Tuesday, 30 September 2014

OMG! Did I miss that?

Nice game this evening, good opening, won a piece after my opponent miscalculated, and then all I had to do is stifle my opponents counterplay. Having done that, deal with a couple of last gasp tricks, and then finish the game off with my extra rook. Except both myself and my opponent missed a rather large plot hole. 39.Qf4?? looks like it kills the last of Blacks play but ...

Press,Shaun - Braguine,Victor [B24]
Belconnen FDK, 30.09.2014

Monday, 29 September 2014

Two pawns abreast

While my lifetime score against Australian chess legend IM Robert Jamieson was 0 from 2 (or maybe 3), I remember that the games were hard fought and I was competitive for most of the game. But the other thing I took away from the games was little tid-bits of advice that came in the post mortem. One point that always stayed with me was his asking "Where are your two pawns abreast? You need two pawns abreast to make a break with one". This advice was similar to what I later discovered in Kmoch's Pawn Power in Chess, where he pointed that that pawns standing next to each other cover the 4 squares in front of them.
The further up the board you can march these pawns, the more space you have to operate. I managed to use this to my advantage in a game I played quite recently. While in general I have the feeling that my chess in on the wane, I was pleased that in this game I managed to keep things under control. Once my pawns stood on e4 and d4, I was able to use the space advantage to almost trap my opponents knight (which allowed me to gain a passer), as well as swinging my rook to the queenside via f5. Eventually the pawns were surrendered for material gain, but by then the game was almost over.

Patterson,Miles - Press,Shaun [A04]
Belconnen FDK, 23.09.2014

Sunday, 28 September 2014

2015 Australian Junior Chess Championships

The 2015 Australian Junior Chess Championships will be held in Canberra from the 17th to the 25th of January 2015. The venue will be Canberra Grammar School in Red Hill. There will be 12 main tournaments (U18,16,14,12,10,8 Open and Girls) plus Lightning and Problem Solving events.
The website for the tournament www.ajcc.com.au  is now live, and you can find all the tournament details there. The site also has accommodation options available, and if you are planning to play, it might be worth booking earlier rather than later (The Asian Cup football tournament will be on in Canberra at the same time!)
You can also register for the event under the "Entry Form" menu. As the entries start to come in (and some players have already entered!) the organisers will post them on the website.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

2014 George Trundle Masters

One of the few International Round Robin events in Oceania, the George Trundle Masters, started today at the National Chess Centre in Devenport, New Zealand. The top section is a 10 player event, with representatives from New Zealand, Australia and Russia taking part. Top seed is IM Anton Smirnov, ahead of GM Daryl Johansen and IM Vladimir Smirnov. For the titled players (IM's Lane and Garbett included) the aim will obviously be winning the event or at least picking up some rating points. For the rest of the field, a chance at an IM norm is also on offer, although it may be a tough ask. Along side the master is the Challengers event, which is an all New Zealand affair, and I assume is a qualifier for next years event.
Event details and results are available via the New Zealand Chess Federation page. I am still looking for a link to live games (normally a feature of NZ events), but have come up short so far. If I do find it I will update this post.

What just happened?

Of all the forms of chess problems, I find retrograde problems the most interesting. In a 'retro' you
have to work backwards, to work out what the last move was, or whether a promoted piece was on the board etc Raymond Smullyan, mathematician, logician and magician, is one of the leading composers of these type of problems, and the diagrammed position is due to him. As retrograde problems go, it is fairly easy, but there is still a delight in finding the answer. While it is White to move, the problem is find the last 2 moves (by black and white) that lead to this position.

