Saturday, July 31, 2010

Where's the Money?

The NY Times' Dylan McClain might ask where in the world is Khanty-Mansiysk. But for the whole Australian Olympiad team, a more pressing question to Aussie chess fans is: where's the money?

Just a month and a half out from the start of this year's Oympiad, the ACF has so far only received $8,535. That's less than half the total collected from 2 years ago.

Of course times are tough - rate rises, threats of a double-dip downturn, etc - but you know, nearly everyone has these little vices. Like coffee or fags. Instead of dropping a few bucks on your favourite double soy cream-topped latte or on those ciggies, why not send them over to the ACF appeal?

Khanty-Mansiysk is a long way. And, it's expensive.

Friday, July 30, 2010

RIP Zdenko Krnić

Chess Informant's editor, Zdenko Krnić, died from injuries sustained in a hit-and-run accident. From the Informant's website:

As the victim of a hit-and-run accident caused by a reckless motorcycle driver, Chess Informant Editor-in-chief Zdenko Krnić sustained serious injuries and head trauma, when he was coming home from work. He died at the Emergency Center hospital in Belgrade, without regaining consciousness. Mr. Krnić was 62, and a Belgrade resident.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

2010 Lidums Checkmate

The 2010 Lidums Checkmate Open in South Australia was recently won by both GMs Smerdon and Johansen with 5.5 points each. It was a small event but quite strong at the top.

You can download the games here. Note that if you've got a Chessbase program, converting that .TXT file into PGN should be fairly simple. Here's a couple of games that I liked.

The first involves some nice piece play by both sides. It's a draw, but there's a nice tactical finish.

2010 Lidums Checkmate Open
Morris, James
Smerdon, David

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 dxc4 5. Bg2 Be7 6. Na3 c5 7. Nxc4 Nc6 8. Nfe5 Nxd4 9. e3 Nf5 10. Qa4+ Nd7 11. O-O O-O 12. Rd1 Nb6 13. Rxd8 Nxa4 14. Rd3 Rd8 15. b3 Rxd3 16. Nxd3 Nb6 17. Ba3 Nd7 18. Na5 Rb8 19. Rc1 Bd8 20. Nc4 b6 21. Nce5 Ne7 22. b4 Nxe5 23. Nxe5 Bc7 24. Nd3 Ba6 25. bxc5 Bxd3 1/2-1/2

The next game, however, must have been a real shock to the vanquished.

2010 Lidums Checkmate Open
Wallis, Christopher
Srdic, Goran

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Ne7 7. Qg4 O-O 8. Bd3 Qa5 9. Bd2 Nbc6 10. Nf3 f5 11. exf6 Rxf6 12. Qh5 Nf5 13. g4 c4 14. gxf5 cxd3 15. Rg1 Qc7 16. Bh6 Rf7 17. Rxg7+ 1-0 And that's why they say, always check and recheck every capture, yours and your opponent's!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Brits and Social Media

This seems to be ruining a perfectly good ad banner, but I suppose it's one way of emphasising the message. In case you miss it, the British Chess Championships are underway!

A couple of things about the BCC coverage. First, they've got a dedicated Facebook page, and secondly, a Twitter account. Two very good ideas, especially for well-established regular events. The Facebook page allows you to publicise the event while the tweets keep those who can't make it abreast of happenings during the event.

Now I know we all just miss TCG's live blogging. As it happens, I've discovered a new tool for this purpose. Google Wave. Here's how it's done.

There's even a chess example here!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Anand Aims for Top Spot

So what next for the world champion? With a rating of "only" 2800, third behind Carlsen, 2826, and Topalov, 2803, Anand has a renewed aim to bag numero uno spot. The Hindustan Times quotes him saying: "I have resumed practice after a much needed break. I am motivated to be number one again. My strategy has always been of playing few tournaments. But now I realise I will have to play more often if I have to be number one."

But what really impressed me about that article is that India apparently has about 8,000 chess clubs!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Off to Japan. Again!

