Thursday, 24 January 2019

New Zealand Open Championship Final Report

Brandon Clarke wins the NZ open

equal with Timur Gareyev with 7/9 but with a better tiebreak. I was =3rd with a pack of players a point behind. IM's Anthony Ker and Russell Dive took out the best New Zealand players, also with 6/9.

The end of a tournament can be quite busy as people are leaving, goodbye's are being said and a few drinks and dinners are being arranged. That is why I have only now found the time to finish my report....and laziness.

I changed my ticket back to Australia by a day so I wouldn't have to start with a bye in the first round, plus I had managed to recruit Brandon for the tournament and that would have meant both of us missing the first round. This did mean that we would miss the NZ blitz but sacrifices have to be made.

We still managed to play the Rapid. This was won by Timur Gareyev with 8.5/9
Timur then went one better and won the lightning with 9/9! Full results below.

Round 8

Anthony Ker is a very solid player, who I have played many times over the years and always struggled to beat. I managed to walk into his preparation and got little from the opening. I was very optimistic after 22.d4 but with a few precise moves, he escaped.

[Event "NZ Ch 2019"]
[Site "Auckland"]
[Date "2019.01.21"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Black "Ker, Anthony"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2332"]
[BlackElo "2313"]
[ECO "A36f"]
[EventDate "2019.01.14"]

1.c4 c5 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.d3 d6 6.Rb1 e5 7.Nf3 Nge7 8.a3
a5 9.O-O O-O 10.Ne1 Be6 11.Nc2 d5 12.cxd5 Nxd5 13.Ne3 Nde7 14.Nc4 Rb8
15.a4 b6 16.f4 Qd7 17.Nxe5 Nxe5 18.fxe5 Bxe5 19.Bf4 Bxf4 20.Rxf4 Nd5
21.Bxd5 Bxd5 22.d4 Bb7 23.d5 Rbd8 24.e4 f5 25.Qb3 fxe4 26.Rxf8+ Rxf8
27.Qxb6 Bxd5 28.Qxc5 Bc6 29.Qc4+ Qf7 30.Qxc6 1/2-1/2

Round 9

So we come to the last round with Brandon in the lead by half a point from Timur and only needing half a point to guarantee first place, at least shared. I needed to win with black, which was always going to be tough. I was quite happy with my opening, thinking I had avoided forced drawing lines and could play a long game. 12...Bd7, planning Bc6 would have been a balanced battle but I got too ambitious too soon and went for the bishop instead with 12...Nf4, a move I had a bad feeling about, and indeed, it hands white a nice position.

On the last move of the game, I played 15...b5 and offered a draw, not really thinking about the position enough, thinking if ab, I could then play 16...Bc4 and transpose, but white need not and can instead play the much stronger 16.Nd6, which would have been unpleasant. Luckily my draw offer was accepted.

[Event "NZ Ch 2019"]
[Site "Auckland"]
[Date "2019.01.22"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Clarke, Brandon"]
[Black "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2400"]
[BlackElo "2332"]
[ECO "C44x"]
[EventDate "2019.01.14"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 d6 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Be7 7.O-O O-O
8.h3 Ne5 9.Be2 c5 10.Nf3 Ng6 11.Nd2 a6 12.a4 Nf4 13.Nc4 Nxe2+ 14.Qxe2
Be6 15.Rd1 b5 1/2-1/2

So my New Zealand adventure is over and apart from two accidents it wasn't too bad. If I can learn to concentrate a bit better, perhaps I can maintain an average coaches level for now.

I feel concentrating on health and mental state is the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to long tournaments. My next tournament starts in a few hours.

I must be a glutton for punishment 😏

Sunday, 20 January 2019

NZ Open Championship 2019 Round 7

Panmure Basin Walk Is Never Boring

At 3.3km the walk around the lake is the perfect distance for a daily constitutional. Many people walk, by themselves or with friends, family or their dogs. Some jog and others use the exercise stations along the way.

The other day we saw this gentleman playing this traditional instrument while his grandchildren played in the sandpit. His play was divine and his smile infectious. We were not the only ones who asked if we could take a photo, and he always graciously acquiesced. 

Photo credit Audrey Chan.

Photo credit Timur Gareyev.
Working out in public is something that takes some getting used to, but I had to give this apparatus a try just to see how it worked. Basically, you are lifting yourself. I also tried some chin-ups and found out that I can do three! Last time I tried it I didn't manage one. I guess being 30kg lighter helps.

One place I cannot recommend is the Buddhist temple next to the hotel. I am actually a fan of the Buddhist philosophy and have visited many temples in Asia. This one offers a free vegetarian meal twice a month and since a few friends were going there, out of curiosity I joined them.

First, we saw people praying prostrate on the floor and chanting. We were immediately preached to and advised that a donation, perhaps $10 would be greatly appreciated. When the ceremony to give thanks to the Gods was mentioned I walked. Buddhist Gods? Give me a break.

Round 7 

My game was anything but smooth. The opening went my way but then I drifted, lost two tempi with the idiotic 18.Qc4 and had to look at an unpleasant position. Then Paul played 27...Nf4, giving his monster knight for my useless bishop and white was happy again. Under time pressure he missed 36.Ne4 and one would think the game should be over.

It wasn't quite as on move 44 I placed my Rook on g8, only just noticing in time that black can just take it! No, I wasn't blindfolded. Braindamage.

[Event "NZ Ch 2019"]
[Site "Auckland"]
[Date "2019.01.20"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Black "Garbett, Paul"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2332"]
[BlackElo "2160"]
[ECO "B30f"]
[EventDate "2019.01.14"]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d3 Nc6 4.g3 d5 5.Qe2 Nge7 6.Bg2 dxe4 7.dxe4 Nd4 8.
Nxd4 cxd4 9.O-O Nc6 10.e5 Bd7 11.Nd2 Qc7 12.Nf3 Bc5 13.Qe4 h6 14.Bd2
Rd8 15.Rad1 Ne7 16.Rfe1 Bc6 17.Qd3 a6 18.Qc4 Bd5 19.Qd3 Nc6 20.a3 Rd7
21.h4 O-O 22.Bf4 b5 23.h5 Rfd8 24.Nd2 Bxg2 25.Kxg2 Ne7 26.Ne4 Nd5 27.
Qf3 Nxf4+ 28.gxf4 Be7 29.Re2 Kh8 30.Rd3 f5 31.exf6 gxf6 32.Ng3 Rd6
33.Qe4 Bf8 34.Qg6 Qc6+ 35.Kh2 f5 36.Ne4 Qe8 37.Qxe8 Rxe8 38.Nxd6 Bxd6
39.Rxd4 Bb8 40.a4 Kg7 41.axb5 axb5 42.f3 Kf7 43.Rg2 Re7 44.Rg6 Rc7
45.c3 Ba7 46.Rb4 Be3 47.Rxh6 1-0

I have white against Anthony Ker tomorrow. Always a tough opponent with either colour.
Brandon is leading with Timur in hot pursuit. The last two rounds should be interesting and can be followed live on

Saturday, 19 January 2019

NZ Championship 2019 round 6

Walk past St Patricks

Another day, another 10km walked, two swims and a workout in the gym. My usual walking companions went to a Lunar new year event so I did my evening walk by myself. There is a footbridge over the river which feeds the tidal lagoon next to the Waipuna hotel and conference centre.

