Independent Pursuits: Chess

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ALTHOUGH IT'S certainly an advantage for a chess player to have learnt the game young - I was just over six years old when I started - the position is more double-edged as a writer, since it's that much harder to imagine how the chessboard appears to your readers. An analogy seems a sensible approach, with draughts the best example - a familiar game in which it's not hard to understand that there are long forcing sequences and zugzwang is paramount; but this would in no way help me if I had to play it.

Another "game" in which the "opponent" unfortunately makes the rules, is software installation. I grappled recently with Mr Gates's ineffable Windows 98.

The first round certainly went my way, since with the help of another piece of software - Partition Magic - I succeeded in placing the poor darling not, as the Great Microchip in the Sky no doubt intends, alone and omnipotent, but rather in its own little partition alongside such atavistic undesirables as DOS and Linux. However, Mr Gates has since fought back in various ways...

The reason for all this palaver was to install various other programs that require Windows 98 (or its older, less sophisticated brother, Windows 95). The chess ones are ChessBase 7.0, the snazzy new version from ChessBase of Hamburg, and Chess Informant of Belgrade's new Chess Informant Reader.

I'm helping Informant to tidy up the English in the Help system of this program, which can be downloaded without charge from http:// but is then used to interpret commercially available "electronic books" obtainable from the same address.

Paramount among these are the five hefty volumes of Informant's Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings. It would be an invitation to a bad back and the attentions of the least officious of airline check-in officials to carry these to tournaments in "hard copy"; but they may well prove to be a boon on disk.

I was intending now to spend three minutes on finding a nice, short game in their sampler, and publish it. I fear that Mr Gates took further revenge when the Reader failed to load...

Two hours, and two - or is it three? - re-installs later, here is that game, which I fear at the moment can't be searched for explicitly by length, though that capacity, among others, will be on the "wish list" that I shall be sending to Informant in a few days' time.

In the first meeting between these two great players, Kasparov hit Ivanchuk early with a novelty - 11 d4 - and kept on slugging. Kasparov says that 14... fxg4 was an improvement.

At the end, 24... Bxd5 25 Re8+ Bg8 26 f7 Nxf7 27 Nxf7 would be a very pretty smothered mate.

White: Gary Kasparov

Black: Vassily Ivanchuk

USSR Championship 1988

English Opening