Thursday, January 31, 2008

The End Of My Holidays

No chess related post today.

As they say, all good things must come to an end. And such it is with my stay here in sunny, humid Singapore.

The thing I really miss most of all is my family, my in-laws and most of all, my brother.

It's been fun but alas, the 3 weeks flew by so quickly I felt like I really didn't have much of a holiday.

I've not been keeping up to date on working on endgames. Instead, I got sidestracked by the many many days I spent shuffling to and fro my parents, my in-laws and my brother.

By the way, I've did some reconnaissance on the local bookstore scene. If you're looking for good chess books, you can pretty much forget it. Borders downtown doesn't contain nice chess books although if you like to order them in, you can - it just takes a couple of weeks.

Kinokuniya at Ngee Ann City (it's not a city - it's actually a shopping centre) stocks slightly more chess books but the section is really hard to find, being placed at the back in a rather obscure location.

However, the chess books in the local libraries are frankly very good. They contain a nice spread of books, from Kasparov's My Great Predecessors to Kutov's Think Like A Grandmaster.

For the last few days, I logged onto FICS and played a few games. I noticed that there are some players using some kind of automated bots to constantly challenge you if you lose. It's kind of funny, you resign, your opponent challenges, you accept, resign, he challenges again.... repeat ad infinitum.... and the move frequency is odd. For example, simple moves take a longer time than you would normally expect and complex positions takes the same average time as an opening move which only shows that there's a silicon behind that brain - some people just have too much time on their hands.

In the meantime, I'll be packing my bags and getting ready for the trip home. Speaking of which, my study term starts on Feb 14. Drats.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fritz 11 - Strange Infinite Analysis Behaviour

I was very excited yesterday.

I got a chance to give Fritz 11 a whirl on a family member's computer. He got Fritz 11. So I grabbed one of my old games and fired up Fritz 11.

Now in this position, I let Fritz 11 do an infinite analysis on this position (see diagram on left). After letting this position run for over 3 minutes, Fritz threw up the surprising line:

Analysis by Fritz 11: 1. -+ (-1.62): 36.Rxf6 Re1 37.Rxh6 Rxe5 38.dxe5 d4 ... (see 2nd diagram on left)

..... what the... ? 36. Rxf6??

Fritz is kidding, right? No.

Even more surprising is that after the move 36. Rxf6 was played, Fritz now throws up the following evaluation (see 3rd diagram on left) after analysing for about 3 minutes...

1. -+ (-7.17): 36...Qxg3+ 37.Kxg3 Rxe6 38.Rf5 Rd6 39.Rf3 Rd1 ....

What? After taking the first move, Fritz now decides that the position has swung from a -1 evaluation to a -7!

If you look at the first evaluation in the 2nd diagram, for some strange reason, Fritz didn't analyse or see the line 36. Rxf6 Qxg3+ 37.Kxg3 Rxe6.

This is very odd.

If anyone is interested to give this a whirl, I've copied the FEN position below.

4r1k1/2q3p1/4bp1p/3pR3/3P4/5RQP/5PPK/2r5 w - - 0 36


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Review Of Alexei Suetin's 3 Steps to Chess Mastery

I recently picked up this chess book from the library. It's titled 3 Steps to Chess Mastery.

I tried looking up a review for the book but the comments were less than favorable (I'm not sure why).

I was actually quite surprised. Having leafed through the about 50 odd pages now, I actually found that this is quite a good book for my chess level.

GM Alexei Suetin has a knack of putting things simply and accurately.

Who is GM Suetin, you may ask? Well, Alexei Suetin is a highly respected GM in former USSR who is also a second and trainer to Tigran Petrosian for many of his most important matches, including his world championship victory in 1963. He was for many years Moscow's senior coach, overseeing the development of promising new talents.

This book combines 2 of Suetin's other works: The Chess Player's Laboratory and The Path To Mastery.

The book is published by Cadogen Chess, first in 1982 and then reprinted again 1983, 1988,1998 and 1996. Certain chess ideas may be a bit dated but the book has surprisingly aged well. It's been translated by Ken Neat.

The book is broken down into 9 main sections and I've highlighted a few subsections within these sections:

Part I : The Chess Player's Laboratory

1. Ways and Means of Improving
- Methods of Evaluating A Position, Planning, The Choice Of Move, Connection Between Opening And Middlegame etc.

