Archive for August, 2013


David Cordover and Malcolm Fraser

It’s very exciting at the moment!   Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser is in the Chess Shop buying a display chess set for his wife.  Of course the Chess Guru, David Cordover, invited him to play a game and Mr.Fraser went straight for the four move checkmate!   Fortunately David was alert and parried the treat.  A draw was soon agreed.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer was a keen chess player, I seem to remember, although I think our current political leaders may be a bit too busy to spend time on chess at the moment.   If only we could get a Minister for Sport who was a chess player and would support the classification of chess as a sport in Australia (as is the case in many East European countries).  David has now trumped me.   My only claim to fame is having played Ron Barassi (the famous footballer) way back in the 1970s.

Back to more mundane matters, we have the Best in the West Chess Tournament on this weekend at Altona.  They have assembled a very strong field and a number of our Chess Kids will be playing.   I plan to drop in to check out the action and there should also be live games to follow on the internet.  For me the big question is how will my students go?  I’ve been battling really hard in our lessons lately to try to get them to be more imaginative and to look at one extra “silly” candidate move in the hope of finding something brilliant that they may otherwise miss.

I keep stressing that chess is a battle against your opponent where you are trying to either find candidate moves that he has missed or analyse a line a move or two deeper than him in the hope of finding something good.  Of course all this extra thinking uses up time, so players have to balance analysing with time consumption.  Perhaps I’ve gone too far as one of my students lost his last game on time.   Yes, chess is not easy.

For today’s puzzle I have a position that I was analysing yesterday with one of my students.  He played 1.Qe3 which is an OK move leading to an advantage for White.  He did not however consider a more imaginative line which may also be quite good.   Your task today is to 1) Find the imaginative move and 2) Analyse it to a conclusion.   It’s White to move.

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Archive for August, 2013

Peter Parr and Bobby Cheng at the 2013 Australian Open Prizegiving

Peter Parr and Bobby Cheng
at the 2013 Australian Open
Photo by E.Renzies

A couple of weeks ago something strange happened. Peter Parr’s chess column did not appear in the Monday issue of the Sydney Morning Herald. The column had been running for 41 years and it was rare indeed for it to miss a week. Perhaps something had happened to Peter? Unfortunately this was the case. The police were called and broke into Peter’s house in Redfern to find that he had passed away a few days before. He was only 66 years of age. A sad end indeed to a life devoted to chess. The police tried hard to contact Peter’s nearest relative, his sister, who lives in New Zealand, but it took them a week as she was on holidays in Queensland. She was planning to visit Peter in Sydney on her way home.

I attended Peter’s funeral in Sydney last Thursday and was pleased to see so many chess players show up to remember Peter. Many of the faces were vaguely familiar but some I had not seen for over 40 years!

Peter was a great one for chess gossip and news so at the funeral I shared a few stories about Peter with the mourners. Here is an expanded version of what I said.

“Good morning everyone.

I’d like to say a few words on behalf of the Australian Chess Community so let me start by passing on our condolences to Peter’s sister Mary and also to Steve Kerr, his friend and business associate for 36 years.

It’s terribly sad to unexpectedly lose a family member and Peter was not only a member of the Parr family but a very significant member of the Australian Chess Family also.

In 2011 we lost John Purdy, also unexpectedly, then Anne Purdy earlier this year, and now Peter.

Not living in Sydney, I didn’t get to meet Peter on a regular basis and know him as well as many in the audience here today, but we did share a common history and at most of the major chess events in my life Peter was there … sometimes as a team captain, sometimes as an arbiter or administrator and sometimes as a player.

Peter loved to gossip and I’m sure that he wouldn’t want to be sent off without a few stories, so let me tell you some of mine.


As a player is was very good, without quite making it to the top. I was reading an old volume of the English magazine, “Chess”, the other day and there was a small paragraph on Australian News from 1969. It noted that Peter Parr, son of Frank, had moved to NSW and just tied with Cecil Purdy for first place in the NSW Championship. Peter won the play-off 2.5-0.5. Not a bad result! I also remember at one Olympiad, Peter, as captain, kept reminding the team members that he had in fact defeated at the Australian Olympiad team 2.5 to 1.5 at the Doeberl Cup that year so we should take note of his opinion on chess matters.


