Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Eve Puzzles

As we close the end of the year (okay it's not New Year's Eve yet - I know, it's time to stretch our brain muscles! (Answers can be found by highlighting between the brackets)

Puzzle #1: White to move. Evaluate 1. Bg8+ - Do you see a mating attack?

[Yes. 1. Bg8+ Kh8 (if ...Kh6, 2. Qf7 with mate on h7) 2. Qf7 Bg7 (forced) 3. Nxe5! and Black cannot avoid mate]

Puzzle #2: Black to Move. Endgame technique time! What is Black's best move here?[The adage "do not hurry" comes to mind here. 1. ...g4! Now White's pawns are completely paralyzed. Any pawn move and the g-pawn captures and queens easily]

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!!

It's time to take a break from the endless seams of analysis and enjoy the holidays!!

Wishing One And All Seasons' Greetings And A Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tactics Exercise

This puzzle is a tough one. It is - if you don't see the idea or continuing line. But once you see it, you'll understand it.

This just occurred less than 10 min ago in a blitz game I played online.

I am Black. White is in absolute dire straits but Black must play carefully.

White had his King run up the board to h4 to escape the pin of his Knight on f3.

I did not see the following line unfortunately and missed the opportunity to end this in the most efficient manner.

Black to play and mate (Hint: in less than 5).

Answer can be found by highlighting the brackets
[1... Ng6+

2. Kh5 Qg4 and White cannot stop Nf4# or Qh4#

2. Kh3 Bd6! and White cannot stop Qh2# or Qg3#]

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Lone Path To Victory

This is it. Your moment of glory. As your eyes are transfixed on the board before you, your mind is on overload. It's been busy calculating variation after variation. But you know the truth.

Only one road leads to victory.

Every other road leads to a worse position and potential disaster. If you could load up Fritz right now, Fritz will spew out things like this:

Only 1 variation leads to your survival and increase your chances of pressing home your advantage.

And herein lies the key to better chess improvement.

The ability to calculate accurately and more crucially, the ability to spot the correct continuation.

This is why some players tend to resort to safer lines. Because they know that a wrong move would not decrease their advantage. Wasted tempi would not be immediately punished.

However, if you truly want to test your mettle, do not be afraid to open the position up and resort to complications if you know you are tactically better than your opponent. For any player below 2000, keep throwing your opponents more and more complex positions to solve. Because no one can take this sort of punishment move after move without making a mistake (this naturally applies both ways).

Of course this also means that you also are more likely to be standing at a razor's edge and you need to know your stuff inside out. In other words, you need to understand chess better than your opponents.

And remember, close positions will never stay close forever. So learn to play open and semi-open positions and work on your tactical ability.

Grandmasters are experts at this. They know how to seek out the best move even if it's the only single move to win. And if you give them time, they will find it 9 times out of 10.

Australian Youth

In the World Youth Championships concluded recently, Bobby Cheng came in first in the U12 category.

My best of congratulations to him and his family!

There was a sudden and marked improvement in his results over the course of the year. This was the time where he was reported to have become very serious in chess and wanting to attain the Grandmaster title. It has now evidently paid rewards and I wish him the very best in his quest.

Anton Smirnov came in 4th because of tie breaks although he finished level on points with the runners up in the U8 category. Well done and congratulations to him and his dad, Vladimir.

And a well done and thank you to the rest of the Aussie team for a tremendous effort in Turkey.

Special thanks go to Alana Chibnall for providing constant updates on the Australian team's progress in Turkey (in spite of having to prepare for her competition).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's Like Buying From The Home Shopping Network....

We've all heard the talk before.

How this new chess book will solve all your woes. Will increase your rating by a gazillion Elo points. That your opponents would be floundering with your new found secret "opening"/"trick"/"tactic". The one that would make you reach the rank of a titled master in less than a year. And unlike the other 1,000,000 chess books before it, this one will be different. It will be interesting, does not require you to memorise lines etc. etc.

Have you heard all of this before?

Yes, and in case you're wondering why this sound familiar. That because you probably already have.

It's no different than the exercise machines that you see being touted on the Home Shopping Network. How this revolutionary exercise machine will shape your butt, trim your waistline, stores easily into your cupboard and requires you only 5 min of your time.

The real world is unfortunately not like that.

You cannot hope to achieve anything without determination and willpower. If you cannot invest the time to train and upgrade your chess knowledge, no chess book will help you if you cannot lift your own game. Acquiring new chess knowledge is never easy. Most importantly, it takes a LOT of time. A lot of blood and tears and sheer determination.

In other words, it boils down to this:

How badly do you want it?

The good thing about trying to improve your chess skill is that it basically involves the same steps and skills that you use when you were a student.

You spend time on it, learning the necessary knowledge, acquiring new concepts, learning to apply them and gathering the experience learned from application of this knowledge. This sort of training does not occur overnight. It takes an enormous amount of time and practise to get it right.

This is the same with chess.

In education, a poor teacher will not make you improve and likewise poor chess material will not make you better. In fact, it teaches you bad skills that you'll find harder to rid yourself of later on.

On the other hand, good chess books and good chess material or a good chess coach will guide you towards your aim quicker.

Sure, there have been good chess books being published but there's also been some real stinkers as well. And this also applies to other chess media. There's also been good chess DVDs and some obviously "hacked up in a day" chess presentation DVDs.

The trick is to sort the wheat from the chaff and to apply these materials that you have gathered in a consistent manner. Only then will you improve.

There's no shortcut in life.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Carlsen Tsk Tsk

Looks like the #1 on live rating list still has a few things to learn when it comes to understanding blitz chess rules and common board courtesy. This is what happened in last night's game v Gashimov in the World Blitz Championships currently held in Moscow.

Moving your Queen twice?

And in the following game v Kosteniuk (bottom right screen) for the following video:

No handshake after losing to Kostenuik? Tsk tsk.

Friday, November 13, 2009

World Youth Chess Championship Rd 1

Round 1 results:

U-8 Open:
Smirnov Anton (1853) (AUS) 1 - 0 Kesgin Halit Kaan (0) (TUR)

U-10 Open:
Gray Callum James (0) (AUS) 0 - 1 Shurunov Andrei (1887) (RUS)

U-12 Open:
Akhmetov Ayan (KAZ) 1 - 0 Koh Cedric (0) (AUS)
Terzi Alexei (BLR) 0 - 1 Cheng Bobby (2202) (AUS)

U-14 Open:
Yuan Yi (2097) (AUS) 1 - 0 Karlsson Mikael Johann (1703) (ISL)

U-16 Open:
Tan Justin (2011) (AUS) 0 - 1 Kurayan Ruslan (2306) (UKR)

U-18 Open:
Schon Eugene (2171) (AUS) ½ - ½ IM Krejci Jan (2458) (CZE)

U-12 Girls:
Papathanasiou Elisavet (GRE) 1 - 0 Koh Clarise (0) (AUS)
Drogovoz Maria (RUS) (0) 1 - 0 Pretorius Jana (0) (AUS)

U-14 Girls:
Ataoglu Buse (0) (TUR) 0 - 1 Guo Emma (1910) (AUS)
Baekelant Eva (1966) (BEL) 1 - 0 Simmonds Leteisha (1624) (AUS)

U-16 Girls:

Webb-Liddle Miranda (0) (AUS) + - - Flores Nancy (1927) (ARG) (forfeit?)

