7 7. Bd3 Nc6 8. Nxc6 dxc6 9. O-O e5 10. Kh1 Be7 11. f4 Nd7 12. f5 g5 13. Be3 h6 14. Rc1 Bc5 15. Bd2 Qd6 16. Qe2 Bd4 17. b4 b6 18. Rfd1 Kf8 19. c5 bxc5 20. bxc5 Nxc5 21. Bc4 Nd7 22. Qh5 Qe7 23. Bxg5 Nf6 24. Qh4 Kg7 25. Bd2 Ra7 26. Ne2 Ne8 27. Qg3+ Kh7 28. Nxd4 exd4 29. Bd3 Rg8 30. Qh3 Qf8 31. Rxc6 1-0

Actually, that reminds me of something that I've been meaning to write about: so-called preparation particularly by, let's just say, "average" players. These guys use the very latest, not to say expensive, chess databases. Yet it's not clear to me what good this activity, and the tools, actually serve them. Often it's all just memorising a few moves, sometimes of an opening that they've never even played before. And that's if they get lucky. More likely, either the expected opening or line just simply fail to appear! This leads to panic, the player fails to adjust and, before they know it, the point is lost.

Much better I think to do what Alex did. Just play chess. Have fun!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Meet Joshua

This is Joshua, a chess playing robot. As you can in the announcements, a new system has just been released. The programmers have given this a "new 'personality', not so much aggressive, but no more suicide".

Friday, February 06, 2009

Kamsky v Topalov Coming Up

Kicking off later this month is that much-awaited Kamsky v Topalov Challenger Match, to be held in Sofia, Bulgaria from 16 Feb until the 28th. My pick for this one is the Bulgarian, Topalov. He wasn't there in the just completed Corus event, so he's pretty well-rested plus also enjoying a little extra time on his preparations. On the other hand, he will be under pressure. As his manager says in this interview:

The pressure for Veselin and for me is big. A loss will be a real national tragedy. Everyone expects victory, while this will be a very difficult match. I preferred that it were played abroad. In the end they could not find the money and it was either our offer or no match. I am happy that they were reasonable and this match will take place.

Thanks to our friends over at ChessDom for this story. And by the way, Anton (over at CD) tells me that they'll have as many as 10 contributors on-the-ground in the playing hall. So, it looks like plenty of news about this event will come from them. Meanwhile, no word yet on an official site for the match. And that seems rather stupid. If I were a sponsor, I wouldn't be too terribly impressed!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Of Rare Beauty

Real chess players get excited by this sort of thing. Beautiful finishes. A mate of mine got so excited by this one, that he just had to photocopy the book then handed them around this afternoon! Imagine if you could deliver a killer blow like this. I reckon they'll hand you the GM title on the spot! It's from a game, Loyd - Moore, USA 1906.

USA 1906

1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. d4 d5 4. Bd3 Nf6 5. Bxf4 c5 6. Bg5 dxe4 7. Bxe4 cxd4 8. Bxf6 Qxf6 9. Nf3 Bc5 10. O-O O-O 11. Nbd2 d3+ 12. Kh1 dxc2 13. Bxh7+ Kxh7 14. Qxc2+ Qg6 15. Qxc5 Na6 16. Qb5 Nc7 17. Qc4 Qb6 18. Nh4 a5 19. Ndf3 Ra6 20. Ne5 f6 21. Rf3 Qxb2 22. Re1 f5 23. Rh3 f4

Position after 23...f4

Here, the author, R.G. Thimann (in King's Gambit) writes: "A fairly ordinary game despite its unusual opening, is now tranformed into a thing of rare beauty by one of the most remarkable moves ever made in actual play. Loyd, the great problemist, must have been well pleased."

Find the winning move.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Happy 50th Darryl Johansen

Today is GM Darryl Johansen's birthday, his fiftieth. Happy birthday Darryl and may you have another half century ahead of you. More fighting chess!

From the couple of times when I had beers with him in Dresden, I can say that he is one funny guy. Ask him about the time when he was "almost" saved from drowning, for example. And how about that time in an Irish pub, in Dresden, when he suddenly leans over and whispers, "if he (a famous GM who shall remain nameless) touches her (an Aussie Olympiad rep), I'm gonna kick him in the balls"? I thought it was funny, but I tell you, Dazza was completely serious!

Let's look back at a couple of nice things said about our second ever grandmaster. Guy West in Australian Chess into the Eighties.

Coming from a working class background, Darryl is tuned in to people's thoughts and emotions when stripped of their veneer of sophistication. A certain lack of tact amounting to an almost offensive bluntness and a humorous way of putting things, gives Darryl a tremendous ability to make people laugh. His perceptives also leads to sensible and logical views on contentious matters through easy recognition of the motives of those involved.

More recently, the Victorian grandmaster was featured in what could perhaps become an important training book, Ivan Sokolov's Winning Chess Middlegames - An Essential Guide to Pawn Structures (published in 2008 by New in Chess).

