CHESS

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The blame for the current sad state of world chess lies solely with one misconceived policy of the 1960s. I refer to the decision to allow young players to compete in sections above their own age group.

In my formative years, an under-18 was precisely that. He was not under- 16, or under-14, he was under-18 and proud of it. The world junior championship was for under-21s and no one under 30 would even dream of challenging for the world title. And you would never see a 12-year-old in the upper reaches of the British Championship.

White: Luke McShane

Black: Roy Philips

British Championship, Nottingham 1996

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 Bg7 4.dxc5 Qa5+ 5.c3 Qxc5 6.Be3 Qc7 7.Na3 Nf6 8.Qa4 b6 9.0-0-0 Bb7 10.e5 Ne4 11.Nb5 Qd8 12.Bd3 Nc5 13.Bxc5 bxc5 14.e6!

Black's eccentric opening play provided the incentive for some vigorous moves by White culminating in this fine advance. After 14...fxe6, he plans 15.Qf4 with both Nc7+ and Ng5 in mind.

14...0-0 15.exf7+ Rxf7 16.Ng5 Rf6 17.Qh4 h6 18.Bc4+ d5 19.Ne4! Qb6 20.Rxd5!

It appears that White has been lured into a trap, but by this move he shows that all the allure has come from his side.

20...Bxd5 21.Bxd5+ Kh7 22.Nxf6+ Bxf6 23.Qe4 Nc6

However Black plays he will find himself fatally behind on material.

24.Bxc6 Rb8

Black hopes for a chance to play a6 and regain some lost ground. Rather than defend against the threat, White pursues his own attack with commendable vigour.

25.h4! Kg7 26.h5 gxh5 27.Rxh5 a6 28.Qg4+ Kf8 29.Qf4 axb5 30.Qxh6+ Kf7 31.Qh7+ Kf8 32.Qg6! (see diagram)

Bravo! having given up one piece on the Q-side, White now jettisons the other.

32...Qxc6 33.Rh8+!

Gotcha! Either the queen must fall or the king must abdicate.

33...Bxh8 34.Qxc6 c4 35.a3 Be5 36.Kd2 Bd6 37.Ke3 Kf7 38.f4 Ke6 39.Ke4 resigns.

A meritorious achievement indeed, yet by even playing it, White has missed the chance to become perhaps our strongest ever under-14 champion.

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