Expect to see regular contributions about the goings-on at the Calgary Chess Club.
The 2019 Alberta Reserves saw Michael Decaire, Mike Zeggelaar and Jacob Collins tie for first at 3.5/5, with Michael Decaire of Mirror, Alberta the winner on tiebreak by virtue of his last round victory over Cally Ntete. Victor Han travelled here from Brooks, came very close to winning it all, but missed out with a loss to Jacob Collins in last round. Tim Kowalyk had an exceptional tournament starting with a nearly perfect 3/4 but had to withdraw in the last round and thus forfeit a very good chance to win the overall title. Maxim Bryuzgin took the U1400 category, followed by the equally quickly improving Jerry Ming.
This year four players from Calgary and two from Edmonton are contesting the annual Alberta Closed, to be held at the Calgary Chess Club over the weekend from April 19-21, 2019.
The favourite by rating, albeit narrowly, is Calgary's Gary Ng, followed by Edmonton's Rafael Arruebarrena. Neither will likely have an easy time however, since the field also includes 14-yr-old Ian Zhao who has marked his arrival as an elite player by climbing the provincial rating ladder at record speed in the last year.
Defending champion Bitan Banerjee is away in India and unable to defend his title. None of the remaining contestants are without chances, since the top and bottom seeds are separated by only 200 Elo. The club is open to visitors for the duration of the event, so please stop by and take in some of the best chess likely to be played in the province this year. More tournament details, including start times for each round, can be viewed at Events.
Omid Malek persevered with an impressive 4/5 total to convincingly win the 2019 Alberta Closed! Along the way, Omid defeated top seeds Gary Ng and Rafael Arruebarrena as well as recent World Seniors Championship participant Dale Haessel. Alberta Junior and Alberta Open Champion Ian Zhao, who is just 14 years of age, came in second with 3.5/5 followed by Edmonton's Rafael Arruebarrena at 2.5/5 in third.
The event marks an astonishing improvement from last year for Omid, who collected a mere 1/5 in the 2018 edition of the provincial championship. The result was especially satisfying when a win by Ian Zhao over Dale Haessel in the final round forced Omid to prevail with Black over top seed Gary Ng in order to prevent a play-off with the junior talent.
The event marks an astonishing improvement from last year for Omid, who collected a mere 1/5 in the 2018 edition of the provincial championship.
With a number of the province's top players formally retired in recent years, the torch now looks like it has passed to the next generation with players like Omid Malek and Ian Zhao leading the charge. Mind you, the list of top players does not end here, with Gary Ng, Rafael Arruebarrena, Ian Findlay, Belsar Valencia, Dale Haessel, Agnieszka Matras Clement and others, plus junior talents Maxim Vasic and Anand Rishi Chandra certain to be in the mix in the coming years...
Kings vs Princes
The Kings vs Princes exhibition continued tonight with four Kings and Princes matches. The result was another stalemate, this time tallying 2-2. Anand Rishi Chandra, after suffering for a good part of the game, received an unexpected gift when Branimir Brebrich missed a check and allowed his opponent to convert for the full point. Maxim Vasic made his vastly more experienced opponent Roy Yearwood suffer and won relatively quickly. The Kings turned the tables however, with Knut Neven defeating a mild mannered and pleasant Andrew Chen, while Andrew Lapides played with authority in defeating a fast improving Hemant Srinivasan.
In turn, additional youngsters interested in gaining valuable experience facing strong opponents are also welcome to join. Your rating should be at least 1800 Elo.
The event is an ongoing one and continues each week on Wednesday at 18:00. Anyone rated 2200+ at one time or another during their competitive chess career can join the Kings and play some friendly G/90+30 unrated games against strong junior opposition. In turn, additional youngsters interested in gaining valuable experience facing strong opponents are also welcome to join. Your rating should be at least 1800 Elo. Blaise Evans, as usual, has provided the translation of game sheets to online database. Thanks!
