Change of Address

August 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Writing this blog was fun, but a bit restrictive, so I’m trying out a new site.

The content should be pretty similar, but there will hopefully be a few more features.

Go here for the new site, and thanks for following this blog 🙂

Categories: Uncategorized

Country Victoria

July 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Caroline and I drove out of Melbourne yesterday up the Hume Freeway to Wangaratta, where we are basing ourselves for a couple of days. First thing this morning we headed up the Great Alpine Road without a clear idea of where we were going to end up. We decided to go to Beechworth first, where we had breakfast at the famous Beechworth Bakery. A short stroll around this historic country Victorian town followed, and then a drive to the gorge around which Beechworth is built.

At the tourist information we were told we wouldn’t need to be carrying wheel chains to go up Mt. Beauty or Mt. Buffalo, so we drove towards Bright with the intention of going up Mt. Buffalo first. However, the information we were given was wrong, and we did need chains, so in Bright we hired some. They looked easy enough to attach when the mechanic was showing us, but thankfully we haven’t had to use them yet! Anyway, with this new level of security we decided that we might as well go very high, so we headed off to Mt. Hotham. A 3 hour pass was more than enough time to experience snow for the first time in 5 years, and Mt. Hotham was full of people snowing, snowboarding or tobogganing. I have to admit to feeling somewhat of an alien at Mt. Hotham, as everyone in snow boots walks in a distinctive manner placing the heel down first whereas I was wearing normal shoes and was obviously different!

After a brief but pleasant time at Mt. Hotham we headed back down to Bright and then on to Wangaratta. We arrived back fairly famished and found a place in the main street of Wangaratta called Café Martini. It’s basically a wood fired pizza restaurant, but luckily for us that was not all. The menu had something for everyone and I had Tarragon Chicken wrapped in prosciutto and served with sweet potato mash, a honey mustard sauce, and vegetables. Caroline had pork belly with home made apple sauce, potato gratin and vegetables. Both the meats were cooked excellently and the flavours of the meals were mouth watering. I also had a coffee which lacked the sophistication of Melbourne barista’s, but actually reminded me of the filter coffee served in diners in the USA, strong and thick. I actually quite enjoyed it, though it was better drunk a little cooler. If you find yourself in Wangaratta, then I can definitely recommend this rustic feeling restaurant.

A friendly Kookaburra in Bright.

Tomorrow we’ll be heading back to the alps, but probably to Mt. Beauty.

Caroline is the real photographer in the family.

Categories: Coffee, travel Tags: ,

A few days away

July 4, 2010 1 comment

Tomorrow I’ll be heading to the country with Caroline for a few days. Holidays come in all forms, but ours usually involve walking or driving long distances to see things that other people might not find very interesting. Like we once went to the North East of the USA and ended up driving about 2000 miles in 3 weeks, but we saw some amazing things like the fall colours in the White Mountains. This week we’re heading to Bright in the Alpine region of Victoria to see some snow. There’ll be plenty of walking, quite a bit of driving, lots of photography and some time to clear the head ready for the challenges which will come up over the next 3 months.

When I get back, I’ll be playing some chess in the Victorian Championship. And of course I’ll be back to coaching chess and I need to start thinking about some programs. And I’m even playing a couple of games against Paul Cavezza that I’ll be thinking about.

I’d love to write a chess book, or any book for that matter, though I know my biggest problem is seeing something through to the end. So perhaps I’ll finally get round to writing that book inspired by the Melbourne Chess Club Endgame Group that I run. For inspiration I have been looking at the Bulwer-Lytton contest results for 2010. The Bulwer-Lytton contest is an annual competition for the worst opening line of a novel inspired by the opening line of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton’s novel “Clifford”:

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents–except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

From all the entries, in various genres, a grand winner is announced, and this year Molly Ringle of Seattle won with the inspirational:

For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity’s affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss–a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity’s mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world’s thirstiest gerbil.”

You can check out all the winners since the competition began in 1983. My particular favourite is from 1986, but they are all great.

“The bone-chilling scream split the warm summer night in two, the first half being before the scream when it was fairly balmy and calm and pleasant for those who hadn’t heard the scream at all, but not calm or balmy or even very nice for those who did hear the scream, discounting the little period of time during the actual scream itself when your ears might have been hearing it but your brain wasn’t reacting yet to let you know.” – Patricia Presutti’s 1986

Categories: chess, literature Tags: ,

Victorian Junior Championship Day 3

June 30, 2010 Leave a comment

I am at Box Hill Chess Club again, and sat in the analysis room. There is total silence here as the draw for round 7 has just been published and all the players have made their way to the draw, and then on to their boards. All the spectators, coaches and parents are all awaiting the start of the next round as well. This is all in contrast to 5 minutes ago when it was bedlam in the analysis room. Transfer chess was being loudly contested, game analysis was being undertaken at rock concert decibel count, child-parent pre round discourses were being broadcast to the whole suburb…. Ok, it was fairly noisy in here.