U-18 Girls:
Richard Emma (2135) (FRA) 1 - 0 Chibnall Alana (0) (AUS)
Oliver Tamzin (1777) (AUS) 0 - 1 WFM Brunello Marina (2158) (ITA)

Round 2 is scheduled to begin today and these are the pairings:

U-8 Open:
Ibik Halit Yavuz (0) (TUR) v Smirnov Anton (1853) (AUS)

U-10 Open:
Temur Igonin (0) (UZB) v Gray Callum James (0) (AUS)

U-12 Open:
Koh Cedric (0) (AUS) v Keleptrishvili Irakli (1751) (GEO)
Cheng Bobby (2202) (AUS) v Kessler Luca (1992) (AUT)

U-14 Open:
Studer Noel (1974) (SUI) v Yuan Yi (2097) (AUS)

U-16 Open:
Sevciuc Vladlen (0) (MDA) v Tan Justin (2011) (AUS)

U-18 Open:
Arslanov Shamil (2379) (RUS) v Schon Eugene (2171) (AUS)

U-12 Girls:
Koh Clarise (0) (AUS) v Al Dhaheri Shaikha (0) (UAE)
Pretorius Jana (0) (AUS) v Camilia Bt Johari (0) (MAS)

U-14 Girls:
Guo Emma (1910) (AUS) v Kuehnel Lena (1761) (GER)
Simmonds Leteisha (1624) (AUS) v Tuzi Bruna (0) (ALB)

U-16 Girls:
Webb-Liddle Miranda (0) (AUS) v WFM Hakimifard Ghazal (2124) (IRI)

U-18 Girls:
Chibnall Alana (0) (AUS) v Ibragimova Iroda (1917) (UZB)
Haug Marianne Wold (2005) (NOR) v Oliver Tamzin (1777) (AUS)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Fascination With Tal

Why are chess players so fascinated with the 8th World Champion, Mikhail Nekhemievich Tal?

He was, after all, only World Champion for a year before being defeated by Mikhail Botvinnik in the rematch and has never since then managed to reached the same heights ever again.

What is it about him that makes him so affable and well-liked?

Before Tal's appearance on the world stage, chess was considered by many to be methodical. Little did the world know that the young Latvian from Riga would soon set the world alight with his daring imaginative sacrifices and unbelievable attacking combinational skills.

In modern times, if he had been in good health, he would have been the equivalent of golf's Tiger Woods. Tal didn't just make chess interesting and fun agai
n, he strapped a rocket to chess and launched it to the skies and the whole world sat up and took notice.

Never has the world seen such daring play before where material was sometimes abandoned in order to launch a crushing attack on his enemy's king. His pieces moved like magic and his play defied common chess logic.

If you do not have the book, The Life And Games Of Mikhail Tal (Cadogan Books), I strongly encourage you to go and get it. In the book, Tal desc
ribes his life experiences (up till 1975) in a manner that makes you feel as if you're having a conversation with a long-lost friend over a glass of wine after a nice dinner. It is one of the best chess literature ever written.

Tal doesn't give you long variations and sub-variations in his game notes like some authors do. He adds simple notes to explain his ideas, his plans. More importantly, he talks to you like a
friend recounting his incredible journey.

Tal's play combined not only unrestrained imagination and incredible energy on the chess board but they typically entailed an enormous amount of risk. Tal would often stand precariously on the precipice of disaster and many a time, it would be his opponent who would capitulate first.

For example, in the Candidates tournament of Yugoslavia in 1959. Tal was playing Fischer. In that game, Fischer wrote down 22. Rae1 (the strongest move) before playing his move and pushed his scoresheet towards Tal to observe his reaction. Tal thought the better of it and knew Fischer was testing him. So Tal got up, walked around the board and proceeded to share a joke with someone. When he returned to the board with a smile, Fischer (who by then was obviously monitoring the whole scene) crossed out the move and played another move instead. In the end, Fischer lost. When Tal asked why he changed the move, Fischer replied,"Well, you laughed when I wrote it down!"

Tal was unfortunately afflicted with ill health. He had a diseased kidney and underwent 12 operations. But while such an ordeal would have crushed a lesser man, Tal continued to play chess at the highest levels irrespective of his health. His passion and love for the game was truly inextinguishable.

(Tal with his daughter)

This led to Leonid Stein to once comment,"You, Mishik, are stronger in spirit than all of us."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tal Memorial

(Fischer v Tal)

The Mikhail Tal Memorial this year is the one to look out for and is probably the most anticipated event. This Category XXI rated tournament has a star studded "cast" comprising 10 of the 13 highest rated players among them, Anand, Carlsen, Kramnik.

Live broadcasts with GM commentaries are available at Chessdom.

And to add the icing on the cake, the World Blitz Chess Championship 2009 will immediately start at the same venue after the conclusion of the Tal Memorial. Anatoly Karpov, current world blitz champion Leinier Dominguez Perez and a whole host of other players will join the rest of the players to bring the number of participants to 20.

Since its birth in 2006, the Tal Memorial has steadily rose to become one of the elite competitions to look forward to in the calendar. The number of top ranked players taking part this year has certainly added a great deal of prestige to the tournament. I for one, am happy that there is more chess at the elite level to watch.

On a personal note, I plan to head down to Chess Discount Sales (operated by Peter Parr) in town sometime either later this week or next week to pick up a Chessbase DVD (still haven't decided between getting Daniel King's PowerPlay 11 or a Chessbase Opening DVD instead). I really need to get my skills back up to speed. Currently, my OT blitz games are woeful to say the least. I keep getting myself into bad positions (picking the worst move) or making ridiculous moves (that I always regret 5 seconds after I played it). :)

World Youth Chess Championship 2009 Update:
Had a little chat with Vladimir Smirnov last night (Thanks for giving me a chance to play a few quick blitz games against you, Vlad. It was very much appreciated). Both him and Anton will be flying off this weekend. I wish them and the entire Australian contingent the best of luck.

