Expect to see regular contributions about the goings-on at the Calgary Chess Club.
Alberta Over/Under 1800
The 2019 ACA sponsored Alberta Over/Under 1800 featured the standard two section format and, as usual, produced a good number of fighting games. Steve Sklenka kept the event running smoothly, while Dale Haessel produced the pairings and distributed the prizes. The winner of the Over 1800 section was FM Ian Findlay from Banff, Alberta. Tied for second were Edmonton's Ralph Arruebarrena and David Miller. FM Dale Haessel's lukewarm recent form continued as he unexpectedly lost a total of three games.
Kings vs Princes
Hemant crossed the 2000 Elo mark this week, thus elevating him near top spot in the rankings among Calgary juniors, behind only Ian Zhao and ahead of Aditya Raninga, Paul Wang and Anand Chandra.
Congratulations go out to Fred South, who continued his run of wins with a point over FM Dale Haessel. Not at all a bad return to form for the long-time retiree, who was playing only his third classical game in about 20 years!
Eric Hansen Classic
FM Dale Haessel was on the receiving end of an upset, losing to fellow board member Roham Eslahpazir. Most of the juniors are still in Kingston, Ontario competing at the 2019 NAYCC finals, accounting for the small number of contested games in the last couple of weeks at all of our events.
Diary of a Woodpusher
I have decided to change my approach to chess studies a bit. An experiment if you will. To put it bluntly, and kindly, in the past my efforts were rather scattered. I would look at a little of this and a little of that, but bouncing from idea to idea does not allow the targeted concepts to take root. Which, perhaps, has resulted in the broken expert player you see before you today!
And so I am resetting the table. Instead of flitting from topic to topic, it is time to immerse myself in one aspect of the game for a prolonged period of time and really understand the concept in full. The topic in question is pawn structures.
I have confessed before to having holes in my chess education and, frankly, the biggest gaps involve my understanding of pawn structures. The whole game revolves around whatever skeleton of pawns we dangle out there, and the more familiar you are with them the better.
Canadian Seniors Championship
The 2019 Canadian Seniors Championship took place August 2-5, in Kitchener Waterloo, at City Hall. Two sections of 50+ and 65+ were joined by a sectioned tournament going on at the same time.
After winning in 2018 with a perfect 7/7 I knew I had my work cut out for me, given this year's 4th seed ranking compared to 1st seed at last year's tournament. The event gets stronger every year, marking this year the strongest field in the history of the 50+ section.
Calgary International IM
After much drama and adventure, young Ian Zhao finally landed in second place with 7/10 and a 2538 performance! Along the way he collected a FIDE FM title, and a first IM norm on his path towards the International Master title. A fantastic performance at any age, and one that we most heartily congratulate him for!
Canadian Youth Championship
Ian Zhao for example remained unbeaten, won first place in the U14 Section with 6/7, and showed great maturity in dominating tough opposition.
The Canadian Youth Championship has always been a very challenging event, and this time was no different. The tournament took place in Regina, Saskatchewan from July 7-10, 2019. One thing we definitely noticed was that players from Alberta are now competing on at least equal footing with their counterparts from the larger and formerly dominant centers of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver etc.
Edmonton International GM
American GM Steven Zierk won the tournament with 6.5/9 followed by Philippine GM Mark Paragua and Canadian IM Nikolay Noritsyn with 6/9 each. Top Albertan was IM Edward Porper with 5.5/9, while FM Ian Findlay was the top finisher representing the Calgary Chess Club. Ian notably scored the top upset of the event by defeating GM Alexander Shabalov. Shabalov, who has won or tied for first no less than seven times in the USA Open, was off form this time and had to settle for 4.5/9 and a tie for 5th through 8th.
Reports on recently finished events at the club and elsewhere. We try to cover major tournaments with participants from the Calgary Chess Club.
Bobby Fischer Memorial
The second annual Bobby Fischer Memorial tournament concluded with a familiar FM Dale Haessel victory, scoring 4.5/5, which is in fact a perfect result considering he took a bye in order to compete at the Canadian Open in Regina! Second went to NM Kim Nguyen with a solid 4/5 performance, dropping his only game to Dale in the 4th round.
Calgary International Open
On day two Anand did not defend accurately in a slightly inferior minor piece ending and lost to Kevin Qin. That meant missing out on becoming the sole event leader. That left the door open for Ebrahim to take top spot with a final round win over Kevin. Kevin Qin notably played well throughout, and remained in contention for the entire tournament.
Calgary Chess Club Championship
In round three Hafiz Karmali failed to stand his ground against Anand Rishi Chandra, which left the talented youngster with a perfect 3/3 and closest to taking the championship. But that margin did not prove to be quite enough, and our congratulations instead go out to FM Dale Haessel, who outlasted 20 other contestants in becoming the 2019 Calgary Chess Club Champion!
Calgary International Qualifier
Alberta Open champion and runner-up in the Steinitz Menchik Classic, NM Ian Zhao (2310) finished first with 5/5. Ian is only 14 years of age and amassed a huge 2477 performance in the process! 31 players participated in the event, which was directed by Dale Haessel.
Canadian Chess Challenge
From twelve players representing Alberta at the 2019 Canadian Chess Challenge held at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver from May 19-20, no fewer than eight came from Calgary. Credit and recognition for this wonderful achievement must go to all levels of our city's youth chess groups and volunteers! Our heartfelt congratulations go out to everyone who made it to Vancouver this weekend. Your success is our success!
Grand Prix Leg #4
This year witnessed the continuing strong performance of young Anand Rishi Chandra who finished second overall, and the emergence of Maxim Vasic who came third. Brian Miller managed a string of consistent results in all four events to finish fourth overall and laying claim to the U2000 top prize. Andrew Chen and Paul Wang, the recently crowned Canadian grade 7 champion, came in fifth and sixth respectively.
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 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.
Grand Prix Leg #3
The event concluded 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.
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.
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!
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.
Tournament of Legends Blitz
Ted won the Best Hair contest hands down, while Rob Hawkes won Best Tie with Steve Sklenka offering the only competition. Probably Steve's 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.
Grand Prix Leg #2
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.
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.
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
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...
Maybe you have an idea for a regular column? Let's talk!
Diary of a Woodpusher
Pins and Kisses
Greetings fellow chess players! First and foremost I'd like to extend a massive thank you to Calgary Chess Club President Steve Sklenka and our webmaster Neven ... for this opportunity to contribute to the site. Steve, you have been exceedingly gracious and accommodating. Neven, thank you for all the help and advice, for proofing the articles and publishing my drivel for all the world to see!
The crux of everything I want to discuss boils down to how we can improve? I would like to visit the topic of plateaus and how to push beyond them. From time to time I will wax philosophic about fantastic books I think the world should read, DVDs you should consider, chess software and setups, using tech in your preparation, reviewing games that made an impression, and so on.
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.