It would seem churlish not to congratulate Magnus Carlsen for his victory in the World Blitz Championship that has just finished in Moscow but rather like Tiger Woods in his prime or Liverpool currently, one wonders who can ever beat him in the big tournaments? Sure, he’s lost a few but how many has he won and how many more will he win? On the way to his latest triumph, however, he did have a stroke of fortune in his game with the latest chess wunderkind, Alireza Firouzja (pictured). Firouzja was a grandmaster at 14 and earlier this year became the second youngest player (after our good friend, Wei Yi) to achieve a rating above 2700. He won the Iran Chess Championship aged twelve but in a dramatic twist last week, he announced he would no longer play under the Iranian flag as Iran issued a ban on its players competing against Israelis in competitions. (In light of recent events, is it possible that the USA might be added to the list?). Consequently, Firouzja now plays as a FIDE licensed competitor. Anyway, in his game with Carlsen, the following position was reached with Firouzja (White) to play.
Ha! Piece of cake, you’re thinking. Even my cat could beat Magnus in this position. The problem was that while Carlsen had 19 seconds left on his clock – an age in blitz terms – Firouzja had only three. How did the arbiter get involved? Well, in his haste to move his king to g4, Firouzja knocked it over and in the time it took for him to stand it up, his flag fell. So, you want to be an arbiter, sort this out. Does Black win because White’s flag fell or is it a draw as Black does not have mating material? If you think Black wins, sign up for the next arbiter’s training course now because as you probably know, FIDE rule 6.9 states that “…the game is drawn, if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the player’s king by any possible series of legal moves.” The point here is that the player whose time has run out always loses unless his opponent has no possibility of giving mate, however remote that may be. The regulations make no mention anywhere of “having enough material to give mate” and as Chess 24 reports in its detailed account of this subject, “the false rumour of being able to draw based on the remaining material alone is widespread, and partly fuelled by the different conventions of internet chess.” And for those of you disbelievers who can’t envisage a position where Black could win in this particular game with just a bishop against a bishop and three pawns, click here to see the whole article.
Congratulations to Alan Atkinson (centre left) of Bridge Chess Club and former Chairman of the Thanet and East Kent Chess League on his appointment as the new ECF Manager of Arbiters. We all know what arbiters do and how indebted we are to them for their assistance but your correspondent is unsure whether this is a newly created position or, indeed, what the job entails. At a guess, it suggests that he will be the organiser of arbiter meetings, training and conferences. There is nothing on the ECF site about his role other than the announcement although there is an ECF Arbiters Course advertised which may or may not be within Alan’s sphere as manager. There is also an item headed ‘Opportunities for Arbiters’ which can be found here which does carry his name. This is, however, aimed at existing arbiters. What if you fancy having a go at being an arbiter yourself? I think we need to contact Alan and find out. Watch this space.
Ian, Reg, John and Andy
And so 2019 draws to an end with the traditional club Christmas Dinner. No-one seems to be certain when it was first decided to hold a dinner but it is generally thought to be around 1994. It can’t be any earlier because John Couzens and Paul Carfrae are the only ones to have attended every dinner – a feat in itself – and Paul joined the club in 1994.
Tradition features regularly when it comes to the dinner. It is almost always held at the Tartar Frigate although there were two occasions when we ventured elsewhere which was a question in yet another tradition, the Christmas quiz. The routine is also a time-honoured tradition: we meet in the Charles Dickens from 7.00 then wander down to the Frigate at about 7.45 to sit down at 8.00. Michael Jenkinson normally produces a fiendishly difficult quiz – this year was no exception – and he usually produces a bottle of wine for the winner which is very generous of him. Your correspondent supplied a chess-themed quiz based on Broadstairs Chess Club, its members and achievements in 2019. Unsurprisingly, some of the answers to the questions were players at the dinner, many failing to recognise their own achievements. Not content with two quizzes, Manoj Natarajan thought up further chess quiz during the dinner and produced another bottle of wine for the winner so many thanks to both him and Michael.
Arnaud, Michael J and Bob C
The dinner is also a time to reflect on the successes of the past year of which there have been many and a chance to remember friends no longer with us whose contributions and good company we don’t forget. Shany Rezvany was celebrating with us last year and he made his mark in his short time at the club which we hope to acknowledge formally with a new trophy in 2020. There was an opportunity during the evening to remember all absent friends in addition to Shany, some fairly recently departed (Peter Timlett and John Cutting) and also others from further back such as Alek Zielinski and George Stiggers.
The club’s success in recent years has meant that it has been able to subsidise the dinner which is a way of giving something back to those who have themselves contributed to the club’s fortunes. 2019 has been another good year for Broadstairs Chess Club and here’s to 2020. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!
Broadstairs have won the 2019/20 Thanet & East Kent League team rapidplay tournament held at Margate on Tuesday December 10th. We won all of our four matches, beating Bridge by scores of 3½ – ½ and 3½ – ½ and beating Margate by scores of 3½ – ½ and 4 – 0. Trefor Owens on top board beat Peter McGill (Margate) twice and fought two interesting draws with Alan Atkinson (Bridge). David Faldon (board 2), Manoj Natarajan (board 3) and Paul Carfrae (board 4) scored eleven wins and one draw between them. The only blot on the landscape came when Colin Gregory of Margate gave me a real pasting in one of their games, finishing the game with king, queen and five pawns against bare king. Unfortunately Colin’s 15 minutes ran out at that point, which meant the game was a draw. Bridge beat Margate twice in the other matches, so they finished second. Many thanks to Margate for providing the venue, and for all the tea and biscuits.
(Full details can be found on the LMS under ‘Latest Results’. Click here. – Ed)
Here’s a rarity – yes, folks, you heard it here first – a blunder by Magnus Carlsen. It was played in the Grand Tour Chess Finals in London this afternoon (Sunday) in the 3rd/4th play-off between Carlsen and Lev Aronian. Admittedly, it was a rapidplay game but Carlsen had five minutes left on his clock when this position arose after he (Black) had played 33…Nc4.
At this point Stockfish had the game as equal (-0.45). White then decided to exchange his rook for Black’s knight and Stockfish immediately gave Black as winning (-4.82). The game continued like this:
34. Rxc4 Qxc4
35. Qa8+ Kf7
36. Qf8+ Kg6
Is this the blunder, you are thinking? But no, it was played by Aronian. So, what’s the blunder? Did Carlsen not take it? Yes, he did – this is how the game continued:
38. Qe8+ Kh6
At this point we reach the following position:
This is like one of Danny King’s ‘How Good is Your Chess?’ questions. What would you play in this position? Incredibly, Stockfish gives three very contrasting scores depending on your choice. The best move for Black is 39…..Kh5 (-14.46) whereas after 39….Kg5 (0.00) White can force a draw with 40. Be7+ Kh5 41. Qf7+ Kh6 42. Qe6+. If Carlsen was wary of this, it doesn’t explain why he didn’t play 39…Kh5 because instead of either of these he chose to play 39….g6?? Hands up if you would have done the same?! But after 40. Bf8+ Kh5 41. Qe7 Black resigned. And so, in one move Black has gone from a winning position of -14.46 to facing mate in 12! After the game the commentators said that Aronian was walking around grinning like the Cheshire Cat. He knew he had swindled Carlsen and he must have played 37. Rc1 as a last throw of the dice (he had less than two and a half minutes left at this point) in the hope that Carlsen would make the fatal move.
The advantage of being an average woodpusher is that that as a result of personal experience, you know a blunder when you see one. And this, my friends, whether you are a world champion or not, was a blunder.