Sunday, 18 March 2018

2018 Dubbo Open - IM Stephen Solomon wins

IM Stephen Solomon completed a clean sweep of the 2018 Dubbo Open scoring another 3 wins on day 2. He started off the day with a win over joint leader WFM Alana Chibnall, followed it up with a win over Trevor Bemrose, before reaching 6/6 by scoring a nice win of Don Keast.
The battle for second place was a little more dramatic, with 4 Canberra players paired together on boards 2&3 in the final round. Matt Radisich reached 4.5 by beating a somewhat flagging Graham Saint, while Glenn Ingham leapfrogged Chibnall in the last game too finish, converting a tricky opposite coloured bishop ending. This left Ingham and Radisich tied for 2nd place.
Milorad Lukic and Stephen Taylor (4/6) finished equal first in the Under 1650 category, Keith Farrell (3.5) had an excellent event to collect the Under 1400 prize, while 10 year old Eamonn Fitzgerald (3.0) was the best unrated player.
Full standings from the event, plus a small selection of games, can be found at

Solomon,Stephen J (2412) - Keast,Don A (1913) [C06]
Dubbo Open 2018 Dubbo AUS (6), 18.03.2018

Saturday, 17 March 2018

2018 Dubbo Open - Day 1

IM Stephen Solomon and WFM Alana Chibnall lead the 32 player Dubbo Open at the end of the first day. The are on 3/3, and will play in the first round on Sunday morning.
Solomon had two fairly straightforward wins in the first two rounds, but had to work a little harder in the third round. Chibnall got to 100% by overcoming former winner Don Keast in the third round after Keast played a piece sacrifice that was almost, but not quite, winning.
Tied for third are Trevor Bemrose and Slavko Kojic on 2.5. They will also meet in the 4th round, with the winner up against the winner of Solomon and Chibnall.
The club also hosted the regular handicap blitz event, which was won by WFM Alana Chibnall for the 4th time in the last years. Going the final round she was tied with Glenn Ingham, but an upset win by Helen Aylwin over Ingham in round 5 saw Chibnall finish outright first.

Kanostrevac,Zeljko (1764) - Solomon,Stephen J (2412) [A45]
Dubbo Open 2018 Dubbo AUS (3), 17.03.2018

Friday, 16 March 2018

2018 Dubbo Open

The 2018 Dubbo Open begins tomorrow at the Dubbo RSL Club. The event has attracted a very strong last minute entry in IM Stephen Solomon, who  is making journey back from Ballarat to Queensland, and has decided to have a chess break along the way.
While Solomon looks to be the clear favourite, I'm sure other players in the event hold out hope of scoring an upset win, especially at the slightly faster time limit of 60m+10s
While there will not be live coverage of the games, you can get all the tournament results at If I get enough time during or between rounds I will try and enter a few games, which can be replayed from the result web page.

(** I am a paid official at this event **)


Way back in 1988, the NSWCA organised an International Swiss at the Hakoah Club in Sydney, to take advantage of the World Junior, which had just finished in Adelaide. Towards the end of the tournament FM Craig Laird was looking good for an IM norm, having beaten one of the overseas GM's (IIRC). But it all came crashing down in the next round, when he lost a game that many thought he was a lock to win. Despite my hazy knowledge of who Laird's opponents were, I can still clearly remember a quote from Patrick Halpin about what happened. "One day a rooster, the next a feather duster"
I suspect Vladmir Kramnik might be feeling that way, having followed up his crushing win over Aronian in the Candidates Tournament, with a disastrous loss to Caruana in the next round. It wasn't that he was expected to win against Caruana that was the issue, but how the game played out. At first Caruana was winning, then it was equal, then Kramnik was winning, then it was equal, before Kramnik blundered in time trouble and lost. So instead of streaking ahead in the tournament, he has fallen back into the pack, and will need to regroup for tonight's game. It will be interesting to see if he bounces back, plays it safe, or goes 'on tilt'

Kramnik,Vladimir (2800) - Caruana,Fabiano (2784) [C42]
FIDE Candidates 2018 Berlin GER (4.4), 14.03.2018

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

2018 Candidates - Aronian (and my tips) get crushed

The third round of the 2018 Candidates Tournament saw one of the biggest hammerings at this level that I can remember. Kramnik uncorked an opening idea against Aronian that he had kept up his sleeve for 2 years, and totally demolished him. 7. ... Rg8 looked on the surface to be a hackers move, but it was actually a good method of exploiting Aronian's setup. Aronian either didn't take the idea seriously, or just missed the key ideas, but within a few moves he was unsuccessfully trying to avoid being overrun on the kingside. The game finished in a complete rout, with Kramnik's pawns ending up on f3 and g2.
Having tipped against Kramnik at the start of the event, he has proved me wrong by leading with 2.5/3. Aronian is on 1/3, only ahead of So (someone else I thought had a chance btw) on 0.5.

Aronian,L (2794) - Kramnik,V (2800) [C65]
FIDE Candidates 2018 Berlin GER (3), 12.03.2018

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

2018 ACT Chess Championship - Lo and Brown share title

The final day of the 2018 ACT Chess Championship could not split the overnight leaders, leaving IM Andrew Brown and Willis Lo sharing the title of 2018 ACT Champion. Lo had the slightly tougher run to the finish, but also had fortune go his way, after a dramatic round 6 win over FM Michael Kethro. Short of time Kethro played an unsound combination which left Lo a piece up, but Kethro still had possible drawing chances. However he lost on time after mishitting his clock, giving Lo the point. In the final round against Brian Butler, Lo gambled on a king and pawn ending which was still drawn after both players queened, but a misstep by Butler allowed Lo to reach another king and pawn ending, but this time a winning won.
IM Andrew Brown played two pretty convincing games against Adrian de Noskowski in round 6 and Joshua Lee in round 7. The game against Lee was probably the best game of the event, with Brown offering a rook for a number of moves while building up a winning attack. These wins left both Lo and Brown on 6.5/7, and joint champions.
Equal third was shared by Sankeertan Badrinarayan and Tim Pearce on 5/7. Ricky Luo and Lachlan Ho shared the Under 1500 prize, with Ho picking up the best performance against rating prize (otherwise known as W-We). Thomas Lin was the best FIDE unrated with 4/7, while Liam Miller won the best newcomer prize.
Full results, plus a selection of games (including the top 4 boards from each round) can be found at

Monday, 12 March 2018

2018 ACT Championship - Brown and Lo share lead after 5 rounds.

IM Andrew Brown and Willis Lo share the lead in the 2018 ACT Championship after 5 rounds. The two players met in round 4, with Brown looking good early in the game, before Lo turned the tables, and reached an almost winning position around move 40. However Brown found enough to keep the game going, and after Lo was not able to find the right lines, the game ended with KvK!
Adrian De Noskowski is outright third on 4 points, after a good 5th round win against Brian Butler. He faces Brown in the mornings round, while Lo is up against FM Michael Kethro. Kethro had a tough day 3, being held to a draw by Sankeerten Badrinarayan, before losing a quick game against Brown in the afternoon round.
With two rounds to play Lo and Brown are in the box seat, but with 7 players tied for 4th on 3.5, the final placings are still a little up in the air. Round 6 starts at 10am (Canberra time). Live coverage of the top 4 boards can be found at

