Saturday, 19 April 2014

Bangkok Open Round 9

Round 9

Guess who got lucky today? I did get a good position again but squandered it near the time control, but just a few moves later my opponent played 44...Ne6 which is a horrible blunder. After the better Nh5 I suspect that I would have struggled to hold a draw.

Now we have to take a quick lunch, then the prizegiving ( I have no idea who won ) and then a flight to Malaysia. Pics later. :-)

Friday, 18 April 2014

Bangkok Open Round 8

Well that was an exciting game, and a point gone begging. I had several chances to win, probably the most natural being 24... Qh2+ 25.Kf2 Ra4 and my opponent would have been a pawn down and being attacked. Of course I saw the check but did not see a clear continuation. All credit to my opponent who sacked the pawn to mess the position up a bit since he realised he was being outplayed.

He said as much after the game and realised he was in trouble. Only the insipid 27... Ba7 turns the game in white's favour. Still, I am not too disappointed because at least I made a fight out of it and gave a 2600+ player a proper scare :-) Enjoy. 

My only regret is that now I do not get to play Jan Gustafsson but since it is a morning round maybe its enough to be facing a 2451 GM, Gerhard Schebler, instead. Better set the alarm :-) 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Bangkok Open Round 7

The heat here is oppressive outside the hotel but we braved it anyway. Even after the game at 7pm I could have filled a bucket. I and a friend, IM Atanu Lahiri from India, went for a walk to sample some local street-food and were not disappointed. 

By the way, 60 Baht is about AUD$2 so dinner need not be expensive. 

And you can always see your food being made.

Round 7
 Ok, on to the game. Monika mishandled my slightly offbeat opening. Since she has nearly 2000 games in the database and a very well worked out repertoire I thought it better to take her on a road less travelled and it worked out quite well for a while. By move 30 I was completely winning but could not believe I was not just winning a piece and looked at all the different moves that threatened to take the pinned Knight on f4. 30g3 is best but after Nh3 + 31.Kg2 f4 I missed the killing 32.Bd5.

My next best alternative was 30.Qb4 which leads to a winning ending but I thought Qd4 was better, completely missing 30....Qg2. Luckily white keeps an advantage anyway. I then continued to miss embarrassingly easy instant wins like  43. Kc3 winning a piece instantly instead of the "positional" Kc5. puhing b6 also won on several occasions but I wanted to avoid all calculation since my brain was just not working anymore.

In the end I managed to finally beat a higher rated player for the first time in months. Phew...

As my reward I now get to play her husband, GM Bartosz Socko 2635!. Scary as he will be out for revenge and I have yet to beat a 2600+ player. I need you all to cross your fingers and toes and send your combined brainpower my way :-)

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Bangkok Open Round 6

Francisco Vallejo has opened up a half point lead on the field going into the last three rounds and faces his biggest challenge tomorrow, defending with black against second seed Jan Gustafsson. You can follow this and other games live on the official site

Also, in case you didn't know it, the FIDE elections are coming up in August. Former world champion Garry Kasparov is challenging Alien invitee Kirsan Ilumzhinov  for the presidency of the World Chess Federation (aka FIDE)

Since this tournament is a major event here in Asia there is a lot of campaigning going on behind the scenes. Peter Long has written an amusing and informative post on his blog about Ignatius Leong's newly created blog, FIDE X-files. Make up your own mind and if you have the time do tell me what you think :-) 

Round 6

Todays game should have been a draw but my talented young opponent, Bahkti Kulkarni, chose not to swap queens on move 14 thinking that the ending was a problem for her. I don't see it but after 14.Qc2 black does have some chances. A lucky break for me.

As my reward I get to play GM Monika Socko tomorrow. This lady is rated 2450 and is seriously strong. Wish me luck, I'll need it :-)

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Bangkok Open 2014 Round 5

This time of year is famous for the "Songkran festival". It can be a bit of a surprise for the unsuspecting tourist.

