Archive for April, 2013


GM Zhao with his winner’s trophy.

Last week I reported on the Bangkok Open which was then in progress with a very strong field led by GM Nigel Short from the UK. Australia’s own GM Zong-Yuan Zhao was only seeded 10th but played the tournament of his life to win the $3000 first prize with 7.5/9.

In the second last round he faced Short, one of the world’s top players, and played the game of his life as Black to defeat his highly ranked opponent. I was following this game live and trying to guess Zhao’s moves and he certainly came up with a couple of great “grandmaster” moves to gain the upper hand in the game.

This has given me a clever idea for the RJ Shield which is on this Sunday at Tucker Road Primary School. I’m going to have a “Grandmaster Challenge” set up on a demo board at the tournament. I’ll choose a position from Zhao’s game and ask the kids to see if they can find the “grandmaster move”. Each participant will get one guess and can write down their move against their name on a list that I’ll put up. Then I’ll raffle a prize for all those who correctly guessed the move. It will be an interesting test to see if we have any potential grandmasters at the RJ Shield.

Perhaps you, dear reader, would like to take the “grandmaster challenge” yourself? I have selected another position from one of Zhao’s games in Thailand to test you with. Your task is to not only find the “grandmaster move” but also the forcing sequence of 7 or 8 moves that follows if Black plays the obvious line of play. ¬†White to play.

Archive for April, 2013

It’s been a very stressful few days for me. One of my students has asked me to coach him tactics! Yes, I know what your thinking, RJ only coaches things like planning, playing boring chess and how to do nothing. True. Those subjects don’t require much thinking, but tactics is another thing altogether. You have to analyse, look at candidate moves and use your imagination. Sounds like hard work.

To get ready for my tactics lesson I’ve been trying to play through lots of “live” chess games from the very strong Bangkok Open, which is being played at the moment in Thailand, to see if I can find any examples of modern tactics that I can use in the lesson. Fortunately, I’ve found a ripper. Possibly the hardest puzzle that I’ve ever presented in this series.

The Bangkok games are on “live” in the evening Melbourne time, so I’ve been following them along with Laurence Matheson and we discuss on Facebook how the positions are going. There was this one interesting game between two grandmasters where White had been the exchange up for sometime but hadn’t managed to put away his opponent. They reached the position in today’s diagram and White ended up playing a line which wasn’t very good and the players agreed to a draw. I put on my thinking cap and analysed the position and told Laurence that I think I had found a way that White could have won. Maybe my tactical prowess wasn’t dead after all?

Just to be safe I thought that I better set up the position on my computer to confirm my analysis. You can guess what happened. The rotten computer found a different move which it claimed was mate in 8 moves! Drat. Still, my line was pretty nice too.

I showed the position to my student as part of his tactics lesson. We tried heaps of candidates moves without finding a win, but he eventually found my line. The computer’s line however remained un-noticed. Can you do better? Settle yourself down, get a cup of coffee and start analysing. If you find it you are truly grandmaster material.

Archive for April, 2013

DoeberlThis year’s Doeberl Cup will be remembered for one thing, the horrific accident following the tournament which took the lives of two chess players and badly injured two others. Fortunately James Morris and Dimitri Partsi are now recovering well and our thoughts can return to the chess that was played in the tournament.

I tried to play through most of the leading games and have selected a few interesting positions for your enjoyment.

Lets start with Dom Dragicevic playing White against one of the visiting GMs. He has achieved a solid position and Black is just moving around to no effect. Should Dom sit tight and secure a draw or perhaps he has a chance to win on the kingside? Tough decision. Lets’ see what happened.

Stephen Solomon is a bit more experienced in playing against grandmasters and in the endgame he certainly has no fear! He is playing Black in the following position and it looks like the game could go either way. Solo however plays very precisely and finds a neat finish to win the game.

One thing that really annoys me about the Doeberl Cup, from a home spectator’s point of view, is that they invite all these good foreign players but they only have 4 dgt boards to record the live games so that towards the end of the event the foreign GMs are occupying the top (displayed boards) and games that I’d really like to watch (like Bobby v Anton) are not displayed. I have hope that eventually they will be available in a pgn file but the last 3 rds had still not been posted last time I looked, and I’ve now given up. The consolation is that sometimes these foreign GMs do produce a really good game, like the following example. White (a GM) is trying to break Black (a mere IM) but Black has just played Qe8 forcing an exchange of Queens and White doesn’t seem to have much. At least that was my assessment! Check out the diagram and see what you would play as White. How brave are you?

One game I did enjoy was the following tactical skirmish which was a bit like a Batman movie… Zap, Zowie, Pow!

Have you ever beaten a GM. Your first ever win against a grandmaster is surely something to be remembered. Justin Tan achieved this feat at Doeberl and the following game will now be a treasured memory no doubt.