Brown,Andrew (2278) - Lo,Willis (2005) [D19]
2018 ACT Championships Canberra AUS (4), 11.03.2018

Sunday, 11 March 2018

2018 Candidates

The 2018 Candidates tournament is about to start in Berlin (1am Canberra time). The field of 8 players will play each other twice to determine who will challenge Magnus Carlsen for the World Championship. While there are a couple of notable names missing from the field (Nakamura and Anand spring to mind), the fact that only 46 rating points separate the top seed (Mamedyarov) and the bottom seed (Karjakin) means that the tournament will either be incredibly competitive, or super cautious. I'm certainly hoping for the former, but I wouldn't be surprised if Round 12 (out of 14) is reached with 1 point separating the entire field!
As for who is going to win, I honestly don't know. I'm going to discount Ding Liren and Grischuk's chances, and I can't see Kramnik taking first place either (despite his 2800 rating). That leaves 5 players (Aronian, Caruana, So, Mamedyarov and Karjakin) that I think could all take first place. If I had to pick one of form, I'd take Mamedyarov, while one sentiment, I'd like to see Aronian across the board from Carlsen later in the year.
The official tournament website is here, while chess24 is also covering the game at this link.

Friday, 9 March 2018

2018 ACT Championship - Round 1

The first round of the 2018 ACT Championships saw no real upsets, with the top half of the field winning on almost all the boards. The only exception was a draw between unrated James Minogue, and Banner Shafer, where a drawn rook and pan ending was reached after 3 hours of play.
There was quite a gap between the top seeds and the rest of the 37 player field, although the longest games did occur on the top boards. Probably the game of the round was played by FM Michael Kethro against Ricky Luo, with Kethro finding some nice tactics in the middle game. (You can see the top 4 games here)
The first round tomorrow starts at 10:00 am, with live coverage of the top 4 games. You can also late enter the event, taking a half point bye for the first round. Current standings from the tournament (and future draws etc) can be found here.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Time to get your entries in

If you are planning your chess activities over the next month, no is the time to get entries in for each of these.
The 2018 ACT Chess Championship is starting tomorrow night, at Campbell High School, Cambpbell ACT. This is a 7 round FIDE rated event with a time limit of 90m+30s per move. As it is a long weekend in the ACT (Canberra Day!) the tournament has a relativity relaxed schedule of 1 round Friday evening, followed by 2 rounds on each of the following days. There are already 24 player entered, and entries will be taken up until the start of the first round at 7:00pm. Further details can be found here.
If you are in Victoria, or planning to travel there, the 2018 Ballarat Begonia Open is being held this weekend as well. Considered the number 2 weekend event in Australia (after the Doeberl Cup) it looks like a strong event, with 4 Australian GM's at the top of the field. Entry details can be found at the tournament website.
Next weekend is the 2018 Dubbo Open, in western NSW. This event normally attracts a personable mix of players from Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra, and the host city, and often provides a good opportunity for players in the 1700 - 2000 rating range to win a weekend event. Event details can be found at this link.
And of course Easter sees the 2018 O2C Doeberl Cup. Entries have sailed past the 120 mark, with the Premier starting to fill up. (NB each section has a maximum number of available places). The Premier already has 4 GM's and 7 IM's officially entered, with at least one more overseas GM close to being confirmed. You can enter online at the tournament website, as well as see who has already entered in each of the sections.

(** I am a paid official at 3 of these events **)

Tuesday, 6 March 2018


Losing a game over the board is bad enough, but to lose it for other reasons can be especially painful. By now most experienced players are familiar with the dreaded mobile phone forfeit, but if you've played chess long enough, you eventually learn there are other ways to hand over a point.
Oversleeping is always a goody, and looking over Bill Egan's book on the Doeberl Cup, I see that a few players have fallen foul of this. IM Aleks Wohl did this on at least two occasions, missing out on playing GM Eduard Gufeld in 1988, while I was even guilty of this offence in my first Doeberl Cup in 1985 (In my defence I had worked a 10pm to 6am shift, and my mother ignored my instructions to wake me at 9am).
Flipping a chess board is a rarity, but I know of at least one incident (at a local club) where a player upended a table, and walked out before being defaulted. (It seems that the player had tangled his bag around the table leg, and in grabbing the bag, upset the table.)
Of course with the various "no draw before x moves" rules in play, it is now easier to be double forfeited. This has happened on occasion, but not in any tournaments I've directed. On the other hand, failure to report a result has resulted in me recording 0-0 in lots of tournament, usually in blitz, but also in at least one Doeberl Cup.
Fortunately the one object that has caused more forfeits during the game (the mobile phone), is probably responsible for less accidental forfeits by sleeping in. Whether it has been a net gain, I'm not totally sure.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Form is temporary

But class is permanent. So goes an old saying, which could be applied to Vishwanathan Anand. After winning the most World Rapid Championship he has backed it up with a win in the 2018 Tal Memorial. While the event isn't quite what it was (previously it was a classical all play all, now it is a rapid and blitz), it did have an incredibly strong field. His 6/9 was a full point ahead of Mamedyarov, Nakamura and Karjakin. He lost to Mamedyarov, but beat Nakamura, Dubov, Grischuk and Nepomniachtchi. Quite an impressive feat for a player many were suggesting was past it towards the end of 2017!

One rule to change?

Of all the rule proposals that I read while I was a member of the FIDE Rules Commission, there was one potential rule change (to how the game was played) that I did not reflexively dismiss.
It was in fact a very very old rule (rather than a new 'I can make chess better' rule), and it used to be part of the game. I am talking about the 'Bare King' rule, where losing all your pieces (except your king) counted as a loss.
Now, while I said I didn't reflexively dismiss it, I don't actually think it should be reintroduced to the game, with a possible exception. One variation on this rule was that a win by 'Bare King' only earned you half the stake for winning the game (when chess was a betting game). Using that idea, it may be possible to use it as a tie-break, or secondary scoring system. Keep the usual result system, but assign a secondary score based on this feature. The diagrammed position is an example, where under the old rules this is white to play and win, under the current rules this should be a draw (with best play), but incorporating secondary results, this is a draw, but White earns more from the game than Black.
Of course proposals like this tend to fall foul of my "Exactly what problem are we trying to fix here" rule, so apart from its possible use in novelty events, I don't see it catching on.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Innovations can come from anywhere

While looking at the latest coverage of the Pro Chess League at, I saw a shout out to GM David Smerdon, from a game played by World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen had a quick win as Black playing the Scandinavian, and Smerdon's book on the opening was given credit. However I thought the opening idea looked both familiar and older, and a bit of research confirmed this.
Where I remember it from was the 1998 Australian Junior Championship, where Kylie Coventry scored a 19 move win using the same line. I'm pretty sure the FM Manuel Weeks was the source of the idea (as he coached Coventry on the way to winning the Australian Girls Championship that year), although the line was first played (unsuccessfully)  in 1994. But it is no surprise that Smerdon included it in his book, as he played in the Australian Junior that year, and probably saw how powerful it was, as it was being played!