Same old and same shit. That's the Spanish Club chess crowd. The same bunch of guys and the same banter. I loved it all and I'll miss it all, at least for another 6 months or so.

I spent a few hours last night in the old joint. Yet, strangely, instead of enjoying a few rounds of blitz, I found myself in conversation about a range of subjects - George Xie vs Ian Rogers as coach (who is better value), life in Japan, the benefits of opening study, memorisation or deep understanding, sex (of course), and even a brief detour in the political history of Europe - all over free-flowing jugs of sangria.

Aah, that's Sydney life; and a little snippet of the city's chess scene. Man I'll miss it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wesley Leads in Biel

Pinoy number one Wesley So currently leads the Biel tournament on 2.5 points after 3 rounds. Below was his win over England's David Howell (rated 2616).

Biel 2010
Howell, D.
So, W.

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3 Nc6 5.c3 Nf6 6.Bf4 Bg4 7.Qb3 Qc8 8.Nd2 e6 9.Ngf3 Be7 10.Kf1 Bh5 11.Re1 a6 12.Qc2 b5 13.b4 Bg6 14.Bxg6 hxg6 15.Qd3 a5 16.a3 axb4 17.axb4 Qb7 18.Nb3 0-0 19.h4 Ne4 20.Nfd2 Ra3 21.Rb1 Rfa8 22.Kg1 Nd8 23.Rh3 Qc6 24.Na5 R8xa5 25.bxa5 Nxc3 26.Rb3 Ra1+ 27.Nb1 b4 28.Bd2 Na2 29.Re3 Nc1 30.Bxc1 Qxc1+ 31.Kh2 Nc6 32.g3 Nxa5 0-1

If he keeps this up for at least this tournament and the next 2 or three top level events, he'll probably make it to 2700+. And that will be exciting for RP chess.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


This Thursday, "Inception" will open across Australian cinemas. You might notice that one character has an all too familiar name - Robert Fischer. Apparently, there's a reason for that.

Nolan tips his hand regarding his view of the cinema, and of the dream-world he’s constituting within it, by means of the name of the young heir being “incepted”: Robert Fischer, i.e., Bobby Fischer. The film is constructed with the coherent hermeticism of chess: Nolan lays down rules of dream-manipulation that are finite, clear, and complex, guiding a personal, intimate, inchoate realm into discernible patterns. The film’s chess-like precision and self-containment that accounts for much of the adolescent passion the movie arouses. Its remarkably complex conceits yield a remarkably callow film, in which motives are as simple and highlighted as if sketched in a scriptwriting class, and the near-futuristic society that’s depicted with a vast armamentarium of physical and computer effects is narrowed to a B-movie thinness.

Read more in The Front Row by Richard Brody.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Viva España!

There's plenty to love about Spain. The food, their culture, the women and, of course, La Roja.

Back in late 2008, I spent 3 weeks in Spain, making my way from Valencia, followed by Madrid then to Barcelona. Spain was by far my favourite during my two-month long holiday in Europe. That's why it was particularly sad to report last month about the demise of the Spanish Club.

However, today I discovered some wonderful news. The club is back in business. The old mates happily informed me that within a week of going into receivership, the club actually reopened for business! So this Friday, it'll be on again for some Friday night blitz.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

McShane Leads Canadian Open

For some reason I found myself on the email list of the Canadian Open's press releases. If the content hadn't been any good I would have considered this a case of spamming. But the organisers send plenty of good stuff - PGNs, links, a quick summary - so it's alright.

After eight games, England's Luke McShane leads with 7 points.

One thing I like about the event is the video coverage, all available on YouTube. Very nicely shot and well-produced.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Visiting Sydney

Will be back in Sydney from next Sunday. But before all my fans get excited, I'm only there for a week. Work reasons, before heading back out to Tokyo next Saturday. Should be a good trip and can probably drop in on a couple of the old joints for some quick rounds of blitz.

