Thursday, 17 April 2014

Bangkok Open Round 7

The heat here is oppressive outside the hotel but we braved it anyway. Even after the game at 7pm I could have filled a bucket. I and a friend, IM Atanu Lahiri from India, went for a walk to sample some local street-food and were not disappointed. 

By the way, 60 Baht is about AUD$2 so dinner need not be expensive. 

And you can always see your food being made.

Round 7
 Ok, on to the game. Monika mishandled my slightly offbeat opening. Since she has nearly 2000 games in the database and a very well worked out repertoire I thought it better to take her on a road less travelled and it worked out quite well for a while. By move 30 I was completely winning but could not believe I was not just winning a piece and looked at all the different moves that threatened to take the pinned Knight on f4. 30g3 is best but after Nh3 + 31.Kg2 f4 I missed the killing 32.Bd5.

My next best alternative was 30.Qb4 which leads to a winning ending but I thought Qd4 was better, completely missing 30....Qg2. Luckily white keeps an advantage anyway. I then continued to miss embarrassingly easy instant wins like  43. Kc3 winning a piece instantly instead of the "positional" Kc5. puhing b6 also won on several occasions but I wanted to avoid all calculation since my brain was just not working anymore.

In the end I managed to finally beat a higher rated player for the first time in months. Phew...

As my reward I now get to play her husband, GM Bartosz Socko 2635!. Scary as he will be out for revenge and I have yet to beat a 2600+ player. I need you all to cross your fingers and toes and send your combined brainpower my way :-)

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Bangkok Open Round 6

Francisco Vallejo has opened up a half point lead on the field going into the last three rounds and faces his biggest challenge tomorrow, defending with black against second seed Jan Gustafsson. You can follow this and other games live on the official site

Also, in case you didn't know it, the FIDE elections are coming up in August. Former world champion Garry Kasparov is challenging Alien invitee Kirsan Ilumzhinov  for the presidency of the World Chess Federation (aka FIDE)

Since this tournament is a major event here in Asia there is a lot of campaigning going on behind the scenes. Peter Long has written an amusing and informative post on his blog about Ignatius Leong's newly created blog, FIDE X-files. Make up your own mind and if you have the time do tell me what you think :-) 

Round 6

Todays game should have been a draw but my talented young opponent, Bahkti Kulkarni, chose not to swap queens on move 14 thinking that the ending was a problem for her. I don't see it but after 14.Qc2 black does have some chances. A lucky break for me.

As my reward I get to play GM Monika Socko tomorrow. This lady is rated 2450 and is seriously strong. Wish me luck, I'll need it :-)

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Bangkok Open 2014 Round 5

This time of year is famous for the "Songkran festival". It can be a bit of a surprise for the unsuspecting tourist.

One gets smeared with some kind of plaster and then shot with waterpistols or doused with buckets of water.

as soon as we left the hotel people were waiting for us all along the street.



and I braved the water gauntlet to eat at the "Papaya", a nice restaurant around the corner from the hotel. The food is definitely recommendable. I had to try the Snakehead fish.

Round 5

My chess is not improving that much. I played inaccurately in the opening, moving my bishop to c2 instead of the less natural but a tempo better 13.Bb1, the point being that it gets to a2 in two moves instead of three. Then after 16...Na5 I needed to play 17.Bb5 so as not to be worse. My opponent let me off the hook by playing 19....Bf6 instead of Bd5. My next blunder was 21.Ba1 instead of the very strong d5! which I calculated (term used loosely) for about half an hour and then talked myself out of. No idea why. And what kind of move is Ba1??

Anyway after a few more pointless moves, which at least didn't blunder anything, my opponent offered me a draw when I was down to 13 minutes and stood worse. i was happy to get out of there.

I apologise to the viewers for the quality of my games. I'll try to do better in the last three rounds....or failing that bring you better pictures :-) I'm off to the blitz finals, see you tomorrow.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Bangkok Open 2014 Round 4

At breakfast today I had the pleasure of meeting one of the legends of chess, Grandmaster Eugene Torre. Cherry-picking form his many achievements I will just mention that he was a candidate for the world championship, Asia's first grandmaster, 18 time Olympian and beat Anatoly Karpov when he was world champion. He was also a friend of Bobby Fischer and part of Fischer's team when he defeated Boris Spassky in the match of the century. It is always a pleasure to meet this true gentleman.