Norris,Shiloh (1348) - Coventry,Kylie (1533) [B01]
AUS jr ch U18 Girls Adelaide (2.33), 13.01.1998

Friday, 2 March 2018

Before I found the Traxler

There was a time when I did not play the Traxler against the Two Knights Defence. Way back in the dim distant past I did play the more normal 4. ... d5 lines, although even this move "simply loses a pawn" according to Nigel Short.
But if the following game is anything to go by, the reason I switched to the Traxler is if I was going to surrender material (as I did in this game), then I should do so for the right reasons (rather than just missing my opponents moves)

Austin,David - Press,Shaun [C59]
Belconnen, 1986

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Did Black move first?

While digging through some information concerning the "Immortal Game", I came across a piece of information I have never seen before. According to the July 1851 edition of "The Chess Player" by Horwitz and Kling, Anderssen actually played with the black pieces during the game. But before you think the result has been misreported for over 150 years, the game is given with Anderssen (as Black) still making the first move. It does not seem to be a typo in the magazine, as the notes attached refer to Black as the winner.
If this were the case Anderssen's play is even more impressive, as playing with white as black can be quite off putting. I've seen it done on occasion (usually after a quick loss at skittles and the players are too lazy to swap the pieces) but even then, the king and queen are often swapped, so that short castling is still to the right for 'Black'.

Monday, 26 February 2018

2018 ACT Chess Championship 9-12 March 2018

The 2018 ACT Chess Championship is being held on the long weekend of the 9th to the 12th of March 2018. It will be a 7 round FIDE rated Swiss with the first round on Friday evening (9th), and 2 rounds on each of the following days. Time limit is 90m+30s
The tournament will be held at Campbell High School, and there will be a cafe/canteen running during the tournament. The tournament is open to all ACTCA members ($25/$15 per year) and for players without an international rating, this provides an ideal opportunity to get one.
Further details (including entry information) can be found at

(** I will be a paid official at this event **)

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Neglecting development

One of the big risks in neglecting development in the opening is that you increase the risk of getting hit by a surprise tactic. Here is a short example of this, from a game I played today at Street Chess.

Press,Shaun - Tiwari,Rajiv [D00]
Street Chess, 24.02.2018

It's not always how many moves

For a couple of different reasons, I've been looking over some the work I had previously done in the field of Anti-Cheating in Chess. While doing so, I came across a slightly different take on detecting engine use in online chess.
The simple approach is to compare the moves played with what a strong engine might play. However this generally only catches people who aren't smart enough to cover their tracks, although this is still quite a large number of guilty players. As discussed in this answer on Quora, it is often a shorter run of moves that is the giveaway, rather than the entire game (Note: This method was recognised as a possibility when I was a member of the FIDE Anti-Cheating Committee). Also mentioned in the answer are the conditions for turning on (or off) an engine during the game.
The other issue with move matching is that it returns differing results for different styles of games. The classic example of this were the respective performances of Mikhail Tal and Anatoly Karpov at the Montreal 1979 Super Tournament. In a retrospective examination of the games by Professor Kenneth Regen, Tal has the highest move match with modern chess engines, at a little under 70% (IIRC). Karpov had the lowest match of the players in the event, at least than 50%. Interestingly, they tied for first place with 12/18.
The explanation for this is due to the differing styles of players. Tal's games involved a lot of positions where the second or third best move was significantly worse than the best choice (due to the tactical nature of the positions), while Karpov's positions had a number of moves that were good, and it was a matter of his long term understanding of the position as to which one was chosen.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

In praise of club chess

For some players, the regularity of club chess can be a real chore. Facing the same opponents, not being able to skip a week to go to the movies, or simply becoming too strong are some of the reasons that come into play.
For other players (including myself), playing at a local club is what makes chess, chess. Knowing that a mistake in one game isn't the end of the world, or engaging in multi-year theoretical debates about favourite openings, is something that keeps members playing week in week out. And while the chess isn't perfect, it usually is interesting enough that each player (and spectators) get something out of it.
A few weeks ago I published one of my wins from the current tournament at Belconnen Chess Club. Here is a far more interesting game from round 3 of the same event (This time it isn't mine, as I played like a knuckle-head last night and lost). Milan Ninchich looked like he was gone for all money against Miles Patterson, until he found a clever double rook sacrifice at the death, to salvage a draw by repetition.

Ninchich,Milan - Patterson,Miles [B02]
University Cup Belconnen, 20.02.2018

Resigning with all the pieces still on the board

It is very rare that one player loses a game, while all 32 pieces are still on the board. Of course with rules concerning the use of mobile phones during the game in force, it has probably become a little more common, but even then it is at least noteworthy.
Here is a remarkable example from 2013, with Vasilly Ivanchuk resigning in 19 moves. Lest you think the early resignation was a function of Ivanchuk's eccentricities, Stockfish has him at -2.6 when he threw in the towel.

Ponomariov,Ruslan (2742) - Ivanchuk,Vassily (2755) [C05]
Makedonia Palace GP Thessaloniki GRE (6.1), 28.05.2013

Sunday, 18 February 2018

How did I miss this story?

When I last visited the UK (late 2016, early 2017), I did not get a chance to visit Portmeirion in Wales, which is something I have done on two previous occasions. If I had, I may have walked into the middle of a chess related row, between fans of the TV series "The Prisoner", and local residents.
Each year there is a recreation of the human chess game that was seen in the episode "Checkmate", on a space of open lawn. For years the board had been a temporary one, but it was decided that a permanent one should be built. Local residents objected and an argument ensued.
In the end the Prisoner fans one, and the board has gone in. For more detail, plus a picture of the game, you can click on this link (Warning, it does have some annoying auto play video of other news stories)

Friday, 16 February 2018

In author mode

I'm currently in 'Author Mode', trying to write some new titles for e+ChessBooks (Disclaimer: I am employed by the company as a software developer). It is a mixture of typesetting older books, converting some newer books to electronic format, and putting together some original content.
The work I am trying to get finished first is a reworking of a 19th century collection of brilliancies, which was published without annotations. As a result I've spent the past week going through the games (with computer assistance) trying to find different ways of saying 'Black missed a better defence with ...'. And while the attacking play is quite ingenious, I have to agree with Bent Larsen's contention that he would have easily been World Champion in the 19th Century (if he had the same chess knowledge) as he would have simply defended better.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