Ryde-Eastwood Club Championship
I forgot to add that the Ryde-Eastwood Club Championship was still progressing last night. The last game to conclude was between Brenton Yam and Bill Gletsos. It was an interesting game. I thought that Brenton had the upper hand near the endgame but sadly he was unable to hold.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Australians In World Youth Chess Championship 2009

This year's World Youth Chess Championship 2009 will be held in Kemer-Antalya, Turkey between Nov 11th and Nov 23th.

Here's to the best of wishes for the team. The Australian contingent comprises:

U-8 Open
Smirnov Anton

U-10 Open
Gray Callum

U-12 Open
Koh Cedric
Cheng Bobby 2103

U-14 Open
Yuan Yi 2010

U-16 Open
Tan Justin 1885

U-18 Open
Schon Eugene 2186

U-12 Girls
Koh Clarise
Pretorius Jana

U-14 Girls
Guo Emma 1845
Simmonds Leteisha

U-16 Girls
Webb Liddle Miranda

U-18 Girls
Chibnall Alana
Oliver Tamzin 1782

GM Arutinian David

Personal acc (parents/journalists/delegation)
Eunice Koh
Tracy Gray
Frank Cheng
Qi-Fang Shen
Wendy Tan
Kerry Lyall
Jan Pretorius
Tania Simmonds
Jenni Oliver
Tony Oliver
Vladimir Smirnov
Gary Lane
GM Ketevan Arakhamia

They will be staying at the Limra Hotel (2nd pic)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Getting Inspiration

We've all been through it before.

We get ground to the ground and getting punished with defeat after defeat. Or we study the different aspects of chess (from tactics to strategy to endgames etc.) so hard that we grow weary of when our efforts are not rewarded.

You get the picture. You then start to wonder why you'd bother playing chess in the first place. :)

And it's times like these, that you need some inspiration to get you back on your feet.

So what are the things that you do to help overcome the moments where you verged on exiting the game completely, forever?

One of the things I do to pick myself up is to listen to this little blurb from the movie Searching For Bobby Fischer:

"In school, before he dropped out, Bobby studied chess books while his teachers taught other things. When they told him to put his books away, or took them away, he studied in his head.

When a science report came back to him once with the words "not satisfactory" written across the top, he wrote under it just as big, "Tough."

He was 14 and had already beaten the STRONGEST adult players in the country to become the youngest U.S. champion....

(photo taken from Wikipedia)


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Easy To Lose Yourself

Why are tactics so important in chess?

Because playing chess requires precision and calculation is typically the single most important factor between winning and losing.

I myself have gotten lost in complications before and have made moves which are not optimal. Herein lies the predicament of chess at the lower levels.

If you give your opponents a myriad of choices to play, they will make at least one mistake in the process. And this naturally applies both ways.

This is why that most players advocate sharpening your tactical and calculation skills.

But why does tactical skill seem to elude many players (including myself)?

One of the reasons, in my case is that my pattern recognition skill is poor. While there are trillions of possible chess positions, certain fixed chess positions occur again and again. And it is these positions that tend to become the foundation of our ideas when we do our strategic planning during the game.

And unfortunately, this requires a certain degree of memorisation. We need to literally "open our eyes and our minds" and become receptive to new concepts and ideas. Once our minds become more accustomed to these tactics, unconsciously, our ability to put our pieces to better positions improve. We start to see and evaluate positions better.

The ability to constantly find the best move in the modern game is a task that is very hard to accomplish. But with constant revision and practice, it is possible to improve this aspect of the game. And one way to do it is to work through tactical puzzles, lots and lots of it (Not puzzles from made up positions, but puzzles taken from actual games/studies).

Since my long layoff from chess, my tactical vision has deteriorated alarmingly (I lost all my blitz games to my friend's son Dylan a couple of nights ago) and I'd realised that it is because my chess knowledge has not been "engraved" into my physical consciousness. I need to acquire the ability to make good moves as easy as I am taking a breath of fresh air.

As a final note, here's a cute little puzzle from one of my games. My opponent moved differently prior to this and we diverted but I was calculating this position in one of the minor variations in the leadup to this.

In the following diagram, White tries to fend off Black's crushing attack (White had used up an enormous amount of Queen moves to snatch pawns at the deadly cost of lagging behind in development) and plays 1. Nh3?

Is there anything that Black can exploit? Or may be there is a checkmate somewhere in there?

Answer as usual can be found by highlighting between the brackets
The reply was swift and deadly:
1. ... Rxc2+!

1st response:

2. Kb1 is met with Qxa3!! After 3. bxa3 Nc3+ with mate to follow.

2nd response:
2. Nxc2 Rc8! White is helpless against the threats of Qa1 and Rxc2 and cannot defend both.

Chess In The Solomons

Australia helps to kick off the Solomon Islands' First International Chess Tournament.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Australian Newspaper

The last few weeks, I've been pleasantly surprised by the Australian newspaper. It is now carrying a section on Chess once every week in its Mind Games section.

The Chess section is taken from The UK Times newspaper and written by Raymond Keene (hehe, you can seem doing the crosswords in red ink on the right). :)

The last few weeks have been about Robert Fischer. This week's game's analysis centered around the game between Leonid Stein and Bobby Fischer in their Swiss Interzonal of 1967.

The analysis is unfortunately not too in-depth as can be seen from the image above and has been very much condensed. However, in a chess-starved country like Australia, I applaud the Australian for bringing chess back into the news. I've blacked out some of the remaining moves so that if you want to know what they are, I advise that you get a copy of the Australian! ;-)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Daylight Savings

Australia (well, most states anyway) has officially switched over to daylight savings, turning the clock forward by an hour.

This has the most unfortunate side effect of my working hours changing from 8.30am-5.30pm to 10am-7pm. I am not playing in any competitions so the time shifts doesn't have too much of an effect on me. I used to rush like mad from office to the tournament hall because the games typically start at 7.30pm.

The good part is that I now have more time in the morning before I start work. I usually head down to the gym around 7.30am and spent at least 45 min there before showering and heading back to the office to begin my day. But now I have an extra 1.5 hours to kill time.

I'm planning on spending some of this time and relaxing/listening to chess lectures on my iPod or solving chess/crossword puzzles.

My brother-in-law Steven is doing very well at the Ford Memorial tournament, having started off with 4 wins out of 4.

Fellow blogger Weng from the Ryde-Eastwood club was away in Europe and I hope to catch up with him on his travels when next we meet.

Having been away from chess for so long, I realised I've got a huge backlog of chess stuff to go through. Dearie me! :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The End Is Nigh!

A dense dust storm descended on Sydney overnight and it turned everything blood red. This photo is taken without any filters.

The end of the world is coming! :)

More photos on the "Apocalypse" can be found at the website.