OK, I know I’m biased, but the player whose games I most like to follow is Bobby Cheng. Bobby has been knocking on the door of becoming an IM for too long so Doeberl was a good chance for him to do something special in such a strong field. He did OK, but better was to come the following week at the SIO where Bobby finally secured his IM title. Meanwhile we can enjoy how he conducts a kingside attack and makes his 2432 rated opponent look second-rate.

How do you go about beating a GM? The simplest way is to threaten them with a draw and hope that they overreach in trying to beat you. This strategy certainly worked for Luke Li who played well enough at Doeberl to score a well-deserved IM norm. Here is opponent as White, GM Horvath, doesn’t seem to have much to do so he sizes up his young opponent and decides to take a risk. Bad decision! Lets’s see what happened.

I hope you enjoyed the above games. I’m shortly off to visit James in rehab at Epworth Hawthorn. Hopefully he will be fit enough to defend his Victorian Championship title (from his hospital bed!) then we need to get him up and running (well, walking perhaps) for the Chess Kids camp in July at Phillip Island. James came very close to drawing with top seed Chao Li at Doeberl and Australian Chess very much needs him back at full strength to give Bobby and Anton some opposition.

Archive for April, 2013

Archive for April, 2013

Enter your school at

Archive for April, 2013


Anton Smirnov

As a keen follower of Australian chess for many years I think there is nothing more exiting than to see a young junior unexpectedly perform well against our top adult players …. “perhaps the next Bobby Fischer” players of my generation would whisper to each other.

Way back in 1970 a young guy named Jamieson drew with Australia’s top three players in the Australian Open and suddenly became our best prospect. Since then I’ve followed Rogers, Johansen, Wallace, Smerdon, Cheng and many others score startling results as juniors and become “our next great hope” but I have never seen a junior score a result as amazing as that recorded by 12 year-old Anton Smirnov in the last few weeks. Sure, Anton does have a respectable rating of 2194 and he did score a surprise victory in the Australian Masters last year, but in the recent Doeberl Cup and Sydney International Open he was up against seasoned grandmasters both from Australia and overseas.

In these two event Anton played 18 games and his opponents included 8 grandmasters and 3 International Masters. His score? One loss (to GM Li Chao 2686), 11 draws and 6 wins. It seems that young Anton has worked out how not to lose to strong players and his SIO result secured him his first IM norm. He is now clearly ranked as the top 12 year-old in the world and we can all cross our fingers and hope that he continues his rapid improvement and becomes a strong grandmaster. His father, IM Vladimir Smirnov, is Anton’s chess coach and must be very proud of his son’s amazing results.

I played through all of Anton’s games in these recent tournaments and would like to show you the finish of his game against Justin Tan, one of Australia’s best juniors. Now Justin is older and higher rated than Anton and he is up the exchange for a pawn. The position however is blocked and both players have been moving backwards and forwards for some time. You would expect Anton to be happy with a draw in such circumstances as there is no obvious way for him to improve his position, but he in fact plays as a confident, higher rated player would, and keeps searching for a way to crack his opponent.

He needs your help! That is today’s puzzle – find an idea for Black to put his opponent under pressure and give Anton a chance to win.

Archive for April, 2013


IM James Morris

This has been a tragic week in Australian Chess following the terrible automobile accident in Winton which involved six Victorian players returning from the Doeberl Cup in Canberra.

Andrew Saint and Hannibal Swartz lost their lives after a tyre blow-out forced their van to leave the freeway and roll over several times. Paul Chavezza and Anthony Hain are OK but Dimiti Partsi was seriously injured and IM James Morris was critically injured with severe chest injuries.

The chess community has united in its grief to support James and Dimitri who thankfully seem to be improving with prospects of a full recovery. James is no longer in intensive care and is even talking about defending his Victorian Championship title from his hospital bed. This has been done before when a hospitalised Tal played Bobby Fischer from his hospital bed during one Interzonal tournament and Tony Miles once played whole a tournament lying down on a bed because of a back injury. The Melbourne Chess Club and Chess Kids have both organised get well cards for anyone who wants to drop by and leave a message for James and sign the card. James has just broken into Australia’s top 10 players with his new FIDE rating of 2409 following his success at Ballarat and is poised to have a big impact on Australian Chess once he returns to full health.

Meanwhile chess goes on. Indeed we have just had a most exciting finish to the Candidates Tournament in London to find a challenger for World Champion Anand. Carlsen and Kramnik were level with one round to play and strangely both lost their final game which allowed Carlsen to win the tournament on count-back. I woke up at 3am to follow the action live and it was very tense!

For today’s puzzle let’s have a look at the game between the world’s 2nd and 3rd highest rated players. It’s Aronian (White) to play v Kramnik (Black). Aronian managed to lose! Perhaps you can do better…..