Two men now stand between Nigel Short, the world title and the possibility that a British citizen could become a multi-millionaire solely through his super- lative prowess at mental sports. The first is the Dutch Grandmaster Jan Timman, whom I first encountered in international junior championships in 1967, when Nigel Short was two years old.
Timman's defeat of Yusupov in Linares was most praiseworthy and was based on his superior preparation and, much as with Nigel himself, great hitting power with the White pieces. Indeed, of the 12 games which ended decisively in both matches in Spain out of the grand total of 20 played, White won all 12, with no victories at all to Black. This is a remarkable statistic and indicative of a major trend in top-class chess. It appears that chess, like tennis, is turning ever more manifestly towards the advantage of the player with the serve. Here are the results of Timman's match with Yusupov, and a game which shows his excellent preparation.
Timman 0 1/2
1 0 1
1 6 Yusupov 1 1/2 1/2 0 1 0 1/2 0 1/2 0 4
Timman — Yusupov: World Championship Semi- Final, Game 6, Linares 1992; Petro ff Defence 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 d4 Nxe4 4 Bd3 d5 5 Nxe5 Bd6 6 0-0 0-0 7 c4 BxeS 8 dxe5 Nc6 9 cxd5 QxdS 10 Qc2 NM 11 Bxe4 Nxc2 12 BxdS Bf5 13 g4 Bxg4 14 Be4 Nxal 15 Bf4 f5 16 Bd5+ Kh8 17 Rcl c6 18 Bg2 Rfd8 19 Nd2 (Diagram) 19 . . . h6 Kasparov — Anand, Linares 1991 saw instead 19 . . . Rxd2 20 Bxd2 Rd8 21 Bc3 Rdl + 22 Rxdl Bxdl 23 f4 Nc2 24 Kf2 Kg8 25 a4 a5 26 Bxa5 Nd4 27 Bfl Bb3 and a draw was agreed. However, later analysis indicated that 21 Be3, instead of Kas- parov's move, gives White the advantage. 20 h4 Rd3 White's next move is a substantial improve- ment on the immediate 21 Rxal which only led to a draw in the second game of the match. 21 Bfl Rd4 22 Be3 Rd5 23 Rxal RxeS 24 Nc4 Rd5 25 Bg2 Rb5 26 Rel Rd8 27 Bxa7 Rdl 28 Rxdl Bxdl 29 Bd4 f4 30 Be4 Rb4 31 b3 Be2 32 Bc3 Rb5 33 Nd6 Rh5 34 f3 Ba6 35 Nf5 Kg8 36 Nxg7 Rxh4 37
Bf5 Be2 38 Be6+ Kh7 39 Bf5+ Kg8 40 Kg2 c5 41 Bf6 Bxf3+ 42 Kxf3 Rh2 43 a4 K17 44 Be5 Ke7 45 Ne6 Rh5 46 Kxf4 Rh4+ 47 Ke3 c4 48 b4 h5 49 a5 Rhl 50 Nf4 Rcl 51 Kd2 Rfl 52 Be4 Black resigns.
Nigel will meet Jan Timman in the final of the qualifying competition, also set for Linares, Spain, in January or February next year.
Should Nigel overcome Timman, the man waiting at the end of the race is that great chess genius Gary Kasparov, the most successful player in the history of the game. Some object that Fischer was a greater player than Kasparov. I concede that it is possible that Fischer may have had more talent than Kasparov (though I am not at all sure about this), but if it is agreed, as I think it must be, that persist- ence is also an essential component of the sporting profile of any great champion, then I would argue that Kasparov scores around 100 per cent on this scale, while Fischer comes closer to zero. Nigel him- self, if we are to believe an interview in the Sunday Times, sees Kasparov as much more of a role model than Fischer.
So, what chance does Nigel stand if he reaches the world championship, currently set for Los Angeles 1993? Nigel has already overcome Karpov, and if he beats Timman into the bargain, he will be a changed man. I think he has a real chance, especially since cracks are beginning to show in Kasparov's normally invincible façade. At a tournament in Dortmund, concurrent with Nigel's win against Kar- pov, Kasparov could only share first prize with Ivanchuk and shed games en route to the teenager Kamsky and the veteran Hubner, who is around 15 years Kaspar- ov's senior. Perhaps the champion is suf- fering from the no-new-worlds-to-conquer syndrome.
Hubner — Kasparov: Dortmund 1992; King's Indian Defence 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 g3 Bg7 4 Bg2 0-0 5 Nc3 d6 6 N13 Nbd7 7 0-0 e5 8 e4 c6 9 h3 Qb6 10 c5 dxc5 11 dxe5 Ne8 12 Na4 Qa6 This position occurred in the game Yusupov — Kasparov, Linares 1990, brilliantly won by Black. Ater the game, Yusu- pov, who played 13 Bf4, recommended the sequence up to White's 16th as a substantial improvement 13 Bg5 b5 14 Nc3 Nc7 15 Bel Re8 16 Bd6 Ne6 17 a4 b4 18 Ne2 Qa5 19 Nd2 Ba6 20 f4 c4 21 Kh2 RadS 22 Qc2 Nb6 23 Rfdl Bf8 24 Nf3 c3 25 Ned4 Nxd4 26 Nxd4 cxb2 27 Qxb2 Nc4 28 Qb3 Qb6 29 a5 Qb7 30 Bxf8 Kicf8 (Diagram) 31 e6 c5 If Black accepts the pawn sacrifice with 31 . . . fxe6 32 e5, unmasking the force of the fianchettoed bishop leaves Black with a wretched position. Instead Kasparov tried to mobilise his main asset — his queenside pawns 32 e5 Qc7 33 exf7 Qx17 34 Nc6 Rxdl 35 Rxdl Nxe5 A tactical trick based on the unprotected state of White's queen. However, it backfires 36 MI5 Bc4 37 Qc2 Ng4+ This is rather desperate and leads to the loss of a piece, but Kasparov probably did not like the look of 37 . . . Bxd5 38 Qxc5 + followed by Rxd5 38 hxg4 Re2+ 39 Qxe2 Bxe2 40 Bxf7 Bxdl 41 Bc4 b3 42 Nxa7 b2 43 Bat Be2 44 Kg2 Bd3 45 Kf3 Ke7 46 Ke3 blQ 47 Bxbl Bxbl 48 Nb5 Kd7 49 a6 Kc6 50 f5 Black resigns. If 50 . . . gxf5 then 51 a7 Kb7 52 gxf5 Bxf5 53 Nd6+ and White wins a piece.