Chess

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The Independent Culture
IN 1995, the small town of Katrineholm, just under 100 miles south- west of Stockholm, had a chess club consisting of just five of its approximately 30,000 inhabitants. Nevertheless, with encouragement from grandmaster Lars Karlsson, they organised a 10-player category nine all-play-all tournament, which was won by Nigel Davies.

Four years on, the chess club's ranks have swelled to 20-odd and they've organised a second, considerably grander tournament.

Sponsored mainly by the Katrineholms Stadshotell, where we are both staying and playing and, with additional funds from about a dozen local businesses it averages a most respectable 2,532 - category 12.

Once the professional chess player's staple diet, nice all-play-alls are nowadays like gold dust, and so I've resolved to play as much fighting chess as possible - though how well this will survive the test of some suitably strategic draw offer from an opponent remains to be seen . . .

In any case, after three rounds, I'm yet to draw with a win against the top seed Alexei Fedorov, followed by a loss to Ildar Ibragimov and then a win against Peter Laveryd. This 2/3 has presently put me in fourth place, by myself, behind Andersson, Ibragimov and Gavrikov 2.5; and ahead of Fedorov and Pia Cramling 1.5, Lutz 1 (in my preview on Tuesday, I erroneously said that Lars Karlsson is playing - in fact, the German grandmaster is instead) and Laveryd, Lyrberg and Emanuel Berg 0.5.

When I started this column, I expected that Gavrikov would actually reach 3/3, since he's very good in positions like this, where he has extra material but needs to fend off a few threats. But Pia is also especially good at defending, and she held on.

The game concluded: 42 Re3 Ra4 43 Re2! Qb1 44 Qxc6 Ra3+ 45 Kg2 Qf5 46 Re3 Rxe3 47 Bxe3 Bxf4 48 Bd4? Qc2+ 49 Bf2 Be3! 50 Qa8+ Kg7 51 Qf3 Bxc5 52 Qf6+ Kg8 53 e6 Qe4+! 54 Qf3 Qxf3+ 55 Kxf3 Be7 56 exf7+ *-*

Certainly not 43...Bxf4+? 44 Qxf4! and White wins a piece. A couple of moves later not 44...Bxf4+ 45 Kg2 Ra1 46 Re1 Qb2 47 Rxa1 Qxa1 48 e6; and 44...Rxf4 45 e6 Qd3+ 46 Re3 Qd2 47 Rf3 Rxf3+ 48 Kxf3 also gives good winning chances - it's amazing how safe the white king is with all that space round him.

Gavrikov had to try the queen ending with 48 Bxf4 Qxf4. As played it's a draw - 50 Qf6 Bxc5 - would have transposed. Of course Pia avoided 53...Qxf2+?? 54 Qxf2 Bxf2 55 e7! and 55...Bxf2?? 56 e7.

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