Chess - Life and Style - The Independent

Chess

The most dramatic happening of the week has been for a Russian Irishman to play the starring role in The Cherry Orchard. We are, however, talking more checkmate than Chekhov here, for the Monarch Assurance International has just finished at the Cherry Orchard Hotel, Port Erin, on the Isle of Man, and the winner was Alexander Baburin, the former Moscow grandmaster now resident in Dublin.

The event, which attracted a dozen grandmasters, won won by Baburin with the fine score of 8 out of 9, two points ahead of the runners-up, Liss (Israel) and Hebden (England). The joint British Champion, Matthew Sadler, was among the group sharing fourth place.

Baburin, like most Moscow-trained grandmasters, has a polished professional style combining a well-rehearsed opening repertoire with as high a level of aggression and energy as positional correctness allows. His first-round win is a good example. When White played 15.g4 and followed it with 18.f4, he must have had high hopes for his K-side initiative, but after Black's accurate 16 ... g5 and 18 ... f5, it was he who gained the advantage on that wing.

Black's 26 ... Qe7! was designed to meet the threat of 27.b5, but White must have missed the idea of 27.b5 Nxd4! 28.Rxd4 Qxc5 29.Bf2 Rxf2! At the end 44.Ke1 Qg1 is mate.

White: B. Baum

Black: A. Baburin

Alekhine's Defence

1 e4 Nf6 23 hxg4 Rxf1+

2 e5 Nd5 24 Kxf1 a6

3 d4 d6 25 Kg1 Rf8

4 c4 Nb6 26 b4 Qe7

5 exd6 exd6 27 b5 Nxd4

6 Nf3 Be7 28 Bf2 Rxf2

7 Be2 0-0 29 Kxf2 Qxc5

8 0-0 Bf6 30 Na4 Qf8+

9 Nc3 Nc6 31 Ke1 axb5

10 b3 Bg4 32 Nb2 Nf4

11 Be3 d5 33 Nxf4 Qxf4

12 c5 Nc8 34 Nd3 Qe3

13 Rc1 N8e7 35 Kf1 Qh3+

14 h3 Be6 36 Ke1 Qg3+

15 g4 h6 37 Kf1 Nxe2

16 Ne1 g5 38 Qxe2 Bxg4

17 Ng2 Bg7 39 Qe8+ Kh7

18 f4 f5 40 Nf2 Bf3

19 Rc2 Ng6 41 Nd3 Qh3+

20 Rd2 gxf4 42 Ke1 Qh1+

21 Bxf4 Qd7 43 Kf2 Qg2+

22 Bg3 fxg4 White resigned

Matthew Sadler's hopes of first place vanished after a good start, with too many draws and a loss to Andrew Ledger. He did, however, play one characteristically forceful game to beat Tony Kosten.

White's 11.g4 and 12.Bd3 began to look very dubious when Sadler broke open the centre and sacrificed a pawn with 15 ... d4! Black's 21 ... Ncxd4! exploited all White's weaknesses: 22.fxe5 Nf3+ wins a piece. After White's final move, 23 ... Rxd4 24.fxe5 is not too bad for him, but 23 ... Qe7! with its threat of Qh4+ was fatal.

White: A. Kosten

Black: M. Sadler

Queen's Gambit Declined

1 c4 e6 13 dxc5 Nxc5

2 Nc3 d5 14 Bc2 Nc6

3 d4 c6 15 h3 d4

4 cxd5 exd5 16 Nb5 Qe5

5 Bf4 Bd6 17 Nxd4 Rfd8

6 Bxd6 Qxd6 18 Nfe2 Bc4

7 e3 Bf5 19 Qd2 Rac8

8 Nge2 Ne7 20 Rd1 Ne6

9 Nf4 Nd7 21 f4 Ncxd4

10 Be2 0-0 22 Nxd4 Nxd4

11 g4 Be6 23 Qxd4 Qe7

12 Bd3 c5

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