Independent Pursuits: Chess

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THERE WERE several tournaments last weekend, with the 25th Grangemouth tournament in Falkirk much the strongest. Sponsored by BP, Falkirk Council and Zeneca, this excellent event is an annual "Station of the Board" for those competing in what is now the Onyx Leigh Grand Prix.

To win this gruelling contest, the leaders have to career round the country amassing points in weekend and other tournaments. Grangemouth, being an elite event, carries a hefty bonus and so it was that Jim Plaskett, currently second behind the perennial "weekender" Mark Hebden, turned up in the hope of improving his score in the race for the pounds 3,000 first prize.

Plaskett was stymied, however, in the game by the Scottish grandmaster Colin McNab, who ran out the winner with a perfect 5/5 to take home pounds 500 and the BP silver salver. The Hastings-based grandmaster shared second place with Jonathan Rowson; but the sum gain for Plaskett's efforts in Grand Prix terms was just a third of a point.

McNab is an extremely quiet person who also starts his chess games quietly but then builds up towards a climax. He got little out of the opening in today's game and indeed Plaskett seemed to be getting the better of it as he gained the two bishops and a good pawn structure. However, he obviously both overestimated his chances on the long white diagonal and underestimated McNab's play when the rook reached a7.

In the diagram, Plaskett ought to have played 32...Rb8, when 33 Qxd6 Rb1+ 34 Kh2 Qf1 35 Rxg7+! Kxg7 36 Qxe5+ Kg8 37 Qe6+ Kg7 38 Qe7+ Kg8 leads only to perpetual check. His last chance to fight was 33....Qc3, though 34 Qxe5 Qxe5 35 fxe5 is very good for White.

White: Colin McNab

Black: Jim Plaskett

Grangemouth (Round 4) 1998

English Opening

1 Nf3 b6

2 g3 Bb7

3 Bg2 Nf6

4 c4 c5

5 d3 g6

6 e4 Bg7

7 Nc3 0-0

8 h3 Nc6

9 Bg5 h6

10 Be3 d6

11 0-0 a6

12 Qd2 Kh7

13 a3 Nd7

14 Rab1 Nd4

15 b4 Rb8

16 bxc5 bxc5

17 Nd5 e6

18 Nf4 Bc6

19 h4 Nxf3+

20 Bxf3 Ne5

21 Be2 Qd7

22 Nh3 Rxb1

23 Rxb1 f5

24 f4 Ng4

25 Bxg4 fxg4

26 Nf2 h5

27 d4 cxd4

28 Bxd4 e5

29 Be3 Qe6

30 Rb6 Rc8

31 Rxa6 Qxc4

32 Ra7 (see


32 ...Bxe4?

33 Qxd6 Ba8?

34 Qxe5 Rg8

35 Bd4 Qc1+

36 Kh2 Qc6

37 Rxg7+ Kh6

38 Qg5 mate