Remembering the 1990 Manila Inter-Zonal Chess Championship.

Remembering the 1990 Manila Inter-Zonal Chess Championship.

NM NMMustang6000

Remembering the 1990 Manila Inter-Zonal Chess Championship...

Few young players knew how strong GM Boris Gelfand was and still is. In 1989 he won the GMA Open in Palma de Mallorca which was participated by more than 160 grandmasters! An amazing record!! He left Ivanchuk, Anand, Shirov, Karpov, Leko, Adams, Short, Korchnoi, Timman, Kamsky, Svidler etc. behind him eating dust. He won with a clear half point edge. Untied and un-equaled.

He won the 1990 Manila Inter-Zonal (Ivanchuk was the co-champion but he lost in the tie-break) ahead of 63 elite grandmasters. In the 13th and final round Ivanchuk (who was the solo leader with a half point advantage against Gelfand) quickly drew with Anand in only 12 moves of Petroff Defense. While Gelfand, relieved somewhat of the pressure, was in a win to order mode. Determined to crush his own compatriot GM Alexander Khalifman (Khalifman became World Champion in the late 90's when Fide decided to hold the WCC in a ridiculous KO format.), he fought with all his might and accomplished his mission with enormous difficulty.

Ivanchuk who was so self assured of his number one place and who was expecting a short draw from his two compatriots (after all if they drew, both Gelfand and Khalifman would qualify to the Candidates Matches.), gradually saw that Gelfand was not smoking a peace pipe, but instead, playing for a win! Chucky then became nervous...

I flew to Manila in 1990 to play in the National Juniors (which ended just one month prior to the Inter-Zonals) and decided to stay for one more month just to watch this prestigious and quite historic event, unfold right before my very eyes.

And there I was in the last round, intently watching Ivanchuk as he could not contain himself (troubled with the thought that he might lose the Inter-Zonal title to Gelfand if Gelfand wins) and began pacing the floor up and down. After a few more hours just when it was clear that Gelfand had an iron-clad won position we heard this terrible scream. The arbiters rushed to the rest room and queried Ivanchuk "what happened?" but the tight lipped Chucky would not say a thing. It was then that his seconds burst at the room and escorted Chucky out of the venue and immediately whisked him in the car, destination unknown.

It was clear to me now that Chucky either had an emotional breakdown / emotional meltdown, or even just an outburst. Some chess journalist reported it as a nervous breakdown. Chess was to Chucky at the time, "the be all and end all". And he could not accept the fact that someone from his own generation can be better than him.

The tournament (for those who were not born yet at that time) was held in the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, also the venue of the 2010 Campomanes Cup.

Way back at that time Gelfand along with Ivanchuk were being groomed by the Soviet Sports authorities to replace Kasparov atop the throne. They still could not get over the fact that Tolya (their favorite son) was beaten by Kasparov.

Gelfand went on to the Candidates Matches but was beaten by Nigel Short, apparently at the height of his chessic powers. We knew that Nigel Short went all the way to the Finals and challenged Kasparov for the title only to lose in a very humiliating and lopsided way. . .

For those who want to seach for Gelfand's massive tournament accomplishment just go to google and check wikipedia.

As for me, I went back home enriched and thrilled with the experience of watching the best of the best duke it out

GM Ivanchuk vs. GM Gelfand