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DESPITE HIS excellent 2.5/3 in the first cycle, Matthew Sadler faced an uphill struggle in the quadrangular tournament in Arnhem following defeat at the hands of Viktor Korchnoi on Thursday. Korchnoi, for all that he is 68, is still a tremendous warrior, and his reaction to his loss as Black against Sadler in the first round was three straight wins against Nijboer, Xie Jun and now Sadler with the opposite colours.

With yesterday's and today's rounds remaining, the scores were Korchnoi 3/4, Sadler 2.5, Nijboer 2 and Xie Jun just 0.5; Korchnoi must now be favourite for first, though things remain very tight.

One of the world's experts in the Queen's Gambit Accepted (QGA), Sadler has played this line several times. Indeed the position after 9 0-0 was agreed drawn in Dreev vs Sadler Fide World Championship Knockout Groningen 1997, though Matthew lost against Topalov at the Melody Amber tournament last year after Topalov had varied with 9.a3!? - admittedly, in their blindfold game.

By exchanging off a pair of minor pieces, 12 ...Nf4! relieved the potential cramp in Black's position. 14 ...Bd5 was interesting since if 15 Bh5 g6 16 Bf3 Be7 17 Ne4 g5! 18 Bg3 g4 19 Nf6+ Bxf6 20 Bxd5 Nxd5 21 exf6 h5 is fine for Black.

Not 17 ...Rxb7? 18 Qc6+ Nd7 19 Qxb7 Bxg5 20 Bxg5 Qxg5 and eg 21 Rac1 with a material advantage. The diagram position is critical and I suspect that Black should play 20 ...Rfd8 (to prevent Nd4) and if 21 b4 Bc2 22 b5 Qa4! 21 ...Rfd8 was also possible, though 22 b3 Qxc1 23 Rfxc1 looks pretty nice for White.

Once the knight got anchored on c6, White had a large clear advantage. If 47 ...gxf6 48 Kd2 Bf7 49 Kc3 wins the knight while at the end there's no defence to 50 Kd2 and 51 Kc1.

White: Viktor Korchnoi

Black: Matthew Sadler

Queen's Gambit Accepted

1 d4 d5

2 c4 dxc4

3 e4 Nf6

4 e5 Nd5

5 Bxc4 Nc6

6 Nc3 Nb6

7 Bb5 Bd7

8 Nf3 e6

9 0-0 Nb4

10 Be2 Bc6

11 a3 N4d5

12 Ne4 Nf4!

13 Bxf4 Bxe4

14 Ng5 Bg6

15 Bf3 Rb8

16 Qc1 Be7

17 Bxb7! 0-0

18 Bc6 Qxd4

19 Nf3 Qc4

20 Be3 (see diagram)

20 ...a5

21 Nd4 a4

22 Bf3 Bc5

23 Nc6 Qxc1

24 Raxc1 Bxe3

25 fxe3 Rbe8

26 Rfd1 h6

27 Kf2 Kh7

28 Ke2 Ra8

29 Rc5 Rfe8

30 h3 Nd5

31 Nb4 Re7

32 g4 Rae8

33 Nc6 Rd7

34 h4 Kh8

35 Rd4 Nb6

36 h5 Bb1

37 Nb4 Red8

38 Rc1 Bh7

39 Rxc7 Rxd4 40 exd4 Rxd4

41 Rb7 Nc4

42 Rb8+ Bg8 43 Nc6 Rd2+ 44 Ke1 Rxb2 45 Rxb2! Nxb2 46 Be2! f5

47 exf6 e5

48 f7 Bxf7

49 Nxe5 1-0