In the middle of January (11-17 January) two interesting events took place in Bulgaria. In Blagoevgrad was played the second Memorial Tournament in honour of GM Nino Kirov, and in Pleven took place the final round-robin tournament from the series Balkan Grand Prix.
Blagoevgrad was not chosen incidentally to be the place for the second memorial, for the GM was born there in 1945, and he is so far the only grandmaster from the town. Nino Kirov achieved the highest chess title in 1974, a year after his first national title. He won again the Bulgarian Championship in 1978, and represented the country in many international events with good results. His bohemian way of living, remarkable sense of humour, as well as his kindness and frankness brought him the nickname “The King”, and he was well known among all the chess society. He passed away suddenly in September, 2008 after short illness, which was a painful shock in Bulgaria’s chess community.
Soon afterwards, in 2009 his son- Kiril Ninov, successful businessman, who is also a strong player, and a chess IM (in the book of Anand’s best games you may see his name in the first game of the future world champion) paid a tribute to his father and sponsored the first Nino Kirov Memorial in January, 2009. Father and son used to travel and play tournaments together, sometimes facing each other. In 1995 the Bulgarian championship was held in a knock-out system, and of course the both players have to face each other at some stage. Routine prevailed against youth, and The King only remarked: “He did not study the King’s Gambit yet.”
This year the tournament is repeated. 56 players from five countries took place in the event, among them were 7 GMs and 11 IMs. From the previous year the regulations claimed, that in case of a tie the first place is awarded to the player with the most wins. Generally, it is a great idea to support the open, aggressive chess, and this also gives a chance for the “underdogs” to win the event. Last year such a player won the tournament, but this one the expectations were that the top seeded Kiril Georgiev should win comfortably. He indeed started quite convincingly, scoring 3/3. In the meanwhile his closest elo-rival Julian Radulski lost in the first two rounds. Normally in such situation I have seen strong players “getting ill” and leaving the tournament. Not that Julian is such a person, but it was also nice that the tie-break system this did not appear too frightening. Scoring 6/6 in the next rounds, Radulski secured at least second place by making a short draw in the last one. His only threat for the first place was his teammate GM Evgeny Janev, who also started poorly, and had 2.5/5. Janev won, and the tie-break roulette awarded him the first place thanks to a better third criterion. Four more players tied for the first, and among them was Georgiev, who suffered his only loss in the penultimate round against his town-mate Grigor Grigorov (which gave a case for the some jokers to call the latter the new champion of Petrich). The same young player did not suffer any loss, but won only four games, and was left at the tail of the crosstable-sixth place.
Best qualified woman was WIM Adriana Nikolova, who scored six points, and left four GMs and many IMs behind her, while the second-qualified woman Stefi Bednikova made her final WIM norm.
Rank SNo. Name Rtg FED Club Pts vict BH. BH. Fide
1 10 GM Janev Evgeni 2461 BUL Plovdiv 6,5 6 32,0 40,5 29,0
2 2 GM Radulski Julian 2577 BUL Lokomotiv2000 Plovdiv 6,5 6 32,0 40,5 27,5
3 1 GM Georgiev Kiril 2672 BUL Sofia 6,5 5 38,0 49,5 36,5
4 5 IM Petrov Marijan 2500 BUL Naiden Voinov Vidin 6,5 5 36,0 46,5 34,5
5 7 IM Drenchev Petar 2477 BUL Plovdiv 6,5 5 36,0 46,0 32,0
6 4 IM Grigorov Grigor 2508 BUL Lokomotiv2000 Plovdiv 6,5 4 38,0 49,0 31,5
Etc. (56 participants).
In the meanwhile in Pleven ten players were playing in a more solid way in category 12 (average rating 2543) event. The first final of the Balkan Grand Prix was under the patronage of deputy Rumen Petkov, and took place in hotel Rostov. The top 5 players from the tournament series around the Balkans were joined by five more personally chosen by their federations. For various reasons not all of the qualified managed to take part, but it was still the second-best international tournament in Bulgaria (after M-Tel Masters). The price fund was 7000 euro, with 1500 for the winner, and 300 for the last place. The quality of the players made them more careful and less willing to risk. The tournament appeared to be an easy walk for the top-rated Bojan Vuckovic from Serbia, who won his first three white games, and with relatively short draws claimed the title. He also won the hand-made wooden cup. Second-fourth place was shared by Constantin Lupulescu from Romania (who decided not to risk in the final round against Vuckovic as black and signed a quick draw), Momchil Nikolov from Bulgaria, and Nikola Sedlak from Serbia. If the number of wins system was used in Pleven, Sedlak would have been second for he was the most fightful player, with four wins and two losses. Momchil Nikolov accomplished a remarkable series of great results in the Balkan Grand Prix tournaments. He qualified first in those series and topped the table, after four tournaments with no defeat and one GM norm, and achieved the grandmaster requirements with his last norm in Pleven (needless to say, he also did not lose a single game here, either).
The second final of the Balkan Grand Prix is already scheduled for December, and it will take place in Belgrade, Serbia.
