Archive for July, 2016

It’s an exciting time for chess spectators like me at the moment as we have several interesting International events in progress or coming up.

I’ve been following IM Anton Smirnov who is playing a few tournaments in Europe at the moment as a warm up for the big event, the 42nd Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan which starts in 38 days.  Australia is sending a young team to the Olympiad although I’m still disappointed that the Australian Champion, Victorian Bobby Cheng, was not selected as one of the players.

In progress at the moment is the World Youth U16 Chess Championships being held in Slovakia from 21-30 July.   In this case the Australian team is made up of almost all Victorians including Kris Chan, Luis Chan, David Cannon and Vishal Bhat and the boys had the thrill of being paired against Russia in the first round.  Representing your country overseas is one of the great thrills for any chess player and I’m reminded of when I played in the 1970 World Junior Championships in Athens when I too was paired against the Russian (grandmaster) in the first round.  The boys in Slovakia did a little better than me as they scored half a point from the four game match with David Cannon holding a draw.   So far the team has scored 0.5 v Russia, 1.5 v South Africa, 3 v Hong Kong and 3 v Scotland.

The good thing about a junior playing overseas is that it broadens their horizons and opens them to the world of international chess, not just the local Australian chess scene.   I can remember one Australian Junior Championships in Melbourne where most of the country’s best juniors had gathered to compete but, as I pointed out in my speech, the two very best players (Anton Smirnov and Karl Zelesco) were not there as they were overseas playing in adult open events.  It was pretty clear which of that year’s crop of talented players would go on to become top senior players also.

For today’s puzzle let’s have a look at a position from Kris Chan’s round 2 game against South Africa.  He is a pawn up in a double rook endgame with prospects of scoring the full point.  Unfortunately Kris missed an immediate win in the diagrammed position and went on to lose the game.   Can you do better?

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Archive for July, 2016

I’m back from our recent chess camp in Alexandra and am looking forward to chess lessons starting again next week.  Alexandra is in central Victoria …. it’s cold and wet and you have to go into the carpark to get wi-fi but the chess was fun!

We had 36 kids, 5 coaches and numerous parents and siblings collected together in a fun atmosphere and discussed chess tactics.   The kids were divided into 4 groups and I had to give 4 lessons over the course of the 4 day camp.  I like to be a little mischievous in my lessons so I started with a “simple” puzzle where the students had to find mate in one move.  Each player got to have one go at finding the correct move.  How many of the 36 got the correct answer?  One!  Admittedly it was a complex (non-standard) sort of position where one side had 4 bishops and several queens, etc. but it did demonstrate the importance of pattern recognition in chess.  There were no patterns for the kids to recognise.  I think the lessons went pretty well and the kids seemed to enjoy in particular one puzzle that I showed them where the D Grade player finds a move, then the C Grade player looks one move deeper and finds a better move, then the B Grade player ….. etc. …… and we go right up to the grandmaster player who looks the deepest and find the correct answer.

Of course the kids had fun also doing other activities outside of chess such as playing soccer or table tennis and of then there was the flying fox over the very cold and wet-looking lake.   I was too scared to have a go but instead took a pic of the brave kids who were lining up for their turn.   I’m pleased to say that no-one got dunked in the lake!


Preparing for the flying fox…










As part of my preparation for the camp I’d been following the recent tournaments on the internet looking for interesting tactics or attacking games that I could use at the camp.  Fortunately Australia’s best player, grandmaster Zhong-Yuan Zhao stepped up at the Gold Coast Open and played a nice game which featured the material imbalance of 2 pieces for rook and 2 pawns.  I was following the game live when the players reached the position below with White to play, and I found a move which seemed to help Zhao with his attack.  Shortly after Zhao played the same move and proceeded to get a winning game but I thought to myself “this position looks like there should be some tactics and I’m going to a tactics camp so maybe I should have a deeper look at the position.”  After A few moments I did indeed find a nice tactic that would have been better than the line played.  Today’s puzzle is for you to follow in my footsteps and and find the line that Zhao missed.   Good luck!

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