Coffee Break Chess
GM Alexander Baburin's online newsletter
It has been a long time since I produced CBC-30. Life seems to get busier and busier and I hope that keen CBC readers will excuse my long silence. Part of the problem was that I wanted to write about so much, that in the end I never had enough time to do it! Thus, now I will try a different approach - to keep CBC smaller, but produce it more frequently.
In the end of February I went to USA, where I took part in the Linklater Memorial in San Francisco and in the National Open in Las Vegas. I shared 3rd place in both tournaments and from that point of view could be happy. However, I was very dissatisfied with my play, which was full of mistakes and even blunders. Other than that my trip was interesting and enjoyable as I met with some of my friends.
The Linklater Memorial was held in the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club in San Francisco - a truly wonderful city. The Mechanics Institute is essentially a library, which also has a large chess room. Board of directors of the Institute includes such chess players as Neil Falconer, Mark Pinto and IM Vincent McCambridge, which explains why chess life is busy at the Mechanics'. The club has a decent web site at www.chessclub.org and employs GM Alex Yermolinsky and IM John Donaldson, who organise weekly tournaments and give lectures for the public. They were also in charge of our tournament, which featured 11 players and offered GM and IM norm opportunities. In the end only one seeker was successful - Michael Mulyar got an IM-norm. Top rated players dominated the event, as GMs Yuri Shulman and Alexander Wojtkiewicz tied for first with 7 points out of 10, while I shared third place with IM Greg Shahade. Both winners played very solidly and did not lose a single game (neither did Shahade). I played more entertaining chess, but two losses and a few missing opportunities did not allow me to finish better.
Perhaps I could not quite adapt to the new FIDE time control, which was tried for the first time in USA at the Linklater Memorial. In a recent issue of New in Chess Joe Gallagher expressed his dissatisfaction with the new control (1h 15 minutes for 40 moves with 30 seconds increment) and I can join him in this concern. The quality of play does suffer indeed - you sink into a deep thought 2-3 times during the game and you are in time-trouble already! You can see this in the following game, which was full of rushed decisions. However, it saw some entertaining chess too!
play the game online
Notes by GM Baburin, which first appeared in Chess Today (www.chesstoday.net)
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nbd2 Nbd7 6.Bd3 b6 7.0-0 Bb7 8.b3
Recently I played 8.e4, but after 8...dxe4 9.Nxe4 c5 10.d5?! exd5 11.cxd5 Nxe4 12.Bxe4 Bd6 13.Ng5?! Nf6 14.Qa4+ Qd7 15.Qxd7+ Nxd7 16.Bf5 Nf6 Black stood better in the game Baburin-Kelly, Bunratty 2001. Looking at that game I decided that perhaps delaying e3-e4 would be a good idea. 8...Be7 9.Bb2 0-0 10.Qe2 Qc7 11.Rac1 Rac8
White commands more space and can go for e3-e4 at the appropriate moment. Perhaps here I should have done exactly that: 12.e4 dxe4 13.Nxe4 c5 14.dxc5 and White has a small, but pleasant edge. In case of 13...Nxe4 14.Bxe4 Nf6 he can choose between 15.Bc2 and 15.c5!?. Instead I decided to keep more tension in the centre:
This is correct, as after 12...Nxe5?! 13.dxe5 Nd7 14.f4 White stands better as he has good chances on the kingside and in the centre. 13.f4 dxc4 14.bxc4
It was probably wrong to block the c-file - better was 14.Bxc4 or 14.Ndxc4 Be4 15.Nd2 Bxd3 16.Nxd3, with a small edge in both cases. 14...Rcd8 15.f5??
This is an awful move, which undermines the e5-knight and blocks the d3-bishop. But of course, at that time I did not see what was wrong with it, otherwise it would have not played it. 15...Bd6 16.Ndf3
After 16.fxe6 Nxe5 17.dxe5 Bxe5 18.exf7+ Rxf7 19.Bxe5 Qxe5 Black would be better, so I played 16.Ndf3. But now he could have played 16...Bxf3! 17.Nxf3 e5!, obtaining a strategically winning position - all his pieces are active, while the d3-bishop looks like a bit of an idiot... We both missed that idea. 16...Rfe8? 17.fxe6 Rxe6?