The tournament has taken some unexpected turns, the main one being the great showing of Nathan Hibberd who is joint first with all 3 top rated players out of the way. He is joint first with top seed Laurence Matheson who is struggling to find his top form, a phenomenon that affects a lot of strong juniors at title events. Visitors to the event include IM James Morris and FM Bill Jordan.

Talking to James, he was impressed by Sasha Parsons in the last round, saying that the 11 year old showed good technique swapping the correct pieces and leaving himself with good pieces. This win was against Karl Zelesco who James feels a bit sorry for. Karl has been put under a lot of pressure recently with his big rating improvements, and James knows only too well the feeling of expectation that people can put on you. James is still impressed with Karl Zelesco’s progress and expects him to bounce back.

It’s great that strong juniors such as James Morris show up for events like this as obviously a number of players in the tournament look up to our top juniors. I have seen many juniors at this event such as Laurence Matheson,Nathan Hibberd, Frank Lekkas, Michael Chan, Ari Dale and Sasha Parson’s twisting the front of their hair while thinking, a trait that James himself has.

An early stroll round the room has shown me some interesting things. Frank Lekkas is playing the white side of the Maroczy Bind that he so often has to play against. On board 5 Nicholas Liu and Jonathan Tang are playing an ultra solid Symmetrical English which will probably go the distance. The most interesting position for me was between Kyle Gibson and Joseph Wong where a very interesting pawn structure exists which took me a while to work out how it had come about.

1 hour into the games:

Lekkas looks good against Tuncer, Liu-Tang is still a stale position, neither have really tried anything yet. But further down the boards there are some interesting positions. For instance, Sasha Parsons has grabbed  a pawn against Michael Chan and is trying desperately to prevent an attack. And the Loh-Addamo position looks good for Michael as black with the 2 bishops and an attack on the b-file.

And then there was this weird position Deverajh-Cannon….anyone care to assess who is better here?

Some interesting developments:

Max Chew Lee-Enoch Fan is an interesting king and pawn ending.

The Lekkas-Tuncer game in unclear, but Morris, Jordan and myself would all rather be white:

Ok, so what does IM Morris, FM Jordan and my good self know? In the above position black played 1..Rae8 and after 2.Qd3 [Perhaps 2.Qf1 was an option] 2..Bxf4 black neutralised white’s initiative and is a pawn up in the ending. White is fighting to draw.

Ok, it is time for me to go now so you’ll have to check out the final results on the CV website.

Categories: chess Tags:

Keep fit for chess players

June 30, 2010 1 comment

Well, let’s face it, chess is hardly the best recreational activity for keeping physically fit, so as a player hits middle age (I’m 44 in October) if they don’t have a ready made fitness regime, then the thought of starting one can be pretty daunting. There always seem to ne so many obstacles in the way of getting fit. For instance, I leave my house each weekday morning at between 7am and 7.30am (a lie in on Saturday’s as I leave at 8.20am). I then am working or travelling between work until at least 5pm every week day. On Monday night I am the arbiter at the MCC, Tuesday I’m home but have lessons online, Wednesday I run the MCC endgame group, Thursday’s are free though I have run the Phoenix event, and Friday evenings I have no excuse as I do nothing.

So, I have little time to keep fit and find the thought of getting fit in the first place intimidating. Well, I’ve found the answer. I am going to go back to something that I used to do a few years back. I am going to start juggling again. I took for granted the benefits of juggling when I was doing it before, but really I used to be doing myself quite a bit of good. Check out some of the facts here.

Juggling is fun and challenging. It’s challenging because there’s always another trick to try and master. Personally I like ball juggling rather than club, hoop or scarf juggling, and 4-ball juggling has always appealed to me the most for some reason. I think that cigar boxes are really cool to juggle, but have never had much of a chance to try them out.

Anyway, a good way to learn to juggle, or to improve is to join a juggling club, or check out some juggling video’s. If you want to know where a juggling club is near you, check out this site. And my inspiration when I was a young juggler in England was a guy called Sean Gandini. Check out this:

But if you really want to see some unreal stuff, and some football skills that would put the current World Cup teams to shame, then check out the following video featuring the great Francis Brunn.

