Sunday, 11 December 2016

Japfa International Masters Tournament Jakarta 2016 Round 11 and Closing ceremony.


This was the refrain that rang out through the tournament hall during the closing ceremony as it had during the opening ceremony a week ago. The press was there in force, all pointing their cameras and microphones at Grandmaster and Senator Utut Adianto. In the eighties he was Asia's only 2600 player and one of the worlds elite. 

Back then the Indonesian team featured many Grandmasters and on their day could go toe to toe with any team in the world. When this crop of players retired there were no players of their class to replace them but Utut is doing his utmost to rectify this through his chess school and through his political influence and media profile. It seems to be baring fruit as both the IM tournament and the Women's IM tournament were won by local players.

GM Utut Adianto mobbed by the press.
There was also a challengers and amongst the participants was  Irene Sukandar Putra's little sister, Diajeng Theresa Singgih. She didn't make the podium but then again I think she is only 12.

Maung Maung Lwin presenting the prizes for the Challengers.
Myanmar came with a strong contingent with several players in both tournaments. I hinted that I would like an invitation to a tournament in Myanmar 😀

What a difference a half point makes. The top three prizes were in the thousands while I ended up with $200. Well I can't say I didn't have my chances. 

The ladies event was just as hard fought with local WFM Fisabilillah Ummi overtaking early leader WIM Fronda Jan Jodilyn in the second half.

I could have still joined the big money if I managed to win my last round against my room mate but it was not to be. I tried to mess things up as I was half a point behind by sacking a pawn for the two bishops but I never had more than compensation and my 20...f5 looks more likea losing attempt than a winning try but The Anh got bluffed out of  22.Nd4 which is kinda lucky for me. 

Half full or half empty? I am a bit disappointed at blowing a lead as I let some very good positions go but then again I could also easily lost some of those, in fact both the last two rounds could have finished worse. I am not fit enough for such an intense tournament, that is to say so many rounds in so few days against strong players. More swimming in Byron Bay and less food is m training plan before the January tournaments.

Well the tournament is over but I get to do a day's sightseeing tomorrow and not just anywhere but to one of the places on my bucket list. I had known about Krakatoa since I was a kid because like many kids I liked Volcanoes, and Dinosaurs and Comets like many kids. Now I'l get to see the mother of them all 😀

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Japfa International Masters Tournament Jakarta 2016 Round 10

As the tournament draws to a close the fighting spirit is declining. My opponent played the opening at lightning chess pace and I threw the kitchen sink...just because it might be fun. Now If I had played the originally intended 18.Be5 I would have had a positional edge but that wasn't enough for me so I came up with some convoluted plan that achieved nothing except a bad ending. Luckily Medina had somewhere to be and offered me a draw. 

One more round to go. Luckily it's at 2.30pm because of a party in the Ballroom or something similar. Am definitely too old for two rounds a day including 9am morning rounds.

Two lads have already made IM norms and some others are still in play I think but I'll link to the final report tomorrow.

On the bright side, I've secured 50% with a round to go! My last chance for a win with black 😀😀😀

Japfa International Masters Tournament Jakarta 2016 Round 9

Another missed opportunity today. I can't seem to catch a break with the black pieces. After getting exactly what I wanted form the opening I failed to win a crushing position a pawn up. As  compensation I got taken out to a great lunch.

Thanks to the Jakarta traffic we just got back a few minutes  ago and the next game...has already started. Adios amigoes. 

Friday, 9 December 2016

Japfa International Masters Tournament Round 8

Today was definitely the low point of the tournament for far! I cannot explain exactly what happened because I did exactly what I told myself not to do. Instead of playing good central chess I put a horse on a3, then moved it to b5 and followed with 13.Qa4 after which my position is already difficult. I missed 14....Nc4 completely which by the way is not the only way to win a pawn. It only got worse as I missed everything eventually missing 24...c4.

Some days one just sees nothing. The only bright side is that the game was short so I didn't have to input too many moves. Luckily there are only two rounds a day 😩

Tomorrow is another day and I promise, no "creativity".

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Japfa International Masters Tournament Jakarta 2016 Round 7

  I rarely play the  Sicilian defense but whenever I see during my preparation that my opponent plays something other than an open Sicilian, I wheel it out. "But you play anti- Sicilians too" I hear you protest. Yes, that is why I know they are all crap. White can equalise in some of them but not the way my opponent played today.

