Chess

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The Independent Culture
LAST week, Nigel Short defeated Jan Timman to earn the right to challenge for the world title. William Hartston explains the crucial ninth game.

White: Timman

Black: Short

At the start of this game, scores were level, 4-4 with six to play.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. 0-0 Ne7

In the seventh game, Short had played Qd6, running into trouble after 7. Na3 Be6 8. Qe2]

6. Nxe5 Qd4

The standard way for Black to regain his pawn, but here it leads to huge complications.

7. Qh5 g6 8. Qg5 Bg7

8 . . . Qxe4 loses to 9. Qf6.

9. Nd3

After 9. Nf3 Qxe4 10. Re1 Qb4 11. b3 h6] 12. Qe3 Be6, Black stands well. 9. Nd3 retains the pawn since Qxe4 would lose to Re1.

9 . . . f5 10. e5]

10. exf5 Bxf5 would give Black fine play for his pawn. Now 10 . . . Bxe5 11. Nxe5 Qxe5 leaves the Black squares perilously weak.

10 . . . c5 11. b3]

Preventing c4 while preparing Bb2. 11 . . . Qxa1 leaves the queen trapped after 12. Nc3.

11 . . . h6 12. Qg3 f4] 13. Qf3

13. Qxf4? Qxf4 14. Nxf4 Bxe5 loses for White.

13 . . . Bf5 14. Qxb7?

An extraordinary decision, played very quickly. The natural 14. Bb2 is far superior.

14 . . . Be4 15. Qxc7 Bxd3 16. cxd3 Bxe5 17. Qb7 Rb8 18. Qxa6

There seems no clear reason why Black cannot now capture on a1. After 18 . . . Qa1 19. Qa4+ Kf8 (or Kf7 20. Qc4+) White has something for his rook, but it hardly looks enough. Short chose another move, perhaps even stronger.

18 . . . f3 19. Nc3 fxg2 20. Re1

White cannot survive 20. Kxg2 Qg4+ 21. Kh1 Qh3.

20 . . . 0-0]] (see diagram)

Now 21. Qc4+ Rf7 22. Qxd4 Bxd4 23. Re2 Rbf8 leaves White hopelessly tangled.

21. Qe6+ Rf7 22. Nd1

Something had to be done about Qxf2 mate and 22. Re2 Bc7 gives a withering attack.

22 . . . Qxa1 23. Qxe5 Qxe5 24. Rxe5 Nc6 25. Rxc5 Nb4

White has three pawns for the exchange, but every one of his pawns is weak.

26. Ba3 Nxd3 27. Rc6 Ra8 28. Rd6 Rxa3 29. Rxd3 Rxa2 30. Ne3 Kg7 31. Kxg2 Ra5] 32. Rd4 Rb5 33. b4 Rbb7] 34. Rc4 Rfc7

With rooks off,the white knight cannot defend the Q-side pawns.

35 Rg4 Rd7 36. h4 h5] 37. Rg5 Rxb4 38. d4 Rf7]

Avoiding a last trap: taking the d- pawn allows Nf5+.

39. Rd5 Rb2 White resigns

40. Nd1 Rd2 is the end.

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