Monday 24 May 1999
White had just played 51 h5, fixing a terrible weakness on g7 and completing a monumental, and highly aesthetic, kingside clamp. As a result, the passed "a pawn" is effectively extra and as far as I can see Black has no way of putting up more than a show of resistance. In any case, the game lasted less than a dozen more moves:
51 ...Bc5 52 Kb3 f6 53 Bd2 e5 54 Bb4 Kc6 55 Bxc5 Kxc5
56 Kc3 d4+ 57 Kb3 Kc6 58 Kb4 Kb6 59 a5+ Kc6 60 Kc4 Kb7 61 Kb5 Ka7 62 a6 1-0.
Now the puzzle: Given that this was a game a between two world-class grandmasters, who do you think was playing the white pieces?
Of course, this isn't strictly soluble, and I certainly don't expect many readers to be able to work it out. But the interest is in my theory (which, admittedly, so far I've tested just once - with negative results) that my colleagues will score quite highly even with a single guess, let alone 20 questions.
The huge clue is afforded by White's absolutely perfect kingside pawn structure and in particular the pawn still unmoved at e2, even though they had played 50 moves to reach the diagram position.
While this might have happened by accident, I know of only one world- class player who reliably shows sufficient restraint to achieve this position; and indeed you can start by eliminating a large number who advance the e pawn on the first move.
One more clue, which should be more helpful if you've been reading this column in the last few days: I came across this game while preparing for White (who was in fact playing against Alexander Beliavsky at Reggio Emilia 1989) at the tournament which I've just finished in Katrineholm, near Stockholm.
Not, I hasten to add, that I make any attempt to play through all my opponent's games from a decade ago - indeed, including quite a lot of doubles, I collected no fewer than 2,518 of this man's! But I was considering defending a Catalan (1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 g3 d5), which is how the diagrammed game began.
The answer: the incomparable Ulf Andersson.
In fact, I sensibly decided against the Catalan and our monumental battle went:
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