Monthly Archives: March 2016

Dragon Slayer

Dragon Slayer

I have written about what my ideal game would be in a previous post but it would be a game versus a human over a long time control and it would be free of blunders – ideally it would have great tactical combinations. Yesterday I played my best game to date. It was the final game in a ‘once a week’ tournament and because I had won all my previous games, partly through luck, I ended up being undefeated on board one. This competition is ACF rated and my rating when I joined the tournament was 863, opposite me was my opponent who was a FIDE Master with an ACF rating of 2082. Here is the game, I am White.

The game was great for me – my best to date. It wasn’t overly tactical but I think it was beautifully positional and I was very happy to play such delicate moves over such a long period. Looking at the engine output after this analysis shows that it was extremely close and didn’t vary by more than 1 point for for 50+ moves! Even after 65 moves there was never more than 2 points in it.

Hard Pawns: A Rook Can’t Stop Two Pawns On The Sixth

In endgames there are some rules that need to be learned. One rule is that two pawns on the sixth cannot be stopped from queening by a rook. Endgame knowledge can help middlegame action. Here is a game where my soft pawns became hard pawns on move 27.

Scot vs Scot

scot vs scot

Prior to the Begonia Open I was looking at one opening for White that I had a good chance of being able to play but which was slightly offbeat. I have previously tried to learn the Scots Gambit opening and again I focused on increasing my knowledge of this system. I felt confident that I knew most lines and the reasons behind them but there’s a lot to learn without even considering off line moves.

So I looked at the pairings for my first game and saw that I was playing a player who was 500 rating points above me and unfortunately I was black.

Here is the game

The game was extremely close as can be seen by the engine graph.

Scots gambit graph

The Begonia Open 2016

An article I wrote for a newsletter:

My son and I played our first long format chess tournament at the 49th Begonia Open last year, it was where we obtained our FIDE ratings. Even then there was excitement about the upcoming 50th anniversary tournament and we were eager to play again.

One of the big draw cards this year was to persuade GM Nigel Short to play. GM Short is a British Grandmaster who had a peak rating of over 2700 and was world number 3. I was a schoolboy living in Britain with little interest in chess when he and Garry Kasparov played for their own version of the World Championship. The event was going to be televised and the idea of watching chess on TV struck me as very dull – up there with snooker or darts – but I chose to watch anyway. I became transfixed as an exotic world opened up, a world of poisoned pawns, Najdorf variations and French Defences opened up. Short’s impact on British Chess – and to an extent on chess in the west – was immense and his appearance at Ballarat added a level of historic importance to the event. Other great chess players who competed were GM’s Johansen, Illingworth and Zhao and IM’s Smirnov, Dale, Cheng, Izzat, McClymont, Ikeda, Solomon, Dale, West, Sandler and Rujevic – a slew of talented players.

Another incentive was the prizes offered at the competition and Ballarat Chess Club did brilliantly to secure the sponsorship that allowed them to offer such a large prize pool. First prize outright was $2500 but there were also prizes for rating groups, brilliancies, upsets, beating GM’s, beating IM’s, best junior, best unrated and others. Everyone had something to play for and this added to the excitement of the event – especially with the juniors.

Finally GM Roger’s commentary was an enticement. GM Rogers is Australia’s first GM, he commentates on chess events around the world and spent three days in front of display boards and a projector discussing the top games. It was astonishing to listen to the commentary, his level of insight and knowledge is immense and he engaged respectfully with his audience to create an atmosphere of debate and discussion.

The only downside of the competition was that this year they chose not to FIDE rate it because ‘titled players both from Australia and overseas’ may choose not to play. This clearly frustrates IM Izzat who wrote that it was ‘pretty pathetic’, he was not alone. Many people were surprised that a ‘Class 5 Grand Prix Event’ was not FIDE rated and apparently some young talented players skipped the event because of this. I am sympathetic to this frustration. Improving players, especially young players, value trying to increase their official world rating and in Australia there is little opportunity to do this.

But the rating issue aside it was a perfect escape that I would recommend to any chess player. At the end of the competition there were three people in first place on 6 points, they were GM Nigel Short, IM Kanan Izzat and IM Bobby Cheng. The final standings are at the chesschat website.

