SO you’re a keen amateur player, but never played in an official tournament. You’re all dressed up and ready to go, but how do you get involved?
As with most things these days, head to the internet and do a Google search.
You’ll find a wealth of resources, including some that might surprise you.
A logical place to start is the Australian Chess Federation website at auschess.org.au. Here you’ll find links to the state websites and comprehensive player ratings, and you can sign up for the regular email newsletter. There’s also information about the “Grand Prix” series of local chess tournaments.
The state sites will link you to clubs in your area. There are lots in the big cities where players of all standards meet regularly for friendly competitions, and also some in the larger country towns.
Don’t have time for that? Perhaps you’d like to play online – and again, the choices are legion. Sites like chess.com or gameknot.com are probably the simplest, but if you don’t mind downloading and installing some software, the big chess “servers” like ICC host thousands of players at any tick of the day or night, including oodles of grandmasters.
If you prefer a slower pace, “correspondence chess” may be your thing, although it’s all done on the net rather than the post these days. Check out ccla.net.au.
And if you like tackling chess problems, Peter Wong’s site at ozproblems.com is outstanding. Not only does he present hundreds of challenging puzzles, but he explains the intricacies of this artform, which can be challenging for the uninitiated.
For chess news, two sites stand out: The Week In Chess, which also offers files of downloadable games from top tournaments, and Chessbase, which has well-illustrated reports from around the world.
Chess blogs are now also very common, and some of them are very good. The ACF has a list in its newsletter.
Another interesting resource on the web is chess programs. There are database programs (some of them free) that allow you to store and play through games (your own or others), or sharpen up your opening repertoire. And if you’re brave enough, you can also download a host of chess “engines” (programs) to play against. But a word of warning: they’ll beat you every time, and you may need some IT knowhow to install them in the first place.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Nb3 Bb6
6.Nc3 Nf6 7.Qe2 a5 8.e5 O-O!? (The fireworks start early, but the alternative 8...Ng8 was not attractive) 9.exf6 a4! (The point is that now if 10.Nd2 Re8 11.Nde4 d5 and black regains his piece) 10.Nd5 Re8 11.Be3 axb3 12.Qg4 g6
13.Bc4 Nb4!! (See diagram. Another bolt from the blue in a complex position) 14.Nxb4 d5 (The double attack on g4 and d5 ensures black again regains his piece) 15.Qf4 dxc4
16.O-O bxc2 17.Nd5!? Re6 (If 17...Qxd5 18.Qh6 and 19.Qg7) 18.Qxc4 Bxe3 19.fxe3 b5 20.Qc5 Bb7 21.Ne7+ Kh8 22.Qxc2 Raa6 23.Rac1 Rxf6 24.Rxf6 Rxf6 25.Qxc7 Qd2!? (Daring to the end. Black threatens mate in various ways, but it’s white’s move...) 26.Qb8+ Kg7 27.Qg8+ Kh6 28.Qf8+ Kh5 29.Rc5+ g5 30.Rxg5+!! Kxg5 31.Qg7+ Rg6 32.Qe5+ f5 33.h4+ Kh5 34.Qxf5+ Kh6 35.Qf8+ Kh5 36.
Qf5+ Kh6 37.Qf8+ Kh5 38.Qf5+ 1/2-1/2
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – Magnus Carlsen, Sinquefield Cup 2014, Saint Louis US
Today’s problem: Joseph Heydon, 1920. Mate in 2
Last week’s solution: 1.Qc8!, threatening 2.Rxb5. If 1...Nf6+ 2.Nexf6, or 1...d3 2.Nc3, or 1...Nb anywhere 2.Qd7.