Wednesday, April 29, 2015

City of Belfast Championship

Here are my games from the City of Belfast Championship. It was not my best tournament ever, to say the least, but I managed to win it with some luck.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My game against GM Keene

This is the game I played against Raymond Keene on the Bangor simul. I decided it was a good opportunity to test my new weapon, the Benoni...

GM Keene with the winners

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Updated tournament schedule

I published a blog entry back in February about my tournament schedule for 2015. Since then reality has kicked in and I had to delete the following tournaments from my list:

Malahide Open
2-4 May

I did not realize that this was a 3-day tournament. I usually work on bank holidays, so I should take another day off for May what I can't do.

Galway Congress
2-4 October

There is that weird new system the organizers are going to implement. So far there is no news that they have changed their mind, so the Congress is out.

Drogheda Chess Congress
30 May - June 1

This one would be OK, but it is the only Irish tournament left on my list - meaning that I should pay the 35 Euro membership fee for only one tournament. It is not worth the money, so Drogheda is also out.

Teplice Open
13-21 June


Pardubice Open
24 July - 1 August

I could not find proper cheap flights for these, so each one would cost about 800 pounds for me and my wife. Too expensive. Teplice and Pardubice out.

After that, not much was left on my list. Only the local tournaments: Belfast City, the Ulster Championship, and the Ulster Masters...

So I obivously had to compensate the losses. After some search, I found this hidden little gem:

A Bulgarian open tournament, with an A group for players with 2300 rating and above. For 10 Euro extra I can play in the A group, where my opponent's rating average would be at least 2350. On the 2014 starting list, I would be only the 25th from 33 players. :O

Starting Rank List 2014

SNo. Name IRtg FED Birth age Fide-No.
1 IM Bernadskiy Vitaliy 2559 UKR 1994/10/17 19 14100371
2 GM Vajda Levente 2556 ROU 1981/00/00 33 1203975
3 GM Drenchev Petar 2527 BUL 1977/04/25 37 2903261
4 GM Nikolov Momchil 2506 BUL 1985/00/00 29 2905710
5 GM Petrov Marijan 2488 BUL 1975/09/14 38 2901773
6 GM Vasilev Milen 2486 BUL 1978/06/06 36 2903628
7 IM Swayams Mishra 2484 IND 1992/08/13 22 5028183
8 IM Zhou Yang-Fan 2464 ENG 1994/09/08 19 468584
9 IM Dimitrov Radoslav 2463 BUL 1993/03/27 21 2908549
10 GM Georgiev Krum 2443 BUL 1958/05/24 56 2900092
11 IM Kurayan Ruslan 2414 UKR 1993/08/28 21 14120615
12 IM Stets Dmitry 2414 UKR 1971/03/24 43 14104547
13 IM Cioara Andrei-Nestor 2396 ROU 1971/06/27 43 1203509
14 IM Enchev Ivajlo 2380 BUL 1989/09/05 25 2907712
15 IM Nikolov Sasho 2362 BUL 1958/09/01 56 2900297
16 IM Solovjov Sergey I. 2352 RUS 1974/12/13 39 4122780
17 Sidhant Mohapatra 2341 IND 1998/09/03 16 5028698
18 WGM Michna Marta F 2337 GER 1978/01/30 36 1106686
19 IM Dimitrov Pavel 2331 BUL 1991/12/02 22 2907470
20 FM Badev Kiril 2322 BUL 1973/03/04 41 2901986
21 Naboka Sergey 2302 UKR 1993/10/21 20 14123452
22 FM Popovic Aleksandar M 2300 SRB 1967/02/03 47 927422
23 FM Tonkov Boyan 2294 BUL 1971/03/04 43 2900491
24 FM Michna Christian 2278 GER 1972/00/00 42 4625293
25 Gorbanovsky Oleg 2227 MDA 1997/12/03 16 13903829
26 Stoinev Metodi 2226 BUL 1959/05/01 55 2901404
27 Yurtseven Melih 2208 TUR 1996/02/16 18 6312160
28 GM Spiridonov Nikola 2207 BUL 1938/00/00 76 2900238
29 WFM Folkova Martina F 2203 CZE 1973/01/01 41 304271
30 Monev Alexander 2144 BUL 1996/04/10 18 2910322
31 Kastner Oldrich 2043 CZE 1961/12/09 52 307971
32 Agranovskiy Semen 0 BUL 1946/10/06 67 0

This one will be my only strong tournament this year. I have already registered, booked the flight and the hotel, and looking forward to it. There is a nice beach close the hotel, the country is cheap (the hotel costs only 32 Euros/night with breakfast for two persons!), and we have never been to Bulgaria before. It looks like a promising chess vacation. And, who knows, with a little luck and a lot of hard work I manage to get my first IM norm... (Or, alternatively, with a lot of luck and a little hard work. :D )

I don't really mind the other tournaments after all. They would have cost a lot of money and all the travelling would have been very exhausting. A bit less playing and more studying will be better. Quality over quantity, as they say. This year I have learnt where and how to look for tournaments (once again, thanks for GM Gyula Pap for all his advice), so next year I will do the organizing much better.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My second blindfold game

This time it`s a draw, so I am still leading with 1.5-0.5 :)

During the last ten moves I wrongly believed that there was a pawn on f3, so 31. Bg4+ was quite a surprise.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Blindfold chess online

Wow, I have been looking for this for a long time, and now I have found it: a site where you can play blindfold chess!

You only need to tick the checkbox called "blindfold chess" and the board will become empty. The moves played will be displayed as text but the empty board is still used as the interface for making moves.

