Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mysterious Grandmaster Moves

Help me try to fathom some of the mysterious moves from this game between super Grandmasters Motylev and Svidler from the Russian Team Championships.

1. I'm no expert on the Exchange Spanish, but 5..Qe7 in the below position looks an odd one to me, blocking the dark squared bishop in.

2. Check out the next diagram. Black played 9..Nh5 again an odd looking choice moving a piece twice before fully developed and placing a knight on the edge.

3. I've always been told that rooks want to be on open files. So it surprised me in the next diagram that white didn't play 12.Rad1, or even 12.Rfd1, but instead played 12.e5. I don't understand why?

4. In the next diagram, I'm not sure what black's best move is, but I don't really get the mysterious rook move 13..Re8.

5. Ok, I was just about ready to give up on chess when black chose to give up the exchange here with 16.Qxg5. Maybe it is good, but it certainly something I wouldn't do.

Can anyone shed some light on any of these mysterious moves?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

MCC Openings Group 27/04/2011

In the most recent issue of New in Chess (NiC) Yearbook, number 98, there was a very interesting position under debate. The position arises after the moves 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 d6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nf6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Be3 Be7 8. Qe2 a6 9. O-O-O O-O 10. Bb3 Qc7 11.Rhg1 Nd7 12. g4 Nc5 13. Nf5 b5 14. Bd5:
It is black to play and the group focussed mainly on the move 14..exd5 in our analysis, though 14..Bb7, 14..b4 and 14..exf5 (this wasn't taken too seriously as the opening of the f-file was deemed too dangerous for black) were also suggestions. The group looked at some amazing variations and ideas both for the white attack, and for the black counterattack.
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 d6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nf6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Be3 Be7 8. Qe2 a6 9. O-O-O O-O 10. Bb3 Qc7 11.Rhg1 Nd7 12. g4 Nc5 13. Nf5 b5 14. Bd5 exd5 15. Nxd5 Qb7 16. e5 Ne6 17. exd6 17... Bd8 18. g5 Kh8 19. h4 Nf4 20. Nxf4 Bxf5 21.h5 Rc8 22. d7 Rc7 23. Bc5 Nd4 24. Qe8 Rg8 25. Rde1 Bxd7 26. Qxf7 Rxc5 27. Ng6+ hxg6 28. hxg6 Bxg5+ 29. Kb1 Bc6 30. Rh1+ Bh6 31. Rxh6+ gxh6 32. Re7 Qxe7 was a typical direction for us to take, with side variations looked at along the way. The group developed a number of thematic tries including sacrifices of knights on g7 and f6.

The study of positions of critical interest to opening theory can be very rewarding to players. This particular position was full of tactical and creative possibilities which also makes it fun in a group dynamic.

The next meeting of the openings group will be in 2 weeks time, and then we are going to be having a thematic evening starting from the above position. After a couple of hours of analysis in a group, and some homework on our own, it may just be that the opening's group may be able to contribute something to the theory of this line. We would appreciate any ideas which may help us to get closer to the truth.

Monday, April 25, 2011

MCC Endgame Group 20/4/2011

The subject of the fortnightly group meeting was how to play endgames where one side has a piece and the other doesn't. The main emphasis was on endgames with rooks against pawns.
For instance, in this example the question is whether white should take the pawn on h2 or not? After 1.Rxh2 Kxh2 black's rook is sufficiently far enough away from the white king to harass it perpetually with checks. Therefore, white's next move is 2.b4! bringing the other pawn forward to act as a shield as well as to support the advanced pawn. 2..Rf5+ 3.Ka6 Rf6+ 4.Ka5 Rf5+ 5.b5 and black has no more checks.

If we compare this position to the last one, we see some important differences. Firstly, the pawns are not so far advanced, and secondly the kings positions are very different. Here, white's king is much closer to the pawns, while black's king is less advanced. These essentially are the factors to consider when dealing with pieces against pawns.
Of course, it gets harder with more pawns on the board, and rook against 3 connected pawns is a classic case which we examined.

These 2 positions show how difficult this subject can be. The first diagram is a win for the rook because the pawns are not far enough advanced, though in the game, it was not achieved easily. In the second diagram the pawns are more advanced, but they can be won as white's king is excellently placed in their path. The key idea to understand is preventing the rook from attacking the pawns from behind. The analysis to this endgame is from Alexander Baburin in Chess Today.

Finally, we looked at the exercises from Karsten Mueller's latest Endgame Corner article at the chess cafe site. The article deals with the related subject of the importance of the last pawn in endgames.

Monday, April 18, 2011

School Holidays

The good thing about teaching chess is the school vacations....ok, so I don't get the whole time off, but there is always some time to recharge the batteries. The last 2 days have been glorious autumn days in Melbourne, around the low 20's with plenty of sunshine, and it would have been criminal to have spent the time cooped up in front of a chess board. There'll be enough time for that over the winter.