Many years ago I coached a 12 year old David Smerdon a few times and remember trying to convince him to play the open Sicilian to no avail. Even at that age he had enormous tactical  ability, great concentration and fighting spirit. The only weakness I saw was his addiction to his tricky pet opening systems like the 2.c3 Sicilian. I failed 😢

For todays game I drew inspiration from the games of Levon Aronian, who played this system in some games. It worked like a charm until I second guessed myself with 10...Qc6? instead of the planned 10....bc6. My justification was not to weaken my pawns but the price is taking my queen off the 5th rank where she is very active and giving white the d4 square because the c6 pawn could move to c5 controlling the d4 square. Capture towards the centre!

This blunder allowed white to equalise (at least) so when I saw the opportunity to bail with a Rook sac I took it.

Lunch, a swim and then another game. All good 😀

Japfa International Masters Tournament Jakarta 2016 Round 6

I spent most of the morning looking at Alina's games. I noticed that she had played an amazing amount of strong players with good results including a wins against players like Nigel Short to just mention one. Her repertoire is solid, she calculates well and is extremely aggressive. I did notice though that she had some losses against weaker players which explains her rating.

In that way we are similar, running hot and cold depending on form. It was pointless trying to take her on in her usual defences since she seems to know a lot more about opening than I do so I just decided to play a solid English so as not to blow my own brains out.

I couldn't resist sacking a pawn with 11.Bh6, feeling sure that she couldn't and wouldn't take it and didn't want to waste a tempo defending it. She did take it though and her feeling was right as stockfish just confirmed. 13...cd3 leads to an unclear position but Alina played Re8 instead and after white's attack is unstoppable.

So another four rounds in two days. These events are no picnic.
Hasta Manjana Commandante...

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Japfa International Masters Tournament 2016 Round 5

I am starting to feel the tempo and to add to it all, the pool was closed today 😒. But I don't want to give the impression that failing to capitalise on good positions is something new to me. If anything I am at least drawing a few instead of losing so things are improving. At this rate I will be deadly in another twenty years.

Here's another photo shamelessly stolen from Chief Arbiter Peter Long 

Morning round 

Round 5

My technique is definitely not world class. I was quite chuffed at how I managed to squeeze a winning ending out of what looked like very little, then for some unknown reason I let my opponents king in and I'm nearly losing. Luckily I found a dirty trick 😀

So two wins turned into potential losses, ending in draws. The excitement continues tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Japfa International Masters Tournament Jakarta 2016 Round 4

I have been having a hard time of late with my offbeat opening repertoire so I decided to play main line central stuff...up to a point. 7...Re8 and 8...Bf8 is not exactly standard but before move twenty I already had a significant advantage. My opponent was also down to a few minutes plus increment.

I know this trick. If you have a bad position, get into bad time pressure and hope that your opponent will join you in a blitz game. I told myself this was happening, to calm down and just play normally....but I couldn't help myself. There was only one trick in the position and that was to answer 22...Nd5 with 23.e4. So naturally I blitzed out Nd5. Luckily it does not lose instantly, in fact black is still better but white is back in the game.

This would have been a good time to settle down and use some of my 40 minutes but blitz is too much fun!

Later my opponent missed 37.Bg8!! and white wins. Oh well, at least I survived a black. Always look on the bright side of life..dumb dumb..

Now its time for lunch, a swim and then the afternoon round. Tomorrow is a "rest" day. Only one round. Am too old for this s**t.

Japfa International Masters Jakarta 2016 Round 3

Photo by Peter Long (stolen without permission)

My afternoon game has entertainment value. It may hold some record for the most amount of one move blunders by a titled player but still winning the game. Here is a small sample.

1. 17.e5 I completely overlooked that after 17...cb5 black is covering f6. I thought I was just winning. Strangely enough Stockfish gives it as the best move but that is just dumb luck.

2. 25. Bh3?? simply overlooking 25....Bg4. Instead 25. Bd5 gives me the position I wanted with  a  
nice little edge due to blacks weak pawns.

3. 37.Re7 really takes the cake, blundering one of my two extra pawns to a simple capture. Yes I know, checks and captures...Groan.

This was enough to put the game into the draw zone and if my opponent had played 44...Kf6 instead of h6, I suspect I would not have won this game. Luckily I found 49.f4!, probably my only decent move of the game. There was still time to blunder as I had planned to play my King to g8 to threaten b8Q followed by Rh7 mate. The fly in the soup is that b8Q is met by Rook takes b8 check!!!

