Monday, 31 August 2015

The queen versus bits

This mornings (Canberra time) round of the Sinquefield Cup saw a number of interesting games, with Aronian taking a full point lead after beating Nakamura, and Carlsen losing to Grischuk. At the bottom end of the table the Anand v So game was also interesting, with Anand giving up his queen for rook and piece. Despite materialistic chess engines thinking this was a bad deal for Anand, he did have plenty of weak pawns to target and the game ended in a draw.
Of ten the decision to make a trade like this depends on two factors. Either you hope to co-ordinate your remaining pieces, or you hope to target the weaknesses in your opponents position. If you can do both then the end result may be in your favour, but if you have one but not the other, a draw may instead be the outcome.
In the following classic game Richard Reti plays a Queen for Rook and Minor exchange, banking on his connected rooks and active minor pieces to provide him with play. He even gets some threats against the White King, but with Rubinstein is able to cover any weak points,the game eventually ends in a draw, as Black is clearly taking a repetition.

Rubinstein,Akiba - Reti,Richard [E68]
London BCF Congress London (1), 1922

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Andras who?

GM Simon Williams is a very witty and entertaining writer, as well as producing a large number of videos of his chess exploits. Often he will take on challengers on, recording both the games, and his running commentary. He seems to be a good sport about this, as playing and talking can often be quite difficult to do at the same time.
In one recent video however, he met his when paired against IM sendmeyourbestgames. At first Williams had no idea who he was playing, but even when he did find out, he still didn't know who he was up against. What he was unaware of, was the IM sendmeyourbestgames was in fact Canberra IM Andras Toth. That he was up against quite a strong player slowly dawned on Williams as he went down to two quick defeats. Even in the third game he was on the back foot for most of it, until Toth blundered into a mate, allowing Williams to at least finish with some dignity.
The video is quite fun to watch, and Williams was very gracious in his defeats. Apart from the comedy vale, they also contains a number of good tips on playing certain openings (The Dutch, not the Kings Indian, and the Dragon), and what to do, and not to do, when you are going down in flame.
There are a whole series of these clips btw and after you watch this one (embedded below) who might want to check out the clip of Williams playing the Bongcloud opening on a dare!

Your morning hack

From last nights Sinquefield Cup

So,Wesley (2779) - Nakamura,Hikaru (2814) [E99]
3rd Sinquefield Cup 2015 Saint Louis USA (6.4), 29.08.2015

Friday, 28 August 2015

Library Chess

A number of years ago Melbourne chess entrepreneur  David Cordover suggested that it should be a goal in Australia for every local library to have its own chess club. While undoubtedly a good idea, it hasn't really come to fruition, probably because Australia doesn't have the chess playing population to make it work. Of course this is kind of chicken and egg reasoning, as you need the players to support the club, and you need the club to support the players.
But every now and then there is the opportunity to draw on Library resources to have some chess activity. Kippax Library in Canberra is celebrating its 10th anniversary tomorrow (29 August), and they are running some chess activities as part of the celebrations.  If you are in the area (West Belconnen) feel free to drop in between 12 and 2 to play some chess, or witness a little bit of bullet between myself and all comers. Junior players are especially welcome, as the library is keen to organise a regular junior club, and tomorrow will help them gauge how much interest there is.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Aronian back in form

The last 12 months have been pretty lean for Lev Aronian, with a drop in form seeing him slide down the world rankings. However he has started the 2015 Sinquefield Cup strongly, and currently shares the lead with Veselin Topalov.
In the 4th round he played a smashing attack attack against Wesley So to record the only win of the round. The game is already being described as a classic, with Aronian finding play on both sides of the board. With So's king trapped in the centre, Aronian was even able to sacrifice a piece with no harm to his winning chances.
Just as it wasn't clear why Aronian was struggling in the last 12 months, it probably isn't clear why his form has returned. If *I* had to give a reason, it may be because I have stopped giving him the kiss of death by predicting him as a likely tournament winner.

