The Foreign and Colonial Grandmaster group at Hastings attained category 14 on the World Chess Federation scale for the third consecutive year. There has never been a category 15 tournament in the UK, so there is some cause for jubilation here. By a curious quirk, Hastings' strength is always calculated according to the Elo list of the July before the tournament starts, even though the bulk of the tournament is played in the New Year after publication of the fresh 1 January Elo list. This year the improved ratings of the young players would not have made the leap to category 15 but a notable statistic was the new rating of the Soviet contestant, Evgeni Bareev,
who has jumped to number five slot in the world.
The top of the new ratings lists sees an invasion of Russians. They are: Kasparov 2800, Karpov 2725, Gelfand 2700, Ivan- chuk 2695, Bareev, Gurevich and Ehlvest all 2650, Yudasin and Salov 2645, Beliav- sky, Andersson, Khalifman and Kamsky all 2640.
The top British ratings are: Short 2635, Speelman 2610, Adams and Nunn 2600, Chandler 2575, King and Hodgson both 2545.
This week's game shows the veteran Dane Bent Larsen in top form.
Larsen — King: Foreign & Colonial Hast- ings Premier; Bogo — Indian Defence.
1 Nf3 Nf6 2 d4 e6 3 c4 Bb4+ 4 Bd2 Qe7 5 g3 Nc6 6 Bg2 Bxd2+ 7 Nbxd2 Rarely played in general. Conventional wisdom dictates that White should normally recapture with the queen on d2 and then place his queen's knight on the superior square c3. However, by capturing on d2 at the precise moment he has grants Black the resource 7 Qxb2 Ne4 8 Qc2 Qb4+ which is somewhat annoying. Therefore, White has little choice but to capture with the knight in this specific situation. 7 . . . d6 Extra protection for the central dark squares. Black is preparing to stake a claim with . . . e5. 8 0-0 X-ray pressure from White's bishop on g2 against the black queen's flank means that White has emerged from the opening with a small edge. 8 . . . a5 Interesting-
ly King defers the natural move 8 . . . 0-0 since then 9 e4 e5 10 d5 Nb8 11 b4! a5 12 a3 gives White a serious space advantage on the queen side. 9 e4 e5 10 d5 Nb8 11 Nel h5 Not an everyday sort of move. Black's idea, though, is not so much to attack White's king as to provoke 12 h4 and thus grant Black use of g4 for a minor piece should White ever advance himself with f4. 11 . . . 0-0 is more stereotyped and gives White a simple plan of Nd3 plus f4. 12 h4 0-0 The time has come to castle. Black's pawn on h5 looks like a weakness but it is no more of a disadvantage than White's pawn on h4. 13 Nd3 Bd7 14 Qe2 Na6 15 b3 Engaging Black on the queen side. White avoids 15 a3 a4 when the mobility of his pawns would be stifled. It now appears that White is preparing to play a3, Rabl and b4. 15 . . . c6 Rapidly establishing potential counterplay in the 'c file. 16 Rfcl Fortunately for White Black cannot yet try 16 . . . cxd5 17 cxd5 b5 since 18 a4 bxa4 19 bxa4 presents White with the annoying threat of Nc4 when Black's queen side is weaker than White's. 16 . . . RfcS 17 a4 Energetic measures to prevent the ex- change on d5 plus . . . b5, which Black's last move had prepared, but now White abandons any thought of advancing on the queen side and also surrenders his control of dark squares on the left flank. 17 . . . b6 Can this really be good? By liquidating the cohesion of his pawns on c6 and b7 King immediately presents. White with use of the d5 square for future occupation. Either a waiting policy was called for such as 17 . . . g6 or even sealing the queen side entirely with 17 . . . c5. In that case White's only win- ning plan would be a long-term f4 which, as I stated before, would grant Black permanent use of g4 for his bishop or knight. Nevertheless, King stoutly maintained that his decision on move 17 was correct. He wanted to rule out any tactical ideas by White involving c5, followed by c4, and he wanted to give himself the possibility of playing . . . Nc5 and be able to recapture after Nxc5 with his b6 pawn. 18 dxc6 Rxc6 Too passive. Black must play . . . Bxc6 followed by . . . Nc7–e6 with a fully viable position. 19 Nbl g6 Under pressure from White's looming manoeuvre Nc3–d5 Black panics. Correct would be 19 . . . Bg4 20 Bf3 Bxf3 21 Qxf3 Nc5 22 Nxc5 dxe5 and although Black's position is rather dormant, it is very difficult to breach. 20 Nc3 Qd8 21 Ra2 Slowly but surely bringing up his reserves. Larsen now has a number of trumps to play with: weak black pawns on b6 and- d6, occupation of d5 and finally, the f4 break now that Black has forfeited much of the resilience of his structure. 21 . . . Bg4 22 Qe3 Q1'8 23 Rd2 Rb8 24 13 Bc8 25 Rcdl NeS 26 Nb5 Evidently, Larsen's prime task is to tie Black down to defence of d6 so that when f4 comes Black's king's knight will not be able to transfer easily to the molesting g4 square 26 . . . Kh7 (Diagram) 27 f4 Qe7 28 f5 Qf8 Suffering in silence, but 28 . . . gxf5 29 exf5 opens up a deadly attack from g2 against the black rook on c6. What follows is dreadful as Larsen whips up a sudden and fearful attack. 29 Rfl Qh6 30 fxg6+ Qxg6 31 Na7 Rc7 32 NcS RccS 33 Bh3 Kg8 34 Bf5 Black resigns. Total carnage, Black loses the ex- change, his 'b' pawn, and he also has no real defence to White doubling in the 'f' file.
Battles of Hastings, a history of the Hast- ings tournaments since 1895 by Reg Cload, is now available from Pergamon Chess, Railway Road, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands B73 6AZ, price £7.70 inc. post- age. I was invited to recommend the pick of the 96 years of Hastings games for
inclusion. Proceeds are going to the Hast- ings Chess Club.
Battle of the Titans, Raymond Keene's account of the latest battle of the two Ks, with a foreward by Bernard Levin, is now available from B. T. Batsford, 4 Fitzhard-
inge Street, London W1H OAH, price £8.95.
Position after 26 . . . Kh7