Archive for October, 2014

I’m really quite disappointed.  Another month …. another RJ Shield.  Huge entry (78 players) …. new format with an 8 player masters section …. finished ahead of time …. so what’s my problem?   The problem is that I watched some of the chess!  Well, specifically endgames.

We held a chess camp on endgames not so long ago, yet one of our better players (whose initials are Daniel Pob) seemed to have forgotten the third rank defence in the ending with K+R defending against K+R+P.  If you need to know one thing in rook endings (after the need to get an active rook) it’s the third rank defence.

In a subsequent game the same player was in an ending with K+3P v K+3P with his King holding the opposition.  What did he do?  Force the opposing King back and invade his position?  No!  He retreated his King and agreed to a draw.

Not put off by this unfortunate turn of events I moved off to watch some of the younger players.  One of more students found himself in a very interesting rook ending which he should have won, but then he lost most of his pawns and he should have lost.  I studied the position and decided that with best play he could perhaps draw and sure enough they swapped off to White having K+P (on f6) with Black’s King blocking the pawn on f7.  A simple draw which every good junior should know.  You just play the King back to f8.  Moving to g8 or e8 loses.  My student studied the position.  After some time he played the drawing move Kf8.  I  sighed with relief and was about to move on but White had not given up and started to move his King around hoping for a blunder.  You can guess what happened.  Black inadvertently played Ke8 instead of Kf8 and suddenly he was lost.

Not deterred, I moved on to watch one of my Thursday squad play her next round game.  Strangely she too ended up in a R+P v R ending but this one was easy.  She had her King near the pawn and the opposing King was miles away on the side of the board.  There was however one small problem.   She was not sure what to do.  Pushing the pawn would have been a good option. Cutting off the opponent’s King with her rook was another.  Moving your rook back to protect your pawn and blocking the pawn with your King was not!  Whilst all this was happening White rushed his King back in front of the pawn and the game was drawn.

What does all this mean?  It means that this week I’m going to hammer all my students with rook ending theory using the examples from the RJ Shield.  It should be fun!

Meanwhile for this week’s puzzle let me show you a missed opportunity from one of the RJ Shield games.  In this position White played Be3 but missed a chance to win the game.  Can you help him?

Archive for October, 2014

Back on the evening of 15 September 1970 I went for a short drive.  It was my first time driving at night after having obtained my driver’s licence.  Where did I drive to?  The nearly Mt.Waverley Primary School, because I had received a notice advising us of the inaugural meeting of the “Mt. Waverley Primary School Parents and Teachers’ Chess Club.”  Six people turned up to play chess and, whilst I wasn’t a parent or a teacher, I was a chess player so I thought I should join the club.

Of course this little group went on to become the famous Waverley Chess Club, which was a training ground for some of Australia’s best juniors in the 1970s.  It could not however have flourished in a small classroom at the Primary School so the club moved to larger premises at the Mt.Waverley Tennis Club which could accommodate about 40 players.  Soon that became too small also so we moved to the Mt.Waverley Community Centre which had a playing room that accommodated about 60 players plus a separate analysis room.  Even better, after the chess had finished, we would order pizzas and move to the sports hall at the back to eat, chat and watch young Darryl Johansen play on the trampoline.

The point of all this reminiscing is that the Waverley Chess Club is restarting, courtesy of Chess Kids, in a building at the corner of Waverley Road and Huntingdale Road.  I popped in there for a look last week to test David’s claim that it could accommodate about 50 players.  The building is still being renovated but he is probably right.  There is a reasonable sized playing room, a kitchen, a separate smaller room (office) and a foyer.  It should be a good venue for a chess club.  Meanwhile, a bit further north, it seems that the very successful Box Hill Chess Club may be losing it’s venue after Xmas and have to find new premises.  One can only hope that something suitable comes up as it would be a tragedy if Box Hill went into decline because it no longer had suitable premises to run all the activities that it currently runs.  I guess they could always join Waverley…..

For this week’s puzzle see if you can find a way for White to win in the position below.

