Coffee Break Chess
GM Alexander Baburin's online newsletter
I hope that over this holiday you will have time to look at chess and that this issue of CBC will help you in this regard. There have been many interesting events and developments in chess since early November, when the previous CBC appeared. Here I would like to share my opinion on some of them. This issue is quite long, but then again - this is a holiday!
I played in Turkey (on board 1 for Ireland) and can say with some authority that the Olympiad was a great success. The hosts made lots of efforts to organise the event at the highest level possible and they succeeded in most areas. Accommodation and food were pretty good, transportation was excellent and the playing hall was quite adequate (It was nice to see all teams playing in the same place). The opening and closing ceremonies were nice too. There were some technical problems with electronic boards in the beginning, but things settled quickly and those boards allowed wonderful coverage of the event on the Internet.
The organising side did not make a secret of the fact that hosting Chess Olympiad was a promotional event for them, as Turkey hopes to host the Olympic Games in 2008. It is good that chess got access to some sponsorship this way. But I guess that now we should start looking for another country which is in the same position: nobody seems to be interested in chess as a sport in its own right. :-( Maybe Slovenia, where the next chess Olympiad will be staged in two years time, is different - it is a country with a long chess tradition.
The Olympiad and its results are history now. Russia won in the men's event, although at some point their prospects were shaky, as Hungary and Germany were doing really well. In Russia's team, Khalifman seemed to be out of form, but other players backed him up. The tournament was a great success for Germany, which was not among the favourites. Yet, that proved that team spirit counts for a lot at Olympiads. Arthur Yusupov and Rustem Dautov were the main heroes on the German team. In the women's event, China dominated the field and it seems that Georgia and Russia will have a hard time competing with the Chinese in the near future.
The Irish men's team did well, as we finished above our seeding. I scored +4-2=5 against 2532-opposition, which was OK (2597 performance, while my present rating is 2590). I played horribly against Ehlvest and was rather unfortunate in the game vs. Al-Modiahki, but other than that I can't complain, as I beat Alexey Fedorov (2648) and Zdenko Kozul (2616) with Black. The social side of the Olympiad was nice too, as I met many of my old friends. I liked Istanbul very much - it is a very dynamic city that has a lot to offer. I hope to return there as a tourist one day. If you would like to read more about the Olympiad, please have a look at my Istanbul Diary as www.gmsquare.com - there you will see my impressions of the event and some chess stuff too. In Istanbul I was very busy not least because I started my own chess newspaper, which brings us to the next topic:
Chess Today - the first daily chess newspaper on the Net
This is my latest project and I devote a lot of time to it. The idea is very simple - instead of searching the Web for chess news for hours, why not receive them delivered to your mailbox? Chess Today comes with attachments in PDF, PGN and Chess Base formats. Thanks to PDF format (Acrobat Reader is available for free at www.adobe.com) readers can see and print chess fonts and diagrams even if they do not have them on their PCs. Chess Today provides daily news, interviews and lessons. Each issue usually has 3 pages and features news from around the world and one annotated game. Sometime it offers puzzles too. On weekends CT usually has some instructional materials. The newspaper is particularly useful for those players who want to make progress in chess.
Many GMs receive CT and enjoy it, but our main readers are chess fans. And
they appreciate the value of the newspaper too - as one of our readers put
it: "I like CT very much - just the right size for my 25 minutes morning
or evening train ride." To read more about Chess Today, please visit our
Web site - www.chesstoday.net. There you can find a FAQ section, read what
our readers say about CT, view samples and see how to subscribe. You can
also read a review of Chess Today by FM Richard Palliser at
Subscription is not free - it is £14 (Irish punts) or about US$15 for 4 months, but this works out as just 4 cents per page. OK, we all know that people like free stuff on the Net, but you actually pay for everything - at least with your time. There is a lot of chess on the Web, so why not save time by subscribing to Chess Today? This is both safe (you leave your credit card details on a secure server, then it's e-mailed to me encrypted) and easy (takes only 3-4 minutes). You register with your e-mail at www.egroups.com - a reputable host of mailing lists.