It's a bit eerie to wake up and find everything in blood red. I'm half-expecting the Martians to land and Tom Cruise to save us any moment now....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Back From Self Imposed Exile

As some of you might have surmised, I've unfortunately been packed loaded with office work and this has unfortunately led me away from chess for the time being and not being able to update this blog as much as I would like to.

My boss was less than happy with my "chess addiction" (despite it never having impacted my work in any way and I've never done any chess related stuff the past year during office hours unless I was on my lunch hour) and he wanted me to put a stop to it - which I did.

This unfortunately led to a total disillusionment of chess amongst other things. So during that period, I moved away from chess and instead took up computer gaming instead.

The past 2 months, I've been gaming with Command And Conquer, Freelancer and Mechwarrior. I don't deny it but it was fun, heaps of fun. The joys of gaming I guess, never really went away.

I had not touched chess for 2 months but this morning, I woke up at around 5am and logged onto FICS and promptly won all 3 games in succession. I guess in a way, I have not lost my edge although my opening repertoire will need a refresher course.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Importance Of Visualisation

Visualisation is a very important technique that every chess player must grasp if he/she is to improve.

The ability to not just transfer ideas that you see in 2 dimensions - be it on a computer screen or from a book and able to visualise it in 3 dimensions is an important skill.

How good are your visualisation skills?

A very good way to tell is to setup a set of 10 puzzles (that are hard for you at your current level) to do every day. Set up the puzzle in the chess board. Now time yourself in 5 minutes for each puzzle.

Record how fast you can come up with the different variations to the puzzle. What you considered, what you did discard. Put your thoughts to paper. If you find the winning solution, record the time at which you got the solution.

Once the 10 puzzles are finished, now pick another set of 10 puzzles and work on them on the computer screen.

Again time yourself for 5 minutes and work out the variations as well as the depth of your calculations. And put them to paper as you did earlier.

Do this for 1 week.

The idea behind this is not to achieve the answers but to look at what you've written down.

If you're like me, (yes, I do have a visualisation problem), you will notice that not only do you calculate more variations in the same amount of time when seeing it in 2 dimensions but you also notice the depths of your variations tends to stretch further and you arrive at the solution quicker.

I know how tedious and cumbersome it is to have to constantly setup the board for each puzzle but unfortunately, IMHO this is the only way to improve if your visualisation skills are not up to par.

Remember: the greatest enemy in chess is not your opponent. It is yourself.

The famous Chinese was strategist Tsun Tze once said,"Know yourself, so that when you fight 100 battles, you will win 100 battles."

PS: Hmmm.... I'm starting to sound like a fortune cookie.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Down With Flu

I'm at home and not at work as I'm down with the flu, hence my lack of postings in the last few weeks. Apologies to one and all.

A running nose, a hoarse voice and a persistent dry cough is what I just need. :)

Anyway, the U1600 Norths Bears team failed to make it to the next round. We garnered a total of 13 points against St George with a forfeit win, another win and a draw with David, Peter and Andrew grabbing the points (I wasn't playing on that day due to pressing matters).

Unfortunately. Norths other team, the Grizzles scored 4-0 with 2 forfeit wins. This meant they pipped us by a point to grab the last qualifying place for the 2nd round. Ouch!

With that, it looks like the closure of the U1600 rounds for me and quite possible, the end of the Grade Matches.

All up, it's been a pretty dismal performance by my standards. I got a combined score of: +3-5=0 with a performance rating of 1490.

PS: Incidentally, it is estimated that nearly 75% of all flu cases in New South Wales are related to swine flu while it's an astonishing 100% in Victoria. Yikes!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fun Chess Openings Test

Out of curiosity, I decided to try the quiz link posted on Greg's blog. The quiz was linked from Farbror's weblog. And this is my result:

The Rolls Royce of chess openings.... hmmm... :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Losing To Kids

I lost last night to 11 year old Peng Yu Chen (rated 1624) in the U1600 NSW Grade Match playing on Board 2 v St George Saints.

We transposed into a French like position (I was White) and a mistake on my part allowed him to capitalise and break through on the Queenside. During the game, I felt that I should have created better counter chances and this is one game where I would have to slowly go back and look where I went wrong.

Chen's youth belies a strong maturity in his playing ability and I'm not ashamed to have lost to him. He played a great game from start to finish.

Peter played on Board 1 and drew while Roger lost and David won so that leaves our group with a 1.5-2.5 score.

Speaking of losing to kids, while talking to a few older chess players in the club, one of them remarked to me on how he takes a little bit of comfort that he once drew with an extremely strong kid some time back. The kid has since surpassed him by leaps and bounds.

One thing I do realise about kids' playing style is their fearlessness.

When I see some older players playing against kids, I find that some of them have a propensity to seek "safe" lines for fear of being caught short in tactical play. I'm not entirely certain if that is the way to go. I myself have held the belief that one should always play to one's own personal playing strength and style. I myself am more inclined towards tactical play and will not hesitate to resort to tactics or sacrifices (if the situation warrants it). It would be a mistake for me to play in a more conservative and positional style (building up slowly etc.) because I am just not accustomed to it. I am at the stage in my playing where I favour dynamic play and tactics over positional play and I love playing to the edge of my seat at times.

In addition, rather than facing them with apprehension, I've always advocated to play to the best of your playing ability and not be afraid to tackle them on. Some of the kids I've come across are very good tactical players and with the aid of coaches and more resources like time, they can often raise their game to a much higher level and more rapidly than mature adults like me can ever do in a comparative period.

I am indeed happy to see them improve because it is a good image for chess if more kids take up the royal game.

Speaking of child prodigies, here's a very interesting excerpt about Illya Nyzhnyk below. In the video, he was only 10 at the time and already had an ELO rating in excess of 2200!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tactics Puzzle

Here's an interesting position I just played on FICS.

Hint: Black to move and win material.

Answer can be found by highlighting between the brackets
[1. Bxe4 Bxe4
2. Nxe4 Qxe4
3. Re8 Qf3
4. Rxe3! and White cannot take the Rook back because of Bd4 pinning the Queen]

Friday, June 19, 2009

Do Losers Make Their Own Bad Luck?

Here's some food for thought.

As chess players, what do we regard as really important ?

I for one have no ambitions of ever attaining any titled rank. The amount of effort required to reach the highest echelons of chess involves an enormous amount of time and resources which I currently do not possess.

But is it possible that chess players suffer from status anxiety in one form or another?

IMHO, the more engrossed we are in chess and the more emphasis we place in chess, there is a chance that the level of our dissatisfaction with chess itself arises.

We start to compare with other people, be it other players of the same club or with people who we perceive to be our
"equals". And when our peers start to get better or rise up the ranks quicker than us, we feel resentful. We may even starting cursing ourselves for our own inadequacies and our failings.

