Neuhausen Is Doing Well

At the recently finished round of 2 Bundesliga South the team of Neuhausen managed to take an important win against one of the favourites- Baden-Baden 2.
It was a nice match for our young players, who scored the major part of the overall points.
I managed to outplay the talented Raoul Strohhaeker, but unfortunately passed by a beautiful finish:

17.b4 My position is strategically winning after this move, however...I saw the move- [17.Re7 but after- 17...Qd6 I abandoned the search for a win- 18.Qe1 Qxc5 (18...Nf6 19.Qb4+ Ka8

20.Rxa7+ Kxa7 21.Qa5+ Kb8 22.Qb6+ Ka8 23.Nxc6 is also nice) 19.Qb4+!

is the idea I missed when Black gets mated. A pity. 19...Qxb4 20.Nxc6+ Ka8 21.Rxa7#] The game ended prosaically after- 17...Ka8 18.Qe2 Nf6 19.Qe5 Qb6 20.c3 Rfe8 21.Qg5 Ne4 22.Nxe4 dxe4 23.Qxg7 c5 24.bxc5 Qxc5 25.Qxf7 e3 26.Rxe3 Rxe3 27.fxe3 Bb7 28.Rb1 Be4 29.Rf1 Qxc3 30.Qxa7+ Kxa7 31.Nb5+ Kb6 32.Nxc3 Ba8 33.Rd1 1–0


Afek's Best (7)

Yochanan Afek
New In Chess 1997 (v)

White pair of knights is outweighted by a direct attack as well as by the dangerous black advanced pawn. 1.Ne3 g3! [The black king is in a mate net after: 1...gxh3 2.Nef1 Kg2 3.Kf5 Kh1 4.Kg4 Kg2 5.Kh4 Kg1 6.Kxh3 Kh1 7.Ng3+ Kg1 8.Nf3#; while following 1...f1Q 2.Nexf1 gxh3 3.Kf5 it's a DGTB win in 32 moves] 2.Nhf1! The first surprise. The more natural looking [2.Nhg4? is met by 2...f1Q! 3.Nxf1 Kg2 4.h4 Kxf1 5.h5

5...Ke2! 6.h6 g2 with a dead draw] 2...g2

with the threat 3...g1Q but also 3...gxf1Q 4.Nxf1 Kg2. Time to offer a draw? not quite! 3.h4!! g1Q 4.Kf7!!

It's the queen's turn to be trapped in an astonishing reciprocal zugzwang position. 1–0


European Club Cup- an Inside Look

The European Club Cup took place in Ohrid, Macedonia on the beautiful lake with the same name near the Albanian border between 4-10 October.
I was there as a trainer of the former Women World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova. Eti invited me to work with her at the end of August, and before the Inventi tournament in Antwerpen we had our first camp.
She plays for the team of Spartak Vidnoe, together with sisters Nadezhda and Tatiana Kosintsevi, Ekaterina Lahno and Evgenia Ovod. The team is a real bunch of European champions, but they were the second-seeded team after the last two-time champions from Monte Carlo. The expectations were that these two teams would fight for the title.
The Russian players have great organization. They did not save money for trainers-Yury Dokhoian, the legendary trainer of Garry Kasparov (and current second of Sergey Karjakin) was here to take care about the Kosintsevi sisters. They both scored well, winning individual silver medals on boards 1 and 3 respectively. Dokhoian is a remarkable trainer, who takes to his heart any lost game of his students. However, when the game is over, he becomes a completely new man, with great sense of humour, and exact evaluation of what had happened. Robert Fontaine was also here to support and prepare his wife Katya. Last, but not least, we had our captain- WGM Elmira Mirzoeva- famous chess journalist, and incredibly cheerful person, who was always where the girls needed her.
The tournament went smoothly for our team. It all started more than convincingly with a 4-0 win against the solid team of “Mika”- Erevan. Then two draws followed against “Economist” and the “Samaia”- Tbilisi. The second one was a piece of bad luck, since we managed to repel both our blacks and could not profit from the good positions of the white colours. After this match, the ladies found their rhythm and won three matches in a row. Especially valuable was the one in the sixth round against one of the best teams- “T-com”- Podgoritsa- 3.5-0.5. Before that round, the team was discussing the strong performance of Ekaterina Kovalevskaya- the fourth board of the Montenegrin team. “However, we have another Katya on board four”-remarked Dokhoian. Indeed, our Katya proved stronger, and brought a “black” victory for “Spartak”. The lost of the Montenegrin team forced them to rest in the last round, and at the end, they were only a mere half point short to the bronze medals. Rather weird destiny for a medal contender. As a whole, the format of the event- seven rounds for eleven teams was predisposing some odd situations. For example, the team of Monte Carlo drew their first match, but had the luck to be paired on the next day against the underdogs from” Vandoeuvre”, and after a 4-0 win immediately went back into the lead. While the last round pairings did not oppose the leader “Spartak” against the third in the table Monte Carlo due to the impossible parings of the tournament “tail”. At the same time at the men’s section, it was very strange to me to discover that the team of “Baden-Baden” who lost only 5 points in total in the first five matches does not have even theoretical chances for the title, due to their minimal defeat against “Mika” (the match where Naiditsch blundered a whole rook in a much better position).
Back to the sixth round of the women event- this became in fact the decisive round of the tournament, since it secured the title for the Russian team. By that moment we had the same match points with the Georgian team, and Monte Carlo was a point behind. The expectations were that everything will be decided in the final round, but…First the team from Tbilisi gave rest to their leader Maya Chiburdanidze, and lost their match. Moreover, Monte Carlo could not deal with “Mika” drawing yet another match. “Spartak”- Vidnoe became champions within a spare round!
The success was a result of the convenient play of all the players. Except the silver individual medals for Nadya and Tanya Kosintsevi the team took two golds- for Eti on board two, and Katerina Lahno on board four. Katya also had the best overall performance in the women section with her 5.5/6- 2772.
I did not have a lot of time to observe the men section, since they were playing in another hotel- INEX Goritsa. The general impression was that the young team of Saratov won quite convincingly. Probably the match that they were is most dangerous situation was…the first one. However, the fact that they won all their matches (even though most of them with a minimal margin) speaks for itself. It is hard to point out their best player; they performed excellent as a team. From the individual performances, the play of Levon Aronian looked quite impressive, even though he lost his final encounter against Mamedyarov. Remarkable chess was definitely shown by Peter Svidler. He took silver medal on first board, but showed the best overall performance in the open section- 2920! While the golden medal on first board went to Vladimir Georgiev, the former trainer of Eti. He scored 5/6 for his KSH Llamkos (Kosovo). The most points achieved Michael Adams (Baden-Baden) and Artur Zarka (Roskovec), both 6.5/7.
The organization of the event was on a very good level. Especially delightful was the service, and the attitude towards the players. There were some extraordinary events- like the chess game under the water. The event was richly covered on the national television, and the results of the local Alkaloid closely followed. It is a pity for them that they could not develop they start of five wins. Nevertheless, one of them showed once again great performance, eight years after his first visit in Ohrid. Andrey Volokitin won the third board with convincing 6/7, and what was the surprise- he won some elegant rook endgames instead of his “common” sharp games.
Eti had one free day in which we visited the monastery of St Naum which was established back in 905. Naum- one of the students of Cyril and Methodius (the creators of the Cyrillic alphabet that is now used in Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Serbia) lived some twenty kilometers away from Ohrid. Peacocks are living comfortably in the church area. The monk on the front desk taught us what to do for luck. We just made a wish, while touching the Saint’s grave, and with the right ear, we tried to listen to his heart.
I could not hear it, but I hope that my wish will come true.


How “Vodovod” promoted into first Serbian division and what happens in Serbia

In Vrnjacka Banja took place the 1-st League of Central Serbia between 18-26 Septembers. Practically, this is one of the second divisions of the country, but do not be mislead by that fact. Among the 12 participating teams competed eight GMs, many IMs and FMs, and even at the back fifth and sixth boards players with ratings 2300-2400 could be met. The best team qualified for the Highest Serbian Division, while the last one was relegated from the group.
Twelve teams play each other in a round-robin tournament, each teams contains six boards. The system is match points. Just like in the football, the winner is awarded with 3 points, draw is equal to a point, while losing means zero.
It appeared that two teams competed for the promotion after their powerful starts. Both the elo favourites from “Vodovod”- Kragujevac and “Jelica”-Goracici were leading after seven rounds with only one drawn match each. The former team was impressively effective, winning all its matches by a minimal margin 3.5-2.5. However, their clash in round eight turned into a total triumph for “Vodovod”. Relatively easily they scored four wins, and managed to save the two remaining bad positions to close the match in impressive score- 5-1. After that the discouraged team of “Jelica” switched to a “silver programme”, in which they succeeded easily. Third became the team of “Sloboda”- Uzice. For the champions competed the GMs Dragisa Blagojevic from Montenegro (as a foreigner), Miroslav Tosic, Nenad Ristic (the selector of the national women team), IM Slobo Vratonjic, FM Boroljub Zlatanovic, Dragoljub Lazic and Slavisa Milosevic.
One of the most colourful participants is IM Radovan Govedarica. He is always everywhere, knows all the positions, and immediately after someone ends, he appears to give a competent advice of how he had to play. Although he did not do very well in the tournament (he even lost one game due to a phone ring forfeit), he was showing his potential in blitz games, obviously enjoying every second of chess.
Chess is a magical word in Serbia. Whenever I pass the boarder, I always say, that I am a chess player. This saves me a lot of time, and unnecessary baggage search, since all the chess players are highly respected in Serbia. Sometimes I start a chat with the customers on the past glorious times with Gliga (Gligorich) and Ljuba (Ljuboevic) being the main heroes. A few years ago, due to the great restriction that the Serbians had chess was suffering, since almost all the Serbians had to stay at home. This was the period when they were permitted to play in all the Leagues, and this decision kept their fighting spirit. Lately, our sport is coming back to respect. Those of the players who achieved good results, and won medals from European Competitions and Olympiads, as well as their selectors receive support from the government-salaries that are quite adequate to the economical situation, and that give them the chance to live well.
Vrnjacka Banja is the most famous Serbian spa resort. “Banja” is Serbian means bath, but could also mean a spring. There are altogether seven springs of mineral water in the town, warm in their majority. Their healing effect is known from the ancient Romans, who used the springs very long time ago. Vrnjacka Banja is situated in the foot of the Gosha Mountain, and is an extremely green town, with great clean air. One of the attractions of the town, and its symbol is the sparrow Gochko, and another important sight is the “Bridge of Love”. Its history in short is that the schoolmistress Nada and the officer Relja fell in love for each other, and gave a promise to them in the dawn of the First World War. However, Relja went to war in Greece, felt in love with a Greek woman, married her, and broke the engage with Nada. Nada faded away day after day, and finally died, young and miserable. Since then the girls started to write down the names of their beloved men on padlock, in attempt to lock their love forever. These pads can be seen nowadays on the Nada’s and Relja’s favourite place-a bridge that is now called “The Bridge of Love.”


