Friday, August 31, 2007

Ethics plus 3...

Back in May, I reported that the Ethics Comm. of FIDE planned to conduct a hearing involving GM Nigel Short and two FIDE officials namely GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili and Georgios Makropoulos, Fide Deputy President and Vice President respectively. The case centers around name-calling and claims of ineptitude by Short. The two FIDE bigshots felt that the statements were damaging to their honor and reputation. So, they reacted. To be exact, Short claimed :
"FIDE deputy president Georgios Makropoulos and vice-president Zurab Azmaiparashvili spent more time in San Luis at their hotel 16 km away than they did in the tournament hall despite being paid thousands of dollars, plus considerable expenses, to do their job on the Appeal’s Committee. It came as absolutely no surprise to me that these dunderheads would flunk the first crisis that they were presented with i.e. Elista toiletgate. I might add that Azmai is singularly inappropriate for such work having, by his own admission, cheated in winning the 2003 European Championship".

Zurab Azmaiparashvili took exception to the term " dunderhead, " a word he felt was used to define him as a stupid person, that it was a personal insult to him. Anyway, all these verbal shrapnel supposedly violated par. 2.2.10, and 2.2.11 of the FIDE Code of Ethics.

The end of July came in Athens, and the Ethics Commission handed down its decision. As for the matter relating to Azmaiparashvili being a dunderhead, the ruling stated:
" using the word "dunderhead," Mr. Nigel Short exceeded in the expression of his opinions, abusing of the right to criticism and committed a conduct likely to injure or discredit Mr. Zurab Azmaiparashvili’s reputation, thus violating art. 2.2.11 of the FIDE Code of Ethics. "
The EC further argued that " dunderhead " was a " needless insult, integrating a conduct likely to injure or discredit the reputation of the plaintiff and a violation of the FIDE Code of Ethics." Score one for GM Azmaiparashvili.
So, what is the punishment? As the EC put it, " Mr. Nigel Short is sanctioned with a warning. " Boy, that was easy. Short evens the score.

As for the comments relating to ineptitude and inappropriateness:
" criticising Mr. Zurab Azmaiparashvili in an interview, Mr. Nigel Short exercised his right to criticism and did not violate the FIDE Code of Ethics, thus on this part the complaint against him has to be dismissed. " Make that Two-to-One in favor of Short.

As for the comments damaging the reputation of the two gentlemen from FIDE and by extension FIDE itself, the EC ruled that
" the complaint filed by Mr. Zurab Azmaiparashvili is not admissible nor receivable and the charge concerning the violation of art. 2.2.10 of the FIDE Code of Ethics has to be dismissed. " Short wins the game.

If you want to read the full text of the decision, you can find it here:

For the record, the members of the FIDE Ethics Commission are:

Mr. Roberto Rivello (Chairman), Mr. Ralph Alt, Mr. Laurence Ball, Mr. Dirk J.A. De Ridder, Mr. Noureddine Tabbane, and Mr. Ian Wilkinson.

Well, it is that time of the year again. Summer comes to an end, but we are looking at three months of pleasant Fall weather. Soon, it will be time to check the foliage map, and drive out there to see the colors change. It's not too bad that Summer's gone. There's Thanksgiving, Halloween, and the holiday season in December. I didn't finish the book I chose for my summer reading, but I will get to the end of it soon. This weekend, we salute the working people of America.

I remember in 1978, still a young man back then, I walked up 5th Avenue in Manhattan, straight to the New York Public Library's main building, and asked to be employed. I was interviewed, and sent uptown to the Performing Arts Research Center at Lincoln Center for another interview. By 12 noon, I was an employee and working a job. Thirty years ago, that was.

To all my readers from America, I wish you a great and happy Labor Day weekend.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Just a short entry here. Time scramble. Fast and loose moves. I have lost count, no more writing. Nervous hands and rapid eye movements. I captured the pawn on h5 with a check, and his king moved up from f4 to g5 ( diagram ). Uh oh moment. I have lost my knight. G3 and F6 are taken. Only fools rush in. But, wait a minute, I've got Nf4!!! So, it was a draw.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and his dreams...

