Chess: Go West for thrills

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The Independent Culture
NOT SO long ago, the best place to look for swashbuckling play was in the semi-finals of the Soviet Championships. The intense competition for places in the semi-finals, and thence to qualify for the final itself, led to almost every game being played for a win by both sides. With the demise of the Soviet Union, the best place to find exciting chess is in the final of the championship of the United States, writes William Hartston.

This may in part be due to the fact that several of the finalists in today's United States were semi-finalists in yesterday's Soviet Union, but even among the native Americans the lust for battle has spread. The 1992 US Championship, played last December, was won by Patrick Wolff, ahead of a field half of whom were made in the USSR.

In the following game, White's bold opening play (3. e5 and 4. h4 was an idea of the great Mikhail Tal) nets him a good attacking position, but Black fights his way out of passivity with a piece sacrifice at move 18. With two pawns for a bishop and White's king uncomfortable, he obtains fair compensation, but White still feels justified in playing for a win with 26. h6. Still a piece up for two pawns, and Black's king looking as exposed as his own, White seems in no danger, but his pieces never manage to co-operate with one another. With 32. f3? and 33. Ne3? White constructs a coffin for his king. Black's 34 . . . f4 drives the last nail in since 35. Bd2 loses prosaically to Rc2. After 35. Bf4, the most brutal finish is 35 . . . Qd4+ (exf4 is good enough too) 36. Kf1 (or 36. Be3 Rc1+) Qxf4 with Rc1+ to come.

----------------------------------------------------------------- White: A Ivanov ----------------------------------------------------------------- Black: P Wolff ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 e4 c6 19 dxe5 d4 2 d4 d5 20 Qd2 Qc6 3 e5 Bf5 21 Kf1 Nxe5 4 h4 h5 22 Ne2 d3 5 c4 e6 23 Nc3 Nc4 6 Nc3 Nd7 24 Qd3 Nxb2 7 Bg5 Qb6 25 Qc2 Nc4 8 Qd2 Ne7 26 h6 f5 9 Nf3 Ng6 27 hxg7 Kxg7 10 cxd5 cxd5 28 Bc1 Rd8 11 Rc1 Bb4 29 Kg1 Qd6 12 a3 Bxc3 30 Qe2 Rc8 13 Rxc3 0-0 31 Nd1 e5 14 Be2 Bg4 32 f3 g3 15 Ng1 Rfc8 33 Ne3 Nxe3 16 Bxg4 hxg4 34 Bxe3 f4 17 h5 Rxc3 35 Bxf4 18 Qxc3 Ngxe5 White resigned -----------------------------------------------------------------

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