Chess

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BRITAIN'S top woman player brings a strategic triumph from the last round of the Chess Olympics.

White: M Ankerst (Slovenia)

Black: S Arkell (England)

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 g6

Some players prefer 3. Nd2, when after 3 . . . g6 4. e5 leaves White ready to support the centre with f4 and c3. Usually it makes no difference, since Black plays 3 . . . dxe4 anyway.

4. Bd3

4. e5 is still the best move.

4 . . . dxe4 5. Bxe4 Bg7 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Bf3 0-0 8. h3

This is not as bad as it looks, since 8. Nge2 Bg4 lets Black exchange her problem bishop. A move such as h3 is worth considering if the black bishop has no decent square other than g4.

8 . . . Be6 9. Qd2 Nd5 10. Nxd5 Bxd5 11. b3 c5

This move is part of the Caro-Kann meta-strategy: after d5 and dxe4, then c5 and cxd4, Black later pushes the e- pawn and f-pawn to develop an attack. That is fine in theory, but this is one of the few games where I have made it work.

12. Rd1 Bxf3

I had planned 12 . . . cxd4 13. Bxd4 Bxf3 14. Nxf3 Nc6 15. Bxg7 Kxg7, then noticed 16. Qc3+ winning at once.

13. Nxf3 cxd4 14. Bxd4 Bxd4 15. Nxd4 e5 16. Nf3 Nc6 17. 0-0

17. Qh6 Qe7 18. Ng5 f6 is nothing to fear, while 17. Qxd8 Rfxd8 18. 0-0 e4 gives White a dismal endgame.

17 . . . Qe7 18. Qh6 Rfd8 19. c3 f6 20. Qe3

White admits that her queen can do nothing by herself on h6.

20 . . . Rd7

The threat of Rad8 gains control of the only open file.

21. Rxd7 Qxd7 22. b4 b6 23. a4 Rd8 24. a5?] bxa5 25. b5

With Black threatening to infiltrate with Qd3, White had to do something.

25 . . . Ne7 26. c4 Nf5 27. Qb3 e4] 28. Ne1

28. c5+ Qd5 29. Nd2 Qxb3 30. Nxb3 a4] is very strong.

28 . . . Qe6 29. Nc2 Rd3 30. Qa4 Qb6]

Protecting a5 and glaring at f2, the queen is beautifully placed.

31. Re1 Rd2 32. Ne3 Nxe3 33. Rxe3 f5 (see diagram)

The pawns roll forwards as the strategy succeeds. Apart from the immediate threat of f4, Black has chances of Rxf2 followed by f4.

34. Qb3 Qc5

34 . . . f4 would have spoiled everything after 35. c5+.

35. g3 g5 36. Qc3 Rd4

Preventing tricks with Qf6.

37. Qxa5 f4 38. Ra3

The only chance was 38. gxf4 gxf4 39. Re1 since 39 . . . Qg5+ 40. Kh2 f3 allows 41. Rg1.

38 . . . Rd1+ 39. Kg2 f3+ 40. Rxf3 exf3+ 41. Kxf3 Qf5+ White resigns.

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