So Sunday was an even bigger bonus for me as Caroline also had time off and we spent the day walking around the lovely stately home in Ripponlea. Riponlea is the biggest suburban stately home and gardens in Australia and is a joy to walk around on a sunny afternoon,
 Ripponlea House
 A home to social history, this was taken in the stables complex
 The gardens are beautiful, with orchards, flowers, and (as seen above) the lake complex
The lawns in front of the house, have a very English feel to them.

Today was a trip to the Central Business District. Now when I've been in to Melbourne CBD I usually head to the State Library of Victoria which houses a magnificent chess collection. However, today I found myself near the Southbank, so crossed to the main part of town over Queensbridge and found myself outside the Immigration Museum. I've never been into the Immigration Museum before, so went and had a look. For a fairly recent arrival to Australia (I've only been here 6 years) it was a very thought provoking experience, and seeing the stories of hardship and suffering that have been endured by many immigrants over the past 200 years, I realise how lucky I am.
 Eureka Tower on Melbourne's southbank taken from Queensbridge.
 The thought provoking Immigration Museum.
Flinders Street Station, an iconic building of Melbourne.

After leaving the Immigration Museum, I felt like a coffee so headed for the arcades between Collins and Bourke Streets, which give Melbourne a quaint feel, not unlike Boston in the USA. There are countless cafe's and boutiques along these narrow ways. One of these is Royal Arcade, the oldest shopping arcade in Australia, where I found myself in Caffe e Torta where I had a pretty good long black, and an amazing piece of apple strudel :)

 Cafe e Torta, at the entrance to Royal Arcade on Little Collins Street
 Another of the many arcades weaving through Melbourne CBD
Royal Arcade

Thursday, April 14, 2011

MCC Championship Round 9

The final round of the Championship produced a clear winner of the event in GM Darryl Johansen. He overcame the star performer, Karl Zelesco in the last round, while the other player in equal first, Domagoj Dragicevic, could only draw with Bobby Cheng. This still leaves Domagoj outright second, which is a fantastic result for him. A group of players finished in third, Cheng, Rujevic, Stojic and Zelesco. Zelesco had an amazing tournament, performing at above 2200 FIDE for the event and picking up the U-1900 prize. Sharing second on 6 points are David Beaumont and Thai Ly. The U-1600 prize was jointly won by Kevin Brown, who had to play a very tough field, and Jono Roberts, who has improved from the Novice night at the MCC last year to scoring half points in the championship this year. The MCC have also awarded prizes for best junior, which will go to James Morris, and best senior, which is currently being shared by Felix Wyss, Richard Voon, Bosko Mijatovic and John Dowling, though Bob Krstic could overtake them if he can topple Guy West in their postponed game.

So here are the top board games from the last round, and also nice wins from David Beaumont securing him equal second in the U-1900 rating category, and from Kevin Brown which earned him equal first in the U-1600 section.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

MCC Openings Group 13/4/2011

What inspires us to take up an opening? How many of us really work out the openings which would be best for us? Or in reality, do we see an amazing game, follow an exciting player, or get inspired by an article or book promoting a certain opening?

When I was young I remember being inspired by Lev Polugayevsky's "Grandmaster Preparation" which gave loads of advice about game analysis, but also promoted Polugayevsky's mad line in the Najdorf. Of course, I simply had to play it, and spent much time patchworking a repertoire with the black pieces against 1.e4 with heavy emphasis on the Polugayevsky Variation. In hindsight, I can see how wrong this might have been, but I had a lot of fun analysing, playing and generally thinking about the game. I was inspired and became a lifelong devotee to the game of chess!

Tonight we looked at one of the most inspirational games of all time, the Evergreen game. We then had a look at an interesting move discovered by Nigel Short in a similar line of the Evan's Gambit. If you haven't seen the Evergreen Game before, then here it is:

The position we looked at was from the game Short-P H Neilsen Samba Cup 2003:

In this position Short played the amazing 12.Nb5! which created an unbelievably complicated position with great attacking chances for white! What would you play as black if White played 12.Nb5? Most of us in the group looked at 12..Bxa1 but black came under massive pressure in most of those games.

Monday, April 11, 2011

MCC Round 9 live blog

Hi from the MCC, as I played my last round game against James Morris last week tonight I will look at some of the games as they happen. There is a huge buzz as our life member and Grandmaster, Darryl Johansen, has the unpleasant task of taking on 11 year old schoolboy Karl Zelesco in the last round. I feel for Darryl here, as he has so much to lose and not much to gain from this game, but it is still an intriguing match up. You can watch it live on the MCC website

The situation at the top is tense, with 4 or 5 players in the running for first or joint first. If there is a tie for first place, there will be a play off, though any money prizes will be shared. Ok, I'm now off to look at some interesting games and I'll be back soon.

