Click to follow
There's something about winning the world championship that brings out the worst in a man. While Karpov and Kas-parov, for example, are fine exponents of the game, their play lacks the sparkle of a Korchnoi or a Short who never made it. Just look at this if you have any doubts.

White: Viktor Korchnoi

Black: Nigel Short

Groningen 1996

1.Nf3 c5 2.b3 d5 3.e3 Nf6 4.Bb2 e6 5.c4 dxc4 6.bxc4 Be7 7.Be2 0-0 8.Qc2 Nc6 9.a3 Re8 10.0-0 b6 11.Nc3 Bb7

Both men have achieved exactly what they wanted from the opening: nothing whatsoever. The game will be decided by midle-game imagination. Korchnoi is the first to show his mettle.

12.Ng5!? h6 13.Nh3!? Qd7 14.f4

The wandering knight will tuck himself away at f2, thence to support its colleague on e4 or a pawn rushing to g4.

14...Red8 15.d3 a6 16.Rad1 Rab8 17.Nf2 Ba8 18.Nce4 Ne8

Black maintains the balance of power on the K-side, rather than bringing another white knight into the attack by exchanging on e4.

19.d4 cxd4 20.exd4 Rbc8 21.d5 Na5 22.d6

Now 22...Nxd6 may be met by 23.c5! when 23...bxc5 loses to 24.Qc3.

22...Bf8 23.Bd4 Nxc4!!

Just as his game looks at its most pitiful, Short finds an ingenious counter-attack.

24.Bxc4 b5 25.Nc5

Apparently refuting Black's play, but Short has seen more deeply.

25...Qc6! 26.Ng4 Rxd6! (see diagram).

Threatening not only bxc4 but Rxd4! followed by Bxc5.

27.Ne5 Rxd4!!

But this is the real point of Black's adventure: 28.Nxc6 Rxc4 leaves all three white men on the c-file gunned down.

28.Bxe6 Bxc5 29.Bxf7+ Kf8 30.Kh1 Qe4

Now it is all over and White remains a piece behind. In what follows, he finds some ingenious traps, but all is lost.

31.Qxe4 Bxe4 32.Be6 Rcd8 33.f5 Nf6

Scotching the threat of Ng6 mate.

34.Rc1 Bb6 35.Ng6+ Ke8 36.Rfe1 Ba5 37.Rg1 Rd2 38.Ne5 Bb6 resigns.

A fine tussle.