Chess: Lost boys fly from the board in Antwerp

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THE MOST cheerful finish of the year so far came in a game from the oddly named Lost Boys Tournament in Antwerp earlier this month. The title is a mystery: the players were not particularly young, no more lost than usual, and there was no obvious connection with Peter Pan. The late William Winter, a British international of 50 years ago, was the nephew of J M Barrie, but I doubt the Belgians knew that.

Anyway, the title is not a bad description of the black knights in this game, as they wandered looking unsuccessfully for decent squares. White's 2. g3 against the Sicilian is an unusual move, based partly on bluff.

If Black does not have the courage to enter the weird lines that can follow 2 . . . d5] 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. Nf3 Bg4 5. Bg2 Qe6+, then White can achieve a small advantage in space after Bg2, f4, Nf3 and 0- 0. White has avoided putting his knight on c3 and is better placed to expand in the centre with a later c3 and d4.

White's 7. Na3 looks eccentric, but fits in well with the plan, but Black's 10 . . . Nxf5 fits in with nothing. If he did not want to recapture with gxf5 or exf5, he should never have played 9 . . . f5 on the previous move.

The game meandered onwards, with White alternating between both vacillation (14. Bh1?]) and expansion (15. g4]) until Black's combination of Qe7 and Rg8 allowed a sudden thrust with g5] and f5] Either 24 . . . gxf5 or exf5 is met decisively by Nxf5, so Black was reduced to hoping for tactical tricks.

It all came to a rather pretty ending with 31. Qxd6] when Qxd6 allows a nice smothered mate with Nf7, while anything else is demolished by Qxd7 or Qxc7.

----------------------------------------------------------------- White: P Monte ----------------------------------------------------------------- Black: M Dutreeuw ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 e4 c5 17 axb5 axb5 2 g3 Nc6 18 Ne3 Bd7 3 Bg2 g6 19 Bd2 Ne8 4 f4 d6 20 h4 Nc7 5 Nf3 Bg7 21 Rf2 Qe7 6 0-0 e6 22 Re1 Rg8 7 Na3 Nge7 23 g5 Bg7 8 d3 0-0 24 f5 Be5 9 c3 f5 25 Nxe5 Nxe5 10 exf5 Nxf5 26 f6 Qf7 11 Qe1 Bf6 27 d4 cxd4 12 Nc4 Rb8 28 cxd4 Nd3 13 a4 Kh8 29 Ng4 Nxe1 14 Bh1 a6 30 Nh6 Qf8 15 g4 Ng7 31 Qxd6 1-0 16 Qg3 b5