Friday, November 30, 2007

Candidate Moves

First off, I apologise for the length of this article. This position arose out of the Queen's Indian Defence (notice how I play a variety of openings?). Make sure you have a good cuppa ready before delving into this article. Really.

In this article, what I am trying to do is put my thoughts down so that I know how my thought process works and check with other chess engines to fine tune my thinking process. I think this is a good step (as advocated by Blue Devil Knight on his Confessions Of A Chess Novice blog) towards improving your chess skills.

Anyway, back to the game (I am Black):

21. Qxe5. (see 1st diagram on left)

A few questions popped in my mind at the moment but one that is most important.

Should I move my Queen?

If I trade Queens, I liberate and free White's bishop after (21... Qxe5 22. Nxe5). My position has weakened. White has a strong Knight on e5 and my bishop is in a nasty pin. I could always retreat my Knight to the safe outpost on c5 to protect my Bishop but after (22.... Nc5 23. Bxb7 Nxb7). My pieces are all on the last 2 ranks and I am losing valuable tempo having to reactivate them. No, I am determined to strive for activity here and take central control. To do that, my Queen has to stay on the board.

Allowing White to trade Queens with (22. Qxc5) is not in my best interests either as I have to retake with my Knight else my pawn structure is fractured (if I do 22...bxc5) and we run into the same situation with (23. Bxb7) again (as I mentioned earlier). Hence, I need to move my Queen. So what candidate moves are there?

(21.... Qxc4)
(21.... Qxe3+)
(21.... Rfe8)

I discarded (21... Rfe8) immediately since I need to move my Queen.

(21... Qxc4) is nice, winning a pawn but that pawn is absolutely going nowhere. The pawn is isolated and that means that it is weak. When the pieces come off the board later, White will have difficulty defending that pawn anyway. Thus, I didn't think there's a rush to take the pawn for now. It's nice but not the best move, I thought.

That leaves (21.... Qxe3+). Now we're talking. Taking a pawn and giving check, winning a tempo. Don't forget that sooner or later one of the White Rooks is going to come and plant itself on the e-file so in this case, taking the most forcing move to gain a tempo is crucial. I chose the most forcing move.

21.... Qxe3+

Fritz apparently loves the idea of Qxe3+.

22. Kh1 (forced) Rfe8 (to get the Queen off the e-file)

23. Qb2 (forced) (see 2nd diagram on left) as White has to stop any potential Nf2+ tricks

Now we come to a curious juncture. White's move Rae1 or Rfe1 is definitely coming but if I calculate this right, I should be able to pull my Queen away from it in time.

At the moment, there are no obvious threats to Black. So I followed Makaganov's Famous Rule which is,"In a position where there are no immediate or direct threats, improve your worst placed piece."

So what is my worst placed piece?

Evidently my Rook on a8. So I moved it.

23.... Rad8 (taking control of the d-file)

It so turns out that Fritz also favoured this move.

Other considerations given by Fritz were (23....Nd6). Honestly, this move didn't occur to me because I have the positional advantage. Why give it away by retreating the Knight from its central outpost where it covers a lot of squares? The only thing I have to be wary of is my Bishop on b7 (which is unprotected) so I need to keep a close eye on Bb7.

24. Rae1 (surprise, surprise)

I thought this over for some time. My candidate moves were:

(24... Qc5)
(24... Qc3)
(24... Qd4)

Let's consider each move in turn.

(24... Qc5). I didn't really like this move. It moves my Queen, protects my Knight. But it doesn't threaten anything.

(24... Qc3) I didn't really feel like trading Queens at this point.
(24... Qd4) Same as above.

Then suddenly a thought came to my mind.

(24.... Qh6) Nice. I am threatening (25... Nxg3+) next. I've always loved moves that threatens my opponent because it forces my opponent to halt his attack to perform protective duties.

Only problem is: What do I do after that? So I start to explore this line further. What can White do?

(25. Ne5?) Possible. The Knight is threatening (26. Nxf7) forking Queen and Rook. But that would lead to (26... Nxg3+) forking King and Rook. If I take the Rook subsequently with (27...Nxf1), White can't play (Nxf7) anymore. But then I run into the problem of (28. Bxb7 Ne3) and then (29. Qc3!) (protecting both Knight on e5 and attack my Knight on e3). I also have the added problem of a possible Bd5 in the future where my f7 is coming under enormous pressure. I gained a Rook for my Knight but more importantly I have lost the dynamics of my position and White despite the small tradeoff, may even gain a slight advantage .

