Sunday, January 31, 2010

Moscow Open 2010

In case you're still not getting enough chess from Corus and Gibraltar, then there is always the 2010 Moscow Open, an event that's apparently devoted to The Great Patriotic War of 1945 . With an impressive list of grandmasters, some 30 of whom are rated 2600+, in the 'A' section, this event is sure to produce some exciting top level games.

Moscow Open 2010
Bologan Viktor
Lavrik Dmitry

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 d6 5. O-O Bg4 6. h3 h5 7. Bxc6+ bxc6 8. d4 Bxf3 9. Qxf3 exd4 10. c3 dxc3 11. Nxc3 Qd7 12. Be3 Be7 13. Bd4 Bf6 14. e5 Bxe5 15. Rfe1 f6 16. Rad1 O-O-O 17. Bxe5 fxe5 18. Rxe5 Nf6 19. Ra5 Kb7 20. b4 Ra8 21. a4 Rhb8 22. b5 axb5

After 22...axb5

23. axb5 d5 24. bxc6+ Qxc6 25. Rb5+ Kc8 26. Nxd5 1-0

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Missing Blitz Games

Thank heavens for the Internet Chess Club. Over the last couple of weeks since my arrival in Japan, I think I've suddenly clocked up more games online than over the previous year! Mostly bullet, of course.

That's one thing I miss about Sydney: after-work blitz. Now no more. And even if there was a place to play chess around here or people to play with, this being Japan the hours of work are long. It's like these guys just live to work! And if it's not working, it's eating out or getting drunk. So drunk that some just fall where they stand!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

So Aims for Top Finish

Scoring his third victory in group 'B' of Corus, Filipino GM Wesley So moves up to 6.5 points, the same score as L'Ami and Ni Hua after 10 games. Giri continues to lead the group with 7 points.

Corus B Wijk aan Zee
Nyback, T."
So, W

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 a6 5. Nc3 b5 6. c5 g6 7. Bd3 Bg7 8. Qc2 O-O 9. O-O Nbd7 10. e4 dxe4 11. Bxe4 Nxe4 12. Qxe4 Nf6 13. Qh4 Re8 14. Re1 a5 15. Bh6 Bh8 16. Ne5 Qc7 17. Qf4 Bf5 18. Qf3 Rac8 19. Rac1 Red8 20. Ne2 a4 21. a3 Bg7 22. Bxg7 Kxg7 23. h3 Qb7 24. Rcd1 Be4 25. Qe3 Bc2 26. Rd2 Bb3 27. Nf4 b4 28. Ned3 bxa3 29. bxa3 Rd7 30. Ne5 Rdd8 31. h4 Nd5 32. Nh5+ Kg8 33. Qh6 gxh5 34. Rd3 Bc2 35. Qg5+ Kf8 36. Qxh5 e6 37. Rf3 f6 38. Rg3 Rc7 39. Qh6+ Rg7 40. Nxc6 Re8 41. Nb4 Bb3 42. Nxd5 Bxd5 43. Ree3 f5 44. h5 Ree7 45. Qf6+ Ke8 46. h6 Rg4 0-1

I didn't notice this before, but Aussie fans should note that GM Ian Rogers is providing live commentary on the official site starting from the 11th round. Problem is, it looks like we've got to download some sort of Java applet just to see their broadcast. What's the point in that when I can go to Playchess or ICC?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hat Trick for Ex Kiwi

From time to time I've been checking in on the just concluded Aussie Juniors Championships. Final results are now in. The big dog to emerge is another blow-in, from New Zealand, who showed the field how it's done, FIDE master Bobby Cheng. With a score of 10/11, the kid Cheng looks to have just mauled the rest of them.

For Cheng, the Aussie Juniors title is yet another special notch to his World Youth U12 title last year as well as the Arlauskas Medal (Australian Junior Player of the Year for 2009). Congrats to him.

Lastly, I have to say that tournament organisers really ought to pay attention to the event's official website. It's simple, clean and has most of the crucial info right on the homepage. Quite surprising that a chess organisation in that part of the world could produce something like that.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Japanese Chess

On so many levels, Japan is a far more advanced country than Australia. Take their public transport system: fast, punctual, frequent and none of these blow-ins with their odd habits such as eating stinky food in a crowded carriage. Internet is fast. Mobile phones, albeit the size and weight of walkie talkies, can seem to do pretty much everything except teach me how to cook this damn Japanese rice properly.

And how about toilets with all kinds of electronic controls? Probably the only thing missing from those is some sort 'head up display'.

Yep, Japan is an advanced nation. Except, that is, when it comes to chess.

