Chess: Triumph of age over experience

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The Independent Culture
THE BOY who has been chasing Judit Polgar for some time overtook her at the weekend. Two years ago, at the age of 15 years and four months, Judit became the youngest-ever grandmaster. On Sunday, Peter Leko gained the title at the age of 14 years, 4 months and 22 days.

Like the previous record- holder, Leko is a Hungarian fed on a chess-rich diet from an early age. As with Judit Polgar, most people who meet him come away with the impression of a modest, cheerful and generally bright youth.

His qualifying result came with a ten-move draw against Predrag Nikolic in the last round of the Wijk aan Zee tournament in the Netherlands. When asked why he had been so generous to the child, Nikolic (already certain of first place in the tournament) explained it was 'an investment for the future. When he becomes much stronger than I am, he may give me a draw when I need it.'

Peter Leko had been the only non-grandmaster in the 10-player invitation event. He qualified after two similar achievements in Hungary and Spain last year.

With two teenagers among the last six of the Fide world championship, there can be no doubt that grandmasters are getting younger all the time, so to restore some perspective, here is a game from the Hastings Challengers, won by someone as old as Leko, Polgar, Kramnik and Kamsky combined.

With 9 . . . b5]? David Bronstein invited 10. Bxb5 Qb6 11. Bxc6 Qxc6, when the white squares are all Black's for the price of a pawn. With 21 . . . Rxc3] he cashed in on his positional advantages: 22. Qxc3 Bb4 loses the queen.

----------------------------------------------------------------- White: Wall Black: Bronstein ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 d4 d5 16 Nf3 e6 2 Bg5 h6 17 Ne5 Nxe5 3 Bh4 g6 18 fxe5 Be7 4 e3 Bg7 19 Nf4 Rc8 5 c3 Nf6 20 Be2 Qa5 6 Nd2 0-0 21 Rc1 Rxc3 7 Bd3 c5 22 Rxc3 Rc8 8 f4 Nc6 23 0-0 Qxc3 9 Qf3 b5 24 Qf2 Bf5 10 Ne2 b4 25 Bf3 Qc2 11 Bxf6 Bxf6 26 Qg3 Qd2 12 h4 bxc3 27 Rd1 Qe3+ 13 bxc3 h5 28 Kh2 Kh7 14 Qg3 cxd4 White resigns 15 exd4 Bg4 -----------------------------------------------------------------

The Creativity column will return, complete with the royal plaster cast, next Tuesday.

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