Dedicated to Keres – The Baltic Sea Young Stars

10/23/2007 – Periodically the Baltic countries dispatch their young chess champions, boys and girls, to take part in a special tournament. The host is the ancient town Narva, on the border between Estonia and Russia, the venue Hermann Castle, built in the XIII Century. This year it was dedicated to the memory of the greatest Estonian player, Paul Keres. Big illustrated report.

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Dedicated to Keres – The Baltic Sea Young Stars

Report by Valery Golubenko

This year the Baltic Sea Young Stars event – a tournament held for the champions of the Baltic countries Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Poland, Sweden, Finland, Germany and Denmark – had a broad Scandinavian accent, since at the last moment the Polish team (and first BSYS winners) didn’t go. It was not so bad for the seven remaining teams (Estonia 1 and 2, Sweden, Finland, Russian Saint Petersburg, Latvia, and Lithuania), because everyone got a personal free day for sightseeing.

Personally I would like to propose a more fundamental idea for the next tournament, which is planned biannually: make it thematic. For example one could prescribe the Scandinavian Defense 1.e4 d5 for all games, or even the Danish Gambit (in Russian it is called “Northern Gambit”): 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Bc4 cxb2 5.Bxb2

There was an astonishing (Estonishing?) development at the start of the tournament. A special postcard was issued on the eve of the event, with special cancellation near the playing hall only one day, when the event was officially opened. The Narva Castle has its own stamp, so real philatelists could create something like this:

The postcard reflects the only Keres victory over Alekhine (the overall victory score was 1:5) in the Margate 1937 tournament:

Keres,Paul - Alekhine,Alexander [C71]
Margate Margate (7), 1937
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.c4 Bd7 6.Nc3 g6 7.d4 Bg7 8.Be3 Nf6 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.Bc5 Nh5 11.Nd5 Nf4 12.Nxf4 exf4 13.e5 g5 14.Qd5 Bf8 15.Bxf8 Rxf8 16.0-0-0 Qe7 17.Bxc6 Bxc6 18.Qd3 Bd7 19.Nxg5 0-0-0 20.Nf3 f6 21.exf6 Rxf6 22.Rhe1 Qb4

23.Qxd7+!! 1-0.

You will not see “Baltic Sea Stars 2007” on the postcards, because the tournament was officially dedicated to Paul Keres. Officially, since Maria Keres, the widow of Paul Keres, was specially requested for permission to use his name, and kindly gave it.

This Baltic Sea Young Stars event was originally registered with FIDE for rating calculation purposes, but a few days before the tournament started the Estonian Chess Federation (hereinafter ECF) was temporarily excluded from the FIDE rating list due to unpaid debts, and the ratings of Estonian players were not published. It had happened not for the first time, and chess enthusiasts in Narva and neighboring Kohtla-Jarve launched strong criticism against the ECF in all newspapers. It is very rare nowadays in Estonia that both the Estonian and Russian speaking mass media are united in a cause, in this case it was to protect “the Chess of Paul Keres” (as Estonian chess is usually called) from such misadministration. Here's an example from the Estonian newspaper Ohtuleht which contains a friendly letter from FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos, after the ECF had been forced to wire the amount of EUR 15,000 to FIDE. The next morning all ratings appeared on the FIDE site. Sometimes a chess community can be very effective!

With the chess ratings problem solved the seven teams arrived at the city of Narva, to play again in the Hermann Castle.


Map of the Baltic Countries


Map of Estonia. The city of Narva is on the top right


The Hermann Castle from the XIII century, an unusual playing venue


The statue of the Russian revolutionary is still in place

To make the arrival day not just a formality the organizers invited the 1999 FIDE World Champion Alexander Khalifman to give a simultaneous exhibition. But they did not warn him that he would meet all the strongest players from the participating teams. As a result, the exhibition turned out very hard for Khalifman, lasting four hours with the final score 13.5:6.5 (+10 –3 =7). Afterwards Khalifman gave an interview to the Kohtla-Jarve (Russian speaking) newspaper Severnoje Poberezhje in which he accused the organizers of non-ethic behavior, because at least two of the players were of IM level (it’s interesting how he has guessed right, although the Latvian Vitalij Samolin, 2428, and the Estonian Aleksandr Volodin, 2373, are still awaiting their IM titles).