Friday, 26 September 2014

2014 Women's World Championship postponed

FIDE have announced that the 2014 Women's World Championship has been postponed. While the announcement states that his has been postponed for a few months, it also contains a strong hint that the reason for the postponement is a lack of venue and sponsors. I suspect part of the reason was the concentration on both the FIDE elctions, and trying to secure sponsors and venue for the Carlsen - Anand World Championship match.
The failure to get this event (a knockout this year) going is a bit of a surprise, as FIDE have generally been pretty good in the area of Women's chess. Hopefully the delay really is only for a few months, and the tournament will be held before the end of the year.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

There is a price break at 1000

While investigating future career options, I decided to have a look at alibaba.com For those not aware of alibaba, it is a massive online commerce site, mainly serving Chinese manufacturers. As its main purpose is business to business sales, the bargains often come with conditions.
If you are looking for cheap chess sets, there are a few manufacturers who offer them, at prices down to $2 a set. However you need to order a minimum of 100 sets (in some cases), making the decision to but a non-obvious one. Clocks are even more challenging, with digital clocks going for as cheap as $20, as long as you want 500 of them! And those cheap chess computers you cans till find at Dick Smith or Jaycar. $20 from the factory, assuming you can store 500 in your garage.
So obviously the stuff is a bargain, if you can find a use for it. At this stage I'm looking at smaller quantities for my club, and I assume I can find them if I look hard enough, but the "Shaun's Chess Garage Emporium" is probably some ways off.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Could you pull this off today?

When I was younger one of the more interesting chess games I played over was an Alekhine v Euwe game from the 1937 World Championship. Alekhine played a completely unexpected novelty in the opening, and while is was just a total bluff, Euwe missed the best lines and went down to a quick defeat.
Apart from the 'what if'' question in the case of Euwe playing the refutation, there is another question for more modern times. Would such an opening bluff even work today? I very much doubt it, as opening prep is much more comprehensive and computer driven, at the top level. Given the position was quite early in the opening it could safely be assumed that it would have either flashed across the screen while a world champion or challenger was checking their analysis, or would be considered unsound if it turned up at the board. Certainly I would expect such a tactical line to set the alarm bells ringing, and as a result, the chances of finding a refutation at the board would be high.

Alekhine,Alexander - Euwe,Max [D10]
World Championship 17th Netherlands (6), 16.10.1937

Monday, 22 September 2014

2014 World Youth

The 2014 World Youth Championship is underway in Durban, South Africa. This has always been a huge event, and is one of the largest international events on the calendar. In fact it has grown so large that it is being split into two separate tournaments in future years.
Despite the travel distance (which seems to be an issue for any non-European event) there are over 70 federations represented. Australia seems to be have a large group of players, and are represented across a number of age groups.
Along side the tournament is a big Open event, which seems to have attracted a strong field. Both events (Open and Youth) have coverage of the top boards on the tournament website. The rounds start at midnight Canberra time, although this might be a little tough unless you are a night owl.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Anand wins in Bilbao

Viswanathan Anand's win in the 2014 Candidates tournament not only gave him a rematch for the World Championship, but also had the chess pundits wondering if this was the start of a career resurgence.  For the last 6 months this has been a hard question to answer, as Anand has not played that much, but this week he showed that the Candidates was not a one off.
Despite a last round loss to Lev Aronian, Anand won the Bilbao Masters for the first time, after 3 previous attempts. With the 3-1-0 scoring system in place, he had the tournament wrapped up with a round to go, and his +3=2-1 was eventually worth more than Aronian's +2=4-0, when it came to handing out prize money and interesting hats. Aronian finished a point behind in 2nd, with Ponomariov and Vallejo Pons 5 points back.
Of the games from the event I saw, the one that impressed me most was the following win by Anand over Vallejo Pons. As with most hight level games, it isn't one blunder that undoes Vallejo, but just the gradual build up by Anand until Black's position finally cracks.