Those, who subscribe before 31st of December, will automatically enter our New Year Lottery with a chance to win one of four prizes. The first prize is a wooden chess set & board (worth over $130). The second prize is a 'Gambit' chess clock (worth about $60) - see its picture on the left. The third prize is a chess book - there will be a choice of 3 titles, including Winning Pawn Structures. The fourth prize is a chess screensaver. To tempt you more, today I will send you one issue of Chess Today, so you can see what you've been missing! :-)
Producing a daily chess newspaper requires a lot of work, but I don't do it alone. GM Ruslan Scherbakov and IM Vladimir Barsky are helping me with the content, while Graham Brown edits the newspaper. As we have already produced 49 issues, it's fair to say that we have passed the technical test. Again, you are welcome to visit our site - www.chesstoday.net. If you like what you see, please let your chess friends know about Chess Today - with more subscribers the price will go down, while we will be able to get guest writers. Famous theoretician GM Igor Zaitsev already agreed to cover developments of the opening theory and we expect his articles to appear in CT early next year.
After I came back from Istanbul, I did not stay in Dublin for long. First I went to play in the annual Kilkenny Open. This year it was staged in the medieval Kilkenny Castle. Young GM Luke McShane won the top section with 5 out of 6. I tied for 2nd with GM Eduard Rozentalis (Lithuania), IM Mark Heidenfeld (Ireland) and IM Robert Bellin (England) on 4½ points. I was happy with my play, but the pairing was a bit tough for me - I played 2 GMs (L. McShane and E. Rozentalis, 2 IMs - John Shaw and M. Heidenfeld and a strong Russian FM Yuri Rochev). Not what one would expect from a weekender! :-)
As usually, the tournament was superbly organised and well run, making it very enjoyable for the 200+ players who attended the tournament. Presence of the Honorary President of the Kilkenny Chess Club - former World Champion Boris Spassky, made it even more memorable.
And shortly after the Kilkenny Open it was time for me to travel again - this time to India.
I went to India as a second of Alexander Morozevich. It is not easy to explain what second's duties really are ... I thought it was sipping coffee (brandy?!), sitting by the pool, while players were fighting. :-) As usual, the reality was less glamorous - seconding was actually a lot of work. I had to look at many games of Alexander's opponents, find weaknesses in their opening preparation and suggest a strategy for the match, which mainly involved choosing between different opening lines. And of course, I did not forget how, according to somebody (I think it was Geller), Koblents worked with Tal. His method involved repeating the phrase "Misha, you are a genius!" :-) So, I also tried to make sure that Alexander felt happy. It was interesting to work with him and I hope that he was satisfied with our work, despite his defeat in round 4. There were quite a few seconds in India: GM Ubilava (with Anand), GMs Magem and Rychagov (with Shirov), GM Huzman (with Gelfand). Obviously, they played a role in Shirov's and Anand's qualification to the final.
Morozevich started the event from round two. His opponent was GM Milos of Brazil - a very solid player, who did very well in the FIDE World Cup in China in September. There Alexander lost to him, while later in Istanbul they drew. In India Morozevich played well in both games and beat Milos 2-0. In the second game he declined a draw in a position, which was not all that clear - thus showing a lot of confidence.
In round 3 Alexander defeated GM Evgeny Vladimirov 1½-½. In game one Vladimirov (Black), who eliminated GM Almasi in round 2, reacted rather poorly to the system 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Bd3. In game two Vladimirov deviated from his usual 1.d4 and opened with 1.c4. Black got the better out of the opening and was winning at some stage, but then made a mistake and things got messy. It's possible that White was winning at some stage, but in mutual time trouble (which almost gave the second a heart attack!) Morozevich played better and missed a clear win only on move 40. Still, a draw was good enough to advance to round 4.
The first game against Tkachiev was nerve-racking. After 1.e4 Vladislav chose 1...d5 and repeated his game against Palac (2000), which he lost. Obviously he believed in Black's position and indeed I was worried that Alexander might be crushed in the opening. Yet, Tkachiev did not use all his chances and got into trouble. Alas, then Alexander missed a win. Finally the game was agreed a draw in a very sharp position, where both players were short of time. Game 2 of that match Alexander played badly, as shortly after the opening he failed to find a correct plan. He got into very passive position, which does not suit his style. Trying to break out, he sacrificed a pawn, but his compensation was never enough. So, just one game and we had to pack our bags ... This is a problem with such short matches and nobody was safe in New Delhi from making one bad slip and leaving the tournament.
