The Fabulous 80s and 90s: Encounters with Jay Bonin

Jay Bonin has been an active player his entire career. It follows that when I was active in the same area (NY, the 1980s) we would play a lot. Here are some of the amusing games.

In a separate installment I will show a “flock of Walter Shipman games” in the same vein.

The very first game is from the October Open, New York City, 1982, featuring a little-known sideline in the Maroczy Bind.  I attach Jay’s rating at the time.

IM Mark Ginsburg – Jay Bonin (2364 USCF)   10/10/82  October Open, Round 2.

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 c5 3. Nf3 g6 4. e4 d6 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Bg7 7. Be2 Nc6 8. Be3 O-O 9. Rc1 Ng4!  A perfectly good move although little seen.  Black is about equal after this move.


Position after the clever 9…Ng4! 

10. Bxg4 Bxd4!  Forced. I can’t find this position in Chessbase.  Is 10….Bxd4 really a novelty?  Somehow I don’t think so.  Previously seen was the obviously losing 10… Bxg4?? 11. Nxc6 Bxd1 12. Nxd8 Bh5 13. Nxb7 Rfb8 14. Na5 and white won shortly,  Loehr,H-Kirchhoff,H/Weilburg 1997.  Did black maybe miscount the pieces in this capture sequence?   After Jay’s move I don’t see any clear way for white to claim an edge.

11. Bxd4 Bxg4 12. f3 Nxd4 13.  Qxd4 Be6 14. O-O Qa5  Not so good is 14… Qb6?! 15. Qxb6 axb6 16. b3 Ra3 17. Rc2 Kg7 18. Nb5 Ra5 19. a4! Bd7 20. Nc3 Be6 21. Re1 and white has a nagging edge.

15. b3 Rfc8?!  I would rather use the other rook: 15… Rac8 16. Kh1 a6 17. f4 Rc5! 18. Rf3 f6 19. Rg3 Kh8 20. Qe3 Qa3 with unclear play.  But given the improvement suggested on black’s 16th move, maybe this rook choice isn’t bad after all.

16. Kh1 b5?!  Jay is impatient and undertakes something he isn’t ready for. White is better after 16… Qc5 17. Qd3 Rc7 18. f4 f5 19. exf5 Qxf5 20. Qe3 a6 21. Rcd1 Rac8 22. Rfe1 Bf7.  But a possible improvement here is 16… Rc5! 17. f4 Rh5! keeping the rook useful.  Then, 18. Rfe1 Rc8 19. Nd5 Bxd5 20. exd5 Rc7 21. a4 b6 22. g3 Qc5 is OK for black.

 17. cxb5 Rc7 18. Nd5! Bxd5 19. Rxc7 Qxc7 20. Qxd5 Rc8 21. h3 Qc2 22. a4 Qb2 23. Rg1!  The key move of the game and not so easy to find.  White safeguards everything before proceeding.


Position after 23. Rg1!  This peculiar move was the best one available. 

23…Qf2?  Another blunder puts black in a lost game. 23… Qc3 24. Qb7 Rc7 waiting was necessary to see how white will make progress.

24. Qb7 Rc3 25. Qxe7 Rxf3?  This hastens the end.  Black needed 25… Qd4 to see if white would find the instructive winning line with an excelsior theme:  26. f4! Rxb3 27. f5! Re3 28. f6! establishing a winning bind: 28…Qxe4 29. Qd8+ Qe8 30. Qxe8+ Rxe8 31. Rc1 and wins.  White had other ways, too, but this line is elegant and by far the fastest.

26. gxf3 Qxf3+ There won’t be a perpetual today, but this needed to be verified before white made his 26th move.

27. Kh2 Qf4+ 28. Rg3 Qf2+ 29. Rg2 Qf4+ 30. Kg1 Qc1+ 31. Kf2 Qc5+ 32. Kf3 Qc3+ 33. Kg4  There are some king marches that are scary.  This is not one of them.

33…h5+  34. Kh4 Qe1+ 35. Rg3 d5 36. Qe8+ Kg7 37. Qe5+ f6 38. Qe7+ 1-0

Now we jump to the Manhattan CC “4 Rated Games tonight”, May 1989. I would be willing to guess Steve Immitt directed it and that Larry Tamarkin was lurking around somewhere in the club. Note Jay’s high USCF rating at the time. The game also illustrates one of Jay’s characteristics: the occasional stumble into a big tactical hole. The final diagram with all the hanging pieces is both confusing and typical for a random action game.

Jay Bonin (2537) – Mark Ginsburg “4 Rated Games Tonight”, Manhattan CC, NY, 1989. Polish Defense

1. d4 b5? Why?

2. e4 a6 3. Nf3 Bb7 4. Bd3 e6 5. O-O Nf6 6. Re1 Be7 7. Nbd2 c5 8. e5 Nd5 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. Ne4 Black has a terrible game. I don’t think I ever played this again. Well, I did play 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 b5!? and drew vs Shabalov, Reno, 1992, but that seems to be taking less liberties.


10…Qb6 This grotesque concession is no worse than any other pathetic continuation.

11. Nxc5 Qxc5 12. Ng5! f5 13. exf6 Nxf6 14. Ne4 Nxe4 15. Bxe4 Bxe4 16. Rxe4 Nc6?! 16…O-O 17. Rf4! is not a lot of fun but it’s somewhat better than the text.

