Friday, 29 December 2017

Bhopal prizegiving ceremony, rounds 9 & 10

Nguyen Duc Hoa claims first prize in the inaugural Bhopal GM Open. I was just checking the rest of the tournament for the first time as I had not been aware of his presence until the ceremony. He defeated second seed Ivan Rozum in the final round.  

Comparing their respective scorecards is quite amusing, although perhaps not for Ivan. Congrats to the winner though, you can only beat those with whom you are paired. He finished half a point ahead of the field on 8.5/10

Second place went to Malaysia's Yeoh Li Tian, who played a relatively strong field and went through unscathed. Countback helped him to the top of the heap of payers on 8.

Tran Tuan Minh was the player who stopped Timur Gareyev's locomotive and took third.

GM Suat Atalik, a seasoned professional, made a few quick draws in the middle of the event to conserve his energy and win the last round to secure fourth place. Shailesh Dravid 5th, and Adam Tukhaev 6th, rounded off the players on 8. 

Some of the foreign titled players fared less well in the latter half of the tournament. Timur Gareyev, who cruised to 5/5, gave an 11 board blindfold exhibition, then scored half a point from his next  3 games. Alberto David, pictured below enjoying local cuisine with Inna Iasman, lost three on the trot before scraping a win in the final round to finish 34th.

I will try to forget this tournament after doing even worse than Alberto, only making two draws from the last four rounds, finishing out of the very long prize pool. My last round opponent was winning when he offered me a draw, obviously in deference to my (undeserved) title and rating.

It seems that conserving energy is very important in these events with double rounds and morning rounds. Being young may help as well. Maybe not playing in them would be a wise choice.

Mumbai, where I am now, has one round a day, all in the afternoon, and only nine rounds. I have 11.8 rating points to recover and this time there are only 15 prizes instead of the 50 in Bhopal. 

Here are the horrid last two games. I again failed to use the ChessBase replayer. It's much more complicated than the one I used to use at You have to remove text, paste, take lines of code, put them somewhere.....arrgghhhhh. After many attempts, I gave up.

[Event "Bhopal GM Open"]
[Site "Bhopal"]
[Date "2017.12.27"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Black "Patik, Praktik"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2370"]
[BlackElo "2199"]
[ECO "B40k"]
[EventDate "2017.12.21"]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Bg5 Qa5+ 5.c3 Nc6 6.b4 Qc7 7.b5 h6 8.Bd2
Ne5 9.cxd4 Nc4 10.Qc2 d5 11.Ne5 Bd7 12.Nxc4 Rc8 13.Nc3 dxc4 14.Be2
Nf6 15.O-O Be7 16.a4 O-O 17.f4 Rfd8 18.Bf3 Be8 19.Be3 Bb4 20.g4 a6
21.g5 hxg5 22.fxg5 Nh7 23.e5 Bxc3 24.Qxc3 axb5 25.axb5 Bxb5 26.g6
fxg6 27.Bg4 Qe7 28.Bc1 Bc6 29.Ba3 Qg5 30.Qg3 Bd5 31.h4 Qd2 32.Rad1
Qc2 33.Bh3 Qb3 34.Qxb3 cxb3 35.Rf2 Rc2 36.Bf1 Ra8 37.Bd6 Be4 38.Bg2
Rxf2 39.Bxe4 Rf4 40.Bxb7 Ra7 41.Bc8 b2 42.Bxe6+ Kh8 0-1

[Event "Bhopal GM Open"]
[Site "Bhopal"]
[Date "2017.12.28"]
[Round "10"]
[White "Panda, Sambit"]
[Black "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2005"]
[BlackElo "2370"]
[ECO "E11k"]
[EventDate "2017.12.21"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 c5 5.Bxb4 cxb4 6.g3 O-O 7.Bg2 d6 8.
O-O a5 9.a3 Na6 10.Nbd2 Qc7 11.Qb3 e5 12.axb4 Nxb4 13.Rfc1 Re8 14.
dxe5 dxe5 15.Ng5 Bg4 16.Qe3 Bd7 17.Nde4 Ng4 18.Qc5 Bc6 19.h3 ( 19.Nd6
b6 20.Nxe8 Rxe8 21.Bxc6 bxc5 22.Bxe8 Qe7 23.Bxf7+ Kf8 24.h4 h6 25.
Rxa5 hxg5 26.Bh5 Qd7 ) 19...Nh6 20.Qd6 Qe7 21.Qxe7 Rxe7 22.Nd6 f6 23.
Nge4 f5 24.Nd2 Rd7 ( 24...e4 25.c5 ) 25.c5 Bxg2 26.Kxg2 Rc7 27.Nb3

Mumbai report coming up next!