I stayed in Delhi for a while waiting for my flight and so I could see the quarterfinals. 17-year old Alexander Grischuk of Moscow was the biggest discovery of the Championship. You can find an interview with him at www.qmsquare.com - look under 'Interviews'. There you can also read interviews with GM Ruslan Ponomariov and WGM Victoria Cmilyte.
Anand won the title very convincing, as he played well throughout the whole tournament. He was the only player undefeated in the whole tournament. It will be very interesting to see how Anand, Kramnik and Kasparov do in the Corus tournament in January. There in Wijk aan Zee nine top players (14 participants all together) will meet in a closed tournament. I hope to be there too, so I will keep you posted.
The FIDE World Championship in India was well organised, despite some minor technical problems (lights went off in the hotel quite a few times, but the organisers could not control this.). Although there were not many spectators, the Championship got a lot of press in India and perhaps chess will get a boost in that country, particularly as Anand emerged the winner. From round 3 monitors were installed in the playing hall, while live Internet coverage on wcc2000.fide.com was also good. GM Valery Salov interviewed many players during the tournament and those interesting interviews appeared in the bulletins.
While FIDE must be pleased with the FIDE World championship, the future of our game remains uncertain. FIDE Commerce seems to be getting what it wants, but where is their program for promoting chess as a mainstream sport? There were talks about some big potential sponsors, but why are they hiding?!
Meanwhile I was surprised to see some banners at www.fide.com. They asked whether I liked chess. My answer was swift: "Yes!". The next question was whether I wanted to be a millionaire. My answer was ever quicker this time - "Yes!!". Then I was invited to participate in a lottery, which will not only help chess tremendously, but would also give me a chance to win $1,000,000. I should have kept this information secret, but being such a nice guy, I will share it with you. :-) Just go to www.fide.com/sponsorship and you will have a chance of winning a million too! The info on the site says that the lottery will close on the 31st of December 2000 and that each lottery will have $10,000,000 distributed in prizes. That looks like a lot of dough to me! Alas, it did not say what would happen if there only 2-3 entrants, each donating $4 ... Maybe Santa Claus will be making up the difference? :-)
Anyway, call me a cynic, but I don't see how this can work - instead of approaching big companies, FIDE Commerce is organising a lottery among chess fans. Why doesn't FIFA do the same?! Obviously, those top guys in the International Football Federation are just plain stupid!:-)
And then we have a new time control and a new system for the FIDE World championship proposed. Both should be widely discussed with chess professionals if, as FIDE says, we are one big family. But FIDE does not seem to think so ... This is only confirmed in the rumours that FIDE will not rate the match in London. Incredible!
Finally, that $3m, which Kirsan Ilyumzhinov (sorry that I omitted 'His Excellence') put into the Championship, did not make much of an impact on the image of chess in the world. It was good for 100 players or so this year, but nobody seems to ask one unpleasant question - what will happen to FIDE, if Ilyumzhinov leaves chess? Is it healthy for an international organisation to be relying on donations form just one individual? By the way, Ilyumzhinov said that staging the final in Tehran will help create business (something to do with oil) in Iran. Don't get confused here - it's not FIDE who has that oil business. More likely it's one of Kirsan's companies. So, his contribution to chess is not that altruistic after all - he has effectively privatised a big international organisation for the kind of money which could not buy anything remotely similar in any other sport. Good business!
Meanwhile the company, which organised the Kasparov-Kramnik match - Brain Games plc (www.braingames.net) is rather silent on their future plans. Of course, chess fans would love to see a match between Kramnik and Anand, but even such a match won't solve all the problems. Chess really needs a more democratic leadership and commercial sponsorship, only then will its future be secure.
New chess sites emerge all the time and here I would like to share with you some of my recent findings. I would like to start with my own site - Grandmaster Square - www.gmsquare.com. There more games were added to Alexander Morozevich's site. Also annotated games of Lev Psakhis have appeared. Add to that interviews with Ponomariov, Grischuk and Cmilyte, my Istanbul and Indian diaries and you will see that this site can keep you busy for while. A chess shop will open at the site very soon - in the next 3-4 days.
Recently Nicholas Ravené Lanier from Porugal started his own web site called Al Shatrandj, which you can find at www.al-shatrandj.com. It is an ambitious project, as the site offers its content in Spanish, Portuguese, English, German and French.