Back in the 1992 Manila Olympiad, the then 2485-rated Johansen handed out a lesson to his more powerful opponent - Ivan Sokolov, who was then rated 2630 and still playing for Bosnia & Herzegovina (later in action for Holland from the 2002 Olympiad in Bled). The game made such a critical impression on Sokolov that the encounter is actually the first fully annotated specimen in his book! Here, I quote the relevant parts (see pages 14-17):

1992 Manila ol (Men)
Sokolov, Ivan
Johansen, Darryl Keith

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 b6 5. Nge2 Ne4 6. f3 Nxc3 7. bxc3 Be7 8. e4 Nc6 9. Ng3 Ba6 In a separate commentary (see Megabase), GM Ian Rogers comments: "By a strange move order the players have reached a highly thematic Nimzo- Indian position. Black's plan is to attack the doubled
c pawns while White must attack in the centre." 10. Bd3 Na5 11. Qe2 d6 12. O-O Qd7 13. Rb1 h5 14. Re1 At this point, Sokolov says, in part, "In the game I definitely saw the possibilities associated with 13. f4!, but playing White against some under-2500 Australian guy, I thought 'regular' moves should suffice, and the win should arrive without any risks involved. This is perhaps a reasonable way of thinking when you play some Catalan line with white, but not in this type of Nimzo. White is about to learn this lesson soon." 14...h4 15. Nf1 c5 16. Be3 Rc8 17. Nd2 e5 18. f4 Bf6 19. dxe5 dxe5 20. Nf3 Qe6 21. fxe5 Be7

Position after 21...Be7

Sokolov again: "Looking at my horrible pawn structure and slowly becoming aware of the long and difficult defence that lay ahead, I could not help but wonder abut the speed of my positional collapse: in a mere 20 moves, playing White against an opponent I had never heard of and not having made any clear mistake - except that my whole concept was a positional blunder." 22. Rf1 Bxc4 23. Bg5 Bxd3 24. Qxd3 Nc6 25. Bxe7 Qxe7 26. Rbd1 O-O 27. Qd7 Qxd7 28. Rxd7 h3 29. gxh3 Rce8 30. Kg2 Nxe5 31. Rxa7 Nc4 32. Rf2 Rxe4 33. Ng5 Re5 34. Nxf7 Ne3+ 35. Kg3 Rf5 36. Re2 Nf1+ 37. Kg2 R8xf7 38. Rxf7 Kxf7 39. Kg1 Kf6 40. Kg2 b5 41. Kg1 c4 42. Kg2 Kg5 43. Kg1 Kh4 44. Kg2 Rf4 45. a3 g6 And Sokolov's last words? "And White resigned. A painful defeat and a positional lesson that I have taken to heart". 0-1

Very nice! And bravo to GM Sokolov for his wonderful honesty and humility. We patzers can surely learn some important lessons from these two.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tackle Chess

In yesterday's Superbowl, the Pittsburg Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in what turned out to be a nail-biting finish. The game had a particular interest for Australians thanks mainly to Ben Graham, a former Geelong player who, yesterday, served as the Cardinals' punter.

But up in Queensland, there is already a strong following for American football. In fact, they even have their own competition. And up there, they call American footy (or gridiron), "tackle chess"!

Monday, February 02, 2009

1973 Aussie Open Chess Champs

Now how often is it that you read an Ian Rogers win being described as "[a] creditable effort"? And how often do you see this fellow finish near last?

The other day I managed to get my hands on the tournament book for the 1973 Australian Open Chess Championships. Edited by W. McLean plus game annotations by Jamieson, Woodhams and Winslade - the book contained the event's "100 best games". In 1973, Ian was just a 12-year old boy and finished the tournament with 3 points! First overall was Max Fuller with eight.

On page 39, the editor writes: "Trying to console Ken Henrick for his 6 losses, the DOP told him he had paired him with a twelve-year old, and that if he couldn't win this time he should give up chess!"

Here is the game which I also give in old school. Apologies for the poor formatting; unfortunately, the blogspot platform doesn't allow me to present a tabulated text.


1. P-K4 N-KB3
2. P-K5 N-Q4
3. P-Q4 P-Q3
5. P-QB4 N-N3
6. N-KB3 B-K2
7. B-Q3 O-O
8. O-O N-B3
9. P-QN3 P-KR3
10. B-N2 B-N5
11. P-KR3 B-R4
12. QN-Q2 B-B3
13. P-KN4 B-N3
14. N-K4 BxN
15. BxB P-Q4
16. B-Q3 PxP
17. PxP NxQP??
18. NxN BxN
19. BXb N-Q2 and White won

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Zhao: Sportsman of the Year

Adding yet another notch to his string of awards, GM Zong Yuan Zhao was given the honour of being his city's "Sportsman of the Year". It was a particularly impressive achievement since Rockdale happens to be the home of the St George Rugby League Club and the award could easily have gone to any one of their more well-known stars.

In his column today for Sydney's Sun Herald, GM Ian Rogers observes that it's significant also because "it's the first time in Australia that a chess player had been deemed eligible for a sports award".

Congratulations GM Zhao!