There is a wonderful video of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and Al Jazeera, the news network, in Kalmykia wherein the head of FIDE talks about his kidnapping by interstellar aliens. Yup, it happened near his apartment in Moscow. Uh huh. How the aliens pulled it off was not discussed. The reporter should have pressed him on this point. According to Ilyumzhinov, the aliens flew him to another star and brought back to Earth so he wouldn't miss an appointment. I have heard of this story before, but I haven't seen the video. All this happens in the early part of the interview. However, the entire 12-min video is worth watching as it shows how the man has transformed his country for the better(?).

Here it is:

Friday, August 24, 2007

Chess CSI: Identify this photo...

When I first saw this photo, it immediately reminded me of another photo featuring Tal and Pal Benko at play. In that photo, the latter wore dark glasses to combat Tal's legendary basilisk stare. It's a famous photo and you have probably seen it in older chess books. A basilisk, by the way, is a mythical creature, invariably portrayed as a serpent, lizard, or dragon, said to kill by its breath or look. You might have one at your work place actually. Seriously now, the photo above portrays Tal employing the same deadly stare at his opponent, but the who, where, and when are unknown. Perhaps, somewhere in a dusty and musty photo/newspaper archive the information lies waiting. But, we don't know that. So, I investigated.

Fortunately, we can see a significant portion of the position on the board and we can extrapolate some information from it. That will be our key to identifying this photo. There are the obvious clues: Tal had the white pieces and it was black's move. Although not crucial in identifying the photo, the time on the clocks showed that Black was behind in time by approximately 33 minutes. With the a8 and b8 squares out of view, we can't see what pieces occupy them. Because one black bishop and a knight can be seen at Tal's left, obviously captured pieces, we know that there must be a rook and another knight out there on the board. We can also safely deduct that this was an official tournament game based on the cordoned off spectators.

The photo must be studied carefully for minute details. The white pieces appear bleached out, and the task requires serious eyeballing. There is no question that a white rook stands of g1. From there, we can proceed westward for a roll call. The bishop on f1, Queen on d1, and the Knight on e2 ( it stands one square north of a dark square that must be e1 ) do not present a problem. But where is the King? He stands tall in front of the Queen and to the left of the Knight, partially blocked block from view by the black Queen, on what could only be d2. The remaining rook can be see at the far corner on a1. In the foreground, you can see the captured white pieces: a knight with its back towards you and two hard-to-discern pawns. So, where is the other bishop? If you look closely, you can see its miter between the tops of the Queen, Knight and King. It's very hard to see. If there are two captured pawns, there must be five pawns out there. Again, sharpen your vision by looking at the latest issue of FHM or Maxim magazine, and then come back to the photo. You can see them at a3, c3, d4, h2, and on g4, in the shadow of the black Queen---the hardest to see of them all. We are almost done, but one more problem. I count only one captured black pawn and six on the board. Where's the eighth pawn? I could not figure it out and so I decided to call it AWOL.

It was time to look for the game with what we already know about it. I whipped out my trusty travel drive, plugged it into the USB port, opened my Fritz9 program, searched my saved databases, and found one with 3,111 of Tal's games. I used the Edit/Filter Games function of Fritz9 to search the database after setting up the position. I was not getting any hits in the beginning. I looked at the photograph again and reconfigured the setup in Fritz9. Initially, I had the g4 pawn on g5 and the black bishop on d5. After the changes, and an assumption that the missing black rook and knight were on a8 and b8 respectively, I got a hit. The found position appears here:

We are almost there except that the missing black pawn showed up on c5, a square that is empty in the photograph. What the devil is this? Checking the game score, I saw that this position appeared two moves prior to the one in the photograph. The next moves were 13...cd4 14. ed4 and that brings us to the photograph. So, if the C pawn was exchanged, where is it in the photograph? Of course, it could have been taken off the table but that is highly unlikely. Have you ever taken a captured pawn, or piece, completely off your table? Kinda strange, don't you think? Okay, back to the photograph we go.

