Monthly Archives: July 2016

A Shocking Performance


On Sunday I went to my monthly ‘Rookies’ tournament, a seven round 13min/2sec/ game event. I was paired up with a talented kid (FIDE1 1800) and lost which is what I expected, then a smaller kid who I should have thoroughly beaten but I lost, then I was up against a six year old girl who was tiny – I lost. I was utterly depressed with my games. All of them were full of huge blunders, often many blunders in a row. I beat a total beginner, lost to a 13 yr old and won my final game.

On reflection I can only think that my thinking was on autopilot. I don’t think I calculated at all, instead I relied on intuition which for many players works well. Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura certainly espouse the benefits of intuition. I guess that without regular practice intuition goes off a bit but I still cant explain my result. A total shoker!


My local ‘Tuesday’ club has a number of juniors that play from 6 till 7:30pm and then adults and some juniors play from 7:30 till 9pm. When I first started going it was just me and another adult with the occasional drop in but slowly we are getting more players. I decided to set up a group for the club and last week we had a couple more people drop in. It seems to me that when a club hits a critical mass it automatically starts to grow and become successful. A great example is the weekend club that I go to. It runs a monthly ‘Rookies’ cup which when I first started going would have about 40 players. Last month it was bursting at the seams with 82 players, beyond comfortable capacity. As a result the club decided to limit numbers but players could prebook their places, they announced this on their website. I arrived half an hour early on Sunday, without pre-booking, and was very lucky to get one of the last 4 places! 20 players were turned away.

Junior Elite Training Squad


In early July my son was invited to the Junior Elite Training Squad. I went along and wrote this for a chess club newsletter.

JETS 2016

30 Junior chess players from all over Australia were selected to attend the Junior Elite Training Squad (JETS) programme held in Sydney recently. The programme is aimed at encouraging and challenging the next generation of Australian champions and involves intensive coaching by Grandmasters and International Masters. This year the coaches were GM Zhang Zhong (Singapore), Box Hill’s GM Darryl Johansen, GM Max Illingworth, IM Moulthun Ly and Australian Champion IM Bobby Cheng (ex Box Hill junior and current Box Hill coach). Australian number one Zhao Zong Yuan was also a guest coach. Impressively many juniors were from Box Hill Chess Club. For the juniors it was an incredible opportunity to learn from some of the best players in the country and all the juniors that I spoke to seemed to get a lot out of the programme.

Each day started at 9:30am and finished at 4:30pm. The first day involved an introductory talk by GM Daryl Johansen on the rules and ethics of chess. Then the juniors were split into 5 groups of 6 and rotated between coaches over the next few days. I spoke to GM Illingworth who explained that he was focusing on initiative in chess, explaining that every move had to be purposeful and had to wrestle the initiative from an opponent. I heard from juniors that they also learnt about opening theory, pawn structure and endgame technique – they did this by reviewing games and attempting tactical exercises. On the last two days a small 6 round tournament was held, analysis of the games was done by the coaches between each round. Finally the juniors had the opportunity to play simultaneous games against some of the coaches – a video clip of IMs Bobby Cheng and Moulton Ly playing against juniors is viewable on the Australian Junior Chess Leagues facebook page.

The juniors came away from the week with plenty of inspiration, new knowledge and new friends. A huge thank you must go to Geraldine Johns-Putra, a Hong Kong Lawyer and former junior chess player, who once again sponsored this important event. Thanks also go to the Australian Junior Chess League for the organisation of such a great event!



The Victorian Junior Chess Championships 2016

Playing hall

I haven’t posted for a while but I have been busy with chess stuff. The Victorian Junior Chess Championships were on in late June and my son took part. I wrote a report for a local chess club. Here it is.


The under 12 section was the largest group with a record 34 players taking part and they played beautifully. As parents we were able to watch the games from behind glass in a raised gallery, this allowed us to have an eagle eyed view of the action without unduly distracting the players. As I watched games I was constantly impressed by the measured nature of the play and the amount of concentration that was being exerted. Several players used full advantage of the 75/30 time control as they calculated and strategised for more than 3 hours, which I think is a colossal achievement for the video game generation.

The cleverness of play was also inspiring. Victoria has many of the best players in Australia and in this section there were 5 players with FIDE ratings over 1600. As I watched the games I would predict moves, see an alternative being played, and think ‘yes, that move is better’. At this level small mistakes are often the difference between a win, a draw and a loss and great care was taken by players with each move. This meant that games would often continue to an endgame phase.The final standings showed 11 players all within 1.5 points of each other – a missed response to a blunder would have made it even closer with 11 players all within 1 point!

Here is a from a game that is a good example of simplifying a position.

Here is another game where Black gets into trouble. White is a pawn up and he has two passed pawns, one of which is on the 6th rank.

And there were many, many other interesting examples of play.

Prior to the final round no-one could be certain of their placing and the playing hall was awash with speculation about who would win if…