One gets smeared with some kind of plaster and then shot with waterpistols or doused with buckets of water.

as soon as we left the hotel people were waiting for us all along the street.



and I braved the water gauntlet to eat at the "Papaya", a nice restaurant around the corner from the hotel. The food is definitely recommendable. I had to try the Snakehead fish.

Round 5

My chess is not improving that much. I played inaccurately in the opening, moving my bishop to c2 instead of the less natural but a tempo better 13.Bb1, the point being that it gets to a2 in two moves instead of three. Then after 16...Na5 I needed to play 17.Bb5 so as not to be worse. My opponent let me off the hook by playing 19....Bf6 instead of Bd5. My next blunder was 21.Ba1 instead of the very strong d5! which I calculated (term used loosely) for about half an hour and then talked myself out of. No idea why. And what kind of move is Ba1??

Anyway after a few more pointless moves, which at least didn't blunder anything, my opponent offered me a draw when I was down to 13 minutes and stood worse. i was happy to get out of there.

I apologise to the viewers for the quality of my games. I'll try to do better in the last three rounds....or failing that bring you better pictures :-) I'm off to the blitz finals, see you tomorrow.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Bangkok Open 2014 Round 4

At breakfast today I had the pleasure of meeting one of the legends of chess, Grandmaster Eugene Torre. Cherry-picking form his many achievements I will just mention that he was a candidate for the world championship, Asia's first grandmaster, 18 time Olympian and beat Anatoly Karpov when he was world champion. He was also a friend of Bobby Fischer and part of Fischer's team when he defeated Boris Spassky in the match of the century. It is always a pleasure to meet this true gentleman.

Breakfast itself was quite nice and as promised, here are some pictures of the buffet.

All kinds of bread and cakes, croissants etc,

the omelette bar,

cold meats, cheese and wheatgrass,


freshly made asian soup,

and fruit :-)

Then it was time to prepare for my game, have a nap and swim. Unfortunately I did not check the round times carefully enough and turned up just after 2.30 instead of at 2pm. Next I missed with my preparation, played a few weak moves and had to resign at move 25. Not my afternoon :-(

Round 4

My opponent usually plays catalany systems so I was not expecting the main line against my Tigers modern. I suspect preparation. I offered a pawn sack on move 10 to get some activity but unlike my previous opponent in this line GM Khenkin, John Paul did not take it so I played a different one which he did take and I got neither my pawn back nor any activity. My position soon collapsed. 

Well there goes the perfect score, I'll just have to turn up on time tomorrow and play a bit better. All those breakfast buffet pics have made me hungry so I'll bid you adieu. Thanks for dropping by :-)

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Rounds 2 + 3

Amazingly I managed to escape the dreaded double round (with 9am morning round) day unscathed. Both were quite scrappy games where I hung in there a bit longer.

Round 2

I misplayed the opening somewhat and my 14...f6 is a woeful attempt to avoid simplification after which I am just worse. My opponent repaid the favour with 22.Ne5 after which my problems vanish. The heavy piece ending is just better for black.

Round 3
Again I tried to be clever in the opening and got nowhere although I thought my position looked good. I only got into trouble after 41. Qd5 which leads to a horrible ending but my young opponent was to eager to penetrate with his King and ended up in a mating net. Lucky.

Well so for the first time in ages I have 3/3 and should have escaped the Piranha tank, so tomorrow I expect to be swimming with the sharks and there are some White Pointers in this tournament so please wish me luck. Luckily all the rest are single rounds in the afternoon (apart from the last round) so I will have no excuses :-)

Tomorrow you will get some pictures :-)

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Bangkok Open 2014

Another day another country. I am now in Bangkok playing in the famous Bangkok Open. For years many Australians have been coming here and as I see now, not without good reason. This is the view from my room, on the 16th floor of the Dusit Thani Hotel which overlooks Lumpini Park

As I sit here writing this post I can hear someone speaking into a microphone below, undoubtedly denouncing the government. The taxi driver who took me to the hotel yesterday told me this has been going for many months now, clogging traffic. We had plenty of time to chat being stuck as we were. The two biggest political groups wear red shirts and yellow shirts and both protest when the other is in power and both clog traffic. This was not a comprehensive explanation of the political situation here but his english was limited and he didn't really care except for the traffic. There is also the occasional military coup which he was in two minds about because although it cleared the traffic it reduced tourism. His synopsis was that all politicians suck which is a view I share. We then continued with a language lesson on essential Thai.

