Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The Judges gavel fell...

Avid Doubleroo readers will remember my ignominious exit from the Queensland state championship last month. I withdrew from the prestigious nine round event due to illness after three rounds  with a score of 2/3.

Yesterday I received this letter from the Chess Association of Queensland.

That some sanction was coming was only to be expected as the following correspondence from the chief arbiter foreshadowed. 

Hi Alex,

I hope you are feeling better now.

Because of your illness, I have waited a couple of days to bring up a delicate matter concerning your withdrawal.  Technically you were an unapproved withdrawer, as you didn't contact me and obtain my permission first.  The CAQ has a strict policy against unapproved withdrawers, as you can see in our Code of Conduct (  And in a major event such as the Qld Championships, unapproved withdrawals are especially unwanted, as they can create byes and affect FIDE ratings.

The problem as I see it is that if someone withdraws by simply telling the arbiter that they are ill and have to withdraw, then our policy to discourage unapproved withdrawals has no practical value.  So in a major event such as the Qld Championships, I feel that a player should have to justify a withdrawal on medical grounds.  This can easily be done by supplying me with a copy of a medical certificate.  I have noticed a few other cases where this has been requested for withdrawals from major events on medical grounds, so it seems reasonable in this case.


No doubt my reply only encouraged disciplinary action.

Hi Patrick,

As a chess player I approve of rules and their full implementation. 

I did not visit a doctor so do not have a medical certificate. I also have no intention of getting one although I agree that it is a perfectly reasonable request.

Therefore I encourage the CAQ to do the right thing and set an example to discourage this sort of behaviour in future. I accept in advance whatever sanctions the council imposes, according to the statutes, in advance. I have not read the statutes and don't intend to but have full confidence that the CAQ will apply them properly.

As for my health, its much better now after sleeping most of the last three days. I have come to the conclusion that with my age and high blood pressure I will need to forgo stressful events, ie, where a lot of travel or multiple rounds are involved. Thanks for asking.

Best wishes


Had I been informed of the pending hearing I could have pleaded guilty and argued for a suitable punishment but here the CAQ dropped the ball. As Patrick Byrom correctly argued if a player can withdraw from a tournament simply by informing him instead of pleading for his permission then their policy has no practical value! A wholly suspended six month ban is , totally inadequate as a deterrent. 

It is therefore up to me to teach myself a lesson.

For the offence of informing the DOP of my withdrawal instead of asking his permission I ban myself from CAQ events for six months.
For the offence of not bothering to get a retrospective medical certificate I ban myself for a further six months.
The sentences are to run consecutively.
I am adding a further few months for being a smartarse.

I shall play no CAQ sanctioned games until First of January 2016

Let that be a lesson to me!

ps: I am flying to Europe next Wednesday so hopefully I will play a little and blog a little :-)
Hasta pronto amigoes.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Queensland Championship, rounds 2 & 3

Old age seemingly does not go away if one ignores it. After a rather intense Thursday, a stressful Friday was more than my system was able to take. I left home at 1pm to give myself plenty of time to get to the venue, St Josephs Nudgee College, by 2.30 pm. Maps estimated the journey at under one hour but I only arrived at 2.50, 10 minutes before forfeit time. There was an accident somewhere apparently. Tony Dowden got caught in it, and with less of a safety margin built into his trip, missed the round.

Still, after some moves I was ahead on time and had a better position. Tristan had misplayed the opening badly and by move 20 black was all over white. Not taking the pinned pawn on e4 was criminal. One of my students had the cheek to say "checks and captures" with a grin on his face. He had heard me repeat this hundreds of times. Perfectly right!

I was a bit rattled by failing to finish the game quickly and kept making mistakes. According to stockfish black was still better and missed several chances later. Then I missed 40.Bd8! and defended badly although now white was better. The game did go longer than recorded here but my scoresheet was too messy to reconstruct.

Now I had about 10 minutes to compose myself before the next game! My brain was now mush but luckily for me Gareth spent all his time playing natural moves. Blacks position was fine, maybe a bit better, when he thought himself down to a minute for many moves and blundered a Mate.

I got home after another hour drive at about 11pm. That is when a migraine started and didn't go away. By 6am I had not slept, had a fever and a blocked nose. If I had been in Brisbane at a hotel around the corner I might have swallow a whole lot of tablets and soldiered on but the drive as well was just too much. I emailed my withdrawal, swallowed more pills and finally fell asleep.

Now two days later I feel human again. What lesson do I take away from this experience? I need to accept that I am no longer in my prime. No more driving for hours before chess games and only a game a day tournaments. What about fasting? Probably not a good idea immediately prior to an event.

Thanks for reading my whinge :-)  Next post will be more positive, promise! 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Queensland Championship 2014 Round 1

After a bit of a break I am back in the saddle again playing a tournament. This seems to be chess season in Queensland. But of all the tournaments that have passed this is the only one with a first prize of more than $1000 and anything less is just not worth wasting a nice weekend for, especially now that spring has arrived.