Surely, there must be another way. Ah yes, I found it (I'll explain later). I played

24... Qh6! Fritz complains here, preferring (24.... Qc5).

25. Ne5 (expected) (see 3rd diagram above on left) Nxg3+

26. Kg1 (forced)

Now comes the intermezzo move that took White evidently by surprise.

26... Bxg2! (see 4th diagram on left)

Fritz liked (26... Nxe1), taking the Rook first. However, I have a little trick up my sleeve.

Can you see the trick?

Let's see what White can play.

His Rook is obviously under attack twice. So let's consider the candidate move:

(27. Rxf7)

I'm going to take time out here and consider this variation so you have a good idea why this move is bad. There's a problem with this move. Because Black has an even more surprising move in store.

(27... Ba8!!) (see 5th diagram on left) What??!! You probably ask.

Here's the nasty trick.

White cannot play (28. hxg3) (taking the Knight because of (28... Qh1+ - highlighted by red arrow - 29. Kf2 Qh2+) skewering the undefended Queen.

If White doesn't capture the Knight and moves his Rook on f7 away, now comes the killer move:

(30.... Rd2) (highlighted by the yellow arrow) (threatening 31...Qxh2 followed by mate so White must give up the Queen)

If Knight on e5 moves to f3, Black trades Rooks anyway with ... Rxe1 followed by ...Ne5 (yellow arrow) and ....Rd2 and the position is absolutely crushing.

Now let us return to our position (see diagram on left) after 26... Bxg2.

27. Qxg2 (forced because 27. Kxg2 runs into the horrible fork 27....Rd2+! winning the Queen)

Now (27. Nxf7 doesn't work because of 27... Qg6 28. Nxd8 Be4! with threats of 29... Nxf1+ or 29... Ne2+ and best of all, White still cannot play hxg3 because of mate on g2 after Qxg3+)

Now let's get on with what White actually played.

28. Nxf7? (see last diagram below on left)

And now the final trick presents itself.

28.... Qxh2+!

And White is now busted. Interestingly, Fritz didn't like this move. Well.... duh. Of course I am going for the endgame and trade off the Queens.

29. Qxh2 Nxh2
30 Rxe8+ Rxe8 (White Resigns as he is a whole Rook down)



I have no doubt that my chess skills is not up to scratch and my piece co-ordination still lacks finesse. This is an area I definitely need to improve upon.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Failing In Tactics

Over FICS, I played against a 1500 rated player and promptly lost despite having an advantage. Bummer!

Here's the position with Black to play.

This position arose from a Reti opening (yes, I do play the Reti Opening). Black has a positional advantage and White's pieces are currently tied up in knots. The White Knights have no good squares to relocate to, the Rooks are passive, the Queen is passive.

And being the absolute idiot that I am, I played 26... Bxb2?? An error of humongous proportions. Do you know why the b2 pawn is taboo?

....... You've probably seen it by now. Because of 27. Ne1 and it's goodbye Bishop! From that point on, it was pretty much downhill all the way.

In this position, I should have played a far stronger move.

Can you see what should Black do to press home the advantage?

Please stop reading now if you do not wish to know the answer.

The correct response is 27...f4!! White has a couple of responses. None are good.

28.exf4 Bxf4!
(see 2nd diagram on left) threatening Bxc1 and Bxg3+ forking King and Queen. The Bishop cannot be recaptured because of Re2 winning the Queen

Qf1 fxe3
29. Qxd3 Rxd3
30. Ne1 Rd2+!!
31. Nxd2 exd2
32. Rb1 Bxg3+! (see 3rd diagram on left) and Black wins (Rxe1 is coming and no force on earth can stop the d-pawn from Queening)

28. Kg2 fxe3
29. Qf3 e2

30. Ne1 Qd1

31. Rc2 Bd4

32. Nxd4 cxd4 (see 4th diagram on left) and Black wins as the next move is d3->d2 and White is powerless to stop one of the pawns from Queening.

Oh well, back to the drawing board!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Don't You Just Hate The French Defence?

Folks, I'm learning the French Defence and that means learning both sides of the French.

I find that most players in my club mistake the French Defence as a passive, boring defence much like the Caro-Kann but with the added disadvantage of Black's light-squared bishop being hemmed in (which as Korchnoi so lovingly puts it,"his problem child") and remaining inactive for much of the game.