Anand,V (2785) - Vallejo Pons,F (2712) [D20]
7th Grand Slam Masters Bilbao ESP (4), 18.09.2014

Saturday, 20 September 2014

2014 Lifeline Book Fair - slim pickings this year

The range of chess books at this years (September) Lifeline Bookfair was very limited. In previous posts I have said that as chess books go, it could either be feast or famine, and this time it was definitely famine. I grabbed exactly 1 chess book, and even then I'm not sure I don't already have a copy. On the other hand Bridge books were well represented, as were poker and puzzle books.
Where I did do well however was in the area of computing books. PHP, Perl, jQuery and Drupal books helped fill my bags, which was quite fortuitous, as I am on the lookout for a new job. Although it is yet to be officially confirmed, a work review has recommended abolishing my current position, and I therefore need to find gainful employment. Currently I am working in the area of CMS development, but having covered a number of different tasks during my time in the IT industry, this isn't the only string to my bow.  A few job applications have been submitted, but nothing positive as yet.

Friday, 19 September 2014

2014 Vikings Weekender 15/16th November

The 2014 Vikings Weekender, Canberra's 'Biggest Little Weekender' is being held on the 15th and 16th of November. Once again it is being organised and hosted by the Tuggeranong Chess Club, and sponsored by the Tuggeranong Vikings Rugby Union Club. The tournament details are

Date: 15&16th November 2014
Venue: Tuggeranong Vikings Rugby Union Club, Ricardo St, Wanniassa, ACT
Divisions: Open and Under 1600 (ACF)
Format: 7 round swiss
Prizes: Open 1st $1000, Under 1600 1st $500 - Other prizes based on entries but last years prize pool was over $2500
Entry Fee: $65, Junior/Concession $45 GM,IM,WGM,WIM Free
Rounds: 15th (Saturday) 10:30am, 1:30pm, 4:00pm, 7:00pm 16th (Sunday) 10:30am, 1:30pm, 3:45pm
Arbiter: IA Shaun Press

Enter online (no payment required) at http://vesus.org/festivals/2014-vikings-weekender/ (NB If asked to enter a player ID, any number will do!. Players with FIDE ID's can simply use the search function). Entry fees will be collected on the morning of the event.

(I am a paid official for this event)

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The saga of 11.3b

If you aren't a regular visitor to www.fide.com, you may have missed the following announcement concerning Article 11.3b in the Laws of Chess.

The Rules Commission reported that they have altered Law 11.3b in the Laws of Chess to reflect the request of the ACC. The new text reads: During a game, a player is forbidden to have a mobile phone, electronic means of communication or any device capable of suggesting chess moves on their person in the playing venue. However, the rules of the competition may allow such devices to be stored in a player’s bag, as long as the device is completely switched off. A player is forbidden to carry a bag holding such a device, without permission of the arbiter. If it is evident that a player has such a device on their person in the playing venue, the player shall lose the game. The opponent shall win. The rules of a competition may specify a different, less severe, penalty. The arbiter may require the player to allow his/her clothes, bags or other items to be inspected, in private. The arbiter or a person authorized by the arbiter shall inspect the player and shall be of the same gender as the player. If a player refuses to cooperate with these obligations, the arbiter shall take measures in accordance with Article 12.9.

This new ruling came about as part of the work done by the FIDE/ACP Anti-Cheating Committee, and is a change from the previous, harsher version agreed to in 2013.
The only problem is that changes to the Laws of Chess need to be agreed to by the FIDE General Assembly, and this did not happen in Tromso. The reason for this was once all the excitement of the elections was over, a large number of delegates (including the PNGCF delegate) failed to turn up when this was supposed to be voted on, meaning the GA lacked the necessary quorum.
 Personally I found this very disappointing, especially I was one of the authors of this new rule, and 6 months of hard work looked to be going to waste. What has now been decided is that while the change is not official, tournament organisers can follow the new rule, without fear that events won't be rated or that they will fall foul of other anti-cheating regulations. The intention of course is the changes will be approved at the next General Assembly, but at his stage this not planned to occur until 2016. But while the solution to getting the new rule in place is not perfect, it at least is better than what it could have been.

