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I First foresaw the downfall of the Soviet Union when I read, in the early 1960s, that they had banned their grand-masters from playing blindfold chess. The strain, they said, could damage the mind. What absolute piffle! There can be no finer mental exercise than playing a game of chess (or, indeed a number of games simultaneously) with the eyes closed, and the Russians' decision was the first step on the path to mental degeneration. Take this game from last week's "Melody Amber" tournament. The players could not see the pieces and had to make all their moves in half an hour, yet I think you will agree the results show no signs of brain-damage.

White: Ljubomir Ljubojevic

Black: Loek van Wely

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 dxc4 4.Nc3 c5 5.d5 e6 6.e4 exd5 7.e5 Nfd7 8.Bg5 f6

Rather than accept the pain of 8...Be7 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Nxd5, Black lays down a gauntlet which White happily picks up.

9.Qxd5! fxg5 10.Bxc4 Qe7 11.Bb5!

Now 11...a6 is simply met by 12.Ba4 when 12...b5 13.Qxa8 bxa4 14Nd5 is most uncongenial for Black. But if Black cannot chase away the bishop, he will find it remarkably difficult to develop his men.

11...g4 12.e6! gxf3 13.0-0-0

White gets his rooks to the central files without delay. (See diagram)

13...Kd8 14.Rhe1!

There is no hurry to capture on d7.

14...Qd6 15.Qg5+ Be7 16.Qg4!

Delicately played. Black is to be denied the relief of a check with his queen on f4.

16...h5 17.Qe4 ! Nf6

There is nothing else for it. After 17...Qxh2 18.exd7 his goose is cooked.

18.Rxd6+ Bxd6 19.e7+ Kc7

Black has rook, bishop and knight for the queen, but he is to be given no time to enjoy his pieces.

20.Nd5+! Nxd5 21.Qxd5 Bd7 22.Rd1 Bf4+ 23.Kb1 fxg2

23...Bxb5 is met by 24.Qd8+.

24.Bxd7 g1=Q 25.Qxc5+ Nc6 26.Rxg1

Now Black must play 26...Bd6 if he wishes to prolong the fight.

26...Kxd7 27.Qf5+ resigns

27...Kxe7 28.Rxg7+ leads to mate.