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Mind Sports Olympiad, London

by Alexander Baburin

The chess part of Mind Sports Olympiad, played at the Olympia Centre in Kensington, consists of the main Open and numerous side events, such as fifteen-round rapid chess (thirty minutes per game), open and various blitz tournaments. If you are hungry for chess, MSO can definitely help and many players participate in a few events every day. For example, the current British Champion GM Julian Hodgson will play over 100 games during these nine days!

If this is a bit too much for you, then the nine-round open is likely to be your choice. This year it is very strong, featuring eighteen GMs and sixteen IMs among its 92 participants. Most of the players come from the UK, but there are many foreign visitors too – from Israel, Netherlands, India, USA, Russia, Germany and many other countries. I guess that not only an attractive prize fund (the first prize in the Open is £3,000 or about $4,800) and appearance fees brought foreign GMs to London. For some, like myself, a chance to visit this great city is its own attraction. In fact the total prize fund is £100,000; chess gets the biggest share with a total of £20,000.

With so many strong players in such a relatively small tournament, the games got tough early (from round two) and no one managed to become the sole leader. After five rounds, eicht GMs are on four points: Smirin (Israel; top seed in the tournament, with 2671), Speelman (UK, 2597), Baburin (Ireland, 2593), Psakhis (Israel, 2581), Golod (Israel, 2568), Ibragimov (Russia, 2554), Gallagher (Switzerland, 2521) and Zilberman (Israel, 2500). Sixteen players are a half-point behind. The rapid chess event is led by Lev Psakhis and Neil McDonald with 9 points out of 12. The time limit is 40/2 and then game in 1.

I would like to direct your attention to two games from the tournament with my brief comments. In both games Black failed to castle and his king was forced to take a walk in the center of the board. Such walks are always fun to watch, provided, of course, that this is not your king!

J. Speelman (2597) – Ch. Ward (2473)
Mind Sports Ol, London (4), 24.08.1999
Reti Opening [A04]

1 Nf3 c5 2 b3 d6 3 e3 e5 4 Bb5+ Nd7?!

When a GM loses in just twenty moves, this is surely due to some gross mistakes and I think that Black's problems started with this rather dubious novelty, which makes his development awkward. Probably he planned to attack the b5-bishop with ...a6 later on, but than he would fall even further behind in development. Better is 4...Nc6; for example, 5 0-0 Bg4 6 h3 Bh5 7 Be2 Be7 8 Bb2 Nf6 9 d3 0-0 10 c4 Ne8 11 Nc3 Bg6 12 Nd5 Nc7 13 a3 Nxd5 14 cxd5 Nb8 15 b4 Nd7 Miles-Sax, Teeside 1975.

5 0-0 f5 6 d4 cxd4?

This is too much – Black cannot afford to open central lines, having only one piece developed so far. Better was 6...e4.

7 exd4 e4 8 Ng5 Ngf6 9 Ne6 Qb6 10 d5

Mind Sports Olympiad
[FEN "r1b1kb1r/pp1n2pp/1q1pNn2/1B1P1p2/
4p3/1P6/P1P2PPP/RNBQ1RK1 b kq - 0 10"]

This is it – Black is now doomed. The whole game is a text-book example of how to punish your opponent's risky opening play.


10...a6 leads to a similar result after 11 Be3 Qa5 12 b4 Qxb4 13 Bd2+-.

11 a4 Ne5 12 Be3 Qa5 13 b4!

This traps Black's queen. The rest does not require any comment.

13...Qxb4 14 Bd2 Qb2 15 Bc3 Qxa1 16 Bxa1 Bxe6 17 dxe6+ Kxe6 18 Bxe5 Kxe5 19 Nd2 Be7 20 Qa1+ Kf4 21 Qc3 1-0

In addition to big material deficit, Black also has a very 'active' king, so he resigned.

The current Scottish Champion IM Jonathan Rowson (who awaits his GM-title now), who also played well in the recent British Championship, continues to play interesting chess:

J. Rowson (2490) – J. Cobb (2349)
Mind Sports Ol, London (4), 24.08.1999
French Tarrasch [C06]

1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nd2 Be7 4 Ngf3 Nf6 5 e5 Nfd7 6 c3 c5 7 Bd3 Nc6 8 0-0 Qb6 9 dxc5 Nxc5 10 Bc2 g5

This aggressive move is typical for such positions – Black wants to eliminate the e5-pawn. Yet, more common is 10...Qc7 11 Re1 Nd7 12 Qe2; for example, 12...0-0 13 Nf1 f6 14 exf6 Nxf6 15 Bg5 Bc5 16 Bh4 Qf4 17 Bg3 Qh6 Djeno-Glek, Germany 1999.

11 Re1 Nd7

In this position, in the game Godena-Shulman, Elista Ol 1998, the players agreed a draw, but in this game White is not in such a peaceful mood:

12 Nb3 g4 13 Be3!? Qd8

Perhaps 13...Qc7 would be better.

14 Nfd4 Ncxe5 15 Bf4 Bd6

Mind Sports Olympiad
[FEN "r1bqk2r/pp1n1p1p/3bp3/3pn3/3N1Bp1/
1NP5/PPB2PPP/R2QR1K1 w kq - 0 16"]

Rowson thinks that 15...Bf6 would be safer. Probably Black hoped that the tension on the h2-b8 diagonal would benefit him, but the opposite proved to be true.

16 c4!!

According to Rowson, this is the key move – White opens up center, which greatly empowers his attack. Now Black's king starts to feel very uncomfortable.


Black could not take on c4, as both 16...dxc4 17 Nxe6! and 16...Nxc4 17 Bxd6 Nxd6 18 Nxe6! loses. Probably 16...Qf6 would be more stubborn, though White is better after 17 Bxe5 Nxe5 18 Nb5 Bb8 19 cxd5.

17 Nxf3 Bxf4 18 cxd5! gxf3 19 dxe6 fxe6

Black's position after 19...Nf6 20 Qxf3 Qc7 21 g3 isn't much fun either.

20 Rxe6+ Kf7 21 Qxf3 Nf6

Black's monarch cannot survive after 21...Kxe6 22 Qxf4; for example, 22...Qf6 23 Nd4+ Ke7 24 Re1+ Kf8 25 Ne6+ Kf7 26 Ng5+ Kg7 27 Qg3+-.

22 Rd1! Qc7 23 Rxf6+ Kxf6 24 Rd4 Qxc2 25 Rxf4+

Mind Sports Olympiad
[FEN "r1b4r/pp5p/5k2/8/5R2/
1N3Q2/PPq2PPP/6K1 b - - 0 25"]


Black misses his last chance to put more resistance – after 25...Bf5 26 g4 Raf8 27 Rxf5+ Kg6 Black would be still in the game, although White's attack continues after 28 Nd4 Qb1+ 29 Kg2 Rxf5 30 Nxf5 Qxb2 31 Qe4. Now it's all over:

26 Re4+ Kd8 27 Qf6+ Kc7 28 Qe5+ Kb6 29 Rb4+ Kc6 30 Nd4+ 1-0

© All Rights Reserved.

This article first appeared at in September 1999.

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