A tribute to IM Manuel Bosboom : Manuel and the queen sacrifice

A tribute to IM Manuel Bosboom : Manuel and the queen sacrifice

This article is a translation of an earlier article by IM Herman Grooten published on the dutch chess site http://www.schaaksite.nl.
Herman gave permission for translation and publication on my chess blog here.
Various members of the Chess Team Holland have contributed to the translation (Thanks a lot !!).

Writer: Herman Grooten [Dutch IM, Elo 2338]
Date: 12-01-2011 09:01
One of the most creative players that I know  is IM Manuel Bosboom. He is one of those chess players of which you can say that he has an authentic way of thinking. He is against using chess databases. He also dislikes other modern technology; I have never seen him analysing a chess game with Fritz.  Manuel prefers to sit behind the chess board to invent beautiful things. Opening moves like 1.c4 e5 2.h4 are nothing new for him. The opponent is "out of book" and after that it is time to play just chess.
And quite often that strange h pawn is useful for him. Bosboom is - apart from a dangerous tactical player - also strategically a good player. Other than that he has an excellent endgame technique. His love for endgame studies certainly helped him develop various skills. A very complete player, one would say. His biggest strength, originality and creativity, is also his main weakness. He always searches for the unknown, off the beaten track. His love for the bizarre may have cost him more points than he would have wanted. I do not understand why he never became a grandmaster. At some stage, his rating was close to 2500, and in my opinion he already played at GM level at the age of 18. Maybe a lack of discipline? 
Bosboom is known as an excellent blitz chess player. For a long time possibly the best, at least the fastest blitz player of The Netherlands.It pleases the eye to see him castle queenside in one fluent movement at lighting speed. For a while, blitz was also his main source of income. Every week he played a tournament somewhere hunting for prize money. 
The ultimate challenge on this territory came in 1999. The committee of the Hoogovens tournament [now Tata Steel] decided to hold a blitz tournament on one of the rest days with the entire world top. Kasparov, Anand, Kramnik, and so on, all participated. Only Shirov wasn't interested, thus one spot was available. Reportedly, Loek van Wely recommended his friend Manuel Bosboom. The winner of almost all blitz tournaments in the Netherlands was allowed to test himself against the entire world top.The local hero from nearby Zaanstad suddenly could show his art amidst all those giants. After a shaky start he found his rhythm. The biggest surprise was a win with the black pieces against no-one less than Garry Kasparov! Replaying this game, I can't help having the impression of 'master against amateur' - with Bosboom being the master! By the way, this was Kasparov's only loss, he dominated the blitz tournament completely. Peter Boel wrote a brilliant story about this in 'Matten' [Dutch literary chess magazine]. 
Much less known is what happened in the game between Bosboom and Anand. When I replayed some blitz games, I immediately was fascinated. What was going on?
In an open tournament in Ter Apel, where Bosboom and myself both played, he talked about several spectacular novelties that he found in mainstream opening variations. He was willing to reveal one of them to me. A bizarre queen sacrifice in the Queens Indian with 4.a3, he knew that I play this line with white. In this position
the normal moves are 7.e4 or also 7.dxc5. Manuel wanted to sacrifice a pawn with7. d5?!. This had already been played. After7... exd5 8. cxd5 Nxd5  9. Bg5 was sometimes tried. But theory says that the white compensation is insufficient. “You don't have to sacrifice a pawn”, said Manuel. “Better to sac the queen when you get the chance!”. Hence: 9. Qe4+ Qe7 10. Qxd5?!!It looks completely ridiculous. After10... Bxd5 11. Nxd5 white has just two pieces for the queen.
“I analysed this for a week”, he told me and also GM Friso Nijboer who had joined us. “In my opinion white has sufficient, maybe more than sufficient compensation.” Nijboer and myself had a hard time to avoid bursting out in laughter. How can white have sufficient compensation
But we should soon stop laughing! Bosboom challenged us to defend the black position in a few blitz games. And I have to say: whatever we tried, both of us got into trouble for nearly the entire evening.  Bosboom isn't only a very strong blitz player, he had some ideas everywhere. 


