Friday, September 26, 2008

Anand's Technique

This game was taken from an old game of Viswanathan Anand in Biel 1997 against one of the strongest GMs of the day, Joel Lautier.

We begin our quest with move 30.

Lautier just played 30. Qe1.

We know the a-pawn is definitely going to fall and it's pointless to defend this but Anand shows a good way of taking control of the game and winning this.

In this position, what would you do?

I won't give you the answer here but I'll link the actual answer to

Once you've see the moves Anand plays, everything becomes crystal clear and is self-explanatory. Anand displays very fine technique here in the art of positional play.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Forgot My Openings

LOL! Yesterday, while playing in the Ford Memorial, I misplayed my opening and got into a lost position in 20 moves! I was supposed to play another variation but somehow (after suffering from rustiness due to my week of inactivity), got my wires crossed, played not only the wrong variation but also the wrong move order!

I still can't believe it. Hahahaha. Oh gosh..... sorry. I'm just amazed by my own stupidity sometimes.

Fair play by my opponent Gordon Miller who didn't miss a heartbeat in converting his advantage.

Anyway, my brother-in-law Steven played an absolutely stunning game to beat his opponent.

Next week, I'm up against Owen Roach a player of similar rating as I. And tonight, the Bobby Fischer Cup continues on....

On the light side of things, I seem to be able to play much more at ease against Steven these days and can hold my own, losing to him a lot with lesser frequency.

Meanwhile, I'm still having loads of fun from my self-imposed vacation.

In the meantime, have a laugh with Weird Al on this YouTube video "White and Nerdy". An astonishing 35 million views so far and still rising!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Before Chess

This post is non - chess related. :)

Before I learnt chess, I have another hobby.

And that was photography.

I loved photography or rather, taking photos - I still do in fact.

So yesterday, I continued my non-week of chess to head down to the Royal Botanic Gardens in town with my wife.

We alighted from Circular Quay train station and took the scenic route past the Sydney Opera House. Spring is more or less here in Sydney. The flowers are in bloom and this period is usually the best time for tulips, roses and the like.

After that, my wife headed down to a seafood buffet. It was remarkbly good food for a buffet. They had fresh prawns / balmains / crabs / oysters for their seafood section. The other sections include a layout of Japanese food including fresh salmon / tuna / swordfish sashimi, assorted sushi, smoked salmon. The other mains consisted for roast beef in red wine sauce, dory in lime sauce, chicken cacciatori in capsicum sauce, roasted broccoli with pine nuts. They also have servings of sourdough bread with the usual assortment of breakkie type food, udon, basmatic rice, salads etc.

I probably ate way far too much at the buffer so much so that I could only have like a glass of orange juice for dinner.

I'm actually tempted to be lured back to photography - my first love.

Does anyone remember a time before chess took over your life? *wink*

Oh yeah on back to chess, I have a game against Gordon Miller on Tuesday night for the Ford Memorial. Funny, I don't even seem concerned about preparing for the game at all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Ego Has Indeed Landed

Immediately after finishing first in the recently concluded Bilbao tournament, Veselin Topalov gave an interview and proceeded to rubbish the upcoming WCC match:

"I will watch the forthcoming match between Anand and Kramnik but I should confess that I am not that interested in the match between number five and number six in the rankings."

"Kramnik is not the strongest chess player even in Russia. Morozevits, who outplayed him on Tal Memorial, stands higher. And Anand in Bilbao has only been a “pale shadow” of the previously great player....."

Isn't it amazing what winning one tournament can do to a player's ego?

Last week in the end, I did drop by to play in the traditional Lightning competition for Grade Match Presentation at Ryde-Eastwood RSL.

And surprisingly, I came in joint runners-up in the U-1600 category, getting a score of +4-4=1 and got $9 for my effort. A nice tidy sum of cash - which I proceeded to use it on my way home with Steven who needed to buy milk at the petrol kiosk. The highlight of the lightning competition has to be my game against top board Jason Hu (2200++) who showed me the art of crushing your opponent (me!). :)

Last Saturday was spent at home fixing up a handrail and installing a security sensor light at my backyard with my neighbour's help. I was working on Sunday so I couldn't get much training in and although last night was a scheduled day for postponed matches for the Ford Memorial, I didn't have any games on. So I spent the time..... sleeping.

I admit I have not been doing any form of serious chess training lately. Sure, I looked up a couple of lines in the Sicilian (out of boredom) but that was just about it.

I would really like to get back to chess training in preparation for next week's Ford Memorial game but I'm just not in the mood for it. If I can kick myself in the ass if it means getting myself invigorated, I'd do it (aka. laziness).

Hmm.... I just realised that I will again be working this Sunday.

Tonight, the Ryde-Eastwood Bobby Fischer Cup soldiers on.... and I'm quite tempted to play a new opening I just came to know about 2 weeks ago.

In the meantime, it appears the US markets decided to take a plunge because of the sub-prime loans fiasco, taking with it many Oz investors' superannuation savings (similar to 401ks for the US) and thankfully, for now, I am not affected. However, I dread to be the one who is nearing retirement only to find out that my lifelong savings has gone down the drain.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ford Memorial Quick Update

Well, try as I might, I ended up losing to Karel Hursky last night for Round 3 of the Ford Memorial. I gave it my best shot but it wasn't good enough.

Strangely after 10 moves, I felt that my game was slipping away from me. I tried to find active moves to mobilise my pieces but Karel defended well, bided his time and waited for me to make errors. The errors weren't visible but slowly, little mistakes start to creep in and Karel took advantage of it. He didn't have to over-exert himself by any stretch of the imagination. We got to the endgame and Karel's superior endgame technique got him the full point. Kudos to him.

