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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 Two, 29th October 2000. In my previous report I praised the organisation of the Olympiad, but now I want to take some of that back. Actually, it has little to do with the Turkish side and more to do with FIDE, as the arbiters delayed the second round was by 25 minutes. We actually started on time (well, almost!), but 2 minutes later the chief arbiter asked everyone to stop, because those sophisticated electronic boards somehow did not start recording moves at the same time (somebody forgot to plug them in?!). At that moment some players had played good few moves. For example, I had the position after 1 d4 d5 2 c4 dxc4 3 e3 e6 4 Bxc4 c5 5 Nf3. I told my opponent (GM Vera from Cuba) that I would not repeat this line when we resume play as I want something sharper now! :-) So, is it time to amend the FIDE rules and include such a thing as false-start?!

Round 2 saw some tough clashes. For example, all games in the match Denmark-Netherlands were drawn. Finland beat Byelorussia 2-1 and England dropped a point to Costa Rica (Julian Hodgson lost). This result could be even worse, but Michael Adams managed to win an inferior rook ending. Hungary beat Burma 4-0 and is probably the only team on perfect score. Today they will probably play Russia, which beat Italy 3- (Grischuk drew against Belotti). Our team lost to Cuba 1-2 (Mark Heidenfeld lost on board 3). Today we are facing an even more powerful team - Byelorussia. Our lady's team is not doing well, having lost both matches 0-3. But hopefully they will start winning now. If you want more news on the performance of the Irish team, check out The Irish Chess Archive, run by IM Mark Orr. Mark is here in Istanbul and he posts his diary at

GM Baburin on left, GM Vera on right

GM Baburin on left, GM Vera on right

My game against GM Vera saw a curious ending:


I knew that my position was lost and I knew how. Fortunately, my opponent knew only the assessment, but not the exact plan. During the game he failed to work it out and went for the wrong idea. He eventually played g3-g4. At some point we got the following position:

I played 83...Kh7 and after 84 Kf7 Kh6 85 Rg5 Be1 86 Rxg6+ Kh5 87 Kf6 Kxh4 we soon agreed a draw. Lucky escape for me!

In the position on our first diagram White should follow the following plan: play f3-f4 and then g3-g4!. Then after ...fxg4 he has f4-f5, while after ...hxg4 White breaks in with h4-h5 gxh5, Kxf5.

More news tomorrow - stay tuned!

Day Three, 30th October 2000. The Olympiad is gathering momentum - three rounds have been played already. Today Hungary beat Russia and leads the event with 10, sharing the lead with Germany, which beat Moldova 3-1. In round 4 Germany and Hungary meet. In the match against Russia Leko beat Khalifman (with White), while games Morozevich-Almasi, Polgar-Svidler and Rublevsky-Sax were drawn. A disappointing result for Russia, which again finds itself lagging behind the leaders. But the Russian team has a good history of catching up, so it is too early to say though which teams will be main contenders for the gold medals. England beat India 2-1, USA beat Latvia 2-1, while Slovakia beat powerful Armenian team with the same score.

The Irish teams did well today: ladies drew 1-1 against Syria, while our men's team drew 2-2 against Byelorussia. That team is seeded 18th, while we are 53th, so it was a good result. I won with Black against Alexey Fedorov (2648) in a very interesting game, where my beloved Alekhine Defence stood well against the Four Pawns Attack. (See game with notes in Game Viewer.)  On board 4 Mark Orr won a very good game against 2420-player. Tomorrow we will play against Yugoslavia.

Before the round each player was given an instruction what to do before the game in order not to upset the electronic boards. Here is an extract of that wonderful document signed by Emmanuel Omuku: "Players ... are not to touch or adjust the pieces under any circumstances, until the clocks have been started...". We are already not supposed to put the pieces back after the game is finished and now we have another inconvenience. I am not sure that the pleasure of having all games on the Net live is is worth the trouble. Besides, those electronic boards show the game with lots of mistakes anyway. But if FIDE Commerce PLC will tell us not to touch pieces before the game, we should obey, of course. And if in the future they will tell us not to touch pieces at all, so let it be! :-) By the way, I heard that the FIDE Congress, which will start here in a few days, has a pretty good agenda - transfer of FIDE powers to FIDE Commerce PLC. I already expressed my dislike of this idea, when an international sports organisation with a long tradition gets taken over by a for-profit company. I think it will be bad for chess...

Another little organising incident happened during the 3rd round at about 17-45. Suddenly the lights went down. Not all of them, so it was possible to see the boards, but it was inappropriate to continue playing. So the clocks were stopped. However, many players stayed at their boards and continued to look at the positions. I think that this is wrong and that the arbiters should have instructed all players to get up and move away from their boards.

I got to see Istanbul a bit more. Near our hotel there is a big square with a pedestrian street beginning there. Both the square and the street are radiant, with lots of people walking till late night. The weather is good - rather warm and sunny. To me it seems that Istanbul has the highest number of taxis in the world - they are just everywhere! Hopefully we will get to see more of Istanbul on Friday, which is free day here.

More to follow - come back later!

(Photos courtesy Mark Orr.)

All text Copyright Alexander Baburin unless otherwise noted