If the engine is too strong you can give it less time to think to make it weaker; you need to change that "Milliseconds per move" field. By default it is 3000, what is definitely too strong. 100 milliseconds appears to be a good level for blindfold chess, at this level the computer is quite beatable, as the game below shows:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Galway Chess Congress 2015 - a strange idea

I just published my tournament schedule one week ago, but it already seems that there is an issue with one of my tournaments. It is the Galway Congress, and the issue is the new structure the organisers are considering, as it is explained under the link:

They write the followings:

We are thinking of changing the format of the tournament by adopting an exciting new structure. This is in response to feedback last year from a few people who thought that being required to play in sections was too rigid, particularly if they were near the top of a section.

Last year we got a fair number of requests to ‘float up’ by players who were well below the appropriate rating floor; when these were refused, some did not enter. It also appeared from a discussion on a blog that there were other players who did not consider entering because the ratings bands did not suit them. Being generous to those who want to float up is not the answer, because we then get complaints when players have to play opponents below the rating floor. (At one congress last year, someone in the over-1600 tournament ended up with 5 opponents out of 6 who were under-1600; he complained and said he wouldn’t be playing again – he paid his money to play in an over-1600 tournament, he said, and was upset not to get one. He had a point.)
Most people welcome the opportunity to play people stronger than themselves, and that possibility is not there for those who are stuck at the top of a section: for instance, last year one had to go down to the tenth seed in the Major, and ninth in the Minor, before getting to somebody who had played anybody higher rated than they were. It seems that sections based on ratings bands are rather rigid, and are not giving some possible entrants what they would like. So we have wondered whether we should consider adopting a system of what could be called “porous”, rather than rigid, rating bands. This would allow people to float up automatically by winning their games. We have constructed a way of doing that, which is essentially a system of accelerated pairings; the technical details are below. We have also done a hypothetical test run to check how it might work; the cross-table of that is below.

The details
In essence, this is a system of accelerated pairing in one large section. The field is divided into four sections. (It can be any number; four is just a suggestion, and there may be something to be said for having six sections.)
In round one, everybody plays somebody in their section, as at present. In round two, the winners in the top section play other winners in that section, as at present; so do players who draw. But the losers in the top section play the winners in the second section; the losers in the second section play the winners in the third section, and so on. The losers in the bottom section play against each other.
This system carries on like that, with players who continue to win against opponents in a higher section continuing to float up to get higher-rated opponents, in rounds 3 and 4. Then, in rounds 5 and 6, players revert to playing in their sections, so that a section winner is obtained. That would allow the excitement of having a winner in the lower sections determined by a head-to-head game, rather than by results against others, as currently with grading prizes."

I find the idea rather strange. First of all, if I understood right, this would be a brand new tournament structure - so why test it immediately on their biggest tournament?! Wouldn't it be wiser to run a few blitz/rapid tournaments with it and apply it on the big one only after that? If the new system turns out to be wrong, it can damage the reputation of the Galway Congress for years.

Second, the simulation run by the organisers is unrealistic, as they created a list of imaginary players with exactly 10 rating points difference between them - but this is a best case scenario that never occurs in practice. It is much more common to have 100-200 rating points gaps on the cross table, and exactly that causes problems.

For example, my rating is about 2250 now. If I check this simulation, I find 21(!) persons in the 2150-2350 rating range. Do you think I would ever complain under such circumstances that I can't get the right opponents?

But if we check the 2014 Galway Congress cross table, how many players are there with 2150-2350 rating? Only two... :(

These are entirely different situations, entirely different tournaments - so why don't they run a simulation with a realistic starting list? Why don't they just use the starting list from the 2014 Congress?

But that would be all fine. My biggest concern is really the idea of changing the whole tournament to please a few complainers, while hurting the interest of the others. "Most people welcome the opportunity to play people stronger than themselves" - very true, but what about those strong opponents? Will they also welcome the opportunity to play against significantly weaker players who just floated up from a lower section? What is the point for them? Their disastrous rating average or the unchallenging games they get?

The whole idea is really a "squeaky wheel gets the grease" scheme. Some people complain and walk away, the organisers feel pity for that and are ready to change everything to statisfy the complainers, even if it is bad for the silent majority. I really hope that they will drop the idea, as it is quite weird, in my opinion.

For those people who "are stuck at the top of a section" and complain bitterly to tournament organisers year after year, I have a revolutionary idea: instead of trying to change the world around them, how about changing themselves, i.e. pumping up their rating? There are two simple ways to do that:

- Working a bit on their game
- Playing a few tournaments abroad in countries where ratings are higher, e.g. Germany, the Czech Republic, etc.

And bingo, problem solved. Just following the example of Muhamad...

"Mahomet cald the Hill to come to him. And when the Hill stood still, he was neuer a whit abashed, but said; If the Hill will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet wil go to the Hill."

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

My tournament schedule for 2015

After some consideration I have figured out my tournament schedule for 2015.

Here it goes:

Belfast City
11-12 April
6 games

Malahide Open
2-4 May
6 games

Drogheda Chess Congress
30 May - June 1
6 games

Teplice Open
13-21 June
9 games

Pardubice Open
24 July - 1 August
9 games

Ulster Championship
22-24 August
6 games

Galway Congress
2-4 October
6 games

Many thanks to my friend, GM Gyula Pap who called my attention to the tournaments in the Czech Republic - they appear to be strong and reasonably cheap indeed. If everything goes after plan, I will play both on the Pardubice Open and the Teplice Open.

I don't even remember when was the last time I played on a proper one-game-a-day tournament, so I'm really looking forward to participate on these. They are quite holiday-consuming, though, and as I'm going to spend two weeks in Hungary with my family, I won't have time for other big events abroad. That's why the rest are Irish/Northern Irish weekenders.

48 games altogether, at least 20 against strong opponents. Not bad. We will see if it makes my chess any better...

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