This little something…

It became a good tradition that the last round of the Belgium Interclubs is played on the same venue and that the teams are gathered together for the big finale.
This year the final was especially thrilling as the title had to be decided in the final encounter between the teams of Amay and Wirtzfeld. The latter was hosting the round and the former is my current team. We were leading by a two point margin, but Wirtzfeld had a better tie-break. In Belgium match point system is applied and the winner of an encounter receives two points, while the draw earns one point for each squad. However, individual points are also counted and they are the first additional criterion. Belgians found a clever system to fight the no-show-ups. An individual win is counted as three points for the team, a draw is two points, and loss brings one point. The tricky part is that a player who does not come for the game receives zero points. Thus, a 4-4 result might not always mean equal match as one of the teams might lose a game on forfeit. So far it seems as the system works perfectly and none tries to save on the expenses of foreign players for example.

We did a great season and very few expected our result. I have played for Amay for almost a decade now and saw the team rise from third division to top division and a chance for a title. In the last years the squad was strengthened with young and perspective players, like Giri, Khairulin, van Kampen, Bok, etc. The team atmosphere is great and all of us enjoy our meetings.
As the final clash was approaching, the team bosses tried to propitiate the chess Gods with sacral promises. Jean Marie Gheury from our team promised to run all the way back from Wirtzfeld to Amay (which is about 120-140 km), Victor Schleck promised to walk all the way to the West coast of Belgium (approximately 260 km). Jean Marie is a long-distance runner besides chess player and Victor Schleck already walked to Echternach in Luxembourg after Wirtzfeld’s first title.
While driving to the game we had to climb a slope which our glorious member lbert called the Belgium Mountains. “Is it like 1000 meters above the sea level?” I asked. “No”- he replied with a proud expression- “800 meters!” It was not that funny though once that we almost got stuck some two kilometers before the venue.
I guess that it was not funny at all for Andrey Sumets who had flight delay and managed to pop up for the game just two minutes before the time was over. With a sprint and sigh of relief for all the Wirtzfeld supporters he made the move and pressed the clock. Soon after his game was led to a draw as well were the games on the first three boards. By that time though it seemed as the host team is in control as E. Postny got large advantage straight from the opening against his country man V. Mikhalevski. The time deficit made things worse for the latter; he missed a tactical blow and had to resign.
We had a chance to equalize on board seven where Ilja Zaragatsky had an overwhelming position against Van der Doel, but the Dutchman managed to hold the golden half point. Thus Wirtzfeld won the match and the biggest trophy!
The winning team was represented this day by the Grandmasters Naiditsch, Khenkin, Fridman, Postny, Istratescu, Sumets, der Doel, Winants. This is not their best line up though. Their top seeds Svidler and Ivanchuk are competing at the Candidates at the moment which speaks of the value of the team!
The match for the third place between Eynatten 1 and Fontaine was won convincingly by the many-year’s champion Eynatten who together with the top two teams received the right to represent Belgium at the European Club Cup in Greece in October.
On the bottom of the table two teams met in direct encounter for survival. Zottegem was held to a draw by the team of Deurne and had to part with first division.

Results by tables here
Ranking here


Three Combinations

While browsing the old tournaments I spotted a couple of nice combinations from the Berkeley open 2011. In the first one Timur Gareev show his usual creativity:
Gareev,T (2605) - Ravichandran,Si (2458)
Berkeley, 2011

1.d7! Qe6 2.d8N! Qe7 [Or: 2...Bxf4 3.Nxe6+ fxe6 4.gxf4]3.Qd2+–

The second one saw a very curious break.
Yankovsky,R (2359) - Naroditsky,D (2419)
Berkeley, 2011

1.Bxg5! fxg5 2.f6!!

2...gxf6 [2...Bxf6 3.Nf5 Be7 4.Nxg7+ Kd7 (4...Kf8 5.Nf5 Bxe4 6.Bxe4 Rxe4+ 7.Kd2 Rf4 8.g7+ Kf7 9.Nxe7 Kxg7 10.Rxd6+–) 5.Nf5 Bxe4 6.Bxe4 Rxe4+ 7.Kd2 Bf8 8.Rxd6+ Bxd6 (8...Ke8 9.Rxa6+–) 9.g7 Rf4 10.Nxd6+–]

3.Nf5 Bxe4 4.Bxe4 Rxe4+ 5.Kd2 Rf4 6.Rh3 Rxf5 7.Rh8+ Kd7 8.g7

1–0 (the lines are given by S. Velickovic)
As a desert I would like to share a combination which one of my students missed recently:

25.Nxf5! gxf5 26.Reg1 Rag8

27.Rh7+!! Rxh7 [27...Kf8 28.Rxh8 Rxh8 29.Qg7+ Ke8 30.Qxh8+ Kf7 31.Qg7+ Ke8 32.Qg8#]

28.Qxg8+ Kf6 29.Qxh7 and White wins.


