Thursday, 27 July 2017

ACT Teams Blitz and ANU Chess Festival

The ACT Teams Blitz event is taking place on Friday 28th July (ie tomorrow) at King O'Malley's, in Canberra City. The event starts at 6pm and is open to all players. The format is a 5 round swiss for teams of 2, but if you don't have a partner, just turn up anyway, as teams can be formed on the spot.  There is no entry fee, and there will be prizes for the winning team, and the best scoring players.
On the 29th and 30th of June, the ANU Open and ANU Minor will be taking place. Current entries for each of the tournaments can be found at http://tournaments.streetchess.net/anu2017/  Online registrations are still open at http://vesus.org/festivals/2017-anu-open/ and you can download the tournament brochure from that link. Entries are coming in slowly (only 48 at the moment), with the Minor tournament (Under 1600) looking particularly attractive for anyone rated over 1300 (as most of the field is rated below that).

Tony Salvage RIP

Tony Salvage, a regular member of the Belconnen Chess Club in the 1990's, passed away a few days ago. Originally from the UK, he had came out to Australia in the 1960's to work for the old Department of Supply, before ending up in the Department of Defence. This is where out paths first crossed, but discovering he was a chess player, encouraged him to join the Belconnen Chess Club. A few years later we ended up working in the same section, and while I outrated him in chess, he outranked me at work, being my boss for a few years.
Tony was a jovial player, playing more for enjoyment than glory. While never rising to any great heights, he was a difficult opponent for the younger members of the club (due to years of experience), beating a young Larua Moylan (now a WIM) among others. One evening he played out a tough draw against a newcomer to the club, who turned out to be an overseas player with a rating of around 1800. The player asked how strong his opponent was and was surprised to find out he was significantly lower rated. When Tony found out the strength of his opponent he was also surprised, but for the opposite reason.
In later years Tony retired from chess to take up Bridge, finding it a more social activity. He is survived by a large family, with 8 children, 23 grand children and 16 great-grandchildren.


Salvage,Tony - Wills,Colin [C02]
Belconnen-ch Belconnen, 1993


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

From little things big things grow

A nice chess story hit the national media in Australia this week. A small Western Australian primary school has inspired the local council to fund the carving of some giant chess pieces to celebrate their success in state and national junior chess competitions. However, these pieces aren't your normal large pieces. These are carved out of the trunks of old Jarrah Trees, which the council had originally  planned to remove completely. The Kendenup Council instead decided to leave the trunks in place, and a local wood carver had gone to work with his chainsaw. The pieces, some as large as 4 metres high, will stand in the towns main street, to greet visitors to the town of 1000 people.
The full ABC story (including pictures of some of the pieces) is here.

Monday, 24 July 2017

The toasted cheese sandwich test

I still believe that ChessMaster  10th Edition is one of the better pieces of chess software released. Apart from the chess engine (and graduated levels) it has a plethora of training modules and drills to help you improve your chess.
One of the drills I keep returning to (about once a year) is checkmate with KBN v K. I'm pretty sure I know have it down pat, but it is always a good idea to double check. So make it a little more interesting I had a go at lunchtime today, while making toasted cheese sandwiches.  I'd prepare the sandwich, turn on the toastie maker, and then try and checkmate before I burnt down the house.
I'm pleased to say that the house is still sanding, although this may be due to Chessmaster choosing the same defence each time, rather than trying to confuse me.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

When both players resign

"The game is won by the player whose opponent declares he resigns. This immediately ends the game." This is section 5.1.2 in the FIDE Laws of Chess. At some point in the past it was suggested that two players could scam the system by both resigning simultaneously, thereby earning each player a full point. The FIDE Rules Commission even discussed this (briefly), and IA Franca Dapiran made the sensible suggestion to only accept the resignation of the player who had the move.
Of course such a bizarre situation would not happen in practice now, would it? Well, not exactly.
At Street Chess today something awfully close to this did happen. The sequence of events seemed to go like this. The white player (who I shall call Scully) played a move, putting his opponent (who I shall call Mulder) in check. Now Mulder did not notice, and played a move putting Scully in check. At this point Scully simply stopped the clock but said nothing. Mulder, who thought he was winning, extended his hand, believing Scully was resigning. Scully accepted the offered hand, believing that Mulder realised he'd played an illegal move and was himself resigning. (NB At Street Chess we play second illegal move loses). Now I'm not sure which of the players realised something had gone awry, but at this point I was called over. Further confusion ensued as Scully was worried he'd done something illegal in stopping the clock (no, but he should have told his opponent why), and then decided to resign. Realising what had happened, I gave Scully 2 extra minutes, told him he wasn't to resign yet, and to continue the game. 
Unfortunately I had to return to the same game a few minutes later when another issue arose. By this stage both players were short of time, so after Scully moved, Mulder replied instantly (and before Scully had pressed his clock). Scully then pressed his clock, completing his last move ( which I encourage under these circumstances), and Mulder then pressed the clock (without moving of course), to complete his move. However this confused Scully, who thought that Mulder had not played a move (even though he witnessed it). About half way through me going over this issue with the players (and in the midst of a gathering crowd), Mulder offered Scully a draw, and rather than listen to me lecturing them, shook hands and split the point.

Out into the cold

I'm not sure if it is an age thing, but I'm feeling the Canberra winter a lot more than in previous years. For the last month or so, Street Chess (which begins at 11am) has had a succession of below zero (in Celsius) starts. For anyone familiar with the Canberra climate, this normally means that it will be a fine and sunny day (cloudless nights contribute to the cold), but as we play indoors in the winter months, we even miss out on this benefit.
Anyway, I think it is around -3 right now, although it is expected to get to at least 0 by the time we start this morning. Extra layers will be needed.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Andrew Paulson

Andrew Paulson, founder of Agon, and former ECF President has passed away at the age of 59. He made his first big splash on the chess scene in 2010 when Agon was given the commercial rights to the FIDE World Championship, bringing with it the promise of a new way to promote chess. A few years later he was elected as President of the English Chess Federation, although his time in office was quite short, resigning as part of the fallout concerning the 2014 FIDE elections.
I met Andrew on a couple of occasions, and found him an interesting and charming man. I suspect he had further political ambitions in the chess world (including eyeing the FIDE Presidency) although he probably  didn't have the right political connections to pull it off. And while he had same ambitious goals in publicising top level chess, he didn't quite bring all of it to fruition. Nonetheless he did see the importance of using multi-media platforms for presenting chess events, and was very keen to bring new technology to the game.
Away from chess he had an interest in media and IT, including an interest in the media company that manage LiveJournal, a social media site very popular in Russia.