So,Wesley (2779) - Aronian,Levon (2765) [E20]
3rd Sinquefield Cup 2015 Saint Louis USA (4.3), 26.08.2015

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Street chess players rubbing shoulders with the gliterati

A cute story popped up in my newsfeed this morning, and it concerned one of the regular guests at Street Chess. Baldev Bedi is a regular visitor to Street Chess in Canberra, although he does not play in the actual events, preferring to play blitz while kibitizing the competition games.
In winter months he occasionally decamps to warmer climes, including Coffs Harbour on the NSW North Coast. And it was at Coffs Harbour he was spotted playing chess with a legend of Australian cinema, Jack Thompson. For Australian move goers some of his memorable roles include "The Club" and "Breaker Morant", while for overseas viewers, he was Anakin Skywalker's Step-father in Star Wars:Attack of the Clones.
The article from the Coffs Coast Advocate show the two playing a friendly game at the Coff's Bollywood Markets. The accompanying pictures shows the game in the early stages, although the article does say the Thompson was likely to be checkmated!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Quality versus excitment

Chess as sport or chess as art? Those that favour shorter time controls line up in the first camp, while others (including me btw) think that quality games are produced with slower time controls.
An interesting data point in this debate occurred in the second round of the 2015 Sinquefield Cup. Caruana v Carlsen saw both players starting with 0/1, and so a loss for either of them would almost doom their tournament. For most of the game Caruana held an advantage, but at the cost of most of his time. It is important to note that for the events of the Grand Chess Tour, the first time control is simply 40 moves in 2 hours, with an additional hour added after that, along with a 30s per move increment (from move 41). So with Caruana running short of time, salvation would only happen once he played move 40.
It turned out that Caruana did get to move 40, but only by playing a 1 move blunder which lost on the spot. By all reports the finish of this game was very exciting for the spectators, but as a distant observer it just looked like Carlsen got very very lucky. I am not knocking Carlsen's win by the way, as he took advantage of the situation before him (and his play contributed to Caruana's shortage of time). It is more that the trend of chess has been to move away from these 'sudden death' types of games (with the introduction of clocks with increments), and to see it become part of top level chess again is a little jarring (at least to me).

Caruana,Fabiano (2808) - Carlsen,Magnus (2853) [C78]
3rd Sinquefield Cup 2015 Saint Louis USA (2.4), 24.08.2015

Monday, 24 August 2015

Canberra Chess 960 Championship

Chess 960 (or Fischer Random) has its fans, but hasn't really taken off in a big way. There have been a few big tournaments here and there, but it probably still considered a 'variant' rather than a 'version of chess (NB I know that the rules for Chess 960 are included in the Official FIDE Laws of Chess, but despite being a member of the FIDE Rules Commission at the time, I must have missed the meeting where they were officially added)

However as a variant it is probably one of the better ones, and tournaments are still being held. In fact the ANU Chess Club is hosting a Chess 960 event this coming Wednesday (26 August) and for want of a better claimant, this might be considered the ACT Chess 960 Championship (NB This is not an official ACTCA title!)
For those wishing to take part, the tournament will be a 9 round event, played at a Blitz time control (G/5m). For each round a single position will be generated, and the players will have 60 seconds to work out what is in front of them. Entry into this (fun) event is free, and is open to all players (no club membership necessary). The club opens at 6:45 pm, Asian Studies Building, Ellery Cres, ANU, with play starting at 7pm

Sinquefield Cup starts with a bang

Five games, five wins! The Sinquefield Cup has got off to quite a remarkable start, not only with 5 decisive games, but with some pretty surprising results.
Caruana's will not be emulating last years starting streak, having lost to Lev Aronian in a very sharp game. Magnus Carlsen started this event with a similar results to Norway 2015, losing to Topalov again, although it wasn't on time. Nakamura has local fans cheering with a win over Anand, although he was the only US player to win, with Wesley So losing to Vachier-Lagrave.   In fact the only game that went according to rating was Giri's win over Grischuk.
With so many interesting games to pick from, I decided to go with Aronian's win over Caruana. Lev has been out of form (by his high standards) for a while, so this is a good win to get under his belt. At first look it seems that both players were happy to take risks to keep the position as dynamic as possible, but once Aronian sacrificed his rook on c2, it was effectively over.