Afek's Best (5)

Yochanan Afek
2nd Prize Moscow congress ,2003 (V) , 2003

White has four optional captures out of which just one is sound. 1.Nxg6! 1.Kxg7? Nxf8 is obviously wrong while both after 1.Nxh7? b5 2.Kxg7 b4 3.Ng5 b3 4.Ne4 g5 or 1.Kxh7? g5 2.Kg6 g4 3.Kf5 g3 4.Ng6 Kd1 5.Nf4 b5 6.Kg4 b4 7.Kxg3 b3 8.Nd3 Kc2 9.Ne5 Kc3! the black pawns are unstoppable. 1...Nf8! A surprising counter attack forcing the White knight to cope on his own with two remote passed pawns. 2.Nxf8 g5

With a cornered and passive king, how will the limping knight handle the black pawns? well, simply one at the time... 3.Nh7! g4 4.Nf6 g3 5.Nh5! g2 6.Nf4 g1Q! [Since 6...b5 7.Nxg2 Kd2 8.Nf4 b4 9.Nd5 b3 10.Nb6!= draws] 7.Ne2+ Kd2 8.Nxg1 Ke3!

One pawn has been successfully grounded yet chasing the remaining one still requires high precision. 9.Nh3 b5 10.Ng5 b4 11.Nf7! b3 12.Nd6! [Attention! 12.Ne5? Kd4! 13.Nf3+ Kc3 and it's all over] 12...Kd3 13.Nb5 b2 14.Na3=

The White knight has amazingly completed a pawn hunt over the entire board.Both black pawns have nearly committed a full journey from their initial to their promotion square. The problemists call such pawn journey "Excelsior" then it is a double Excelsior alright. 1/2


Eti with a flying start in Belgium

After a week of serious preparation Antoaneta Stefanova started her participation at the very strong round-robin tournament in Belgium more than convincingly, by beating the legendary Jan Timman with the black pieces:
Timman,J - Stefanova,A
InventiChess Antwerpen, 18.09.2009
[Dejan ,Bojkov]

In the diagrammed position Ety did not hesitate too much before sacrificing the knight. 1...Nxg4! this destroys the shelter of the white king, and nets at least a pawn for Black. 2.Qe1 The most stubborn defence probably is: [2.Qg3 Nh6 3.Bxc7 Qxg3 4.Bxg3 f5-/+ although even here the difference in the bishops makes the diffrence in Black's favour.; Accepting the sacrifice leads to devastating attack- 2.fxg4

2...Rxd2! clearing the long diagonal. 3.Qxd2 Qxe4+ 4.Kg1 Re8! subtle move that involves the last piece into the assault. 5.Be3 Qh1+ 6.Kf2 Qxh2+ before including a pawn into the attack, Black clears all the pawns on the king's flank. 7.Ke1 Qh3 8.Ke2 Qxg4+ 9.Ke1 Qh3 10.Ke2 Qg2+ 11.Ke1 Qg5 (11...Qg3+ 12.Ke2 f5 is also winning attack) 12.Ke2 (12.Rf4 Qxf4 13.Qd8+ Rxd8 14.Rxd8+ Kxd8 15.Bxf4–+ is four pawns deficit for the white side.) 12...f5

and there is no defense against the f5-f4 thrust. As usual the opposite-coloured bishops strenghten the attack.13.Qd8+ the best deffense according to Rybka- 13...Qxd8 14.Rxd8+ Rxd8 15.Rxf5 Rd7 and Black starts realizing her material advantage.] 2...Nf6 3.Rg1 Qh5 Black kept her positional advantages, and is a solid pawn ahead. With energetical play Eti destroys Timman's defense. 4.Qg3 Ne8 5.Rde1 h6 [5...f5 6.Qg5 Qxg5 7.Bxg5 Rd3 is also great for Black] 6.a3 g5 7.Be5 Rf8 8.Bc3 Rd3 9.Rgf1

9...f5! 10.exf5 Rxf5 11.Kg1 Nd6 12.Re5 Rxe5 13.Qxe5 Bxf3 14.Qe6+ Kb8 15.Rf2 Bc6 16.Be5 Qd1+ 17.Nf1 Kb7 and White resigned. 0–1


Balkan Grand Prix- Pleasure in Cetinje

The idea of the Balkan Grand Prix was in the air from quite a long time. The primary negotiations took place during the EICC in Plovdiv in 2008. However the contract was signed on February this year, while the Topalov versus Kamsky match was in its progress. Five countries take part in the project- Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania and Bulgaria. The event is without any doubt profitable for the involved countries. Not only that we create connections between the Balkan countries, we also meet strong players from our neighbours with different stile, and from different chess school.
In each country one tournament has the status of a Grand Prix- Sarajevo in Bosnia that took place in May was the first one from the circuit, Cetinje (MNE) that have just finished was the second one. More to follow are the tournaments in Iasi (ROM), that finished recently, Sunny Beach (BUL) at the beginning of September and Obrenovac (SRB) in October. The top 15 qualified participants in every tournament receive points for the circuit. The cleverly made point is the tournament coefficient for the separate events. It depends on the price fund of the tournament- if it is 10 000 euro, the coefficient is 1 and the points won by the player are multiplied by it, if it is let’s say 9 500 (like in Cetinje) - then the Grand Prix points are multiplied by 0.95.
The five best players from the Grand Prix qualify for the final round robin event, and will be joined by five personally invited participants from each country. This event has minimal requirements-a price fund of 10 000 euro (1000 from each federation, and the other 5000 are charged by the host federation), and should be conducted at the end of the year, or at the beginning of 2010.
I have never been in Montenegro and went there quite curious. I knew that it is a small mountain country, with not many inhabitants (I discovered only here that their number is approximately 650 000). Since I very much enjoy the mountain, and I am very positive about the mountain people, too. My high expectations were pleasantly confirmed. Not only the area was wonderful, the organization was perfect, too.
The first people that I met were the arbiters Jasna Sakotic and Veselin Balshic, whom I already knew from the EICC in Plovdiv. Going a bit forward they did a great job, and there was not a single problem throughout the whole event. The accommodation was in the best hotel in town- Grand, we enjoyed single rooms, excellent food. The venue was spacey, well illuminated, with a special place for the audience on a respectable distance from the players. The seats in the audience were usually occupied at the end of the fourth hour, when the most dramatical events were in progress. The bar waiters appear after the first fifteen minutes, and the players could order refreshments during the game.
What I really liked in Montenegro was the dress code. According to the Montenegrin rules, you cannot appear for a game in slippers, vests and shorts. Respect for us all.
Cetinje is the old capital of Montenegro and was founded in the 15-th century. It is surrounded by the Black mountain from which the country takes its name. Currently, the population of the town is less than 20 000 people, and it is an important historical center for the locals. In the past, the town was under the constant attacks by the Turks and the Venetians, and the architecture is highly influenced by the latter.
Our hotel was situated in a green park, and some meters away from it started the main central street. At the beginning of it you can see a blacksmith, dancing under the sound of rock and roll music, while preparing his horseshoes, and other souvenirs. He is the local attraction. On the left of his souvenirs shop the old monasteries start-with the Court Church, many museums, and the Cetinje Monastery. In the latter you can see the arm of St John the Baptist, with his two finger missing. Brother Yaakov explained to us that there are altogether more than 70 monasteries in Montenegro. The religion is Orthodox Christianity.
On the right of the blacksmith the main road starts. It is relatively empty during the day, and overcrowded in the evening, when the decibels from the bars are on the max, and people enjoy cold drinks on the street, or prefer to walk on it.
I was quite lucky that my compatriot Momchil Nikolov did not let me get too lazy in the hotel. We made some nice walks in the mountains, from where we enjoyed these beautiful views.
These walks were profitable for us both. I started badly, but with an enormous bit of luck won my second game, being a piece down. Later, I did better, and managed to score 7/9. The same result was achieved by the local GM Nikola Djukic. The Bucholz criteria were applied, and there was a half point difference in it…
Solely third, achieving a second GM norm is Momchil Nikolov with 6.5 points. Probably he played the best chess, without blunders, and was never in danger of losing.
Best female is WGM Jozefina Paulet from Romania, best seniour player- GM Dusan Rajkovic from Serbia.
In conclusion, I would like to add that it was a pure pleasure for me to face such legendary players like Miso Cebalo and Bozidar Ivanovic, who are extreme fighters, and by the games of whom I used to study chess in my youth.
Official site of the Balkan Grand Prix- http://balkangrandprix.chessmix.com/