Double groan....luckily I saw it in time and played the king to a8 instead. Can I trade my brain in for a reconditioned one?

Time to head off to the Bar. Apparently there is a band playing and I need a beer after such a gruelling day. Hasta manjana amigoes 😀

Monday, 5 December 2016

Japfa IM tournament Jakarta 2016 Round 2

Did I ever mention that I hate morning rounds? Well today I was reminded of why. I got the opening and position I wanted but did not have the energy to calculate so just played a few that'll do moves. On move 18 I felt I should play ...f5 but didn't feel like calculating everything so settled for the lazy ...cd4. This was followed by the tempo gifting 19...Qb6 instead of finishing my development with ....Rc8. Now black was worse and needed to start defending accurately with something like 25...Bc6 26.Rc6 Be5 but it was simpler to just let myself get mated.

Gotta give credit where its due though, my opponent played well and took full advantage of my slack moves. Time for lunch, whirlpool, swim etc and prepare for the afternoon round.

Btw, you can follow the rest of the tournament on Chess results website.  

Japfa International Masters Tournament 2016 Round 1

Occasionally I forget what a privileged life I have had,  and continue to have. We chessplayers get paid to go to places other people have to save up for to see, stay at great Hotels, on this occasion the Novotel Jakarta Gajah Mada, enjoy the facilities, spectacular food and all we have to do is play some chess!

Grandmaster Senator Utut Adianto (dark suit)
This event is the brainchild of Grandmaster Utut Adianto who is now a Senator in Indonesia's upper house of parliament. I knew him well when he was still a chessplayer and a legend in Asian chess. Of course I was never in his league but did beat him in a rapid tournament once :-)

Great playing conditions.
Like I said, we live a life of privilege, perhaps undeserved, so the least I can do is to try to play entertaining chess for the fans and sponsors. Hopefully they feel they got their moneys worth today.

Round 1 

I recently gave a lecture about preparing for your opponent at the Brisbane chess club. Today was a good example of how this works in practice. My opponent has a very solid but predictable repertoire and one thing I noticed is that he always plays the Kan (2...e6) Sicilian. I noticed he had never met 2.b3 so I hoped he would be unfamiliar with some of the subtleties.

It's funny how a little difference can make life difficult early on. 5....Be7 is already a noticeable concession because it allows white to play 6.d4 under favourable circumstances. 5...Nc6 does not because the e5 pawn is tagged.

11...Bd7 took me completely by surprise as I thought swapping queens was forced with an unpleasant ending for black. After 12.Nd6+ Ke7 I was tempted by 13.c5 which sacks a pawn in several different ways but after half an hour I still couldn't work out all the consequences. I also had a perfectly acceptable alternative in the safe 13.Ne4. Time was not the problem, I had plenty left but was busting...

To gamble or play it safe. Oh well, can't change the habits of a lifetime, my "toilet move" as Nigel Short calls it was c5. I had spent most of my time analysing the only good reply 13...Qc7 but instead came 13...Nd5 and white just had to mop up. A fun crush.

Tomorrow the double rounds start, first one at 9am. There is a price to be paid for all this luxury :-)
Wish me luck Comrades

Monday, 26 September 2016


Macon is a town on the crossroads between Geneva and Lyon, and Paris and Nice. I had passed through many times and always thought, I gotta have a closer look one day. In prctise this is not so easy. The cobblestone Roman roads best suited to a horse and cart, and haphazard one way signage make driving around a nightmare. Add to this the locals all nervous and in a hurry and the first sign out of town was too tempting.

I figured I could stay just outside and commute. A few minutes out of town I stopped at a Chateau. Another car pulled up, a couple got out, I said "bonjour" as is customary here and got the response "g'day"!! We were the only people there.

Anyway, we chatted and Trudy & Tony from Newcastle told me that Cluny was a nice town and I had to check out the Abbey. With the afternoon free I followed their advice. It looked nice, is only a 30 minute drive from Macon so why not stay the night?

If you are ever in the area this is a great place to stay. It is built adjacent to the Abbey and quite luxurious inside. The price is barely more than a McHotel in Macon.

So lets do a tour!

Just next door is the Abbey which is a weird combination of school and museum.

There is not much left of the original structure. The French revolution in 1798 was not too kind to the religious institutions. The symbols of power and oppression were destroyed, churches set ablaze, decorations crudely vandalised and heads of both statues and humans separated from bodies.

