25 SEPTEMBER 1993, Page 52




Midnight oil

Raymond Keene

WEEK TWO of the Times World Chess Championship saw a slight improvement in Nigel Short's chances. This was based on extraordinarily deep opening preparation, the like of which has not been seen in world championship play in such razor- sharp variations since Fischer — Spassky 1972. Admittedly, Nigel threw away a safe draw in Game 4, but Games 5 and 6 were a credit to him, in which he gave as good as he got.

Short — Kasparov: Times World Championship, London. Game 4; Sicilian Defence.

e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 N16 5 Nc3 a6 6 Bg5 e6 7 14 QM The famous poisoned pawn variation, as pioneered by Bobby Fischer. 8 Qd2 Qxb2 9 Nb3 Qa3 10 Bxf6 gxf6 11 Be2 Nc6 12 0-0 Bd7 13 Khl h5 14 Ndl Highly unusual. 14 Nb 1 was played in game 11 of the Spassky — Fischer match in 1972. The point of the text is to embarrass Black's queen. 14 . . . Rc8 15 Ne3 Qb4 16 c3 Qxe4 17 Bd3 Qa4 18 Nc4 Rc7 19 Nb6 Qa3 Short's opening preparation had worried the champion, but had not toppled him. The wisest course now, in view of Black's forest of extra central pawns, would have been to force a draw by means of 20 Nc4 04 21 Nb6 etc. Short now overreaches and the initiative changes hands. 20 Rael Ne7 21 Nc4 Rxc4 22 Bxc4 h4 The striking thing about this game is how Kasparov's far-flung legions in the 'a and 'h' files, in no way hampered by his temporary lack of develop- ment, co-operate together to force White onto the defensive. 23 Bd3 f5 24 Be2 Bg7 25 c4 h3 26

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Position after 27 Bf3?

g3 d5 27 Bf3? (Diagram) A blunder. He had to play 27 cxd5. 27 . dxc4 Short had now planned 28 Rdl Nd5 29 Bxd5 exd5 30 Qxd5 8c6 31 Rfel + Kf8 32 Qxc6 bxc6 33 Rd8 checkmate. Sadly, all this is rendered nugatory either by . . . Qe7 or by . . Be5 on move 31 when White's queen remains pinned. 28 Re3 c3 29 Rxc3 Bxc3 30 Qxc3 0-031 Rgl Rc8 32 Qf6 Bc6 33 Bxc6 Rya-6 34 g4 Ng6 35 gxf5 exf5 36 Qxf5 Qxa2 37 Qxh3 Qc2 38 15 Rc3 39 Qg4 Rxb3 40 fxg6 Qc6+ White resigns.

Kasparov — Short: Times World Championship, Game 5; Nimzo-lndian Defence.

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 h6 7 Bh4 c5 8 dxc5 g5 9 Bg3 Ne4 10 e3 Qa5 A new move from Short's laboratory. The purpose is to pressurise White's c3 knight, while ruling out the possibility of Bb5+ . 11 Be5 0-0 12 Bd3 Nc6 13 Bxe4 Nxe5 14 Bxd5 Bg4 This is the true point of Short's opening preparation. Since 15 Nge2 Bxe2 16 Kxe2 Qa6+ 17 Kel Nd3+ 18 Kdl Rfd8 would be a disaster for White, he must acquiesce in the return of all his extra material. 15 No Bxf3 16 13x13 Nxf3+ 17 gxf3 Rac8 18 0-0 Draw agreed Kasparov offered the draw. After

18 . Rxc5 19 Qe4 Bxc3 20 Bxc3 b6 the position is equal. Short's preparation, remark- ably, extended even beyond the final position, in which he had used a mere eleven minutes to Kasparov's hour and a half.

Game 6 was the best yet, and deserves a detailed commentary. Kasparov had been suffering from extreme time shortage after thinking for almost an hour over his 12th move. Short returned the compliment with his 13th move reply, and another desperate time scramble for both players seemed inevitable. Thereafter, however, Short swiftly settled into a rhythm of firing off aggressive moves quickly, while Kaspar- ov's situation on the clock became ever more perilous. By move 20 it was clear that Kasparov had staked all on a counter- attack against Short's weakened queenside pawns, while Short had mobilised his legions in a do-or-die onslaught against the black king. When the chances finally ba- lanced out and the draw was agreed, the packed audience at London's Savoy Theatre burst spontaneously into thunder- ous and prolonged applause.

