Chess: British hopes die in Interpolis

AND THEN there were none. The last British player made his exit from the Interpolis tournament in the Netherlands when Michael Adams followed Jonathan Speelman, Tony Miles and Julian Hodgson out of the event, beaten 2-0 by a Russian Master not even ranked among the world's top 100 players.

The first game between Adams and Morozevich saw Adams defending with Black against a ramshackle anti-Sicilian system. Positionally, he always stood well, but problems occurred when Morozevich prised open the files leading to Black's king. Adams overstepped the time-limit at move 40 in a probably lost position.

His hopes of equalising in the second game were dramatically reduced when the opening bore a close resemblance to that of a recent football match in Bologna. After six moves with White, Adams was a goal down: 1. d4 d5 2. Bg5 f6 3. Bf4 Nc6 4. Nf3 Bf5 5. c4 e5 6. cxd5? Nb4 and Black threatened both exf4 and Nc2+. Adams gave up a piece, then Morozevich blundered it back again, but still had enough advantage to win the game.

Another of the favourites, Vassily Ivanchuk, did well to survive after losing the first game against the former Norwegian soccer international, Simon Agdestein.

Ivanchuk's strategy was based on trying to prove that his notionally bad bishop was more useful than its white counterpart at defending his weak pawns. When his rook penetrated with 25 . . . Rd4, it looked as though he might succeed, but Agdestein's far-sighted advance of the h-pawn then paid dividends. With 27. h6] and 28. hxg7 creating the threat of Nf6+, his play led to a neat piece of domination which decided the game. After 29. Ne3] Black's rook has nowhere safe from a knight fork, though 29 . . . Rd4 would have put up a longer fight than the move chosen.

----------------------------------------------------------------- White: Agdestein Black: Ivanchuk ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 c4 Nf6 17 h4 Nb4 2 Nf3 c5 18 Qf3 Rad8 3 Nc3 d5 19 Kg2 Qe6 4 cxd5 Nxd5 20 h5 Be7 5 g3 Nxc3 21 Qg4 Qxg4 6 bxc3 b6 22 Nxg4 Bg5 7 Bg2 Bb7 23 Bxe5 f6 8 c4 e5 24 f4 fxe5 9 Bb2 Bd6 25 fxg5 Rd4 10 0-0 Qc7 26 Kh3 Rxe4 11 Nh4 Bxg2 27 h6 Rxc4 12 Nxg2 Nc6 28 hxg7 Kxg7 13 e4 0-0 29 Ne3 Re4 14 Ne3 Qd7 30 Nf5+ Kg6 15 Bc3 Rfe8 31 Nd6 1-0 16 a4 a5 -----------------------------------------------------------------

Ivanchuk equalised with a messy win in the second game, then scored a better victory in the rapid rate play-off. The pairings for the last sixteen are as follows: Karpov- Kaidanov, Yusupov-Kamsky, Dreyev-Vaganyan, Nikolic- Belyavsky, Shirov-Rozentalis, Bareyev-Cvitan, Morozevich- Georgiev, Ivanchuk-Epishin. With six Russians, two Ukrainians, a Latvian, an Armenian, a Belarussian, a Lithuanian, an ex-Soviet American, and only three not bearing the 'made in USSR' label, it is a depressingly fair reflection of the current balance of power at the top of world chess.