Our hotel was situated only few meters away from the memorial of Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg (pronounced “skander beu” by the locals) meaning "Lord or Leader Alexander”. In the summer of 1444, in the field of Torvioll Skanderbeg faced the Otomans and won a battle where Ottomans were much superior in forces.His victory echoed across Europe because this was only the second time when Ottoman army was defeated in Europe. In the coming years, Skanderbeg defeated the Turks two more times, once in 1445 in Moker (Dibra), and once more in 1447 in Oranik (Dibra). He organized Albanian resistance, which lasted for more than hundred years.
I am asking my team mates-“What is the difference between you and the Albanians?””There is no such, only their percentage of Muslims is less than ours.” And to my astonished gaze they explain that there are still many Orthodox Christians in Albania.
Official language here is Albanian. “It is strange mix between Indo-European and Latin language, with many Turkish words”, explains my teammate Burim Dushi. He works as an interpreter from Italian. “There is no analogue to the Albanian language in the world”, completes he. “Is it a problem if I speak Serbian?” I ask knowing that the wounds from the conflict may be still open. “No, not at all. Kosovo people are tolerant now.” Indeed they are-no matter if you speak English or Serbian, they are very polite with the strangers.
Most of the buildings in Prishtina are new, with modern facades. Kosovo is place rich of minerals-gold and silver, nickel, copper, coals. One good pledge for the future.
People really look very calm. On 9-th of May (day of EU) celebrations started from early morning. Pupils from all schools had a dancing competition that lasted till night.
Some more information about the team competition. Eight teams play round-robin tournament on six boards where match points are counted. All teams have the right of two foreign players. Some of them make use of the fact- “Istog” has GMs Vasil Spasov (BUL) and Trayko Nedev (FYROM), “Theranda”- GM Petar Genov (BUL) and IM Dritan Mehmeti (ALB), my team “RWE Power” Kosovo has also GM Alexander Delchev (BUL), and “Llamkos” has even three foreign players GMs Kiril Georgiev (BUL), Vladimir Georgiev (FYROM) and Jozsef Pinter (HUN). They change their top boards. Those teams who cannot afford strong foreigners use tactical weapons. One usual strategy is to place two “victims” on top boards and leave strong back-field. “Pristina” team had very strong backbone of local players.
First two team qualify for European Club Cup and last two drop down in second division.
Chess is struggling to survive here. In our competition every team has to bring 3 chess-sets with it. But what chess-sets these are...from beautiful wood Staunton to the most ordinary broken plastics. I played a game with one which knights were broken. Good it was that I managed to exchange them quickly...People lack clocks, arbiters, trainers. My team-boss Burhan Musini was the chief-arbiter of the event, and works as a secretary in Kosovo Chess Federation. Most of the players were not very used with the digital clocks, which caused some inconveniences.
Despite of all the negatives one thing is sure-locals are burning into the game. I can give you one colorful example-a player had a knight, rook and two pawns against opponent’s bishop and rook. But he lost the pawns and his opponent offered a draw. Frustrated, the first one declined it and eventually won. Every day there were not only chess but verbal clashes as well. And if you sit to analyze near the locals, you may not have the chance to show many moves, since they are eager to show what they saw, or to ask you why not you played this, or that move.
Burim, being quite an impressive person told me that he dreamt my first game against Nedev, and found an improvement in his dream! And the decisive encounter from the previous year between A. Delchev and T. Petrossian was analyzed for a whole month.
Boris Spassky told the story about the waiter who was coming to take orders during the game and regretted that there are no more tournaments like this. But he is wrong-this still happens in Kosovo. We were playing in a restaurant Glass House and waiters were coming to take our orders while we were playing.
And people have ideas-they want to visit some arbiter’s seminars, to open a chess-school where not only students will study, but volunteers who want to become chess teachers themselves. They are also planning international match against Kuwait, strong open tournament with 20000 euro price-fund.
I wish them good luck.
1. Istog 13 points 2. Llamkos 12 3. Prishtina 9 4. RWE Power Kosovo 7 (eight teams in total.)
Bojkov,D (2492) - Mehmeti,D (2419), R4, Kosovo Teams21.Ne5 Nxe5 22.dxe5 f5 23.Nxd5 Qb5 24.Qh5 Qb7 25.Nf4 bxc3 26.Ng6+ 1–0
Veselin Topalov is second. His final encounter against Radjabov ended peacefully, although Azeri sacrificed a queen for only two bishops and had great chances to win. Some annotators called the game “the pearl” of the tournament. Tejmour Radjabov took clear third.
