Tuesday, August 31, 2010

ICC League 45 45 round 4

At last our team won a match in the top division of the ICC league 45 45. My particular game was a topsy turvy affair in a typical unclear Noteboom. My opponent missed a couple of chances to finish me off and then I was able to took my chances. But the hero of our team this round was our captain who is working hard in 2 teams in separate divisions as well as doing the administrative work for our team. Congrats Marco!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Victorian Championships Final Round

Today, the final round of the Victorian Championships and Reserves Tournaments were held at Box Hill Chess Club. In the Championship, it was exciting with 4 players in with a chance of first place. In first was IM Mirko Rujevic who had drawn against IM James Morris earlier this week, the game played early as James is off to play in the Malaysian Open. Equal first before the final round was Dusan Stojic, with Chris Wallis and IM Igor Goldenberg half a point behind. Igor was playing Dusan in the final round so an exciting finish in prospect. While Chris Wallis managed to win against David hacche, the game between Igor and Dusan ended in a draw which meant that Dusan Stojic and Chris Wallis came equal first, with the IM's Rujevic and Goldenberg half a point behind. 12 year old World Champ Bobby Cheng was the best of the rest, but the top four were a long way clear. Final standings were:

1. Wallis, Stojic 8.5
3. IM Rujevic, IM Goldenberg 8
5. FM Cheng 6.5
6. IM Sandler 5
7. IM Morris, FM Hamilton, Gorka 4.5
10. FM Levi, Hacche 3.5
12. Beaumont 1

With 4 IM's and 3 FM's this was a strong Victorian Championships and that usually means the Reserves Tournament is also strong. I once won the Reserves tournament a couple of years ago and Dusan and Chris were also in it. The main prize of the Reserves Tournament is an automatic spot in the following year's Champioship event. This was taken by Sylvester Urban who dominated the Reserves Tournament this year. He scored 8/9 to finish 2 points clear. It was close for second place with only 2 points seperating 2-8 places. Vineetha Wijesurija should be happy with her 2nd place, while Svetozar Stojic, the highest rated player in the tournament and a previous Championsip competitor will probably be a little disappointed.
Final standings were:

1.S.Urban 8
2.V.Wijesurija 6
3-4 F.Lekkas, V.Kildisas 5,5
5. S.Stojic 5
6-8 S.Hose, J.Wallmuller, R.Beattie 4
9 P.Cavezza 2,5
10 P.Wallmuller 0,5

From my own personal point of view, I am satisfied with my result, though it was nothing special. I managed to reach my expected score, or just below it, and will probably lose 2 or 3 FIDE rating points. I played endgames pretty well, which is quite a bonus, but really didn't compete in complicated positions. My openings were non existent and I played no critical positions. I only managed .5 against the top 5 which is testament to how badly I was playing against the in-form crowd.
Today I managed a draw against IM Leonid Sandler, but from a relatively early position, I accepted an IQP which saw me struggling to equalise for the rest of the game. Luckily for me, Leonid is also struggling to find his best form and he could never seem to find a way to capitalise on his structural superiority.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Victorian Teams Championship

Chess is an individual sport, the ultimate one on one mind struggle. But there are great benefits to forming team leagues as the camaraderie between team members and the sharing of ideas and information between team members can amount to a great social activity, and a great learning experience. I remember growing up in England and team chess being my main form of competition. Besides playing my games, and analysing with my opponents I would follow the efforts of my team mates (who were usually stronger than me) and watch their analysis, and then the team would sometimes meet to further look at the games and analyse any adjourned games.

Chess in Victoria has been sadly lacking in team chess for the past few years, but this year a new competition has started and it has been well received by virtually all the players and clubs involved. The state body, Chess Victoria, are responsible for the event but each match is managed by the teams involved. There are teams of 4 picked from squads of up to 7 and there are currently 2 divisions. The competition in both divisions is very close which has also captured the imagination of players and administrators alike.

I am currently playing in division 1 for the MCC 2 team. My team on paper looks like one of the weakest, but we have fought well and won one game, drawn another and lost one. With 3 points for a team win and 1 for a draw, this puts us just behind the leaders at around the half way mark. I am thoroughly enjoying playing team chess again, and will report more as the games happen. For instance, my next match is next Tuesday.

