Chess

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The Independent Culture
THE BLUNDER that cost Nigel Short the second game of his match against Jan Timman was a curiously simple oversight. In the diagram position, after 23 moves, only one pawn had been exchanged on each side. As usual in strategically complex positions, where imminent pawn exchanges can radically change the character of the game, both players were beginning to run short of time.

Short continued 24. exd5 cxd5 25. c4 Strategically, the move is logical. White's rook on c1 only makes sense if the c-file is opened, and the a2-f7 diagonal needs unblocking for the queen. Tactically, however, it was disastrous.

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He must have seen Timman's reply, 25 . . . e4. With the knight on d2 attacked by the bishop on h6, he had to look at moves undermining its only defender, the knight on f3. Short probably looked at things like 26. cxd5 Qb8 27. Rxe4 Rxe4 28. Nxe4 Bxc1 29. Bxc1 Nf4 30. Qd2 Nxd5 31. Qh6 or 26. cxd5 Qa5 27. Nb3]? Qxd5 28. Bc4, with delicious complications. But he missed something far simpler: 26. cxd5 Qf4] when Black won a piece for nothing (after 27. g3 Nxg3, Black has a crushing attack as well as extra material).

Perhaps he just forgot about Qf4. With the black bishop so powerful on the diagonal through that square, it seems wrong for the queen to interfere.

Blunders are always bad for confidence, but Nigel Short is not easily disconcerted. As far as he is concerned, the Short- Timman match begins today.

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