However, the French is not a passive defence. I've found that it's a dangerous counter-attacking defence. Yes, counter-attacking. That means, you as Black don't sit back and let White squeeze you, you go straight for White's throat while White is messing around and shuffling pieces to break the f7-square.

The long-term strategy behind the French Defence is surprisingly simple. Break down White's center and then break White.

Why play the French Defence? I mean, no super GM plays it at the top level other than GM Morozevich and even then his results in the French as Black have not been spectacular. eg. see this tactical game where Morozevich was slowly but surely losing in this year's Linares (Topalov v Morozevich 1-0).

But less not we forget, openings change like the wind. A decade ago, the Sicilian Najdorf was the (and still is) the main reply to 1.e4 but its presence has been diminished with Kasparov's retirement. Instead, the Ruy Lopez (Anand, Kramnik), the Catalan (Kramnik), Petroff (Kramnik), the Slav/Semi-Slav/Queen's Gambit Declined (Anand, Leko, Kramnik, Topalov) are the rage these days.

In fact, the Ruy Lopez Berlin Defence is so tough to crack that I am now forced to switch openings. I was surprised to encounter it as White during one of my OTB games a month ago vs a 1700 player (which I won but only because my opponent blundered when he had the advantage) but who clearly knew how to play the Berlin Defence.

Anyway, here's a French Defence game I played recently on FICS.

We reached the position (I am Black) as shown 33. Rg4 (see 1st diagram on right).

White is trying his best to break down the position but I've got everything tidied up.

Now imagine the board without the Queens and the minor pieces. What do you see?

Bingo! Black has a strong central pawn majority and it is these pawns that will give Black an advantage in the endgame.

The isolated pawn on e5 will fall and I still have pawn triggers of f6 or g6 (at the opportune moment) to cause serious damage to White.

I therefore, not surprisingly, head straight for the endgame.

33. ... Rc4 (trading off the Rooks naturally)
34. Rgf4 Rxf4 35. Rxf4 Rc4 36. Rf2 (waste of time) Bc5 (even if White didn't move I am relocating my Bishop to c7 for reasons mentioned below)
37. Rf1 Re4
38. b4 Bb6
39. Rf3 (see 2nd diagram on right)

Now this is my plan. I intend to attack the e5 pawn - it cannot be defended because of the vulnerability of the back rank check (losing the Queen in the process). The dark-square bishop will slice through the b8-h2 diagonal.

39.... Bc7
40. Qh2 Bxe5

41. Bg3 Bxg3
(I was so tempted to do 42. Re1+! and then trading off his Queen for my Rook and Bishop but I feared the position might be complicated. I was thinking to myself. I have a winning position, I just need to keep my pieces on the board. Put more pressure and White will crack soon enough)
42. Qxg3 f6
43. Qh3 Re1+

44. Kh2 Qb8+

45. g3 Qe5
(see 3rd diagram on right) (now it is all over, my Queen threatens c3, e2+ and h5 and my Rook threatens e2. If White plays 46. Qg2 Qxh5+ 47. Qh3 Re2+ wins the Queen)
46. Rf2 Qxc3 (White's Queenside pawns will get gobbled up and the pawns simply march down to win) 0-1

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Czech Mate

Excuse the bad pun.

I'm still wrapping my head around using Chess Publisher and am loving it. This was a team match correspondence game played this year.

I've never understood the Czech Benoni (I doubt I ever will). I ran this through Fritz. My own comments are in bold.

In the game above, I find I didn't have to make any mistakes. My one worry was castling Queenside right into his Bishop pin. But I took a look around the board and couldn't find anything threatening and went ahead with it.

I'd noticed that certain openings can be played based on general understanding, and for other lines, move memorisation is required. I'll be honest, I've never remembered any line beyond the 6th or 7th move so I do not play lines like the Najdorf and the Slav because the amount of theory is too mind boggling.

At my level (which I estimate to be around 1200), I just need to understand concepts and general ideas, practice on my tactics and perfect my endgame technique. Until I get to at least 1800 level, I do not intend to bother with deep move memorisation. However, what I do also want to acquire is knowledge about pawn structures and ideas behind certain openings. I feel this is an invaluable knowledge tool to any aspiring chess player.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

How Not To Play Vs The French Defence

I've finally decided to take the plunge and have a go at Chess Publisher instead of constantly loading my games to Fritz and then copying and pasting the images to the blog.

