Chess Moves

One person's short journey into the world of Australian chess

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

Here's wishing everyone a Happy New Year!!!

May the New Year bring new tidings of great joy and happiness

Friday, December 30, 2005

Positionally And Tactically Lost

The results are in. Against my brother-in-law last night, played 5 games, lost all 5 games. How pathetic is that?

My answer: Very pathetic. One of the games even ended with my Black king on square a4 (gee...that's a long way from home, isn't it? :) ).

My BIL played the Modern opening in all his games and I couldn't get a grip on any of them. I've never had this much trouble before with this opening. Maybe it's a psychological barrier (of never having beaten him ever) that's affecting my concentration (excuses, excuses....). In the end, I was just positionally and tactically lost.

Onto other chess news, at the OzChess Championships 2006 in Brisbane, the highlight match of the day IMHO was between Ian Rout v Kevin Sheldrick, Black played the Benko Gambit (somewhat a rarity in top level competitions). But one of the strangest looking Benko Gambit variations I've ever saw. On move 16, with the exception of the fianchettoed Bishop on g7, all of Black's pieces are huddled into one corner. White then made a positional error on move 17 vacating the Queen (to attack Black's undefended pawn on e7) that was guarding the square d3 allowing Black's light-squared bishop to infiltrate the position. The subsequent firepower raining down on the Queenside was overwhelming.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6 g6 6. Nc3 Bxa6 7. g3 d6 8. Bg2 Bg7 9. Nf3 Nbd7 10. Rb1 Nb6 11. b3 O-O 12. O-O Ra7 13. Re1 Qa8 14. e4 Ne8 15. Qd2 Nc7 16. Bb2 Rb8 (see diagram) 17. Qg5 Bd3 18. Rbd1 c4 19. Re3 h6 20. Qh4 Bc2 21. Rd2 cxb3 22. axb3 Bxb3 23. Bf1 Nc4 24. Bxc4 Bxc4 25. e5 Nxd5 26. Qxc4 Nxe3 27. Qe2 Ng4 28. exd6 exd6 29. Nb5 Rab7 30. Bxg7 Rxb5 31. Ra2 Qb7 32. Ba1 Ne5 33. Nd2 Qd5 34. Nf1 Nf3+ 0-1

In the Russian Championship superfinal, Sergei Rublesvky is the leader after drawing his game with Sergey Volkov as White with Dmitry Jakovenko in second place. Vladimir Kramnik has had a poor performance (perhaps he's preparing for next year's competitions?) so far in joint 7th place with Alexander Motylev.

The worst game so far of the tournament was Khalifman v Rublesvky, with the game agreed drawn after 14 moves! Black had sacrificed a Queen for 3 minor pieces and the game look very edgy and had a huge potential.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 Nf6 7.f4 Bb4 8.Bd3 Qb6 9.O-O Bc5 10.Na4 Bxd4 11.Nxb6 Bxe3+ 12.Kh1 Bxb6 13.e5 Nd5 14. Qe1 1/2-1/2

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Chess At Work And Live Games

First day at work, I decided to play a couple of chess games with one of my colleagues, Szabo over lunch and after working hours. Szabo is a recreational player and his chess skills is a tad lower than mine (around 1200+ according to my BIL - brother-in-law).

We played 3 games over our lunch hour (chess is normally our fav activity over lunch). I played 2 games as White (one with Queen's Gambit Accepted, the other with Ruy Lopez - Closed), the other as Black (Closed Sicilian) - winning all 3.

At the end of the day, I decided to try again. This time out of 4 games, I lost one, won two, drew one. But I was less than satisfied with the results this time. Against a tougher opposition I would have easily lost the drawn game and drew one of the two won games. The only game that was of particular significance was this game. I had placed my Queen and my King on the same file and Szabo attempted to pin me, allowing me to setup a skewer with my rook, resulting in a mate in 4.

I had just played ... Qe7-g5 (See diagram). White moved:
1. Rg2?? Rc1+
2. Kf2 Rc2+
3. Kf1 Qxg2+
(with mate on next move)

Against more experienced opponents, this ploy would most certainly have failed.

When I got home, my BIL called and asked me to go over to his place for dinner tomorrow, and naturally, a game of chess awaits me. I'm dreading it already.....

Onto other chess news, I've been following the Russian Championship Superfinal on as well as the Australian Junior Championship at

Do take a look if you can spare the time. It's past midnight now but I'm following the Evgeny Bareev vs Peter Svidler game.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Back In Sydney

"1900 in no time"


"Your rating will go up to 1900 and you will easily beat me in 6 months' time" replied my BIL coolly.

He's got to be kidding. I was sitting in his car (as he had just fetched me from the hideous building - that is called the Sydney International Airport) on our way home.

Great, just what I needed. More chess stress from him... :)

As he dropped me off at my apartment, I proceeded to go the local supermarket and provision shops to pick up a few groceries. I slowly unpacked and much to my dismay, there were so many things in there that needed to be sorted. My friend who lives nearby had been great to help collect my mail and thankfully, no overdue bills had hit the doorstep... not yet anyway.

As I now type with a glass of ice-cold OJ by the computer, typing away at the keyboard, I wonder what my plans are for tonight.

Whatever happens, it's definitely good to be back in Sydney.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Chess Information Overload

Today, I will be leaving my country of birth to head back to Australia. I leave somewhat with a very heavy heart as I will start to miss my parents and my brother.

I am very reluctant to leave for Sydney but work beckons. I still honestly do not know if I want to stay on in Australia.

