Annotated Game #16 from the 1998 New York Open

annotations by NM Steve Mayer

GM Gurevich, Mikhail  (2640) -  GM  Minasian, Artashes  [A28]

1998 New York Open (Round 9)    22.03.1998

Mikhail Gurevich became a die in the hands of a vengeful casino! Earlier in the tournament, we saw his wonderful demolition of a very strong grandmaster. In the last two rounds, he was caught is the gears of chance and played a pair of odd games. He first lost the following tough game. In the 9th round, though, the 'fates' smiled on him when Boris Gulko thought for thirty minutes and then hung a rook. I'm sure that Mikhail Gurevich would rather have had things follow a more logical course toward the end of the tournament. Ah well, 'such things happen' in any tournament and I'm sure that some time soon Gurevich will be able to make his friends laugh tears of joy as he tells the story of how, for one brief 'moment,' everything made so much sense. And then, I'm sure, he restored his game face and went back into the hunt for loot and glory in some exotic locale.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 e6 4.e3 Nd7 5.Qc2 Ngf6 6.Nf3 Bd6 7.Bd3 Qe7 8.O-O O-O 9.h3 h6
10.a3 Re8

Each player plays as many 'constructive waiting moves' as possible before taking 'action.' Now Gurevich changes the pawn structure and 'unbalances the position.'

11.e4 dxc4 12.Bxc4 e5 13.Be3 exd4 14.Bxd4 Ne5 15.Nxe5 Bxe5 16.Rad1 Nh5 17.Bxe5 Qxe5 18.Qb3 Be6 19.Bxe6 Rxe6 20.Rd7 Rf8

16_1.jpg (30272 bytes)

A fierce fight is taking place, as in so many of the better games in this tournament. Earlier in the tournament, many very talented players 'hung the house' in such positions. Even now, some will do so, but nothing is as 'easy' as it was before. Minasian must find counterplay-primarily on the dark squares, primarily on the kingside- or he will lose without a 'fight.'

21.f3 Nf4 22.Rf2 Rg6 23.Kf1 Nh5 24.f4 Nxf4 25.Qxb7

'What in the world' has gone on in the last few moves? It's hard to say but Minasian has definitely secured counterplay. I really don't know why some people thought that the position out of the opening 'should have been' an easy win for Mikhail Gurevich.

25…Qg5 26.Rdd2 a5 27.Qc7 Rf6 28.Qd7 Nd5

16_2.jpg (29468 bytes)

A simple but pretty tactic that many people would not find. Minasian 'rose to the occasion' and earned his momentary first place.

29.Kg1 Rxf2 30.Rxf2 Nxc3 31.bxc3 Qc1+ 32.Kh2 Qxc3

Another instance of a game that must have made the loser sick. There is still plenty of room in which to 'go wrong,' but working GMs can 'smell fear' and even Gurevich's best game face couldn't have fooled a player of Minasian's strength and experience.

33.Qe7 c5 34.Rf3 Qc4 35.Rf5 Rc8 36.Qd7 Qe6 37.Qd2 Qxe4 38.Rxf7

16_3.jpg (28554 bytes)

Hardly a 'pretty shot' but one last, fading hope… Queen and pawn endings are notoriously difficult, as the inferior side requently can draw via 'perpetual check' (i.e., three-fold occurrence of position.)

And now for a funny little story. It really happened and someone will probably 'publicize' who it happened to, but that's not the 'point' of the story. In round nine, a very strong and creative player had his opponent
claim a draw through three-fold occurrence of position. 'White' disputed the claim, but unlike the famous story involving Reti and Alekhine, the position really had occurred three times and the game concluded in a draw. You want to 'laugh' or know who it 'happened to'? Fine, but remember that Kortchnoi
once had to have the rules of chess explained to him during a world championship match. Such things happen to everyone at times…]

38…Kxf7 39.Qd7+ Kg6 40.Qxc8 Qe5+ 41.Kh1 Qe1+ 42.Kh2 Qe5+ 43.Kh1 Kh7 44.Qc6 Qd4
45.Qf3 a4 46.Qf5+ Kg8 47.Qe6+ Kf8 48.Kh2 c4 49.Qc8+ Kf7 50.Qb7+ Ke6 51.Qc8+
Ke5 52.Qe8+ Kf4 53.Qxa4 Ke3

Gurevich is 'more lost' than he was twenty moves ago. Minasian's king is much better placed than White's and there are no realistic chances of 'perpetual check.'

54.Qb4 c3 55.Qb3 Kd2 56.a4 c2 57.Qa2 Qf4+ 58.Kh1 Qb4 59.Kh2 Qd6+ 60.g3 Kc3 61.Qa1+ Kb3 62.Qc1 Qd3 63.Qe1 Kb2 64.Qb4+ Qb3 65.Qd4+ Qc3 0-1