Feb 20, 2001

Japfa Classic 2000  

(1) Zaw Win Lay (2633) - Khalifman,A (2656) [C07]
Japfa Classic Denpasar (1), 22.04.2000


2 debuts and "French fries"

2 debuts took place in Round 1 of Japfa Classic Cat.16 Round-Robin in Denpasar,Bali. The first one is my own in Southern hemisphere - never before have I crossed the equator. It's rather private and has some interest mainly for me and my friends. The second one - just oppositely - was longly expected by the chess world. Top gun of Myanmar "chess wonder" Zaw Win Lay (rating 2633) for the very first time plays in round-robin GM tournament (by the way, the first ever Cat.16 tournament in Asia). There was a lot written about this "wonder" - so I'd better not repeat the previous authors. I see some way to stop (or at least reduce) the discussions about the ratings of Myanmar players (6 of them are suddenly in World top 100 in the list 01.2000). If the events where these guys had these massive rating gains were rated by FIDE there must be the games' texts somewhere. So, FIDE, please let the rest of the world look at these texts or just let Myanmar Chess Federation tell us that those texts unfortunately were not compiled up to now. These missing scores made my life a bit unpleasant yesterday when I was preparing for this game. In the massive GM school database which originates from all possible sources and contains a bit less than 2 000 000 games I found only 60 games by Zaw Win Lay - rather low number for 2600+ player. Even worse - only 14 of them were dated 1999 when his rating increased from 2465 to 2633. Most of these games were against some unrated or rated about 2200 players so it was rather hard of understand what kind of player Zaw Win Lay was. My first conclusions based on his games from 1997-1999 were that he is an aggressive player of solid master level (about 2450). Sorry, dear readers, this game (despite its outcome - 0:1 in 21 moves) doesn't give the clear answer if Zaw Win Lay is overrated or (less probable) underrated. Let's wait for the next rounds as the following game confirms only 2 facts: 1)Zaw Win Lay knows modern opening theory quite well; 2)After "Black disaster" in my match with Peter Leko I tried to do my best to repair my Black opening. So the French defence which worked rather well for me in Linares finally scores the full point! Welcome, ladies and gentlemen - "French Fries from Bali"! 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.Ngf3 cxd4 6.Bc4 Qd6 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Nb3 Nc6 9.Nbxd4 Nxd4 10.Nxd4 a6 11.Re1 Qc7 12.Bb3 Bd6 Frankly speaking I felt rather confused at this moment. Entering the complicated long line where the good knowledge of "official" theory could be enough to reach draw with almost anonymous opponent (2633??? but who knows what is his real strength? 2300? 2800?) was a bit suspicious. Anyway after some thought I reminded wise words by old Russian master Vassily Panov: "I consider every opponent to be the strong player until he proves the opposite" and decided to play quite normally - just like I would play in Linares. 13.Nf5 [The modest alternative 13.h3 0-0 14.Bg5 Bh2+ 15.Kh1 Bf4 presents no danger for Black] 13...Bxh2+ 14.Kh1 0-0 15.Nxg7 Rd8 16.Qf3 Kxg7 17.Bh6+ [17.g3? b5! is just bad for White - some games in early 90-th proved this fact extensively. 18.Kxh2 (18.Bf4 Bb7 19.Bxc7 Bxf3+ 20.Kxh2 Ng4+-/+; 18.Bh6+ Kg6 19.Kxh2 Bb7 20.Qf4 Qc5-+) 18...Bb7 A) 19.Qe2 Rd4 20.Kh3 (20.Bg5 Ng4+ 21.Kh3 Re4 22.Qf3 Qc5-/+) 20...Re4 21.Be3 Ng4-/+; B) 19.Qf4 Qc6 20.Rg1 Rd1 21.Be3 (21.Qh6+ Kg8 22.Qg5+ Kf8 23.Be3) 21...Rxa1 22.Qg5+ Kf8 23.Qc5+ Ke8 24.Qxc6+ Bxc6 25.Rxa1 Ng4+ 26.Kh3 Nxe3 27.fxe3 Rd8-/+ Wolff,P-Gulko,B/USA ch 1992] 17...Kg6 18.Rad1? "Fresh idea" according to GM Lev Psakhis' comments of the game Ponomariov-Sadvakasov (see further). It was also assessed as an interesting one by GM Sergey Ivanov in his extensive article on this sharp line in one of the last "New in Chess" yearbooks. Well, that's really fresh and interesting - it was played only twice according to GM School database - both times in grandmaster games and with 100% success for White by now. Somehow I feel that we'll hardly see any new game on "fresh and interesting" 18.Rad1 after this game. This move has just one very little drawback - it loses immediately! [18.c3 Nh5 is the main line with abovementioned drawish tendencies.] 18...Rxd1 19.Rxd1


