Tag Archives: Michael Sutton

Dave Southam wins the ACC Summer Love!

Susan Polgar asks, “What movie is this chess scene from?”

“Summer lovin’, had me a blast. Summer lovin’, happened so fast!”

Annex Chess Club – Summer Love Swiss Tournament

To celebrate the end of a fantastic summer in Toronto – and before the summer days drift away – we’re launching another CFC-rated club tournament on August 20 (the week after the last round of our Beach Blanket Swiss). As per usual, it’s a 5-round Swiss in 3 sections: Premier (>1900), Reserve A (1500-1900), and Reserve B (U1500). And as per usual, the Premier section is also FIDE-rated.

Complete results are on the table below.

“Tell me more, tell me more…”

Round Five – September 24

In the Premier section, Dave Southam, with the better tie-break, needed only a draw against rival Pavel Peev in the last round to secure first place. Dave did just that and finished first with 4.0/5. Congratulations, Dave!

Dave Southam

In the U1900 section, Arkadiy Ugodnikov, with a last-round win over Zaki Uddin, finished alone in first with 4.0/5. Congratulations, Arkadiy!

Arkadiy Ugodnikov

Finally, in the U1500 section, six-year-old Harmony Zhu, with a win against Shabnam Abbarin, took first place, finishing undefeated at 4.5/5. Harmony will be playing in the U1900 section next tournament. Way to go, Harmony!

Harmony Zhu, analysing her final-round game with her dad and her opponent

Next week, Monday October 1, we’ll be starting a new tournament, the Autumn Colours Swiss. The first round starts at 7:30 pm, but please arrive by 7:00 pm to register if you haven’t already.

Final Results

SwissSys Standings. Summer Love: Premier

# Name ID Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Total
1 David Southam 102535 2176 W8 W9 W13 D3 D2 4.0
2 Pavel Peev 122223 2209 W7 B— W3 H— D1 4.0
3 Wajdy Shebetah 148432 2132 W18 W6 L2 D1 W5 3.5
4 Daniel Wiebe 132137 2012 W5 H— H— U— W7 3.0
5 Hayk Oganesyan 152587 1827 L4 D8 W18 W12 L3 2.5
6 Rolando Renteria 152626 2249 H— L3 L8 W18 W16 2.5
7 David Cohen 100234 1812 L2 W18 L11 W17 L4 2.0
8 Zehn Nasir 148198 1878 L1 D5 W6 D14 U— 2.0
9 Geordie Derraugh 132393 2242 W15 L1 H— H— U— 2.0
10 Melissa Greeff 153598 2112 W19 H— H— U— U— 2.0
11 Morgon Mills 127517 2206 H— H— W7 U— U— 2.0
12 Adrian David Valencia 153521 1967 H— W15 U— L5 U— 1.5
13 Pepin Manalo 112277 1845 H— H— L1 U— D18 1.5
14 Alex T. Ferreira 127516 2051 H— H— U— D8 U— 1.5
15 Andrew Pastor 127521 1926 L9 L12 H— H— U— 1.0
16 Scott Cliff 137007 1989 H— H— U— U— L6 1.0
17 David Krupka 102648 1943 H— H— U— L7 U— 1.0
18 Daniel Zotkin 146857 1920 L3 L7 L5 L6 D13 0.5
19 Adie Todd 125156 1718 L10 U— U— U— U— 0.0

SwissSys Standings. Summer Love: U1900

# Name ID Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Total
1 Arkadiy Ugodnikov 146626 1679 D13 H— W11 W2 W4 4.0
2 Ulli Diemer 153538 1576 W4 W10 W3 L1 D5 3.5
3 Manuela Renteria 152627 1654 H— W13 L2 W7 W11 3.5
4 Mohammad Zaki Uddin 152024 1631 L2 W20 W15 W10 L1 3.0
5 Hooshang Ab-barin 152910 1669 L12 W19 D7 W8 D2 3.0
6 Josep Sobrepere 152976 1503 H— H— U— W14 W10 3.0
7 Jack Maguire 144604 1514 W8 L9 D5 L3 W19 2.5
8 Marcus Wilker 102713 1667 L7 H— W13 L5 W14 2.5
9 Adie Todd 125156 1726 B— W7 H— U— U— 2.5
10 Abdolreza Radpey 149018 1424 W19 L2 W14 L4 L6 2.0
11 Daniel Sirkovich 145096 1541 H— H— L1 B— L3 2.0
12 Chris Wehrfritz 151679 1660 W5 L16 H— H— U— 2.0
13 Kevin Gaffney 102701 1596 D1 L3 L8 W19 U— 1.5
14 Peter McNelly 106141 1645 H— H— L10 L6 L8 1.0
15 Nicholas O'Bumsawin 151261 1756 H— H— L4 U— U— 1.0
16 Ian Prittie 153588 1135 U— W12 U— U— U— 1.0
17 David Tolnai 126875 1571 W20 F— U— U— U— 1.0
18 George Supol 152286 1393 U— U— W19 U— U— 1.0
19 Bill Thornton 131181 1641 L10 L5 L18 L13 L7 0.0
20 Edmond Jodhi 150171 1679 L17 L4 U— U— U— 0.0

