Chess

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
LIKE MANY other "developing chess nations" (I hope I'm not being rude here), Canada was for many years dominated by a single player, in their case Grandmaster Kevin Spraggett.

Spraggett, who is 45, is married to a Portuguese international and moved some years ago to that country. He has won the Canadian Championship divers times and had many international successes, most famously his victory against Andrei Sokolov in their Candidates match at St John's New Brunswick in 1988.

For the first time ever, all seven first-round matches (Karpov joined the seven winners in the next round) were played simultaneously. Most (including Nigel Short's victory against Gyula Sax and my own against Yasser Seirawan) had finished long before, but Korchnoi and Hjartarson had to play two additional one-hour games with the Icelander unexpectedly winning out and Spraggett and Sokolov seemed to go on for ever. They finally ended up in two 15-minute games, the second of which was decided when Sokolov allowed Spraggett's knight to fork his king and queen: a conclusion so shocking that it effectively ended all Andrei Sokolov's world championship aspirations, and swayed Fide towards adopting tie-breaks using Fischer clocks - that is, with a time increment after each move.

But, gradually, other strong Canadians have emerged, notably the 24- year-old French Canadian grandmaster Alexandre Lesiege, and it was he who won this year's championship - a 26-player Swiss - for the first time after it had always previously been an all-play-all. It ran at Brantford in Ontario from 31 August to 9 September.

After winning his first three games, Lesiege drew the battle below with Spraggett and won two more before halving out to finish on 7/9. After a defeat in round seven by international grandmaster Igor Zugic, however, Spraggett could make only 6, which left him second equal with David Ross, Lawrence Day, Thanh Nha Duong and Michael Schleifer.

White's position looked so good after 13 e4 that Black was absolutely correct to garner some material for his pains. 17 h4! both battered at Black's kingside defences and avoided possible embarrassment on the back rank later.

I felt that White should have some way through, but if eg 22 Bh6+ Kg8 23 Bxf8!? Nxf8 24 Bb3 Qb4 25 Qe3 Qe7 26 Qh6 f5 27 Qh8+ Kf7 28 Rh7+ Nxh7 29 Qxh7+ Ke8 30 Qg8+ Qf8 31 Qxe6+ Kd8 32 d5 Qe8 33 Qf6+ Qe7 34 Qh8+ Qe8 35 Qf6+ is just a draw. At the end, Spraggett forced repetition.

White: Alexandre Lesiege

Black: Kevin Spraggett

Queen's Gambit Slav

Comments