Today I played in my first ever JCA event, some sort of New Year tournament. The first thing that struck me is that it felt like a NSWCA tournament circa 1995! There were clocks that I haven't seen in ages - like the old BHBs, the big plasticky Yugoslavs and Saiteks - as well as some strange ones like a Citizen (didn't know they made chess clocks) and something called a Phileon.

Chess isn't exactly popular in Japan, so as expected the field was pretty small - just 36 players. Like in Oz, about half of their number were juniors and they were just as noisy! But unlike any regular Aussie weekender, the practice here seems to be to BYO board and clock (which, I suppose, explains the variety of them). Also, the tournament broke for some snacks just before the last round. Bisquits and juices were served. I guess that's where part of my JPY5,000 (AU$62) went to. Actually, the whole day cost a lot more than that.

For entering the event and becoming a JCA member, I dropped the grand total of JPY13,400. That's $165!

The top seed in the event and rated 2308 had an off day losing 2 games. I hear that it was quite a shock for the 3-time national champion. Alex Averbukh, a fellow expat, walked away with 4/4 overall.

Yours truly lost ended with 3/4. I probably should have ended wth 50% had it not been for a somewhat pessimistic opponent in round 2. For some strange reason, he just resigned on-the-spot after one of my desperate checks. It seems that he thought it was kaput for him when it wasn't.

In case you're wondering, I did meet Miyoko Watai. She is currently acting as JCA head and was the main official at the tournament. Of course, I just met her today so I didn't feel like getting into some deep and meaningful about you-know-who.

Finally, once or twice I heard a name being thrown around throughout the day. The locals still remember him. It's some bloke named Junta Ikeda.

Note that I took a handful of photos. Check them out here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Antic Fails in Final Bid

It's been a long while since we last heard of Dejan Antic, the Serbian grandmaster who has visited Australia and who has tried very hard to settle there. Back in 2008, he had one last chance to realise his dream.

Well, now news is in. And it's not good.

In just a few words, the Ministry of Immigration snuffed out any hope. This is part of the letter sent to GM Antic and which he kindly shared with his supporters.

While Section 351 of the Act provides the Minister with the power to substitute a decision of the Migration Review Tribunal with a more favourable decision, it is a discretionary, non-compellable power. This means that the Minister is not obliged to intervene in your case.

The Minister has personally considered your case and has decided that it would not be in the public interest to intervene.

Revival of Chess in Iran

While the rest of his compatriots are busy trying to bring about freedom and democracy to Iran, Iranian grandmaster Morteza Mahjoob is busy with promoting chess.

Chess was outlawed in 1981 because it was thought to encourage betting, which is forbidden in Islam. But in 1988 the Islamic republic's founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or Islamic religious decree, permitting chess as long as no gambling was involved.

The game, driven underground, made a vigorous comeback.

"One day I went to a park near my home to get a notebook from my friend and ... saw two grown-ups playing chess on a bench," Mahjoob told AFP.

Read more in Grandmaster's next move: A chess revival in Iran.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Svidler on Short - Nakamura

The ICC's 'game of the day' vids are normally premium content, but this one on the round 3 game between Short and Nakamura, in the ongoing Corus, is given free.

Macauley also has on-location videos available on YouTube here.

Meanwhile, the progress of GM Wesley So, who is playing in the "B" group, is being closely followed in the mainstream Filipino press. But so far, So hasn't yet delivered a single win after 4 games. All his results have been draws.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Drumming for Help

The Chess Drum founder Daim Shabazz makes a plea for the people of Haiti.

It is my hope that organizers, players and officials from around the world will show some solidarity in supporting relief efforts of a devastated nation. The amount of damage done to Haiti will take generations to repair. This is not a political conflict, religious, ethnic or class war. This was a situation brought on by a natural disaster… and it can happen anywhere.

Please find it within your heart to help a nation in need… a nation with a chess community. Haiti needs your help. TIME IS SHORT!

Help if you can.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My First Japanese Tourney

It looks like I'm off to my first tourney in Tokyo. I got so excited that I actually thought it was last Saturday, so I got up early that morning and headed off to the edge of Tokyo, near the city's second airport, Haneda. Of course, it's actually this Sunday.

And yes, it's a 4-rounder! When you consider that the JPY5,000 entry fee is about AU$60, that's ahecofalot more expensive on a cost per game basis than the upcoming NSWCA Aussie Day tournament this weekend.

Yes, Tokyo is bloody expensive, including, as it now turns out, chess entry fees!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chess vs Go

In this History Channel doco on Sun Tzu's "The Art of War", one of the experts offers an interesting take on chess and go. Scroll to about 2.50.

