ETCETERA: CHESS

WOMEN CHESSPLAYERS have come on a good deal since I was a young man. In those days, all one had to do was move towards them with one's knights and they would retreat to their back two ranks, there to perish ignominiously. There was something about the knight's devious gait that could be guaranteed to induce terror in a young girl. Now all that has changed. In today's game, we see Britain's top woman player not only unintimidated by her opponent's horsemanship, but even ordering her own cavalry to trample all over him.

White: A Cooper

Black: S Lalic

British Championship, Torquay 1998

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4

A vestigial fear of knights clearly remains in Ms Lalic's make-up: she hastens to reduce White's equestrian capability.

4.Qc2 0-0 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 Ne4 7.Qc2 f5 8.g3 b6 9.Bg2 Bb7 10.Nf3 Nf6

The knight retreats to avoid any problems with White playing Nd2.

11.b4 Be4 12.Qb3 Nc6 13.Bb2 Ne7 14.0-0 Qe8 15.Rad1 Qh5 16.Rd2 b5!

A bold sacrifice to create a square on d5 for a black knight.

17.cxb5 Ned5 18.Ne5 Bxg2 19.Kxg2 d6 20.Nc6 Ne4 21.Rc2 Rf6

Ignoring the advanced white knight, Black moves her forces on to the attack. The threat is Rh6.

22.Bc1 f4 23.Qf3 Qg6

No woman player in my day would knowingly have placed her king and queen in such potential jeopardy. All it takes is for the knight on d5 to move absent-mindedly away, and the queen will be lost to Ne7+.

24.Bxf4 (see diagram)

White has calculated 24...Nxf4+ 25.Qxf4! Rxf4 26.Ne7+ and 27.Nxg6 when he would be on top. But Black has seen more.

24...Rxf4! 25.Ne7+ Nxe7 26.Qxf4 Nd5 27.Qc1 Nxf2!

A decisive blow. 28.Rxf2 loses to 28...Qxc2 29.Qxc2 Ne3+, and 28.Rxf2 to 28...Rf8+ 29.Kg1 Rxf1+ 30.Kxf1 Qxc2!

28.Rb2 Qe4+! 29.Kxf2 Rf8+

Now 30.Ke1 Rxf1+ 31.Kxf1 Qh1+ loses White's queen, while 30.Kg1 Rxf1+ 31.Qxf1 Qxd4+ loses the rook. White took the only honourable way out:

White resigned.

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