Chess: Nunn's fine finale in Hastings

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WHEN everything depends on a single game, it rarely lives up to expectations, but the Krasenkov-Nunn battle in the last round of Hastings was everything that could have been desired. With Nunn half a point ahead, Krasenkov, playing White, needed a win to snatch first prize from him. On the 35th move they reached the diagram position with the white rook having just moved from f1 to g1.

ch10out-harts-nws White threatens Rxg6 followed by Qxe6+. If Black exchanges rooks with 35 . . . Rxg1+ 36. Rxg1 White still threatens the bishop as well as having good attacking prospects on the g-file. To add to his problems, Black's queen is tied to the defence of the rook on a8. Nunn found a remarkable counter-attacking idea with 35 . . . Ra5] threatening to pin the queen with Bd5. If White takes the rook then 36. Bxa5 Qxd6 leaves Black still threatening Bd5 and 37. Bb4 (intending to meet Qxb4 with Rxg6) fails to 37 . . . Qd5]

Krasenkov gave up his queen with 36. Rxg6 Bd5 and continued with the remarkable 37. Re6]? Bxe4+ 38. Rxe4. White now threatens Re8+, so Nunn played 38 . . . Ra8 when the endgame after 39. Re8+ Qxe8 40. Nxe8 Rxe1 would be in his favour. They scurried to the time-control with 39. Rg1 Qf6 40. Rxe3 Kh8, when Krasenkov settled down for a long think. Over the next half-hour, his expression gradually changed from morose to fairly buoyant and after 41. d5 there was almost a spring in his usually rather flat-footed amble as he loped away from the board.

White threatens Bc3 and with the knight ready to check on f7 and the d- pawn becoming threatening, his game began to look good. Nunn replied 41 . . . Qd4] attacking everything. A small group of spectators now became excited by the prospect of 42. Rxg7, when Kxg7 loses to Nf5+, Qxg7 loses to Bc3, and Qxe3 is met by Rg3, threatening Rxe3, or Bc3+ or Nf7 mate.

The only thing wrong with 42. Rxg7 is Qxb4 when White has no good continuation, so Krasenkov played 42. Nf7+ Kg8 43. Nh6+ Kh8 44. Nf7+ Kg8 45. Nh6+ Kh8 46. Rxg7. Now 46 . . . Qxg7 still loses to Bc3, and 46 . . . Qxb4 is met by 47. Rg4] when 47 . . . Qb1+ 48. Rg1 leaves Black defenceless against Nf7 mate.

But Nunn had it all worked out. He played 46 . . . Qxe3] 47. Rg2 (47. Rg3 is well met by 47 . . . Qe4+ 48. Kg1 Qd4+) and just as the spectators thought that White was winning, Nunn forced the draw with 47 . . . Rf8]] when White has nothing better than to permit a perpetual check with 48. Bxf8 Qe1+ 49. Rg1 Qe4+. A magnificent end to the tournament, which gave John Nunn his first win at Hastings since 1979.

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