ChessPublisher is still a little temperamental at times but overall, the change has been very positive and I am very pleased with the results. I would like to give my utmost thanks to Andrew Ooi for giving the chess blog world a terrific way to present chess games. His contribution cannot be any more understated.

Here's a game I just played in FICS. I decided to vary my repertoire a little and play the French Defence. I have not added in a lot of game comments as the game was simple from start to finish.

Incidentally, because of studies, I have also forfeited my remaining 5 games at my chess club. I have to take 4 Module exams and 2 Finals exam within the next 7 days (it's just not funny). I was running in 3rd place. Oh well, it's only a Rapid competition anyway and it was fun while it lasted.

Getting to the chess club on Wednesdays is fast becoming a huge hurdle to overcome. I finish work at 7pm and the competition starts at 7.30pm. This means, I have to get to my office garage, hop on, blaze full speed to the club (it's about a 15-20 min drive away), park and run up to the club.

I do notice one particular habit forming.

I ALWAYS lose my first game. Without fail. It seems that by the time I get to the club, I'm so hurried that I started to make mistakes. Mistakes I would not normally make (like not seeing a mate in 1 for instance!).

However, usually after my first game, I find that I am much settled down and will start to play at a much improved level and I win more often than not. I guess I have to rethink about joining another chess club soon after my studies. I can't keep doing this week after week.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Endgame Trouble

This position arose from a Sicilian. I am White.

Black offered to trade Rooks on f8 and I did (see 1st diagram on right).

32. ..... Kxf8

While this may not seem like it, but Black is now in trouble.

Why is Black in trouble?

A few things.

1. I have a queenside pawn majority and Black has doubled pawns on the b-file. This is a long term weakness which Black cannot expect to hold.

2. My center is guarded only by my e pawn while Black has 2 central pawns. That should give him an advantage, you say. The answer is no.

3. That's because White has the g and h-pawns and it is these 2 pawns that will win the game for White and ironically stops Black from pushing his central pawns. I find it strange how pawns on the side actually controls the pawns in the center.

First of all, what did I play as White?

I made the standard move. I activated my King.

My plan is very simple.

Notice how my kingside pawns is guarding the crucial squares f5, f6, g6, h6? White has a central blockade and this makes the Black king task impossible to get around this pawn structure.

In this position, it is crucial that my pawns deny the Black king any activity.

33. Kc1 e5?? (see 2nd diagram on right)

A blunder in time pressure. With the pawn move, the Black king cannot attack my e-pawn now and this makes my task simpler.

I continue to move my King
34. Kd2 Kf7
35. Kd3 Ke6

Now I am ready to deal with the weakness of the doubled pawn on the b-file.

36. c4! bxc3

(see 3rd diagram on right)

Now I am winning. I simply take the c-pawn with my King and storm down the b-file.

37. Kxc3 d5?

A mistake. Black cannot hope to achieve any counterplay with this pawn break as now my g and h pawns romp home.

38. exd5+ Kxd5 (the King is now outside the rule of the square for my h-pawn and White's h-pawn queens easily)

39. g6! (hxg6
40. h6 Ke6 41. h7 Kf7 42. h8=Q) 1-0

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Interesting Tactic

I was on FICS again this morning and played a 1300++ rated player.

We arrived at the position shown.

I am Black. White had just played
28. Rd1
placing my Queen under direct fire.

I knew that if we trade pieces, I have an advantage all the way to the endgame.

So after much thinking, I played the move.

28.... Qf4!

A very surprising move. I loaded this into Fritz and Fritz didn't even consider this move. But tactically it works.

White cannot play Bxd5. The Knight on d5 is forbidden fruit.

The reason I can play this and not worry about the Knight is because White has a back rank problem and is weak on the dark squares.

Let's say White plays
29. Bxd5 Rxc1 (2nd diagram)

Now the situation's very clear.

White now must play

30. Rf1 (Rxc1 leads to mate after Qxc1 while Qxf4 is also impossible because of Rxd1 leading to mate) Rxf1+
31. Kxf1 Qxe4
32. Bxe4 Rb1 (and Black has a decisive material advantage going into a R v B endgame with a passed a-pawn)

My opponent didn't play this series of moves btw.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Finishing Your Opponent Simply

This game was played against a 1200++ player on FICS.

Black made a tactical blunder and is now a whole Rook down but chooses to play on.

