Chess: Danger, slow moves ahead

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The Independent Culture
SOMETIMES, it seems the main benefit of spending a long time on a move is that your opponent might forget what he was thinking about by the time you have moved. That is a possible explanation of Timman's tragedy in his 14th game against Karpov.

It opened 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. e4 Bb4 6. Bg5 c5 7. Bxc4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bxc3+ 9. bxc3 Qa5 10. Nb5 Nxe4 as had the eighth game. This time, instead of 11. Qd4, Karpov varied with 11. Bf4, keeping the pressure on rather than regaining the pawn. Timman found an imaginative solution: 11 . . . 0-0 12. 0-0 Nbd7] encouraging the white knight into c7. When Karpov sank into a 50-minute think, it was clear that his opening preparation had gone wrong. He took the bait with 13. Nc7 e5 14. Nxa8 exf4, but then thought for a full hour before playing 15. Bd5.

Everything now depends on whether the white knight can escape from a8. If it gets out, White will be better; if it doesn't, he is lost. Timman played 15 . . . Ndf6 (15 . . . Nef6 would also have resulted in trapping the knight) and after 16. Be4 Nxe4 17. f3, the crucial moment was reached. Timman blundered with 17 . . . Nxc3? letting White launch a successful rescue mission for the errant knight. After 18. Qd6 Nd5 19. Rac1] Be6 20. Nc7, White reached a better endgame, which he won after further errors from Timman.

Instead of 17 . . . Nxc3, Black should not be tempted by 17 . . . Qc5+, when 18. Qd4 is more than adequate, but simply 17 . . . Rd8] 18. Qe1 (after 18. Qb3 even 18 . . . Qc5+ 19. Kh1 Ng3+] 20. hxg3 fxg3 wins for Black) Qc5+ 19. Kh1 Nf6 and the knight cannot escape: 20. Qf2 Qxf2 21. Rxf2 Bd7 22. Nc7 extricates it, only to die after 22 . . . Rc8.

Having seen his winning position slip away, then a draw turn into a loss, all while Karpov was reduced to 20 minutes for his last 25 moves, it is no wonder that Timman was almost in tears after the game.