Categories: Juggling

Victorian Junior Championships

June 29, 2010 2 comments

So I’m at Box Hill Chess Club as the final round of the day has just started. This is actually round 5 of the scheduled 9 rounds so it’s the half way mark of the event. With the absence of Bobby Cheng, James Morris and Eugene Schon the tournament is missing three of Victoria’s hottest young talents, but the event itself is certainly strong enough and hotly contested. Defending champion Jason Tang finds himself in joint first with Laurence Matheson, a late but very welcome entry into the tournament. Just with these 2 players the tournament would be excellent, but the field below them is long and there are few easy games. This is attested to byt he fact that neither Laurence nor Jason find themselves on maximum points. Laurence was held to a draw by Nathan Hibberd, while Jason conceded a draw to Ari Dale.

Ari is one of many players who are backing up from the under 12 Championship that was played at the weekend. Ari was disappointed with his his result in the under 12’s but is showing his quality in the under 18’s to be on 3/4 and in contact with the leaders.

Victorian Blitz Championship

This match is played between Igor Goldenberg and Leonid Sandler over 4 games with an armagedden game if necessary. Leonid has the white pieces in game 1. Besides the numerous parents, spectators include FM Bill Jordan.

IM Leonid Sandler (left) starts the match against IM Igor Goldenberg.

Game 1: A lot of slamming of clocks and a victory for Igor Goldenberg.

Game 2: English Opening, black plays an early b6, a bit like a Queen’s Indian but white has played d3 instead of d4. It’s now officially a Hedgehog against a Maroczy Bind. Another win for Igor Goldenberg who held a slight edge for the whole game.

Game 3: Leonid has to win this game to stay in the match. 1. Nf3 d5 2. c4 c6 3. b3….definite middlegame aadvantage to Leonid who has control of a-file and the h1-a8 diagonal, and is 30 seconds ahead on the clock. Igor making holding moves….a draw and he is the champion, Leonid has to win. Igor misses a fork and loses a piece, Leonid is still alive! One game to go.

Game 4: Leonid with the black pieces must win to force a play off game. QGD with ..h6 and Bxf6. Igor still happy with a draw. White minority attack. Igor covering bases with a wait and see policy. he knows Leonid has to risk something. Leonid a pawn ahead now in an ending queen’s rook and opposite bishops. Queen’s off, time scramble. Leonid wins on time….armageddon game to decide things.

Play-off game: Leonid chooses the white pawn and plays white. He will have 6 minutes, Igor has 5 minutes, but White (Leonid) has to win, a draw will result in black being the champion. Typical Reti where black plays Bf5. Leonid has fianchettoed both bishops. 30 second think by Sandler…40 seconds, times close to level now. Igor’s turn to think, Sandler 30 seconds up on the clock, but the position is level. Flurry of activity sees Igor win an exchange. Sandler has started to speed up to put time pressure on his opponent. Leonid is an exchange up and ahead on the clock after mistakes by Igor. Victorian Blitz Champion is Leonid Sandler who won the must-win match.

Ok, back to the main plot, the Victorian Junior Championships round 5.

A quick draw in the QGD Exchange Variation on the top board was a bit of a disappointment. I saw the game and it was an interesting variation by Jason Tang to try to play a Tartakower-Makogonov-Bondarevsky Variation. Laurence was not happy with his position though the position at the end was probably level. Nathan Hibberd is having a great tounament with a draw in the previous round with top seed Laurence Matheson and a share of the lead after 4 rounds. He plays another top player in Michael Chan in this round. Jonathan Tang has joined Matheson and defending Champ Jason tang on 4 points while Ari Dale and Zach Loh drew to stay just behind. The other player near the top of the leaderboard is Max Chew Lee who is playing black against Gene Lai. A king and pawn ending is on the board at the moment with Gene a pawn ahead.

Black to play, but is there any way he can hold? Surely white’s plan is to play f4 and create an outside passed pawn?

The hall is emptying now as the games finish. A lot of the kids look fairly exhausted and I’m sure that quite a few would prefer not to have 3 games in a day. The other thing that has been an issue in this tournament is the time allowed for rounds. There is a 3 hour window for games that have a time control of 75 minutes plus 30 seconds increment. This means that a 30 move game that goes close to the time control will take 3 hours. Longer games, and there have been longer games in every round, result in the following rounds being delayed. This needs to be examined for future tournaments.

Tournament arbiter David Hacche says that the event has run smoothly and he’s had no issues to resolve.

An interesting conversation with Bill Jordan. Bill, an FM and strong player noticed that Laurence was playing his moves very quickly and he was a bit disappointed with the lack of fighting spirit. A skill to loearn is making the most of slight advantages and Bill wonders that Laurence certainly didn’t maximse his chances in this game.

