Independent Pursuits: Chess

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The Independent Culture
THE INAUGURAL Redbus knockout tournament took place over the weekend at the Southend Civic Centre alongside the 43rd traditional Southend Congress.

Sponsored by Redbus Investments, which was set up by Demon Internet founder Cliff Stanford after Demon was sold to Scottish Telecom, this excellent new tournament featured 16 British players who fought it out from Good Friday to Easter Monday with two games at a time limit of 100 minutes plus 30 seconds per move for the entire game, followed if necessary by two 10-minute games and, finally, five-minute chess to sudden death.

This splendidly explosive format led to many dramatic finishes, none more so than in the first-round tie between Jonathan Rowson and Ruth Sheldon in which Rowson won the first game easily but she then recovered wonderfully to ground him down in a marathon 122 moves in the second. In the first 10-minute game, Sheldon's flag fell when Rowson had four seconds left - though he won the other easily enough.

A final shoot-out between this organ and The Daily Telegraph looked on the cards after Telegraph correspondent Malcolm Pein had recorded two splendid results by defeating Daniel King followed by John Emms, and I, meanwhile, had worked my way past Chris Ward and Nigel Davies.

However, both of us were eliminated in the semi-finals. Pein lost both games to Jim Plaskett, who had knocked out top seed Tony Miles in the first round in the first five-minute game and Scotsman Colin McNab similarly; and I finally lost to Bogdan Lalic in the first five-minute sudden death.

In the final both games were drawn, and Plaskett and Lalic agreed to forgo tie-breaks and split both money and title.

Already ahead, Pein showed commendable fighting spirit in this, his second game against Daniel King.

10.Bh5 and 11.Bg4 teed up after 11... Ngf6, say, for the thematic sacrifice 12.Bxe6. After 11... b4, White sacrificed the knight instead. The excellent 14.Bxd7+! prevented a later... Ne5. 15... Rc8 may be better but it's still very unclear.

King was worried about 18.Bf4 g5 19.c7 but then the pesky computer program Fritz suggests Rf8!! and if 20.Qa8+ Kd7. Not 18... d5? 19.Qa4! and certainly not 20.Rxe7?? Nxe7 21.Qxe7 Rde8 winning.

If 20... d5 21.axb4 Qf6 22.Qxf6 Bxf6 23.Rxa6 is good for White but, far from obviously, 21... Kb8? - 21... Kb7! was right - was a bad mistake since after 23.Qe2 he had to lose a tempo with 23... Kb7. If 23... Bb6 24.Rxa6 Bxf2+ 25.Qxf2! wins. The rest was mopping up.

White: Malcolm Pein

Black: Daniel King

Southend 1999

Sicilian Kan

1.d4 e6

2.Nf3 c5

3.e4 cxd4

4.Nxd4 a6

5.Nc3 Qc7

6.Be2 b5

7.0-0 Bb7

8.Bf3 d6

9.Re1 Nd7

10.Bh5 g6

11.Bg4 b4

12.Nd5 exd5

13.exd5+ Be7

14.Bxd7+! Qxd7

15.Qf3 0-0-0

16.Nc6 Bxc6

17.dxc6 Qf5

18.Qb3 Qb5

19.Qxf7 Qxc6

20.a3! Rf8

21.Qe6+ Kb8?

22.axb4 Bd8

23.Qe2 Kb7

24.c4 Bb6

25.Rxa6! Nf6

26.Be3 Nd7

27.b5 Qe4

28.Bxb6 Qxe2

29.Rxe2 Ne5

30.Bd4 Re8

31.Bxe5 dxe5

32.c5 Rd8

33.f3 Black resigns