When Win is a Must

Minasian,Art (2574) - Bojkov,D (2492) [A29]
IX EICC Plovdiv BUL (9), 30.04.2008
1.g3 Before this game I had a 50% result, and the calculations showed that I either need a win it to conclude my final GM norm (actually fourth GM norms, but "thanks" to FIDE's help to deal with clearing the things about one of my previous norms) I needed or to win this encounter, or to play for a draw and to try in my final games. I chose the first option. 1...e5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Bg2 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nc3 Nb6 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.0–0 Be7 8.a3 0–0 9.b4 Be6 10.d3 f6 Minasian's opening repertoire is wide, but usually he does not count on big opening advantage. Extreme fighter, he is happy a tiny advantage, and relys on his excellent endgame technique. By the way he was the last USSR champion. 11.Be3

Here my exact opening knowledge ended. But I was familiar with the arising position (reversed Dragon line), similiar position may appear from Pirc Defense as well (again with reversed colours.) 11...a5 It is good to challenge White's pawn formation and get control over the c5 square. 12.b5 Nd4 13.Bxd4 exd4 14.Na4 Qd7 Black is not afraid of doubling his panws on the b line. I know this idea from GM Evgeny Ermenkov. 15.Qc2 [15.Nxb6 cxb6 16.Qa4 Bc5 17.Nd2 Qf7 18.Rab1 Qe7 19.Nb3 Bxb3 20.Qxb3+ Kh8 Similar position could arrise in the game too. I consider it better for Black who can create a step-by-step attack against White's king. In the meanwhile the bishop on c5 cements the whole Queen's flank. 21.a4 Rac8 22.Bf3 Rc7 23.Rfc1 f5ѓ Ѕ–Ѕ Smejkal,L-Biolek,R (2425)/Czechia 1997/EXT 1999 (33)] 15...Rad8 [15...Rfd8 Is possible, but I wanted to use the rook on f8 later and to remove his collegue from the unpleasant X-raying of the fianchetoed bishop. 16.Rfc1 Rac8 17.Nc5 Bxc5 18.Qxc5 Na4 19.Qc2 Qxb5 20.Rab1 Qc6 21.Qxc6 bxc6 22.Rxc6= Ѕ–Ѕ Mastrovasilis,A (2533)-Kapnisis,S (2421)/Salonica 2006/CBM 115 ext (36)] 16.Rfb1 [16.Rfc1 Qxb5 17.Nxb6 is not enough- 17...cxb6 18.Rcb1 Qa6 with Black's advantage Ѕ–Ѕ Weindl,A (2380)-Apicella,M (2410)/Biel 1990/EXT 2000 (49)] 16...Nxa4 17.Qxa4 b6 18.Rc1 Bc5 19.Nd2 f5

20.Rxc5!? Typical exchange sacrifice. White deprives me of the bishop pair, and counts on the weak pawns that Black will have now. Nevertheless, an exchange is an exchange, and I was happy with the course of the game. Alternatively: [20.Nb3 Bxb3 21.Qxb3+ Kh8 22.Bc6 Qe7 23.Bf3 f4і would give Black initiative thanks to the rook-lifts on the sixth rank, and ooposite-coloured bishops.] 20...bxc5 21.Rc1 A good move. White developes all his pieces before collecting the pawns. [21.Qxa5 Qe7 22.Qa4 f4 with initiative] 21...Qe7 22.Qc2 Bf7 23.Bf3 Probably the correct idea is to liquadate to an endgame with: [23.Nc4!?

23...Bxc4 24.Qxc4+ Kh8 25.Bf3 g5!? 26.Qxc5 Qxc5 27.Rxc5 g4 with unclear endgame] 23...Qg5 Hitting the knight on d2, and preparing both f5-f4 push and Bf7-h5 exchange of the important defender. 24.Bc6 [24.Nc4 Bd5 25.Nxa5 Bxf3 26.exf3 f4 with initiative- Black needs open lines for the rooks.] 24...Qh6 [24...Kh8!? with idea Bf7-d5.] 25.Nb3 Finally White starts to pick up the pawns, but I am ready for attack. 25...c4! The pawn is doomed anyway, it is nice to free some energy for the collegue on d file. 26.dxc4 f4 27.Nc5 [27.Bf3 fxg3 28.hxg3 Bg6 29.Qd1 d3‚] 27...fxg3 28.hxg3 Bg6 29.Qd1 I was already considering the sacrifices on f2. For example: [29.Be4?

29...Rxf2! 30.Kxf2 Qh2+ 31.Ke1 Qxg3+ 32.Kd1 Qg1+ 33.Kd2 Qe3+ 34.Kd1 Rf8 35.Qd2 Bxe4 36.Nxe4 (36.Qxe3 Rf1+ 37.Kd2 dxe3+ 38.Kxe3 Rxc1) 36...Qxe4–+ Obviously Minasian saw that option too, and avoided it.] 29...Rd6 My opponent was already in serious time-pressure. Here I spend some time on calculating the f2 capture, but could not find a clear-cut win. Still there was: [29...Rxf2 30.Kxf2 Qh2+ 31.Kf1 Qxg3 32.Qe1 Qh3+ 33.Kg1 Qe3+ 34.Kh1 Qh6+ 35.Kg2 Qg5+ 36.Qg3 Qxc5 with huge advantage] 30.Bd5+ Kh8 31.Ne6? White's position is difficult but this loses on the spot. I felt that win is here, and tried to foresee the forced winning line for some 15 (!) minutes. In vain, my nervousness prevailed. Finally, I found a solid winning line and went for it. 31...Be4

A beautiful win would be: [31...Rxe6! 32.Bxe6 Be4 33.f3 Qe3+ 34.Kg2

a) if 34.Kh2 Qf2+ 35.Kh1 (35.Kh3 Rf6 36.Qg1 Rh6+ 37.Kg4 Qxe2 and mate follows soon.) 35...Rxf3–+; b) 34.Kf1 Bxf3 35.exf3 Rxf3+ leads to mate as well; 34...d3!! I saw this one but was afraid that something might go wrong. 35.fxe4 Rf2+ 36.Kh3 Qh6+ 37.Kg4 Qxe6+ 38.Kh4 Qh6+ 39.Kg4 Qg6+ 40.Kh4 Rh2#] 32.Bxe4 Rxe6 33.Bf3 d3! This is the idea that I found safer. Now White's position collapses. 34.Rb1 dxe2 35.Bxe2 Ref6

36.Qd4 Rxf2 37.Qxf2 Rxf2 38.Kxf2 Qh2+ The rest is a matter of technique. I just had to keep my nerves steady:) 39.Kf3 Qh5+ 40.g4 Qh3+ 41.Kf2 Qxa3 42.Rd1 Qe7 43.Rd5 a4 44.c5 a3 45.Bc4 Qf6+ 46.Ke2 g5 47.c6 Qc3 48.Rd8+ Kg7 49.Rd7+ Kf6 50.Bg8 Qb2+ 51.Kf3 a2 52.Bxa2 Qxa2 53.Rxc7 Qd5+ 54.Kf2

54...Qd4+ Last finesse. Black wins the rook. 0–1 The chess job is done, now I must wait for the bureaucracy to do its work.

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