I've got it. Look very closely at the area encompassed by the tops of the white king and the rook on a1. It could be mistaken as part of the woman's skirt, but it has a different shade of black. It is the head of the missing eighth pawn. So, it was there after all. The puzzle is complete.

The photograph shows Tal playing against Nikola Padevsky in 1960 in Leipzig ( Nimzo-Indian, Samisch, E-25). Padevsky was about to make his fourteenth move which was 14...Qg5+ ( from the photograph). Padevsky earned the IM title in 1957, the GM title in 1964. He won the Bulgarian championships for 1954-55, 1962, 1964. BTW, Tal won the game. You can play over the entire game here:

I would like to give credit to the photographer, but his/her identity is still a mystery to me. That will be your homework for this weekend.

Thursday, August 23, 2007



It looks simple, but some care is needed to avoid a draw. Remember that a King and Knight cannot mate, and so how the pawns are managed plays a crucial part in the outcome. Looking ahead, there is also a possibility of stalemate on a8. Black played 46...f4, seeking simplification in hope that his lone pawn on the kingside will detain the knight in that area. Black's best chances also lie in getting his pawn as close as possible to a queening square. Both 47.g4 and 47.gf4 are playable here. In post-game analysis, I concluded that 47.g4 would be the simpler way to win, leaving my A pawn to the mercy of the Black King while I move my King over to the kingside and mop up both pawns, leaving me with a passed G pawn rather than a rook pawn and a better King position. Anyway, the game went 47.gf4 gf4 48.Nf3 Ka8 49. Kb6 Kb8 50. a5 Ka8 51. a6 Kb8 52. a7+ Ka8( Diagram 2).

It would have been a draw if the Knight and pawn were not in the picture. Now, a bit more imagination is required to win this game. Taking the F pawn with either the King or Knight will result in a draw. However, a Knight on c7 equals a mate. What to do? Simple math, my boy. It will take three moves for the Knight to get to c7 while it will take the F pawn as many moves to promote on f1. However, it is White's move, and he gets there first. So, 53.Ng5 f3 54.Ne6 f2 55. Nc7#.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

It's a Numbers Game...
It's time to pause for a moment and observe a numerical occurrence as rare as the Comet Kohoutek, perhaps more rare. Today, my counter ran up six numbers in consecutive order and I was there to capture the moment. Using the cut and paste method---a procedure that Michaelangelo himself would find useful--- I present it here in glorious orange. I changed the background color so it doesn't look like part of the main page. You're allowed five seconds to gawk, and then please move on so others can see. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What could have been!

Szabo -

David Bronstein treats us to a memorable moment in Zurich, 1953. This game can be found in his highly-esteemed book on the tournament, game number 130. Here, we have two grandmasters missing a mate-in-two twice. You begin the count when Reshevsky played 20...Bf6??. As you can surmise, 21. Qg6+ leads to a mate in two. That's one. Szabo responded with 21. Bf6??. That's two. There are no hard lines of analysis here, only a simple truth. The mate-in-two stood out like a wart on a bald head, but neither player noticed. Finally, Reshevsky got the idea and played 21...Bd5 getting rid of the pin on the f7 pawn.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Timman -
Jones, G

This game comes to us from the 5th Staunton Memorial 2007, Round 11. I bet Rusty wished he could have this one back. Oh, did I say Rusty? I meant Jan. Quite incredibly, Timman lost his way in a well-known opening line. Jones last move was 12...Nh5-Nf4 (Diagram) and things must have seemed innocuous enough for Timman to respond with 13. Bg7. Much to his chagrin, Jones came back with 13...Qg5! Houston, we have a problem. Although it looked very dangerous, there was a way out of this mess. However, Timman caved in and traded his queen for two minor pieces. Here's how it went: 14. Qf4 Qf4 15. Bd4... Timman could have gone 14. Kf2 and survived. The discovered attack on the white queen 14...Nh3+ would fail against 15. Ke1. Timman went on to lose the game in thirty-eight moves. This is the kind of debacle that can send somebody into the streets, all night, looking for a shoulder to cry on. Sorry, Jan.

