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The late Jan Hein Donner was a remarkable grandmaster. A cultured, 6ft 6in misogynist, he was a man of great stature in European chess circles. One of the most intelligent and best-educated of players, he always maintained that the game of chess was inherently beyond the control of mankind. Chess, he said, was "like flicking cards into a hat from a great distance". His own record, including many quick defeats, only supported his thesis that it was all a matter of luck.

Today's game, from the recent Donner Memorial Tournament in Amsterdam, shows how unlucky a grandmaster can be.

White: Jan Timman

Black: Jeroen Piket

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5

Playing in this manner, Black puts his fate in the lap of the Gods. Allowing one's queen to be harried in such a manner simply cannot be good chess.

3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bf5

Some prefer to nudge the bishop one square further, yet after his extravagant opening move common decorum demands that Black stick to his side of the board.

6.Bc4 e6 7.Bd2 c6

In the face of the threatened Nd5, Black must create a retreat for his queen.

8.Qe2 Bb4

After 8...Bxc2 9.d5! Black is torn asunder. Now, however, he will surely be compelled to surrender bishop for knight, leaving him with a miserable game.

9.a3 Nbd7 (See diagram)

After 12.Bxf4 gxf4, the white d-pawn falls and his position crumbles to dust.


Simply 10.0-0 leaves White with a good game. This is too greedy.

10...Bxc2! 11.0-0 Bxc3 12.Bxc3

Now after 12...Qa4 White may consider a sacrifice on e6, a quick break with d5, or simply 13.Rfc1 or 13.Bb4. There are even chances to trap the queen with b3. Yet there is a flaw in White's calculations.

12...Qh5! 13.Qxc2 Qxh4 14.f4 Nb6 15.Ba6

A pawn down, with the black knights ready to dominate the bishops, Donner would happily have resigned as White. Timman shocks his opponent first.

15...bxc6 16.Be1 Qh5 17.Qxc6+ Nfd7 White resigns.