Old or new

The following game from the 2014 European Club Championship is already receiving high praise. Grischuk does his best to keep Rodshtein's king in the centre, sacrificing material to do so.
But having played through the game I am undecided whether I am looking at a modern masterpiece, or a homage to a previous time. The sacrifice of material, combined with direct threats against an uncastled king, reminds me of some of Keres' games from the 1930's. However, to pull this off requires pretty exact calculation, which is more the hallmark of the modern player. Nonetheless, one thing seems to be a constant in this game, and that is falling behind in development gets punished, whether it is 1934 or 2014.

Grischuk,Alexander (2789) - Rodshtein,Maxim (2678) [A07]
30th ECC Open 2014 Bilbao ESP (3.3), 16.09.2014

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

I feel like Bobby Fischer

If you hang around long enough, you eventually become your parents. So I'm not surprised that the music I listen to is moving further away from what my children choose to listen to. But I still try and stay relevant by listening to JJJ, even if they seem to be showing signs of middle age themselves.
Occasionally I will catch a song which jumps out at me. The other day I happened to be listening 'Cosby Sweater' by the Hilltop Hoods. Now the title is amusing in and of itself, but like a lot of hip-hop they name check a number of people. And in this case Bobby Fischer gets a mention, in the lines
I feel like Bobby Fischer, always 4 moves ahead of my competition

Now I don't know if that counts as 'bigging yourself up' in the hop-hop community, but the lines are repeated throughout the song. I'm also assuming the Hilltop Hoods knew enough about chess to think of Fischer, but given that 'Magnus Carlsen' also scans, maybe not so much to give the song a more contemporary feel.

Monday, 15 September 2014

How does Microsoft stay in business?

The joy of computer upgrades. My previous adventures were chronicled here, and 5 years later nothing has improved. In fact the 'Easy Transfer' software has since been crippled, as you cannot transfer data across your home network anymore (expensive usb drives instead). Even the obvious 'drag and drop' from shared folders is a nightmare, as obscure file permission and ownership issues lurk at every turn.
Compare this with just about every Linux upgrade I have ever done. apt-get dist-upgrade and the latest and greatest operating system appears. Transfer files, no worries. scp or rsync and you're away. No fuss, no muss, and all for free.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Bilbao Masters (and European Club Championship)

After the excitement of the 2014 Sinquefield Cup, attention now moves across the Atlantic, to the Bilbao Masters, which begins this evening. Nominally the final of the Grand Slam, the field consists of Ponomariov, Anand, Aronian and Vallejo Pons. Probably the major interest from this event is how Anand will perform in the lead up to his World Championship match with Carlsen, but obviously the games and the likely winner will also be important. Having nailed my prediction for the Sinquefield Cup (Caruana), my instincts see a return to form for Aronian, and a tight first place for him.
Running alongside the Masters is the European Club Championship. This event seems to be growing in popularity, with 61 teams taking part this year. The SOCAR team from Azerbaijan are the rating favourites, with an average rating of 2750., and there are 4 teams rated above 2700. While the top teams are fielding a raft of GM's, I am keeping a watch on the lower boards, where the minnows (including White Rose) will be battling it out.
Both events are under way (11pm starts Canberra time, I am guessing), and you can *some* live coverage at http://www.europeanchessclubcup2014.com/ (NB Both events are linked to from this page)

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Stop me if you've heard this one before

Hotter weather, hotter chess? There probably isn't a correlation between the two, but the return of the spring sunshine has seen some quite nice games at Street Chess recently. Of course faster time limits tend to result in more direct chess, so there may be additional factors at play.
The following game was actually shared with me by the loser, who thought it was nice enough to include in this blog. Both players castled long, which is quite rare, but White's decision to copy Black turned out to be a tactical blunder, as the immediate sacrifice on c3 was winning. White declined the first sacrifice, only to be hit by a stronger one 2 moves later. As mate was forced, White at least allowed Black to play the prettiest mate, one that I have seen played in a number of beautiful attacking games from the 70's

