Monday, 28 January 2013

Tata Steel Highlights

The annual super-GM event in Wijk aan Zee, now known as the Tata Steel Chess Tournament (after previous incarnations as Corus & Hoogovens, named after the major sponsors) has just finished in the Netherlands, with world number 1 Magnus Carlsen putting in another amazing performance to win the tournament by 1.5 points. However for me, there were two highlights - Vishy Anand's round 4 win over Levin Aronian, as well as Ivan Sokolov's round 2 post-game interview after his draw with Hikaru Nakamura. Below I have included both the highlights of Anand's post-game comments at the venue, as well as Daniel King's 'Play of the Day' analysis of the game with Aronian. The Sokolov interview at the bottom of the page is brief, but definitely something that many of us have felt after being unable to convert an overwhelming position

Anand going over his game with Aronian at the venue
IM Danny King's 'Play of the Day' analysis of the Aronian-Anand game
Post-match comments from GM Ivan Sokolov after his draw with Nakamura in round 2.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

MCC Australia Day Weekender

The annual Australia Day Weekender at the Melbourne Chess Club attracted 33 players, including 1 IM, 2FMs & 2 interstate players (one from Queensland & the other from Canberra). The action was largely hard-fought, with FM Bill Jordan ultimately prevailing scoring 5.5/6, to finish a clear point ahead of four players, IM James Morris, Karl Zelesco, Sylvester Urban & George Hua.
Unrated George Hua had played a number of years ago as a junior in China & had recently scored 4/7 in the Canterbury Summer Swiss, but his round 1 win over Max Chew Lee was a sign of things to come for him later in the tournament. He continued this run with a win over Marcus Raine in round 2, while other upset wins saw Gary Bekker beat Tristan Stevens & Nick Ilic defeat Franz Oswald. Round 3 saw another strong performance by George Hua, holding Karl Zelesco to a draw, while upset wins were recorded by Geoffrey Hilliard over Richard Voon & Tanya Kolak over Franz Oswald. By the end of round three, only IM James Morris & FM Bill Jordan remained at the top of the field with a perfect 3/3 score.
Round 4 saw Jordan & Morris play a fairly short draw, while Karl Zelesco & Michael Baron won their games (with Baron beating Hua) to join Jordan & Morris in a share of the lead. On other boards, Ethan Lim beat Ian Stone when his phone went off (although Ethan had the better position at the time), while Anthony Hain & Vishal Bhat held their more fancied opponents to draws. Round 5 saw Jordan & Morris once again in a share of the lead after beating Baron & Zelesco respectively, while Marcus Raine beat Tristan Stevens to be only half a point behind them heading into the last round. On other boards, Mark Vucak beat Jack Hughes & Carl Loucas beat Lee Forace, while Jason Chew & Denise Lim held their higher rated opponents to draws.
Just when it seemed as though things were going smoothly for Jordan & Morris in the lead, the final round happened & it seemed that very few results went according to rating! George Hua managed to beat James Morris after Morris blundered. This allowed Hua to join Morris on 4.5/6. Sylvester Urban upset Michael Baron to join them on 4.5, while Karl Zelesco bucked the trend & won as the higher rated player against Will Bakanursky to also join the group on 4.5/6. Other boards also saw the upset trend continue, with Ethan Lim finding a perpetual check against Tristan Stevens, while Anthony Hain beat Richard Voon, Jason Chew beat Max Chew Lee, Mark Vucak beat Gary Bekker & Cameron Yung beat Lee Forace! This left the top board clash between Jordan & Raine to decide the tournament. Jordan was an exchange ahead in an ending, but Raine fought on, but Jordan managed to finally win as the game approached the four-hour mark to clinch outright first in the event!
Final results, cross tables & a list of prize winners can be seen on ChessChat.
Below are a few photos from the event.
Playing hall with round 1 underway on Friday night
George Hua receiving his prize for =2nd
 Karl Zelesco receiving his prize for =2nd
 Tournament winner FM Bill Jordan

Friday, 25 January 2013

GM Khenkin Lecture

Its been a while since my last blog post ... and I'm still in the process of finishing off the last few round review videos from the Australian Open! However, I thought I should at least update the blog with a few things that have been happening of late, the first of which was a lecture by German GM Igor Khenkin at the Melbourne Chess Club a few days after the Australian Open finished in Sydney.
Before the lecture itself, Paul Cavezza, MCC Webmaster, Fight Club regular (as The Electric Eye Bye) & general techy chess guy sat down with Igor & recorded an interesting interview with him.

