A Grandmaster’s lesson

Baburin vs. Scannell, Galway, 2009.

Replay the game here.
Queen’s Gambit Declined, Exchange Variation.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bg5 Be7 6. e3 Nbd7 7. Bd3 h6?

A big positional mistake in the Exchange variation of QGD.

8. Bh4 O-O 9. Nge2 c6 10. f3 Re8 11. Qc2 b6 12. O-O-O Bb7 13. g4

White has a target to aim for on h6 and with queen-side castling, he has an ideal pawn storm too. Black is already in a difficult position. I was trying desperately to drum up some counter-play on the queen side myself.

13…c5 14. Bf2 Nf8 15. Bb5 N6d7 16. h4 a6 17.Bxd7 Qxd7

Weirdly, Fritz estimates a small advantage to black in this position. All this proves is how little computers know about chess!
18. g5 h5 19. Kb1 Rac8 20. e4 c4? A major mistake however. Black has to take on either d4 or e4. Now, his counterplay is stymied completely and white gets his knight into the action with tempo. Instead,20…fxe4 21. fxe4 cxd4 22. Bxd4 Bd6 and black is sitting pretty. Probably has equal chances.

21. Nf4 dxe4 22.fxe4
Fritz still thinks it is pretty equal here! I felt under tremendous pressure in the game and was sure I was lost. But b5! was the right move, to get those pawns rolling. If 23. Nxh5, then b4! would create problems for white.


Trying to protect the h-pawn, which I naturally enough thought was vital to my defence. But now g6 becomes a chronic weakness, especially after white arranges the removal of the e6 pawn.

23. d5 b5? Even now, Bd6 makes a better fight of things, trying to stem the advance of the pawns.

24.e5 b4 25. e6! Natural enough and easy. 25…Qd6 26. exf7+ Kxf7

And now for the coup de grace.


27. Rhf1!  A fine move that works to crush black. It is easy to see it after the move has been taken, but harder when you’ve got two pieces hanging. 27…Kg8 28. Bd4! All part of the follow-up. 28…bxc3 A piece up against a grandmaster!! Let me dwell on this for one moment… 29. Ne6 Ah. My dream is over. Resigning is the only option…    1-0
The final position is 100% hopeless for black. If 29…Qd7 30. Rxf8 Bxf8 31. Qxg6+ Bg7 32. Nxg7 Qf7 33. Qxh5 Qxh5 34. Nxh5 black faces too many far-advanced pawns. White has a won game despite being the exchange down.

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3 Responses to A Grandmaster’s lesson

  1. John burns says:

    I never realised that 7…. h6 was a mistake! Amazing how one small grandmaster tip can change your perception of an opening forever

  2. Lukasz says:

    Two other mistakes:
    20… c4? (pawn exchange in the centre – very risky) and
    22…g6?? look very obvious! But they made the difference:)

  3. Pingback: Baburin-Scannell revisited « Rathmines Chess Club

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