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Istanbul Diary

Daily report by GM Alexander Baburin from Turkey

Day 1  Day 2 & 3  Day 4 Day 5
Day 6 & 7 Day 8 & 9 Day 10 Day 11 
Day 12 Day 13 & 14 Day 15

Day Fifteen, 11th November 2000. Today was a free day at the Olympiad. Most people spent it recovering from the Bermuda party, which took place last night. I was there too, but survived without causing too much damage to my health, though beer was relatively cheap (about $1.5 per glass). I thought that the music was too loud, which made it hard to talk. As I am not really a dance fan, that was a serious blow for me. Yet, even those who like to dance had a tough day — in the beginning the music was mainly Turkish. Later western music prevailed, but the choice was poor. Anyway, it’s history now.

In the evening some on the Irish teams went to a restaurant, where the waiter tried to overcharge them heavily. As $150 extra between 6 people was very obvious, he failed miserably...

In the evening some players met (as usual) for a drink in the Taksim Square hotel, Yet, most of us did not stay long, as the following day the round would start at 10-00 in the morning. Saturday night is very busy in Istanbul. For the first time in my life I saw traffic jams at 1 o’clock in the morning!

We are lucky with the weather here — it’s relatively warm, without any rain. I heard that there were floods in Ireland recently. So, playing in a chess Olympiad could provide a good escape sometimes! I hope to see the Blue Masque and the bazaars, but fear that I will not have time or energy. Most likely both — Olympiads are quite tiring.

I spend a lot of time in the Internet café today. The one, which I liked most during the tournament, was a bit pricey (about $3 per hour), but had excellent connection. Some of the others had painfully slow connection, but pool tables to make up for it - you click on something, play a few shots and then the site appears on the screen! :-) Yet, as I am poor at pool, I preferred higher Net speed!

More later — stay tuned!

Day Sixteen, 12th November 2000. The tournament is over! Russia duely won the event by drawing all 4 games against Georgia very quickly. It was interesting to see how Germany would do against England. Many believed that Germany could lose and let Hungary to overtake them. Yet, Hungary drew 2-2 against Slovenia, while Germany beat England 21/2-11/2. On board 3 Dautov defeated Hodgson. Both Dautov and Yusupov had fantastic results here. Other results from the last round:

Ukraine-Bosnia 3-1, Israel-Yugoslavia 3-1, India beat Cuba 21/2-11/2. Ukraine caught up with Hungary and took the bronze on a tiebreak.

The final standing is as follows:

1 Russia - 38 points
2 Germany - 37 points

3 Ukraine - 351/2 points
4 Hungary - 351/2 points
5 Israel - 341/2 points
6 Georgia - 34 points
7-13 England, India, China, Switzerland, Uzbekistan, Slovenia and Macedonia - 33 points. One of the main surprises of the Olympiad is a very poor result of the US team, which usually competes for gold. This time it finished only 26th...

Ireland beat Chile 21/2-11/2 and finished on +3 — our best result in Olympiads so far. I played a decent game in the last round:

A. Baburin (2590) — J. Egger (2433)   Online Game Viewer

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c6 3 Nf3 d5 4 e3 Bf5 5 Nc3 e6 6 Nh4 Bg4 7 Qb3 This line is currently rather popular. White often gets more space and two bishops, which is not too bad! 7Qb6 8 h3 Bh5 9 g4 Bg6 10 c5 Qc7 11 Nxg6 hxg6 12 g5 Ng8 (D)

On this move my opponent spent 42 minutes, which is very impractical. The move itself is fine - Black wants to relocate this piece to f5, while leaving the d7-square for the other knight. However, it had to be played much faster! Also possible was 12...Nfd7.

13 e4 Nd7

Better was 13...Rh4, as in the game Dreev-Huebner, Essen 2000. Still, after 14 exd5 exd5 15 Ne2! Na6 16 Qg3! Rh8 17 Bf4 Qa5+ 18 Bd2 Qc7 19 h4 Ne7 20 Bh3 Nf5 21 Bxf5 gxf5 22 Bf4 Qa5+ 23 Kf1 Be7 24 g6! White seized the initiative and eventually won.

