Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Chess for fun or chess for blood

In a recent interview former World Champion Vishy Anand said that his "appetite for chess has recovered". Such a statement is not that uprising, as 2014 has been a particularly good year for him. However it is not clear from the interview which came first, the good results or the renewed enthusiasm. 
The idea that you play chess, even if you don't enjoy it, was first pointed out to me in a book by Reuben Fine that chronicled the lives of the worlds leading players throughout history. Salo Flohr was one of the leading players in the 1930's, but according to Fine, once he reached to top he felt the need to protect his reputation rather than strive for the ultimate prize. As a result he began to play risk free chess, which resulted in fewer losses,  but fewer wins as well. And while there was an argument that he could have played in the 1948 World Championship tournament (as a surviving participant of the 1938 AVRO event), he was replaced by Vasilly Smyslov. I can remember thinking at the time that this was a little sad that a promising career was curtailed by the necessity to make a living.
Of course the alternative is to do a Morphy or Fischer and just quit, or even a Lasker, taking long breaks from the game. At least in the case of Anand, his lack of passion for the game did not last that long, and he seems the better player for it. 

Monday, 22 December 2014

Visitors win Australasian Masters

A trio of visiting Grandmasters have tied for first on the 2014 Australasian Masters GM tournament, which concluded in Melbourne today. Going into the final round GM Murtas Kazhgaleyev and young Australian IM Anton Smirnov shared the lead on 5.5/8 but Vasily Papin defeated Smirnov in the last round , while Kazhgaleyev drew with IM Moulthun Ly. The win for Papin ended Smirnov's chance of a GM norm, and left him tied with Kazhgaleyev on 6/9. Joining them was GM Rustam Khusnutdinov, who defeated Luke Li.
The subsidiary IM tournament was also won by an overseas (although currently living in Australia) player with IM Kanan Izzat proving a convincing winner with 7.5/9. Yi Liu had a good event to tie for second with IM Igor Bjelobrk with 6.5/9.
Full details of the tournament, including a nice set of bulletins, can be found here

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Very Nineteenth Century

From the 2014 ACT Rapidplay Championship comes the following game. It has a very nineteenth century feel about it, from the choice of opening, the early f4, and the sudden finish!

Guo-Yuthok,Sherab - Press,Harry [C27]
ACT Rapidplay, 20.12.2014

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Basque Chess

The current World Mind Sports event in China has a number of different styles of chess, including the relatively new format of Basque Chess. In this format players play two games at once, against the same opponent, starting one game with black and the other with white. Players move on either board (when it is their turn), in a similar way to a clock simul. The idea is to cancel out the advantage of having the white pieces in the first game of a 2 game (or 4 or more) match.
While this format seems to be new, my knowledge of a similar type of game goes back at least 20 years. FM Craig Laird described to me a 4 (and possibly a 6) board variation of the game, which he said was played at his local club. To make it more fun it was played with a blitz time limit (G/5m) for all games. It was even tried at the Belconnen Chess Club 25 years ago, although the format tended to favour fitter (and taller) players! Adding the extra games did add an extra strategic dimension to the match, as you could afford to abandon a losing position to concentrate on your winning ones. It would not surprise me if it still is a thing in certain chess clubs, although the necessity of having extra equipment may have contributed to its lack of popularity.

Friday, 19 December 2014

2014 ACT Rapidplay Championship

The traditional end of year ACT Chess tournament, the ACT Rapidplay Championship is being held on Saturday 20th December 2014, in City Walk, Canberra City. It is a 7 round swiss played with a time limit of G/15m. Entries are being taken from 10:30am and the first round is at 11am. Entry fees are $10 ($5 for juniors). The event sponsors are Chicken Gourmet and King O'Malley's and the prize pool is normally over $300.
This event is a popular one on the Canberra scene, and provides one last opportunity for chess before Xmas. Normally 30 to 40 players take part in the beautiful outdoor setting in the centre of Canberra, and already a number of strong Canberra players (including at least one IM) have indicated that they will be playing.
Entries will be taken on the day, and it the tournament is open to all players.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

What the what? - Episode 27

The 2014 London Chess Classic has finished in a 3 way tie for first place. Anand, Kramnik and Giri all scored one win and 4 draws to tie for first on 7 points, using the 3-1-0 scoring system. Anand won the title on countback as his win was scored with the Black pieces. Further down the table Nakamura scored 6 points (+1=3-1) while Adams and Caruana scored 4 points each, although Adam's single win relegated Caruana to last place on countback.
Of course it is kind of weird to see the final standings  the way they are (at least to me). In this instance the 'football' scoring system did not encourage decisive results, with 66% of the games drawn (NB this is not a comment on the quality of the games). Half the players finished in first place which is another oddity,while the player that lost 3 out of 5 games finished ahead of the player who only lost 1.
But rather than point the finger at the scoring system I think this is more a function of the small size of the field, and the limited number of rounds. Unless you have either big round robins (8 players or more) or double rounds (or even quadruple like tournaments of the past), you will get results like this, no matter who you invite.

Puccini's Brilliancy

Young Australian player Jack Puccini is representing his country at the Under 16 World Youth  Chess Olympiad, currently taking place in Hungary. For the first half of the tournament he has been holding down top board, while IM Ari Dale finished playing in the London Chess Classic FIDE Open. But despite being outrated in almost all his games, he has started the event with 3/4, and is performing at 2400+. Along the way he picked up a brilliancy prize for his destruction of the Serbian Board 1 in round 3.

Puccini,Jack - Radovic,Luka [B87]
World Under 16 Olympiad, 15.12.2014