Chess

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IN TODAY'S game from the Wijk aan Zee tournament in the Netherlands, Mr Vladimir Kramnik showed a rare mastery of the Micawber Principle. If you cannot find a move that meets your goals at once, then it pays just to "wait for something to turn up". The move with which White won the game was one of his least forceful - and something turned up immediately.

White: Vladimir Kramnik

Black: Paul van der Sterren

Wijk aan Zee 1998

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.d4 c5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 cxd4 8.cxd4 Bb4+ 9.Bd2 Bxd2+ 10.Qxd2 0-0 11.Rd1 b6 12.h4

After a routine opening, this is far from a "wating-for-something-to- turn-up" sort of move. White seems set to end the game quickly in his favour with a K-side attack.

12...Bb7 13.Bd3 Nc6 14.Bb1 Qd6 15.0-0

A necessary precaution lest Black should attempt to exchange queens with Qb4. Yet what price now White's K-side attack?

15...Rad8 16.Qg5!

Now we see the truth of it. The pawn on h4 is just waiting for something to turn up. With queen, bishop and knight all poised to attack h7, Black will find it hard to avoid g6 - which will be the signal for the h-pawn to charge ahead to h5.

16...e5 17.d5

Of course 17.dxe5 Qxd1 did not come into consideration.

17...f6 18.Qg3 Ne7 19.Bd3

With the b1-h7 diagonal closed to traffic, the bishop seeks an alternative route.

19...Ng6 20.Rfe1 Nf4 21.Bf1 Rc8 22.Nd2 Kh8 23.Qb3 Rc5 24.g3 Ng6 25.Nc4

A player less adroit in the Micawberish arts might have played h5 here, but why chase the knight from its poor square?

25...Qd7 26.Qa3 Ra8 27.Rc1 h6 28.Ne3!

At c4, the knight was already on its best square, but from e3 it may move to c4 again!

28...Ra5 29.Qb2 Ne7 (See diagram.)

White to play and win!

30.Kh2!!

A truly brilliant, hoping-for-something-to-turn-up move. The half-threat of Bh3 induces a fatal error.

30...Qd8?? 31Nc4 Rc5 32.Nxe5! resigns.

After 32...fxe5 (or 32...Rxc1 32.Nf7+) 32.Rxc5 bxc5 33.Qxb7 Black is a pawn behind and his game beyond repair.

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