My first ever international tournament was Ruse Open, side event to a strong invitational round robin, where Veselin Topalov made his impressive
debut. After a good start, I was set to face one of the tournament favorites - Vladimir Bologan in round 4. Here is what happened!
1.e4 Nf6 My weapon of choice for many years (thanks to the indirect influence of Lev Alburt)
2.d3 e5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 d5 5.Nbd2 dxe4 6.dxe4 Bc5 7.Bg2 0-0 8.0-0 a5 9.c3 Be6= Black solved opening problems [9...Qd3 10.Ne1 Qd6 1/2-1/2 Garcia Luque,A-Mellado Trivino,J/Dos Hermanas 2000/CBM 75 ext (10); 9...Qe7 10.Qc2 b6 11.Nb3 Bd6 12.a4 Ba6 13.Re1 Rfd8 14.Nfd2 Qe6 15.f3 Nd7 16.Bf1 Nc5 17.Nxc5 Bxc5+ 18.Kg2 Bxf1+ 19.Nxf1 Qc4 20.Re2 Qd3 21.Be3 Qxc2 1/2-1/2 Francsics,E-Galyas,M/Budapest 1999/EXT 2000 (21); 9...a4 10.Qc2 Be6 11.h3 h6 12.Nh4 Qd7 13.Nf5 Rfd8 14.Re1 Kh7 15.Nf3 Qd3 16.Qxd3 Rxd3-/+ Pejko,O-Brianski,D/Bratislava 1989/EXT 2001/0-1 (34)]
10.Qe2 Nd7 11.Nc4 f6 A multipurpose move. The pawn f6 controls g5, defends Pe5.
12.Rd1 a4 Gaining more space on the Q-side
13.Be3 Qe7 14.Nh4 g6 15.Bxc5 Qxc5 16.Ne3 Nb6 17.Nd5 Ne7 18.c4 Nc6! Leaving Pc7 undefended. An accuracy in calculation was necessary to make this move. In the end, Black forces favorable simplifications
19.Nxc7 Nd4 In-between move and discovery at the same time. Note that this move was only possible because White K was on g1. After 21.Nxe6?? (attacking Black Q) Nxe2+ wins for Black
24...Qf7 Another multipurpose move. Black Q adds more support to activities on the Q-side, while making the K-side safer.
25.Nf5 White is not ready to settle for a passive defense, but this pseudo-activity proves costly. After Black calm defensive response White loses a pawn (if 25.a3 Rd2-/+)
25...Kf8 26.Rd1 Rd7 27.Ne3 Bxa2 28.Nd5 [28.Rxd7!? another alternative, but Black should relatively easily defend the K-side 28...Qxd7 29.Qh4 Kg7 30.Ng4 Qd6 31.Qh6+ Kg8-/+ ]
28...Nxd5 29.exd5 Bxd5 30.Qxa4 Bc6?! With the time control approaching, I am trading down. [>=30...Kg7-/+ ]
31.Bxc6 bxc6 32.Rc1 Rd6=/+
33.Qa8+!? White keeps pressing instead of trading down into the endgame with passive position and draw the likely outcome. [33.Rxc6 Qe8 34.Ra6 Qxa4 35.Rxa4 Rb6 36.b4 h5=/+
Kh6-/+ Black consolidated while keeping the extra pawn
38.Qb8 Qd7 39.Qf8+ Kh5 40.Rf1 f5 41.Qh8 e4 42.Kg2 Rd2 43.Re1 Qe7 44.Qc3 Qd6 45.Qg7 h6 46.g4+!? Bologan is still trying to break my defense at any cost
46...Kxg4 [>=46...fxg4 47.Rxe4 Re2!? This picturesque resource was found by Fritz. 48.Rxe2 Qd5+ 49.Kg1 Qd1+ 50.Kg2 Qxe2-/+ ]
47.Qxh6 f4 48.Qh3+ Kg5 49.Rxe4 Rxb2 This position is getting wilder with every move. Both Kings are out in the open under assault from the heavy artillery.
50.Qf3 Rb5 51.h4+
51...Kf5 [51...Kxh4?? 52.Rxf4+ Kg5 53.Qg3+ Kh6 54.Rh4+ Kg7 55.Qxd6 ]
52.Kh3 [52.Rc4 c5 (52...Qd5 53.Rxc6= ) 53.Qa8© ]
52...Rd5 [52...Rb3!? 53.Qxb3 Kxe4 54.f3+ Ke5 55.Qc3+ Draw is almost certain]
53.Kg2? Finally, he was the first to "crack" [>=53.Rc4=/+ ]
53...Rd3!-+ Black gives back the pawn, but forces transposition into the winning pawn endgame
54.Rxf4+ Theme: deflection - Black Q must leave the Rd3 unprotected
54...Qxf4 OK, take my rook on d3...
55.Qxd3+ Qe4+ [55...Qe4+ 56.Qxe4+ Kxe4-+ An outside pass pawn decides this wild game] 0-1
I went on to win this Open tournament by a good margin, defeating in the process Dgebuadze, another "very strong GM to become soon." But this is another story.