White is completely dominating. It is clear that Black has tried to mobilise the King in an effort to try to defend the key squares d7 and d8 (highlighted in yellow) to stop White from entering the position and hence the move

31. .... Ke8

There's a fatal flaw in this move. Can you spot it?

What is that Black has done wrong and how can White gain entry into Black defence?

Take note that White must be careful not to let Black gain an initiative eg. leaving the e4 pawn en-prise.

Answer :

If you've figured it out by now, the killer move was 32. Qd5.

Why is this move deadly?

1. It stops Black's counterplay and protects e4.
2. More importantly, the White Queen is going to play Qa8+ and Black's Queen is history.

Black now tries to alleviate the position and played the move

33 ... f6??

The question is:

How does White swap the Rook for the Black Queen, thereby finishing off Black in the process?

Highlight between the brackets for the answer:

[White now wins the Queen for a Rook with a simple tactical trick.

34. Qg8+ Qf8
35. Rd8+! Kxd8
36. Qxf8+ ]

Friday, November 9, 2007

Making Horrid Moves

It's times like these that I sometimes want to bury my head in the sand.

On FICS today, I made a strategic blunder.

Take a look at this I just played 12. ....Qh4 (see diagram on right).

I am Black. What is the problem with Black's position?

A couple.

1. Black hasn't castled (is the King that safe in the center - I don't think so, not with the Rook on g7)
2. my h-pawn is going to die real soon (hence my Qh4 move)
3. my Knight on b8 is doing diddly squat
4. my Rook on a8 needs to stay there to protect the a6 pawn

Play continued.
13. Qd2 Qxh2? (this is a blunder)

Why is it? That's because White is clearly preparing to castle longside. So what's wrong with being greedy and grabbing the pawn? The answer will be coming.....

14. O-O-O Bxe2? (another blunder)

Black should maintain the pin and quickly get his other pieces out as Black's position is close to collapsing and in danger of getting crushed.

Now my opponent makes a fatal mistake.

15. Qxe2?? (see diagram on right)
A horrible horrible blunder.... in trying to protect the e2 pawn which White should not have done.. now comes

15... Qh6+ (forking King and Rook and my opponent resigned) 0-1

What did White do wrong?

White has a humongous advantage along the d-file.

So what do you do when you have Q+R on a file? That's correct, you break open the file.

White should have played 14. Bxe2 (see diagram on right) and then played d5 - cracking open the file and threatening all sorts of mating threats on d7,d8.

What Black should have done is counteract this plan with it's own release by playing d6 and closing off the center. Black is by no means okay and has to struggle but it's definitely far better than what I played.

In short, this was a terrible game from me.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Is It Necessary To Play Till The Death?

I played 3 rapid games last night at my chess club. My last game was against Vincent. I ended up in a hopelessly losing position. And rather than choosing to resign, I chose to play on till near checkmate. Vincent wasn't happy with me after the game saying it was not a gentlemanly thing to do. He refused my handshake after the game and I didn't realise that he would get so upset over that.

Well, a couple of players at the chess club have a notoriety of playing till checkmate and I didn't see why he had to get so upset with me when other people are doing the same. I didn't like it but that doesn't mean they don't have a right to do it and I acknowledged that.

Which brings me to the question? When do you resign? Do you resign when you're a piece down?

In any other game, I would've instantly resigned in a hopeless situation and would have done so. I felt a bit lousy after the game for making Vincent go through the motions. I won't do that again, that's for sure, at least not against him or Alan.

FYI I did apologise to him much later and he was more receptive.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Lighter Side Of Chess

This has to be one of the funniest chess clips ever.

Kasparov makes a humongous mistake against Anand.

Watch his eyes as Anand's hand hovers over the piece and his realisation of his error.

Special thanks to BCMChess.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Another Day, Another Plan

I just got off FICS and this was a win against 1500 rated player.

We arrive at this position on move 10 as shown. I am Black. White had just played 10. a3 (see diagram on left).

What should Black do in this position? I thought over this for a long while. Black has a terrible weakness at e5, so I must secure it first and take control of the b8-h2 diagonal.

10...Qc7 was the natural move. I could have considered Bd6 as well but I'm not worried about White's response Bf4 or Ne5.

11. b4? (see diagram on right. I thought this move was premature as it allows me now to gain the initiative) b5 (stopping counterplay on the Queenside)
12. Be3? (a weak move but where else can White's Bishop go?) Bd6 (continuing development)
13. Qc1 (doubling on the dark square diagonal to try and take control of the dark squares)

I paused to consider Black's response for a possible dark-square invasion by White but I could none. Bg5 aims at nothing and my Knights are doing a fine job protecting each other.

