Chess: Women come of age

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OLD grandmasters never die, they just lose to women. That is the lesson of the event that ended this week in Vienna, where a team of six men, five of whom were world title candidates in the mid-1960s, were trounced, 401 2 -311 2 , by a female sextet, none of whom was born then, writes William Hartston.

There is something about such an event that invites criticism of the losers rather than praise of the winners. According to who wins, the barb is ready: poor old sods, they're obviously past it; or we knew women couldn't play, they even lose to geriatrics. Yet this result marks the coming of age of women's chess.

Players of the calibre of Smyslov, Larsen and Geller, however long in the tooth, never lose the basic technique that is the benchmark of a true grandmaster. In beating them soundly, the women have confirmed that they can do more than just survive at this level.

The following game from the final round exemplifies the losers' exasperation. After outplaying his opponent in the opening, Olafsson won a pawn with a neat combination at move 16. With 21. d4?] he over-complicated (21. Be4 is natural), and with 28. Rcc1? (28. Ra2 draws after Be6) he pushed his luck too far. 30 . . . a6] must have come as a shock (31. Rxa6 loses to Rxc6) after which White was struggling.

White: Olafsson

Black: Chiburdanidze

1 e4 c5 22 b5 exd4 2 Nf3 d6 23 Bxf4+ Kh5 3 g3 Nf6 24 cxd4 Bxd4 4 d3 g6 25 Ra2 g5 5 Bg2 Bg7 26 Be3 Be6 6 0-0 Nc6 27 Rc2 Bf5 7 Re1 0-0 28 Rcc1 Bb2 8 c3 e5 29 Rc4 Bd3 9 a3 d5 30 Ra4 a6 10 exd5 Nxd5 31 Bd7 axb5 11 Nbd2 Rb8 32 Bg4+ Kg6 12 Ne4 b6 33 Ra6 Rc6 13 b4 f5 34 h4 gxh4 14 Qb3 Kh8 35 gxh4 b4 15 Neg5 f4 36 Ra7 bxa3 16 Nxh7 Kxh7 37 h5+ Kf6 17 Qxd5 Qxd5 38 Bf3 Re6 18 Ng5+ Kh6 39 Kh2 Be4 19 Bxd5 Kxg5 40 Bxc5 Be5+ 20 Bxc6 Bf5 41 Kh3 Bf5+ 21 d4 Rbc8 White resigns