Archive for July, 2013

When any player starts a game of chess they have to remember the basic goals of the opening:

Control the Centre

Develop your pieces

Keep you King Safe

These are called the “Golden Rules” of opening strategy and most sensible openings start in this way. Most experienced players start their game by pushing one of their pawns into the centre, and then they start to move their pieces off the back of the board, developing them to more attacking positions. Finally, an experienced player doesn’t feel that the game is going well until the king has been safely hidden, usually by castling.

These ideas have been known for hundreds of years. In the 1500’s and 1600’s the best players in the World came from Spain and Italy, and the opening moves that those players liked are named after those countries. All openings have names, some are named after countries like the “Spanish” and “Italian” openings, some after famous players such as “Alekhine’s Defence” and “Fischer’s Variation” and there are some odd names like the “Hedgehog Opening” or the “Dragon”. Getting to know some typical tricks and strategies is a good way to improve your game.


This will be the opening position that classes will be starting from next week. White has just played pawn to c3 which:

– Attacks the Centre and prepares the move d4 building a central pawn wall.

– Allows white’s queen to Develop to the safe side of the board, either b3 or a4..


Congratulations to the RJ Shield winners yesterday. Over 50 kids showed up to play in Melbourne  in 2 sections, an under 10, and an over 10. 12 year old Gal Dekal won the over 10 section while 9 year old Andrew Grieg won the under 10 section. The full results are on the tornelo website.  There are also tournaments around the state, and yesterday the winner in Yarrawonga was Samuel Trewin. As well as checking out the latest RJ shield results, you can also check on your self by typing your name, or school into the search box at the top of the page. There are also the main headings at the top of the page. My favourite is the “Players” button which takes you to a page where you can see the top rated players by age group.


Archive for July, 2013

How old were you when you learnt how to play chess?  I think I was about 11 when the kid down the road taught me how to play (on an old white and red plastic set which had the top of one of the rooks missing).  The British Master from the start of the 20th century, William Winter (whose biography I am just reading) explains that as a 12 year-old he was watching his father play chess.  “Will you teach me?” he enquired.  At first his father was reluctant as he thought William was too young but the young boy was so persistent that he agreed to show William the moves.  Winter notes “The whole idea of the game fascinated me and from that moment I was determined that, whatever else I did, I would become a first class chess player.”

12 years too young!  How different it is today!   Players are learning the game as young as 4 or 5 years of age and are seasoned veterans by the time they are 12.  At the recent Vic. Junior Championships for players under 18 years of age there were few if any 15, 16 or 17 year-olds and there were so many really good kids aged 11, 12 or 13 playing it was quite remarkable.  I was told to watch out in particular for two brothers named Kris and Luis Chan.   Kris indeed tied for first in the U/12 Championships and tied for 5th place in the U18 Championships.   Last weekend I dropped in to watch the Billanook Rapid Tournament which was won by IM Guy West from Laurence Matheson and quite a strong field.   In the last round there was little Kris Chan again, sitting on top board playing against Guy West.   He had knocked of Dusan Stojic, one of the top players in the state, in the previous round.  I looked around and spotted IM Leonid Sandler who had won the Frankston Rapid the day before.   This time Leonid was one of the lower boards because in rounds 2, 3 and 4 he had lost to three little boys!

For today’s puzzle let’s suppose that you are sitting next to Kris Chan in the first round of the Box Hill Grades tournament.   Kris is Black and White is threatening Qxf7+.   He is tossing up between playing a defensive line (1…Rf8 2.Ne4 Qxe5) or the attacking line 1…Qxe5 which threatens 2…Qe1 mate.  Your task for today’s puzzle is to advise him which line he should play (and why).   Unfortunately Kris made the wrong choice, probably because you weren’t there to help him.  He did however still win the game as his opponent missed a neat tactic.  I guess only good players are lucky, even if they are only 11 years old!

[iframe width=”500″ height=”685″ src=”” frameborder=”0″>]

Archive for July, 2013

World Champion Capablanca playing lots of players at the same time. A “simul”.


Chess is a great way to help you think. You have to to work out your best move using all the things you’ve learned. And even then, the move you want to do will have to take into account your opponent’s sneaky plans. Working out great ideas, great moves, and great plans is part of the fun of chess.


Some players try to cheat a bit by copying their opponent’s moves. However, cheats never win in chess and if someone is copying your moves, the best thing to do is work out how to check your opponent, and then they won’t be able to copy you, as they will be too busy getting out of check.


How can white stop his opponent copying him with a check?

Who would be the best player to copy? The World Champion! The position above happened in a game that was played by World Champion Capablanca. It must have been pretty scary to play him, as people thought he was unbeatable. In fact, he didn’t lose a tournament game of chess for 10 years! In the position above, the player who had to face Capablanca tried the sneaky copycat plan using the World Champion’s own moves to play against Capablanca. But that isn’t really thinking, isn’t much fun or much of a challenge, and is bound to lose. Capablanca took just 4 moves to win from here!

