Coffee Break Chess
GM Alexander Baburin's online newsletter
I guess that everyone likes long coffee breaks, but not all have time to read a long newsletter, so I will try to be more laconic. In this issue I'd like to provide some information about myself and to advertise the books I wrote recently.
I suspect that as my readership grows, there are more and more people who might be asking this question. Thus, I feel that it's essential to answer it.
I was born in Gorky (now - Nizhniy Novgorod), Russia on 19th of February 1967. It is an old city on Volga, about 450 km east of Moscow. It's very close to Moscow - in Russian terms! It's a big (about 2 million people) industrial centre, with lots of military industry and therefore it was closed for foreigners until recently. The old city is very nice and I enjoy coming back to it.
I started to play chess when I was 8 or so - my father taught me and shortly after that a woman came to our school and started a chess club. She remained my coach for many years, even though I quickly outgrew her as a player. Later her husband - IM Chernikov, influenced my chess development. I still stay in touch with both of them.
Both my parents are workers, so I come from a proletarian family. My parents (particularly my mother) greatly (but quietly) supported my passion for chess. In Russia I travelled a lot to various chess tournaments and here is some of my early travelling experience:
In practically every place where I went, there were so-called Lenin's places and all young players had to visit them (my Russian readers will understand me well). I got fed up with it after my fourth visit to that big nice house near the city of Kazan, where young Lenin greatly suffered in his exile, having only one servant. Later I decided that if I was to continue visiting Lenin's places, I should take a slightly different circle - Zurich, Paris and London! Fortunately, this became possible to do in the 90s.
I became a Soviet Master when I was 20 and got a IM title at age of 23. Then in my first GM-tournament in 1991 in Budapest I easily made a GM-norm and thought that the rest would just follow. Little did I know - GM-norms just escaped me! I became one of the highest rated IMs in the world (with a 2550-rating) and was also becoming one of the most frustrated. Things changed in 1995, when I made a performance norm (2600+ result) in Groningen. In 1996 I got another norm in Copenhagen and in the same year I was awarded the GM title in Yerevan. As I was 29 then, it hardly looks impressive nowadays, when you are expected to be a GM by the age of 12! Yet, as I never had ambitions (illusions?!) that I was born to be the next world champion, I take it easy.
My best tournament result (so far) was in the Isle of Man Open in 1997, when I scored 8 out of 9, showing a 2827-performance and finishing 2 points ahead of the second place. My highest rating has been 2600 (a year ago), my current rating is 2586. The most famous player I ever beat was Korchnoi (Copenhagen 1996). My style of play ranges somewhere between 'very solid' and 'extremely boring'.
Since 1993 I've been living in Dublin. It's not easy to be a chess professional
in Ireland (is it easy anywhere?!), as chess is still not well-established
here. But I like the country - people are nice and the grass is always green.
Though I wish it would not rain that often! I am highly adoptive and probably
can live anywhere - I quite agree with Socrates, who said that he was from
the Earth, rather than from any particular place. I often go to Russia, where
I have many friends and where my parents live. I am married to Elena with
two children - Ivan (9) and Anastasia (4). This is probably enough (too much?)
information for a start. Later I will cover some aspects of my career and
professional life. You can find additional information at Mark Orr's Web
site: www.cns.ed.ac.uk/tica/home.html. Mark is Ireland's first IM. His site
contains a lot of information about Irish players and has some useful links.
In the unlikely event that you want to see what I look like, go to:
It all depends on you - to receive the subsequent issues of CBC you must subscribe to it on the Web. The idea is simple - there is a Mailing List on the Web, where people can subscribe or unsubscribe themselves. I send one message to that list and all people on the list receive it. This leaves me with more time to concentrate on the contents of the newsletter. So, please read the following instructions and subscribe to the list, if you have not done it already. It really takes only seconds! Click to subscribe to: AlexBaburin_on_Chess
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Of course, you can find CBC on the Web, but it's better to get it in your mailbox, as this way you will not miss any! Also, those readers who can't see the diagrams properly now, soon will be able to enjoy CBC fully, as in the near future I will attach pdf files for viewing with Adobe Acrobat Reader. Please note that I will not be able to forward you any issues, which you might miss.
Weekly digest & some links
Recently I received No. 1 of New in Chess. Two materials drew my attention there - the interview with world's youngest GM Ruslan Ponomariov by Sarah Hurst and the article about the late Efim Geller by GM Genna Sosonko. NiC is one of my favourite magazines, because there is always something entertaining in it. Here is a link to its Web page: www.newinchess.com.
Want to learn more about Ponomariov? Check it at: chess-sector.odessa.ua.
Then I received Inside Chess No. 4, where I found a very detailed
analysis of the fantastic Kasparov-Topalov (Linares 1999) game. Also, the
match Adams-Seirawan is covered there. I like the way Yasser annotates in
general, but it's particularly interesting to see his notes to his own games.
Here is a link to Inside Chess on the Web: www.insidechess.com. Nowadays
more and more GMs create their own Web pages. English GM Jonathan Levitt
did so recently - his site can be found at:
Some readers ask me about recommended chess books. While I will try to cover
this topic later, in the meantime I'd like to direct you to the page of John
Elburg, who regularly reviews chess books:
My new book
As some of you may know, my book Winning Pawn Structures is just out. As I am also a book dealer, I have some copies of this book for sale. For more information please refer to the attached file 'WPS'.
