Monday, 31 October 2011

Melbourne Chess Club Melbourne Cup Weekender Day 4

We have a clear leader, with George Xie now having a one point lead over the field after two wins on day 4 of the event.

As usual, the results and cross table are posted on Chesschat.

Round 6 saw George Xie take control of the tournament with a win over Max Illingworth. Although Max seemed to have the better of the opening, George slowly turned the tables before finally securing the full point. Juniors Zachary Loh & Max Chew Lee continued their excellent tournaments with draws against much higher rated opponents, while Shannon Aguimbag won the battle of the Filipinos by beating Jose Beredo.

Round 7 saw George turn back the challenge of Andrew Brown, while David Garner held Bobby Cheng to a draw. Tricky queen and pawn endings were won by Rujevic (over Solomon) & Morris (over Loh), while Justin Penrose & Max Chew Lee took the lead in their respective rating divisions.

Some games from today's play:

The decisive top board games from round 6

George Xie's win over Andrew Brown in round 7

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Melbourne Chess Club Melbourne Cup Weekender Day 3

Lots of decisive games on the top boards today, so it seems as though the top players are either in a fighting mood, or they simply blunder at an inappropriate time!

Results are online as previously at Chesschat

Currently there are two leaders: IM George Xie & FM Bobby Cheng both on 4.5/5, followed by FM Max Illingworth, IM James Morris & IM Andrew Brown on 4/5.
Bobby & George have played each other ... and Bobby has the complication of school tomorrow, so is taking a half-point bye for the morning round ... so I'm sure there will be plenty of drama tomorrow!

Given the early start in the morning (combined with the late finish for me tonight), I'm going to skip the commentary & go straight to the games ...

Round 4 games:

Max grinds out an endgame win against Solomon!

Mirko hangs a piece against George

Bobby finishes his game against Hamish off in style

Round 5:

Bobby finds a fantastic endgame zugzwang to beat Max

Morris plays a smooth attack against Garner

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Melbourne Chess Club Melbourne Cup Weekender Day 2

Another day ... more games & more drama!

The results for rounds 2 & 3, as well as the provisional draw for round 4 is available at ChessChat.

Again its a daily summary rather than a live blog, but nevertheless, there were plenty of interesting games & happenings to keep everyone on their toes!

Round 2 notes:
Xie is a pawn up with an advantage in a Sicilian

Penrose has traded into an ending with Solomon, which seems to favour Solo slightly.

Brown has somehow picked up a piece in the opening & seems to be winning comfortably.

An interesting middlegame has developed with Tan having two minor pieces for a rook. 

The almost but not quite award goes to the last game finished in the round between Damien Feaine & John Beckman. This game was very hard fought, in spite of the apparent mismatch (Damien being unrated and fairly new to chess & John being rated in the 1700s) & the ended up with an ending of bishop, knight & 3 pawns v 2 kinghts & 3 pawns. Damien blundered a pawn & then gave up a piece for two of John's pawns, leaving John with a bishop (white-squared), knight & a-pawn against Damien's knight & a-pawn. There was a position where Damien could have exchanged knights & potentially got into a bishop & wrong-coloured rook pawn v king ending, but he missed this chance & John eventually won Damien's a-pawn, promoted his own a-pawn & eventually checkmated Damien ... but a good fighting game by both players!

Not sure which of the top board games gets the nod for best game, so I'll put two games up.
The first is Solomon-Penrose, which sees Solomon's endgame technique being as good as ever:

The second game is Davis-Illingworth, where Davis looked to have a good position, and maybe even a slight edge in the early middlegame, but eventually Max got his bishop pair working as Tony ran low on time, before finally blundering a piece:

Round 3 notes:

Xie has used an unusual move order to get into a quiet Semi-Slav, which is something I haven't seen Bobby play too often.

Morris has 2 pieces for a rook, but his pieces appear to be tied up & Solomon has active pieces ... could be anyone's game!

Looks like a theoretical Sveshnikov Sicilian.

Missed opportunity of the round goes to Bobby Cheng, who missed an amazing move near the end of his game against George Xie. He has been worse for much of the game & has just begun to turn the tables in his favour (after his 32...Bxf3!) & they reached the following position after George's move 35.g4

Here Bobby missed the spectacular 35...g5!! which leads to a winning position for black after both 36.Qxh5+ Rh6 when the queen is trapped ... or a queen retreat (to g3, f2 or anywhere on the h-file) which runs into 36...Re1+ followed by 37...R7e2 & again the queen is lost!