The recently finished championship of Greece saw two of my ex-students achieving the best possible results. Both Antonis Pavlidis and Dimitra Vatkali from Kavala Chess Club claimed the titles in Athens. While Antonis is always considered to be a favourite in these events (he already is also an IM) Dimitra’s success is a fruit of her stubbornness, patience and discipline as well as the every-day hard-work that she does. Among her best qualities is the good evaluation of the position and she is very good in strategical aspects of the game. I proudly present you her most important win from the championship with her annotations.
Vatkali,Dimitra (1905) - Barbageorgopoulou,Fani (1878) [B12]
13 Greek Indiv. Ch. Girls U18 - 2010 KYBE registr. Peristeri Greece (8.1), 08.01.2010
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 I usually play Nd2 here but I was prepared to play something more attacking as I needed to win to play for first place! 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nc3 e6 5.g4 Bg6 6.Nge2 Nd7 7.Nf4 Ne7 8.h4 h5 9.Nxg6 Nxg6 10.Bg5
10...Be7 [10...Qb6 11.gxh5 Rxh5 12.Qxh5 Qxb2 13.Bd3! Qxa1+?? would be a mistake 14.Kd2 Nf4 this is what Rybka suggests here. (14...Qxh1 15.Bxg6± and white has a very pleasant position.) 15.Qf3! (15.Bxf4?? Qxh1–+) 15...Qb2 16.Rb1± otherwise Bb4 is coming.] 11.gxh5 Bxg5 [11...Nxh4 maybe this is better. 12.Bxh4 Bxh4 13.Qg4 Bg5] 12.hxg6 fxg6 now the e6 ang g6 pawns are very weak. 13.Qg4 Nf8?+/= [13...Qe7 is much better,preparing also 0–0–0.] 14.Bd3 Rh6
15.h5! gxh5 16.Rxh5 Rxh5 17.Qxh5+ Kd7 18.f4 Bh6 [18...Bxf4?? of course not B:f4 because it loses a piece. 19.Qf7++-] 19.Ne2 with idea to castle in the next move. 19...Rc8? 20.0–0–0 Qe8 21.Qg4 [21.Qxe8+ exchanging queens would not be such a good idea as white would lose the initiative.] 21...Rc7 22.Kb1
getting away from the pin. 22...Kd8 23.f5 exf5 24.Bxf5 g6?? A mistake,now white can win a pawn. 25.Qh4+ Qe7 26.Qxh6 gxf5 27.Ng3 c5 [27...Qf7 28.Qg5+] 28.Nxf5 Qf7 29.Qd6+ Kc8 30.Ne3 cxd4 31.Nxd5 Rd7 32.Qc5+ Kb8 33.Nf6 Rc7 34.Qxd4
and now it is plain sailing for white to win. 34...Ne6 35.Qd6 Qg6 36.Rc1 Qf5 37.Ne8 Black resigned. 1–0
In the middle of the cold winter I got an invitation for private training session on a country which I always wanted to visit. The capital of UAE, Abu Dhabi was the place where I gave a week of lessons to a real Sheikh. While the temperatures in Europe were dropping down under the zero, I had some exciting days, enjoying the +25 temperatures and the beach, the beauty of the local architecture, and first class conveniences of my host.
I was surprised to learn that until 1950-ies UAE was an extremely poor country, in which the local people earned their living mainly thanks to the pearl diving. Everything changed for good when petrol was found. However, contrary to some other countries where only a few people benefit from such discoveries, the people from UAE can hardly complain. You do not have to be Sheikh to receive a house, car and scholarship to study in a foreign country, all you need is your native pass, and will to do so.
Nowadays, the country is a real sample of religious tolerance where Muslimism meets all other religions in a really patient way.
Among the positions that we studied with HH was this famous one:
Steinitz - Trapping the knight
1.Re4 A rook versus knight endgame is usually a draw, but the weak side should stick his pieces together. Here we have a case in which the knight is too far away from his king and is dominated by the opponent's king and rook duet. 1...Nd1 The knight is moving away from the king, and will be patiently surrounded. However, the other retriets would not save it: [1...Nf1 2.Rf4+ is an immediate fork, while; 1...Ng2 places the knight on a poor place, where it is already limited by the opponent's rook. 2.Kf6
2...Kg8 3.Rg4+; 1...Nc2 does not help either- 2.Kd5 Na3 3.Kc5 Nb1 4.Kb4
4...Nd2 5.Re2! and White benefits from the position of the opponent's king. 5...Nb1 6.Rb2+-] 2.Rf4+ Kg7 3.Rf3!
Strong manouever, that takes away three from all four available squares from the knight and chaces it away to the corner. 3...Kg6 [Or- 3...Nb2 4.Kd5 Kg6 5.Kd4 Kg5 6.Rf1 Kg4 7.Rb1 Na4 8.Rb4] 4.Ke5 Kg5 5.Kd4 Kg4 6.Rf1 Nb2 7.Rb1 Na4 8.Rb4
and finally, the knight is trapped 1–0