Archive for April, 2018

I’ve been busy lately gearing up for the opening of the Chess Kids Academy (Saturday) on 5th May which I’m really looking forward to.  Our topic for discussion is “How to become a chess master” and the panel of IM James Morris, IM Kanan Izzat and myself will describe what we had to do to become chess masters and then discuss what the students need to do to follow in our footsteps.

In general the junior who breaks through to become a master will be the one who is the keenest, who has worked the hardest and has done things that his rivals didn’t manage to do.  I have a few stories to illustrate this idea.  A few years ago when the Australian Junior Championships were held in Melbourne I had to give the opening speech.  I noted that we had about 300 of the keenest and best juniors in the country present at the championships and who amongst all of Australia’s juniors, I pondered, would go on to become our next master or even grandmaster.  Answer: none of those present!  Why?  Because our best two juniors were not here in Melbourne – one was in Auckland playing in the NZ Open and the other was in Brazil playing in an international junior event.  They had already progressed to the next stage and were doing more than theirs peers in Melbourne.  I can tell a similar story from the Australian Open way back in 1973.  There were about 100 players participating and in those days very few juniors played in adult events.  One player was having a bad tournament and was bemoaning to the Arbiter who said ” Don’t worry, next round I’ll pair you with a 12 year-old boy.”  The player walked away content in the knowledge that he had an easy game.  The boy’s name, by the way, was Ian Rogers and you can guess who won the game.

It’s a similar story this week as (now) grandmaster Anton Smirnov is in Thailand playing in the Bangkok Open against a strong field including GM Nigel Short who usually plays in this event.  With two rounds to play Anton was on board 1, half a point behind the surprise leader, 18 year-old FM Novendra Priasmoro from Indonesia.

FM Novendra Priasmoro




Let’s have a look at a position from their crucial game which can serve as the puzzle for today.

See if you choose the same move as Anton played.

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Archive for April, 2018

One of the interesting things about chess is the different playing styles of players.  Some players love attacking and analysing imaginative lines of play; others prefer a positional style and try to just outplay their opponents by accumulating small positional advantages; others love the endgame and will swap off into an equal endgame confident that they can outplay their opponent and some are perfectionists who always look for the best move then get into time trouble and usually play a few imperfect moves.

In tennis some of the best matches to watch are between players of different styles, for example a base-liner (Borg) against a serve-volleyer (McEnroe) and I guess it’s the same in chess.  I’ve just been watching and playing through the games of the 2018 Doeberl Cup and when I see a pairing Solomon v Ikeda for example the question arises will Ikeda get crushed in the endgame or will Solo fall victim to a vicious attack before he can swap off into his beloved endgame?  Come to think of it the same applies in my chess lessons.  You could clasify me as a positional “Boa Constrictor” sort of player so one of the most enjoyable lessons I have is with my student Amit who favours tactics and attacking.  The clash of ideas is always stimulating.  As we play through some games in our lesson Amit invariably is hitting me with attacking ideas whilst I am suggesting that he slows down and builds up a bit more before trying to attack.   A good chess player has to be able to handle all types of positions and to treat each position according to it’s needs rather than the player’s own preferences.

One strategy that I use with attacking players is to select an attacking game for our lesson then, at various stages throughout the game, I turn the board around and get the student to take the role of the defender.  There was an amusing incident in my last lesson with Amit when we had switched roles and I, as Black, was trying to find a winning attack whilst White was trying to hang on to his extra material and swap off pieces.  Have a look at the diagram with Black to play.  I played 1…Qa5+ 2.Qb4 Qa2 3.Qb2 Qa5+ 4.Qb4 then it happened.  “Scoresheet!” I cried at the top of my voice and people came running from everywhere to see what had happened.   [This cry harks back to my days at Monash University Chess Club where the club would be packed with players playing lightning chess and if anyone played a brilliant move they would scream “scoresheet!” so as to write the position down for posterity.  Everyone rushed over to admire the brilliant combination.]

So your puzzle for today, dear reader, is to see if you can spot the brilliant move that we had both missed.   I may be a positional player but, as they say in America, “even a blind squirrel may sometimes find an acorn.”

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