The Xie-Cheng clash is well worth playing through, both for the opening play by George, the enterprising middlegame play by both players & in particular the fight back from Bobby, which ultimately ended in a perpetual check:

Friday, 28 October 2011

Melbourne Chess Club Melbourne Cup Weekender Day 1

The first round of the event eventually got off to a start, largely due to Melbourne's untimely bad weather & traffic, with a number of players walking in the door as I was about to announce the pairings. Eventually we had 37 players for the day, meaning 18 boards of action ... and there was definitely some action!

The full results for round 1 & provisional draw for round 2 can be seen on Chesschat

Although I was unable to blog live from MCC as I had initially hoped, I will share some of my notes on some of the games as they were in progress:
Hain has grabbed the b2 pawn in a Sicilian, although Xie seems to have plenty of compensation for the pawn. Eventually Xie managed to plant a knight on d6 & the game was over not too long afterwards.
Loh has played a passive (e3) line against the Semi-Slav & Solomon now has good piece play against Loh's IQP.
Morris has planted a knight on e6 & appears to have an overwhelming position.
Something has gone horribly wrong for Kenmure in a Rubinstein French ... first f7 fell & not long after the game was over!
Narenthran is a pawn up out of the opening & Rujevic is deep in thought trying to get some play.
Garner-Chew Lee
A very unusual symmetrical position has arrisen from a Queen's Gambit Declined!
Gluzman has somehow won a piece after playing the King's Indian Defense.

Strange position of the round ... Garner-Chew Lee ...

Yes, it did start out as a Queen's Gambit Declined!

And a game from the top boards to finish ... this time James Morris' quick win over Jack Puccini, who goes astray rather quickly in the opening.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Poker - Reviewing my Play Episode 4

A return to poker, albeit breifly before the weekend of chess, this time with a multi-table session of Seven Card Stud games on Pokerstars.
This time I am playing 6 tables - 2 of Stud hi, 2 of Razz & 2 of Stud hi-lo - which are either 10/20c or 25/50c, with commentary on the hands as I play them.
There are a few interesting spots which I think I will post on the Deuces Cracked forums, as well as some hands I know I played poorly, paying off when I shouldn't have been in the hand at that stage.
I would also appreciate comments about the video quality. Given that it is 6 tables, it is probably best viewed in full screen, but I am not sure if the video quality will be high enough to view properly. If need be I can re-record the video & utilise the 'pan & zoom' feature I used on my previous poker video to make the table in question more easy to view.
Of course comments about the video itself would also be appreciated, as well as any comments on the various situations I found myself in throughout.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Chess - Ticket to Ryde Episode 6

Time for the next episode in the Ticket to Ryde series, my round 6 game against Canberra WIM Emma Guo. Yes, Emma is the older sister of Jamie-Lee, my first round opponent, but I'm not sure if family homour was on her mind when playing the game. The game itself is another Modern Defence, where I am black & I again play inaccurately in the opening & find myself in a slightly worse position. I'll let you watch the video rather than giving away the result of the game! Hope you enjoy!
I've also had a suggestion to include Pineapple in a video for future poker content, however i think this is probably unlikley. As far as I'm aware, its only played online on Ultimate Bet & although I do have an account there, I haven't played there for quite a while, nor do i really know that much about playing Pineapple (other than treating it like Limit Holdem with a bonus card pre-flop). In short, don't expect a Pineapple video, but keep the suggestions for future videos coming!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Chess - Ticket to Ryde Episode 5

Finally, we're back to the ticket to Ryde series & my round 5 game (as white) against Armen Ayvazyan (FIDE 2199, ACF 2227). The opening is another one of my unusual ways to avoid main lines, the Trompowsky, where I play an idea used by players such as Kramnik & Stefanova without realising it! Yes, i need to know more theory about my dodgy sidelines too!
Hope you enjoy the video (its one of my longer ones at just over 30 minutes!)