One side looks towards the bridge to Pakuranga,

the other direction looks upon Mt Wellington.

Several Times along this route we have walked past St Patrick's church and cemetery. This was the first time I have walked it alone so was able to indulge one of my weirder wants.

I have an interest which some (many?) people consider morbid. Old cemeteries. One can see an aspect of the history of a place. Who lived and died a long time ago, their surnames, heritage, epitaphs and other information in snippets written on the gravestones.

The Spencer family seems to have good genes. Florence Ann nearly made the century and Reginald John made it to 94. There were quite a few people in their late 80's and early 90's. Average life expectancy tells you little because many peoples lives were cut short due to disease. Others lived to a very ripe old age. One wonders how many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren wander the streets of Auckland still. 

If the souls could see the view I think they would approve.

Round 6

Today's game was the one I was looking forward to since I saw the participants list. After the first round, I was afraid I would not get to play Timur. I enjoyed looking at his games last night. It would seem that he is impossible to prepare for and yet I guessed that he would play the Bf4 line, and that is, in fact, the only thing I prepared for!

I liked my opening and was very optimistic after 16...Qb2. Next move, however, I would have had to play 17...Qc2 to play for an advantage. We both thought it too dangerous for different reasons. Instead, 17...0-0 just leads to a draw after a few more accurate moves by both sides.

[Event "NZ Ch 2019"]
[Site "Auckland"]
[Date "2019.01.19"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Gareyev, Timur"]
[Black "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2565"]
[BlackElo "2332"]
[ECO "A45g"]
[EventDate "2019.01.14"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 c5 3.d5 d6 4.Nc3 a6 5.a4 e5 6.dxe6 Bxe6 7.e4 Nc6 8.Nf3
Qb6 9.Qc1 Nd4 10.Ng5 Be7 11.Bd3 c4 12.Be2 d5 13.e5 Nxe2 14.Nxe2 Ng4
15.Bg3 Bxg5 16.Qxg5 Qxb2 17.O-O O-O 18.Qd2 Qb6 19.Rab1 Qc5 20.Rxb7
Nh6 21.Nd4 Nf5 22.Nxf5 Bxf5 23.e6 d4 24.Rc7 Qd5 25.Rd7 Qxe6 26.Rxd4
Rfe8 27.Qc3 Rac8 28.h3 Qf6 29.Rfd1 Re4 30.Qxc4 Rxd4 31.Qxd4 Qxd4 32.
Rxd4 Bxc2 33.a5 Bb3 34.Bc7 h6 35.Rd8+ 1/2-1/2

Tomorrow I play Paul Garbett again, who easily drew with GM Vasily Papin today.

Friday, 18 January 2019

NZ Open Championship 2019 Rounds 4 & 5

Brandon Leads

With the tournament having passed the half-way mark, IM elect Brandon Clarke is continuing his great form from the George Trundle Masters and is leading with 4.5/5. Today he drew quite effortlessly with the top seed, GM Timur Gareyev, after pushing gently for most of the game.

I have kept on my exercise regime, walking about 13km a day on average with several swims and a few gym workouts thrown in.  There are many nice places to walk in the area. The Cormorant reserve is one of them. I have been lucky to be able to have company on most of them.  

Round 4
Not my best day but a lucky one. I was playing a veteran from Belgium who has been in New Zealand for a while. I have not won a game with black for a while and felt that I had good chances for a while, especially given a huge time advantage. Visually black looks to be on top, to me anyway, given the light square weaknesses around the King, and control of the a file. Stockfish is not impressed.

Everything is more or less equal until I played the idiotic 22...Qh6, wanting to complicate. I had to spend the next few hours defending a lost position.

[Event "NZ Ch 2019"]
[Site "Auckland"]
[Date "2019.01.17"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Goormachtigh, J"]
[Black "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2148"]
[BlackElo "2332"]
[ECO "A40e"]
[EventDate "2019.01.14"]

1.d4 e6 2.c4 b6 3.Nf3 Bb7 4.Nc3 f5 5.g3 Nf6 6.Bg2 Bb4 7.Bd2 O-O 8.O-O
a5 9.a3 Bxc3 10.Bxc3 Qe8 11.Rc1 Qh5 12.d5 Na6 13.e3 Nc5 14.Nd4 Qh6
15.dxe6 Bxg2 16.Kxg2 dxe6 17.Nc6 Nce4 18.Bxf6 Qxf6 19.b4 axb4 20.axb4
Ra2 21.Rc2 Ra3 22.Qd4 Qh6 23.h4 Raa8 24.Qe5 Nd6 25.c5 bxc5 26.bxc5
Nf7 27.Qxc7 g5 28.hxg5 Qxg5 29.Qe7 Qxe7 30.Nxe7+ Kg7 31.Nc6 Kf6 32.
Rb1 Rfc8 33.Rb6 Rc7 34.Nb4 Ke7 35.Na6 Rca7 36.Nb4 Rc7 37.Na6 Rca7 38.
Nb4 Rc7 39.Ra6 Rac8 40.Ra5 Ne5 41.f4 Nd7 42.Nd3 Nf6 43.Rca2 Ne4 44.
Ra7 Kf6 45.Kf3 Nxc5 46.Nxc5 Rxa7 47.Rxa7 Rxc5 48.Rxh7 Rc3 49.Rd7 Ra3
50.Ke2 Rb3 51.Rd3 Rb2+ 52.Kf3 Rb4 53.Rc3 Ra4 54.Rc5 Ra3 55.Re5 Rb3
56.g4 fxg4+ 57.Kxg4 Rb1 58.Ra5 Rg1+ 59.Kf3 Rb1 60.e4 Rf1+ 61.Kg3 Re1
62.Ra4 Rb1 63.Ra3 Re1 64.Kf3 Rf1+ 65.Kg4 Rg1+ 66.Rg3 Rf1 67.Rh3 e5

Round 5

My Kingdom for a tournament without an incident involving yours truly. Soon after the round started the door made loud rhythmic banging noises every time someone walked through it, which was very frequently. Quite a few players noticed and closed it very carefully, most didn't.

I resisted saying anything not wanting to be the grumpy complaining old man again. After about an hour or more I was not able to stand it anymore and went over to the arbiters desk to politely point it out to the chief arbiter. There were three other assistants sitting at the desk. I thought they might eventually do something but no, they all just sat there.

Finally, about move 30 my position got quite complicated and I had to calculate some quite complex variations. Clack clack clack....clack clack clack... clack clack clack... and still, all four just sat there doing sweet FA!

This time I was not so polite and objected in a manner which surely disturbed many players and I should have used language more appropriate for an event where juniors were playing. Anyway, the noise stopped as someone had the sense to apply a small piece of electrical tape.

The game itself was quite messy with many improvements for both sides. Only 38...Ke8 was fatal. Instead, 38... Ke6 seems to hold.

