Independent Pursuits: Chess

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The Independent Culture
WITH JUST over a week to go in the Onyx Grand Prix, there's still time for the three leaders, Mark Hebden on 190.6/200, Keith Arkell, 190.2, and Jim Plaskett, 189.3, to take part in some final skirmishes before Ragnarok at Islington next weekend. Rumour has it that one or more of them will be in action in Golders Green on Saturday and/or Nuneaton on Sunday; and a perfect score - but only a perfect score - at either would certainly be invaluable.

The sheer volume of chess required by the Grand Prix is such that you couldn't expect, and indeed it would be counter-productive for, the leading players to put maximal effort into every game. They therefore generally use their "autopilots" against weaker opponents. Unfortunately, Jim Plaskett's "George" seems to have become a little jaded, for he dropped vital half-points against weaker opposition both at the Spectrum Clevedon Open in Bristol and at the 45th Hertfordshire Congress last Saturday. But he has continued to perform excellently on full throttle against more serious opposition.

This important victory at Hertfordshire was in the fourth round, when Plaskett had already conceded his draw - in the first round, to Stephen Peters from Aylesbury: but Arkell was still on course for a maximum.

Plaskett went on to win with 4.5/5 while Arkell was second on 4.

In the Leningrad Dutch, Black sacrifices structure - a weak e6 square - for activity. After Arkell attacked with 10 h4!?, Black's structure was further compromised, but the fine pawn sacrifice 15... Ne4! created excellent white square play after Arkell took it. Instead, he should have played 16 Nab1! when if 16... Nxc3 17 Qd2! regains the piece with advantage. 21... b5! created still more play. In the diagram, if 28 Nxe7+ Kf7 29 Nf5 Bxf5 30 exf5 Ne3+ 31 Kg1 Nxd1 32 Rxd1 Kg8 33 f6 b4 34 Bd2 Rxf6 is winning. 31 dxe6 was desperate and Plaskett cleaned up easily. If 40 R1xd2 Re1+ 41 Kg2 Rg1 would be mate.

White: Keith Arkell

Black: Jim Plaskett

Hertfordshire 1998

Leningrad Dutch

, , ba,

, , n ,d

,Fn , n

,hnH, ,

, ,H,hN

,HC , N

g,f, NA,

, ,G,G,

1 Nf3 d6

2 d4 f5

3 b3 g6

4 Bb2 Bg7

5 c4 Nf6

6 Nc3 0-0

7 g3 Qe8

8 d5 h6

9 Bg2 g5

10 h4!? g4

11 Nd4 c5

12 Ndb5 Qd8

13 e3 Qa5

14 0-0 a6

15 Na3 Ne4!

16 Bxe4 fxe4

17 Qc2 Nd7

18 Nxe4 Ne5

19 Nc3 Bf5

20 e4 Bh7

21 Rad1 b5!

22 cxb5 Nf3+

23 Kg2 Nd4

24 Nc4 Nxc2

25 Nxa5 axb5

26 Nc6 Bxc3

27 Bxc3 Rxa2

(see diagram)

28 Bd2 Bxe4+

29 Kg1 Kh7

30 Bc1 e6

31 dxe6 Bxc6

32 Rxd6 Nd4

33 e7 Re8

34 Be3 Nf3+

35 Kh1 Ne5+

36 Kg1 Rxe7

37 Bxc5 Nf3+

38 Kh1 Bb7

39 Rfd1 Rd2

40 R6xd2 Nxd2+

41 Kg1 Rd7 0-1