The lecture itself saw Khenkin going through his game with IM Max Illingworth from the Australian Open, as well as examining a few positions with the general theme of calculation. Khenkin comes across as a very personable character & was able to mix some humour with the chess content to make for an exciting lecture ... PLUS he did the lecture wearing a Hawaiian shirt, which certainly takes some courage! Overall it was very entertaining & informative ... and Khenkin said he would consider returning to Australia again in the future!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Australian Open - Rounds 8-11

The 2013 Australian Open Chess Championships concluded with a new Open Champion being crowned. 15 year old FM Bobby Cheng from Melbourne had arguably his best result to date to take the title with 9.5/11, a point clear of GM Zong-Yuan Zhao & IMs Moulthun Ly & Max Illingworth. Cheng had won the World Under 12 Championship in 2009 & had been a regular finisher at the top of a number of strong events since, most recently finishing =1st in the Australasian Masters, but this result exceeded most expectations for Bobby for this event! The result was made even more spectacular when you consider that he started with a half-point bye as he could not make it to Sydney for round 1, so effectively gave the field a head start, yet still finished well clear of the field! The highlight of the final segment of the tournament for Cheng was his win over top seed GM Igor Khenkin!
The result also secured a second IM norm for Cheng, while his FIDE rating should pass the 2400 mark as a result of the tournament. This leaves Cheng needing just one more IM norm for the IM title. Canberra's Junta Ikeda also recorded an IM norm in the event. Other players who had strong performances included IM Andrew Brown (the only player to face all three GMs in the event), Yita Choong, George Lester, Zachary Loh, Pasan Perera & Jack Puccini.
I'm still in the process of finishing off my round review videos, but I will post them here when they are completed, although you can check my YouTube channel in the meantime to see them when they are first posted online.
At the closing ceremony, the various ACF medals were awarded for 2012, with the winners as follows:
Steiner Medal (Australian player of the year): IM Max Illingworth
Arlauskas Medal (Australian junior player of the year): Anton Smirnov
Koshnitsky Medal (Chess Administration): William Anderson Smith
Purdy Medal (Chess Journalism): Ian Rout

Signing the scoresheets moments after Igor Khenkin resigned in his match against Bobby Cheng
 2013 Australian Open Champion Bobby Cheng!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Australian Open 'Rest' Day

The Rest Day of the Australian Open turned out to be one of my busiest days of the tournament, which seems to go against the type of day suggested by the name ...
The morning featured the Australian Chess Federation National Conference, where long-time ACF Treasurer Norm Greenwood was awarded Life Membership of the ACF. The election of the ACF Office bearers saw Gary Wastell re-elected as President, after the initial vote was tied 13-13 between him & Brian Jones, but once the tie was announced, Brian withdrew his nomination. Bill Gletsos was re-elected unopposed as Deputy President, Norm Greenwood was re-elected unopposed as Treasurer, Kevin Bonham & Leonid Sandler were elected as Vice Presidents in a three-way vote, with former VP Dennis Jessop being the unlucky one, while I was elected unopposed as the new Secretary, replacing Tom Accola who did not wish to continue in the role.
After the National Conference, the Australian Lightning Championships was run, with 77 players, including GM Igor Khenkin, IMs Vladimir Smirnov, George Xie, Leonid Smirnov & a late arriving James Morris, as well as a number of other titled players. I decided to play in the event & it took me a while to recall how to play the game well & quickly (I started with 0.5/3), but recovered somewhat to finish on 6.5/11 in a tie for 18th place. The tournament was eventually won by FM Bobby Cheng, who defeated IM James Morris in a playoff, after they both finished on 9.5/11 (this was after James arrived late & started with two half-point byes, so he effectively scored 8.5/9!). IM Vladimir Smirnov finished in third, while GM Khenkin, IM Sandler & FM Canfell finished in equal fourth.
The day concluded for me with an ACF Executive meeting, which included the issue of what to do about the Australian Women's Champion title, as it has not been awarded since 2003! Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments. At present, the title is awarded to the highest finishing female in the Australian Open, provided there are at least 6 players from at least 3 different states, but this rarely seems to happen!
I've also managed to get through another few videos & have loaded them at the bottom of the post.