[Event "NZ Ch 2019"]
[Site "Auckland"]
[Date "2019.01.18"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Black "Soo-Burrows, Eliot"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2332"]
[BlackElo "2154"]
[ECO "A03"]
[EventDate "2019.01.14"]

1.g3 Nf6 2.Bg2 d5 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.O-O O-O 6.d3 c6 7.c3 Qb6+ 8.Kh1
Ng4 9.d4 Bf5 10.h3 Nf6 11.Nbd2 Ne4 12.Qe1 Nd6 13.g4 Be4 14.Qh4 e6 15.
b3 Qd8 16.Ba3 Qxh4 17.Nxh4 Bxg2+ 18.Kxg2 Rd8 19.Bxd6 Rxd6 20.e4 dxe4
21.Nxe4 Rd8 22.f5 exf5 23.gxf5 Nd7 24.fxg6 fxg6 25.Rae1 c5 26.dxc5
Rdc8 27.b4 b6 28.Nd6 Rc6 29.Re7 Nf6 30.Rd1 bxc5 31.b5 Rb6 32.a4 Bf8
33.Re6 Nh5 34.Re8 Rxd6 35.Rxf8+ Rxf8 36.Rxd6 Rf4 37.Rd8+ Kf7 38.Rd7+
Ke8 39.Rxa7 Rxh4 40.b6 Nf6 41.Ra8+ Ke7 42.b7 Nd7 43.a5 Ra4 44.a6 Ra2+
45.Kg3 Rb2 46.Rh8 1-0

Tomorrow I get to play the Blindfold King for the second time, this time with black. A challenge is always good, and this is surely a challenge 😉

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

New Zealand Open Championship 2019 round 3

Focus on fitness

Since I failed my medical exam for a passenger driving licence three years ago I have been slowly and circuitously working on my health. Being told I was morbidly obese, pre-diabetic and had metobolic syndrome, was unpleasant. I started with a 21day  herbal tea and water fast. That solved the immediate problem. I managed to get my license and avoided the need for medication but it was not a permanent solution.

I will go into more detail on another occasion. Only in the last few months have I made rapid progress. Nutrition is half the solution, exercise is the other half. This has seriously accelerated since this tournament started.

I am sharing a room with a fit young man, newly minted IM Brandon Clarke. On the first day he showed me what to do in a Gym. I now know what reps are, how to use the strange machines and what to do with weights. I never knew it could actually feel good to work out!

Timur Gareyev has been my other motivator, joining me on long brisk walks. We did 8km this morning, including a hike up a mountain.

Todays powerwalk

6am I got a ping from my walking buddy Timur. Otherwise, I may have stayed in bed a little longer.
Its always easier doing these things with someone else. A bit later we were on our way.

Sunrise is the best time to head out for a walk. One is encouraged to walk briskly to make up for the chilly temperature.

It took us about 20 minutes to reach the base of Maungarei, aka Mt Welllington

From the peak one gets great 360 degree views of south Auckland.

On the way back we stumbled upon Van Damm park. A lovely little forest oasis next to the rail line. We were not paying enough attention and got a bit lost, so saw some parts a few times 😂

Round 3

Finally a slightly easier game, mainly because I took John seriously, having seen some of his good games. I saw in my pre-game preparation that he might not be familiar with Sicilians so aimed to play it with white. My plan came good when he allowed me to remove his most important piece, the white squared bishop. After that, white's game was easy.

[Event "NZ Ch 2019"]
[Site "Auckland"]
[Date "2019.01.16"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Black "Duneas, John"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2332"]
[BlackElo "2044"]
[ECO "A01"]
[EventDate "2019.01.14"]

1.b3 e5 2.Bb2 Nc6 3.e3 Nf6 4.c4 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.a3 Bd6 7.d3 O-O 8.
Nf3 Bg4 9.Nbd2 Re8 10.Be2 Nf6 11.b4 a6 12.h3 Bh5 13.g4 Bg6 14.Nh4 e4
15.d4 Nd5 16.Nxg6 hxg6 17.Qb3 Nb6 18.h4 Qe7 19.h5 g5 20.h6 g6 21.h7+
Kg7 22.d5+ Ne5 23.Nxe4 f6 24.Rc1 Rh8 25.f4 gxf4 26.exf4 Nxg4 27.Qf3
Nxd5 28.Nxd6 Qxd6 29.Qxg4 Rxh7 30.Rxh7+ Kxh7 31.f5 gxf5 32.Qxf5+ Kg7
33.Qg5+ Kf8 34.Qh6+ Ke7 35.Qg7+ Kd8 36.Rd1 c6 37.Bxf6+ Ke8 38.Bh5#

Early evening Brandon and I hit the Gym and I did a few laps in the pool. Later on I took another 4km walk. No half measures 😊

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

New Zealand Championship 2019 Round 2

The usual routine in chess tournaments used to be, sleep until noon, have some lunch, play the game sometime in the afternoon, and prepare and/or watch tv until the wee hours. As part of my new strategy, I've been getting up early, getting some exercise before breakfast, more after breakfast, skipping lunch and going to bed a bit earlier.

So far the new approach has not really paid dividends. Today was more luck than skill. My opponent, a former Queenslander and old friend, Damian Norris defended a tough position for a long time and nearly inflicted a second loss on me.

I had company for my morning power-walk today, the Blindfold King, world record holder in simultaneous blindfold games, Timur Gareyev. Timur drew, so he isn't reaping benefits yet either.

A bit more patience perhaps.

Round 2

I have analysed both games with Stockfish and have to come to the uneasy conclusion that I did not play much weaker than usual. My opponents just played quite well. Oh well....

[Event "NZ Ch 2019"]
[Site "Auckland"]
[Date "2019.01.15"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Norris, Damian"]
[Black "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "1878"]
[BlackElo "2332"]
[ECO "C58d"]
[EventDate "2019.01.14"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.Qe2 Be7
8.Nc3 O-O 9.O-O Bg4 10.f3 Bf5 11.Qxe5 Bxc2 12.d3 a6 13.Bc4 Nxc4 14.
dxc4 Bd3 15.Rd1 Bc5+ 16.Kh1 Bxc4 17.Nge4 Nxe4 18.Nxe4 Be7 19.Bf4 Rc8
20.b3 Be2 21.Rdc1 Ba3 22.Rc2 Bb5 23.Rd1 Re8 24.Qc3 f5 25.Ng5 h6 26.
Nh3 Qe7 27.Qd4 g5 28.Bc1 Bd6 29.Bb2 Kh7 30.Bc3 Qf7 31.a4 Bd7 32.Nf2
Re7 33.Re1 Rce8 34.Rxe7 Qxe7 35.Nd3 Qf7 36.Rc1 b5 37.a5 Bc8 38.Rd1
Kg6 39.Nc5 Qe7 40.b4 Qf7 41.Kg1 Rd8 42.g4 c6 43.Kg2 ( 43.Ne6 Bxe6 44.
dxe6 Bc5 45.exf7 Rxd4 ) 43...Bf4 44.Nd3 Rxd5 45.Nxf4+ gxf4 46.gxf5+
Bxf5 47.Qg1 Bd3 48.Kf2+ Rg5 49.Qe1 Qa7+ 0-1

Adios amigoes 

Sunday, 13 January 2019

New Zealand Open 2019 Round 1

New  Zealand Open Championship 2019

Well, the tournament is underway. Timur Gareyev made it this time, National Party politician made a laboured chess analogy and the rules of play got read out to us. 

