Bee-keeper Zubov wins Cracovia Open with 2600+ performance

1/10/2011 – It was not illegal computer assistance – Alexander Zubov proved that it is possible for an amateur to win a big tournament. The Ukrainian IM, rated 2574, is a honey producer by profession, but was able to win the Cracovia Open (for a second time in succession), held from December 27th 2010 to January 4th 2011 in Cracow, Poland, on tiebreak points. Big pictorial report by Piotr Kaim.

ChessBase 14 Download ChessBase 14 Download

Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. Start your personal success story with ChessBase 14 and enjoy your chess even more!

Along with the ChessBase 14 program you can access the Live Database of 8 million games, and receive three months of free ChesssBase Account Premium membership and all of our online apps! Have a look today!


Amateur wins the Cracovia Open with 2600+ performance

 Report by Piotr Kaim / Photos by Malgorzata Smolak

The Cracovia Open tournaments (the first one in 1990/1991) traditionally begin after Christmas and are finished after the New Year. Cracow (“Krakow” in Polish) is an old capital of Poland, the second biggest city of the country and, arguably, the most beautiful one.

Royal Palace of Cracow (known as “Wawel”)

Cracow’s political significance was reduced when king Sigismund III Vasa moved his royal residence to Warsaw (Warszawa) at the turn of 16th and 17th centuries. You can hear all over the country (especially in Warsaw) stories about Cracovians’ slowness. Following that pattern one might say that Cracow needed almost 400 years to start with the Cracovia Open tournaments in order to compensate for the loss of the capital status.

This time the “A” tournament attracted 86 players of many countries, including six GMs and 14 IMs. Most of the time the field was led by two IMs: the top seed IM Alexander Zubov (2574) from Ukraine and IM Marcin Sieciechowicz (2446), a 19-year-old from Poland. After the penultimate round both of them had 6.5/8, half a point ahead of the chasing group. In the last round both leaders drew and were caught by GM Evgeny Sharapov (2468) from Ukraine and Polish IM Kamil Dragun (2407), who is a current U16 World Champion. Therefore, the four-way tie occurred at 7/9.

Final standing (after nine rounds)

# Ti. Player Nat. Rtng Pts
1 IM Zubov, Alexander UKR 2574 7.0
2 IM Sieciechowicz, Marcin POL 2446 7.0
3 GM Sharapov, Evgeny UKR 2468 7.0
4 IM Dragun, Kamil POL 2407 7.0
5 m Brodowski, Piotr POL 2417 6.5
6 IM Tazbir, Marcin POL 2527 6.5
7 Grinev, Valeriy UKR 2361 6.5
8 FM Duda, Jan-Krzysztof POL 2247 6.5
9 k+ Wcislo, Damian POL 2219 6.5
10 I++ Skawinski, Arkadiusz POL 2249 6.0
11 IM Aliavdin, Nikolai BLR 2377 6.0
12 GM Gavrilov, Alexei RUS 2488 6.0
13 GM Starostits, Ilmars LAT 2488 5.5
14 GM Jakubiec, Artur POL 2547 5.5
15 IM Bulski, Krzysztof POL 2470 5.5
16 IM Bobula, Mateusz POL 2393 5.5
17 IM Gagarin, Vasilij RUS 2435 5.5
18 WIM Toma, Katarzyna POL 2234 5.5
19 GM Shishkin, Vadim UKR 2458 5.5
20 FM Mertanen, Janne FIN 2318 5.5
21 IM Miron, Lucian-Costin ROU 2496 5.5
22 IM Jasny, Stanislav CZE 2351 5.5
23 GM Soffer, Ram ISR 2486 5.5
24 m Nguyen, Piotr POL 2394 5.5
25   Gbyl, Andrzej POL 2286 5.5

Based on Buchholtz the first prize went to Alexander Zubov. By the way, Alexander had also won the Cracovia Open the year before. In a short interview he surprised us by declaring that he is not a chess professional. "So what are you doing for living?" we asked. "In principle, I have a bee-keeping business, we produce honey", he responded.

Alexander Zubov had a 2626 performance and won the tournament for the second time in a row.

Let's look how the amateur handled the Queen's Gambit Accepted in the game below. The notation is supplemented with notes taken from Alexander’s spoken explanation.

