Habu's Magical Tour in Paris


Yoshiharu Habu in the second NAO Chess Masters

All Yoshiharu's games are here in pgn

The 13 may 2002
Round 1

Yoshiharu Habu wins convincingly his first game in the 2nd NAO Chess Masters against Serafimov.

The 14 may 2002
Round 2

Habu's magic is a good help to save a very difficult game. When I saw the board after the 43 rd black move, I really thought Habu would have to resign after a couple of moves. In his comments, Joël Lautier wrote Habu's game was lost several times. But his opponent didn't find the best moves and missed a tactical combination. After a good endgame technique, the players agreed a draw. It should be interesting to know the time left for each player during the game.

The 15 may 2002
Round 3

With the white pieces, Habu seems to be unstoppable. Of course, this adjective is a bit too strong, but Habu signs today his second wins in a row with the white pieces. Thanks to Jacques Pineau for the practice in his Asaka chess club, should think Habu today :-)) And this time, it was against a very strong french IM : Cyril Marcelin, who was at 2 out of 2 before this game, after winning agains Mark Taimanov in the first round.

The 16 may 2002
Round 4

As Black, Habu builds a good game with a little advantage in the opening, but a too hasty pawn push make him lose this pawn and the game.

The 17 may 2002
Round 5

Today, Habu played as white against a sicilian Taimanov variation against Taimanov himself ! The shogi style of play from Habu was not efficient in the opening : Taimanov knows so well this opening that black's position becomes rapidly winning.

When I left the office after white's 33rd move, Habu's game was already desperate. This was the time for Habu to use another magically card which helped him to stay in the game.

Has Habu got previously a draw against a GM ? (In Saint Quentin en Yvelines, he lost against all IM and GM)

The 18 may 2002
Round 6

I arrived rather late today at the tournament place, and thanks to Habu, as he is used to playing until the very end, I found him still playing. And his game was the very last game being played. All the other boards were quiet, with kings in the center. Only Japanese journalists were staring at the chess board. Almost all spectators left the place, except Jacques Pineau who arrived this morning from Japan at 4 oclock in the morning !!

Yoshiharu Habu was so concentrated than he didn't noticed that the playing room was very hot and that he was still wearing a shirt and a pullover.

As today was saturday, many spectators were attending the games.

This disturbing conditions don't seem to bother Yoshiharu's concentration. In Japan, the shogi matches are played with only a very few number of spectators (scorekeeper, timekeeper, and a few others). So that, Japanese shogi players are used to playing in perfect conditions. When Habu plays, he is like alone with his pieces and his oppenent of course : he only gave a look at the few spectators after signing the scoresheeet.

What about the game itself now ?

When I arrived, Yoshiharu was a pawn up and had a good position (after the 50th black move). I was thinking at about a move like Re7, keeping an eye on the first line to be able to prevent the possible promotion of the h pawn. I was surprised by 51.d6 which gives some hopes to black, as the h pawn becomes unstoppable after sacrificing the black rook on b2 with check. After the game, Yoshiharu told me that he totally overlooked this move. After a long thought, Yoshiharu found a very good odea which forces the promotion of one pawn for each player or the capture of both pawns. After this with two queens back on the board, Yosiharu used accurately his rook to force his opponent to resign.

When black resigns, black has only 1 minute left on the clock and white (Habu) has about 4'50" left !

So Habu is now equal third with only half a point behind the 2 leaders.

With 4 out of 6, Habu needs 2 out of the 3 remaining games to perform an IM norm. He will play twice against GM with the black pieces.

The 19 may 2002
Round 7

Today was a special day : both leaders lost against tough opponents. It is a kind of tournament in which you can not guess the winner's name until the very end. And where all games are played when all chances are used. The high percentage of decisive games in such a cat V tournament reveals this (69% of decisive games among the first 7 rounds).

Habu didn't used this opportunity to take the lead himself. Yoshiharu Habu had a good position but he unfortunately chose to exchange his good black bishop against a bad knight. This bishop was perfect for keeping the black squares. Keeping his attention for squares is so important ! After this, Lupu didn't let Habu come back in the game. With a good king and rapidly two pawns up for white, there was no place for another magic odea. After the game, the GM Lupu showed a good miple game plan for black, in which Habu could use the black squares for his king.

Habu's chances for a second IM norm still exist, he needs 2 out of 2 to perform it. Tomorrow in the 8th round, Habu will play with the white pieces against Edouard Bonnet, a 12 years old promising player. Next, Habu will play in the 9th round against the strong GM Inkiov with the black pieces, and Yoshiharu has only 0,5 point out of 3 with the black pieces ;-((

The 20 may 2002
Round 8

Today again, all games have been hard fought : no draw, only decisive results.

When I arrived at the tournament hall, Yoshiharu Habu had a very promising game. His pieces were controlling good squares, I thought he had good chances to convert this game to a win. But unfortunately, I coudn't attend the games until the end and I heard later by phone that Yoshiharu lost.

This was a bit difficult to believe as Yoshiharu was playing against a low rated player and that he was undefeated with the white pieces. Yoshiharu Habu had a very busy week with always interesting hard fought games.

With this loss, all hopes for a IM norm are gone away, and Yoshiharu is equal fourth in the tournament with 4 points out of 8 now.

Tomorrow he will play with the back pieces against the strong GM Inkiov who needs a win to hope for a win in the tournament. So this game will be played until the end too.

The 21 may 2002
Round 9

A great fighting spirit has been shown during all the tournament. Even for this last round. Well, except perhaps for both leaders Marcelin et Guidarelli who prefer to share the point after 27 moves. But this game was really important for both.

No draw without fighting for the GM neither : Lupu lose a second game in a row against Mark Taimanov. Inkiov plays all his chances but can not break the good defense of Yoshiharu Habu, despite the win in the miple game of the queen against rook, knight and pawn.

After a big suspense, the french IM Cyril Marcelin confirms his ambitions and wins the tournament alone.

1. Marcelin, 6,5 out of 9
2-3. Guidarelli, Inkiov, 6 points
4. Bonnet, 5 points
5-6. Habu, Taimanov, 4,5 points
7-8. Lupu, Midoux, 4 points
9. Serafimov, 2,5 points
10. Marchand, 2 points

To summarize Yoshiharu Habu's performance in this tournament : he gets a good win against the winner of the tournament, draws twice against two GM, and his fantastic start gave all hopes to the numerous Japanese who followed the tournament in live despite the jet lag. Rounds 7 and 8 showed all IM norm hopes vanish, despite an advantage on the board.

This tournament, organized with a grand master's hand by Joël Lautier, will stay as a great chess - shogi event for all. Many chess players have shown some interest for shogi : the main chess database editor ChessBase has just published an article about the event. And many Japanese have followed with a great interest the chess games of Yoshiharu Habu.

A TBS TV team has followed the event from the beginning to the end. For those who can get Japanese TV channels, give a look at the programs around end of june / beginning of july.

Before flying back to Japan on wednesday evening, Yoshiharu Habu will give a simul in the Ambassy of Japan in Paris, you still have the time to be there.

Last report of the "Habu's Magical Tour in Paris" tomorrow evening with this simul, I will be able to take new photographs too :-), if I am not too busy with my game.