This is a serious mistake. After 17...fxe6 18.Nxd7 Nxd7 19.d5 Black can't play 19...exd5? because of 20.Bxh7+! Kxh7 21.Ng5+ Kg8 22.Qh5+-. However after 19...Nf8 White would have problems with his central pawns. Thus, better would be 19.Qc2 Nf6 20.h3 and White is slightly better. 18.Nxd7
Here I considered 18.Ng5, but did not like that Black would be able to sacrifice on e5: 18...Bxe5 19.dxe5 Rxe5 20.Bxe5 Nxe5 or 20...Qxe5 21.Bxh7+ Nxh7 22.Nxf7 Qe7 23.Nxd8 Qxd8.
White launches his attack incorrectly. Of course, it is nice to shut down the enemy bishop and to open up your own one, but this move give up control over the e5-square and allows the enemy rook to leave the vulnerable position on e6. White had to play 19.Ng5!, with winning advantage. For example: 19...Bxh2+ 20.Kh1 Rh6 21.Bxh7+ Kh8 22.Nxf7+ Kxh7 23.Nxh6 Kxh6 (23...gxh6 24.Rf7+ Kg8 25.Rcf1+-) 24.e4!? cxd4 25.Bxd4 Ne5 26.Be3+ Kg6 27.Rf5+-. I considered 19.Ng5!, but I missed that Black could not play 21...Kf8 because of 22.Nxf7+-.
I expected mainly 19...Rh6 20.h3 Ne5 and Black is only slightly worse. Here Black offered a draw, but I was under the wrong impression that I had a chance to launch a winning attack: 20.Bxh7+?
This looks tempting, but is wrong... Better was 20.Ng5 Bxh2+ 21.Kh1 g6 22.Nxf7 Rxf7 23.Rxf7 Kxf7 24.Qg4=.
20...Kxh7 21.Ng5+ Kg8
21...Kg6? loses after 22.Qd3+ Kxg5 23.Qf5+ Kh6 24.Qh3+ Kg6 25.Qg4+ Kh6 26.Qxg7+ Kh5 27.Rf5+ Kh4 28.Qg5#; 21...Kh6 is bad too - 22.Nxf7+ Rxf7 23.Rxf7 Bxh2+ 24.Kh1 Be5 25.Rcf1+-.
22.Qh5 Nf8 23.Rf3
After making this move I had 7 and half minutes left (plus the increment), while my opponent had 42 minutes. It is harder to defend than attack, but White's attack should not succeed here, even though during the game I felt the opposite (that's why I played 20 Bxh7? in the first place!). 23...Bxh2+?
Black had to use the b7-bishop in defence by playing 23...Bc8!. In general it makes sense to employ your idle pieces. Here the bishop, which had been watching the grass grow on b7, could stop White from playing Rh3. White does not have enough here, as the following lines show: 24.Rcf1 (24.g4? Qd7; 24.Bxg7?! Kxg7 25.Rcf1 f5 26.Rh3 Ng6-+) 24...f6. Now after both 25.Rxf6 gxf6 26.Bxf6 Nh7 27.Bxe7 Qxe7 28.Nxh7 Bxh2+ 29.Qxh2 Qxh7 30.Qxh7+ Kxh7 31.Rf7+ Kg6 32.Rxa7 Bf5 and 25.Bxf6 gxf6 26.Rxf6 Bxh2+ 27.Kh1 Be5 28.d6 Qxd6 29.Rxd6 Rxd6 Black should win. In the latter variation Black's pieces are much better than White's queen. If we look back at the position after 23...Bc8!, it looks only logical that Black can withstand White's attack - all his pieces are employed. OK, White has the h- and f- files, but this is not enough with Black's best defence.
24.Kh1! 24.Qxh2 is not what I sacrificed the bishop for! Objectively, this move is quite strong too, as White's attack is already strong now. 24...Rd6
This is what I considered the main line of defence too, but this was not the only move - 24...Bg3 looked equality tempting. There White already has a draw - by playing 25.Rcf1 f6 26.Bxf6 gxf6 27.Rxf6 Be5 28.Rxf8+ Rxf8 29.Qg6+ Rg7 30.Qe6+ Rgf7 31.Qg6+ Rg7 32.Qe6+=. But he can also play for more with 25.Bxg7 Kxg7 26.Rcf1 Rdd7 27.Qg4 Ng6 28.Rxg3 (28.Qh5 Nf8 29.Qg4=) 28...Rd6 29.Qh5 and White wins. Of course, it is hard to tell whether White and Black would have found these variations over the board. This also applies to the lines, which you will see later - don't get the wrong impression that I saw all or even most of them. Indeed, a man does not know his limitations until he analysed with Fritz! :-)
25.Bxg7 Kxg7 26.Rcf1 Bf4?
