CHESS

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The Independent Culture
Having a chess opening named after oneself is sometimes a bit of a strain. One feels obliged to defend the reputation of the thing on every possible occasion. Poor old Lev Polugayevsky, for example, would have surely had a more successful career had he not saddled himself with the responsibility of caring for the reputation of the dubious Polugayevsky Variation of the Sicilian Defence.

One man who has never been bothered in this way, however, is Mark Taimanov. He has been playing the Taimanov Variation for 35 years, and keeps it as fresh as ever.

White: Gary Lane

Black: Mark Taimanov

Wrexham 1997

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6

For a change, Taimanov sometimes plays Nc6 on move two and e6 on move four. Variety is the spice, they say.

3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.f4 a6

Sometimes he plays a6 on move five. It's good not to get in a rut with one's openings.

7.Nxc6 Qxc6!

A pleasant change from 7 ...bxc6, leaving scope for his bishop on the a8- h1 diagonal.

8.Bd3 Bc5! 9.Qg4 Kf8! 10.f5?

Thinking Black's king to be poorly placed on f8, White plays the one move that justified its position. The correct plan was 10.Bd2, followed by Qf3 and 0-0-0.

10 ...Nf6 11.Qe2 exf5! 12.exf5 d5

Black could never have played in this manner with his king on e8.

13.Qf3 Bd7 14.Ne2 Re8 15.Bd2 d4 16.0-0?

The choice of this move smacks of demoralisation. 16.0-0-0 was the best chance.

16 ...Qxf3 17.Rxf3 Bc6 18.Rff1 Rxe2!

Decisive - but 18.Rf2 Ng4 would have been no improvement for White.

19.Bxe2 d3+ 20.Kh1 dxe2 21.Rfe1 Ne4 22.Rxe2 Nxd2 23.Rd1

A little joke: 23 ...Ne4 is met by 24.Rd8+.

23 ...f6 24.R1xd2 Kf7 25.c4 a5.

A rook and pawn may sometimes be a match for two bishops, but not here, where the clerics dominate the board.

26.b3 g6 27.fxg6+ hxg6 28.Rd3 f5 29.Rd1 Kf6 30.Rde1 Be4 31.Rd1 g5 (See diagram.) White resigned!

He has no defence to the threat of g4, g3 and Rxh2 mate. Good work by the unmoved rook on h8!

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