ETCETERA / Chess

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Grandmaster Plaskett tells the sad tale that led to a lost position after nine moves.

White: J Plaskett

Black: J Speelman

Lloyd's Bank Masters 1993

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. g3

This was thought to be a poor move until Oleg Romanishin started playing it in the mid- Seventies. Then Kasparov beat Karpov with it, Karpov took it up himself, and everybody began to like it.

4 . . . 0-0 5. Bg2 Nc6]? 6. Nf3 b6]?

A completely new but possibly viable idea. The normal moves are d5, d6 or Bxc3+.

7. Ne5 Bb7 8. Bg5 (see diagram)

This is the key moment. I had intended 8. Qa4, when Speelman suggested 8 . . . Bxc3+ 9. bxc3 Na5 which I had thought better for White after 10. Bxb7 Nxb7 11. Bg5. But then he found 11 . . . Nd6]? 12. Bxf6 gxf6 when 13. Nxd7? loses to 13 . . . b5] The other possible set-up is 8. Qa4 Be7 9. Bg5 Qe8, which was what I expected to reach by the move- order in the game.

8 . . . Nxe5]?

What is this? Actually an equalising move, but it had the effect of stupefying me.

9. Bxf6

The correct move was 9. Bxb7 when after 9 . . . Nxc4 10. Qb3 fails to the diabolic 10 . . . Na5] So perhaps 10. Bxf6 Qxf6 11. Bxa8 Bxc3+ 12. bxc3 Rxa8 is correct when 13. Qa4 d5 leads to balanced chances. With 9. Bxf6, I overlooked my opponent's reply, not something I have often managed as early as the ninth move.

9 . . . Qc8]

Now it's curtains. Since 10. Bxb7 Qxb7 leaves rook and bishop attacked, the next moves are forced.

10. Bxe5 Bxg2 11. Rg1 Bxc3+ 12. bxc3 Bb7 13. c5

Not played with any optimism, but I was already reduced to operating in grovel/swindle mode, where you have the acceptance that you are lost, but are also prepared to grab at any straw. While White disentangles king and rook, Black has a free hand to attack.

13 . . . d6] 14. cxd6 cxd6 15. Bxd6 Rd8]

Very accurate. 15 . . . Qxc3+ 16. Kf1 Rd8 17. Rc1 offers White more defensive hopes.

16. Bf4 Qxc3+ 17. Kf1 Rxd4 18. Qc1 Qa5 19. Be3 Rd7 20. f3 Rc8 21. Qb2 Rc3 22. Bf2

I could not play 22. Bd2 because of 22 . . . Rxd2 23. Qxd2 Rxf3+.

22 . . . Qe5] 23. Rb1 Qc7]

A very effective switch of direction for the queen. Now I get my king out of the centre just in time to lose along the second rank.

24. Kg2 Rc2 25. Rgc1 Bxf3+]

An elegant and effective finale. Now 26. Kxf3 loses the queen to 26 . . . Qb7+, while 26. exf3 leaves a lost endgame after 26 . . . Rxb2 27. Rxc7 Rxf2+] 28. Kxf2 Rxc7.

White resigns.

(Graphic omitted)

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