Archive for March, 2014

I popped in to my favourite chocolate shop at Chadstone yesterday to find that it was filled with Easter eggs which can mean only one thing.  The Doeberl Cup in Canberra is nearly upon us!  For the last 52 years Australian chess players have migrated to Canberra at Easter time for Australia’s largest and strongest week-end tournament.

Looking back to 1985 the “British Chess Magazine” reports that “The strongest weekend open in Australia was played over the Easter weekend … the Doeberl Cup with $4200 in prize money.  First prize was shared between G.Hjorth, I.Rogers, D.Johansen and M.Fuller on 6/7 in a field of 103 players.”  Contrast that with last year’s Doeberl which had 248 players including 11 grandmasters and 10 International Masters and around $18,000 in prize money, and this year’s event should be even better.  Someone named Kasparov is apparently attending the tournament as part of his campaign to be elected to the Presidency of the World Chess Federation.  It would be great to go to Canberra to meet him but I haven’t yet decided whether or not I shall make the trip.

I am however excited to note that some Chess Kids will be going to Doeberl, including Gary Lin (playing in the Premier for the first time), Sam Trewin and Rebecca Strickland.  It should be a memorable experience to watch all those really good players competing for 9 rounds over 5 days.  I think it’s true that you can’t become a good chess player without first playing lots of games against strong opponents so Doeberl is a good chance to get another 9 hard games under your belt.  My top student, Gary, is now at the stage where he is regularly drawing with players around 1900-2000 rating so I’m trying to teach him how to have the confidence and understanding to play for wins against such players.  To even play in the Doeberl Premier event you have to be around 1900 rating and Gary is currently ranked 89th of the 93 players accepted so far so every opponent will be an ideal challenge for him.

For today’s puzzle I will also go back to 1985 when Sydney player Stephen Kerr was playing in England but was on the wrong end of a nice little finish from the diagram below.   White to play and win.

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Archive for March, 2014

Once again, International Master Robert Jamieson has put together an interesting and educational newsletter for your reading pleasure. Including:

  • RJ Shield report
  • Basic Principles of chess strategy
  • Studying chess games
  • Player of the month: Sam Trewin
  • Pawn Structures

Download the full Knight Times

Or browse our back-catalogue

Archive for March, 2014

Last Friday at the chess shop I had a visitor.  An old guy named Tony Wright who spends his time researching Australian chess history and publishing books in which the games have no moves numbers!   Apparently move numbers are a waste of space.  Anyway Tony was missing some games from recent Australian Championships and so was hoping that I may have them in my chess library.  He gave me a list and I promised to do my best to find them, but it is no easy task!

When you think of a library you think of rows of well organised and catalogued books.  My library is more like a bomb site. If you can open the door to the room, you then must struggle across heaps of old boxes and clothes strewn over the floor to reach the shelves where to chess books and magazines are stored in largely random order.  Tony is an old friend, so despite these obstacles I soldiered on and began looking through the shelves.  I found a few things that he was after but more importantly I found some precious chess memorabilia that I had forgotten that I had.

Opening an old photo album I found, not photos, but a letter from Bobby Fischer to Cecil Purdy.  Saw the movie “Bobby Fischer vs the World” on TV a few nights ago so Fischer memories were very much in my mind.  Even better, on the next few pages were letters from F.K.Esling, the first Australian Chess Champion, who died in the early 1950s.  Tony does not accept that Esling was the first Australian Chess Champion so I’ve brought these letters along today to show him, though I’m sure I can’t persuade him to change his mind.



Stumbling through the bookshelves my mind then turned to today’s puzzle.  Perhaps I could find a suitable position to show you today?  I flicked through some old issues of the British Chess Magazine and soon came across the position in the diagram below.  White is a pawn ahead but his King is stuck in the centre.  It is Black to play and win (in response to White’s 1.Bf3).  I hope that you are amused by the finish as I was.  Black to play and win.

