Friday, February 25, 2011

MCC Championships Round 3

The third round of the Club Championship was the most competitive so far with a number of draws and hard fought games throughout the draw. From round 3 only 2 players come through with a perfect score. Bobby Cheng was able to wear down Richard McCart, threatening on the king side, though eventually making his breakthrough on the queen side. Richard suffered under cramped conditions for most of the game. Joining Bobby on 3/3 is Guy West who seemed to drop material against Domagoj Dragicevic, though he created some threats to his opponent's king which weren't dealt with. Guy won his material back and took the full point. These players couldn't have had more different games, as Guy has been lost in 2 of his 3 games so far while Bobby hasn't seemed to have been troubled yet.

Darryl Johansen is a welcome addition to the MCC scene bringing the kudos of a GM to the event. Dusan Stojic  was probably happy with his draw against the GM though he was technically better when the draw was agreed. Chris Wallis tried a host of tricks to try to tackle Justin Tan's queen side in a Slav type structure. I haven't looked too deeply at things but Chris was a piece down for a while, though Justin evidently felt he couldn't hold on to the material and gave it back to reach a drawish endgame. I also have difficulty understanding the Jager-Morris game, though once again, I haven't looked at it too deeply. Pyke and Rujevic also shared the point relatively early.

Lower down the boards, Anatoli Sirota has won his last 2 games after his shaky draw in the first round, and now sits just behind the leaders. There are then 18 players on 2/3 including ex champion IM Mirko Rujevic. The next couple of rounds should see a major sorting out, and that will just leave the race to the finish. And while much of the talk around this championship has been about its strength, I would also like to point out that it is easily the biggest field of recent years and there will be some rating prizes to fight for. At the moment, the rating groups haven't been announced, but the top under 1700 players are Richard McCart, Ari Dale and Karl Zelesco which is great for Richard who is a stalwart of the club, and for Ari and Karl, 2 of Victoria's promising young players.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MCC Endgame Group 23/2/11

At the moment we have a great dynamic group at the Melbourne Chess Club Endgame Group with plenty of interaction and shared ideas, anecdotes, and theoretical and practical experiences. Tonight we were looking at the pawnless endgame of rook and knight versus rook. This is generally drawn, but there are plenty of practical chances for the stronger side to fork or skewer, or to create mating threats, especially if the defending king is near a corner. We started with a few studies to see some winning ideas. Try to work these out and I'll post the answers at the weekend.

The first 2 were fairly quickly solved by Bill Jordan, with the rest of us not far behind. The third caused a bit more trouble, but only in finding the first key move. Then it was solved pretty quickly. The fourth proved the hardest, and was actually the first we looked at.

All the below positions are white to play and win. Good luck :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Victorian Team Championships

A little while ago I put together a document which outlined in my view how the 2011 Victorian Teams Championship should be run, keeping the good features and trying to resolve the weaker parts of the 2010 competition. I have just found out that Chess Victoria are happy with my proposal and in their wisdom/folly have accepted me as a tournament director for this event for this year. So my first role in this position will be to put the format for the 2011 competition into the public domain, and try to generate the same sort of interest that the competition created last year. Any feedback will be useful, and any offers of help in the running of the teams event will be greatly appreciated.

Here is the proposal that Chess Victoria have accepted. I will be trying to contact Victorian Chess Clubs directly this week, though the tournament is not due to start until May.

2011 Victorian Teams Championships


This event is for teams of 4 players. Each team may consist of a squad of up to 7 players. All players must be registered with the competition before they play, and all must be members of Chess Victoria. Teams may deregister players, and register new players at any time.

Each team must designate a captain who is responsible for organising fixtures with other teams, corresponding with other teams and with the league’s administration where necessary. The captain doesn’t have to be a player, and doesn’t have to be registered with Chess Victoria. The captain must lodge their contact details with the league administration including an email address.

The League will run as 8 team round robin divisions. (It is planned to have 3 divisions in 2011). Each team will play all the other teams in their division once. Teams are to play home and away matches, the home team having white on even boards. The scoring for the league will be 3 points for a match win, one point for a match draw and zero points for a match loss. The top team from each division is to be promoted to the next highest division for the following year. The bottom team in each division to be relegated to the next lowest division for the following year. In the case that only 7 teams play in a division, no team will be relegated, and one shall still be promoted from the division below.

Tiebreaks will be decided by the most game points, followed by the individual match result between the teams. If a tie is still unresolved a play off may be necessary.


There is to be roughly one match per month played between May and November. The first round is to be played at a single venue arranged by the administration. Then each team will have 3 home and 3 away games, and the final round is also to be played at a single venue.

