Chess: Youthful competition is the spur

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The Independent Culture
NOTHING spurs a player on like competition from a younger compatriot. When Nigel Short's career seemed to be getting bogged down a few years ago, the advent of Michael Adams encouraged him to put on another burst of speed. And when Adams slowed down, the appearance of Matthew Sadler seemed to have an equally beneficial effect.

Sadler, now 20, is the forgotten prodigy of British chess. At 13, he became the youngest player ever to achieve a norm towards the International Master title. His record lasted about a fortnight before the 11-year-old Judit Polgar made his effort look like that of an old man. He went on to secure his master and grandmaster titles at much the same age as Short and Adams, but, with Nunn, Speelman, Hodgson and Miles all still playing well, he has been unable to claim a place in the full England team.

Last week, while the British championships were being played in Norwich, Sadler went instead to Norway to win the Gausdal International. In a field including 10 grandmasters, Sadler coasted to a winning score of 7 out of 9, easing up with draws in his last two games. His fifth-round win against the young Icelandic player, Gretarsson, is a good example of Sadler's patient style.

After the opening, White's only claim to advantage is the bishop pair, which is not usually effective in such a symmetrical and blocked position, and the slight weakness caused by Black's 9 . . . b6. Sadler made the most of it by redeploying his bishop via e2 to a6, thus making it difficult for Black's rooks to contest the open c-file.

The crisis came when Black was tempted into a tactical adventure with 20 . . . e5?] Such variations as 21. dxe5 Ne4 22. Bb4 Bxb4 23. Qxb4 Nc5 make the move alluring, but it led to problems against Sadler's calm response.

24. dxe5 was nicely calculated: after 24 . . . Nc5 25. Rxc5 bxc5 26. exd6 Qb1+, Black is doing well, but 25. Qd4] (intending to meet Qxc2 with exd6) maintained the advantage. White played well in the endgame to deny the rook any entry squares and finally Black died through a combination of cramp and weak pawns.

White: Sadler

Black: Gretarsson

1 d4 d5

2 c4 c6

3 Nc3 Nf6

4 e3 g6

5 Nf3 Bg7

6 Be2 0-0

7 0-0 Bg4

8 cxd5 cxd5

9 Qb3 b6

10 h3 Bxf3

11 Bxf3 e6

12 Bd2 Nc6

13 Be2 Na5

14 Qb4 Qd7

15 Rfc1 Rfc8

16 Ba6 Rc7

17 Nb5 Rxc1+

18 Rxc1 Bf8

19 Qa4 Nc4

20 Rc2 e5

21 Bc3 Ne4

22 b3 Ncd6

23 Bb2 Qf5

24 dxe5 Nc5

25 Qd4 Ne8

26 Rxc5 bxc5

27 Qxd5 Rb8

28 e4 Qe6

29 Qxe6 fxe6

30 Nc3 Rd8

31 Bc1 Bg7

32 f4 g5

33 g3 Nc7

34 Bc4 gxf4

35 gxf4 Bh6

36 Be3 Kf7

37 Kf2 Rg8

38 Kf3 Bf8

39 f5 h5

40 Nb5 Nxb5

41 Bxb5 h4

42 Bf2 Rh8

43 Bc4 Rh6

44 Bxe6+ Rxe6

45 fxe6+ Kxe6

46 Bxh4 Kxe5

47 Bf2 1-0

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