Chess is a rather strange beast.

Much like the secular world we live in, we largely perceive the chess world as meritocratic. In chess, everyone is more or less granted the same in terms of equality with regards to the various rights, opportunities and methods to improve our knowledge and understanding of chess.

And herein lies one of the problems with this meritocracy. If as chess players, we believe that those at the top merit their success, then by logical reasoning, are we also inclined to believe that those at the bottom merit their failure? Does this also not mean that those at the bottom brought it upon themselves? Are they - as Ben Kingsley so coldly call them in the movie, Searching For Bobby Fischer - losers?

The oft quoted modern punishing mantra in the chess world is "We make our own luck."

So why is it that when winners say they were lucky, we are more inclined to believe it. But for the defeated to blame it on bad luck, why are we less inclined to believe the opposite?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

U1800 Rd 4: Norths Grizzlies v Ryde Eastwood Results

I didn't fare so well in my game last night and lost after making a positional blunder vs Gordon Miller. Oh well, I will just have to take the lumps as it goes. Fritz had a look at the position this morning and spotted something (strangely enough, a purely positional move) that I would never have considered. :)

My team overall put up a decent performance.

Fellow team-mate Brenton beat my brother-in-law Steven in a tense game on Board 1.
Lorenzo lost against Oscar Wang on Board 2.
David French drew with Marek Baterowiz on Board 3.

So that effectively puts us at 1.5-2.5 for the overall result.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Norths Winter Challenge

This was a game I played during the Winter challenge 2 weeks ago.

During the middlegame, my opponent made some mistakes and I made some mistakes as well and we quickly transpose into an endgame in the following position.

The question is:

Should White play Qxh5(yes that Knight really is en-prise)? Black's a-pawn is going to head home soon because Black will be trying to play Qd4+ on the next move followed by a2 then a1=Q.

Answer can be found by highlighting the brackets

[1. Qxh5 is correct but there's a hidden reason. Play continued....
1.... Qd4+
2. Kh1 a2

3. Rxg7+!! It's mate in 3]

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

U1600 and U1800 Rd3 Results

Tonight is a bit of an unusual situation.

Both of my teams, the U1600 Norths Bear and the U1800 Ryde Eastwood were playing in the same venue at Norths League club.

I had earlier informed my U1800 team captain David French 2 weeks ago that I could not play for them tonight as I would be playing for the U1600 Norths Bear.

As a result, David had to find 2 players to fill in (Lorenzo was away as well) and Dennis Hale and young Dylan Siow-Lee luckily filled in for replacements for Lorenzo and me.

So the U1800 Ryde Eastwood team comprises Brenton Yum, David French, Dennis Hale and Dylan Siow-Lee.

I had a slight shuffle in my U1600 Norths team as well. The players were me, David Stern, Andrew Johnson and Michael Anderson respectively. We were playing the team from Manly (yes, I know how this sounds really strange) comprising Jack Mejzini, Chris Dimock, Gordon Miller and Nina Vayssiere.

My opponent was Jack Mejzini. I was Black and we quickly transposed into the Sicilian Dragon. Jack made a mistake and blundered his Knight (I was shocked that he left his Knight en prise that I spent nearly 10 minutes calculating the effects of taking it). He got 2 pawns for the Knight in return but it was insufficient compensation and I basically traded into a winning endgame.

Boards 2 and 4 were a draw and Board 3 was lost, so the U1600 Norths emerged 2-2.

I was watching the U1800 Ryde Eastwood team but unfortunately, we didn't fare so well, we lost on all boards and ended up 0-4.

An absolute bummer.

Friday, June 5, 2009

U1600 Rd 2: Parramatta vs Norths Bears Results

I lost to Vaness Reid (1563) last night at Parramatta.

Blundered a piece for nothing in a + position. I've also learned a lot from my game last night. When I went home, I briefly annotated my game by myself first and found quite a few mistakes I make in my decisions. It's funny how a calm and rational mind sees things differently. I'll let Fritz go through the motions over the weekend to see what else I might have missed.

The rest of our team's results were not so good.

Our team captain, David Stern drew with Shane Burgess, and with 3rd Board Andrew Johnson and 4th Board Robert Laurie losing their respective games, it puts us at 0.5-3.5, capping off a rather miserable night for us.

Overall, we're 2 points out of a maximum of 8 points - having played 2 clubs.

I would especially like to thank Robert Laurie for sending me to and fro from the club from Norths League club and also kudos for David Stern for making the necessary arrangements.

I don't have much time to quell on the results. Next Tuesday, I'm up to play Manly and I expect to face Jonathan Adams or Chris Dimock.

While I was at Parramatta, their U1800 team didn't fare so well. Joshua Christiansen and Sitompul Sotarduga lost.

It's a been a long night and I'm off to sleep.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

U1800 Rd 2: St George vs Ryde Eastwood Results Update

I fought tooth and nail on Tuesday night but unfortunately, my opponent prevailed after I blundered as I was nearing time controls.

Result for Ryde Eastwood: Brenton drew on Board 1, Lorenzo lost on Board 2, David won on Board 3 and I lost on Board 4.

That puts our score at 1.5-2.5.

My opponent was Michael Babic (1709) and I had Black. We got into a Symmetrical English opening where neither side was making much headway. Our game was equal for the most part but I miscalculated a tactical combination 4 moves deep allowing him to win a Rook for a Knight. I should have seen it as all the moves were forcing moves. After the game, I congratulated Michael on his win and he didn't seem keen to analyse the game afterwards so I didn't bother asking him.

Lorenzo drew in his makeup game vs Parramatta's Frank Barisic on Wednesday night. So that put Ryde Eastwood effectively at 4.5 points in total.

Tonight, I'm playing against Parramatta for the U1600 for North Sydney Bears on Board 1.

U1600 Canterbury team captain Roger Gordon has emailed my team captain, David Stern about a rescheduling of our game vs Canterbury from Monday Jun 15 to Tuesday Jun 16. Unfortunately, this clashes with my game (playing for Ryde Eastwood) on Tuesday night vs Norths Grizzlies. As a result, David would have to find a replacement for me for that night.

I've yet to find some spare time to post my game... I hope to do so soon!


Monday, June 1, 2009

Ratings Suicide

The ACF June Ratings are out and as I expected, I've slided down horribly in losing 4 games against 1300-1400/unrated opposition and have dropped 70 rating points from 1540 to 1472.

Since my debut in chess last year, my ratings have gone as follows:

1534 -> 1500 -> 1540 -> 1472.

However, I'm not unduly worried. I had expected my rating to fall because my competitive spirit had been lacking the last month.

Heck, I'm not sure if I can ever win it back.