Teams are to play in rating order though players within 100 rating points of each other may choose their positions. Once the playing order has been set, it cannot be changed for the season. Players may only play for one team per season.

The games are to be ACF rated, and the time control is to be 75 minutes plus a 30 second increment from move one. All games must be recorded by both players, for the whole game.

Each team need only announce their team composition directly prior to the match, though they must play in their set order and all the players must be registered with the league. Any player not pre-registered who competes for a team will automatically forfeit their game, and the game will not count for rating purposes.

Arbiters do not need to be provided by teams, the captains of the teams can each take on that responsibility. An arbiter can be assigned by the home team if desired. Any disputes that arise which cannot be settled on the day of the match should be addressed to the league administration stating as much detail of the incident as possible. The league administration shall then make a decision which will be final on the matter, pending an appeals process.

It is strongly encouraged that the fixtures for the year are arranged early as this is the best way to avoid forfeits. Matches can be rearranged if an issue arises with the original date.

Forfeits: If a player forfeits a game by not showing up for a match, then the game shall be scored as a zero. If a player does this twice during a season, then they shall be disqualified from the event for the remainder of the season. Should they forfeit again in the following 2 years, they will be immediately disqualified from the event.

The forfeit time for games is 30 minutes after the start of the match.

If a team does not show up for a designated match, they will lose the match 4-0. If this happens twice in a season, the team shall be disqualified for the rest of the season. The following season, if the team wish to re-enter the competition, a bond may be placed on the team returnable on completion of all matches.

Appeals and Communications:

Each team captain, as a representative of their team, may challenge any decision that the league takes. This shall take the form of an appeal, and if necessary the matter will be dealt with by an appeals committee, made up of the league administration, a representative of the State body Chess Victoria, and a member of a club not involved in the dispute.

All communications are to be directed to the league administration.

Team results should be sent to the league administration within 48 hours of the match, by both captains via email.

The league will endeavour to send out a monthly report on the progress of the competition, an end of year review, and a tournament advertisement prior to each new season.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

MCC Championships Round 2

The second round of the Club Championships still saw big rating differences between opponents, but this didn't stop the upsets happening, the biggest probably being my own loss to Richard McCart who is rated about 400 points lower than me! Still, like everyone else, I enjoy seeing a few upsets on the scoreboard, even if it is my name on the receiving end. The top seeds are playing good enough chess, some finding life easier than others.

We now have a live game going on Monday night's at the MCC, where the board 1 match will be displayed. This week, our young Irish visitor stepped up tot he plate to face GM Darryl Johansen. Garth Fitzmaurice wasn't scared to offer some material in order to generate attcking chances, but perhaps he over stepped the mark a bit.

The board 2 game was postponed until Tuesday as there is the odd chess player out there with romantic tendencies, and the round was scheduled for Valentine's Day. So on the 15th February, IM Guy West took on Kozo Simutanyi.

The young players, Cheng, Wallis and Morris all won fairly easily and will be a handful for anyone is this tournament.

Dusan Stojic found it a bit tougher against the wily Richard Voon, but won in the end.

Round 3 is being played this Monday, and some of the big guns are due to meet up in what promises to be the most exciting and competitive round to date.

Friday, February 11, 2011

MCC Championships

The Melbourne Chess Club started its year with the traditional Club Championship. This year, President Grant Szuveges and his committee made a special effort to try to attract a big field for this, and their work paid off. The Club Championship has attracted around 60 players (over the past few years that number has been more like 40) and the top of the field is very strong. The perennial favourites for the event, IM's Guy West and Mirko Rujevic have this year been joined by MCC life member, GM Darryl Johansen and our newest life member, FM Bobby Cheng. And these players will be kept honest by a host of strong players. The full draw can be checked out on the MCC website.

The tournament is being run by the MCC, but the arbiter has come from Box Hill Chess Club. Most of the regular arbiters for the MCC are playing in the tournament, so we were very lucky to have Peter Tsai volunteer his time and expertise at the last minute. I have taken up the role of a sort of Director, as well as playing in the tournament.

The first round draw saw the usual ratings mismatches as the top half of the field was paired against the bottom half of the field. Saying that the top half certainly didn't have it their own way and there were a few casualties. The top boards are using carbon copies so we will reproduce some games from the event, and from round 2, the DGT board will be used transmitting the top game to the internet.

On board 1 Darryl came through without too much hassle, though Felix might have tried to sacrifice on g5 with his knight.

On board 2, a few people were wondering what was happening as it looked as if Guy had miscalculated a rook sacrifice. However, in the end he came through to win, though I'm guessing he'll be pretty happy to have done so.