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Bizarre days in Bhopal Rounds 7&8

Indian Kareoke Christmas

Oh, Tannenbaum, oh Tannenbaum, wie gruen sind deine blaetter...etc
This German Christmas song was my contribution to the Christmas Kareoky at the Hotel Kanta Shrawan Palace, where we are both staying and playing. Timur Gareyev sang a sang in Russian and David Bennett, also from the USA sang a Hanuka song. Our contributions were mercifully short. 

The Indians were represented by a professional singer, a Bank Director (sponsor), a former tabletennis champion, who promised me a game, and the wife of the tournament organiser, Mr Kapil Saxena. The Lady of the lakes, as well as all the other Indians put us to shame with their voices.

Ambulance Deathrace

If that sounds surreal then todays Incident was downright bizarre. I have had a cold for several days now and welcomed the offer to consult a doctor. I also informed him that for several weeks I have had a blocked ear. Although I mentioned that it was definitly not serious, a consultation with an E.N.T specialist was arranged. I amused myself by playing blitz with some local kids, two of whom belonged to the good doctor who had arranged my appointment.

Imagine my surprise when an ambuance arrived (converted mini-van)! Three of the organisers joined the two paramedics and driver and all seven of us sped off to the hospital with siren blazing at death defying speed through the crowded and chaotic streets of Bhopal. The only explanation I can think of is that the driver had seen my game from today and must have thought that anyone that plays so badly can only have minutes to live! 

To my amazement we arrived without without death or even severe injury to anyone. Just some dizzyness and nausea from all the speedbumps which were totally ignored. I was then ushered into a consultation room to see a doctor, with my entourage in attendance. I was then examined by a doctor who reminded me of the female incarnation of the Bhudda from the tv show Monkey. After a thorough examination she diagnosed me with a middle ear infection, prescribed me three different types of medication, and we took our leave.

We were promised a more sedate return home, and although our new driver promised, after a few hundred metres, when we encountered traffic, he also was unable to restrain himself, turned on the siren and off we went.....

Next time I have a minor ailment in India, I think I'll just suffer in silence. 

Round 7 

I am again able to present games to you in replayer form thanks to instruction from Sagar Shah, journalist for Chessbase India. I will try to reenter the games lost from my previous replayer if I can find them..and when I get around to it.

This game was particularily annoying as it featured some of my perpetual weaknesses. 20...Kh7 is obviously played with the intention of continuing with f5. My first thought was to stop it with 21.Qa2, retaining a slight advantage and a pleasant position. Instead I gambled, miscalculated and with 25.Bd5 blundered into a mate. I had only calculated 25.... Qg5, forgetting that c2 is no longer covered.

Round 8

Todays game was even more painful evn though I drew. 19.Nd2 allowed black complete control and Black entered the ending exchange and pawn ahead. I got careless and thought I must be winning the pawn ending with the spare tempo, without calculating. Stupid, stupid , stupid! 

[Event "Bhopal GM Open"] [Site "Bhopal"] [Date "2017.12.25"] [Round "7"] [White "Wohl, Aleksandar"] [Black "Sangma, R"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "2370"] [BlackElo "2311"] [ECO "C77c"] [EventDate "2017.12.21"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.d3 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.Nc3 d6 8.a4 Rb8 9.axb5 axb5 10.Nd5 Bg4 11.c3 h6 12.Be3 Bxe3 13.fxe3 Nxd5 14.Bxd5 Ne7 15.Bb3 Ng6 16.O-O O-O 17.Qe1 Qd7 18.Ra7 Ra8 19.Qa1 Rxa7 20.Qxa7 Kh7 21.d4 f5 22.exf5 Qxf5 23.dxe5 Bxf3 24.gxf3 Nh4 25.Bd5 Qg6+ 0-1 [Event "Bhopal GM Open"] [Site "Bhopal"] [Date "2017.12.26"] [Round "8"] [White "Saurabh, Anand"] [Black "Wohl, Aleksandar"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2241"] [BlackElo "2370"] [ECO "C45c"] [EventDate "2017.12.21"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bb4+ 5.c3 Be7 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 Nf6 8.O-O d5 9.Nd2 O-O 10.h3 Nd7 11.Nf3 Nc5 12.Qc2 Nxd3 13.Qxd3 a5 14.Re1 Ba6 15.Qc2 Re8 16.Bf4 Bd6 17.e5 Bf8 18.Rad1 Qc8 19.Nd2 Re6 20. Bg3 Rg6 21.Kh2 c5 22.c4 d4 23.f4 Qd7 24.Qd3 Bb7 25.Rf1 f5 26.a4 Be7 27.Rg1 Rf8 28.b3 Rb6 29.Rde1 h6 30.Rgf1 Qe8 31.Re2 Qh5 32.Ree1 Rg6 33.Qe2 Qxe2 34.Rxe2 Re6 35.h4 Bc6 36.Rc1 Kh7 37.Kg1 Rg6 38.Kf2 Rg4 39.Nf3 g5 40.hxg5 hxg5 41.Rh1+ Kg7 42.fxg5 Bxg5 43.Nxg5 Rxg5 44.Rg1 Rg4 45.e6 f4 46.Bh2 Rh8 47.e7 Kf7 48.e8=Q+ Bxe8 49.Kf3 Rhh4 50.Rxe8 Kxe8 51.Re1+ Kd7 52.Rd1 Rxh2 53.Kxg4 Rxg2+ 54.Kxf4 Re2 55.Rd3 Rc2 56. Ke4 Rc3 57.Rxc3 dxc3 58.Kd3 Ke6 59.Kxc3 Ke5 60.Kd3 Kf4 61.Kd2 Ke4 62. Ke2 Kf4 63.Kd2 Kf3 64.Kd3 Kf4 65.Kd2 1/2-1/2