SwissSys Standings. Summer Love: U1500

# Name ID Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Total
1 Harmony Zhu 151635 948 D10 W16 W14 W9 W4 4.5
2 Ian Prittie 153588 1135 L9 B— W17 W11 W8 4.0
3 Kuhan Jeyapragasan 147906 1467 H— H— W10 W14 W5 4.0
4 Shabnam Abbarin 151181 1385 W22 W11 D9 W6 L1 3.5
5 Vinorth Vigneswaramoorthy 153938 1349 W18 L9 W15 W7 L3 3.0
6 George Supol 152286 1393 W7 L14 B— L4 W10 3.0
7 Jean-Marc David 151900 1203 L6 W12 W16 L5 W14 3.0
8 Alejandro Renteria 152628 1379 H— H— W19 W13 L2 3.0
9 Yanfeng Zhao 154318 unr. W2 W5 D4 L1 U— 2.5
10 James Mourgelas 108540 1393 D1 W15 L3 W19 L6 2.5
11 Marc Antonio Nunes 154427 1034 W19 L4 H— L2 W20 2.5
12 Enrique Rodriguez 154428 1433 L14 L7 W18 W15 D13 2.5
13 Nick Harding 154309 1234 H— W21 H— L8 D12 2.5
14 Christopher Field 108098 1244 W12 W6 L1 L3 L7 2.0
15 Raymond Lin 150193 960 X23 L10 L5 L12 D17 1.5
16 Milan Cvetkovic 150817 1286 H— L1 L7 W18 U— 1.5
17 Eli Teram 107314 1287 H— H— L2 U— D15 1.5
18 Dennis Li 153129 982 L5 L19 L12 L16 W21 1.0
19 Jeffrey Zhu unr. L11 W18 L8 L10 U— 1.0
20 Michael Vermont 151783 1474 H— H— U— U— L11 1.0
21 Stone Hu 153507 653 H— L13 U— U— L18 0.5
22 Brian Groat 153518 634 L4 H— U— U— U— 0.5
23 Lawrence Garcia 106367 1438 F15 U— U— U— U— 0.0

Round One – Aug 20

Almost forty players came out for the start of the tournament – including three masters and a WGM!

With just one round in the books, it’s too early to announce tournament leaders, but with so many mismatched games on opening night, there are, as usual, a few nice (or painful, depending on your perspective) upsets to announce. In the top section, there were no surprises: the favourites won every game. In the bottom section, there was one upset draw (Harmony Zhu against Jim Mourgelas). But in the middle section, every single winner was a rating underdog! Special congratulations to Abdolreza Radpey, Jack Maguire, and David Tolnai, whose opponents out-rated them by over 100 points!

Chess Lecture

Before the tournament started, players were treated to a chess lecture by Rhys Goldstein: “Safety Behind Enemy Lines,” 6:50 to 7:20 pm. If you missed the lecture, you can check Rhys’s lecture notes. (Even if you saw the lecture, you’ll enjoy the bonus material in the notes.)

It would be great to have chess lectures more regularly. You don’t have to be a master. If you have an interesting game to analyse, or an opening line to explain, or a few examples of a middle-game or endgame theme to share, or any other aspect of chess culture or history you’d like to delve into, let us know and we’ll find you a slot in the schedule.

A couple of games from Round 1

Featured games this week include father-and-son games in the same opening: Jack Maguire was victorious (finally!) in what must be his fourth essay of the Budapest Gambit against Marcus Wilker, while his son Zehn (in the top section) was not so lucky with 2…e5 and 3…Ng4 against David Southam.

Round Two – Aug 27

After two rounds of play, there is a three-way tie for the lead in the top section, as David Southam, Pavel Peev, Wajdy Shebetah all have two points. In the middle section, there are just two leaders: Ulli Diemer and Adie Todd, with two points apiece. And finally, in the bottom section, unrated Yanfeng Zhao is tied for the lead with Shabnam Abbarin and Chris Field.

