Antarctic Chess Championship

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    It’s started! The Antarctic Chess Championship, organized by the French base Dumont d’Urville. Good on ya’, D’Udes!

    The players are:

    Bird Island (UK)
    Amundsen-Scott (USA)
    Dumont d’Urville (France)
    Belgrano 2 (Argentina)
    Halley (UK)
    Esperanza (Argentina)
    Rothera (UK)
    Palmer (USA)
    Casey (Australia)

    Notably absent: Russia, McMurdo, Scott Base (NZ), Germany, and any Asian country. The organizers tried to get asia or Russia playing too but did not receive any responses. The problem may be limited email access, although that doesn’t explain missing McMurdo and Scott Base. Oh well, we would have just clobbered them anyway (although I would expect the Russians to kick everybody’s a$$). 😉

    Palmer is represented by yours truly, and I’m playing two games at once: black against Belgrano2 and white against Casey. It goes at a slow pace, about one move per day.

    John at Casey appears to be a casual, in-it-for-the-fun sort of player, although we’ve just started so he may have some surprises in store for me.

    Roberto at Belgrano2 is an enigma. His English isn’t too good and my Spanish is even worse, so I’ve been translating everything with Altavista Babelfish and being careful about the bizarre way this translator tool likes to mangle meaning.

    Roberto started the game with the Réti opening, interesting but somewhat daring I think. Hypermodern openings like the Réti use a kind of wing attack that I’ve never been fond of; I prefer a full frontal assualt like Ruy Lopez with only minor sniping from the sides. But he quickly deviated from the standard opening (at least, the only one I’m familiar with) and has ventured into uncharted chess territory. At this point I’m confused: he’s either fumbling around, or I’m about to get a serious spanking.

    Stay tuned chess fans! More exciting action to come…


    I hope you’ll be posting the moves.


    Hi Mirage! The Palmer/Casey game so far:

    Palmer (white)……Casey (black)

    pawn E2-E4……knight G8-F6
    knight B1-C3….pawn E7-E5
    bishop F1-C4….pawn H7-H5
    knight G1-F3….queen D8-E7 (!)
    pawn D2-D3…..queen E7-C5

    Yeah, I was caught offguard by the queen action, and having it squatting near the center power squares is especially irritating. Bringing your queen out too soon is termed early queen development (EQD), and in tournament play is generally a no-no. In speed chess and fast-paced street games it can be very handy, psyching-out your opponent to make some quick scores, but in a methodical match it’s usually a bad idea. Your queen is a high value target, and easily chased all over the board by your opponent — causing you to lose time while they develop their pieces. It’s so anathema to my style that I didn’t even consider that he would do it. All these years and I’m still learning…

    This position looks simple but it was very vexing, primarily because it annoys me to make purely defensive moves without attacking. I think John, my opponent, was fishing for a quick queen-knight checkmate. I may be enjoying a pleasant mid-winter stupor at the moment, but I’m not about to let that happen. The problem is that most of my easy attacks to chase it away will cause other weaknesses, and if he’s good he’ll exploit them. Maybe I’m reading too much into it? Then again, maybe he’s toying with me…

    And here’s where we went with it:

    pawn H2-H3……knight B8-C6
    pawn A2-A3……

    What I’m doing is pretty obvious at this point, *if* it succeeds. But I’m not going to reveal my strategy here because I think John has internet access and might just be reading this. 🙂

    A picture of the board as it stands:


    Yo! This is where the action is. The moves so far:

    Belgrano (white)……..Palmer (black)

    knight g1-f3…….pawn d7-d5
    pawn b2-b3…….knight g8-f6
    pawn d2-d4…….bishop c8-f5
    pawn c2-c4……..pawn e7-e6
    bishop c1-f4……knight b8-c6
    knight b1-c3……bishop f8-b4
    rook a1-c1 ! …..knight f6-e4
    bishop f4-d2…..

    At this point I have Roberto boxed-in fairly well, in full retreat. I haven’t seen such a compacted board in a long time. For a while I considered castling or some other kind of pawn-pushing defensive move, but I’d lose the initiative. And if I were in his position I’d grab any chance to break out, probably with knight takes knight (c3xe4).

    Should I go easy on my international colleague? Back off and reflect that narrowly-focused greed has been my downfall many times past? Nah, my instincts are to press the attack and go for the jugular. Bring out the broadswords boys!

    ……………………..bishop b4-a3
    rook c1-a1 (?)….bishop a3-b2

    His rook is living on borrowed time. Maybe other pieces too. If you’re going to pull a killer rabbit out of a hat, Roberto, now is the time. One way or another, there’s going to be a bloodbath…


    Go for it Glenn,
    They asked for players during the last all hands meeting, but there were no takers. I think winfly is around the corner and everyone is feeling the end of the season closing in.


    I see you don’t have much competition down there, Glenn. You should win both games easily.


    Hi Mike. Wow, 200 people and no takers? Yeah, must be winfly syndrome. I do wish they had started this a bit earlier, at the pace of these games it might take a month or two to complete each one. But then most of the players are probably going to be on the Ice into December or later.



    Yeah with the first plane in 4 weeks. Everybody is focused on getting the runway going. We’ve started packing as well. I can’t see getting too involved in anything long term at this point. Knock out the competition for the rest of us.

    It’s definitely getting a glow on the horizon in the afternoon. I’m guessing another week and we’ll be calling it dawn.


    @mirage wrote:

    I see you don’t have much competition down there, Glenn. You should win both games easily.

    Thanks… I’m doing okay, if I don’t make some totally boneheaded move. Can’t wait to play the French — I like to think they’ll give me a whuppin’. Strange to say, but if I’m playing good it’s fun to play against someone even better. Sharpens the ol’ neurons…


    So I’ve had Belgrano on the run, although they’re not far behind. Still, Roberto says that until now three of them (!) have been playing me but now it’s the whole station. Yow!


    Hey Glenn, how are the games going. Any more moves yet?


    Yeah, Belgrano ended up winning. They [mysteriously?] got a whole lot better when the entire station started playing. I’m trying to be a good sport about that. 😐

    I just finished the game with Casey too — I won that one. John’s quite an interesting guy, we had a wonderful conversation and exchange of photos while the game was going on.

    These games take waaaaay too long, and too much mental energy. I’ve got to bow out of the tourament because my replacement will soon be here and we’ll be up to our necks in turnover tasks. I’d be willing to do a quick game or two over HF radio maybe.



    Good Grief, Glenn!! I don’t see how you could possibly have lost that game against Belgrano. Could you post the moves that were made after the ones you already posted? I’d really like to see how the game ended. Thanks.

    Baghdad Jim

    A rare and seriously long distance game…one man against an entire station, unbeknownst…hmm..dunno what to think of that.

    oh well. guess the turn-over is getting geared up all over the ice.


    Yep… I’m not sure what to think either.

    And very insightful of you: yeah, the turnover is beginning everywhere. I’m swamped and haven’t had a chance to post the rest of the moves.

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