Success in Montenegro

At the recently finished stage of the Balkan Grand Prix in Cetinje (MNE) I was lucky to claim the first price. I consider as my best effort the game versus GM Miso Cebalo.
Cebalo,Miso (2476) - Bojkov,Dejan (2521) [A68]
Memorijal Danilo - Dajo Batricevic Cetinje (7.2), 15.08.2009
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4 0–0 6.Nf3 c5 I decided to deviate from my usual 7...Na6. Cebalo is a very aggressive player, and somehow I expected this line. 7.d5 e6 8.Be2 exd5 9.cxd5 Bg4 10.0–0 Nbd7 11.Re1 Re8 12.h3 Bxf3 13.Bxf3 Qa5 14.Be3 b5 15.a3 Nb6 16.Bf2 Nc4 17.Qc2 Nd7

18.a4 Now it is the term of the Croatian Grandmaster to surprise. My preparation was concentrated on the move: [18.Be2 which Cebalo had used three times according to my base- 18...Rab8 19.a4 b4 20.Nb5 Nxb2 21.Nxd6 b3 22.Qb1 Nxa4 (22...Red8 23.e5 Nxa4 24.Bd1 Rb4 25.Bxb3 Rdb8 26.Qa2 Rxb3 27.Qxa4± and White won in 1–0 Cebalo,M (2465)-Rasic,D (2283)/Pula 2001/CBM 082 ext (40)) 23.Ra3 Red8 (23...c4 24.Nxe8 Bf8 25.d6 Qb4was unclear in 0–1 Cebalo,M (2520)-Balcerak,J (2413)/Biel 2000/CBM 077 ext (51)) 24.Rxb3 Nc3 25.Nc4 leads to sharp position with vast scope for improvement for both sides–Ѕ–Ѕ Cebalo,M (2510)-Mohr,G (2474)/Rabac 2003/CBM 096 ext (43)] 18...b4 This seems like an only move to me. However it seems that Black is now doing more than good. 19.Nb5 a6 20.Qxc4 axb5 21.Qxb5 Later on I dicovered a game in the line- [21.axb5 Qxa1 22.Rxa1 Rxa1+ 23.Kh2 Bxb2 (23...Nb6 might also be tested) 24.b6 Ra5 25.b7 f6 and now the simple- (25...Rb8

seems to give an edge for Black.) 26.Bg4 0–1 Sladkov,A-Makarov,S/Dagomys 2004/EXT 2005 (35)] 21...Qxb5 22.axb5 Bxb2 23.Rxa8 I was planning to meet the move- [23.Ra6 with 23...Rxa6 24.bxa6 Ra8 25.Be2 Nb8 (25...Bc3!? is also interesting)winning the pawn on a6. However now the central breakthrough 26.e5 wins in force, and probably this should have been preferred by White.] 23...Rxa8 24.e5 Bc3! 25.Rb1 [Or- 25.Rd1 b3 26.exd6 b2 27.Rb1 Ra1 28.Be4 and now Rybka suggests the slightly paradoxal retreat- 28...Ra4!? concretely picking up the f4 pawn.] 25...Rb8 I believe this is the main enemy for me-the b passer. The central pawn mass can be stopped by the combined efforts of the black pieces. Alternatively, I was also considering the line- [25...dxe5 26.d6 Ra1 Worse seems to be the line (26...Rd8 27.Bc6 exf4 28.Bxd7 Rxd7 29.Bxc5 with very unclear consequences) 27.Rxa1 Bxa1 The engines highly praise the arising position, but I disliked- 28.Bc6 b3 29.Bd5 b2 30.Ba2 exf4 31.Kf1

where my bishop is excluded from the game.] 26.e6 [26.exd6 Rxb5 is good for Black.] 26...Nf6 27.g4 I was mainly expecting something like: [27.Be2 Nxd5 28.exf7+ Kg7 (28...Kf8) ; 27.exf7+ Kg7 28.Be2 Ne4!?

where the connected passers look rather dangerous. Nevertheless, this might be a better chance for White.] 27...Rxb5 28.g5 Ne8 29.Be2 Rb8 30.Bc4 Kf8 31.f5 I did not seriously expect this. White gives away too much material, and I may afford to give back some part of it later. 31...gxf5 32.Bh4 Rb7 Good profilactical move. e6-e7 idea is now excluded, and an exchange sacrifice is coming up soon. 33.Kg2 Ng7 34.Kf3 Be5 I was already considering the exchange sacrifice- [34...fxe6 35.dxe6 Re7 36.g6 hxg6 37.Bxe7+ Kxe7 38.Rg1 Nxe6 39.Rxg6 Nd4+ 40.Ke3 Black is obviously better, but is he surely winning?! The move in the text keeps all the advantages of the position without forcing anything. Next I am going to use the rook on the open a file. In time trouble Cebalo tried also to improve his bishop:] 35.Bb3 but found an unfortunate square for it, since after: 35...fxe6 36.dxe6 Re7 37.g6 hxg6 38.Bxe7+ Kxe7 39.Rg1 Nxe6

The threat of the knight fork forces White to exchange his bishop, and the resulting position is easily winning for Black. 40.Bxe6 Kxe6 41.Rxg6+ Kf7 42.Rg1 c4 43.Ke2 b3 0–1


Alberto Reigns in Kavala

The Open Greek Championship took place traditionally- at the end of July/ beginning of August (31.07-01.08). By that time in Kavala the weather is extremely hot, like everywhere in Greece in fact, at least for my measures. However, the tournament is always respected by many chess players. This year was no exception- 160 players competed only in the A tournament. Among them were 48 GMs and 25 IMs from 23 different federations! Together with approximately the same number of participants in the “B” section, and around 60 players in the children “C” tournament Kavala is the largest chess festival in Greece. The tournament is fashionable for many reasons.
First of all it has the status of an open Greek Championship. This means that the best Greek player in the tournament will qualify directly for the round-robin Greek Individual Championship. Last year the lucky winner was Panos Dagkakis from the local club, with rating around 2250- democracy in its pure form. The best female player also qualifies for the national women championship.
Secondly- the wonderful conditions. Except for the price fund that is not bad at all- 15 000 Euro in total for both the A and B tournaments and 3000 for the winner of the main event, there are strictly fixed starting conditions for the titled participants. On the announcement of the tournament there is a scale by which any player can calculate what conditions he will receive- will he/she receive a double or a single room, how many days shall he/she spend in the hotel, will there be a travelling expenses coverage for him/her or not. This is very a simple and very effective system. When the organizers finish their resource of conditions, they simply close the registration, thus no player can claim that he was misjudged in his expectations, and the organizers can correctly distribute the financial funds they have.
Speaking about the organization-there are two men that have to be mentioned first. Vasilis Theodoris, and Vasilis Liogkas are the personalities mainly responsible for this event to take place, even at the times of financial crisis. The first one is a vice-president of the Greek Chess Federation, president of East Macedonia-Thrace Chess Union, and chief in the club. Architect by occupation, this chess devotee spends his evenings in the chess club, making sure that all the things will go smoothly. Vasilis Liogkas on his turn is a politician with strong connections, the leader of the communist party in the town, and president of the Kavala Chess Club. The efforts and the connections of these two men give the fruits of the financial funds of the tournament. However, this is a long and hard process that starts often immediately after the Kavala open has once finished.
We should not underestimate the efforts of the other helpers from the club. It is one big family, in which everyone gives whatever they can- translations, internet support, tournament site, live transmission of the game, photos, organizations-all of these are done also by other members of the Kavala Chess Club.
Third- this is the wonderful hospitality of the locals, and the excellent touristic sides to be seen. Kavala itself, the fourth largest town in Greece is famous touristic destination. Picturesquely situated on the see shore, the town has a harbour, old part of the town-with taverns, live music, excellent food, and many places to be seen. Among them is the fortress, the ancient aqueduct, the house of Mehmed Ali Pasha (Egyptian, founder of a dynasty later in his native Egypt, who did many good deeds for the town), tobacco museum, etc.
The Thasos Island can be seen from the town’s fortress and is still famous for its great wines. It is a historical fact that Kavala was founded by the Thasos people at around 6 century B. C. The initial name of the town was Neapol (new city).
Fourteen kilometers next to Kavala is Philippi-important town in the ancient times, founded by Philip Second, the father of Alexander the Great. You can still visit there the Ancient Theater, the Temple of St Lidia-the first European that took Christianity by St Paul.
Last, but not least-these are the remarkable beaches. In Kavala there are a few excellent, but my most preferable is the one in Nea Peramos-some 15 km away from the town. It is situated in vineyards, surrounded by green plants- clean sand, warm water, and superb abilities welcome the visitors.
The “A” tournament was rather tense, with the Luxembourg GM Alberto David storming the first five rounds. Later on, he slowed down the speed, and was first caught by the Indian Sandipan Chanda in round six, and furthermore by Vlad Nevednichy (ROM) and Abhijeet Gupta (IND) in the penultimate round. There was also a large group of players half a point behind them. Chanda and Nevednichy quickly signed the peace pact in the final round, while Gupta was torturing David in a rook endgame three versus two on one flank for a while. The defense proved perfect, and the Luxembourg claimed the title due to his better tie-break. Three more players jumped from the back to tie for the first- Hrant Melkhumian (ARM), Sergey Volkov (RUS), and Nidjat Mamedov (AZE). Thus, except for the two Indian players the podium became totally international.
In addition, I would like to show you a game of my ex-student George Ketzetzis, who managed to completely outplay the second-seeded Russian GM Vladimir Belov, but the heavy time-trouble took away the deserved win.
Official site of the tournament with games, and photos- http://www.chesskavala.gr/