Monday, August 23, 2010

ICC League 45 45

For players who like long games of chess, but have difficulty finding the time to get to their local club, or to weekend tournaments, the online league hosted by the Internet Chess Club is difficult to beat. Teams are made up of up to 6 players with 4 playing in each match. Each player negotiates with his individual opponent as to when the game will be played during each week, and as cumbersome as this sounds it works really well. This is due mainly to the fact that most of the players really want to play and will try their hardest to arrange their games. I'm in Australia at GMT+10 and I haven't had any trouble arranging games with players from the Americas or Europe.

This particular season my team doesn't seem to be playing well which is unfortunate. I have been playing below par, and maybe a move up to board 1 of the first division has been a bit too much for me. I am definitely competitive on board 2, but board 1 is really tough. We have a new guy who found things difficult to start with, but has now found his feet with an excellent win in our last match, but the team as a whole is definitely underperforming. Take a look at my last game, a horrible loss made worse for the fact it was played early on a Sunday morning when I'd have preferred to be sleeping. I had problems with calculation and missed a number of my opponents chances, but he was never worse and opened the position to his advantage excellently. I have had some experience of this opening recently with games against FM Erik Teichmann and IM James Morris in the past 6 months but it didn't help.

So apologies to my team, I will try to make up for this in the future, though all we can do is try our best for our teams.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

So, you are feeling tired, a little bit under the weather, and just want to chill out at home. But then, from out of the window you see brightness, sunshine and blue skies which have been in short order for the past couple of months. My lovely partner, Caroline, is starting a new job tomorrow so she also didn't want a big day out today and it was decided that we 'had' to get out and experience some sunshine, but not too far away.

We took a short drive to Port Melbourne which had all we needed. We started with a late breakfast at a great Italian cafe/restaurant on Bay Street called Ciao Cielo. All the food I've ever had from here has been great, and the staff are really friendly. The coffee is Ok, though there is a lot of competition across Melbourne, and I've had better. However, if Spanish churro's and rich dipping chocolate sauce do it for you, then Ciao Cielo can be totally recommended.
After food and drink (fruit toast and long black for me, berry pancakes and cappuccino for Caroline) it's a short walk down Bay Street to the bay. Depending on how you feel, you could turn right and head towards Middle Park and St. Kilda, or you could turn right and head towards Beacon Cove. We took a right and headed to Beacon Cove and beyond. The prominent feature is the ferry dock, especially if the Spirit of Tasmania is in port, but there are also interesting views across the bay towards West Melbourne. It was a bit windy down by the bay today so we didn't walk as far as we would have liked....and, of course, we were on a lazy Sunday afternoon stroll. Last year we walked to Port Melbourne from Elsternwick via Elwood and along the promenade which is about 9 or 10km.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Victorian Championships penultimate round

Last night, the Melbourne Chess Club hosted the penultimate round of the 2010 Victorian Championships. It was a tense evening with 4 players still in contention for first place. IM Rujevic, Stojic, Wallis and IM Goldenberg were all seperated by a mere half point and to make matters more interesting, they all won. So we are in for a grand final round at Box Hill Chess Club in a week's time. These 4 players have pulled clear of the rest of us, with FM Bobby Cheng leading the second half of the field. But saying that, the games themselves have often been hotly contested and many could have gone either way. While I didn't see the other games last night, my game was one such point, where I sacrificed a pawn against Igor Goldenberg in order to gain piece activity and keep his king in the centre. Igor defended resolutely, and I missed my best chances which even so, would probably only have led to a draw.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Melbourne Chess Club Endgame Group

At my chess club, the Melbourne Chess Club, every Wednesday we run an endgame study group. The group meets about 7.30pm and is free to members of the MCC or $5 to non members per night or $20 for non members for the year. The object of the group is to discuss theoretical and practical endgames and thus improve the knowledge and playing strengths of the members of the group. How it works is that each week a member of the group is responsible for bringing in some study material for the group to look at, and then it takes off from there.