Zubov,Alexander (2574) - Starostits,Ilmars (2488) [D26]
Cracovia 2010 Krakow (6.1), 02.01.2011

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 c5 4.Bxc4 cxd4!? 5.exd4. If 5.Nf3 he can play 5...Qc7! 6.Qxd4 Nc6 and it is difficult to find an edge for White. 5...Nf6 6.Nf3 e6 7.0-0 Be7 8.Nc3 0-0 9.Bg5 a6!? My opponent chooses a tricky move order by delaying the customary Nc6. The point is that after 10.Re1 he can play 10...b5 11.Bb3 Bb7 – his bishop is not hidden behind the knight and Black has a good control over d5. Hence I played 10.Bb3. The alternative was 10.a4 However, I did not want to weaken the b4 spot, which could be exploited by Nc6-b4. 10...b5?!

Black is consistent, but safer was 10...Nc6 transposing to a theoretical position. After 11.Qd2 Black can play 11.. .b5 or 11...Nc6. The latter was seen in a well-known game Kramnik-Anand, Dortmund 2001. After the text I sank into thought and came up with an inspired idea. 11.d5! b4. If 11...exd5 then 12.Nxd5 Nxd5 13.Qxd5 Qxd5 14.Bxd5 Ra7 15.Bxe7 Rxe7 16.Rfe1 and White has a slight advantage.; On 11...Nxd5 I intended 12.Bxd5 exd5 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 14.Nxd5 and assessed that my position would be better after something like 14...Qd8 15.Re1 Be6 16.Nf4 Qxd1 17.Rexd1 Bg4 18.Rac1 Nd7 19.Nd5. 12.Na4 exd5. After 12...Nxd5 I calculated lines like 13.Bxd5 exd5 14.Bxe7 Qxe7 15.Nb6 Ra7 16.Nxd5 and White is clearly better, e.g. 16...Qd6 17.Re1 Kh8 (17...Rd8 is refuted by 18.Ne7+! and White wins material or gives the back rank mate.) 18.Ne5 Be6 19.Nf4 Qxd1 20.Rexd1 I assessed that Black's position would be difficult to defend. 13.Nd4!? This is the point – I do not want to recapture the pawn. Instead, I want to take advantage of my lead in development and active pieces. During the game my opponent thought I should have played 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Qxd5 Qxd5 15. Bxd5 with equal position. What should he do after 13.Nd4? 13...Nbd7? runs into 14.Nc6 and 13...Gb7 is met by 14.Nf5. 13...Qd6. Threatenning 14...Ng4. 14.Re1! Simple and strong. If 14...Ng4 I play 15.Rxe7 and after 15...Qxh2+ my king has a free square on f1. That is why he opted for 14...Bd8 15.g3!

Defuses the re-established 15...Ng4 threat and creates the possibility Bf4. 15...Nc6?? Losing blunder, but it is already difficult to find a good move. After 15...Nbd7?? I play 16.Bf4 and his queen is trapped.; He could consider something like 15...Ne4 , but after 16.Bf4 Qd7 17.f3 Nf6 White has more than compensation for the pawn. 16.Bxf6 Bxf6 17.Nxc6 d4. Now I am a piece up, but 17...Qxc6 would be even worse after 18.Bxd5 Qb5 19.Bxa8.18.Na5 d3. He could still have some hopes due to the d-pawn and the uncomfortable position of White knights. I solved both problems with ease. 19.Qf3 Rb8 20.Rad1 Qc7 21.Nc6 Bb7 22.Bd5 Bxc6 23.Bxc6 Rbd8 24.Be4 d2

25.Re2 Qc1 26.Rexd2 Qxd2 27.Rxd2 Rxd2 28.Qf5 Rfd8 29.Qxh7+ Kf8 30.Qh8+ Ke7 31.Qh5 R8d6 [31...Bd4 is duly met by 32.Qg5+ and 33.Qxd2] 32.Nc5 g5 33.Bd3 1-0. [Click to replay]

The second prize went to IM Marcin Sieciechowicz, who scored his first GM norm. In round eight he won a beautiful game against an FM from Finland. Again we show the game with the notes of the winner’s spoken explanation.

IM Marcin Sieciechowicz: “If I play 1.e2-e4, your preparation is useless.”

Mertanen,Janne (2318) - Sieciechowicz,Marcin (2446) [D12]
Cracovia 2010 Krakow (8.2), 03.01.2011

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3. He played this move two rounds earlier and won. I was happy about the repetition, because it led to my favourite line. 4...Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 Bg6 7.Be2 Nbd7 8.0-0 Bd6 9.g3 0-0 10.Nxg6 hxg6 11.Qb3. I do not understand this move. I want to play on the queenside and his queen on b3 can only help me. 11...Rb8 12.Rd1 Qe7 13.Qc2. He admits that his queen was misplaced. 13...dxc4 14.Bxc4 b5 15.Be2 Rfc8 16.Bd2 a6 17.a4 c5!? I was not able to calculate all the lines that might occur after this move, but felt I was OK. 18.axb5 axb5 19.Nxb5 cxd4 20.Qd3?! An oversight.