To make up for the lack of anything normally associated with an Abbey like stained glass windows, gargoyles, murals, stories have been placed.

Someone went to a lot of trouble to remove whatever was decorating the arches. 

Restoration is still going on and some of the former residents have been remounted although not in their entirety. Poor fell doesn't have much to say anymore.

The gardens are huge and the view is magnificent.

Some parts are yet to be unearthed.

This church was built in the 12 century. 

These pillars were just placed here to decorate an otherwise empty hall.

Not the neatest gardens I have ever seen unless you are going for the "Andy Warhol" effect with the strategically placed Coke bottle. Either that or "we are French and don't give a ...."

A Cyclops Ent?

So if you have plenty of time and want to support the school, by all means visit the Abbey. At 9.50 euros it won't send you broke but there is more to see outside.

Out on the street just next to the Abbey is another church and this war memorial. Reminders of the two world wars are everywhere. I'm not sure a few sculptures and medals are sufficient reward for running into machine gun fire but that must be just me.

And here we have a street named after the day Cluny got bombed. Just below this sign was a shop selling Bratwurst to German tourists, of which there are many.

On one side of this tiny river is the town, on the other, farms. The contrast is quite striking.

Now I had circled the town and came upon this cute little bar and restaurant. Pity it was still closed. Between 2 and 5pm few places are open.

View from the park

The "Hotel de Ville" or Town hall.  

Not sure what this is but worth a picture. More from Burgundy soon.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Antoine Favarel wins the Open De Vins 2016

Hourtin port

This is the first time I have played at the new venue, although it is the second edition. The chess charm of the Camping La Rochade is gone, with it's dedicated chess events all summer, activities such as Condi chess and the bookshop. Rike and Jules Armas sold their campsite a few years ago and the new owners, not being chessplayers, didn't appreciate our game. 

Now the new accomodation venue is the Village Western Camping which is not a chess campsite but specialises in Equestrian activities and has a wild west feel about it. Although the chess charm is missing it is a lot more professionally run (no offence Rike&Jules)  and has a lot more to offer to non chess players.

The new venue is a great improvement and although there are no goats or chickens in the adjacent paddock, there are plenty of cafe's restaurants, shops, playgounds and a lake beach where you can indulge in water sports like sailing or play mini-golf or hire a bike....etc 

Boats can also be hired from the port.

The bridge in the distance leads to Banana Island where dogs can be walked. 

And this is the Beach. No crocodiles and shallow so safe for bad swimmers.

You could get lost though. This lake is huge. 

Open De Vins 2016

Antoine Favarel scored an amazing 8.5/9 this year. He has been playing in this tournament since he has been a junior and I'm sure we have played several times. This is the first time I remember him beating me but it was well deserved. He also beat the other IM, Paul Velten, also with black. Here he is trying the side-saddle weigh in. He had to leave immediately after the prizegiving to make it to the first round of his next tournament in Condom which started later that afternoon.

Pablo Ollier scored 8/9 which is rarely not enough to win a tournament. His chess was good but his weight let him down. He got five bottles let than I although he got half his weight. 

And here you can see why.

Paul Velten, the top seed and 2013 winner didn't tip the scales much either.

Gilles Grelier was fifth with 5.5/9 and best local player

Sixth was taken by German international player Ursula Hielscher who played a great tournament but had an easy last round when her opponents phone switched itself on.

Rike Armas won the best female prize after missing the first two rounds because she was a volunteer at EURO2016. A remarkable performance as she also played organiser, announcer, and any other odd job that needed doing. She also has great taste in t-shirts :-)

Merlin Randrianaina looks happy with his junior prize.

Here some other junior prize winners choosing their game prizes.

The full results from round 9 are here. This tournament is planning to continue next year with a possible other one to follow immediately afterwards in Lesparre but thats just in the planning phase right now. I'll keep you informed.  

Round 9
My opponent in the last round is a local swashbuckling player who plays every year as far as I can tell. He played a very tough filed and was unlucky to be jumped over in the last two round as Jean had to play Favarel and yours truly.

He had a go, sacking a knight and it was a bit more dangerous than I thought. He should have held back with 16.Ng5+  and played Kh2 instead. Then it seems he had compensation. As it happened there was none and after the second piece fell he lost on time.

That's all for now folks, I hope you enjoyed the reports. I'm back in Australia, via Munich, on Friday to pollute young minds with wacky chess ideas :D