Breakfast itself was quite nice and as promised, here are some pictures of the buffet.

All kinds of bread and cakes, croissants etc,

the omelette bar,

cold meats, cheese and wheatgrass,


freshly made asian soup,

and fruit :-)

Then it was time to prepare for my game, have a nap and swim. Unfortunately I did not check the round times carefully enough and turned up just after 2.30 instead of at 2pm. Next I missed with my preparation, played a few weak moves and had to resign at move 25. Not my afternoon :-(

Round 4

My opponent usually plays catalany systems so I was not expecting the main line against my Tigers modern. I suspect preparation. I offered a pawn sack on move 10 to get some activity but unlike my previous opponent in this line GM Khenkin, John Paul did not take it so I played a different one which he did take and I got neither my pawn back nor any activity. My position soon collapsed. 

Well there goes the perfect score, I'll just have to turn up on time tomorrow and play a bit better. All those breakfast buffet pics have made me hungry so I'll bid you adieu. Thanks for dropping by :-)

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Rounds 2 + 3

Amazingly I managed to escape the dreaded double round (with 9am morning round) day unscathed. Both were quite scrappy games where I hung in there a bit longer.

Round 2

I misplayed the opening somewhat and my 14...f6 is a woeful attempt to avoid simplification after which I am just worse. My opponent repaid the favour with 22.Ne5 after which my problems vanish. The heavy piece ending is just better for black.

Round 3
Again I tried to be clever in the opening and got nowhere although I thought my position looked good. I only got into trouble after 41. Qd5 which leads to a horrible ending but my young opponent was to eager to penetrate with his King and ended up in a mating net. Lucky.

Well so for the first time in ages I have 3/3 and should have escaped the Piranha tank, so tomorrow I expect to be swimming with the sharks and there are some White Pointers in this tournament so please wish me luck. Luckily all the rest are single rounds in the afternoon (apart from the last round) so I will have no excuses :-)

Tomorrow you will get some pictures :-)

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Bangkok Open 2014

Another day another country. I am now in Bangkok playing in the famous Bangkok Open. For years many Australians have been coming here and as I see now, not without good reason. This is the view from my room, on the 16th floor of the Dusit Thani Hotel which overlooks Lumpini Park

As I sit here writing this post I can hear someone speaking into a microphone below, undoubtedly denouncing the government. The taxi driver who took me to the hotel yesterday told me this has been going for many months now, clogging traffic. We had plenty of time to chat being stuck as we were. The two biggest political groups wear red shirts and yellow shirts and both protest when the other is in power and both clog traffic. This was not a comprehensive explanation of the political situation here but his english was limited and he didn't really care except for the traffic. There is also the occasional military coup which he was in two minds about because although it cleared the traffic it reduced tourism. His synopsis was that all politicians suck which is a view I share. We then continued with a language lesson on essential Thai.

Here is a picture of the other side of the balcony. Notice the nicely painted trains.

The venue is superb.  We are playing in a grand ballroom with huge chandeliers and magnificent decorations everywhere. Pictures will tell the story better.

The rooms...well look.

The living room

bathroom with large bath :-)

Bedroom. It is like a luxury apartment except every day your room is immaculately cleaned. Did I mention free, fast wi-fi :-) 

Round 1
I played a fellow Australian today, from Tasmania, who I had never met before. He played solidly for a long time but when I started to develop a queenside attack he panicked and ruined his own position with 17...b5 and then followed up with the even worse 18...Bd5. There was no way to recover, at least none I noticed. Actually I was a  bit worried about 13...Qf5 instead of Qc7. Not sure what is going on then.

Anyway, tomorrow is the only double round day so I will attempt to do some preparation and then get a good nights sleep. 9am round :-(...groan.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

KL Open, last round.

Well folks, the tournament is finally over and after 53 moves I finally managed to beat a 1900 player thereby stopping the gush of elo rating points. Not smooth sailing but at least it didn't get worse.

Sergei Tiviakov won yet again with an impressive 7/9. Brisbane IM Moulthun Ly beat Jimmy Liew, who himself had a great tournament, to finish on 6/9. I was not able to follow much of the rest of the tournament being at the wrong end of the tournament hall. Today I was seated next to the emergency exit which seemed strangely appropriate :-)

Round 9

Next report will come to you from Bangkok. Ciao :-)