Friday, 30 December 2011

Australian Championship 2011 round 5

Well today was almost a replay of yesterday except I was on the winning side. My opponent spent a long time in the opening, lost a pawn and had minutes left for the final moves. Anyway, last game for 2011, see you all in 2012, the year of the Rapture :-)

Happy new year friends.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Australian Championship round 4

I have to apologise for my horrible game today. My main excuse is time management. I again failed to guess my opponents first move. I was expecting a Sicilian and had spend many hours preparing. Time better spent at the beach. I only found what I wanted to play ten minutes before the game :-)

Well that led me to thinking about twenty minutes about my second move. Not smart especially since I played the main line. By the time we got to move 10, a position I still knew I was down to half an hour. On move 13 I had about ten minutes left and had to choose between two critical moves fe6 and Nd4. I looked at my clock, tossed a coin and chose the wrong one. 13.Nd4 is advantage white with a dangerous attack and 13. fe6 is a pawn down with little compensation. After move 20 It became a bit of a comedy. What to do if all your pieces are on good squares but there is no way to make progress and only minutes on the clock? Move them to bad squares and then lose them all of course!

So today's lesson was how NOT to play chess. Now that you have absorbed that I don't need to show it to you again for the rest of the tournament. Anyway, it's a nice day and there are plenty of rounds left.

Australian Championship round 3

How lucky was I today? The opening went rather well for me I thought but a careless move 16....Nb6 landed me in very hot water indeed. Not willing to swallow my pride I compounded it on move 20...c4. The alternative was a pawn down ending but I preferred an "attack". In my mind only. If Moulthun had played 28 hg3 the game would have been over very quickly.

It is an absolute miracle I survived especially as the noise from the analysis area was deafening. On move 43 I even allowed myself to decline a draw offer as I felt I still had some chances seeing 43 Rc1 was not played. And again no tourism due to preparation. Yesterday I was out on move two whereas today I failed to predict my opponents first (!) move. Oh well.

I need to make special mention of IM Leonid Sandler who is presumably not playing because we are all too weak. Instead he is involved in the organisation of the event and doing some interviews including this one

 with yours truly. Please take my answers with a grain of salt. I had just won my eleventh game in a row and was feeling a bit light headed.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Australian Championship round 2

1pm is not a bad starting time but if you are a late sleeper it is not easy to do any tourism. Sorry. I was also playing the Victorian state champion so I felt I needed to prepare. Dusan has a very well worked out opening repertoire so I wasted the whole morning trying to find a good line against the Sicilian or Kings Indian. In the end I thought of a tricky move order in the hope he would play 1.Nf3 c5 2. b3 Nf6 3. Bb2 g6 4. Bf6! gf6 5.c4 with a position like my game against Rogozenko with colours reversed. As you can see I was out of my brilliant preparation on move 2 :-(

So I got nothing out of the opening until Dusan got a rush of blood to the head and played 17....Nd4. After that it was just a matter of technique. The rook ending is just lost when he walked into a mate in 1.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Australian Championship Round 1

Happy Holidays friends! I hope you have all spent Christmas day with family, friends and loved ones. I took advantage of the cheap flights and flew to Sydney on an almost empty plane. I spent the night at the Ingram family Manor and jumped into Ben's luxurious Saab the next morning for the drive down to Geelong.

Ben obscuring the Sphinx. This is the Venue.

Geelong is composed of many lane highways, housing estates and industrial areas. Luckily it also has a historic old town and a beautiful bay. 

We will be here for two weeks and I hope we will have time to do some tourism between rounds so that I can show you some pictures of the area as well as games. 

The tournament got underway at 2pm. Ben and I got "lost" and unfortunately missed the opening ceremony and the undoubtedly riveting speeches. You can find all the information on the tournament at the Geelong chess clubs website and if you are clever enough you can also find the link to the five live boards. The top seed GM Zong Yuan Zhao proved that e4 is the best move as he needed no other to win the first round. Another strange result was Darryl Johansen's  14 move draw with white. Another mystery is the participation of an Indian International master. I assume we must now have a reciprocal arrangement with India and will therefore be applying for the next Indian closed Championship. 