2. In The Player's Laboratory
- The Test Of Mastery, Working On One's Own Games, The Technique Of Opening Preparation etc.

Part II: Work On The Elimination Of One's Shortcomings, And Other Problems Of Self-Improvement

3. Certain Tendencies In A Chess Player's Thinking
- Impulsive Thinking, Play By Analogy etc.

4. A Chess Player's Characteristic Thinking Defects
- Sense Of Proportion, Chess Culture, Loss Of Consistency, Keep Your Cool etc.

5. Direct And Indirect Consequences Of Tactical Mistakes
- Mistakes Which Are Difficult To Rectify and Errors Leading To Positional Concessions

6. The Problem Of Choosing A Move
- Combination Visions, The Harmfulness Of Routine Moves, Visual Imagination etc.

Part III: The Master Level

7. Dynamics Of The Struggle And A Concrete Approach To The Evaluation Of A Position
- A Modern Panorama Of The Chess Battle, Inductive And Deductive Methods Of Thinking, Visual And Verbal Ideas etc.

8. Intuition And Risk In Chess
- Broad Aspects Of Intuition, Restrictive Play And 'Pressurizing' etc.

9. The Various Styles And Schools Of Chess Creativity
- Problems Of Classifying Styles, Individual Playing Styles, Playing Styles And Chess Practice etc.

This book has about 190 pages in all. Keep in mind that many of these subsections are only discussed in about 2-4 pages each.

One thing I liked about this book is how Suetin lays out the details to you in a concise manner. He doesn't go through many pages explaining why he states a particular statement. He shows it to you by means of suitable game examples, historical anecdotes (and explains them why they are so).

I'll read to you a few of the paragraphs so you can have a good idea of what the book is like.

The following few paragraphs relates to what should go on in the player's laboratory with respect to to preparation.

"For a young player, wishing to raise the standard of his play, it is important, even essential, to make analysis an integral part of his home training. The starting positions from this can (and should!) be most varied (after all, in practice one has to deal with all kinds of situations). But nevertheless, the emphasis should undoubtedly be on complicated middlegame set-ups, full of tactical content. For the most part, such a criterion is well satisfied by positions arising at the transition from opening to middlegame in present-day openings. It is no accident that it is on such problem set-ups that the strongest players sharpen their analytical mastery. In this way a dual aim is achieved : the development of analytical skill, and a penetration into the jungle of a particular opening system, which one can add to one's 'armoury'.

What generally happens is that, the deeper you go into the jungle of such positions, not only does the evaluation not become clearer, but often the player is faced with an even more confused picture.

But this should not dismay the analyst.

A knowledge of highly complicated, practically inexhaustible positions opens up enormous scope for the development of the most varied aspects of chess thinking. The result is that, along with the development of analytical potentialities, the player's genuine understanding of chess grows, without being confined within some formal framework. Also, the deeper your analysis of positions in the transition from opening to middlegame, the greater the advantage you gain over your future opponents. Also in opening preparation, virtually the most important thing for the practical player is to be constantly ahead in your 'production secrets'.

Thus you should attempt to be a Sherlock Holmes of chess. And remember that each time you can get down to the essence of the problem by a combination of painstaking and inventive work, worthy of a clever detective.

It is not all positions, arising on the transition from opening to middlegame, that are full of specific content. But always, after the completion of mobilization, there arise a certain complex of of strategic and tactical problems (provided, of course, that in the opening neither side has made some bad mistake, allowing the opponent quickly to gain a serious advantage).

Therefore, when studying variations, you should attempt in particular to see the 'physical meaning' - the intrinsic strategic and tactical ideas. In short, when studying an opening (ie. in essence, a specific middlegame) you should not so much aim to remember the variations, but rather to study the most important critical positions that arise here."

This is very good advice. The book is practically littered all over the place with explanations like this.

The book also contains some very interesting insights and stories. Take for example, the following excerpt:

"Later I became acquainted with several of the training methods employed by Keres. Thus, for example, he liked to study one and same position from opposite points of view. If say, a pawn was sacrificed for the initiative, with inexhaustible ingenuity he would seek resources for the attack. But then came the 'dead point'. Keres would turn the board through 180 degrees, and with equal ingenuity and energy would begin searching for resources of defence and counter-play."

Too often we have books these days of tactics, endgames, combinations, openings, middlegames. However very few books have been devoted to combining them together so they make sense. What this book does is connects these 'dots', so to speak.