Archive for October, 2014

Evelyn Koshnitsky 1915-2014

Evelyn Koshnitsky 1915-2014

I’ve just heard the sad news that the “grand old lady” of Australian Chess, Evelyn Koshnitsky AO, BEM, has passed away quietly in her sleep in her nursing home in Sydney last Friday.

She was aged 99 years and 5 months, just short of the century, and spent most of her life promoting chess, particularly junior chess and womens’ chess.  With her husband, former Australian Chess Champion Gary Koshnitsky (who passed away in 1999 aged 91), she formed a formidable partnership which probably had no equal in world chess. Both Evelyn and Gary were Honorary Members of FIDE (the World Chess Federation), Life members of the ACF plus Evelyn was  awarded the Order of Australia, the British Empire Medal and other awards too numerous to mention.  Indeed a life well lived in service to chess.

Their two children, Peter and Nicholas, also played chess but not at the level of their parents, but to generations of keen young chess players Evelyn was like a friendly grandmother who wanted to help us in the pursuit of the game we all loved.

I’m sure that most chess players of my generation have their own stories to tell of the impact that Evelyn had on their chess development.  For me it started in 1967 when I played in my first Australian Junior Championships (and my first interstate tournament) as a shy 15 year-old boy.  The tournament was of course run by the Koshnitskys and, whilst I didn’t finish in the prize-list I did win a special encouragement award, “donated by Evelyn Koshintsky” for the best result of a player in the lower rated half – a beautiful little wooden pocket chess set which I still treasure.  Needless to say I was “encouraged” and four years later returned to Adelaide for my first adult national tournament the famous Karlis Lidums Australian Open Championship 1970-71 which, of course, was run by the Koshnitskys. It was, and still is, my favourite chess tournament.  It was the first time that a number of grandmasters had come to Australia to play and it really opened up Australian Chess to the world of international chess.  At the time I was just a promising junior but I performed well enough in the tournament to then be selected to represent Australia in the 1971 World Junior Championships in Athens, and my chess career, as it were, began to take off.  The Koshes went on to organise many more prestigious chess tournaments, including the 1988 World Junior Championships in Adelaide, and in so doing have provided countless opportunities and inspiration to young chess players such as myself.

When I moved into chess administration I very much wanted to in some small way repay Gary and Evelyn for the help that they had given me and so many others.   In 1982 I persuaded the ACF to introduce the “Koshnitsky” medal for service to chess administration and there was no doubt as to who would be awarded the first medal.  Evelyn Koshnitsky!   Both Evelyn and Gary were already Life Members of the ACF so in 1994, as ACF President, I was delighted to present them with a “distinguished service award.”   Some years later, I think it was in 2001, when the Australian Junior Championships came to Adelaide again Gary had passed away and many of the new juniors were perhaps too young to have remembered what Evelyn had done for Australian Chess.  I therefore came up with the idea of the ACF making a special award to Evelyn as “the most loved person in Australian Chess.”  To commemorate the occasion I arranged for a print of a large chess board and had most of the leading Australian chess players and officials each write some comments about Evelyn in one of the squares.  In the centre of the board was a colour photo of Gary and Evelyn and the board was then framed and presented to Evelyn at the closing ceremony of the Australian Junior.  I hope that Evelyn treasured this unique memento, but I have a confession to make.   I had a second copy made and it now hangs in pride of place in my lounge room!

The last time I saw Evelyn was a couple of years ago when I went to Sydney to visit the Australian Open and of course took the opportunity to see Evelyn in her nursing home.  We had a very nice chat, which I recorded for posterity, and I thanked her for all she had done for chess.   Her contribution however is best summed up by Gary Wastell in what he wrote on the chessboard that I presented to Evelyn in 2001.  It simply said “So many years, so many champions, but Evelyn, in so many ways you have been the champion of them all!”

May she rest in peace.

 

But life must go on, and you guys have a puzzle to solve.   I hope that you can do better than IM Gary Lane did last week in New Zealand.