Chibnall,Alana - Ambrus,Endre [B18]
Street Chess, 13.09.2014

Friday, 12 September 2014

Crowd funding chess

More and more I am seeing chess variants pop up on 'kickstarter' type websites. Usually the game is a version of chess that utilises cards to somehow modify the game playing experience. My perusal of such games has been reasonably superficial, but the cynic in me suspects that such additions are designed to lessen the skill factor in the game, allowing the inventor to win at least a few games against otherwise unbeatable opponents.
I am also wondering whether crowd funding chess events might be something worth investigating. At this stage money for tournaments comes from entry fees or sponsorship, and usually draws upon those directly involved in the event (either as a player or oganiser). But if a mechanism that allowed non participating players to contribute to events, would such an approach work. I have done this in the past (in a sense) by sending an entry fee to an event I was unable to play in, and have also provided small sponsorship for a player to take part in the 4NCL. If more people thought to do this, would the net result be better funded activities? Of course there has been a kind of counter example, in Australia at least, with the Olympiad appeal (to help fund the Australian Olympiad teams) often falling far short of the total amount needed. But even in this case it at least shows a willingness of some players to put money into activities that do not offer a direct benefit, and so the whole idea may not be as far fetched at all.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Double checks

I have just finished a game on chess.com which ended with me playing a double check leading to a forced mate (no, I do not plan to show it). But it did get me thinking about games with consecutive double checks. A quick search has thrown up examples of 3 double checks in a row, using two bishops and a rook, with the rook zig zaging up the board. However I have not been able to find a definitive answer to the question, and even the dependable Chess Records page draws a blank. If you think you do know the answer to this question, or even want to have a stab at constructing an possible record setting position, feel free to mention it in the comments section

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Going the hack in Newcastle

If you are feeling adventurous, and want to play in a one day event, and you are in the Sydney/Central Coast/Newcastle region of New South Wales, then you might want to drop in and play the Kings Gambit Tournament on the 14th of September (this Sunday). As the name suggests it is a thematic event, with all games starting 1.e4 e5 2.f4  It is a rapidplay event (G/20m) so I suspect there will be plenty of thud and blunder taking place, which is expected for what is only a semi-serious event. However there will be prize money on offer as well, meaning it wont be entirely fun and games.
It is a 7 round event, with registrations from 9:30am and a finish time of 5pm. The venue is the Gallipoli legion Club in Hamilton, and further details can be found here.
If you are thinking of player, here is a game that might inspire (or terrify) you.

Tristan Stevens (1943) - Ron Scott (2191) [C37]
Newcastle Open (5), 15.02.2009

Monday, 8 September 2014

Anand Carlsen II - The Sochi Boogaloo

Well after all the "will he or won't he", Magnus Carlsen has signed the contract for his upcoming title defence against Viswanathan Anand in Sochi, Russia. The match will take place between the 6th and 27th of November, and will be the now normal 12 game format, with playoffs at the end if necessary.
Carlsen had requested both a delay to the match, which was denied, and a delay to the signing date, which was agreed to. Obviously his participation in the Sinquefield Cup was his immediate priority, but once that was over he seemed to agree to the match terms quite quickly.
There are of course some possible issues with the political situation surrounding Russia, including sanctions by the EU on the Russian Government, and various oligarchs. However I'm assuming this will either be sorted before the match, or dealt with after it has finished.
As for early predictions, Carlsen is the obvious favourite. Of course Anand may be a different player than in 2013, as the weight of defending the title is no longer on him. I would not be surprised if Anand adopts a much more aggressive style, in the hope of knocking Carlsen off balance early. This may of course result in an 'all or nothing' scenario, which may see Carlsen win heavily if it does not work for Anand.
For now I am tipping Carlsen, although better predictions can probably be made after Anand finishes the upcoming Bilbao Masters event.

