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Perhaps the most common misconception among young players is the idea that "exciting" play leads to decisive games. Nothing could be further from the truth! Ostenta-tious boldness leads, more often than not, to draws. Apparent complexity in a game may create a surge in adrenalin, yet often proves, on sober reflection, to be no more than a short cut to sterile equality. Try this little piece of over-exuberance from last month's Linares tournament.

White: Boris Gelfand

Black: Alexei Shirov

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 a6 9.e4 c5 10.e5

This was the height of fashion in the 1920s, though in recent years 10.d5 has been more often seen.

10...cxd4 11.Nxb5

The exchanges will now saddle Black with a weak pawn on b5.

11...axb5 12.exf6 gxf6 13.0-0 Qb6 14.Qe2 Ba6 15.Rd1 Bc5

Black has a mass of central pawns but no safe place for his king. Such wild positions, in my experience, are very drawish.

16.a3 Bb7!? 17.Bxb5 Rg8

Black's bold pawn offer has unleashed a sudden attack against g2.

18.b4 Be7 19.Rxd4 (see diagram)

Black is tempted to play 19...Rxg2+ when 20.Kxg2 Qxd4 is good for hi. After 20.Kf1! however, he has too many pieces in the air. The tactical nature of the game forces him to find something else, which leads to a draw.

19...Qxd4! 20.Nxd4 Bxg2 21.Qe3

What else? 21...Bf3+ was threatened.

21...Bh3+ 22.Kh1 Bg2+ 23.Kg1 Bh3+ 24.Qg3!?

Playing for the win, but he might as well have acceded to a draw with 24.Kh1.

24...Rxg3+ 25.hxg3 Bxb4 26.Bb2 Bc5 27.a4 e5 28.Nc6 Kf8 29.a5

White stakes his hopes on this pawn. It delivers the goods, but not enough to win.

29...Nb8 30.Rc1 Bd6 31.Nxb8 Rxb8 32.a6 Rxb5 33.a7 Ra5 34.Ra1 Rxa7 35.Rxa7 Kg7 36.Kh2 Be6 37.Ra8 Bc5 38.Kg1 h5 39.Bc1 Kg6 40.Rh8 Bg4 41.Kg2 Kg7 42.Rb8 Be6 43.Rb5 Bd4 44.Rb8 draw.

White should have played 3.cxd5. It's designer dullness that leads to decisive results. Bravado breeds only draws.