Friday, 17 April 2015

Know the rules!

When I attended the FIDE Arbiter's seminar back in 2011, I did so with the intention of better knowing the rules of chess. As things transpired, it turned into the start of fairly regular arbiting work, including the Chess Olympiad in Norway last year, as well as the 2013 Australian Open & 2014 Australian Championships.
The thing that still surprises me is how many players simply don't know the rules!
The most high profile of these was super-GM Wesley So, who was forfeited in round 9 of the recent US Championships for taking notes at the board! Although these notes were not chess analysis (as I have seen some newcomers to chess do on occasion), but rather motivational notes, such as 'Use your time'. These are also against the rules of chess.
The particular rule in question is 8.1 b:
Article 8: The recording of the moves
8.1 b. The scoresheet shall be used only for recording the moves, the times of the clocks, offers of a draw, matters relating to a claim and other relevant data.
So had been warned about taking notes in both rounds 2 & 3, so the tournament arbiter Tony Rich was well within his rights to call the game in round 9 lost for So when he once again took notes at the board.
The other thing that surprises me about this is the reaction of former world champion Garry Kasparov, who it seems also does not know the rules.
The other reason for writing this post about the rules is an incident that occurred in the final round of the recently completed Melbourne Chess Club Championship. The results of the tournament, convincingly won by IM James Morris, can be found on ChessChat.
The incident in question involved the board 2 clash between Carl Gorka & Hoai Nam Nguyen. Carl blogged about the incident which involved an incorrect draw claim.
The rule in question this time is 9.2:
Article 9: The drawn game
9.2 The game is drawn, upon a correct claim by a player having the move, when the same position for at least the third time (not necessarily by a repetition of moves):
a. is about to appear, if he first writes his move, which cannot be changed, on his scoresheet and declares to the arbiter his intention to make this move, or
b. has just appeared, and the player claiming the draw has the move.
In the game in question, although there was in fact a triple repetition of the position, on the third occasion that the position occurred, Carl played the move Ke2 on the board & then claimed the draw, rather than following the correct procedure outlined above, which would involve writing the move Ke2 on his scoresheet & then stopping the clock & calling the arbiter. Unfortunately for Carl, after I denied his draw claim, Hoai then went on to win the game, which gave him a share of second place (if the game had been drawn, then Carl would have shared second place).
Again, it surprised me that Carl did not know the correct procedure for claiming a draw, as he is an experienced player, having played for a number of years both in Australia as well as his native England.
The same sort of thing also occurred recently in the NRL, with a number of Bulldogs players rather unfairly accosting the referee for making a correct decision late in their game against South Sydney.
You can see referee Gerard Sutton explaining his decision on the Footy Show.
In short ... if you're going to play a game or sport, make sure you know the rules!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Doeberl Cup Day 5

The final round of the Doeberl Cup saw me paired as black against Andrey Bliznyuk. I was expecting an English or something similar, but found myself in a Two Knights Defence. Andrey chose the passive but solid 4. d3 & this allowed me to get a promising position from the opening. After exchanging queens, we reached a position where we had two rooks, a knight & opposite coloured bishops. My centre appeared strong, but was vulnerable. In trying to hold the position, I went astray with 26... Ne7, which gave Andrey an initiative that he did not let go of until I finally resigned. The issue I had in the position was what to do with the knight - although I found a good square for it on g6 to help hold my weak e5 pawn, my pieces were tied down to its defence, which allowed Andrey to create a passed pawn on the queenside, which proved too difficult to stop (helped by my inaccurate play).

Overall a result of 3.5/9 was a little disappointing, particularly when you consider that it was in fact 2.5/8 from games I played. Apart from the first round, all my opponents were what I would consider beatable if I played well, however unfortunately I played fairly poorly for the vast majority of the tournament, or at least in parts of most of my games. I had chances in quite a few games, but could not capitalise on these, which was the disappointing part of the tournament.

I suppose the good to come out of the tournament was that it has got me thinking about the blog again, so hopefully I will continue to keep it updated in coming months. I still have the photos from the Museum to upload & update the Day 3 blog. I'll also post something about the Master Classes by GMs Ganguly & Van Wely that I attended before the tournament, as well as various chess-related events I have been involved in recently.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Doeberl Cup Day 4

In the morning round I was paired against Victor Braguine & once again I found myself in an original position fairly early which saw the centre blocked. Ultimately I had a pawn break with g4 which could not be stopped & this was the start of a kingside attack & pressure that I was able to keep up for the entire game. Victor's counter-attack never really got going & although I don't think I played the attack accurately, it was a winning attack & I eventually finished the game off.