Anyway tomorrow is another day. It cant get any weirder...or can it?

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Second double round day in Bhopal. rounds 5&6

Before we turn to the chess, let me show you some more pictures of the lake we went to yesterday. I, and everyone else, am having big internet issues, as the wi-fi in the Hotel is intermittant at best and even when it is half working, is very slow. I also have a local sim, which is supposed to provide me with a Gig a day but seems to run out very quick. No, I am not watching any videos or doing anything else that is data intensive. 

I have disabled dropbox so the remaining suspect is this annoying Windows onedrive, which I have so far not been able to delete from my computer. Tomorrow is a single round day so I'll see if it is possible. Meanwhile, here are a couple of snaps I was unable to upload yesterday. My attempt now is to simply turn off mobile data while writing. Lets see if that works.

This lake is very busy, with lots of boats and people. Unfortunatly not one of the cities many lakes is clean enough for swimming. 

The train is some sort of attraction that one buys tickets for but I didn't find out what. Maybe a restaurant? Anyway, lets get to the chess.

Round 5

GM Timur Gareyev, who also writes a blog, holds the world record for simultaneous blind games, at 48 played, winning 35, drawing 7 and losing only 6. His opponents strength averaged about 1700 with some as high as 2200. Truly an impressive feat.

I didn't get much time to prepare because of the excursion but since Timur plays everything it wouldn't have made much sense anyway. I played a line of the Ponziani, which has served me well but burned half an hour calculating 8.Ne5, desperately trying to make it work. It doesn't give white anything in this particular position. I missed my chance for a small edge with 14.d4. Flank attacks should be met with a strike in the centre. A few more passive moves and his pieces slithered into my kingside. Oh well, 2600's at 10am are never pushovers.

[Event "Bhopal GM Open"]
[Site "Bhopal"]
[Date "2017.12.24"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Black "Gareyev, Timur"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2370"]
[BlackElo "2606"]
[ECO "C44k"]
[EventDate "2017.12.21"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 d5 4.d3 Nf6 5.Nbd2 a5 6.Be2 Bc5 7.O-O O-O 8.
Qc2 Re8 9.Nb3 Be7 10.a4 h6 11.Re1 Be6 12.Bf1 Bf8 13.h3 Nh5 14.Be3 Qf6
15.exd5 Bxd5 16.Nbd2 Nf4 17.Kh2 Qf5 18.Ng1 Rad8 19.Ne4 Ne6 20.g4 Qh7
21.Bg2 Ne7 22.Ne2 Ng6 23.Rg1 Be7 24.Rad1 Nh4 25.Bh1 Bg5 26.N2g3 Qg6
27.b3 Bf4 28.Bxf4 exf4 29.Ne2 f3 30.N2g3 Nf4 31.c4 Be6 32.Nh5 Ne2 33.
Rge1 f5 34.Neg3 fxg4 35.hxg4 Bxg4 0-1

Round 6

A quick lunch and half an hour rest and it was back to the board for me. I am staying true to the principle of setting a good example to my students by playing classical openings. My opponent played the opening swiftly and I was worried I may run into a theoretical trap but when Arjun stopped blitzing after 11...Bb6, it was clear who knew the position better. I had in fact just recently analysed this with one of my Padawans as far as 13...Bd5, with the conclusion that the line is unplayable for white.

