Wednesday, 21 August 2019

3 in a row! Winner of SCL August 19

Image result for August winner

Yes! Finally! It feels great to finally win a tournament month for Slow Chess League after more than a year of not winning.

My third round opponent was from Israel. The game started out French KIA which transposed to a French Tarrasch. It was near the start of the middle-game that my opponent lost a pawn which thankfully I was able to consolidate. Eventually a passed b pawn sowed the seeds of defeat for my opponent, who resisted admirably after the initial blunder.

Here is the game below. enjoy

Friday, 16 August 2019

One of my best games this year.

Heading into the 2nd round of August for Slow Chess League (or SCL for short), I was paired against my trainer and friend Indrek Reiland, who happens to be my trainer for the London System. The irony was that I was paired with the White pieces, so Indrek would literally be playing against his own lines. 

The game which transpired was super interesting for both of us and post mortem showed plenty of scope for improvements on both sides. Overall, the line still remains viable but Black has to play accurately not to get into the receiving end of a kingside attack, which was what happened in the game. 

I was most pleased with finding the plan of Bf4 g4 Qg5 h4-h5 but nearly could have spoilt the game late in the middlegame with 23.Nxg6?! 

Do enjoy the game dear readers! 

Sunday, 11 August 2019

My first gold medal on for blitz

Managed to secure an nice 1st placing over the long weekend in an online blitz tournament (Time control: 3|2) on Granted, the pool of competitors were generally much lower rated then my current rating , but it was nice just to play consistently and bagged the honors based on my seeding.

4 games were played in total and I really enjoyed my final round against my opponent from Ukraine. Attached is the game score with annotations from myself. Please enjoy.

A game that I liked (ChessBase 15)
[Event "Live Chess"] [Site ""] [Date "2019.08.10"] [Round "?"] [White "Matviei27"] [Black "dr_chessdad"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "1401"] [BlackElo "1897"] [Annotator "Liew,Mark"] [PlyCount "57"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:02:12"] [BlackClock "0:01:59"] {In the last round of the blitz 3|2, I needed a win to secure first place. Granted, my opponent was much lower rated but this is blitz and anything can happen.} 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 {French, Steinitz Variation. Highly topical at top level where White scores well in practice.} Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Be7 8. a3 O-O 9. Be2 f6 $1 {well timed. Theory puts this position as equal for both sides.. maybe a slight plus for White.} 10. exf6 Nxf6 11. dxc5 $6 Ng4 $1 {after this move White has problems.} 12. Bf2 ({Correct was} 12. Bg1 $1 {White has to sacrifice a pawn to stay in the game} Rxf4 13. Qd2 $1 Rf7 14. O-O-O {with an interesting game for both sides.}) (12. Qd2 $2 Nxe3 13. Qxe3 d4 {White loses a piece}) (12. Bd2 $2 Bxc5 {White is going to lose the exchange.}) 12... Nxf2 13. Kxf2 {White's king has lost the right to castle.} Rxf4 14. Qd2 Rf8 ({stronger was} 14... Bxc5+ 15. Kf1 Rf8) 15. b4 a5 $1 16. Rab1 $2 {loses tactically} axb4 17. axb4 Nxb4 $1 18. Rxb4 Bxc5+ 19. Rd4 e5 $1 { White can't save the rook} 20. Nxd5 $4 Qxd5 $1 {the rook can't move} 21. c4 Bxd4+ 22. Kf1 Ra1+ {Black pieces get fully active.} 23. Bd1 Rxf3+ $1 {Black crashes thru. It's just wave after wave of piece attacks after this.} 24. gxf3 Qxf3+ 25. Ke1 Qxh1+ $2 {still wins obviously but misses the mate in 3. Something I'm a little annoyed with} ({the quickest end} 25... Rxd1+ 26. Qxd1 Qf2#) 26. Ke2 Bg4+ {it's really beautiful how Black's pieces all coordinate together in the attack} 27. Kd3 Rxd1 {White's queen is lost.} 28. Qxd1 Qxd1+ 29. Ke4 {and my opponent resigned without waiting for 29.. Qf3#} 0-1

