Monday, 27 August 2012

Malitis Memorial Round 7

The final round of the Malitis Memorial saw Sylvester Urban take out the event after being on the right side of an opening disaster against Richard Voon. The battle for the minor placings saw a three-way tie for second between Garry Lycett, David Lacey & Justin Penrose after Lacey beat Lycett on the white side of an Exchange Queen's Gambit, while Penrose beat Richard McCart on the black side on an Alekhine's Defense. McCart was far enough in front that his 4/7 was enough to take the rating group prize.
As usual, results and final crosstable are available on ChessChat.
The next event at MCC is the Melbourne Chess Club Open, which starts in a fortnight (September 10) & is a 9 round swiss event.
The game of the round is a short one between Sylvester Urban & Richard Voon. You'll see what I mean by an opening disaster!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Chess Olympiad ... Fantasy team

With the Chess Olympiad about to start in Turkey, I noticed a post from Shaun Press about the Fantasy Chess Olympiad. Of course I felt obligated to create myself a team. The rules are fairly simple - pick two teams of 5 players (one Open team & one Women's team), with the proviso that you can only select one player from each country in each team. This means that you can't simply pick the Russian open team & the Chinese women's team & need to be somewhat selective about who you choose.
The scoring is also a little different to what you might initially expect, with points awarded as follows:

1 point for a losing appearance
2 points for a draw
3 points for a win with the White pieces
4 points for a win with the Black pieces
This places something of a priority on players who tend to win (and play) more games, rather than those that might score better overall or avoid losing (but take many draws). 

There are also 'bonus points' available (5 for 1st; 2 for 2nd or 3rd) for the following overall Olympiad results: 
Winning team in the Open section
Winning team in the Women’s section
Overall individual winner of the Open section (defined as the player with the highest rating performance)
Overall individual winner of the Women’s section

I've gone for a fairly straightforward method with the above in mind - basically looking for players who are among the top rated for their board, but who may not have so many other players from their team so relatively highly rated. The other option is to select one of the top players for their board. Although I could go for something more detailed like trying to find teams that are likely to finish mid-field, but have 'standout' players on some boards, I've gone for the fantasy equivalent of a 'vanilla' team.

My selections are as follows:

Open B1 USA         Nakamura, Hikaru 2778
Open B2 CUB Bruzon Batista, Lazaro 2711
Open B3 RUS         Grischuk, Alexander 2763
Open B4 UKR Volokytin, Andriy 2704
Open B5 NED Stellwagen, Daniel 2630
Women B1 SLO         Muzychuk, Anna 2606
Women B2 CHN Zhao, Xue 2549
Women B3 GRE         Dembo, Yelena 2457
Women B4 RUS         Kosteniuk, Alexandra 2472
Women B5 GEO Batsiashvili, Nino 2436

Winning team: Open Russia
Winning team: Women China
Winning individual: Open Lev Aronian
Winning individual: Women Yifan Hou

I like my selections on boards 1-4 of both teams, but am not sure about my board 5 picks (and think that is the best opportunity for the mid-field team player with a standout player mentioned above). I think Muzychuk & Dembo stand out as players who are highly rated for their board when their team is not so highly ranked (the idea being that they will be playing relatively low rated players because of their team ranking & therefore are more likely to win games), while Zhao & Kosteniuk seem like reasonable selections from the top teams. In the open team, Grischuk & Volokytin fit into the 'top team' selection, while Bruzon seems to be ranked highly for board 2, but the Cuban team overall is not quite as highly ranked. I've gone for Nakamura on board 1 as he seems to be the type of player to play for wins in almost all his games, and particularly with black, which could potentially pay off given the scoring system used. Although I was tempted by a few players from Armenia & China, I just couldn't find a place for them in my team. 

I'll see how 'my team' performs in Turkey ... although I obviously hope that the Aussies do really well too! 

