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Col Polhill explains why a woman's place is at the chess board.

The fairer sex have not had much success at the chess board. Whether this is, as Sigmund Freud maintained, because they do not wish to kill their fathers, or, as the late Dutch grandmaster Jan Hein Donner believed, because they are basically stupid, I shall leave to better minds than mine to debate. Suffice it to say that my own experience is that young ladies can indeed play fine chess, provided they are properly trained. Take the following game, for example.

White: Alisa Maric

Black: Zsuzsa Polgar

Women's Candidates 1994.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 e6 4.e3 f5

Slipping from the Slav De-fence into the Dutch as easily as changing dresses!

5.Bd3 Bd6 6.0-0 Nf6 7.b3 Qe7 8.a4 a5 9.Ba3 Bxa3 10.Nxa3 0-0 11.Qb1 Ne4!

When the Polgar sisters, after playing their early contests only against men, began to compete with women, they found it difficult. Then I told them the secret: "Advance your knights." It is undeniable that women players fear knights. They retreat their own, and if a knight advances upon them, they tremble.

12.Qb2 Nd7 13.Nc2

Contrast White's equine pusillanimity with Black's bold steed on e4. Why White did not play Ne5 on any of the last three moves can only be put down to feminine mystique.

13...b6 14.Rfc1 Bb7 15.Bf1 f4! 16.Re1 c5 17.cxd5 exd5 18.exf4 Rxf4 19.Nd2?

Another knight retreat, motivated by fear of the beast on e4. 19.Rad1 was correct.

19...Qf6 20.Nxe4 dxe4 21.Bc4+ Kh8 22.Re2 Rf8 23.Rf1 cxd4 24.Nxd4 Ne5!

This despatch of cavalry reinforcements will finish off the battle.

25.Ne6 (see diagram)

Hoping for 25...Nxc4 26.Qxf6, but Black has at least two better moves.


Not bad, but 25...Nf3+! would have led to a cleaner kill after 26.gxf3 (26.Kh1 Rh4 is also winning for Black) Qg6+ 27.Kh1 exf3. Now White can fight with 26.f3! but Miss Maric misses it.

26.Nxf8 Nf3+

Avanti horsey!

27.Kh1 Qf4 28.g3 Qh6

I should have preferred 28...Rh4!!

White resigned.

29.h4 Rxh4+ leads to mate.