Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Yoko Chess

There are very few things that I have as an absolute belief. One, Don Bradman  is simply the greatest sportsmen, of any sport, in history. Two, The Beatles produced the best music of any recording artist, ever.
So anything related to the Beatles peaks my interest. When there is a chess crossover, then my interest is doubled. These two things came together with the news that Yoko Ono has released a chess app called 'Yoko Chess'. The basic 3D version if free (for the iPad/iPhone) but you can get a premium version as well. This contains both a board where all the chess pieces are dogs, while the second set is a version of her famous all white set from 1968, titled 'Play it by Trust'.
The all white set is about showing we are all on the same side, but those who can play "Kibitzer's Chess" can also use it to play that variant.
If you want a copy, click through the story here, and follow the links.


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

This is how you break a record

Brigitta Sinka, an 87 year old Hungarian chessplayer, has broken the record for the most number of simultaneous games played in a career, having just clocked up her 13,600th game. More correctly, she has broken Jose Capablanca's record of 13,545 games, which is believed to be the previous record.
Of course such claims are sometimes difficult to prove, but in her case she has kept a record of the 13,600 games she has played, starting back in 1957.  A lot of the games were played at holiday camps for children, but I suspect even then the quality of opponents would be reasonably high, being Hungary and all.
Nonetheless I would not be surprised if there are players who have played more games than this, just without the requisite documentation. One name that springs to mind is Joseph Henry Blackburne, who made his living from simultaneous displays. He had a very long career stretching from 1862 to 1921, and it is estimated he played 100,000 games over this time. Assuming he played simuls for 50 years, and 20 board simuls were typical, he would only need to play 20 simuls a year to clock up 20,000 games. But based on his own collection of best games it seemed he played many more than that annually, so even 20,000 seems to be an underestimate.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Differences between European and Australian Chess

One of the significant differences between Australian and European Chess (at least in my opinion) is how we deal with cold weather. For most of Australia cold weather doesn't really exist, and so we tend not to prepare that well for it. On the other hand, cold weather (and snow and ice) is a regular part of the European winter, so when it happens, everyone is prepared.
This was brutally highlighted today when I ran the ACT Under 8 Championships. It was held in an unheated school hall, for 24 brave contestants. For most (if not all of the day), the temperature would have been below the age limit for the tournament. This had a couple of effects on the running of the event, although not on the level of play. Setting clocks took a little longer, as my fingers were not able to operate properly. I was also a little lenient on the 'no running in the hall' rule, as this seemed to be the best way to stay warm. And finally, while the little bar heater provided some warmth for parents, I am thinking about renting microwave warmed wheat bags out at the next event at the venue.
As for the chess, Dexuan Kong won the tournament with 8/9, a point ahead of Victor Ni, Arnav Jain and Piet Clayden. Hannah Ni was the best placed Under 6 player, while Stella Pugmire won the Girls prize.
(Full results of this and other ACTJCL events can be found at www.actjcl.org.au)

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Australia v Norway

The 2015 Gold Coast Open is currently underway at Somerset College, Mudgereeba. Along side the tournament are a number of other activities including the JETS Training squad (for Australia's up and coming junior players) and a coaching session for some of Australia's top female players.
As part of this training there is going to be a 6 board match between an Australian women's team, and a Norwegian women's team. It is going to be played over the internet (of course) and will be hosted by Chess24.com The match starts at 7:00pm tomorrow (Sunday) and will last around 2 hours.
Not only will this event provide a bit of extra practice for the Australian players ahead of next weeks Oceania Zonal, but if it is a success, be be a precursor to future matches involving both Female and Open teams.

Walter Browne 1949 - 2015

Australian/American GM Walter Browne passed away on the 24th June 2015 in Las Vegas. He had just completed a series of chess and poker events in the city, and died in his sleep while staying at a friends place.
Born in Sydney in 1949 he was sometimes regarded as Australia's first Grandmaster, earning the title in 1969 while playing under the Australian flag. However he lived all but the first part of his life in the United States, and after representing Australia at the 1970 and 72 Olympiads, shifted to the US for the rest of his career.
He won the United States Championship 6 times (3rd most wins after Fischer and Reshevsky) and the Australian Championship in 1969. He scored a phenomenal 31.5/41 on board 1 for Australia at 2 Olympiads, winning individual bronze medals both times. He also played poker, competing in a number of events, and winning some substantial prizes along the way.
As a player who was habitually in time trouble it was no surprise he was a fan of blitz chess. He even went as far as forming the World Blitz Chess Association, and producing a magazine "Blitz Chess"
Possibly his most famous game was a win over Arthur Bisguier in 1974. The brilliant Bh6 was a complete surprise to his opponent, and at the time there were suggestions that this might have been a Fischer invention. Oddly for such a brilliant move, it quickly reached a rook and pawn ending, but one in which Browne was winning.


Browne,Walter S (2575) - Bisguier,Arthur Bernard (2435) [C42]
USA-ch Chicago (9), 1974



Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Topalov!

6/7. Leads the Norway 2015 field by 1.5 points


Grischuk,A (2781) - Topalov,V (2798) [E20]
3rd Norway Chess 2015 Stavanger NOR (6), 22.06.2015


Monday, 22 June 2015

Banter!

Miles Patterson tipped me off to a set of very entertaining chess videos that can be found on youtube. The are under the collective name off "Banter Blitz" and consist of recordings of strong players playing online opponents at 5 minute chess, while providing running commentary during the game. The roll call of players taking part is quite strong with Peter Svidler and David Smerdon on the list. But the real highlight are the clips from Miss Strategy (IM Anna Rudolf) and Miss Tactics (IM Sopiko Guramishvili) where they spend a couple of hours playing on chess24.com In one clip Miss Strategy leads the way, while in the second Miss Tactics handles the mouse. Their commentary is both funny and informative, and you could do worse than spend a couple of hours listening to the thought process of some high class blitz players.