Chess is rarely out of the news these days. If it is not the £20,000 grant to Matthew Sadler which is attracting head- lines, or the world title eliminator between Speelman and Short, then there always seems to be something fresh to fuel the interest, even of those who do not consider themselves chess specialists.
Last week, just as Jon Speelman, was finishing off Nigel Short, and it seemed the headlines would die down, the Romanian Grandmaster, Mihai Suba, suddenly de- fected in the middle of the annual Lloyds Bank Masters Tournament. Suba, a jolly individual, with a pleasingly aggressive chess style, seems to have run foul of the authorities in his native Romania (not a difficult thing to do) and has decided to make his career in England. If his chess strength follows the normal curve for Eastern defectors (namely, sharply up- wards, once they taste real freedom) we could well have another 2600+ Grandmas- ter vying for a place in the Olympic team in the not too distance future.
Suba is the first Eastern GM to defect in the UK; here is a sample of his play from a recent tournament:
Suba-Fahnenschmidt: Baden Baden 1988; En- glish Opening (a clue to events to come?). 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 e5 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 e3 Be7 5 d4 d6 6 d5 Nb8 7 e4 0-0 8 Be2 c5 9 a3 Ne8 10 b4 b6 II bxc5 bxc5 12 0-0 g6 13 Bh6 Ng7 14 Rbl Nd7 15 Qd3 Nb6 16 Rb2 f5 17 RIM f418 Nd2 Bd7 19 Nb5 Na4 20 Rat a6 21 Nc3 Nxc3 22 Qxc3 Qc7 23 Rab2 RfbS 24 h3 Bd8 25 Bg4 Bxg4 26 hxg4 Qc8 27 Nf3 Intending to meet 27. . . Rxb2 28 Qxb2 Qxg4 with 29 Qb7. 27. . . Ne8 28 g5 Bc7 29 Nh2 Rxb2 30 Rxb2 Rb8 31 Rxb8 Bxb8 32 Qb3 Bc7 33 Qa4 KI7 34 Qc6 Ke7 35 f3 Qb8 36 Qxa6 Qb2 37 Nfl Bd8 38 Qc8 Nc7 39 Bg7 Kf7 40 Qd7+ Kg8 41 Bh6 Black resigns.
After the quarter-final match was over 1 appeared on the nightly Thames TV cover- age with Jon Speelman, analysing his win in game four. This was an electrifying experience. Reti wrote that chess was Capablanca's native language, but listening to Speelman was rather. like witnessing chess glossolalia, with unstoppable torrents of complex variations gushing from him. I do not know whether viewers could follow everything he said, but they must have been left with an overwhelming impression of a wildly dynamic genius, plus a remark- able insight into just how the brain of a world-class Grandmaster functions. I now give game four, majoring on two variations of startling depth which Speelman demons- trated:
Nigel Short-Jon Speelman: World Quarter-Final; Game 4, Pirc Defence.
1 e4 d6 2 d4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 f4 Nf6 5 Nf3 0-0 6 Be2 c5 7 dxc5 Qa5 8 0-0 QxcS+ 9 Khl Nc6 10 Bd3 Bg4 11 Qel Bxf3 12 Rxf3 NM 13 Be3 Nxd3 14 cxd3 Qb4 15 Rabl a5 16 f5 RacS 17 Bgl a4 18 a3 Position after 19. . . e6
Qb3 19 Bd4 e6 (Diagram) 20 Qgl If 20 Qfl then 20. . . Nxe4 21 Bxg7 Nd2 was thought to intro- duce dangerous complications, but it is in this variation that Speelman demonstrated a fantas- tic way for White to keep the advantage: 22 Qcl Nxbl 23 Qh6 Nxc3 24 Rfl Nd5 25 Bh8!! Kxh8 26 fxg6 Nf6 (forced) 27 g7+ Kg8 28 gxf8+ Rxf8 29 Qg5+ Kh8 30 Qxf6+ when White still has good winning chances due to the exposed nature of the black king. 20. . . b5 21 g4 Nxg4 22 f6 Nxf6 23 Bxf6 Bxf6 24 Rxf6 b4 25 axb4 a3 26 Qdl Qxb4 Here there is a further important variation pointed out by Speelman, 27 Qa4 Ob6 28 Qxa3 Ra8 29 Na4 Qd4 forking White's rook and knight and winning material. 27 Rf2 axb2 28 Nat Qd4 29 Rfxb2 d5 Speelman here suggested 30 0f3! as Short's last chance to play for the advantage. 30 Rb4 Qa7 31 Ncl dxe4 And now the final possibility to avoid loss is 32 Rxe4! 32 dxe4 Qe3 33 Qgl Qf3+ 34 Qg2 Qdl+ 35 Qgl Rfd8 36 Nb3 Qf3+ 37 Qg2 Rd + 38 Rxdl Qxdl+ 39 Qgl Qe2 40 h3 Rc2 White resigns.