MCC in another YouTube cameo

Thanks to Carl Gorka, I found a short documentary, 8K Radius, about locals from the Elsternwick area. The particular episode that features Melbourne Chess Club is about club member Charlotte Dilnutt, who plays at the club in some of the weekly events.
Chess features briefly in this profile of Charlotte, mixed in with her interests in ballet, animals & her daily life.
The interesting thing to note about the chess scenes in the film is that it took around an hour to an hour and a half to film, yet only features for around 30 seconds in the finished product! This really makes you think about film & editing generally, particularly with the chess competition filmed last weekend I was involved in ...

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Malitis Memorial Round 6

Round 6 of the Malitis Memorial saw Sylvester Urban retain his lead after defeating John Dowling on the black side of a Modern Benoni. Garry Lycett continued his excellent tournament with a win over Ari Dale on the white side of a Grunfeld to remain half a point behind Sylvester. Richard Voon beat David Beaumont to move into outright third place, while Justin Penrose, David Lacey & Richard McCart are all a further half point behind on 4/6.
As usual, results are on ChessChat.
This week's game sees Garry Lycett continue his excellent tournament with a win over Ari Dale, when Ari underestimated the power of Garry's Passed d-pawn & bishop pair.

Monday, 20 August 2012

De Groot, Thought & Chess

I've been doing a bit of reading over the past few weeks about thought processes and thinking in chess. The 'classic' study of chess players is Adriaan de Groot's university thesis, which went on to become the book Thought and Choice in Chess. Similar thought process work has been done by American Dan Heisman in his various coaching roles. I've also began reading a book by German GM Helmut Pfleger called Chess: The Mechanics of the Mind which covers much of this ground, as well as explaining some of the reasons behind the findings of de Groot & others, from the perspective of two strong chess players (Pfleger's co-author is IM Treppner).
These various experiments came to a number of general conclusions about the thinking of chess players:
1) Good players remember positions in 'chunks' or pieces (eg: Pf2, Pg3, Ph2, Bg2, Rf1, Kg1 as 'kingside castled fianchettoed) rather than an individual pieces on individual squares.
2) Stronger players are generally able to recall 'normal' chess positions faster & more accurately than weaker or less experienced players.
3) In a random position, stronger players have no particular advantage in trying to recall the position than weaker players.
4) Stronger players are able to think more efficiently about a position than weaker players.
5) Stronger players have a general 'memory' of around 10,000 chess positions, or partial positions to draw on, while weaker or less experienced players do not have this sort of memory available to them.

I had been hoping to conduct some related experiments on some players in the invitational chess event last weekend, but only managed to get a small amount of thought-related material done for a variety of reasons. In this case, I gave one of the players 5 seconds to look at a position I had printed on a sheet of paper & he was then asked to reconstruct the position as accurately & quickly as he could. In both cases, mistakes were made, although one position seemed easier than the other (both were from my games about 10-15 moves in, with one being a 'Broken Arrow' line of the modern, while the other was a standard Ruy Lopez position). Although the position was not recognised as being from a Ruy Lopez, many of the pieces were placed on the correct squares initially, with only a few minor mistakes in some piece placement. The other position was much tougher for the player to reconstruct, probably as it was not the sort of position he was used to playing in his own games.

If anyone reading is interested in being part of such experiments, feel free to let me know - I'm more than happy to help volunteers, if a suitable time & place can be found.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Losing a game for $1000