There won't be a post tomorrow as, obviously, I'll be flying!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Poor Federation's Logo

I've just noticed this. Or maybe I did, but I'm pretty sure that I haven't posted about it before.

The Australian Chess Federation has a new logo. It's featured in their newsletter, but, as you can see, not on their website.

No disrespect to whoever created that, but geez, it's a bad one. I mean, c'mon! Stick figures? Just compare that to the NSWCA's web 2.0'esque looking counterpart.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Playing with Yourself

I gotta be honest. I do like plenty of touchy-feely. There's nothing like a little fondle of those pieces and lots of bang-bang on the clocks. Being away from the usual chess crowd, I miss all that.

Not that I ain't getting any, of course, as there's the ICC. But it's not the same.

If, like me, you prefer some of that tactile action, then this guy's idea might just solve the problem. Thing is, it looks too much like playing with yourself.

Hat tip to I4U News.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Octopus is from Planet Kirsan

I think by now we have all heard of Paul the Octopus. He's that tentacled psychic who scored a 100% success rate in predicting match winners in the just completed World Cup. So remarkable is the creature that now there's actually a little dispute over his origin. The Italians are saying that he's actually Paulo!

I have another theory. I reckon Paul comes from the stables of none other than Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. In a recent interview the FIDE boss says:

Everything in our lives is predestined: the position of the planets and stars influences certain events in the life of mankind. I was drawn to it all when I was still a student. They held the first Soviet Sorcerers’ Conference in Tajikistan. I sponsored a great number of so-called laboratories for studying astrology. They made predictions for football teams and very well-known politicians, both here and abroad. There’s a solid database of political parties, governments, presidents, major businessmen. All of that doesn’t rule out the existence of crooks and charlatans. After all people like Baba Vanga are one-of-a-kind.

I also have a certificate: they named planet number 55-70 after me. It’s between Jupiter and Mars… 310 million kilometres from the Earth. So that if anything happens, I tell everyone, I’ll have somewhere to run.

Read more in Ilyumzhinov: Chuck Norris owes me a bottle of whisky.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Nam Players Get Stipends

Here's another country that's taking chess seriously. So serious that the government actually provides monthly stipends to chess players. It's Vietnam.

"The [chess] federation pays for everything," Ms. Khiet says. "In my life, I never traveled on my own."

Mr. Thang says Vietnamese chess players improved after the government increased chess salaries and prizes. The stipends were raised from less than $100 to $300 per month over the past two years, while prizes for winning competitions were introduced five years ago and increased three times since, he says. Now, even children under 12 can take home as much as $500 for winning, he says. And in April, the top four male and female winners of Vietnam's national chess tournament took home a total of $13,500 in prizes, ranging from $250 to $4,000.

The Christian Science Monitor has the juice on this.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Big Trouble for Susan Polgar

Ex women's World Champion Susan Polgar could find herself in very serious trouble. The New York Times' Dylan McClain reports that the US governmant has filed a criminal case that directly connects both the accused and Susan.

It could all be over for one of the net's most popular chess bloggers.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Magnus, The Poster Boy

Perhaps this is it. Maybe, just maybe, chess could finally be at the cusp of going mainstream.

The world's number one chess player, Magnus Carlsen, has been signed up as a model for Dutch firm G-Star Raw and will be featured in the denim fashion house's Fall/Winter 2010 advertising campaign. You can see sample shots of Magnus over on ChessVibes.

All well and good for chess, what with all this brilliant PR, as well as for Magnus himself whose bank balance must be just a little bit fatter.

But, I got a problem.

While that other fashion house, Armani, made sports star David Beckham the favourite poster boy for women the world over, G-Star appears to have made our man look like a poster boy for...

...the romulans!

Well, at least this interpretation of the Star Trek character.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Damn You Harry!

I had almost forgotten about, one of the most popular chess sites on the net (even more popular than, according to Compete) and certainly a site that's full of entertainment. Like this blast from the past by none other than Australia's Chris Depasquale.

