Etcetera: Chess

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The Independent Culture
THE TRUE value of opening theory is not generally understood. Studying the openings to such a degree that one may reel off a dozen or 20 moves by rote is, above all, an aid to digestion. Some tournament organisers, for reasons best known to themselves, insist on starting play in the very early afternoon. This presents a stark choice: forgo lunch, risk indigestion by attempting to think too soon after a meal, or rely on opening theory until the meal is digested.

White: Valeri Salov

Black: Anatoly Karpov

Wijk aan Zee 1998

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.Nbd2 Bb7 6.Bg2 c5 7.e4

The first point to note is that this game began at 1.30pm - from which we may deduce that Salov is not a man who takes his luncheon seriously. This pawn offer is hardly to be essayed on a full stomach.

7...cxd4

Letting digestion be the better part of valour, Karpov will have no truck with 7...Nxe4 8.Ne5.

8.0-0 d6 9.Nxd4 a6 10.Re1 Qc7

Black attempts to put his game on to automatic pilot. He sets course for Be7, 0-0, Nbd7 (or Nc6), then some rook shuffling along the back rank. Thinking comes later.

11.a4

Most unsporting! The threat to disrupt the Q-side with a5 forces the blood back from Black's stomach to his brain.

11...Nc6 12.Nxc6 Bxc6 13.a5 Rb8

Neither 13...bxa5 14.Nb3 a4 15.Nd4 nor 13...b5 14.cxb5 Bxb5 15.e5 was appealing.

14.axb6 Qxb6 15.Re3 Nd7 16.Rb3 Qa7 17.Rba3 Bb7 18.b4

As Black's digestive juices move on to the pudding, White has a huge advantage.

18...Qb6 19.Qa4 Be7 20.Bb2 Bf6 (Diagram.)

Black hopes for 21.Bxf6 gxf6 when his king will be secure on e7.

21.e5! Bxe5

21...Bxg2 22.exf6 was just as bad.

22.c5! Qc7 23.Bxe5 dxe5 24.Bxb7 Rxb7 25.c6 Nb6 26.Qxa6 Qxc6 27.Nc4!

The threats of Na5, or Qxb7 and Nd6+ force decisive gains.

27...Rb8 28.Nxb6 0-0

28...Rxb6 29.Qa8+ was no better.

29.Nc4 Qe4 30.Re3 Qd5 31.Nxe5 Rfc8 32.Qd3 resigns.

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