Chess: Bishops on strike over Easter

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The Independent Culture
THE MELODY Amber tournament in Monaco, in which grandmasters compete at quickplay rates with half the games conducted without sight of the pieces, has been producing some real oddities. Our first example has strong claims to setting a new record for the longest loss without moving a bishop. We can only speculate on the reasons for Anand's clergy deciding to go on strike during the Easter holiday, but the result was 26 moves of entertaining paralysis.

----------------------------------------------------------------- White: Kramnik ----------------------------------------------------------------- Black: Anand ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Nf3 c5 14 c5 Qa6 2 c4 Nf6 15 Qc2 Ne8 3 Nc3 Nc6 16 b5 Qa8 4 d4 cxd4 17 Bf4 Nxd6 5 Nxd4 e6 18 Bxd6+ Ke8 6 g3 Qb6 19 Bxb8 Qxb8 7 Ndb5 Ne5 20 a4 Qc7 8 Bg2 a6 21 Rfc1 f5 9 Qa4 Neg4 22 a5 Ne5 10 0-0 Rb8 23 c6 b6 11 b4 axb5 24 axb6 Qxb6 12 Nxb5 d5 25 Ra8 Kd8 13 Nd6+ Ke7 26 Rb8 1-0 -----------------------------------------------------------------

Kramnik's piece sacrifice with 11. b4] made it difficult for Black to untangle. Anand's 12 . . . d5 walked into a double check, but his real problems only became apparent after 17. Bf4] With 17 . . . e5 opening possibilities such as 18. Bxd5 exf4 19. Qe4+ Be6 20. Nxf7] Black decided to return some material.

With knight and bishop for rook and pawn, Black did not appear too badly off, but White's Q-side pawns were hard to stop, particularly with Black unable to castle and bring his rook into play. Finally, with his bishops rooted to their altars, he was dispatched neatly with 25. Rb8] If the rook is taken, 26. c7+ wins, while other queen moves leave Black with no reply to 26. b6.

Our second game sees the renewal of an old rivalry, but with the same old result. Once again Anatoly Karpov's patient manoeuvring proved too much for Viktor Korchnoi. Black's Ba6 and Bb7 in the opening is designed to destabilise any knight that comes to c3, but Karpov quietly got on with the game, and used the vacant b2 square for his queen. Having laboured hard to free his game with 20 . . . c5, Korchnoi soon realised the move was a blunder. After 22. Bh3, he can only save his rook on c8 at the cost of the c-pawn. Exasperated at the prospect of playing a lifeless position a pawn behind, Korchnoi resigned at once.

----------------------------------------------------------------- White: Karpov ----------------------------------------------------------------- Black: Korchnoi ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 d4 Nf6 12 Bxf3 Bxd2 2 c4 e6 13 Nxd2 Nc6 3 Nf3 b6 14 Rac1 Ne7 4 g3 Ba6 15 Rfd1 c6 5 b3 Bb7 16 Bg2 Ra7 6 Bg2 Bb4+ 17 Nf3 Qb8 7 Bd2 a5 18 Ne5 Rc8 8 0-0 0-0 19 Nd3 Rac7 9 Qc2 Be4 20 e3 c5 10 Qb2 d5 21 cxd5 exd5 11 a3 Bxf3 22 Bh3 1-0 -----------------------------------------------------------------

After the first seven rounds (two games each round), Anand leads the tournament with 101 2 points, just ahead of Kramnik, 10, and Ivanchuk, 91 2 . Karpov shares fifth place on 71 2 . England's only participant, John Nunn, has 51 2 .