Friday, January 15, 2010

2009 Chess Medal Winners

During the closing ceremony of the just completed Aussie Chess Championships, ACF boss Gary Wastell announced the latest winners of Australia's chess medals. They are as folows:

GM David Smerdon
Steiner Medal (Australian Player of the Year for 2009)

Bobby Cheng
Arlauskas Medal (Australian Junior Player of the Year for 2009)

Allan Wright
Koshnitsky Medal (Chess Administration)

Being a selector for the Steiner, I've got to say that I was genuinely considering between Smerdon and Cheng. However, in the end I voted for GM Smerdon. In addition to David's long list of firsts in 2009 (e.g. Queenstown, the Zonals and the NSW Open), I was particularly impressed by his willingness to give something back, either coaching up and coming juniors or simply being amongst us commoners, just playing in regular weekend events.

Congrats to all these guys.

GM is 'Big Poobah"

I didn't realise that the ABC's readers are that stupid. Russell Horton helpfully explains, "Grand Master means the 'big poohbah' of chess, it means you're pretty good."

Read here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Indians Rule

Indians are just everywhere these days. With over a billion of them, the Indian diaspora could easily match the Chinese! But hey, I'm not complaining. Last night I found myself dining in an Indian restaurant in the middle of Tokyo. After a couple of days of sushi and chopsticks (try eating spaghetti with chopsticks), I needed something a little more greasy, spicy and that I could eat with my friggin' hands.

Well, thank God for Indians, I say!

Of course, it should go without saying that Indians have always made a big impact on chess. The current "official" World Champion is an Indian. And the Indian team have just finished with bronze in something called the World Team Chess Championships.

Between the so-called emerging powers of India and China, it's clear to me who's in the lead. Indians are kicking ass! In the upcoming Corus event (from 16 - 31 Jan, 2010), there are 5 Indians and only 2 Chinese.

Speaking of Corus, Pinoys now have two guys to watch out for. GM Wesley So in the B section, but also GM "Bong" Villamayor who'll be commentating on behalf of my friends over on ChessDom.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Zhao Gets Aussie Title

As if you haven't heard it, but GM Zhao has won his first Aussie title with a score of 10 from eleven games. IM Xie settled for second, along with a GM norm in the bag, while my pick to outpoint the field, although not actually win the title, GM Gawain Jones finished in third spot.

In the majors, Jason Hu and some bloke named David Garner from England both finished on equal first with 9 points each. Once again my tip to win the section never got up. Jason is pretty good at fast chess, where the skill of hustling is all-important, but in the slower game his kind of chess is never quite good enough.

Speaking of the major section, over on Shaun's blog there's a mention of one FM Brian Jones. Apparently my good mate Brian wanted to play in the top section despite his very anaemic rating of 1981 (well, OK, make that 2060). I think he's gonna need to fatten up that ranking with more than a few bento boxes of sushi to make it.

Anyway, if you head over to the Games section of the Aussie Champs, you might notice (I hadn't before) "Mos Ali's Puzzle Section". Here's one that Mos had apparently solved in just 15 minutes. The guy's a genius.

Can you do better than Mos? White is to move and selfmates in 4.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Congrats to Norm Winners

Apologies for the delay in normal programming, but this move to Tokyo is taking a bit more on my time. As a matter of fact, I am now in the Japanese capital. And my butt is freezing, although winter conditions here are nowhere near the icy conditions in Europe.

While I'm here, there is still time to check on Aussie Chess Champs results (it is only 9.30PM as I type). If you haven't yet heard, over on Chess Chat there are congratulating Vlad Smirnov, for his second IM norm, and IM George Xie, for his second GM norm. May I join in those congratulations? Very well done, indeed, especially to George Xie. There's a fellow who is, as far as I know, mostly self-taught! I remember him and his handwritten analyses. Quite amazing.

I have to say that, notwithstanding that somewhat poor debut in the Olympiad last year, George surely deserves another look for the next men's Olympiad outfit.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Morris Bounces Back

My last post below is about IM Morris' bad run so far in the Aussie Champs. But at dinner earlier this evening, the young Victorian couldn't contain his excitement over his victory against Atzmon-Simon. A wonderful game, certainly one, according to Morris, that made him feel as if he's done something in this tournament. GM Ian Rogers' gives his brief commentary on that encounter in his bulletin of round 7.

Meanwhile, my good friend Richard Voon and I renewed our rivalry over some games of lightning. 5-1 to yours truly. Of course, that was after he'd already taken a couple of bucks off Bolens.