Categories: chess Tags:

City Of Melbourne Open Round 8 Live

June 28, 2010 14 comments

A depleted field tonight as withdrawals and postponements due to the Victorian Juniors takes it toll. There is no live transmission tonight due to some technical issues with our computers and my lack of ability in solving these problems. We have postponements to the games Fitzpatrick-Addamo and Lekkas-Shanks (good luck to Michael Addamo and Frank Lekkas in the Victorian Junior Championships) and Ian Sutton has had to go to Sydney for a while and has withdrawn from the tournament so his game against Thai Ly has resulted in a victory by forfeit to Thai. One game was played yesterday, where Domogoj Dragicevic beat Pano Skiotis.

Ok, I will try to post some info about the top game as we have no live transmission. So far it’s a closed Spanish which I know very little about.

Rujevic-Tan

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3
O-O 9. d4 Bg4 10. d5 Na5 11. Bc2 c6 12. a4 cxd5 13. exd5 Nc4 14. h3

The early news is that Laurie Dalton is a winner due to a no show by Alp Akverdi, Dusan Stojic has tried the opening 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 against Sylvester Urban. This is a sideline that both Stojic brothers have played a fair bit over the past few years so they know the resulting positions pretty well. Victor Kildisas has stodged a Bb5xc6 Sicilian against Sam Low. Roger Beattie appears to be an exchange down for no compensation and the interesting game is shaping up to be Schmidt-Voon with an opposite castled Sicilian.

At the request of a well known IM and Victorian chess personality I have taken a picture of Sam Low as it seems that it’s such a long time since he played that people need reminding what he looks like.  If anyone else has any requests for pictures of chess players, then feel free to ask and I’ll see what I can do. Perhaps a beachwear modelling photo session? 😀

Board 1 update

Not very exciting, Mirko has chased the light squared bishop.

Rujevic-Tan

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3
O-O 9. d4 Bg4 10. d5 Na5 11. Bc2 c6 12. a4 cxd5 13. exd5 Nc4 14. h3 Bh5 15. g4
Bg6 16. Bxg6

Approximately 1 and a half hours into the games:

Board 1 has not moved on much:

Rujevic-Tan: times 67-53

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3
O-O 9. d4 Bg4 10. d5 Na5 11. Bc2 c6 12. a4 cxd5 13. exd5 Nc4 14. h3 Bh5 15. g4
Bg6 16. Bxg6 hxg6 17. b3 Nb6 18. a5 Nbd7 19. Be3 Rc8 20. b4 *

Board 3 has come down an endgame where white (Urban) has a majority on the queen side, but black (Stojic) has a more central king.

White to move here, and Sylvester is having a good long think.

Victor Kildisas is a pawn up, though it doesn’t seem like much against Sam Low who has some pressure along the h1-a8 diagonal. Roger Beattie is a ton of material down against Gary Lycett and the only other interesting point is Jim Papadinis’ orange coloured pen. If I was his opponent I would be complaining about the brightness on Jim’s scoresheet, that contrasts dramatically with the greyness on the board.

2 hour update

I’m finding it difficult to pick winners tonight. Roger Beattie still looks gone but is playing on. Ari Dale looks exhausted after playing non stop for the past 3 days at the Victorian under 12’s and under 18’s. He has already won 2 games today at the Vic Junior’s but is a pawn down against John Dowling. The game between Simon Schmidt and Richard Voon is heating up:

White to move, but who will smash through first?

The board 1 game has moved on a bit with Justin pressuring Mirko’s d5 pawn.

Rujevic-Tan
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3
O-O 9. d4 Bg4 10. d5 Na5 11. Bc2 c6 12. a4 cxd5 13. exd5 Nc4 14. h3 Bh5 15. g4
Bg6 16. Bxg6 hxg6 17. b3 Nb6 18. a5 Nbd7 19. Be3 Rc8 20. b4 Qc7 21. Qb3 Qb7 22.
Rd1 Rc4

And from this position, Justin has taken the lead in this game with excellent calculation:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3
O-O 9. d4 Bg4 10. d5 Na5 11. Bc2 c6 12. a4 cxd5 13. exd5 Nc4 14. h3 Bh5 15. g4
Bg6 16. Bxg6 hxg6 17. b3 Nb6 18. a5 Nbd7 19. Be3 Rc8 20. b4 Qc7 21. Qb3 Qb7 22.
Rd1 Rc4 23. Na3 Nxd5 24. Nxc4 bxc4 25. Qxc4 Nxe3 26. fxe3 Qxf3 27. Kh2

Mirko looks disgusted with himself, and if Justin can press home his advantage then we will have a new leader before the final round.

