CHESS

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The Independent Culture
The Average chessplayer could learn a good deal from the traditional English pastime of gut-barging. When two abdomenally impressive men each attempt to push the other from the ring, using only their stomachs, we can immediately recognise the physical embodiment of the strategic battle on a chess board. It is no secret that some of the world's stop players have studied the techniques and philosophy of gut-barging, as today's game bears witness.

White: Vassily Ivanchuk

Black: Vladimir Kramnik

Las Palmas 1996

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nge2 0-0 6.f3 c5 7.d5 e6 8.Ng3 exd5 9.cxd5 Nbd7

The wilful shifting of one's weight from the centre to the sides, as Black employs in this opening, is as dubious in chess as it is in gut- barging.

10.Be2 a6 11.a4 h5

Black's strategy is essentially a double Shunt - the short jabbing barges on the sides - and preparation for the Bernie Bye-bye, a neat side-stepping movement, propelling the opponent off the mat without any bodily contact, should he drive too fast through the centre.

12.Bg5 Qe8 13.Qd2 Nh7 14.Bh6 Qe5 15.Bxg7 Qxg7 16.Nf1!

A neat shimmy, showing the reason why White delayed castling.

16...f5 17.exf5 gxf5 18.Ne3 Kh8 19.Nc4 Qf6 20.0-0 Rb8 21.Rfe1

White calmly prods at his opponent's underdeveloped paunch.

21...b5 22.axb5 axb5 23.Na5 b4 24.Nb5

Black feels that his barge down the Q-side has been successful, but in reality the white cavalry have outflanked him.

24...Ba6 25.Nc7 Bxe2 26.Rxe2 Rg8 27.Nc6 Rbc8 28.Ne6 Ra8 29.Rae1 Ra2 30.Nf4 Qg5 31.h4! (see diagram)

Now 31...Qxh4 is met by 32.Ne7 with the double threat of Nxg8 and Ng6+.

31...Qg3 32.Re6

With this move, the gut of Black's position is thoroughly barged. Hopelessly off balance, Black can no longer avoid the ignominy of a Full Johnny Turk - an explosive final contest-winning barge.

32...Ndf6 33.Ne7 Rga8 34.Nfg6+! resigns

After 34...Kg7 35.Nxf5+ Black loses his queen.

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