My day started nicely enough, waking up in Wilsons creek with a view of Mount Chincogan where I was staying at a friends place attempting my first fast for more than a year. I say attempt because I had the odd bite and didn't even go the minimum of 7 days. In the morning I found out that the tournament was starting Thursday night and not Friday. Oops.

On the way home I stopped in at the Broadbeach Mall to watch some of my students play. I took a few pictures to show you but then promptly lost my phone. When I returned to where I had left it minutes earlier it had gone and had not been handed in so I presume stolen. So off to the  Vodafone shop I go and walk out with a new Samsung 5. In that short hour without a smartphone I felt completely disconnected from everything. I miss my Nexus but that was not on offer and I couldn't bear to be phoneless a minute longer.

My first round game  started at 7.30pm at the Brisbane Bridge Club. An excellent venue with a glass cage similar to the one in Bilbao with the exception that it is not restricted to the players.

You will like this game. It features a piece sac and finishes with a Queen sac.

As usual I am going to be totally self-centered but should you be interested in the rest of the tournament then click on this chesschat link
Have a nice day and stand by for hopefully more of this sort of chess. And some pictures taken with my new phone which I can now enjoy courtesy of a thief.

Always look on the bright side of life.. .

Sunday, 7 September 2014

First Sunday @ Churchie

Tom Maguire scored a picket fence 7/7 on Sunday. Apparently he was a bit lucky in some of the games but the good player is always lucky. For his "luck" he got to take home $150

Second place was a tie between Hughston Parle and Alexander Au on 5.5/7. They took home $75 each.

Best Girl was won by Brigitte Watkins with 4/7.  This a remarkable performance by the Somerville house girl against a very strong field especially considering she had a splitting headache for most of the event.

 Second place was won by Isabel Stevens with 2.5/7 and for her fine effort she was rewarded with Kevin Casey's " Australian Chess Brilliancies "

The U800 division was won by Churchie boy Reece Cameron Lyons who's rating of  547 only shows that this talented youngster doesn't get the opportunity to play many tournaments. Reece took home a wooden chess set.

Second U800 was taken out by  Ben Stevens of Grammar. He also took home a copy of "Australian Chess Brilliancies ".

Isabel also showed a remarkable ability to guess the amount of lollies in a jar.

Below the final standings.

First Sunday Junior Rapid - Round 7


Place Name                 Feder Rtg Loc  Score M-Buch. Buch. Progr.

  1   Maguire, Tom         B         1732 7        21.5  30.5   28.0
 2-3  Parle, Hughston      B         1162 5.5      21.0  28.5   21.5
      Au, Alex             B         1147 5.5      19.0  26.5   20.5
 4-9  Wang, Jason          B         1306 4        21.0  30.0   18.0
      Cameron-Lyons, Reece B         547  4        19.0  27.0   15.0
      Ostapenko, Michael   B         1491 4        18.5  27.5   16.0
      Stephens, Ben (ACGS) B         709  4        16.0  23.5   14.0
      Shresth, Aryan       B         826  4        15.0  21.5   15.0
      Watkins, Bridgette   B         760  4        15.0  21.5   15.0
 10   Liu, David (GC)      GC        1408 3.5      22.5  32.0   17.5
11-12 Lupari, Isaac                       2.5      17.0  21.5   12.5
      Stephens, Isabel                    2.5      13.0  17.5    9.5
13-14 Watkins, Rachel      B         541  2        18.5  23.5   10.0
      Khagram, Aaryan                     2        14.0  20.0    7.5
 15   Chappell, Georgina                  1        14.5  19.0    3.0
 16   Khagram, Ayesha                     0.5      16.5  23.0    1.0