The conclusion was correct but as usual, I got a bit carried away and missed a refutation to my piece sac. luckily so did my desperately short on time opponent. 24.Ra4 instead of Re2, protecting the f pawn would have made my eyes water.

[Event "Bhopal GM Open"]
[Site "Bhopal"]
[Date "2017.12.24"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Tiwari, Arjun"]
[Black "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2205"]
[BlackElo "2370"]
[ECO "C55x"]
[EventDate "2017.12.21"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.O-O Bc5 6.e5 d5 7.exf6 dxc4
8.Re1+ Be6 9.Ng5 Qd5 10.Nc3 Qf5 11.Nce4 Bb6 12.Nxf7 O-O 13.Nfg5 Bd5
14.b3 cxb3 15.axb3 h6 16.g4 Qg6 17.c4 hxg5 18.cxd5 Ne5 19.Bxg5 Rae8
20.h3 gxf6 21.Bf4 f5 22.Ng3 fxg4 23.Bxe5 d3 24.Ra2 gxh3 25.Qh5 Qxh5
26.Nxh5 Rf5 27.Kh2 Rexe5 28.Rxe5 Rxe5 29.Nf4 Rf5 30.Nxd3 Rxd5 31.Nc1
Rh5 32.Re2 Bc5 33.Nd3 Bd6+ 34.f4 Kf7 35.Re3 Kf6 36.Rxh3 Rxh3+ 37.Kxh3
Kf5 38.Kg3 Ke4 39.Nf2+ Kd4 40.Kf3 a5 41.f5 b5 42.Ne4 Bb4 0-1

Is it too late at my age to learn restraint? I have managed in other spheres of life but in chess this virtue still eludes me. :-)

Saturday, 23 December 2017

City of lakes and round 4

Today, after the round, we got treated to a tour of the biggest lake in Bhopal, after a quick photo op at the Bhopal chess academy. As usual, the procedure was a bit chaotic but after waiting around half an hour and discussing the schedule, we got underway. I'll start with the last picture first for its visual effect. This was taken from the boat on a special evening cruise around the lake just for us chessplayers, but I'm getting ahead of myself...

An interesting point came when the free-spirited top seed Timur Garayev embarked on a mission to find us some refreshments in the form of the local brew, Kingfisher. After some unsuccessful enquiries, he asked a local, sitting on his bike, where he might be able to buy some. The kind gentleman offered him a ride to a local bottle shop! This seemed a folly as the bus was already half an hour late but he made it back in plenty of time.

Timur then performed another service, as I had spat the dummy by then and returned to my room, but he thankfully hunted me down and insisted that I join them.

Our first stop was at the chess academy where a whole group of people were waiting to bless us with the Hindu ritual of putting red dots and rice on our foreheads and garnishing us with  bouquet of flowers. A few pictures and sefies later we were back on our way to the lake.

The lake is quite magnificent. Its a pity that, due to the delay, the light was no longer Ideal for photo's.

I also discovered a culinary delight! They are a superior form of natcho's, made from Chick peas and carawy seeds instead of corn, with onions and fresh tomato. Yummy.

We got on the boat just after the sun had set so we didn't see a whole lot part from the dance party on the ship set to Indian hits. More tours are promised! 

Now to the chess.

Round 4

This is my most entertaining game so far. I prepared only 10 minutes before the round. I saw my opponent played the four knights and looked at a few games of Morphy and Zukertort so not too current but inspirational. I played the opening pretty well in my humble opinion but went wrong with 18...gh3 (Qf6 is advantage black) and all of a sudden I was in trouble, but my opponent repaid the compliment with 26.Qe5 and it was smooth sailing after that.

On a final note, I am playing classical stuff these days as an example to my students. It is hypocritical to tell you all to play classical chess if I don't practise what I preach :-)

[Event "Bhopal GM Open"]
[Site "Bhopal"]
[Date "2017.12.23"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Najak, Rajesh"]
[Black "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2211"]
[BlackElo "2370"]
[ECO "C48d"]
[EventDate "2017.12.21"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Bc5 5.d3 O-O 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 Nd4 8.
Bc4 c6 9.h3 b5 10.Bb3 Re8 11.O-O a5 12.a3 Nxf3+ 13.Qxf3 g5 14.Bg3 d6
15.Nd1 g4 16.Qe2 Nh5 17.Kh2 Nf4 18.Qd2 gxh3 19.Bxf4 hxg2 20.Kxg2 exf4
21.Qxf4 d5 22.Rh1 Bf8 23.Ne3 Re6 24.Rag1 Bg7 25.Kf1 Rf6 26.Qe5 Kf8
27.Qh5 dxe4 28.Ng4 Rf5 29.Qh4 Qxh4 30.Rxh4 Rf4 31.f3 exf3 32.c3 h5

So for tomorrow morning I have earned myself a game against the top seed, GM Timur Gareyev on board 1. It's nice to reach the top board even if it only turns out to be a short visit :-)

As usual, you can watch the game, and the above posted game on the FollowChess app.