In the fight for the fifth place Aronian and Bu drew, and shared 5-6 places. The Chinese managed to recover in the last 3 games, while Aronian did not show the excellent chess that he is capable of.
Dejan Junior was more interested by the statues of the owls rather than chess...
The winner received a lap-top, runner-up DGT clock, and all the children were presented small gifts and nice memories when Boris Spassky paid attention to the closing ceremony.
Round Six Open-Berbatov won against Andreev
In the Final they meet Again, this time Sasho takes revenge
Round six started with a minute of silence for the victims of earthquake in China. Thousands of people died in the disaster. We all sympathize with the Chinese people.
Some positive news came from Sofia with the arrival of Boris Spassky. Legendary GM went straight into the commentary studio and started to entertain the public. “The best tournament that I have ever played was in 1950”, “it was great- a waiter was coming during the game, and you could order anything you want to drink (even some vodka if you like) during the game. Pity, there are no longer tournaments organized in this manner…””But did not anyone protest against this”-asked someone from the public. “Oh, yes, and it was the strongest player of the event-Vasily Smislov.” Spassky kept on pleasing the audience with his colorful memories, excellent chess and witty remarks with short pauses. You may follow his comments in internet. Today the President of the Republic of Bulgaria Georgi Parvanov will officially receive Boris Spassky at 13:00 local time. Great champion will play a simultaneous exhibition against journalists and Krasimir Kushev from National TV is already asking me how to face 1.e4. “Sicilian-I advise him, play a long battle against his favorite Closed system”. We shall see if this will work well
One other legendary player paid attention to the tournament as well-Ivan Radulov. Many-times Bulgarian champion and one of our best players ever Ivan still plays chess actively if a chance arise.
Among the audience I saw current Bulgarian female champion-Elitza Raeva.
Gm Vladimir Dimitrov is here as well. He is a long-time trainer of Ivan Cheparinov, and was with him in Baku for the Grand-Prix. “I have some rest now”, and in the meantime annotates life the game Ivanchuk-Radjabov for chessdom.com.
In the meantime Ivanchuk opted for open game against Radjabov, and had to face the Sveshnikov line. Ukrainian looked confident and spend something like six minutes in the opening but when Radjabov introduced the novelty 20…Rbe8 sank into deep thought, and decided to keep it save with 21.Nc6. Critical were both 21.Na6 or 21.Qd6, but I guess that Ivanchuk’s sense of danger prevented him from capturing any of the pawn. 21.Nc6 led to mass exchanges, and with accurate play the game ended peacefully. The leader dropped his first half point!
For the audience’s enormous pleasure he did not leave the tournament hall immediately, but joined Spassky, and they both started a deep exploring of the game Bu-Cheparinov. Ukrainian’s devotion to chess is simply exceptional.
Ivan Cheparinov tried to explore his opponent’s passive play in the opening. On move 8 he jumped with his knight on e4, and later supported it with f5. A kind of favorable Stonewall arisen and in the doubled-edged game Bulgarian felt better. Little by little he managed to create an attack on the King’s flank, and on move 40 effectively sacrificed a whole rook that netted him a full point (40…Rg3-h3!)
At the press-conference after the game journalists ask Bu what is the reason for his passive play, on which the Chinese replied that although he may play passive sometimes, but today he felt that at some moment he even had the upper hand.
With his win Cheparinov went on 50% average, which gives him clear third for the moment.
Veselin Topalov had a long battle against Levon Aronian. He got some slight edge out of the opening, but the Armenian defended well, and it looks like that he could easily share the point with 33…Rd3. Instead he went for a wrong plan, lost a pawn, and even his witty tricks could not safe the day. “What is this, is it some joke?” asked Paco Vallejo when seeing Aronian’s 49…Rd6. And then quoted a long forced line that wins for white. Topalov did not make use of his second’s suggestion but won in a safer way, and now the distance between him and Ivanchuk is one point.
Today their game was drawn after a long battle.
Тема сегодняшнего обзора - творческие достижения чемпионата Европы. Так называемого мужского. Хотя мужского чемпионата не существует, а есть чемпионаты общий и женский.
Что-то убавив и что-то прибавив, в основном ограничиваюсь тронувшими за душу примерами из промелькнувших в издании Chess Today, а также в бюллетенях чемпионата, над аналитической составляющей которых потрудился коллега и хороший приятель Деян Божков.