Vladimir Georgiev Claims Canadian Tournament

The open championship of Quebec took place in Montreal 18th-25th July. For the first price of 5000 Canadian dollars competed only twenty players. Thus the tournament was closer to the round-robin event, rather than an open.
I also had to take part in the event. However, the strange attitude of the organizers made my participation impossible. After agreeing the conditions, they simply “forgot to” send me the promised VIZA, and did not bother to reply to my emails.
How Vladimir Georgiev claimed the title, you can see from the annotations of his final effort:
Kasparov,S (2487) - Georgiev,Vl (2530) [C68]
Quebec Open Montreal CAN (9), 25.07.2009
[Vladimir Georgiev]
Before this game that was played in last round I had half point more than my opponent, however he had the white pieces. I was happy that my opponent is exploiting only one line against 1...e5- the Exchange line of the Ryu Lopez that is solid but not dangerous line for black. My preparation was quite easy because of this fact. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0–0 Qf6! I decided that it is better to surprise my opponent first. From psychological point this is very important. Previously I only played 5...f6 instead. This was the first time I opted for 5...Qf6. 6.d4 exd4 7.Bg5 Qd6 8.Nxd4 [8.Qxd4 Qxd4 9.Nxd4 Bd7 10.Nc3 is the other main line here.] 8...Bd7 I prefer this move. It's more playable than 8...Be7. [8...Be7 9.Bxe7 Nxe7 10.Nc3 Bd7 11.Nde2 0–0–0 12.Qc1 Ng6 13.Qe3 Kb8 14.Rad1 Qe7 15.Rd2 Ne5= Ѕ–Ѕ Radjabov,T (2751)-Adams,M (2729)/Baku AZE 2008 (39)] 9.Nc3

9...Ne7! This is the critical position for the whole line. Here White had tried few moves and because of this I had to spend a lot of time in my home preparation. 10.Qd2 With the idea 11.Bf4! Here I understood that my oponent is playing for a win since: [10.Bh4!? is leading to totaly drawish positions- 10...0–0–0 11.Bg3 Qf6 12.Qh5! (12.Qd2 was tried in the game Rozentalis,E (2588)-Ivanchuk,V (2703)/Kallithea GRE 2009) 12...Qxd4 13.Qa5 Qb6 14.Qxb6 cxb6 15.Na4 Nd5 only move 16.exd5 Bc5 17.Nxc5 bxc5 18.Rad1 Rhe8=; 10.Be3 c5 11.Nde2 Qxd1 12.Raxd1 b6 13.Nf4 0–0–0 14.Nfd5 Ng6 15.f4 f6= Tan,M (2321)-Negi,P (2597)/Hoogeveen NED 2008; 10.Nb3 Qxd1 11.Raxd1 Ng6 12.Be3 b6 13.f4 0–0–0 14.a3 f6 15.Nd4 Bd6 16.g3 h5 and Black was better in Volokitin,A (2671)-Caruana,F (2646)/Wijk aan Zee NED 2009/] 10...c5! The only move in my opinion! 11.Nb3 Qxd2 12.Bxd2 b6= 13.a4 0–0–0 14.Be3 [14.a5 better is Be6 rather than(14...c4 15.Nd4) 15.Bf4 Kb7 and I prefer black here. After the exchange ab6-cb6 black will get rid of his doubled pawn.] 14...a5

Probably better is 14...Be6 but I wanted to fix the pawn on a4. 15.Rfd1N A new move but not the best one. I believe it was better to place the other rook on the d-file. I can understand why my opponent chose Rfd1–the reason is to protect the pawn on a4. [15.Bf4 f6 16.Rfd1 g5 17.Bg3 Bg7 18.f4 gxf4 19.Bxf4 f5 20.e5 Ng6 21.Bg5 Rde8 22.Bf6 Rhg8 23.Nd5 Bc6 24.c4 Nxe5 25.Bxe5 Bxe5 26.Ra2 Rg4 27.Nd2 Rd4 28.b3 Bxd5 29.cxd5 Bf4 0–1 Iuldachev,S (2520)-Sethuraman,S (2415)/New Delhi IND 2009/The Week in Chess 741] 15...Re8?! Like usual after a novelty it is always difficult to find the best reply. My idea was not to exchange the rook on the d-file and to keep it working on the e-file-(for example f7-f5 , followed by e4xf5 Bxf5 with the idea Nc6,Nb4 with an attack on c2) and I placed the rook on e8 almost instantly. However better was [15...Nc6 where black's position should be preferable.The idea is Nc6-e5-c4.] 16.Bf4 With the idea Nd5. After this move I spend a lot of time choosing between the moves f5,g6,Ng6 and Rg8 -the move that I played in the end. [16.Nb5!? was interesting, and probably this is the best move for white here.Anyway I think black should be fine after- 16...Bxb5 17.axb5 Kb7

followed by Ne7-c8-d6 and attack against the weak pawn on b5.] 16...Rg8 I believe Black is already better, since I will open the position with f7-f5 and than my bishops will be really strong. I can also first play g7-g5 and if the bishop retreats to g3 than after f7-f5, e4xf5- Ne7xf5 I will attack the Bg3. This might be important since my only weakness is the pawn on c7. Also now it is really hard for my opponent to decide how to continue because he does not really has targets for his pieces. He had the white pieces and went on for a solid line in the opening but failed to prove any advantage and now he has to fight for equality. This was probably quite frustrating for him. 17.Bg3 I believe this is the best move. 17...g5!?

I am still not showing my cards. Now I will have a choise between f5-f5 and Bf8-g7. [of cource the immediate f7-f5 was possible and maby even better. 17...f5 ] 18.Rxd7 My first reaction after this move was shock because I didn't see it. I was mentally prepared for a long battle with small, but durable advantage and no risk at all. Now I needed few minuts to calm down. I guess that my opponent was not happy with the course of the game and decided to change it rapidly. This could have been a good practical decision. [18.Nb5 I expexted this move and I guess it is objectively the best move for White but after: 18...Bxb5 19.axb5 f5 (19...h5!?) 20.exf5 Nxf5 with idea h7-h5-h4 Black is better.] 18...Kxd7 19.Nb5 Nc8! [I calculated first: 19...Rc8 20.Rd1+ Kc6 21.Na7+ Kb7 22.Nxc8 Kxc8 23.c3 But this gives a clear edge for White. So I forced myself to keep on searching for alternatives and happily I found the only move 19...Nc8. This was in fact the move that my opponent had missed in his calculations as he admitted after the game.] 20.Nxc7 Rxe4 the only move 21.f3 Re2 22.Rd1+ Bd6 23.Nd5 Kc6 24.Nxb6 Bxg3 25.Nxc8 Rxc8 26.Nxa5+ Kc7 27.hxg3 Rxc2 28.b3 Re8 29.Kh2 Ree2 30.Rg1 Re3 31.Kh3 f5 32.g4 f4 33.Rd1 Ree2 34.Rg1 Re6

White resigned. With this win I secured at least a tie for the first place. Later on, after all the games have finished I was pleasantly surprised to learn that in fact that final effort was enough for a clear first.


Kavala Open in Progress

The annual Open Greek Championship takes place in Kavala. After five rounds the amiable GM Alberto David was leading with a perfect score. Yesterday he made his first draw against the talented American R. Hess, and was caught by the Indian Sandipan Chanda.
The decisive three rounds are to be played.
My ex-student George Ketzetzis has sent me his nice effort against the top-seeded Russian GM. After some great chess, he completely outplayed his opponent, but the time-trouble led to abrupt finish of the game.

