Thursday 24 September 1998
When Honved (Budapest) withdrew, there were just seven teams left for the three-day knockout to decide one of the eight contenders for the finals scheduled for Azov, in Russia, for 26-30 November.
We fought our way quite well past Hohenems (Austria) 3.5-2.5 and Alkaloid (Croatia) by 4.5-1.5 but were then confronted by one of the very plausible answers to my initial question in the form of the hosts Panfox (a computer company).
Unlike many other sportsmen, chess players are totally free agents. So in principle there is little difficulty for a sufficiently wealthy and influential sponsor or individual in actually assembling his "fantasy chess team". While Panfox is bereft of a "K" - Kasparov, Kramnik, Karpov or even Korchnoi - it more than makes up for this in an incredible selection from the rest of the alphabet.
On Sunday we faced, in board order, Van Wely, Timman, Lautier, Mikhail Gurevich, Vaganian and Van der Wiel. While for this match against fellow Englishmen, Julian Hodgson had been consigned to the Panfox "bench". Our expected score was 1-5 but I fear that we actually made just half-a-point from James Vigus's excellent draw against Van der Wiel on bottom board. Several of the games were deeply horrible, my own less so: but Van Wely is becoming a bete noire of mine - or, as we tend to say, I'm becoming (have become) a customer of his; and he got me in the end.
Rather than something from that rather miserable occasion, here is Julian Hodgson at work in the first round against the Portugese team Boavista.
Instead of hurling his queen's bishop out with the Trompowsky - 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 - Julian has recently taken to the more modest Queen's Fianchetto.
Black badly mishandled the opening and ended up with a rotten pawn structure for no compensation. Hodgson's very slow and calm exploitation was crowned by 26 Ne4! after which the fruit finally started dropping off the tree.
White: Julian Hodgson
Black: Pedro Parcerias
1 b3 e5
2 Bb2 Nc6
3 e3 Nf6
4 Bb5 d6
5 Ne2 Be7
6 d4 exd4
7 Nxd4 Bd7
8 Bxc6 bxc6
9 Qf3 d5
10 Nf5 Bxf5
11 Qxf5 0-0
12 Nd2 Qd7
13 Qxd7 Nxd7
14 Nf3 Bf6
15 0-0-0 a5
16 a4 Bxb2+
17 Kxb2 Rab8
18 Nd4 Rb6
19 Ne2 Nf6
20 Nc3 Rfb8
21 Rhe1 Rb4
22 f3 g6
23 e4 Rd8
24 exd5 cxd5
25 Re7 Rb7
26 Ne4! Nxe4
27 fxe4 d4
28 Re5 c6
29 Rxa5 Re7
30 Rc5 Rxe4
31 Rxc6 Re2
32 Rd3 Rxg2
33 a5 Rg5
34 b4 Rb5
35 Ka3 Kf8
36 Ka4 Rbb8
37 a6 Ke7
38 b5 Ra8
39 Ka5 Rd5
40 c4 resigns
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