CHESS

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Of all the great players in history, the one with whom I feel the strongest affinity is Carl Schlechter, the Viennese master who tied a match for the world title in 1910 and starved to death in 1918.

Although my career too has had more than its fair share of bad luck, it is not Schlechter's failings, but his uncanny positional judgement that evokes my admiration. Try this game, for example.

White: Harry Nelson Pillsbury

Black: Carl Schlechter

Munich 1900

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6

The Petroff, seen normally as an attempt to steer the game into regions of unparallelled dullness, is here adopted with aggressive intent.

3.d4 Nxe4 4.Bd3 d5 5.Nxe5 Nc6?! 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Qe2 Qe7 8.0-0 g6!

Black already envisages entering an endgame a pawn behind - and winning it!

9.Bxe4 Qxe4 10.Qxe4+ dxe4 11.Re1 f5 12.f3 Bg7 13.c3 0-0

The point of Black's play slowly becomes clear: after 14.fxe4 fxe4 15.Rxe4 Ba6! 16.Re1 Rae8 17.Rxe8 Rxe8 Black's rook is poised to invade. With his next move, White spots another weak pawn.

14.Bf4 c5! 15.dxc5 Rb8 16.Re2 Ba6 17.Rf2

White has calculated to here, thinking himself secure. Schlechter is ready with a move of rare dynamism (see diagram).

17...e3! 18.Bxe3 Rfe8 19.Bd2

There was little choice, the rook cannot be permitted to penetrate to e1.

19...Rxb2 20.Na3 Bf8 21.Be3

White expects 21...Rxf2 22.Bxf2, but a rude shock awaits him.

21...Rxe3! 22.Rxb2 Bxc5

Besides threatening Bxa3, Black has the little matter of Re1 mate with which to irritate his opponent.

23.Kh1 Bxa3 24.Rb8+ Kf7

With two fine bishops for a rook, Black can look forward to a comfortable victory. Schlechter handles the technical part of the game with his usual aplomb.

25.h4 Bc5 26.c4 Rc3 27.Rd1 Rxc4 28.Rd7+ Ke6 29.Rxh7 Rc1+ 30.Kh2 Bd6+ 31.g3 Rc2+ 32.Kh1 Be2 33.Rb3 Bxg3 34.h5 f4 White resigned.

On 35.hxg6, there follows 35...Rc1+ 36.Kg2 Bf1+ 37.Kg1 Bh3 mate.

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