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One aspect of chess skill is not to be found in any manual on the game, yet it is of crucial importance in this modern world of point- scoring and reputation-enhancing. I refer to the ability to denude one's losses of any artistic merit. Players talk of the great beauty of the game, yet there is nothing the average player hates more than losing a beautiful game. When facing the prospect of being on the receiving end of brilliancy, he will do everything he can to smudge the canvas of his opponent's creativity. Try this game, for example.

White: J M Bellon

Black: J Magen

Oropesa del Mar 1996

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6

An ugly move, but fashionable. Black intends a quick b5.

5.cxd5 cxd5 6.Bg5 e6

Passively acquiescing to White's plan. 6...Ne4 was the right move.

7.e3 Be7 8.Bd3 Nbd7 9.0-0 0-0 10.Nd2 b5 11.f4! b4 12.Na4 Bb7 13.Rc1 Qa5 14.Nc5! Nxc5 15.Rxc5! (see diagram)

Black would never have chased the white knight to a4 had he seen this coming. Now 15...Bxc5 is met by 16.Bxf6 gxf6 17.Bxh7+! Kxh7 18.Qh5+ Kg7 19.Qg4+ Kh8 20.Rf3 with mate to follow. Yet Black chose to deny posterity the delight of this pretty finish. Can one blame him? Had he lost such a game, it would have been published throughout the civilised world and his name would have been eternally fixed in the minds of all as the loser of a brilliancy - a fate to be avoided at all costs.

15...Qb6 16.Bxf6 Bxf6 17.Qa4 Rac8 18.Rfc1 g5

A piece of true ugliness to detract further from the game's artistic merit.

19.Qd1 h6 20.Qg4 Rxc5 21.Rxc5 Rc8 22.Nb3 Kh8 23.Qh3 Qg7 24.Qg3 Kf8 25.Qh3 Kg7 26.g3 Be7 27.fxg5! Bxg5 28.Kf2 Rxc5 29.Nxc5 Bc8 30.Qg4 Kf8 31.Bxa6! Qd8

31...Bxa6 32.Nd7+ would have cost the queen her life.

32.Qf3 Be7 33.Bxc8 Qxc8 34.Qe2 e5

34...Bxc5 is met by 35.Qc2 .

35.Qh5 Bg5 36.Qf3 Qh3 37.Kg1 e4 38.Qf2 Qg4 39.Nb7 Qd7 40.Nc5 Qg4 41.Kg2 Kg7 42.h3 Qd1 43.h4 Bd8 44.Nd7 f6 45.Nc5 Qg4 46.Qf4 Qe2+ 47.Kh3 Kf7 48.Qf5 h5 49.Qxd5+ Kg6 50.Qxe4+ f5 51.Qe8+ Kh6 52.Qe6+ resigns