Chess

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The Independent Culture
WHEN England's two most enterprising young grandmasters met in the first round at Wijk-aan-Zee, the Netherlands, a couple of weeks ago, their opening game produced the most marvellously conspiratorial draw offer of the year.

From a tense Sicilian defence, the players reached the diagram position after White's 30th move and the real fun began. Hodgson, playing Black, after being on the defensive until this moment, began to break out with 30 . . . g4. Earlier the g-pawn had served mainly as a barrier against White's attack. Now it becomes a vital part of Black's ambitious counterplay. Adams nudged 31. a3, giving his king a safe bolt-hole, and the game continued sharply with 31 . . . Qg5 32. Rd1]?

With each man thinking only of capturing his opponent's pawns rather than defending his own, the reaping began with 32 . . . Qxh5 33. Rxd6 Qg5 34. Rxa6, and the black g-pawn got on with its job with 34 . . . g3.

Adams stopped the pawn, and threatened to capture it, with 35. Qg2, when play continued 35 . . . Nd3 36. Rd6 Nf4 and, just as the game seemed to have hit its high point of complexity, and the g-pawn looked certain either to die or reach the queening square within a couple of moves, the players surprised everyone by agreeing a draw.

Far from being a conventional piece of mutual chickening-out, the agreement was the players' way of showing they had calculated it all to the end. As had to be explained to the bemused spectators, the finish would have been 37. Qxg3 Rxf5] 38. exf5]] Qxg3 39. Rd8+ Bf8 (or 39 . . . Kh7 40. Bg8+ Kh8 41. Bb3+ forcing repetition of moves) 40. Rxd8+ Kh7 41. Rf7+ Kg8 42. Rf6+ and Black cannot escape the checks without giving up his queen.

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