Archive for September, 2011

You will notice that the number of today’s puzzle “101” may be split up into “1”, “0” and “1” – no draws! “Will to win” is an important component of playing strength in chess.

I can remember many times when I have gone through one of my student’s games and we come to a position where they offered/accepted a draw.  I ask “why did you offer a draw?”   They reply “Because I couldn’t see how to win.  I reply “So?” can you see how to win on move one.   Why don’t you just play on and see what happens.  If you play better than your opponent you may win.   If you play worse you may lose or it could still be a draw.  Good players are not afraid  of losing and have the confidence to play on to “test” their opponent.   I have won many games from boring, level or even inferior positions by just playing.   Also if your opponent knows that you will not accept a draw it places him under considerable psychological pressure.

IM James Morris faced this situation in round 2 of the City of Melbourne Open 2011.   He was playing a lower-rated opponent and he had perpetual check with his rooks doubled on the seventh rank.  Should he take a draw or should he play on.   You decide.   The position is as below.

[fen caption=”White to Play”]k6r/2R2R2/2p3r1/8/1P6/2p5/P6P/7K w – – 5 46[/fen]

Archive for September, 2011

Whoopee!   100 Puzzles!   Not a record, but a small landmark perhaps.   How shall we celebrate?  Perhaps I’ll give you a really cute puzzle with only a few pieces on the board.

How do we go about successfully solving chess puzzles?   If they are composed problems, the solution is invariably to silliest looking move on the board.  I generally look first for a long queen move into a corner away from the action and often that’s  the solution!   In chess we train our brain to look for familiar patterns that we can recognise and hence cut down on the number of moves that we have to look at.  This is OK for easy puzzles – if you’ve seen one knight fork you have seen them all – but the more difficult puzzles often involve some counter-intuitive move.   Backwards moves for instance are very hard to find.   I recall one problem that I slaved over where Black had to retreat his Q from e5 back to h8 and I never found it.   My usual advice to look at all checks and captures works a lot of the time, but not always.   “Interference” solutions are difficult also.   I remember one beautiful Tony Miles game where White had rooks on e1 and e8 and a B on f6.   All three pieces were performing a valuable function so Miles solution was …Be5!! and no matter which White piece captured the free B on e5 it blocked one of the defensive functions that the pieces were performing and allowed Miles to win.   Not many people would have found that move.

Today’s puzzle is difficult also simply because the solution is counter-intuitive.  I solved it after a very long think and it was worth the effort because the solution is so pretty.   If you are a regular solver then you can help me celebrate by finding the solution quickly.   Good luck.

[fen caption=”White to play and win”]8/7k/5K2/8/5NR1/p7/8/5r2 w – – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for September, 2011

The Victorian Youth Championships today received it’s 50th entrant and in celebration of reaching 50 players the Early-Bird discount (a $10 saving) has been extended until the end of this weekend.

What is attracting players to this event?

  • Coaching after every game
  • Transfer chess and pizza on Saturday night
  • $150 cash prize for the winner in each age division
  • Age groups U7, 9, 11, 13, 15 and 21
  • Early bird entry of only $60.20 (a weird number thanks to the % discount!)

If you want to take advantage of the early-bird saving ENTER NOW.

Check out your opponents before the tournament and follow the event LIVE as it happens on Tornelo.

Archive for September, 2011

Archive for September, 2011

Glen Waverley Secondary Premiers

The Secondary State Finals were held on 2nd September at Brighton Grammar and I went along to watch.  It was a strong field but Glen Waverley Secondary had too much depth for rivals Brighton Grammar and Mazenod College and went away to score an impressive win.   The Guru lamented that it was the first time in many years that his old school, Melbourne High, has missed out on the top three places.

Many of the top games featured blitz finishes with both players having seconds to spare on the clock.  Top seed Jason Tang was in danger of losing on time at least twice but his opponent invariably walked into mate.

