Saturday, 11 January 2014

Max Illingworth wins the 2014 Australian chess championship.

Max Illingworth beat 13 year old Anton Smirnov to take the title. It was an exciting game. The report, games and photo's can all be foun on the official site.

 I had a relatively early draw. Being black and facing a promising junior, I didn't burn any bridges and when offered a draw in an ending that is still not clear to me I accepted. Anyway, gotta go, car is leaving for Sydney. See you soon.

I hope you enjoyed these reports, next stop, the Australian junior championships.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Australian Championship round 10

There is only good news today, well from a certain perspective. I thought I would give the Ponziani a whirl today and I can't complain too much about my opening and am sure that 22.b4 would have posed black some challenges. Instead I lost pawns but surprisingly Stockfish tells me that I was worse but not actually lost. Somewhat surprising as I am two connected passed pawns down in an ending.

The Championship has turned out to be a thriller. Max Illingworth and Anton Smirnov are tied for first on 7/10 and are playing tomorrow. If there is a winner the title will be decided. Otherwise there is a pack on 6.5 who can all join a playoff by winning.

The biggest story for me this year is the sovereign performance of Dough Hamilton in the reserves. He is already home with 9.5/10!! , two points clear of the pack. Much has been written about his non-selection for the Championship. I guess in two years time his participation will not be an issue.

One more game to go. It would be nice just to spectate tomorrow. It should be an exciting round!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Australian Championship round 9

Well today was one blunder too many. My first inaccuracy came on move 21. It would have been better to retreat the Knight to g8 so as to be able to defend f5 from e7. I didn't think it made a difference as I was intending to play 23....Nf6 anyway. I saw I win a rook but not that I get mated if I take it. I didn't double check so got what I deserved. Details matter

It was a day of surprises, the main ones being Max Illingworth beating GM Vasily Papin and Igor Bjelobrk inflicting Bobby Cheng's second defeat in a row on him. It's getting very tight at the top. Pity not to be amongst it :-(

Anyway, there is always the next Australian Championship, if the rumour is wrong that it is under consideration to abandon it altogether in favour of an Open every year.

Two rounds to go, damage control :-)

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Australian Chess Championship round 8

It has been raining or overcast until today so when we saw the sun shining in the morning we decided to do some sightseeing. The closest beach to us is about 15 minutes drive away. We drove we saw and David had some Zombie Guts. I just found out today that an ice cream goes by that name. He prefers it to the Zombie Snot. Apparently the snot is slimy. Imagine that.

David Liu and his Grandmother below checking out the boats.

And a nice beach.

A nice place to take a relaxing walk before the game.

The game was full of drama just as our game in New Zealand a few months ago. 15.Qe4 was too "optimistic" {blunder}. Ne4 or Nh2 are normal typical KIA moves as pointed out by IM Mark Chapman. So after a long fairly forcing sequence Luke had to decide how to recapture on f7. Luke played Rbf7 while I thought Rff7 was best. During the post-mortem we  joked that the computer will tell us Kf7 is best. Well guess what. Stockfish gives Kf7. 

29.Rb7 would have equalised again but instead I had to slime my way out of a pawn down ending that I feel is lost at some stage. 

Nite :-)

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Australian Championship round 7 + Lightning Championship + Shite fight 3!

Bobby Cheng added to his growing list of titles by winning the Australian Lightning Championship. GM Tu Huang Thong won the tournament with  9/11 and Anton Smirnov, Brodie McClymont and Bobby Cheng tied for 2-4th with 8.5/11. They then had a playoff which Bobby won by half a point from Brodie with Anton coming third.

David Liu versus el Presidente

Moulthun Ly v Bobby Cheng

Brodie McClymont v Greg Canfell

Shite fight 3, the selection!

I was too busy to play as I was busy reading the latest controversy on Australia's premier chess-forum, chesschat. This thread deals with some contentious issues regarding who should and shouldn't be allowed to play in this tournament. FM Eddy Levi drew my attention to it, mainly because he is an admirer of IM Robert Jamieson's writing style, and with good reason. 