My game today started well but I lost the thread a bit in the middle-game. I did enjoy the exchange sacrifice. Black has no material for it but I cannot find a way to defend white's position.  

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Mono's 50th

Party Party Party
That's life in the shire. Weekends especially one has a wide choice of events and Party's but yesterday my Bro was playing so my choice was obvious. Mono is a local celebrity. The Nickname was given to him apparently due to the fact that he only has one leg. This did not stop him from dancing and having a great time. There were a few bands, loads of Grog and great food. 

Bro is the Guitarist with the red and white guitar.   

Time for the Byron markets. Last chance to buy some genuine Byron XMAS prezzies.

Ivy Lucille & Rapskallion

Last night, following the strong recommendation of a fellow Mullum chessplayer and friend Justin, I went to Coorabell Hall to listen to some music. Wow! First up was the sultry and funny  Ivy Lucille. She was accompanied by a guy on what I think is a double-bass. Is that what one calls the really big ones? I did take some videos but am now in Brunswick heads and the internet connection here sucks and after trying to upload the Videos for several hours I gave up, Luckily she has this terrific clip on Youtube.

I must have arrived half way through her gig because after about half a dozen songs, far too few, it was over and I went outside to chat with some friends. We were just discussing how terrific she was when Ivy herself appeared and was kind enough to answer some questions for her fans. She does not have a CD out yet but it is in the works. Doubleroo will continue to "stalk" her and bring you updates. Bad Videos when I get to a better internet connection.

Rapskallion was up next and the Hall filled up immediately. Now there were eight great musicians on stage and soon the whole hall was shaking. Again, my own Vids another time but here is a Youtube sample.

Lucille showed herself to be a real party girl by staying for the whole performance livening up the dance-floor as much as anyone despite having just done an entire set herself. Rapskallion were brought back to the stage for three encores, usually far too much but in this case not nearly enough. They are touring to promote their new album which I just had to buy. I have now listened to it and recommend it highly.

Undoubtedly the best night of music since Chocolate in Cuba. The difference being that although I loved the live performance in Baracoa I did not like the recorded stuff.

Tonight I will treat myself to more music, this time my brother is playing at a party in Mullum and I will take some Videos again. Life in the Shire is just wonderful :-)

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Ruth Coxhill Memorial rounds 7&8

The tournament finishes on Tuesday but since I played my last round game in advance I have already played all 9 games, and scored 9 points :-) Ok, I will admit that it was a bit like shooting fish in a barrel but I did have 2 tough games. This was not one of them. Oleg got a bit too aggro and by the time he hung a piece his position was a shambles not to mention the pawn.

Gene was always going to be the main competitor but a couple of draws put him a point behind so he would have had to win this game to draw level. It was therefore quite silly of me to sacrifice a pawn and offer another for a nebulous attack. Luckily the pressure was enough and I was even able to pass the final test, winning rook v rook + 2 connected pawns. I have not really been paying attention to the rest of the tournament but if you are interested here is the link.

Have a nice weekend :-)

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Ruth Coxhill Memorial round 6

I can honestly say that my young opponent played like a grandmaster this evening. Exactly like a particular grandmaster in fact. If you look at my second round game from Naujac sur Mer this year you will see GM Dorian Rogozenko making the same mistake (not playing 5. d4 ) and suffering the same fate. Also neither player resigned too early.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Ruth Coxhill Memorial round 9 (brought forward)

Sam is one of the Gold coasts young talents and has been introducing many kids to chess with the Gardiner Chess Academy. Today it was Sam who learned a lesson. I would formulate the "rule" like this.

If you swap a bishop for a knight unprovoked in the opening, have a good reason.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Ruth Coxhill Memorial Round 5

I have now played chess against two generations of Mullers. Jonas father played regularly more than a decade ago. Will I be around to play the next generation in 20 years time? A bit optimistic perhaps but not totally out of the question.