FIDE chickens looking for roosts

The fallout from the 2014 FIDE election continues to roll on, with the FIDE bank account in Swistzerland being frozen. (
As the above article says, this is due to  FIDE President Kirsan Ilymzhonov being under US government sanctions for his involvement in financing aspects of the conflict in Syria. Of course this has been an ongoing issue for FIDE for a few years now, but has come to a head at a somewhat unfortunate time.
The article does quote FIDE Treasurer Adrian Siegal placing the blame directly on the FIDE President, but he would do better to look at the actions of some of his other FIDE colleagues. One of the problems that FIDE face is that they have no real mechanism for removing Ilyumzhinov, but this is a problem that the organisation created for itself.
In pushing so hard for Kirsan to win the past two elections (2010 and 2014), the FIDE executive essentially ran roughshod over any idea of executive accountability. This has meant that there are no real mechanisms for holding anyone accountable for their actions (unless you are a former FIDE executive member or unsuccessful candidate), and so Kirsan will remain president until the next election.
That this has occurred is of little surprise to me, based on what I witnessed during the 2014 election in Tromso. There was a definite 'win at all costs' mentality on show there, which I personally thought crossed the line in terms of what should have been an independent process. An obvious example of this was Kirsan's promise of $40,000,000 to support chess, which while being an obvious lie, was praised or excused by members of the FIDE Executive, rather than condemned by the very people who knew it was untrue.
After the election was I was even accused of being depressed because 'my guy lost', to which I replied, "No, I'm upset at the level of behaviour I've seen from people I expected better of". And it is this attitude of privilege over principal that has left FIDE painting itself into a corner.
Of course it is the same people who campaigned so passionately (and in some cases unethically)  for Kirsan's election who are now turning around to claim that they are the only people who can fix it. I have no doubt that they themselves believe it, and that is part of the problem with the current executive. Better for all would see them confess their past sins, take some responsibility for this fiasco, and then consider what they should do in retirement.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Crossing the board

There have been a couple of celebrated games where the Black king gets checkmated on the opposite side of the board. Normally a piece (or greater) sacrifice was involved and the king was frog marched to its doom. Most games I have seen take more than 20 moves before checkmate is achieved, but the following looks like some sort of record, in that Black is mated on e1 in only 15 moves. Unlike some other record setting games, this one does look legitimate, with Black just blundering in the open.

Abdel Aziz,Shehab (2116) - Tawfik,Neamet [C21]
Cairo op-B Cairo (1), 2000

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Order to Chaos

Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura are currently playing a match for the unofficial title of Fischer Random World Champion. After 4 games Carlsen leads 5-3, having won the 4th game.
The match is over 16 games, with the first 8 played at a slower time limit (40 moves in 45 minutes followed by 15 minutes flat) than the last 8 (15m+10s). Scores are also doubled for the first 8, which accounts for the slightly odd score. For the first half players are shown the start position 15 minutes before the start, while for the rapid they will only have 2 minutes to see the position (NB the same position is used for each pair of white/black games).
I've had a quick look at the games, and there seems to be just enough in the initial setups to challenge the players. To my untrained eye, it seems that the positioning of the rooks is a significant factor in what sort of game you will see. If the rooks start off in (or close to) the corners (as they did in games 3-4) you get a 'normal' position, much sooner than if the rooks already occupy the centre files. I also noticed that sound pawn structures seems a little less important than I'm used to, but then I realised that seems to be the trend in normal chess at this level anyway.
I'd like to show you a game, but attempts at getting the pgn view to work have been a little tricky. If I discover the secret tomorrow, I might update this post.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

You snooze, you lose

Today was the first day of the 2018 Lifeline Bookfair in Canberra, so I made the effort to try and get there early. While I'm not mad enough to bring a tent and sleep by the door (in fact, no one is) I do try and make sure I'm at least close to the door when it opens.
The strategy was reasonably successful this year, as almost all the second hand chess books were still on the table, although a few had been picked up by one fleet of foot chess parent!
As I've mentioned in the past, I usually don't buy that many books these days, as I already have copies of most of them. I did get an Informator No. 2, to go with the No. 1 I picked up last time. A couple of problem books, a collection of games by Rubenstein and of course a copy of "Play Better Chess" by Barden were also some of the books I grabbed.
Luckily I was in early, as about 5 minutes after I made my selection, a lot of books went in one sweep of the hand as someone just tipped half of them into an open bag. I'm assuming it was a second hand book seller, as a more discerning collector would have at least checked the prices.
If you do plan to visit tomorrow, I'm not sure if there will be many chess books left. They usually have extra boxes for most categories, but if past years are anything to go by, the whole chess collection goes out at the start and does not get replaced.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

A proto-Traxler

While the Traxler did not make its debut until the late 19th century, there were games played earlier than that, that at least showed some of the ideas that were employed. One example was a game from 1850 where Black allowed a fork on f7 and sacrificed the rook on h8 to gain time for his attack. Unlike the Traxler proper, there was no sacrifice on f2, although the bishop on c5 still played an important role.

Moor - Dubois,Serafino [C50]
Rome Rome, 1850

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Gratuitous Blogging

The Belconnen Chess Club has reopened for the year, which means gratuitous blogging of chess wins from me. For the first round of the 2018 University Cup I was up against Matt Radisich, which is a tougher than usual round 1 pairing.
After I plunked a knight on d5 I felt I was better, although there was a miscalculation by myself on move 27 which Matt did not take advantage of. After that I went into a R v BN ending, which normally favours the two pieces, but fortunately a combination of a better placed king, and a tactical trick missed by Matt (36.Rf1) was enough for me to convert.

Press,Shaun - Radisich,Matt [B26]
University Cup, 06.02.2018

Goodnight Sweetheart

For non serious chess players, the Knight (or the horsey) is the most interesting piece on the board. Its slightly unusual movement, and its ability to jump over other pieces quickly gains it attention above and beyond its station. It is hardly surprising then, that moves involving knights stand out. Knight forks are spoken of far more than Bishop forks or Rook forks, while under promoting to a knight is a pretty big deal. And long sequences of knight moves do get noticed, as the following game demonstrates. From move 22 to 34 Anand (as white) moves nothing but his Knights, forcing the black pieces to duck and weave from square to square.

Anand,Viswanathan (2787) - Topalov,Veselin (2805) [E04]
World-ch Anand-Topalov +3-2=7 Sofia (6), 01.05.2010

Monday, 5 February 2018

Plan, calculate, move

White to play and win
Here is a position from the recent Gibraltar tournament (one of the Amateur events I believe). It is White to play and win.
Given the unbalanced nature of the position, trying to pick an obvious move is a little difficult. Instead a better approach is to try and develop a more general winning plan before choosing a specific move. Once you have a plan, then you can calculate more efficiently, and hopefully come up with the correct move.
(Note: When I first saw it, I did get the right plan, but still manged to choose the wrong first move, so this method isn't fool proof)
Thanks to WFM Alana Chibnall for sending it to me.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

An odd, but important game

If I asked you to name a game where White sacrifices a queen on d8 and mates after a double check from rook and bishop, you wouldn't be wrong if you said 'Reti v Tartakower'. But as with most things, this game wasn't the first example of this idea, just the most popular. Well before, Ernst Falkbeer (of the Falkbeer counter gambits) demonstrated the winning method, in an odds game. Falkbeer started without his queens knight, which in this case may have been more of a help than a hindrance, as he was able to castle one move quicker than normal, and getting his rook ready for the mate.