Yes, I managed to do exactly what the title said on the weekend. I played in the invitational chess competition mentioned a few posts ago & managed to lose the final game when playing for the $1000 prize!
It's very rare that such a large prize is offered in a chess event (in fact the Best in the West, also held last weekend, had a $500 first prize - congrats to Greg Canfell for taking the tournament out with 5/5!), so I thought I'd give it a try. Being something that was advertised on Facebook & not on the various chess sites & forums, this meant that the bulk of the field were of average club strength, rather than being filled with those at the upper end of the local chess scene.
Overall the weekend went well from a logistical point of view, with the games in the 8-player round robin played in a friendly, competitive manner across two days, with all the games filmed for future YouTube (or other) broadcast. Given that only one game was filmed at a time, there was plenty of down time, and although I had hoped to do some work with the other participants on thinking in chess, I only managed to get a little bit of it done as I was concerned about the extra noise interfering in the games being filmed. Also, some of the other participants were interested in watching the other games, particularly towards the end of the games. Below is how the room was set up for the weekend, with one board surrounded by cameras capturing all the action from multiple angles.
One aspect that took some adjusting to get used to was playing with the pieces being used. In order to make it more 'watchable' for the camera, rather than using the standard 'Staunton' style pieces, tiles with the standard piece representations were used, as you can see in the photo below. 
I felt I played some nice chess over the weekend, winning 6 of the 7 games in the round-robin phase of the event (my only loss was to Thomas Hendry on time in a winning position where I promoted a pawn & basically forgot about the clock, only noticing it again when I had 3 seconds left & I was unable to re-adjust my thinking to 'capture his last 2 remaining pawns to draw' instead of 'it should be a simple king & queen checkmate in around 10 moves') which culminated in a quick win with the Blackmar-Diemer gambit in the semi-final game. 
In the above position against Peter Ayom I found what I thought was a nice tactic (although the computer prefers the immediate Qc2, which is winning). I decided to play the 'fancy' 1.Rf6! in this position & after the poor reply 1...Qa5, 2.Qc2 leads to a forced checkmate (1...Qb3 prevents the checkmate, but the computer still likes the white position after 2.Qf4). 

Above is my Semi Final game against Thomas Hendry. Perhaps I should have saved the crushing BDG game for the final ... The others who were in the semi-finals were analysing it afterwards & I probably gave too much away about the opening, so that my opponent chose to return the pawn immediately in the final, rather than trying to take on the gambit.

Above is the final game against Sunilson Sunderson (although my memory has failed me somewhat, as I'm not sure what I played on move 36 - I definitely didn't play Rg7, however I'm not sure what the 'missing move' is, as I'm pretty sure the position in the game after 35...f6 was somehow actually black to play & he played Rxg4). Anyway, move 35 (or thereabouts) is where I collapsed, just when the win is almost in sight (although Fritz prefers the restricting 27.Rd3 as an improvement over the 27.Rh2 played in the game)! I have the king trapped on the back rank, the b-pawn is about to fall & I also have tactical shots like Nxa4 (which I totally overlooked during the game) ... but I decide to fall in a heap rather quickly, losing both my bishop & rook in the space of 3 moves to hand Sunilson the game.
I did a bit of brief research on the Saturday night & found that Sunilson has in the past played at Box Hill Chess Club (I found a handful of games on OzBase, including a game against Casey Hickman, which is one name I haven't heard in the chess scene for quite some time!) & has an ACF rating in the mid 1700s (albeit that it is a ?? rating as he has not played tournament chess for a number of years).
I'll definitely post links to the final videos when they are online, although given the amount of footage to edit, the estimate of one month given by Dan (the guy who put this event on & is doing the production & editing single-handedly) is perhaps a little optimistic. It should definitely be interesting to watch the final product (and seeing as its a 'movie', perhaps there can be an alternate ending!), but keep an eye out for something along the lines of 'Last Man Standing' as a title.
As for the little bit of de Groot like thinking process stuff I got done over the weekend, I might post something about it in a future post, or I might just leave it until I have more substantial material to go with it before publishing anything about it.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Microbase Test

This is a short test post to see how well David Cordover's new Chess Microbase works in terms of viewing games on a website.

Below should be the games from the Malitis Memorial (top 4 boards from each round).
From a brief look at the site, there may be issues with databases over 20 games (which applies in this case).

Loading embedded chess microbase...

