CHESS

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Black nibbles away at the edges of White's position until his centre falls apart.

White: Don Mason

Black: Keith Arkell

Nuneaton Open 1994

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5

Once considered outlandish, this move has become popular in recent years, particularly in the games of John Nunn (who has demonstrated the attacking potential of lines with 3...Bf5 4.Nc3 e6 5.g4) and Nigel Short (who prefers a positional approach with 3...Bf5 4.Nf3).

3...c5

Considered dubious by theory, this has long been one of my pet lines, though I did once play the curious 3...Na6 against Nunn.

4.dxc5

4.c3 Nc6 is fine for Black. Unlike the analogous variation in the French Defence, the bishop on c8 is not hemmed in by a pawn.

4...Nc6 5.Bf4

The critical line is 5.Bb5, playing to keep the extra pawn.

5...e6 6.c3 Nge7

Better than 6...Bxc5 7.b4, when the bishop must abandon the K-side or hamper the development of the knight on g8.

7.Bd3?

The beginning of a poor plan that leaves Black already better. Instead 7.Nf3 Ng6 8.Bg3 Bxc5 would have been roughly equal.

7...Ng6 8.Bxg6 hxg6 9.b4 a5 10.b5

He cannot hold his extra pawn: 10.Qd2 axb4 11.cxb4 Ra4 12.a3 Nxb4 or 10.Qb3 axb4 11.cxb4 b6! and the pawns are undermined.

10...Nb8 11.Nd2 Nd7 12.Ngf3 Nxc5 13.0-0 Be7 14.Be3 a4!

Emphasising the scattered nature of White's Q-side pawns.

15.Qe2 b6 16.Rfd1 Bb7

Despite the pawn on d5, there is a good deal of potential power in this bishop, particularly with its opposite number exchanged.

17.Nd4 Qc7 18.f4 g5!

Continuing the process of chiselling away at White's centre from the edges.

19.Rf1 gxf4 20.Bxf4 g6 21.Rac1 Ne4 22.c4 Bc5 23.Nf3 g5! (see diagram)

Another opportunity to see this move. And this time it's a winning advance.

24.Be3 g4 25.cxd5 Bxd5! 26.Rfd1

If the knight moves from f3, then Qxe5 wins.

26...gxf3 27.gxf3

The knight on e4 has no retreat, but White's centre has fallen apart and left Black's men filling the gaps.

27...Qxe5 White resigns.

Not a moment too soon. After 28.fxe4 Qxe4 there is no defence to a mating attack with Qh1+.

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