Jonas played well for most of the game and it is hard to pinpoint his errors but I felt that playing 19......c3 closed the position too much and cost him too much of his counterplay for one potential mate-threat. Meanwhile whites attack continued.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Ruth Coxhill Memorial Round 4 and Mullum music festival.

I am a bit late with this game. The Mullum Music Festival was on this weekend and between visits to the beach, checking out the bands and a few after parties there was little time left.

The venues are spread across town but the Magic bus will take you there....or..

the "Free Buddha Bus". I had no idea he was incarcerated! The whole town was a stage as seen in this ...street-theatre?

Anyway, back to the game. My opponent fell for a beginners trap and lost quickly. It is good to beat these kids while one still can because in a few years time Kevin will not be so careless. I believe he is currently 10! 

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Ruth Coxhill Memorial Round 3. Proof there is no God.

If there were a God or any form of universe governing intelligence or in fact any logic or justice then surely I would have lost today. Slowly and painfully. I feel reluctant to even post this game, that's how unfair and undeserved my victory was.

Instead I will bury it at the end of the post with the idea of exceeding your attention span. When I last presented you with a game I was fasting. That lasted until Saturday. It was a busy day considering I was fasting but when not eating or smoking I need to distract myself a little so I visited the Mullum markets

Mullumbimby hosts the markets once a month and it one of the nicer markets, not nearly as big as the Byron markets but shady and relaxed like everything in Mullum.

I was surprised that on such a fine day so few people were out. The reason as I found out when I phoned a local chessplayer/friend was that the Bangalow show was on. I just had to see it!

The first exhibit I saw brought a smile to my face. The translation is necessary in Australia.

The farm animals were very popular with the little kids

while the horses were very popular with the bigger kids.

The Cattle were the highlight.

After the show I went body surfing for about an hour and then drove up to Brisbane for a birthday party and what a party it was. Connie Pizzato was celebrating her 22nd 39th birthday and let me tell you, Italians know how to throw a party. A guest not eating is seen as a challenge. A few glasses of champagne and my resolve weakened. When the home made Spelt pizza arrived I gave in to temptation. Then came skewered garlic get the picture.

As soon as I started eating again the Nicotine withdrawals arrived with a vengeance.  I seem to be restless, short tempered and scatterbrained. Well that is my excuse for today and I am sticking to it :-)

After the previous success with a 19th century opening I thought I might try something even older. The Ponziani opening has been known since 1497 according to the link. It is hardly ever played anymore but it is not clear to me why.

Alex Ruddy did not appear to be flummoxed by my choice. He played a good line but then lost a little ground and by the early middlegame was a bit worse.  By move 25 I was no longer taking the game seriously and played the impulsive 25: c5?? allowing Qg5, blacks only trick. Instead 25: Qh7 check followed by c5 ends the game quickly. After my brain-melt I am just a pawn down in a difficult (to say the least) ending. And now a tragedy happened. Alex left a piece unprotected ending the game immediately.  

I fully deserved to lose this game for my flippant and arrogant attitude to this game. See? No Justice, therefore no God. The Bull put it best when he said....

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Ruth Coxhill Memorial Round 2

                              In the mountains behind Mullumbimby we have a secret training base

and the last few sessions we had discussed a line of the Scotch opening. After the introductory moves 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 ed4 4. Nd4 black rarely plays Qh4 but this move just wins a pawn! It is true that a well prepared player will get plenty of compensation for that pawn. My opponent today was not prepared and just lost a pawn. Again my junior opponent played until mate. 

In case you did bother playing through this game and are now wondering why I promoted to a knight instead of a queen, no you are not missing anything, I was just playing with my food. We both used hardly any time for the game and under-promotion is always nice.

Some gratuitous advice. If you play the Scotch, learn the 4........Qh4 line and if you face it as black you may want to call your opponents bluff at least once.