The Princes achieved a measure of redemption for the drubbing they received in the first session by equalling the Kings 3-3 in the second session. Still the Kings were victorious 8-4 overall, with the final match tallies consisting of Yearwood 2-0 Wang, Perron 1.5-0.5 Chen, Neven 1.5-0.5 Raninga, Haessel 1-1 Chandra, Lapides 1-1 Vasic, and Brebrich 1-1 Srinivasan.
Young and old alike clearly benefit from the games and newly minted friendships, each in their own way, and with everyone agreeing to continue with Phase #2 of the exhibition. They will meet over the next few weeks on Wednesday nights for a Scheveningen style event where all Kings play all Princes.
The Calgary Chess Club is working hard on several ideas to present even more new and exciting types of tournaments. Plans possibly include teams consisting of 4 or 6 players contesting an Olympiad style event. Captains would recruit team members based loosely on nationalities and with average player ratings and ages that are similar. Probably there should be a prize for Best Team Name!
Stefan Sklenka is also in talks with a Saskatoon club that would send a selection of junior players to Calgary this summer for a Youth Festival against our junior talents. If plans firm up quickly, our provincial neighbours to the west may also participate. More announcements to come soon!
The Kings, consisting of a selection of the city's top players from years past, and mostly retired from competitive play for many years, proved they are legit by rolling over the Princes in the first of two sessions with a score of 5-1. Only Hemant Srinivasan and Andrew Chen managed to draw their games while the rest of the Princes lost.
The experience gained by the juniors should be a valuable one, as they had a relatively rare opportunity to face quality opposition without travel to a distant event. Session two takes place tomorrow evening, with the juniors on deck with the White pieces and a chance for revenge in all games. The event's matchups consist of Srinivasan-Brebrich, Vasic-Lapides, Raninga-Neven, Chandra-Haessel, Chen-Perron and Wang-Yearwood.
Welcome Players, Enthusiasts and Chess Friends
On behalf of the Calgary Chess Club I am honoured and delighted to announce a pair of exciting events that we hope will be remembered as landmarks in our club's history.
It is our sincere hope that we are taking important and necessary steps towards making chess in our city more visible and popular than it has ever been.
Our new website for the first time provides the club with a professional online presence that fully integrates a centralized membership database with functionality capable of handling and displaying online Event registrations, up-to-the-minute Rating lists of top players, current news and reports, as well as instructional articles of all types. In time we will add even more features. It is our sincere hope that we are taking important and necessary steps towards making chess in our city more visible and popular than it has ever been.
To commemorate the launch of the new website, the club is hosting a very special invitational blitz tournament spread over two evenings on March 12 and March 14 between 19:00-22:00.
The participants include twelve of Calgary's top players from the past 35 years who have mostly been coaxed out of retirement for this double-round event called the Tournament Of Legends Blitz. Spectators are welcome!
The participants are twelve of Calgary's top players from the past 35 years who have mostly been coaxed out of retirement for this double-round event called the Tournament Of Legends Blitz.
The event start list, given here in order of highest historical rating, consists of Greg Huber (2385), Rob Hawkes (2362), Arthur Odachowski (2336), Dale Haessel (2332), Robert South (2328), Knut Neven (2327), Andrew Lapides (2326), Fred South (2300), Christopher Demers (2285), Ted Wilson (2245), Sean Perron (2210), and Gordon Campbell (2127). Between them, this group holds hundreds of titles at the city and provincial levels and beyond...
Finally, I would like to thank the entire Calgary Chess Club Executive Board including Dale Haessel, Colin McCaffrey, Gordon Campbell and Blaise Evans, along with special thanks to Knut Neven who have all worked tirelessly to implement the many positive changes clearly evident at the Calgary Chess Club in recent times.
Reports on recently finished events at the club and elsewhere. We try to cover major tournaments with participants from the Calgary Chess Club.