Saturday, 10 August 2019

A nice national day game

A game that I liked (ChessBase 15)
[Event "Live Chess"] [Site ""] [Date "2019.08.09"] [Round "?"] [White "kapi2008"] [Black "dr_chessdad"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C14"] [WhiteElo "1718"] [BlackElo "1820"] [Annotator "Liew,Mark"] [PlyCount "50"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:05:12"] [BlackClock "0:08:31"] { One of my finer attacking games in the french} 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e5 Nfd7 6. h4 $5 {The Alekheine Chatard attack} h6 7. Bxe7 Qxe7 8. f4 (8. Qg4 O-O 9. Rh3 (9. f4 c5 10. O-O-O cxd4 11. Nb5 Nc6 12. Nxd4 Nc5 (12... Rb8 13. Ngf3 Nc5 14. Bd3 Bd7 15. Kb1 f6 16. Bg6)) 9... f5 10. Qf4 a6) 8... a6 9. Nf3 c5 10. Qd2 Nc6 11. dxc5 (11. O-O-O $2 c4 $1 $15) 11... Nxc5 12. O-O-O b5 {Black doesn't waste any time begining a queenside pawnstorm} 13. Nd4 Nxd4 14. Qxd4 b4 $1 {probably overlooked by my opponent. This move allows Black to keep the initiative.} 15. Ne2 (15. Qxb4 Nd3+ {and White can resign}) 15... Rb8 $1 { supports the b pawn and more importantly stops any Bb5+ checks.} (15... a5) 16. f5 $5 {A very good practical move.} a5 (16... exf5 17. Nf4 {with crazy calculations} Be6 18. Nxd5 Bxd5 19. Qxd5 O-O 20. Qd6 Qa7 21. e6 fxe6 22. Bc4) 17. Nf4 a4 18. g3 $2 ({'Perfect computer" play goes something like} 18. Nh5 $1 Qc7 $1 19. Kb1 O-O 20. Rh3 ({White has this important resource as well} 20. Nxg7 $1 Kxg7 21. f6+ Kh8 22. Qe3 Kh7 23. Bd3+ Nxd3 24. Qxd3+ Kh8 25. Qd2 Kh7 $11) 20... Ne4 21. Bd3 Bb7) 18... b3 $1 19. Bh3 $4 (19. axb3 Qc7 $1 20. Kb1 ( 20. bxa4 $4 Nb3+) 20... axb3 21. cxb3 Nxb3 22. Qa4+ Bd7 23. Qa3 $1 {forcing Black to trade queens} Qc5 24. Qxc5 Nxc5 25. Rh2 {and it's still anybody's game. although perhaps I prefer Black in this instance.}) 19... bxa2 20. Kd2 Rb4 $1 (20... Ne4+ 21. Ke1 Rb4 22. Qd3 Qc5) 21. Qe3 (21. Qxb4 Ne4+ (21... Nb3+ $4 22. Kc3 {would be embarressing, to say the least.}) 22. Qxe4 dxe4 23. Ra1 exf5 24. Rxa2 Be6 25. Nxe6 Qxe6 26. Ra3 O-O) 21... Rxb2 22. fxe6 fxe6 $1 23. Ng6 Qa7 (23... Qc7 {was stronger.} 24. Ke1 Rb1) 24. Qa3 $4 {[%emt 0:00:04] allows mate in} (24. Ke2 Rxc2+ 25. Kf1 Qb6 26. Nxh8 Qb2 27. Kg1 a1=Q) 24... Ne4+ 25. Kc1 $4 {overlooking...} ({the alternative is not much better} 25. Ke2 Qf2+ 26. Kd3 Ba6+ 27. c4 Bxc4#) 25... Rb1# {Always nice to win in this manner.} 0-1

SCL is back! My first game in August

After a month long break, the slow chess league is back. I haven't won a single month in 2019 yet which is why I'm keen to try to win this month to qualify for the SCL championships in Jan 2020.

My first pairing was with a young Canadian player who was a strong tactician. Luckily for me, he was prone to impatience and got too optimistic at one point, allowing me to capitalize on his poor king safety and secure an all important first round victory.