Take today’s puzzle for example.   Jason is Black against Allen Yu from Glen Waverley and is a rook to the good but has only 10 seconds left.  White should probably play 1.Rxd4 but instead tries 1.Kf2?   After 1…Rf8+ he again blunders with 2.Ke2? instead of 2…Kg3.   Put yourself in Jason’s shoes.  You must mate in the next few moves or lose on time.  Can you find the winning line?


[fen caption=”Play continued 1.Kf2? Rf8+ 2.Ke2? can you finish White off quickly?”]4r2k/4r1p1/p6p/1p6/3p4/1P1Rn2B/6PP/6K1 w – – 2 4[/fen]

Archive for September, 2011

John Purdy

John Purdy

John Purdy, RIP 1935 – 2011

Imagine the pressure.  Your father is the Australian Chess Champion.  Your grandfather was Australian Chess Champion.   Even your great-grandfather was a top chess player.

Despite this John Purdy decided to learn to play chess and by age 20 he too had climbed to the summit  of Australia chess.   He however had the advantage of seeing how his father struggled to earn a living as a professional chess player/journalist and so studied part-time to qualify as an accountant and then as a lawyer.  In 1980 he was appointed as a judge on the NSW Family Court, a position he held with distinction until his retirement in 2005.

I’m writing this from Sydney, having just attended Purdy’s funeral along with around 400 family, friends, chess-players and members of the legal profession.   It was a great send off for a very popular man who’s humanity, humour and self-depreciating character (despite all his achievements) were noted by all the speakers.   Ian Rogers summed up Purdy’s chess achievements and playing style and how he invariably attributed his wins more to good luck than good play so as to console his defeated opponents.

I had a very pleasant dinner with the Purdys after the Australian Open in January and it was great exchanging yarns with John and talking about the “good old days.”   He looked very well but, alas, has now been taken from us.

Today’s puzzle shows Purdy finishing off a young Stephen Solomon in the 1982 Australian Championships.   Can you spot his winning idea?

[fen caption=”Black to Play”]r1r3k1/2q2ppp/b2p1P2/3Pp1b1/1p4P1/1N4Q1/1PP2RBP/1K1R4 b – – 0 24[/fen]

Archive for September, 2011

[fen caption=”White to play”]r1bq1rk1/pp2bppp/2n1p3/3pP3/3P3P/2PB1N2/P4PP1/R1BQK2R w – – 1 0[/fen]

Archive for September, 2011

[issuu width=500 height=350 backgroundColor=%23222222 documentId=110906020457-b50dfa12d7624bea8c31befa7d7e9662 name=knight-times username=chesskids tag=chess unit=px id=5cad1194-0344-bc25-4a7a-f537c8eff308 v=2]

Archive for September, 2011

I’m in mourning this week following the unexpected death of former Australian Chess Champion John Purdy who passed away suddenly last Saturday.   I’ll say a bit more about Purdy next week when I’ve had time to put together an appropriate tribute, but meanwhile I’ve been consoling myself by playing through some of the games on Chess Kids On-Line.

Just about everyone there (except me) is anonymous, but there are clearly some strong players playing.  The new leader “Check Norris” seems to only play 2 minute games and crushes everyone so he is clearly very good at speed chess.  There are a couple of players who only play 10 or 15 minute games (they are probably coaches or older players) and rarely lose.   Clearly to do well a chess player must play to his strengths and do what he is good at.   Positional players should try to simplify the game to suit their style, whereas my mate “Checkmate” is a wild attacking player who always goes straight for the King.   I saw him lose horribly to “Murraybeard” who went straight for a blocked position where there were no attacking chances, but then “J.Sidhu” wasn’t so canny and allowed “Checkmate” to attack.

They arrived at the following position with White (Checkmate) to play.   Can you spot how he finished his opponent off in spectacular fashion?

[fen caption=”White to Play”]r1b1q2k/p1pnbr2/1pn1p1QB/3pP3/3P4/2P2N2/PP2N1PP/R4RK1 w – – 1 16[/fen]