Aronian,Levon (2765) - Caruana,Fabiano (2808) [D37]
3rd Sinquefield Cup 2015 Saint Louis USA (1.3), 23.08.2015

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Losing the won game

Throwing away winning positions is a common problem for most chess players. Of course the winning games we lose tend to stick in our memory far more than the losing positions we win, possibly because out losses are tragedies, but our wins are deserved.
Looking back at some of my old games to find such an example, I came across this significant game (which I hope I haven't posted before). It was played in the 1983 ACT Junior Championship and was the game that decided the title. I'd only been playing tournament chess for  around 12 months, so to win the ACT Junior was going to be quite an achievement. In fact I was quite nervous the night before the game, and had a lot of trouble sleeping.
When you look at the game from distance of 30+ years, you realise that both of us had chances to in the game. My style at the time was threat based, so I most of my moves were lining up one or two move cheapo's. My opponent handled most of them easily, but then missed some good moves of his own. At one point I missed a very strong move (20.Qc2) while my opponent missed a win of material with 27. ... Bxd2. Eventually I played the last big blunder (on move 32) and after that my opponent was able to win a piece ahead.
For years I grumbled over playing 32.Nd4 (rather than say 32.Nc3) but on reflection I should take two things away. Firstly, my loss was due to my inexperience as a tournament player, and overcoming this only comes with practice. And secondly, given my choice of moves in the game, I cannot honestly say I was 'winning' in the objective sense, as at no stage did I try and consolidate whatever advantage I my have thought I had.  So it would be unfair to my opponent to say I runied a good position, as I didn't play like I had such a position at all.

Press,Shaun - Marshall,Justin [B86]
ACT Junior Championship, 27.11.1983

Friday, 21 August 2015

World Under 16 Olympiad

The World Under 16 Chess Olympiad is up and running in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Among the 35 teams is an Australian team, headed by Michael Kethro. They are seeded 15th, al;though I suspect some on the unrated teams might be quite strong. At the top end there are a number of strong players (1 GM and 7 IM's) but there are a number of not so strong teams as well.
The Australian team is off to a good start with 5/8, including a 3-1 win over Russia 2. Next up they play Kyrguzstan, who are just seeded below them.
If you wish to follow the event, the tournament home page might be the best bet, although results can also be found at

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Sinquefield Sunday

The Sinquefield Cup starts this Sunday, with 7 of the top 8 players in the world taking part. The 10 player RR also includes World number 9, 11 and 24, making it one of the strongest events since AVRO 1938!
The second event in the new Grand Tour, it will be interesting to see how some players (eg Magnus Carlsen) back up after the Norway event. Certainly Topalov is hoping his good luck and good form continue, while Fabiano Caruana is returning to the scene of his great triumph of 2014. The other interesting/surprising fact is that 3 of the 10 players are playing under the US flag, which has been a rarity in recent years.
The first round is this Sunday, starting at 1pm local time, which translates to 4am Canberra time. So while it is likely I will miss the first part of the games, waking up to some high quality chess is a distinct possibility.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Turbo Pascal Gameworks

A bit of a longshot, but I am looking for the source code that came with the Turbo Pascal Gameworks (Borland). I purchased it a very long time ago (late 1980's I'm sure), and while I have the book it came with, and the compiled programs, the source code disappeared soon after 5.25 inch floppy drives went out of fashion.
As part of the package there was Turbo Chess, Turbo Bridge and Turbo Gomoku. I am mainly interested in the Bridge program, but any leads will are appreciated.
Searching the internet seems to throw up lots of mentions of the book, but the source code seems to be lost. Help!