Unfortunately, I've not the chance to investigate the highlighted games mentioned in the book in depth but I think the games serve more to highlight a point (and the lines should of course be checked with computer analysis where possible for accuracy) than anything else.

The book contains many many useful tips on how to master chess and what are the steps needed to achieve success over the board.

If you manage to find this book at an old second hand bookshop, do read a bit through it and see if you like the book.

I know I certainly had.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Endgame Realisation

How good is your endgame technique? Definitely superior to mine, that's for sure.

I recently played this endgame.... or rather, misplayed this endgame.

I managed to convert this endgame... again, playing the 2nd line which Fritz recommended and again, I missed the stronger line. In fact, the difference between the suggested 1st and 2nd lines were so wide, I was surprised I missed it totally.

White just captured my pawn with
47. Rxe3

How would you proceed from here?

[In the game, I played

48.Ke2 Rxe3+
49.Kxe3 Kxh5
after which I proceeded to win by marching down my pawn.

However, the strongest continuation was:
48.Kf2 Ra2+
49.Kg3 Rxe3+
And I win White's Rook]

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What Do I Do Next?

I've reached an interesting position here arising from the Ruy Lopez: Berlin Defence.

Black just played the move 22... Ne5. I fail to find the correct tactic here, proving once again, my tactical vision is just not good enough. Instead, I found the 2nd best move which Fritz gives as less than optimal - difference of 1.0. A swing large enough to highlight my omission.

My question is this:

What is wrong with Black's position? In this case, I'm not giving out any clues. It's up to you to figure out the best continuing line.

[In the game, I played 23. Nxe5. But I missed the following stronger tactic.

Surprisingly, White can solidify his advantage by playing
23. Nxd6!! The Knight naturally cannot be taken by the Black Queen because if 23... Qxd6 24. Qh6#.

23.Nxd6 Nf7 (forced as any other Knight moves either loses the Knight or results in Qh6#. Note: If the Queen tries to defend with 23... Qe7 then 24.Qxe5+! Qxe5 25.Nf7+ loses a piece
24.Nxf7+ Qxf7
25.Qxc5 and White has netted 2 extra pawns]

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

GM Antic To Coach Manly Chess Club

Now for something Australian... :)

My brother-in-law, Steven, is at the Manly chess club who now has a GM to coach at their club.

I hope Antic's residency is approved. It would be very sad as Australia has a severe shortage of good GM trainers and it would be a mistake to let him slip by.



The Manly Chess Club has hired Australia's leading player, Grandmaster Dejan Antic, to coach its members.

Club president Chris Dimock said the appointment would "add to the armoury of our players" in matches against other Sydney clubs and be an attraction for new members.

Antic, 39, who won the Australian Open Championship in Sydney this month, is one of only two active international grandmasters in Australia and is a registered trainer with the world governing chess body FIDE (Federation Internationale des Echecs).

Antic, one of Serbia's top players before moving to Australia in 2006, believes the key to success is learning the endgame before studying opening tactics and strategies.

"There are so many good young players in Australia, but they don't want to learn the endgame," Antic said. "So I say, I'll show you how to win in 60 moves instead of 20, and you'll win more often."

The Manly Chess Club meets every Monday night at the Manly-Warringah Leagues Club and Antic will be conducting coaching sessions for the next three weeks, with a view to extending on a more permanent basis, Mr Dimock said.

Antic's initial application for a resident's visa was refused because the Australian government does not recognise his teaching skills, even though the world chess body does. With his wife and two children still in Serbia, Antic has appealed to the Immigration Review Tribunal with a
petition signed by a host of Australian chess players who want him to stay and the support of his local member of Federal Parliament.

For further information

Club president: Chris Dimock: 9221 8390
Dejan Antic: Mob: 0423 368 980
Publicity officer: John Radovan Mob: 0403 888 015"

Kramnik Lost To The Topalov Noshake Gambit

Remember how Topalov used to have dreams of him and Kramnik walking in the park in Moscow and visiting a nightclub together?

Clearly, Topalov isn't dreaming of him much these days not especially since Kramnik got married, not to Topalov, mind you, but to Kramnik's French girlfriend.

Today, neither of them offered to shake each other's hands. Maybe Topalov suspects Kramnik just came from the toilet and didn't wash his hands. *tsk tsk*

I'm sure there will be plenty of analysis from the Topalov-Kramnik game from other chess websites especially when Topalov sacrificed a Knight followed by a Queen. The game was apparently all home made preparation by Cheparinov and not discovered OTB. Probably the best game of the tournament so far.