There is a classic scene in the movie Caddyshack where Chevy Chase knocks on a door, and unexpectedly finds it answered by a voluptuous young lady wrapped only in a towel. Without missing a beat, Chevy says, "My car just hit a water-buffalo. Can I borrow your towel?" Ever since seeing that, I have been prepared for the moment a beautiful young lady asks me what I write.

"At the moment I am working on a telephone directory," I told Sally without pausing, "and it would help me if you were to give me your address and telephone number." Sally giggled, and we got talking. When Sally found out I coached chess, she insisted on signing up for a course. Not wanting to miss out on the chance to spend time in the presence of this goddess every week, I made her sign a contract then and there.

You're just gonna have to find out what he was talking about. Read on in When Sally Met Harry (A Love Story).

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Fischer Hits Mainstream News

The mainstream media is always a bit behind with this sort of news, but at least they give us video.

Monday, July 05, 2010

2010 WA Closed Championships

The 2010 WA Closed Championships will commence next week on the 11 July and will run for 9 consecutive Sundays. Veue will be the Moresby Street Centre in Kensington. It'll be a 10 player round robin event involving many of the usual names such as Barber, of course, Boyd, Choong and Tim Hare.

Doesn't seem like there's a dedicated site, but you can always check out CAWA for regular updates.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

ICC Gets iPhone App

Not being an Apple fanboy, this doesn't make much of a difference to me. But if you're the type to salivate over every Apple product and the apps that go with them, then this new offering from the Internet Chess Club could be exciting.

The popular online chess playing site is about to release their very own iPhone app. You can view a demo here.

Looks alright, but geez, they should lose that strange "spacy" sort of graphics. But maybe it's a nod to the big boss' ET experience. Who knows?

Friday, July 02, 2010

Kirsan's Money for Campo

A little over a month ago I said that a Campomanes Memorial should be in The Philippines. It's gotta be big for a big personality in the world of chess and not some minor tournament with unknown players.

Then last month, Ilyumzhinov announced a $1 million sponsorship for ten tournaments across Asia over the next 10 years. Now we know where that money is going to. The NCFP's website has the juice.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Idiotic Draw Riles GM

I've just been catching up with some news over at ChessVibes and noticed an item from 2 weeks earlier. Actually, it's thanks to this recent post that I found my way to what I want to talk about.

In a recent encounter, the game Bok - van Wely ended a draw after an amazing 13 move repetition. Yes, you read that right: thirteen moves. And these guys were a FIDE master and a long-established super GM, respectively.

But, let's be serious. Why did these guys play on for so long? Here's ChessVibes quoting van Wely:

I didn’t want the draw, and I didn’t want to give the impression that I was happy with a draw. I wasn’t. Whatever opening you play these days, these youngsters always know the theory. Why didn’t he play something sharp, like against Smeets? Then he dropped a piece. I got very angry when I realized he was going for a draw right from the start. I mean, the organizers give him a wildcard, but then instead of getting some experience here, this idiot just goes for a draw.

One important fact that we should point out immediately is that this encounter was in the recent Dutch Championships. It was no casual, exhibition, simul or any other kind of inconsequential contest. Score tally, FIDE ratings and, of course, money were at stake.

To my mind, the situation was simple. Bok was perfectly entitled to steer the game to whatever direction he saw best fit his interest in the tournament. For the sake of fair play, players must decide for themselves independent of outside pressures. Most of all, players have no business worrying about the prima donna sensibilities of their opponents.

And another thing: as pointed out by some CV readers, if van Wely didn't want a draw, why didn't he simply deviate himself? There a couple of possible answers. Either van Wely judged the alternative variation to be risky or he just didn't know any better. So all in all, he was equally to blame for what happened.

With all that said, van Wely was way out of line in calling his opponent an idiot. I suspect that having been the centre of attention (he was involved in an experiment), van Wely's head expanded just a little bit bigger.

But there is one last thing to be added. These two guys really ought to have been charged by the organisers with bringing the game into disrepute. Such farce in a premiere national tournament is simply unacceptable.