However, I smell blood and immediately hit on the a-file break with
13.... a5!
14. Ne2 axb4
15. axb4 Bxb4 (winning a pawn)
16. c3 Bd6
17. Rxa8 Rxa8 (it does not look like it but White is now in a very dangerous position. I control the a-file and White tries to break down my kingside)
18. Bf4 Bxf4 (the more minor pieces coming off, the stronger my passed b-pawn becomes)
19. Qxf4? (this was unnecessary) Qxf4 (exchanging all the pieces)
20. Nxf4 (see diagram on left)

This line makes me think the longest. There are 2 possible problems Black has here.

I first consider 21. Ne5. This move simply forces me to recapture with ....Nxe5 22. dxe5 and my response Nd7 (threatening the e5 pawn) is good for Black.

So that leaves White with another likely response and that is to play 21. Nxe6 fxe6 22. Rxe6 winning the e-pawn and threatening my backward c5 pawn. I must find a way to stop this.

I've got a few ways of defending this.

I first looked at the defense of the c5 pawn with my Knight 22... Ndb8. I thought this was a very ugly move. If 23. Re7! My goose is cooked as I've no way of defending with a Rook on the seventh rank and no way to extricate my Knight.

I think to myself, maybe I can play Re8 (defending the Bishop) or Rc6 or even Ra6. However, I was extremely unhappy with the passive nature of the Rook. Surely there must be something better.

What weaknesses does White have? Very easy. The c3 pawn and the Bishop on d3. And to tie up things even more nicely, once my Rook takes on the pawn at c3, it protects the c6 pawn. Nice!

So I played 20... Ra3 (see diagram on left).

White as expected eliminates my Bishop and now, Black is winning.

21. Nxe6 fxe6
22. Bf1 Ne4 (now I just steamroll White's position with my b-pawn and White resigns shortly after).
23. Ne5 Nxe5
24. dxe5 Rxcee 3
25. Ra1 b4 (see diagram on right)

A nice win. IMHO I think White's mistakes were:
a. he was slow to react
b. he started trading off pieces.
c. rather than activating his pieces, his pieces started to withdraw.
d. the b4 pawn move was premature and in the end, it proved costly for White.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Chessbase is sure releasing lots of new chess engines of late.

Shredder 11 is out and Fritz is arriving soon on Nov 22 and my wallet is going to be a lot thinner if I yield to the temptation.

But should I really upgrade my Fritz10? I don't really see the need to at the moment and I'll probably defer buying it until I can pick it up dirt cheap when Fritz 12 comes on.

At the current moment, I don't really need a super duper powerful chess engine that I use only for post mortems because my chess skills are nowhere near master level.

Thanks but no thanks, chessbase.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Is Chess Dead In My Club?

My rapid games last night at the chess club were ordinary. I lost 2 and won 1.

My opponents were Uno, Grieg and Thereza. I loved playing against Grieg, an absolute gentleman. He was in time trouble and I blundered in the end.

However, Uno has a penchant for playing moves by slamming his pieces down on the board so hard to make a point (especially when he is winning). Today, I made a mistake and rightfully lost but I congratulated him for his win nonetheless.

Thereza played horribly against me. She arrived late. I asked Thereza if she wanted the clock restarted (it's of no loss to me anyway) and she said no (I had only started the clock after more than 10 minutes had elapsed and I didn't feel it was fair to have others wait for me in the later rounds unlike a certain fella at my club who would start asap - not giving even 1 second). She had lost something like 3-4 minutes by then. That was nice of her anyway. Our game was weird, I ended up with a winning Q+K v K endgame and our clocks were ticking down. And Thereza did something unexpected. With 1 final move before I checkmated her, she declared,"Stalemate!" (which caught me by surprise as her King wasn't in stalemate) and I replied,"What stalemate?" She looked at it for about 10 seconds before realising her error. Ouch!

Sometimes I do wonder about the state of Ryde Eastwood League chess club. IMHO a few players' behaviour OTB can be improved. If these players were to continue playing chess this way, it's not surprising they're going to put people off (especially the younger players) with their antics. I'm being serious when I say this but this chess club desperately needs new blood and at the current way they're going, things don't look especially hopeful.