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Friday, October 22, 2021

Whatever Happened To Ion Balanel?

     Ion Balanel was a Romanian International Master. In the 1950s he was one of the strongest Romanian players winning the Romanian Championship four times (1950, 1953, 1955, 1958). He also won four gold medals (1950, 1953, 1955, 1958) and two bronze medals (1951, 1954) in the Olympiads and twice participated in Zonal (1951 and 1954). 
     Balanel, who was born June 7, 1926, is listed as still being alive on several sites and we are informed that in 1958 he was virtually excommunicated from his chess club and put in a lunatic asylum by the Communist regime. A Romanian site I visited stated that he retired prematurely because of health reasons and died under unexplained conditions, but no date was given. However, the site had a pencil sketch of WIM Rodica Reicher that Balanel drew in 1961. 
     His opponent in the following wild, see-saw game was Romanian master Mihai Radulescu (1913-1980, 66 years old). The opening was the Frankenstein-Dracula Variation of the Vienna game...a variation that involves great complications and requires accurate play by both sides. 

     The variation was given its name by Tim Harding in his 1976 book on the Vienna Game, in which he said that the bloodthirstiness of the character of play was such that "a game between Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster would not seem out of place." Long ago Weaver Adams even suggested that it wins for white.

Mihai Radulescu - Ion Balanel

Result: 0-1

Site: Bukarest

Date: 1958

Vienna Game: Frankenstein-Dracula Variation

[...] 1.e4 e5 2.♘c3 ♘f6 3.♗c4 ♘xe4 This move defines the Frankenstein-Dracula Variation. White cannot win material because if 4.Nxe4 then 4...d5. 4.♕h5
4.♗xf7+ actually favors black after 4...♔xf7 5.♘xe4 d5 6.♕f3+ ♔g8 7.♘g5 baits a trap, but after the correct move 7...Qd7 black has the superior position. 7...♕d7 (7...♕xg5 8.♕xd5+ ♗e6 9.♕xe6#) 8.d4 exd4 9.♗d2 h6 Already black is close to winning.
4...♘d6 The only good response to white's threats against f7 and e5.
4...♘g5 is inferior. 5.d4 ♘e6 6.dxe5 and white is better after either 6...d6 or 6.. .Nc6
5.♕xe5+ was recommended by Ulf Andersson claiming that after 5...♕e7 6.♕xe7+ ♗xe7 7.♗e2 (Instead of the oft-played 7.Bc3) white has some advantage, but that seems a stretch.
5...♗e7 Offering to return the P is a quieter alternative. White can choose between either 6.Qxe5 or 6. Nf3
6.♘b5 g6 7.♕f3 f5 8.♕d5 ♕e7
8...♕f6 is wild. After 9.♘xc7+ ♔d8 10.♘xa8 b6 11.d3 ♗b7 and now instead of the usual 12.h4 white might try to continue developing with 12.Nf3 which seems to leave him slightly better.
9.♘xc7+ ♔d8 10.♘xa8 Black will end up the exchange down, but hopes ot make up for it wiht a stong initiative. 10...b6 This prepares ...Bb7 picking up the trapped N. Black has a nice P-center and his Bs are well placed. Black must make sure he avoids a Q trade. For his part white will secure his K and make sure his Q doesn't get trapped (at the moment it has limited squares available) and then try to hold on to his extra material all the while trying to take advantage of the fact that black's K is trapped in the center. Anthony Santasiere examined this position as far back as 1969. 11.d4 This is a poor move that allows black to gain the upper hand.
11.d3 was Santasiere's suggestion. 11...♗b7 12.h4 Threatening Bg5 winning the Q. 12...f4 13.♕f3 ♘d4 14.♕g4 This was Santasiere's analysis and he claimed white is better, but the chances are actually about equal.
11...♘xd4 12.♘f3 ♗b7 13.♗g5 ♘xf3+ 14.♕xf3 ♕xg5 15.♗d5 e4
15...♗xd5 16.♕xd5 ♕f4 17.O-O ♕e4 18.♖ad1 ♔c8 19.♖fe1 ♕xd5 20.♖xd5 Now instead of 20...Kb7 black would have a huge advantage after 20...Ne4 Kuzin,A (2460)-Afromeev,V (2620)/Tula 2006
16.♕b3 the position was bad, and this mistake simply hastens the end
16.♕c3 was a little better, but after 16...♗xd5 17.♕xh8 ♕e7 18.♘xb6 axb6 19.♕d4 black is still better, but white can put up stouter resistance.
16...♗h6 This allows white to equalize. One suspects both players may have been in time pressure hereabouts.
16...♕xg2 and black has it in the bag 17.O-O-O ♕f3 18.♕xf3 exf3 19.♗xb7 ♘xb7 20.♖d3 ♗d6 with a won ending.
17.O-O f4 While this may look dangerous, in fact it is just horrible. (17...♗xd5 offers equal chances after 18.♕xd5 ♕d2 19.♕b3 ♕a5) 18.♗xb7 f3 19.g3 ♕g4 How does white defend against mate on g2? 20.♕c3 This is how. Unfortunately (for Radulescu) he didn't follow it up correctly. 20...♖f8 (20...♕h3 21.♕f6+ ♔e8 22.♘c7#) 21.♔h1 This loses.
21.♕c7+ Secures the win. 21...♔e7 22.♖ad1 Black has no time for ...Qh3 22...♕h3 23.♕xd6+ ♔d8 24.♕b8+ ♔e7 25.♕e5+ ♔d8 26.♖xd7+ To draw the Q away from g2 26...♕xd7 27.♕xe4 White has a winning position.
21...♕h3 Now white cannot avoid getting mated.
21...♘xb7 Black is doomed he takes the bishop 22.♕c7+ ♔e8 23.♕xb7 ♕h3 24.♕xe4+ ♔d8 25.♖g1
22.♖g1 ♖f5 23.g4 ♗f4 White resigned. A hair raising game.
23...♗f4 24.♕h8+ ♘e8 25.♕xh7 ♖h5 26.♕xd7+ ♔xd7 27.♖ad1+ ♘d6 28.♖xd6+ ♗xd6 29.♗c6+ ♔xc6 30.a3 ♕xh2#
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