Chess for Euromaidan

by Michail Golubev
2/11/2014 – In late January tensions between the Ukrainian opposition and President Yanykovych's government increased. This led to the wave of ongoing demonstrations and civil unrest known as Euromaidan that has taken Ukraine by storm. Two chess events have been staged showing their support for the movement. Grandmaster, Euromaidan activist Mikhail Golubev brings us a full report.

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In late January tensions between the Ukrainian opposition and President Yanykovych's government increased - it is easy to find the developments of this anywhere on the Internet. If one wants to know my opinion about what is going on in Ukraine, it is an anti-criminal revolution in favor of the democratic, European values here in Ukraine.

As a chess player, organiser and Euromaidan Activist, I participated in two Ukrainian chess events, in which all of the involved players have expressed their support of the all-Ukrainian Euromaidan movement.

The first of such events was the Internet match between Kiev and Odessa

Kiev vs. Odessa - Internet Match

Mikhail Golubev, grandmaster and supporter of Euromaidan,
and Pavel Grankin of the Batkivshchina Party

The EuroMatch Kiev vs Odessa was played in the Playchess game zone the 13th of January. In this event, officially called "A move for Europe, the Chess Match Kiev - Odessa in support of Euromaidan" 7 grandmasters and one FIDE Master were involved.

Team Odessa

The Kiev team (GMs Vladimir Baklan, Andrey Baryshpolets, Georgy Timoshenko and Andrey Zontakh) and the Odessa team (GMs Nikolay A Legky, Mikhail Golubev, Andrey Sumets and FM Georgy Sodol) played a consultation Internet game with a time control of 20 minutes per game for each side (without increment).

The Playchess server was used for the game

The Odessa team got the white pieces in this game, which had primarily a symbolic importance, as the will of the involved players, the EuroMaidan participants or activists, was to express clearly their support to the All-Ukrainian EuroMaidan movement.

Golubev in control of the consultation game in the Odessa side

A live feed on Skype allowed the players to see, but not hear, the other team

On the 14th move Odessa made a perhaps not accurate move 14.d5, but the fight was more or less balanced until 33.e4?, a significant mistake, after which Kiev took the advantage with a precise 33...Qe5!. One more mistake by Odessa, 46.Qd8?, underestimating a strong 46...f6!, resulted in a winning position for Kiev. Black soon had a healthy extra bishop, with queens and with three kingside pawns preserved by each side. But both sides were already in Zeitnot by then: Black was slow in converting the advantage, and after eventually organising the decisive breakthrough, KIEV soon lost on time in a position where only two moves remained until Odessa would have been mated...

Deep in analysis in a complex position

Despite the dramatic end of the game, both teams were happy with the match which proceeded without technical difficulties. Additional computers were used so teams could see (but not hear, understandably!) each other during the whole game. The Kiev team played in a cafe at the famous Maidan Nezalezhnosti while the Odessa team, which wished to underline additionally the support to the online petition to "use all legitimate constitutional means to free Yulia Timoshenko now", played in the regional Odessa office of the Batkivshchyna party at the Preobrazhensaya Street.

The event had significant coverage in Ukraine, including the main television channels. Photos, videos, links to reports, etc. can be found at the Facebook page of the match here.

As a coordinator of the Odessa team, I express my gratitude to all the players and the organiser at the Kiev side, my friend and colleague, journalist Anatoly Javorsky for the successful cooperation!

[Event "Internet Rapid"] [Site "Playchess.com INT"] [Date "2014.01.13"] [Round "?"] [White "EuroMaidanOdessa"] [Black "EuroMaidanKyiv"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D46"] [PlyCount "163"] [EventDate "2014.01.13"] [EventType "game (rapid)"] [EventCountry "UKR"] [SourceDate "2014.01.20"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. Bd3 O-O 8. O-O dxc4 9. Bxc4 e5 10. Bb3 h6 11. h3 Re8 12. Rd1 e4 13. Nd2 Qe7 14. d5 Nc5 15. dxc6 bxc6 16. Bc4 Bf5 17. Ne2 Rac8 18. Nf1 h5 19. Bd2 Nd5 20. Nd4 Bd7 21. b4 Nd3 22. Bxd3 exd3 23. Qxd3 Nxb4 24. Bxb4 Bxb4 25. Nc2 Be6 26. Nxb4 Qxb4 27. Ng3 Qa5 28. Qe2 h4 29. Ne4 Red8 30. Nd6 Rb8 31. Rd2 Rd7 32. Rad1 Rbd8 33. e4 Qe5 34. Nb7 Rxd2 35. Rxd2 Qa1+ 36. Kh2 Qe5+ 37. Kg1 Rxd2 38. Qxd2 Qxe4 39. Nc5 Qd5 40. Qa5 Qd1+ 41. Kh2 Qd6+ 42. Kg1 Bxa2 43. Qxa7 Bd5 44. Nd7 g5 45. Qa8+ Kg7 46. Qd8 f6 47. f3 c5 48. Kf2 c4 49. Ke3 c3 50. Qc8 Be6 51. Qxc3 Qxd7 52. Kf2 Qd5 53. Kg1 Qe5 54. Qc1 Bd5 55. Qd1 Kh6 56. Qc1 f5 57. Qd1 Qe3+ 58. Kh1 Qe5 59. Qc1 Kg6 60. Qd1 Kf6 61. Qc1 Kg6 62. Qd1 Be6 63. Qc1 Bf7 64. Qd1 Qd5 65. Qc1 Be6 66. Qe1 Qc4 67. Qd1 Bd5 68. Qe1 Bc6 69. Qd1 Qd5 70. Qe1 Kf6 71. Qa1+ Kf7 72. Qc1 Kg6 73. Qa1 g4 74. hxg4 fxg4 75. Qb1+ Qf5 76. Qb6 Qe6 77. Qb1+ Kg7 78. Qb2+ Kf7 79. Qf2 g3 80. Qf1 h3 81. gxh3 Qa2 82. Qg2 {Black lost on time! (ODESSA: GM Golubev, GM Legky, FM Sodol, GM Sumets. KIEV: GM Baklan, GM Baryshpolets, GM Timoshenko, GM Zontakh. Time control: 20 min. Rapid).} 1-0