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Archive for March, 2014

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Archive for March, 2014

Last weekend was the Labour Day long week-end in Victoria so chess players did what they have been doing for around 50 years, namely journey to Ballarat for the Begonia Open Chess Tournament.   This 3 day event attracted 117 players to their new venue at Clarendon College, after having been in the School of Mines for many years.  The new venue was modern, spacious and well lit and the draw was displayed on two big overhead screens for all to see.  All-in-all a big improvement on the previous venue, except it is a little further out of town and away from the cafes/restaurants.

Ballarat Playing Hall

Ballarat Playing Hall

The tournament resulted in a tie for first between Chris Wallis, who defeated defending champion James Morris in the last round to finish on 6/7 and new-comer Kanan Izzat, an 18 year-old Fide Master from Azerbaijan who seems to be visiting Australia for a while.

I dropped in for a visit on the Sunday as a number of “Chess Kids” were playing, including Gary, Ryan, Max, Daniel, Harry, Liam and Zoe.  None did particularly well this time but all gained valuable experience against strong senior opposition.  Gary got to play IM Stephen Solomon (down from Queensland) whilst Ryan played 3-times Australian Champion FM Doug Hamilton and I’m looking forward to seeing their games against these top players.

Meanwhile, in the search for a suitable puzzle from the tournament, I naturally gravitated towards Karl Zelesco’s games as Karl seems to play games which include a lot of tactics.  I’ve chosen his game against Ari Dale as per the diagram below.  Karl, playing Black, is two pawns ahead and appears to be winning but Ari is trying to win the “e7″ pawn then get his central pawns moving.   Karl has a number of options but chooses the wrong one and loses.   Can you do better?  What is Black’s best move?

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Archive for March, 2014

These days a chess grandmaster visiting Australia is not necessarily big news.  There are so many of them!  Australia even has four of its own.  However there are a few chess players whose visit to Australia would create media attention and one of them will be in Ballarat on Monday to present the prizes at the Ballarat Begonia Open Chess Tournament.  His name is Nigel Short, former chess prodigy and World Championship challenger in 1993.  Even more newsworthy is that his opponent in that 1993 match, former World Champion Garry Kasparov, will be visiting the Doeberl Cup in Canberra over Easter.

Kasparov is a candidate for the Presidency of FIDE (the World Chess Federation) and I guess he is touring the world lobbying for his election.  I was interested to read that Kasparov has recently taken out Croatian citizenship.  He is a strong opponent of Vladimir Putin in Russia so perhaps Russia is not a very safe place for him at the moment.

Back when I was a junior the visit of a grandmaster was a most unusual occurrence and I can remember being thrilled to play in a simul against Russia’s GM Yuri Averbach in 1967.  A few years later in 1970 Australia had it’s first really International Tournament which included 5 grandmasters.  The local Herald newspaper featured a huge picture of the Victorian Premier, Henry Bolte, on its front page with the 5 grandmasters led by Lajos Portish from Hungary.   Thereafter grandmaster visits became a little more frequent but some of course were special.  In 1972 former World Champion (and FIDE President) Max Euwe came to Australia and gave many simuls.  I remember playing him in a simul at the Melbourne Chess Club and helping juniors Jordan and Bartnik who were sitting on either side of me.  They won!   I lost.  (See photo below).


Max Euwe.

My chess hero Karpov also toured Australia giving simuls.  I don’t remember which year it was but I certainly regret not taking a board against him when he came to Melbourne.  I didn’t make that mistake when Boris Spassky came here in 1989 and I was very proud to hold the former World Champion to a draw.

I’m not sure whether or not Nigel Short will be giving any simuls whilst he is here in Australia, but if you are going to Ballarat on Monday it’s certainly a chance for a celebrity photo opportunity.   Short shot to fame in the late 1970s as a child prodigy.  He became the youngest ever British Champion, then the youngest IM ever then the world’s youngest GM.  He rose to become world number 3 at his peak but failed to become World Champion.

For today’s puzzle it is fitting that I show you Short’s only victory against Kasparov in their 1993 match.

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