Chess: Short is back in the arena

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The Independent Culture
SINCE last year's events at the Savoy Theatre, Nigel Short has been resting and recovering, and has yet to return to serious tournament play. In June, he faces Boris Gulko in the quarter-finals of the PCA world championship in New York, with a semi-final match in prospect against Vladimir Kramnik or Gata Kamsky.

So far, his competitive training has been restricted to a surprise appearance in a one-day speed event in London (where he conceded one draw and shared first place with Demetrios Agnos), a simultaneous display or two (including a 100 per cent score in a charity event at Simpsons-in- the-Strand), and last week's Intel Rapid Play Grand Prix in Moscow.

While Short's second round elimination by Vassily Ivanchuk was disappointing, his opening win against Jaan Ehlvest was an impressive performance, and another demonstration of the depth of his technical preparation for his match against Kasparov.

Short repeated the same opening variation that had brought him so many excellent positions in that match, but this time he made no mistakes. Bringing his rooks into aggressive positions in front of his own pawns, he exploited a defensive error by Ehlvest to launch a winning attack with a rook sacrifice at move 24.

After 26. Bxe6] Black has no satisfactory defence to the threat of Qxg6+. Ehlvest bought off the attack by giving up his queen for two rooks, but Short had such a collection of extra pawns that the result was never in doubt.

Apart from the tactical winning combination, the principal feature of interest in this game was the impressive manner in which Short built up an attack with pieces alone. The traditional ways to play a K- side attack against the Sicilian involve a rapid advance of the g-pawn and h-pawn to force weaknesses and open lines.

In the variation with 6. Bc4, the standard recipe is f4 followed by f5 or e5. Short's airlift of his rooks for an assault with the heavy artillery was unusual, but most effective.

White: Short

Black: Ehlvest

1 e4 c5 23 Rh3 Ng6 2 Nf3 d6 24 Rxh6+ gxh6 3 d4 cxd4 25 Qxh6+ Kg8 4 Nxd4 Nf6 26 Bxe6 Qe5 5 Nc3 a6 27 Qxg6+ Qg7 6 Bc4 e6 28 Qh5 fxe6 7 Bb3 b5 29 Rg3 Rf7 8 0-0 Be7 30 Qh6 Qxg3 9 Qf3 Qc7 31 hxg3 Re8 10 Re1 0-0 32 f3 Ree7 11 a3 Nc6 33 g4 Bc6 12 Nxc6 Qxc6 34 Ne2 Rh7 13 Qg3 Nh5 35 Qd2 d5 14 Qh3 Nf6 36 e5 Be8 15 Bg5 Bb7 37 c3 Rhf7 16 Re3 Rfe8 38 Nf4 Rg7 17 Rae1 Kh8 39 Kf2 a5 18 Qh4 Ng8 40 Qe3 a4 19 Rg3 Qc5 41 Qb6 Kf7 20 Ree3 h6 42 Nh5 Rg5 21 Bxe7 Nxe7 43 Qe3 1-0 22 Qf4 Rf8