The New York Sun
July 2, 2004 Friday

Oh, Yerevan!

By BORIS GULKO and GABRIEL SCHOENFELD


Is there such a thing as national style in chess? One testing ground
for answering this question is the recently concluded match in Moscow
between selected great players from around the world and the best
players of Armenia. The unusual tournament is devoted to the memory
of Tigran Petrosian, the 1963-69 world champion. The Armenian team
featured such strong players as Garry Kasparov (whose mother is
Armenian), Peter Leko (whose wife is Armenian), and the Israeli
grandmaster Boris Gelfand (who was a pupil of Petrosian). Despite
this array of Armenian (and near-Armenian) talent, the world team
won, 18.5 to 17.5.

The best game of the match was played by a genuine Armenian, Rafael
Vaganian, against the British grandmaster Michael Adams. Throughout,
Vaganian played in the unique style of the late, great Petrosian. If
Armenia can be said to have a national style in chess, it is
exemplified by white's play in this particular game.

VAG ANIAN VS. ADAMS

(white) (black)

Queen's Pawn Game

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.e3 b6 4.Bd3 Bb7 5.0-0 d5 6.b3 Bd6

More precise here was 6...Nbd7

7.Bb2 Be7 with the intention of exchanging the white knight on d7

immediately should it appear on

e5. 7.Bb2 0-0 8.Ne5 c5 9.Nd2 Nc6

It was better to keep control over

the e4 square by playing 9...Nbd7

and to meet 10.f4 with 10...Ne4. 10.a3 a5 11.f4 Ne7 More consistent
was 11...a4 and 12.Bb5 Na7 13.bxa4 c4 is not dangerous for black.
After the move in the game, black's previous move is shown to be a
waste of time. 12.Rf3 cxd4 In case of 12...c4 the ground would be
prepared for Petrosian's favorite operation, the positional exchange
sacrifice: 13.bxc4! dxc4 14.Ndxc4 Bxf3 15.Qxf3 with huge
compensation. 13.! Bxd4! Bxe5? This exchange weakens the black
squares in black's camp. The immediate 13...Ne4 14.Rh3 Nf5 15.Bxe4
dxe4 16.Ndc4 Nxd4 17.exd4 Be7 18.c3 g6 was better; also, 13...Nf5
14.Rh3 Rc8 would yield a playable position to black. 14.fxe5 Ne4
15.Rh3 Nf5 16.Bxe4! dxe4 17.Nc4 Nxd4 Now the white knight will
dominate the board, but the alternative 17...b5 18.Nd6! Bc6 (black is
the victim of a beautiful mate after 18...Nxd6 19.exd6 g6 20.Qh5!)
19.Qh5 h6 20.Bc5 Nxd6 21.Bxd6 Re8 22.Rg3 would lead to unbear able
pressure on the kingside. 18.exd4 Bc6 19.Nd6 Qg5 Again black had a
sad choice: in case of 19...a4 20.Qh5 h6 21.Rg3 Kh7 22.Rf1 Ra7
23.Rf6! gxf6 24.Rh3 he would be mated on the kingside. Now however he
perishes on the queenside. 20.Rc3! Bd5 21.Rg3 Qf4 22.c4 Bc6 23.Qf1!
Qxf1+ No better was 23...Qh6 24.Qf6 Qxf6 25.exf6 g6 26.c5. 24.Rxf1
Rab8 25.Rf4 b5 26.c5! a4 More stubborn was 26...b4 27.a4 Bd5. 27.b4
Rbd8 28.Rfg4! g6! 29.Rf4 Kg7 30.Rf6! White has obtained full control
over the black squares. The position is a startling reminder of the
famous game Petrosian-Mecking from a Dutch tournament in 1971. Black
is condemned to utter passivity. 30... Rd7 31.Kf2 Ra8 32.Ke3 Raa7
33.h4 h6 34.Rh3 Rd8 35.Rh1 Re7 36.h5 g5

(See diagram)

37.d5! The final blow is on a white square. 37... Bxd5 Of course, not
37...ed because of 39. Nf5+. 38.Nxb5 1-0