Chess: Nunn's habit changes

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The Independent Culture
WHILE Nigel Short, Jonathan Speelman, Tony Miles and Michael Adams have moved up and down the international rating lists of the past twenty years, one British grandmaster has maintained a consistent place among the world's best without ever having really hit the big time of the top ten.

John Nunn, now 39, won the gold medal for the best individual performance at a Chess Olympiad a decade ago and is still one of the most feared attacking players. He is currently ranked 44th in the world.

Today's game, from a recent tournament in Denmark, shows Nunn at his most lethally precise, exploiting an error in the opening to develop a strong attack, then polishing it off with brilliant efficiency. Nunn's choice of 2. c3 comes as a surprise from a man who has writ10 books on attacking options in lines with Nf3 and d4. Here he shows that Beating the Sicilian (the generic title for the series) can be accomplished in other ways.

By delaying cxd4, Sher played to deny White's knight use of the c3 square, but his 6 . . . e6 is an error which Nunn exploited with a string of forceful moves culminating in 11. 0-0] Black is invited to continue 11 . . . Nc2 when 12. Nc3 Nxa1 13. Nb5 gives a withering attack. With moves such as Ne5, Qa4, Bf4 and d6 all in the air, depending on where Black's queen goes, it is doubtful whether his king can survive for long.

Sher's 11 . . . f6?] (which Nunn later said he would have rated last on any list of likely moves) only encouraged Nunn to charge ahead. White's sacrifice on e5 forced Black to castle long, 17. g5 introduced the threat of Bg4+, and 19. Bc7] forced the win of material. After 19 . . . Qa6 (note how the g-pawn prevents Qf6) 20. Bxd8 Kxd8 21. a3 the knight has no good square.

Sher's hopes of struggling on with three pieces for his queen were abruptly ended with a neat final combination. After 25. Qf4+ Rd6 White wins with 26. b6+] axb6 27. Bb5+, while the game continuation similarly freed b5 for a decisive discovered check.

----------------------------------------------------------------- White: J Nunn Black: M Sher Vejle 1994. ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 e4 c5 14 Bf4 e5 2 c3 d5 15 Nxe5 fxe5 3 exd5 Qxd5 16 Bxe5 0-0-0 4 Nf3 Nc6 17 g5 h5 5 d4 Bg4 18 Rc1 Nb4 6 Be2 e6 19 Bc7 Qxb5 7 h3 Bh5 20 cxb5 Kxc7 8 c4 Qd6 21 Bc4 Ne7 9 g4 Bg6 22 Qf3 Nc2 10 d5 Nb4 23 Rfd1 Nd4 11 0-0 f6 24 Rxd4 cxd4 12 Nc3 Nc2 25 Qf4+ Kd7 13 Nb5 Qb6 26 b6 1-0 -----------------------------------------------------------------