Sunday, 7 September 2014


3102 turned out to be the TPR for Caruana after winning the 2014 Sinquefield Cup. He finished on 8.5/10 (+7=3), 3 whole points ahead of second place Magnus Carlsen. In fact they were the only 2 players above 50%, with Veselin Topalov finishing third on that score.
As in the previous round, all three games were drawn, which is understandable given the tough field taking part. By the end the major points of interest seemed to be (a) Caruana's final score and (b) who out of Nakamura, Vachier-Lagrave and Aronian could avoid the wooden spoon. With 8 draws in the last 3 rounds, Caruana coasted to victory (despite missing a win in round 9), while Nakamura's loss to Topalov in round 8 settled question (b).
While I have not heard anything about the 2015 Sinquefield Cup at this point, the 2014 edition will go down in chess history as one of the most significant tournaments ever. Already making history as the highest rated event of all time, Caruana's result is one of the greatest tournament performances ever. I suspect that any 100% start to an event will almost immediately be compared to Caruana's 7/7, while his 3102 TPR will be the benchmark for future events. I also suspect that anyone looking to organise an Elite-GM event, will feel the need to try and secure both Carlsen and Caruana in the field.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Caruana slows down, but wins the tournament anyway.

The 2014 Sinqufield Cup continues to give this blogger plenty to write about. Although all 3 round 9 games ended in draws, there was enough thrills and spills to keep everyone interested.
After yesterdays draw with Carlsen, Caruana looked like he had another point in the bag against Nakamrua. However he missed a forcing sequence starting with an exchange sacrifice, and quickly his winning position became a drawn one. Probably a disappointment for Caruana, but he is consoled by the fact he has already captured first place, as well as having a TPR of 3162!
Lev Aronian is not having the best tournament, although he did draw with Carlsen today. He did this despite being 3 pawns down in a rook and pawn ending, as he reached a position (the Vancura position) where the extra pawns (on the h file) did not matter. While he and Carlsen knew what was going on, the extra material confused various chess engines who proudly proclaimed that the position was totally winning for Carlsen.
The game between Vachier-Lagrave and Topalov stayed pretty even throughout, and the players split the point at move 41.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Incredibly hard work

Looking through some of the games from the 2014 Chess Olympiad, I came across the following monster. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Baadur Jobava certainly put in a full days work with this game, a 139 move epic. At one point it looked like Jobava had found a draw despite being a rook down, but Vachier-Lagrave gave back the rook to play a Q+P v Q ending. As the pawn was an a pawn, Black had good drawing chances, and I had a recollection that at one times such endings were considered drawn. But Vachier-Lagrave pushed and pushed, and was eventually rewarded with the point.

Vachier-Lagrave Maxime (2768) - Jobava Baadur (2713) [B52]
WCO2014 Tromso (7.40), 09.08.2014

Caruana 7-0 (and Carlsen 11-0)

The Caruuana train roles on, with a seventh consecutive win at the 2014 Sinqufield Cup. Todays anointed victim was Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who played the part by falling apart in 20 moves, although he did hang on the move 39 before throwing in the towel.
Caruana's winning streak has of course overshadowed some other interesting features from this tournament. In what would normally be the feature game of just about any other event, Magnus Carlsen scored his 11th career win over Hikaru Nakamura. The game seemed to be played at a breakneck pace, with Nakamura playing a line that looked good on the surface but turned out just to be bad. In the other game, Topalov and Aronian drew, but given the events on the other boards, I'm not sure whether anyone really noticed.

Carlsen,Magnus (2877) - Nakamura,Hikaru (2787) [D10]
2nd Sinquefield Cup 2014 Saint Louis USA (7.2), 03.09.2014