Grand Prix Leg #3
The event concluded tonight with FM Dale Haessel securing top spot with a draw against Paul Wang, and thereby also winning the overall Grand Prix for the second year in a row. Congratulations! Elsewhere Andrew Chen also drew with Anand Rishi Chandra, while Andre Angelo Tolentino won over Maxim Vasic and Hemant Srinivasan beat Ali Husain.
The 4th and final leg of the Grand Prix starts next week, with a dozen players remaining in contention for a share of the $1,200 prize fund to be allocated after Dale receives the winner's share of $800. Online registration for the event is open!
FM Dale Haessel is leaning in as the clear favourite for another Grand Prix victory with his win over Andrew Chen. Only Paul Wang, with an upset victory over Maxim Vasic tonight, is in position to snatch the title in the final round next week with a win over the leader. In the battle of the youngsters Anand Chandra defeated Hemant Srinivasan.
The key match between FM Dale Haessel and Maxim Vasic ended with Dale taking the full point, who also takes the inside lane on winning the event.
Alongside next week's round we will also begin the Kings vs Princes matches featuring four retired legends against four top juniors. Make that five legends, as Branimir Brebrich will be visiting from British Columbia and playing against the quickly improving sixth grader Hemant Srinivasan. It will be a full house and a good time to visit the club if you haven't stopped by lately.
Play continued tonight with FM Dale Haessel winning on top board over Anand Chandra and exacting a measure of revenge for several losses in previous encounters. Helen Chen remains on track to becoming one of Calgary's future top female players by scoring the upset of the round over Kevin Qin. Only three players remain unbeaten after two rounds: Dale Haessel, Maxim Vasic and Andrew Chen.
Vikas Chandra delivered a Calgary Chess Club first by telecasting the top board game live on YouTube! An exhausted battery briefly interrupted the stream, but more exciting live broadcasts are planned for future events.
The first round of the Grand Prix Leg #3 is under way, and featured plenty of fighting games. Top seeds Dale Haessel, Maxim Vasic, Andrew Chen and Anand Rishi Chandra all won their games. Due to the rescheduling of one of the rounds in the last Grand Prix event, please remember that we have a make up round on Sunday, March 31 at 14:00.
Several players activated their online membership accounts in the last few days and easily pre-registered for this event. Thank you! We hope that soon everyone transitions to this automated process instead of waiting in the usual long registration line-ups just before the event gets under way. This will make for a more pleasant tournament experience for everyone, plus you gain the ability to update and manage your membership online.
This will make for a more pleasant tournament experience for everyone, plus you gain the ability to update and manage your membership online.
Thanks to Blaise Evans for selecting the following games to be included in our report. For those of you who feel like adding a little more spice, a nice win or perhaps something you learned from a disappointing loss, let your Tournament Director know that you would like to annotate a game or two.
Calgary Seniors Championship
FM Ian Findlay won the ACA sponsored 2019 Calgary Seniors Championship with 4.5/5 after a crucial win with the White pieces over FM Dale Haessel in the fourth round. Dale, who late last year represented Canada with an impressive result at the World Seniors Championship in Bled, Slovenia, finished in 2nd place ahead of Brad Booker in 3rd. Gordon Campbell, the 1976 Alberta Closed and 1977 Alberta Open champion, ended in 4th followed by Arthur Milne who has shown good form lately.
Nine players showed up in total making this a friendly family affair, aided as always by complimentary refreshments provided by the club for all competitors. Ian received both a $100 winner's cheque and a $300 travel grant towards the Alberta Seniors Championship in Edmonton on May 11-12.
Grand Prix Leg #2
Maxim Vasic is the winner, with Top U1900 claimed by Pat Moore and Brian Miller, Top U1700 by Arthur Milne, and Top U1500 by Artemio Galwan. Congratulations! Grand Prix Leg #3 starts next Tuesday with online registration available on our Events page.
After the emergence last year of young Anand Chandra, this year Maxim Vasic has added his name to the list of challengers for Dale Haessel's dominance of our Grand Prix events. Maxim seems to add rating points to his cache with every outing, and promises to be a force to be reckoned with in the coming months and years. This time around Dale actually faced more difficult opposition, and so the unfolding storyline likely still has many more twists and turns in store for us.