Falkbeer,Ernst - Simpson,Mr

Friday, 2 February 2018

Aronian wins Gibraltar Masters

Lev Aronian has won the 2018 Gibraltar Masters, after a marathon playoff session that involved the top 4 finishers. In fact the final round results left 7 players tied for the lead on 7.5/10, but the tournament regulations only allowed the top 4 (on tie-break) to go though to the playoff.
In the semi-finals, Vachier-Lagrave defeated Nakamura to end his attempt to claim a 4th successive title, while Aronian defeated Rapport. Then in the final Aronian beat MVL to claim his second title (the first being a multiway tie in 2005, which in fact lead to the introduction of the playoff system).
IM John-Paul Wallace was the best of the Australian players finishing 5/10, although his final round win came at the expense of WIM Heather Richards. A win for Richards would have seen her score a WGM norm (by the narrowest of margins) but it wasn't to be. Alek Safarian finished alongside Richards with 4 points, while WFM Alana Chibnall score 3.5 (matching my score from last year).

Aronian,Lev - Nakamura,Hikaru [B06]
2018 Gibraltar Masters, 01.02.2018

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Four colour chess

Actually this post is not about 4 player chess, or multi coloured chess boards, but more about an historical link between the Four Color Theorem and chess. The Four Color Theorem states that you only need 4 colours to colour a map so that no region with a shared boundary (not corner) has the same colour. It is one of those maths problems which are easy to state, kind of simple to test, but difficult to prove.
One of the earliest (erroneous) proofs was given by Alfred Kempe, who was a mathematician and lawyer. He was also a pretty strong chess player, capable of pulling off some brilliant combinations. I came across a very good example where a slight slip by his opponent allowed a nice queen sacrifice, which led to the black king being caught in a mating net. Both perfectly sound, and delightfully 19th century.

Kempe,Alfred - S,G [C60]

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

2018 ACT Blitz Championship

Willis Lo has continued his recent run of good form, winning the 2018 ACT Blitz Championship this evening. He scored 8.5/9 conceding just one draw, to FM Michael Kethro. Kethro finished in second place on 7.5, just ahead of IM Andrew Brown on 7.
The 18 player field took  little bit of time to get used to the new FIDE Blitz rules, and as tournament director I did have a couple of tricky situations to deal with. Otherwise the tournament ran smoothly, and it also gave me a chance to test the new DGT Live software (you can see the top board game from each round at

Brown,Andrew (2263) - Lo,Willis
2018 ACT Lightning Championship Canberra, Australia (4.1), 30.01.2018

Upcoming Canberra events

The Canberra chess year is getting up and running, and as usual there are plenty of important events to play in over the next two months.
The first ACT Chess Association event of the year is the ACT Blitz Championship which is being held tomorrow night (30th January) at the Belconnen Chess Club from 7pm. This will be a 9 round event, with a time limit of 5m per game. It is open to all players.
The ACT Chess Championship will be running across the Canberra Day Weekend of the 9th-12th of March. It is a 7 round FIDE rated swiss with a time limit of G90m+30s. The venue will be Campbell High School, with a single round on the Friday night, and 2 rounds on each of the following days.
Then of course there is the O2C Doeberl Cup, which beings on the 29th of March. This year the tournament is being held at the Southern Cross Club Woden, which promises a larger venue and better facilities then University House.
And finally, if that isn't enough, there are a few weekend events outside Canberra, including the 2018 Dubbo Open, which is on the weekend of the 17th and 18th of March.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Bashing the Sicilian

I've featured a couple of wins by WIM Heather Richards from Gibraltar, and now it is the turn for WFM Alana Chibnall to take the spotlight. She looks to have won the Under 2000 prize in the Challengers A Event (Harry Press narrowly missed out on this last year), and while she is finding the Masters a little tougher, she did score a good win over a much higher rated opponent in round 2.
Meanwhile Heather Richards outplayed a strong IM in round 3 of the Masters and look to have finished as the best female player in the Challengers. Both players are performing well above their ratings and hopefully this good form will continue into the second week of the festival.

Chibnall,Alana (1906) - Van Zyl-Rudd,Jack (2197) [A00]
Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2018 Caleta Hotel, Gibraltar (2.124), 24.01.2018

Friday, 26 January 2018

A win for Australia but may be a loss for chess

Not one but two Australian personalities background in chess were highlighted in the news today.
2018 Australian of the Year Michelle Simmons attributed her start in science on beating her father in chess. Having achieved what was she thought was an unexpected win, she began to wonder what else she could achieve. These days she is a Professor in Quantum Physics at the University of New South Wales, where one of her projects is the design of a quantum computer. Read her story here.
The other chess player made good is young Australian leg spinner Lloyd Pope. After taking 8/35 against England in the Under 19 World Cup, it was revealed that apart from being a talented cricketer, he also played competitive chess while at high school. If his career develops, as seems likely, it may set up an interesting clash with Indian cricketer Yuzvendra Chahal who plays currently plays T20 and ODI for his country, and previously represented India in chess at the junior level.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Betting on chess

While poking around the internet I came across the latest betting market on a couple of chess events. It seems you can odds on individual games at Gibraltar and Tata Steel, as well as odds on the tournament winner. You can even bet on a player not winning the event, with Carlsen having the shortest odds to win, and the best payout not to.
The current market for the upcoming Candidates Tournament has Aronian the favourite (at 5/1), with Caruana and Mamedyarov close behind at 11/2. Grishuck and Ding are the outsiders here at 13's. I'm not sure who is setting the odds btw but they've given the house about a 20% edge.

(Note: I am not naming the betting site, or endorsing betting on chess as this has both caused difficulties in the past within the chess world, and that  an organisation I have worked for in the past has oversight in this area)

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

First round dangers

If you have enough players sitting down to play chess, there is a good chance that at least some games won't go according to rating. And when most of those players are rated above 2000, then the chances of this happening are obviously increased.
The first round of the Gibraltar Masters saw this in spades where lower rated players proved to be quite a handful for their higher rated opponents. Top seed Lev Aronian was held to a draw by Anita Gara, while a number of GM's ended up on the wrong end of the scoreboard against non-GM opponents.
From an Australian point of view the most outstanding result was WIM Heather Richards beating GM Alexandra Kosteniuk. Richards did not seem overawed by her opponent, taking the fight to her right out of the opening, and capitalising on a blunder by Kosteniuk to win the exchange. Then it was a matter of converting this advantage into the full point, which Richards did after 5 hours of play.

