18 FEBRUARY 1989, Page 44


Chess in Venice

Raymond Keene

Gustav von Tascherischach was absorbed in his copy of Dreihundert Schachpartien, that classic work by the Praeceptor Germaniae, Dr Siegbert Tar- rasch, the German Grandmaster acknow- ledged as the supreme teacher of the chess world. Von Taschenschach . had just reached the celebrated passage where Tar- rasch denounces his own move, 3 Nd2, against the French Defence on the grounds that Black can refute White's play by automatically obtaining an isolated queen's pawn. The classic sentences that had elec- trified chessplayers around the globe, were still ringing in his ears — '1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nd2 Dieser von mir herriihrende Zug 1st von mir and anderen oft mit. Erfolg angewendet worden . . . aber die hier von Schwarz gewiihlte, korrekte Spielweise widerlegt den Zug vollstandig: 3 . . . c51' And who was there who could contradict the Doctor when he was in such a masterful mood?

Still sunk in amazement at the profundi- ty of Tarrasch's insight into why his very own move was a mistake, von Taschen- schach's gaze was suddenly diverted from the book, and his pocket chess set, by a slender youth, with what appeared to be a chess bulletin stuffed under his arm. The teenager, for he could have been no more than fourteen, was making for the exit of the Grand Hotel des Bains.

Von Taschenschach had long admired the youth from afar; what he found parti- cularly promising was the way the young man always accepted Queens' Gambits. Half reluctantly, von Taschenschach folded his copy of Dreihundert Schach- partien, and followed.

Almost together, von Taschenschach a few furtive paces behind, they entered a decrepit palazzo off the Grand Canal. The smoke-filled room was packed with gentle- men in armchairs, gazing at two Grand- masters, both of whom had adopted the pose of Rodin's Thinker, occupying a stage at the end of the hall. Von Taschenschach took a seat, gradually becoming ever more absorbed in the silent meditations of the two. Even his willowy young friend's rather noisy exit, hand in hand with a

singularly lecherous-looking and largely toothless old gondolier, could not distract him now, Goethe's words from Faust I swam into his brain: 'All theory is grey, my friend, but green is life's golden tree.' Tarrasch's great work fell from his grasp what was before him was the real thing. . . .

Boris Spassky-Robert Hiibner: 4th match game, Venice, January 1989; Sicilian Defence.

1 e4. c5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 Bb5 g6 4 Bxc6 dxc6 5 d3 13g7 6 Nge2 Nf6 7 Be3 b6 8 h3 0-0 9 Qd2 Ne8 10 h4 The former world champion's opening play has been provocative and unusual, though not necessarily bad. Dr Tarrasch would certainly have poured professorial scorn on the unforced exchange of bishop for knight on move four. Nevertheless, White's Opening has created some attacking prospects, but it would seem more sensible here to preface the assault with g4, thus discouraging the blockading defence . . . h5, which Hubner now employs. 10 . . . h5 11 f3

Nc7 12 Bh6 Ne6 13 0-0-0 Nd4 14 Nxd4 cxd4 Ne2 e5 16 Rdgl Qf6 17 Kbl MI6 18 Qxh6 Qg7 19 Qd2 Here, and again on move 21, Spassk-', could have traded queens with approxim0., equality. Instead he strives boldly to build uP massive offensive against the Black king, .1/111 this procedure also entails many risks, since, Black's position is solid. 19 . . . Kh7 20 g4 QII„° 21 Qel Be6 22 Rg3 cS 23 Rhgl. Rg8 24 R1g2 KW'

Position after 26 . . . b5

25 b3 f6 26 Qgl b5 (Diagram) White's attack has reached its peak, but he has no obvious way to improve his position. Meanwhile, Hubner coin; mences his own counterattack. 27 Rf2 c4 28 P :, Qg7 29 gxf6 Rxf6 30 Rg5 Qc7 31 Qg3 cxd3 34 Nxd4 Rd8 33 Nxe6 Rxe6 34 Qh2 Qc3 35 cxd3 Rxd3 36 Rgl Rc6 37 Qg2 Qd4 38 Rc2 Rdl + 39 Rxdl Qxdl+ 40 Kb2 Rxc2+ 41 Qxc2 Qgc2+ White resigned. Black wins the king and pawn endgame by playing . . . g5.

Hubner won the match by two wins to nil with four draws. Von Taschenschach de" parted, spiritually uplifted, but gnawed by a strange hunger. He was eagerly anticipat- ing his afternoon refreshment. Today, he mused to himself, how pleasant it would be to take a succulent dish or two of NO strawberries on the Lido.