Friday, 21 October 2011

MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender & some live poker observations

Next weekend is the Melbourne Cup Weekender, to be held at Melbourne Chess Club (and Fitzroy Town Hall). I will be the arbiter for the event, which will be my first FIDE rated event as arbiter, and another step towards the FIDE Arbiter title.
The event starts on Friday night & has two rounds per day over the next four days, finishing on the Melbourne Cup public holiday Tuesday. Jack Hughes is the assistant arbiter for the event (he was another who passed the arbiter's seminar earlier in the year). The time control for the event is 90 minutes plus 30 seconds per move (Fischer time control), and there is the potential for norms (although I think it will be unlikley in a large single-division swiss). At present there are a few IMs entered - Sydney's George Xie, Brisbane's Stephen Solomon & Canberra's Andrew Brown, as well as some strong players from Melbourne & interstate.
Depending on the availability of an internet connection at the venue (MCC should be fine, but I'm not so sure about the final day at Fitzroy Town Hall), I hope to provide some sort of coverage of the event on the blog. Ideally, this would take a form similar to what Carl Gorka has done for some of the Monday MCC events, with hourly updates, possibly including interesting positions. Something else that I may consider is daily video updates (possibly following the model of the Doeberl Cup), but again I think much of that will depend on how much time I have available, both during the event as well as at the end of the day after the games have finished.

In other news, the Ticket to Ryde series will be continuing in the coming days, and will hopefully be finished before next weekend. I had even recorded episode 5, but had some problems with the audio, so will need to record it again. In the last week I've helped run two interschools finals (the Secondary & Girls finals), as well as getting back into playing some live poker, in the absence of teaching work (casual work is generally reduced at this time of year as year 12 teachers are available to cover absent teachers & this makes more financial sense than hiring a casual teacher for the day).

The poker has been going well & I feel as though I am generally playing well, with the number of moments of stupidity & mistakes in general, happening far less often than they had been previously.
Some things I have noticed about the $1/2 no limit holdem games generally at Crown:
* The standard of play varies greatly across the player pool
* A vast majority of players don't like folding when they have put money in the pot, so you can use this to extract value from your big hands
* Conversely, the ability to bet/fold, particularly on the turn & river, is a very useful skill to have. Players generally don't raise the turn or river unless they have a big hand (typically 2 pair+), but will often call with weaker hands, so you can extract value from marginal hands & find out fairly easily when you are behind.
* Assigning hand ranges can often be difficult, as many players will play literally ANY two cards, regardless of position, raise sizing, number of players in the hand, etc. This is useful to keep in mind on later streets ... when you think someone wouldn't call a bet and a raise on a flop of K84 with a 6 in their hand when the board runs out 57, a hand like K6 or 86 (particularly SOOTED), is most definitely in a large number of people's range of holdings.
* Tilt is a major factor influencing winrates. 2 outers happen, people call when they don't have the odds to do so ... but you shouldn't let it affect future hands. If I lose a big hand from a bad beat, I think briefly about what I might have been able to do differently & then get on with the next hand.
* Related to this, if you notice a player at the table who is obviously upset by a hand, you can then use this to your advantage to try to extract money from them when they are playing badly.
Maybe a future poker-related video could be about live play ...

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Chess - Ticket to Ryde Episode 4

Time for Episode 4 of the Ticket to Ryde series & my round 4 game (as black) against another ACT player, Matthew Bennett (FIDE 1762, ACF 1758).
The line I played in this round, the 'Broken Arrow' (or Dzindzi-Indian, Beefeater, or whatever other name you want to give the opening) will be the subject of a future video series, so this game can be used as something of an introduction to that.

The blog also got a mention in the latest ACF Bulletin, which should, along with the mention in Shaun Press' blog, boost the reader/viewership of the blog. Hopefully this will also encourage feedback, both about the blog itself & the video content presented, whether positive or negative.
So please leave a comment, or send an email to

Monday, 10 October 2011

Chess - Ticket to Ryde Episode 3

Another day, another video ... or at least that's how it seems!
Below is episode 3 of my Ticket to Ryde series, where I analyse my round 3 game against another player from the ACT, Michael Kethro (ACF 1618). The opening is one of my strange sidelines, the Alapin French & the game shows some of the attacking possibilities that this opening provides (as well as a number of inaccuracies & blunders by both players!).
Hope you enjoy the video!

Also a big thanks to Shaun Press for the mention on his ChessExpress blog. Shaun has been involved in chess in the ACT for well over a decade & was one of the presenters at the first Australian FIDE Arbiters seminar that I attended earlier this year. He definitely knows quite a lot about chess as far as off-the-board activities are concerned, and is quite a handy player himself, having represented Papua New Guinea at the last few Chess Olympiads. One thing that does separate his blog from many others is that he seems to be able to post something (mostly chess related, though occasionally not) on his blog each day ... which means that you will find his blog near the top of my Interesting Blogs list on the side of the page.
The mention on Shaun's blog might also help increase the traffic here, so that there are more than just a handful of readers!