Team Captain
Peter was Olympiad Captain on six occasions and on the first few of those I was his board one player so we had a close association at those events. My view was that the main role of the Team Captain was to keep his top player supplied with chocolate so I read with interest Peter’s interview with the “closest grandmaster” where he recounted an incident in Haifa when I went out to get some chocolate and was nearly run over by an Israeli tank! I don’t remember the incident but Peter did – he had a great memory for such things which made him very entertaining company.


Peter was a great arbiter and ran Doeberl for 21 years plus many national championships. He was undoubtedly the best arbiter in the country. He had the respect of the players and knew the rules well and even served on the FIDE Rules Commission for a number of years. He was firm but not officious. I remember one instance from the 1974 Championships where Max Fuller and I did not wish to offer the other a draw even though it came down to King v King. I had a King on e5 I think with Max’s King on e7. Peter calmly came up to the board and suggested that it may be a good idea if we agreed to a draw. I protested “but I’m ahead on the clock, have more space and the opposition!” Peter however was firm and Max and I shook hands.


Chess Shop
Peter of course was at the centre of Australian Chess through running his chess shop for 41 years as well as being editor and publisher of the national magazine for a long period of time.

Like most interstate and overseas chess players who passed through Sydney I made a point of visiting Peter’s shop to catch up on the latest chess gossip and perhaps find a forgotten chess book by rummaging through the chaos that was his chess shop. This was a favourite past-time of mine as I wished to add to my collection of 3000 chess books. Peter of course stirred me by saying that he was the only person in Australia who had more chess books than me and I countered by noting that most of them were probably duplicates. It was great fun.

I heard an amusing story the other day about a young boy, perhaps 13 or 14 years of age, who was browsing in Peter’s Shop for the first time. Another customer, trying to be helpful, told the boy that the children’s section was over in the corner of the shop. Peter quickly pulled up the customer. That little boy, explained Peter, is Laurence Matheson and he is currently playing in the Australian (adult) Championship! Peter knew everyone and and everything that was going on in chess.


ACF Commemoration
I think it is fair to say that no-one since Cecil Purdy has lived at the centre of Australian Chess on a day-to-day basis as Peter did. He knew everyone, from grandmasters and FIDE Presidents to the local wood-pushers. He was continually working for the betterment of chess, sometimes as a chess official and sometimes just as a critic. The fact that he was awarded Life Membership of both the ACF and the NSWCA as well as the OAM in 1997 is a testament to his contribution.

I do hope that the ACF will find a suitable way to recognise Peter’s contribution to chess in the near future, perhaps by naming the next Australian Open Championship in his memory.


One final story … a couple of years ago I was talking to Peter following the death of Lloyd Fell and I asked him if Lloyd had perhaps left something to chess in his will. Peter advised that Lloyd had thought about leaving his house to the NSWCA (as Rudzitis did for the Melbourne Chess Club a couple of decaded ago) but apparently had had a falling out with them recently and so the bequest was never made.

Now I do not know if Peter himself has made a will.
I do not know if Peter has left anything to chess in his will.
But what I do know is that whether or not Peter has remembered Australian chess, Australian chess will always remember Peter Parr.

May he rest in peace.”
-Robert Jamieson

Archive for August, 2013

Of all the things you might think about doing to get better at chess, the only sure way to improve is to play as much as possible. If you play every week at your school you will get better, but if you also play somewhere else then you will twice as good, as you will have double the chance to put your ideas into practice. If you’re lucky enough to have family members to play with, or friends, then that is great, but even then it can get a bit boring playing the same person lots of times. It is better to play lots of players and then see loads of different strategies being used.


There are other ways to play new people though. In Melbourne, Chess Kids runs a series of tournaments throughout the year called RJ Shields which is a great introduction to competitive chess. Kids have to use a clock, play touch move, and they get to play 7 games in a day all against different players. The RJ Shield tournaments are finished for this year now, but check out the results from the most recent event in Melbourne. Find out about more tournaments you can play in from this page.


Another way to play is online, though we have to be careful and smart as some sites may not be appropriate. Luckily, Chess Kids working with one of the top American sites can help kids to play safely online against other kids from around Australia and New Zealand and even further away. You can find out about this on our Chesslings site.


Every time you play a game you should try to learn one thing from the game. This can be anything from a new trick or checkmate to a new opening move, or a new strategy in the middlegame.  Then if you play just in your school class for 10 weeks per term you should learn 10 new things that you will remember and use in your games. If you play outside school once a week, that will be double the things learned, and the more you play the more things you will have to use in your future games. Also, when you solve puzzles, remember how you did it, and it will another thing you can use in your games. So the more you play, the more you will learn, and the better you will become. Easy! Try these puzzles that happened in Chess Kids classes


White to play and win


What is white’s best move here?



