Archive for November, 2012

Archive for November, 2012

RJ Shield Final winners – Gary and Lachlan.

It was a big week of chess this week with the RJ Shield Finals on Sunday and the National Schools Finals on Monday and Tuesday.

I was very pleased with the result of the RJ Shield Final as not only did the players play pretty well, but two of the Chess Kids Super Group tied for first place on 6/7 – Gary Lin and Lachlan Martin.  Gary beat Lachlan in their individual game but lost a rook endgame to William Maligin.  Well done to everyone who made the finals.  The new venue at Queen’s College, University of Melbourne was a good choice with lots of space and a good central location.

During the first round of the finals I was following the game of 6 year-old Shawn Zillman, one of my students, who had a queen against a rook in an ending against a much higher rated opponent.  I glanced away for a few moments only to turn back and see poor Shaun in tears being consoled by his father.  Apparently he had blundered his queen and lost the game.  This was very distressing as you want everyone to have a fun time playing chess but the very young ones, like David’s son Oliver, sometimes get emotional when they suffer a setback in their game.

I was very pleased therefore, at the prize-giving, when little Shawn was called up onto the stage.  Not only had he ended up with a very good score of 4 points out of 7 and gained 78 rating points, but he had qualified as a Junior Master and I duly presented him with his certificate – broad smiles all round!

Later in the week at his coaching lesson, Shaun’s mum Rose told me a very inspiring story.  Apparently Shaun and little Oliver are best buddies (and rivals) being of similar age and standard.  The first time they played Oliver blundered his queen and immediately burst into tears.  Seeing his friend’s distress, Shawn grabbed his own queen and held it out in his hand to Oliver.  “Don’t cry Oliver” he implored, “You can have my queen!”

For today’s puzzle we shall turn to Shawn’s older brother Matthew, who reached an interesting ending in the RJ Final against Rebecca Strickland. It looks lost for White but I thought that I saw a sneaky drawing attempt for Matthew. I was wrong. My computer however is never wrong and it did indeed find a way for White to draw. I showed the ending to my SuperSquad on Thursday and it stumped them, but perhaps you can do better? White to play and draw.

Archive for November, 2012

Archive for November, 2012

Archive for November, 2012


We have a big few days of chess coming up with the RJ Shield Finals being held on Sunday followed by the National Schools Finals on Monday and Tuesday.   Both events are being held at Melbourne University and we are expecting a couple of hundred players to participate so it should be a great fun.  I’m down to give a few chess lectures and I will help with the post game analysis.   Hopefully my students will play some good games that we can have a look at as preparation for the Australian Junior Championships in January.

Meanwhile I’ve been playing through a few of Capablanca’s games recently.  For those who may not have heard of him Capa was World Champion in the 1920s and a chess prodigy famed for not losing and for playing simple chess to grind down his opponents.  I was impressed with a couple of his moves, to relocate his pieces in an unexpected way, that reminded me very my of my boy-hood hero Karpov, who had a similar natural manoeuvring style.

This was ideal material to try on my super-squad, I thought, as one game featured both an expected manoeuvre from Capa as well as a sparkling combinative finish.   I showed it to them last night and after a lot of failed attempts Max (our best attacking player) finally was the one to come up with the brilliant combination at the end.  Unfortunately, try as they may, no-one could find the subtle manoeuvre that preceded it.  It was one of those brilliant little “do nothing” moves that simply waited for the opponent to self destruct.

So for today’s puzzle let’s see if you can do better than my squad.  Firstly you need to find the “quiet” Capa move in the diagram below, then 5 moves later you need to stop and find his brilliant combination to win the game.   Good luck.

Archive for November, 2012

Is there anything more frustrating in chess than losing a won game or letting a certain draw against a much stronger player slip through your fingers? There seems to be a rash of these “disasters” going around at the moment.

I followed the Melb Cup of Chess games last week and was particularly keen to see how our better juniors would go against the visiting IMs from NSW and Qld. Unfortunately most of the games between the young Vics and the titled Inter-staters followed a similar pattern. Karl Zelesco got down to an ending with R+N v R+B against IM Max Illingworth and could have forced an exchange of rooks with an easy draw. Instead he tried to attack and lost quickly. Ari Dale had a Q+R ending v IM Andrew Brown where he had the initiative, but wrongly decided to swap queens and win an irrelevant pawn. Before he knew it Brown had an active rook and a outside passed pawn and it was all over. Similarly Justin Tan was a pawn down in a rook ending against Max Illingworth, chose the greedy plan of gobbling pawns and also succumbed to an outside passed pawn. They were all so close to drawing!

Even worse, I was following one of my students playing against Macus Raine at Box Hill Chess Club. He had Q+R v Q in an ending and had several easy wins. An unfortunate pawn push allowed Marcus a 3 move mate out of the blue. I tried to console my student by explaining that this was a process that most juniors go through where they sometimes get drawn or winning positions against stronger opponents but let their opponents off the hook. “Eventually you will beat them and realise that they aren’t much better than you after all” I commented.

There is sometimes a very fine line between winning and losing and weaker players often stumble in sight of victory. An example of this was seen in the last round of the MCC Open where top board Dusan Stojic was a piece down against his lower rated opponent. Can you find the winning plan that White missed?

Archive for November, 2012

The last week in Melbourne has been eventful not only for a horse race at Flemington but also for a chess race at the Melbourne Cup of Chess.

Three highly rated stallions from interstate came to Melbourne to tackle the local colts and, regrettably, it turned out to be a one horse race.
IM Max Illingworth bolted to the lead at the Melbourne Chess Club and stormed home down Leicester Street to score an impressive 8.5/9. Of course it would have been nice for a locally trained competitor to have won the race but our big names like Cheng and Morris were not in the field. Probably something to do with a injured fetlock or two, but in their absence our younger stayers were given their chance.

Justin Tan, no stranger to being on a horse, was so close to having a drawn rook ending against Illingworth, but chose the wrong plan. Karl Zelesco had an even simpler draw there for the taking in his ending against Max, but he too went astray. Even Ari had the better of a Q+R ending against IM Andrew Brown but got his rook offside and was unable to recover.

I plan to use these three positions in my chess lesson next week as they show the difference between an IM and a good junior when push comes to shove. “Don’t be too hard on the kids” counselled Check Norris, when I told him of my plans “everyone makes mistakes” and, of course, he is right.

Even grandmasters sometimes come up with the wrong idea. If you don’t believe me (and would like a good laugh) have a look at today’s puzzle.
It’s from the game Beliavsky v Johannessen Linares, 2002. White to play.
He is tossing up between 1.f6 to lock the Black King out, 1.fxg6+ to open up the Black King or 1.Kf4 to get his own King into the action. Alas, he made the wrong choice. What move did he play?

Archive for November, 2012

Watch all the action from the 2012  Primary Division State Finals (VIC).

Archive for November, 2012