Monday, November 26, 2007

Tribute to Ian Rogers in the Monthly Magazine

For those reading this in Australia - check out the latest copy of the Monthly magazine.

My wife, Leigh Sales, has written a tribute to Ian Rogers - Australia's highest rated chess player.

The retirement of Ian Rogers was a shock to many, but as Leigh's article explains - it was a decision he made with much regret.

If doctors say the game is killing you, how are you supposed to respond to that?

Farewell to Ian Rogers - a true champion!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Another prize-winning tournament

I haven't written a blog entry for a while, but I should add at least one final entry to complete the seven circles saga.

I won a tournament!

Yes, it's true. I won the U1200 division of the Gosford Open. Even if I had been competing the U1400 division I still would have won.

It's really clear to me now that tactics is all you really need to worry about up to about a 1500 rating.

I'm probably going to take a little break from tournament chess for a while, but it does feel good to go out on a high note.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Open tournaments stink

I hate open tournaments.

There. I said it. I've been keeping that little thought deep inside for way too long.

For someone with a low rating like me, the first four or five rounds are an utter waste of time. It's only by the final few rounds that I'm even playing people even remotely close to my strength.

In the USA, because they had more players, they were able to split the players up into groups: U1200, U1400, U1600 and so on. That way - in a seven round tournament you at least got to play seven people that were within 200 rating points of your rating.

The only consolation for me is that at least I'm getting the hang of pacing myself and saving my best games for the last few rounds where it really counts.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Hard work pays off

For all those who were dubious about the seven circles - doubt no longer.

In my last two tournaments, I finished 3rd in the Blayney U1200 division and 2nd in last weekend's Ryde-Eastwood U1400 division.

To make sure that my recent successes were due to tactics and not anything else - I purposely changed my normal openings. I switched from the French to the Sicilian and from the Queen's Gambit Accepted to the Kings Indian.

I can assure you, I know only five moves of each of my new openings - so the rest is purely down to tactical training and the confidence that comes from repeating common positions over and over again.

I've got at least two more tournaments between now and the end of the year - so I'll keep you posted on progress.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Final Round Blues

I've noticed a really worrying trend in the tournaments I've played this year:

I never win in the final round.

This year's tournament record for my final games looks something like this:
  • Jan - Lost in 19 moves

  • Feb - Lost in 60 moves

  • June - Draw in 48 moves

  • July - Lost in 30 moves

  • Sep - Lost in 26 moves

  • With the Swiss paring system, by the last round or two you should be playing people that are fairly close to your ability. To lose so many late round games has two effects:

    Firstly, it indicates I probably need to work on my endurance and ability to recover in between games. Given many of the games barely last 30 moves - my September last round game was decided by a tactic on move 9 - I probably need to make a special effort to continue to concentrate in the later rounds.

    Secondly, it's terrible for my rating. To lose to someone rated 2000 in round one is no big deal. (In fact, it's entirely to be expected.) But in the final rounds of a Swiss tournament, when your oppenent has a rating pretty close to your own, it is devastating.

    Any ideas on how to train for this situation?

    How do you stay alert during the final rounds of a long tournament? What are you tricks? Care to share any advice?

    Are there ways to improve your "staying power"? Perhaps a bit of chess viagra might be in order. ;)

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    You still have to play chess

    Thanks for the comment from Pale Morning Dun who read my post on the 8 ways to guarantee you finish the seven circles and also mentioned this vital piece of information:

    You have to play games!

    Very true. You can't make your rating go up unless you play rated games and win.

    I can definitely see the standard of my chess improving - far fewer games where I blunder a piece or a pawn. And the beauty part is, I'm actually winning and drawing against people that are 400+ points above me.

    Australian ratings only come out once every three months, but hopefully I'll get a chance to play in a bunch of rated games between now and the end of the year and see some fruit from my "labors of de la Maza".

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    Blayney Chess Open Results

    Last weekend I had a chance to play in the first ever Blayney Open.

    The air was thick with competition, with not only the chess players ready to do battle over the board, but the local rugby union grand final was also in full swing.

    For the record, the Blayney Rams defeated the Molong Magpies which sent the locals into a frenzy. The Blayney Bowling Club rapidly transformed from a quiet chess-playing venue to a rowdy pub scene. Jostling your way to the front of the bar was almost as difficult as swindling a win against the local players.

    There were thirteen unrated players in the tournament, which bodes well for NSWCA membership numbers. For many people, this competition marked their return to chess after many years "taking a break".

    Top seed Lee Jones took out the Premier Division with a perfect six round record. By my calculations, Gary Losh won the Major Division, with Helen Aylwin and Ramon Aich sharing the Minor Division first prize.

    Slavko Kojic was the highest scoring unrated player with an impressive score of four points from the six rounds.

    Brian Jones won the after-dinner blitz competition and gave these sage words of advice: "The secret is - try not to lose games otherwise it's too tough to make up the ground and win." Hmm - thanks for the tip. I'll keep that in mind. ;)

    I managed to sneak into 3rd place for my division, despite an error filled final round game against Helen Aylwin.

    Big thanks to Phil Bourke for organising the event!

    Hopefully I'll get an opportunity to play in Blayney next year too.