Labour Day – Sept 3

We were closed Monday September 3, but a number of our players played in the Labour Day Open, September 1, 2, and 3 at Hart House. Results are now posted on the CFC site.

Round Three – Sept 10

After three rounds of play, David Southam is leading the Premier section, with three wins and a 3.0/3 record. Pavel Peev is tied for first with two wins and a full-point bye. The two are due to face off in Round 4.

In the middle section, Ulli Diemer is alone in first, perfect at 3.0/3. George Supol, who was re-paired to the middle section after his opponent didn’t show, debuted in fine style with an upset win over Bill Thornton.

In the bottom section, unrated Yanfeng Zhao is tearing it up with 2.5/3 after a draw with co-leader, Shabnam Abbarin. Young Harmony Zhu, with a Round-three win over Chris Field, is tied for the lead.

Finally, in the casual section, Yakos Spiliotopoulos was proud finally to win a game against Brian Fiedler, after years of unsuccessful attempts.

A couple of games from Round 3

Featured games this week include George Supol’s debut upset win in the middle section, and Dave Southam’s third win in the top section. Dave gave a great demonstration of how to go for the kill in a relatively level-looking position.

Round Four – Sept 17

Six-year-old Harmony Zhu is on a rampage. She entered the bottom section with a 948 rating, but mid-tournament she scored 5.0/6 (+4 =2 -0) in the Toronto Labour Day Open, so her rating is actually now sitting at 1330. She’s continuing her unbeaten streak in the ACC Summer Love, with a 3.5/4 score, winning her last game in only ten moves. Shabnam Abbarin, who also won her Round-4 game, is still tied for the lead with Harmony.

In the middle section, Arkadiy Ugodnikov beat previously undefeated Ulli Diemer, to catch him at 3.0/4. Zaki Uddin also won his Round-4 game, joining the two leaders in a three-way tie for first.

In the top section, Dave Southam ended his winning streak but held onto his lead with a draw against Wajdy Shebetah; Dave now has 3.5/4. Pavel Peev, with a bye, is tied for the lead at 3.5/4.

Chess Lecture

We started off the night with a lecture by Michael Sutton, “Chess 960: Is this the future of chess?” 6:50 to 7:20 pm.

Michael says he quit playing “Classic Chess” four years ago and never looked back. A self-confessed Chess-960 evangelist, Michael argues that 960 saves the game from the computers and gives it back to human players.

If you missed the lecture, check out Michael Sutton’s lecture notes, and the 960 demo game, below:

Round-4 Games

Here are a few games from Round 4, including two 10-move wins by Harmony Zhu and Hayk Oganesyan, and the Shebetah-Southam draw from board one.

Round Five – September 24

In the Premier section, Dave Southam, with the better tie-break, needed only a draw against rival Pavel Peev in the last round to secure first place. Dave did just that and finished first with 4.0/5. Congratulations, Dave!

In the U1900 section, Arkadiy Ugodnikov, with a last-round win over Zaki Uddin, finished alone in first with 4.0/5. Congratulations, Arkadiy!

Finally, in the U1500 section, six-year-old Harmony Zhu, with a win against Shabnam Abbarin, took first place, finishing undefeated at 4.5/5. Harmony will be playing in the U1900 section next tournament. Way to go, Harmony!

“Uh, well-a, well-a, well-a, uh!”

Summer Lovin’

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John sang “Summer Lovin'” in Grease (1978).

Chess 960

One of 960 possible starting positions

“On Chess 960, Classic, and Computing”

by Michael Sutton

Chess 960 is also known as Fischer Random Chess, after Robert James Fischer, its inventor. Bobby felt that chess was rapidly evolving towards over-analysis.

I remember in the early 1970s attending a Canadian Open with Lawrence Day, with his dark, dark hair. Back in those times, we had proper adjournments, sealed moves, and resumption with new time controls.

What happened? Turns out, over-analysis by chess programs, like Fritz, Shredder and so forth, turned adjournments into pointlessness. If the purists are so insistent that chess 960 is not “real chess”, why did we let computers rule the analysis of classic chess? When did that become acceptable?

I find it ironic that the solution we adopted to no adjournments was to use incremental clocks. This was another invention of Robert James Fischer. He was originally laughed at. I have often said that the only institution more radical than Chess is the Catholic Church. Change comes slowly, and grudgingly to our game.

But change we must if our game is to stay fresh, and remain as a true head-to-head test of human skill. Chess 960 is a great way to achieve that.

During the recent world championship, Vishwanathan Anand had a bank of six grandmasters. Veselin Topalov relied on a 128-node CPU for analyzing opening positions. It often seemed that the player to lose was the first one to go off book analysis. This to my mind is not chess.

