Sofia-Zagreb (The Bloody Friendship)

It was probably the successful experience that Bankia had the last year which suggested the organization of yet another mass chess match. Or maybe it was the natural desire of the people to see each other in person rather than play on the net?
Anyways, the little town which is situated just seven kilometers away from the capital Sofia hosted the match between the capitals of Bulgaria and Croatia. Zagreb is much further than Belgrade and the event also coincided with the big Albena open in Bulgaria and the Mitropa Cup (true, the latter starts on 30-th of May, but some of the players decided to stay and prepare for the event). Therefore the number of the boards were reduced- “only” fifty compared to the hundred from the previous match against Belgrade.

This should not fool you though as the Croatians brought their heavy artirelly headed by the reigning champion Mladen Palac, the former World Youth Champion Hrvoje Stevic, the living legend Krunoslav Hulak and three more strong GMs- A. Brkic, A. Jankovic and R. Zelcic.
The Sofia squad was even more impressive with twelve GMs and three WGMs. The team was headed by top GM Kiril Georgiev and the tenth world women champion Antoaneta Stefanova.
The start of the match was delayed for about an hour. We were waiting for the Sofia mayor Y. Fandukova to open the event. Sofia suffered earthquake and floods these days and as a bridge felt down she had more important things to care about that day. Still, as her colleague, the Zagreb mayor M. Bandic stayed at the opening ceremony-everything is repairable as long as there are no victims. The politicians combined the nice with the useful and after the symbolic start of the event 1.e4 (Fandukova) 1…e5 (Bandic) went on to sign some important contracts for co-operation between the capitals. I wonder when our mayor will start to play the Queen’s gambit at last…
The top six boards were relayed online and saw uncompromised battle. The time limit predisposed such play and was twenty five minutes per game and additional ten seconds per move. K. Georgiev won first with a little but elegant combination against Palac:

20...Qxh2+! [20...Qxh2+ 21.Kxh2 Ng4+ 22.Kg1 Nxe3] 0-1

The last game to finish was Stefanova-Stevic in which the Croatian GM had to act like a real gentleman. We won here 4-2 and the overall match 30-20. A friendly match but a thrilling one!
A special guest of the event was Veselin Topalov and most of the participants used the chance to chat with him or to make a memorable photo. Soccer was represented by the prominent football player of Levki Sofia H. Yovov (a regular guest of all the chess events).
ECU president Danailov was naturally there too and used the case to announce the Mega match on 1000 boards Sofia-Belgrade on November!
Trio Soprano entertained the participants at the opening ceremony and the official lunch ad both the teams received cups and souvenirs from the officials.
After seventy years Sofia took revenge for the defeat in the friendly match Croatia-Bulgaria.

Bojkov,Dejan (BUL) - Jankovic,Alojzije (CRO)
Sofia - Zagreb Bankya (BUL) (1.1), 28.05.2012

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 e6 4.0–0 Nge7 5.b3 Ng6 6.Bb2 f6 7.Re1 Be7 8.c3 0–0 9.d4 d5 10.Nbd2 cxd4 11.cxd4 Bd7 12.a3 Bd6 13.Bf1 Nce7 14.b4 a5 15.e5 fxe5 16.dxe5 Bc7 17.Nb3 Ba4 18.Ng5 Nf4 19.g3 Neg6 20.gxf4 Nxf4 21.Nf3 Qe8 22.Nfd4 Bb6 23.Re3 Qf7 24.Qg4 Nh3+ 25.Rxh3 Qxf2+ 26.Kh1 Qxb2 27.Bd3 Bxd4 [27...Bxb3

28.Qxg7+ Kxg7 29.Rxh7+ Kg8 30.Rg1+ Qg2+ 31.Rxg2#]

28.Bxh7+ Kf7 29.Rf3+



The Game for the Title

The Bulgarian Individual championship in Panagyurishte welcomed a new female champion. Iva Videnova have always been one of the contenders for the medals in the past championship and have already won medals; none of them was a gold one though.
This tournament started more than well for her and she scored seven wins in her first seven games! Still, the defeat in the last-but-one led her to a situation when she could not afford loss of other point in the final game. A draw would be sufficient for a tie and an additional match for the title.
This is how the last game went with the notes by the winner:

Nikolova,Adriana (2293) - Videnova,Iva (2301) [B22]
BUL-ch (w) 61st Panagyurishte (9), 28.04.2012

1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 g6 [A rare variation of Sicilian Alapin, played from time to time by Radjabov, Dreev, Almasi, Babula.]

