Independent Pursuits: Chess

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ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED for Azov in Russia at the end of November, the European Club Championships were, like almost everything Fide, involuntarily rerouted - in this case to Belgrade from 11-13 January.

The eight immensely powerful finalists, every one stronger than all but the top two dozen national sides, were led by Agrouniversal from Zemum, in the former Yugoslavia, the line-up of which started Kramnik, Anand, Beliavsky, Gelfand...

You would have thought that a powerhouse like this would have walked the competition, or at least into the final. But in an amazing upset they went down 3.5-2.5 in the very first of the three knockout rounds to Polonia Warsaw. Meanwhile an even greater upset in rating terms occured when Beersheva beat the powerful St Petersburg team 4.5-1.5. The next day, too late, Agrouniversal redeemed themselves by crushing St Petersburg 4-2. And in the battles between the winners, Panfox, from Breda, slaughtered Bosna Sarajevo 5-1, while Polonia defeated Beersheva 4-2.

To begin with, it looked as though Panfox would win the final easily after the Polonia top board, Alexei Shirov, fell into a prepared variation in his favourite Grunfeld defence, while the Dutch team had good positions on all other boards. But after a long think Shirov found an excellent pawn sacrifice, and when his opponent blundered a rook and lost, the match appeared to have turned on its head.

Only in the time scramble did things go Panfox's way and they finally prevailed 3.5-2.5. Michael Adams's win against Rozentalis led the charge. Black appeared to be doing quite well but the excellent demolition sacrifice 34.Bxg6! proved decisive since the queen and two rooks were too powerful an attacking force. After 36.Qh5! the threat of 37.R7xg7! Rxg7 38.Qh8+ was decisive. More games from this excellent event later in the week.

White: Michael Adams

Black: Eduardas Rozentalis

Belgrade 1999

French Defence

1.d4 e6

2.e4 d5

3.Nd2 dxe4

4.Nxe4 Bd7

5.Nf3 Bc6

6.Bd3 Nd7

7.c3 Ngf6

8.Nxf6+ Nxf6

9.0-0 Bxf3

10.Qxf3 Qd5

11.Qe2 Be7

12.Re1 0-0

13.Bf4 c6

14.a4 Rfd8

15.Bc7 Re8

16.Be5 a5

17.Qc2 g6

18.Rad1 Qd8

19.Qb3 Qd7

20.h4 Ng4

21.h5 Nxe5

22.dxe5 Qc8

23.Re3 Bg5

24.Rh3 Qc7

25.Re1 Rad8

26.Qc2 Re7

27.Re4 Red7

28.Rg3 Bh6

29.hxg6 hxg6

30.Rh4 Bg7

31.f4 Kf8

32.Kh2 Rd5

33.Rh7 R8d7

34.Bxg6 fxg6

35.Qxg6 Rf7

36.Qh5! Bxe5

37.Qh6+ Rg7

38.fxe5 Qxe5


Black resigns