Independent Pursuits: Chess

THE THIRD annual tournament in the spa town of Enghien-les-Bains, just a few miles from Paris, finished last Friday. Running from 3 March with just a single rest day, this excellent event featured a fine mixture of up-and-coming talent and established players in a field of 10 with an average of 2603 (category 15).

To begin with, the Moldavian Viktor Bologan was in the ascendancy, racking up a most impressive 6/7. But his shocking loss in the penultimate round to Joel Lautier in just 10 moves clearly affected him, and, while Lautier draw his final game with Christian Bauer, Bologan lost his second in a row to Russian Ponomariov.

This put Lautier clear first on 6.5/9, ahead of Bologan on 6, Tkachiev and both wunderkinds Ponomariov - who won't be 16 till October - and Bacrot - who was 16 in January - on 5, Salov on 4, Beliavsky, Rausis and Sadler on 3.5 and Bauer just 3.

Although he had a bad tournament, Matthew Sadler was admirably upbeat when I spoke to him a couple of days after the event, extolling the venue and organisation which engendered superb fighting spirit among the players in an event without a single "Grandmaster Draw". He kindly pointed me in the direction of this fine game.

In a fashionable line of the Ruy Lopez, Black initally sacrificed a pawn, and great complications started about move 20. If 21... Bxe1 22.Nxe4 dxe4 23.Qxe4 Bd2 24.Qxh7+ Kf8 25.Qh8+ Ke7 26.Qxg7! is very strong since if Bxc1 27.Qf6+ Kf8 28.Rh4 wins.

22.Rg4!! was splendid. If then 22... Ne4 23.Rgxe4! Bxe1 24.Rxe1 is simplest. Black was forced to jettison his queen for if 23... g6? 24.Qf6 or eg 23... f6 24.Bf5 Qf7 25 Rxg7+ Qxg7 26.Bxg7 Kxg7 27.Qg4+ Kh6 28.exf6 Rg8 29.Qf4+ Rg5 30 bxc3 etc. After 25.Qf3! - not 25. bxc3 Bxc3 - it was reasonably straightforward.

White Viktor Bologan

Black Vladimir Tkachiev

Enghien-les-Bains 1999 (Round 7)

Ruy Lopez

1.e4 e5

2.Nf3 Nc6

3.Bb5 a6

4.Ba4 Nf6

5.0-0 b5

6.Bb3 Bc5

7.a4 Rb8

8.c3 d6

9.d4 Bb6

10.Na3 0-0

11.axb5 axb5

12.Nxb5 exd4

13.cxd4 Bg4

14.Ra4 Re8

15.Re1 Qd7

16.Bc2 d5

17.e5 Ne4

18.Nc3 Nxe5

19.dxe5 Bxf3

20.Qxf3 Bxf2+

21.Kh1 Nxc3

22.Rg4!! Bxe1

23.Bh6 Qxg4

24.Qxg4 g6

25.Qf3 Bh4

26.Qxc3 d4

27.Qxd4 Bf6

28.Bf4 Re6

29.h3 Bg7

30.Bb3 Reb6

31.Bc4 Rxb2

32.Qd7 Rf8

33.Qxc7 h6

34.Qc6 g5

35.Be3 Rb1+

36.Bg1 Rd8

37.Be2 Re1

38.Qb5 Rd2

39.e6 fxe6

Black resigns