20...Ne5! 21.Qb1. Now he realised that 21.Qxd4 Rxb5 22.Bxb5 Nf3+ is curtains. After 21.Qb3 I saw 21...d3 22.Bxd3 Nf3+ 23.Kg2 Qb7 and assessed that White's position would be difficult. 21...Rxb5! Another intuitive solution. 22.Bxb5 Nf3+ 23.Kf1 Nxh2+ 24.Kg2 Qb7+ 25.Kxh2

25...Ng4+. It was clear that after 25...Qxb5 Black has more than excellent compensation, but I wanted to get to his king. 26.Kg1 Qf3 27.Be1 dxe3 28.fxe3 Bxg3 [28...Bc5! finished immediately. 29.Rd2 Rc5. The rook is heading to h1. 30.Qd1 Qxe3+ 31.Kg2 Qf4 32.Qa4 Ne3+ 33.Kg1 Bf2+ 34.Rxf2 Qg3+. He cannot avoid being mated. 0-1. [Click to replay]

The third Buchholz belonged to GM Evgeny Sharapov, who is probably the most modest prize winner you can ever meet. During the conversation with the ChessBase reporter he was more than apologetic about his play. "I played terrible chess over the whole tournament", he said. "But my opponents played even worse”, he went on. “I spend too much time on Internet blitz. It takes the whole depth out of my head..." etc. etc. Please, see two examples of Evgeny’s play.

It was a terrible tournament for GM Evgeny Sharapov and … his opponents.

Sharapov,Evgeny (2468) - Hartikainen,Markku (2314) [B76]
Cracovia 2010 Krakow (2.8), 28.12.2010

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.g4 Be6 10.0-0-0 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 Qa5 12.Kb1 Rfc8 13.a3 Rab8 14.h4 b5 15.Nd5 Qxd2 16.Rxd2 Bxd5 17.exd5 a5 18.g5. "A weak move. I do not understand how I could have made it. I should have played 18.h5," commented GM Sharapov.] 18...Nh5 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.Bh3 Rc4 21.Bg4 b4 22.b3 bxa3 23.Ka2 Rc3 24.Kxa3 Nf4 25.Re1 Rb5 26.Rxe7 Rxd5? "26...Nxd5 was necessary. It led to an equal position, though there would be still some play. Probably, I would try 27.Ra7"

27.Be6!! Nxe6. If 27...Rxd2 then 28.Rxf7+ Kg8 (Black cannot play 28...Kh8 29.Rf8+ Kg7 30.Rg8# and thus he cannot avoid a windmill.) 29.Rxf4+ Kg7 30.Rf7+ Kg8 31.Rc7+ etc. 28.Rxd5 Rxc2 29.Rxd6 Nc5 30.Rf6 1-0. [Click to replay]

In the position below Evgeny showed his understanding of the rook endgame. "I have solved many positions from the Yugoslav Encyclopedia of Chess Endings", he told us. "Without that, I would not have known what to do..."

Sharapov,Evgeny (2468) - Jakubiec,Artur (2547) [B12]
Cracovia 2010 Krakow (8.4), 03.01.2011

Black is lost since his rook cannot capture both white pawns. One of them should queen, while the black b-pawn will be exchanged for the rook. However, Jakubiec tries to escape by a trick. 55...Kf4! If 55...Kd4 56.Kg7 Kc3 57.Rxb3+ Rxb3 58.f7 Rb7 59.Kg8 Rxf7 60.Kxf7 Kd4 61.g5 wins. 56.g5! The point is that after 56.Kg7 Kg5 57.f7 Rg6+! 58.Kf8 Rb6 White cannot win, because he cannot check along the g-file. The text avoids such a scenario by giving away the g-pawn. "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg" - was another Evgeny's characteristic explanation. 56...Kg4 57.Kg7 Kxg5 58.f7 Rg6+ 59.Kf8 Rb6 60.Rg2+. The point. Now the white king will be able to break free to g8 and he will not be annoyed by the checking rook. 1-0. [Click to replay]

GM Artur Jakubiec, the player who lost the above ending, is a former second of the Polish men's national team. In the past he won the Cracovia Open twice (1997/98 and 2006/2007). This time the tournament did not go that well and Artur came only 14th with the 5,5/9 score. Still, in some games he demonstrated his customary qualities: imagination, sure handling of unusual positions, tactical ability and resourcefulness in attack.