Drawn by Sidney Harris.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Can you believe this? Do you think I made it up? It is from an actual game. Tigran L. Petrosian versus David Navara, Ordix Open in Mainz, 2007, Round 10. You might not see a triple fork involving two queens and the king again in your life. There is, however, one more peculiar thing about this position. Petrosian had just played 47. Nc5+ and then resigned without waiting for Black's reply. It seems that Petrosian just wanted to execute this dramatic fork before running up the white flag. What's the point of continuing? After Black's 47...Kc4, 48. Ne4 or 48. Nb3 will not help White at all. BTW, congratulations to David Navara who emerged as the tournament winner with 9.5 points out of a possible eleven. He lost in the last round, but up to this point he was 9.5 out of ten. Impressive performance. A total of 762 players!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Don't let anyone fool you, my boy...

It was meant to be. Sooner or later, Vladimir Kramnik would join the ranks of GMs who have showcased their great, if not picaresque, moments in chess on DVD. Chessbase announced that My Path to the Top is ready for ordering ($45). This DVD holds six hours of video, and it traces Kramnik's career from the early and formative years all the way up to the top of the world.
Let's take another look at Kramnik-Topalov, the final game. The position above should take its place among the many memorable moments in world championship play, probably next to Fischer's Bh2 capture against Spassky. I was following this game online, and my heart missed a beat when Topalov played 44...Rc5. Evidently, this move alarmed Kramnik as well. With only five minutes left in the game, this move seemed to cut the legs off from under Kramnik's attack. According to Kramnik, his heart rate soared to 200. But, it took only a few microseconds for this great and pragmatic player to realize that 44...Rc5 was a colossal blunder. Kramnik attributes this mistake to Topalov's tendency to shatter under pressure particularly when defending unfavorable endings.
Kramnik took advantage via 45. Rb7+ Rb7 46. Rc5+ Kb6 47. ab7 and Black is a rook down. With this win, Kramnik became undisputed world champion, again.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A fork in the road...

White, with content, plunked his rook on d1 and awaited an exchange of rooks that seemed like a foregone conclusion to him. I could have cooperated with him had it not been for my super ego telling me to look out for roadside bombs. So, I tamed his eagerness by spending a few minutes in deep thought at this junction, wisely resisted inertia created by a flurry of quick exchanges leading to this position. It was time for a reassessment of the situation.

I imagined the position devoid of rooks with our kings on their respective first ranks. That's fine but the sight of White's B and C pawns confronting my lone pawn on C6 augured well for him but not for me. I would end up with a position like Diagram 2 where White enjoys a passed pawn, better king position, and a helpless black pawn on a3. Now, the correct winning plan here is to use the passed pawn--be it the C or A pawn-- as a diversionary tactic while the attacking king mops up the rest of the black pawns in the center and wings. The push g4 and f5/g5 will serve White very well.

So, I decided that it would be safer for me to step on a rattlesnake than to play 29...Rd1+. What were my options? Well, for one thing, the Black king's position prevented the immediate invasion of the rook via D7. If 30.Rd6 became an option, then 30...Kc7 will temporarily hold the position while the black rook sought counter play somewhere else. I decided that I could mine my way up the G file, and create pressure there. I played 29...Rg8 with the intention of pushing my G pawn to either g6 or g5. Either way, I could see the pawns on g2 and h5 becoming a serious liability for White.

After three moves, we've come to Position 3. My rook stands proudly on G3, putting serious pressure on the G2 pawn, rather than cowering in Black's backyard. More importantly, it created a demarcation line along the third rank, a line that the White king could not cross. Defending the G2 pawn became a matter of national importance for White. Against this backdrop, the advance of the B and C pawns was effectively stymied. Without the help of their king, these pawns will fall prey to the enemy once they advance. I think this position beats Position 2 hands down. Don't you think? The game result is of secondary importance to exemplifying the deductive, mental process that occurred here. The position required, first of all, a correct strategic assessment and then some hard lines of analysis. I will forego the latter, and leave that task to you. BTW, our friend Fritz9 played 29...Rg8 himself.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Chess Serial Killer is arrested