1 hour into the games:

The games have just started to get interesting. Darryl is taking things slowly against Karl, and we may be in for an epic battle on board 1. On board 2 Domagoi Dragicevic, who has played interesting chess throughout this event, has an IQP position against Bobby Cheng. The board 3 battle between Jager and Rujevic is just entering the middle game of a Closed Spanish I think. These are the games that have a bearing on the top places.

However, the first winner of the round was none other than Elliott Renzies! Not that he played tonight....he played his match early because his opponent couldn't play tonight. And just to show what a great clubman Elliott is, he is at the club tonight watching the developments unfold. The first winner on the night was Bosko Mijatovic who won on forfeit against Svetozar Stojic. And the first winner of an actual game has just reported his score, so it is congratulations to Ian Stone for his victory against Marcus Ogden.

 Ian Stone analyses his game...the first winner of a played game on the night!

Top clubman Elliott Renzies won last week but still shows his support on the night!

Ok, it is time to get some positions, but just one more quick update, especially on the 5 point group where the U-1900 rating prize is likely to be contested. Board one is heavy with spectators, among them FM Bill Jordan. Board 2 is still the typical IQP though Domagoi had a knight on e5 which has just been kicked away by an f6 advance. Will this cause weaknesses around Bobby's king later? Mirko seems to be developing some action on the queen side against Jesse, but it is still very early in this game. And finally, Justin Tan is deep in thought and looking worried against Malcolm Pyke. Justin has got his queen into an awkward spot where it currently can't move! As I am writing I have just seen Chris Wallis pass me with his score sheet and the result is a....draw. It has been a great tournament for Kozo Simutanyi who now moves himself clear of the pack by half a point in the fight for the U-1900 rating prize. Oops, I'd forgotten Karl Zelesco at the top!! David Beaumont looks to be building a menacing attack on the king side against Kerry Stead in a c3 Sicilian. And Frank Lekkas is way up on the clock against Thai Ly. has frank prepared? He currently has a very active position, but the worse structure in what looks like a French Winawer/MacCutcheon or Nimzo Indian. Thai has 37 minutes left to Frank's 1:05!

3 Interesting positions:

 Justin tan as black has spent a long time trying to work out what is happening to his queen here!
 David Beaumont has a very threatening looking attack as white against Kerry Stead.
Frank Lekkas as white is way ahead on the clock against Thai Ly, but is black just better here because of the structure?

2 hours down

The buzz around is that Darryl is winning against Karl. I haven't seen that game as there are many other interesting ones around. Domagoi is tutting a lot on board 2, though I think the position is level. Domagoj was probably hoping for an advantage with the white pieces. Jesse Jager is also showing negative body language against Mirko, though that game is far from over. The Stojic-Sirota game has been interesting throughout, and has eventuated in this position:

I can't tell who is better, but both players are looking edgy.

2 and a half hours have gone and Domagoi has taken a long time over his last move, and is down to 14 minutes. Mirko looks better against Jesse Jager, but the material is even. Malcolm Pyke has just refued a draw offer from Justin Tan. David Beaumont has opened the h-file and is deep in thought of how to continue. It looks as if there should be something, but what I don't know. Michael Addamo has taken a long time over his game with Garth Fitzmaurice and is down to 11 minutes. He has a host of pawn, but his king is a little exposed.
Laurence Matheson is trying hard to beat Jim Papadinis and has sacrificed a pawn in an ending to create a passed pawn. Meanwhile, John Beckman looks to be carrying on in his good form, a pawn up against John Dowling, while Milutin Krunic is an exchange for a pawn up against Felix Wyss, though there is a lot of play left in that game!

Bill Jordan's views on the top games:

1. Darryl is winning comfortably
2. Bobby will win, he has better bishop and Domagoi has little time
3. Difficult to say, but Bill prefers Mirko...anything could happen.
4. Stojic-Sirota is the toughest and probably the most interesting of the lot. Bill won't stick his neck out here.
6. Bill wonders whether Malcolm Pyke is overstretching and causing too many weaknesses against Justin Tan.

And finally the game between Lekkas and Ly, Bill favours for Thai having the better structure, but Thai is getting abit low on time.

Fitzmaurice-Addamo, looks good for black, but he only has 6 minutes left

 Malcolm Pyke as white has just played Kh1 and offered a draw. Should black take it?
Dragicevic-Cheng has reduced to this.

It is great to have regulars from other clubs playing in our tournaments. Here we have Box Hill regular Laurence Matheson.

U-1600 prize

At the moment John Beckman is leading this on 4 points, but he is currently an exchange down for a pawn against John Dowling. Kevin Brown is on 3.5 and looks to be winning against Shane Lawson. he has sacrificed a piece for an attack, and it looks good. There are a group of other players who have moved up to 4 points: Gary Bekker, Jono Roberts and Elliott Renzies. These will all be waiting on the finish of the 2 games above.