Kramnik could find no suitable defense and was subsequently crushed (yes, crushed as Topalov proceeded to make mincemeat out of the ex-world champion) and tonight the Bulgarian camp will be busy getting herpes, .......... I mean....... getting drunk. ;)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Endgame study time. This game was taken from the book, Secrets of Pawn Endings by endgame expert Karsten Muller.

White to play and win.

Answers are between the brackets.

[White wins by the technique I discussed not too long ago. It's called triangulation.

The same thing occurs here. White must pass the move to Black and put it into fatal zugzwang. Black can only move on the White squares so White simply triangulates.

1. Kg4 (1. Kf6 - stalemate) Kf7
2. Kh5 Kg8
3. Kg5 Kf7
4. g8Q+ Kxg8
5. Kf6! +-

Now the White King simply grabs all the pawns on e6, d5 and White wins easily.


Well, a couple of things finally did happen.

Cheparinov officially apologised to Short, the Appeals Committee etc.

The apology was accepted and Short did turn up for the game.

They shook hands and Short went on to beat Cheparinov in a Sicilian.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Shake Hands Or Else!

A huge uproar has come up in Corus that threatens to turn things on the head.

The Round 8 Corus B game between Nigel Short and Ivan Cheparinov descended into chaos after Ivan Cheparinov refused to shake hands with Nigel Short (presumably still sore over Short's comments about Topalov's behaviour during the Kramnik-Topalov match in 2006) and was forfeited in favour of Short. Cheparinov was of course, Topalov's second during that much heated match.

For more details, please see ChessVibes website which has also put up a short interview over this news breaking story. Chessbase has also put up some information on their website.

This is a very interesting development considering that Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov are scheduled to play each other for the next game and we all know how "chummy" these 2 people are with each other the last time they met. Just so you know, in last year's Corus, Topalov refused to shake hands with Kramnik during their game.

The Topalov team are planning an appeal against today's decision to the Appeals Committee. The irony of it all is that Vladimir Kramnik is one of the members of the Appeals Committee so the Topalov camp is in effect, appealing to Kramnik. :)

Transcript of Short's video interview on Chessvibes below:

(start of interview)

Reporter (R): Nigel Short, you just won your game over Cheparinov in a very odd manner. What happened?

Nigel Short (S): Well, yeah. It was a fairly short game. It was my quickest game so far. So I came to the board and I opened 1. e4. My opponent was not there. He arrived after a few minutes.... (he) sat down... I was standing up at that time. He sat down and quickly played c5. I came back to the board immediately because I was nearby... and I stood by, offering my hand to him. And he was very pointedly looking down at his scoresheet, somehow, down, sort of out of the way. So I was standing there for quite sometime with my hand. It was very clear that he didn't want to shake my hand but just for clarity, I sat down at the board, waited for sometime until I caught his eye. Then I put my hand across, and he sort of shrugged or ... just sort of, you know, indicated that he sort of doesn't want to shake hands.

R: Didn't shake hands?

S: Refused to shake hands and I so informed the arbiters, one of whom has seen the situation and I claimed the win.

R: Because recently, there has been a new rule, (from) FIDE, you would say?

S: That's correct. Well, the rule states that, if you refuse to shake hands, this is punishable with an immediate forfeit.

R: It's already in the official rules?

S: Yeah. It's a (FIDE) presidential board decision. It's on behaviour and I think, it appeared in June of last year.

R: Were the arbiters aware of this?

S: No.

R: What happened?

S: Well, in my experience, maybe I'm completely biased here but there are only 25% of arbiters who know their job properly but it is a difficult thing to do because the regulations are not updated. The FIDE website is not updated (as) it should be. So then I informed them that it was on the FIDE website. The other players, they were very well aware of it - it had been up there on the FIDE website for days.... so the players were well aware of it, that this thing existed. And they duly located the presidential board decision and that's it.

R: So I guess this is the first time that this rule is applied then?

S: Yes that's correct. Yep.

R: And so what do you think of it?

S: History making (laughs).

R: What will be the consequences of this now?

S: I think people will think very carefully about making calculated insults like this. And it was clearly (a) very deliberate, very calculated insult on his part. So....

R: So personally...?