Take my advice. It's free and good. If Alexander Pichushkin, 33 yrs, ever invites you for a drink in the park, don't go. You might end up...well...I'll let the BBC tell you the rest :

Once in a while, I share a crucial moment in my games such as the position on the left which occurred at the Continental Open 07. This game started out as a Sicilian Alapin ( c3) with an early queen exchange on d4. My opponent had just played 31...h6. I considered 32.Nf3 and 32.Nf6 but I immediately felt that they were pretty tame responses, good but tame. I wanted something that would significantly change the landscape of this game. After a 5-min think, I was very pleased to play 32. Nc7. Black had several ways to proceed, and I calculated them to be unsatisfactory if not outright losing. Unfortunately for my opponent, he chose the line that loses immediately. Ok, let's go down this line quickly: 32...Bc7 33. bc Rc1 and then the winning move 34. Rd8 ( diagram 2).
Black cannot take on c7 because of 35.Ne6+, forks the rook and the king. Score one for White. But, there was also a pretty nifty way to win if Black chose to capture the knight with 32...hg5 ( instead of 32...Bc7), thinking that he could get two pieces for his rook. Here's the line: 32...hg5 33. Ne8+ Ne8 34. Rd8 and White gets his minor piece back with a winning ending.
We're not finish yet. What if my opponent saw all these lines and tried to avoid them? Play would have gone 32...Rc8 33. Nge6+ and I would be happy with my position. Checking with Fritz9, I got the line 33...Kf7 34. c6 bc 35. Nd8 Ke7 36. Nc6+ and it looks good for White.
Some Chess coming up in NJ

If you're adversely affected by Summer's end, there are three tournaments that could make you feel better about the coming of Fall. There is the Viking Last Sat Quad at the Courtyard Marriot in Mt. Arlington. Like a true New Jerseyite, I can tell you that's at Exit 30 of I-80. Three-rounder, G/90, begins at 10am, EF $20. Any questions, you can email to

The very next day, you've got the Westfield Action Quads at 220 Clark St., Westfield. Another three-rounder but G/45 this time. First round is 2:30pm. They schedule their tournaments later in the day. The last round is at 6:10pm so you'd be done just before 8pm. EF $20. For more info: Todd Lunna, 732-946-7379. You can go South on the GSP, Exit 137, and then head West on Route 28. Bring some I.D.

Okay, that brings us to the following holiday weekend and the 61st New Jersey Open. Sept. 1-3, 2-3. Nice. This one will be in Somerset, Exit 12 of I-287 South. Specs are 6SS, 40/2, SD/1. So, there will be a lot of time to think out your moves, or mistakes. Venue is Ramada Inn at 60 Cottontail Lane. EF $65 if mailed by 8/25, $80 at site. Sections are Open, U1900, U1600, and U1300. 3-day and 2-day schedules. First and second rounds for 3-day schedule is at 12 noon and 7pm, Saturday. If you're interested, check your Chess Life Magazine or again email I am just here to whet your appetite.

I am actually considering playing in all three, but the wife put on a long face when she heard about it. I am back to the same old balancing act.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Who is Jacob Aagaard?

Well, Aagaard won this year's British Championships. He represented Scotland, but if his name kinda makes you wonder then you might as well know that he was originally from Denmark. Born in 1973, this prolific writer has twelve books with Everyman Chess. Of course, you can also see and hear him on Chessbase DVDs. In 2002, named his book, Excelling at Chess, as their Book of the Year. Anyway, Aagaard finished up with 8.5 points. Second and third places went to Stephen Gordon of England 8 points, Jonathan Rowson of Scotland with 8 points as well.
World Youth U16 Olympiad 07, Results

The olympiad ended last weekend after ten rounds of competition. India emerged as the Gold Medal winner with 28 points followed by Hungary with Silver ( 27.5 points), and finally at Bronze is the Philippine team with 25.5 points. Uzbekistan won fourth place (24.5 points) and then Australia1 at fifth (24.0). As you can see, only half a point separated the champion from the runner-up. Who won Board One? It's IM Wesley So of the Philippines scoring 9.5 points out of a possible ten for the Gold. Congrats to all.