*** Happy update: Bill Gletsos (ACF Ratings officer) pointed me to, which had a zipped file of the source code. There is also a lot of other abandonware stuff there as well, although you do need to create a (free) account to download

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

What just happened here?

While scooping up dgt games to test my game replay system, I cam across the following weirdness from the Olomouc 2015 GM B tournament. Not quite sure where Black decided to fall on his sword, but it was all starting to unravel as early as 7. ... c5. To be fair to Black, the idea of taking the h1 rook and and going h4-c4-c8 with it may have come as a shock, but each move by this rook just increased White's advantage.

Kourousis,Epaminondas - Cernousek,Lukas [D80]
Olomouc 2015 (4), 18.08.2015

Monday, 17 August 2015

St George Weekender

If you feel like some chess over this weekend, and are in within travelling distance of Sydney, then the St George Weekender is the event for you. Not one of Australia's biggest weekend tournament, it nonetheless is still an important tournament, providing an opportunity for improving players to test their mettle. In once sense it is more like a country event (a couple of 2300+ players, a few in the 1900-2100 group, and some dangerous 1500's) , but with the obvious benefit of drawing players from a larger pool.
Details of the tournament are

  • Date: 22nd - 23rd August
  • Venue: St George Leagues Club, Princess Hwy, Kograh, Sydney
  • Registration: 10am-10:30am Saturday 22nd August
  • Format: 7 round swiss (single section)
  • Time limit: G60m+10s
  • Prize pool: $1720 (based on 40 entries)
  • Further info:
The cutoff for early entries is 20th August 2015

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Ah, Vienna

I'm always aware of when the Vienna Open is being held, as Victor Braguine (who is a well known Canberra player) has been a regular participant over the last few years. So I make the effort to check in with the results and see who else is playing.
Well this years event is pretty big, with 464 players in the top section alone. 121 players have titles (headed by 17 GM's) and 43 countries are represented. Australia even has 3 players taking part, with IM Justin Tan, and Peter Frost playing along with Braguine. There is even an extra connection to Australia with Pete Morriss (IRL), sometimes Street Chess player, also taking part.
The first round was last night and the Australian contingent got off to a good start, with a win to Tan and draws against higher rated opponents to Frost and Braguine. Results for the event (plus some of the games) can be found at

Tan,Justin (2421) - Hund,Gerhard (2063) [B54]
Vienna Chess Open 2015 Group A Grosser Festsaal im Wiener Rat (1.30), 15.08.2015

Broadcast service

Having mentioned last week that I was writing a HTML 5 version of the DGT replay software, I have moved on the extending it to a database driven game replay system. The idea is to be able to allow the broadcast of tournaments without requiring organisers to have their own hosting service (Note: not necessarily an original idea, but one that is not that widespread).
I do not quite have a alpha version up for testing as yet, although what I do have seems to work locally. A few more late night programming/debugging sessions and I might have something ready to show!

Friday, 14 August 2015

His own private 737

Top GM's (and I mean very top GM's) make a decent enough living from chess, due to appearance fees, prize money, and in recent times, product endorsements. However they generally have to ask for them on a case by case basis, and I suspect there isn't a list of standard conditions that the 2750+ GM's are expected to receive.
But for all the conditions, inducements or other payments that players have received over the years, it would be hard to top what Nigel Short just scored on a trip to southern Africa. While flying from South Africa to Zimbabwe, GM Short found he was the only passenger on an Air Zimbabwe 737. This was a fully equipped plane, that can seat anywhere between 85 and 212 passengers (depending on the model), and a full service crew. Apparently 4 people had booked this flight, but when the plane took off, the other 3 passengers had cancelled, leaving Short with a 737 all to himself. As befitting his role as the sole passenger, the in flight announcements were addressed to him personally, and he received quite good in flight service. The only complaint from Nigel was that they did not give him an upgrade from economy!
After the flight he both shared this on facebook and even did an interview with the BBC Newsday. You can catch a replay of it here.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

And now a reply from the opposition

Just for a change of pace, here is a link to a post by some who does not like chess. Why I Hate Chess is an amusing take from a non chessplayer about why they do not like the game. While some of the complaints are factually wrong (no doubt for reasons of humour rather than ignorance), I can happily accept that there are things not to like about chess. In fact even the most passionate chess player could probably write a similar post (eg 1. Other chessplayers 2. I'm not getting better etc), although the reasons would obviously be different.
However it is worth reading in full, and then as an added bonus, checking out the contributions in the comments section!

