ETCETERA / Chess: Britain's leading woman grandmaster describes how she was battered by our leading member of the pre-teen age-group

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The Independent Culture
After a few months' maternity leave, I decided to try my luck at a Quickplay event in Golders Green. In the final round I found myself disconcertingly paired against Luke McShane, whose age, just in double figures, was considerably nearer that of my baby son than my own. Furthermore, he looks far too angelic to play good chess.

White: Susan Arkell

Black: Luke McShane

1. e4 c5 2. c3 Nf6 3. e5 Nd5 4. d4 d6

Though I have played 2. c3 against the Sicilian for many years, this move is new to me. My opponent, looking round the room with a half-bored expression, gave nothing away, so I could not guess whether he didn't have a clue or (more frighteningly) knew exactly what he was doing.

Later I looked up the move and found a single reference to it, in a game played in Dublin in 1956 - not the greatest of help.

5. c4 Nc7 6. dxc5 dxc5 7. Qxd8+ Kxd8 8. Nc3 Nc6 9. Be3

Neither 9. Nf3 Bg4 nor 9. f4 Nb4 was appealing, so I decided to get on with my development rather than defend the e-pawn.

9 . . . Nxe5 10. 0-0-0+ Ke8 11. Bxc5 b6 12. Be3 g6

I thought that I was sure to win at least a pawn here and that he would have to grovel with something like f6 just to hang on to his knights. I was surprised at the way he played his next few moves in only a few seconds. I assumed he was just reacting to my threats and playing forced moves.

13. Bf4 Bg7 14. Nf3 Nxf3 15. Bxc7

Now I am attacking his knight and threatening mate on d8.

15 . . . Nd4 16. Nb5 Ne6]

I had overlooked this and now became impatient.

17. c5 Bd7 18. cxb6 axb6 19. Bxb6??

Oh careless capture] 19. Bc4 would still have been very strong.

19 . . . Rxa2 20. Bc4 (see diagram)

Threatening both Bxa2 and Bxe6 followed by Nc7+, but it's not as powerful as it looks.

20 . . . Rxb2

Defending and attacking simultaneously. Now my bishop is left hanging on b6 if I try to win a piece.

21. Bxe6 fxe6 22. Nc7+ Kf7 23. Bd4

I realised by now that my position was hopeless, and my opponent's reply rubbed it in.

23 . . . Rb7]]

This wins a piece after 24. Bxg7 Rxc7+ or 24. Na6 Rc8+. I struggled on for some time, but would rather not reveal the details. I used twice as much time and even had to rely on my opponent's memory to reconstruct the moves of the game. Luke appears cute, but you have to watch his moves.

(Graphic omitted)

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