Independent Pursuits: Chess
Tuesday 16 March 1999
To begin with, the Moldavian Viktor Bologan was in the ascendancy, racking up a most impressive 6/7. But his shocking loss in the penultimate round to Joel Lautier in just 10 moves clearly affected him, and, while Lautier draw his final game with Christian Bauer, Bologan lost his second in a row to Russian Ponomariov.
This put Lautier clear first on 6.5/9, ahead of Bologan on 6, Tkachiev and both wunderkinds Ponomariov - who won't be 16 till October - and Bacrot - who was 16 in January - on 5, Salov on 4, Beliavsky, Rausis and Sadler on 3.5 and Bauer just 3.
Although he had a bad tournament, Matthew Sadler was admirably upbeat when I spoke to him a couple of days after the event, extolling the venue and organisation which engendered superb fighting spirit among the players in an event without a single "Grandmaster Draw". He kindly pointed me in the direction of this fine game.
In a fashionable line of the Ruy Lopez, Black initally sacrificed a pawn, and great complications started about move 20. If 21... Bxe1 22.Nxe4 dxe4 23.Qxe4 Bd2 24.Qxh7+ Kf8 25.Qh8+ Ke7 26.Qxg7! is very strong since if Bxc1 27.Qf6+ Kf8 28.Rh4 wins.
22.Rg4!! was splendid. If then 22... Ne4 23.Rgxe4! Bxe1 24.Rxe1 is simplest. Black was forced to jettison his queen for if 23... g6? 24.Qf6 or eg 23... f6 24.Bf5 Qf7 25 Rxg7+ Qxg7 26.Bxg7 Kxg7 27.Qg4+ Kh6 28.exf6 Rg8 29.Qf4+ Rg5 30 bxc3 etc. After 25.Qf3! - not 25. bxc3 Bxc3 - it was reasonably straightforward.
White Viktor Bologan
Black Vladimir Tkachiev
Enghien-les-Bains 1999 (Round 7)
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