Click to follow
The Independent Culture
AS WISDEN is to cricketers, so Chess Informant is to chess players. First appearing in 1966, this Belgrade-based publication, originally twice, now thrice yearly, collects all the most important games of the period, annotated not in words but rather in an agreed set of symbols which nowadays goes far beyond the traditional "!" for a good move, "!!" for a brilliant one; "!?" - interesting, "?!" - dubious, "?" - bad and "??" -

plain awful.

Apart from the main section of games,, there are small selections of combinations and endgames, tournament tables and two separate juries of the great and the good (or otherwise) which vote on the best game and best theoretical novelty of the previous volume.

Rather than expect the judges to trawl through the 700 or so games, the editorial board first whittle these down to a short list of 30. With the 73rd volume due to go to press fairly soon, the deadline for these panels is tomorrow. So as a best game judge for over a decade now I worked my way through these on the flight back from the Olympiad and then a couple of sessions at the end of last week.

While I don't feel that I should jump the gun, I can certainly say that the beautiful game below was one of my favourites. Over the years, I've generally managed to act as reasonably good litmus paper: so I'd be most surprised if it didn't end up in the top half dozen.

In the opening 6 Be3 is very trendy but 6... Nc6 rather unusual. Both sides then continued quite straightforwardly, though in his notes, Timman criticises 11... Nxd4 preferring 11... Bd7. While 15... 0-0 was extremely provocative, 15... Nd7 16 Nd5 is good for White. After the thematic double exchange sacrifice Black appears to have no decent defence. Van Wely resigned a little early but even after 21... f6 22 Qh5+ Kh7 23 Bxf8+ Kg8 24 Bh6 Qf7 the ending is an easy technical win. While 21... f6 22 Ne4 Rf7 23 Qh5+ Kh7 24 Bg5+ Kg8 25 Nxf6+ Rxf6 26 Bxf6 Qh7 27 Qg5+ Kf7 28 Be4! Qg8 29 Qh6 Bxg4 30 Bg5 is even stronger.

White: Jan Timman

Black: Loek Van Wely

Breda 1998 - 6th match game

Sicilian Najdorf