Wednesday, 29 July 2015

2015 Politiken Cup

Oddly enough, one of the reasons why last years numbers were down at the ANU Open (as opposed to this years good turnout) was due to a tournament on the other side of the world. The 2014 Politiken Cup in Denmark was scheduled to run just before the start of the Chess Olympiad, and so a number of strong Australian players used it (instead of the ANU Open) as a warm up.
This years event did not have the benefit of serving as a lead in for the Chess Olympiad, but it seems not have troubled the event, which has attracted a record field. Having a quick look at the tournament home page I can see why it is such a success, as apart from the main event, there are lectures and simuls for players to take part in. The line up of lecturers is quite impressive, with Timman, Sune Berg Hansen and  Agaard amongst the talent. There is even a lecture from Chessbase about how to use Chessbase effectively, which I am sure will be very popular.
As for the hordes of Australian's playing, this year it is down to 1. IM Justin Tan (who is based in Europe) is taking part, and after a 3/3 start has slowed down a little to sit on 3.5/5. With such a large field (431 players) 5 rounds is still not enough to separate the leaders and their are still 4 players with 5/5. The tournament is showing around 60 games live, and with online commentary, it may just be the distraction I need from what is turning out to be a catastrophic start for Australian in the cricket!

The ups and downs of turn based chess

Apart from my ICCF based chess, I also play some turned based chess on chess.com This differs from usual CC in that each move has a fixed time limit (usually 3 to 5 days per move). So you cannot build up time by moving quickly, as the clock simply restarts with every move.
To be honest I don't mind this format, as it means I have to look at my game on a regular basis. On the ICCF server I often fall into the trap of briefly looking at a game, then coming back to it over a week, before realising I have to play 5 moves in 2 days. On the other hand it seems a little easier for me to play a 'casual' move in the turn based format, as the following game demonstrates.
At various points I thought I had found a winning line, only to realise it didn't quite work. And when I did find a winning line I immediately undid my good work by castling, allowing my opponent to recover some material. Fortunately I was able to reach a winning ending, but even then it took a large amount of work (and a few inaccurate moves by me) before the game was put to bed.


Messi000 (1958) - shaunpress (2273)
Let's Play! Chess.com, 09.05.2015



Monday, 27 July 2015

No more English GM's?

I was having a look at the field for the 2015 British Championship and I noticed a strange distribution of titled players. The Championship has done well to attract 11 GM's, but oddly, only has 3 IM's playing. In a similar fashion, there are 12 players rated above 2400, but only another 9 above 2200.
I'm pretty sure this situation has occurred somewhat regularly in recent years, and have seen discussion of this situation on the English Chess Forum. It is a little similar (on a larger scale) to what happened with the Australian Open in 2007 (4 GM's and only 2 IM's), and I wonder why it is so.
Some of the given reasons have to do with the likelihood of winning prizes against the cost of playing, which if true, does strike me as odd. An admission that you don't quite have what it takes to move to the next level is one that most top players would never openly make, but essentially it seems to be saying the same thing. Conditions might be another issue, although the solution to that is of course becoming a GM yourself.  Otherwise I am at a loss to come up with a rational reason for the absence of GM's, unless it is simply that England has generated as many GM's as it can, and there are no more left to be had!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

2015 ANU Open Day 2

IM Andrew Brown has become the first player to win the ANU Open three years in a row, after an exciting final round. He started the day with a win of overnight leader IM Junta Ikeda, before maintaining his lead with a win over Jason Hu. In the final round he was paired against WIM Emma Guo, and after overpressing an attack fund himself down a piece. However he had some compensation, in the shape of a trapped opposition bishop, but the smart money was on an upset win for Guo. But with both players running short og time, he continually frustrated Guo's attempts to promote a pawn, and after one final misstep, was able to draw the game.
His score of 6/7 (+5=2) was enough to win the tournament by half a point over IM Anton Smirnov. Smirnov started the day badly, with a loss to Jason Hu, before finishing with 2 wins, including a crucial last round win over IM Junta Ikeda. As a result Ikeda finished in a tie for third place with Canberra junior player Michael Kethro.
The Minor event (Under 1600) was won by Nhorval Valle, who started the day with 2 more wins (to go with the 4 from yesterday) before being held to a draw by Hikaru Oka in the final round. The draw by Oka gave him a share of 2nd place, alongside Jared Plane and Bazli Karattiyattil. The 56 player event was very competitive with Joshua Lee (5/7) winning the Under 1200 prize and Ruofan Xu (4.5/7) winning the Under 1000 prize.
With 83 players taking part, this years event was a big success. The tournament ran smoothly (if a little overtime on the first day), and the competitors enjoyed themselves. The 7 round format can be tough (especially on older players), but everyone got their money's worth.
The rest of the ANU Chess Festival sees the ANU High Schools and Primary Schools Teams Championships, and numbers are already looking good for these events. Thanks for a succesful tournament should go to Shun Ikeda, Paul Dunn and IA Charles Zworestine, as well as all the volunteers who helped throughout the weekend.