“Look at me!” – GM Artur Jakubiec takes the game seriously

Jakubiec,Artur (2547) - Mazur,Stefan (2389) [A22]
Cracovia 2010 Krakow (3.2), 29.12.2010

24.Nf5. Intending 25.Qg5 with dangerous attack, e.g. 25...Kh8 26.Bf6 gxf6 27. Qh6 Kg8 28.Ne7+ mating. Black decided to parry the threat with 24...Bd7?! Better was e.g. 24...Rb7 25.Qg5 Kh8 and the 26.Bf6 tactics does not work since e7 is defended by Rb7. 25.Nh6+! Kh8. 25...gxh6 Looses on the spot after 26.Qxh6 Ng7 27.Bf6 Ne8 28.Qg5+ Kf8 29.Be7#. 26.Nxf7+ Kg8 27.Nh6+!? Our silicon friends suggest 27.f4 and if 27...Kxf7 28.fxe5+ Kxe7 (28...Kg6 29.Qg5# mate) 29.Qg5+ wins. However, Black could avoid the distster by 27...Qb2 leading to a sharp endgame. 27...Kh8?! The king should be kept on g8, but it was difficult to grasp during the game. After 27...gxh6! 28.Qxh6 Ng7 our engine shows that White has no more than a perpetual, e.g. 29.f4 Ne3 30.Bf6 Ne8 31.Qg5+ Kf8 32.fxe5 Nxf1 33.e6 Nxf6 34.Qxf6+ Kg8 35.Qf7+ Kh8 36.Qf6+ etc. 28.Qg5! gxh6 29.Qxh6 Ng7 30.Bf6! As compared to the line in the previous note, the black knight is pinned. 30...Rg8 31.g5 Be8 32.Bh3 Bg6 33.Bf5. Black has no defense against the mate on h7 supported by the bishop or the g-pawn. 1-0. [Click to replay]

The fourth prize went to 16-year-old IM Kamil Dragun (2406), the current U16 World Champion and a Polish hope. Among other qualities he showed great ambition and firm handling of the white side of the Ruy Lopez. In the game below he defeated an experienced Russian GM.

IM Kamil Dragun caught the leaders in the last round

Dragun,Kamil (2407) - Gavrilov,Alexei (2488) [C92]
Cracovia 2010 Krakow (3.3), 29.12.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Re8 10.Ng5 Rf8 11.Nf3 Re8 12.d4 Bb7 13.Ng5 Rf8 14.Nf3 Re8 15.Nbd2 Bf8 16.a4 h6 17.Bc2 exd4 18.cxd4 Nb4 19.Bb1 c5 20.d5 Nd7 21.Nf1 f5 22.exf5 Nf6 23.Ne3 Nbxd5 24.Ba2 c4 25.Nd4 Nxe3 26.Bxe3 Qd7 27.b3 Rac8 28.axb5 axb5 29.bxc4 bxc4 30.Rc1 d5 31.Ne6 Bb4 32.Re2 Bc6 33.Qd4 Qe7 34.Rb1 Ba3 35.Ree1 Rb8 36.Bd2 Rxb1 37.Bxb1 Bb4 38.Re3 Bxd2 39.Qxd2 Rb8 40.Bc2 Qb4 41.Qd4 Qb2

Now White managed to outfox the opponent in the following queens' play. 42.Qa7 Qb7 43.Qc5 Qb6 44.Qe7 Qb7 45.Qd6 Re8 46.Rg3 Nh5 47.Rg6 Qd7 48.Qe5 d4 49.Bd1 c3 50.Bxh5 Re7 51.Bd1 d3 52.Qxc3 1-0. [Click to replay]

Hopelessly devoted to... chess – Players at the Cracovia Open

WIM Katarzyna Toma (2234) scored 2424 and her second WGM norm

13-year-old Jan-Krzysztof Duda (6.5/9) defeated two GMs and scored 2451

Trouble with girls: WFM Klaudia Kulon (2208) was third in the blitz tournament

WGM Marta Przezdziecka (2249) is one of the leading female
players in Poland, but Cracovia was not her tournament.

Main Market Square: let’s take a ride…

… and you will surely see the pigeons of Cracow.

The Town Hall Tower against the sun and the Cloth Hall at the left

Unfaithful Thomas lane: it will be full of café tables as soon as the winter is gone

Old Jewish quarter (Kazimierz) and a café with historical sign-boards: “Aron Weinberg, Gallantry”, “Stanislaw Nowak, Grocery”, “Benjamin Holcer, Carpenter”, “Fashion House, Tailor Szymon Kac”   


To read, replay and analyse the PGN games we adivse you to download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light. This program also gives you immediate access to the chess server

Copyright ChessBase

Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register