Here are the positions from the last blog post I wrote. There was one unusual checkmate, and two that were based on the very usual checkmate on a back rank.

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Archive for August, 2013

Chess Challenge Mega Finals

There are still wildcard entry places available for some Mega-Finals online events. Qualify through to the Tera-Finals on November 24th and you could win $1000 in cash prizes! Click Here

Victorian Youth Championships

This open event is held over 2 days and held in Age Groups U7, U9, U13 and U15. Held in a high-tech facility and with free coaching after every game this is one of the best events of the year. Save 10% if you register early. Click Here

Interschool State Finals

Did your school qualify for State Finals this year? If not, there are just a few events you can play in before Finals Time. If you are wanting to play in the Girls Only or the Junior Primary (Grade 3 and Under) finals then let us know… you don’t need to qualify for these 2 finals.

Primary Interschool Chess Finals – October 28 – Our Lady of the Assumption School, Cheltenham | CLICK HERE

Middle Years Interschool Chess Finals – October 29 – Our Lady of the Assumption School, Cheltenham | CLICK HERE

Open Secondary Interschool Chess Finals – September 13 – Brighton Grammar, Brighton | CLICK HERE

Junior Primary Interschool Chess Finals – October 29 – Our Lady of the Assumption School, Cheltenham  | CLICK HERE

Girls Only Interschool Chess Finals – October 18 – Toorak College, Mt Eliza | CLICK HERE

RJ Shield Finals

Congratulations to the 45 players who have made it to the Finals. If you didn’t qualify then you should take part in the Chess Challenge Mega-Finals and find your way from another direction! We have combined the RJ Shield Finals with the Tera-Finals so there is going to be $4000 in cash prizes! See website.

National Interschool Finals

Details available now, the National Finals is held at Melbourne Uni from November 24-26, 2013. Get in early to book your places.


Archive for August, 2013

Archive for August, 2013

I’ve had a busy few days as yesterday I flew up to Sydney for Peter Parr’s funeral.   Peter, for the younger readers who may not have heard of him, ran a chess shop in Sydney for over 40 years, was an International Arbiter and 6-time captain of Australia’s Olympiad team.   Like me, he was a Life Member of the Australian Chess Federation.

Of course I arrived early and so sat on a park bench for an hour or so waiting for people to arrive.  Another old chap arrived early, sat next to me and introduced himself.   “Hi, my name is John Hendry” he said.  “Good grief!” I exclaimed.   I haven’t seen you since the 1968 Australian Junior Championships.   It was like that all day.  These people kept arriving who looked vaguely familiar but who I couldn’t quite place.  Some were dressed in suits and wearing black.  Others were unshaved and wore colourful jumpers and sloppy jeans.  “They must be chess players” I thought to myself.

Stephen Solomon and Alex Wohl, two of Peter’s former Olympiad team members, flew down from Brisbane for the service, which was nice.   My old rival, Max Fuller, was not there …. apparently he’s not too well these days, but I enjoyed chatting with John Curtis, Roy Travers, Roger Cook, Phil Viner and many others as we swapped stories about Peter.  It was suggested that mourners meet in the coffee shop after the funeral for a coffee and a chat, which we of course eagerly did.  We all started hoeing into the free coffee and nibbles when suddenly a frantic cafe employee rushed out.   “This isn’t for your funeral” she exclaimed!   Peter would really have enjoyed that finish to his send-off.

I shall write an appreciation of Peter shortly.   He was up there with Cecil Purdy as one of the greats of Australian Chess.

Meanwhile I’m now back in Melbourne and looking forward to following the live games in the Box Hill Grades tournament tonight.  There was a nice little puzzle in one of the games there last week.  Unfortunately Black missed the winning line, as did most of my students who I’ve showed the position to.   I hope you can do better.  It’s Black to play and win.

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Archive for August, 2013

 This is a very sad week for me because my former Olympiad Team Captain from the 1970’s, Peter Parr, has passed away unexpectedly in Sydney at the age of 66 years.  Peter was an institution in Australian Chess and next week I hope to say a bit more about his life and his contribution to chess in this country.   Meanwhile….