Chess - Ticket to Ryde Episode 2

Episode 2 of the new series awaits you!
This was my round 2 game against International Master George Xie (ACF 2460, FIDE 2440), who was the top seed for the tournament & played on board 3 for the Australian team in the 2010 Chess Olympiad.
Although I was never really on top in the game, I was disappointed by the fact that I played inaccurately in the opening, which left me with a significantly worse position ... and George finished the position off with good technique.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Chess - Ticket to Ryde Episode 1

Time for a new series. In this series I will be reviewing my play from the recent Ryde-Eastwwod Open weekend event, held at the Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club in Sydney.
The event was a 7 round tournament with 84 players, with a time control of 60 minutes + 10 seconds per move (Fischer).
I'm looking to do 7 or 8 videos in this series, with one episode per game, with possibly a summary video to finish. Hopefully you find them interesting!
Round 1 (and therefore episoide 1) was against ACT junior Jamie-Lee Guo, with an ACF rating of 1395.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Poker - Reviewing My Play Episode 3

This time its back to poker, with a session on PokerStars.
In this session I play 2 tables, the first is 25/50c Badugi, while the second is 25/50c Limit Holdem. There is much more action on the Badugi table, so apart from the occasional Limit Holdem hand, its pretty much a Badugi video.
I've also added the new video intro at the start of part 1 ... hope you like it!
I'm also looking for some comments on the video - good or bad & whether you liked the presentation & commentary or not.
Anyway, on to the videos:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Monday, 3 October 2011

Ryde Eastwood Open Day 3

I managed to finish with 5/7 after a loss and a win today. The first game was a Modern Defense, where I was slightly worse for the majority of the game, until finally my opponent made a winning pawn break & my position crumbled rather rapidly. In the final round I managed a win on the white side of a Modern Benoni-type of position, which came about from a Trompowsky Attack.
Overall it was a tough tournament for me - 4 opponents over 2000 - so it was good to only lose 2 of these games. My score also managed to win a prize (if you can call it that) ... =7th for $15! Of course my life run-bad continued with there being no under 2000 prize, so I had to settle for a 7-way tie for $120 ... I tried not to spend it all at once, but I got dinner on the way home & I didn't get much change from $15.
I'm hoing to get the games from the tournament up in a video (or multiple videos more likely) in the coming days, so check back shortly to see how my tournament actually happened!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Ryde Eastwood Open Day 2

Today was a good day ... not quite like Ice Cube's, but a good day nevertheless ...
2/2 in chess, including a win with the line I mentioned in yesterday's post - the 'Broken Arrow' - where I managed to win a few pawns in the opening & then exploited the superior pawn structure & pieces to win the ending. The second game was a Trompowsky, where I played an early h4 idea in the 2...d5 3.Bxf6 line & eventually used the h-pawn to create a winning attack in my opponent's time trouble.
I was fairly indifferent about the NRL Grand Final, but would have preferred to see the Warriors win ... mainly because they aren't Manly. It was looking interesting midway through the second half when the Warriors scored two tries, but unfortunately that was where their comeback ended. Being in Sydney, the chess continued through the AFL Grand Final, so I only saw the first quarter (which was very close & entertaining) & the final 10 minutes, by which time Geelong had the game wrapped up. Again, it was something I was fairly indifferent about, though I guess with Collingwood beating StKilda last year, I wasn't unhappy to see a different side win.
Anyway, tomorrow should be two tough games in the last two rounds. Hopefully they turn out well, but I'll see how they go ... and they will both finish up in a video at some stage ...

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Ryde Eastwood Open Day 1

Today was the first (of three) days of the Ryde Eastwood Open & I scored 2/3, beating Jamie-Lee Guo & Michael Kethro & losing to top seed IM George Xie. I was happy with the finish to my game against Michael Kethro, where I sacrificed a rook for mate, but was disappointed by my opening against George Xie, where I was just worse from early in the game & just gradually dropped pawns as the game progressed.
I think I'll most likely use the games from this tournament for future videos.

In other video-related news, I'm in the process of editing & producing a video of a session of Badugi & Limit Holdem I played recently. You can find the first part on my YouTube page & it will be posted here (with the other parts) when it is complete.

I've also decided to take on something of an ambitious project as far as a future video series is concerned. I want to have a look in some detail at the 'Broken Arrow' variation of the Modern Defense. The line begins 1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c5 4.d5 Bxc3+ & I've played the black side of the position on quite a number of occasions & enjoy playing it. The plan is to make a series of videos on the theory of the line & attempt to evaluate the various tries for either side. Hopefully I'll get around to it eventually ...