The white compensation was roughly based on a terribly bad black bishop and chronically weakened light squares. "I actually have three pieces for the queen, your bishop doesn't play at all", Bosboom quipped. We took turns playing and kept biting the dust because we couldn't tame his light-squared bishop. 
And now Bosboom played the position where we had suffered a lot against no-one less than Anand! Hence I was very curious about this blitz game. The future world champion also got to face the queen sacrifice. And he also must have (almost) fallen off his chair. But where Nijboer and myself hadn't succeeded for an entire evening, Anand managed easily - a big difference in chess understanding! Anand immediately realized that he had to neutralize the light-squared bishop. How simple was the concept with Nc6-a5 and c5-c4 blocking the bishop on a2. He found this in a 5-minute game, while we had remained ignorant for a whole evening with a time control of 3 minutes per game.  Now, many years later, I analysed this particular blitz game. People say that blitz shouldn't be analysed. But this is so special that it has to be saved from oblivion in my opinion.The game was played at a high level, neither player has to be ashamed of anything. And to give Bosboom due credit, I will also feature his brilliant win against Kasparov! 

Bosboom, Manuel - Anand, Viswanathan, Wijk aan Zee 1999. 
1. d4 Pf6 2. c4 e6 3. Pf3 b6 4. a3 
4… Ba6 Here the bishop 'slides' to a6, while his natural square is b7. This opening focuses on the key e4 square, but Nimzovich had discovered in the 1930s that black can successfully fight for this square with 4.-Ba6. Funnily, the Queens Indian has another "sliding bishops" line where both bishops make trips. This variation occurred at the very highest level: in a match between Karpov and Kasparov both players chose 4. g3 Ba6 5. b3 Bb4+ 6.  Bd2 Be7 with both colors. Why black uses such bishop moves, see my note to move 6. 5. Qc2 Bb7 "Did black now lose a tempo?", the innocent reader might ask. The answer is: indeed. But the tempo gifted to white is the move Qd1-c2 and the joke is that the quen would be better on d1! 6. Nc3 c5
This is the point. Black really likes to exchange his c-pawn against the white d-pawn, as also in the Sicilian. If white has to accept this swap, black is strategically fine as he has two central pawns against one for white - as indicated by Larsen long ago. In the above-mentioned variation, played by Karpov and Kasparov, black loses two tempi with his bishops  (-Bc8-a6 and... Ba6-b7 plus - Bf8-b4 and Bb4-e7). White's extra moves are b2-b3 (a slight weakening) and Bc1-d2 (where the bishop is completely misplaced). In short: also here the 'loss of time'is fully justified. 7. d5?!This is objectively incorrect. The pawn sacrifice is known to theory, but with a different follow-up than what Manuel has in mind.[The main line is 7.e4. White won the fight for square e4, but had to make a concession by swapping his d-pawn against the black c-pawn. Normally this leads to positions known as the "Hedgehog system". Black is limited to the last three rows, but practice shows that he has full counterplay. 7. dxc5 is another option. This year I played a small tournament in Ter Apel and had dinner with Manuel Bosboom. He told me that he invented something new in this position, (so far, until move 6) very common at GM level.  7... exd5 8. cxd5 Nxd5 
9. Qe4+ [9. Bg5 After 8. ... Nxd5 the theory gives 9. Bg5!? but considers this pawn sacrifice dubious. When Manuel told me that evening in Ter Apel what he wants to do in this position, I fell off my chair: He planned the ultra-creative queen sacrifice 9. Qe4+!? Qe7 10. Qxd5?!!. After10. -Bxd5 11.  Nxd5 many possibilities arise, deeply analysed by Manuel at home. White has just two pieces for the queen and is also a pawn down. See above for the story of our blitz games. 
In any case I decided to try out the same queen sacrifice in a serious game. One month later in a weekend tournament in Soest my board was surrounded by many spectators when I played it against Michael Wunnink. Sadly I reached a promising position to misplay it and lose in the end. Later I tried the sacrifice against a grandmaster as I couldn't resist the temptation. I reached a totally winning position, also due to the psychological effect of the sacrifice. But again "no luck", I let the game drift away to a draw. Ah, I will never become a Bosboom. [Translator's note: Bosboom tried the queen sacrifice in two more games in 1999 and 2005 - losing both while nearly equalizing one of them at some stage] 9-Qe7 
10. Qxd5!? This is the bizarre idea behind the entire setup. White sacrifices a queen for two pieces being also a pawn down. 10-Bxd5 11. Nxd5 Dd8 Nijboer tried several times the more active 11.-Qe4 with little success. 12. Bg5  The idea is to lure as many pawns as possible onto dark squares. Not only does this further weaken the light squares, the black bishop also becomes ever worse. 12.-f6 13. Bf4 
13.-Nc6 A good decision. Anand isn't afraid of possiblly losing an exchange on a8. In our blitz games, I remember that we usually plaed the immediate 13.-d6 to prevent the knight fork on c7. Actually it doesn't change much.14. e4 d6 15. Bb5 [In our blitz games Manuel mostly played the bishop to the a2-g8 diagonal: 15.Bc4 - keeping the black king in the center and trying to exploit the weak square e6.]15. - Tc8 16. h4 Kf7 17. Bc4Now the bishop appears on c4 with a tempo win, so it seems. But this is deceptive. 17.-Na5 18. Ba2
18.-c4! This is it! The strongest piece on the board, the white light-squared bishop, is put out of play. Concurrently, the beautiful white compensation for the queen is gone like snow melting away in the sun. Effortless play by Anand!?19. O-O Be7 20. Nd4 Re8 21. Rad1 Bf8 22. Rfe1 Kg8 23. Nf5White stille has very active pieces, his problem is that he hasn't enough of them! 23.-Qd7 24. Re3 Kh8Black systematically neutralized all threats in the position. 25. h5 
25.-Rxe4! And now he decides to put an end to white's ongoing pressure. For a small material loss he destroys the white structure. 26. Rxe4 Qxf5 27. Nc3 Qxh5 28. Rd5 Qf7 29. Rd1 Rd8 30. Nd5 b5Anand still understands how important it is to keep the Ba2 'cornered'. 31. Bb1 Nb3 32. Be3 f5 33. Rf4 g6No space either on the other diagonal (b1-h7). 34. a4 a6 35. Rf3 Re8 36. Bc2 Te5Slowly but surely all white pieces are pushed back from their dominating positions. 37. Nf4 bxa4 38. Bxb3 axb3 39. Bd4In the meantime white has two rooks for the queen, but lacks a few pawns. 39... Kg8 40. Bxe5 dxe5 41. Nd5 Bc5 42. Ne3 
42… Bd4 The bishop [Translator's note: elephant to Russian chess players] became a monster compared to the once proud horse. 43. Rc1 c3 44. bxc3 b2 45. Rb1 Qa2 46. Rxb2 Qxb2 In a blitz game players almost never resign, even if it became a drama materially spoken. I 47. cxd4 exd4 48. Pd5 d3 Anand nicely exploits tactical resources in the position. 49. Pe3 d2 50. Kh2 De5+ 51. g3 Da1And here even Bosboom had enough. 0-1