Better was 26...f5!. The idea is that after 27.Rxf5? Bf4! already wins: 28.R5xf4 Rh6 29.Rf7+ Rxf7 30.Rxf7+ Qxf7 31.Qxh6+ Kxh6 32.Nxf7+ Kg6-+. White must play 27.Rh3 Ng6 and then 28.Rxf5 Kg8 29.Ne6 Rexe6 30.dxe6 Rxe6 31.Rg5 Qg7 32.Qg4!, when things remain unclear. 27.Rh3 Ng6
This is better than 28.exf4. Then 28...Bc8 loses after 29.f5! Bxf5 30.Qh7+ Kf8 31.Rhf3 f6 32.Qh6+ Ke8 33.Rxf5 fxg5 34.Rf8+ Nxf8 35.Rxf8+ Kd7 36.Qh3+ Rde6 37.dxe6+, but 28...f5! looks good for Black.
28...Nxf4 After 28...Bc8 29.Qh7+ Kf8 30.Rxf7+! Rxf7 White has 31.Rf3!, winning.
29.exf4? This is a serious inaccuracy in time-trouble. Better was 29.Qh8+ Kg6 30.exf4! and Black's king is doomed. Now the king is given a chance to escape, but Black misses the opportunity. 29...Re1+ 30.Kh2 Kf8?
Black had to play 30...Re8!. After 31.Qh7+ 32.Qh8+ Ke7 33.Re3+ Re6 34.Rxe6+ fxe6 35.d6+ Kxd6 36.Qxe8 Qc8 37.Nf7+ Kc7 38.Qxc8+ Bxc8 39.g4 White is better in the ending, but the fight still goes on.
31.Qh8+ Ke7 32.Qh4! Now it is over, as White picks at least a rook. 32...Re2 33.Ne6+ Kd7 34.Nxc7 Kxc7 35.Qh5 Re7 36.f5 b5 37.Qh4 Red7 38.Qf2 Kb6 39.Rb3 1-0 Time: 1.31-1.18
I will talk about the national Open in Las Vegas and show one game from there in the next issue of CBC, which should be out soon. After LV I played 2 games in 4NCL (2 draws) and shared first place with GM Bordan Lalic in a small, but enjoyable open in Belfast. Still, my play was rather poor - I tried hard, but little seemed to work. Finally I decided not to fight it and take a break from tournaments, which is exactly what I am doing now. Instead I now concentrate on my Web projects and coaching.
Ever since Kasparov coined the phrase 'chess tourist' during the Las Vegas FIDE World Championship in 1999, I keep thinking of myself as one of those tourists. Only I don't see anything bad with that - you come to a different country, play chess, meet new people and move on. That's how I choose tournaments nowadays. Thus, I am a bit surprised to see that chess tourism has not taken off as much as it could. Perhaps the following initiative by the GM School from St. Petersburg will change that: the school offers to combine a trip to that wonderful city with playing in a tournament there and some serious training. I would really recommend this idea - you can find more at www.gmchess.com, which is a very informative site in its own right.
I already wrote a lot about Chess Today in previous issues of CBC, so I'll be brief now. For a small fee our readers receive news, annotated games, tactical puzzles, interviews with leading players and young stars and much more! Of course, it is hard to compete with free stuff on the Net, but I believe that Chess Today provides a valuable service by saving time to chess fans and giving them carefully selected and well annotated games. At least our readers are very supportive about CT! You can see a few sample issues at www.chesstoday.net. There you can also find a very interesting interview with Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan, which was recently posted on the site.
That interview is also featured on my other site - Grandmaster Square (www.gmsquare.com). There I recently opened an auction site and plan to have a large chess auction next weekend. It will feature many rare books and also autographs by such famous players as Marshall, Keres, Petrosian and Fischer - keep an eye on it! The auction will take place on 10-12 of May and, as in order to bid one must register, it could be a good idea to do it now. The GM Square site also has a Chess Shop, which you are more than welcome to visit!
In the next issue of Coffee Break Chess I will share my views on the current situation in chess and chess politics, as well as talking more about chess on the Web - 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. I'd like to thank Graham Brown for proof-reading this issue and creating its PDF file.
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