Maxim seems to add rating points to his cache with every outing, and promises to be a force to be reckoned with in the coming months and years.
Jerry Kobalenko has also joined the Grand Prix, in spite of residing more than an hour away in Canmore. Juniors Patrick and Andrew Tolentino together with Andrew and Helen Chen are also regular new faces. The game of the tournament unfolded between Anand Chandra and Maxim Vasic in round five. Maxim came out on top after a series of sacrifices in a very sharp position. In the final round Jerry Kobalenko kept threatening Dale Haessel's king, but eventually found his own monarch stranded in an indefensible position.
A big thank you goes to Roham Eslahpazir and Roy Yearwood, who selflessly donated extra snacks each round, complementing those provided by the club.
Tournament of Legends Blitz
At the end of 22 exciting rounds filled with the inevitable ebb and flow of an event as long as this one, Gregory Huber emerged as the class of the field by posting ahead of Arthur Odachowski and Dale Haessel in shared second place. Robert South, Christopher Demers and Andrew Lapides came next, fractionally ahead of a cluster of players making up the middle of the table.
For any visitors who came to watch the play several trends soon became apparent. While any number of games were played at a high standard featuring creative ideas and brilliant tactical moments worthy of times long past, the extended competitive inactivity of the participants also took a toll. Perhaps an expected one, but not the sort you get used to easily. All of us suffered random streaks of tactical blindness, sometimes several games in a row, only to find the fog suddenly lifted in the next hour for seemingly no particular reason. Drop a piece in one game, and prosecute a smooth attack or subtle technical ending in the next. And so it went. Everyone understood, since all were equally afflicted. Sportsmanship was brilliant...
Stefan Sklenka has devised a secret plan to wrestle the Battle of Alberta trophy back from our northern rivals. Enticing the strongest local players of the past to come out of retirement is merely the tip of the spear! Phase two might see mixed events between the veterans and a selection of strong juniors. Not a bad idea. Training is everything. So goes the theory. We wish Stefan luck, as it may be more difficult than anticipated to translate his vision into action. We shall see.
Every single participant did express how much they enjoyed the special chess reunion, which prompted Stefan Sklenka, assisted this year by co-organizers Gregory Huber and Knut Neven, to announce a likely repeat of the event next year. Tentatively the next edition is scheduled for March 10-12 of 2020, and might feature other accomplished veteran players from the rest of the province. An excellent idea indeed!
The South brothers offered a suspicious sibling draw in the last round that is currently being investigated by a hastily established ethics committee.
The Tournament of Legends became a reality tonight when a friendly and jovial atmosphere prevailed over pizza and snacks prior to the tournament. But that all predictably changed once the games started.
Ted won the Best Hair contest hands down, while Rob Hawkes won Best Tie with yours truly offering the only competition. Probably my decision to purchase this accessory at Woolworths had something to do with the outcome!
The South brothers offered a suspicious sibling draw in the last round that is currently being investigated by a hastily established ethics committee. Meanwhile the Deep Rust Award remains up for grabs, with Gordon Campbell claiming the inside lane after the first of two sessions.
Andrew Lapides scored only 2/6 points early, but decided to take matters into his own hands and went 5/5 in the closing rounds. Greg Huber proved the class of the field with 9/11 and a run of 8 consecutive wins! The Over Achiever Award went to Chris Demers who finished the first session in 3rd place in spite of his 9th place ranking.
GM Eric Hansen kindly stopped by for a look at the grizzled veterans. The average rating, based on the highest rating achieved, was an impressive 2297! Calgary clearly has some very good chess players that many people are simply not aware of. The event continues for one more session on 2019-03-14.