Mobiles allowed

It seemed no lessons were learned from the last tournament about mobile phones. They are allowed in the playing hall as long as they are turned off and in your bag under the table or in your jacket. A disaster waiting to happen.

The Venue

On the bright side, the venue is excellent. Roomy, great view lavatories close by and a nice restaurant and bar just a few steps from the playing hall. Chess players get 25% off as well.

Queensland Junior chess is well represented.

Round 1

I must be the Robin Hood of chess, in that I take from the rich and give to the poor. In the George I took all my rating points from the players rated above me and gave to those below me. My overall profit of 6 point was a heavy burden to carry and I needed to get rid of them immediately so donated them to Alana. She initially seemed reluctant by spending the first hour mainly concentrating on the live boards and getting a bad position but since I insisted...

The game started turning around move 24...Bc5 which I had not considered but only another error 26.g4 made white's life difficult. 26...Rd8 was an unpleasant surprise. She played well from that point, and I just collapsed and resigned. Just deserts for not taking the opponent seriously. 

Oh well. I'll just have to rob the rich later on. 

[Event "NZ Ch 2019"]
[Site "Auckland"]
[Date "2019.01.14"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Black "Chibnall, Alana"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2332"]
[BlackElo "1944"]
[ECO "C44n"]
[EventDate "2019.01.14"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 Nf6 4.d3 Be7 5.b4 a6 6.Nbd2 O-O 7.Be2 d5 8.O-O
Bg4 9.Qc2 h6 10.Re1 Re8 11.Bb2 d4 12.cxd4 Nxb4 13.Qb3 exd4 14.Nxd4
Bxe2 15.Rxe2 a5 16.N2f3 Nh5 17.Ne5 Rf8 18.Ne6 fxe6 19.Qxe6+ Kh7 20.
Qg6+ Kg8 21.Qxh5 Nxd3 22.Rd2 Nf4 23.Rxd8 Nxh5 24.Rd7 Bc5 25.Nd3 Bb6
26.g4 Rad8 27.Rxd8 Rxd8 28.Ne5 Nf4 29.Nc4 Bd4 30.Bxd4 Rxd4 31.Nxa5 b6
32.Nb3 Rxe4 33.Rd1 c5 34.f3 Re2 35.Rd8+ Kf7 36.Rd6 c4 0-1

Cheers Amigoes 😉

Saturday, 12 January 2019

George Trundle Prizegiving, two norms achieved!

The "George" as this tournament is colloquially called is an annual event in Auckland that I have played in several times, is named after a famous New Zealand chess player, George Trundle. At the closing ceremony today, we heard a bit of history about this remarkable man. He learned chess during the second world war, from a Russian officer, in a POW camp. He went on to become one of New Zealand's best players, tying for second (best New Zealander) behind Ortvin Sarapu in a very strong open in 1966.

The main idea of this tournament is to give local players the chance to play against foreign masters, gain experience and hopefully norms. In the July 2018 edition, Ben Hague made his second IM norm, and this time two norms were made, although not by locals.

Brandon Clarke, from England, secured his third norm and the title, winning the tournament in the process. He did get half a point extra in the first round from the "incident" but scored half a point more than he needed so that's a moot point. From my observation, he played the best chess as well.

Dusan Stojic came second, making his first norm. Sometimes you need a bit of luck and Dusan did benefit from a gift from me and a tilt game from Ben, who lost motivation halfway through. Ben did, however, turn up so as not to deprive Dusan of his norm chances. 

Vasily Papin was third, getting one free point from Ben and playing solid chess throughout the tournament. His only loss was against my kitchen sink attack.

Darryl, Izzat and I tied for 4th with 5/9. 

The Kiwi's played some good chess in parts, but lack of regular practice and opening knowledge let them down at times. Bruce Watson, my host, won the prize for the best Kiwi.

The link to the final standings is below.

Mike Steadman, who was run off his feet, looking after 4 tournaments simultaneously, is all smiles as he hands Bruce his trophy for best Kiwi. 

Alongside the Masters there was also a Qualifiers for next years Greorge. This was won by John Duneas with 7 points, with Alexandra Jule and Zi Han Goh tying for second on 5.5/9

Then there was a third tournament, the reserves, where Chahal Aman and Alana Chibnall tied for first, 7/9, with Hilton Bennett coming third with 5.5/9.

I haven't included either of my two last round games as they were short draws. After my horrendous blunder in round 7, I didn't really feel much like playing chess at all, ever. but stayed in the tournament. When early draw offers came I took them. Instead, here are some pictures of beaches I visited the last two days.

The first one is from today, Takapuna beach. It looks very nice and was quite crowded, but it's near a sewer line, so unless you have no sense of smell, avoid. The locals must be used to it.

In Australia, we have to watch for bluebottles and sharks, in NZ.....

And the day before Island Bay. This was nice and close.  

This was indeed the strangest tournament I can think of right now. There are many things to think about, not only about the incident but how I let it affect me, but how tournaments should handle such situations in future.

I spoke to Izzat at length after our very short draw. It was a way to put this whole mess behind us, which affected both of us badly. One thing we agree on completely is that it is up to the governing bodies of chess to regulate in such a manner that ambiguity is eliminated. 

On the last note, I have to mention my game, the very next round, against Bob Smith. After an inaccurate opening Bob played the first engine move for almost the rest of the game in a very difficult position. He missed a brilliant win just two moves before the end. I'm not suggesting for a millisecond that Bob had any help. I would place my hands in a fire to vouch that he never did anything dubious on the chessboard in his entire life.

Yet if he had found the win, and had his game submitted for testing, he may well have been suspected of cheating by people who didn't know him. 

Sometimes things are not as they appear 😐

Thursday, 10 January 2019

George Trundle Masters 2019. Round 7 Brightest before the storm?

And today started to nicely! The beach Bruce took me to today was the nicest yet. There is a little island just offshore, that we swam to, and around, the sun was shining, water was divine, all that was missing was birds chirping. But like the aphorism, "its darkest before the dawn" perhaps one could say "its brightest before the storm".

This is the glorious spot. It's in the northern suburb of Torbay.

Round 7

I was actually very happy with my game before I ran it through the engine. At the board, I considered black clearly better virtually from the opening. Where was white going to castle? I think Dusan had the same thoughts, as he looked quite despondent and used up all his time. Stockfish disagrees. 35.Qf5 would have justified the sacrifice. Not winning but there are some unpleasant tactics for black. After missing this, admittedly difficult move black is much better.

A few moves later I was just a piece up for virtually nothing. Now came the blunder of the year so far. The first move I looked at was 37....Qh4 Its also the best and white can resign with a clean conscience. Same after 37....Nh4. Then for some reason, with still plenty of time, I flashed out 37...Qg5 self-pinning and losing a cold piece.

I lost complete mental function now and was unable to even attempt to defend a pawn down. I became petulant, went outside cursing under my breath in the carpark and just committed suicide. I did not make any attempt to defend my position and behaved like a 5-year-old who had dropped his ice cream on the ground.

Not only did this behaviour rob me of any chance to save half a point but it is also a terrible example for any juniors who may have been present. After giving my other knight for an imaginary perpy, I resigned, shaking hands with my opponent and signed the scoresheets but did not suggest a postmortem. As I said, petulant behaviour.

