Archive for June, 2013

There is quite a bit happening in the Australian chess world at the moment. Most notable was Bobby Cheng’s fantastic 10/11 in the Victorian Championship which finished last week – a full 2.5 points ahead of Justin Tan and Ari Dale who was the only player to take a point off Bobby. He is surely playing at very close to grandmaster standard at the moment and should get that title in the next few years if he keeps improving.

Up in Queensland last weekend there was the Gold Coast Open featuring visiting GM Lubomir Ftacnik who tied for first on 5/6 with IM Stephen Solomon and Chris Wallis. I particularly enjoy watching Solo play endgames where he is either lost or dead drawn. Strange things often happen! Against IM Ly Solo had only a King and pawns against rook, bishop and pawns. He did not get a queen yet he still manage to draw and should have won! I might show you that game in a future column.

Solo of course loves endgames and some of his exploits in the endgame will no doubt feature at the Chess Kids endgame camp next week. Unlike many players Solo does not accept a draw in a level endgame but plays on to the bitter end confident that he can outplay his opponent. He usually does.

Another player who was good at grinding down his opponents in the endgame was Bobby Fischer. In today’s puzzle he takes on Paul Keres and after 81 long moves Keres resigned in the position below. To grandmasters the technique of winning from this is position is probably routine (hence the resignation) but for juniors it may not be so clear. White has to watch out for allowing Black to sacrifice his B for the “f” pawn as that will leave a well known drawn position if Black’s King stays on h8.

So today’s puzzle is to show me how Fischer would have won from the position below. It takes 8 moves if you want to do it in your head. Good luck.

Archive for June, 2013

WeeklyReviewStonnington_26-06-2013

Archive for June, 2013

Vic Open Winners 2013

Vic Open Winners 2013

Today I thought that I’d chat about the recent Victorian Open Championships which were played at Box Hill Chess Club over the Queen’s Birthday long-weekend.

We were all disappointed that Booby Cheng decided not to play at the last minute, however newly appointed IM Ari Dale took advantage of Bobby’s absence to storm to a 6/6 score a point clear of the pack with one round to play.

In the last round he faced Luke Li and Luke played a solid game to grind down Ari after Luke declined to repeat the position and give Ari the required draw.

There were a large number of juniors playing in the tournament and I keenly followed how my students were going.  It’s worth noting that three of the four who tied for first were “juniors”.  These days however players like Ari, Luke and Laurence can only be regarded as very experienced senior players and a “junior” is perhaps anyone under 13 years of age.   Things are a little different from my day when I didn’t play in an adult tournament until after I had turned 18!

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Ari v Luke

My favourite position from the tournament occurred in Urban v Stojic which I’ve been using as a lesson for my students to demonstrate how good players look at more candidate moves and thus find ideas that their opponents miss.

What can be better in a Swiss tournament than having a quick game in the early rounds to save your strength for later.  In this game Ari holds back Nf3 to put Black’s queenside under pressure.

In the next example Ari gets a winning Bishop ending against Dusan but struggles to find a winning plan.  I’m telling my students that in endings they need to look at the “big picture” to work out what they need to do to win, rather than just analysing variations.  Have a look at the position and see if you can find the winning plan.

David Flude is renown for his like of attacking play, but to be good at attacking you need to see the tactics.   In the endgame position below he misses a move and fails to find the best defence.

Hope you enjoyed those brief examples from the tournament.

Archive for June, 2013

Archive for June, 2013

Archive for June, 2013

One of the hardest things to do in chess is for a junior to actually beat a good player even though he may have a “winning” position.

At the start of the game the good player is expected to beat you and the game is played out on that basis.  You have nothing to lose so perhaps you go for a wild attack … perhaps you get lucky and get a winning position … then something strange happens.   Suddenly the roles are reversed!   You have the won game and are now expected to win.   You tense up in expectation of this major upset.  You don’t want to spoil your win so suddenly you start playing safe instead of pushing home the attack.  Your opponent switches into “swindle mode” and starts trying to set you problems.   Your time is running down.   A crowd is gathering around.  The pressure mounts.

Of course you can guess what happens.  You make a mistake, perhaps only a small one.   You overlook a trick and your opponent escapes with a draw … or worse still hits you with an unforeseen tactic and you snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  The good player has no doubt been in this position many times before and knows how to make it hard for you.   That’s why he is a good player.   Still it is a valuable lesson to be learnt on the path to becoming a chess master.

I showed some of my students an example of this from one of Luke Li’s games in the Box Hill Championships the other day.  Luke was a passed pawn down with no attack and his opponent’s pieces were all well placed.  He should have lost but his opponent was too desperate to try to exchange queens and soon gave Luke counter-play.   I gave my student’s Luke’s opponent’s position to play out … and of course they too lost rapidly!  They just didn’t come up with the correct plan and then allowed their opponent to create chances.   A valuable lesson that has been dealt out many, many times over the years.

Last week’s column was about Frank Marshall, one of the top players in the world in the early 20th century, and in today’s puzzle Marshall found himself with an easily lost game against a lesser player – the British master Yates.   Did Marshall lose?   Did he draw … or perhaps even snatch an unlikely win?

Let’s find out.   It’s White to play.   See if you can beat the American grandmaster.

Archive for June, 2013

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Archive for June, 2013

cn6114_marshall

Frank Marshall

Recently there has been some discussion about Australia abolishing the monarchy and becoming a republic.  I’m definitely against this idea.  What would happen to the Queen’s Birthday Weekend holiday and the Vic. Open Chess Championship which is played on that date?   No holiday = no chess tournament!

Yes, this weekend all eyes are on the Box Hill Chess Club which is the venue for the Vic. Open which starts tonight (Friday) with 7 rounds though to Monday.  Box Hill is a great venue for chess tournaments as they have 5 live DGT boards for those who want to follow the action from home, and it’s also close to the shops and cafes of Maling Road for those of us who want a snack between rounds.  Unfortunately the top seed, Bobby Cheng, has withdrawn from the tournament.  Was it too much homework or is he concentrating on scoring 11/11 in the Vic. Championship – he has 7/7 at the moment.

A number of my students will be playing in the tournament to gain experience in a strong adult event, so I plan to go along as often as possible to watch the action.  This week in our lessons I’ve been trying to get them to use their imagination and look at a number of candidate moves …. not just the first good looking move that they see.   It’s been a bit of a struggle, and an even harder struggle is to encourage them to look at possible replies from the opponent.  It’s fun looking at what you can do but it’s more like hard working trying to find moves that your opponent can play that thwart your plans.

Today therefore I have chosen a little puzzle that will test your imagination to find a win for White, but Black has at least three plausible replies so I need you to find and check these lines to ensure that you have a win.  One line contains a really fantastic move that should test anyone.  White was the famous American Grandmaster Frank Marshall, one of the world’s best attacking players in the first half of the 20th century.  Let’s see if you can match his imagination.

Archive for June, 2013