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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 Six, 2nd November 2000. Round 6 did not change the position of the leading group dramatically. Germany drew against Russia (all games were drawn) and remains the leader on 18 points. In round 7 Germany plays against Slovakia, which held Ukraine to a draw in round 6. Russia will meet Israel, which beat Spain 3-1 (on board one Gelfand beat Shirov). This is a very interesting match, which some people already called 'Russia against the USSR'! :-). Indeed, Gelfand and Smirin are from Byelorussia, Avrukh is from Kazakhstan, Psakhis is from Russia, Sutovsky is from Azerbaijan, while Huzman is from Ukraine. As for other top matches, England drew against Denmark (all games drawn). This is already 3rd match when the Danes drew all their games. German and Danish teams have not lost a single game yet. Hungary beat Czech team 3-1, while the match Armenia - Bulgaria ended in a draw.

After six rounds the standing is as follows: 1. Germany - 18 points; 2. Russia - 17 points; 3. Slovakia - 17 points; 4-6. Hungary, Israel and Ukraine - 16 points; 7. Armenia - 16 points; 8-18. England, China, USA, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Georgia, Croatia, Denmark, Yugoslavia, India and Philippines - 15 points. In round 7 the key matches are: Germany-Slovakia, Russia-Israel and Hungary-Ukraine.

Ireland drew against Iraq, which was a bit disappointing. I won against a 2423-player, but we lost on board 2 and missed a clear win on board 3. Our lady's team won 3-0, which improved their tournament position a lot. In round 7 Irish men's team will play against Azerbaijan. This former Soviet State has a long chess tradition (Kasparov comes from there!), but here they have some of their best players missing, like, for example, 13-year old Teimur Rajabov (2475). Both teams have 13 points.

Here is my game from round 6:  (Click here for Game Viewer)

A. Baburin (2590) - A. Sarsam (2423) D36

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 d5 4 cxd5 exd5 5 Bg5 Be7 6 e3 c6 7 Qc2 Bg4

This is a rare move, but it's not bad.

8 Bd3 Bh5!

Black rightly avoids 8...Nbd7?, which allows 9 h3!, and if 9...Bh5, then 10 f4!.

9 Nge2 Bg6 10 f3!?

This seems to be a new move (of course, I did not know any theory here!). I wanted to keep the option of 000 open. 10 00 Na6 11 a3 Nc7 12 Nf4 00 gave White nothing: 13 Na4 Bxd3 14 Nxd3 Ne4 15 Bxe7 Qxe7 16 Nac5 Nxc5 17 Qxc5 Rfe8 18 Qxe7 Rxe7= Drasko-Korzubov, Belgrade 1998. Also harmless is 10 Ng3 Na6 11 Bf5 Nh5 12 Bxe7 Qxe7 13 Nxh5 Bxh5 14 Qb3 Bg6 15 Bh3 Nb4 16 00 Bc2 17 Qa3 00 Furman-Kan, Moscow 1955.


11 a3!

I believe that this is better than 11 Bxg6 hxg6 as White might be able to get his knight to f5. The drawback of the move played is that White should forget about 000 now, as ...b7-b5-b4 could be a problem.


White already threatened to play e3-e4, so this move was forced.

12 Qxd3 Nh5 13 Bxe7 Qxe7 14 e4 Nf6 15 e5 Nd7 16 f4 Nc7

16...f6!? was worth considering.

17 00 f6 18 Ng3 fxe5

Now Black cannot castle kingside, but 18...00 19 Nf5 Qe6 20 Rae1 left White some initiative, while 18...g6? would be just bad in view of 19 e6 Nxe6 20 f5 gxf5 21 Nxf5, with attack.

19 fxe5 g6 20 b4 000 21 Nge2!?

I felt that I had to relocate the g3-knight, which was doing nothing on g3.

21...Kb8 22 Nf4 Nb6 23 b5 c5 24 a4 

Here Black can choose 24...cxd4?! 25 Qxd4 g5 26 a5 Nc4 27 b6 gxf4 28 bxc7+ Qxc7 29 Nb5 and 24...g5 25 a5 Nc4 26 Nfxd5. The move, which he played, is also OK.

24...Nc4 25 a5!?

I also considered 25 Rae1 here, but it was tempting to leave the rook on a1, in case the queenside will be opened.


I expected mainly 25...g5 26 Nfxd5 Nxd5 27 Nxd5 Rxd5 28 Qxc4 Rxd4 29 Qf7. In this line the advantages of the move a4-a5 are apparent, as White can play a5-a6, weakening the 7th rank.

26 Qg3 g5

26...cxd4 27 b6 dxc3 28 bxc7+ Qxc7 29 Ne6 would have left White with an advantage too.

Here I considered 27 Nfxd5! Nxd5 28 Nxd5 Rxd5 29 e6+. Objectively this is very good for White, but playing in a team event I was reluctant to sacrifice a piece. Then Black would have a difficult choice: 29...Qc7?? loses after 30 e7 Re8 31 Rf8, while both 29...Kc8 and 29...Ka8 gives White a terrific attack after 30 a6!. The move, which I chose, is much safer, but gives away some of White's advantage:

27 b6 gxf4 28 bxc7+ Qxc7 29 Qxf4 a6 30 e6!

Now the e-pawn can become very dangerous.


Better was 30...Qxf4 31 Rxf4 Rhe8.

31 Qxc7+ Kxc7 32 Rf7+ Kc6 33 Rb1 cxd4?

Better was 33...Nc4.

34 Ne2 Nc4 35 Nxd4+ Kc5 36 e7!


Black had to play 36...Rd7! 37 Ne6+ Kc6 (not 37...Kd6? because of 38 Ng7!) 38 Nd8+ Kc7 39 Rxb7+ Kc8 40 Rxd7 Kxd7 41 Rxh7, although White retains better chances.

37 Ne6+ Kc6 38 Ng7 Nd6 39 Rf6! Kd7?! 40 Nxe8 Rxe8 41 Rb6 10

Day Seven, 3rd November 2000. Today was a rest day at the Olympiad. Our team went to a boat trip on the Bosphorus. It was a great excursion - Istanbul looks lovely from the sea, with many beautiful houses on both banks of the Bosphorus. On the way back we went to an ancient castle, located on the European side of the Bosphorus. In the evening we went to a local restaurant (we are a little bit fed up with food in our hotel - it's OK, but not too tasty). It was a great experience: there were hundreds of people sitting in open restaurants, enjoying local cuisine. The food was very tasty and not too expensive: between six of us we paid about $150, but we also had 2 bottles of wine and good few beers with the meal. In general, Turkey is not expensive - you can have kebab and a soft drink for $2, while a 7-8 km trip by taxi might cost you just $4. At the same time tourists are often milked, as you can easily end up paying almost $2 for a can of a soft drink or a cup of coffee, which is unfortunately the case in the playing hall. Anyway, Istanbul is making a very favourable impression on me!

More tomorrow - stay tuned!

All text Copyright Alexander Baburin unless otherwise noted