Steinitz Menchik Classic
The third edition of the annual Steinitz Menchik Classic concluded last weekend at the Calgary Chess Club. The tournament was conducted in two sections with a total of 44 participants, including some who traveled from Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
The event featured many intense battles and upsets, including Patrick Tolentino's impressive win against FM Ian Findlay. The highlight of the tournament was the final round top board clash between Alberta Junior Champion Ian Zhao and Omid Malek. The latter ground down his opponent in a lengthy rook vs bishop ending to clinch the victory. With this result Omid has now officially met all requirements for his National Master title, which the Chess Federation of Canada will award to him shortly. Congratulations!
Congratulations as well to Ian Zhao, Georgi Kostadinov and Maxim Vasic for sharing second place. Maxim Bryuzgin and Avery Li jointly won the U1400 section.
Notable as well is yet another excellent result from Helen Chen who continues to improve against formidable opposition and scoring points against players rated several hundred points higher than her. You heard it here first: if Helen keeps up the good work, she will become the number one female player in Calgary.
With this result Omid has now officially met all requirements for his National Master title, which the Chess Federation of Canada will award to him shortly. Congratulations!
The event was organized and directed by Stefan Sklenka and the Calgary Chess Club, and boasted a new attendance record for the Steinitz Menchik Classic.
2018 Banff Open Armageddon Playoff
The 2018 Banff Open saw a 3 way tie for first place between IM Mark Ginsburg, FM Ian Findlay and Omid Malek with 5/6. Only after IM Thanh Nha Duong let a winning position slip into a lost position, moving him from clear winner to 4th place with 4.5 and out of the money. We were very fortunate to have an anonymous donor contribute $500 to the 1st prize, on the condition that if there was a tie, there would be a playoff for the extra cash! This certainly led to an exciting finish. There were many spectators who stayed behind to watch the playoff, but in honesty, most of them were waiting to collect their prizes.
As per the playoff rules, Mark Ginsburg who had the best tiebreak would get a bye into the finals. I had 2nd best tiebreak, so I chose Black. I would get 4 minutes to White's 5 minutes, but would get draw odds. Omid and I played a Closed Sicilian, which was a very close battle, until Omid blundered a piece around move 35. This did not matter much since the game was going to be decided on time. Omid being the gentleman that he is, called his own flag when I still had 9 seconds on my clock. This setup a final between Mark Ginsburg and myself.
Mark and I go back a long way. In the eighties, I used to stay at his apartment in NYC when playing in the New York Open. He shared an apartment with GM Michael Rhode, GM John Fedorowicz and GM at bridge, Michael Polowan. Since I have started playing chess again we have reconnected, and last year he stayed at my house and won the Banff Open. This year, he got his choice in the final Armageddon playoff. He chose Black.
We were very fortunate to have an anonymous donor contribute $500 to the 1st prize, on the condition that if there was a tie, there would be a playoff for the extra cash!
Our tournament has grown from 33 players to 41 players to 78 players. Hopefully in 2019 we will hit our maximum 100 entries. I would like to thank our sponsors, the Alberta Chess Association, the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4318 and the Society of Chess Aficionados. Also many thanks to the Banff Centre for a great venue, with postcard picture views of the mountains and their well organized staff. A big thank you to our anonymous donor who made the tournament so exciting this year by donating the $500 bonus money. It will be hard to top next year, but we will try. Thank you also to our chief Arbiter, IA/IO Mark Dutton and his lovely wife Christine, the Assistant Arbiter and of course my wife, Janice, for all her hard work to provide a dinner reception at our house for the players and their significant others.
2018 World Seniors Championship
I recently travelled to Bled, Slovenia to play in the World Seniors Over 50 tournament. Although I didn't play well, I still managed to gain 27 rating points. Fellow Canadian Michael Dougherty gained 52 points. Overall the Canadians gained a tonne of rating points out of the event. I always remember GM Joel Benjamin saying he was underrated. When asked he stated that everyone is underrated in North America. I can definitely concur with such a statement and anyone who wants to have a rating boost just has to play in foreign tournaments because hundreds of rating points are available for free.