5.Nf3 Bg7 6.Na3 Nf6 7.Bc4 Qe4+ 8.Be3 0–0 9.0–0 [If White goes for material 9.dxc5 Ng4 Black has compensation for the sacrificed pawn. In example: 10.Qc2 (10.Qd2 Nxe3 11.Qxe3 Qxe3+ 12.fxe3 Nd7 White cannot keep the pawn up and easily gets a worse position, because of his demolished pawn structure and the lack in development.) 10...Qxc2 11.Nxc2 Nxe3 12.Nxe3 Nd7 13.Nd5 e6 14.Ne7+ Kh8 15.c6 Nb6 16.Be2 bxc6 17.Nxc6 Bb7 with initiative- 18.Na5 Rab8 19.Nxb7 Rxb7 20.a4 Nd5 and despite the pawn up, White is the one who has problems.]

9...cxd4 10.cxd4?!

May be the first key-moment in the game. White could recapture in 4 ways and Adriana chose the worst, in my opinion. Many books are written about the positive and negative sides of the isolated pawn and for sure in this particular position creating IQP doesn't seem to favour White. The knight on a3 is misplaced, after recapturing 10.c:d4 the obvious place for him is the c3–square.]

[10.Bxd4; 10.Nxd4; 10.Qxd4]

10...a6?! [takes away the b5–square for the knight, but makes a weak point on b6.]

[Better was 10...Nc6 developing naturally.]

11.Ne5?! [A rock solid rule: if you have an isolated pawn do not exchange pieces! The knight on e5 just longs to be exchanged.]

[White could use the drawbacks of the last Black move this way: 11.Bd3 Qd5 12.Nc4 and the misplaced piece enters the game 12...Nbd7 13.h3 b5 14.Na5ч with mutual chances.]

11...Ng4? [Is 10...a6 wasn't fatal, the second lost of a tempo already is!]

[Developing a piece 11...Nc6 is always the better option: 12.Nxc6 (12.Bd3 Qd5 13.Nac4 (worse is-13.f4?! Nxe5 14.dxe5 (14.fxe5 Ng4і 15.Qe2 Be6 16.Bc4 Qe4 17.Bxe6 Nxe3 18.Rxf7 Rxf7 19.Nc4 Qxd4 20.Nxe3 Raf8 with Black's advantage) 14...Ng4 15.Qe2 Rd8 16.Rad1 Nxe3 17.Qxe3 Be6 18.Nc4 Qd4і) 13...Nxd4 14.Bxg6 Nf5 15.Bxf5 Bxf5 16.Bd4 Ng4 taking the initiative: 17.Nxg4 Bxg4 18.Qxg4 Qxd4 19.Qxd4 Bxd4 20.Rad1 Rfd8 with chances only for Black.) 12...Qxc6 13.Rc1 Qd6 hanging around the IQ pawn.]

12.Bd3?! [The second very important key move wasn't imressive neither. Black is by no means worse after it.]

[White could find a deep tactical motif: 12.Nxf7! Rxf7 13.Bxf7+ Kxf7 14.Nc4!

Calm move, threatening f3 and Nb6. 14...Qd5 (14...Be6 15.f3 Qxe3+ 16.Nxe3 Nxe3 17.Qd3 Nxf1 18.d5 Bf5 19.Qb3 b5 20.Rxf1+– Although Black has enough material for the Queen, the lack of coordination between his pieces bothers the defensive task.) 15.Rc1! This move is hard to find when calculating 12.N:f7, but practically wins the game. 15...Bf6 the only move as (‹15...Nc6?? 16.Nb6 Qd6 17.g3+–) 16.Nb6 Qd6 17.g3 Qxb6 18.Rxc8 Nxe3 19.fxe3 Qe6 20.Qb3 Qxb3 21.axb3+– and Black is lost.]