Alexander Khalifman, 2643 vs Aleksandr Volodin, 2373 [Photo: Kirill Annenkov]

In the above photo is is possible to recognize a position:

Despite the extra pawn Alexander Khalifman couldn’t win this game, which ended in a draw. The leader of the other Estonian team (“Estonia-2”), Roman Jezov from Narva, who as a candidate master with a 2106 rating participated in the simul legally, managed to outplay his famous opponent:

Khalifman,Alexander (2643) - Jezov,Roman (2106) [A39]
Simultan, 07.10.2007
1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.g3 g6 6.Bg2 Bg7 7.0–0 0–0 8.Nc3 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 d6 10.Qd3 Qc7 11.Nb5 Qb8 12.Bg5 Bd7 13.c5 d5 14.Bf4 e5 15.Bg5 e4 16.Qb3 Bxb5 17.Qxb5 Qc8 18.Rac1 Qc6 19.Qb3 h6 20.Bf4 Rfd8 21.Rfd1 Ne8 22.h4 Kh7 23.e3 f5 24.Bf1 a6 25.Qc2 Bf6 26.Bh3 Qe6 27.Qb3 Rd7 28.Qb6 Qxb6 29.cxb6 Bxb2 30.Rc5 Nf6 31.Bc7 Rc8 32.h5 Ba3 33.hxg6+ Kxg6 34.Ra5 Bb4

35.Ra4 Bd6 36.Bxd6 Rxd6 37.Rb4 Rcc6 38.Rdb1 Nd7 39.g4 Rxb6 40.gxf5+ Kf6 41.a4 Rxb4 42.Rxb4 Rb6 43.Rd4 Ke5 44.Kg2 Rb2 45.Kg3 Nf6 46.f3 Re2 0-1

In his opening speech Alexander Khalifman said that thanks to tournaments like this young players will know that in chess there are not only such great players as Fritz and Rybka, but also Keres, Alekhine, Tal and Capablanca.

On the next day was an inauguration of the commemorative plaque dedicated to Paul Keres on the house he was born in Narva on the January 7th, 1916.

You’ll not see the street name on this house near its no 19. The street is named after the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. In Keres’s time the street was called Posti (“Post”).


The plaque says: "Here the world renowned chess player was born”

The Young Stars


1st round G18: Nadezda Somova (Latvia) 1988 vs Inna Agrest (Sweden) 2121. Black won.


G12: Irina Tumanova (Finland) vs Kristina Orlova (Estonia-2)


The youngest participants (playing for the Estonia-2 selection): Mai Narva from Tallinn (Mai is a granddaughter of the late Soviet master Boris Rytov) and Artem Fedorov from Narva

In the tournament itself everything was already clear after five rounds. The Russian team from Saint Petersburg won all their matches and wrapped up the first place just before their own free day.


G18: Ekaterina Egorova, rated 2111, Saint Petersburg


G16: Viktoria Korchagina, 2173, Saint Petersburg


G12: Anna-Maria Pavlova, Saint-Petersburg


A last round decisive game for first place in G10: Katrina Korban (Narva, Estonia-1) vs Anna Styazhkina 1869 (Russia). Draw

The last round decisive game for the first place in B18 section was German Pankov 2367 (Russia) – Aleksandr Volodin 2373 (Estonia-1):

Pankov,G. - Volodin,A.
Baltic Sea Young Stars (7), 13.10.2007
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nc3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.g4 h6 8.Rg1 dxc4 9.Bxc4 Nb6 10.Bb3 Nfd5 11.Ne4 Be7 12.a3 Nf6 13.Nc5 Bxc5 14.Qxc5 Ne4 15.Qc2 Ng5 16.Qe2 Nxf3+ 17.Qxf3 Nd7 18.e4 c5 19.Be3 Qa5+ 20.Bd2 Qb6 21.d5 Ne5 22.Qc3 f6 23.0–0–0 exd5 24.Bxd5 Be6 25.f4 Nd7 26.Be3 0–0–0 27.Kb1 Bxd5 28.Rxd5 Qe6 29.Qc4 Rhe8 30.Bxc5 Qxe4+? 31.Qxe4 Rxe4 32.Rc1

32...Kb8 33.Bd6+ Ka8 34.Bc7 1-0.

The tournament situation before the last round was the following:

As you can see, not a single match was drawn – until the last round, where all of them were! Possibly because it was the last round, but all the draws were after four-hour battles. Saint-Petersburg vs Estonia-1: 5:5 (+3 –3 =4); Finland vs Estonia-2: 5:5 (+4 –4 =2); Latvia-Lithuania: 5:5 (+4 –4 =2). Moreover three boys in the B10 section were totally equal: Mark Emdin 1843 (Russia), Ottomar Ladva (Estonia-1) and Marijus Vicas (Lithuania). They were forced to play a round robin blitz to define a board winner.

All winners in the girls and boys categories

Cat. winner Rating Nation Pts./6
G10 Anna Styazhkina 1869 Russia 5.5
G12 Jessica Bengtsson   Sweden 5.0
G14 Dominyka Batkovskyte 1944 Lithuania 5.5
G16 Viktoria Korchagina 2173 Russia 5.5
G18 Inna Agrest 2121 Sweden 5.5
B10 Ottomar Ladva   Estonia-1 5.0
B12 Mark Lapidus 1845 Estonia-1 5.5
B14 Roope Kiuttu 2007 Finland 5.5
B16 Vladimir Fedoseev 2236 Russia 4.5
B18 German Pankov 2367 Russia 4.5


Winners at the back of Ivangorod Castle [Photo: Dmitry Emdin]

All photos by Valery Golubenko

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