S: Personally, I have no disagreements with Cheparinov. In fact, I barely conversed with him. I've never played him before but he is of course part of the Danailov-Topalov camp and they were unhappy with some remarks I made on the Kramnik-Topalov match. So, in my opinion, if you're looking for an answer, you have to ask Cheparinov himself for his motive. It would say to be a collective decision by the Bulgarian camp. Ok.

(end of interview)

Nigel Short is of course referring to the following ruling:

FIDE ruling

Behavioural norms of players in chess events

Having discussed several recent cases in different chess tournaments where the attitude of players toward their opponent or officials, journalists etc. was not acceptable under conventional social behaviour, the FIDE Presidential Board – at the suggestion of President Ilyumzhinov – decided on setting up strict rules regarding such behaviour.

Any player who does not shake hands with the opponent (or greets the opponent in a normal social manner in accordance with the conventional rules of their society) before the game starts in a FIDE tournament or during a FIDE match (and does not do it after being asked to do so by the arbiter) or deliberately insults his/her opponent or the officials of the event, will immediately and finally lose the relevant game.

Regarding a more comprehensive set of behavioural and ethical norms to be followed, FIDE Ethics Commission and the Arbiter’s Council are to elaborate guidelines for the players. The guidelines will be published on the FIDE website.


Update: Cheparinov has won his appeal and the game is rescheduled for tomorrow. Short has indicated that he will not turn up for the match.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Passing Of A Flawed Genius

May You Finally Find The Peace And Happiness
That Eluded You During Your Life.

When people talk about Robert James Fischer, they do so with mixed reactions, he was always very much the controversial figure.

The news of his sudden death brings about a permeating sadness that is hard to quell. Somewhere deep inside some of us, it's hard to reconcile with the man who helped brought chess to the center stage of the world in the 70s.

With his passing, we remember Bobby not because we mourn but because we celebrate his life, for what he gave to the chess world was immeasurable.

And it is his contributions, and by replaying his past chess games that the spirit of Robert James Fischer lives on.

Rest in peace, Bobby.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Most Avid Chess Fan You'll Ever Meet

Apologies if I haven't been blogging much of late.

I've been shuttling to and fro my father-in-law's place. My father-in-law recently suffered a minor stroke which unfortunately restricted his mobility (his right leg had gone numb) so he has to move around in a wheelchair. Thankfully, he is otherwise relatively unaffected although he has been a little down the last couple of days so I've been over keeping him company and playing a few rounds of chess with him.

Oh, did I mention my father-in-law being close to a ripe old age of 80, once beat the pants off me in a table-tennis match before he had his stroke more than 5 years ago? Naturally, this is something I try not to announce too much to my friends. The same goes for my mother-in-law, she beats me in badminton in 3 straight sets! The fact she was also a former school champion might have something to do with it.... hmmmm.

My father-in-law is undergoing physiotherapy at the moment and the therapists reckon he'll be back to normal within 3 months.

My father-in-law is truly what you call a chess aficionado. No bones about it.

Never have I seen someone who owns so many Fritz Trainers, Chessbase stuff, Roman's DVD etc.

The picture on the left is just a small fraction of his chess materials. Yikes!

Oddly enough, he doesn't actually play competitive chess. He plays it socially and for the love of it.

He related to me a very interesting story.

In the mid 1960s, his father had recently passed away and he was feeling extremely depressed. Then he met Lim Kok Ann. For those unfamiliar with the name, Lim Kok Ann or rather, Prof. Lim is by and large considered the chess patriarch of Singapore. Prof. Lim introduced him to the game of chess and since then, he became hooked on it.

At one time, he was at the Singapore Chess Federation. At that time, my father-in-law only knew how to play Chinese chess so the rules of chess while seem odd, he soon took to it like a duck to water. Anyway, when my father-in-law just started out in chess, he met a very obnoxious opponent at the chess club who looked down on my father-in-law and loudly boasted that he could beat my father-in-law in 10 moves.

So the two started playing and after 10 moves, not only did his opponent failed to beat him, my father-in-law managed to hold his own pretty well. Throughout the game, his opponent started to mock him hoping to upset him. When my father-in-law got up for a bit of a breather, Prof Lim who was observing the whole fiasco nearby, pulled my father-in-law aside and hinted to him how to move his Knights. When my father-in-law went back to the board, he beat his opponent in less than 10 moves! His opponent had to make a retreat from the board so fast you thought he was Speedy Gonzales. :)

Till this day, he still chuckles at the event whenever he tells me the story.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Playing The Endgame

I was playing a similarly rated opponent today on FICS. My endgame skills are torrid to say the least here. I should have easily converted this to a win. Instead, I made wrong moves and this game went on for 26 more moves instead when it should have been quicker.

