Saturday, 25 June 2016

You can only take one of them

The 2016 Gold Coast Open is being held this weekend, with the first round already run and done. By the time you read this it may be too late to book flights and accommodation, but you can still follow the event online. The top four boards from the top section are being shown here, and with three rounds tomorrow, you are pretty much guaranteed 12 straight hours of chess.
One of the featured games tonight saw IM Brodie McClymont destroy Henry Slater-Jones Najdorf Sicilian. As with many games in this opening, Whites lead in development lead to a number of sacrifices. In fact McClymont had a couple of pieces en-pris at times, reminding me of the old adage "you can only capture one of them". Once Blacks's centre collapsed, McClymont brought up the heavy pieces, and that was all she wrote.

McClymont,Brodie - Slater-Jones,Henry [B86]
Gold Coast Open, 24.06.2016

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Always nice to have a choice of wins

The shown position was from a game played last night at the ANU chess club. For most of the game the battle was more of a positional nature, with both players looking for outposts (c4 and c5) and fighting for control of the a file (which black eventually won). But this is a pathway to victory, not victory itself, and Black still had to find the winning move.
It turns out that there isn't just one winning move, but a couple. Having watched the game this isn't that surprising, and confirms the adage "positional advantages lead to tactical opportunities". In the position Black played 1. ... Qe4+ which takes advantage of the placement of the white king and queen, as well as the fact that the bishop on g2 is attacked. After 2.Nxe4 dxe4+ 3.Kg4 (3.Qxe4 Bxe4 4.Kxe4 Rxg2) 3. ...  Bd7+ 4.f5 exd3 White resigned. As for the other choice, 1. ... Bxd5 was the move I was looking at, with 2.Bxd5 (and not 2. Qxd5 Qe2#) 2. ... Rd2 causing White all sorts of problems. But Black sensibly chose the clearest way to finish the game.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

2016 ANU Open

The 24th ANU Open is taking place in Canberra on the weekend of the 30th and 31st of July. The venue is the ANU School of Art, Childers Street, Acton, a 10 minute walk from Canberra City. First prize in the Open is $1000 with a $400 first prize in the Under 1600 event.
Entries for the event can be made online at Entry fees are $70 for adults, $50 for juniors and concessions if you register before 22nd July. (NB Only registration is required to avoid the late fee, and you can still pay on the day)
If you are from interstate and thinking of playing, University House (the venue for the O2C Doeberl Cup) is a good choice for accommodation, while there are plenty of other places to stay within walking distance of the venue.
The ANU Open is part of the 2016 ANU Chess Festival which has a number of other chess activities (team blitz, schools teams tournament) from the 29th of July to the 3rd of August.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

A game, or problem solving?

I've just stumbled across a game/concept called Moveless chess. The idea is that you defeat your opponent, not by moving pieces, but by transforming them. You are given a position, and a number of 'points' which can be used to turn one type of piece into another. The points match the standard value of chess pieces (Q=9, R=5 etc) and each transformation reduces the number of points you have. The idea is to checkmate your opponent by transforming your existing pieces. In the meantime your opponent can move, so it isn't as simple as it looks.
I've had a quick play with it, and even at the simplest level it took a couple of tries to solve the position. I'm sure with practice I can do better (like  most things). It looks like a pleasant alternative to traditional chess problems, although the solving technique of 'I wish I had a queen instead of a knight here' doesn't neccesarily translate to real world chess.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Which rook?

Which rooks should go on which files is a fundamental question in chess. The dreaded 'wrong rook' syndrome plagues chess players, and the correct answer often depends upon the outcome of the game. But this post isn't about that.
It is about which rook should be captured, if you have the choice. Due to my extremely risky play in a Street Chess game on the weekend, I gave my opponent exactly this choice. He could either capture on the kingside, although I would be able to recapture straight away. Or he could grab the rook on a8 with impunity. In the end he took the rook on a8, but this allowed the remaining rook to join the attack. I guess I was lucky that my opponent chose the wrong rook.

Hellmann,Oskar - Press,Shaun [C11]
Street Chess, 18.06.2016

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Losing count?

A strange game between Hikaru Nakamura and Magnus Carlsen in the current Grand Chess Tour event being held in Belgium. Nakamura was having a terrible day ( 3 losses) but was then gifted a piece by Carlsen due to what seems to be a simple miscalculation. 11. ... Nxd5?? is just a blunder, and if Black wants the pawn on d5 11. ... Bxc3 has to be played first. White is still a little better (pressure against g7) but not a piece better.

Nakamura,Hikaru (2787) - Carlsen,Magnus (2855) [D38]
GCT Rapid YourNextMove Leuven BEL (5.3), 17.06.2016

Friday, 17 June 2016

The Fortress

At the club level, knowledge of endgame 'fortresses' is a bit hit and miss. It is kind of like knowing how to mate with Knight and Bishop, in that the more you study it, the less likely it is to happen. To be fair, real examples of a position similar to the one given here are quite hard to find. I suspect this is because at the club level players don't know enough to go looking for them, while at the IM/GM level, both players do know enough, and therefore avoid them if they can.
However, this position did come from a real game, and there are a couple of lessons to be learned from it. Firstly, it came from a position where Black had forced White to play Ne2xf4 as there was a pawn on f4 threatening to win the knight with f3+. In doing so, Black had unwittingly given White more drawing chances than if the knight was left on the board for a bit longer. Secondly, White still has to find Kf1 here to hold the draw, which he did. Thirdly, once this happens, the only thing White has to watch for is the sequence Qxe3 fxe3 Kxe3 with the White king on the wrong square (eg e1).
For around 15 moves White seemed to have it all under control, until his concentration slipped. With the Black king on f4 and the rook attacked by the queen, White played Ke1 and quick as a flash Qxe3 hit the board. Realising it had all just gone wrong at this point, White gave his opponent a sheepish grin and resigned.