Here is the game in full with annotations from me: A game that I liked (ChessBase 15)
[Event "Live Chess"] [Site ""] [Date "2019.08.08"] [Round "?"] [White "dr_chessdad"] [Black "happycuber"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D02"] [WhiteElo "1823"] [BlackElo "1788"] [Annotator "Liew,Mark"] [PlyCount "49"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] [TimeControl "2700+45"] { Before this game I was debating on whether i should play the London, the Colle Zukertort or even the Tromp. I eventually decided that the London would give me the best chance of scoring a win, based on what I saw in my opponent's previous games.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 d5 3. e3 Bf5 {as expected, London vs an early..Bf5} 4. Nf3 $6 {nowadays this is considered an inaccuracy.} (4. c4 e6 5. Qb3) (4. Bd3 {are the main lines.} Bxd3 (4... e6 5. Bxf5 exf5 6. Qd3 Qd7 7. Ne2) 5. cxd3 $5) 4... e6 5. c4 c5 $6 {I don't think highly of this move. Black is not ready to open up the position yet.} 6. Nc3 $2 (6. cxd5 {was best} exd5 {forced} (6... Nxd5 $2 7. Bxb8 $1 Qa5+ (7... Rxb8 8. Bb5+ {is just bad for Black}) 8. Qd2 Qxd2+ 9. Nbxd2 Rxb8 10. e4 $1) (6... Qxd5 $2 7. Bb5+ Nc6 8. Nc3 {White is better}) 7. Bb5+ (7. Qb3 Qc8 8. dxc5 Bxc5 9. Bb5+ Nc6 10. O-O {White has good play against the IQP}) 7... Nbd7 8. dxc5 a6 9. Bxd7+ Qxd7) 6... Nc6 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Nxd5 Qxd5 { a critical position. Black is very close to equalising and seizing the initative. I had a think over 10 mins} 9. Qa4 $1 {Apparently a novelty according to the database.pretty much the only move which retains the balance.} O-O-O $4 {my opponent gets too greedy.} ({Correct was} 9... cxd4 10. Bc4 Bb4+ 11. Qxb4 $1 Nxb4 12. Bxd5 Nxd5 13. Nxd4 Bg6 14. Bg3 $11 {Not the best outcome but at least White has reached an equal position}) 10. Bc4 {gaining a vital tempo back on development} Qd7 11. O-O $18 {White has everything now. Good development, king safety and the attack} Bd6 12. Bxd6 Qxd6 13. dxc5 Qxc5 { the c file is now open for business.} (13... Qc7 14. b4 $1) 14. Rac1 Qb6 15. Bb5 {[%csl Rc6] putting more pressure on the pinned piece.} Be4 $2 {trying to confuse matters.} (15... Kb8 16. Bxc6 Bd3 17. Rfd1 bxc6 18. Ne5 Bb5 19. Qg4 $18 ) 16. Ne5 {[%csl Gc6,Gf7] the knight on c6 is heavily attacked plus there's a threat of Nxf7 forking} Rhf8 17. Nxc6 {not the best but still winning nevertheless} (17. Bxc6 $1 bxc6 18. Nxc6 {is stronger then what happened in the game.}) 17... bxc6 18. Bxc6 Bd3 19. Rfd1 Kb8 20. Qf4+ (20. Rxd3 $1 Rxd3 21. Qf4+ Qc7 22. Qxc7+ Kxc7 23. Be4+ {is a cleaner approach}) 20... Kc8 $2 { Black practically admits defeat with this move. White gets a relentless attack down the c/d files.} (20... Qc7 21. Qxc7+ Kxc7 22. Be4+ {wins a piece}) 21. Be4+ Kd7 22. Rxd3+ Ke7 (22... Ke8 23. Rxd8+ Qxd8 24. Bc6+ Ke7 25. Ba4 $1 { [%csl Gd1][%cal Gc1d1,Gd1d7,Gf4d6] keeping the mating attack strong. Computer claims at least +18 for White here.}) 23. Rc7+ Ke8 24. Bc6+ Qxc6 25. Rxd8+ { and my opponent had enough} 1-0

Happy 34th National Day

An attempt to get a good family picture on National day.

Today is Singapore's 34th year of Independence. I just thought I will re-post my I wrote on my Facebook wall today.

For 36 years, this is my country, my home. It ain't perfect but no place on earth really is.
I'm grateful for the stability/security it gave me during my childhood years. Although the education system was/still is challenging, it did form the basis of a work ethnic which fostered a sense of self learning and discipline even in my adult years. Even now as a working adult and father of 2, I do feel by and large that the government is trying its best to help those who have the desire to help themselves. No one owes us a living and if recent world events are anything, they remind me that nations are looking out only for themselves at the end of the day.
There will be many challenges in the road ahead on all fronts, from an individual/family level and also as a country. At this point, I don't envy the leaders of Singapore, they have to deal with some really difficult and pressing issues in the short term. Those who just sit back and complain and not offer anything constructive should try to run a country themselves and see how they fare. I've always believe the easiest thing in the world is to criticise and not get down and dirty doing the actual bit.
In any case, life goes on. Keep calm and do the best we can, as we have always done. 👍 As a Nation, we have come so far already.
Okay, enough with the musing. Time to sit back and enjoy the fireworks. Majulah Singapura! 🥳

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

A long overdue post: 2018 in passing

Top Moments of 2018 (in no order of merit)

1. Seeing my 2nd son James taking his first steps (Now a walking screaming toddler, save me)
Image may contain: 1 person, sitting
Nothing can stop me now!