Ketzetzis,George (2222) - Belov,Vladimir (2627) [B18]
Kavala Open 2009 Halkidiki (3), 03.08.2009
[George Ketzetzis]
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.Nh3 [6.N1e2 Nf6 7.Nf4 e5 8.Nxg6 hxg6 9.dxe5 Qa5+ 10.Bd2 Qxe5+ 11.Qe2 Nbd7 12.0–0–0 Qxe2 13.Bxe2 Bc5= Novikov-Belov 1/2–1/2 2009] 6...e6 7.Nf4 Bd6 8.h4

8...Bxf4?! A dubious move. Black gives white the good bishop for the knight and also helps him a lot with his development. [8...Qc7 9.Nxg6 hxg6 10.Ne4 Bf4=] 9.Bxf4 h6 10.Bd3!?N [10.h5!? Bh7 11.Bd3 (11.Qg4!? Qxd4 12.Rd1?! (12.c3!?) 12...Qxb2 іs betetr for Black) 11...Bxd3 12.Qxd3 Nf6 13.0–0–0 with strong initiative] 10...Bxd3 [10...Qxd4 11.Be3 Qd5 12.Bxg6 fxg6 (12...Qxd1+ 13.Rxd1 fxg6 14.Ne4±) 13.Qe2 is slight edge for White; However- 10...Ne7 was better. 11.h5 Bxd3 12.Qxd3 and I have only slightly better position] 11.Qxd3 Nf6 12.0–0–0 [12.Qa3?! Qxd4 13.Be3 (13.Ne2?! Qe4) 13...Qg4! (13...Qd8!? 14.Rd1 Nbd7 15.Bc5 is unclear (15.0–0 Qe7=) ) 14.Rd1 Nbd7 15.Rd4 Qg6 16.0–0 c5 And black manages to castle.] 12...0–0 13.Ne2!? [13.Kb1 is also an advantage] 13...Qd5?! [13...Nd5 14.g4‚; 13...Na6! Black must create some threats on the queenside. 14.g4 Qd5! 15.c4 Qe4 Exchanging the queens.] 14.Nc3! Qa5 15.g4± White starts activity on the kingside while black has achieved nothing. 15...Nd5 [15...Nxg4?! 16.d5!! Was my idea as the queen remains cramped. 16...Nxf2

17.Qg3!! (17.Qd4? In the game I thought that this is the best move.. 17...Qb6!turns the tables in Black's favour- I had totally forgotten this move.) 17...Nxd1!? 18.Bxh6! f6 only move 19.Rg1 (19.Qxd1!? cxd5! (19...gxh6?? 20.Rg1++-; 19...exd5 20.Bxg7! is a strong attack for White) 20.Qg4! with excellent compensation) 19...Nxc3! 20.Rxg7+ Kh8 21.bxc3 Qxd5 22.Qg1 Qf5 only move 23.Re7 (23.Rxb7 Rg8 24.Bg7+ Kh7 25.Bxf6+ Nd7!! 26.Rxd7+) 23...Rg8 only moves 24.Bg7+ Kh7 25.Bxf6+ Kh6 26.Qxg8 Qf1+ 27.Kb2 Qb5+=; b) 17...Nxh1?? 18.Bxh6! f6 19.Rg1 Rf7 20.dxe6 Re7 21.Qxf6±; ) 17...Nxh1 (17...Nxd1?? 18.Bxh6 g6 19.Qe5 f6 20.Qxe6+ Kh8 21.Qe7+-) 18.Rxh1 Kh7 again an only move (18...Qd8 19.Rg1 g6 20.Bxh6 Qf6 21.Ne4 Qd4 22.Ng5!+-) 19.Rg1 g6! (19...Rg8

20.Ne4!! Nd7 21.Ng5+! hxg5 22.hxg5 Rgf8 23.Qh3+ Kg6 24.Qd3+ f5 25.gxf6+ Kxf6 26.Bd6!+-) 20.Ne4 Nd7 21.h5! Rg8 22.Bxh6 Qxd5 (22...Qxa2 23.Ng5+! Kxh6 24.Nxf7+ Kh7 25.Qf4!!+- Qa1+ 26.Kd2 Qa5+ 27.Ke2 Qa6+ 28.Kf3+-) 23.Ng5+ Kxh6 24.Nxf7+ Kh7 25.hxg6+ Kg7 26.Rd1 Nc5 27.Rxd5 exd5 with an advantage] 16.Nxd5 Qxd5 17.Kb1 Nd7 18.c4! Qa5 19.Bd2! The queen has to leave the fifth file so that black can not answer Qf5 after the g5 push. 19...Qd8 20.g5 h5 21.Bc3 Nb6 22.b3 A prophylactic move, so that my bishop will not be moved from his ideal position. 22...Qe7 23.Rhg1 [23.Qe2!? a5 24.d5±] 23...a5 24.g6 [24.d5!? exd5 (24...cxd5? 25.Qd4+-; 24...e5 25.f4!+-) 25.Rde1! Qd6 26.g6±] 24...a4 [24...Qxh4?! 25.Rh1! Qf6 26.Rdg1+-] 25.d5! e5 [25...axb3 26.Qd4!+-] 26.d6 Qf6 [26...Qe6? 27.gxf7+ Rxf7 28.Rg6 Qe8 29.Rdg1+-] 27.f4!!+-

27...axb3? [27...Qxf4 28.Rdf1 Qh2 29.Qf5!+- (29.Rh1 Qg2 30.Rhg1=) ] 28.Bxe5 bxa2+ 29.Ka1 Qe6 30.gxf7+! [30.Bxg7? Was my second thought. 30...Kxg7 31.gxf7+ Kh6! (31...Kxf7 32.Qh7+ Ke8 33.Rge1+-) 32.Qd4 Rxf7 33.f5! Qxf5 34.Qxb6 Qf6+ 35.Qd4 Qxd4+ 36.Rxd4=] 30...Rxf7 31.Rg6 Qxc4 [31...Qf5 32.Rxg7+ Kf8 33.Rdg1!+-] 32.Qg3! Kf8 33.Re1?! [33.Rxg7! Ke8 34.Qg6+- With mate in some moves would have been the easiest finish.] 33...Nd7 34.Rxg7 Nf6 35.Bxf6?? 50 seconds on the clock [35.Rxf7+! This variation, I saw after the game in the analysis room, in just two minutes.. 35...Qxf7 (35...Kxf7 36.Bxf6! Rg8 37.Bg7+-) 36.d7! Ng4

37.Qa3+!!+-] 35...Rxf6 36.Rge7 I pressed the clock in 00.1 and immediately resigned... 0–1


SO Kavala-still the best in Greece

The 37-th National Greek Team Championship started on 3 July. 31 teams competed for the medals, and the right to stay among the best. The first ten teams would receive as bonus coverage of the expenses by the Greek Chess Federation, while the last 11 would relegate from the Master League. Let me remind you that the Greek League is played on 12 borads (5 men, 1 female, 2 girls under 16 and 18, and four boys- under 18, 16, 14, and 12). The battle for the title was supposed to be between the last year’s winners- SO Kavala (with good players on all the boards, strong juniours, and as a leader- the European Champion Evgeny Tomashevsky), PS Peristeriou (with the incredible Vassily Ivanchuk on board one, B. Macieja, and strong juniours on the back boards), and ES Thessaloniki- also a very reasonable team. However, GM Kotronias decided not to take part in the championship, and it looked like that O.S. Kavala are seriously weaken. From the team a risky decision was taken to include more juniors in the team- partly because they are strong enough, but also because of the university bonus that they might win. Yes, there is such a bonus in Greece for very talented juniours, but it is only for students older than 15 years, and it is only for one team- the winner! That is why the young players do their best when they compete for their club. The extra 10 % that they might win almost inevitably secure them enter in a prestigious university.
Kavala left practically no chance for the other teams after winning all the first seven matches. The success did not come easy, though. The male boards which usually were keeping the balance in the previous years this time fought hard and usually led the team forward. Among them the best was Antonis Pavlidis, a juniour who played on last male board, and who scored remarkable 8/8 (and with the captains draw in the last round finished with 8.5/9- best result in the whole tournament), as well as Spiridon Skembris (7.5/9 on board four). Tomashevsky, Halkias and Papaioannou also added valuable pluses (I believe the male boards ended up unbeaten), and with reasonable support from the female board (Anna-Maria Botsari- 6.5/9), and the juniours won easily the title.
PS Peristeriou and ES Thessaloniki tied for the second place, and the better tie-break gave the silver to the players from Athens. Vassily Ivanchuk scored his +3 on board one, without losing a game. I had the pleasure to face the genius, but it did not last long, since he finished me off quite quickly. Nevertheless, Vassily Mihailovich was very kind, and accepted my invitation for analyses- the man is a real treasure for all the chess world. Among the other teams fresh impression made the team of Kidon- Chania. For many years this team had great financial support and was always fighting for the title, but this year his stability was shaken. Nevertheless thanks to the good chess school they continued to have strong team, and only the final two losses threw their team on fifth place. Comeback in the chess events made one of the most talented Greek females- Maria Kouvatsou.
Best result on board one showed Zurab Azmaiparashvili (Kalamata Poseidon)- 7/9.
The pairings for the last round met the first and the second Kavala team. O. S. had already secured the title, and we could get a well deserved rest. Even the European Champion Evgeny Tomashevsky could afford a glass of red wine, while one of our juniours- Ilias Kazantsidis was entertaining us by a guitar play. Aggelos Sourgkounis was helping him. In the meanwhile Papaioannou was keeping his promise, and played a game with the German champion under 12 Dennis Wagner (the second foreigner in the S O Kavala). Young Dennis was also examined by E. Tomashevsky. Greeks are very artistic people, and soon after Ilias went on the waiter’s table where he found more support from the stuff. Finally, the guitar was taken by the most experienced- S. Skembris, a man who used to play in a band once.