17. Be3 Qf5 18. Rf4 Qe5 19. c3 White maintains a huge bind.

19…Rd8 20. a4 Rf8 What else? But there’s a tactical problem that white immediately exploits.

21. Rxf8+ Kxf8 22. Bb6 Rb8 23. Qxd7! Ut-oh. If 23…Rxb6, 24. a5 wins easily. Black is dead.

24…Qd5 24. Qc7 Kg8 25. Bd4 e5 26. Bxe5 Qxe5 27. Qxc6 bxa4 28. Qc4+ Kh8 29. Qxa6 h6 30. Rxa4 Rxb2 31. Ra1 Qxc3(?) Black was lost anyway and chooses to walk into mate in this action game. A purist, of course, should award this grab a question mark.


Position after 31…Qxc3: White to play and win.

32. Qa8+ Kh7 33. Qe4+ Kg8 34. Ra8+ Kf7 35. Qe8+ Kf6 36. Ra6+ Kf5 And of course, at this point, it is mate in 6. 37. Qe6+ Kf4 38. Ra4+?! The easiest is 38. g3+ and mates shortly.

38…Rb4 39. Qe3+?? The right choice is 39. Qd6+ Kf5 40. Ra5+! Kg4 41. Qg6+ Kh4 42. Rh5 mate. The text which at first glance looks like it wins a rook and ends the game instead allows an incredible saving resource for black – is this “luck in chess” or it just a very rare situation?


39… Kf5!! Quite a trick to pull off in an action game! Everything hangs and white can’t take anything due to the bank rank problem. It can’t be called a swindle because I didn’t do anything. It was all white’s construction. Note here that 40. g4+ is met by 40…Rxg4 CHECK and again, black escapes.

The game concluded limply with 40. Ra5+ Kg6 41. Qe6+ Qf6 42. Qxf6+ Kxf6

and agreed drawn a few moves later. Whew! Of course, in the prior game, I had been tortured also playing black versus Gata Kamsky (not that this matters).



The next game is short, but has interesting points.

Jay Bonin -M. Ginsburg, New York 1990

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 Qe7 5.g3 Nc6 6.Bg2 Bxd2+ 7.Nbxd2 d6 8.Nf1!? d5 Black used 8…e5!? to good effect in Christiansen-Adams, Biel 1991 that continued 9. Ne3 O-O 10. O-O a5 with equal chances, and Adams went on to win a sharp game in 48 moves. Of course 8…O-O is playable too.

9.Rc1 9. N1d2!? Ne4 10. O-O Nxd2 11. Qxd2 led to a small white edge; in Arencibia-Panchenko, Terrassa 1998, white won in 66 moves.

9…O-O The immediate 9…Qb4+ is fine too.

10.Ne3 Again, 10. N1d2 is playable. Black can try 10…a5!? or 10…Rd8 11. O-O Bd7 12. e3 Be8 that looks passive; white won in 42 moves in Matamoros-Hoffman, Elgoibar 1996.

10…Qb4+ 11.Qd2 Qxd2+ Here, 11…a5 is stronger practically to keep life in the position. Then, 12. a3 Qxd2+ 13. Kxd2 Re8 14. Kd3 is possible but double-edged.

12.Kxd2 Ne4+ 13.Ke1 Rd8 14.cxd5 exd5 15.Nd2 Nf6 16.Nf3 Ne4 17.Nd2 Nf6
18.Nf3 1/2-1/2

3 Responses to “The Fabulous 80s and 90s: Encounters with Jay Bonin”

  1. fluffybunnyfeet Says:

    Hey, looks like fun.

    I’ve been collecting TWICs religiously, pretty much since they came out. I tend to lump ’em together for ease of storage; so all I can tell you is, the Gheorghiu-Tukmakov game you want is SOMEWHERE in the 200s… (it was a 27-move draw).

  2. The Fabulous 00s: Ivy League Cavorting Comparison Tables « IM Mark Ginsburg Presents A Personal Chess History Says:

    […] Won Third Prize in the 1979 Undergraduate Elmer Adler book collecting contest, chief judge was Joyce Carol Oates. I won with a set of Yugoslav Informants. Puzzling over the symbols such as plus over minus, Oates remarked, “You must be awfully clever. I can’t understand a word of this.” Triumphantly I crowed, “Joyce… the Informants have no words!” […]

  3. Pat Bowyer Says:

    Hello Mark- I hope you won’t mind my comment here, but I
    found you while surfing for chess sites to get the word out about the upcoming 11th Annual Bruce Bowyer Memorial Chess Tournaments, on March 20 & 21 this year at the hotel New Yorker…
    Your name sounds so familiar to me, were you a friend of my brother Bruce?
    I’m very curious to know if you ever played with him, since you were both in NYC and active at the Manhattan Chess Club at the same time.

    We’d love to have you join us this year if you are interested, our TLA will be in the March issue of Chess Life.
    Best Regards to you and yours,
    Pat Bowyer

    I knew Bruce pretty well because he was often at the MCC and I played there a lot. However, he didn’t often play at least in events I was in. So we actually never played. I will check your TLA announcement!

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