ETCETERA

CHESS
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The Independent Culture
Colonel Polhill provides the definitive answer to a perennial problem.

Who was the strongest player never to have been world champion? There can be only one answer to that hoary old question: Akiba Rubinstein. A pathologically inoffensive fellow, he was so afraid of distracting his opponents he sat far from the board when it was not his move. Yet he overcame that handicap to notch up victories in major tournaments stretching from 1907 to 1929. Later in life he went barking mad, never a great handicap at the highest levels of the game.

White: Akiba Rubinstein

Black: Siegbert Tarrasch

Hastings 1922

1.d4 e6 2.c4 f5 3.g3 c5 4.Nf3

Perhaps refraining from 4.d5 because he considered it rude to enter the opponent's half of the board so soon.

4...cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Bg2 Nc6 7.0-0 Bc5 8.e3 0-0 9.Nc3 a6 10.a3 Qc7 11.b4 Be7 12.Bb2 Ne5 13.c5 Nc4 (see diagram)

White's structure is sound, but he does not want to part with his black- squared bishop, and after 14.Bc1 d5 Black does not stand badly. Rubinstein found an elegant solution.

14.Nxf5! Bxc5

The best reply. 14...Nxb2 15.Nxe7+ or 14...exf5 15.Bd5+ leave Black miserably placed, a pawn behind.

15.bxc5 Qxc5 16.Nh6+ gxh6 17.Bc1

Now Black is miserably placed, a pawn ahead. His next move, however, makes things worse.

17...Qe5? 18.Qd3! Qc5 19.a4! d6 20.e4 Kg7 21.Nd1! Bd7 22.Ne3!

Once Black's active knight is exchanged, his defences will fall apart.

22...b5 23.Nxc4 bxc4 24.Qd2!

Gotcha! Now h6 cannot be defended.

24...Ne8 25.e5! Rb8

25...d5 would close one diagonal but fatally open another to allow 26.Ba3.

26.Qxh6+ Kg8 27.Qg5+ Kf7 28.Bf3 Rg8 29.Qh5+ Kg7 30.Be4 Qxe5 31.Qxh7+ Kf8 32.Qxd7! Qxe4 33.Bh6+ resigns.

33...Ng7 loses to 34.Bxg7+ Rxg7 35.Qxd6+ winning a rook.

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