Canberra Times, May 20
The internet-friendly status of chess was graphically illustrated last weekend when a Canberra team took part in a tournament organised by a chess fan in Iceland; an event which featured teams from Sweden and the Netherlands as well as Australia and Iceland.
In years past, Australian teams have competed with overseas opponents via telex and telephone - even becoming World Telechess Champion in 1991 - but these events were time-consuming, subject to frustrating transmission delays.
In 2001 a player can complete a 'bullet' game on the internet in little more than four minutes while the rest of the world logs on, making comments if they wish.
Internet chess is currently an activity for recreation rather than serious competition as there is no way to prevent a player from taking advice from a computer or friends.
Nonetheless, internet events are becoming more lucrative and both the world body FIDE and their rival BGN are considering enabling players to qualify for their respective World Championships through the internet.
While most players are honourable, the temptation to cheat in such a qualifier would be considerable.
One strong International Master recently admitted that, had he qualified for the semi-finals of a recent internet tournament, he would have placed another IM friend in front of his computer to complete the tournament while he went off to play an important local club match!
Last week's international contest was not intended as a test of strength or national honour - only one of the competitors, Soest's 14-year-old Daniel Stellwagen, is a world class player - but it gave a chance for 10 Canberra players to gain a taste of international competition while staying close to home.
With Stellwagen scoring 3/3 on top board, Soest comfortably won the contest with Canberra's precocious pre-teen Michael Wei also starring with an undefeated 2/3.
The guiding spirit behind the match, Iceland's Johann Ragnarsson now plans to expand his sights by organising a junior match featuring extra teams from Spain and Malta.
This will be part of a programme designed to mould the Gardabaer team into a genuine sporting team, using training techniques taken from the sporting world, especially activities designed to build team spirit. (Soccer and handball are the primary models.)
Ragnarsson's plans are being watched with interest by other clubs; if he can harness the individualism which is intrinsic to chess and turn his second division Icelandic team, currently in the second division in Icelandic, into a chess power, many teams could be interested in following Gardabaer's example.
Gudmundar Arasonar Internet Challenge
1. Soest (Ned) 12/18; 2. Gardabaer(Isd) 10.5; 3. Lask(Swe) 8; 4. Canberra 5.5.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 Bd6
Only slightly less ugly than it looks; 5...d6 is more reliable.
6.e4 Bc7 7.f4 d6 8.Nf3 0-0 9.Bd3 a6 10.a4 Re8 11.0-0 Nbd7?!
If Black wishes to hold up the e5 advance he should exchange the f3 knight via 11...Bg4.
12.Kh1 Rb8 13.Re1 Nf8 14.h3 Ng6 15.e5! dxe5 16.Bxg6 hxg6 17.fxe5 Nh5 18.d6 Ba5 19.g4?
(Diagram) Extremely tempting, but Black's position would be dreadful after the simple 19.Kh2.
19...Qd7! 20.Qc2 b5!
Black cannot save his h5 knight but his pressure on the a8-h1 diagonal will provide excellent compensation.
21.axb5 Bxc3 22.Qxc3 Rxb5 23.gxh5?
Cracking under the pressure.
24.Kg1 Qg3+ 25.Kf1 Bh3+ 26.Ke2 Bg4 is a slower death.
24...Bb7+ 25.Kg1 Qg2 0-1
The SSS Chess Show (103.9 FM) has moved time-slot to 9.30pm on Sunday nights.