Chess

PREDRAG NIKOLIC completed victory in the Dutch Championship in Rotterdam on Thursday after leading from start to finish. A draw as Black against Dmitri Reinderman in just 12 moves brought Nikolic up to 8.5/11; and while his nearest pursuer, Jeroen Piket, could have caught up by winning, he was Black against the formidable Loek Van Wely and the two were happy to draw by repetition after just 24 moves.

So Piket was second on 8 and the other scores were Reinderman, Van der Wiel and Van Wely 7, Ivan Sokolov a disastrous 5.5, Van den Doel and Van der Sterren 5, Cifuentes 4, Peng Zhaoqin 3.5, Nijboer - a worse catastrophe for him even than Sokolov's - 3, and Janssen 2.5.

6 Nce2 in the opening seems to be a new move, with 6 Na2 and 6 Nb1 having been played previously. Round about move 12, White had a lead in development but Black could take solace in his excellent structure. After the game, Van Wely suggested 18 ...h6 as an improvement when if 19 Bf4?! e5 20 Ngf5 exf4 21 e5 is probably unsound after 21 ...0-0-0, while if 19 Bc1 or 19 Be3 (when 19 ...Nxe4 also becomes a possibility) Black could continue as in the game with 19 ...g6.

White got a dangerous attack and after the game they felt that following the second pawn grab 25 ...Nxb2, White was probably winning so perhaps Black should have tried 25 ...Rfd8 - but not 25 ...Nxe5 26 Nxe5 Bxe5 27 Nc5! Nxc5 28 Qxe5.

26 Rxd7 might conceivably be a good move earlier, but in any case after 26 Rd4 if eg 26 ...Rfd8 27 Bxg7 Kxg7 28 Qb3 traps the knight, though Nxe5 29 Rxd8 Nxf3+ 30 gxf3 Rxd8 31 Qxb2+ Kg8 isn't over, and 28 Nf6!? continues the attack.

After 27 Rxd7! and 28 Nf6+ it was all over. Black had to jettison the queen, since if 31 ...Qc6 32 Bg7 Rfc8 33 Kh2! Qc1 34 Re3 (or even 34 Qxh5 gxh5 35 Rxh5) soon forces mate.

White: Predrag Nikolic

Black: Loek Van Wely

Queen's Gambit Slav

jspeelman@compuserve.com

1 d4 d5

2 c4 c6

3 Nc3 dxc4

4 e4 b5

5 a4 b4

6 Nce2!? e6

7 Nf3 c5

8 Ng3 cxd4

9 Bxc4 Ba6

10 Qd3 Qc8

11 Bb5+ Bxb5

12 Qxb5+ Nd7

13 Nxd4 a6

14 Qe2 Nc5

15 0-0 Qb7

16 Re1 Nf6

17 Bg5 Nfd7

18 Rad1 g6

19 e5 Bg7

20 Nf3 h6

21 Bf4 a5

22 h4 h5

23 Qe3 Nxa4

24 Ne4 0-0

25 Bh6 Nxb2

26 Rd4 Na4 (see diagram)

27 Rxd7! Qxd7

28 Nf6+ Bxf6

29 exf6 Qa7

30 Qg5 Qc5

31 Re5 Rfc8

32 Rxc5 Rxc5

33 Ne5 Rxe5

34 Qxe5 b3

35 Bc1 Rc8

36 Qf4 1-0

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