Archive for April, 2010

At what age should a junior play in his first chess tournament?   Start too early and they may be discouraged by their losses.   Start too late and they may miss out on the chance to improve rapidly whilst they are young.

The RJ Shield last week-end featured several 5 year-olds playing in their first event.   I paid particular attention to Elijah Cordover, son of the Chess Guru, who was making his debut.   He played OK but sometimes forgot to recapture pieces, particularly those on his opponent’s bank rank which were too far away to reach!   Elijah ended up the tournament with only half a point but seemed to enjoy himself and noticeably improved as he played more games.   I’m sure in years to come Elijah Bob will a force in junior chess if he keeps it up.

All these young players who played in the RJ Shield have an advantage over Bobby Fischer!   He did not learn the moves until age 6 and played in his first tournament at age 12.  He did however improve rather rapidly and was USA Champion by the age of 14.

Today’s puzzle is a Fischer combination from the 1960 Olympiad when he was 17 years of age.

Letelier v Fischer 1960

[fen caption=”Black to play and win”]4r1k1/ppq3bp/2n1rnp1/5p2/2P2P2/4BBN1/PP3K1P/RQ2R3 b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for April, 2010

Archive for April, 2010

Thanks to all the players who participated at Doncaster Gardens on ANZAC Day. It was great to have the big, spacious hall back!

Well done to Ben O’Sullivan for winning with 6.5 points from the 7 games and a massive 63 point rating gain.

Isaac Zhao, Henry Lai, Jason Chew and Raf Pecori were ‘promoted’ into the Under 12 age group even though they are still eligible for the Under 10’s. They all performed very well and mostly picked up some rating points.

Results from U/12, U/14 and Open

Well done to Ayden Khalil for his victory — be prepared Ayden for the next tournament when you’ll be promoted to the Under 12 division!

Also good to see a couple of 5 year old kids playing – if that keeps up we’ll have to introduce and Under 6’s prize!

Results from U/8 and U/10’s.

Take a look at some photo’s from the RJ Shield or enter the next tournament.

Archive for April, 2010

Tactics are tricky things.   They are so easy to miss.    Then, when you find one, how deeply do you analyse it to make sure that it is OK?  Does your opponent have any counter-tactics?   It’s all very hard, but this is what chess is about.  Most games are decided by tactics or blunders.  Here is a typical example.

The diagrammed position is from Pokorny v Konecny Prague 1912 where both sides are clearly trying to attack the other side’s King.   It’s White turn and he spots a tactic.  1.Bxf6 and if either 1…Bxf6 or 1…Rxf6 White can play 2.Nxh5 picking up a pawn.   Is this a good plan or not?   How would you advise White?

[fen caption=”White to play … what result?”]r1b2r2/pp4bk/1np2np1/q2p2Bp/3P3P/2NB2N1/PPPQ2P1/2KR3R w – – 0 15[/fen]

Archive for April, 2010

Cecil Purdy’s advice to young players who wanted to improve their chess was to study master games. The method he used was to get an annotated game and cover the moves with a piece of paper then try to guess the player’s next move.   Having decided upon a move he would move the paper down to reveal the player’s move and compare it with his own.   In this way he could (in effect) have a grandmaster sitting beside him giving him a free coaching lesson (“No Cecil, I wouldn’t go there, I’d play this move!”)

These days it is even easier!   You log onto the live games section of any international tournament, pick a game you like and try to guess each player’s move before it appears on the screen.

I did this the other day whilst having a look at the Sydney International Chess Tournament which was held in April immediately after the Doeberl Cup.   The game I chose was between grandmaster Abhijt Kunte rated 2528 from India and Junta Ikeda, a 19 year-old player from Canberra rated 2302.

I was barracking for Junta of course, and he had sacrificed a piece for what looked like a promising attack which led to the diagrammed position.   Like Cecil Purdy, I said “what would I play as Black?”

After a few minutes Junta played 1…Qc5+ 2.Ke2 Qb5+ 3.Ke3 and they agreed on a draw.   I was very disappointed as I thought that I had found a win for Black.   It’s pretty hard, but the puzzle this week is to decide whether or not you would take the draw (as Junta did) or can you find a win!

[fen caption=”Can Black (to play) find a win?”]5rk1/6p1/4p2p/pq1p4/4P3/1Pp1K1PP/P5B1/2R1Q3 b – – 6 35[/fen]

Archive for April, 2010

Today’s chess puzzle is really easy …. unless you are a grandmaster!

Picture the scene.  You are Grandmaster Abhijit Kunte (from India rating 2528) playing in the final round of the 2010 Doeberl Cup against Australian IM George Xie.  If you win you tie for second place and get lots of money.  If George Xie wins he gets a grandmaster norm, outright second place and even more money.  You are the exchange ahead for a pawn in the following position with Black to play.

(To make it a little difficult you should analyse the moves in your head without the help of a chess board.)  Your opponent plays 1…g5 attacking your R which has nowhere to go so you play 2.Rxf6 and Black recaptures 2…Nxf6.  You decide to give your opponent a friendly check with 3.Qg6+ Kh8 (not 3…Kf8? 4.Bc5+) and the puzzle is what do you NOT do now?  The choice is between 4.Qh6+ with perpetual check), 4.Kf2 to defend e2 and e3, 3.Rxb4 to exchange rooks or 3.Rc1 to threaten 4.Rc8+.
[fen caption=”What should White NOT Play after 1…g5 2.Rxf6 Nxf6 3.Qg6+ Kh8?”]6k1/1p6/4qbp1/p2p3p/Pr2nR2/3QBP1P/4P1K1/1R6 b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for April, 2010

I’ve always enjoyed reading chess columns.  They are a great way to keep up with the latest news, play through a snappy game or test your mind with a chess puzzle.  When I was a junior the only way to see all the latest columns was to visit the newsagent or the local library and to buy or borrow the national and international papers which boasted a chess column (and most did).   Even such specialized papers as the “Weekly Times” ( a newspaper for country readers) had a chess column which ran for something like 85 years.   It was eventually dumped in the 1980’s and I wrote a letter of complaint to the paper.  The columnist (Emanual Basta) later thanked me but said the paper received only two letters of complaint.

Today of course we can get all the chess columns we want via the internet.  I particularly enjoy Leonard Barden’s weekly column in the Guardian which has been going for a record 53 years non-stop.   Barden’s Wiki entry makes interesting reading.  He was the son of a dustman living in Croydon, England and learnt chess at the age of 13 years in a bomb shelter during a German air-raid during the war!   Barden is an expert at picking junior talent and I think when Kasparov was about 10 years of age Barden predicted that he would become world champion.

Here is a cute little position from one of Barden’s columns.

[fen caption=”White to Play – what result?”]8/8/p7/8/K2Nk3/8/Pp6/8 w KQ – 0 1[/fen]