Farewell, Julian

One of my bright memories that I have about Julian is the tournament in Ferrol (Spain) some years ago. The event was coming to its end and a bunch of Bulgarian players were sitting outside the restaurant before the final round, having lunch.
Julian was co-sharing the lead in the event and had the white pieces against the future GM Ilmars Starostits from Latvia. The latter needed a draw to achieve his final norm. None was deeply surprised to see Julian having a beer at lunch. After all, a draw would be good for everyone in this situation.
We went to the hall, the games started. Starostits was late. He then came, made ten moves and offered a draw. To our surprise it was rejected. Julian won quickly (did not spend more than an hour on his clock and twenty five moves for the game). He then explained that his opponent did not pay the needed respect (came late) and offered the draw too late (he had already messed the things up).
Had the Latvian come in time he would have achieved the desired draw as Julian was too good a person to spoil anyone’s happiness. On the other hand his perception of right and wrong and the way that he was understanding things in life was very clear, and the gentleman behavior- a law.
16-th of February was a black day for the Bulgarian chess. Our most modest, honorable and pure friend GM Julian Radulski passed away at the age of forty.
He was always a model person in behavior towards the game of chess and the people in general. Quiet, calm and respective towards his opponents, he would always find a good word for his adversary, no matter how good (bad) that person played.
I have the feeling that this was one of the main reasons for him not to achieve the maximum of his enormous knowledge and strength. Ever since I remember him he was rated around 2500-2550 but the respect that he had towards the names was somehow limiting him.
In the last two years though, he started trusting himself. He understood how strong he is. And the results were spectacular.
I already mentioned the tournament in Ferrol, but forgot to add that he won this even three times in a row, without losing a single game. He shared the win at the prestigious Linares open 2002 with 7.5/10, came third at Cappelle la Grand open 2010, won the strong Miguel Najdorf Memorial (Warsaw Poland) 2010 and many others.
In 2011 after winning many national team titles he was also crowned as a Bulgarian Individual Champion.
He lifted his rating above the 2600 mark and could improve further...
Julian was always very loyal to the clubs that he represented and would do the best for the team. At the Olympiad in 2002 he scored 9/13 for the Bulgarian squad, when out of these games he played seven with the black pieces!
I can spend days describing you in detail the many good things he did and caused in our chess community, the respect that people had to him.
But let now leave the chess pieces speak with his own words:

Ivanchuk,Vassily (2716) - Radulski,Julian (2497) [C97]
EU-ch 5th Antalya (1), 15.05.2004

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 Na5 9.Bc2 c5 10.d4 Qc7 11.d5 Bd7 12.b3 0–0 13.h3 Nb7

[13...c4 14.b4 Nb7 15.Be3 a5 16.a3 axb4 17.cxb4 c3 18.Bg5 h6 19.Bxf6 Bxf6 20.Re3 Rfc8 21.Nxc3+– 1–0 Kasparov,G-Comp Meph Experimental/Hamburg 1985/EXT 2002 (55)]

14.c4 [14.Nbd2 g6 (14...a5 15.Nf1 a4 16.Bg5 h6 17.Bd2 axb3 18.axb3 Rfb8 19.g4‚ 1–0 Kozlov,S-Pokazaniev,N/Smolensk 2001/EXT 2002 (48)) 15.Nf1 Ne8 16.Bh6 Ng7 17.Ng3 f6 18.Nh2 Nd8 19.f4 Nf7 20.Bxg7 Kxg7 21.f5І 1–0 Livshits,R-Lesiege,A/Canada 1992/EXT 98 (53); 14.a4 Rfb8 15.Na3 Ne8 16.Qe2 Nd8= 1/2–1/2 Hracek,Z-Nikolic,P/Selfoss 2002/CBM 92 (24); 14.Be3 a5 15.Nbd2 b4 16.c4 a4 17.g4 axb3 18.axb3 Na5 19.Nf1 Ra7 20.g5‚ 1–0 Berzina, I-Petrovich,I/Paris 1998/EXT 2000 (30); 14.c4 b4 15.Nbd2 Ne8 16.Nf1 g6 17.Bh6 Ng7 18.g4 f6 19.Ng3 1/2–1/2 Kasparov,G-Matanovic,A/Banja Luka 1979/EXT 99 (19); 14.a4 Rfb8 15.Na3 Ne8 16.Qe2 Nd8 17.Bd2 g6 18.Nh2 f6 19.c4 bxa4 20.bxa4 Nf7 21.Ng4 Bf8 22.Bc3 Qd8 23.Ne3 Bh6 24.Nb1 1/2–1/2 Hracek, Z-Nikolic,P/Selfoss 2002/CBM 92 (24)]

14...Rfe8 [14...b4 15.Nbd2 Ne8 16.Nf1 g6 17.Bh6 Ng7 18.g4 f6 19.Ng3 1/2–1/2 Kasparov,G-Matanovic,A/Banja Luka 1979/EXT 99 (19)]

15.Nc3 [15.Nbd2 is more standard.]

15...g6 16.Bd2 Bf8 17.g4

White starts the classical K-side attack, but in this game things develop in quite an unusual fashion. As we will see the combination of Nc3 and g4 works against White here.]

17...h5! 18.Nh2 [18.g5 Nh7 looks drawish.]

18...b4! 19.Na4 [Without this N on the K-side White's expansion with g4 lacks punch.]

19...hxg4 20.hxg4 Be7! 21.Nb2 Kg7!

Black is quick to seize his chance. As it turns out he gets the benefit of the opened h-file. White is worse already.]

22.Kg2 Rh8 23.Rh1 Rh4 24.f3 Rah8 25.Qe2 Qc8 26.Rag1 Qg8 27.Be1 [27.Kf1 Qh7 28.Rg2 no fun, but maybe White can survive by just protecting h2.]

27...Rh3 28.Nd1? [Better was 28.Kf1]

28...Qh7 29.Bg3 Nxg4!

[29...Nxg4 30.fxg4 Rxg3+ 31.Kxg3 Qh3+ 32.Kf2 Bh4+–+]


RIP Julian, (from the Bulgarian chess players and the many friends around the world...)