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coffee mug     Coffee Break Chess
No. 9, 3rd of May 1999

© 1999 by GM Alexander Baburin

Dear Chess Friends!

After a short break, which was due to my participation in Commonwealth Championship in India, I am back on line, with this issue of CBC. Obviously, such breaks will occur from time to time - when I travel, as this is a one-man publication. Tomorrow I fly to Cuba, where I will take part in Capablanca Memorial, so I hope be back on line 3 weeks later. In this issue I would like to share my experiences in India and to show one of the games I played over there.

Coffee Break Chess in French

If French is your first language and you prefer to read CBC in French, you can do it now, thanks to Jonathan Faudi:

How Do GMs Choose Tournaments?

Susan Strahan (note that she moved her Web site to asked me this question recently, adding that it might be of interest to other players to learn which criteria GMs use, while making their tournament plans. I cannot speak for all GMs, but can certainly share my view on this matter. For me one of the most important criteria is location: I like to travel and try to visit new places. This is one of the things I like about chess - it gives opportunity to see different countries and helps to make friends over there. Though the list of countries, which I've visited, is still quite small, I work on expanding it. For example, in March 1997 I had a very interesting tour in USA, which my friend IM John Donaldson helped me to put together. My route was spectacular: Dublin-Los Angeles-New York-Seattle-Las Vegas-Hawaii-Alaska-Florida-Dublin. Not often one gets a chance to see such different places in just 45 days! Last year I visited Bermuda and Andorra for the first time, while this year I've added India to my list and soon will play in Cuba.

Another important consideration is prize fund and financial conditions offered at the tournament. Of course, this varies from country to country and from tournament to tournament. Every player decides for himself, what is acceptable for him. In my case, I try at least not lose money while playing in tournaments. Having a family with two kids means that I cannot be too relaxed about this issue. Alas, very few players can rely on appearance fees and prize money, while the rest of us have to seek additional sources of income, such as coaching and writing.

Not the least important is strength of the tournament: as I do not play too often, I try to take part in events, which are reasonably strong and which are interesting from professional point of view.

The criteria, which I listed above, were certainly considered when I decided to accept the invitation to take part in Commonwealth Championship in India. As it was my old desire to visit that country, the conditions offered to me looked reasonable and the event promised to be interesting, I did not hesitate long. The only thing, which actually puzzled me, was the invitation itself: as far as I knew, Ireland was not a part of Commonwealth. I also new that Russia did not fare well in the Crimea war and thus started to suspect we probably did so badly then, that Russia itself was made a part of Commonwealth! :) It turned out that the organisers wanted to have more GMs and more countries participating for norm possibilities. It was clear that I could not win the title of Commonwealth Champion, but would not be disadvantaged otherwise.

The Tournament

The trip was very interesting and will certainly cover it in more details in next issues of CBC, while here I want to give just a short story about the event. There were 62 players there, mostly from India. There were 4 GMs in the tournament - Miles, Baburin, Barua and P. Thipsay - and several IMs. Alas, Tony Miles had to quit the event after 7 rounds, not feeling well. There were 10 rounds in the championship. After round 5 the sole leader was IM Ramesh (2391) from India with 5 points. In round 6 I managed to defeat the leader, catching up with him. That loss affected his play so badly that he went to lose 3 more games in a row, finishing on 5.5. After round 6 my main rival was GM Barua, but in round 9 he lost to Atanu Lahiri (2345), who had a great tournament, finishing second on 8 out of 10. Fortunately for me, I managed to score even more - 8.5 points (+7-0=3). This result was achieved against 2391-opposition, which gained me 10 rating points. I was quite pleased with the quality of my play in the tournament. Several Indian players achieved IM norms, while B. Thipsay (wife of GM Praveen Thipsay) obtained her first WGM-norm.

Annotated Game

Alexander Baburin (2586) - D. Sharma (2377)
Commonwealth Ch, Bikaner, India (2), 17.04.1999

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 e3 Nf6 4 Bd3 e6 5 Nf3 Nbd7 6 Nbd2 c5 7 0-0

Also possible is 7 b3, aiming to play with Hanging Pawns.

7...cxd4 8 exd4 dxc4 9 Nxc4 Be7 10 Bf4! (D)


After the game I found only a couple of examples of this position, but they were poor. In both White developed his bishop to g5, which makes little sense here: with the knight on c4 it's better to play on the queenside. Russian master Nikolai Ryumin favoured this development of bishop to f4 in such positions.

10...0-0 11 Rc1 Nd5

I expected 11...Nb6, where I was going to choose between 12 Nxb6!? Qxb6 13 Qc2 and 12 Nce5. After 11...b6 White can play 12 Ne3, preparing to invade to c7.

12 Bg3 N7f6 13 a3! It's useful to take control over the b4-square. 13...h6? My opponent failed not find a suitable plan... Both 13...Bd7 14 Qb3 b6 15 Nce5 and 13...b6 14 Nce5 Bb7 15 Qa4 leave White with serious initiative.

14 Re1 Ne8 15 Bb1 f5 16 Be5 Nef6 (D)


17 Ba2!

Strictly speaking, that was the only move - otherwise some readers would have pointed to page 193 of my book Winning Pawn Structures, where I wrote: "Once the b1-h7 diagonal has been closed for your bishop, relocate it on to the neighbouring diagonal!". Should I not follow my own recommendation, some people might demand their money back! :)


Here White already has wide and very pleasant choice: 18 Bxf6 Bxf6 and then 19 Nce5 or 19 Ne3. The line I chose in the game is also very good - I already saw my 22nd move.

18 Ne3! Nxe3 19 Rxe3 Nd5 20 Bxd5! Qxd5 (D)


Better was 20...exd5, although after 21 Bc7!? Qd7 22 Ne5 Qe6 23 Nc6 Qf7 24 Nxe7+ Rxe7 25 Rxe7 Qxe7 26 Be5 Black's position is very bad. Now it looks like Black is going well, but I something in mind, when exchanging Black's knights:

21 Bxg7! Kxg7 22 Ne5+-

Something is happening to my chess nowadays - somehow I've started looking for sharp lines! :) Seriously, I was pleased that I could see this attack when I played 18 Ne3!.

22...Bg5 23 Qh5

Even better was 23 Rc7+! Re7 (23...Kh8 24 Qh5) 24 Rxe7+ Bxe7 25 Qh5. However, I saw one winning line and did not bother to search for yet another.

23...Re7 24 Rg3 Qxd4 (D)


25 Rxg5+ hxg5 26 Qxg5+ Kf8 27 Qf6+! Kg8 28 Qxe7 Qxe5 29 Qd8+ Kf7 30 Rc7+ Bd7 31 Qxd7+ 1-0

I hope that you have enjoyed this issue of Coffee Break Chess. Next issues should be out in the end of May - stay tuned!

Technical Support

I am very grateful to Igor Yagolnitser for his help with this project. For assistance regarding CBC, please contact Igor at

Alexander Baburin, Dublin.

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

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