Chess: Sadler is just grand

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The Independent Culture
MATTHEW SADLER, 19, has become England's 21st and youngest grandmaster by winning the Budapest tournament with a score of 9 out of 11, writes William Hartston. Since six years ago, when he briefly held the 'youngest person ever to make an international master norm' title (Judit Polgar promptly cut two years off the record), Sadler has lurked in the shadows of England's other ex-prodigies, Nigel Short and Michael Adams.

Quiet, serious and less obviously chess-obsessed or competitive than the other two, Sadler has been slowly and systematically improving his results, usually in middle- ranking tournaments in a variety of unattractive venues around Europe. Having misspent much of his youth playing against the best commercially available computer programs, he developed an original style based on calculating ability, good tactical insight and strategic improvisation. Book knowledge appears to have been a relatively late addition to his skills, and may have made the difference that took him to the grandmaster title. After years of fiddling around with theory-avoiding openings such as 1. b3, he now has a solid repertoire based on 1. d4. It was not, however, solely the strength of his opening move that brought him the following quick win in Budapest.

Playing against an opponent who has been scoring well for Uzbekistan in international team tournaments, Sadler met the Nimzo-Indian Defence in totally approved fashion. With 8. cxd5, he played to leave the bishop blocked in on b7; and with 9. Ne5 and 10. f4, he set up an attacking formation that has been known since the turn of the century. Loginov's 12 . . . Ne4] has the tactical point that 13. Nxe4? dxe4 14. Bxe4 loses to 14 . . . Nxe5 with Qd4+ to follow, but Black's following move was a blunder.

Having an unprotected piece in his opponent's half of the board should have alerted him to the possibility of danger, and opening a diagonal to his king should have had the alarm bells ringing, but he went ahead and played 13 . . . f6?? Black resigned on seeing that 15 . . . dxe4 would lose a piece to 16. Qb3+. A pleasant gift when chasing a grandmaster norm, but not all of Sadler's opponents were so co-operative.

----------------------------------------------------------------- White: Sadler ----------------------------------------------------------------- Black: Loginov 1 d4 Nf6 9 Ne5 Nbd7 2 c4 e6 10 f4 c5 3 Nc3 Bb4 11 Qf3 cxd4 4 e3 0-0 12 exd4 Ne4 5 Bd3 d5 13 Ne2 f6 6 Nf3 b6 14 Nxd7 Qxd7 7 0-0 Bb7 15 Bxe4 1-0 8 cxd5 exd5 -----------------------------------------------------------------