Wish me suerte amigoes, I'll need some :-)

Friday, 22 December 2017

Bhopal, first impressions and round1.


Bhopal first came to the worlds attention 0n December 3rd, 1984 in the most tragic way, after the Union Carbide factory spewed tons of poisonous gas, killing thousands of people and injuring over half a million. I remember the gutwrenching feeling when the news reports first appeared on the television and the images circled the globe. 

 Like Chernobyl and Fukushima, these cities, never before known to the majority of the world's population, are now etched into Global history. Perhaps one day we will learn not to build dangerous installations near population centres, or even better, do without them altogether. 

What is even more remarkable is that people stay and rebuild. Nowadays Bhopal is known as the city of lakes and one of the greenest cities in India. Most of the rounds start at 4pm, so hopefully, I'll be able to show you some of the sights.

Traffic is definitely not as intense here as in the major cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Crossing the road is a lot easier although zebra crossings are still just decorations like everywhere else. Cows have priority and all seem to be unescorted but know hwere they are going.  

Just up the road from us is a well maintained and very neat nursery, which looks strangely out of place in the surrounding chaos.

Fresh Coconut juice is available everywhere for 60 cents.

The tournament then sort of got underway. The first minor hiccup was that the players meeting and lunch was scheduled at the same time, 1.30pm. I turned up to the players meeting only to find that I was the only one there. Everyone else preferred lunch.  So I joined them and we convened about 2pm. 

At the players meeting 7 people were nominated to the appeals committee, including yours truly, the schedule and rules, as stated in the brochure were spelt out, and, most importantly, dress regulations were stated in no uncertain terms. 


This is FIDE's new obsession after the incident in Tbilisi.

We then moved straight on to the opening ceremony This is one of the two extremely spacious playing halls. At this point, I should mention that the top 20 boards are all streamed live. Also, a strict code of conduct is enforced by the many arbiters. Absolute silence is maintained in the playing hall and naturally, all electronic devices are banned. This is how tournaments should be run.

After a few brief speeches by the major, the president of the Bank, a famous hockey player, and the president of the chess association, the traditional torch lighting ceremony took place.

Three players were also honoured with this task, first the top seed, GM Timur Garayev, who recently broke the blindfold chess world record with 48 games, followed by myself and last but definitely not least, GM Alberto David. I was terrified of stuffing it up by letting the candle go out or something and when he got back to the table, Alberto took the words out of my mouth! he had exactly the same fear :-)

Photo credit: Sagar Shah (Chessbase India)
Timur then made the ceremonial first move against one of the dignitaries.
Nice shorts :-)

Round 1

My first round opponent was visibly nervous during our game and dropped a piece to a nasty little trick so I managed to finish early. He was so incredibly polite after our postmortem, thanking me repeatedly for analysing with him. I sincerely hope he does well in the remainder of his games. Actually all the Indian young players I have played and watched have great manners. 

You may notice that I am not posting games on a replayer like I used to because, the site I used for many years seems to have collapsed and all my laboriously entered games over the years have disappeared. 

While I search for a solution to this issue I will post the pgn, which is inconvenient for you the viewer but I need a little time to find an alternative. Perhaps there is a way to do it without relying on an external source? Suggestions extremely welcome.

[Event "Bhopal GM Open"]
[Site "Bhopal"]
[Date "2017.12.21"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Black "Choubey, Saurabh"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2370"]
[BlackElo "1700"]
[ECO "C47c"]
[EventDate "2017.12.21"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Be2 Bb4 5.Nd5 Nxe4 6.Nxb4 Nxb4 7.Nxe5 
d6 8.a3 dxe5 9.axb4 Qd4 10.O-O Qxb4 11.c3 Nxf2 12.Rxf2 Qb6 13.Qa4+ 
Bd7 14.Qa3 a6 15.d4 exd4 16.Bg5 f6 17.Bh5+ Kd8 18.Re1 Qd6 19.Qxd6 
cxd6 20.Bd2 1-0

I had wins in rounds 2&3 as well but they were too long and it was a double round day so I hope you don't mind if I refer you to FollowChess where you can see all the games from the top 20 boards live or saved.