 Lose with dignity, win with grace.

Here I would like to apologise to Dusan, who is always a perfect gentleman, win lose or draw.

[Event "George Trundle Masters 2019"]
[Site "Auckland NZL"]
[Date "2019.01.09"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Stojic, Dusan"]
[Black "Wohl, Aleksandar H."]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2275"]
[BlackElo "2332"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nge7 5.c3 d6 6.d4 Bd7 7.h4 h6 8.h5
Ng8 9.d5 Nb8 10.Bxd7+ Nxd7 11.c4 Be7 12.Nc3 Ngf6 13.Be3 c6 14.Nh4
cxd5 15.cxd5 b5 16.a3 Rc8 17.Nf5 Bf8 18.Rc1 Nc5 19.f3 g6 20.hxg6 fxg6
21.Nh4 Kf7 22.g4 Be7 23.Ng2 h5 24.g5 Nh7 25.f4 exf4 26.Nxf4 Bxg5 27.
Nxg6 Bxe3 28.Nxh8+ Kg8 29.Rc2 Kxh8 30.Qxh5 Rc7 31.Rch2 Nd3+ 32.Kd1
Nf2+ 33.Ke2 Nxh1 34.Kxe3 Ng3 35.Qf3 Rg7 36.Kd3 Kg8 37.Rg2 Qg5 38.Ne2
Nf6 39.Rxg3 Ng4 40.Qf5 Ne5+ 41.Kc3 Qd8 42.Rxg7+ Kxg7 43.Nf4 Qc7+ 44.
Kd2 Nf3+ 45.Ke3 Qc1+ 46.Kxf3 Qf1+ 47.Kg4 1-0

So tomorrow I am playing Izzat Kanan. It is always interesting to play a strong player, but regardless of the game or the result, I hope that I can at least behave like an adult 😇

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

George Trundle Master Round 6 GM Scalp!

Mairangi Bay

Morning prep just makes me nervous and convinces me that everything is unplayable, so I looked at a few of my opponent's games last night and this morning had a coffee went for a swim. Also, I wanted to see yet another beach in the area. It is the nicest so far and also the most popular.

So this is the Surf Lifesaving Club...

And this is the surf 😂😂😂

A playground, and a little shopping centre & with cafe's and takeaways are also just on the other side of the park.

Round 6

So I got to the board still without a clear plan. I was hoping he would try to beat his old past-it opponent so figured I would let him unbalance. I was dismayed when he played symmetrically but sure enough, on move 5 he deviated with 5...d6. Only after I got home did I notice that it is the main reply in my database. 

Anyway, I vaguely remembered Mieses beating me in Norway some years ago with this Botvinnik type setup and the whole game was most annoying so I thought I would try to pass on the trauma.

  I have to admit that a few of his moves caught me by surprise, like 20....Ba6, the exchange sack, but he thought about it so long that he only had minutes left when the pieces started flying. Also, it left his King with not so much protection. He did have two strong central pawns so trying to mate him was forced.

[Event "George Trundle Masters 2019"]
[Site "Auckland Chess Centre"]
[Date "2019.01.09"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Black "Papin, Vasily"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2332"]
[BlackElo "2491"]
[ECO "A37g"]
[EventDate "2019.01.04"]

1.c4 c5 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.O-O e6 7.e4 Nge7 8.d3
O-O 9.h3 a6 10.Be3 Nd4 11.Qd2 Rb8 12.Rab1 Nec6 13.Nh2 b5 14.Bh6 Bxh6
15.Qxh6 Ne5 16.cxb5 Nxd3 17.Qe3 Ne5 18.f4 Nc4 19.Qd3 axb5 20.a4 Ba6
21.axb5 Rxb5 22.Nxb5 Bxb5 23.Rf2 Nxb2 24.Qc3 Na4 25.Qa1 Qd7 26.Ng4 f5
27.exf5 gxf5 28.Ne3 d5 29.Bf1 Bc6 30.g4 h6 31.gxf5 exf5 32.Kh2 Re8
33.Re1 Kh7 34.Bd3 Rf8 35.Nxf5 Nxf5 36.Re5 c4 37.Bxf5+ Rxf5 38.Qb1 Kg6
39.Rfe2 Nc5 40.Qg1+ 1-0

So tomorrow is the battle of the Gold coast players. I play Dusan, who also won today. Our games have always been exciting, regardless of the time control. As usual, full results and games are on the site

Toodles amigos and amigas 😉

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

George Trundle Masters 2019 Round 5

Charcoal Bay

Today Bruce took me to this lovely spot for a swim. It is only a few minutes drive and a few minutes walk through a lovely park from his place.

We only shared the place with a handful of other people and two dogs. One of the dogs didn't want to go into the water until her owner dived under. Then she jumped in and swam vigorously in her direction, presumably because she thought her help was needed. Lab's are the most faithful and wonderful dogs.

Tread carefully though as there are plenty of oyster shells in the shallows. they can cause nasty gashes if you don't tread lightly.

Round 5

I also did some prep today as I've noticed that young Brandon is a sharp theoretical player that knows his systems well. I don't think highly of Bc4 against modern systems, so that was my choice for today. He stayed faithful to it, I switched to a hippo and equalised quite easily. 

He offered a draw on move 22, but I preferred my position already at that stage, and anyway, felt like playing chess today. Of course my next move, 23...Qc5 was a major blunder which fortunately he didn't take advantage of. I had noticed 24.hg6 hg6 25. Nf5 but thought it didn't work. My intuition was yelling at me but did I listen? The point is that after gf5 26.Nf5 Kf7 27.Rd8 Rd8 28. Qh6 Qf8 29.Qh7 Ng7 white has Bd1! We both missed this in the game and the postmortem. Instead, the long-planned 23...Nf4 is safe and keeps a small edge.

After this double-blind neither player made any huge mistakes, pieces were swapped and a draw was agreed at my suggestion.  

[Event "George Trundle Masters 2019"]
[Site "Auckland Chess Centre"]
[Date "2019.01.08"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Clarke, Brandon"]
[Black "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2400"]
[BlackElo "2332"]
[ECO "B06k"]
[EventDate "2019.01.04"]

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Bc4 a6 5.O-O b5 6.Bb3 e6 7.Re1 Nd7 8.Nbd2
Ne7 9.Nf1 Bb7 10.Ng3 c5 11.c3 O-O 12.Be3 c4 13.Bc2 e5 14.dxe5 dxe5
15.Qd6 Nc8 16.Qd2 Qc7 17.Bh6 f6 18.h4 Nc5 19.Rad1 Nb6 20.Bxg7 Kxg7
21.h5 Rad8 22.Qe3 Ne6 23.Nh4 Qc5 24.Qf3 Ng5 25.Qe2 Bc8 26.Nf1 Na8 27.
Ne3 Nc7 28.g3 Qc6 29.Rxd8 Rxd8 30.Rd1 Rxd1+ 31.Qxd1 Nf7 32.Nd5 Qd6
33.Nxc7 Qxc7 34.Ng2 Qd6 1/2-1/2

Tomorrow I play Vasily Papin, the top seed so will need to bring my A game. Today was an exciting round so if you want to see some of the other games, click the link below. (round 5)

Toodles 😃

Monday, 7 January 2019

George Trundle Masters Round 4 My first win of 2019

Castor Bay

It's funny how addictive exercise is. Since moving to Coolangatta I have gone swimming every day at least once. The first three days in Auckland I had been preoccupied and hadn't slept well so didn't get around to it. Today I couldn't take it any longer and asked to borrow Bruce's car. He pointed me in the right direction and as soon as I hit the water the malaise of the last few days left me.

