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The Independent Culture
AS CHESS snuggles up to the International Olympic Committee, so a delightful new problem has arisen: drug testing. Initially thought of as something of a joke - who would want to test chess players when no performance-enhancing substances are known to exist? - the whimsy has recently become a reality with urine samples taken both at last month's Porto San Giorgio International Open in Italy - where it's even rumoured that "an unnamed Italian" tested positive and is to face some sort of ban; and at the annual Spanish Team Championships which have just taken place in Cala Galdana in Menorca.

It's not a secret that some chess players do use "recreational drugs", notably alcohol, nicotine and caffeine. So depending on the exact specifications we may look forward to a positive on the latter and the joyful ramifications which will then arise.

Going back to the Spanish teams, it ran from 8-17 November, comprising three separate divisions: with the top one held as a ten team all-play- all but the other two as Swisses; and all matches being contested over four boards.

After a close contest, the Galician team Marcote led by Gio Giorgadze took first place on 26.5/36 ahead of Miguel Illescas's team Graciena from Barcelona 25; and La Caja de Canarias 22. But no doubt due to some internal politics, last year's winners Barcino were relegated, ninth of the ten on just 7.5/36.

The struggle on top board was fierce with, apart from Giorgadze and Illescas, such luminaries as Topalov, who made the best score, 6/9; Lautier, Korneev, Movsziszian, and Spraggett: though two of the (victorious) Marcote players Francisco Vallejo Pons on board 2 and Zenon Franco on board three did even better, both scoring 8/9. When you're on a roll, winning can become increasingly easy and Vallejo defeated both of his last two opponents in 22 moves. This is his last round win against Grandmaster Pablo San Segundo.

Black could have got a fairly safe position position albeit with some disadvantage after 13...Nb6 14.Nxf6+ Qxf6 15 Qc5. Instead he grabbed the b2 pawn but after 16 Nf5 started to feel some serious heat. After 18 Bh3! the threat of 19 Nxc8 was most unpleasant. Black was ripped apart in just four more moves but if 18...Nb6 19 Nxf6+ gxf6 20 Qh4 Bxh3 21 Qxh3 Rad8 22 Nf5 is also over.

Francisco Vallejo v

Pablo San Segundo

Spanish Team Championships 1999 (Round 9) Queen's Gambit Declined

1 c4 e6

2 Nc3 d5

3 d4 Be7

4 Nf3 Nf6

5 Bg5 h6

6 Bxf6 Bxf6

7 Qb3 c6

8 g3 0-0

9 Bg2 Nd7

10 0-0 dxc4

11 Qxc4 e5

12 Ne4 exd4

13 Nxd4 Qb6

14 Rfd1 Qxb2

15 Rab1 Qa3

16 Nf5 Qa5

17 Nfd6 Qc7

18 Bh3! Ne5

19 Nxf6+ gxf6

20 Qh4 Ng6

21 Qxh6 Bxh3

22 Rxb7 1-0