ETCETERA / Chess

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Grandmaster Plaskett wangles his way to an entertaining win against a former world championship candidate. The game was played in Oviedo, Spain, last month.

White: James Plaskett

Black: Lajos Portisch

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 e6 3. f4 d5 4. Nf3 a6

A very simple and effective equalising device. With Bb5+ no longer possible to interfere with Black's development, White already has no prospect of advantage.

5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 d4] 7. Ne2?] d3] 8. cxd3 Qxd3

Simplest and best. I would have been quite happy with the consequences of 8 . . . Nb4? 9. d4 Nd3+ 10. Kf1. Now I was not pleased with my position after the natural 9. Nc3, which is almost certainly an indication that something is amiss. I therefore spotted and quite quickly played an idea which is far from logical but seemed to offer a reasonable practical chance of wangling something from the position.

9. Ne5]? Nxe5 10. fxe5 Ne7 11. b3 Nc6 12. Bb2 g6]

Seizing on White's principal weakness as e5. I was already forecd to consider sacrificial continuations, since normal development will just lose the e5- pawn for nothing.

13. Rc1 b6 14. 0-0 Bg7 15. Nf4 Qd8

A small surprise. I had expected 15 . . . Qd7 when none of White's offers looks convincing: 16. b4 Nxb4 or 16. Nd5 exd5 17. exd5 Nxe5 and my game runs out of steam.

16. b4

At least this creates some sort of disturbance. 16 . . . Nxb4 is now met by 17. d4 when cxd4 loses the knight to Qa4+. That is why the black queen would have stood better on d7.

16 . . . Bxe5 17. Bxe5 Nxe5 18. bxc5 bxc5 19. Qa4+ Bd7 20. Qa3 c4 21. d4

White must keep chucking wood on the fire.

21 . . . cxd3 ep 22. Qd6 (see diagram)

The critical moment.

22 . . . Qb8??

I was worried about 22 . . . d2] when 23. Qxd2 0-0 is fine for Black and 23. Qxe5 is met by f6. I was therefore considering 23. Rc7 or 23. Rc3, but the following day Portisch suggested that Black could even queen the pawn then play 24 . . . Bb5]?

After the move in the game, it all ends quickly.

23. Rc7 Ra7

Here he had been counting on 24. Qxe5 f6 25. Qxf6 Rf8, but had overlooked something much simpler and more effective.

24. Nd5] exd5 25. Qxe5+ Kd8 26. Rxd7+] Kxd7 27. Rxf7+ Kc6 28. Qxd5+ Kb6 29. Rf6+ Kc7 30. Qd6+ Black resigned.

30 . . . Kb7 31. Qc6 is mate, while 30 . . . Kc8 31. Bh3+ only delays it by one move.

(Graphic omitted)

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