Chess: Delightful swindle from Short

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WHEN the Short-Kasparov match is long gone and decently buried, one move will be remembered as the moment when the world's best tactician overlooked a delightful swindle and was forced to struggle for a draw, writes William Hartston.

In game 17 on Thursday, Short's 24th move, jettisoning a bishop on an empty square, seemed to come as a complete shock to Kasparov. It launched a forced sequence that left Black a pawn ahead in the endgame, but Kasparov pulled himself together - indeed the physical contortions that he was seen to be going through after 24 . . . Bf2]] seemed to confirm this to be literally true - and he saved the game through good technique.

Before the bewildering Bf2, it had been a strange game. Short improved on his play in game 11 with 10 . . . a6, preparing a retreat on a7 for his bishop. After 11. c3 Ba7, White's knight on a4, with no retreat, would be vulnerable to b5, so Kasparov changed direction with Nc3 and Ne2, making the whole Na4 manoeuvre look irrelevant. Short showed fine judgement in allowing his f-pawns to be doubled, relying on piece activity to compensate for the resulting weaknesses.

The crucial moment came after 23 . . . hxg3. After 24. Bxg3 White would retain some advantage; indeed, Kasparov later suggested that Short should objectively have captured on g3 on the previous move to retain equality. Instead 24. fxg3? allowed Bf2]] and White was lucky to be able to scramble his way into a salvageable endgame. Perhaps, in the closing moves, Short could have made Kasparov suffer longer before reaching a draw, but with his extra pawn doubled, and having knight against bishop, Black's advantage was never enough to win.

White: Kasparov

Black: Short

1 e4 e5

2 Nf3 Nc6

3 d4 exd4

4 Nxd4 Bc5

5 Nxc6 Qf6

6 Qd2 dxc6

7 Nc3 Be6

8 Na4 Rd8

9 Bd3 Bd4

10 0-0 a6

11 Nc3 Ne7

12 Ne2 Bb6

13 Qf4 Ng6

14 Qxf6 gxf6

15 Ng3 h5

16 Be2 h4

17 Nf5 Bxf5

18 exf5 Ne5

19 Re1 Kf8

20 Bf4 Rd4

21 g3 Kg7

22 Rad1 Re4

23 Kg2 hxg3

24 fxg3 Bf2

25 Kxf2 Rxh2+

26 Kf1 Rexe2

27 Rxe2 Rh1+

28 Kf1 Rxd1

29 b3 Rd7

30 Rd2 Rxd2

31 Bxd2 c5

32 Ke3 c6

33 Ke4 c4

34 b4 b5

35 Bf4 Nd7

36 Kd4 Kf8

37 Bc7 Ke7

38 g4 Kf8

39 Bd6+ Kg7

40 Bc7 Kf8

41 a3 draw

(Photograph omitted)