Tomorrow I'm up against rather formidable opponents. The U1800 St George Saints group on their home territory and the last I checked, their lowest ranked player at the last board is 200 points above me. There's nothing to lose now, I guess. :)

U1800 Rd 1: Ryde Eastwood vs Parramatta Redux

Quick update: There has been a protest(?) lodged regarding last week's game on Board 2 vs Parramatta. The result was that our team-mate Lorenzo Escalante will need to replay his game against his opponent on Wednesday again.

So the score is now 2-1 at the moment as reflected in the official NSW Grade Match Results here.

We have a game against St George on Tuesday and I have a subsequent Thursday match ironically against Parramatta yet again but this time playing in the U1600 division for North Sydney.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

U1800 Rd 1: Ryde Eastwood vs Parramatta Results

Okay, this is getting really weird.

Last night, I arrived early at the club and helped to setup the pieces.
David Beveridge (? - apologies as I didn't ask for your last name), the U1800 team captain - from Parramatta arrived early as well and he was very helpful in helping me to set up the boards.

Shane Burgess arrived later and helped us to set the clocks for the Grade Matches.

Many thanks to David and Shane for their help.

I was scheduled to play on Board 4. I thought I would be playing Joshua Christensen but it so turns out that his team captain moved him to play on Board 2 instead. I was subsequently rescheduled to play another player, Frank Barisic. After we had filled out the preliminary entries on our scoresheets, I reminded Frank to turn off his mobile phone if he had one and he mentioned that he left it in the car (which I thought was a good idea).

I knew the rules for the grade matches were very strict, the moment a player's mobile phone goes off during a game, the game will be immediately declared lost for the player.

A minute or so later, David moved Frank onto Board 3 instead an
d - who else would replace him but Sitompul Sotarduga! Imagine my surprise to see him. Sitompul used to be a regular club member for the Ryde Eastwood chess club but having since moved away, he joined the Parramatta chess club instead.

We exchanged pleasantries, shook hands and started the game.

I misplayed my opening and got into an exceptionally bad position and was spending considerable time desperately trying to salvage my position. Then suddenly......

Sitompul's mobile went off.... very loudly.

I let out a small groan and shook my head because I knew the repercussions of what had happened.

Bill Gletsos promptly appeared and approached our table and enquired whose phone had gone off. Once he learned it was Sitompul's, the game was declared lost for him.

Poor Sitompul. All this time Sitompul and I hadn't said a single word.

We analysed the game later and we both agreed that that he would have won if his phone hadn't gone off and he said I was lucky. I agreed with him wholeheartedly.

After the game, I felt horrible and very guilty in winning in this manner. I still do.

Parramata won on Board 1 while there was some sort of discrepancy on Board 2 which was ruled in our favour. Overall, we were victorious with a margin of 3-1.

My brother-in-law Steven showed up (very much to my surprise) and we played a couple of 5 minute blitz games afterwards. I was consistently getting thrashed and only managed to win like 2 or 3 games out of the 10 odd games we played.

To chesstiger: I will try to put up a position from one of my games. Thank you for your comments!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

U1600 Rd1: Norths Bears vs Norths Grizzlies Results

My first game tonight in the U1600 was against Robert Pike. We were on Board 1. Time controls were G/75 + 30 min.

I initially had already waited 15 minutes for Robert before his team member Rex asked me to just start the clock. Robert arrived some 10 minutes afterwards. In the end, he just failed to reach the first time control (within 30 moves) and he played his 30th move just after the time has passed and I flagged him.

I felt a bit guilty to win in this manner. In some ways, I wish I didn't have to resort to winning on time.

Overall, my U1600 team (Norths Bears) didn't do well.

Roger and Michael lost on Boards 2 and 4 respectively while David drew on Board 3. So our team lost 1.5-2.5. Ouch.

Tomorrow is my U1800 match vs Paramatta and it is likely that I will be on 4th board. I'm not sure what the arrangements are with Paramatta but I expect to play possibly Joshua Christensen who is rated some 100++ points above me. I expect it to be a tough fight. Joshua has beaten me before last year in the Ryde Eastwood club championships. I like to play against Joshua. He's a good player and has a wonderful attitude.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

NSW Grade Matches 2009

Next week is the start of the NSW Grade Matches.

And it so turns out that I have been placed in a rather unusual/unique situation of having to play for 2 separate teams in separate groups (this is allowed).

I am rostered to play for U1600 Norths Bears for North Sydney and for the U1800 team for Ryde Eastwood.

My schedule is now packed and looks like this:

Tuesday May 26 - U1600 Norths Bears vs Norths Grizzlies
Wednesday May 27 - U1800 Ryde Eastwood vs Parramatta
Tuesday June 02 - U1800 St George Saints vs Ryde Eastwood
Thursday June 04 - U1600 Parramatta vs Norths Bears
Tuesday June 09 - U1600 Norths Bears vs Manly
Monday June 15 - U1600 Canterbury vs Norths Bears
Tuesday June 16 - U1800 Norths Grizzlies vs Ryde Eastwood
Monday June 22 - U1600 Rooty Hill vs Norths Bears
Wednesday June 24 - U1800 Ryde Eastwood vs Norths Brown Bears
Tuesday June 30 - U1600 Norths Bears vs St George Saints
Thursday July 02 - U1800 Parramatta vs Ryde Eastwood
Tuesday July 07 -
U1600 St George Dragons vs Norths Bears
Wednesday July 08 - U1800 Ryde Eastwood vs St George Saints
Wednesday July 15 - U1800 Ryde Eastwood vs Norths Bear Cubs
Wednesday July 22 - U1800 Ryde Eastwood vs Norths Grizzlies
Tuesday July 28 - U1800 Norths Brown Bears vs Ryde Eastwood

In addition, where I am not playing the NSW Grade Matches on Tuesday nights, I intend to play in the North Sydney Winter Challenge which takes place every Tuesday night as well. This event however is non rated unlike the Grade Matches and time controls are 1hr+30 sec increment for each move. Good enough for a good solid rate of gameplay and not too hurried to be in the same vein as a rapid game.

Ryde Eastwood is having severe problems in fielding players in both the U1800 category and U1600 category (there were not enough of available players for the U1600 team so there is no U1600 team from Ryde Eastwood this year). I'm only rated 1540 (and this rating is expected to fall below 1500 when the next list comes out in June) and I've signed up for the U1800 team. *shakes head*

Friday, May 15, 2009

Still In A Slump

My OTB games have been torrid the last couple of weeks.

Losing to a 1300 then an unrated and then a 1400. The demise continues.

For the life of me, I can't figure out what's going on.

My play is lethargic and my concentration is just not there. When I am seated on the board, I just lose focus and my competitive spirit is just not there.

