Expect to see regular contributions about the goings-on at the Calgary Chess Club.
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!
Paul Wang won the grade 7 competition outright, while Anand Rishi Chandra tied for first in grade 5. Paul drew with Ontario's Dorian Kang (2255) plus one other game, but won the rest en route to becoming Canada's top seventh grader! Anand also did what he had to by drawing his highest rated opponents Eric Ning (2246) of Ontario and Kevin Zhong (2350) of Quebec, while beating everyone else.
In the grade 3 competition Jonathan Wu finished in second place. His result is especially amazing, given a ranking near the very bottom of the field that didn't stop him from scoring a very strong 7/9.
In the grade 3 competition Jonathan Wu finished in second place. His result is especially amazing, given a ranking near the very bottom of the field that didn't stop him from scoring a very strong 7/9. Yet another podium finish went to Aditya Raninga who tied for third in grade 11. Aditya faced no less than four players rated over 2000 and managed to score 6/9 points including an important win over William Li (2286) of Ontario!
Aulden Wright Maley, a very young and dedicated player who is no stranger to the Calgary Chess Club, scored a very respectable 4/9 even though he was ranked second lowest in grade 1. Helen Chen, who bested Hemant Srinivasan and Kevin Qin among others for the qualification spot in grade 6, was the only girl from Alberta. She too has been a regular at the Calgary Chess Club, and remarkably scored 3 points against very tough opposition.
Ian Zhao, the current Alberta Open Champion and already rated north of 2300 himself, faced no fewer than three adversaries rated 2400+. And while Ian didn't quite manage to take points from the top players, he won his remaining games to finish with a very fine fourth place result overall in grade 9. Last, and certainly not least, Andre Tolentino scored 4/9 against formidable opposition in grade 12.
Diary of a Woodpusher
Greetings fellow chess players! First and foremost I'd like to extend a massive thank you to Calgary Chess Club President Stefan Sklenka and our webmaster Neven ... for this opportunity to contribute to the site. Stefan, 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!
My origin story, as fascinating as any Marvel superhero, will come to light over the next few articles, but in a nutshell: I have been an irregular fixture at the club for 15+ years, but a player since my junior days. I have spent the majority of that time hunkered in the Expert category with a couple forays north of 2200 that did not last long. I had been inactive for almost five years before making a disastrous comeback of sorts last year at the Calgary International. I have dabbled in a few events since then and couldn't be happier to be back playing.
Initially I had selfish motivations for writing these articles. It would be a great way to keep my mind on the game and an excuse to flex my increasingly atrophied chess muscles. However, I thought I might also provide some insight into how a career expert thinks and prepares, discuss the material they consume and what they take away from it...
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.
As a man with more good days behind him than ahead - now there is a morbid thought - I am keen to apply lessons I have learned in ever more efficient ways.
Regardless of the topic I choose, one thing we can probably agree on is that chess is hard! Getting better means doing solid work. Raw talent gets you to a certain level, but eventually training is required to excel beyond the mediocre. I am the first to admit a lazy attitude, and I am willing to share some of the pitfalls I encountered along the way in hopes you can avoid them. Approaches I will use draw inspiration from a variety of sources. And not all of them chess. As a man with more good days behind him than ahead - now there is a morbid thought - I am keen to apply lessons I have learned in ever more efficient ways. There exists no one size fits all approach, so you will need to experiment and tinker to see what works for you.
You might be thinking "But Sean, can a ruggedly handsome career expert, just shy of kissing 50 and with decades of bad chess habits under his belt, flagging stamina and huge gaps in his chess education really get to 2200 and beyond"? I am relentlessly optimistic, so for me the answer is yes. But let's see what that journey looks like, starting today.
For improvement to occur you need to be able to take an honest inventory of your weaknesses.
Today I am far more objective assessing my own play than I used to be. Early on I would often brush aside losses with assorted excuses like having missed simple tactics or falling victim to someone else's opening preparation. The inference, somehow, is always that my opponent got lucky. That poor attitude has been replaced by an appreciation for the moment where I started to lose the thread in a position, where I waffled between competing plans, where my opening preparation ended prematurely, marvel at deficiencies in my endgame play, and spot the moments where my nerves failed me.
For improvement to occur you need to be able to take an honest inventory of your weaknesses. I have plenty! Don't worry, we will get to each embarrassing one in time. Let's take a peek at a couple of examples that illustrate a particular tactical blind spot...
Many sins mark this game, but I will focus on just one for this article, namely 24.Qh6+ which seals Black's fate. The idea lends itself to classification with the generic motif of a pin, but feels as though it deserves a name of its own. I am going to call it a "kiss", of a variety that I need to avoid getting blindsided by again in future outings!
The idea lends itself to classification with the generic motif of a pin, but feels as though it deserves a name of its own. I am going to call it a "kiss", of a variety that I need to avoid getting blindsided by again in future outings!
I can try several things. First, I can keep on doing work on tactics, either utilizing online trainers such as those available on playchess.com or chess.com or continuing with any one of the amazing tactics books I have in my library. A steady diet of tactical puzzles is good advice anyway. Examples featuring the newly minted "kiss" theme are bound to turn up, and those will be moved into a special database - or perhaps a notebook for the less technically inclined - featuring problematic tactical ideas in general. This is all about future work. My own working database contains tactical shots I had difficulties with in my own games, but also other random and impressive tactical solutions by strong players. Basically, any time I come across a move or idea that completely eluded me ... that game gets saved for later review. In time my hope is that collecting these positions will lead to clearing up specific holes in my tactical vision.