Team Kiev during their analysis

When its a cooperation game even the first move must be discussed!

Grandmasters, but also political activists in their own way

It reads: Odessa - city of masters! and grandmasters!

Euromaidan blitz tournament

On 20 January 2014, exactly one week after the Kiev vs Odessa internet match in support of the all-Ukrainian Euromaidan movement, a blitz tournament was organised for the Odessa Euromaidan supporters in the Vsevolod Sokalyuk's lawyer's office.

The tournament well under way

GM Golubev vs. GM Sumets

Sometimes this can't be avoided. Yulia Kostina vs. Dmitry Kostin!

The small board and the old fashioned clocks really gave it a traditional chess feeling

The tournament gathered attention from the press

The players had a chance to express their opinions and the reason for the tournament

The tournament was won by Mikhail Golubev and Yuri Drozdovskij, who tied at the top with 3.5/4. They were followed by Nikolay Legky, Andrey Sumets and Georgiy Sodol with 2.5.

[Event "EuromaidanOdessa blitz"] [Site "Odessa UKR"] [Date "2014.01.20"] [Round "4"] [White "Golubev, Mikhail"] [Black "Sumets, Andrey"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C45"] [WhiteElo "2489"] [BlackElo "2620"] [Annotator "Golubev"] [PlyCount "51"] [EventDate "2014.01.20"] [EventType "swiss (blitz)"] [EventRounds "4"] [EventCountry "UKR"] [SourceDate "2014.01.20"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Bb4+ 5. c3 Be7 6. Nf5 Bf6 7. Ne3 d6 8. Be2 g6 9. O-O Bg7 10. Nd5 Nf6 11. Nxf6+ Qxf6 12. f4 O-O 13. Be3 Re8 14. Nd2 b6 15. Qa4 Bb7 16. Rae1 a6 17. Bf3 b5 18. Qc2 Qe7 19. e5 dxe5 20. f5 Na5 21. Bxb7 Nxb7 22. Ne4 Qd7 23. Bh6 gxf5 24. Bxg7 {Diagram [#]} fxe4 $2 ({Necessary was} 24... Kxg7 25. Ng3 Nd6) 25. Bf6 Qd3 26. Qc1 1-0

Signs in support of Euromaidan at the tournament

Media Coverage

People playing chess during the Euromaidan demonstrations in Kiev

Both EuroMaidan chess events were covered in the 31st installment of the Odessa chess TV program "Shkola Chempionov" on the TRC Krug channel:

Additionally, another local TV channel has covered the Blitz tournament, and I am grateful to Dumskaya.TV for the permission to use their report.

One more video was recorded (originally by the Evroduk.blogspot.com blog team) on 13.1 directly at the EuroMaidan in Odessa near statue of the Duke of Richelieu. I had a speech in Russian about our chess match:

Thanks to all involved people and particularly to the Euromaidan-Odessa activist FM Georgiy Sodol for his help in organising both events in Odessa; to the Batkivshchyna party and Vsevolod Sokalyuk, who hosted the first and second events, lastly, to Anatoly Javorsky the coordinator of the Kiev team in the Internet Match.

Additionally here is a video prepared by Odessa activists which shows many Euromaidan-Odessa actions of the first five weeks of protests (late November - late December 2013).

Photos used in this report by: Alena Balaba, Mariya Golubeva, Stas Kostin, Vitaly Svichinsky, Anatoly Javorsky.



Mikhail Golubev is a Ukrainian grandmaster, chess journalist and organizer. In 1996 he won the Ukrainian national championship in Yalta.
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