Kalithea's battles

Three important tournaments from the Greek calendar took place in the period 25.06-09.07 in Kalithea, Halkidiki. First, the youth individual championships for all the ages up to 16 years old, secondly-there was the final four matches of the Greek Cup, and finally- the Greek National Team Championship.
In the past ten years Kalithea became an important part of the European chess life, and it was no wonder that the Greeks counted on the facilities of the wonderful sea resort, combined with the experienced organizers skills by the Tsorbatsoglu family.
Youth championships were perfectly organized. In the venue the access of the trainers and parents was forbidden, and there were many arbiters responsible for the young players. The children themselves were also quite well organized- in case that a conflict or mistake happens they were raising their hands, and were waiting patiently for the arbiter to solve it. the top boards of the tournaments were broadcasted live on the official site. This year I spent as a chief coach for the Kavala chess club, and I have good impressions of the play of the leading young players.
After seven days of tough fight champions became:
Boys under 8- Evgenios Ioannidis -8.5/9.
Girls under 8- Loukia Pramateftaki- 6/7.
Boys under 10- Nikolas Theodorou- 8/9.
Girls under 10- Stavroula Tsolakidou- 8/9. There was a drama in this age, when the long leading Aleksia Moshou lost in the final round, and the title went for her teammate Stavroula.
Boys under 12- Georgios Papadopoulos- 8.5/9.
Girls under 12- Elisavet Papathanasiou- 8.5/9. Here also Eleni Tsolaki (silver) and Nelli Serefidou (bronze) are very talented, and you may hear about all the three girls soon.
Boys under 14- Emmanouil Kazakos- 8/9 together with Pantaleimon Tsouganakis seems to be the leaders of their generation.
Girls under 14- Eleni Fragkou -5/7. There was a tie for the first three places, the other two girls are Asimenia Vafiadou and Ageliki Papathanasiou.
Boys under 16- Charalambos Skoulakis- 8/9. This age was a personal triumph for me, since all my students occupied places in the top five. Third is Antonis Pavlidis, fourth-Theodoros Hrisomalis, fifth- Ilias Kazantsidis. The silver medalist N. Galopoulos is also a future Greek hope.
Girls under 16- Ekaterini Pavlidou- 8/9. The superiority by Ekaterini was obvious-both by initial rating, and by the play.
The championship showed that there are many young talents in Greece, and the relatively good preparation of the young players.

The final four matches of the Greek cup took place on 30 June and 1 July. The teams that qualified were SO Kavala, OFS Kavala (the second team of Kavala, for which I compete), Kidon- Chania and Maro Keravnos (Thessaloniki). As it was expected, the elo favourite SO Kavala did not give any chances and won both the matches with great ease by 3.5-0.5. For the team competed 4 GMs- Kotronias, Papaioannou, Halkias and Skembris, and Kotronias won both his games playing as Black. The actual final for the cup however was the ¼ final between the future champions Kavala and the last year’s winners- ES Thessaloniki. For Thessaloniki team competed GMs Miroshnichenko, D. Mastrovasilis, A. Mastrovasilis, and Zakharian. In this match I. Papaioannou lost as White for the first time since 2004 on board one against Miroshnichenko, but nevertheless, Kavala won the encounter thanks to the lucky win of Skembris (who was a clear exchange and a pawn down) by 2.5-1.5. Here is the time to mention the playing system of the cup- up to the ¼ finals the so-called Berlin system is used, in which the points on the front boards of the team are more valuable (4 points for a win on board one, 3 for the second board, 2 and 1 respectively for the remaining). However, in case of a tie 2-2, and Berlin tie 5-5, the host team proceeds into the next stage.
In the finals this system is no longer applied, and in case of a tie the teams continue to play blitz matches, until one of them proves to be the better one. This determined the match strategy of some teams. Thanks to is the team Maro Keravnos managed to make it to the final and to achieve one of their best successes so far.


Afek's Best (5)

2nd Pr. Tidskrift for Shakk , 1972
Among some 200 endgame studies, 100 problems of other genres as welll as thousands of games this one has apparently become my most celebrated and reprinted creation. White's extra piece is in an immediate danger and the logical manner to save it is good enough for just a draw: 1.Ne5? Kxb6 2.Nd7+ Kc6 3.Nxf8 Bxg4 4.Bd3 Bd1 5.Bc2 Bxc2 6.Kxc2 g4=

1.Rxb5+! Kxb5 2.Ne5+! Leashing out a powerful battery! A king move to a dark square is met by a fork leading to the above mentioned ending yet without the b5 pawn which turns it to an easy win. 2...Ka4 3.Nd7 With the triple threat of two mates and one rook. Time to throw in the towel?

3...Be2! 4.Bxe2 Rb8+!

The cat is out of the bag! white is heading for stalemate yet a stunning surprise is awaiting him 5.Bb5+!! Rxb5+ Or 5...Kxb5 6.Nxb8 6.Ka2!

All of a sudden black finds himself in a zugzwang where his rook is entirely dominated by the white knight. 1–0


Bulgarian Team Competition

Bulgarian Team Championships for men and women (first and second divisions) took place in Sunny Beach from 8-14 June. This was the strongest team competition that I have ever seen in our country. Except Veselin Topalov and Ivan Cheparinov all the best Bulgarian players took part in the event. Some of our players represent other countries- Vladimir Georgiev plays for Macedonia, Evgeny Ermenkov for Palestina, and Silvia Collas represents France but all of them were here, taking part in the event. Except for these “foreigners” some teams were strengthened by real ones from Romania, Croatia, Serbia, Germany and Ukraine- the family Vlad Nevednichy and Gabriela Olarashu from Romania represented CSKA, M. Manolache played for Vidin, Dejan Antic (Serbia) fought well for Shumen, Sebbie Bogner-for Lukoil. After some years of experiments with the playing system in which various preliminary groups, open Swiss championships and even knock-outs were tried it looks like that we found the best formula for a small country like Bulgaria. It is a round-robin tournament with the best 8 teams, where the last two withdraw from the Master group to second division. Men teams are represented by six players plus two reserves, while in the ladies part three women are supported by one substitute. This tournament had a status of qualification for the World Club Cup that will take place in Plovdiv the next year, and it is not wonder that the men field brought together 20 GMs and 16 IMs (6 WGMs and 8 WIMs respectively for the women championship). The average elo of the rating favourite Lokomotiv- Sofia was 2512. We played according to the Dresden rules, when all the players had to be on the boards at the start of the round. Also the Sofia rules were applied and draws could have been offered only after thirtieth move (except an arbiter’s permission) and the captain’s arrangements were forbidden. Match points were counted.
In the men part practically three teams competed for the medals- “Lokomotiv”- Sofia (K. Georgiev, N. Ninov, A. Stefanova, P. Genov, P. Velikov , Kr. Georgiev, substitutes B. Andonov and J. Ivanov), “Lukoil-Neftohimik”- Burgas (V. Iotov, Vl. Georgiev, D. Bojkov, S. Bogner, V. Lilov, M. Vasilev, A. Angelov, Zh. Zhekov) and “CSKA”- Sofia (V. Spasov, A. Kolev, V. Nevednichy, I. Enchev, E. Ermenkov, G. Filev, I. Tsvetkov, A. Jovchev). All these teams were composed mainly by GMs, and they were the rating favourites. “Lokomotiv” Sofia managed to win both the crucial matches with optimal score 3.5-2.5 and became champions, while “Lukoil” won the direct match against “CSKA” to grab silver. The underdogs “Pleven 21” and “Shumen 2005” had to leave the Master group. Board winners-:
І board -V. Iotov (Lukoil) and A. Delchev (Vidin) 4.5/ 7 ІІ board -N. Ninov (Lokomotiv- Sofia) 4/6 ІІІ board-M. Mrdja (“Lokomotiv”- Plovdiv) 4.5/7 ІV board -I. Enchev (CSKA) 5.5/7 V board -S. Kozhuharov (“Lokomotiv 2000” Plovdiv) 5/7VІ board- Kr. Georgiev (“Lokomotiv”-Sofia) 5/ 7
As usual tenser was the fight in the ladies’ group. Except for the winners “Lokomotiv Sofia” (L. Genova, E. Djingarova, E. Collas, St. Bednikova) who practically secured the win within a spare round, only the final round determined the silver and bronze medalists, and those who had to leave the group. The young and perspective team of “Lokomotiv 2000- Plovdiv” (I. Videnova, A. Nikolova, D. Sirkova, M. Yaneva) won their last match with a perfect score 3-0 to grab the silver, and in the big tie for the third place succeeded “Lokomotiv” –Plovdiv (M. Voiska, S. Maksimovic, P. Chilingirova, T. Baninska). From the final twist suffered the team of “G. Daskalov”- Varna who withdrew together with “Rokada”- Plovdiv. Board winners:
І board- D. Artyonova (Spartak-Pleven) 5/7,
ІІ board- E. Djingarova (“Lokomotiv”- Sofia) 5 /7,
ІІІ board- Silvia Collas (“Lokomotiv”- Sofia) 5.5/6. Thus the team of “Lokomotiv” Sofia doubled his title after a six years period.
The president of the Bulgarian Chess Federation D-r Stefan Sergiev was covering the championship daily for the official site of the BCF.
The resort Sunny Beach is a remarkable mixture of styles. For the past ten years it grew enormously, and many new luxury hotels were built. The variety of styles is seen everywhere- from typical folklore motives, to oriental, eastern (Russian orientated), European (English and Irish pubs) - all of these can be seen in the resort. Live music can be heard everywhere. There is a vast variety from bars and restaurants, and exclusive number of touristic attractions (mini-golf, water-skiing, cruises, extreme jumping, carting, parachute jumping- anything you may think of you may find here. It might look a bit overcrowded, but young people adore it.
The traditional Sunny Beach tournament Memorial Georgiev-Kesarovski (part of the Balkan Gran-Prix) will take place in September 7-13 at the same hotel “Continental”. Be free to join it.


