Friday, 12 February 2016

2016 ANU Masters Week 2

Week 2 of the ANU Masters saw a couple of missed opportunities, and 2 decisive finishes. Alana Chibnall won a pawn against Adrian de Noskowski in the opening, but with more than enough compensation, it was more a gambit than anything else. With her king in the centre Chibnall always under pressure and once de Noskowski's queen got active, the game did not last long.
Harry Press had a very strong position against Victor Braguine, and a force win didn't look that far off. However appearances can be deceiving, and while Press won Bragunes queen, it was for Rook, Bishop and Pawn, and after that, neither could claim an advantage.
Dillon Hathiramani chanced his arm against Andrey Bliznyuk with a piece sacrifice in the early middlegame, but once the main follow up had been prevented, the material advantage was enough for Bliznyuk to win. Fred Litchfield had Miles Patterson under pressure for most of the game, but Litchfield's attack was always a tempo short, and eventually the players agreed to a draw in a double rook ending.
After 2 games Litchfield, Bliznyuk, Braguine and de Noskowksi are all on +1, with Patterson half a point behind.

Chibnall,Alana (1884) - de Noskowski,Adrian (1876)
2016 ANU Masters Canberra, Australia AUS (2.3), 10.02.2016

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

2016 ACT Championship starts this Friday

The 2016 ACT Championship begins this Friday, but it is not too late to enter. At this stage there are 30 players in the 9 round FIDE rated event, with IM Junta Ikeda top top seed, and IM Andrew Brown second. There is a minimum prize pool of $1200, but given the good entry list so far, this will possibly increased.

Full details are

2016 ACT Championship
Venue: Campbell High School, Trealor Cres, Campbell ACT (next to War Memorial)
Dates: 12,13,14,20,21 February
Rounds: 7:30pm on Friday 12th, 10:30am and 2:30 pm on the other dates
Time control: 90m+30s

Further details are available at the ACT Chess Association website including an list of current entries.

(Disclaimer: I am a paid official for this event)

Playing Dracula

A few years ago I mentioned the TV show "Da Vinci's Demons", and how it used Go rather than Chess as a dramatic device. Well, as it reaches the end of its run, chess has now made an appearance.
In a slightly far fetched set of circumstances, a young Niccolo Machiavelli found himself imprisoned by Dracula (aka Vlad the Impaler) and his friend Zoroaster has to play a game of chess to save his life.
Fortunately for the future author of "The Prince", Zoroaster seems to have access to some 19th century trickery, and was able to win the game in very short order. Although there were some pauses for dramatic effect (and at least one set of moves were missing) after I spotted Black play 3. ... Nd4 I knew that Dracula was going fall victim to the Blackburne Shilling Gambit*. And whether this was coincidence or clever design by the authors, the scene ended with Zoroaster returning a gold coin he had stolen on a previous visit.

(* The moves were 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 4.Nxe5 Qg5 5.Nxf7 Qxg2 6.Rf1 Qxe4+ 7.Be2 Nf3#)

Monday, 8 February 2016

Outsmarting yourself in blitz

I spent today helping run the 2016 ACT Junior Blitz Championship (won by Albert Winkleman) and was pleased by both the quality of play, and the behaviour of the players. No one cried during the 11 round event (always a good sign) and while a few players ended up less points than they should have (due to failing to report results), even they realised that it was something they should have been on top of.
The only new arbiting issue that I came across this year was application of the rule about when you can press your clock. One player was very short of time, and so was 'pre-moving', in that he had picked up the piece he planned to move before his opponent had completed theirs. (Oh don't be shocked. Blitz players do this all the time!)
Unfortunately for him, he had an opponent who either knew the rules too well, or maybe too little. With two seconds left on his clock, his opponent moved, and then he moved before his opponent pressed their clock. He then began to anticipate his next move, when much to his surprise, his opponent simply pushed the clock without moving. Stunned by this, he let his clock run down to zero (from not much more than zero). I was called over to adjudicate the finish of the game, and after asking the right questions, realised what had happened. He thought his opponent had pressed the clock without moving, while I explained his opponent had simply pressed the clock after his previous move (as he is entitles to do). He did accept this explanation with good grace, but I suspect he is now thinking of better ways to avoid losing on time.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Who needs 10 GM's?

I was having a discussion today with a fellow chessplayer about IM Moulthun Ly's stellar performance at the 2016 Gibraltar Masters. I remarked that Ly is now very close to the GM title (1 norm and few rating points away), and that would mean that Australia would have 6 GM's (including the retired Ian Rogers), and good chances for a few more (ie George Xie comes out of retirement, and the next wave of young IM's comes through).
It is entirely feasible than in the next few years Australia will have 10 GM's, and it was this thought that made me remember something from around 25 years ago. In the early 1990's the Australian Chess Federation (ACF) was presented with a draft strategic plan (authored by Brian Jones I think) and part of the plan was a number of goals. One of these goals was the number of titled players, specifically 10 GM's and 20 IM's within the life of the plan. Of course to achieve this goal, the ACF would need to commit resources and energy, both through the organisation of activities to help players (tournaments and training), and by increasing the funding levels in Australia (through increased income sources).
Unfortunately when it was presented, it was shot down on the spot, with comments like "10 grandmasters. That will never happen". It was explained that falling short by a few GM's is still not a bad outcome, but I do recall that even this was rejected, with another comment about whether the number of GM's in Australia really meant that much.
So 25 years later, some of the goals of the plan have happened anyway, although not through any co-ordinated decision making. It is true that the ACF is more willing to fund development in the country (eg GM tournaments), although it is still on a case by case basis, rather than as part of a specific policy. But I do wonder if the plan had been accepted at the time, how much further along Australian chess would be.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Waste less of your life with facebook?

I thought this was already a well know facebook feature, but it seems people are just waking up to fbchess. If you want to play a casual game of chess against a friend on facebook, no need to activate an app, just open the chat box and type @fbchess play The you can send moves to each other with the @fbchess tag (eg @fbchess Pd4). It doesn't matter ig you end the chess session or log off facebook, the game will be right were you left it next time you logg back on.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

2016 ANU Masters Week 1

The ANU Chess club's traditional Masters event began this evening, with a field of 8 evenly matched players (who to be accurate, are not actual masters). For a while it looked as though all 4 games might end in draws, after Adrian De Noskowski held top seed Andrey Bliznyuk, and Alana Chibnall recovered from a bad position to draw with Miles Patterson.
However Victor Braguine managed to go up a pawn in a R+N v R+N ending against Dillon Hathiramani (in his tournament debut), but stern resistance from Hathiramani  meant that Braguine still needed some work before wining the game.
In the final game to finish last years winner Fred Litchfield beat Harry Press in a game where fortunes fluctuated throughout. For a while Press was better, but after missing a tactic with 26. ... d4! drifted into a worse position and despite having a passed pawn on f2, was cut down by a mating combination.

Litchfield,Fred - Press,Harry [B40]
ANU Masters, 03.02.2016