Continental Open 07, Report

The weekend has come and gone, and so is this tournament. I would estimate attendance at approximately two hundred with GM Shabalov taking first place in the Open Section (5/6), GMs Kudrin, Ivanov and IM Zlotnikov with (4.5/6).

The venue, Sturbridge Host Hotel at Cedar Lake, is a great place for a chess player to bring his family along. They've got miniature golf, paddle boats, a beach, free internet, swimming pool, and a lot of places to dine in the immediate area, all along Route 20. I recommend the Thai restaurant across from the hotel. The lake makes the time between rounds very pleasurable. You can just sit on a bench and admire the water. It was a great stress-reliever. It so happened that an antique car shop, all Jaguars, ran concurrently as the chess tournament. Parked on the lakeside, the cars took everybody's breath away. There is, of course, the famous Sturbridge Village ( colonial days in America ) a couple of miles away. One can spend several hours there easily. It's probably the area's greatest attraction.

The playing hall was a large conference room with very high ceilings. i thought that lighting could be better. It felt more like being in a warehouse than a conference room, to be frank. I reckon they spruce the place up for large celebrations or conventions. The TDs had their own little cubicle while the pairings were posted in a narrow hallway. Why is it always in a small area? Another twenty-five players and you'd have to elbow your way to the bulletin boards.

Altogether, it was a fun weekend. I would play there again next year. Thanks to Bill Goichberg and crew for running a smooth tournament.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Continental Open 07 at Sturbridge

The tournament began yesterday actually, but tommorow is your last chance to join via 2-day schedule. The 2-day schedule goes: Reg Sat to 9 am, rds Sat 10-1-4-7, Sun 10-4:30. Sturbridge is approximately a 3-hour drive from New York City. Prizes are Open Section: $2500-1200-600-400, U2300/Unr $1500-700. FIDE rated, Under 2100 Section: $2000-1000-500-300, Under 1900 Section: $2000-1000-500-300, Under 1700 Section: $2000-1000-500-300, Under 1500 Section: $2000-1000-500-300, Under 1200 Section: $1500-700-500-300, Under 800/Unrated Section: Trophies to top 8.

Not bad at all. I like the way the classes were broken down, under1900 instead of under2000 and then normallly the under1600 follows that. But, one can't fully trust ratings and it is best to play like you're playing someone from the Open Section. Entry fee is a cool $130 at the site. On a personal note, for the second time, the wife is tagging along to the tournament. Great. This way, she does not feel that I have abandoned her for the weekend. The wife will be sightseeing and shopping with a friend while I try to win points. By sunday afternoon, everybody should be happy and ready to go home.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

British Champs.

Howell -

Two newly-minted GMs fight it out here with Aagaard enjoying material advantage, but how to convert it into a win? Aagaard shows us his technical prowess with 65...Ra2+ 66. Kh3 Ra8 ( not 66... Kf3 because of 67. Bf4 and the bishop cannot be captured due to stalemate ) 67. Kg2 Rg8 and white is left with nothing but king moves. Howell resigned here since 68. Kh3 Kf3 69. Kh2 Rc8 70. Kh3 Rc4 ( now, the black king can move away from the F pawn ) 71. Bd8 Ke2 72. Bb6 f3 73. Kg3 Rg4+ and it looks very bad for white.
British Championships 2007

Over the other side of the pond, Jason Aagaard of Scotland is leading the tournament with 7.5 points out of nine. You probably recognize the name from Chessbase DVDs. The tenth round is being played as I write this report. Aagaard's debit of 1.5 points are from a draw and a loss. The loss came at the hands of a fellow GM-elect Stewart Haslinger of England in Round 8 with Aagaard playing white in a Ruy Lopez. Haslinger is currently in second place. Time control for this tournament is 40/120, 20/60 and then 30 mins to completion. The tournament is being held at the Great Yarmouth College at Great Yarmouth, July 29-August 11th. I think this one goes to eleven rounds.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

World Youth U16 Olympiad 2007, Update

Well, Rounds 6 & 7 are over and the standings still have India in first place with 20 game points compared to the Philippines' 19 points and Uzbekistan's 18.5 points. They are respectively the top three at the moment. The Philippine team put up a great performance by beating both Uzbekistan in Round 6 ( 2.5 - 1.5 ) and India in Round 7 ( 3.0 - 1.0 ). Their top board player IM Wesley So maintains a perfect score of seven wins, no draws, no loses. The fourth to tenth places are: Australia1, Vietnam, Singapore, Switzerland, Indonesia, Hungary, and Turkey. The USA1 team is No. 12 and England is at 13th.