Cross Table

No Name                 Feder Rtg Loc  Total  1    2    3    4    5    6    7  

1  Maguire, Tom         B         1732 7      7:W  3:W  2:W 10:W  6:W  5:W  4:W
2  Parle, Hughston      B         1162 5.5   16:W  9:W  1:L  4:W  3:D  7:W 10:W
3  Au, Alex             B         1147 5.5   14:W  1:L  5:W  8:W  2:D 10:W 16:W
4  Wang, Jason          B         1306 4     13:W  8:W 10:L  2:L  9:W  6:W  1:L
5  Cameron-Lyons, Reece B         547  4      6:W 10:L  3:L 15:W  8:W  1:L 14:W
6  Ostapenko, Michael   B         1491 4      5:L 11:W  7:W  9:W  1:L  4:L 13:W
7  Stephens, Ben (ACGS) B         709  4      1:L 14:W  6:L 16:W 13:W  2:L 12:W
8  Shresth, Aryan       B         826  4     15:W  4:L 12:W  3:L  5:L 13:W 11:W
9  Watkins, Bridgette   B         760  4     12:W  2:L 13:W  6:L  4:L 11:W 15:W
10 Liu, David (GC)      GC        1408 3.5    0:D  5:W  4:W  1:L 11:W  3:L  2:L
11 Lupari, Isaac                       2.5    0:D  6:L 16:W 14:W 10:L  9:L  8:L
12 Stephens, Isabel                    2.5    9:L 16:W  8:L 13:L 14:D 15:W  7:L
13 Watkins, Rachel      B         541  2      4:L 15:W  9:L 12:W  7:L  8:L  6:L
14 Khagram, Aaryan                     2      3:L  7:L 15:W 11:L 12:D 16:D  5:L
15 Chappell, Georgina                  1      8:L 13:L 14:L  5:L 16:W 12:L  9:L
16 Khagram, Ayesha                     .5     2:L 12:L 11:L  7:L 15:L 14:D  3:L
by Swiss Perfect (TM)

Special thanks must go to our Arbiter Tyson Walker. It is a pleasure to have a consummate professional running a tournament. 

The Master of Chess at Churchie Max Condon put in the most work of anyone, organising and setting up the excellent venue and grilling sausages for lunch. Thanks also to Max's daughter, Grace Condon, ran the canteen all day long.

Churchie has a long tradition of supporting Chess an this weekender continues this. Thanks for making the Brene Pavillion available to us. It is a roomy quiet venue next to the main oval and the tuckshop. Waiting parents were able to use the free wi-fi provided.

Summing up I believe all had a great Sunday. We did not have as many entries as hoped but this may have had a few contributing factors. We announced the tournament very late and clashed with fathers day and another junior event on the Gold Coast. As a "proof of concept" event however it was a success. All aspects of the tournament ran smoothly so we know the next one will be even better. 

The next Sunday rapid is scheduled for the 26th of October.
 I hope to see you all there :-)    

Sunday, 27 July 2014

End of Leiden and the journey home.

I must work on my planning. Immediately after the last round I drove 900km to Vendenesse sur Arroux, then the next day, my 51st birthday (21/7) I continued on to Munich, another 700km, and the next day I boarded a flight for Brisbane, a mere 30 hours. Am too old for this ****.

Only now did I look at the final results from Leiden and noticed that IM Das, Arghyadip had won with 7/9! A great result especially considering the strength of the field.

As for my last round game, it was pretty boring. I decided not to be a wimp (offer an early draw) but then played without any real conviction or interest. Going through the motions. 13...Ne4 was too impatient (...e6 is better) and after some more badly thought out winning attempts I was a bit lucky to draw.

Now I am back in Australia. At the moment I am still wondering why. Travelling around Europe with the family playing in chess tournaments was a lot more fun. Instead I was met by a whole pile of letters from government departments which is never good. I'll spare you the details, at least in this post.

Anyway in a few hours my lessons start up again and teaching my students always (almost) cheers me up.

See you soon :-)

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Leiden Open round 8

Todays game started at the unusually early time of 1pm. Not much time for tourism so the ladies spent the day at Katwijk beach while I played quite an interesting game. I missed a chance to take a serious advantage with 17.Nbd6 according to stockfish. Then everything was balanced until I played the "winning" 39.Qd5??

What I had missed was that I can't answer 42....Rb6 with Nc3 because black just takes the knight and queens. Oh well, last round tomorrow, 11.00am :-) That's another thing I like about the Dutch. They aren't really morning people either.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Leiden Open round 7

After yesterdays somewhat lame expedition to Corpus we decided to just go for a walk in town today. As we were walking past the Windmill museum " De Falk " curiosity finally got the better of us so we decided to have a look. Good move! 

There is a video explaining the history and the importance of Windmills in Holland on the first floor in many languages including French and English. 

Here we have some millstones.

The Millar and his family lived in the mill. Like the living room?

Old equipment is everywhere. No indication of what it is though.

The view from the top is quite spectacular.

Now we are in the guts of the mill.

Bench full of gears, weights etc...

Guts again.

And a little window half way down.

The Molenmuseum De Falk gets my seal of approval. The stairs are a bit scary and there are lots of them but the view is worth the effort if nothing else.

Ok, on to my game. We returned home around 6pm so I had about an hour to come up with something. I noticed very quickly that my opponent doesn't play open Sicilians. In my long career I have tried all kinds of ways to avoid playing 3.d4 but have come to the sad conclusion that they all suck. Therefore whenever I see someone not playing the open, I play 1.c5 :-)

My opponent was well prepared and had played the variation in the game many times. Still, he got nothing from the opening and his position imperceptibly went from equal to slightly worse then clearly worse, then hopeless. I have played the same game from the other side. Trust me youngsters, the anti-sicilians all suck.

As my reward I am back on board 3, white against GM Predrag Nikolic 2605! Scary :-)