Annotated Game #7 from the 1998 New York Open

annotations by NM Steve Mayer

IM Stripunsky, Alexander  (2475) - GM Granda-Zuniga, Julio  (2630)   [B94]

1998 New York Open (Round 4)    17.03.1998


Round 4

Round four marks the end of the ‘two game a day format’ for the Open section and most of the GMs are so relieved that they make quick draws or don’t take any real chances and then draw. After all, if no one else is trying to win, then they could fall into the sort of disaster that hits Granda-Zuniga.


1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 Nbd7

This line has a poor reputation. While the attempt to get ‘out of book’ is laudable, the book on this move is still extensive and no one has ‘really’ believed that it is better (or even as good) than 6...e6 for at least 20 years.

Does Granda Zuniga think differently or did he make a wildly inaccurate sporting decision? Only time will tell but one would be surprised if he plays this line again anytime soon.

7. f4 Qb6

Heading into waters similar to the Main Line Poisoned pawn. However, in the ‘true’ Poisoned Pawn, Black’s queen knight usually heads for c6, where it challenges the Nd4 and doesn’t block Black’s development.

8. Qd2 Qxb2 9. Rb1 Qa3 10. Bxf6 gxf6

10...Nxf6 11 e5 must be a lot of fun to play for White...but so is any position after the recapture at f6.

11. Nd5 Rb8 12. Rb3 Qa4 13. Bxa6

6_1.jpg (31369 bytes)

Why put exclamation points or question marks on any of these moves? Do we really need to ‘show off’ to know that Black is crunched?

13…e5 14. Rb4 Qxa2 15. Nb3 bxa6 16. Nc3 1-0

Ouch! So Granda Zuniga’s tournament is effectively over. However, this year, the GMs are expected to play every round, i.e., no withdrawals. And what of Bareev? Does he have any experience to speak of with an Open tournament of this strength? His 3 consectutive draws have already put him almost out of contention for first place. Still, it’s better to not lose and possibly find ones form later in the tournament than to get smashed up like Granda Zuniga did.