We arrived at the following position (see 1st diagram on right). I am White. Black just played

21. ... h4

I made mistakes from this point onwards. Up till then, Fritz was relatively happy with my play. I had slowly put on the pressure on my opponent and was threatening to break through.

Instead, I played the terrible move. 22. Nf4 which handed my opponent a lifeline and he instantly took advantage of it with 22... Rg4 and we traded a Rook each. This was a mistake. What I should have done here is play the move.

22. Rh5! This move IMHO is the most accurate.

White's aim: White threatens to take one of the 2 h-pawns.
White's additional aim: It also parries a potential threat from Black. Black is threatening ... c5! and after bxc5, Black wants to put the Bishop on c5 so as to fatally pin the Rook. However, if my Knight had remained on e2, I can safely repel the attack with d4.

After a pair of the Rooks were traded, realising my foolhardiness, I was forced to withdraw my Knight back to e2 which where it should have been.

Now my opponent missed a golden chance for his bishop and instead played 33... bxc5? (see 2nd diagram on right). Definitely better was 33... Bxc5 where the Bishop is now free.

In this position I made the cardinal sin. I took his rook with 34. Rxg4. Ouch! Remind me never to do such stupid things again.

I've just unrolled his double h-pawns and now his kingside pawns are rock solid again.

There were 2 moves I could have done. One was 34. c4. This would blockade his Bishop but unfortunately, here, it does not work well. Because after the Rook trade, Black will win my crucial e-pawn and I will be forced to back-pedal. What I should have played here was a very nice move 34. Rf4! This move works. I threaten to take his h-pawn which cannot be defended. If his Rook goes to h5, then I move my rook to the now open g-file and he cannot go back to the g-file. One thing is interesting is that he can create some counterplay with the strong move c4! after which his Rook can slide to the a-file to attack my a-pawn and this would lead to unclear play with chances for both sides.

My Rook endgame technique right now belongs in the "I suck" category. I must continue to work harder at it. Interestingly enough, one of my friends recommended me to have a look at Korchnoi's book Practical Rook Endings. I will have a peep at the book soon. I'm still in R&R mood and half my mind tells me to enjoy the holiday, the other half says,"Don't be a lazy bum. This is the only time you can squeeze some chess training time in." Decisions, decision...... :)

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Airbus A380

Thanks for the well wishes, everyone!

I've touched down safely in sunny Singapore.

I'll be checking out the local chess scene here. the Singapore Chess club is located quite near my brother's home (where I'll be staying most of the time).

My wife found the chess-set (nothing get past this woman, I tell ya!) but she allowed me to bring it over. *grin*.

Oh folks, I flew on board the new Airbus A380 so being naturally curious, I decided to give the inflight chess game software a whirl. Big mistake.

The chess games software on the A380 was torrid. The 3D chess game was .....urgh. It barfed (ran out of time!) on me after 10 moves on the Nimzo-Indian. :(

The 2D multi-player chess vs computer software was harder but for some odd reason, it keeps playing the Alekhine Defence. I lost to it about 3-4 times before I finally managed to work my head around it and beat it soundly. Stupid computer refused to resign in an K+Q+N+P v K endgame.

The airbus A380 has nice video screens aka. awesome. Guess what kind of functionality they have in there?

The screens allows you plug in via an Ethernet connection or/and a USB key. A good thing I brought my USB key - which had some chess PDF files on them (that I've downloaded for free from the Net). You can play Movie files, browse pictures and read PDF documents. So throughout the 8 hour flight, i was busy reading the chess PDF documents instead of watching movies like Rush Hour3 (hmmm...).

My wife who was sitting next to me, shook her head when she saw me. :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Incommunicado For A Few Days

Yes, folks, I'm flying out of Sydney early tomorrow morning to visit my folks and in-laws for 3 weeks of R and R. In the meantime, I'll try to blog as much as possible. For my trip, I'm bringing a couple of chess tomes and a few Chess DVDs to keep me occupied. I'll see if I can sneak a tournament chess set into the luggage without my wife noticing. :)

Take care, everyone.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Castling Queen Side

Polly has a very interesting chess blog at Castling Queen Side.