The Long And The Short Of It

nigel 3

This coming weekend I am going to the Begonia Chess Tournament which is a chess competition in Ballarat, a town in regional Victoria.  I went to this tournament last year, it was my first long format tournament and it was where I became FIDE rated. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the tournament and the organisers have managed to persuade Nigel Short, a well known chess player from the UK, to come along. Nigel Short is a vocal critic of FIDE, he believes it is riddled with corruption and presided over by a lunatic. He would like to see FIDE cleaned up so that the organisation can better promote the game of chess in a more open and transparent way. His influence rests on his past games and his current FIDE rating.

It is odd, therefore, that the Begonia Chess Tournament, which last year was FIDE rated, is not going to be FIDE rated this year. Many players who are trying to improve, myself included, would like it to be FIDE rated so that we can strive to improve our ‘official’ rating. I would argue that almost all players would like to see the competition FIDE rated since they all hope to do well. A FIDE rated competition has gravitas and gives young players an opportunity to prove their skill in an official way. Something that someone like Nigel Short, supporting a better FIDE, would surely be happy with.

So why, given the important 50th anniversary, isn’t the tournament FIDE rated this year? Surely this would be the least we would expect. Well there has been some discussion about this on chesschat, an Australian chess web forum. The link is here and in the thread an IM states:

“Regarding tournament being not FIDE rated, it makes absolutely no sense. If it is because of contravention of July 2014 FIDE rules about ratings, once again it makes no sense since the 2015 Begonia Open was FIDE rated. I think it might be not FIDE rated because of enquiries from top player/s, since they don’t want to take risk of losing rating points, which sounds pretty pathetic, however, I don’t see any other reason that could explain it. It will be very much appreciated if organizers could clarify this situation, thanks.”

The response was:

“The committee for the 2016 BEGONIA OPEN has received a number of queries as to why this 50th anniversary tournament will not be FIDE rated.

Every endeavour has been made this year to ensure that this historic event is memorable in every possible way. Part of that included making special invitations to attract titled players both from Australia and overseas. It also included inviting many past winners of the tournament to compete again.

Whilst FIDE would agree to rate the tournament, the committee and the major sponsor were particularly concerned about the impact of the playing conditions on titled players and the possible adverse impact on their FIDE rating. It was felt that the gruelling playing schedule over such a condensed period, particularly the 3 games set down for the Sunday, did impose an unreasonable demand on those players.

The committee would like to advise that no player has made the matter of FIDE rating a condition of their participation in the tournament. Whilst the cost of FIDE rating the tournament is not insignificant that also was not the main consideration.

Some players may be concerned that they do not have the opportunity to gain a FIDE rating or ratify it, but the tournament will continue to be ACF rated.”

If  ‘specially invited titled players both from Australia and overseas’ are concerned about impacts on their FIDE ratings or if the committee are so worried that these players would be concerned about their ratings then I think it’s feeble. All players play under the same condition so a ‘grueling’ schedule for one player is ‘grueling’ for another. Any chess player worth their salt should be willing to put their points on the line. This must be better for chess, for FIDE and for anyone who wants FIDE to grow and to become more open and transparent. Give me the attacking 93 and 91 year old players from my last two posts any time over a titled player unwilling to risk FIDE points.

Poker Face


There are times when you blunder and I think it is very important to remain poker faced afterward. An example would be in game 6 of the 2014 world championships when Carlsen made a ‘blunder’ (parenthesised because it is an extremely subtle blunder in my world) and he didn’t acknowledge it. In a post game interview he said he saw the blunder as soon as he made it. Vishy was focused on another part of the board and didn’t notice the blunder. In a post game interview he noted that he did spot the blunder the second after he had moved. Here is a commentary of the game showing this

and here at 1:14 Carlsen you can see Carlsen slumping his head in relief after Anand misses his opportunity.

I played a long and very close game this Sunday as part of my weekly Sunday tournament. It was a great game except for a couple of blunders on both side. On my part I went from +1.5 to -3.5 in a few moves although I wouldn’t say it was a true blunder since my opponent played a neat tactical maneuver that I missed. My opponent, however, went from +5 to -6 in one move, that was a blunder! But it was at such an exciting part of the game, with time running low and me flailing for a draw, that my focus was elsewhere and I hadn’t noticed the it. Unfortunately after his move he sighed, groaned and made visible despairing movements. Maybe I would have seen the blunder but I certainly did now and it was game over. Had he not sighed it might of been me groaning in despair. Here is the game, I am white.

I wish I could have won fair and square since this is my best win by FIDE rating yet. He was rated around 1750 which is more than 400 points above me. He is also 91 years old!!!