So 4 days of fasting and nicotine abstinence are over. I am down to 105kg and starting to breathe normally again. Got to get healthy before the Australian Championship in Geelong at the end of the year. A friend encouraged me yesterday to go down there and retrieve MY title :-)  

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Ruth Coxhill Memorial

Finally a chess game! Since returning to Australia I had not played any rated tournament games to I enjoyed my short outing today. Graeme Gardiner of the Gardiner Chess Academy  organizes many events and one of them is the Ruth Coxhill Memorial. It is not every son who honours the memory of his mother with a tournament.

We play 2 games a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays in the evening. A very relaxed format. The venue is the Gardiners spacious home.

My young opponent played the opening quite well, then started to use all his time for no good reason....and then panicked. I guess the point of the tournament was fulfilled. Most of the field is made up of talented juniors getting in some practice before the Australian Junior Championships.

On another front, I am fasting again. My last food intake was on Sunday lunchtime. Last cigarette Sunday afternoon. As usual quitting is easy and three days in I am feeling good. The challenge will be to retain the motivation. Also in the past my nicotine cravings return when I start eating again.

So apart from playing two games a week and going to the markets on the weekends to listen to some drums

I am not doing anything exciting enough to blog about. Well you be the judge :-) I read somewhere on the internet that drinking small amounts of seawater is supposed to have a beneficial effect. Since it is well known that all information on the internet is reliable I thought I might give it a try. Now every time I go swimming I swallow a glassful or two of saltwater. So far so good :-)

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Australia unoccupied?

Last week I noticed that the "Occupy Wall Street" movement had hit the Gold Coast! Since I was heading down to Brunswick Heads anyway I thought I should at least offer a few hours of my time and take a few pictures. Moral support alone is overrated.

When protesting one needs to dress appropriately so that both your fellow protesters, spectators and most importantly the police can identify what group you belong to. Luckily I have a red Che Guevara t-shirt for just such an occasion. Sporting Che you can blend into any left-wing cause seamlessly.

                                                        I saw this Video on YouTube

but when I got down there on Saturday afternoon I saw this.

A public event less well attended than an Australian Chess Tournament!

Meanwhile the beach was well occupied.

 Surely "Occupy Byron Bay" will be different. Off the top of my head I cannot think of a better place to attract a crowd of protesters and when you see the You Tube Video it does indeed look like Byron does it better. Drums, party atmosphere, lots of people with time on their hands...

but when I got down there,

I saw only one person who might be a protester, the guy with the Guitar...maybe? Although slightly disappointing I chose to look on the bright side. Obviously life in Australia is so good for the vast majority  that we don't really have anything to complain about. The Human development index confirms this assessment. Australia is in second place overall, just a fraction behind Norway. Without the winter!

While I was musing on the sweetness of life in OZ a report came on the car radio that Qantas had grounded its entire domestic and international fleet! From what I can gather the CEO Alan Joyce spat the dummy when he couldn't get everything he wanted.   

Doubleroo opinion. Qantas should be instantly re-nationalized and Alan Joyce and any others responsible for the grounding should be arrested and charged with economic terrorism. Nothing is as entertaining as a good show-trial. :-)

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Queensland Inter-School Teams Chess Championship

This the best Schools in the state of Queensland battled for titles in Brisbane at Somerville House, a prestigious Girls School with a long and good reputation for encouraging and promoting Chess. Here is a picture of the School with one of the successful teams showing off their trophy.

The tournament was excellently organised and there was a large turnout from many different regions. Some teams were local (Brisbane), others from the Gold Coast, Toowoomba and Bundaberg. Everything was still wide open until the very end but the dominant teams in both the primary and secondary level were from Kings and Grammar.

Brisbane Grammar won a last round nail-biter against Somerville to win the Secondary School division while Kings held 2-2 against Grammar to win the Primary division. Don't quote me on that because I am working from memory. I have not been able to find the exact results on any website.

