Chess

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The best combinations happen by accident. Where, after all, is the joy in calculating something through to the end, then executing the moves like an automaton? Such an "achievement" cannot compare to the pleasure derived from stumbling through a highly complex sequence, then pretending you saw it all to begin with.

I am not suggesting for a moment that Black in this game had not calculated it all. But just imagine you had been him. Wouldn't it have been fun to pretend you'd seen everything following move 23?

White: Nijboer

Black: Poljahov

Sicilian Defence

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 a6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Qc7 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Nxc6 bxc6

By exchanging knights, White gives his opponent a central pawn majority.

8.0-0 Nf6 9.f4 d5 10.Qf3 Be7 11.Kh1 0-0 12.Bd2 Nd7!

Both freeing the f-pawn for a later advance and preparing Nc5.

13.Na4 Bb7 14.c4 dxe4!

The right moment for this exchange.

15.Bxe5 f5! 16.Bc2 c5

Black has a backward e-pawn, but he has active pieces, with a particularly splendid line of vision for the bishop on b7.

17.Qe3 Qc6 18.Rf2 Rae8 19.Bc3 Nf6 20.Re2 Bd6 21.Rd1 Ng4 22.Qd2 Rd8

Black utilises his extra centre pawn - by sacrificing it! (See diagram.)

23.Rxe6 Bxf4!

A splendid riposte which Black had surely seen when he abandoned his e-pawn. Now 24.Rxc6 Bxf4 leaves Black threatening both Bxc6 and Nf2+.

24.Qe2 Rde8!

The force of this knocks White totally off balance. He should now play 25.Bxf5!. Instead, he spots an idea. Sadly, a bad one.

25.Rxc6 Rxe2 26.Rd7

Counting on 26...Bxc6 27.Rxg7+ Kh8 28.Rxg4+ and White wins. But ...

26...Be5!! 27.Rxb7 Bxc3 28.g3 Bd4 and White resigned.

Rxh2 mate is not to be prevented.

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