Chess: A destructive self-swindle

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The Independent Culture
SWINDLES, according to some, are just blunders viewed from the other side of the board. Purists of the art of error, however, insist that a swindle requires some positive intent on the part of the winner. Swindles are duets; a blunder is a solo.

Today's game, from last week's Cafe Baroque tournament in London, exemplifies the borderline between blunder and swindle. The accurate description may be that the loser swindled himself.

Ben Martin of New Zealand, playing White, dithered a little in the opening (11. f4 and Qf3 is a more aggressive formation than 11. Qe2), then rather over-compensated with 19. h4. When 22. h5 came, it led to an exchange of queens and an endgame in which Black had the initiative. After 27 . . . Rxc3 White is already in great trouble. The threat is Bxd4 followed by Rxc2, and any move of the bishop on c2 lets Black gain two pieces for a rook with Rxc1, but 28. Re2? led to the loss of a piece.

After 32. Bxd6, White's only excuse for not resigning is the vague hope of playing Be5, Rh4 and Rh8 mate. Then Black began to show signs of over-anxiety.

First he put his bishop on a more stable square, then met 33. Be5 with Ra5. Now f4 will interrupt the path of White's rook to h4, while any bishop move lets Black meet a later Rh4 with Rh5.

White's 34. Re4 threatens nothing, which is often the sort of move to provoke a blunder. With 34 . . . Nd7, Black chased the bishop, but 35. Bb2 left the threat of R4xe6 followed by Rxd7. Now 35 . . . Nf8 should win. The knight can even move to h7 to block any mate threats on h8.

Instead he played Nc5, blocking his own essential defensive move of Rh5. A sadly suicidal self-swindle.

----------------------------------------------------------------- White: Ben Martin ----------------------------------------------------------------- Black: Chris Duncan 1 e4 c5 21 Bc2 Nb6 2 Nf3 d6 22 h5 Qxd5 3 d4 cxd4 23 hxg6 hxg6 4 Nxd4 Nf6 24 Qxd5 Nxd5 5 Nc3 g6 25 Nxb5 Nb6 6 Bc4 Bg7 26 Nd4 a3 7 h3 0-0 27 b3 Rxc3 8 Be3 Nc6 28 Re2 Rec8 9 Bb3 Bd7 29 Bxa3 Bxd4 10 0-0 a6 30 Rxd4 Rxc2 11 Qe2 Na5 31 Rxe7 Rxa2 12 Rfe1 Rc8 32 Bxd6 Be6 13 Qd3 b5 33 Be5 Ra5 14 Rad1 Nc4 34 Re4 Nd7 15 Bc1 Qb6 35 Bb2 Nc5 16 Nd5 Nxd5 36 Rh4 f6 17 exd5 Rfe8 37 Bxf6 Kf8 18 c3 a5 38 Rh8+ Bg8 19 h4 Qc5 39 Rg7 1-0 20 Qe4 a4 -----------------------------------------------------------------

Neil McDonald won the tournament with 61 2 points, followed by Whiteley, Dive and Ledger on 51 2 .