Three more rounds to go...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

World Youth U16 Olympiad 2007

In case you didn't notice, the olympiad began on August 4th and it will run till the 12th. Checked into five hotels are 34 teams from around the globe. The Singapore Chess Federation plays host this time, and the playing venue is the Asean Chess Academy. Four players make up a team in this 10-round Swiss. Time control is 90 mins plus 30 seconds increment.

After five rounds, we've got India, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Philippines, and Australia 1 ( they have several teams ) in the top five respectively. Round Six will be played on August 8th.
The best players according to the points they have earned so far are IM Wesley So (Philippines) with five ( that's 100% ), Mustafa Khursed (Uzbekistan) 4.5 and Pascua Haridas (Philippines) with 4.5.

The Philippine team has done very well. They won over Switzerland (1.0-3.0), England (2.5-1.5), Sri Lanka (0.0-4.0) and Iran (1.5-2.5). However, they lost to Hungary (1.5-2.5).

The USA fielded two teams. US1 is currently number 11 on the rankings. Comprising this team are Christian Tanaka, Robert Lau, Jared Tan, Eric Zhang. It sounds like they are all Asian-Americans. They have won four matches---So. Africa (2.5-1.5), Sri Lanka2 (1.5-2.5), Sri Lanka1 (3.5-.5) and Iceland (1.5-2.5). They lost to India (0-4) Ouch!

I think India will win this one...


At a club tournament last month, my opponent, with three seconds left on his clock, stopped it and declared the game drawn based on Rule14H. The rule centers around the concept of insufficient losing chances. Nearing the end of the time control (5/0), the position whittled down to a king and rook ending with my opponent having a passed F pawn. With my king in front on his pawn and my rook behind his king, it looked like a drawn position. I had more than a minute left on my clock.

My opponent, a tournament director in his own right and the club president of another club, did not grant me an explanation but stood up and walked away, muttering words of disgust about his bad play. He, thus, scored the sheet a draw and went on to play his next round. Pretty arrogant stuff, don't you think? My opponent's demeanor can lead anyone to believe that he calls the shots in the tournament. I must admit that I got swept away by the force of his conviction. If I had the presence of mind, I should have summoned the official TD to adjudicate the matter. This was my mistake. I did not recognize the proper adjudicating authority in the tournament at the moment of the infraction. I feel pretty dumb about that, even today. As it turned out, I was not even the party to ask for adjudication.

The next day, after some thought, I sent an email to the club President about the matter in which I argued that if my opponent cannot properly and exactly cite the provision in 14H that accorded him a draw he should lose the game. So, in effect, I filed a formal complaint. I cited two witnesses to our game, both did not come through for me since they essentially took a neutral stand. People don't want to get involved, you know. My opponent, when questioned via email, argued that the position was a well-known drawn position, and if he had more time he could even win it.

After almost a week, following consultations with my opponent and the witnesses, the club President delivered his decision. His strong point was that 14H is a " draw claim " and not a " draw declaration. " My opponent, in order to achieve a draw, must ask the TD to adjudicate the situation---a player cannot grant himself a draw in what is usually a losing situation. It is the obligation of the player citing 14H to hail the TD to the table for a decision. It was my opinion that my opponent acted as the judge, jury, and executioner of his own case, and the decision essentially agreed with me. That game result was ruled a win for me, much to the displeasure of my opponent who accused me of being unsportsmanlike. He, also, requested that he not be paired with me again. This request was denied as it would wreck havoc in the pairings of future tournaments. Interestingly enough, the president argued that if his request was granted the club would run out of people who could be paired with him. Ah, so it seems, my opponent has had previous run-ins with other club members. Sometimes, the ghosts of your former enemies rise up from their graves to haunt you.