Norm Greenwood with his Life Membership plaque
 The ACF National Conference during the counting of the votes of the Presidential election
A full playing hall for the Lightning Championships
Bobby Cheng & James Morris before the start of their playoff match
A large crowd tried to get a suitable vantage point for the playoff match
FM Bobby Cheng collecting his prize money from ACF President Gary Wastell
 Round 6 in review
Rest Day Highlights

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Australian Open Day 7

Round 7 of the Australian Open saw the first all-GM clash, with Igor Khenkin & Zong Yuan Zhao drawing their top board clash. IM Max Illingworth & FM Bobby Cheng also won their games to join Khenkin in the lead on 6/7. There are four players a further half point behind, with GM Zong-Yuan Zhao, IM Moulthun Ly & FMs Junta Ikeda & Gene Nakauchi on 5.5/7, while 13 others are on 5/7, so the tournament is still very much up for grabs.
The first GM v GM clash, Khenkin v Zhao
 GM Johansen bucks the trend of the day & plays in jeans, while all of the other top players preferred shorts on the 40+ degree day!
The videos for the last few rounds have been delayed a little as I have been busy with a number of things, but hope to get something up in the next day or two.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Australian Open Day 6

Round 6 of the Australian Open saw two leaders emerge from the pack of five that were leading overnight. GM Igor Khenkin once again proved too strong for his opposition, this time winning against IM Andrew Brown, while FM Junta Ikeda continued his excellent start to the tournament with a nice win over IM George Xie to join Khenkin in the lead on 5.5/6. FM Bobby Cheng & GM Zong-Yuan Zhao drew their clash to move to 5/6 & they were joined by IM Max Illingworth & WGM Irene Sukandar, who both won their games.
I've also managed to get through a few round review videos, so they are now available online & will hopefully be much closer to the time the games are played than they have been thus far.
Round 3 in review
Round 4 in review
Round 5 in review, featuring an interview with GM Ian Rogers

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Australian Open Day 5

Round 5 of the Australian Open saw GM Igor Khenkin beat IM Max Illingworth on board 1 to overtake Max & regain a share of the lead in the event. GM Zong-Yuan Zhao was a little lucky against New Zealander Luke Li, who missed a few opportunities against the Australian number 1. IM Andrew Brown demolished fellow FIGJAMmer IM Moulthun Ly in a game Moulthun would prefer to forget, while FMs Junta Ikeda & Bobby Cheng also won to join the other leaders on 4.5/5. This should definitely make for some exciting games in round 6 as the leaders look to stay at the head of the field.
Today saw a number of firsts, with GM Ian Rogers beginning his live commentary to a room full of eager players & spectators, as well as the first day of the bookstore from Australian Chess Enterprises.
Another first saw possibly largest size differential in the event, with Kevin Willathgamuwa playing Ben Encel, with Kevin overcoming his larger (and higher rated) opponent to take the full point.
 Brian, Margaret & Lee Jones at the bookstall
GM Ian Rogers commentating on games to a room full of keen spectators
The video of the day is highlights from the Opening Ceremony. I hope to be able to put together a few round review videos after play today, so in future these should not be so far behind the round being played. 

