Chess

YESTERDAY I published a problem from the Spanish Team Championships. Today, I report on the event itself, which ran from 5-13 September in the beautiful city of Salamanca, north-west of Madrid.

After some considerable blood-letting, the 10-team first division was won by Barcino, from Terrassa, headed by Alexei Shirov on 24/36 ahead of Miguel Illescas's team Gracienca (Barcelona) on 22.5.

I fear that my team, the splendidly named Centro Goya-Villa de Teror from the Gran Canarias was cool last on just 10.5. Originally, we intended to have the Argentine Grandmaster Daniel Campora on second board, but we were late in registering him, and Federations will be Federations... We were joined for the drop by Olivar (Saragosa) and Vulca (Barcelona). If you recall, last Friday I described the the Endesa team's ploy of deliberately defaulting the top board against Olivar: this helped them just avoid relegation.

I had an abysmal tournament. True the top board isn't easy - we averaged 2582 - but there was no reason to lose to Lautier, Illescas and - from a won position --Romero. And as for my supremely publishable last-round loss to Orestes Rodriguez. I shall present it for your (if not my) delectation in a few days. Still I did beat Arencibia (Cuba). And I played one decent game against Alexei Shirov.

In the opening, 7...Nbd7 weakened c6 - I thought 7...e6 might be better. Still I had very little until he played 14...Qe7?! - he should take on f3 first. Instead of 18...a5?, 18...Nb8 wouldn't have been too bad. After 20.Nxd5! he'd missed that if 20...Rxc1+ 21.Bxc1 exd5 22.Nc6! wins. 21...Bxd2 was the best chance for if 21...Bxa5 22.Rxf8+ Nxf8 23.Bxa5; or 21...Rxc8 22.Qxb4 Rc1+ 23.Kh2.

22...g6! was the only move. If 22...Nhf6 23.Nf5 Qb4 24.Rxf8+ Nxf8 25.Rb8 Qc5 26.Qb6! Qa3 27.Qb2! Qa7! 28.Qe5! wins.

The rest was very sharp. One of the many beautiful lines which disturbed my sleep that night goes 25...Nf6 26.d4 Qc1+ 27.Kh2 Nd7 28.Qd6 Be1! 29.Rc8!! when a) 29...Qb1 30.Rxf8+!! Nxf8 31.Ne7+ Kg7 32.Qe5+ f6 33.Qc7 Kh8 34.Qd8 Kg7 35.Nxd5 Kg8 36.Qe7 Qb8+ 37.Kg1! b) 29...Kg7 30.Rxf8! Bxf2 31.Rxf7+ Kxf7 32.Qxd7+ Kf8 33.Qd6+ Kg7! 34.Qe5+ Kh6 35.Qf4+ Kg7 36.Qxf2.

He'd missed 29.Nd8! and should have taken my knight on c6 either with or without checking on c1 - though my initiative should be decisive in either case.

White: Jon Speelman

Black: Alexei Shirov

Salamanca (round 7) 1998

Reti opening

jspeelman@compuserve.com

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