Bangkok Chess Club
Continuing with our theme of animals and chess, this month’s topic is Elephant Chess. Where can one find both chess enthusiasts and Elephants? Why Thailand, of course! After we stumbled across this picture, we did some research and learned that the Bangkok Chess Club has been around for a number of years. They recently held the 14th annual Bangkok open which attracted 149 participants and 13 Grandmasters from around the world. This year’s champion was Francisco Vallejo Pons, a semi-retired Grandmaster who achieved a score of 7.5 points in the nine-round tournament. Pons “retired” from competitive chess back in 2012, but has participated in a number of events since then. In fact, the most recent FIDE ratings list has him ranked at #51 in the world (15 spots ahead of Judit Polgar who is ranked #66). There is a nice write-up on the tournament and the champion at chess.com (article link). The Bangkok Chess Club website has not been updated since April of this year, but provides information on how to participate in club events. Surprisingly, the club doesn’t seem to have their own playing location. The website indicates that they play on Tuesday evenings at the Roadhouse Barbecue and on Friday evenings at the Queen Victoria Pub. The club has over 200 active players and does not charge a membership fee, although you can get some bonus points by buying pints at the pub!
While we are on the subject of Elephants, we were surprised to learn that there is actually an Elephant Gambit in chess theory.
- e4 e5
- Nf3 d5
The objective is to immediately strike back in the center, develop quickly, and gain the initiative. A look at the 2012 Big Database of 5 million games from ChessBase reveals close to 2,000 games featuring this gambit, many of them as recently as 2011.
What become readily apparent is that this opening leads to very sharp lines. But, if white navigates through the tricky tactics, he can come out on top. A quick look at 73 recent games shows an advantage for white of 33 wins, 23 losses, and 17 draws.
Some interesting continuations were …
3. de Bd6 (soon followed by an aggressive f5 by black) OR
3. de e4 4. Qe2 f5 OR
3. Ne5 Bd6 4. d4 de 5. Nc3 Be5 (where black forces an exchange of queens and takes away white’s right to castle).
This isn’t a recommended gambit, but it is tricky and something that can throw off an unsuspecting opponent. So, beware of the Elephant on the chess table, or you might get squashed!