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DEFENDING the Queen's Gambit as Black is a dreary business. You obtain a solid enough position, but almost before the opening is over, you find yourself with a rigid pawn structure, potential weaknesses on the Q-side, and little prospect of active play. Nigel Short, however, clearly does not know this, or he would never have beaten Keith Arkell in 26 moves as Black in the third round of the British Championship in Torquay. The game is a model of Black play in the Queen's Gambit Declined and also a powerful demonstration of the difference between an ordinary grandmaster and a world class player.

Once White has chosen the line with 9.Bxf6, 10.cxd5 and 11.b4, one of two things can happen: either Black plays ...c5 and saddles himself with an isolated d-pawn after pawn exchanges, or he plays c6, with an apparently cramped position and a bishop groping blindly on b7, but some hope of utilising his bishop pair later in the game.

White's play from move 15 is rather unconvincing. His 15.Bd3 has little point, as Arkell admitted when he retreated the same piece to f1 only three moves later. meanwhile, Black had manoeuvred his knight to its best square on e6, from where it can keep an eye on the white d-pawn (thus inhibiting any plan of e4 by White), while also ensuring that if White plays b5, Black can reply ...c5 and recapture with the knight on c5 if necessary.

All the same, b5 is the move White should be aiming for, and when White played 19.Ne1, to have the knight available to defend the b-pawn from c2 or d3, it was clear that things were not going as well as they might.

Short's reply of 19...h5! (see diagram) was a nice way of suggesting to White that his knight might be needed to defend the K-side instead. Arkell's response was certainly a little panicky. Indeed, the diagram position is a White-to-play-and-lose study.

After 20.g3? the weakness on f3 is the key. Black's temporary piece sacrifice gained him two pawns. At the end 27.Qxb6 d4 with Qe4+ or c5+ to follow is more than White can stand.

White: K Arkell

Black: N Short

Queen's Gambit Declined

British Championship 1998

1 d4 Nf6 15 Bd3 axb4

2 Nf3 d5 16 axb4 Nf8

3 c4 e6 17 Rfd1 Ne6

4 Nc3 Be7 18 Bf1 Qd6

5 Bg5 h6 19 Ne1 h5

6 Bh4 0-0 20 g3 Rxa1

7 e3 b6 21 Rxa1 Bxd4

8 Be2 Bb7 22 exd4 Nxd4

9 Bxf6 Bxf6 23 Qa3 Rxe1

10 cxd5 exd5 24 Rxe1 Nf2+

11 b4 c6 25 Kh1 Nxe1

12 0-0 a5 26 Qa7 Qe7

13 a3 Nd7 White resigned

14 Qb3 Re8