You could, and probably should, do this for all manner of tactical slips in your own games. I will be creating databases for missed wins, endgame blunders, converting winning positions, opening mistakes, and so on. But more on this in subsequent articles.
I would like to show one more example featuring the "kiss" motif, which was every bit as shocking to me as 24.Qh6+ in my game against Jake. Johan Hellsten's excellent book Mastering Opening Strategy features the move in the notes to the game Najditsch-Belov, Moscow Aeroflot op 2007, and is another idea I would never consider...
I could, and probably should, spend hours reviewing a game like this. It's a fascinating piece of chaos ripe with nuance and aggression. And for all of it, the move 21.Be6! (in the notes to 17...Rf8) is what resonated with me. White goes from nearly busted to completely winning. Great stuff!
This idea of creating small databases to house a menagerie of your weaknesses does involve some work. But this is work that will pay dividends. The act of annotating your games, collecting the games of others, and cataloging them like this should be enough to start cementing these patterns into mind. If I were to let a game like mine with Jake go by without trying to understand my play, how could I ever expect to improve?
These are my first tentative steps towards really trying to evaluate myself, take corrective action, and measure the results. You might find a different way, a better way that works for you, and that's great. As long as you do something, it's a step in the right direction. See you next time!
Kings vs Princes
Six sessions into the event, the Princes for the first time bested the Kings with a resounding 3-0 outcome! In total points it is now Andrew Lapides, Anand Rishi Chandra and Roy Yearwood who share top spot, while the best result in terms of percentage performance has Dale Haessel and Sean Perron at 75% just in front of Andrew Lapides and Knut Neven at 70%. Tallying results by way of two separate methods tries to take into account that participants have all played a different number of matches.
Infamous chess icon and legend Branimir Brebrich will be in Calgary on May 29th for a game against Anand Rishi Chandra. Other players rated 2200+ at one time or another are welcome to join the competition. Games are unrated, with a time control of G/90+30.
Only two matches took place this session, as both Andrew Lapides and Knut Neven weren't available due to illness and a prior commitment, respectively. Both will be back next week when all matches resume as usual. So the Kings win yet another session with a perfect score, whereby Dale Haessel defeated Maxim Vasic and Roy Yearwood collected the full point against Anand Rishi Chandra.
At this writing, the total scores for all participants find Knut Neven at the top of the leaderboard with 3.5/4, tallying results by winning percentage that is, followed by Roy Yearwood at 4/5 and Andrew Lapides at 3/4. Sean Perron is at 1.5/2. Dale Haessel at 2/3 rounds out the players with a positive score total.
The Kings so far have been consistently willing to discuss ideas and mistakes with the juniors in sometimes very interesting and lengthy post-mortems.
Anand Rishi Chandra is the sole player splitting the difference with 2/4. Then come Maxim Vasic with 2/5, Branimir Brebrich at 1/3, Hemant Srinivasan with 1/4, Aditya Raninga at 0.5/2, Andrew Chen with 0.5/4 and of course Paul Wang with 0/2.
Based on results so far it appears that our top juniors are collecting very valuable experience in these exhibition games. For them opportunities facing such strong opposition, retired or not, do not present themselves too often in your average local event. The Kings so far have been consistently willing to discuss ideas and mistakes with the juniors in sometimes very interesting and lengthy post-mortems. Some of them I have watched myself and can attest to their tremendous instructional value! I would like to encourage other juniors interested in participating to contact Steve Sklenka for your seat at future sessions.
The Kings vs Princes continued with another slugfest and an outcome that not many predicted. The Kings once again showed their class by defeating the Princes 3-0 even while defending the Black pieces in all games.
Hemant Srinivasan came within a whisker of avenging his loss to Andrew Lapides, who in the end demonstrated that his former 2300+ rating was no accident en route to defeating the young warrior.
Roy Yearwood offered a forest of transpositions that ultimately gave the veteran a superior position out of the opening against Maxim Vasic. Hemant Srinivasan came within a whisker of avenging his loss to Andrew Lapides, who in the end demonstrated that his former 2300+ rating was no accident en route to defeating the young warrior. Knut Neven's game against Andrew Chen was the last to finish, but featured a thematic exchange sacrifice that led to a difficult defensive task for his young opponent.
Pat Moore, who kindly filled in for a missing King, saw his London system fall well short of overpowering the Alberta U10 champion Anand Rishi Chandra. Anand's father Vikas has been pioneering live broadcasts of our events on twitch.tv with tonight's games featuring again on live stream.
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.
Grand Prix Leg #4
Anand Rishi Chandra won against Brian Miller, while Dale Haessel beat Maxim Vasic. Tonight's winners are now tied at the top of the leaderboard with 3.5/4 and just one round remaining before the Grand Prix concludes next week.
Anand Rishi Chandra drew with Dale Haessel, which left Brian Miller in the lead with a perfect 3/3 after his win over Josh Culp. Two games remain in the event, which is also the last of the 2019 Grand Prix series!
Dale Haessel maintained his winning streak over Hemant Srinivasan on top board. Four new players joined this round, which is always a nice addition to any of our events! If you want to join the third round of the Grand Prix Leg #4, or any other future event, visit Events and register online. On-site event registration works as well of course, but costs an additional $10 per event.
The final leg of the Grand Prix began with an upset win by Hemant Srinivasan over Patrick Tolentino, while in the remaining games it was rating that predicted victory such as Dale Haessel continuing his winning ways in the Grand Prix by beating Andre Tolentino. Online registration remains open in case anyone decides to join late!
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.
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...
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.
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!