Annotated Game #8 from the 1998 New York Open

annotations by NM Steve Mayer

GM Bologan, Victor  (2580) - GM Mieses, Normunds  (2505)   [A08]

1998 New York Open (Round 4)    17.03.1998

And now the story of what became of Bologan. I played him in the first round and gave him a challenging game. But could even Kasparov be ‘expected’ to win the NYO two years in a row? No, though the PCA World Champion would, I’m sure, disagree.

Bologan is a Dvoretesky student (literally) and has been kind enough to volunteer some brief but succinct insights into my own play on two separate occasions this week. He’s a ‘good chap’ and I was disappointed to see him loss this round, as it makes it almost certain that he will not repeat his feat of last year. (Granted, he might still rally, but no one expects anything lower than 7 to be the "magic number" and Victor has now given up 1.5 points.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d3 Nc6 4. c3

Mayer-Bologan(!) in the first round continued 4 g3. I’m not sure if Victor believes that 4 c3 is best. Perhaps he didn’t wish to "play against himself" in the same tournament. Alternatively, Dvoretsky stresses the KIA as a good formation to use and understand, so perhaps the move order here is ‘precision crafted.’

4…d5 5. Qe2

ala Chigorin. Bologan clearly didn’t wish to play 5 Nbd2 (a ‘stereotypical move’ in such positions) but the text is also stereotypical and moves the queen too early to boot.

5…Nge7 6. g3 g6 7. Bg2 Bg7 8. O-O e5

Miesis ensures that White will never achieve the ‘spear at e5’ that is common in KIAs where Black plays poorly. There are alternative means of doing this, but please don’t try 8...O-O? 9 e5! and expect to have fun as Black.

9. exd5 Qxd5

The correct recapture if we assume that there is no way to harass the Black queen in the center. Bologan tries to blow open the center but suffers as a result.

10. d4 e4 11. Ng5 f5 12. dxc5 Ne5 13. Rd1

‘Gains a tempo’ or just forces a move Black wishes to play anyhow? You decide. By the way, it’s all about squares and space now, so don’t try to hold the c5 pawn if you find yourself in this position as White.

13…Qxc5 14. Be3 Qc4

 Black would be very comfortable if queens were to be swapped.

15. Qc2 h6 16. Na3 Qc6 17. Nxe4

7_1.jpg (30858 bytes)

A ‘speculative sacrifice’ or… despair at the thought of looking at 17 Nh3 g5! and White has nightmares about this game for years afterwards.

17…fxe4 18. Bxe4 Qe6 19. Bc5 O-O

If-then. If Black is castled, then White will probably lose.

20. Re1 Qf7 21. Qb3 Kh7

A clever move. Bologan is welcome to either swap queens or play a piece down middlegame, but he won’t get to develop his queen rook "free of charge."

22. f4

More weaknesses. Do you feel the pulse of the game by now? I’m sure both players did and there’s not much else to say. Bologan tries his best, but even a GM has trouble when he’s a piece down with a GM.

22…N5c6 23. Nb5 Qf6 24. Rad1 Bg4 25. Rd6 Qf7 26. Qa3 a6 27. Nd4 Nxd4 28. cxd4

More decay. Perhaps enough lines are open so that White can pull off a swindle?

28…Nf5 29. Bd5 Qc7 30. Rde6 Qd7 31. Bf3 Bxf3 32. Qxf3 Bxd4+ 33. Bxd4 Qxd4+

7_2.jpg (29320 bytes)

Enough said! The rest is presented strictly for the record.

34. Kh1 Rf7 35. Qb3 Qd7 36. Rd1 Qb5 37. Qxb5 axb5 38. Rb6 Rxa2 39. Rxb5 h5 40.

Rd2 Ne3 41. Kg1 Ra1+ 42. Kf2 Ng4+ 43. Kg2 Re7 44. Kh3 Rae1 45. Kh4 Kh6 46. Rd6 R1e6 47. Rxe6 Rxe6 48. h3 Re1 49. Rb6 Rh1 50. f5 Ne5 51. g4 Rg1 0-1

A game that, in retrospect, was determined by move 20. But don’t be fooled...any GM in the tournament understands what Bologan hoped for and why he played the way he did. Was he right? How can you be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when you’re simply picking numbers in a lottery?

But still, each round sees the young and ambitious players prefer to ‘withdraw’ from the Open section and roll the dice in the u-2400 section. The European 1900-2300 players in the Open section are far more dangerous in this event- so far, at least- than the American masters who don’t even know ‘why’ they’ve come to the NYO.