Kosteniuk,Alexandra (2561) - Richards,Heather S (2223) [A00]
Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2018 Caleta Hotel, Gibraltar (1.52), 23.01.2018

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Lani and Richo's Great Big Chess Adventure

Two of Australia's leading women players, WIM Heather Richards and WFM Alana Chibnall have made the journey to Gibraltar to play in the 2018 Gibraltar Masters. Unlike the team of Press and Press (Shaun and Harry) in 2017, they are subjecting themselves to a more punishing schedule, playing in the Challengers in the morning, followed by the Masters in the afternoon.
The first round of the Challengers took place yesterday, with the Masters starting today (1am Canberra time).
It was a mixed set of results for the Australian's, with Chibnall losing after failing to spot a flaw in her plan, while Richards took advantage of a tactical mistake from her opponent. While watching the game live I thought Richards was always better, but it turned out that her opponent missed a couple of strong moves that would have won early on, and at least drawn towards the end.

Maric,Boris (2034) - Richards,Heather S (2223)
Gibraltar Challengers A Caleta Hotel, Gibraltar (1.6), 22.01.2018

Monday, 22 January 2018

The openings we love, hurt us the most

GM Gawain Jones is well regarded here in Canberra, having played in a few Doeberl Cups, where he proved a friendly and entertaining  competitor. Despite moving up the chess ladder since then, he has stuck with a lot of the openings that he played back then, which is why he is a popular player elsewhere as well.
In the current Tata Steel event he wheeled out the Sicilian Dragon against World Champion Magnus Carlsen, which apparently surprised Magnus, despite the fact that Jones has even written a book on the opening. Whether through over confidence or carelessness, Carlsen even managed to blunder a piece in the opening, and looked gone for all money. But he did have a little play for it, and he began to pose problems for Jones. The pressure that Carlsen did exert began to tell and after a couple of inaccurate moves from Jones, momentum swung Carlsen's way. A few moves later the position was even, and then in Carlsen's favour. And soon after the first time control Jones had to resign a game that earlier on was headed for a different outcome.

Carlsen,Magnus (2834) - Jones,Gawain C B (2640) [B76]
80th Tata Steel GpA Wijk aan Zee NED (8.1), 21.01.2018

Sunday, 21 January 2018

The new Number 2

Fans of the Patrick McGoohan show "The Prisoner" will remember the importance of "Number 2", the ever changing antagonist of "Number 6". Recently the chess world has seen as similar situation where various players have taken on the role of  Number 2, potentially challenging Number 1 (Carlsen). The current Number 2 is Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who is currently leading Tata Steel after scoring his 3rd straight win. He is now a full 10 rating points ahead of third place in the live rankings and is only 18 points behind Carlsen. In part he has been aided by the collapse of Caruana, who has dropped 5 places, and 20 rating points, due to his poor results in Wijk aan Zee.

Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar (2804) - Wei,Yi (2743) [E06]
80th Tata Steel GpA Wijk aan Zee NED (7.5), 20.01.2018

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Highest, Fastest, not quite the strongest

Having look through my database for some interesting games, I began to wonder who was the highest rated player to get mated in 5 moves, in a proper game. Finding the answer was not quite as simple as it looked, as there were a few examples where strong players clearly threw the game in a very obvious manner (An example of this was 1.f3 e5 2.h3 Qh4+ 3.g3 Qxg3#)
So the game I have chosen may not be the absolute record holder, but it at least looks plausible (if a bit weird).

Gardijan,Milan (2153) - Sulc,Gordana (2020) [B20]
Bizovac Metalis op 11th Bizovac (5), 28.02.2004

BTW, if you are looking for games that end Mate in 6, then take you pick from vast number of people who walked into 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Qe2 Ngf6 6.Nd6#

Friday, 19 January 2018

ACT - Punching a little above its weight

While arbiting at the recent Australian Championship, I kept a special eye on the players from Canberra who took part in the various events. The ACT has always punched well above it's weight in Australian chess, and this year was no exception. Three ACT players took part in the Championship itself (IM Andrew Brown, FM Michael Kethro and Albert Winkelman) which is not a bad number considering the ACT makes up 1.6% of the Australian population. Andrew Brown finished in a tie for 8th place, while Michael Kethro (5/11) and Albert Winkelman (4.5/11) did not do so badly.
In the Reserves event Willis Lo finished in 2nd place, after going down in the final round. He started the event seeded 22nd, and had a particularly impressive second half of the event.
In the Classic event Matt Radisich surprised even himself by finishing in third place, going through the tournament undefeated to finish on 5.5/7.
And finally, Fred Litchfield  had a strong Blitz championship beating IM Stephen Solomon, FM Jack Puccini, and IM Leonid Sandler to score an impressive 7/11.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Viva Anand

After a less than stellar 2017 (except for the last bit), Viswanathan Anand continues his resurgence at the Tata Steel event in The Netherlands. He won his first round game against Maxim Matlakov and then drew with Karjakin in round 2. In round 3 he was up against Fabiano Caruana, and defying the age gap, beat the young American in a complicated game. He now leads the event on 2.5/3, along with Anish Giri, who seemingly surprised everyone by winning his first two games.
As I type this Giri is up against World Champion Magnus Carlsen in a sharp line of the French, where Black has thematically sacrificed the g and h pawns for activity in the centre. Anand is facing countryman Adhiban, and might be outright first by the time I wake in the morning.

Anand,V (2767) - Caruana,F (2811) [C42]
80th Tata Steel GpA Wijk aan Zee NED (3), 15.01.2018

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

2018 Australian Junior

The 2018 Australian Junior Chess Championship is up an running in Melbourne, and it looks like there is a record field on hand. The main event is the Under 18 championship which has attracted a pretty solid field of 22 players, although typically missing the very top Australian juniors.
The older age groups (open) run the entire length of the tournament, while the majority of events start on Wednesday. The ACT is represented by 8 players this year, with Sulia Van Sebille probably the best hope of taking home a title, in the Under 14 girls.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Tata Steel 2018

After two weeks of watching chess during the day, now it is back to two weeks of watching chess late at night. The 2018 Tata Steel event has just begun (15 minutes ago!), with the heavyweight clash of Carlsen v Caruana first up. The 14 player round robin also has Kramnik, Giri, So, Anand in the field, so there should be plenty of good games each round.
This tournament should also provide something of a preview for the upcoming Candidates tournament with a few of Carlsen's likely challengers in the field. It may be an opportunity for them to both test Carlsen, as well as try and get a physiological edge over each other. Of course Carlsen could use the tournament to repeat Capablanca's dominant win in the 1927 New York tournament ( 2.5 points ahead of Alekhine), although if he does, he should hope that history does not repeat itself further, as Alekhine then defeated Capablanca for the World Championship title later that year.

