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TO UTILISE the French Defence as a vehicle for imagination and attack has always struck me as somewhat akin to using a garlic press to mash a particularly large potato. Yet the winner of today's game manages the feat with considerable verve. After this, I would not be at all surprised to hear that Mr Danelian's mashed potatoes have a distinctly garlicky flavour.

White: V Belov

Black: O Danelian

Moscow 1998

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.exd5 Qxd5!

The first sign that Black is not a French Defence aficionado of the old school: the true French fanatics play 4...exd5 and drearily defend their isolated d-pawns to claim an eventual draw by tedium.

5.Ngf3 cxd4 6.Bc4 Qd6 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Nb3 Nc6 9.Nbxc4 Nxc4 10.Nxc4 a6 11.Re1 Bd7

More commonly, Black drops his queen back to c7, then plays Bd6.

12.c3 Qc7 13.Qe2 0-0-0!

Bravo! Black will have nothing of the nonsense that may ensue after 13...Bd6 14.Nf5! Bxh2+ 15.Kh1, but heads for a full-blooded battle.

14.a4 Bd6 15.h3 Kb8 16.a5 Rc8 17.Bd3 Nd5 18.Qf3 Nf4 19.Bf1 g5!

It is well known that black pawns, appearing as they do at the top of chess diagrams, have the advantage of gravity on their side and move faster than white ones.

20.g3 e5 21.Nc2 g4! 22.hxg4 Rcg8

If White thought, on playing 20.g3, that the black knight was forced to retreat, then he is sadly disabused of the notion. Now 23.gxf4 Bxg4 is disastrous for White.

23.Ne3 Bc6 24.Qd1 h5! (See diagram.)

Prising open White's defences with the ease of cracking a peanut.


This hastens the end, but the impertinent knight had to be punished.

25...exf4 26.Nf5 hxg4

The threat of mate on h1 gives White no time to capture on d6.

27.Bg2 Bxg2 28.Kxg2 f3+ 29.Kg1

Black can win now with the brutal 29...Bh2+ 30.Kh1 (or 30.Kf1 Qc4+) Bg1+! 31.Kxg1 Qh2+, but selects a gentler way.

29...Bc5 White resigned.

30.Ng3 is met by Qxg3+, so there is no defence to the threat of Qh2+.