Annotated Game #9 from the 1998 New York Open

annotations by NM Steve Mayer

GM Movsesian, Sergei (2595) - GM Gurevich, Mikhail (2635) [C02]

1998 New York Open (Round 5) (Bd 1),   18.03.1998


1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Bd7 6. a3 Nge7 7. b4 cxd4 8. cxd4 Nf5 9. Bb2 b5

8_1.jpg (31189 bytes)

A very clever move! Black ensures that he won’t ‘lose space’ on the queenside and prepares to hammer away at the white b-pawn by playing ...a5. Long and bitter experience by generations of French players have taught the pros that in positions such as this one it is necessary to be creative and ‘think outside the box.’

Of course, the trivial tactical point is that 10 Bxb5 Nxe5 is fine for Black.

10. Nbd2 a5 11. Bxb5 axb4 12. a4 Be7

Black may already have solved all of his opening problems, as his passer is further advanced and more secure than the white counterpart.

13. O-O O-O 14. h3 Na5 15. Bd3 Rc8 16. Qe2 Qb6 17. g4 Nh6 18. Bb1 Rc7 19. Qd3 g6 20. Nb3 Nxb3 21. Qxb3

Doesn’t white have a space advantage on the kingside? Don’t, say, 2000s mate 1600s in positions such as this all the time? Please. These men know what they are doing. The black king position is a ‘tough nut to crack’ and the queenside is of mutual concern.

21. …Ra8 22. Qd1 Kg7 23. Bc2 b3

8_2.jpg (31191 bytes)

Think a certain move is ‘impossible,’ i.e., undesirable, and you’ll never play real chess. Gurevich still has to be careful that he doesn’t get ‘taken out’ on the kingside but his Armenian partner never seems to come close to the sort of attack that defeats a genuine grandmaster who is ‘in his zone’ and playing well.

24. Bxb3 Bxa4 25. Qd3 Bb5 26. Qe3 Bxf1 27. Rxa8 Bxh3

Now Black has a ‘winning position’ (in my opinion, of course). Does that mean that even a grandmaster should ‘expect’ to win this particular position ‘every time?’ No. And that’s why men such as Gurevich usually do win the positions they ‘should’ win and don’t ‘fall for a swindle.’ They know that accidents are part of life but that controlling for them ‘in advance’ makes it easier to avoid them.

28. g5 Nf5 29. Qd3 Bg4 30. Nh2 Be2 31. Qxe2 Qxb3 32. Ng4 Qb7 33. Re8 Rc8 34. Nf6

8_3.jpg (29635 bytes)

Don’t count Movsesian ‘out’ yet. He still has all kinds of ‘tricks up his sleeve’ and time pressure has lost many a winning game. But Gurevich manages to sidestep everything, it seems, and so keeps his place on board one for another round.

34…Rxe8 35. Nxe8+ Kf8 36. Nf6 Kg7 37. Ne8+ Kh8 38. Nf6 h6 39. Qc2 hxg5 40. Qc3 Bxf6
41. exf6 g4 42. Qc5 Qb8 43. Bc1 g5 44. Bxg5 Kh7 45. Bc1 g3 46. Qc3 gxf2 47. Kg2 Qg3+ 48. Qxg3 Nxg3 49. Kxf2 Nh5 0-1

What can I say? This is an extremely impressive game.