THE ANNUAL Memorial Tournament in honour of the great Cuban world champion Jose Raoul Capablanca started in Havana last Friday with 14 players fighting it out in an event averaging 2550 - the very top of category 12.

The early rounds saw a healthy flow of blood and after three, six of the fourteen were equal on 2/3: Tony Miles, Suat Atalik (Turkey) and four Cubans: De la Paz, Arencibia, Becerra Rivero, Bruzon; though, after round four, Miles and Buron had 3/4.

The very first round saw a heavyweight encounter as second seed Miles (the first is Ivan Morovic from Chile, rated 2610) played the fourth, grandmaster Alexander Baburin, the new Commonwealth Champion, once Russian and now Irish.

Miles has always preferred to avoid the beaten track, and, while he used to do this with 1...b6, this can lead to serious trouble against Baburin, as I found out both in Copenahgen 1996 and at the Bunratty Open last year. So Tony decided to hit him with another of his favourite off-beat ideas 1...Nc6.

Baburin reacted fairly innocuously allowing Black to get quite a reasonable game after the positional 6...Bh6! exchanging a potentially bad bishop. Of course 10...Kf8! is correct - if 10...Bd7 11.Bb5 forces a favourable exchange for White and 11.Qb4 is also possible.

17.f4 was rather impatient and after the excellent 18...b5! Miles had equalised. But in the diagram 22.fxe5 looks better - if then Nxf1 23.e6 Ne3 24.e7! 24...Rb8! (24...Rc8 25.exf8Q+ Kxf8 26.Rxc8 Bxc8 27.Bxb5). 25.exf8Q+ Kxf8 26.Nc6 is perfectly playable.

Possibly, White could still just equalise with 28.Re4! when if eg Bf5 29.Rd4 Bxd3 30.Nxd3 regains the pawn. White did win it back but at the cost of a violent attack and at the end Black is winning a piece since if 38.Na6 (or 38.Nb7+ Kc6) 38...Rg2+ 39.Kh1 Be4!

White: Alexander Baburin

Black: Tony Miles

Capablanca Memorial 1999

First round

1 d4 Nc6

2 c4 e5

3 d5 Nce7

4 Nf3 d6

5 e4 g6

6 Nc3 Bh6!

7 c5 Bxc1

8 Rxc1 Nf6

9 cxd6 cxd6

10 Qa4+ Kf8!

11 Nd2 Kg7

12 Nc4 Ne8

13 Be2 f5

14 0-0 fxe4

15 Nxe4 Nf5

16 Bd3 Rf8

17 Qa3 b6

18 f4!? b5!

19 Qa5 Bd7

20 Qxd8 Rxd8

21 Na5 Ne3 (see diagram)

22 Rfe1? exf4

23 Nb7 Rb8

24 Nbxd6 Nxd6

25 Nxd6 Rb6

26 Ne4 Nxd5

27 Nc5 Rf7

28 Bc2 Ne3

29 Bb3 Re7

30 Nd3 g5

31 Rc7 Rd6

32 Nc5 Kf6

33 Rxa7 Bf5

34 Rxe7 Kxe7

35 g3 Rd2

36 gxf4 gxf4

37 a4 Kd6

White resigns