In recent weeks I’ve been playing through my student’s games and trying to encourage them to use their imagination more.  When it’s all boiled down chess is a battle between you and your opponent where you are trying to out-think your opponent and to find moves/ideas that he may have missed.   It’s very easy to just coast along mentally and look at the obvious moves, but that will never make you a good player.

When it’s your turn to move you should decide what are your “candidate moves” then analyse them and make your choice.  My new strategy is to have my students do this, then I ask them to find one more “really imaginative” candidate move.   Some are reporting back already that this new strategy has worked and they are coming up with ideas that they would normally miss.

For today’s puzzle I’d like to show you a position that came up in one of my lessons yesterday.  My student played Nb4 which doesn’t appeal to me because the N is out of play there – White’s advantage is on the kingside so that is where he needs his pieces.  “Why not 1.Nf4 I questioned?”   My student came up with a reason why he rejected Nf4 but was he right?   Perhaps he had not used his imagination enough?  We need your help dear reader.   Sit down, perhaps have a cup of coffee to stimulate your little grey cells, and see if you can see further than my student did.  Make sure you also spot any ideas for his opponent as well – before you draw your conclusion.

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Archive for August, 2013

I’ve taught people as young as 3 years old and older than 80 years old about chess. I’ve worked with people who have never played before and don’t even know how the pieces moved, and I’ve worked with some very strong players trying to win National Titles. So when I go around to my weekly classes in schools and at the Chess Kids Centre, I’m always on the look out for some great play and great ideas. This past week I’ve been really lucky. Most of my classes have been playing a “Thematic Opening Tournament” which means that they all have to play the same first few moves. All the kids learn some strategy and tricks about the opening and then try to put it into practice. Our opening of the week was called the Italian Opening and was invented by Italian players in the 1500’s and 1600’s. It is a great attacking opening for white who will try to dominate the centre of the board. The centre is really important in all chess positions, but especially in the Italian Opening. Mostly I’ve noticed that the player who has been controlling the centre is the one that usually goes on to win. Not always, but mostly.

See how our best under 8 players used this opening. There were some very interesting games.

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Also we have to remember tactics, and checkmates. I’ve seen hundreds of pins this week, and some excellent checkmates. Take a look at these positions:


Checkmate of the Week! Look at black’s king, stuck in the centre and trapped by white’s knights and bishop


Black’s queen is attacked, but he didn’t move it. What piece do you think black moved and where to?


White threatens checkmate in 3 moves. Can you see how? The boy who was white saw it and won an excellent game!

Did you get the answers to the pin tests I set last time? I’ll give you all one more week before I give the answers, and I’ll give the answers to these positions at the same time.



Archive for August, 2013

Confidence is an important quality that most good chess players have.  Some of them have too much of it!   The German Grandmaster Bogoljubov once said “When I am White I win because I am White … when I’m Black I win because I’m Bogoljubov!”

One situation when you need confidence is when your opponent offers you a draw in a level position.  Do you take the draw (particularly if you are playing a stronger opponent) or do you play on and risk everything?  I think most of us would take the draw.  I had a interesting lesson with one of my students yesterday who was faced with just this dilemma.  He was playing a slightly higher-rated rival as White and reached the position below.  Material is even and the position is pretty blocked.  Black played 1…Bc8 and offered a draw.  My student thought for a bit then accepted the draw.   Was he right?   Study the position below before you read my comments or play through any moves.

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I stared at the position from a strategic point of view and it dawned on me that perhaps my student didn’t understand about space.  White clearly has more space on the Kingside thanks to his advanced pawn on e5.  This suggests that he should attack on the Kingside.  Space allows you to easily move pieces into the area where you have more space whilst your opponent’s pieces are cramped and may not be able to come to the rescue in time.   Once you have a majority of attacking pieces in that area you organise a break-through (possibly with a sacrifice) and win!   If one player is attacking on one side of the board usually his opponent’s best response is to counter-attack in the centre.   Fortunately for White in this position the centre is blocked and even better the queenside is blocked (save for the open “c” file) so Black’s options for counter-play are limited.  Perhaps Black can get a knight to the outpost on c4, but it will take a while.  My conclusion therefore was that White had much better chances because of his extra space and mobile pawns on the kingside gave him good prospects of a winning attack on that flank.   Perhaps you agree with my conclusion?  In any case I hate draws and would almost always play on.   That is where confidence comes in.   If you are too scared of losing you won’t become a good player.   Now please play through the moves in the diagram.