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

A cheap broadcast system

One of the issues in running a multiboard DGT tournament broadcast is arranging all the cables. Despite having used DGT boards for over a decade, making sure the cabling is right is a task that I never seem to get right. The main issue is how to secure the various power and data leads in such a way that they do not get in the way of the players. However a poor choice of gaf tape, and the difficult environment that events are often held in, means that half the time I am re-sticking cables or moving boards around the make sure they keep working.
The availability of cheap but powerful computers has at least provided the opportunity to build a cable free system. Something like a Raspberry Pi costs between $30 and $40, and a Wi-Pi wirless network dingle costs another $10. And having purchased these last year I spent  last Sunday putting a system together.
As the Raspberry Pi only has two USB ports I added a USB hub to the mix. I also needed a Serial to USB cable, as I only have a serial DGT board. But once they were all plugged together the Raspberry Pi had no difficulty in connecting to the DGT board. The next trick was to right some Python code to transmit the data from the board to the central server. For the first iteration of the system a simple TCP/IP connection between client and server was all that was needed. The client script simply did a non-blocking read from the board and then sent the information to the server. It then listened for any response that came back and passed this back to the DGT board. At the server end, another script did essentially the same thing, listening for network data, and passing it on to the Live Chess system that was running on the server. Any responses from the server were then passed back to the client.
Apart from Python, there were a couple of other pieces of software I needed. As the plan is to use the DGT Livechess system, I needed that, as well as a way of setting up some virtual com ports. This is because Livechess expects data via serial ports. I used an open source program called com0com (under windows) to do this. Although it took a bit of setting up, it eventually did the job required.
After plugging everything together, and running both the client and server scripts it all worked like a charm. The DGT Livechess system recognised the board and handled all the data being sent across my wireless network. As a 'proof of concept' exercise it was a success.
Of course this simple system isn't what I (and other people are looking for). A more robust system is next weekends task for me. I am planning to extend the scripts to support multiple DGT boards per Raspberry Pi, thereby reducing the cost per board of the system even further. I am also rewriting both the client and server code so that each client will send out broadcast packets across the subnet, enabling the server to locate and connect to any client, without either having to know fixed IP addresses. The main reason for this is that such a system should work without human intervention, apart from plugging in some cables. And obviously the server will support multiple clients, as the aim is to handle a large number of boards.
When I do get this part of the project working I will hopefully be able to make the scripts and specifications available to all. As for testing it in a real time tournament, the aim is for 2014 Vikings Weekender, in early November.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Poker and Chess

While Poker and Chess are obviously different games, there has been plenty of 'cross fertilization' in recent years. A number of strong chess players are also reasonably successful poker players, while a number of strong poker players were strong junior players before being lured away by the big bucks.
Normally players will play one of the other, but an upcoming event on the Isle of Man has found a novel way of combining the two.  There is the usual poker tournament with a 200 pound buy in, but the initial chip stacks will be determined by a blitz tournament. Each player starts with 8,000 in chips and picks up an extra 1,000 per win in the blitz (I assume draws will net 500 each). So players can start with anywhere between 8,000 and 13,000 chips to begin with.
Despite the initial advantage to the chess players, most pundits (chess or poker) concede the advantage will still lie with the poker pros. While big stacks tend to push around little stacks, this can all change in a single hand, which is where the poker experience comes in handy. Nonetheless and number of strong chess players (including Michael Adams) are giving it a go.
If you are in a position to travel to the event it begins on October 3, and further details can be found here.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Five from Five

I was going to talk about something other than the 2014 Sinquefield Cup, but it is almost unavoidable, given Fabiano Caruana's 5 from 5 start. With his win over Nakamura in this mornings round he has beaten half the worlds top 10 players in the last 5 days. After todays rest day, he then gets the opportunity to do it all again!
In terms of numbers (and by that I mean ratings), attempts to calculate a performance rating for Caruana do not work. However there are a couple of statistics worth noting. He started the tournament with a rating of 2801, and has already gained 25 rating points. Before round 1 he was neck and neck with Lev Aronian on the FIDE list, but is now 32 points ahead.
Dr Ken Regan has even calculated IPR's (Intrinsic performance Ratings) for the players, which is a measure based on matching moves against computer engine choices. Through the first 4 rounds Caruana had an IPR of 2935, ahead of Vachier-Lagrave with 2855 and Carlsen with 2835. Interestingly, the average for the tournament is 2785, which is close to the pre tournament rating of 2801. While there have been a couple of below-par games, the quality and accuracy of the games has been quite high. Another artefact of the 'computer' generation!