При подборе поединков считал обязательным отразить успех главного героя - нового чемпиона континента Сергея Тивякова. (И вот с таким человеком мне как-то запретил согласиться на ничью особо проницательный капитан команды в немецкой бундеслиге!). Так что решающая партия, конечно же, присутствует. В остальном, включаю то, что попалось на глаза и смогло удержаться в сфере внимания.
The rest (in Russian as well) you can find here:
I did not visit them yet, and was eager to see what happens there. Two Bulgarian players take part this year; this is something exceptional for us. Moreover-a young Chinese player, one of the youngest GMs ever, another former prodigy from Azerbajdjan, and established top players Aronian and Ivanchuk, the tournament cannot be boring!
I took the bus to the Sport’s Palace where Bulgarian Chess Federation is situated, then walk up to the National Theater. Nothing is changed in the garden-our “kibitzers” are playing their games on small stakes, at the beautiful boards that were presented to them from the former M-Tel editions.
I get in and discover the second novelty. The cage, the aquarium, or whatever you may call it. This box of glass is an impressive construction. It is innovation that might change ordinary’s man attitude towards chess. While players play in it, you can walk around, chat with other people, and have a coffee. It is not a problem for the players, there is a double wall of glass that perfectly isolates the noise. True, experienced public is still whispering in the hall, we are not very used to the innovations. And Danailov’s idea I guess is to place the “cage” somewhere outside, where everyone will be able to see these top players.
I meet him in the lobby, energetic and busy as always. Giving interviews for the Medias, talking on his cellular, ruling the press-center, negotiate. He is trying to widen the “chess market” and open it for new horizons. China is a perfect place. “The Grand Slam has already 3 tournaments in Europe and one in Latin America - Mexico City. From next year - 2009, USA will join the Grand Slam with a super tournament in Seattle with prize fund of USD 750 000. I think it would be perfect if the 6th tournament takes place in Asia, especially in China”, states Danailov for the tournament site. And it looks like that he will manage to succeed in this difficult task, too.
Danailov also does well for the youth players. Promotional M-Tel Мasters Junior tournament is to be organized by his Caissa Chess Management on 17 May-the day of sports in Bulgaria. Young player (born after 01.01.1994) will compete into the same hall where top-players fight and the final match for the first place will be in “the Cage”. First price is also very useful-notebook for the winner, but the best thing is that former world champion legendary Boris Spassky will present the winners! Yesterday on “Black and White party” in City Garden the chair on which Veselin Topalov sits here was sold for 10000 BGN (approximately 5050 Euros). The money will be gifted for the M-Tel Masters Junior tournaments.
Outside the venue I meet Plamena Andreeva, one of our good female players. She is working for the tournament. And if you are wondering who executes Topalov’s moves in his game against Juett before the start of the M-Tel Masters-the mystery is already solved-Plamena does it.
Many chess players are involved into organization. GM Evgeny Ermenkov was replaced in the last moment, and his functions are taken by Radislav Atanasov from National Sports Academy and another talented female player-Stefi Bednikova. They are entertaining the public. Their commentaries are more show, rather than pure, dry chess. The ordinary public highly appreciates this.
Players are coming. Most impatient is Ivan Cheparinov. He is in the cage fifteen minutes before the others. Highly concentrated, eager to show quality chess. Today he will sacrifice an exchange straight from the opening against Radjabov. An idea by his second Ervin L’Ami from Holland. They are both astonished by Azeri choice-he is taking the exchange and going into a passive defense. His position looks quite dubious, but in the time-scramble White misses something, and has to force perpetual. “Ng3 instead of g4-g5 was winning”, states L’Ami, “Ivan could win a pawn for the exchange and go into almost winning endgame.”
This game appears to be only draw today. Veselin Topalov takes the initiative from the opening. He finds nice maneuver to activate his knight, exchanges it for a bishop on g6, and further nets the point with direct attack. “It was easy to play this position, Black lacked counter play”, said the former world champion. True, he had about 50 minutes left on his clock when his opponent resigned. Probably Bu’s thoughts were somewhere in China where earthquake took many victims. “You are well known for your final speed, how it feels when doing well in the beginning?” asked a journalist Topalov. “Well, plus three is an excellent result in such field, and I am a little bit disappointed that I am not leading. But I will not bother that much if I do not win the tournament if I can make some more plusses, play attractive chess and improve my rating”.
