Archive for October, 2012

Thanks to all of the 335 wonderful players who took part in an RJ Shield tournament during 2012.

A total of 44 players reached the magic 15 points and will be taking part in the RJ Shield Finals on November 25. If you weren’t one of the ones to qualify, don’t worry. On the day of the finals we will also be running a Novice Tournament – so you can watch the Finals, support your friends or siblings and still play some chess!
Details online.

The players who have qualified are:

Archive for October, 2012

Oliver and Elijah Cordover

Next week I face a new challenge as a chess coach … something that I haven’t done before in 45 years of coaching.   My student for next Thursday’s “Chess Kids On-Line” is a 5 year-old boy.

I’ve watched 5 or 6 year-olds playing chess at the RJ Shield and my impression is that most just play the first move that comes into their head and that their games are full of blunders.  Indeed, I’m coaching a 7 year old at the moment and it’s very noticeable that as soon as it’s his turn to move his hand darts out and starts hovering over pieces ready to make any move that appeals.

Fortunately for me the 5 year-old coming next week is no ordinary player!   He is already a veteran of 36 chess tournaments and may well be the most promising young player in Australia.  His name is Oliver Cordover.  He does however have a rival … his big brother Elijah.  These two boys (pictured above) played in the under 7 section of the Vic. Youth Championships last weekend and tied for first place.  The play-off was also tied one all.  Perhaps they went home and arm-wrestled for the title – I’m not sure.  Anyways, I’m working on strategies to help Oliver slow down and think about alternative moves to the first one that pops into his head – so wish me luck.

I spent most of my time at the Vic. Youth Championships following the top boards in the under 15 and under 13 competitions which were very even and hard-fought events.  Top seed Jack Puccini lost to Rebecca Strickland in the first round but fought back to tie for first place.  His game against Gary Lin in the fourth round saw Jack make a couple of nice sacrifices … but he missed a real beauty!   See if you can do better and find the solution in this week’s puzzle below.   Black to play and win.

Archive for October, 2012

282 chess games were played over the weekend and 228 of them were broadcast LIVE for all the world to see!  No cables, no difficult technology… just a few iPads and all the games were instantly available online.

If you want to see some of the games – here they are:

Full tournament results

Archive for October, 2012

Many chess players become obsessed with opening theory and spend heaps of time studying the latest variations. I’m not one of them. I’m happy to just play a solid opening that I understand reasonably well, then get on with the game. For me, studying endgames is much more fun.

At our “Super Squad” lesson last night I showed the group some pawn endings which, even with very little material left on the board, can be quite tricky. Most good juniors know about “the square” and “the opposition” and the kids solved these problems without too much trouble. They had not however heard of “triangulation” (where one player loses a move by moving his king in a triangle) so as to then gain the opposition. I managed also to trick them several times using the concept that the King does not have to move in a straight line to get to the desired destination in the minimum time. Reti’s famous study is an example of this.

I think most of the time kids try to solve puzzles just by pure analysis which doesn’t always come up with the result they want. It is a good idea also to sit back and look at the ideas in the position. For instance you could say “I want to draw this position so how can I do this?” Can I swap off all his pawns? No. Can I set up a blockade? No. Can I queen one of my pawns? No. I know! Maybe I can try for a stalemate. Then they look around with stalemate in mind and perhaps come up with the solution.

For today’s puzzle let’s see how you go with the pretty little endgame in the diagram below.

White to play … what result?

Archive for October, 2012

Don’t believe us? Watch the video and find out for yourself…

Archive for October, 2012

Last night we had the first session of our Chess Kids “Super Group” – a 1.5 hour coaching session for our six best squad members.

It was a bit experimental in a couple of areas. I decided to go through one of Bobby Cheng’s recent games with the squad using the old Cecil Purdy technique of trying to guess Bobby’s next move then comparing our move with his. We got it right some of the time but tended to be too keen to make attacking moves before we had built up our position. The experimental part was using Chess Microbase to demonstrate the game on a TV screen with me trying to master the use of coloured arrows and coloured squares to demonstrate what was happening. Microbase has some nice features like that if only I could remember which keys to press!

Following the demonstration game I paired the 6 players off against each other for a 15 minute game using the same opening that Bobby had used in his game. The “experimental” part was that we used iPads to record the moves instead of a scoresheet. This went OK, with each player recording their own move on the pad, until players got into time trouble and they didn’t have time to both move and record. I guess that happens in normal chess anyway when you don’t have to record if you have less than 5 minutes left on the clock. The benefit of using Microbase was that at the conclusion of the games they were immediately available on the Microbase website for us to play through on the big screen. I guess that’s the way chess tournaments will be run in the future and, dear reader, the future will be here in a week’s time at the Vic. Youth Championships where every board will have its own iPad! Should be fun. I think they even have a big screen for me to stand in front of and comment on the live games. Hopefully by then I will be a Microbase grandmaster and know which keys to press.

For next week’s lesson I’m planning to do endgames which can be fun even with very few pieces on the board. Have a go at the digrammed position and see if you agree.

Archive for October, 2012

Many years ago, in the mid-1970s, Melbourne had a group of very promising juniors named Rogers, Johansen, West, Solomon and Hjorth (plus a few others). Of course these players went on to become IMs and GMs and to dominate Australian Chess for a couple of decades so how is it that they went on to become top players, whereas so many other promising juniors have not made it into top adult players.

I think one of the key factors was that they were a “group” who were able to compete against each other (and help each other) and thus drive each other to new heights. It is very hard to become a strong player in isolation – you need rivals.

With this in mind Chess Kids has spun off the top half-dozen juniors from our “Elite Squad” to form a Chess Kids “Super Squad” which will be having a weekly 1.5 hour lesson with me starting next Thursday plus other activities to help them progress realise their potential. They will all be playing in the <a href=”http://www.chesstournament.com.au/vic-youth.html”>Vic. Youth Championships</a> coming up in a couple of weeks and we have been encouraging these players to start competing in ACF rated adult Open Weekenders to test themselves against strong senior players.

If you want to be come a good player, its nice to have some competition and some advice, but the bottom line is that you have to put in a lot of work playing and studying to make it to the top. Having a good eye for tactics is essential so players should, for example, log onto Chess Tempo and do 10 puzzles every night before they go to bed. You can test yourself with today’s puzzle, which is of medium difficulty. If you can’t solve it maybe you need to go to bed a bit later!

Black to play and win.