Independent Pursuits: Chess

TOP ORGANISER Adam Raoof's Oxford International Chess festival finished a week ago today after exciting last round battles in all events.

In the Grandmaster A, Julian Hodgson had started the day leading by a whole point. Hodgson, however, tried the Sicilian Dragon against the dangerous young Israeli, Emil Sutovsky, and was shot down in flames. This gave Swede Jonny Hector the chance to catch up. Hector took the opportunity, defeating the off-form Peter Wells to tie on 6/9. But the prize fund was to be apportioned according to tie-break; and this favoured Hodgson who received the first prize of pounds 4,000, while Hector made just pounds 3,000.

The two were followed by John Nunn, who made 5.5; McDonald and Gausel, 5; Sutovsky and Turner, 4.5; Rowson and Pedersen, 3; and Wells, just 2.5.

In the Grandmaster B event, Barsov and Colin Crouch were first equal on 6/9, ahead of Tim Wall - who made an (IM) norm, Summerscale and Ansell on 5.5.

The greatest drama of all, though, from a classical point of view, was surely the sibling battle between Harriet Hunt and her younger brother Adam in the International Master event. A point clear after 5 rounds, Harriet was ground down in the sixth by the extremely determined Adam. She recovered though, to win outright with 7/9 and make an IM norm. Adam Hunt came second on 6.5.

This was the chaotic battle between the two winners. In the opening, 7....b6 looks a bit dubious in view of the weakening of the long white diagonal - 7....Qb6 was safer. Hector had to surrender the centre with 12....dxc4 since if 12....Nh5 13.cxd5 cxd5 14.Nxd5! exd5 15.Qxd5! wins. The excellent 17.Nxd5! cemented the advantage since the natural 17....cxd5 would lose the b5 pawn. White looks quite winning after 23.Rxc4 though it required some care. At the end, if 36....Qf5+ 37.Kg2 Qg4+ 38.Kf1 Qd1+ (or 38....Qh3+ 39.Ke1 Qh1+ 40.Ke2 Qh5+ 41.f3 etc) 39.Be1 Qd3+ 40.Kg1 ends the checks.

Julian Hodgson v Jonny Hector

Oxford 1998

Queen's Gambit Slav

1.d4 d5

2.c4 c6

3.Nf3 Nf6

4.e3 Bf5

5.Nc3 e6

6.Nh4 Bg4

7.Qb3 b6

8.h3 Bh5

9.g4 Bg6

10.Nxg6 hxg6

11.Bg2 Be7

12.g5 dxc4

13.Qxc4 Nd5 14.h4 b5

15.Qd3 Nd7 16.Bd2 N7b6

17.Nxd5 exd5

18.b3 Qd7 19.Rc1 Ba3 20.Rc2 Qg4 21.Bf1 Rc8

22.b4 Nc4

23.Rxc4 dxc4

24.Qxa3 Rd8

25.Rh3 Rxh4

26.Rxh4 Qxh4

27.Bg2 Qxg5

28.Bxc6+ Kf8

29.Qxa7 Qg1+

30.Ke2 Qb1

31.Qa3 Rb8

32.Qc3 Qxa2

33.d5 Rb6

34.Qd4 Qc2

35.Qxb6 Qd3+

36.Kf3 1-0