CHESS

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The Independent Culture
I HAVE LONG admired the expertise of young Miss Judit Polgar of Budapest, a player who, despite the obvious disadvantages of her gender, has managed to rise to a position among the world's very best. In the following game, played earlier this month, she trounces a highly imaginative opponent with some brilliance of her own.

White: Judit Polgar

Black: Alexei Shirov

Wijk aan Zee 1998

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6

An affected move-order, designed to avoid lines with 3...cxd4 4.Qxd4 in which White later plays c4. Yet I am sure Ms Polgar intended nothing so vulgar.

4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 a6 8.0-0-0 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Be7 10.f4 b5 11.Be2 Bb7 12.Bf3 Rc8 13.Bxf6

Inviting 13...Bxf6 14.Qxd6 Qxd6 15.Rxd6 Bxc3 16.bxc3 Rxc3 when White has a somewhat better endgame.

13...gxf6 14.f5 Qa5 15.fxe6 fxe6 16.Kb1!

Resisting the lure of 16.Bh5+ which only drives the black king to its safest square.

16...Kd7

Had Black castled, then 17.Bg4 would have left him in severe difficulties.

17.e5! Bxf3 18.exd6!! (See diagram.)

18.gxf3 fxe5 19.Qxe5 would have been perfectly playable, but this is magnificent.

18...Bxd1 19.Rxd1!

Black may have counted only on 19.dxe7+ Kxe7. Now White, a rook behind, has a huge attack; for example: 19...Bd8 20.Qa7+ Kc6 21.d7 Rc7 22.Qa8+ Rb7 23.Ne4! and Black is stifled.

19...Bf8 20.Qxf6 Bxd6

20...Rg8 21.Qf7+ was not appetising.

21.Ne4 Qc7

There was nothing better.

22.Rxd6+ Qxd6 23.Nxd6 Kxd6 24.Qd4+ Kc6 25.a4!

Beginning the decisive softening of Black's pawns, while also giving air to the white king.

25...Rhd8 26.Qa7 Rd1+ 27.Ka2 bxa4 28.Qxa6+ Kd7 29.Qxa4+ Rc6 30.Qa7+ Kd6 31.Qf2 Rd5 32.b3 h5 33.c4 Rf5 34.Qd4+ Ke7 35.Ka3 Rd6 36.Qg7+ Ke8 37.b4 Rf7

It is hopeless - the pawns are too strong.

38.Qh8+ Ke7 39.Qxh5 Ra6+ 40.Kb3 Rf1 and Black resigned.

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