A repeatable mistake

My ability to remember opening theory stopped around the time The Simpsons started appearing on TV. This is not a coincidence mind you, as the part of my brain that was set aside to remember new opening lines, was instead filled with quotes from various Simpson's episodes.
So pretty much my in depth opening knowledge dates back to 1993, and anything after that has a half life of about 4 days.
This was rammed home to me once again this evening, after losing the game below. 12. ... Qd5 is a big blunder, but amazingly, a blunder I have made in a previous game. During the 2007 Australian Open Major, I blundered in an identical manner to Edward Xing, but was fortunate to escape after he took the rook on g8, rather than play the much stronger Nge4.
No such luck this evening, as not only did I lose the rook on g8, but after 17.Bg5 I was dropping the piece on c5 as well. And that was enough for me!

Litchfield,Fred - Press,Shaun [C56]
ANU Winter Swiss, 12.08.2015

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

A Bishop Problem

From the book "Across the Board" by John Watkins, comes an interesting question about Bishop Tours. Can a Bishop starting on a1 visit each black square along a diagonal only once, before finishing on h8? (Note: the term "along a diagonal" means the bishop can cross a square it has already passed over, as long as it isn't travelling in the same or opposite direction when previously reaching that square)

Monday, 10 August 2015

Did GG start with chess?

Staying in touch with the latest slang is quite difficult for a 48 year old, but fortunately running a number of junior events has allowed me to keep up, in a limited manner. One interesting term I heard was "spamming", the meaning of which has evolved over the years. In the modern context it seams to mean "repeatedly press", as in "to reset the clock, just keep spamming the middle button".
Another term that has bled over from online gaming is "GG" which means "Good Game". On more than one occasion I heard "Checkmate. GG" being said, although it sometimes wasn't checkmate. But unlike "spamming" I had a thought that "GG" was in fact a chess term, from the early days of online gaming.
At first I thought I would have to do a great degree of research to see if "GG" did start in the chess community. Turns out that searching for "first use of GG" threw up and instant answer, which was Yes. It became a common sign off on ICC, which does make sense, as online chess was one of the first examples of online gaming. It then carried over to other multiplayer games (eg Starcraft) before entering into the vernacular. If you want to check this history out yourself, you can do so here.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

The sneaky Qb6

There was a murmur of excitement at Street Chess, when one of the players (Thomas Johnston) found a very clever mating idea against Matthew Bennett. "Put this on your blog" was one comment, the only problem being that the game was not recorded.
However the key idea in the game was easy to remember, as it involved a white queen landing on b6, protected from capture by a pin on the c pawn. The unusual feature here is that it occurred on the queenside, as examples of Qg6/g3 are significantly more common (Game 1 in Logical Chess Move by Move is one such example).
As I don't have the game played on Saturday to hand, I can at least show you a similar game where the same idea is executed. I'm sure White saw the idea a few moves earlier, and so found a way to punt the Black queen before lowering the boom.