12...Nxe3 13.Bxe4 Nxd1 14.Rfxd1 Ra7!? [Precise move.]

[Although Black is not worse even after 14...Nd7 15.Nxd7 Bxd7 16.Bxb7 Rab8 17.Bxa6 Rxb2 18.Nc4 Rb4 19.a3 Ra4 20.Nb6 Rxa6 21.Nxd7 Rfa8 and White must be careful to keep the balance.]

15.Nac4 b5 16.Na5 Be6 [16...f6 17.Bd5+ (17.Nec6 Nxc6 18.Nxc6 Rc7 19.Bf3 (19.d5? is a mistake in view of 19...f5 with advantage) 19...e6 20.Rac1 Re8) 17...e6 18.Nec6 Nxc6 19.Bxc6 f5=; 16...Rc7 17.Rac1 Rxc1 18.Rxc1 Be6 19.b3 Rd8 20.Nac6 Nxc6 21.Nxc6 Re8 22.d5 Bd7=]

17.Rac1 Re8 18.f4 f6 19.Nec6

19...Nxc6 20.Bxc6 [20.Nxc6 Rc7 21.d5 Bf7 22.Bf3 f5 23.b4 Kf8 and Black must be OK.]

20...Rd8 [20...Rb8 hampering the knight to get in play. 21.d5 Bf7]

21.Nb7 Rb8 22.Nc5 Bf7 23.d5 f5 24.b3 [24.b4?! a5 25.bxa5 Rxa5 and Black gets counterplay on the queenside.]

24...Bb2!? [The idea behind is placing the bishop on d6 - a better square, from which can take an eye on both flangs, hampering an eventual movement of d5–pawn.]

25.Rc2 Ba3 26.Ne6? [26.Re1 a5 27.Re3 a4 28.bxa4 Bxc5 29.Rxc5 bxa4=]

26...Bd6 [26...Bxe6 immediately is not so strong, because of 27.dxe6 Rc7 28.Rd7 the only move Rbc8 29.Rxc7 Rxc7 30.Kf2 Bd6 31.g3 Kg7 32.Ke3 Kf6і and Black takes the e6–pawn, but the chances to win are not so big with the opposite-coloured bishops on board.]

27.g3 [27.Re1 Bxe6 28.Rxe6 Bxf4і and although Black has a clear pawn up, the probable outcome is draw.]

27...Bxe6 28.dxe6 Rc7 29.Rdc1??

After this blunder White gives up the game.]

[Time trouble didn't let my opponent to find the right continuation. There were chances to rescue: 29.a4 Rbc8 (29...bxa4 30.bxa4 Rbc8 31.Rdc1 Ba3 32.Ra1 Rxc6 33.Rxc6 Rxc6 34.Rxa3 Rxe6 with slight advantage for Black.) 30.Rxd6 exd6 31.e7 (worse is-31.axb5? Kf8! 32.Re2 Ke7 when Black is close to winning) 31...Kg7 32.Re2 Rxc6 33.e8Q Rxe8 34.Rxe8 Rc1+ 35.Kg2 Rc2+ 36.Kg1 bxa4 37.bxa4 Ra2 38.Rd8 Rxa4 39.Rxd6 and after precise play by White the game is supposed to end draw.]

29...Rbc8 30.b4 Bxb4 31.Rb1 Bd6 [And title comes :)]



Viorel Bologan Annotates

The recently finished EICC in Plovdiv was a real feast for those of us who love the opened, aggressive chess. One of the usual suspects of such play was the Moldavian GM Viorel Bologan. He was kind enough to allow me to publish the following fabulous game with his notes:

Bologan Victor Viorel (MDA) - Mchedlishvili Micheil (GEO) [B10]
13th EICC round_8 Plovdiv BUL (8), 29.03.2012
[Bologan Victor Viorel (MDA)]

1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 [Black is taking the chalenge and chooses a side line. I think the main idea of my opponent was to avoid my preparation - I must say he reached his goal!]

