Chess: Thoroughly Modern

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BEST of the early spring crop from the Batsford chess book list is David Norwood's Winning with the Modern (145 pages, paperback, pounds 10.99). Norwood is a part-time grandmaster who believes that talent ought to be a match for hard work and opening theory. Playing 1. g3 with White and 1 . . . g6 with Black, he has gone through life blithely oblivious of most of the ever-changing wrinkles of theory. To a large extent, Winning with the Modern is an explanation of how he has managed to get away with it.

Starting with a highly instructive discussion of the various themes than can emerge from Black's choice of 1 . . . g6 as an opening move, Norwood intersperses analysis with complete games (mostly his own) and advice on how best to play the resulting positions. By consistently recommending slightly offbeat variations, he ensures that the reader has a repertoire guaranteed to take most opponents by surprise, without too many variations having to be remembered.

Any book on openings should be judged by three criteria: the quality of the writing, the quality of the opening, and the magnitude of the price. In this case, the general excellence of the first more than outweighs any reservations in the other two areas.

Today's game, from the current Linares tournament, shows how even a top grandmaster can be provoked by an obscure line in the Modern. With Nh6, f6 and Nf7, Black cowers behind his pawns, but White's subsequent piece sacrifice cannot be justified. In the end it was Black's attack that broke through.

White: Topalov

Black: Shirov

1 e4 g6

2 d4 Bg7

3 Nc3 c6

4 Nf3 d5

5 h3 Nh6

6 Bf4 f6

7 Be2 Nf7

8 Bh2 0-0

9 0-0 b6

10 Re1 Bb7

11 Bf1 Nd7

12 a4 a6

13 a5 b5

14 exd5 cxd5

15 Re6 Rc8

16 Nxb5 axb5

17 Bxb5 f5

18 Qe2 Nf6

19 a6 Ba8

20 Rxe7 Rxc2

21 Qxc2 Qxe7

22 Qa4 Qe6

23 b4 Ne4

24 Bf1 g5

25 b5 g4

26 Ne1 Qb6

27 Nc2 Rc8

28 Bf4 Bh6

29 Bxh6 Qxh6

30 hxg4 Qd2

31 f3 Qf2+

32 Kh2 Nfg5

33 Ne1 Qh4+

34 Kg1 Nh3+

White resigns

Leading scores in Linares: Karpov 5, Kasparov 41 2 , Kamsky 31 2 , Anand and Kramnik 3. Kasparov will play Karpov in round seven.