My three draws and the controversy from the first round were also doing my head in so today I decided to concentrate on chess. Swimming was more important to my frame of mind than preparation but I still managed to get five minutes in before leaving for the venue. 

It was a beautiful sunny day and many families took advantage of it. Castor Bay is a nice place for a swim if you happen to be just north of the city.

Below is a picture of a Pahutu Kawa tree. It is just perfect for climbing and one day when there are no people around I may just do it but as a 55-year-old I would have felt a bit silly especially since there were some kids up there already. Someone might have brought me a white jacket with very long sleeves. 

So Ben does have faith in his opening and plays them quite well. I didn't have enough time to prepare something decent so I just wanted to escape theory with a playable position. When I noticed the line 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Na3 Nf6 4.e5 Ng4 5.Qe2 Qc7 6.Nc4 b5?? 7.Nd6+ 😀  I thought it was worth a try. Am I an optimist or what? Anyway, after 3....d6 we were both in unfamiliar territory. 

Round 4

I have decided to post both the png and the game replayer just in case it stops working again. The widget is just below the pgn.

[Event "George Trundle Masters 2019"]
[Site "Auckland Chess Centre"]
[Date "2019.01.07"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Black "Hague, Ben"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2332"]
[BlackElo "2411"]
[ECO "B30a"]
[EventDate "2019.01.04"]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Na3 d6 4.Bb5 Bd7 5.O-O Nf6 6.Re1 a6 7.Bxc6 Bxc6
8.e5 dxe5 9.Nxe5 Qd5 10.Nxc6 Qxc6 11.Nc4 e6 12.d3 Be7 13.a4 b6 14.b3
O-O 15.Bb2 Rfd8 16.Re3 Nd5 17.Rh3 Bf6 18.Qh5 Nf4 19.Qxh7+ Kf8 20.Rf3
Bxb2 21.Nxb2 Ne2+ 22.Kf1 Nd4 23.Rg3 Nf5 24.Rf3 Nd4 25.Rf4 e5 26.Re1
f6 27.Rg4 Ne6 28.Nc4 Rd4 29.Rg3 Rf4
30.Ne3 Ng5 31.Rxg5 fxg5 32.Nf5 Qf6 33.Qh8+ Kf7 34.Qxa8 Rxf5 35.Qd5+
Kg6 36.Qe4 Kh6 37.Re2 b5 38.g3 g6 39.Kg1 bxa4 40.Qxa4 Qd6 41.Qe4 Qd8
42.h3 Qa5 43.g4 Rf8 44.Qxe5 Qa3 45.Kg2 Qb4 46.Re4 Qb6 47.Qe7 Rd8 48.
h4 gxh4 49.g5+ Kh5 50.Qh7+ Kxg5 1-0

Sunday, 6 January 2019

George Trundle Masters round 3 and ending of phone incident.

Round 3

I haven't slept well since arriving in Auckland and the incident in the first round has not helped me focus on the tournament. Today especially I went in completely unprepared and decided early on to just kill the position and offer a draw. Judging from this game I'm pretty good at it 😀

[Event "George Trundle Masters 2019"]
[Site "Auckland Chess Centre"]
[Date "2019.01.06"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Black "Garbett, Paul"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2332"]
[BlackElo "2160"]
[ECO "A13v"]
[EventDate "2019.01.04"]

1.c4 e6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 dxc4 5.Qa4+ Bd7 6.Qxc4 c5 7.Ne5 Qc8
8.O-O Nc6 9.Nxd7 Qxd7 10.Nc3 Be7 11.d3 O-O 12.Be3 Rac8 13.Ne4 Nd4 14.
Bxd4 cxd4 15.Nxf6+ Bxf6 16.Qb3 1/2-1/2

After the game, I approached Izzat Kanan to clear the air. First I wanted to assure him that I bear him no Ill will. We didn't know each other so why would I? Also, I wanted to clear the air about the incident which has caused a lot of controversy.

I asked him what he would have done in my place and he agreed he would have acted in exactly the same way. What he would not have done is written publicly about it, or at least not during the tournament. I am still in two minds about that.

But first, let me share Izzat's side of the story.

Quote Originally Posted by Kanan Izzat
Alright fellas, as expected this is getting out of hand, and people who love me so much in chess community without a doubt are onto this and trying to paint the situation in much worse colors as it was. Here is what exactly happened - I’m sure for those of you who knows me well I don’t need to defend myself, the rest can judge as they want:

I was invited for a GM norm tournament in New Zealand - a country I have never been to and was very excited to visit as a tourist. Unfortunately due to the late withdrawal of one of the foreign GMs, the tournament became only IM norm, and lost a huge chunk of significance to me, as I am hunting for my final GM norm. My hunt for the last norm has been very unsuccessful leading up to this tournament, so my passion to play chess was likewise - very low. I’ll try to keep this short for tldr purposes. I own two mobile phones. One is my relatively old Galaxy Note and a relatively new Iphone. As we all know Iphone (mine is 16gb) has memory issues, and I am planning on traveling around NZ after the tournament and taking a lot of pics. So I decided I’ll take both phones for this tournament, as partly I am visiting this country for traveling purposes too. Long story short, being a bit of a sciencey guy, I didn’t want to keep both phones in the same pocket of my shorts, as it is pretty bad for electronics, so I put the other one inside the inner pocket of my jacket ever since the airport check in. Why inner pocket? Because the outer one is too shallow and it kept popping out. Okay. So I arrive to NZ. First round begins at 2pm, my opponent Brandon Clarke and I are at a cafe nearby, having a chat and waiting for our drinks, which are taking ages to be served, so we are late for the game. It’s all good though, being late for the game is a usual thing for me. Its around 2:06pm, so we quickly rush back to the venue, I am still wearing my jacket, we both hand in our phones to the arbiter, and begin the game.

