ETCETERA / Chess

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
William Hartston recounts another of his confessions of an ill-spent youth.

White: W Hartston

Black: L Portisch

England v Hungary, Chess Olympics, Nice 1974.

1. e4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 3. d4 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Ne7 7. Nf3

I always preferred this to the tactical lines with 7. Qg4.

7 . . . Bd7 8. a4 Nbc6 9. Be2 Qc7 10. 0-0 b6 11. Bd3

Now 11 . . . 0-0 loses to the standard Bxh7+ and Ng5+.

11 . . . h6 12. Ba3 Na5

I had analysed this position years before and found an interesting plan: 13. dxc5 bxc5 14. Nd2 0-0 15. Nb3. But now I forgot it.

13. Re1 0-0 14. dxc5 bxc5 15. Nd2 Ng6

Only now did I realise that something was wrong. Then I remembered that Re1 was not part of the plan at all. I cheered up on realising that 16. Qh5 Nf4 17. Qg4 Nxd3 18. cxd3 is good for White.

16. Qh5 Be8 17. Qe2

My opponent now wrote down his next move and covered it with his pen, but I could see the first letter peeking out, which clearly indicated a bishop move. But which one? Bc6 would allow Bxc5, while Bd7 would invite a repetition of moves with Qh5. I was puzzled for several minutes. Then he made his move.

17 . . . Bxa4

I hadn't even seen that he could take this pawn. Fortunately for me, it is a fine sacrifice.

18. Qg4 Bd7 19. Nf3]

It makes no sense to take the pawn back with Bxg6. White must play for attack.

19 . . . Nc4 20. Bc1]

Now everything is pointing at the black king and 20 . . . N4xe5 21. Nxe5 Nxe5 22. Qg3 f6 23. Bxh6 Rf7 24. Bf4 is strong for White.

20 . . . Bc8 21. Qh5 (see diagram).

After making this move, I rose to see how the other games were progressing. As I wandered, another English player sidled up to me and asked how my game was going. 'I'm killing him,' I replied. Then I saw Portisch pointing in my direction and gesticulating angrily at an arbiter. I returned to the board to hear him complaining that I had been talking to another player. 'I'm sorry,' I said. 'We weren't discussing the game.' Which was, perhaps, not strictly accurate, but seemed the best way to defuse the situation.

After that, I was sure I was killing him.

21 . . . Rd8 22. Bxh6] gxh6 23. Qxh6 Nb2

There is nothing useful for him to do.

24. Ng5 Nxd3 25. Nh7] resigns.

My next move is Nf6+ and he is dead.

(Graphic omitted)

Comments