Chess should be the best move over the board at the given time, a test of skills in evaluating subtle differences in positions. Not raw brute, ply hammering by multi-threaded algorithms.

Chess 960 itself does not lend itself easily to opening analysis, since the analysis of starting positional factors is usually too subtle to lend itself to simple algorithms.

Based on this, most computer programs rely on opening books. In classic chess, those opening books were developed by human players over hundreds of years of play. Take way that opening book, and the computers have a much harder time. So most classic chess programs are essentially cheating, since they are looking at a book but the human player is not.

I had a long talk with IM Zvonko Vranesic at the Canadian Open. He had been honoured for his historical contribution to chess in Canada. I had beaten him in a simultaneous at Hart House over 35 years ago, and it was a good opening gambit to talk about chess and computing. Zvonko decided on a career as a computer scientist at U of T, rather than push on to the GM Title. He did not regret that, since he was able to teach at the top level as a professor for many years. Many of the current techniques in computer chess algorithms came from his program at the U of T. However, he still feels that the brute-force ply analysis shown by most programs has not captured the true human reasoning process in chess. He agreed with my analysis of chess programs vs. human play. He lamented that chess programs are dominating, but that we are no closer to emulating human intelligence.

About the Game

First of all, the game is not as random as players think. You are only positioning five pieces randomly on the back rank, with two major constraints:
a) the two bishops always go on opposite colour squares
b) the king is always placed between the two rooks, since castling in chess 960 is allowed

I designed a special set of polyhedral dice (see attached .pdf) for the 2010 Canadian Open for placing the first five pieces, with the king and rooks taking up the last three open squares:
a) a white d4 (4-sided die) for placing the white-squared bishop
b) a grey d4 for placing the black-squared bishop
c) a red d6 for placing the first knight on open squares
d) a green d5 for placing the second knight on open squares
e) a gold d4 for placing the queen on open squares

These permutations generate 959 other positions outside classic chess, which in itself is a 960 position. So think of classic as a subset of 960. (It’s true!)

We successfully used the dice in Alexander Shabalov’s first 960 simultaneous. He went +10=3-0. He said he had never worked harder in a simultaneous, but also he said it was the most fun as a GM he had ever experienced.

There are chess clocks now that can compute 960 positions. However, as a bit of chess throwback I would rather roll the dice than have a microchip tell me where to go. It is a matter of taste I suppose.


Nothing changes in chess 960 from classic chess. All pieces move normally, things like en passant and pawn promotion work as usual. You rely less on opening traps, and more on sound development principles, i.e.,
a) pawn control of the central squares
b) king safety – i.e., castling
c) good open lines for major pieces
d) getting misplaced pieces to the centre of the board – i.e., knights out of the corners, bishops onto good diagonals

My experience is in some 960 positions you will get weak pawns and poorly placed pieces, but both players are working under the same constraints. Good opening moves to cover these weaknesses are important.

I find the game will strengthen your middle-game tactics, and usually you get satisfying middle-games with both players competiting tactically as equals. It takes a few games to stop hanging pawns and finding out which squares aren’t suddenly covered, but your mind rapidly adapts. I find playing 960 becomes quite addictive!

Most chess 960 games after 10-15 moves, will look like a classical chess position. You won’t be able to easily determine how the game originated.


A final note on castling, since it is the most misunderstood part of chess 960.

960 essentially reinforces the castling rules in the classic game; i.e.,
a) the king cannot castle while in check, through check or into check
b) the king cannot have moved prior to castling, nor the rook the king is castling with
c) the way between the king’s move, and the rook’s move must be clear, outside of the king and rook themselves
d) in some 960 castling positions, the king and rook may simply exchange places, only the rook may move, or only the king
e) if you castle either queenside O-O-O or kingside O-O the pieces must end up in the classic final position, i.e., Kc1-Rd1 or Kg1-Rf1

Final Thoughts

Enjoy the variant. It is getting better coverage in the chess world. Nakamura is the current World Champion; Svidler had a good run before that. I’m told Nakamura is undefeated in online play. The Championship has been played by top grandmasters since 2001.

It’s sad that Bobby gets recognition for his clocks, but not for 960, which I feel is his greater contribution to chess. No one should apologize for his later apparent madness and eccentricity. You need to look past that and see what gifts he gave to this great game of ours.

Don’t be afraid to ask me questions, or explain any of the rules of play or positioning. I’m glad to help any club member explore this great extension to chess.

This lecture was given by Michael Sutton on November 29, 2010 at the Annex Chess Club