Here is a picture of the other side of the balcony. Notice the nicely painted trains.

The venue is superb.  We are playing in a grand ballroom with huge chandeliers and magnificent decorations everywhere. Pictures will tell the story better.

The rooms...well look.

The living room

bathroom with large bath :-)

Bedroom. It is like a luxury apartment except every day your room is immaculately cleaned. Did I mention free, fast wi-fi :-) 

Round 1
I played a fellow Australian today, from Tasmania, who I had never met before. He played solidly for a long time but when I started to develop a queenside attack he panicked and ruined his own position with 17...b5 and then followed up with the even worse 18...Bd5. There was no way to recover, at least none I noticed. Actually I was a  bit worried about 13...Qf5 instead of Qc7. Not sure what is going on then.

Anyway, tomorrow is the only double round day so I will attempt to do some preparation and then get a good nights sleep. 9am round :-(...groan.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

KL Open, last round.

Well folks, the tournament is finally over and after 53 moves I finally managed to beat a 1900 player thereby stopping the gush of elo rating points. Not smooth sailing but at least it didn't get worse.

Sergei Tiviakov won yet again with an impressive 7/9. Brisbane IM Moulthun Ly beat Jimmy Liew, who himself had a great tournament, to finish on 6/9. I was not able to follow much of the rest of the tournament being at the wrong end of the tournament hall. Today I was seated next to the emergency exit which seemed strangely appropriate :-)

Round 9

Next report will come to you from Bangkok. Ciao :-)

KL Open Round 8

Hi folks, sorry to keep you waiting, I needed to go to the laundromat tonight seeing as tomorrow I am off to Bangkok for another tournament. Yes I know, I'm a glutton for punishment :-)

Today I castles queenside, not in a good way and not in the chess sense. Morbid chess humour classifies this as losing three games in a row and to another sub-2000 player. Normally I beat them in simultaneous exhibitions like the one I gave in Auckland last year where I played 28 players at the one time, and there were several around 1900. There is something not functioning but I'll try to figure out what after the tournament. Luckily there is only one game to go.

I feel embarrassed to even present this here but not to do it would be inconsistent.

Round 8 (disaster)

Again food came to the rescue. We went to a great Indian place called Nirvana and the fish head curry was truly heavenly.  I did take photo's but am having trouble transferring them from my phone to the laptop. Sorry, I blame Gremlins....for everything :-)

Hasta manjana amigoes.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Round 7

Round 7

Well today went well up to a point. My opponent got the move order wrong with 7...Be6 instead of Be7. I was wondering what the difference was and found the remarkable 8.d4 according to the principle of opening the centre should your opponent neglect to castle quickly enough. I did spend too much time on double checking everything considering how I've been playing and that meant that I missed a few instant wins around move 25 onwards. By about move 30 we were both playing on the 30 second increment.Then in a position where I am simply winning, +5 according to stockfish, I just forgot to move! Any move would have done.

Oh well, at least the tournament is nearly over :-)

Now I will go have some lunch and hopefully tomorrow will be different. Thanks for putting up with my whinging :-)

btw, you can follow the rest of the tournament on

KL Open Round 6

This morning I was playing a talented young Indonesian player and got surprised in the opening. Deciding what to play just before you start without any preparation is not a good idea and I was not able to solve all the problems over the board. After the game I noticed that stronger players than me had made the same error. 8...Nbd7 is the culprit. C6 is the natural square for the knight. I managed to get a playable position later but had to take the pawn after he played 20.d5 according to my engine (Stockfish) but at the board it just looked too dangerous. Later the game degenerated into a time scramble and I lost a pawn and with it my position collapsed. Nothing to complain about, I just got out-prepared and then outplayed.