The Sweet Fruit of Success

Pavlidis,Antonios (2307) - Sanduleac,Vasile (2438) [B15]
Thessaloniki op Thessaloniki (5), 30.04.2009
Every trainer is proud when he sees the results of his work in the hands of his students. The trainer's job is an ungrateful one- when your student loses, it is almost never his fault, when he wins- it is because he is ingenious. I would like now to show you a game of my best student in Kavala, Greece. His name is Antonis Pavlidis, he is fifteen, and the last month he made his second IM norm. Actually, it could have been a GM one, his performance was very close to the Grandmaster level (2591), but I am pretty sure that this goal will soon be achieved. Pavlidis is a self-confident young man, with great tactical abilities, and taste for the attack. He also works hard on his own, which a needed fundament is his progress. For the last six months Antonis improved his rating with 100 points, and keeps on growing. 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.Be3 Qb6 6.Qd2

Antonis is not interested in these pawns. He likes the initiative, and to attack, so sacrificing a "b" pawn does not bother him at all. 6...Qxb2 7.Rb1 Qa3 8.Bd3 Qa5 9.Nge2 Qd8N This novelty probably was a product of an over-the-board thinking. Sanduleac already had negative experience in the line: [9...dxe4 10.fxe4 Nf6 11.0–0 0–0 12.e5 Nd5 13.Nxd5 Qxd5 14.Bh6‚ Qd8 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.Rf4 e6 17.Rbf1 Nd7 18.Rf6! Nxf6 19.exf6+ Kh8 20.Qh6 Rg8 21.Rf4 Qf8 22.Qg5 e5 23.Rh4 e4 24.Bxe4 Be6 25.Nf4 Re8 26.Bd3 b5 27.g4 Bf5 28.Nh3 Bxd3 29.Rxh7+ 1–0 Ivanov,A (2462)-Sanduleac,V (2478)/Bucharest 2007/CBM 117 ext; 9...e6 was recently tried by a Top GM, but without much success- 10.h4 h5 11.0–0 Nd7 12.Bg5 a6 13.Nxd5± 1–0 Mamedyarov,S (2731)-Svidler,P (2727)/Almaty 2008/EXT 2009 (32)] 10.0–0

All white pieces are developed for a miserable price. 10...Nd7 11.Ng3!? [11.exd5 cxd5 12.Nxd5 Ngf6 13.Nxf6+ Nxf6 14.a4± was a good alternative, in which White would exert pressure in equal material terms.] 11...Nb6 12.a4 Nf6 Probably better is first to exchange in the center- [12...dxe4 13.fxe4 Nf6 although Black opens files against his king, he can at least secure some squares for the knights.] 13.e5 Ng8 14.a5 Now it is getting too frightening. 14...Nd7 [14...Nc4 15.Bxc4 dxc4 16.Nce4±] 15.f4 e6

16.f5! Of course! Antonis feels the initiative too well to be afraid to sacrifice material. I am pretty sure that he did not think twice before going for the kill. 16...exf5 17.Bxf5 Ne7 Black cannot take the piece- [17...gxf5 18.Nxf5 Bf8 19.Bg5 f6 20.Rbe1! fxg5 21.Nd6+ Bxd6 22.exd6++-] 18.Bxd7+ Bxd7 More stubborn would have been: [18...Qxd7 19.Bh6 0–0 20.Bxg7 Kxg7 21.Qg5 Kh8 22.e6 Qe8‚ Indeed, White has a strong attack, but at least Black can count on his extra material in case that he somehow repels it.] 19.Rxb7 Bc8 20.Rb3 0–0 21.Bg5 Be6 22.Rb7 Re8 23.Na4 Bc8

White is completely winning. With energetical and elegant play Pavlidis wraps up the game home. 24.a6! Bxb7 25.axb7 Rb8 26.Nc5 Qc7 [26...Rf8 27.Rb1] 27.Qf4 Rf8 28.Qh4 Rbe8

29.b8Q! Qxb8 30.Bxe7 Qb4 31.Bxf8 Bxe5 32.Nd7 Qxd4+ 33.Qxd4 Bxd4+ 34.Kh1 Re3 35.Bh6 Rc3 36.Ne2 This is how the young Greek outplayed an experienced GM. Two more GMs (Vl. Georgiev and Kr. Georgiev) failed his victims at the same tournament. 1–0


Afek's Best (4)

Yochanan Afek
3rd HM IRT, 1981

Saving this ending looks at first sight (and even at a second one) like an impossible mission. 1.g7+ Kh7 2.g6+ Kh6

All white pawns are under control. What else can he hope for? 3.a8Q! Rxa8 4.Kf7 Ra7+

5.Kg8!! Rxg7+ [Or 5...Kxg6 6.Kh8] 6.Kh8! The miracle did happen! With a whole move at hand black is helpless against the upcoming stalemate 6...Ra7 7.g7! Rxg7

Stalemate! 1/2


Second Survey CBM

My second Chess Base Magazine Survey features the 6.h3 line in KID, more specifically, the typical endgame that arises after 7.dxe5 dxe5 8.Qxd8. You can see it in the coming CBM 130, here is a sample of it:
Arnaudov,P (2195) - Urukalovic,R (2273) [E90]
Zadar CRO, 15th Open Zadar CRO (7), 18.12.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.h3 0–0 6.Nf3 e5 7.dxe5 dxe5 8.Qxd8 Rxd8 9.Bg5

9...Na6 10.Nd5 Rd6 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.Rc1 Bd8 13.c5 Re6 14.a3 c6 This move is logical. However, after: 15.Bxa6 it is better for Black to capture the knight, rather than the bishop, as this game shows clearly the dangers that Black might experience: 15...bxa6 [better is 15...cxd5 16.Bd3 Re7 17.0–0 Bd7=] 16.Ne3 a5 17.0–0 Rb8 18.Rfd1 Bc7 19.Nd5!

Typical idea. White sacrifices the knight in order to get two connected passed pawns. These pawns will go forward with tempoes, and inevitably win back he material with interest. 19...Bd8 It was not easy for Black to accept the sacrifice, since he has to be very careful not to lose immediately- [19...cxd5 20.exd5 e4 only move (20...Re8 21.d6 Bd8 22.c6±) 21.Ne1 (21.dxe6 exf3 22.e7 Be6 23.c6 Re8 24.Rd7 Bb6 25.Re1 fxg2 26.Kxg2 Kg7

27.Rxe6 fxe6 28.c7 Kf7 29.Kf3 h6 30.h4 Bxc7 31.Rxc7 Rxe7 32.Rc5 Rb7 33.Rxa5 Rb3+ 34.Kg2 Rxb2 35.Rxa7+ Kf6=) 21...Re8 22.d6 Bd8 23.c6 Rxb2 24.d7 Quite dangerous is also: (24.c7 Bd7 25.c8Q Bxc8 26.Rxc8 Rb7 27.Nc2 (27.d7 Rf8 28.Nc2 might be even better.) 27...Rd7 28.Ne3 with compensation- f5 29.Rd5 Kf7 30.Nc4 and White is on top.) 24...Bxd7 25.cxd7 Rf8ч] 20.Nf4 Re8 21.Nxe5 Bc7?! After this Black will be outplayed. The only chance was: [21...Bg5 for example- 22.Nxc6 Rxb2 23.Nd5 Rxe4! the key defensive move. (23...Bxc1 24.Nf6+ Kf8 25.Nxe8 Bg5 (25...Kxe8 26.Rd8#) 26.Nd6±) 24.Rb1 Rxb1 25.Rxb1 Be6 26.Nce7+ Kg7 27.c6 Rc4 28.Rb5 Bxd5 29.Nxd5 Rxc6 30.Rxa5=] 22.Nxc6І Bxf4 23.Nxb8 Bxb8 24.b4 Ba6 [24...a6] 25.c6 Bc7 26.Rd7 Rc8 27.Rd5 Rb8 28.Rd7 [28.b5 Rxb5 29.Rd7 Bf4! complicates the matters.] 28...Rc8 29.Rd5 Rb8 30.g3! Kf8 31.b5! Bc8 [31...Rxb5 32.Rd7 Bb6 33.c7±] 32.Rd7±

32...Bb6 More stubborn would have been: [32...Bxd7 33.cxd7 Bd8 34.Rc8 Rxb5 35.Rxd8+ Ke7 36.Ra8 Kxd7 37.Rxa7+ Ke6 with practical chances in the rook endgame.] 33.c7+- Ra8 34.Rd8+ Ke7 35.Rh8 h5 36.Rc6 Bd4 37.Rg8 Bb6 38.a4 Bd4 39.Kg2 Bb2 40.f4 Ba1 41.Kf3 Bb2 42.g4 hxg4+ 43.hxg4 Ba3 44.e5 Bb2 45.Ke4 Ba3 46.f5 gxf5+ 47.gxf5 Bb4 48.f6+ Kd7