Going by the de plume Jammo, he bemoaned the exclusion of three time champ and living legend Douglas Hamilton. He was immediately set upon by defender of the realm Kevin Bonham. For those not acquainted  with Australian chess history, IM Robert Jamieson was a fearsome force in the pre-Rogers era. His clear strategic play and sharp tactical skills were an inspiration to the juniors of my generation.  The same qualities are present in his prose.

My two cents worth. I will use a quote from Mr Kevin Bonham as a guide.

 "The Australian Championships exists to determine who is the Australian Champion"

So my questions

1: Why the foreign GM's? How do they help in determining who is the Australian Champion? What other country allows foreigners into their national championship?

2: Twelve of the forty-two are rated below the already low 2150 cut-off. Most well below. 

3: Juniors over 2000? This may have been a good idea when ratings came out infrequently but now?

Anyway, I'll keep the rest of my ranting for another occasion, now on to my round 7 game.

So finally I got to play a higher rated opponent. James Morris is one of the future stars of Australian chess and on form he is a truly fearsome player. I spent yesterday studying his games and was impressed. 

For the first time in the tournament I got that tingling feeling like when one spots a shark while swimming. One of my weaknesses is that I find it hard to motivate myself against players I feel I should beat. This leads to accidents. No such worries today. I treated the opening phase with respect, just trying to equalise and was constantly on the lookout for hidden tactics.

As luck would have it James was a bit unfamiliar with some of the subtleties of the Philidor defense. 11.a5 was an inaccuracy, allowing black an easy game. Paradoxically leaving the pawn on a4 holds up blacks queenside counterplay better. Then on moves 19 and 20 he decided to throw the kitchen sink at me, not wanting to drift into a worse position. He simply missed a defensive move and when the smoke cleared he had no pieces left.

Not a great game by James but I am quite happy with how I was seeing things. At least I am now clear of the bony chickens :-)

Four rounds to go. All is still possible. To dream, the impossible dream.... 

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Australian Chess Championship round 5,6 + ban on Twirling

Hippo to the rescue :-) This morning I faced my highest rated opponent so far and played my first decent game, without oversight or blunder, or rather none that I am aware of. I cannot use my engine {stockfish} anymore because my laptop keeps shutting down when I do. Time for a new one soon.

Watch the dance of the knights. I guess 12.Ne1 allowed black to take over the initiative and white never recovered. In any case whites chosen system will not put the Hippo on the endangered list.

The second game is still a mystery to me. I thought I had a clear advantage after 14 moves. Two bishops, half open files, strong pawn centre etc. Well very soon I was a bit worried. If black just retreats his rook on move 26, he should be at least fine. Zachary lost the thread around here and gave me a passed d pawn.
It went downhill from there.

Other chess news. Twirling.

Well you have probably heard of twerking recently. A girl who used to be Hannah Montana is now Miley Cyrus and has been shaking her Gluteus Minimus to the sound of music. Having seen similar activities in Cuba, I can tell you she is not doing it right.

Well, Queensland chess prodigy, International women's master Alexandra Jule has now stunned the theoreticians by inventing Twirling. Twirling is the art of slowly placing a lock of your long soft glistening hair in your finger and  seductively running it along the outside of the lock...around and around and around. This tactic has been known to paralyse the male brain, making it impossible to form coherent thought.

Alexandra's opponent only had one chance and he took it. He complained that the twirling was disturbing him and it was decided that Miss Jules hair would be tied up. Too soft on crime I say. What message does that send to all those young girls with long hair? A haircut I say!

This follows on from a story about the European Chess Union legislating on women's clothing in tournaments here are some links

The Cleavage Gambit is ancient theory but until recently nobody has found a refutation. The ECU has taken some steps, like mandating the length of skirts and number of buttons that may be undone {2}. It is now safer for us males to play in open tournaments. Now that twirling has been identified, regulatory authorities should move quickly before it gets out of hand.  No hair below chin should do it.

Tomorrow is the rest day and lightning championship. I will take some pictures instead :-)

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Australian Chess Championship round 4

When it rains it pours. Gene has been a regular customer of mine but today he was not buying. I liked my position from the opening and tried to get too much out of the position. My first chance at a subatancial advantage came at move 12 when I should have played Bb5. This had occurred to me and I did not see a good reason for not playing it. 16.Ne4 allowed black to equalise. I then handled the position badly and then came 36.g3 is difficult to explain. Brainmelt?