The analysis room at Simpson's-in-the- Strand vibrated with the cogitations of prominent grandmasters. These included twice world championship challenger Vik- tor Korchnoi, reigning US champion Pat- rick Wolff, former Soviet champion Yuri Averbakh, grandmaster Larry Evans, who was Bobby Fischer's assistant in 1972, and British grandmasters Michael Stean and Jon Speelman. Presiding over all was the guru of the commentary room, Profes- sor Nathan Divinsky from Vancouver. Expert opinion was bitterly divided dur- ing the game on the respective chances of the two players. Commenting grandmas- ters were pessimistic about Short's possibi- lities of survival in the face of Kasparov's heavy pressure in the 'c' file and on the queen's flank in general. They therefore predicted that Short would start to retreat.

In contrast, two young analysts were whip- ping up enthusiasm for Short's attack to the assembled audience in the lecture room at the Savoy Theatre. Sarah Christopher (a woman chess master, on secondment dur- ing the match from Goldman Sachs) was supported by Natasha Regan, a member of the English women's team. Like a latter- day Joan of Arc, Sarah was wringing cheers from a warlike and expectant audi- ence, as she predicted that Short would ignore the attack against his queen's flank and pile everything into the effort to devastate Kasparov's king. As it was, the grandmasters were proved wrong and Joan of Arc hit it on the head. Short — Kasparov: Times World Championship, Game 6; Sicilian Defence.

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Bc4 Short has never played this before. Howev- er, it was a Fischer favourite — for example, Fischer — Rubinetti, Parma Interzonal 1970, which went 6 . . . e6 7 Bb3 b5 8 0-0 Bb7 9 Rdl Nbd7 10 Bg5 h6 11 Bh4 Nc5 12 Bd5! when White has a huge attack and won quickly. Interesting- ly, Kasparov has also recently switched to playing this move against the Sicilian, as in the game Kasparov — Gelfand, Linares 1993, bril- liantly won by White. That game went 7 Bb3 b5 80-0 Be7 9 0f3 Oc7 10 Og3 0-0 11 Bh6 Ne8 12 Radl. 6 . . . e6 7 Bb3 Nbd7 8 f4 Nc5 9 f5 Be7 10 Qf3 0-0 11 Be3 e5 Kasparov said that so far, in this championship, Nigel Short had represented most of the new ideas in the openings, but that his were still to come. He described it as fighting chess, every game being played to the full. The public love it. It's fun! 12 Nde2 b5 This was played in the game Bogdanovic — Matulovic, Sarajevo 1960, a game that has been virtually forgotten. Kasparov wanted to surprise Short. The normal move is 12 . . . Nxb3, e.g. 13 axb3 b5 14 g4 (14 Nxb5 is met by 14 . . . d5 with compensation for the pawn) 14 . . . b4 15 Na4 8b7 16 Ng3 d5 17 0-0-0 d4 18 Bd2 Rc8 19 Kbl Nd7 and now 20 Rhgl is worth considering. 13 Bd5 This is the first new move of the game. The little-known Bogdanovic — Matulovic game had continued 13 Bxc5 dxc5 14 Bd5, but I feel that in that case the white bishop on d5 would not be stable, since Black can undermine its support by . . . b4 in the future. 13 . . . Rb8 14 b4 A bold move, gaining time at the expense of weaknesses on the 'c' file. 14 . . . Ncd7 15 0-0 Nxd5 16 Nxd5 Bb7 17 Nec3 Nf6 18 Radl Bxd5 19 Nxd5 Nxd5 20 Rxd5 Rc8 In time trouble Kasparov chooses the wrong piece to launch his counter-attack along the 'c' file. He should have played 20 . . . 0c7 for example, 21 Qg4 f6 22 Rf3 Qxc2 23 Rh3 Rf7 24 Qh5 h6 25 0g6 Qxe4 26 Rdl Kf8 27 Bxh6 gxh6 28 Rxh6 Ke8 29 Rh7 Qc4. 21 Qg4 Short goes for the attack. Playing 21 Qd1 to defend the weak c2 pawn would be wimpish and ultimately futile. Black's pressure would be too great. 21 . . . 16 22 Rf3 Rxc2 23

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Position after 25. . . Kf8 Rh3 Rf7 24 Qh5 h6 25 Qg6 Kf8 (Diagram) 26 Bxh6 A brilliant move but only sufficient for a draw. At this stage the crowd was enthralled. After the game Kasparov claimed that White could have won with 26 Qh7 Ke8 27 Qg8+ but then 27 . . . Rf8 28 Qxg7 Qc7 29 Ox116 Qc4 grants Black a powerful counter-attack and is quite unclear. 26 . . . gxh6 27 Rxh6 Qb6+ 28 Rc5!! An amazing interposition. Any other move obviously loses. 28. . . Bd8 29 Rh8+ Ke7 30 Rh7 Not 30 Qg8 dxc5 when Black can escape with his king via d6. 30. . . Rxh7 31 Qxh7+ Kf8 Draw agreed It is perpetual check.

Score after six games: Kasparov 1 1/2 1 1 1/2 1/2 41/2 Short 0 1/2 0 0 1/2 1/2