Kosovo League

This was my second participation at the Kosovo Super League that took place between 6-11 May. It is very modern nowadays to speak about the world financial crisis. Due to this, or another reason (more local players), the Kosovo federation decided to reduce the numbers of the foreigners to one. Six out of the eight participating teams used an outside reinforcement, and logically, the other two went down from the League at the end. The foreign GMs that participated included also Vladimir Georgiev, Trajko Nedev (both FYROM), Jozsef Pinter (Hungary), Petar Genov (Bulgaria), and IM Ilir Seitaj (ALB). Glasshouse bar near Victoria hotel hosted the event.
The time limit was classical- two hours for fourty moves and additional one hour till the end of the game. Team points were counted again as the last year. In case that two teams were equal on that criterion the total number of board points was taken into an account and finally the tiebreak system was three blitz matches-when the winner is the team that scores two wins. The first two teams qualify for the European Club Club. This is a very important tournament for the local players-a chance to meet the greatest players of our time, and to practice their game.
The favourites were the teams of Istogu (the reigning chamion), Llamkosi (who finished second the last year), as well as Prishtina (with very strong local players), and my team RWE Power- Kosovo. The tournament battle was rich of full-blooded games, and twists, suspense till the very end of each game. In many cases the evaluation of the positions was rapidly changing, and we could never consider the job done till the score sheets are not signed. From the eight starting teams one withdrew after the first two rounds due to financial reasons.
My team started very well, and after three wins and a draw was leading the table. Especially well in these rounds played our captain Armend Budima (who by the way was a candidate for a president of the Kosovo federation and lost within a tiny margin), the UK situated Astrid Zymberi, and the father of five children Gani Hamiti. The general manager of RWE and our sponsor John Jowett was a regular visitor of our matches. However, an unfortunate loss against the Theranda team (not a bad team actually, but till that moment they had only losses in all their matches) in the fifth round postponed the titled destiny for the final round. In it we met the Prishtina team that had only one loss so far (from the first round). A win with more than 4.5 would give us the title, a draw would be fine for the team of Llamkos, and a win for Prishtina will secure them the overall win. It was all fine for them however, and they started fiercely with 3-0. Soon after they scored half more point, and despite our two final efforts won the match with 3.5-2.5 and claimed the title. Congratulations!
Some of the problems in Kosovo remain. The country is still not officially recognized, and the tournaments are not counted for rating. Thus Kosovo players cannot represent their country in international tournaments.
There is only one arbiter that can judge the tournaments-the second man in the federation- Burhan Musini. He now tries to organize a seminar for arbiters, and to give part of his duties to other people. “I cannot play myself in any event, since I have to be the arbiter there”, complains Burhan.
He also hopes that they can soon organize the first international tournament in Kosovo.
In general, many of the things changed for good. The chessmen became better, the audience started to respect the players’ efforts more. However, due to the lack of tournament practice and low knowledge of the chess rules some funny situations kept on appearing:
In one of the games between the local players one of them lost on time on move 39. However, he did not want to resign for a while. He claimed that at some moment before he forgot to press the button of his clock, and wanted his time back…
In another local game the second player also seemingly could not perform the needed moves, but then the clock added him additional hour. His opponent expected that the clock should show only zeroes, and did not know what to do. He kept on playing and the game ended a draw. He claimed zeitnot after the game was finished, and the score sheets signed.
GM Petar Genov had a main role in the last case. His opponent from the final round took his queen, wondered for a while where to put it, and after sawing that all the three available squares are bad just put it back. Then he started to touch the other pieces-the pawns, king, etc. without using the word “jadoube”, and finally made a move with his king. Genov claimed that he has to move the queen, to which the opponent innocently answered that he is not sure which piece he has touched first. “I might have touched the queen, but my mind did not register that…” Since the game did not matter anymore (the match was already decided) the players from Genov’s team were persuading him to continue, while the players from his opponent’s team were persuading their player to resign. “I do not know how is it, you are the Grandmaster, you tell me which move to play”, continued the opponent. “I cannot tell you your move, but according to the rules, you must move the queen”. Finally the local player resigned the game.

Official site with selected games- www.shahu-ks.com

Final Ranking Cross table

1. PRISHTINA- 10 (21.5)
2. LLAMKOSI- 9 (22)
4. MINATORI- 6 (16.5)
5. THERANDA- 5 (16.5)
6. ISTOGU- 4 (16.5)
7. TREPÇA -1 (11.5)


The mystery rook move

"To require from the pieces only direct attacking actions-this is the thinking of the average player. The more flexible understanding of the game would also require profilaxical influence from the pieces." This is how the great thinker of chess Aaron Nimzovitsch explains the ideas behind the mystery rook moves. And here is a demonstarion:
Von Gottschall,Hermann - Nimzowitsch,Aaron
Hannover Hannover (2), 1926

28...Rh8! Black wants to improve his king-Kf7-g6-f5. However, if he tries this idea immediately, White has the g4 resource, for instance: [28...Kg6 29.g4 hxg4 30.hxg4 Rh8 31.Kg3= Thus, the mystery rook move. Profilaxis!] 29.Rd1?! For Von Gottschall black's move remained mystery. Otherwise, he could have ruined his opponent's plans if he had thought also profilactically. The move: [29.Rd6 (Dvoretsky) hitting the pawn on d6 would prevent Black's activisation.] 29...Kg6 30.Rd4 Kf5 31.Bd2

31...Rf8! Yet another mystery rook move. The reason for it is seen in the line- [31...e5 32.fxe5 fxe5 33.g4+ hxg4 34.hxg4+ Ke6 35.Rd6+=] 32.Be1?! White had to find instead the mystery king move- [32.Kg1!? taking away the king from the discovered attack, for example- 32...e5 33.fxe5 fxe5 34.g4+ hxg4 35.hxg4+= (Dvoretsky)] 32...e5 [32...g5 is more subtle.] 33.fxe5 fxe5 34.Rh4? g5 35.Rb4 [35.Rxh5 Kg6+ is one possible result of he mystery.] 35...Ke6+ 36.Ke2 e4 37.Bf2 Rf3 38.Rb6
Nimtzovitsch succeeded in his plans. Now the subtle maneuver- 38...Ke5! 39.Rb4 Kd5 created a zugzwang position, and later he won convincingly. 40.h4 gxh4 41.gxh4 Rh3 42.Rd4+ Ke5 43.Rd8 Bd5 44.Re8+ Be6 45.Rd8 46.Rf8+ Bf5 47.Rf7 Rh2 48.Re7 Bg4+ 49.Ke1 50.Rf7 Kg2 51.Kd2 52.Ke3 Bf3 54.Bd6 Rb3+ 55.Kd4 Kf2 56.Rg7 e3 57.Bg3+ Kf1 58.Rf7 e2 59.Re7 Bc6 'This game, which I count amongst the best I have played, is also significant for its treatment of the isolani as an endgame weakness. 0–1

This strong method is nowadays not a secret for any young player. Especially, if his name is Carlsen:
Carlsen,M (2714) - Adams,Mi (2729)
World Cup Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (4.1), 03.12.2007

33.Rb1!! "This was my plan. Due to the weakness of the b6 pawn, White wins the needed time for regrouping."-Carlsen. 33...Kf8?! [better was- 33...Bg6 34.Rd1 Bc2 35.Rxd5 Rxd5 36.Ne3 Bb3 37.Nxd5 Bxd5 the position is unpleasant, but Black play on, states the young GM.] 34.Be1! Ke7 35.Kg1! The king moves away from the center, but this is temporarily. He frees at the moment the f2 square for the bishop, and White's position becomes obviously better after that. 35...Nb8 36.Bf2 Nd7 37.Re1+ Kf8 38.Rd1 Ke7 39.Re1+ Kf8 40.Nd6±

We see the results of Carlsen's deep strategy. He kept both his bishops on the board, and now exchanges the black one, thus achieving comfortable edge. Adams could not resist the growing pressure. 40...Ne5 [40...Bg8 41.Bb5] 41.Nxf7 Kxf7 42.Rd1 Ke7 43.f4 Ng4 44.Re1+ Kf8 45.Bd4 Rd6 46.h3 Nh6 47.Rd1 Nf5 48.Bf2 Ke7 49.g4 Nh6 [49...Nfe3 50.Re1 Re6 51.f5 Re5 52.Bg3 Re4 53.Bg2 nets a piece for White.] 50.f5 Nf7 51.Bg2 Nf4 52.Rxd6 Nxd6 53.Bxb6 Nc4 54.Bc5+ Kd7 55.Bf1 [55.b3 wins faster. Anyway, Carlsen was in full control till the very end-] 55...Nxb2 56.Bb5+ Kd8 57.Bb6+ Ke7 58.Kh2 Nd5 59.Bxa5 Kd6 60.Bd2 Kc5 61.Kg3 Nc7 62.Be3+ Kb4 63.Bd2+ Kc5 64.Bc1 Nc4 65.Bxc4 Kxc4 66.Bd2 Na6 67.a5 Kb5 68.Kf3 Nc5 69.Bc3 h6 70.Ke3 Kc4 71.Bd4 Na6 72.Ke4 Nb4 73.h4 Kb5 74.Bc3 Na6 75.Kd5 Nc5 76.Bd4 Nd3 77.Ke6 1–0

However, even experienced players may pass through the idea, like in the game:
Najer,Evgeniy (2608) - Landa,Konstantin (2614)
EU-Cup 19th Rethymnon (3), 30.09.2003

24...Rd5 Landa could have used the mystery rook move instead- [24...Rb8і (Hellsten) aiming Rb8-b5-a5, with better prospects. In the game he allowed the freeing a2-a3, which relieved White's game.] 25.a3 bxa3 26.bxa3 Rb5 27.Rb3 Ke6 28.Ke2 Rxb3 1/2