Anatoli Sirota is returning to over the board chess after a long break and couldn't overcome Jim Papadinis. I don't have the score to this game, though. I do, however, have the score to the board 4 game where Mirko Rujevic should also feel very lucky not to have come away from the first round with a zero against Michael Addamo. I showed this game to IM Robert Jamieson who asked at one point, "Isn't white just a piece up...for a pawn?"

Joint Victorian Champion Chris Wallis had a fairly comfortable win against rising star Karl Zelesco.

Round 2 is to be played this coming Monday, the 14th February, and there are still some rating differences on most of the boards. Saying that, if round 1 is anything to go by, no one should be complacent in this event.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

MCC Endgame Group 9/2/11

The second meeting of the MCC Endgame group for 2011 saw us looking at a number of pawn endgames and trying to calculate variations. A great online resource for endgames are the articles written by Karsten Mueller on  the chess cafe site. It was one of these that I used for tonight's group. You can check out the article for yourself here.

Trying to calculate long variations in pawn endgames is an excellent training method for looking ahead in chess. In pawn endgames, there aren't that many possible moves so calculating ahead is easier than on a more cluttered board. That doesn't mean, of course, that everything can be calculated correctly. One interesting point was raised tonight in one of the positions tonight.

In this position as white you are instructed to calculate a winning variation which involves a b4-b5 breakthrough. The winning line starts with 1.Kc5.

However, Jesse Jager suggested 1.g6 as a candidate move, which isn't considered in the article. The move 1.g6 offers a decoy to the black king which is distracted from its defensive duties of the passed black d-pawn. We took to analysing this and went no further when we couldn't find a defence for black. The line runs 1.g6! Kf6 2.b5! axb5 3.Kd5 Kxg6 4.Kc5 and black is not fast enough to get to c8 with his king, nor is he fast enough to take on h4:

a) 4..Kf7 5.Kxb5 Ke8 6.Kb6 Kd8 7.Kxb7 and the a-pawn will promote.
b) 4..Kf5 5.Kxb5 Kg4 6.Kb6 Kxh4 7.Kxb7 Kg3 8.a6 h4 9.a7 h3 10.a8=Q h2 11.Kc7 and white's next move will be 12.Qh1 preventing the pawn from promoting and any stalemate tricks.

There was plenty more calculation, debate, and some pretty sore heads by the end of the evening as everything was attempted without moving pieces, as in the spirit of the article. The next Endgame Group at the MCC will take place in 2 weeks time on Wednesday February 23rd at 7.45pm, and we welcome anyone who wants to practice or improve their endgame knowledge.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

MCC Endgame Group 2/2/11

The Melbourne Chess Club runs an endgame group every second Wednesday. The group discusses theoretical and practical endgames and practices their endgame technique. This evening I walked into the MCC and there was already a debate raging about a certain position. Ascaro Pecori called me over as I walked in and asked me what I thought of the position. Apparently he had been debating the position with Greg Gatto and Elie Beranjia for the best part of an hour without coming to a definite conclusion. I replied that funnily enough the position they had was almost identical to a position that I was showing and that it was a definite win. I was then told to demonstrate, and I couldn't break through the defence as I hadn't fully grasped the nuances behind the ending. After a bit of study, it all became apparent and the win proved fairly easy.

So here we are. This position occured in the game Shirov-Grischuk Wijk aan Zee 2011 and a very similar one was being discussed when I walked into the club. Do you know the technique for white to win this? It isn't easy, as there are a number of stalemate plans for black. Black's bishop wants to stay on h2-b8 diagonal and then he can put his king on a8 and block checks with his bishop, for example.
Personally, I now think I understand a great deal more about this endgame than I did before today, firstly from study of some excellent notes by Alexander Baburin in Chess Today, and then trying to play the position for ages in the MCC tonight. Here is the game, with Baburin's notes to the endgame, but I would still urge players to try it out for themselves as it is easy to go wrong. The main thing to remember is to check with the rook on a7 and then to move the rook to a square which stops black's bishop from checking. eg white's moves 67.Ra7+ Kb8 68.Rg7 threatening mate on g8 and stopping Bg1+

The MCC Endgame group will meet again next week and then every second wednesday for the rest of the year. If you need to work on this part of your game, then come along as it's much easier to work on endgames in a group than by yourself. And I have to recommend Baburin's excellent daily chess newspaper as well, with daily tactics, loads of endgame study and some superbly analysed games by Grand Masters. There is of course much more, so go check it out, it comes straight to your email in pgn, pdf, and cbv formats!