The game has begun, we are even cracking some jokes as we are playing out first few moves (yep, I know, unprofessional). Anyway, we reach some sort of a position out of the opening, where Brandon starts to think, and I get up to go for a usual walk around the boards. As I am walking, I put my hands in my pockets, and realize “Oh shit”, I still have the phone in my jacket. Okay now, before going ahead with the story, let me admit to something. In hindsight, I most definitely should have gone up to the arbiter and laid out everything as is. Why didn’t I do so? In all honesty, I was just very scared that I will be misunderstood, and it will become public and hurt my reputation (ironic). So I panicked a lot, and made a rushed decision that alright, I need to turn it off so it doesn’t make any sounds. So I decided to go outside and turn my phone off. ALRIGHT, THIS IS WHERE the false story-telling begins by Mr Alex Wohl, who already wrote a lovely post about me few years ago when I pulled out of Doeberl Cup, clearly indicating his sympathy towards me. So this is what ACTUALLY happened:

I went outside, and obviously just looked around to make sure there are no people around. Mr Alex Wohl portraying this act as “he glanced up in my direction and swiftly put it in his pocket”. If you look at the angle of those glass things on the window, how the hell can anyone from down outside even notice anybody observing me? Anyway, that’s not even an important part. Who cares. THIS IS where it gets really weird: so I turned off my phone, put it in my pocket, and as I am walking back to the playing hall, I see the arbiter walking up in my direction. Mr Alex Wohl claims “the arbiter asked him to return to the playing hall”. First of all, wtf? If the arbiter is informed I am possessing an electronic device DURING a game, why doesn’t he confront me on the spot? He has all the rights. And I bloody wish he did, then my phone could be checked and it would just be a normal forfeit without any accusations. But anyway, you know what the arbiter said to me? “Oh this is another part of the Auckland Chess Centre (pointing at the house right nearby)” and just having a good old chat about the chess centre as we are naturally walking back to the venue. LOL! I have nothing against the arbiter, seems like a good bloke, if anything he just treated the situation quite unprofessionally. So I returned back to my board, we played out few more moves, my opponent made pretty strong moves in my opinion, leading to him getting a better position out of the opening, and having a higher rating than my opponent I felt I had the right to offer a draw, which was accepted.

Alright, so let's imagine the situation from my perspective at that given time:
I just avoided a situation that could be quite unfortunate for me, I felt bad inside that it happened this way but ultimately knowing that I had no malicious intentions, I was like okay, let's make sure I just never make such mistakes again.
So, I return back to my motel room, everything is alright, and I receive an email from the organizer of the tournament Mike Steadmann. The email says: "You have been seen with a phone outside the playing venue during the game, could you please clarify this situation for me?"
When I got the email I was honest and explained the situation to the organizer. I told him I did have an electronic device and I didn't use it to cheat or intended to use it to cheat. I got a reply from Mike in couple of hours, saying that the same thing happened to him once too, and he had to forfeit the game, and that the rule is strict and it has been discussed with the arbiters, and since I admit to it, I have to forfeit the game. To which I was like okay, fair enough. Ofc I was unhappy, but hey I did breach the rule, and I gotta take full responsibility for it.

NOW, for those of you who have some basic logic, let's analyze the motives of me trying to cheat, according to the accusations of Mr Alex Wohl:

1) Everybody who knows me knows that all I care at this point of my chess career is my final norm, for which I only get 2 chances during a calendar year, which are the GM round robin events held in Adelaide and Melbourne. In both of those tournaments I performed average, having played some good and poor games. Didn't get my norms.

2) The 3rd tournament coming up after those two was Aus Open, while it was technically possible to get a norm in that event, anyone who understand chess a little bit realizes how hard it would be to score a GM norm in that field, basically requiring me to beat all the top seeds and play 3 GMs out of all 3 available, and get some luck with federation counts. Either way, I lose to much lower rated player than me in Round 3, then in Round 4 I have a completely lost position against 1900, I get lucky and win, Round 5 same story, very bad position against 2000 rated player, got lucky and won. Round 6 Yi Liu walked into my preparation, so it was quite a quick game, Round 7 was a quick draw against GM Papin. Round 8, in a crazy battle against GM Darryl everything came down to a mutual time scramble, with an evaluation going up and down with each move, I was the more fortunate one at the end. Last round I offered a quick draw to my friend Bobby Cheng, but my position was a bit worse at that point, and he rightfully refused, but turned out he had pushed a bit too had and I ended up being up a pawn and winning the game from there. Series of fortunate events, and I tired for the first place.

3) Okay, here comes NZ tournament. IM round robin event, really possesses no real significance to my chess aspirations, other than having to play yet another 9 rounds on top of 27 games already played in 1 month. But okay, the deal is a deal, can't pull out, so let's go.

Now can anybody explain to me, what kind of fool would I have to be, to decide and cheat in such an insignificant event, after having blown away all my chances for my so wanted last GM norm, yet in such idiotic fashion such as going outside in an open court and pulling out my phone to cheat in ROUND 1 OUT OF THE OPENING against someone that I am friends with? Like would it make any logical sense for me to have such intentions? Besides, IF my intention WAS TO CHEAT, why the hell would I offer a quick draw to Brandon on move 13? I did not see anyone observing me, the arbiter that could have "caught" me, just had a good old chat with me, so in my mind, if I am to cheat, I just got away with everything right? Like cmon now, I understand all of this story doesn't look good on me and all, and I sincerely apologize to my opponent that this entire situation has happened in a game against him, but if you just think logically about it, how would it make sense for me to try and cheat in this event, in the first round, OUTSIDE IN AN OPEN BLOODY LAND, then go and offer my opponent a draw. It's really obvious in my opinion that there were clearly no motives for me to cheat in this event whatsoever.

One thing that I will say is that yes, it may seem that my story seems a bit flaky, coz why would I have TWO phones on myself?? But as I have said already, it was merely an innocent mistake, and an understandable one, and once again if my intention was to cheat, I would simply deny all the accusations in first place, because there was literally no proof and no action taken by anyone at the time. I decided to be honest about this and take the full responsibility for the mistake I made. AND YES, I SHOULD HAVE TOLD THE ARBITER. Yes. I know. But understandably, I got scared that it could be misunderstood, especially given I have never met the arbiter before and it's a different country. I was wrong, I admit, but I panicked, did not want my reputation to suffer from it, so made a wrong judgement. However, all I am standing up here for is that there was no malicious intent whatsoever, and according to the FIDE rules 11.3, I breached the rule of "not possessing any electronic device" for which I was rightfully penalized by receiving a loss for that game. Cheating involves a level of maliciousness and intent. I had no intent and I deny any such accusations.

In conclusion, everyone who knows me somewhat well and has played any type of quick chess with me (blitz or rapid or allegro) knows that my chess strength is around 2500 mark, so it really wouldn't make sense for me to try and cheat in order to beat people who are lower rated than me, given I am the top seed in this event.


We did have a good long chat and agreed on most things. He agreed that he would have come to the same conclusion had he observed what I did, and he would have followed up the same way too.

We also agreed that if the arbiter had asked for his phone and examined it, then the suspicion would have been resolved there and then. The game should, of course, have been stopped immediately and the point awarded to the opponent.

I also spoke to the arbiter, Craig Hall, and he agrees. In the heat of the moment, in an unfamiliar situation, as he put it, he basically blundered his Queen.

Quote Originally Posted by "Kanan Izzat
Thank you everyone for the support. I really appreciate it a lot, and it is truly nice to see that clear logic and personality trust still hugely prevails in our society, despite all the attempts from others who dislike me or want to paint me in worst colors imaginable. I would like to inform everyone as well that Alex Wohl came up to me today after the game, and pretty much expressed his regrets that the situation turned out the way it did. He tried to explain his position from his point of view, and was majorly upset and shocked by the lack of interest expressed from the organizers and associated people, despite him informing them repeatedly and seeking for some actions to be taken. Given he is being honest and genuine about all of this, I can understand his frustration with nobody doing anything about it. He told me he held off a day from blogging about this but couldn’t take it any longer due to lack of action taken by the tournament officials. While it’s both true and not so much (action was being taken but yes it wasn’t the quickest it should have been), I told him that it was very premature for him to make it so public without any further clarifications on the matter, and that he should have been more patient and waited for it to be sorted officially, as he had already notified a FIDE member about it, and that person got the ball rolling. Either way, he conceded it was a premature act on his behalf, but also asked me to understand his position and feelings. I try to see the best in people and am just going to give him the benefit of doubt in his intents entailing no maliciousness. He wished me all the best and said that he hopes I don’t have any hard feelings against him as he has none against me. I asked him to make another post that would clarify the issue to the public, which he promised he will. SO, It’s all over and it was just a silly mistake on my behalf for which I apologize again and I got forfeited as I should have been! Thanks everyone again for your support, very pleased to have received this from you all!

