CHESS

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The Independent Culture
Let it be clearly understood that I have nothing against women players. Indeed, I have championed their cause for many years. Yet I feel the time has come for all rational supporters of the women's game to recognise that we are fighting a losing battle. Last month, a team representing the cream of the fair sex was soundly whipped by a group of old men. As the following game demonstrates, some things about chess are beyond female comprehension.

White: Vassily Smyslov (age 76)

Black: Xie Jun (age 27)

Ladies v Veterans, Copenhagen 1997

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Bb4 5.0-0 0-0 6.d3 d6 7.Bg5 Bxc3

Ever since the dawn of time, young ladies have feared the advance of knights. This exchange is needed to prevent Nd5.

8.bxc3 Qe7 9.Re1 Nd8 10.d4 Ne6 11.Bc1 c5 12.a4 Rd8 13.Bf1 Nc7 14.h3 Bd7 15.g3 b5 16.Nh4! bxa4 17.Nf5 Bxf5 18.exf5

Just contrast Black's eagerness to lop off her opponent's knights with White's jealous guarding of his bishops and you will understand the essentially different sex appeal of the minor pieces.

18...Ncd5 19.Ra3 Qc7 20.dxe5 dxe5 21.Qe2 Rab8

Perhaps expecting 22.Qxe5 Qxe5 23.Rxe5 when 23...Rb1 is by no means bad for Black. But Smyslov has deeper plans.

22.Bg5 h6 23.Bxf6 Nxf6 24.Qxe5 Qxe5 25.Rxe5 Rd2

Not only are Black's pawns weaker than White's, but the bishop is subtly superior to the knight.

26.Rxa4 Rxc2 27.Rxc5 (See diagram) Rbb2?

Black shows a horrendous lack of respect for the clergy. She should have immobilised the bishop with 27...Rb1! when after 28.Kg2 Rbb2 29.Rc8+ Kh7 30.Rf4 White has only a small advantage.

28.Rc8+ Kh7 29.Rxa7 Rxf2 30.Rxf7 h5

Seeing the threat of Rff8 and Rh8 mate, Black tries to prepare an escape route.

31.Rff8 Kh6 32.h4! Rxf5

Black regains one of his pawns and creates the threat of Rb1. She never has a chance to carry it out.

33.Bd3! resigns

The splendid bishop attacks f5, defends b1 and, if the rook on f5 moves away, supports the mate in two with 34.Rh8+.

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