Maybe what I desperately need is a swift kick up my rear and I can't administer it myself unfortunately. :)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Meeting Up With Ivan

I promised to post the answer why I played 1. f4 but I'll do that in subsequent posts. Sorry about this.

Last night, I met up with fellow chess blogger, Ivan of Getting to 2000.

He has graciously put up a photo of us as well as his report on the Sydney Chess scene. It was great getting to play a few blitz games with him before we headed off to the North Sydney chess club.

My brother-in-law, Steven, won a great game against his opponent last night. Yours truly blundered yet again (if I continue to blunder again, I might be tempted to rename this blog Blunderprone but I think the name has been taken) :)

In the final critical position,Steven produced this move below (he is White). White played the move

1. b5!?

Now.... the golden question is:

Is it possible for Black to play

1.... Be2

and then calculating after 2. Rc5 3. Bxb5 3. Rxb5 Rxc7 with chances to fight for a draw.

Once you have evaluated it, highlight between the brackets to see the answer.

[The answer is no but that's what his opponent thought.

Steven's opponent did play

1.... Be2
2. Rc5 3. Bxb5
Now comes the shocker
3. Nd5!!

and now the c7 pawn is protected, Black's bishop is under attack and even worse, White's Knight is threatening Ne7+ forking King and Rook and there is no way to salvage the Rook now after

4. Rxb5 with idea of 5. Rb8 next

A truly beautiful trap.

If you see that move, well done!]

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Know Thyself


This is one of the hardest skills to acquire in chess.

In chess, the difference between knowing and understanding is as clear as night and day.

For example, you may know the 11th move in the Breyer Defence of the Ruy Lopez but understanding why the moves are played as they are is more important.

When starting out in chess (I still am by the way), I always try to incorporate understanding into my game play especially in opening theory and sometimes, I would try to formulate specific strategies and ideas into my game play.

Have a look at the position below. I arrived at this position in an online game with White to play (I am White).

Now White is an exchange up but Black can defend very resolutely. If you were White, what would you play?

Note that this puzzle has NO DEFINITE answer. The idea is to make you think of possible solutions and try to think of a coherent strategy.

I am always open to suggestions and criticisms so feel free to comment.

You can highlight below to see the move I played (which I will explain in my next blog post).
[1. f4.]

Note that I may be wrong and as I said, there are no sure-fire wins in this position.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dismal Performance

I ended up my North Sydney (Norths) Chess club competition, with an absolutely dismal score of +3-4=3.

My final game was lost to Paul Sike (1312) when I ran into time trouble difficulties (first time I lost a game on time) and could not play the best moves. My heartiest congratulations to Paul for a good game. Well played!

This was a very disappointing tournament for me. I know that I'm capable of doing much better but I seem to get myself caught up in complications.

In the last 2 years since I started playing chess, I have to say that this ranks as my worst performance so far.

I will definitely try to do better. My weak points have always been middlegame strategies and tactics and I am still trying to find a balance in time management.

Thankfully, I do not have much time to mope over it.

The NSW Grade matches are coming soon which would take my mind off things. I've also signed up to play for Norths in the Small Boards match vs players from Manly and the week after that, against players from St George.

I would like to thank Norman Greenwood and Rex Simmonds for their help in keeping this tournament running smoothly.

PS: I do realise that finishing a workday 30 minutes before a game and then having to grab dinner and huff it to the chess club to make it there on time is probably not the best thing in the world to prepare your mind for a gruelling 2-3 hour game. So a special thanks to Vladimir for making suggestions on doing things like finding time for a small nap might be beneficial. I've been trying to put it into practice. It has certainly helped.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Apologies For Lack Of Updates

I apologise for the lack of updates in recent weeks.

I've been busy the last couple of weeks as I had family over to stay at my place and I was in the midst of a computer upgrade as well which involved reinstalling my software and making backups etc.

Regular programming will resume pretty soon. :)


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Who's Afraid Of The Sicilian?

Why do people love playing the Sicilian?

Because it allows for some rather hair-raising combinations like this one.

Daniel Stellwagen v Viswanathan Anand, 2009

What the heck just went on in this game?

Absolute chaos on the board occurred after Anand sac'ed his Queen for 3 rather uncoordinated pieces with his King left uncastled. This game is truly beyond me.

The problem with Sicilians is that quite likely you need to be good at tactics, and some of the gameplay can be on the knife's edge and thus, it is very easy to lose your way.

Take a look at this game. I am White.

Black just played a seemingly innocuous move 1.... Nd7.

This looks like a typical Sicilian formation, right? Yes but....

Incredible as it may seem but Black is totally lost in this position with just that one move. Can you figure out why and what is the critical move White should play after that?

Highlight between the brackets for the answer.

[Black now loses instantly after:
2. exd6 Bxd6 or Qxd6 (doesn't matter)
3. Nxe6!! and Black must lose the Queen+more material to stave off mate]

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Who Watches The Watchmen

No, I'm not referring to Alan Moore's graphic novel (nor the movie).

I'm talking of people who crowd around your board when you're playing your game.

Do they have an effect on your play?

Do you feel still continue to play your game as per normal or feel pressured to make a move?

Oddly enough, I find that I play faster with people crowding around my board. This has a tendency to lead to shallow play and calculation mistakes - a rather nefarious poison to my gameplay.

It's certainly given me some food for thought over the next few weeks and a problem (amongst many others) that I definitely need to rectify.

So, how do people cope with players crowding around your board?

Usually, I deliberately avoid eye contact with anyone in the crowd but the aura of "restlessness" of the surrounding can be quite discomforting.

Last night, I drew against the current leader in my group, Ian Dickson in the Norths Club Championship. I'm now trailing him by 1 point and he has a game in hand as well.

Currently I'm on +3-2=2.

I really need to do better. Next week is a bye for me, after which I'm facing Robert Pike.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Find Your Lack Of Faith Disturbing

As you probably might have noticed, the number of blog posts I've put up have been drastically reduced of late.

I'm right now in the middle of a competition:

Current Score: +2-2=1 with a performance rating of 1500 thereabouts.

But I'm not in the least bit concerned about my potential fall in ratings nor my dismal performance.

There's a lot of things to occupy my mind at the moment and unfortunately, chess would have to take a back seat. I've gone back to spending more time with my family, playing computer games and not spending sufficient time practicing chess drills. I admit I've gotten slack about it.

I need to put chess in its right perspective at the moment.

I will continue to update and will still continue with the rest of the competition but I've definitely stopped looking at things like analysing a possible refutation to the 150 Attack in the Pirc Defence (if you know what I mean). :)

(PS: Okay, I've been playing Fallout 3.)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Update On Outcome Of Player Who Cheated

Hmmm... this news appears to have escaped my attention (apologies).

