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THE ANNUAL Monarch Insurance Isle of Man Open is moving towards its close in the Cherry Orchard in Port Erin with just today's and tomorrow's rounds to go.

Nigel Short dominated the first two-thirds of the event starting with three victories in a row on different sides of his favourite French Defence. I gave the first two, White against Chris Ward and Black against Sergei Kudrin, on Wednesday. Today's game against Lev Psakhis was considerably less convincing but it did propel Short into the sole lead, a position he relinquished next round, though, as a result of drawing with his co- winner last year (who was deemed first on tie-break) Israeli grandmaster Emil Sutovsky.

Meanwhile Russian grandmaster Petr Kiriakov had scored somewhat of an upset victory against Sergei Tiviakov to catch up but Short dispatched him in round five to regain the sole lead on 4.5 and forged on with a further victory on Thursday, Black against Jonathan Parker.

In the highly complex Winawer variation of the French Defence, Short only varied from a previous game in which 16 dxe5 had been played - and in fact White won though improvements were later suggested for Black - when he played 16 Nxe5.

Whatever the final theoretical verdict, Short's choice of 16 Nxe5 turned out badly and he was quickly in trouble not only on the board but also on the clock, leaving himself with just one minute to make 15 moves while Psakhis had 20.

Psakhis started to lose the thread in the diagram, however, when he missed the winning 29...Rxf2+ when Black should win after all of: a) 30 Qxf2? Qxa1+; b) 30 Kxf2 Qb6+ 31 Qe3 Qxe3+ (actually 31..Nxe5 first is even slightly better) 32 Kxe3 Rxe7; and c) 30 Kg1 Re2! 31 Bxe2 Qb6+ 32 Kh1 Rxe7. And Psakhis collapsed with 31...Nc6?? - 31...Kb8 is still absolutely fine - missing 32 Qxd5!

White: Nigel Short

Black: Lev Psakhis

IOM Open 1999 (Round 3)

French Winawer

,a,g, ,

nh, Cg,h


x ,hN ,

,h, ,D,

, N , ,

,H, NH,

B , XA,

1 e4 e6

2 d4 d5

3 Nc3 Bb4

4 e5 c5

5 a3 Bxc3+

6 bxc3 Ne7

7 h4 Nbc6

8 h5 Qa5

9 Bd2 Bd7

10 Nf3 0-0-0

11 h6 gxh6

12 Bd3 c4

13 Be2 Ng8

14 Kf1 f6

15 Qe1 fxe5

16 Nxe5 Nxe5

17 dxe5 Ne7

18 Bxh6 Rhg8

19 Bf3 Be8

20 a4 Bg6

21 Ra2 Rd7

22 Bc1 Nc6

23 Ba3 Qxa4

24 Rh6 Qa5

25 Bg4 Re8

26 Ra1 Qa4

27 Qc1 Qa5

28 Qe1 Rf7

29 Be7! (see diagram) Rfxe7

30 Rxa5 Nxa5

31 Qd2 Nc6??

32 Qxd5 Kb8

33 Qxc4 Rc7

34 Qf4 Ne7

35 Bxe6 Nc6

36 Bd5 Nxe5

37 c4 a6

38 Rh3 Bxc2

39 Re3 Rce7

40 Kg1 Ka8

41 c5 Bg6

42 Qf6 1-0