I would also like to mention a new Israeli site called 'Chessy' (www.chesslove.h1.ru). This quite informative site is run by IM Valery Tsaturian and GM Emil Sutovsky. The site is both in Russian and English (see www.chesslove.h1.ru/eng/index.html).
A few days ago a bought a book 'Chess on the Web' by Sarah Hurst, Richard Palliser and Graham Brown. It is a very useful guide to chess on the Internet and I would recommend it to everyone, particularly to chess web masters, as there is a wealth of information, practical hints and interviews with well-know chess web masters, such as Mark Crowther of the TWIC (www.chesscenter.com/twic/twic.html) and Hanon Russell of the Chess Café (www.chesscafe.com).
Here I would like to show one of my games played in Turkey. It features an interesting opening, tense middle-game and a curious ending. Both my opponent and I made mistakes, but hopefully you can learn from them, while simultaneously observing how chess professionals think.
Kozul,Z (2616) - Baburin,A (2590)
play the game online
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 a6 4.e3 e6 5.Bxc4 c5 6.0-0 Nf6 7.Bb3 b5 During my preparation I noticed that GM Kozul loves positions with the isolated d-pawn and thus I decided to deviate from 7...cxd4 8.exd4 Nc6. But objectively 7...b5 is not good. 8.a4 b4 9.a5!
When I saw that move, I instantly disliked my position - White vacates the a4-square for his bishop and also takes control over the b6-square, which could be important after Nb1-d2-c4. [9.e4! is also dangerous for Black, but this is a different story.] 9...Nc6?! I did not want to allow Nf3-e5 and Ba4, but delaying the development of the kingside is very risky. Perhaps, the best try was 9...Be7, for example 10.Ba4+ Nbd7 11.Ne5 Qc7. Still, I believe that White is better there. [9...Bb7 10.Ne5 Nbd7 11.Ba4 Qc7 12.e4 Bxe4 13.Bg5 with dangerous attack, as in the game Bets-Maly, Kharkov 2000.] 10.Nbd2 cxd4? 11.Ba4 [Here I feared 11.Nc4! for example: 11...Bb7 12.exd4 and White's bishop could be useful on b3, for instance after Nc4-b6 and d4-d5!.] 11...Bb7 12.Nc4 Qc7 [After 12...dxe3?! 13.Bxe3 White would have terrific compensation for a pawn.] 13.Nb6 Perhaps White committs himself to concrete play too early. [After 13.exd4 White would have more options open.] 13...Rd8 14.exd4 Bc5! 15.Be3? [Better was 15.Qc2 although after 15...Bxb6 16.axb6 Qxb6 17.Be3 (or 17.Ne5 Rc8 18.Be3 b3) 17...b3 18.Bxb3 Nd5 Black is OK.] 15...0-0 16.Qc2 Bxb6 17.axb6 Qd6 18.Rfc1 Ne7
Now White has problems with the b6-pawn. Besides, his pieces are rather misplaced. 19.Qc7? Bxf3 20.gxf3 Nfd5 21.Qc5 Qxb6 22.Bb3 Qb7 23.Bg5 Rc8 24.Qa5 Nf5 [24...Nc6? 25.Bxd5] 25.Bxd5 exd5 26.Rxc8 Rxc8 27.Qxa6 Qxa6 28.Rxa6
The resulting ending is winning for Black, who has a much better minor piece. The main danger to avoid was losing the b4-pawn, as then Black's knight won't be such a useful piece fighting against White's b-pawn. 28...Nxd4? I felt that there was something wrong with this move, but played it rather quickly anyway. It was a case of "Let's take a pawn now and think later!", which is a completely faulty way of thinking. [Almost immediately after I took on d4 I saw that 28...h6! would be much better. From f5 the knight can also jump to h4, creating some mating threats. Now Black's rook is free to operate as he no longer has backrank problems. 29.Bd2 Rc2!? (is also very good for Black: 29...Nh4!? 30.Kf1 Rc2 31.Bxb4 Rxb2 32.Bc5 Nxf3; 29...Rc4!?) 30.Bxb4 Rxb2 31.Bc5 Nh4 32.h3 Nxf3+ 33.Kg2 Ng5 34.Rd6 Ne4 35.Rxd5 Rxf2+ 36.Kg1 Rc2-+ It is much easier for Black to deal with the d-pawn than with the b-pawn (as in the game).] 29.Kg2 h6 30.Bd2 Rc6 31.Ra8+ Kh7 32.Bxb4 Rg6+ 33.Kf1 Nxf3 34.Bc5 Nxh2+ 35.Ke2 Re6+ 36.Kd3 Ng4