Brown,Andrew - Guo,Emma [D85]
2015 ANU Open Canberra, Australia (7.1), 26.07.2015



Saturday, 25 July 2015

2015 ANU Open Day 1

At the end of a gruelling 4 round day, IM Junta Ikeda is the outright leader of the 2015 ANU Open. He was the only player to go 4 from 4, beating IM Richard Jones in round 3, and CM jason Hu in round 4. He is closely followed by IM's Anton Smirnov and Andrew Brown, who drew their round 3 game, and won all the rest.
The tournament has attracted 83 players across the 2 sections (27 in Open, 56 in Minor), which is up 20 players from last year. The Open is headed by 4 IM's (Smirnov, Jones, Ikeda and Brown), with 5 other players rated above 2000. Tomorrow mornings round sees an all local clash on board 1, with Ikeda and Brown playing for the lead, going into the final two rounds.
In the Minor (Under 1600) section David Zanon, Jared Plane and Nhorval Valle share the lead with 4/4. Apart from the surprise performance of the unrated Valle, Jaykob Brooks-Johnson (3/4) and Nellie Clayden (2/4 in her first ever tournament) are among some of the lower rated players who have impressed on the first day.

Full results from the tournament, as well as a link to live coverage of the top two boards can be found at http://tournaments.streetchess.net/anu2015/ And if you missed some of today's action, here is the exciting round 3 game between IM Andrew Brown and IM Anton Smirnov, where Brown failed to find the win when down to his last seconds, and Smirnov held on the draw the game.


Brown,Andrew - Smirnov,Anton [D15]
2015 ANU Open Canberra, Australia (3.1), 25.07.2015


Friday, 24 July 2015

ANU Chess Festival Day 1

The 2015 ANU Chess Festival began with its now traditional city chess activity at King O'Malley's Pub. While in years past it was a lunchtime simul, it has since been replaced by a teams blitz event. This year 9 teams of 2 players turned up for the 5 round swiss, which turned out to be a close affair. Some of the teams represented the local clubs (ANU Scholars, Belco Blitzers), some were work related (The Budget Busters from Treasury/Finance) while others were made up of players who shared a common interest.
Going into the last round the ANU Scholars lead the next 4 teams by half a point (7 v 6.5), but a 2-0 win by the Scholars over Readings Rebels left them a full point ahead of the Belco Blitzers. This was the second time in 3 years that the ANU Chess Club has provided the winning team, which for this year consisted of Harry Press and Miles Patterson. It was a fun event, and the only regret from the players was that it should have run for longer!
Tomorrow the 2015 ANU Open begins at the ANU School of Art. At this stage there are 76 players entered (once I excluded Magnus Carlsen, Gary Kasparov and Hikaru Nakamura from the entry list), and a few more should enter on the day. The tournament website is as tournaments.streetchess.net/anu2015 and I hope to broadcast the top 2 games from the open each round.


Thursday, 23 July 2015

Chess and doping

The topic of random drug testing in chess events is a subject I am well acquainted with (see here for some of the details), so when the topic comes up I do take an interest.
The latest piece on this topic comes from WIM Salomeja Zaksaite, who discusses it in terms of general issues, and legal ones. Possibly the most interesting point concerns whether doping control in chess is "proportionate to the aim that is being sought to achieve?" The seems to hint that the restrictiveness caused drug testing might actually fall foul of the requirements of the European Court of Human Rights. As a result anyone who refuse to take a test (as I did) and is sanctioned may be able to have this sanction overturned.
But I suggest you read the paper yourself (I do get a mention btw) and make up your own mind about what the author is saying. It is worth noting that since 2004 FIDE did change their drug testing policy so that only players rated 2700 and above get tested, at least removing the burden on the vast majority of competitors.