2018 Australian Championships - Illingworth wins

GM Max Illingworth finished his dominate run in the 2018 Australian Chess Championship with a final round win over FM Gene Nakauchi. Nakauchi chose a line against the French Defence that was known to be bad from one of his previous tournament games and Illingworth was already better by move 10. The game ended with a sacrificial attack followed by a smothered mate combination. The win moved him to 10 points from 11 rounds, a full point ahead of GM Anton Smirnov.
Smirnov had a quick final round game after WGM Pauline Guichard miscalculated a pawn grab and dropped a piece. GM Moulthun Ly secured third fourth place with a short final day draw with IM James Morris.
The other game of significance was between IM Ari Dale and IM Gary Lane. A win for Dale would have given him a 9 game GM norm, as he was able to drop two winning games over lower rated opponent earlier in the event, to raise the average rating of his opponents to the required level. Lane chose an aggressive attacking line against Dale's Caro-Kan, but once the attack petered out, Lane's lack of development proved fatal. The win gave Dale a TPR of just over 2600 which was enough for the norm.
The Reserves event also had a dramatic finish with WCM Nguyen Phan beating round 10 leader Willis Lo, to capture first place on 9/11. Phan, who lost her first round game, recovered from a slow start to finish the tournament with a run of 6.5/7. Despite the loss, Lo still finished outright second on 8.5/11.

Lane,Gary W (2401) - Dale,Ari (2356) [B18]
2018 Australian Championship Sydney (11.4), 12.01.2018

Friday, 12 January 2018

2018 Australian Championship - Day 10

GM Max Illingworth is on the verge of winning the 2018 Australian Championship, after another strong win in round 10. The Only player who can now possibly catch him is GM Anton Smirnov, who kept the gap between the two players to a single point, after also winning his round 10 game.
Illingworth is playing FM Gene Nakauchi in today's last round, while Smirnov faces WGM Pauline Guichard. A loss to Illingworth, and a win to Smirnov would see the title decided by a future playoff match.
GM Moulthun Ly's chances of being part of the last round dramataics took a hit when he drew with IM Kanan Izzat in round 10. He now sits on 7.5/10, along with IM Ari Dale who beat IM Stepehen Solomon in a tricky Bishop v Pawns ending. Despite the win, Dale has fallen just short  (by half a point) of scoring a GM norm, as the tournament does not have enough GM's for a 10 game norm, and his TPR for a 9 game norm is just below 2600. (*** Correction ***) If Dale beats Lane he does get a 9 game GM norm as he an drop wins over his two lowest rated opponents, and just exceed the 2600 TPR required.
In the Reserves tournament, Willis Lo has kept the lead with a round 10 win over Pieter Bierkins. He faces WCM Phan Nguyen in the final round, with the tournament being decided by the result of this game.
The final round for both tournaments commences at 1015 this morning, with all the winners likely to be known by mid afternoon.

Illingworth,Max (2494) - Lane,Gary W (2401) [D20]
2018 Australian Championship Sydney (10.1), 11.01.2018

Thursday, 11 January 2018

2018 Australian Championships - Day 9

The 9th round of the 2018 Australian Championship saw wins for the tournament leaders, leaving the places at the top unchanged. GM Max Illingworth seemed to catch IM Kanan Izzat by surprise in the opening, with Izzat thinking for 15 minutes over his third move (and leading GM Ian Rogers to ask me if the DGT broadcast had frozen). As Izzat fell further behind on the clock, his position deteriorated and he went down to a quick defeat.  GM Anton Smirnov beat veteran IM Stephen Solomon in a game which had a long tactical sequence that ended in a winning knight ending for Smirnov. GM Moutlhun Ly had to work a lot harder against FM Brandon Clarke, and was rewarded when Clarke made a fatal mistake in a ending that may have been hold-able.
With 2 rounds to go, Illingworth leads with an impressive 8/9. Smirnov and Ly are a point behind, with IM Ari Dale in 4th place on 6.5/9.
In the Reserves tournament, Willis Lo has taken the outright lead after beating George Lester. Lo, who had applied to play in the championship (along with a few other Reserves players), goes into the last to rounds on 7.5/9, ahead of 5 players on 7.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

2018 Australian Championship - Day 8

The 2018 Australian Championship is now down to a race among 3 players, after some crucial round 8 games. On the top board GM Max Illingworth defeated IM Bobby Cheng, playing a very aggressive system against the Pirc. He held the initiative throughout the game, and Cheng resigned on move 34. IM Kanan Izzat had to fend off a strong attack from GM Anton Smirnov before drawing soon after the first time control. On board 3 GM Moulthun Ly put a dent in the chances of IM Ari Dale after beating him in 32 moves. Spotting a tactical chance, Ly got both of his rooks on the 7th rank, after which Dale's king was unable to be saved.
With 3 rounds to play, Illingworth leads with 7/8. Ly and Smirnov are a full point behind on 6/8. There is a group of players back on 5.5, but even if Illingworth does stumble in the final straight, I cannot see anyone from this group outpacing all the leaders.
The 2018 Reserves Championship continues to be a wide open event, with previous leader George Lester being brought back to the pack by CM Vishal Baht. They were joined on 6.5/8 by WCM Nugyen Phan, and Willis Lo, who both won their round 8 games. The top 4 are paired in round 9, so both this round and the next may decide who gets to play in the 2020 Championship.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

2018 Australian Championship - Day 7

Back from the rest day, the 7th round of the 2018 Australian Championship saw the players engage in some very hard fought games. GM Max Illingworth maintained his half point lead, drawing with GM Moulthun Ly on the board 1 clash. On board 2 GM Anton Smirnov and IM Bobby Cheng played a very exciting game, where at one point Cheng looked to have overpressed, before reaching a position where Smirnov had to very careful in his choice of moves. A draw just after the first time control was the eventual outcome.
IM Ari Dale moved into outright third with a win over IM Andrew Brown. Dale, who had a poor run of form befoe Christmas, has bounced back in this event, and is edging closer to a possible GM level result (2600 performance rating). He is playing GM Moulthun Ly in round 8 and a win (or possibly a draw) would keep these chances alive.
Today's eighth round sees Illingworth against Cheng, Smirnov against IM Kanan Izzat, and Dale against Ly. The action begins at 1pm Sydney time (on site), with the delayed broadcast starting at 1:30pm

Brown,Andrew (2293) - Dale,Ari (2356) [E97]
2018 Australian Championship Sydney (7.3), 08.01.2018

Monday, 8 January 2018

2018 Australian Championship - Day 6

Day 6 of the 2018 Australian Championship was a rest day for the main events, which might have been a good thing given the extremely high temperatures in Sydney (over 40 Celsius for most of the day). Instead of slow chess, 102 players turned up to play the 2018 Australian Blitz Championship instead.
The tournament was an 11 round swiss, played with a 3m+2s time control. For the first time, the new FIDE Blitz rules were in effect, with the most significant change being that the first illegal move no longer loses the game (an additional minute being given to the opponent instead).
English FM Brandon Clarke was almost unstoppable in winning the event, scoring 10.5/11, dropping only half a point to IM James Morris. He played 1 GM and 5 IM's and had a performance rating over 2700. GM Moulthun Ly finished 2nd on 9.5/11, with IM Kanan Izzat third on 9/11. Ly's second place was enough to earn the title of Australian Blitz Champion though, as Clarke was ineligible for the title.
Despite the new rule changes, the tournament ran very smoothly. The two 'floor' arbiters (myself and Nick Cooper) were able to handle the various illegal move claims quite quickly (usually 2 or 3 a round), while Bob Keast did a great job of collecting results. A lot of the credit for the smooth running of the tournament should go to the players themselves, as there no disputes, and no reasons to trouble the appeals committee.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