Here I would like to show one game from Winning Pawn Structures. Please note that this version varies from the one in the book. I tried to present this game as a mini lesson, so if you want to take some challenge, please refer to the attached Chess Base file first or print out the game and cover the moves with a list of paper. Then try to answer the questions I pose here.
Or simply look at the game and enjoy great play by GM Yusupov!
play the game online
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 c5 6 Nf3 d5 7 0-0 cxd4 8 exd4 dxc4 9 Bxc4 b6 10 Re1 Bb7
How should White continue here? What kind of plan would you prefer?
11.Bd3! White aims the bishop at the kingside, as he believes there is no future for the bishop in looking at the e6-pawn, while a d4-d5 break isn't possible yet. The question of the best placement of this bishop is an evergreen problem in such formations, which White successfully solves in this game. [11.a3; 11.Ne5 Nc6; 11.Bg5] 11...Nc6 11...Nbd7 is a good alternative. 12.a3! Now this move is very logical, as after 11...Bxc3 12 bxc3 and the eventual Bg5 the pin will be quite unpleasant for Black, who has committed his knight to c6. 12...Be7 13.Bc2 Re8 14.Qd3 White has got a standard battery, which will force Black to weaken his kingside in some way. 14...g6
White's play on the b1-h7 diagonal has been blocked, how should he continue now?
15.h4!? The march of the h-pawn is a typical weapon from White's arsenal in this pawn formation, as we have seen in the game Kamsky-Short as well. While White wants to challenge the g6-pawn, he also establishes additional control over the g5-square. 15...Qd6? Black is trying to find a safe place for the queen and also bring some pressure on the d4-pawn after ...Rad8 and ...Qb8, however it does not really solve the problem. 15...Rc8 might be a better choice, meeting 16 Bg5 with the standard move 16...Nd5. 16.Bg5 Rad8 17.Rad1 Qb8
The tension is rising - What would suggest for White now?
Excellent judgement - the bishop has no longer anything to do on the b1-h7 diagonal, so White re-deploys it to a better location. The bishop has gone via a long route: f1-d3-c4-d3-c2-b3 and found itself on the same diagonal as before.
18...a6? Black obviously misjudged the forthcoming play, otherwise he would have tried 18...Kg7. The analysis shows that after another possible defence - 18...Na5, which looks okay at the first glance, White also gets an irresistible attack after 19 Ba2! Nd5 20 b4!. Now both 20...Bxg5 21 Nxg5 Nxc3 22 Qxc3 Nc6 23 Nxe6! fxe6 24 Rxe6 Rxe6 25 Bxe6+ Kg7 26 d5+ Qe5 27 Rd3!+- and 20...Nxc3 21 Qxc3 Nc6 22 d5 exd5 23 Bxd5 Bxg5 24 Bxf7+! Kxf7 25 Nxg5+ Kg8 26 Qc4+ Kh8 27 Rxd8 Rxd8 28 Qf7+- are bad for Black.
19 d5! White capitalises on his advantage by well-timed break in the centre. Now 19...exd?? loses at once to 20 Rxe7 and Bxf6. After 19...Nxd5 the best move is 20 Bxd5!, as here it is more beneficial for White to have a knight on d5 rather than a bishop, in a view of the weakness of the f6-square (and the b6-pawn). After 20...Bxg5 (20...exd5 21 Nxd5 Bxg5 22 Rxe8+ Rxe8 23 Nxg5 transposes to the same position) 21 Nxg5 (not 21 hxg5? because of 21 Ne7!) 21...exd5 22 Rxe8+! Rxe8 23 Nxd5 Black can't survive, for example: 23 Qe5 24 Qf3! f5 25 Qb3+-.
19...Na5 Once again we see how White capitalises on his advantage after the well prepared and well-timed d4-d5 breakthrough.
This is the culmination of the fight in the centre. How to play now?
20 dxe6! This tactical blow highlights the fact that most of the black pieces are passive and that his king is vulnerable. 20...Nxb3. After 20...Rxd3 21 exf7+ Kg7 22 fxe8N+ Qxe8 23 Rxd3 Nxb3 24 Rde3 White gets the piece back and wins. 21 exf7+ Kxf7 22 Qc4+ Kg7 23 Ne5! Ng8?! More stubborn would be 23...Nd5!?, although after the further 24 Bh6+! Kxh6 25 Nf7+ Kg7 26 Nxd8 Na5 27 Qd4+ Nf6 28 Qxb6 Bxd8 29 Rxe8 Bxb6 30 Rxb8 Bc7 31 Rxb7 Nxb7 32 Nd5 Nxd5 33 Rxd5 the endgame is winning for White, who can create passed pawns on both flanks. 24 Qf7+ Kh8 25 Rxd8 Qxd8 26 Qxb3 Qd4 27 Re3 Rf8 28 Bxe7 1-0
There are already several sites, where you can see CBC. Here
are some of them:
Also check what their creators have to say about chess - this might be of interest to you!
I am very grateful to Igor Yagolnitser for his help with this project. For technical support regarding CBC, please contact Igor at: MOHCTP@ix.netcom.com.
I hope that you've enjoyed this issue of Coffee Break Chess - we'll be in touch next week!
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