Chess notes – Aeroflot Open

The Boston Globe
March 23, 2004, Tuesday ,THIRD EDITION


By Harold Dondis and Patrick Wolff, Globe Correspondents

A graceful and even poetic game today between prominent Chinese
player Zhao Jun and Artashes Minasian, one of a number of Armenian
players who are among Europe’s strongest.

This game was played at the Aeroflot Open in Moscow, a tourney
studded with grandmasters and similar to the American Swiss tourney.
It received full coverage on Russian television.

Even good poetry requires hard work, and in this fianchettoed
defense against a King’s pawn opening, Jun, as White, precipitates a
climacteric position with his 14th move. Minasian first forces Jun’s
rook out of play and then accepts the offer of the pawn. Jun finds
that he can’t take it and elects to defend his position.

The pawn edge still requires intense computation by Minasian. With
his 25th move, Minasian invites Jun to push back his bishop. But this
is a trap, and Jun bites on the cheese.

Zhao Jun – Minasian
Modern Opening
Aeroflot Open, Moscow, 2004

Zhao Jun Minasian

White Black

1. e4 g6
2. d4 Bg7
3. Nf3 d6
4. Bc4 c6
5. Bb3 Nf6
6. Nc3 O-O
7. O-O Bg4
8. h3 Bxf3
9. Qxf3 Nbd7 (a 10. Be3 Qc7
11. a4 e6 (b 12. a5 b5
13. axb6 axb6
14. d5? (c) Rxa1!
15. Rxa1 cxd5
16. exd5 exd5!
17. Ra2 (d) Ne5
18. Qd1 Nc6
19. Ra4 (e) Ne7
20. Qa1?! (f) Nf5!
21. Bg5 Qc5!
22. Bxf6 Bxf6
23. Nxd5 Bd4!
24. Qe1 b5
25. Ra2 Kg7! (g 26. c3? Re8! (h a) Black has relative freedom of
movement and no weaknesses, so he has basically equalized.

b) I might have preferred 11. . . . b6 first, in light of the note to
White’s 14th move.

c) Counterintuitively, it was correct to play 14. Rxa8! Rxa8 first,
and only then 15. d5, which might give White the advantage. The point
is that after 15. . . . exd5 16. exd5 cxd5 17. Nxd5 Nxd5 18. Bxd5,
the rook on a8 and the pawn on f7 are attacked.

d) White has no good way to win the d5 pawn, e.g. 17. Nxd5 Nxd5 18.
Qxd5 (18. Bxd5 Qxc2) 18. . . . Bxb2, or 17. Bxd5 Nxd5 18. Qxd5 (18.
Nxd5 Qxc2) 18. . . . Bxc3 19. bxc3 Qxc3.

e) To prevent . . . Nb4, which causes troubles if White captured on

f) This takes the queen away from the center, where it belongs.

g) Laying a clever trap, which White misses.

h) White has no defense! If 26. Qxe8 (26. Qf1 Bxf2+! 27. Qxf2 Re1+
wins) 26. . . . Bxf2+ 27. Kh1 (27. Kf1 Ng3#; 27. Kh2 Bg1+ 28. Kh1
Ng3#) 27 . . . Ng3+ 28. Kh2 Bg1+ 29. Kxg3 Qf2+ 30. Kg4 h5+ 31. Kg5

Annotations by grandmaster Patrick Wolff, a two-time US champion, who
offers chess exercises and more at