2 and a half hours

The game between Richard McCart and Felix Wyss has an interesting material distribution, as Felix has a rook for a bishop and 2 pawns. The queens and other pieces are still on so at the moment, the rook looks threatening. Jim papadinis’ orange pen hasn’t helped him as he is a host of pawns down to Paul Kovacevic. Alex kaplan finds himself with a huge time advantage against Adam Lovegrove even though Adam might have a positional advantage in the game. He will find it difficult to play this game out with only 3.27 on the clock compared to Kaplan’s 64 minutes.

The board 1 game now sees an overwhelming advantage to Justin Tan.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3
O-O 9. d4 Bg4 10. d5 Na5 11. Bc2 c6 12. a4 cxd5 13. exd5 Nc4 14. h3 Bh5 15. g4
Bg6 16. Bxg6 hxg6 17. b3 Nb6 18. a5 Nbd7 19. Be3 Rc8 20. b4 Qc7 21. Qb3 Qb7 22.
Rd1 Rc4 23. Na3 Nxd5 24. Nxc4 bxc4 25. Qxc4 Nxe3 26. fxe3 Qxf3 27. Kh2 Bh4 28.
Qf1 Bg3+ 29. Kg1 Qxe3+ 30. Kg2 e4 31. Ra2 Be5 32. c4

Here is the position which Adam Lovegrove is having to play with under 2 minutes left.

And big news from board 1. After the moves

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3
O-O 9. d4 Bg4 10. d5 Na5 11. Bc2 c6 12. a4 cxd5 13. exd5 Nc4 14. h3 Bh5 15. g4
Bg6 16. Bxg6 hxg6 17. b3 Nb6 18. a5 Nbd7 19. Be3 Rc8 20. b4 Qc7 21. Qb3 Qb7 22.
Rd1 Rc4 23. Na3 Nxd5 24. Nxc4 bxc4 25. Qxc4 Nxe3 26. fxe3 Qxf3 27. Kh2 Bh4 28.
Qf1 Bg3+ 29. Kg1 Qxe3+ 30. Kg2 e4 31. Ra2 Be5 32. c4 f5 33. Qf2 Qb3 34. Qe2
fxg4 35. hxg4 Qg3+ 36. Kh1 Qh3+ 37. Kg1 Rf4
Mirko resigned.

This was Justin’s first win against an International Master 🙂

3 hours update

About half the games have finished now. The ending between Urban and Stojic is looking better for Dusan and if he wins, he will join Domagoj Dragicevic in first place, half a point ahead of Rujevic. Sam Low has broken through a lot of stodge that Victor kildisas put in front of him, and looks to have a good advantage. Richard Voon is an exchange up and should convert, while Richard McCart and Rad Chmiel have a long way still to go with hardly any pieces or pawns off the board. Some diagrams to follow soon.

MCC life member Marcus Raine has been a welcome visitor to the club this evening. Marcus has some time off from his university studies and has come into the MCC after a full day at Box Hill Chess Club where he was present for the Victorian Junior Championships. I asked him about the hat imitatation perpetrated by Elliott Renzies and Serif Tuglaci. Marcus said he had no problems with having the same fashion sense as Tasso.

A big disappointment for Richard Voon who just lost an absolutely crushing position against Simon Schmidt after overlooking a threat of mate in 1 which forced him to give up some material. Dusan is now 2 pawns up in an ending where he has rook and knight against Sylvester’s rook and bishop. Sam Low is also 2 pawns up against Victor Kildisas while the McCart-Chmiel game continues on its long course.

Actually, as I was just writing that the 2 top boards ended with wins for Dusan Stojic and Sam Low. This means we have joint leaders going into the last round with Domagoj Dragicevic and Dusan Stojic on 6.5 with Mirko Rujevic just half a point behind on 6.

There is still one game going on, and it is getting to the finale between McCart and Chmiel. Last I looked it was double rooks, a minor piece each and about 5 pawns each, but both are down to the last 5 minutes so time may be a factor. It has now clarified to rook and 5 (Chmiel) v rook and 4 (McCart). Time will definitely be a factor in this result, they are both less than 5 minutes.

This is the end of the blog for tonight. Thanks again for watching and I will be posting the last round draw on the MCC website by Wednesday at the latest. This will mean calculating the draw based on some unplayed games, but that is the way it has to be. I will not be at the club next week so I’d like to thank the players for making the tournament an easy one to be the arbiter of. I have thoroughly enjoyed being arbiter and live blogging from the event. I will definitely be doing this agin in the future.

Categories: chess, MCC Tags: ,