In the meanwhile incredible Ivanchuk was netting his fifth in a row. His opponent chose a rare move in the Slav opening 10.b3, which caused some time-consuming thought by the Ukrainian. Later Aronian played risky, first sacrifices a pawn, then a piece, but Ivanchuk defended well and remained on 100 %. “The man with the big chuk” as one of my friend calls him. “Chuk” in Bulgarian means “Hammer”. There is no better expression for his play so far here.
I waited to snap Ivanchuk, Aronian and Radjabov in the press-room, but Krasimir Kushev called me for TV life-transmission, and missed them. Bulgarian National TV has everyday reports (life and diaries in the evening). We are expanding.
Today is the only rest day of the tournament. Our players will play football against PFC “Levski”. Topalov wants to be a defender; his idea is to left the youngsters attack. We shall see if this will work well. But having in mind the fact that “Levski” barely took the silver this year, I predict 4-3 result for Chess United!
EICC Plovdiv, 21.04.2008
Bologan finds way to use the concentration of his pieces in the center:20.Nf6+! gxf6 21.Qg3! fxg5 22.Qxg5+ Kh8 23.Qf6+ Kg8 24.Rd5 N4e5 25.Rdxe5 Nxe5 26.Rxe5 Rfe8 27.Rg5+ Kf8 28.Rf5 the only "flaw" in the combination. [9.Qh6+ was mate in 5, one move earlier than in the game:)] 1–0
How was the tournament?
I played very well. I felt that I came in my optimal sport shape, and managed to prove it.
Did you make some fixed draws to rest?
No, I played all the games. Although some of them ended very shortly, they were played. I simply equalized very easy against the white color. At the same time made terrific result as White- five out of six games.
You played your pet Alapin line in your decisive game against Emil Sutovsky.
Yes, because I knew that he plays only 2…d5 line. White is slightly better here, and I wanted to play for a win without too much risk.
But at some moment he could have safe the game?
True, but it is only because I played carelessly Bb3. Instead I had to go for Qf4 immediately.
Will you be awarded now from Netherland’s Chess Federation?
From the federation no, but I will receive salary from Netherland’s Olympic Committee. Our federation lacks resources, and it is not even clear if we will take part at the Olympic Games in Dresden.
What are your plans now?
I am travelling to Cuba for Capablanca memorial in a few days where I will not only play, but will write reports for chessbase. After that I will take part in a small tournament in Lodi (Italy).
Thank you, and good luck!
Last round at the men event started as most of the observers predicted-quick draws on the first two boards, then on board four. Thus the central game of the round became the encounter between:
Tiviakov,S - Sutovsky ,E [B22]
9th European Individual Ch (m) round 3 Plovdiv BUL (11), 02.05.2008
1.e4 c5 2.c3 Tiviakov's pet Alapin line against the Sicilian. Recently he produced a chessbase DVD on the matter. 2...d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Na3 In his video lections Tiviakov states that White is slightly better in this line. 6...Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nb5 Qd8 9.Nbxd4 Nd5 10.Bg5 Qb6
11.Bc4 [11.Qb3 does not pretend for opening advantage. 11...Bc5 12.Qxb6 Bxb6 13.Rd1 h6 14.Bc1 Nxd4 15.Nxd4 Bd7 16.Bc4 Ba4 17.Bb5+ Bxb5 18.Nxb5 a6 19.Nd6+ Ke7 20.Nf5+ Kf6 21.Ng3 Rhd8 and Black had no problems at all. 0–1 Degraeve,J (2541)-Sokolov,A (2554)/Aix les Bains 2003/CBM 097 (61)] 11...Nxd4 [11...Nf6 12.0–0 Be7 13.Qe2 0–0 14.Rad1 a6 15.Rd2 Qc7 16.a4 Bd7 17.Nb3 ½–½ David,P (2440)-Bernal Moro,L (2380)/Odessa 1990/EXT 1997; 11...Qxb2? this pawn is poisoned. 12.Nb5 Be7 13.Rb1+-] 12.Nxd4 Bc5 [12...Qxb2? 13.Nb5 Bc5 14.0–0 is the same trap.; 12...h6 13.Bb5+ Bd7 14.Bxd7+ Kxd7 15.Qa4+ Kc7 16.Nb5+ is dangerous for Black] 13.Bxd5 Bxd414.0–0!? [14.Qxd4 Qxd4 15.cxd4 exd5=] 14...Bc5 Black plays safe, but maybe it was better to accept the pawn. After: [14...Bxc3!? 15.bxc3 exd5 16.Qa4+ (16.Qxd5 Be6 17.Qf3 0–0=) 16...Qc6 17.Rae1+ Be6 (17...Kf8 18.Qb4+ (18.Qa3+!?) 18...Kg8 19.Re7 with initiative) 18.Qa3 the position looks very dangerous, but Black can find a safe shelter for his king- 18...f6 19.f4 Qb6+ 20.Kh1 0–0–0and the position is unclear; 14...Bxf2+? 15.Rxf2 exd5 16.Qa4+ Qc6 17.Qa3‚ gives White terrific attack.] 15.Qe2 h6?! It looks like that the Israeli GM was afraid of b2-b4 idea and wanted to preserve e7 square for the bishop. But the pawn on h6 now becomes a target. [better is 15...0–0 and later Black can eventually chase the bishop even with f7-f6.] 16.Bf4 0–0 17.Bc4 Bd7 18.Rad1 Rad8
White won deserved win, and Sergey Tiviakov became European Individual Champion for first time in his career. Congratulations!