Toodles :-)  

Monday, 18 December 2017

Russia Gold, India Silver, Iran Bronze.

Russia was invincible in the first eight rounds of this competition and had in fact already won Gold before the final round had started. As it happened they needed the gap as they lost their last match to the India Red team 2.5-1.5

India Green finished a close second, also losing only one match but also drawing one.

Iran also just had one loss but drew two matches.

One surprise for me at least was the brevity of the closing ceremony. The dignitaries kept their speeches short, there was no cultural entertainment and the prizegiving ceremony seemed rather rushed. I have played in quite a number of tournaments in India, starting in 1992 in Calicut, Kerela, and have never experienced this. I'm certainly not complaining, am just a little befuddled.

The Russian team did have the edge in the coaching department with GM Kobalia, centre top row in the blue shirt, a truly world class player and a nice guy actually. In Norway, some years ago I had the pleasure of playing him and would have earned a GM norm with a win but that dream ended quickly as I was unsurprisingly totally outclassed.

The India Green team had the hopes of a nation resting on its very young shoulders and they came close. At least one of their players still has 5 years in this age category so I expect Gold could very well come their way soon.

Iran has dominated this competition of late and was the defending champion. With such depth of talent, they could very well become a contender in the Chess Olympics soon. They also only lost one match but drew two. There was daylight between these three teams and the rest of the field. 

Full results here

A final picture of the medalists and dignitaries.

The Australian team standing for the Russian national anthem.

This was my first outing as coach of an Australian national team and it was a thoroughly pleasant experience. All players really gave their best and although the result could have been better, spirits remained high. Nerves could have played a role in some games and more experience at this level will surely pay dividends. They have the talent, now they need support from Government and chess administration.

The only frustration was watching and not being able to play any games myself but since I am a tad over 16 that couldn't be helped. Luckily a GM Open is beginning in Bhopal in a few days and I'll
hopefully be able to use some of the things I have learned from helping the team prepare.

Hasta la Bhopal :-)

Round 8 disaster Australia-South Africa 3.5-.5

Like almost every tournament, individual and team, we had missed opportunities and lucky breaks. And like in almost every event, it is the final rounds that determine one's performance. We got more points than we deserved against Mozambique in round 7 but returned the points in round 8. 

Everyone is all smiles at the start.

The very patient and supportive parents

Members of the Malaysian team practising.

Coaching this team was rewarding, especially the evening postmortems. OUr preparation was limited because of the tight schedule and the fact the pairings only came out after 11pm. Also, not all players had many games to look at.

It is not possible to sit for 4 hours watching, so I had a chance to stroll around and watch some of the other games. One of the highlights was the board one game in Iran - India Blue. Black to play.

In our match, nothing went right. Hughston played a natural looking move in the opening that turned out to be a mistake (9.Rd1), followed by a tactical oversight two moves later. He fought on for a long time and was the last to finish, his opponent showed too much endgame class.

Isaac didn't understand the urgency of playing e5 or c5 in the opening around move 8 and suffered from space deprivation for the rest of the game. I am partly to blame for that as I advised him to play this solid system without explaining it properly.

I thought we had salvaged a point on board three when I saw the handshake with Gordon having an extra piece. He had played an excellent game. To my horror, I soon realised that a draw had been agreed. Gordon was on the increment, had a stomach ache and couldn't find a way to win so that explains it. When it rains.....

Brigitte Watkins played a great game only going astray late in the ending. I feel that if she had found the unnatural 22...Rfd8 with the idea of  Nf8-g6 black is doing well.

The real disappointment, however, was that we got the bye in the last round. Oh well, win some, get the bye some :-(

Now just the closing ceremony to go and the bus is waiting...

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Mozambique - Australia 4-0

Chess is a spectator sport, or at least will be when all tournaments livestream their games as the Indian team does. Chessbase India has daily reports on the tournament and various websites including 


 show all the games live and also archive them so one can follow this exciting event from anywhere.

The match against Mozambique looked easy on paper and I was optimistic that we may be able to have an early dinner for a change, and after the opening, it looked that way.

Sophie played the opening in classic style, developing all her pieces in the centre of the board, which soon netted her a pawn. Then with some clever tactics, she won more material, swapped down to a winning endgame and soon brought home the point.

The other games looked good but all of a sudden turned. Gordon, who looked to be mating early suddenly got his pieces tangled and at one point could have been lost had his opponent sacrificed his queen for two rooks. He didn't and Gordon got his beloved increment play, like in almost every game but then won a rook with a mate threat. 

