4 JANUARY 1992, Page 36


Two of his best

Raymond Keene

Two issues ago I announced that Nigel Short was The Spectator player of the year for 1991. To mark this here are two of his most brilliant games which show just what a forceful and elegant player he can be once he has seized the initiative. At the time they were played both these games eluded detailed comment in this column so they should both be relatively fresh to Spectator readers.

Short — Timman: Reykjavik 1987; French Defence. 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e5 c5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 Ne7 The Nimzowitsch/Winawer Variation of the French Defence has been one of Short's own favourites in the past, so it is instructive and illuminating to see how he handles the White side. 7 Nf3 Qa5 8 Qd2 Bd7 An unorthodox concept, the intention of which is to trade off his inferior light-squared bishop by means of . . . Bb5. White can either forestall this with 9 a4 or with the rook move which he chooses in the game. 9 Rbl Bc6 10 Bd3 Nd7 11 0-0 c4 12 Bet h6 13 h4 0-0-0 14 Bdl f5 The Dutch grandmaster exhibits signs of impatience. The advance of the text looks aggressive but it leaves a weakness on e6 in its wake. In fact Black has emerged from the opening with a fully satisfac- tory game and could maintain equal chances with the calm 15 . . . Kb8. 15 exf6 Nxf6 An enticing method of recapture since it soon appears that Black will seize the initiative by sinking his knight into the threatening square e4. Nevertheless, all this proves illusory since, after some preliminary defensive measures, White

Position alter 25 11f4

can ultimately chase the knight away and gain a tangible advantage by playing the move f3. The correct recapture would have been 15 . . . gxf6, limiting the damage by keeping his pawns as intact as possible. 16 Qel Ne4 17 Rb4 A remarkable way of rendering his pawns immune from capture by the black pieces. 17 . . . Rht 18 Ne5 Qc7 19 Bg4 Rf6 20 f3 The knight is chased hack and White begins to build up inexorable pressure against the weakling on e6. 20 . . . Nd6 21 Bh3 Bd7 22 RC Nc6 23 Rhl Nf7 24 Nxd7 Qxd7 25 BR (Diagram) A beautiful and surpris- ing way of bringing his bishop into action. White's two raking bishops will now soon reduce the black position to rubble. Black cannot of course capture the intrusive bishop with 25 . . . Rxf4 on account of 26 Bxe6 winning the black queen. 25 . . g5 26 Re2 Re8 Black's forces are driven into a defensive huddle since diagonal carnage would once again follow on 26 . . gxf4 27,Rxe6. 27 Bh2 gxh4 28 Qxh4 Ng5 29 Bg4 Qg7 30 Rbel b6 If 30 . . . h5 31 QxhS Rh8 32 Rxe6 Rxe6 33 Rxe6 Rxh5 34 Rxe8 mate. 31 Qh5 Qd7 32 f4 Ironically the black knight is forced back to e4 which it had once so proudly occupied but on its return visit White can sacrifice a rook for it to set up a slaughterous series of diagonal pins. 32 . . . Ne4 33 Rxe4 dxe4 34 d5 Nd8 35 Qe5 Rf5 36 dxe6 Qd2 37 Qxe4 Rd5 38 e7+ Kc7 39 15+ Black resigns.

Short — Seirawan: Lucerne 1989; Modern De- fence.

1 e4 d6 2 d4 g6 3 Be3 Bg7 4 Nc3 a6 5 h4 Nf6 6 13 b5 Black's defence has been provocative but is playable. However, this wing thrust is too much of a luxury and Black should attend to the dangers hovering over him on the king's wing by playing the prophylactic 6 . . . h5. 7 g4 A vigorous and correct response which threatens to swamp Black by playing h5 and using the white 'h' pawn as a battering ram to disrupt the black camp. 7 . . . h5 The American grandmas- ter decides that this move is necessary after all, but now Short seizes the initiative with a pawn sacrifice which shreds the fortifications around the black king. 8 e5 Nfd7 9 gxh5 Rxh5 10 e6 fxe6 11 Bd3 From now on Black cannot free himself from the problems associated with the defence of his pawn on g6. 11 . . . Nf8 12 f4 Threatening Bxg6+ and QxhS. 12 . . . Rh8 13 Qg4 Bbl 14 Rh3 1116 15 0-0-0 h4 16 Ne4 Bd5 17 N13 Nc6 18

Position after 18 Ne5

Ne5 (Diagram) White enjoys superior develop- ment for his pawn sacrifice while, in addition, Black's forces are disorganised and his king is pinned down in the centre. This inspired knight sacrifice, hurling the piece into a forest of black defenders, is designed to exploit all of these factors. 18 . . . dxe5 19 frie5 BxeS Black must return the material for if 19 . . . Bg7 20 Nc5, cutting off the escape route of the black king, unmasks the frightful threat of Bxg6+ which Black is powerless to prevent. 20 Nc5 Renewing the threat of Bxg6+. 20 . . . Qc8 21 Bxg6+ 22 dxe5 NxeS 23 Nxe6+ The upshot of White's combination is that he attains a simplified position with active rooks and bishops against Black's crippled knights and rooks. In spite of the exchanges Black's king is still in the firing line. 23 . . . Qxe6 24 Qxe6 Nxe6 25 RxdS+ Nd7 26 Bf5 Net' 27 Bg5 c6 28 Rdl Ke8 29 Re3 e5 30 Rd6 c5 31 Rf3 Raj 32 Re6+ A beautiful final coup, emphasising that the weakness of the g6 square still haunts Black, for if 32 . . . Nxe6 33 Bg6 is checkmate. 32 . . . Kf7 33 Re7+ Kg8 34 Rg3 Black resigns.

Short crowned a splendid year by win- ning the first-ever English Championship, generously funded by merchant bankers Duncan Lawrie. Nigel beat Murray Chand- ler 11/2-1/2 in the quarter-final of this knock- out competition, eliminated Hodgson by the same score in the semis and won an interesting match 4-2 against Michael Adams in the final.