Do remember to check it out! I highly recommend it. :)

I've also been busy updating chess blog links that are of similar interest to me on the side of the blog and that I regularly visit. Each of them has something interesting that is worthy to take note. Do drop by and have a look at them. Cheers.

I am still working my way through endgames on Convekta's Total Chess Training set.

On a peculiar note, there was an older article in ChessBase that was closely related to a training set I had just done. I've reproduced the problem here. See the position shown.

If you had asked me 1 week ago, I would have racked my brains for quite a long while to find the solution. Can you spot Black's problem squares and how White can capitalise the situation? White to move and win.

Do note that in this case, you cannot win via moving the f-pawn with the King because Black has the opposition, and if you try to force Black to move the a-pawn in this way, you will end up in stalemate.

I'm not going to give out the full answer here but I'm going to give you the general idea of how to win such endgames (there's enough chess literature around on this technique). Can you find it?

The winning move is a slight variation of a technique called Triangulation. Black's problem square is f8. How many dark squares can Black go to from f8? None. In other words, if you perform a triangulation by moving to dark squares, Black cannot follow because unlike White, he cannot use consecutive dark squares. In effect, White now must start a triangulate move - using f4 square as an interim point.

White's king will then head straight for Black's h-pawn via f5 and once that happens, White will win as the King captures the h6 pawn and moves back to g5 to protect both pawns. The Black king subsequently cannot stop both pawns from marching down the board and one of them will Queen. If Black attempts to triangulate, it will fail and White will gain back the opposition and march the f-pawn down instead to win.

If you have a trouble understanding the concept of Triangulation, there are plenty of free online chess materials around. eg. Wikipedia.

Triangulation is a very important tool and it's definitely good to keep it in your arsenal of endgame techniques.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Angry At Myself

I am so angry with myself. I had seen the tactic but I played it incorrectly.

I should have lost but I won because my opponent blundered. The tactic I used was correct but the process was wrong.

Without further ado, let's examine the following (see 1st picture on right):

White just played


I ran this through Fritz and Fritz pretty much preferred the following continuation:

26... Ne7 27.Kf1 Bd5 28.Nh4 Qe4 29.Qxe4 Bxe4 30.Ke2 Kf8 31.Ra7 Nd5

Where Black has a slight plus. Instead I threw a huge monkey wrench into the works. I played....

26... Ne3!

I had calculated carefully that I will win back my temporarily sacrificed piece should my Knight be taken. And indeed it was. But Fritz thought nothing of and reckons I'll still be alright after the correct defense:

27. Nh4 Qe4 28.Nxc5 bxc5 29.fxe3 Qxh4 30.Qf2 Qe4 31.exd4 cxd4 32.Qg3 Qe2

Instead White took the bait and played

27. fxe3 Bxf3
28.Qxf3 (see 2nd diagram on right)

This is the point I strayed and should have lost.

I played 28... dxe3

This was highly incorrect because White has the tactical shot which he played during the game.

29. Ra8! Rxa8
30. Qxa8+ Bf8
At this point, my opponent miscalculated. He should have played
31. Bb4 which is the killer blow and White pretty much wins in all variations.

The correct move I should have played was

28... Qxd3

Now the Bb4 trick does not work because after

29. Ra8 Rxa8
30.Qxa8+ Bf8 (see 3rd diagram on right)
31. Bb4 Qxe3+ and Black will go on to win the Bishop through a series of checks.

Back to the drawing board.


At the request of Greg, I've attached my full game below.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The 2007-08 Australian Championships

Well... better late than never I guess....

Anyway, I, errrm, forgot to mention the 2007-08 Australian Chess Championship are in full swing. Ooooops. *red-faced*.

You can view the live games here.

I'll be back soon. I am currently in the midst of reviewing a couple of Chessbase Trainer DVDs, including Muller's 1st Endgame DVD which I'll post it once I'm done collating my notes.

I'll be travelling soon by the way, leaving Sydney for 3 weeks (but I'll still blog) to visit my my parents, brother and my in-laws sometime later this week.

With that out of the way.... it's time to focus on the weaknesses of the f7 pawn.

As Veselin Topalov quickly found out during his World Championship match with Kramnik in 2006, as Black, unnecessarily moving that f-pawn can lead to disaster.