To Trevor, my grapes are not sour, rather fermented, and prefer to be called Cabernet Sauvignon.

Tomorrow is the last day of double rounds. To recover from this ordeal, the day after we have a rest day. Chess addicts can play in the Australian Blitz Championship!

If you wish to see the rest of the tournament you can go to the official site of the Australian Chess Federation, ha ha, just kidding :-) Nothing there of course but luckily the organisers of the tournament had the foresight to make their own site. Enjoy :-).

Friday, 3 January 2014

Australian Championship rounds 2+3

Today's games were entertaining if nothing else. I got a nice position from the opening in the morning but impulsively played 18.Qf3, the move I had planned against 17....f6, missing the simple 18....Be6. Instead 18.e6 should wrap up without counterplay. If Laurent had found 25...Kh8 with the idea 26. gh6 Be5!! or the computer suggestion 25....Rf8 instead of 25....hg6?? all three results would have been possible.

How did the white King survive? Ingenious defense 18.Kh2 and 30.Kf2 were truly inspired. Mind you the simple 26...cd6 would have deprived white of any counter-chances. Considering that it was a double round day I am not too disappointed, especially since either game could have turned sour.

Back to a 1pm game tomorrow. IM Guy West dropped in today and motivated me with a little adapted fortune cookie pearl.

A rolling Wohl gathers no loss :-)

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Australian Chess Championship round 1

This year we are contesting the national championship in the south of Melbourne in a suburb called Noble park. How it got it's name is a mystery to me but there are some bright spots. Never have I seen so many Asian restaurants in one area. I feel like I am in Petaling street, Kuala Lumpur.....out of tourist season.

The venue is also very nice. The playing hall is huge, as is the analysis room and there is even a canteen. The organisers have even thought to provide water for the players. No complaints.

It was nice to run into some Queenslanders before the round. I am bestowing honorary Queensland status to David Lovejoy as he lives just south of the border and plays in lots of our events. The Wellers are chess gypsy's and one cannot be surprised to see them anywhere. 

Our President Gary Wastell giving another of his rousing speeches at the opening ceremony. Copyright concerns prevent me from giving the full transcript.

Not for the first time I started with an egg. My last loss against a significantly lower rated player was also with the English defense [ Nelson ]. I may have to give it a rest for a while. Not that the opening itself was a disaster for me. I was happily wandering along "Fantasy lane", sense of danger at the beach, when my opponent surprised me with 20.Bc6. It had not occured to me that he would give up the light squared bishop. 19...Rd8 preparing d6 and black should be fine. Oh well, the rest of the tournament will show me if it is time to retire or not.
[Event "Australian Chess Championship"]
[Site "Noble park."]
[Date "2014.01.02"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Castor, David"]
[Black "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2125"]
[BlackElo "2371"]
[ECO "A40d"]
[EventDate "2014.01.02"]

1.c4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Nc3 e6 4.e4 Bb4 5.f3 Ne7 6.Ne2 f5 7.a3 Bxc3+ 8.
Nxc3 fxe4 9.fxe4 O-O 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bh4 Qe8 12.Be2 Nbc6 13.Bh5 g6 14.
Bf3 Qf7 15.O-O Qg7 16.Bf2 g5 17.e5 Kh8 18.h3 Nf5 19.Qd3 d6 20.Bxc6
Bxc6 21.d5 Bb7 22.exd6 cxd6 23.dxe6 g4 24.Nd5 Rae8 25.Be1 Qg5 26.Bd2
Qg6 27.Bc3+ Kg8 28.Rf4 gxh3 29.Qxh3 Qxe6 30.Raf1 Bc8 31.Nc7 Qe3+ 32.
Qxe3 Nxe3 33.Nxe8 Nxf1 34.Nf6+ 1-0

The game re-player is not working again. Anyway, game is not really worth playing through.

And to add to my joy tomorrow is a double round starting at 10am. Groan.....