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Malitis Memorial Round 5

Round 5 saw a change at the top of the leaderboard, with Sylvester Urban beating Garry Lycett to take over the lead of the event. David Lacey grimly defended an inferior position against Richard Voon, before finding a perpetual check in a queen and pawn ending to leave both a point behind Sylvester. Also joining them on 3.5/5 were Justin Penrose, Ari Dale and John Dowling, who all took very different routes to victory, with Justin winning a see-sawing battle against David Beaumont, Ari quickly drumming up a winning attack against Marcus Ogden's king & John Dowling avoiding a draw by repetition thanks to Jack Puccini's incorrect method of claiming (Jack played the move on the board and claimed, rather than writing it on his scoresheet without playing it on the board and claiming). This has left Sylvester half a point ahead of Garry, with five people a further half point behind. With two rounds to play, this leaves Sylvester and Garry as the most likely to win the event, but those chasing are still well and truly in contention!
As usual, results are on ChessChat.
This week's game sees Sylvester make quick work of Garry Lycett on board 1, when Garry's ambitious e5 break is ripped apart tactically.


Monday, 6 August 2012

Malitis Memorial Round 4

Round 4 of the Malitis Memorial saw Garry Lycett continue his winning ways to remain in the sole lead of the tournament on 4/4 after a grinding win over John Dowling. His opponent next week will be Sylvester Urban, who also had a grinding over Justin Penrose to move to 3.5/4. After joining the tournament late, David Beaumont has won all his games, and now finds himself on 3/4 after a win over Jim Papadinis, where his speculative double piece sacrifice was enough to win after Papdinis made mistakes in defense. Richard Voon & David Lacey also had wins to move to 3/4, and these five are in the best position for a top three finish. On other boards, Sarah Anton ensured Phillip Drew lived up to his surname, holding an ending an exchange down, while youth Olympiad team member Jack Puccini beat Felix Wyss. Young Kevin Zhao, playing in his first adult tournament, managed to hold Finley Dale to a draw, to score his first points on the board in the tournament.
As usual, results are on ChessChat.
This week's game sees Garry Lycett continue his winning streak in the event against John Dowling.

Chess Invitational tournament

Facebook manages to turn up all sorts of things & last week I managed to see an advertisement for Chess Competition Tryouts in my sidebar. The event itself was for 'tryouts' for an invitational chess tournament (to be held on August 12), with the aim of being filmed the following weekend (August 18-19) for eventual presentation online. The next day (and independently of my joining the Facebook event), I was contacted by Dan Meiers, the organiser of this event, with a view to having me involved in the event (Dan had managed to find me from this blog, so its good to see that the general readership is growing!).
The plan is to have an 8 player round-robin event, with all games filmed from a variety of cameras, with the final product being presented in some sort of internet-based format. To try and generate interest (as well as attracting strong players), Dan has put up $1000 as first prize! Although the prize money sounds great, I'm more interested in seeing how the final product turns out, as Dan wants to try to do something a little different in terms of presentation, or at least that is part of his idea for the event.
If people are interested in participating in the event, check the Facebook event page for details.
The timing of this event means that I will be missing out on the Super Rookies event at Box Hill Chess Club, which is being run to support the Victorian juniors playing in the Under 16 Youth Olympiad (6 of the 12 players in the three teams are from Victoria). I will also have to miss the Best in the West, which is an excellent weekender I have played in a few times in recent years. 
In terms of my interest in this invitational tournament, much of this stems from some blog posts from last year, concerning the De Groot experiements & ideas for videos. Given that the games will be filmed one at a time, there will be a lot of 'down time' for those not involved in the filming, so I am hoping that I will be able to put together something along the lines of what I outlined late last year related to the thinking of chess players. I'm not quite sure what I'll have in terms of equipment and surroundings, but I'll try to pack my voice recorder & camcorder & see what I can come up with. If anything does end up coming from it, expect to see it on my YouTube page, which has been rather dormant of late in terms of content.
Perhaps it could be a 'modern day' version of the Master Game, which was filmed in England in the early 1980s.