My tournament was marred by an extremely slow start and an opponent who failed to show up. The organizers used a 30 minute forfeit rule compared to the standard 60 minute rule in North America. The tournament was extremely well organized and featured top notch accommodations. I definitely recommend the tournament for anyone who is over 50 or 65.
The tournament was extremely well organized and featured top notch accommodations. I definitely recommend the tournament for anyone who is over 50 or 65.
There were many GMs playing, however no one really famous except GM Evgeny Sveshnikov. I was expecting people like John Nunn and Jan Timman to play. I managed to struggle to 7.5/11 to finish 11th in a field of 106 including nine GMs. The Canadians who played included Alberta's IM Edward Porper, Ian Findlay, Steven Peters, and myself. Also attending from Canada were David Cummings, Michael Dougherty and Victor Plotkin.
Anything goes! We are looking for contributions with an instructional angle. Played a nice game lately? Travelled to an interesting event out of town? Read a good book on the Catalan? Let the rest of the members know about it. And you don't have to be a top player either to publish something worthwhile. Even better if you include an annotated ChessBase file with your article. Got an idea?
Attacking the Scheveningen
White had a commanding lead after the opening only to give most of it back in one move. The advantage shifted, but Black's last mistake was too much to salvage.
Many players focus almost exclusively on opening preparation in their chess studies. The idea of catching an opponent in a prepared line and scoring an easy point is an appealing one, even if reality isn't quite so accommodating. That opening advantage and the final result are usually separated by several hours and dozens of moves where anything can happen...
The following slugfest, played at the 2013 Schleinich Memorial in Calgary, on a very cold day in January, proved entertaining enough to earn the Most Interesting Game award of the event, and was therefore published with analysis by up-and-coming Canadian talent GM Eric Hansen.
So did White's preparation prove decisive here? What about White's 20th move? Arguably much more important than an objective advantage from the opening was my inability to calculate a convincing finish. Lukas defended an inferior position very well for a long time and might have reversed the outcome when I overplayed my hand a dozen moves later in a risky attempt to regain lost ground. The 31st move was the final decisive turning point of the game, and it had nothing to do with opening preparation for either player. The Sicilian Scheveningen was tested but not breached, and neither player found all the right moves!
Maybe you have an idea for a regular column? Let's talk!
Early History 1930 to 1971
Looking for a chess club in Calgary, some fifty years ago, was an adventure! There was enough interest in playing chess with friends or family at home, but to play in a club, that was something different. Somehow, around fifteen brave players found each other and gathered every Monday night in Maccabees Hall on Fifth Avenue between 9th and 10th Street SW. This was the year 1968.
Much earlier than that, chess was also played at a club called Eagles of Britain all the way back in the 1930s. One of the players of that era still played the game into 1980, and regretfully we never heard the entire story from those days many years ago. Some day, perhaps, someone else can fill that void with records from local newspapers or stories heard through friends...
Once we started, back in 1968, we tried hard to promote ourselves. There were simultaneous chess exhibitions at Westbrook Shopping Centre, Market Mall and others. The club grew to number 50 members in just one year. Branimir Brebrich became our first president. This was the year 1969.
But just when the club looked poised to take flight in earnest, disaster struck in the prosaic but serious situation of a $27 debt owed in past rent!
But just when the club looked poised to take flight in earnest, disaster struck in the prosaic but serious situation of a $27 debt owed in past rent! Members were summoned to talk about options in case we were to be evicted. One interesting idea was to join the German-Canadian Club in Bowness, but that would mean losing our own identity. After much lively discussion the name stayed, and the rest is history.
The crisis had been averted, and the club now formally registered its existence with the authorities. Two letters, sent to the Government of Alberta and the Albertan newspaper, respectively, and signed by Branimir Brebrich, J. Kassay Farkas, R.C. Korpan, R. Gjesdal, and B. Van Wieren asked to sponsor Branimir Brebrich's appearance at the 1971 Canadian Open in Vancouver. That application was rejected. This was the year preceding the famous Match of the Century between Robert James Fischer and Boris Spassky in Reykjavik in the following year. Chess finally made headlines!