Pity for Emil Sutovsky the only consolation became his qualification for the World cup. Together with Victor Laznicka they are the 2 players who will not play tie-breaks tomorrow and qualify directly thanks to their superior Bucholz.
9th European Individual Ch (m) round 10 Plovdiv BUL (10.7), 01.05.2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Bd3 Bc5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.0–0 Nf6 9.f4 d6
10.e5 dxe5 11.fxe5 Qxe5 This is a very rare line. There are only 4 games in my Megabase, and so far White did not win any. But I had the impression that Smirin did not feel quite comfortable. 12.Bf4 Qh5 13.Be2 Qh4 14.g3 Qh3 15.Ne4 e5 [15...0–0? 16.Nxf6+ Bxf6 17.Bg4] 16.Nd6+!N From now on Black will play all the best moves by the engine, but will not survive... [16.Ng5 Qd7 17.Bxe5 Nc6 18.Bc3 h6 19.Nf3 0–0 20.Qxd7 Bxd7 21.Ne5 Nxe5 22.Bxe5 Bc6 23.Bf3 Rac8 24.Bxc6 Rxc6 25.c3 Nd7 26.Bd4 Re6 27.Rae1 Re8 28.Kf2 Bd6 29.Rxe6 Rxe6 30.Re1 Rxe1 31.Kxe1 f5 32.Ke2 Kf7 33.Na5 b6 34.Nc4 Bc7 35.a4 g5 36.Kf3 g4+ 37.Kf2 h5 38.Ne3 Ke6 39.Nc4 h4 40.gxh4 Kd5 41.Ne3+ Ke4 42.Nf1 f4 43.h5 Kf5 44.h6 Kg6 45.Bg7 Nc5 46.Ke2 Nxa4 47.c4 Nc5 48.Nd2 f3+ 49.Ke3 Bxh2 50.Nf1 Bd6 51.Nd2 a5 52.Bd4 Kxh6 53.Bxc5 Bxc5+ 54.Kf4 Kh5 55.Ne4 Kh4 0–1 Vouldis,A (2230)-Dizdarevic,E (2505)/Manila 1992/TD] 16...Bxd6 After: [16...Kf8 a sample line goes: 17.Bxe5 Nc6 18.Bxf6 Bxf6 19.Nc5 Bd4+ 20.Kh1 Bxc5 21.Qd5 Be6 22.Rxf7+ Kg8 23.Rxg7+ Kxg7 24.Qg5+ Kf8 25.Bg4 Bxd6 26.Qf6+ Kg8 27.Qxe6+] 17.Qxd617...Nbd7 If Black accepts the piece White will have a choise or toforce draw with: [17...exf4 18.Rad1 Or to keep on playing, liquidating into a better endgame after: (18.Rae1 Be6 19.Rxf4 Nc6 20.Bc4 Rd8 21.Bxe6 Rxd6 22.Bxh3+ Kd8 23.Nc5 and White is pressing in the endgame) 18...Nc6 19.Bf3 Be6 20.Bxc6+ bxc6 21.Qxc6+ Ke7 22.Qd6+=] 18.Rfe1! [18.Bxe5 is what Smirin is aiming for. After: 18...Nxe5 19.Qxe5+ Qe6 20.Qc5 b6 21.Qd4 0–0 he manages to evaquate his king, and the position is approximately equal.] 18...Ne4 [18...Qe6? 19.Bxe5 Nxe5 20.Bb5+ axb5 21.Rxe5+-] 19.Qb4 f5 20.Bf3 exf4 21.Bxe4 fxe4 22.Rxe4+