Annotated Game #14 from the 1998 New York Open

annotations by NM Steve Mayer

GM Milov, Vadim  (2635) -  GM  Georgiev, Kiril  [A28]

1998 New York Open (Round 7)    20.03.1998

An extraordinary series of 'disasters' occurred this round. The first that must be addressed is the game Milov-Georgiev, which confirmed my belief that these men could 'destroy' each other or themselves if they weren't 'careful.'

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.e3 g6 5.Be2 Bg7 6.O-O O-O 7.d3 d5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Bd2 Ndb4 10.Qb1 a5 11.a3 Na6 12.Qc2 Be6 13.Rab1 Qe7 14.Rfd1 Rfd8 15.Be1 Rd7 16.Na4 Bd5 17.Nc3 Be6 18.Na4 Bd5 19.Nc3 1/2-1/2

15_1.jpg (32223 bytes)

Oh no! How could two such brilliant players make such an 'idiotic' decision?! Do they really think that they can 'win' the tournament? What in the world happened? Why (and how) did Georgiev commit such an awful blunder?

Here are the 'facts.' You could have been at the tournament and not found them out.

First of all, we need to 'get beyond' the idea that anyone can 'win' this tournament. Sure, you can 'win' the tournament if you're in first place at the end of nine rounds. This is why we say that 'Minasian won the
tournament.' However, Lputian might have 'won' the tournament if it had been ten rounds. Further, Akopian or Epishin (or someone else) might have won if it had been eleven rounds. That's why throughout my tournament annotations I've attempted to stress the concepts of 'lottery' and 'accidents' throughout my 'reports.'

Eventually- if Arpad Elo is more right than wrong- we could have a swiss system tournament of sufficient length that we would find Bareev and Georgiev toward the top. (They did, after all, each come into the tournament with a 2675 published FIDE rating.)

The rest of the players, with a certain degree of variance, would also find themselves more or less 'where they should be.' Of course, such a tournament would have to be, say, thirty rounds or so before we could be more or less certain that the players were 'in their proper place.' And yes, there would be players who would do significantly better or worse than one would expect. 'Such is life.'

As I said last week from the tournament: Every tournament is the creation of a new normative ranking system.

A 'short' tournament, e.g., the New York Open, simply can't 'sort' the players with anything resembling 'accuracy.'

So how do I know Georgiev blundered? Because this is too obvious a mistake for a player of Georgiev's character to make. Many players and players' wives argued this point with me. So be it.

A Georgiev fan who went out to dinner with the man after the eighth round relates that Kiril was furious with himself.

So why was he furious?

Because he blundered away the tournament! And he knew it!

He had to take his 'chances' when he had them! He was playing round eight; neither he nor Milov 'liked' their respective positions. Many of the GMs' wives were particularly sympathetic to this 'argument.' But Georgiev knew better…he told his fan that he would have 'gone for it' with Milov and played
for the win if he had realized that Minasian was only point back and not a full point back. (Which, in fact, is what he believed when he drew the game.)

Let's assume a 'worse case scenario,' i.e., Kiril 'presses too hard' and loses. A disaster, yes?


For then he would have been 'tossed back' into the mix, probably would have gotten White and would have played a player who is (presumably) 'weaker' than he is. And 'guess' who would have won more times than not.

And the reason Georgiev 'knew better' than to draw Milov is that he knows that'drawing by negotiation' isn't the 'best gaming strategy' in a tournament of this type. It is in some, but not in the strongest open tournament in chess history.

Logical arguments are structural…Georgiev almost certainly knows that if neither player likes his chances-why else would Milov have been content to draw as White out of the opening?- then it is effectively the same thing as if both players think they have the better game!

He needed to play round eight when he was 'playing Milov'; not round nine, but the position on the board!

The implications of this argument can be drawn out at great length. For now, I'll say "start with everything you can read by GM Alex Yermolinsky," who is one of the great theoretical writers on gaming strategies- in addition to being a genuinely hilarious writer.

Those of us from Washington, D.C., are fortunate to know such men as David Mehler, Eugene Meyer, John Meyer and Alex Sherzer. None of these men has ever done much chess writing, but they can succintly and quickly outline the benefits of what is the closest thing to an ideal (i.e., 'optimal return')
strategy for playing Swiss System tournaments. My interpretation is different in many respects than theirs but we are all 'more or less' on the same page. (And they all differ in some respects from each other, of course.)

And now back to the 'pure chess.'