Schneider,Rafael (1823) - Pericas Rechi,Marc [B01]
EU-ch U16 19th Fermo (8), 08.09.2009

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Some freelance software work (* with the emphasis on free)

Spurred on by a request in an earlier comment, I have made the effort to develop a DGT game display system that does not use flash. It is written in Javascript/jQuery and is designed to run on browsers that do not/ cannot have flash (which is what the standard DGT display system uses).
At this stage it is till in alpha (a little extra parsing work, plus improved layout changes), but it does read native DGT format files and allows you to replay games.
If you wish to give it a test, have a look at
Once I get it bullet proof I will put it up for download at

Friday, 7 August 2015

GM Ian Rogers loses to Kristine Quek

At first I thought the above you tube video was an interesting documentary on the effects of dehydration on your thinking skills. In the clip it shows GM Ian Rogers playing Kristine Quek, and in it he comes off second best, in part because he is trapped in a sauna. As a scientific experiment it seemed plausible, until I realised two things.
Firstly, it isn't a documentary, but an ad for Zip Water.  I must say it is a clever ad, but given it is an add I am a little sceptical about the accuracy of the claims. And secondly, I'm not convinced that a loss of 10% of thinking skills (as the add claims is the effect of dehydration) is enough of a handicap for Rogers to lose the way he did. As there did not seem to be a scale attached to the 10% figure I am reminded of the "we only use 10% of our brains" claim that I hear repeated quite often.
But the point of advertising is to draw attention to the product, and it certainly does that. I particularly like the scene at the end where Kristine is rewarded with a nice glass of cold water while Ian can only look on helplessly.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Know the classics (but also when to update them)

The diagrammed position turned out to be the crucial moment of my game against Alana Chibnall on Tuesday night (not that I realised it then). After losing a pawn in the opening I decided my best chance of saving the game was to play a rook ending a pawn down. After reaching a position where I had a more active king and rook, I realised the position had some similarities with the famous Capablanca v Tartakower game from New York, 1924. In that game (given below) Capablanca gave away a couple of pawns (with check) to get his king into a more aggressive position.
Following this script I adopted the same strategy, creating a path on the kingside, and heading my king to g6. However it turns out there was a problem with following this script too closely. In the given position I played 36.Kg6 and after 36. ... fxg 37.Rg3 Ke8 38.Rxg5 Kf8 my opponent had just enough time to defend everything and I went down after 39.f6 Instead I needed to play 36.Rb3! first, as this had the effect of forcing my opponent to either give up the b pawn, or put one of her pieces on a bad square. The most instructive line began with 36 ... Kc7 when 37.Kg6 is now two tempii up on the game continuation, and I have enough time to win everything!

Capablanca,Jose Raul - Tartakower,Saviely [A85]
New York New York (6), 23.03.1924

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

2015 ANU Chess Festival comes to an end

The 2015 ANU Chess Festival wrapped up today with the final event, the ANU Secondary Schools Championship. 22 teams took part in this event, meaning that over the 2 week period of the Festival, 341 players took part in the various events. Numbers were up in all events from last year (by around 25% on average) so I would consider this years festival a big success.
Here is a list of the winners from each of the events:

  • ACT Teams Blitz - ANU Scholars (Harry Press, Miles Patterson)
  • ANU Open - IM Andrew Brown
  • ANU Minor - Nohrval Valle
  • ANU Primary Schools Teams - Kaleen Primary
  • ANU Secondary Schools Teams - Lyneham High School
The ANU Chess Festival has now been running for 23 years, and has contributed a great deal to the vibrant ACT chess scene. A number of strong players have played in the ANU Schools competition including homegrown IM's Andrew Brown and Junta Ikeda. In fact there are now some second generation players starting to pop up, and even a couple of school teachers first attended the event when still in short pants.
The Open itself generally provides an opportunity for local players to develop there skills. While not quite at the size of the Doeberl Cup, there is still enough 'starch' in the field to provide a stern test. And the blitz championship (now in its third year) is a fun/serious event for the speedier players.
Such an event could not take place without significant help from the chess community. Special mention should go to Shun Ikeda (Festival Director), Paul Dunn (Festival Treasurer), Cam Cunningham (ACTCA President) and Mirabelle Guo, who put in a huge amount of work to make the event a success.
Next year the organisers are looking to make some small improvements to the events (schedule changes, and a bit of extra prize money), so keep your calendars free for the last weekend in July 2016!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