Note that this may be my last post for a few days. I'm finally packed and ready to go. I will be in Tokyo by Monday morning.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Rough Ride for New IM

Australia's newest international master, Melburnian James Morris, isn't exactly having a national championship to remember. Today he lost to another one of his contemporaries (after losing the first game there to Andrew Brown), someone who seems to be emerging as his nemeris, Sydney's very powerful and supersharp Max Illingworth.

In the Canterbury Summer Swiss held in Victoria's Box Hill Chess Club last month the Sydneysider prevailed over Morris while handling the black pieces. Today, with the colours reversed, Illingworth was again victorious.

2009 Australian Chess Ch.
Illingworth, Max
Morris, James

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 Enter, The Dragon - an opening championed by no less than current world numero uno Magnus Carlsen. The system has even also reappeared in the repertoire of a couple of guys at the Town Hall/Hyde Park chess club. But they have no idea what they're doing! 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. O-O-O Ne5 11. Bb3 a5 12. a4 Rc8 13. Kb1 Nc4 14. Bxc4 Rxc4 15. b3 Rc8 16. h4 Qc7 17. Ndb5 Bxb5 18. Nxb5 Qd7 19. Qxa5 Ra8 20. Qb4 Rfc8 21. e5 Ne8 22. exd6 Nxd6 23. Nxd6 exd6 24. Qxd6 Rxa4 25. bxa4 Qxa4 26. Qd8+ Rxd8 27. Rxd8+ Bf8 28. Bd4 28. Bh6 Qb4+ 29. Kc1 Qa3+ 30. Kd1 Qa1+ 31. Ke2 Qa6+ 32. Kd1... The King cannot step onto a dark square along either a5-e1 or a7-g1, so the game would be a draw. 28... Qa5 29. Rc8 Qf5 30. Ra8 b5? The engines reckon the position is "=", but after this move, it's downhill. Recommended by F12 was 30... f6 to give some luft. 31. Rd1 f6 32. Bb2 b4? A sort of Hail Mary, playing for tricks. But there ain't none and no one is answering the prayer. James was probably just in time trouble, again. 33. Rdd8 b3 34. Rxf8+ Kg7 35. Bxf6+ Kh6 36. Bg5+ Kg7 37. Rxf5 1-0

After four games in the main event, GM Zhao and the GM norm hunter international master George Xie lead on 4 points apiece. They face each other tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Discounts for Players

Popped into Peter Parr's Chess Discount Sales today to grab myself a DGT2010 and Fritz 12. Just thought I'd get myself a couple of updated equipment before heading off OS.

If you're currently a participant in the ongoing Aussie Champs, you might want to do the same and drop into CDS. Peter's giving a 25% discount on all goods to all participants in all divisions of the Championships!

By the way, the DGT2010 clock is my recommendation. It gives a nice soft "thud" as the lever is pressed and feels very durable. If you're considering the "Easy" model because it happens to be cheaper, forget it. The Easy model is rubbish. Frankly, I don't even know why the DGT folks bothered with it.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Asian Tournaments in RP

GMA News in The Philippines is reporting that 2 big events will take place in the country later this year, starting with the $55,000 Asian Continental Individual men's and women's championships in April.

"Aside from juicy cash prizes totaling $40,000 for the men’s side and $15,000 for the women’s, the 2010 Asian Continental Individual Championships will stake four berths to the 2011 World Chess Cup scheduled in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia", says the news service.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Upsets for IMs in Oz Champs

I've been stuck at home all day for a going away party with the relos and friends, so a day out to the Aussie Champs was out of the question. Thankfully it's still possible to follow the event online especially now that results/games are up on the official site.

As I mentioned last night, the contest Morris - Brown deserves a look. See also Wallis - Jones as there's a lesson in there about pawn advances.

And already, the organisers have put up games from round 2. What is this? Two upsets? Ikeda beat Wohl with the white pieces, while Solomon, the current Championship title holder, goes down to Andrew Brown!

Solo permits a black b-pawn passer with 17. c4 and the situation rapidly escalates into trouble for him. Brown expertly exploits the position to his advantage and eventually scores the point. Nice one!