Kasparov, Garry - Bosboom, Manuel, Wijk aan Zee 1999. 

1. e4 c5 2. Pf3 d6 3. c3 Pf6 4. Ld3 Lg4 5. Lc2 g6 6. h3 Lxf3 7.  Dxf3 Lg7 8. O-O O-O 9. Dd1 Pc6 10. d3 Tb8 11. Pd2 b5 12. a3 Pd7 13. Pf3  Pde5 14. Pxe5 Lxe5 15. Le3 Db6 16. Kh1 Lg7 17. f4 a5 18. Dc1 b4 19. La4  Tfc8 20. Tb1 Da6 21. c4 Pd4 22. Dd2 Tb6 23. f5 Db7 24. Lxd4 Lxd4 25. Lb5  e6 26. f6 Kh8 27. Dg5 Dc7 28. Tbe1 Dd8 29. Te2 Df8 30. a4 Td8 31. b3 h6  32. Dh4 Kh7 33. Tf3 d5 34. e5 dxc4 35. Lxc4 Lc3 36. Te4 Td4 37. Tff4  Tb8 38. Txd4 Lxd4 39. Te4 Td8 40. Df4 Lc3 41. h4 h5 42. g4 hxg4 43. Dxg4  Dh6 44. Kg2 Td4 45. h5 Dd2+ 46. De2 Dg5+ 47. Kf1 gxh5 48. Txd4 Lxd4 49.  De4+ Kh6 50. Da8
50… Dg1+ 51. Ke2 De3+ 52. Kd1 Dg1+ 53. Ke2 Dh2+ 54. Kd1 Lc3 0-1

The game Bosboom - Anand in the game viewer :
The game Kasparov - Bosboom in the game viewer :

[Translator's Note: Bosboom, now past the age of 50, obtained two GM norms (each over 7 rounds) at the European Club Cups 2013 and 2014. The first time, he scored 2.5/3 against GMs (and also had Korobov on the ropes before letting him escape with a draw). The second time, he started with a crushing win against Peter Leko. Apparently [does anyone know details?] he has another norm from decades ago - but falls one game short and would also need to improve his rating (currently 2410) to "finally" become a GM.]

Weblink to the original Schaaksite article : http://schaaksite.nl/page.php?id=1829

Note about the included photos : taken from various sources, they're not from the 1999 blitz tourney.