Annotated Game #5 from the 1998 New York Open

annotations by NM Steve Mayer

GM Onischuk, Alexander (2610) - GM Magem Badals, Jorge (2535)  [D41]

1998 New York Open (Round 3)    17.03.1998

1. e4 c6 2. c4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. cxd5 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nxd5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. d4

And so we arrive at an isolani position. Does it help to know opening theory if one wishes to play this type of position? No, for it arises out of too many ‘openings’ for anyone aside from Deep Blue (or other ‘static’ players) to catch all of the appropriate routes. That means that both players must ‘show what they know’ at the board.

7…e6 8. Bc4 Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. Re1 Nxc3

Can this be right? I don’t think so, for it Black found it hard in a middlegame to get at the d-pawn, how much easier will it be to attack c3?

11. bxc3 b6 12. Bd3 Bb7 13. h4

4_1.jpg (30695 bytes)

Gulp! Anyone care to accept the pawn sacrifice? A computer would and a human would grin and brag about his own ‘insight’ into ‘creative chess.’ But anyone who plays IQP positions knows this idea and no one ‘ever’ takes the pawn. After all, who wants to give up the bishop pair and open the h-file when White already and a central space advantage and is ‘playing for mate."

13…Bf6 14. Ng5

But now g5 is a sturdy staging ground for kingside operations.


Hmmm, anything else also weakens the kingside. I think improvements begin earlier than move 14.

15. Qg4 h5

Black must have been kicking himself here. How in the world is he going to save himself? Well, he can hope that his position is ‘sound’- most are, after all- or that White miscalculates, but both are thin threads around which to build a middlegame plan.

16. Qg3 Qd7 17. Ne4 Bg7 18. Bg5 Ne7 19. Qd6

Genuine positional advantages can ‘usually’ be expressed in a variety of ways. Onischuk himself was probably a bit surprised at how ‘quickly’ the game ends, but I’m sure by now that he was trying to suppress overconfidence.

19…Qxd6 20. Nxd6 f6

Magem Badals miscalculates, i.e., tries to ‘rescue’ a bad position with insufficiently complex tactics. Would he have been ‘better off’ getting ground down in a long ending? Maybe he could have ‘held a draw?’ "Eh, play differently, lose differently," as my old man used to explain his own disasters.

21. Rxe6 Bd5 22. Rxe7 fxg5 23. hxg5 Rad8 24. Nb5 1-0