2009 Australian Chess Ch.
Solomon, Stephen
Brown, Andrew

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Bc4 g6 5. d3 h6 6. O-O Bg7 7. a3 d6 8. b4 Nge7 9. Be3 Nd4 10. Nd5 b5 11. Nxe7 Qxe7 12. Bd5 Bb7 13. Bxb7 Qxb7 14. c3 Ne6 15. a4 O-O 16. axb5 cxb4 17. c4 a5 18. bxa6 Rxa6 19. Qd2 Rfa8 20. Rab1 b3 21. Qc3 Rb8 22. Nd2 b2 23. f3 Nf4 24. Rfe1 Qb4 25. Qxb4 Rxb4 26. Bxf4 exf4 27. Kf2 Bd4+ 28. Ke2 Ra3 29. Rbd1 Be3 30. Nb1 Ra1 31. Rd2 g5 32. Red1 Kg7 33. Ke1 h5 34. Ke2 g4 35. fxg4 hxg4 36. g3 Bxd2 37. Kxd2 f3 38. Kc2 Ra5 39. Rd2 Rh5 40. Rf2 Rb8 41. Nd2 f5 42. exf5 Rxf5 43. Nb1 Re5 44. Kd2 Rbe8 45. Kc3 Re2 46. Rf1 Re1 47. Rxe1 Rxe1 0-1

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Aussie Champs Begin

The downside to predictions is that the characters in question are never always so cooperative. Today's first round of the major section in the Aussie Chess Championships, my pick Jason Chan suffered a surprise defeat to Victorian resident Vineetha Wijesuriya.

2009 Australian Chess C
Chan, Jason
Wijesunga, Vineetha

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d3 g6 4. g3 Bg7 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O Bd7 7. c3 e5 8. a3 Nge7 9. b4 O-O 10. Be3 b6 11. Nbd2 cxb4 12. axb4 Kh8 13. b5 Na5 14. Rb1 Rc8 15. c4 Nb7 16. Ra1 Na5 17. Nb3 Nxb3 18. Qxb3 Rc7 19. Ra3 Bg4 20. Nd2 Qd7 21. Rfa1 Nc8 22. f3 Be6 23. Nb1 f5 24. Bf2 f4 25. g4 g5 26. Qd1 Qf7 You go that way, I go this way. Black now begins her K-side counter. 27. Nc3 h5 28. h3 Kh7 29. Na2 Rh8 30. Nb4 Kg8 31. Ra6 Bf6 32. Nc6 hxg4 33. hxg4 Rh7 34. R1a4 Kg7 35. Be1 Kg6 36. Qa1 Qg7 37. Qa3 Qh8 38. Nxa7?? And with this move, white is suddenly in big, big trouble. It's all the tempo that Vineetha needed to usher in a fine victory.
Position after 38. Nxa7

38...Rh2-+ 39. Nxc8 Rxg2+!
Fritz 11 reckons that it's mate in 12 moves. Who can argue with that? (39... Rch7!! would have led to a faster win.) 40. Kxg2 Rh7 41. Kf1 Rh2 42. Bf2 Qh3+ 43. Ke1 Qxf3 44. Qb2 Qxd3 44...Rh1+ 45. Kd2 Rd1+ 46. Kc3 Qxd3+ 47. Kb4 Qxc4+ 48. Ka3 Ra1+ 49. Qxa1 Qb3 mate 0-1

Ah, well, at least there's still a long, long way to go for Jason. Vineetha, by the way, is two-time Olympiad player, appearing for the Sri Lankan women's team in Manila 1992 and Yerevan 1996.

My pick for the main section, GM Gawain Jones, looked a tad shaky this afternoon against Chris Wallis but thankfully managed to pull off the win.

Among the other games Morris - Brown attracted particular attention. That was partly because the game was the subject of GM Ian Rogers' commentary. Also, it's always interesting to watch two talented young guns - one a newly minted IM, the other a proven giant killer - go pound for pound OTB. But the contest held interest mainly because it was quite fascinating! We'll have to wait for the PGN to see that one.

Sadly for Morris, Canberra's Andrew Brown was the winner on this occasion.

Friday, January 01, 2010

The Mysterious GM Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen is clearly Time magazine's flavour of the month. After last week's Q&A, they have now published another article on the new world chess number one.

Genius can appear anywhere, but the origins of Carlsen's talent are particularly mysterious. In November, Carlsen, then 18, became the youngest world No. 1 in the game's history. He hails from Norway — a "small, poxy chess nation with almost no history of success," as the English grand master Nigel Short sniffily describes it — and unlike many chess prodigies who are full-time players by age 12, Carlsen stayed in school until last year. His father Henrik, a soft-spoken engineer, says he has spent more time urging his young son to complete his schoolwork than to play chess. Even now, Henrik will interrupt Carlsen's chess studies to drag him out for a family hike or museum trip. "I still have to pinch my arm," Henrik says. "This certainly is not what we had in mind for Magnus."

Read more: A Bold Opening for Chess Player Magnus Carlsen.