Isaac too, after winning a pawn in the opening, suddenly left a rook hanging for no good reason. After the complications, he was a pawn down for less than nothing but his opponent left his back rank unguarded. 3-0. The spectre of a loss had been avoided.

Hughston got a nice edge out of the opening but failed to find the quickest way and had to convert a pawn up ending, that hovered close to a draw for a while, but great technique and patience gave us a slightly fortuitous 4-0

We are playing the South Africa A team today and are fairly evenly matched. Carelessness will not go unpunished today. If we play well we will be back on 50% and face a very srtong country tomorrow. Wish us luck :-)

Friday, 15 December 2017

Match against Armenia, Round5 & Free day.

Gandhi Ashram

One of the benefits of playing in India is the opportunity to see some of the countries rich cultural heritage. The Ashram is surely one such site. Mahatma Gandhi is widely considered the father of the nation and is indeed one of the twentieth centuries most inspirational figures.

Two busloads of chessplayers took advantage of the opportunity to go on the tour. 

Speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil.

Western Democracy = Diluted Fascism?
One of Gandhi's famous quotes. It could be seen to be truer now than in his time.

Inside, where the story is told, a serene atmosphere prevails

Beautiful decorations adorn much of the museum.

 A curious squirrel checks out the visitors.

Who doesn't love puppies :-)

Sophie, Brigitte and Hughston taking a break from chess 

Kankarai Lake

After the Ashram, we went to this lake which is quite impressive but to be honest, after the Ashram we were all a little tired. Click on the heading for some history of the site.

There is an amusement park, a butterfly enclosure and lots of popcorn stands all around the park but we did not have the time to explore properly. The mini-train ride past these places was just a tease and soon we were all thinking of lunch :-)

The chief Arbiter takes the Russian coach around the lake.

Armenia Match

When the team first told me we were paired with this powerhouse team I thought they were kidding, as we were on 50% in the middle of the field and they were one of the favourites. A look at the lineup tells the story. We all knew that taking any points off them would be an achievement.

Sophie Watkins took the perfect photo of the start of the match.

Brigitte couldn't show the remarkable form of previous rounds and was lost in the opening. All the Armenians diverted from their normal opening and Brigitte was unprepared.

Isaac on board two also misplayed the early middlegame but got a chance to sacrifice a knight for compensation but played it safe instead and got positionally squashed.

We faired better on the white boards. Although Hughston got on the back foot, he found a sacrifice of piece for two pawns, which was enough but with little time he miscalculated a variation. He has been a little unlucky in this tournament. His play and imagination deserve more points, but that's chess.

The hero of the day was Gordon, who outplayed his much higher rated opponent in the opening and middlegame, forcing black to sacrifice an exchange to avoid being rolled on the kingside. Gordon did nurse a considerable advantage for a long time but with little time couldn't find a winning plan so agreed to a draw. A good score for us and a lucky escape for the Armenians.

Tomorrow is the second double round day and the team meets Bangladesh in the morning. there are no easy matches at this level.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Australia - Iraq 2.5-1.5 round 4 report.

How nice it is to coach a team that ask advice and then follow it to the letter! The extraordinary thing about this team is how well they get on, as well as the parents. In my 30+ years of chess comps, I have never seen such a harmonious group. 

This is a key factor in team events and has helped Armenia win 3 Olympic Gold Medals in recent years. Does that also explain why Russia has failed to win a Gold for a generation? I don't know, just idle speculation on my part :-)

Hughston smiling at the start of his game against Iraq. 

Isaac, who seemed a bit uncertain the first few days now seems to feel as if he lives here.

Gordon feeling quite at home as well.

No comment necessary :-)

Match against Iraq

It is so nice to see Iraq, a country with some challenges, past and present, competing in this event. They also seem to be more organised and better funded than Australia, but then again we are a low bar to jump.

They outrated us on every board but the fighting spirit of our youngsters bore fruit this time. 

Hughston was a tiny bit careless in the opening, allowing a central break that looked nasty, but then dived deep into the position and found a spectacular exchange sacrifice ( lad seems a bit frivolous with his rooks ) which gave him more than enough compensation in the form of two bishops, an imposing central structure and an attack. The position demanded great accuracy though and at some moments he played second best moves eventually winning the exchange back but at too high a price. Fortune does not always favour the brave.

Isaac played his role perfectly. As black, he occupied the centre, traded pieces and drew effortlessly. In other words, he did his job. This was also the only game not to give the coach palpitations.