In the following game, I was playing a quick rapid blitz game against a rated opponent.

In the 1st diagram on the left, Black played the disastrous

15..... f6 (see 1st picture on left)

White naturally did the usual business:

16.Bxe6+ Kh8

17.Nef7+ (the start of a deadly windmill) Rxf7 (pointless but has to be tried nonetheless)

18.Nxf7+ Kg8 (see 2nd picture on left)

Now the point of this:

Problem: As White, how would you continue this attack? White is definitely winning. But having a winning advantage and converting your win are 2 different matters.

Answer can be found by highlighting within the brackets:

[The strongest continuation is 19. Bf4!
after which either:

19... Qxf4 20. Qd8+

and Black gets mated in a few more moves


19... Qe7 20. Nd6+ Kh8 21. Bc8! and the Black Queen has to be sacrificed]

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Danger Of Attacking Frenzies

How many times have this scenario happened before?

You know what happens.

You mount an attack.

You know you have the advantage.

You start squeezing and pressing, and then you made a minor slip.

You suddenly realise you are in a spot of trouble as your opponent mounts a feeble looking attack.

You try to fend off the attack and try to figure out how to get out of the situation without losing your advantage.

Then WHAM! you're dead.

Sounds familiar?

Even GMs are not immune to it. For some reason, our brains are hard-wired that the idea of making a strategic retreat and to lose the advantage just doesn't occur to us.

Take for example, this game: I am Black. To say I am knee-deep in manure would be an apt description.

Suddenly, my opponent, in his eagerness to press home the attack - makes a somewhat innocuous move that was ultimately fatal.

Very surprisingly, this natural looking move is the bane of White's problems and one that ultimately proved costly.

31. f5?
(see diagram on right)

White decides to press for the advantage.

By hoping to dislodge the Knight on e6, White hopes to put more pressure on the c5 pawn which will ultimately give way and White pretty much wins.

But after the obvious move 31... Ng5, suddenly White realise he's about the lose the Rook for the exchange due to a fork after 32... Nf3+.

At this point, White panics and plays the ultimately disastrous move.

32. Kf2?? (see the second diagram on right)

From here onwards, White is dead as a doornail and the end comes swift and fast as White is now in trouble. Can you see it? The answer is highlighted between the brackets.

[32 ... Qf3+ 33. Kg1 Nh3# 0-1]

So the next time that you are thinking of attacking, pause, calculate, take a step back and be ready to give up the advantage if the situation calls for it. The goal in chess is to have a safe king and to checkmate your opponent's king. You can have 5 Queens on the board and it's worth diddly squat if you're checkmated.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere

And their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
'Cos I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very
Mad World
-- "Mad World" (Tears for Fears) from the movie Donnie Darko.

And so life goes on on this crazy insane planet. We are all one year older, not necessarily one year wiser.

Why all the depressing mood, you may ask?

According to psychos, err, I mean, psychologists, getting back to work after the hols is a major pain in the backside.

Psychologists and other medicos report a rise in the rate of depression around the Yuletide season and post-January 1 blues are not uncommon.

They're the result of unmet expectations about the festive season and disappointments about our achievements – or otherwise – of the previous year.

There's also the stress of Christmas itself – the buying, planning, cooking, socialising, travelling and spending time with family – followed by utter exhaustion when it's all over.

Having a holiday is a perfect way to release some of that stress, says Sydney psychologist Susan Nicholson, but it's while we're relaxing that we're also more likely to reflect on ourselves and our lives and seek answers to those big questions – am I happy? What do I want in life? Is this really the job I want to be doing?

While watching Karsten Muller's Endgame DVDs, it was also quite depressing. Well, ok, he's not depressing. He's kinda funny in an odd sort of way but the way he explains it makes me realise just how hard endgames really are. And that's what is depressing. Even GMs have problems finding the right moves, what more, mere mortals like us?

For the new year, I'm going to continue to concentrate on perfecting my endgame techniques.

Convekta's Endgames is driving me up the wall. Some moves are so counter-intuitive it beggars belief!

I just need to remember the techniques and ideas behind endgames better.

One of the difficulties I have is learning which pawn to push. Crazy as it sounds but pushing the wrong pawn can be fatal.

Many a time, I've pushed the wrong pawn in my games. So I guess I'm not cut out to be a pawn pusher for the moment.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

(photo taken from

Happy New Year, Everyone!