2018 Australian Championship - Day 5

The final round before the rest day saw players on the top 2 boards taking a pre-rest rest. Both games were drawn pretty quickly leaving GM Max Illingworth (5.5) in the lead over GM Anton Smirnov (5.0) by half a point. GM Moulthun Ly and IM Bobby Cheng (both 4.5) were joined in third place by IM Ari Dale, who beat Bahman Kargosha on board 3.
With 5 rounds the play the eventual winner will almost certainly come from this group of 5 players. Illingworth has a slight edge over Smirnov at this stage, both by virtue of his half point lead, and the energy required to win his games. On the other hand Illingworth has yet to play Cheng and Ly, while Smirnov only has Cheng to face in the leading group.
In the Reseves, Pieter Bierkens and George Lester share the lead with 5.5/6. There Round 7 clash will be keenly watched by the large chasing group, with 12 players within a point of the lead.
David Lovejoy finished outright first in the 7 round Classic, after beating John Redgrave in the final round. However most interest was in the board 2 game between Daniel Melamed and Peter Wilson, where Wilson (as Black) marched his king to a5 just out of the opening,  leaving the rest of his army behind. A very tough game ensued, with Melamed eventually winning a tricky RNvQ ending to secure second place.
Today (7th January) is a rest day for the Championships and Reserves. The Australian Chess Federation is holding their national conference, with the Australian Blitz Championship starting at 2 pm.

Friday, 5 January 2018

2018 Australian Championship - Day 4

GM Max Illingworth continues to lead the 2018 Australian Championship after beating IM Ari Dale, scoring his 5th consecutive win. Under pressure from Illingworth, Dale risked everything with a speculative rook sacrifice which was ultimately unsuccessful. Close behind Illingworth is GM Anton Smirov who found IM James Morris' king a juicy target. Tomorrow the two leaders face off in a game that will have a significant say in the final outcome of the tournament.
Further down there were a few tragedies, with FM Tim Reilly unable to avoid a stalemate trick from Sam Asaka, despite being a piece up in the ending, while IM Gary Lane found almost the only move that gave GM Moulthun Ly a forced mate in an otherwise drawn ending.
The Resrves sees 4 players now sharing the lead, with Vishal Baht, Tom Slater Jones, George Lester and Pieter Berkins all on 4.5/5. Bhat and Berkins meet on the top board, with Lester and Slater-Jones playing on board 2.
The final round of the Classic is being played tomorrow, with David Lovejoy leading on 5.5/6. He plays John Redgrave who is 5 points, while Daniel Malamed and Peter Wilson (also on 5) play on the second board. Obviously a win for Lovejoy makes him outright first, while any other result could lead to a tie at the top.

Russell,Paul - Shi,Eric [B01]
2018 Australian reserves (5), 05.01.2018

Thursday, 4 January 2018

2018 Australian Championship - Day 3

GM Max Illingworth is the outright leader in the 2018 Australian Championship, after 4 rounds of play. Today he beat IM George Xie in a tactical game to move half a point of closest rivals, GM Anton Smirnov and IM Ari Dale, who drew their top board clash.
There were a number of tough games further down, with wins to GM Moulthun Ly, IM James Morris, IM Bobby Cheng and GM Gene Nakauchi moving them to a share of 4th place with 3/4. Round 5 will see Dale play Illingworth on board 1, with Morris against Smirnov on board 2.
CM Tom Slater-Jones and CM  Vishal Baht share the lead in the Reserves tournament with 4/4. They play on the top board in round 5. Just behind on 3.5 is a group of 4 players, including Tom's brother Henry.
With 2 rounds to play in the Classic, David Lovejoy and Kevin Shen share the lead with 4.5/5. They play in tomorrows 6th round, with the winner looking good to take out first place. A draw would even throw the event wide open, as there are a further 6 players tied for third on 4/5.
The start time for all events tomorrow is 1pm. The top 8 boards of the championship are being broadcast via Chess24, while the top 2 boards of the Reserves can be seen at

Illingworth,Max (2494) - Xie,George Wendi (2369) [A45]
2018 Australian Championship Sydney (4.2), 04.01.2018

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

2018 Australian Chess Championship - Day 2

Today saw the first, and only double round day of the 2018 Australian Chess Championship. Double round days can be quite difficult to manage for players, as the temptation to 'conserve' energy can lead to some missed opportunities. It turned out not to be the case in most games however, as both the morning and afternoon rounds saw tough battles across all the boards.
At the end of three round three players share the lead on 3/3. GM Anton Smirnov beat IM Andrew Brown in the morning round, and followed it up by beating GM Moulthun Ly in a hard fought game in round 3. GM Max Illingworth had a good win over IM James Morris to also reach 3, while IM Ari Dale bounced back to form with wins over IM Bobby Cheng and IM Kanan Izzat.
Tomorrows round sees Smirnov play Dale on board 1, while Illingworth is up against the returning IM George Xie.
The Reserves event is still proving to be a very tough event, with the top 9 seeds all dropping at least half a point over their first 3 games. Tom Slater-Jones is the highest seeded player on 3, joined by another 5 players on the same score.
The 7 round Classic tournament also has a multiple tie for first, with 5 players on 3/3. Tomorrow is another double round day for this tournament, so the potential winners of this tournament should be a little more apparent after another 2 games. Unlike the Reserves, the top seeds are doing a lot better, although I would not rule out a surprise winner.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

2018 Australian Championships - Day 1

The 2018 Australian Championship began today, with most of the top seeds surviving a testing first round. The 34 player event saw a couple of upsets, with Arthur Huyhn beating IM Stephen Solomon, and FM Kevin O'Chee scoring a nice win over IM Gary Lane. On the other hand top seed GM Anton Smirnov had a fairly straight forward win over FM Michael Kethro, and IM Bobby Cheng rebuffed an ambitious attack by FM Zachary Loh.
The Reserves tournament attracted a field of 98 players, and the top seeds found it especially tough. Kevin Sheldrick drew on board 1 to Nicholas Johnson, while seeds 3 (WCM Phan Nguyen) and 4 (Nathan Hibberd) both went down.
The Classic saw a field of 65 players, with the top half scoring heavily. One exception was Sophie Davis defeating Patrick Beahan, a rating difference of 848 points.
Tomorrow is a double round day for all 3 events. Round two starts at 10:15am, with round 3 at 3:30 pm. The top 8 boards are being broadcast at Chess24, with the non broadcast games being available after the round is finished.

Huynh,Arthur (2042) - Solomon,Stephen J (2365) [D67]
2018 Australian Championship Sydney AUS (1.9), 02.01.2018

A quick update from Sydney

The start of the 2018 Australian Chess Championships is only a few hours away. The tournament set up is complete, and all that is needed is for the players to turn up!
The top 8 boards of the Championship are being broadcast on Chess24. The direct link is
There will also be embedded pages from the tournament website, although this will be set up later.