Again consolation came in the form of food, today Fatty Crab. This is one of my favourite restaurants in KL so the day ended well. You can't go past Mudcrab cooked in a garlic ginger and chilly sauce.

Or you may prefer grilled prawns with coriander and garlic

Or maybe steamed river fish with lemongrass and other assorted herbs?

Before you run to your fridge have a quick look at the game if you like :-)

Round 6

Tomorrow morning I am facing another talented young Indonesian as my reward so I better have a look at some of his games. Good night folks and don't eat too much :-)

Monday, 7 April 2014

DYTM Raja Dr Nazrin Shah KL Open Chess Championship 2014

Finally I am travelling again and playing chess so its time to blog again. Besides, four months on the "front cover" is enough for our esteemed champion Max Illingworth. Never before have I honoured somebody for so long. Lets start with my first round debacle.

Round 1

Everything was actually going quite smoothly here as you can see until I hallucinated that I was playing
40.Rd2 covering my extra pawn. At this point I should have cut my losses and started playing for a draw. I have come to the conclusion that it is not a good idea to arrive on the day of the first round....again.

Round 2

After a good nights sleep it was time for the first of the double round days. The organiser, Peter Long, warned me that my opponent was considerably higher rated and stronger than my first round opponent so I went into the game with a good dose of paranoia.

Paranoia is good for chess :-) There IS always someone out to get you. Mind you playing a "Barry Attack" a tempo down is not the way to go about it and 9.Be5 is way too creative.

Round 3

Jewel played one of my pet openings against me, Tiger's Modern. I suspected deep psychological preparation but decided to play the most principled continuation. It was nice to finish a game with double discovered checkmate.

Rest Day

It was obvious something was up when I saw a whole lot of kids in the lobby in the morning. There was a one day junior tournament on. 

One quick look

And then it was time to escape.

After three rounds it was nice to have a day off and I needed the time to buy a new laptop. The IT mall in downtown KL is a sight to behold. Five floors of everything you can imagine. One is truly spoilt for choice. After a couple of hours of salivating I settled on a Lenovo Ideapad S410p. Great specs with one downside, Windows 8. Apart from the annoying interface it tries to force you to get a Microsoft account to use apps like Skype.

One of the other great features of KL is the plethora of restaurants. One can eat anything any time of day. We had lunch at the Wangsa Walk Mall where another junior tournament was taking place, complete with a DJ, loud music and multi-coloured pieces! I was asked to give a quick talk, answer some questions and give out some prizes.

As soon as it finished we escaped for a well deserved dinner :-)

Wobbly pork, Peking duck, fried eggplant, omlette and duck soup. Mmmmmm

Round 4

Well yesterday was more fun than today. My endgame play resembles my French grammar. My opponent is the Indonesian team manager who only decided to play at the last moment so there wouldn't be a bye. Having said that he is a dangerous attacking player who has already victimised some strong players. True to his style he launched a kitchen sink attack only to end up in a bad ending. Then instead of the intended and strong 45...Rc4 I calculated a long variation. Like Bent Larsen said, "long variation, wrong variation :-(

Round 5

When it rains it pours? Well that's the theme for today. Many years ago in Calicut India I once beat the Indian GM Praveen Thipsay in a model Alekhine's defense. Not long after his wife got revenge and today she held me to a draw. Again in the later stages of the game my brain played some tricks on me. To allow b4 is incomprehensible.

Anyway folks, its past midnight and the rounds start at 9am so I'll bid you goodnight and will try to salvage something from the last four rounds. Now that my IT issues are solved I'll try to only impose one game a day on you. Thank you for your indulgence.