4.e5 Ne4 5.h3 [Prophilaxis which is mainly directed against the bishop on c8; the bad news about this move is that black can transpose into a comfortable french with a solved problem of the kingside knight. That, I understood only few days after the game.]

[5.Ne2 would be the most principled move which would pose a question on the knight status on e4: 5...Qb6 6.d4 c5 (6...e6 7.Nfg1 f6 8.f3 Ng5 9.Ng3 Nf7 10.exf6 gxf6 11.Nh5 Nd7 12.Ne2І) 7.dxc5 Qxc5 8.Ned4 Nc6 9.Bb5 Bd7 10.0–0 e6 11.Be3 Qb4 12.c4 Qxb2 13.cxd5 Nc3 14.dxe6 ! 14...Nxd1 (14...Bxe6 15.Bxc6+ bxc6 16.Qd3±) 15.exd7+ Kd8 16.Raxd1 Nxd4 17.Nxd4

despite the queen down White has a very serious atack which he later managed to convert into a full point, Svetushkin D 2554 - Landa K 2635 , 14.3.2010 11th EICC Men; 5.d4 it's another attempt which ignores the development of the bishop on g4 or f5: 5...Bf5

a) 5...Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg4 7.h3 Bh5 (7...Bxf3 8.Qxf3 e6 9.Be2) 8.e6 fxe6 9.Rb1 Qc7 10.Be2 Bxf3 11.Bxf3 Nd7 12.0–0 with compensation;

b) 5...Bg4 6.h3 Bh5 7.e6 fxe6 8.Be2 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Bxf3 10.Bxf3 Nd7 11.0–0 e5 12.Bg4 and White has compensation for the pawn; 6.Bd3 (6.Nxe4 Bxe4 7.Ng5 Bg6 8.h4 h6 9.Nh3 e6 10.Nf4 Bf5 11.c3 c5 = Shumyatsky V 2352 - El Debs F 2502 , 29.11.2010 77th ch-BRA) 6...e6 7.0–0 Be7 8.Qe1 Nxc3 9.Bxf5 Nxa2 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.Rxa2 with slight advantage for White.]

5...e6 6.d4 [Here for some time I was considering]

[6.d3 Nxc3 7.bxc3 c5 and only now 8.d4 Nc6 9.Bd3 c4 10.Be2 However, comparing with the game I am a clear tempo down.]

6...c5 [6...Bb4 was also good enough 7.Bd2 Nxd2 8.Qxd2 0–0 9.Be2 c5 10.a3 Qa5 11.0–0 Bxc3 12.bxc3 b6 After the exchanges Black is getting rid of his pieces thus minimizing the space advantage of White. In the meanwhile he can start exploiting the white weaknesses on the queeneside.]

7.Bd3 Nxc3 8.bxc3 c4 [Now an interesting French with alive bishop on f8 arises, which is definitely in Black's favour.]

9.Be2 Be7 10.h4 Nc6 11.h5 h6 12.g3 [Here I felt unconfortable to find a good move and the main question was where to put the knight?]

[12.a4 Qa5 13.Bb2 Bd7 14.Nh4 0–0–0 15.f4 Rdg8 would be similar to the game]

12...Qa5 13.Qd2 Bd7 14.Nh4 0–0–0 15.a4 [My point is at some stage to exchange the black coloured bishops but even after that the weaknesses on the queens side together with black counterplay on the kingside would give me a motive for a headake.]

15...Rdg8 16.Bg4 Bg5! [The idea is to weaken the pawn on g3.]

17.f4 Be7 18.Kf2?! g5! [A typical breakthrough for this type of pawn structures.]

19.hxg6 fxg6 20.Nf3 [My point now is at least to keep the g file closed after exchanging on g5.]