14 exd5 exd5 15 Ne2! White's dark-squared bishop might become a poor creature, so White must bring it out to f4. 15...Ne7 I was going to meet 15...Rh4 with 16 Qg3 Qxg3 17 fxg3 when White again can control the f5-square with a pawn.

16 Bf4 Qa5+ 17 Bd2 Qc7 18 0—0—0 b6?! Better was 18...0—0—0. 19 Bf4 Qb7 20 h4! (D)

White takes away the h4-square from the enemy rook and gives more space for manoeuvring to his own rook.

20...0—0—0 21 cxb6 Qxb6 21...axb6 would be safer.

22 Qc2! Nf5 23 Rh3! This rook lift highlights Black's weaknesses on the queenside. Now we can see the benefits of 20 h4!.

23...Bd6 24 Rc3! Nb8? Better was 24...Kc7, although after 25 Bg2 White has a great position. 25 Bh3! (D)

Now White is winning, as Black cannot defend all his numerous weaknesses.

25...Bxf4+ 26 Nxf4 Rxh4 27 Bxf5+ gxf5 28 Qxf5+ Rd7 29 Nxd5 Here Black played 29...Qb5, but his flag fell. 1—0

My overall result was +4-2=5 against 2530 opposition, which was slightly above my expected result. I was a bit unlucky to lose against Al-Modiahki in the game where I was winning, but generally I was happy enough with my play in the tournament.

There were 126 teams competing in the men's event. This is the biggest turnout at any chess Olympiad so far. As for individual results, Alexander Morozevich received a trophy as the player who showed the highest rating performance in Istanbul. On board 1 the gold medal went to GM Utut Adianto of Indonesia; on board 2 GM Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine won the gold medal. On board 3 the winner was GM Dragoljub Jacimovic of Macedonia, on board 4 - GM Ashot Anastasian from Armenia. 17-year old Ponomariov had a very good result and his current rating must be close to 2680! Watch out for this guy in India!

In women's event the final results were as follows:

1 China - 32 points

2 Georgia -31 points

3 Russia - 281/2 points

4 Ukraine - 27 points

5 Yugoslavia - 26 points

6 Netherlands - 251/2 points

In the women’s event the best individual results were: board 1 - Viktoria Cmilyte, from Lithuania; board 2 - Zhu Chen from China; board 3 - Nino Khurtsidze from Georgia; reserve player - Zahira El Ghaby, of Morocco.

Irish women’s team finished well, winning their last 2 matches and coming 61st.

Some conclusions. In my opinion, the Olympiad was well organised and both local organisers and FIDE deserve credit for it! OK, there were some problems at the start (with electronic board and bulletins), but they were quickly solved. The organisers even insisted on replacing bulletins 1-3 (full of mistakes), which they indeed exchanged! The accommodation was good, transport excellent and food was reasonable — it was never bad (as it was sometimes in Moscow in 1994 or in Yerevan in 1996) and at times it was fine. The playing hall was not perfect (too stuffy), but at least you could see both events in the same hall. Istanbul is a very interesting city to visit and I hope that I will come back here again as a tourist - remember hamam! :-)

Hopefully Chess Olympiads will not disappear even if chess will become an Olympic sport (which isn’t too likely to happen soon anyway!). Chess Olympiads have definite cultural importance and there is more to them than just tough struggle among top chess nations. On this note I am finishing my report. For more information on the Olympiad please refer to its official Web site:, which is very informative.

What is next? If you enjoyed my reports, do come back to Grandmaster Square — to have a look at some games or read some stories. As in the end of November I will go to New Delhi for the FIDE World Championship, expect to see my Indian Diary here!

With best regards,

Alex Baburin.

All text Copyright Alexander Baburin unless otherwise noted