Chess: A fine return by the hustler

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The Independent Culture
AFTER a string of poor results, Julian Hodgson returned to form in the German spa of Bad Woerishofen last week, sharing first place in a strong open tournament.

Hodgson's style is well suited to open events, as he has shown by amassing huge scores in British championships in recent years. Revelling in messy positions, he is particularly effective in scoring wins against moderate opposition.

Today's game from Germany is a good example of Hodgson's grandmasterly hustling. From an opening variation reputed to leave Black with a slight disadvantage and a lifeless position, he creates complications by accepting further weaknesses in exchange for attacking chances of his own. Confused by a number of superficially attractive options, White neglected to castle and soon faced a devastating attack.

The popular 2. c3 system against the Sicilian would be out of business if Black could solve his problems with 4 . . . e5. Black's plan is to meet 7. dxe5 with 7 . . . Qxd1+ 8. Kxd1 Bg4 (or Bf5) with 0-0-0 and Bc5 to come. White is hard-pressed to hold his extra pawn and also finds his king coming under attack.

After 7. Nc3, however, Black must concede the bishop pair in an open position. 9 . . . e4 is the best chance to limit the effectiveness of the bishops (9 . . . exd4 10. Nxd4 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 Qxd4 12. Bxd4 leaves Black with a miserable game), but White's position is still preferable.

After chasing Black's queen around - and even threatening to win it with 17. Bb4 - White could be excused for believing he had a strong initiative, but Hodgson's fightback begins with 17 . . . Be6] Taking the pawn with 18. Bxe6 fxe6 19. Rxe6 leaves Black in charge after 19 . . . Nd5 20. Bd4 Qc8 with Nf4 or Qg4 to follow. Schmittdiel decided to hunt down the other black pawn with 18. Rd4, but Hodgson's 20 . . . Qc6] and 21 . . . Qc5] trapped the white king in the centre.

By move 27, White was begging for a draw by repetition, but Hodgson's queen embarked on a neat pendulum swing from b6 to h6 to a6 then back to b6, before swooping down to g1 to create more problems. As time-trouble approached, White let his rook be shut out of the game on g5, after which he could scarcely hope to defend his king against the black major pieces.

38 . . . Re8] was a difficult move to meet with White's flag ready to fall. 39. Qc4?? was a blunder, but his game was lost anyway. After 39. Rg1 Qb2 40. Bd4 Nxd4 41. Qxd4 Qe2+ White falls apart quickly.

White: Schmittdiel

Black: Hodgson

1 e4 c5

2 c3 d5

3 exd5 Qxd5

4 d4 e5

5 Nf3 cxd4

6 cxd4 Nc6

7 Nc3 Bb4

8 Bd2 Bxc3

9 Bxc3 e4

10 Ne5 Nxe5

11 dxe5 Ne7

12 Qe2 0-0

13 Rd1 Qc6

14 Rd6 Qa4

15 b3 Qa3

16 Qd2 Qc5

17 Bc4 Be6

18 Rd4 Nf5

19 Rxe4 Rfd8

20 Qb2 Qc6

21 f3 Qc5

22 Ke2 Bd5

23 Bxd5 Qxd5

24 Rc1 Rac8

25 Be1 Qb5+

26 Kf2 Qb6+

27 Ke2 Qh6

28 Rxc8 Rxc8

29 h4 Qa6+

30 Kf2 Qb6+

31 Ke2 Qg1

32 Bf2 Qxg2

33 Rg4 Qh2

34 Kd3 h5

35 Rg5 Qf4

36 Qe2 Qc1

37 Ke4 g6

38 Qd3 Re8

39 Qc4 Nd6+

White resigns

In a postscript to the Linares tournament, a German newspaper reports that the video of the Polgar-Kasparov incident revealed six consecutive frames of non-contact between Kasparov's hand and his knight, which seems to confirm that he did, albeit unwittingly, take a move back. A price of 150m pesetas (pounds 80,000) has been asked for television rights.