In the afternoon round I played Jonas Muller & he played the Euwe variation against my Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. He played an early c5, which is one of the most challenging lines & achieved a promising position. I realised that if I simply allowed Jonas to consolidate his development he would win the game easily, so I played some speculative moves on the kingside, finally sacrificing a knight to open up Jonas' king. The sacrifice was unsound, but luckily for me, Jonas went astray in his defensive efforts & allowed me to win back my sacrificed piece, finally going into an equal queen ending with three pawns each, where we agreed to a draw. Ultimately a stolen half-point, so I suppose I'll take it!

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Doeberl Cup Day 3

In the morning round I was against Miodrag Milojevic, however he must have got his round times mixed up & didn't turn up for the game, meaning I had a win on forfeit. This left me with a very long time to 'kill', so I decided to be a tourist for the morning & visited the National Museum of Australia, which was just down the road from the playing venue. I'll update later with some photos.

The afternoon round saw me paired against Barak Atzmon-Simon & played a highly original game after playing a Sniper as black. Barak had me on the back foot for most of the game & I only seemed to have a chance to hold the game in the rook endgame. I'm not sure if I played it accurately or not, but I always seemed to be one move behind the position I needed to hold a draw & Barak was eventually able to convert the position into a win.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Doeberl Cup Day 2

So I made it on the scoreboard today, however it was not in the most convincing fashion & I now find myself on 1/4 after two draws.

In round 3 I was white against Michael D'Arcy & he played the Lemberger Counter Gambit (3... e5) against my Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. This is the most challenging continuation & gave black an edge out of the opening, although he let it slip with Qe7 & c5, which game me a small plus. A number of exchanges happened & I won a pawn, but rather than risk complications in a rook & bishop endgame, I decided to go into the opposite coloured bishop endgame, which in spite of my efforts, was simply drawn.

In round 4 I was paired against Nicholas Deen-Cowell & avoided going into the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit proper & managed to get a position akin to an Advance French, where I was able to exchange the dark squared bishops, which should have given me a slight positional edge. Although Nicholas tried to get some play on the queenside, it should not have amounted to anything much, but I was unable to find something on the other side that was effective. Eventually some exchanges occurred on the queenside & I blundered, allowing black an advantage, although thankfully for me after Rb8 (rather than the immediate Bxb1) I would have been in serious trouble. As it happened, I found myself in an endgame with two knights against a rook & bishop, with an extra pawn to somewhat compensate for the disadvantage. This soon turned into a rook v knight endgame & I was able to hold the position & eventually exchange most of the pawns before we agreed a draw.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Doeberl Cup Day 1

Yes, finally back to the blog ... and yes, there's plenty of things to catch up on - I'll try to get around to them eventually ... but first its current events & the annual Doeberl Cup in Canberra.

Although my rating is slowly heading south, it seems as though it has not gone quite far enough to allow me to enter the Major (my ACF rating is still just over 2000, although my FIDE is now unfortunately in the high 1900s), so once again I am playing in the Premier.

This year sees another change in venue, with University House at ANU playing host to the tournament this year. Its an older building which looks nice & has some interesting artworks on the walls, however it is still a step down from the Hellenic Club where the event was held up until a few years ago.

Round one saw me paired as black against 2014's giant killer Mu Ke & I played a Sniper in Benko Gambit fashion, however I simply didn't get enough play on the queenside & was slowly outplayed before missing a tactic that finished off the game.

I was one of the lucky ones who managed to not only still be in the bottom half of the score group, but also managed to get my second black in a row, this time against fellow Melbournian Pano Skiotis. This time I tried to head for a Czech Benoni, but Pano played 4. dxe6 & tried to create a bind on the d6 square early on in the game. I managed to untangle myself & was better after 17... Qf6, however I could not find a way to bring home the point & drifted trying to maintain an advantage rather than trading into a better endgame. Ultimately I missed a tactic that allowed Pano to take the initiative & I defended inaccurately, and found myself on the wrong end of a mating attack, even though I had a forced checkmate ready to play myself.