Anyway, the young player who was caught cheating in the U1600 tournament at the beginning of the year has been given a 2 year ban by the Australian Chess Federation Council that will last till 31st January 2011.

I think overall, this is a fair and just punishment and I thank the ACF Council for applying a firm hand on the issue and arriving at a sensible decision.

I also hope that the player learns from his mistake and comes back to chess after the ban.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Some Days .....

are just not meant for playing chess.

I just finished this blitz game when my opponent ran out of time. A couple of moves before the end, we arrived at this position.

White had just played

1. Rc1

Now what is the quickest path to victory for Black?

I totally didn't see it and played another move instead (D'oh!)

What was it that I missed?

Answers can be found by highlighting between the brackets.

[The killer move was:
1..... Qc3!!
White has no defence as the Queen must be taken else it's mate in 1.
2. Qxc3 bxc3
and now White cannot stop mate in 2 by Black after
3.... Rb8+ and 4.... Ra1#]

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Learning To Swim

Swimming brings back a lot of memories for me.

When I was young (around 12), I was a morbidly obese kid (now, I'm just overweight :) ).

Anyway, my mum thought that it would be great for me to shed off those pounds by learning how to swim at my school. So there I was, enrolled in the beginners section, together with some of my classmates at a swimming club near the coast.

Straight away, I had problems learning how to swim. The thought of dunking my head in water for an extended period of time seemed very unnatural for me and I was frightened. This fear hindered my progress. Soon enough, by the end of 4 months, everyone in my swimming class had learnt how to swim, all except me.

I still don't know how to control my breathing. I looked at my classmates with a great deal of envy. My friends could do it. Why can't I?

The swimming instructor for my class had given up on me and just put me in the baby pool and left me there because I had fallen so behind as compared with my classmates. So he usually asked me to practise on my own instead which naturally got me nowhere.

Self-recriminations started pouring in and soon, I dreaded going to swimming classes. I started to skip a couple of lessons or feign illness when I could. I was miserable.

After a few lessons by myself, one of another group's instructors walked by. He was very puzzled. When he saw me splashing and struggling in water, he realised the problem was not that I was not learning. It was that my mind was subconsciously preventing me from what I wanted to achieve because of my innate fear. As a result, basic swimming techniques like learning how to control breathing, adopt proper strokes became uncoordinated.

The first thing he did was to instil confidence in me. He did this by constantly encouraging me to dunk my head beneath the water level and opening my eyes underwater. The idea was that I should learn to be in total control and not panic. If I know that I had absolute control of when to raise my head above the water level for air and when to lower my head to swim, my fear would disappear quickly and would not be a hindrance anymore.

The first couple of weeks was bad, he chided me when my fear took over but slowly and surely things improved. And my swimming strokes became more regulated and pretty soon, I knew how to swim.

6 months later, I finished my swimming class in that section. I subsequently took part in my school's swimming competition and won 3rd prize in my section. I was delighted and my teacher could not be any more happier.

And what has this to do with chess? Not much.

But what my swimming teacher taught me was that sometimes, all we need is a little confidence in ourselves in order to improve.

PS: And yes, I did manage to lose a lot of weight during that period.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Badly Out Of Form

I lost badly to Rex Simmonds (ACF rating: 1518) in the Norths Club Championships last week and lost the 2 rounds of Rapid at Ryde Eastwood against 1200 opponents on Wednesday.

In between the self-recriminations, I am starting to contemplate taking the foot off the pedal for chess and devote more of my time towards other activities instead.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've actually not been reading any chess material and rustiness has set in so much that I'm having persistent problems with remembering my opening repertoires and endgame knowledge.

This week, I'm facing Gordon Miller (he beat me last year at the Ford Memorial). Unfortunately, having to work weekends meant that I've not studied anything since then and will be totally unprepared.

Oh well. My works finishes at 7pm and I've to high-tailed to the club within the half-hour so that means rushing to grab a bite and finding parking space at the club.

I really need to sit down and reprioritise.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Saving Grace

Now a puzzle of a slightly different nature. I arrived at this position and my opponent is about to thrown in the towel. In a last ditch effort, Black plays

1. ..... Ng3+ (as shown)

Now which way should the White King head for safety?

Should White play

2. Kh2 or Kg1?


Answers can be found by highlighting the brackets.

As an added puzzle, if you ignore the fact that White King is in check - Let's say that the White King is on g1 and it's White to move. Can you find a way to checkmate the Black King?

The worse possible moment you can do in any game is to blunder:
2. Kg1?? Be3+
3. Kh2 Nf1+
4. Kh1 Ng3+ and Black escapes with a perpetual check and it's a draw

The answer is
2. Kh2
Nf1+ (2... Bf4 is impossible because of 3. Qe7#)
and now 3. Kg1 and the White King is safe.

Well done if you spotted that.

For the second part of the puzzle, the very nice little combination arrives after

2. Nc6+ Ke8 (only move)
3. Qb8+ Kd7 (3.. Bc8 4. Qxc8+ Bd8 etc. is an easy mate)
4. Nxe5# (very petite mate)


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Don't Touch The h-Pawn

Have you ever played a game where you know you're just basically asking for trouble?

Take a look at this position. I admit this position was very easy to see. I am White.

Black in attempting to drive my Queen away made things worse with this provocative move.

1... h6?

As White, how would you continue? Of course, I played

2. Rxf6

Now after

2.... Qxf6 (the only move)
3. Qxh5 Re6? (But Black's position is in dire straits already)
4. Rf2

Now with a Rook, Queen and Knight targetting the weak f7 pawn, Black's position collapses in a heap.

4.... Qg5?? (Black was close to being out of time now and panicked)
5. Qxf7+ and the Black Rook on e6 drops.



Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Evaluation Of Position

Black had just played 1... Qxc3.

I arrived at this position as White. Things are quite hairy on the board.

The questions to ask are:

1. How would you evaluate this position?

2. What are Black's general plans?

3. What should White's general plans be?

4. What should White play?

Note that in this position here, there is no right nor wrong answer.

I do not have a definite answer here.

All I do know is this:

1. White is definitely going to lose the d4-pawn as it cannot be defended.

A couple of things went through my mind.

2. In the end, I thought for a while and played 2. Qb1 (This was objectively not the best move).

My idea was to play Rc1 on the next move (utilising the pin on the King) but after 2... Qxd4. The position was still tedious and I still had a bit of a long fight ahead of me.

FEN position listed below.
[ 2kr3r/R5pp/1p6/1P3p2/3Pp3/2q2P1P/6P1/3Q1R1K w - - 0 28 ]

What would you do?

Find out what would you play then run this through Fritz/Rybka/your fav chess engine.