Chess: Exchange and martyr

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THE BRITISH champion, Julian Hodgson, has been trying to learn a proper opening system. After years of mucking around very successfully with 1. d4 and 2. Bg5, he has started playing proper Queen's Gambits, but given half a chance he will always succumb to the lure of a messy position, writes William Hartston.

In the following game, from this year's Wijk aan Zee tournament, Hodgson met a curious line of the Slav Defence in which Black tries to hang on to the gambit pawn for a little longer than usual. On move six, White can make sure of regaining the pawn with 6. axb5 cxb5 7. b3, but Hodgson turned it into a real gambit with the immediate 6. b3?] As a result, Black gained a protected, passed, extra pawn on c3, which White used to shelter his king. In compensation, White had control of more space in the centre. For a long time, Piket defended sensibly and the position was more or less level until Black started exchanging pieces with 38 . . . Nf5.

Usually it is a good idea to exchange pieces when you are a pawn ahead, but on this occasion every exchange emphasised White's advantages. By the time pairs of knights, bishops and rooks had been exchanged, White's h-pawn was ready to spring through on the outside. Piket's 47 . . . Rh8 was a nice trick (48. Qxh8?? Qe2] wins for Black) but against 48. d7 he had no reply.

White: Hodgson

Black: Piket

1 d4 d5

2 c4 dxc4

3 Nf3 c6

4 e3 b5

5 a4 e6

6 b3 Bb4+

7 Bd2 Bxd2+

8 Nbxd2 c3

9 Ne4 b4

10 Ne5 Nf6

11 Qf3 a5

12 Bd3 Ra7

13 Nc5 0-0

14 0-0-0 Nd5

15 Qh3 g6

16 Qg3 Qc7

17 e4 Nb6

18 f4 N8d7

19 Ng4 Kg7

20 e5 Nxc5

21 dxc5 Nd5

22 h4 h5

23 Nf2 Rh8

24 Ne4 Ba6

25 Bc2 Be2

26 Rd4 Bg4

27 Nd6 Ne7

28 Be4 Raa8

29 Qf2 Qa7

30 Rd3 Rad8

31 Re1 Rd7

32 Qd4 Rhd8

33 Qc4 Kf8

34 Rd4 Kg7

35 Re3 Nd5

36 Re1 Ne7

37 Bc2 Kf8

38 Bd1 Nf5

39 Nxf5 gxf5

40 Rd6 Ke7

41 Bxg4 hxg4

42 Red1 Rxd6

43 exd6+ Kd7

44 Qd4 Kc8

45 h5 Qa6

46 Qe5 Kb7

47 h6 Rh8

48 d7 1-0