Gordon didn't play the opening perfectly and came under quite some pressure. He has also shown himself to be a bit of a time trouble addict but his play seems to improve the less time he has!
His opponent was visibly annoyed that he had not won yet and blundered a King-Queen fork to a night. After a forced sequence Gordon was a piece ahead, which he quickly gave back for two pawns. It was the best way to reach a Bishop+3 v Bishop+1 ending, which required no thought, just pushing.

Brigitte was up against it, black on board 4 against a 1755. amazingly enough, she played the opening perfectly, reaching a winning position before move 20, and had double her opponents time on the clock. Then she dropped a piece. Oops. But she didn't resign or get depressed but kept making threats even as pieces got swapped and her situation got more and more hopeless. This finally took its toll on her opponent, who was playing on the increment and she overlooked quite a transparent mate in 2. Miracles do happen if you don't give up! 

All games are on the Chess24 website as well as Chessbomb. Link below.

As a reward for this spectacular fighting effort, the Australian team gets to play Armenia!

Double Barrel Day rounds 2&3.

Double round days are never easy but yesterday was particularly taxing on the Australian team. In the morning we were paired with the talented young Kenyan team and in the afternoon, with the Canadians who outrated us by hundreds of points on every board, more than a thousand on board 4.

 The morning round started at 9.30am which left little time for breakfast let alone preparation because we had to leave the Hotel before 9 because the venue is some way from the Hotel. we also had only a few games of the Kenyan players to peruse.

Most of the games went the distance so there was not much time to take another long Bus journey back for lunch.

I was not able to join the team because I had to attend a meeting of coaches/ non-playing captains to discuss a pairing issue. This was particularly annoying because of the subject discussed.

Politics raised its ugly head because the Iranian team was issued a directive by either its government or chess association that they couldn't play against Israel. The organisers were not prepared for this so no announcement was made before the start of the tournament. Therefore the round 2 pairings had to be changed. This now affected everybody else and some countries got easier or harder opponents than the ones they had prepared for and were understandably a little perturbed.

Apparently, as I understood it, the organisers had received a phone call from FIDE that the two countries were not to be paired. Another country wanted to see the instruction in writing because they had spent considerable resources to attend. 

My thoughts were, this is why I am not having lunch and preparing with my team?

By the time I returned, had a quick bite, the team was already on their way back to the venue.

Between rounds, our team was busy getting photographed with organisers.

Brigitte Watkins is all smiles before her first Olympiad game.

Hughston Parle focused on getting his scoresheet filled in properly.

Gordon Yang getting himself in the zone.

Sophie Watkins gathering memories.

The Kenya match

We outrated Kenya on the top three boards but they were no walkovers. Hughston answered the Petroff defence with 3.d3, preferring to just play chess. Black launched an early attack but was quickly repulsed and the game was the first to finish.

On board 2, Isaac played the Sicilian, got a nice opening, went slightly astray in the middle game but once queens came off, ground down his opponent efficiently.

Gordon won a piece in the middlegame with a tic tac but not in the most accurate manner so his opponent got sufficient compensation. A rook blunder helped end the game quickly.

Brigitte started her first international game rather nervously dropping a pawn early but then settled and launched a sacrificial attack on her opponents King. After a few inaccuracies by both sides, this position was reached with black to move. Brigitte swapped Queens and won the endgame. Can you spot what she missed?

So we won 4-0 but not without some anxious moments.

The Canada Match

We were definitely the underdog on every board and things looked bad early on but the entire team fought like lions. late in the evening when most matches had already finished; all four players were still fighting.

 Hughston had an equal, symmetrical position until the late middlegame. Then, in an attempt to go for the full point, he sacrificed the exchange for a central pawn and attack. It nearly paid off but an inaccuracy and great defence by his opponent thwarted his ambitions.

Isaac let his opponent control the centre and despite dogged resistance, he too went down eventually.

Gordon also sacrificed an exchange but couldn't get quite enough for it.

Sophie went wrong, in a Sicilian middlegame, early, as many of us do, but then just as we were all expecting imminent collapse, she found incredible resources and forced her opponent on to the increment, even getting to threaten mate. Eventually, the start she gave her opponent proved to much. 

 So a 0-4 defeat but one the team can be proud of. These youngsters know how to fight and if they can do so on equal terms the result might be a lot different. 

That's actually my job but I was unable to do it yesterday, partly because of the double round and partly because I was asked to attend a meeting caused by political stupidity.

Well, its understandable. If you let young people from warring countries meet each other, they may make friends and then its much harder for the idiot politicians to make them hate each other.

Did I mention I hate politics and warmongering politicians?

Bus waiting, gotta go. We are playing Iraq today. Speaking of......