Independent Pursuits: Chess

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NEVER NOTED for chess, Ireland, which in the view of Fide is united, has gradually been improving, spurred on by the strong ex-Russian grandmaster Alexander Baburin, now happily settled in Dublin with his family; and two first-class annual weekend tournaments: Bunratty in February, and Kilkenny.

This year's Kilkenny boasted a formidable entry, including five strong grandmasters and several international masters. Bloodcurdling play resulted in a three-way tie between Stuart Conquest, Bogdan Lalic and Luke McShane on 5/6, followed by Baburin, Heidenfeld and Quinn (IRE), Tim Wall (ENG) and Rochev (presumably RUS) on 4; the Russian grandmaster Sergei Tiviakov made a miserable 3.5.

While Bogdan Lalic was the only unbeaten player, it was McShane who made the greatest stir, playing wonderfully to pick up two more notable scalps. Luke, who isn't 15 till January, recovered from his third-round loss to Mark Hebden to beat another Mark - the son of one of Ireland's most famous players, Wolfgang Heidenfeld (1911-1981) - Tiviakov and Baburin.

Here Luke was Black against a world-class Russian particularly good at squeezing out the full point from small endgame advantages.

In the Sveshnikov (also known as the Pelikan) Black sacrifices structure for the bishop pair and activity. Tiviakov managed to exchange off the white squared bishops, a positional success; but in the diagram he still hasn't quite got control.

27 Qxb5 looks wrong since it lets the black rook enter forcefully on b2. I wondered instead about 27 Ne1 which allows the shot fxg3 28 hxg3 Be3! getting the bishop on to a good diagonal but in return for clarifying the kingside pawn structure. Indeed something like 29 Nd3 Ba7 30 Kg2 Rde8 31 Rh1! setting up play against h7 might be quite good for White. If 34 fxg3 f2+ 35 Kf1 Re1+ 36 Rxe1 Qd3+ 37 Kg2 f1Q+ forces mate. The rest was slaughter.

White: Sergei Tiviakov

Black: Luke McShane

Kilkenny round 5

Sicilian Sveshnikov

1 e4 c5

2 Nf3 Nc6

3 d4 cxd4

4 Nxd4 Nf6

5 Nc3 e5

6 Ndb5 d6

7 Bg5 a6

8 Na3 b5

9 Bxf6 gxf6

10 Nd5 f5

11 c3 Bg7

12 exf5 Bxf5

13 Nc2 Be6

14 g3 0-0

15 Bg2 a5

16 0-0 Rb8

17 Qd2 Qd7

18 Rad1 f5

19 Nde3 Rbd8

20 Bd5 Ne7

21 Bxe6+ Qxe6

22 Nd5 f4

23 Nxe7+ Qxe7

24 Qd5+ Kh8

25 Rfe1 Qf6

26 Re2 Bh6 (see


27 Qxb5 f3

28 Re4 Rb8

29 Qxa5 Rxb2

30 Ne3 Re2

31 Ng4 Qg6

32 Rb4 Bf4!

33 h3 Bxg3

34 Qd5 Bxf2+

35 Kf1 Bc5

36 Rb7 Rg2 0-1