Stop Press....

Justin Tan sac's the house against Malcolm Pyke, but comes up short and resigns. Great fighting spirit from the youngster when he had a draw offered him.

3.5 hours into the games

My blog ends here :(

Darryl has just won against Karl and looks good for the championship as Domagoi and Cheng look to be dead level, with an edge for Cheng if anyone. Jager-Rujevic and Stojic-Sirota are still very messy but time will play a part in these games. David beaumont is a piece up for 2 pawns against Kerry Stead and should convert, and Thai Ly is an exchange up against Frank Lekkas. There are still a number of games on the lower boards still going on, and things are far from clear regarding the rating prizes.

 A big thanks to our arbiter, Peter Tsai.
And the hero of the tournament, and still able to smile after a loss....Karl Zelesco

Sunday, April 10, 2011

MCC Championship Round 8

Round 8 of the MCC club championship again saw young talent Karl Zelesco beat a much higher rated opponent in James Morris. This leaves Karl in joint first going into the final round, along with Darryl Johansen, and Domagoi Dragicevic who drew their game on board 1. Jager and Cheng are just half a point behind due to their round 8 victories over Sirota and Lekkas respectively. It should be a fascinating last round!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

MCC Endgame Group 6/4/11

Today we had a look at some interesting endgames played by members of the MCC. The current tournament in progress has thrown up some endgames of note, while MCC Secretary, John Beckman offered one of his recent endgames from the Ballarat event. This particular endgame was full of tricks and counterchances and as a group we found it difficult to accurately assess the positions. It would be a great endgame to analyse in depth for any player aspiring to improve their endgame knowledge.

And from the early rounds of the MCC club championship there was this excellent effort from the 11 year old sensation to hold his nerve against an IM. Guy west blundered with 29..Bf8 but was still probably not expecting to be beaten by Karl Zelesco. However, the junior handled the immediate tactics perfectly, and then continued through the technical stage comfortably to produce a stunning performance. A few weeks ago, Ascaro Pecori told the group of the play of an 8 year old which he had rated as the best he had ever seen by a child that age. This endgame by an 11 year old left a similar impression on me!

There is a prize of $50 for the best endgame played by an MCC member at an MCC tournament in 2011, and as I am personally nominating the one above it has become the benchmark for which future endgames will be judged.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Glenhuntley Road: Rocleys

I'm lucky enough to live near a vibrant shopping strip in Melbourne called Glenhuntly Road. The road starts by the bay in Elwood, crosses the Nepean Highway into Elsternwick, carries on as a tram route through Caulfield and Glenhuntly, until finally reaching Carnegie. Along the length of Glenhuntly Road there are some great cafe's.

The Elwood end of Glenhuntly road has a small cafe and restaurant strip where I always seem to end up at the Patisserie, not for the coffee, but because the pastries and cakes are unbelievably good. Further down, near Elsternwick train station, there are a number of great cafe's and restaurants. The Artful Dodger, just across from the train station has probably my favourite coffee along the whole of Glenhuntly Road. Further into Elsternwick, it is more of a shopping strip, but that doesn't stop there from being loads more good places to eat and drink. If you like your coffee strong, then Cafe Loco, near the Orrong Road intersection is for you. Loco is mentioned in the good coffee guide for Melbourne and is always bustling. When I'm in Caulfield, I'll drop in to Mocha Green which is on the corner of Glenhuntly Road and Hawthorn Road, while Glenhuntly itself has Coffeemania which serves excellent coffee, and a great range of hot chocolates. And these are just the tip of the iceberg!

However, the place I go to most is Rocley's in Elsternwick. My long black coffee is good, with strength and consistency, but the coffee is not the highlight of the cafe. Ross and Lee cook everything on the premises, including great pastries (almond croissants are my favourites, and very good), fantastic pies and beautiful salads. There's art on the walls, music in the background, and friendly banter from the hosts. Ross has worked as a chef in Europe and tries to combine those characteristics with what is best from Australia.

Rocley's has a relaxed atmosphere even when the cafe is full. It has recently been decorated, making the ambience light and fresh. It is for me a very comfortable place to sit and read a newspaper or magazine that they have for customers, or just bring a book, or laptop and while away the hours. Then again, if I'm in a rush, then I know I can get quick service and good food at a reasonable price. I can choose to have hot food, like lasagne, or foccacia (cajun chicken is rather nice!), soup, or a bagel, or a salad, or something sweet and I know I won't be disappointed. And did I mention the almond croissants?

 Art on the wall, and friendly banter from Ross at Rocleys

A basket of tempting pastries, gives the cafe a European feel.