Chess

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The Independent Culture
A little culture is a dangerous thing. One can play perfectly good, refined chess and not set the opponent any problems at all. At the same time, one's more vulgar colleagues may be winning games in rustic and uncultivated style without even realising they are doing anything wrong.

Take grandmaster Veselin Topalov. He is, not to beat about the bush, a Bulgarian, and so may be forgiven for being a little crude in his approach. Yet how magnificently he turns that crudity to advantage!

White: Jeroen Piket

Black: Veselin Topalov

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5

Jettisoning a pawn in such a style is indelicate to say the least.

4.cxb5 a6 5.e3 g6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.a4 0-0 8.Ra3 Bb7 9.Nf3 e6!

Black begins to show a little class. While a true vulgarian plays the "Benko Gambit" solely to set his rooks raging down the open Q-side files - as though an open file were worth a pawn - the more refined interpreter exploits his majority of pawns in the centre.

10.dxe6 fxe6 11.Be2 d5 12.bxa6 Nxa6 13.0-0 Nb4 14.Bd2 Qe7 15.Nb5 Nc6!

True to his central philosophy, Black recognises that his knight is more effective on c6 - where it supports the advance of pawns to e5 and d4, than on b4, where its function is purely decorative.

16.Qb1 e5 17.h3 Kh8 18.Rc1 e4 19.Nh2

It is a mark of White's desperate state that he had to play h3 solely to provide this miserable square for his knight. Black's pawns dominate the game.

19...d4! 20.exd4 cxd4 21.Qa2

White clings to the curb while Black goes full speed down the centre of the road.

21...Rad8 22.a5 d3 23.Bg4 Nd5 24.a6?

An oversight, or desperation? 24...Ncb4 25.Qb3 Nxa6 (See diagram.)

Was White's next move his secret weapon? If so, he is quickly disabused.

26.Nc7? Naxc7 27.Qxb7 Rb8 White resigned.

When the queen moves, either Bxb2 or Rxb2 completes his destruction.

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