20...Qd8 [Black had a pleasant choice here either to go for immediate:]

[20...g5 21.fxg5 hxg5 22.Rxh8 Rxh8 23.Kg2 Qd8 24.Ba3 Bxa3 25.Rxa3 Qe7 26.Ra1 Qh7; Or to play even stronger: 20...Nd8! To be honest I missed this idea completely - with the help of the knight Black's attack becomes realy dangerous.]

21.Qe2 Qf8 22.Kg2 Nd8 [Already here I had to realize that I am in trouble, but I reacted with the fast:]

23.a5 [, instead of more solid]

[23.Be3 Nf7 24.Raf1 Qg7 25.a5 holding the position]

23...Nf7 24.Rf1!

A critical moment of the game finaly I understood that I am completely strategicaly outplayed by my opponent and I am in deep trouble. After long thought I saw that the only way to stop black' attack is the idea of f5. The other point in my plan it was to combine that with idea of the sacrifice on c4.]

24...Qg7 25.Nd2 h5 [25...g5 26.f5 exf5 27.e6+–]

26.Bf3 [Perhaps:]

[26.Bh3 was stronger, but I was already focused on the attack 26...g5 27.Bxe6 Bxe6 28.f5 h4 29.g4 Nd8 30.a6 b5 31.fxe6 Nxe6 32.Kh2 Nf4 33.Qf3 Rf8 with unclear play.]



[26...h4 I would react with 27.g4 g5 (27...h3+ 28.Kh2) 28.f5 holding the files closed on the kingside.; But I was mostly afraid of: 26...Bb5 ! which I saw in my opponents face. After considerable thought Micheil declined it 27.a6 bxa6 28.Rh1 g5 29.f5 g4 30.Bxd5 exd5 31.f6 Bxf6 32.exf6 Qxf6 33.Rf1 Qg6 34.Qe7 Ng5 35.Rf6 Qg7 36.Qc5+ and the position is anything but clear.]

27.Nxc4?! [Objectively speaking:]

[27.f5 was a better move, but could not let the chance of sacrifice to run away from me- 27...g4 28.Bxd5 exd5 29.f6 Bxf6 30.a6 b6 31.Rxf6 h4 32.Nxc4 hxg3 33.Rxf7 Qxf7 34.Nd6+ Kc7 35.Nxf7 Rh2+ 36.Kf1 Rh1+ 37.Kg2 Rh2+=]

27...g4? [Allows a nice combination which was easy to avoid:]

[27...gxf4! The only real chance for Black to take the advantage and of course this corresponds with idea of opening the files: 28.Bxf4 Bg5 29.Kf2 h4 30.Ke1 hxg3 31.Bxg5 Qxg5 32.Bg2 dxc4 33.Rxf7 Rf8 34.Rf6 Rxf6 35.exf6 Qxf6µ; 27...h4 28.g4 gxf4 29.Bxf4І]

28.Bxd5! [One by one, White is destroying the strong pawn chain freeing the way for his pawns.]


29.Nb6+!! [A tempo! Black prepared very strong attack, so the only thing white has is time, time even on a price of two pieces!]

29...axb6 [29...Kd8 30.Nxd7 Kxd7 31.Qb5+ Kc7 32.a6 b6 33.Qxd5 Rb8 34.f5+–]

30.axb6 Kd8 [The other moves would not save neither:]

[30...Kb8 31.e6 Nd6 32.exd7 Qh7 33.Ba3 Qe4+ 34.Qxe4 dxe4 35.Ra2+–; 30...Bf5 31.Qb5 Kd8 32.Ra8++–; 30...Bd6 31.Ra8+ Bb8 32.f5+– followed by Bf4]

31.Ra8+ Bc8 32.Qb5! [This move escaped from the attention of my opponent as he confessed after the game.]

32...Nd6 33.Qxd5 Qf7 34.Qc5 Bf8 35.f5 Qd7 36.e6 Qc6+ 37.Qxc6 bxc6 38.f6

The triumph of the white pawns over the black pieces. Because of the pin on the eight rank Black can not do anything in order to stop the pawns being promoted.]

38...Rh7 39.f7 Rg6 40.Ba3 Rxe6 41.Bxd6