Chess

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Grandmaster Stuart Conquest tells of a knee-trembler in the Open Tournament at Berne earlier this year.

White: Conquest

Black: Bobzin

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d6 3. d4 Nbd7 4. Nf3 e5 5. Bg5

A sharper reply than the conventional 5. e4 or 5. g3.

5 . . . h6 6. Bh4 g5]? 7. Bg3 Nh5

Black hunts down the bishop at the cost of weakening his K-side.

8. e3 Nxg3

He could have deferred this with, for example, 8 . . . Bg7.

9. hxg3 Bg7 10. Qc2 c6?

This softens up the d-pawn. 10 . . . exd4 was superior.

11. 0-0-0 exd4 12. Nxd4]?

A difficult choice since 12. exd4 was also good. Now I am threatening Nf5.

12 . . . Nf6 13. Bd3

6 . . . g5 shows its flip side: the f5 square is permanently weakened.

13 . . . c5]?

This looks ugly but does assure the exchange of White's powerful knight.

14. Nf5 Bxf5 15. Bxf5

Black is happier that a bishop sits at f5 rather than a knight.

15 . . . 0-0 16. g4

White begins his attack; the plan is to continue with f4.

16 . . . Re8]

Slowing up f4 by attacking e3, while also giving his king a flight square for when the h-file opens.

17. Rd3?

17. Qd2] was the strongest. The move I chose allows counterplay.

17 . . . a6] 18. Qd2 Bf8

I was half-expecting b5 immediately, sacrificing the d-pawn.

19. f4] b5 20. e4]

20. fxg5? bxc4] would have been embarrassing. Now 20 . . . bxc4 21. Rdh3] smashes Black's king.

20 . . . b4] 21. Nd5] Nxe4

The best chance. 21 . . . Nxd5 22. Rxd5 is too miserable for words.

22. Bxe4 Rxe4 23. fxg5 hxg5

23 . . . Qxg5? loses to a fork on f6 after the queen exchange.

24. Rdh3 Bg7 25. g3]] (see diagram)

The winning move] The idea is Qh2 with Rh8+ to follow, and Black is curiously powerless to prevent it.

25 . . . Qe8

25 . . . Rxc4+ 26. Kb1 did not help, but now he meets 26. Qh2 with Re1+.

26. Rh8+]

As I played this, Mr Klovans, an elderly International Master from Latvia, reached over from the next board and squeezed my knee. This highly irregular show of affection went unnoticed by tournament officials.

26 . . . Bxh8 27. Qxg5+

Possible because the black queen has left d8.

27 . . . Bg7 28. Nf6+ Kf8

Now the obvious 29. Nxe8 Raxe8 still leaves some work to be done.

29. Rh8+]

The finishing touch: 29 . . . Bxh7 30. Nh7 mate is one for the mantelpiece. Mr Klovans just smiled.

Black resigns.

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