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Australian Open Day 4

Round 4 of the 2013 Australian Open finally saw an outright leader emerge, with IM Max Illingworth again winning to take the sole lead on 4/4. All top 4 boards finished in draws, though some were more fighting than others, with FM Junta Ikeda 7 GM Igor Khenkin playing 101 moves before agreeing to a draw in a queen & pawn ending in their game.
Clubhouse leader in the unofficial 'T-shirt of the tournament' competition goes to Danish visitor Henrik Mortensen for this fantastic t-shirt he wore during round 4, which has a sentiment shared by many players in the room.
Strangest chess variation goes to IM Trevor Tao, who was demonstrating his creation of Rubik's Cube Chess in the analysis room, where players attempt to solve a Rubik's cube while playing a game of chess. The Rubik's Cube acts as the clock, with solving of the Cube only allowed while it is your opponent's turn. Victory can be claimed by Checkmate, solving the cube, or having your opponent resign.
I have also continued with my round reviews, with my review of round 2 now online 

Friday, 4 January 2013

Australian Open Day 2 & 3

Rounds 2 & 3 of the Australian Open have continued to sort out the players at the top end of the field, with only 10 players now remaining on 3/3, with a number of players conceding draws to lower rated players. The very top players are still motoring along however, with GMs Igor Kenkin & Zong-Yuan Zhao leading this group on 3/3.
As usual, full results for the Open are available on Chess Results.
Also keep an eye on the official tournament website for more results & information.

I'm also attempting to put short summary videos of each days play, however they tend to be a day or two behind the rounds being played, so only round 1 is online at present & it can be seen below.
Finally a few photos from the top boards
 GM Igor Khenkin was pushed by Ganesh Viswanath in round 2, but eventually managed to win.
David Webster held GM Darryl Johansen to a draw in their round 2 clash.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Australian Open Day 1

Day 1 was an interesting day, both on an off the chess board at the Australian Open Chess Championships today. The day started with the opening ceremony, featuring the usual speeches & formalities, but highlighted by two musical performances, a rendition of 'Love Never Dies' by Yvette Keong, accompanied by Oscar Wang, as well as a solo piano tune 'Tribute to the Yellow River' by Oscar.
Once the opening ceremony was out of the way, the usual dilemmas faced at the start of a big tournament such as this needed to be overcome, with a number of players arriving late, or needing to be contacted to ensure that they were on their way. Overnight it was learnt that IM Trevor Tao's flight from Adelaide had been cancelled & the earliest flight he could take to Sydney left at 3pm, so he unfortunately had to take a half point bye for round 1 & will be joining the tournament in round 2. Other players arrived & were checked off, however with over 150 players to sort out, the tournament proper did not get underway until after 2pm.
Once underway, it looked like it was unofficial Grunfeld Day on the top boards, with three of the top boards seeing some sort of Grunfeld position on them early on in the game. Most of the top seeds managed to make it through the round with wins, although FMs Greg Canfell & Chris Wallis both lost to lower rated opponents & will have to start their tournament recoveries a little sooner than planned. A number of games were also drawn.
In total, there are 112 players in the open, 50 in the Minor & 13 in the Classic, for a grand total of 175 players in the three events, which makes for a fairly sizable tournament.
Full results for the Open are available on Chess Results.
Results & pairings for all tournaments are available on ChessChat.
 Play underway in the 2013 Australian Open!
 GM Igor Khenkin v Ken Holt on board 1
 Paul Glissan hosting the opening ceremony
Yvette Keong singing at the opening ceremony

The video report I had hoped to do for round 1 is proving a little trickier than I imagined for a variety of reasons, but I'm hopeful (or at least optimistic) of being able to get something up tomorrow.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

2013 Australian Open Player Profiles

Today I spent the afternoon at norths with the other arbiters & the organising team for the 2013 Australian Open getting the venue set up for the tournament that begins tomorrow. The playing hall is now set up, with 4 DGT boards ready to show games live online. With 3 GMs, 6 IMs & over 100 players in the Open event, it promises to be an event well worth watching! I'll see how I go with my time with my arbiting duties, but I'm hoping to be able to continue with the video reports, albeit a little shorter in length than the Player Profile video at the end of this post.

 My fellow arbiters Alana Chibnall & Charles Zworestine 'at work' this afternoon ...
 DGT boards all set up & ready for action tomorrow!
The tournament hall ... all we need now is the 150+ players to arrive!
Please note that the video is correct in terms of player ratings - somehow my ability to read momentarily disappeared & I knocked a few points off Bobby Cheng's rating, while also turning Junta Ikeda into a GM with a 2500 FIDE rating ... hopefully the brain-mouth connection will return to normality for future videos!