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Inside Chess

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Inside Chess, 1989/4

Four Tie for First at Wijk aan Zee

by Joel Benjamin

An excerpt from Joel Benjamin's report on Hoogovens 1989. The full six-page report appeared in Inside Chess, March 6, 1989 Volume 2, Issue 4.

The 51st Wijk aan Zee Hoogovens tournament lacked certain marquee names from the past, most notably Karpov, who was preparing for his Candidates' match in Seattle. However, the overall strength of the event, held January 12-29, did not suffer. The organizers brought an intriguing twist to the tournament by inviting a mix of young and experienced players. Six of the participants (five of them GMs) were under the age of 25. Veteran GMs such as Sax, Ribli, and Vaganian hoped to put these upstarts back in their cribs. In the final analysis, each side may claim partial victory.

Youth was served in the persona of Viswanathan Anand, the amiable 19-year-old former World Junior Champion. "Vishy' achieved his greatest success to date – joint first in this Category 13 event (2551- 2575) with a score of 7.5-5.5. Three established GMs – Zoltan Ribli, Gyula Sax, and Predrag Nikolic – notched the same score, creating the most crowded podium in Hoogovens history.

Before we discuss the paths of the various heroes and goats, I cannot let the modest winning total pass without comment. At no point in this tournament did any player reach higher than +3, or lower than -3 for that matter. The spread from the top quarter to Rudy Douven was a mere 2.5 points. Perhaps the close range of scores can be blamed on Tony Miles, who inflicted the same oddity on the 1988 US Championship. More likely it is a testament to the character and fighting spirit of all the players.

Sax and Ribli, who entertained the locals by strolling about town in their U-boat captain hats, traveled at a similar pace through the crosstable. Their games were quite different, of course. For Ribli, the big surprise was that he lost a game, though he teetered on the brink against Vaganian and yours truly. Sax, who is as wild as Ribli is solid, won two games early, followed with horrific loses to Miles and Piket, then posted big victories over the Soviet duo.

Nikolic had difficulty getting off the ground, but got his act together just in time. Wins in Rounds 11 and 12 catapulted him to the top. Here is how I created a monster:

Benjamin, Joel (2545) – Nikolic, Predrag (2605)
Hoogovens Wijk aan Zee (11), 26.01.1989
Pirc Defense B07

1.e4 d6!?

A complete surprise. Predrag normally speaks Spanish, but with an even score and time running out in the tournament, he chooses to stir up action. I've been looking at this opening a lot lately and so felt quite content to throw patties.

2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Be3 Bg7 5.f3 c6 6.Qd2 Qa5

6...b5 is more common, but the text move is perfectly reasonable.

7.g4!? h5 8.g5 Nfd7 9.f4 d5!

Inside Chess
[FEN "rnb1k2r/pp1nppb1/2p3p1/q2p2Pp/
3PPP2/2N1B3/PPPQ3P/R3KBNR w KQkq - 0 10"]

I thought that the ensuing sequence would lead to an advantage for me, but perhaps my opponent's positional judgment was more advanced than mine.

10.f5 dxe4 11.fxg6 fxg6 12.Nxe4

Moves such as 12.Bc4 or 12.Bg2 allow consolidation beginning with 12...Nb6.

12...Qxd2+ 13.Nxd2

Fedorowicz suggested 13.Kxd2, which would at least keep the bishop on e3 defended.

13...0-0!

Inside Chess
[FEN "rnb2rk1/pp1np1b1/2p3p1/6Pp/3P4/
4B3/PPPN3P/R3KBNR w KQ - 0 14"]

Now I learn something about timing. Black has enough tactical possibilities to distract White from the vulnerable pawn on g6.

14.Bd3?!

I saw that 14.Ngf3 Nb6 I5.Nh4 Nd5 16.Bg1 Kh7 17.Bd3 Nf4 18.Be4 e5 19.dxe5 Bh3 leads to a perfectly satisfactory game for Black, but at least White would be OK, too.

14...e5 15.Ngf3

15.Bxg6 exd4 16.Bf2 Ne5 17.Bxh5 Bg4 gives Black enormous compensation for only one pawn.

15...exd4 16.Bxd4 Bxd4 17.Nxd4 Ne5 18.Be2

Inside Chess
[FEN "rnb2rk1/pp6/2p3p1/4n1Pp/3N4/
8/PPPNB2P/R3K2R b KQ - 0 18"]

18.Be4 would be a better choice, e.g., 18...Bh3 19.0-0-0 Nbd7 20.Rde1 Rf2 21.Re3 Rxd2 22.Kxd2 Nc4+ 23.Ke2 Nxe3 24.Kxe3 Re8 25.Re1 and White holds. I accompanied this meek move with a draw offer, but after Black's strong reply it is clear that White faces unpleasant problems.

18...Rf4! 19.N2f3

I wanted to play 19.Nc4, hoping for 19...Rxd4? 20.Nxe5 Re4 21.0-0-0!, but 19...Ng4 20.0-0-0 Nf2 21.Rhf1 Bh3 nets Black a clear exchange.

19...Nxf3+ 20.Nxf3 Bg4 21.0-0

The kingside is too airy to be a proper home, but otherwise the pin is hard to break. 21.0-0-0 Na6! (21...Nd7 22.h3!) 22.Rhf1 Re8, and now 23.Bxa6 bxa6 24.Nh4 Rfe4! is one embarrassing possibility.

21...Bh3!

Nikolic prevents all freeing moves. 21...Nd7 22.Nh4! relieves most of the pressure.

22.Rf2 Nd7 23.Bf1 Bf5! 24.Bg2 Rf8 25.Rd2 Nc5 26.Re1

Natural, but 26.Ne5 was obligatory. Now Black seems to win by force.

26...h4!

Inside Chess
[FEN "5rk1/pp6/2p3p1/2n2bP1/5r1p/
5N2/PPPR2BP/4R1K1 w - - 0 27"]

And now 27.h3 simply loses to 27...Bxh3. White's reply is forced.

27.Rd4 Bxc2!

It is strange that the decisive blow comes in this manner.

28.Rc1 Be4! 29.Nxh4

Otherwise Black wins an elementary rook ending.

29...Nd3! 30.Ra1 Bxg2 31.Rxd3 (?)

31.Rxf4 Nxf4 32.Nxg2 Nh3+ wouldn't be much fun either.

32...Be4 0-1

Sometimes you just have to tip your hat. A smooth performance by Nikolic. 


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