28 March 2010

No Chess960 @ Doeberl

Chess960 was introduced at the 2009 Doeberl Cup -- 'Australia's Premier Grand Prix Chess Tournament' according to the event's home page -- but is missing from the list of events for 2010. What happened? After the cancellation at Mainz 2010 (see No Chess960 @ CCM10 for more), is this a double whammy? I contacted Shaun Press, the proprietor of the ace Australian blog Chessexpress and an arbiter at the 2009 chess960 tournament ('I was a little lenient on illegal castling'),
The tournament turned into a battle between two groups. In one corner were the Sydney chess960 experts, led by Blair Mandla, Neil Wright and George Xie. In the other were the group of Indian IM's who seemed not to have played it much before, but came to grips with it very quickly. At the halfway point it looked like the Sydney crew would take home the money, but the Indian's finished the stronger to capture the top 3 places. (2009 O2C Doeberl Cup - Chess 960)

and asked him, 'I believe that you had something to do with getting chess960 on the program for 2009 and I wondered if you have any comment on it being dropped.' He replied,

We have always had a traditional lightning (blitz) event at the Doeberl Cup, but unfortunately we didn't have space in the calendar for both lightning and chess960. So when we introduced chess960 we decided we were going to run it in alternate years with the lightning. So last year was chess960, this year will be lightning.

The 2009 chess960 event wasn't accepted in all quarters. Another popular Australian blogger, Amiel Rosario of The Closet Grandmaster, badmouthed the event at every opportunity he had:-

It's a pity that the decision -- (1) traditional chess at blitz vs. (2) chess960 -- is an either/or choice. In these early days of chess960 there are bound to be more players attached to traditional chess than to chess960, just like circa 1492, when chess saw its last major evolution with the introduction of new moves for the Queen and Bishop, there were bound to be more players attached to the slower medieval chess.

Maybe the 'closet grandmaster' should ask GM Levon Aronian, a real grandmaster, what he thinks about chess960 and why he plays it every year at Mainz. Will chess960 be seen at the Doeberl Cup in 2011? I'm sure the Australian blogs will let us all know. Don't you just love the chess blogosphere!

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