Now, the President did not completely let me go scotfree. He reprimanded me for not knowing the provisions of 14H, and I assured him that I will familiarize myself with the many provisions of the rule. In my complaint, I admitted that I did not have a good understanding of the rule. The President, also, argued that my opponent use his vast experience as club president and TD for the benefit of the club rather than to gain an advantage over his less experienced opponents by aggressively applying the rules against them. In an effort to maintain harmony, the President asked that we shake hands at the next meeting. I sent word that I would shake hands and play whoever I was paired with in the future. It's about rules, nothing permanently personal. No reply from my opponent. Two meetings have gone by, no show. Sad. My opponent was club champion at least once, and he is master-rated---credentials that could have a positive effect on the club, otherwise.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Epishin -
This was one of those situations where you just have to keep up the pressure, and not balk under a counter-attack. Lahlum attacked the queen with 23...Nf3-g4. Instead of going for a line like 24. Qg5 Qg5 25. Rg5 Bd7 26. Rg3 Nh2 27. Bd5, Epishin snatched the knight with 24. Rg4 fg4 25. Nd5 and black has a problem. The black queen has to guard against mate on g7 and also protect the rook on f8. That leaves black with nothing else but 25...Qf7. Epishin's winning salvo 26. Rf6 caused his opponent's resignation. 1-0. If 26...Qg7, then 27. Rf8+ wins anyway.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

ECF Player of the Year 2007

The English Chess Federation has named, David Howell, born 1990, as their Player of the Year for 2007. He is also England's youngest Grandmaster ever, earning the title at the Rilton Cup this year. Howell was also the British champion for the Under-8, Under-9, and Under-10, but he is also known as the youngest player (12) to have scored (a draw) against a reigning world champion ( Kramnik).
Here is Howell, playing white, against Dean Ippolito at the World Open 2007 in Pennsylvania. Black's winning chances center around his outside passed H pawn, if only he could get it rolling. White, however, has a winning position due to his more actively placed rook, bishop, and queen. Black moved 34...Ke8 35. Qe4 Kd8 36. Qf4 Kd7 37. Qf7 Qe7 38. Qf5 Ke8 39. Rg4 Can you see what Howell is threatening to do? Nasty, huh. Qd7 40. Be6 Qd1 41. Ka2 Qd6 There is no way to defend the f7 square now 42. Qf7 1-0. The threat being 43. Rg3 and then 44. Rd3. Capturing the rook would lead to mate after Qf8.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Onischuk -
Magnus Carlsen finally emerged as the winner of Biel 2007, but only after some very hard work. He almost threw it all away by losing two games in a row against Pelletier and Van Wely but defeated the leader Teimour Radjabov to tie for first place along with the American champion Alexander Onischuk.
Carlsen and Onischuk went into tie-break by playing two 15-min games ( drawn ) and then two 5+2 blitz games ( also drawn ). So, the fifth and final game had Onischuk with white and 5-mins while Carlsen had 4-mins but with draw odds. In other words, white had to win while black only has to draw if not win at all.
So, here is the much talked about queen sac by Carlsen to win the match and tournament. Onischuk played 40. Rg1 attacking the queen, but Carlsen came crashing in with 41... Qg1! 42. Kg1 d2 43. Qh5 Bc2 and Carlsen gets his queen back.
Who is Zhu Chen?

Born on March 16, 1976, Zhu Chen represents Qatar nowadays having married a Qatari GM, but she was originally from China. In fact, back in 1988, she was the first Chinese player to win an international chess tournament. That was the World Girls Under 12 Championship held in Romania. Her winning ways continued in 1994 and 1996 when she won the World Junior Girls Chess Championship. But, the grand daddy of them all came in 2001 when Zhu Chen beat Alexandra Kosteniuk for the Women's World Chess Championship by a score of 5-3. She reigned until 2004. Her title, by the way, is a straight forward Grandmaster's title. Zhu Chen is ranked No. 5 on the July 2007 list of the top 50 women players in the world.