CHESS / An earthquake rocks Ansell

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The Independent Culture
THE STYLE of a single game is very much determined by the way the white and black armies meet in the centre of the board. Sometimes (as in many lines of the French Defence or the King's Indian) they lock pawns, closing down lines of communication and turning the game into a battle between rival attacks on opposite wings. Other games see both sides rushing forwards, meeting head-on in the centre, with everything hanging on the crucial early skirmishes.

Today's close encounter, however, is of the third kind: where white and black do not quite mesh in the middle, but grind against one another like two giant tectonic plates. They are separated by a thin no man's land, and the only possible result when one side lurches into it is an earthquake. It was played in round six of the Smith & Williamson Young Masters between Simon Ansell and Ketevan Arakhamia.

A delicate manoeuvre by Black in the opening set the tone for the game. With . . . b6, Bb7 and Ne5, Black threatens the e-pawn. Since 11. f4 Ng6 12. Bf3 Nh4 is good for Black, White was induced to adopt a more restrained formation with 11. f3. Black's knight then dropped back to d7, having made it difficult for White to adopt any expansionist policy.

With the fifth rank out of bounds to both sides, nothing happened until Black had the good idea of Kh8, Rg8 and g5. Fearing the pawn's further advance, White tried to block the game with g4, and the grinding began in earnest.

The earthquake was set in motion by 34 . . . f5] a brave and well-calculated thrust. With 35. exf5 met by Nxg4+, Black does not have to worry about opening the b1-h7 diagonal. White must have been relying on 40. Nf5+ to get himself out of trouble by blocking the black queen's route into the game, but Arakhamia's reply was brilliant. By giving up her queen for two pieces, she ate her way through to the white king.

If White plays 42. Ke3, he is mated by 42 . . . Bg5+ 43. Kd4 Rd2+. After 42. Kf1 Ng4, however, the threat is Nh2+ followed by f2+, and there is no satisfactory defence: 43. Nd1 Nh2+ 44. Ke1 Re2 and 43. Ne4 Ne3+ 44. Ke1 Re2 are both mate. An excellent game by Arakhamia, who dictated the play with great authority.

White: Ansell

Black: Arakhamia

1 e4 c5 23 a4 Qb7

2 Nf3 e6 24 Bg2 h5

3 d4 cxd4 25 h3 Ne5

4 Nxd4 Nc6 26 Nf1 hxg4

5 Nb5 d6 27 hxg4 Rh6+

6 c4 Nf6 28 Kg1 Nfd7

7 N1c3 a6 29 Qb2 Kh7

8 Na3 b6 30 Ng3 Rg8

9 Be2 Bb7 31 Qb1 Ng6

10 Be3 Ne5 32 Nh5 Nde5

11 f3 Ned7 33 Kf2 Nh4

12 0-0 Be7 34 Rh1 f5

13 Rc1 0-0 35 Rxh4 gxh4

14 Qd2 Rc8 36 Bxh6 Kxh6

15 Rfd1 Qc7 37 Nf4 fxg4

16 Bf1 Qb8 38 Nxe6 Qd7

17 Kh1 Rfe8 39 Nd4 gxf3

18 Qf2 Ba8 40 Nf5+ Qxf5

19 Nab1 Kh8 41 exf5 Rxg2+

20 b3 Rg8 42 Kf1 Ng4

21 Nd2 g5 White resigns

22 g4 Rg6

After seven rounds of the tournament, Matthew Turner leads with 6 points, followed by Arakhamia on 4 1/2.