Archive for November, 2014

When I have nothing better to do I often log on to “Chess Chat Forum” to catch up with the latest news and gossip.  For those of you who don’t know it, it is an Australian Forum for chess and other topics and is a good way to see the latest Australian chess results.  Sometimes you find some really good stuff there, such as links to the “Hjorth Lectures” by Ian Rogers and Guy West who talk about the Australian IM Greg Hjorth who passed away a couple of years ago and show some of his games.

Unfortunately the forum also attracts its share of people who hold strange (usually religious) beliefs and want to start an argument, or people who just waste everyone’s time by wishing others “happy birthday” or “good luck in the tournament” just to get their post count up.  Indeed there are those who, for reasons which escape me, are incredibly interested in “forum statistics and oddities” such as “A daily postcount of 70 has happened three times in the last four days, the second time the same post total has happened three times out of four.”  Why they care about such trivia I don’t know.  Perhaps they are encouraged by the guy who administers the forum who seems to spend his life compiling such data and who feels it necessary to express his views on just about every debate going on.  I guess the forum is his own little world that he rules with an iron hand and terrible crimes such as posting “off topic” are punished with suspension or threats of same.

Indeed, just the other day I found myself banned from posting to the thread “great swindles of the 21st century.”  My crime?  Well I originally had a look at the thread as judging by the title it might contain some good material for my chess lessons, e.g. “grandmaster swindles Kasparov” but instead I found that the most recent “great swindle” was one of the moderator’s own games posted by him where his opponent had simply blundered in a winning position.  There was no element of “trap” or “cleverness” that I could detect so I posted a witty comment about the poster of that game having to be careful lest the moderator ban him for posting off-topic as the game was clearly not a “great swindle of the 21st century.”  Of course the humourless moderator did not read this as a comment on his game but rather as a post on “moderation complaints” which was thus clearly in the wrong thread …. and so I was banned.   I could go on to express my thoughts on such overly officious bureaucrats but perhaps I am biased.  Why don’t you be the judge.

Firstly, here is the position posted on Chess Chat” as a “great swindle”.  See if you agree.


By way of comparison, I was watching a game last night in the Box Hill Open which I thought was a nice swindle.  See if you can find how Black won the game from here in only two moves!

Archive for November, 2014

It’s been a hard couple of weeks for me.  I’ve had to log on at 11pm most nights to watch the World Chess Championship match between Carlsen and Anand and sometimes they have still been playing when I wake up at 6.30 am!  Of course I could catch up some missed sleep on the weekends except that that’s when the Vic. Youth Championships have been on at our new chess centre in Mount Waverley.  I dropped in a few times to watch the play and it was great that a number of the games were also entered live on Tornelo so that you could follow the action from home.

As a chess coach I must say that it has been rather frustrating.  Most of my students made some pretty elementary blunders at various times but fortunately so did their opponents!  The only exception was the Chan brothers, Kris and Luis, who dominated the U/15 and U/13 event (as their ratings indicated).  Of particular interest to me were the endgames.  It’s now clear to me that many young players have little idea about what they should be trying to do in an endgame and so over the next few weeks I have been working on some endgame lessons.  I found one really good example on Carl Gorka’s blog from a game he played against Drajecevic.  They agreed to a draw in a bishop of opposite colours endgame where Carl had an extra pawn but Dom had a better Bishop.  Dom had just exchanged off a pair of rooks on the only open file and then offered a draw.  I took one look at the position and was immediately puzzled.  Even though a pawn down it was clear to me that Black had a far better position and could probably win.  It was one of those typical positions where the better player normally plays on and on and tries to grind down his opponent.  I tested out my theory against my computer and was able to end up finding a winning plan for Black so that will be one lesson for my students for this week.

So I’m hoping that I can fix up my students’ endgames but what can I do about their blunders?  Perhaps you can help me if I show you an example.  In the position below Black has lost a piece for two pawns but his pieces are very active and White has just made a couple of incorrect moves.  If Black has his wits about him he can win the game immediately with a couple of clever moves.  Can you help him?  Black to play and win.  Of course in the actual game Black missed his chance and a few moves later blundered his rook for nothing.  Such is chess.


Archive for November, 2014

Yesterday was Melbourne Cup Day so of course everyone was either at Flemington or having a party and watching the race from home.  That is of course unless you are a chess player!

Some chess players were at the Melbourne Chess Club playing in the MCC Hjorth Open (named in memory of IM Greg Hjorth) whilst others (like me) were home following the live games on the internet.  The tournament was dominated by Australian Champion Max Illingworth who (like Julius Caesar) came, saw and conquered scoring a perfect 9/9.  In a very creditable second place was IM James Morris who took one bye and lost to Illingworth but otherwise won all his games.

The tournament supplied me with a number of interesting games and positions to use in my lessons.  Max won partly because he didn’t make any big tactical blunders.  The same could not be said for many of the top players.  One IM fell for a two-move back rank checkmate and blundered a whole rook in an earlier game.   I thought that Luke Li played well, but missed a couple of tactics and blundered his rook against Max in an otherwise even position.  James is always great to watch as he somehow manages to generate tactics from sterile, or inferior, positions and can outplay most people when things get messy.  Ari’s play was disappointing.  Even though he is an IM he seems to only have one plan …. to attack … even in positions where no attack is justified.  In one game he hadn’t castled and was behind in development so came up with g4 and a kingside pawn storm.  His opponent (named Max) just developed his pieces and made Ari’s attempt at attacking look silly.

One of my students, Sam Trewin, played and he had a very good event scoring 4 points including two draws with 1900 players even though he is only rated in the 1500s.  I look forward to seeing his games at our next lesson, but meanwhile perhaps you can help me with one of the games from the tournament.  I know that Chris Wallis has a reputation for being a “nice guy” and indeed he was nice to Rujevic, agreeing to a draw in a slightly better position.  However he was even nicer to Greg Canfell when Chris (as Black) decided to repeat moves and have a draw against Greg.  Would you have played on in the position below?  If so how would you try to win?   That is today’s puzzle.  (Black to play).