On to chess things, there's one problem with looking at chess books in a bookstore.... there are far more books to read than you can possibly have time for. A Google seach on chess yields thousands of websites. And as you've guessed it, you're going to suffer from information overload!

I was reading this book at Borders in which the chess author highlighted that a good way to improve your chess is to gather a games database of your favourite openings. Unfortunately, sorting out the good matches from the bad ones can be onerous, to say the least.

So how do you sort out the good from the bad? There is no easy answer. Even if you were to purchase a database, there's no guarantee that 80% of the database is suitable for you. From that book (I wished I had noted down the book title now), I gleaned the information that it is far better to pick a handful of good games that you can familarise yourself with than to learn from a hundred average games.

As I went perusing through the various chess databases, it occured to me that:

a. I need to have an idea of what I want (which opening I want to adopt),
b. find out whose GM's playing style closely resembles mine (so that I won't end up doing something that is not suited to my style) and
c. learn to annotate and analyse my own games (with and without the aid of computer chess programs).

I'm still reading up and slowly digesting the Emms' book. The progress is getting much harder and slower than I would have preferred.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas And Afterthoughts

Yes, folks it's that time of the year where everyone spends gobs of money buying presents for other people that no one really wants but are too polite to decline and where you have a tendency to max out your credit cards.

That's why this year, the missus and I decided to adopt the "low-profile" approach. Sure we got gifts and presents but on a much lesser scale. Saving up for a house can be stressful at times.

Being at the age of 35, time is definitely against me for ever being able to compete at Masters level. There's just far too many things like family and work that prevents one from investing fully in chess as anything more than a social activity - which is a bit of a downer for me, actually. That is because I've always believed in the idea that once you start something, at least do it to the best of your ability and do it to completion (although the amount of postponed housework to do is hardly a testament to that).

As I spend time here mulling about the implications of my rather brief chess career, my wife was nevertheless very supporting of me. She doesn't mind me going missing on some nights to play chess with the people at the club and that makes me all the more grateful and appreciative.

Sometimes, I wonder what I do without her.

Back on to chess stuff,... I was still poring through the results of the recent Russian championship held in Moscow. Thanks to my BIL (brother-in-law) for pointing me to this website I can now trace through the moves of some of these super GMs' matches.

I have been taking a break analysing chess games the last 2 days. I took a bus while reading the Emms' book (Starting Out: The Sicilian) and fell asleep somewhere between the Dragon and Najdorf.... chess does tend to take a toll on your brain cells.

Interestingly enough, I stumbled onto another website The website is full of useful articles.

My local computer shop here is selling backdated copies of Deep Fritz 8 at $60 (approx. US$45). I might be tempted to get one but with my wallet taking a bit of strain, it looks like I need to hold out for a little while more.

Friday, December 23, 2005

My ELO is smaller than your ELO

Pouring through the book on Sicilian openings has done some wonders... I think. Now all I need is some more books to help me on my way.

My brother-in-law (henceforth known as BIL) plays chess at the local leagues club. I'm thinking of signing up and joining him as well....

Encouragingly enough, my BIL (whom by the way I've never beaten him EVER in chess) thinks I'm somewhere in the 1400 ELO rating. As I've no idea what that is, I did a quick Google search which explained that ELO is some kind of rating of a person's chess skill.

The purpose of all these ratings is to get them as high as you can. The higher you are, the more kick-ass is your chess skill. Kind a bit like comparing who's smarter.

A bit like school grades I guess, so the world champion is sort of like the ultra uber smart-alec in class, you know, there's always one kid who knows everything whenever a teacher asks a question. Whereas lesser mortals (aka. me) can only sit in school and day-dream - part of the reason why my school grades suck... :)

Anyway, the world chess organisation FIDE only gives out ELO ratings to those who demonstrate super uber skills. I can see my name not appearing anytime soon, oh say, within the next 10 years or so....

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Getting Creamed

I went over to my in-law's place.

Father-in-law (henceforth nicknamed as FIL) promptly brought out his chess set and we started playing.... and consequently got creamed.... TWICE (no prizes for guessing who got the short end of the stick). The final board layouts were too embarassing to be shown here....

Essentially, I started out fine and midway through the middle game, I lost a minor piece (goodbye, my beloved Knight) and it was pretty much downhill from there on.

The second game was better, not much better but better. In my eagerness to take a rook, I lost my king.... have you ever seen a grown man, wide eyed open with two hands on the cheeks, mouth agape and shaking head at the same time? Think of Edvard Munch painting's The Scream... (see insert) yup, that's me.

So I borrowed a book from the local library called: Starting Out: The Sicilian by Emms.

That's it.... the Sicilian (otherwise known as the Italian Opening) - the favourite opening espoused by ex world champion Garry Kasparov.

Hey, I should be able to play better now once I've digested this, shouldn't I?

First Day In The Wild

I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing here but I guess it's to detail my relatively short chess experience.

I started learning chess when I was a teen ween pimple faced 12 year old. My parents bought my brother and me a chess set. We knew roughly the way pieces move but that was it....

Now fast forward some 23 years later......... my father-in-law ("When are you going to get a house after marrying my daughter! "hehee) came over to our little apartment and started to play chess with me during his short stay.

Being pretty much bored with practically no hobby of my own.... yes, I lead the typical suburban life of fixing and cleaning the place over the weekend.... I thought it might be something to keep my mind occupied.

Currently, I reside in Australia and am visiting my folks in Singapore (and no, for the umpteenth time, you don't go to jail for chewing gum in Singapore... *grin*).

I forsee my chess career to be relatively short-lived. One with zero chance of making it to National Master level much less GM level (that's GrandMaster level for you non chess nuts).