Chess: Nunn takes it steady

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The Independent Culture
WITH three rounds left to play at Hastings, the early leader, Mikhail Krasenkov of Russia, has been overtaken by John Nunn and only these two players still have a realistic chance of first place. Both men usually have combative and entertaining styles, but in this year's tournament, where only nine of the 30 games played so far have ended in draws, they have looked the steadiest of the players.

John Nunn took the lead in round six with a powerful win against Dibyendu Barua. In the opening, a line of the Four Knights' Game that Nigel Short brought back into serious use, Barua played too simply by exchanging knights on move 6. This gave White a nagging lead in development and the time to open the f-file with 12. f4.

The moves that turned White's promising position into a real attack were 19. g4] opening lines for the rooks and 23. Rg1] choosing the right files to put them on. The lazy way to play such a position is automatic doubling on the f-file with 23. Raf1, but Nunn's move saw far deeper into the possibilities. If Black had met 25. Ng3 with Nf4, White could have played 26. Nf5]? gxf5 27. Rxf4] exf4 28. Bd4 when 28 . . . f6 is met by 29. Bxf6 and the attempt to buy off the attack with 28 . . . Qg6 is most powerfully answered by 29. exf5.

As the game went, White barged through on the open files and finished it off neatly.

White: Nunn

Black: Barua

1 e4 e5 18 Rf3 0-0

2 Nf3 Nc6 19 g4 hxg4

3 Nc3 Nf6 20 Qxg4 Nf6

4 Bb5 Nd4 21 Qh4 Qe6

5 Ba4 c6 22 Bc5 Rfe8

6 0-0 Nxf3+ 23 Rg1 Nh5

7 Qxf3 d6 24 Ne2 Rab8

8 d3 h6 25 Ng3 Nxg3+

9 Qe2 Be6 26 Rgxg3 b6

10 Bb3 Bxb3 27 Be3 Qd7

11 axb3 g6 28 Rh3 Kf8

12 f4 Bg7 29 Qh7 Rb7

13 fxe5 dxe5 30 Qxg6 Re6

14 Qf3 Qe7 31 Rh8+ Bxh8

15 Be3 a6 32 Bh6+ Ke7

16 Kh1 Nd7 33 Rxf7+ 1-0

17 Qh3 h5

By contrast to this smooth performance, Krasenkov's win in the fourth round was a fine piece of bludgeoning. Catching Ian Rogers in a complex line of the Queen's Gambit, the Russian went for tactics from the start. Hanging on to the gambit pawn for long enough to create drastic imbalance, he gave White a huge central pawn majority in exchange for two fast runners on the wing. White's 11. d5?] did not turn out well and Black's pawns soon looked the harder to keep blockaded, but 18. Bg4? was based on a complete miscalculation.

Rogers must have overlooked the neat 20 . . . Bc6, defending against Qd7+ and giving Black time to regain the piece with Qxg2. After that, there was no way to defend the white squares. At the end, the threat is Rxa5 and needing to defend against mates on d1 and e2, there is nothing White can do about it.

White: Rogers

Black: Krasenkov

1 d4 d5 16 Nb3 Ke7

2 c4 e6 17 Be2 Qd6

3 Nc3 c6 18 Bg4 Nb6

4 Nf3 dxc4 19 c5 Qxd5

5 e3 b5 20 cxb6 Bc6

6 a4 Bb4 21 Qa2 Qxg2

7 Bd2 a5 22 Rf1 Qxg4

8 axb5 Bxc3 23 Nxa5 Bb5

9 Bxc3 cxb5 24 Qb2 Qe4

10 b3 Bb7 25 b7 Ra6

11 d5 Nf6 26 Rg1 Rd8

12 bxc4 b4 27 Qc1 Qd3

13 Bxf6 Qxf6 28 Qb2 Kf6

14 Qa4+ Nd7 White resigns

15 Nd4 e5

Hastings scores with three rounds left to play: Nunn 5; Krasenkov 4 1/2 ; Hebden and Arakhamia 3 1/2 ; Gurevich and Hennigan 3; Sadler 2 1/2 ; Barua 2; Sherbakov and Rogers 1 1/2 .