Chess

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The Independent Culture
ANOTHER demonstration of successful edge-hogging from the International Master widely acknowledged to be Britain's most original player.

White: M J Basman

Black: R J McMichael

1. h3 d5 2. a3 e5 3. d3 f5

The moves h3 and a3 are an invitation for Black to decide what type of game he wants. His pawn advances clearly indicate a desire for a full-blooded struggle. It is time to respond.

4. g4]

This pawn sacrifice (which my opponent delays a move before accepting) is logical: Black's pawn moves have ensured that his king will not be safe in the centre. With the h-file open, it cannot be comfortable on the K-side either.

4 . . . c6 5. Bg2 fxg4 6. hxg4 Bxg4 7. Nf3 Nd7

With the d-file now blocked, I can play c4 without allowing an exchange of queens. The same would have applied if he had defended e5 with Bd6.

8. c4 dxc4

Too simple. He should try to maintain his pawn at d5. By exchanging, he abandons control of the important e4 square.

9. dxc4 Ngf6 10. Nc3 Qc7 11. Ng5]

Preventing him from castling Q-side, which could now be met by Nf7. Now his king has trouble finding safety anywhere.

11 . . . Nc5 12. Qc2 Ne6 (see diagram)

Expecting 13. Nxh7 0-0-0, Black overlooks a sacrifice.

13. Rxh7] Rxh7

After 13 . . . Nxh7, I had intended 14. Qg6+ Ke7 (Kd8 is met simply by Nf7+ and Nxh8) 15. Nxh7 with an overwhelming position.

14. Qg6+ Ke7

Again after 14 . . . Kd8 simply Nxh7 is strong. His idea is to lure my queen to f7 where it does not attack g4 or h7 . . .

15. Qf7+ Kd8 16. Nxe6+ Bxe6 17. Qxf8+

. . . but it does attack f8. Now 17 . . . Ne8 is met by Bg5+ so he must lose up his rook.

17 . . . Kd7 18. Qxa8 Rh2

Black ho pes for a counter-attack based on the relatively unprotected position of my king in the centre, but with my e-pawn and f-pawn unmoved, it's safe enough.

19. Bf3 e4 20. Nxe4 Nxe4 21. Bxe4 Qb6 22. Be3

It's White's attack that hits its target first. There is no defence to the threat of Rd1+. Black resigns.

I have often found that giving an opponent a free hand in the centre with 1. h3 and 2. a3 results in over-reaction. In this case d5, e5 and f5 led not to central control, but open spaces and weakness for Black. A proper approach to the centre demands striking a balance between occupation and control from a distance.

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