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No. 1, 13th of February 1999

© 1999 by GM Alexander Baburin

This message is the first issue of my newsletter. I've been planning this for a while and finally decided that I need to give it a try and see whether this newsletter will be of interest to someone. Here I'd like to outline a few things about the newsletter:

Why would I do it?

I want to take advantage of the modern technology to share my views on the chess world, results of my work, etc. with people who might be interested it.

What the newsletter will contain?

Anything from my games (both recent & old) and useful chess links to the book reviews and impressions on articles, etc.

How often will it come out?

I hope to produce 1-2 newsletters a week, depending on my other commitments.

How can a reader participate in it?

You can ask me a question, which can then be posted, along with the answer. Suggestions and comments will be very welcome as well. Also, you can forward this newsletter to other people. If they will contact me, I will gladly add them to my mailing list.

What if a reader does not want to receive the newsletter ever again?

In this case just send me e-mail, telling this and I will immediately delete your e-mail address from my group.

Why does it have such a name?

I believe that chess is for enjoyment and should not be always taken too seriously. If you can print out my newsletter and enjoy reading it while having morning coffee or evening tea, I would feel that my goal is accomplished.

I would like to start with showing a few endings. Since 1998 I have endgame column in 'Inside Chess' and this is an extract from my recent contribution. The full article should be out in the next few months. By the way, I rate IC (publisher - GM Yasser Seirawan, editor - NM Michael Franett) among world's best chess periodicals and would stick to this opinion, even if they would fire me tomorrow. If you have not seen their Web site yet, you can do so at While writing, I usually use Chess Base - truly excellent program, information about which can be found at The diagrams below were produced with the help of CB7.

Let us examine a few positions with equal number of pawns on the same flank, where one side has a rook and his opponent has a bishop. Such positions occur in practice very often and therefore they are of prime importance. Defender's drawing chances usually are quite high, particularly when there are not many pawns remaining on the board and when the pawns are placed properly. Usually pawns should be placed to cover the squares, which your bishop cannot control. This way they will work as a team. Here is a simple example:



White: Kg1, Bf3, pawns g3, h2.

Black: Kf6, Rb2, pawns g7, h7.

With White to play, he can build a fortress here by playing 1.h4!. If it's Black's move, he must prevent this by playing 1...g5!, fixing the pawn on h2. Then Black can eventually win.

Yet, even when your position is solid, some caution is still required, as our next game shows:

Stefan Sievers (2375) - Oliver Reeh (2410), Bundesleague 1997




White: Kf1, Bc6, pawns g3, h4.

Black: Ke3, Ra2, pawns g6, h5.

White to play.

Here White's pawns and the bishop compliment each other and White can draw by keeping his bishop on the long diagonal.

68.Bd5?? This careless move costs White half of point; he had to play 68.Kg1, when the attempt of 68...Ra5 69.Kg2 g5 is harmless in view of 70.hxg5 Rxg5 71.Kh3 Kf2 72.Kh4. 68...Ra5 69.Bc6 g5 70.hxg5 More stubborn would be 70.Kg2 Ra2+ 71.Kg1 gxh4 72.gxh4 Kf4 where a good technique is still required from Black. 70...Rxg5 71.Kg2 h4 72.Kh3 hxg3 73.Kg2 Kf4 74.Bb7 Rc5 75.Kg1 Kg4 76.Kg2 Rc2+ 77.Kh1 Rb2 78.Bc6 g2+ 79.Kh2 Rf2 0-1

Less experienced players often think that pawns should be placed in such a manner that the bishop will be able to protect them. However, usually this strategy is faulty, as it is more important to keep the enemy king away, than to have your own pawns overprotected. Here comes an illustration:

A. Kullberg - P. Niiranen, Team Championship of Finland, 1997



White: Kf3, Bd6, pawns g3, h4.

Black: Kf5, Rc4, pawns g6, h5.

White to play.

Here White does not have a chance, as the enemy king penetrates into his camp easily, after which the g3-pawn becomes an easy pray, despite being protected twice at the moment.

46.Ke3 Rc3+ 47.Kd4 Also 47.Kf2 Kg4 48.Be5 Rf3+ 49.Kg2 Re3 50.Bf4 Re2+ 51.Kg1 Kf3 is hopeless for White. 47...Rf3 48.Kd5 Rd3+ 49.Kc6 Kg4 50.Kd7 Rxd6+ 0-1

The position on our next diagram may look simple, but this is simplicity is very deceptive:

L. Salai (2440) - L. Smejkal, Czech Team Championship, 1998



White: Kf3, Rc6, pawn g4.

Black: Kg6, Bf6, pawn g7.

Black to play.

Here Black needs to place his pawn on g6, as then the pawn and the bishop will co-operate really well. That could be achieved by playing 47...Kf7 48.Kf4 g6 49.g5 Bb2. Then a draw is easy, as the bishop has enough squares available on the long diagonal - Black only must avoid lines like 49...Bg7 50.Rc7+ Kg8 51.Rxg7+ Kxg7 52.Ke5, where the pawn endgame is lost for him. Failing to reckon the importance of posting his pawn on the light square, Black (not GM Smejkal!) lost quickly: 47...Kg5? 48.Rc5+ Kg6 49.Kf4 Kf7 50.Rc7+ Ke6 51.Rb7 Be7 52.Rb6+ Kf7 53.Kf5 Bf6 54.Rb7+ Be7 55.Ra7 g6+ 56.Ke5 Kf8 57.Ke6 Bc5 58.Rd7 1-0

This is it for now - more material will come soon! Please let me know what you think of this newsletter, by e-mailing me at

Should you prefer snail mail, here is my address:

3 Eagle Hill, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Hope to hear from you!

Alexander Baburin, Dublin.

Copyright © 1999 by GM Alexander Baburin. All rights reserved.

The recipient is granted a limited license to re-send this Newsletter to another in electronic form, or post it on an electronic bulletin, board or World Wide Web site, as long as no fee is charged for such reproduction. Any such reproduction must contain this license and acknowledge the author's copyright. Such reproduction does not waive any rights to future reproduction by the copyright holder.