Archive for September, 2012

What is the most important thing in chess? Having a good eye for tactics of course. Knowing all the latest opening theory or having a much better pawn structure will count for nought if you keep blundering your pieces.

I was at the Novices tournament at Monash Uni. last Sunday watching the games and I saw lots of one-move blunders. One of my students had a double discovered check (the most powerful move in chess) which won a rook for nothing. Did he play it? No! Instead he made a discovered (not double) check and was no doubt surprised when his very happy opponent just took the checking piece for nothing. How are such mistakes possible, even in good players? I guess we are not looking, at every opportunity, for killer tactics in our positions. Perhaps its just too much work?

Of course I cannot talk! Last night I was playing an on-line game and I made what I thought was a good attacking move. As soon as I let go the piece I noticed that my opponent could sac his queen and threaten mate in one in two different ways. Why do you always “see” it as soon as you make the move? It’s just not fair. Anyway I managed to find a way out and played a few moves which left me winning comfortably. Half way through Check Norris, who was watching at the time, said “what about mate in one?” Sure enough, I’d missed a one move mate on the way.

Arriving at Chess Kids this morning I thought to myself, “Well RJ, maybe you need to brush up on your tactics”. I glanced up from my desk to the notice-board in front of me and saw a puzzle by Adolf Anderssen “White to play and mate in three moves” it said. Try as I may however I can’t find a mate in three moves. I’ve found one in six moves but the puzzle says “three” so dear reader, I need your help. Can you find a mate in three moves in today’s puzzle or am I right and it takes six moves to mate? White to play…

Archive for September, 2012

This week saw the State Secondary Finals at Brighton Grammar, and boy was it close! Glen Waverley Secondary scored 27 points to edge out Melbourne High on 26.5 points from Northcote High on 25.5 points (18 schools, 102 players).

Top seed, Ari Dale from Northcote, scored an impressive 9/9 from Zach Loh of Glen Waverley on 8 points then Michael Chan, Issac Ng and Allen Yu on 7 points. All very strong players, with Ari and Zach leaving in a few weeks for Slovenia to play in the World Youth Chess Championships.

I attended the tournament and recorded most of Ari’s games on top board.  His opponents faced a common dilemma.  How do they avoid losing to a stronger player?  Some opponents try swapping off pieces at every opportunity.  Others go for an all-out attack and hope for the best.   Some even just copy their opponent’s moves for as long as possible and hope that leads to a level game.   I’ve always thought that the best strategy was just to play good moves, but that’s probably an old fashioned point of view.  I noticed two players (one from Melb. High and one from Glen Waverley) come up with a novel strategy to avoid losing.   They played no moves!   That’s right, not one, before agreeing to a “grandmaster” draw.   I hope that the Melb. High boy in particular was satisfied with this result, especially when his school finished second, half a point behind Glen Waverley!   Had he had the courage to play some moves perhaps his school may have ended up winning?

For today’s puzzle let’s look at the last round game on top board.  White, facing the dreaded Ari, can either play the safe 0-0 or alternative play Ne5 to swap off some pieces against his higher rated opponent.  Your job is to advise him.   Which option is best, and why?

Archive for September, 2012

The Chess Olympiad is over and I have so many many interesting positions to choose from for this week’s puzzle.  Australia ended up doing very well finishing in 32nd place after a surprise 2-2 draw in the final round against the powerful Slovenian team.  Our two new Olympians, Ly and Illingworth, both did very well with Ly close to a GM norm and Illingworth securing his final IM norm to get the title at last.

You have to feel sorry however for our top board, David Smerdon, who inexplicably lost on time in a winning rook endgame in the third last round.  David’s blog gives the full details, in his refreshingly self-depreciating style, and this horrible loss certainly affected David’s confidence in the final two rounds.  Australia however had a saviour, in the unlikely figure of IM Stephen Solomon, playing in his 10th Olympiad.  Solo was being crushed in the ending, two pawns down for nothing, in the position in today’s diagram.

Solo has just played 46…h4 and I’m sure that most of us would just play 47.Bf1 then get on with winning the game.  Instead White decided to speed up his win by playing a tricky tactical line 46.d6.   Solo naturally played 46…h3 no doubt expecting 47.Bf1 h2 48.Bg2.   His tricky opponent however replied 47.dxe7 and a shocked Solo replied with 47…h2 with a new Black Queen coming up next move.  Today’s puzzle is has White blundered in allowing Black to queen his “h” pawn or is his play sound and results in a quick win for White?

Archive for September, 2012

Archive for September, 2012

Bobby Cheng in action.

It’s hard work being a chess spectator these days.  I stayed up till 3am the other day following the Australian U16 team playing in Turkey against the top seeds, Russia.  

Bobby Cheng was pressing hard for a win on top board, but his opponent held a draw, and Laurence Matheson was crushing his opponent on board 3.  If only he had taken his time and built up his position as I keep telling my students to do.  Instead Laurence swapped off into a rook ending which was still winning, but difficult, and his opponent found enough counter-play to draw.

In the last round Australia had an outside chance to take the bronze medal by beating India but went down 1.5 – 2.5 in a hard fought match.

Overall Australia finished a creditable 8th place with Bobby Cheng scoring 5.5/9, Justin Tan 5.5/8, Yi Liu 1.5/6, Laurence Matheson 4.5/8 and Pengyu Cheng 3.5/6.   The full results, games, etc may be found at

For today’s puzzle see if you can do as well as Bobby. He is White in the position below and is struggling to find a way to stop the threatening black passed pawns. What should he play?

Archive for September, 2012

Archive for September, 2012

NEARLY FULL. The final remaining places are:

Wednesday October 3 (morning, afternoon or both) x 3
Monday October 1 (morning only) x 1 place

Download the Spring Holiday Program Registration Form (PDF)

The theme for this term’s Holiday Program is a Knight’s Quest! Learn how to use your Knight to lead you to victory, discuss both past and present famous players as well as heaps of fun games and prizes to be won each day!

The program is run in half-day blocks (every half-day is different, so you can come to every session without hearing a repeated lesson!) and during each half-day we have 3 lessons and a tournament.  We tailor the sessions to the players who show up on that day, so it is equally suited to beginners or more experienced players.

Archive for September, 2012