ETCETERA / Chess

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
An international master sadly reflects on the lost efficiency of his innocent youth.

White: K Arkell

Black: C Fegan

Coming across this game played nearly 17 years ago in the Manchester Major of 1977, I was startled by what it revealed about my development over that period: from all-out attacking ambition to ponderous positional play.

1. e4

Bobby Fischer said this was the best move, so there was really no choice.

1 . . . d6 2. d4 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. Nc3 a6 5. Be3 Nd7 6. Be2 b6 7. Qd2

I always played like this if my opponent was foolish enough to put his bishop on g7. The strategy is simple: Be3, Qd2, Bh6, swap off the bishop, march the h-pawn down the board, invade with the queen on h6 and it's mate.

7 . . . Ngf6 8. f3 0-0 9. Nh3

Very sophisticated, the knight tucks in nicely on f2.

9 . . . c5 10. d5 Ne5 11. Nf2 Bd7 12. g4 b5 13. h4

'Ere we go . . .

13 . . . Nxc4 14. Bxc4 bxc4 15. Bh6

. . . 'Ere we go . . .

15 . . . e6 16. Bxg7 Kxg7 17. h5 Rh8 18. 0-0-0 e5 19. hxg6 fxg6 20. Qh6+

. . . 'Ere we go. Had he played 19 . . . hxg6, then the knight on f2 would have come in useful with 20. Rxh8 Qxh8 21. Rh1.

20 . . . Kg8

Sadly, I had to stop and think here. I've done everything right, but it's not mate, so I decided to jettison some pawns to open lines and give my knights some squares. Such decisions are easy to take when you are uncluttered by knowledge or experience.

21. g5 Ne8 22. f4 exf4 23. e5 dxe5 24. d6 Bc6 25. Nd5 Bxd5 26. Rxd5 Rb8 27. Ne4 Qb6 28. Rh2 c3 29. Nf6+ Kf7 30. Rxe5

With Re7 mate threatened, it begins to look promising again.

30 . . . cxb2+ 31. Kb1 Nxd6 (see diagram)

Now, having educated myself from extravagant accounts of the swashbuckling chess of the last century, and believing it the correct thing to do, I played my next move, leaned over towards my startled opponent and said: 'Check and mate in 10.'

I remember his muttering something like: 'It had better not be' before proceeding down the main variation.

32. Re7+] Kxe7 33. Qg7+ Ke6 34. Qd7+ Ke5 35. Re2+ Kd4 36. Re4+ Kd3 37. Qh3+ Kd2 38. Qg2+ resigns.

Analysing it now, I can only conclude 'mate in nine' would have been more accurate. But had I correctly calculated a forced mate after 33 . . . Nf7 34. Re2+ Kd6 35. Qxf7?

(Graphic omitted)

Comments