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.

Comments are closed.