More fun rules

Another school event, another new rule I was previously unaware of!
During the third round of the 2015 ANU Primary Schools Chess Championship, I was called over to a game to answer a strange (but not too strange) question. "If you get your rook to the other side of the board does it become a queen?" "No" I said, keeping the sarcasm level at 0 (these were primary school kids after all). "But in my last game, that's what my opponent did to me" was the reply. "Well, I said, you got tricked" was all I could say.
Amazingly, this question then turned up again in round 6, so I suspect there was a degree of trickery going on. I never found out the identity of the player whose rule it was, as it only seemed to be asked during the following game.
Nonetheless it did get me thinking about  a possible chess variant (as these things invariably do). Before the game, each player secretly marks a piece, and if that piece gets to the back rank, it becomes a queen (pawns still promote as normal). I suspect you could have some fun with this, trying to bluff your opponent with sudden lunges at open files or diagonals, while keeping the real piece up your sleeve. Of course the downside is that if one player did manage to sneak through the game might very well end there and then.
BTW One other interesting game from the tournament involved a 2Nv R (and no pawns) ending. The player with the 2N was determined to win, but his winning chances were diminished *after* his opponent lost the rook to a knight fork. Pushing on with the 2 knights, he then reduced his winning chances to nil after losing one of his knights. But despite the game being declared a draw at that point, and the result submitted, he remained undeterred, and played on trying to find that elusive K+NvK mate.

Monday, 3 August 2015

King of the ring

Over the years I have experimented with various tournament formats, to see whether variety is really the spice of life. However one format I was not aware of is currently being used in the Russia v China Match. It is apparently borrowed from Go, and it is a combination of a team match and a 'last man standing' type event.
Each team submits a playing order before the start of the match (unknown to the other team), and then the first two players meet. After that it is 'winner stays on' while the loser is replaced by the next player on the list. Obviously the match winner is the team which wins the final match, and eliminates the last player on the opposing team.
As it turns out, the Russian's are running away with the match, as Sergey Karjakin has turned into a one man wrecking queue. He has dispatched his first 4 opponents (Wei Yi, Ding Liren, Ni Hua, Yu Yangyi) and only needs to beat Wang Yue to complete a clean sweep. Even if he now loses, Wang Yue has to beat the other 4 Russian players to win the match!
Despite what seems to be a somewhat shorter match than the organisers anticipated, this format may be worth repeating. One tweak, which has been used in the USA, is to rank the teams in order of rating, and start with the lowest rated players first. This at least has the advantage of stretching the match out, as opponents are more likely to become harder to beat, rather than easier!

Sunday, 2 August 2015


Not sure what was happening here, but I can safely assume it was a concocted game between the two players involved. Further evidence supporting this idea, an identical game, from the same year turned up in my database, between two other players. Maybe it's what passes for chess humour in Germany.

Weber,Winfried (2095) - Weidenhoefer,Martin [A00]
Postbauer op Postbauer, 1997

Saturday, 1 August 2015

All along the h file

When perusing a copy of "Bent Larsen's Best Games" I noticed a position where there were 7 piece lined up along the h file. I though this must have been a rare occurrence, and concluded games with 8 pieces along the h file must be scarcer still.
But doing a search on chessbase I found they were not that uncommon. I discovered nearly 100 games, and that was just with a search that had white pieces on ranks 1 to 4 and black pieces on ranks 5 to 8. The list of players who have played such games even include some famous names, such as Solkosky, Ian Rogers, Lajos Portisch and Johannsen (with 2 n's).  There soesn't seem to be any specific opening that leads to these positions either (upsetting my thesis that KID's were played in lots of these games),and the length of the games seems evenly distributed.
So without finding anything significant about this setup, I have randomly chosen a shortish game to at least show you that there is nothing special about being special.

Reefat,Bin Sattar (2487) - Abdulla,Al Rakib (2514) [C55]
BAN-ch 34th Dhaka (8), 28.04.2008