London Chess Conference


Participants from more than 50 countries are expected for the 2019 London Chess Conference, coming up November 30-December 1. There is still time to register. The day after the conference ends, the London Chess Classic begins. The London Chess Classic features some of the best chess players in the world, headlined by the current World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen.

Chess and Female Empowerment

This is the seventh year for the annual London Chess Conference. While maintaining its traditional emphasis on chess and education, the 2019 conference has a theme of “Chess and Female Empowerment.” This year’s conference “examines the involvement of women and girls in chess and presents insights into how to improve the gender balance. The conference will be of interest to women chess players, organisers and educators.” Find out more by watching this preview video and by visiting the conference’s website. To buy tickets for the London Chess Classic, which follows the conference, go to this website.

The London Chess Conference provides an amazing opportunity to interact with over 100 experts on chess and education. But if you can’t attend in person, there are still opportunities to learn. Presentations will become available on the conference’s website after the conference ends. During the conference, organizers will stream a few select sessions such as a Round Table on Inclusion and Equal Opportunities.

More Bishop-and-Knight Checkmates

As I admitted in this article, when I was a teenager I failed to checkmate with bishop, knight, and king against a lone king. Therefore, I probably notice this checkmate more often than other people do. If, like me, you need to practice that checkmate, review the article which provides instruction.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s top player, Grandmaster Kamil Dragun, knows the bishop-and-knight checkmate. When Poland defeated Russia at the 2018 Chess Olympiad (Batumi, Georgia), Dragun won as Black against Grandmaster Dmitry Jakovenko. To conclude that game before checkmate, Dragun’s moves convinced his opponent that Dragun knew how checkmate with a bishop and a knight against a lone king. When Dragun played 68…Be6, demonstrating the mating pattern, Jakovenko resigned.

[pgn][Event “Chess Olympiad”]
[Site “Batumi GEO”]
[Date “2018.09.27”]
[EventDate “2018.09.24”]
[Round “4.9”]
[Result “0-1”]
[White “Dmitry Jakovenko”]
[Black “Kamil Dragun”]
[ECO “C02”]
[WhiteElo “2747”]
[BlackElo “2568”]
[PlyCount “136”]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. dxc5 e6 5. Nf3 Bxc5 6. a3 Ne7 7. Bd3 Ng6 8. O-O
O-O 9. Re1 Nd7 10. c3 a5 11. Qc2 b6 12. h4 Nxh4 13. Bxh7+ Kh8 14. Ng5 g6 15. Qd1
Nxe5 16. Rxe5 Qf6 17. Qe1 Kg7 18. b4 axb4 19. Bb2 bxa3 20. Nxa3 Nf5 21. c4 Bxa3
22. Bxa3 Rxa3 23. Rxa3 Qxg5 24. Bxg6 fxg6 25. cxd5 exd5 26. Rxd5 Qf6 27. Rc3 Be6
28. Rb5 Bf7 29. Qe5 Qxe5 30. Rxe5 Re8 31. Rxe8 Bxe8 32. Rc8 Kf7 33. f4 b5 34.
Kf2 Bd7 35. Rb8 Ke7 36. Ke2 Kd6 37. Kd3 Kc5 38. Rd8 Be6 39. g4 Nd6 40. f5 gxf5
41. gxf5 Bxf5+ 42. Kc3 b4+ 43. Kb2 Be6 44. Rh8 Nc4+ 45. Kc2 Nb6 46. Rb8 Bd5 47.
Kb2 Na4+ 48. Kc2 Kc4 49. Rc8+ Nc5 50. Kb2 Be6 51. Rc7 Kd4 52. Kc2 Bb3+ 53. Kb2
Bd5 54. Ra7 Nd3+ 55. Kb1 Kc3 56. Rc7+ Bc4 57. Rc8 b3 58. Rc7 Ne5 59. Rc8 Nf3 60.
Rb8 Nd4 61. Rxb3+ Bxb3 {[#]} 62. Ka1 Nc2+ 63. Kb1 Bc4 64. Kc1 Ba2 65. Kd1 Nd4 66. Ke1
Kd3 67. Kf2 Ne2 68. Kf3 Be6 0-1[/pgn]

On July 20, 2019, the Saint Louis Chess Club live-streamed Veronika Zilajeva, as White, playing with a bishop, knight, and king against Rachael Li’s lone king. Watching that video, one can imagine the pressure Zilajeva felt to complete the checkmate. Spectators at the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship (and the concurrent U.S. Senior Championship and U.S. Junior Championship) and online viewers followed her moves. For example, this YouTube video, which included parts of the Zilajeva-Li game, has 8,895 views. And this last-round game determined if Zilajeva or Li finished last in the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship.

Zilajeva-Li (Zilajeva with back to camera)
Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, photo by Crystal Fuller
Zilajeva-Li (Zilajeva with back to camera)
Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, photo by Crystal Fuller

According to Commentator and WGM Tatev Abrahamyan, Zilajeva’s opponent, nine-year-old Rachael Li, displayed “restless” behavior perhaps not unexpected from a child. Several times during the ending, Li stood behind and close to Zilajeva while Zilajeva’s clock was running. As Commentator and Grandmaster Robert Hess said, “It is a bit frustrating to have someone over your shoulder.”

Zilajeva completed the checkmate with just a couple moves and a few minutes on her clock to spare, as the “50 move rule” applied. For games when one is facing a lone king, one has 50 moves after the last pawn move or capture to checkmate or the game is declared a draw. In the Zilajeva-Li game, the last capture was on White’s 83rd move, and Zilajeva won on move 131. With this win, Zilajeva finished in ninth place, and Li finished in tenth place, in the 10-player round robin 2019 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship.

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on

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