Chess: Parts other sponsors do not reach

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IF WE didn't know for sure that Mr Joop van Oosterom was a true lover of chess, and a genuine believer in women's chess in particular, we might wonder about his motives in sponsoring an annual match in Monaco between the world's top women and a team of veteran males. After all, if the men win, it's a clear demonstration that women just aren't good enough, while if the women win it's clear that the poor old fellows are completely past it.

But Mr van Oosterom, who is one of the world's leading correspondence chess players, knows what he is doing. Having made a fortune with his own computer company, he has been supporting the parts of the game other sponsors do not reach: the under-privileged groups of women and the aged.

Besides its philanthropic side, the event provides an important test for the rising talents of women players. Former world champions and title contenders such as Vassily Smyslov, Boris Spassky, Bent Larsen and Lajos Portisch have a deep understanding of chess that does not diminish with age. Their stamina and energy may let them down at the highest levels of international tournament play, but the level of technique of such players is the benchmark of genuine grandmastery.

This year, the women won a narrow victory. Judit Polgar, the world's highest-rated female, and Xie Jun, the women's world champion, both scored 71 2 points from their 12 games, though the best performance of all came from Vassily Smyslov, who scored 8 points for the men's team. Not bad for a man who had won and lost the world title before any of his opponent's was born.

As the following game shows, technique on its own is not enough. When Portisch played 15 . . . Qc6 he must have been vaguely hoping that the pressure against g2 would distract White from her attacking ambitions, but 18. Bxh7+] was a killer. After 18 . . . Kxh7 19. Qh5+ Kg7 20. Qg4+ Kh7 21. Rf3 Black is dead. As

the game went, 19. Rf3, with its threat of Rh3, left Black nothing better than to give up his queen.

Black's problems stemmed from too casual an exchange earlier. If he didn't like the position after 15 . . . Nxe4 16. Bxe4 Bxe4 17. Qxe4 he should not have played 13 . . . dxe4 in the first place.

----------------------------------------------------------------- White: Nana Joseliani ----------------------------------------------------------------- Black: Lajos Portisch 1 e4 c5 16 Nxf6+ Bxf6 2 Nf3 e6 17 Bxf6 gxf6 3 d4 cxd4 18 Bxh7+ Kh8 4 Nxd4 a6 19 Rf3 Qxf3 5 Nc3 Qc7 20 gxf3 Kxh7 6 Bd3 Nc6 21 Qf2 Rg8 7 Nxc6 bxc6 22 Qh4+ Kg7 8 0-0 d5 23 Rg1+ Kf8 9 Qe2 Bb7 24 Rxg8+ Kxg8 10 Bd2 Nf6 25 Qxf6 Bxf3+ 11 Rae1 Be7 26 Kg1 Bd5 12 Kh1 0-0 27 h4 Rf8 13 f4 dxe4 28 Kf2 c4 14 Nxe4 c5 29 h5 1-0 15 Bc3 Qc6 -----------------------------------------------------------------