For example, tonight one of the group had an endgame of rook and pawn versus rook and 2 pawns which he'd played in the Victorian Championships recently. So I took some other materials for the group to look at and we talked generally about these sorts of endgames before trying to analyse the specific endgame.

The solution to yesterday's study:

Gurgenidze, D.
White to play and draw
1. Ka8 1. Kc8 Nc4 2. b7 Nd6+; 1. Kc7 Na4 2. b7 Nc5 3. b8=Q Na6+; 1. Kc6 Nc4 2. b7 Na5+; 1. Ka7 Nc4 2. b7 Na5 3. b8=Q Nc6+; 1. Ka6 Na4 2. b7 Nc5+; 1... Nc4 2. b7 Nb6+ 3. Kb8 Nd7+ 4. Kc8 (4. Kc7 Nc5) 4... d2 5. Kxd7 d1=Q+ 6. Kc7! 1/2-1/2

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Using Studies to Teach

I have used this beautiful study to show students how to plan for forks. I find it amazing that kids can be given the main themes of an extremely difficult study and be able to understand the main concepts. Finding the correct solution is almost impossible for these kids, but with some help some of them can work it out, while others benefit from the simple nature, and repetition of the themes. And at the end of the solution there is the useful technique of queen against king a pawn.

It is White to play and draw, I'll post the solution with my next post, tomorrow or the day after. :)

Monday, August 16, 2010


The life of a full time chess coach involves quite a bit of travelling between clients. Most of my clients are schools so I spend a fair amount of time driving between classes, while only a few private students travel to our office. I seem to have a bit of spare time between a lot of classes (though not really enough to undertake much) so I've usually got a book with me to kill the odd quarter of an hour. I've recently borrowed "Chess is My Life" by Karpov and Roshal and have been reading the biographical details on the road, while playing through the games at home. It really is an excellent insight into life at the top level during the post-Fischer times, a part of chess history that I'm woefully ignorant of. For me when I was growing up, Karpov was always the old guy who was playing second fiddle to Kasparov. Karpov seemed to play a dull style, while Kasparov's games were brilliant and double edged. It is only by taking a deeper look at Karpov, his life and games, that these myths can be dispelled.

Karpov's "dull" style is better described as a less risk taking style, and his games are often hard fought with some amazing positional and tactical ideas. Also, as my appreciation of the latter stages of the game of chess has developed, so has my appreciation of Karpov's games. The last chess book I bought was "Endgame Virtuoso Anatoly Karpov" by Karolyi and Aplin and I am impressed with the detail that the authors have delved into the endgames, but also some of the stories which put the games into some perspective. You can check out a positive review and a not so positive review at these respected sites.

I have even used one of Karpov's games in my classes over the past couple of weeks, his win against Timman from the 1984 London Phillips and Drew Tournament. I like this game as a teaching tool as it addresses a number of issues that kids need to know about, such as: a typical 1.e4 e5 opening, pins and breaking pins, en passant, preventing a king from castling, piece activity etc. And a really nice decoying sacrifice at the end.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Victorian Championships

I've been playing in this event over the past few weeks. It is very strong with 4 International Masters playing in the 12 player round robin. I'm ranked 10th in the field and half points would be a very good result for me. So far there have been 9 rounds and I've scored 4 points, 3 wins and 2 draws. At times I've played pretty good, but I've made a few shockers as well.

Todays game was a hard fought affair with the winner of the 2009 Reserves Tournament. An excellent part of the Victorian Championships is that a player can qualify for the event by winning the second tournament, and these reserves tournaments can be pretty strong in themselves. To sum up, I lost a pawn fairly early on, and then was fighting for a draw. The ending with rook and pawns was quite interesting, and will be the basis of more study. I was Black, and David Beaumont was White.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Change of Address

Do you like coffee? Not the instant sort of coloured water that is so popular throughout the World, but a beautifully rich flavoured and textured drink designed by barrista's?

Do you like chess? Playing, watching, studying thinking....a creative mind game that appeals to people regardless of class, education, race etc.

So do I, and I like to write about them....check out my old site here.

I had a few problems with that site, so I've moved here and hopefully will take up blogging about coffee and chess again.