The Somerville Girls acquitted themselves very well and were fighting for one of the top places going into the last round. Amongst the coaches were International Master Moulthun Ly, a promising younger player, Veteran IM Steven Solomon and WIM Alexandra Jule pictured below going through the game of one of the competitors...and having lunch. No rest for the wicked :-)

Many thousand school children and students play chess in Queensland and there are many events for them to play in. Parents and teachers support these events as does the Queensland Chess Association  and the Gardiner Chess Academy  . This is Graeme Gardiner who spends a lot of his time helping to organise events like these.

As you can see there are a lot of people enthusiastically involved in Junior Chess. So why is it that Junior events look like this

and open tournaments look like this?

IM Steven Solomon receiving first prize at the Wendy Terry memorial a few weeks previously. A solid performance by Steven who out-rated his nearest rival by nearly 300 elo points. Hardly any adults compete anymore and much of the tiny field was made up of juniors. Something is happening in the transition between School and Adult life. Anybody got any ideas?

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

A week in Kuala Lumpur

When it rains it pours in KL. One moment the sun in shining and the next.... Driving is not easy I imagine but the locals are used to it. Since the city is divided into pockets the only way to get around is by Car or public transport. There are few footpaths, no bicycle lanes and the public transport system is underdeveloped to put it kindly.

longtime friend and colleague Peter Long runs the Polgar chess academy together with his wife Luisa and between meals I was allowed to torture some of the students.

Interest in Chess is quite high and increasing in Malaysia. The benefits to the minds of youngsters are well known and being increasingly documented. On the weekend the centre was full of young minds eager to learn so by the time Saturday evening arrived we were all very hungry. The choice of restaurant was left up to Sarah. "Fatty Crab" of course.

Luisa, Peter and I raised no objections.

There is not much available except crab (chicken wings) but that is superb. Unfortunately for Peter he had to spend half the time de-shelling crab for Sarah :-)

Another great way to spend a few hours, especially if the weather is not perfect, is strolling around one of the many modern air-conditioned Malls. Now the Malls here are like little cities. If you were to live in an adjoining apartment you could work, go to the Gym, shop, eat, visit doctor, dentist, whatever. I am sure you would never have to leave the building to have a rich, fulfilled life. You could even play Chess! This Mall is the Venue for the Malaysian open every year!

Time to go out and take some more pictures for you.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Spitting the dummy

Last week a serious of unexpected events made me wonder if I wasn't running around in ever decreasing circles and if so then what actions I could undertake to avoid reaching the inevitable, undesirable destination.

 I have heard tell that in similar situations people turn to chemical remedies, be they legal or not, or consult therapists. Now the first option can at best temporarily obscure the underlying causes and at worst damage ones health even occasioning death if administered for an extended period or in incorrect dosages. The second option is completely beyond me. Paying to talk to a stranger. What? No friends?

There is a third lesser utilized option that I believe shepherds have used for generations whenever they saw danger approaching. Getting the flock out of here.

Monday morning I booked a ticket to Malaysia. One problem solved. While on stopover in Dubai I bought a new laptop, a Samsung RF511. I had been missing my chess programs, preparing for games and watching shows like "The Daily Show" and the "Colbert Report" but more than anything else I missed Blogging! Another problem solved. The next day I arrived in Kuala Lumpur International Airport where I was picked up by my old friend Peter Long and taken to eat Roti Channai with various Curries and dring Teh Halia. I immediately felt happy and relaxed and knew I had made the right decision.

First let me bring you up to date. Shortly after my previous post Nina and I drove back to France and visited her brother in Paris.

A famous fountain near the centre who's name I have now forgotten. Can anybody help out?

This is the "Tour de Saint-Jacques". Easy to remember. I love Scallops.

Paris has everything. Even a beach.

After a pleasant weekend in Paris enjoying the hospitality of her brother Pierre, Nina, Francoise and I headed back to Vendeness sur Arroux. We took a little shortcut on the way to take some pictures of my favourite house in all of France.

This is an old fortification built in the 13th century. The same family still lives there. Amazing.

Here is the story for all you Francophiles.

