Archive for December, 2012

Can you keep a secret? I’m meant to be on holidays until February, but if you promise not to tell the Chess Guru, I may be able to rip in a quick New Year’s Chess Puzzle without him noticing. Indeed a couple of people have asked me why there was no puzzle last Friday so here it is!

Despite it being the holiday season, last week saw some chess action at the Box Hill Chess Club with 75 players competing in the Summer Swiss Tournament. The winner was young NZ import Luke Li who scored an impressive 6.5/7 from Greg Canfell on 6 points. He made only one mistake in the tournament. He said “OK”. His opponent, top seed Canfell, had just offered a draw in a clearly inferior position. Still, he’s only young, and may not yet be confident enough to play on against higher rated opponents.

I turned up to watch on three of the days mainly to see how some of the juniors were going and to congratulate Marcus on his upset draw with Canfell. The arbiter was also very kind in making my “dream” pairing of Jordan v Matheson – an interesting clash of the generations between two of the top seeds. On this occasion youth came out on top when the older player (predictably) made a tactical oversight in an even position. I can sympathise with Bill. I made a mistake too, in one of my more recent games, in 1995 against Marcus, but fortunately for me he missed it. Last night on Chess Kids Live we were discussing what to do when you blunder. Swearing under your breath was one option, but maintaining a poker face is the best option for me anyway.

I’m writing this blog, by the way, from Bowral (in NSW) birthplace of Don Bradman. I’m on my way to Sydney to visit Evelyn Koshnitsky, the grand old lady of Australian Chess, now aged 95 years and living in a nursing home in Sydney. Then I’m off to visit Felicity Purdy and have a look at John Purdy’s chess book collection. John sadly passed away earlier this year but if I can pick up some of his chess books and recycle them to promising juniors I’m sure that he would have been pleased. The only trouble is do juniors read books these days? I’m not sure. Maybe the internet has taken over, but I certainly learnt my chess from reading books, so I hope that at least some of my students will get into reading.

I’ll be in Sydney a day to early to see the start of the Australian Open but, hopefully, many of the games will be shown live so there is no great need to turn up as a spectator.

Fortunately over the holidays there is always some chess going on that can be followed live on the internet. I came across a cute little finish to a rapid game the other day. See if you can spot how White finished off the game.

Archive for December, 2012

What were you doing in chess when you were 11 years old? I was playing a bit in my lunchtimes at primary school on a outdoor seat in the playground using a cheap red and white plastic set. One of the Knights was broken so I plugged its head into a piece of cork so that it could stand up. It would be another 3 years before I would play in my first chess tournament and another 7 years before I was brave enough to play in an adult event.

Today things are a little different. Go onto the World Chess Federation website and you will see an article on the worlds highest rated 11-year-old chess player. (Click here) He is an Australian! Little Anton Smirnov, rated 2160, has just astounded everyone by winning the Australasian Masters in Melbourne on count-back from IM James Morris and FM Bobby Cheng, both of whom he defeated in their individual game! He could have won the event outright, and scored an IM norm, had he been able to beat his dad (IM Vladimir Smirnov) in the last round, but they had a draw. Clearly Anton’s Xmas present this year will be a copy of Murray Chandler’s book “How to Beat Your Dad at Chess!”

It will be interesting to follow Anton’s progress over the Summer – let’s hope that he continues to improve and becomes a grandmaster.

May I take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy Christmas. I hope that Santa brings you a nice chess book or chess app for your iPad. I’m hoping to get “Chessbase” for my iPad which I thought wasn’t available for Macs but maybe Santa can find a Mac version for me.

For last week’s puzzle I showed you how Anton defeated James Morris. For our last puzzle before Xmas I’ve selected a pretty little endgame composition by Kasparian, a famous Russian problem composer. I hope you like it. Black to play. It looks like White’s extra queen will be too strong but Black has a couple of tricks up his sleeve. Black to play …. what result.

Archive for December, 2012

Archive for December, 2012

Archive for December, 2012

Anton Smirnov

I had a interesting conversation about the Australian Masters the other day. “Why’s young Anton playing?” queried my friend. “He’s not strong enough.” “Anton!” I replied, “He’s great – and he certainly won’t finish last.”

Anton must be around 12 years of age now and boasts a FIDE rating of 2160. Should such a young, low rated player be allowed to compete in strong adult events like the Australian Masters? Of course! Such players may well be our future grandmasters. The trouble with juniors is that they can improve so rapidly in a short space of time. Unfortunately they can also plateau and stagnate at the same level for a time.

I still carry the scars from when I was a young man trying to make my mark in adult chess and I optimistically applied for the 1972 Australian Olympiad team. One crusty old selector was incensed and said that “I should not even be considered” as I had not yet come first of second in an Australian Championship. Strangely two years later he had changed his mind and insisted that I should be board 1 in the Olympiad team!

Since then my philosophy has been to promote promising juniors and err in favour of giving them a chance when the opportunity arrises. As for Anton, we are half way through the Masters and he is in 4th place with 3.5 points out of 6 games. He’s crushed IM James Morris, one of the favourites, and last round took perpetual check against IM Guy West when an alternative queen check would have picked up a free rook! The real big tests however are yet to come. Tonight he faces Bobby Cheng and even worse, at some stage he will have to face off against his dad, IM Vladimir Smirnov! I know who I will be barracking for.

Anyway, for today’s puzzle, let’s see if you can do as well as young Anton and finish off IM James Morris. In the position below James should play 1…Rxd6 but instead took with the Queen. How does Anton now win the game?

Archive for December, 2012

Bobby at the Chess Kids Nationals last week.

It’s about time Bobby Cheng became an International Master. His great rival, James Morris, is three years older but became an IM some time ago. Bobby burst into prominence on the chess scene in 2009 winning the World U12 Championship in Turkey and has at least one IM norm already, perhaps two, I’m not sure. You need three norms and a rating of 2400+ to be awarded the title. He’s been Victoria Champion already but has hovered around the same level for the last year or so.

Perhaps this week coming is the chance that Bobby needs to take the next step at the Australian Masters Championship being played at the Box Hill Chess Club starting on Saturday. The field is solid, without any obvious superstars, and is a great opportunity for Bobby to rise above the pack and seize the title.

I watched him play in the Super Rookies a few months ago where he pressed his former coach and mentor, GM Darryl Johansen, and should have won, but ended up drawing. Clearly he is not a player who is afraid of strong opponents or is content to take a GM draw. A good quality to have.

The other night Bobby was playing in the last round of the Box Hill Open against Chris Wallis. He trailed Wallis by a point and needed to win at all costs to share the title. I was following the game live with Laurence Matheson and we were commenting on the moves as the game progressed. Wallis clearly set out to play solidly and not lose, and for a long time it was unclear if Bobby could make any progress. Suddenly Wallis sacrificed is rook for a pawn and it looked like Bobby was in real trouble. But he did not panic! The exchange and a pawn down he made a quiet King move and suddenly he was attacking. The complications were a bit much for my poor brain to follow so I set up the position on Shredder to see who was winning. “Bobby has a win” I exclaimed to Laurence … “but it’s a weird computer-like move … he’ll never see it” I suggested. “Of course he’ll find it” countered Laurence, who is a friend of Bobby’s and knows him well. Sure enough, 30 seconds later, Bobby played the winning move suggested by Shredder and Wallis resigned a few moves later. “Impressive” I thought, perhaps Bobby is the real deal after all. Let’s hope he proves it this week.

I wonder, dear reader, if you too are the “real deal” also? None of my training squad found the winning move but perhaps you can do better.

Archive for December, 2012

Archive for December, 2012