ETCETERA / Chess

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The Independent Culture
WHEN the world's strongest male player met the world's strongest female in Linares this month, there was more to the game than anyone had predicted. William Hartston analyses the play and the incident that overshadowed it.

White: Judit Polgar

Black: Garry Kasparov

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. f4 e6 7. Be2 Be7 8. 0-0 Qc7 9. Qe1 Nbd7 10. a4 b6 11. Bf3 Bb7 12. Kh1 Rd8]

After 12 . . . 0-0 White continues 13. Qg3. By delaying castling, Kasparov invites 13. Qg3 h5] (14. Qxg7?? Rg8 15. Qh6 Bf8).

13. Be3 0-0 14. Qg3 Nc5 15. f5 e5 16. Bh6

Black has effectively gained a move by making White's bishop stop over on e3 on its trip to h6.

16 . . . Ne8 17. Nb3 Nd7]?

Reasoning that White's knight is going nowhere useful from b3, Kasparov avoids exchanges.

18. Rad1 Kh8 19. Be3 Nef6 20. Qf2 Rfe8 21. Rfe1 Bf8 22. Bg5 h6 23. Bh4 Rc8 24. Qf1 Be7 25. Nd2 Qc5 26. Nb3 Qb4]

A brave move, cutting off the queen's lines of retreat, but Kasparov must have thought it was the only way to try to win the game.

27. Be2 Bxe4

27 . . . Nxe4? 28. Bxe7 Rxe7 29. Bf3 is very bad for Black.

28. Nxe4 Nxe4 29. Bxe7 Rxe7 30. Bf3 Nef6 31. Qxa6 Ree8

After 31 . . . Rxc2 32. Nd4] White threatens both Nxc2 and Nc6. The e-file pin protects the knight.

32. Qe2 Kg8 33. Bb7 Rc4 34. Qd2 Qxa4 35. Qxd6 Rxc2 36. Nd2 (see diagram)

With both players short of time, Kasparov picked up his knight from d7, moved it to c5, saw the reply Bc6, put it back on d7, then thought again. Polgar thought his hand had left the piece, so looked enquiringly at the arbiter. His face showed no sign of having detected anything wrong, so, rather than risk an argument and possible penalty, she continued play. Later a video of the game appeared to confirm that Kasparov's hand had (perhaps inadvertently) left the knight on c5 for about a quarter of a second. Kasparov said that he believed he always maintained contact with the piece: 'My conscience is clear.'

Interestingly, 36 . . . Nc5 37. Bc6 Qh4 38. Bxe8 Ng4 may still be enough to give Black a draw.

36 . . . Nf8 37. Ne4 N8d7 38. Nxf6+ Nxf6 39. Qxb6 Ng4 40. Rf1 e4

Still twitchy, Kasparov misses 40 . . . Nf2+] 41. Rxf2 Rxf2.

41. Bd5 e3] 42. Bb3 Qe4 43. Bxc2 Qxc2 44. Rd8 Rxd8 45. Qxd8+ Kh7 46. Qe7 Qc4] White resigns.

If the rook leaves the back rank, Qc1+ mates, while if it leaves the f-file, Qf4 decides matters. Finally 47. Kg1 loses to e2 followed by Qd4+. A neat finish, but the game will be remembered for its incident in time-trouble.

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