This is when my replacement Computer, my old Fujitsu short-circuited so I didn't take any pictures of our family camping holiday in the Morvan forest. On the 26th of August I left Francoise and Nina at the Camping ground and headed to Schwarzach, Austria for a tournament. I still have not finished installing my chess program's or entering the games so for now here are some pictures.

This is the Goldegger see where I went swimming frequently. It is about 10km away.

Schwarzach down below.

A wonderful old house behind the "Hotel Post"

After the tournament which could have gone better I headed to Croatia. My first stop was Zagreb where I had some things to do. It was interesting to see friends from my Uni days nearly 30 years ago. A few days of catching up and making appointments later I took a few days off to see Zadar.

The City gate. Zadar is a very ancient city with a long history, great beaches, restaurants and tourist attractions.

Like the five wells.

Roman ruins outside the excellent Archaeological museum.

The 9th  century church of Saint-Donatus.

And a charming little harbour with a nice fish restaurant.

Watch out for one thing though. Along the harbour there are lots of stalls offering "Kornati" excursions. You will be told how you will be taken to a spectacular natural park of which you are shown photo's. Lunch, drinks and everything else is all inclusive. The reality is...

After a three-hour boat-ride where everything except water, lemonade and cask wine is incredibly expensive you get dropped on a rock (Island) like this, get a couple of little grilled Mackerels with a Salad and then get to enjoy the trip back. All this for only about 50 euro and a wasted day. On the bright side I did meet some nice people who were equally bored and disappointed.

Next post, Malaysia :-) 

Friday, 5 August 2011

Nina in the Uttinger Labyrinth

I have been trying to write this post for several days but have encountered one obstacle after another. My HP laptop is not usable anymore because the screen freezes or fuzzes up unless I hold it at a specific angle with pressure with one hand and keep adjusting to keep contact. So I had to first transfer the photo's from my mobile to the HP, then use an external hard disk to back up and then attach the said hard disk to my 4 year old Fujitsu-Siemens to write this Blog. That nearly worked. The hard disk backed up in zip format for some reason. Ok, so today I just transferred the pictures and that worked. One day was spent updating all the software on the laptop I hadn't used for a year.

Please keep in mind that I only have a few hours a day to actually do anything that requires concentration. Anybody who has entertained a 4.5 year old during school holidays will know what I mean. It is a lot of fun but also exhausting. Anyway, enough whining, let me show you what we did on Tuesday (I think).

It was a glorious, sunny day, one of the few we have had so far this summer. Claudia invited Nina and I to join her and her friend Silke, her son David and his school friend Marvin on an excursion. 

We drove to Herrsching on the beautiful Ammersee to meet up with Silke and the two boys to take a Paddle-ship over to the other side of the Lake. Before we got there we had our first "memorable" incident. With hundreds of people either waiting for the Ship or just enjoying the lake-front Nina took a few steps into the water and yelled out (in French) "look Papa, I'm peeing in the Lake". Then "oh, my undies are all wet", took them off and threw them at me.  Where is that damn Ship! 

It was a wonderful day. Many people were enjoying the water.

Claudia and Nina enjoying the sights.

This was our destination. The Labyrinth in Utting.

Hurry up Papa!

Lots of Sunflowers

The first attraction was a haystack with tunnels underneath. It took a while to get Nina to lose interest and move on.

The Tipi's were not so fascinating. She has been Camping often.

The View from the Castle was great, climbing up and down even better.

Groves? Pumpkins growing on the sides.

The whole Idea of the Labyrinth is to follow a map, find all the Animals and stamp a piece of paper to show you had found them. Too much like hard work. We wandered around haphazardly and found them all anyway. Here the Elephant.


David showed us where the Sheep was.

On our way out we found the Mole

Outside was a Giraffe

No, we can't take any of these plants home Nina. To finish the day Nina went for a swim and fell out of a Tree. Then it was time for a Curry-wurst with Chips and an Ice Cream. If you want to entertain a Child near Munich on a sunny day I can definitely recommend this area.