19...e5!N The novelty. Actually now the game is over. Black opens his French bishop c8 and remains just a piece up for no compensation. It's just incredible that neither GM players who had this position on the board nor (even more incredible) GM commentators gave any attention to this winning move. [19...Bd7 20.Rd4 Qe5 21.Be3 Bc6? 22.Rg4+! Nxg4 23.Qxg4+ Kf6 24.Qh4+ Kg7 25.Bd4 Korneev,O-Vakhidov,T/Ubeda op 1997; 19...Qe5 20.Be3 Qh5 It is difficult to find another answer, but now White get a clear and stable advantage in the ending. 21.Qxh5+ Kxh5 22.Kxh2 Ng4+ 23.Kg3 Nxe3 24.fxe3 Ponomariov,R-Sadvakasov,D/Lausanne 1999; 19...Be5 20.Qe3 Ne4! is only draw after 21.Qxe4+ Kxh6 22.Qh4+ Kg6 23.Qg4+ Kf6=] 20.Kxh2 Zaw Win Lay spent about 40 minutes here but... The other moves don't promise anything - Black just completes his development and wins. OK, after 20.g3 Ng4 Black extra bishop looks rather strange on h2 but it feels fine there and a piece is still a piece after all. [20.c3 Bf4 21.Bxf4 exf4 22.Bc2+ Kg7-+; 20.g3 Ng4 A) 21.Be3 Bf5 22.Bd5 (22.c3 e4 23.Qe2 Rd8-+) 22...Qxc2 23.Bxf7+ Kxf7 24.Qxb7+ Kg6 25.Rd6+ Kh5 26.Qf7+ Bg6-+; B) 21.Bf8 Bf5 22.Bd6 Qc6-+] 20...Ng4+ 21.Kg1 Kxh6 Now Zaw Win Lay resigned. Too early? Probably just in time. When I showed 19...e5! to GM Alexey Lugovoi in Linares he was rather impressed and couldn't believe that the idea 18.Rad1 might be refuted so easily. So in the final position he tried different moves but then stopped saying just: "Why should we look at that? Black is a piece up - that's all". This verdict seems to be completely right. So - 0:1 [21...Kxh6 A) 22.Qh3+ Kg7 A1) 23.Qh5 h6 24.Rd6 (24.Rd3 e4-+) 24...Qe7; A2) 23.Qg3 23...a5!?-+; B) 22.Qg3 Bf5 23.Rd4 Kg5!-+; C) 22.Bd5 Kg7 23.c4 (23.Qg3 Qxc2-+) 23...a5 24.Qg3 Ra6 25.f3 Qc5+ 26.Kf1 Qe3-+; D) 22.Bxf7 e4 23.Qh3+ Kg7 24.Bh5 (24.Qh4 Qe5 25.Rd8 Nf6-+) 24...Nf6 25.Qh4 Qe5-+; 21...Nxh6? 22.Qg3+ Bg4 23.f3-/+] 0-1

"In chess, as it is played by masters, chance is practically eliminated."

-Emanuel Lasker, "Brettspiele der Volker", 1930

"Chess and theatre often lead to madness."

Arrabal, "Sur Fischer", 1974

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