Karel is a very nice gentleman. I conversed with him a bit before and after the game. Karel is a taxi driver by trade. He has been playing chess for 40 years. I wish I could keep up his motivation for chess! I congratulated him and thanked him and he was also kind enough to say that I did try my best but I think he was just being polite.

My brother-in-law Steven had a torrid time against young (14-15 year old?) Caroline Shan. He got into a Ruy Lopez: Marshall Attack, had to sacrifice a rook for a bishop to alleviate the pressure and managed to grind out a draw. This young lady is one tough cookie!

Tonight is the Grade Matches Award Presentation. I'm not sure if I'll be attending it as there is nothing to do except for the lightning competition. Next week, the Ford Memorial competition takes a brief hiatus to scheduled in postponed games so that means I've got a nice little break.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Chess Is All About Having Fun

I remember how when I was a kid, I loved to play at my grandparents home.

I have the fortunate experience of having stayed in a "kampung" (a Malay term for village) before modernisation came to Singapore.

My grandparents lived in a small community called Jalan Siput that had coconut trees and sandy beaches. Sadly that place no longer exists. The beaches are gone because of extensive land reclamation by the government that extended the shores a good 2 km away. The village was also torn down to make way for sprawling rows of indistinguishable terrace houses of what is now called Hacienda Grove.

I miss my grandparents' home. I still remember it vividly. The house was of a simple construction. There was a front wooden porch painted in dark green. The roof was made of zinc and the toilet well, let's just say it won't past today's sanitation standards *grin*. There was also a well behind the house from where water was fetched. I remember the layout of the house like the back of my hand. It had a small living room with bedrooms on the left and right. The back of the living room extended to the kitchen which had a cemented floor. The floor was thus cold to the feet and my mum and aunties had to go around wearing wooden clogs when they were cooking. I remember how the sounds of the clogs "klok klok klok" that will resound throughout the house and you can tell how busy the kitchen was based on frequency of the "klok".

Every week, my dad will bring home a packet of mee goreng (see inset) which my brother and I would share.
Those were very happy and fun times and they will forever be entrenched in my mind.

But what's it got to do with chess?

For one, I play chess to have fun.

If a hobby (yes, it's a hobby after all) is not fun, then what is the point of engaging in it?

However, I also learnt that as with all things in life, people expectations towards chess are different and they vary from one to another.

Having played in 2 competitions so far, I have also experienced the bad sides of chess.

It's came to my notice that some players take chess as a form of an ego trip.

I've seen opponents trying to blatantly cheat (taking back pieces), I've heard of players trading rude remarks and of players resorting to various tricks in the book to annoy their opponents and of course, poor gamemanship or etiquette.

As the level of competition heats up, so too it seems, of people's ego and common courtesy goes out the window.

Sometimes, I'd really wonder if some of these players have their heads screwed on in the right places.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Ford Memorial Update

Norman Greenwood has just emailed me the tournament results and news regarding the Ford Memorial. Thanks very much for the updates, Norman!

And I found out that my next opponent will be.... Karel P Hursky (FIDE rated 2013, ACF rated 2017). Whoops.

Just so you know, my ACF rating, by the way, has fallen from 1534 to 1500 according to the latest September ratings. That means that my opponent is rated 517 points above me. Yowzer.

Whatever happens, I'm not going to let the gulf in ratings stop me from having fun!

Hmmm... I wonder if it's possible to deal out this trading card during an actual chess game (see inset)? Just kidding.

My brother-in-law, Steven is meeting his match. A very young girl (10-12 years old?), Caroline Shan, who despite being rated only 847, has already won against her 2 opponents, Jonathan Adams (1579) and Justin Vowles (1743). No pressure. *wink* :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Eating Right And Improving Concentration

Steven and I have been taking part in the Ford Memorial every Tuesday and I have to say that it's been a real eye opener for me. At the same time, I've also been playing at Ryde Eastwood for the Bobby Fischer Cup every Wednesday.

I looked at my schedule and decided that I will try to devote more energy towards the Ford Memorial (classical time controls) while trying out new openings at Ryde Eastwood for the Cup competition (more like a shorter version of rapid but with Fischer time controls).

So far, I'm having a great deal of fun! On Tuesdays, I can sit down and devote more attention to my game while on Wednesdays, the competition is a chance for me to play for fun (very much so) with no repercussions on my results.

Tonight, I lost to Lorenzo and Lau but I'm not in the least bit upset. I think my score for the Cup competition stands like +8-4=2 or something. On the contrary, I play to have fun, and to find out what works for me and what doesn't.

All this travelling and working on my chess training has definitely taken its toll on me. As a result, I've been going more often to the gym and eating healthier food. Unfortunately, the scales didn't seem to reflect the changes I made to my diet and my exercise regime. However, I can sense there is a definite change in my body. I find that my body is relaxed and yet full of energy. In case you're wondering about the picture, no, I didn't make it, the picture is that of a barbecued atlantic salmon with cucumber-and-herb salad. Yummmm.... yes, I love eating salmon and I usually have some form of fish for a meal at least once a week. :)

Next week at the Ford Memorial, I expect to face a stiff opponent who's probably at least 400 points rated above me and I'm already mentally prepared to be squashed flat. But despite the belting I'm expected to receive, I hope to enjoy my game thoroughly.

Speaking of next week, the NSW Presentation Ceremony is upon us again. There will of course be the traditional lightning competition before the awards ceremony. I'm still not sure if I want to participate but I'll definitely bring my camera along to take some photos of the event.

I apologise if I have not been posting more of my games and tactical test questions of late. Work has also unfortunately crept up on me.

Cheers and take care.