Archive for April, 2014

The last two weeks have probably been the best two weeks in the chess calendar if you are an Australian following our chess tournaments from home.

Over Easter there was the Doeberl Cup in Canberra, now in its 48th year, which attracted a huge field including many Grandmasters, International Masters and overseas players.  Straight after Doeberl many players moved on to Sydney for the “Sydney International Open” where something very unusual happened!  Yes, an Australian player won a grandmaster tournament in Australia.  The lucky player was Moulthun Ly, a 21 year-old from Queensland, who also pocketed a grandmaster norm for his trouble.  Ly finished undefeated on 7 points out of 9 games and played no less than four grandmasters along the way.  A very impressive effort which will ensure that Ly is on a very high board in our Olympiad team later in the year.

Another contender for Olympiad selection, Junta Ikeda from the ACT, has probably also fought his was into the team by securing 6.5 points in Sydney and sufficient extra rating points to allow him to claim the IM title, following on from a good Doeberl Cup performance.  It’s strange how events can turn based on a little bit of luck.  Ikeda got a unexpected present in Canberra when Bobby Cheng’s phone rang during his game with Ikeda (an automatic loss on forfeit) and this lucky break propelled Ikeda onto the higher boards and gave him a big boost in confidence.  He certainly seized the opportunity and registered an IM norm at Doeberl.

Of course there were many great games and interesting positions from these two tournaments so for this week’s puzzle I have a multitude of choices.  There is however no doubt as to which position I shall use.  The last round game Vajda v Li will probably be published around the world.  Let me set the scene.  I was watching the game live and chatting about the position with Laurence Matheson when suddenly the game became very tactical with pieces en-prise everywhere.  Laurence thought that White was winning if Black played the obvious main line.  I begged to differ and was trying to find a way for Black to save the game when Laurence suddenly exclaimed ….OMG and typed in a new move for White.  Almost immediately this move was replicated on the board and poor Luke  had to resign.  Your task – from the diagrammed position Black played Nxf1.  What was White’s killer reply?

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

Archive for April, 2014

I find that one of the harder things to train young players to do is to look at a number of moves before making their decision as to which move to play.  Usually a player just looks around, sees something he likes and plays that move.

I was very pleasde therefore, whilst browsing though some old books in the Chess Shop last week, that I came across a copy of my favourite book, “Think Like a Grandmaster” by the Russian GM Kotov.  Now out of print, and unfortunately in descriptive notation, I well remember several important points that I learnt from Kotov when I was a young player myself.  One of Kotov’s major points was his description as to how grandmasters think.  They don’t, like my students, just find a move they like, but grandmasters start off by systematically deciding on which are the candidate moves that they should examine.  They then analyse these lines once and make their decision as to which move is best.  If you think of how you yourself analyse moves I’m sure that you jump around a lot, reanalyse lines then go back and look for more moves, and so on.   Not a very efficient process.

I’ve lent Kotov’s book to one of my students to read over Easter, so It will be interesting to see if he too learns a lot from the book.

For today’s puzzle let’s test if you too are an efficient analyser.  Your mission is to choose 3 candidate moves in the position below (White to play), analyse each variation and then chose the best line.   This task proved too much for the players in the game, who missed the best line, but perhaps you can do better.   Then again, if you are not a grandmaster ……

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

Archive for April, 2014

There is great excitement at the chess shop this morning!   We have just got in a new batch of second-hand books so I have been rummaging through them to see if there are any books that may help my students and I’ve found a few beauties.  

Firstly my favourite book “Think Like a Grandmaster” by Kotov which unfortunately is out of print and in descriptive notation, but still a great book for better juniors just to read Kotov’s ideas and comments even if they can’t follow the old-fashioned notation.  Then there is his follow up book “Play Like a Grandmaster” and a similar book by GM Suetin “Plan Like a Grandmaster” which I don’t think I have read yet.  Finally I’ve grabbed “Chess Training” by Nigel Povath and “Capablanca’s Best Chess Endings” which may contain some interesting positions that I can use in my lessons.  I’m not sure that these days juniors actually read books as they are probably too busying doing on-line stuff, but I’ll see if I can interest some students in borrowing a book to read over the holidays.

For today’s puzzle I’ve selected a position from a game in the Noble Park Tournament played last Saturday which strangely reminds me of the debate at the end of World War 2 about the USA using the atom bomb on Japan.   You see the Americans had secretly built this new, incredibly powerful weapon, which no-one knew that they had and which could destroy a whole city in one go.  Should they use it or should they not?  Some advisors said that it was too terrible a weapon to ever be used but one of the scientists who developed the bomb had a different argument.  “If you used the bomb,” he claimed, “you gave away your biggest advantage, namely the knowledge that such a weapon could be produced,” and so he argued for the bomb to remain unused and a big secret.  As everyone now knows, he was probably right as, after bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Russians knew that such a thing was possible and took every step to get their own atomic bomb a few years later.

mushroom cloud

How does this relate to chess puzzles?  Well, in a normal game of chess you are just plodding along, looking at ordinary chess moves, and may be unaware that hidden deep in the position is an absolute killer move that will blow your whole game away.  If, however, you are faced with a puzzle, you know that there is something fantastic hidden in the position and so are on-the look out for such possibilities.

In today’s position Jack Puccini, playing White, was not in “puzzle mode” and was presumably unaware that his opponent had a secret, explosive move ready to be played if Jack fell for the trap.   Jack has many possible replies to Black’s … Nb4 such as a3, Bxb4, Qxd8, Nd6, hxg etc. but one of them is a huge blunder which allows Black to use his secret weapon.  Which move do you think Jack played and what was the explosive reply?

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