It is nice to clear the air with all involved and while we still have some different viewpoints. I do not regret writing the previous post. I delayed for a day out of respect for the process and the organisers and realised it would also have consequences for me. If you read the comments on chesschat you will see that "shoot the messenger" is very popular. I will just share one example.

"When I first read about this it made me sick, angry and embarrassed (to be part of the chess community), knowing that there are people out there ready to snitch on their fellow chess players for a minor infraction of the rules. This was reported to Kanan's opponent, the arbiters, to FIDE, even random players in the tournament, and if that wasn't enough, put up on a blog! What a disgusting way to treat someone and tarnish their reputation."

 I don't know who wrote this and don't really care. There are many similar.

 I edited my first draft significantly since it was written "on heat". If I had written nothing I might as well just give up writing altogether.

Izzat agreed that his behaviour was extremely stupid (his words) and that he would have had the same suspicion in my place. We all do very stupid things at times that to an observer would look different than they actually are. That is why there is a presumption of innocence.

Hopefully, we can get back to concentrating on chess. Both of us have failed to win a game so far.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Scandal at the George

It is nice to be back in Auckland again and to be playing at the Auckland chess centre. I am staying with an old friend and colleague, Bruce Watson. He was kind enough to pick me up from the airport and take me back to his house. I asked if I could stay with him rather than a motel, as I had pleasant memories of my previous stay.

As luck would have it, we were playing in round one. 

I have always enjoyed playing in NZ and perhaps not playing even more, as it is the most beautiful country I have seen so far. If you have been reading my blog for a while you will have seen many posts with plenty of spectacular pictures, taken with a phone by an incompetent but enthusiastic photographer.

This time, however, it is not all cookies and teddy bears. Everyone is a bit disappointed that the star GM Timur Gareyev couldn't make it due to visa issues I believe, so GM norms are no longer possible. No biggie though, we are all chessplayers and there is no more welcoming and friendly place than the Auckland.

Unfortunately this year the tournament has started on a sour note.

Ian McNally Bruce Watson Brandon Clarke

Round 1

About 10 minutes after the round started I visited the bathroom. Below is a picture of the view out of the window. I observed IM Izzat using his phone. He glanced up in my direction and swiftly put it in his pocket. 

I immediately informed the chief arbiter and returned to my board.  He went outside and found Kanan still in the carport next door and told him to return to his board ?! Some time later, when I noticed no action had been taken I saw the organiser, Michael Steadman, and the zone president, Paul Spiller, in the car park I informed them as well. They also seemed to show little interest. But perhaps it was more shock as these things don't happen here.

By this time my position was a little suspect so I offered a draw, which was accepted. I won't bore you or embarrass myself with the moves. If you must have them here is the link.

 During our postmortem, Brandon Clarke and Izzat Kanan also walked in having drawn their game at Kanan's suggestion.

On the way home I relayed the events to Brandon. Naturally, he was incensed. Soon after arriving back at our host's house, Bruce Watson, Brandon started making phone calls and also perceived a distinct lack of interest. 

I noticed a friend online, who is in FIDE, and he did show considerable interest. First, he sent me a link to the relevant FIDE regulations and then sent an email to NZ, asking for clarification. Coincidentally about an hour later Brandon got a call from the arbiter and there was some movement on the issue.

Kanan was emailed with a request to respond to the allegation that he was on his phone and he confessed, claiming it was his second phone (he handed one in) and he had inadvertently left it in his jacket pocket and when he realised, he went outside to switch it off. I guess it's up to each individual to judge the plausibility of this explanation.

Izzat Kanan has now been forfeited for the first round. It will be interesting to see what further action, if any, will be taken.  

Round 2

Bob is always a tough nut to crack and today was no exception. I did get a nice position out of the opening but it was never much more than half a pawn, although it looked like more to both of us. I was the first to blunder with 30...h6, overlooking 31.Bc7 Rc8 32.Rd6 so had to bail with swapping the bishop and trying to trick Bob in the double rook ending. Because of his time pressure, it succeeded. He missed 50.Rg2! sacking a rook to queen a pawn. Lucky me.

[Event "George Trundle Masters 2019"]
[Site "Auckland Chess Centre"]
[Date "2019.01.05"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Smith, Bob"]
[Black "Wohl, Aleksandar"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2233"]
[BlackElo "2332"]
[ECO "C55p"]
[EventDate "2019.01.04"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.e5 d5 6.Bb5 Nd7 7.O-O Be7 8.Re1
O-O 9.Bxc6 bxc6 10.Nxd4 Nb8 11.Qh5 c5 12.Nf5 Bxf5 13.Qxf5 Nc6 14.Qd3 c4
15.Qd1 Bc5 16.Bf4 Qd7 17.Bg3 Rad8 18.Nd2 Qf5 19.Nf3 d4 20.Qe2 d3 21.cxd3
cxd3 22.Qe4 Qxe4 23.Rxe4 Nd4 24.Rd1 Nxf3+ 25.gxf3 Rd5 26.b4 Bb6 27.Bf4 f5
28.Rc4 Rfd8 29.e6 Re8 30.Rc6 h6 31.Bxc7 Bxc7 32.Rxc7 Rxe6 33.Rxa7 d2 34.
Kf1 Rde5 35.Rxd2 Re1+ 36.Kg2 Rg6+ 37.Kh3 Rg5 38.f4 Rg4 39.b5 Rb1 40.f3
Rxf4 41.Kg3 Rc4 42.a4 Rb3 43.Kg2 Rb1 44.Ra6 Rcc1 45.b6 f4 46.a5 Rg1+ 47.
Kf2 Rh1 48.Kg2 Rhg1+ 49.Kh3 Rb5 50.Kh4 g6 51.Rd8+ Kf7 52.Ra7+ Ke6 53.Re8+
Kd6 54.Rd8+ Ke6 55.Re8+ Kd6 56.Rd8+ Ke6 1/2-1/2


After the round, the arbiter asked me for a witness statement. This time he wrote it down, having acquainted himself with the exact regulations, including the compulsory "form A". He was also kind enough to inform me that there are sanctions available for players making repeated unsubstantiated accusations 😡, quickly adding that this does not apply in this case as the perpetrator had confessed.

I must add that in all the years that I have been coming to NZ, this is my first negative experience. I'm guessing that the situation has taken everybody here by surprise, as these things never happen here.

I'm sure that with due consideration of the facts the right decisions will be made. Rules about leaving the venue will undoubtedly be tightened up and there will be less reliance on people doing the right thing.