All great players have 1 thing in common: they’ve played thousands of games of chess! In chess ‘practice makes perfect’, and it is always good to challenge yourself against new opponents. Chess Kids run a series of tournaments designed to give school players extra practice. These are called RJ Shields and the next one is coming up this Sunday.  These tournaments are a great stepping stone from school chess and are run in age groups so kids will be able to test themselves against their peers.

[iframe width=”500″ height=”469″ src=”” frameborder=”0″>]

Archive for July, 2013


After 4 years with Chess Kids we today wave farewell to Garima Chandan. She has been poached by a big-city consulting firm and we wish her all the best in the next stage of her career and thank her for the time and dedication she gave to all of us here at Chess Kids.

Her replacement will be announced shortly (we can’t release that secret information just yet) and we are quite excited about this new recruit and the impact we feel this will have on the business. More to follow soon… 🙂

Archive for July, 2013


Karl Zelesco v Max Chew Lee at the Vic. Juniors.

School is back, the chess camp and the Victorian Junior Championships have come and gone and normal chess coaching has now resumed. I’ve been looking forward to going over my student’s games from the last few weeks.

Max and Ryan did very well in tying for first in the U/12 Junior Championship and I enjoyed following the top games in the Vic Junior where Karl Zelesco was awarded the title on count-back from Ari Dale. I’ve now played through some of my students’ games and am faced with a dilemma. How do you stop them from making “obvious” blunders? One player allowed his King and Queen to be forked and had to resign immediately! Perhaps the pressure of time trouble is a factor but exercising just a moderate degree of care should enable you to avoid obvious howlers. I think it probably comes down to candidate moves. Some players are just missing opportunities for themselves (and their opponents) because they don’t use their imagination and look at a range of candidate moves. Perhaps players should play more blitz chess (as I did in my youth) where you have very limited time and so have to concentrate hard and your main focus is on looking for tactics to win the game. It’s so easy for a “lazy” mind to just play the obvious move or become distracted by the state of the clock.

One prime example of not looking at enough candidate moves and using your imagination occurred in the U/12 championship game between William Maligin and my student Ryan Kam. William was in a hopeless position down a number of pawns in a queen ending and Ryan had a very strong passed pawn one square away from queening. When I went through the game with Ryan I explained that the most important thing in queen endings was to place you queen on a strong central square and try to get a more advanced passed pawn than your opponent. Of course your opponent will probably have lots of checks in a queen ending but if your queen is well placed you should be able to eventually escape from them.

Ryan followed this strategy against William to achieve the position below, but a funny thing happened over the final few moves of the game!  It’s Black to play.  Tell me your next few moves and see if you can spot what Ryan and William both did not.

[iframe width=”500″ height=”685″ src=”” frameborder=”0″>]

Archive for July, 2013

There was an exciting finish to the endgame chess camp last week. The last game to finished turned out to be a K+R+P v K+R. White had his King on g5 and his pawn on f5 whilst Black had his King in the ideal position in front of the pawn on f8. I can’t remember where White Rook was so let’s say it was on a7. Poor Yoni was playing Black and he had his Rook on the “b” file and it was his turn to move.

Needless to say we had shown the drawing method in one of my lessons and it was also in the Chess Quiz that all players had done during the camp. Everyone was watching. Would Yoni find the drawing method using the “third rank defence” and put his R on b6? Then as soon as White plays f6 Yoni’s rook rushes back to b1 and checks the King from behind with a certain draw. By now you can probably guess what happened … Yoni put his rook on b5 (instead on b6) and there followed 2.f6 Rb8 3.Rh7 Kg8 f7+ and White wins. Poor Yoni! His group had missed my lesson on ‘Rook Theory” so I guess he can be forgiven for missing the draw … this time!

If you think that this was an example of poor endgame play there is worse yet to come! This week I’ve been popping in to Box Hill CC to watch the Victorian Junior Championships. IM Ari Dale was expected to win but lost to second seed Karl Zelesco. I was watching the game on top board between Savithri Narenthran and Karl Zelesco which came down to a rook ending where Karl had an extra pawn. Perhaps it was even … perhaps a little better for Karl. What happened? Karl played terribly and lost! Pity he wasn’t at our endgame camp. I know that Karl is very good tactically and in the openings but to see a player of his strength flounder around in the endgame was very disappointing. Wasn’t it Capablanca who said that it was far better to study endgames than openings? Let’s see if you can do better. There are a couple of puzzles in the following moves so play slowly and see how you go compared to Karl.

[iframe width=”500″ height=”685″ src=”″ frameborder=”0″>]

Archive for July, 2013


Archive for July, 2013

Archive for July, 2013