The perfect cuppa – secrets of a triumph

8/22/2003 – Was it all a matter of judiciously ingested beverages? A cup of tea at the right moment? Probably not, but it is fascinating to learn how Viorel Bologan, the underdog Moldavian GM, managed to win the category XVIII super-GM in Dortmund. In case you are still in a daze over this unexpected victory you may want find out from this Europe Echecs article.

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Secrets of a triumph

By Jean-Michel Péchiné

"Still the final moves were made in a time trouble and when I offered a draw in a better ending Kramnik continued playing, mostly led by inertial force, and then he realized he can only loose if he will continue been risky." This the way Viorel Bologan comments the last moment of his decisive tenth game against Vlad Kramnik in the next issue of Europe Echecs. This draw meant an astonished first place for the impressive Moldovian GM who explains the secrets of his triumph in Dortmund in the exclusive and attractive report which will be published in the French magazine on August 25th.

However was the complete scenario of this dramatic finish already written on the rest day, when a blitz tournament was held in Dortmund ?

On the rest day, August 5th, the blitz tournament took place in the Berwordt-Halle, where the six grandmasters playing in the main event competed with amateurs. Unfortunately the rest day corresponded with the highest peak of the heat wave, and this lovely building, which is situated just in front of the Town Hall of Dortmund, is made fully of glass. The heat was, shall we say, impressive! Nevertheless, at 3 p.m. the six stars arrived, after a two minutes walk from their four stars hotel Holiday Inn. They appeared very relaxed, talking together or signing autographs.


Bologan with his terrific "secret weapon" (a cup of tea!), explaining to Vlad Kramnik all the benefits of this beverage under the heat. At the left of Viorel his wife Margarita, with GM V. Belikov in the center.

Each of the six stars played against ten amateurs who enrolled themselves by requesting for an invitation six weeks in advance. It was a good idea of the organisers (and notably the people of "Brackl", which is the local club associated with the organisation of the wonderful event of Dortmund). And definitely it was a unique experience for the 60 chess addicts!


Vishy Anand

The event was a real pleasure for Anand who is currently considered the best player in rapid chess! From from the 23th to the 30th of October Vishy will have to demonstrate his strength on the board in Cap d'Agde. It is already official that the gentleman of Madras – who was recently nominated the "2003 Indian Sportsman of the Year" – will take up the challenge for the official World Title in rapid chess!

Back to Bologan and his cuppa. In the exclusive report which will published in the next issue of Europe Echecs Bologan explains more precisely the way he used his "secret weapon". First during fourth round vs Leko, when he got suddenly a winning position:

Leko,P (2739) - Bologan,V (2650) [B17]
It Dortmund GER (4), 03.08.2003

Position after 39...Rb5

Bologan writes: "40.Ne3?? was the loosing move. a very unpleasant position rook and knight against rook and bishop with 40.Qd6+ Qxd6 41.Rxd6 Rb1+ 42.Kh2 Rb2. 40...Rb1+ 41.Nd1. At this point I took a cup of tea and let ten minutes pass before I made the first of two winnings moves. 41...Qe5 42.Ra3 Qg5."


Peter Leko

In Dortmund there was a great deal of pressure on the very talented German grandmaster Arkadij Naiditsch. He was playing on home turf, and friends and family supported him during the entire tournament. In fact the young star of Brackl showed that he has good nerves, but he seemed to suffer from a crucial lack in the preparation. This is pointed out by Bologan in his comments to the sixth round game for Europe Echecs: "Once again Naiditch showed his weakest point is the opening preparation. He had only just started to play Marshall line – his first official game was against Leko in the second round! – and I was pretty sure that he didn't have time to study all lines.

Bologan,V (2650) - Naiditsch,A (2574) [C89]
It Dortmund GER (6), 06.08.2003

Here I played 15.Qf3, which is a side line in which White is trying to get better use of his queen. Psychologically it was a very well prepared move. First of all it is not so easy to remember the side lines in the opening you never played before, and secondly, even you remember these lines you still need some practical skills to play them.


Arkadij Naiditsch

After that in the 9th round vs Radjbaov I played a completely new opening for me, 3.Nc3 in the Sicilian, and got a very promising position.

Bologan,V (2650) - Radjabov,T (2648) [B30]
It Dortmund GER (9), 09.08.2003

Here I found the nice 20.Nf4 g5 21.Ng6!! My heart was beating so fast that I had to go for a drink before playing Nf4. In case of winning this game I would secure victory in the tournament before last round. 21...Nh5 22.Nxf8+ Rxf8 23.Qh3 Kg6 24.Raf1.

Here I missed the intermediate 24...d4, which made possible 25.Bd2 Bd6. After this blockading move where White has nothing. The game ended in a draw."


Taimour Radjabov

In the end Dortmund was a full triumph for Viorel Bologan, who summarizes the tension of the tournament: "After my win against Anand in round three I felt a bit strange because of my unexpectedly good start. But I knew pretty well that the whole tournament was in front of me. The pressure increased after next round, which was another win against Leko. Now the pressure was on me, and from then on beside the chess problems I had to fight myself too."


Viorel and Margarita Bologan – the unbeatable winning couple of Dortmund 2003!

Report and photos: Jean-Michel Péchiné

ChessBase reports on Dortmund


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