37.Rd8 [Here both players were short of time. I much more feared the immediate advance of White's passer - 37.b4! Then I was going to play 37...Re4!? 38.b5 Ne5+ 39.Kd2 Rc4] 37...h5! Psychologically it was very pleasant to play this in a time trouble - now Black's pawn is also running. 38.Rxd5 Kg6 39.Bd4 h4 40.f3 Nf6 [Being short of time it was hard to choose between the text and the line 40...Nh2 41.f4 f5 42.Rd7 Nf3 43.Rxg7+ Kh5 I finally decided to hold on to my small material advantage.] 41.Ra5 h3 42.Ra1 Nd5 [Better was 42...Nh5! The point is that after 43.Be3 Black has 43...h2! and 44.Rh1 fails to 44...Ng3 45.Rxh2 Rxe3+ 46.Kxe3 Nf1+] 43.Kc4 Ne3+ 44.Kc5 Nf5 45.Rh1 Re8! 46.Bc3 [46.Rxh3?? loses the bishop: 46...Rc8+] 46...Rh8 47.Be5 f6 48.Bc7 Rh5 49.Kc4 Ne3+ 50.Kd4 Nd5 51.Bd6 Kf7 52.Bg3 Ne7 53.Kd3 Nc6 54.Ke3 Ke6 55.Be1 Ne5 56.b3 g5 57.Bc3 f5
Despite White's stubborn defence, Black is making progress. 58.Kf2 f4 59.Bxe5 [perhaps better was to try 59.Re1 h2 60.Kg2 h1Q+ 61.Rxh1 Rxh1 62.Kxh1 Nxf3 63.b4 Kd5 and although Black should win, White may have some chances.] 59...Kxe5 60.Rd1
60...Rh6? I had about 3 minutes to make the control move, but failed to find the best solution. [After 60...h2! 61.Rh1 (61.Kg2 g4!-+ 62.fxg4 h1Q+ 63.Rxh1 f3+) 61...Kd4 62.Kg2 Ke3 (For some strange reason I looked only at 62...Kc3?? 63.Rxh2 Rxh2+ 64.Kxh2 Kxb3 65.Kh3=) 63.b4 Rh4 64.b5 g4 65.fxg4 Rxg4+ 66.Kh3 Rg6-+; If Black did not want to make any commitments, it was better to play 60...Rh8! ] 61.Kg1 [61.b4 Ra6] 61...h2+ 62.Kg2?? [White misses the last chance to put resistance: 62.Kh1! A) 62...Rh3? 63.Kg2 Rg3+ (63...g4?? 64.fxg4 and Black's rook is hanging!) 64.Kf2! g4 65.fxg4 Rxb3 and Black may be no longer winning.; B) Yet, Black is winning after 62...Rh8! the point is that now after ...g4, fxg4 and g4-g5 White's pawn will not move with a tempo. So, White must push the b-pawn, which is quite slow. 63.b4 (63.Rd2 Rh3) 63...g4 64.fxg4 f3 65.b5 Kf4 66.b6 Kg3 67.b7 Re8 68.Rc1 f2 69.Rc3+ Kxg4 70.Rc4+ Kf3 71.Rc3+ Ke2 72.Rc2+ Ke3 73.Rc1 Kd2 74.Ra1 Re1+ 75.Kxh2 f1Q 76.Rxe1 (76.b8Q Re2+ 77.Kg3 Rg2+ 78.Kh3 Qf3+ 79.Kh4 Qg4#) 76...Qf4+] 62...g4!
Now it is all over. 63.fxg4 h1Q+ (64.Rxh1 f3+ 65.Kg1 f2+ 66.Kg2 Rxh1)
Another issue of CBC will appear in January - stay tuned!
Alexander Baburin, Istanbul, Dublin.
I am very grateful to Igor Yagolnitser for his help with this project. For assistance regarding CBC, please contact Igor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The recipient is granted a limited license to re-send this Newsletter to another in electronic form, or post it on an electronic bulletin, board or World Wide Web site, as long as no fee is charged for such reproduction. Any such reproduction must contain this license and acknowledge the author's copyright. Such reproduction does not waive any rights to future reproduction by the copyright holder.
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