Independent Pursuits: Chess

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THIS WEEKEND there were sessions of both our own Four Nations Chess League (4NCL, as it is known) in Birmingham and Bundesliga matches in Germany.

The 4NCL is rapidly developing, but many players like to jet over to Germany, so there were plenty of British troops in action there: Peter Wells for Passau, Hodgson and Conquest for Delmenhorst, Nigel Short - in fine form beating the dangerous Russian, Alexander Morozevich, on Saturday and almost defeating Arthur Yusupov on Sunday - and Dan King for Castrop and Matthew Sadler and myself for Solingen.

The Solingen team is so strong that, even in the absence of Michael Adams, I was playing on the sixth of the eight boards behind Yusupov, Sadler, Nikolic, Hubner and Piket. As we should have, we won both matches, which gives us a perfect four wins out of four going into next weekend's match against the powerful Dresden team, headed by Alexei Shirov. I managed to win both games against reasonably strong international masters. Here is the story of my first win on Saturday.

After some fencing, we transposed to a venerable line of the Nimzo-Indian Defence. If 11..a6 12.Be2, the tiny weakness induced on b6 may be significant later. In the critical diagram position, if 14...Bg4 15.e4 Ne7 16.c4 gives a pleasant edge. 14...Bf5 is also critical when I might well have tried 15.e4!? Bxe4 (if 15...Nxe4!? 16.Nh4!) 16.Rxe4 Nxe4 17.Qe1 Rxd5 18.Qxe4.

If 17...Qe5 18.c7 Rdc8 19.gxf3!. After 20.e4!, the bishops were very powerful in the ending and I cleaned up fairly efficiently.

White: Jon Speelman

Black: Holger Ellers

Bundesliga, 21 November 1998

Nimzo-Indian Defence

1.Nf3 Nf6

2.c4 e6

3.Nc3 d5

4.d4 Bb4

5.e3 0-0

6.Bd3 c5

7.0-0 Nc6

8.a3 Bxc3

9.bxc3 dxc4

10.Bxc4 Qc7

11.Bb5 Rd8

12.Re1 Bd7

13.Bf1 e5

14.d5 (see diagram) e4

15.dxc6 Bg4

16.Qb3 exf3

17.Qxb7 Rac8

18.Qxc7 Rxc7

19.h3 Bh5

20.e4 Rxc6

21.e5! Nd5

22.g4 Bg6

23.Rd1 Rcc8

24.Bg5 f6

25.exf6 Nxf6

26.Ba6! Ra8

27.Bb7 Rxd1

28.Rxd1 Rb8

29.Bxf3 Ne4

30.Be3 Nxc3

31.Rd7 Be4

32.Bxe4 Nxe4

33.Re7 Rb1+

34.Kh2 Nf6

35.Bxc5 a5

36.Ra7 Rb5

37.Bd4 Ne8

38.Kg2 Rd5

39.Bb6 Nd6


Black resigns