2.Launching my first online website (and learning how hard it is to start an online business) but a lot of lessons learnt from that.
You can see the website here.

3. Organizing the first QCD-LKA masters Grandmaster invitational event, and seeing 2 of our top local players score master-level nominations. See tournament website here. Even better, the Strait Times Newspaper covered our humble event as well.

4. Driving up to Genting with my family. It was fun driving up and down the mountains.
Cable Car!

5. First ever holiday trip with my extended family (Taiwan)

Mountains and Hills. Ah.. Fresh air.

6. The 2018 Bangkok Chess Open. My first chess tournament where I actually went with friends and had a blast. Good memories of fighting chess and encouraging one another.

Special thanks to my wife who has supported all my endeavors. May we have more crazy adventures together.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

An unexpected holiday in Penang.

Just Father and Son. Yay. No girls allowed!

A few weekends ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel with my firstborn to Penang to spend some quality time together.  I was joined by my sister/brother-in-law and my nephew/niece.

Needless to say, I had a fantastic time. I'll let the photos do the talking.

Travelling from the van to the hotel

Sleepy head. Guess he's not used to travelling that much yet.
We stayed at the Rasa Sayang Shangri-la Hotel. It's an old hotel (over 30 years old!) but recently renovated. The exterior building looks a little dated but the rooms were comfortable and equipped with modern fittings. Most important, the environment was quiet and relaxing.

just exploring around 

These old trees covered much of the surroundings. They give you a strange feeling of peace when you stare upon them for a while. 

The hotel's main cafe, where most of our meals came from.

Being a single parent with a toddler was a new experience, and I'm glad to report that both of us soon adapted to a new schedule rather quickly.  With 3 toddlers in total in tow, our activities mainly centred around the beach, the swimming pool and the adventure playground in the adjacent hotel. 

Check out that awesome slide!

Probably the best highlight of the trip was the meal at David Brown on top of Penang hill. 

David Brown. One of Penang's Best Restaurants
That is a rather large dessert. 
Penang Hill

Check out that lamb. Yummy!
"I say boys, this is a rather large cannon."

The view from Penang Hill at night. 

Bottom line: I really enjoyed my time with John and hope to have another opportunity similar to this soon.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

They Grow Up So Fast...

My amazing wife and 2 kids

About 2 weeks ago I celebrated my son's 4th birthday. Time certainly flies. It feels like just only yesterday that I was holding him in my arms as a small little newborn.

And life was never the same again. Feed me Daddy.

I took a trip down chess memory lane and found a game dedicated to him just before he was born in one of my older blog posts. I've decided to post it here again just for keepsake. Who knows? One day he might see this post and laugh at how bad his Dad was at chess.

So fast forward 2 years later and now James was born. And again, I look back at my archives and found a wonderful Tromposky game that I had played a few days right before I was born. And as it turns out, it was a pretty good game too. I'm still impressed by it.

Hey there little fellow! Thanks for joining me.

Who knows? Maybe one day they will grow up to like chess like I do and we can play some good games together. In any case, I'm happy to keep the memories of these games and my times spent with them.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Round 3 of SCL Feb: the heroic light squared bishop

I was pretty happy with my performance in this round but man, the colle zukertort remains a tough nut to crack as Black.

Fun fact: about 2 months ago I played against the same opponent (with the same colours, same opening) and back then,  it was also my light squared bishop who saved the day.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

The most exciting Slow Chess League I have ever played.

A bit late, but here's to the first post of 2019.

A couple of days ago, I played in round 3 of the SCL 2018 championships. At 1.5/2 points, I had very little margin of error and needed to win in order to keep 1st place alive. The previous year's winner won with a score of 4.5/5.

I had previously clashed with my opponent last year once and had suffered a crushing loss as Black in the Ragozin. I knew his style to be a very solid player, hence his choice of playing 1.d4, Carokann and Nimzo Type defence structures. At first, I was toying with the idea of playing the Caro-Kann/Fantasy Variation just to get something out of the opening, but it turns out that I had no time to prepare properly for that  (it was my Wife's 33rd Birthday and we were in JB the entire weekend).  In the end, I turned to the Tromp which was the correct choice.  The game was well fought by both players hungry for victory but alas, I missed multiple attempts to win especially in the ensuing rook endgame. Nevertheless, I have learnt much from this game and look forward to my next SCL match.