Independent Pursuits: Chess

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The Independent Culture
CHESS PLAYERS tend to divide between the theoretical, who are well versed in and even enjoy studying opening theory; and more practical players who prefer to defer the struggle beyond the initial phase as much as possible.

Of the former category, one of the most striking - indeed perhaps the most striking representative in this country - is the Croatian grandmaster Bogdan Lalic.

Bogdan's theoretical knowledge is fearsome. A fortnight ago I happened to have breakfast with him on the Sunday of the first Four Nations Chess League weekend of the new season. I fear that I'm firmly in the latter category and just a few minutes over coffee and toast with him counted as serious refreshment for one of my more beleaguered opening systems...

Lalic was in action last weekend in Scotland's longest running weekend tournament, the Glasgow Congress at the Caledonian University. He romped away to 41/2/5 to take first prize ahead of four, including the Onyx Grand Prix leader grandmaster Keith Arkell (in search of further Grand Prix points, though his score of 4 proved insufficient), to whom he conceded his only draw.

This is the second of Lalic's four wins. One of the ways of defusing a theoretician is to play a "non-theoretical" opening against him, which is what Graham Morrison did. This proved quite successful, for Morrison seemed to get quite a reasonable game with a nice outpost for the knight on b5. 13 f4!? was somewhat weakening, but justified by the initiative it generated. But White started going backwards after 17... Ng4! forcing the exchange of knights and beginning to take aim at the e pawn.

After 27... f4! in the diagram, of course if 28 gxf4 Qg4+!. Although there's nothing instantly decisive in the final position. in which he presumably lost on time, White is busted.

White: Graham Morrison

Black: Bogdan Lalic

Glasgow 1998, Reti Opening

1 Nf3 d5

2 c4 d4

3 g3 g6

4 d3 Bg7

5 Bg2 e5

6 0-0 Ne7

7 Na3 0-0

8 b4 a5

9 b5 c5

10 bxc6 Nexc6

11 Nb5 Na6

12 Ng5 Qe7

13 f4!? h6

14 Ne4 Rd8

15 fxe5 Nxe5

16 Nf2 Nb4

17 Bb2 Ng4

18 Nxg4 Bxg4

19 Rf2 Re8

20 Qa4 Qd7

21 a3 Nc6

22 Qc2 Re7

23 Raf1 Rae8

24 Bd5 Be6

25 Be4 Bh3

26 Rb1 f5

27 Bh1 (see

diagram) ...f4!

28 Bd5+ Kh7

29 Rxf4 Rxe2

30 Qd1 R8e3

31 Re4 Bf5

32 Rxe3 Rxe3

33 Be4 Bxe4

34 dxe4 Rxe4

35 Qf3 Qe7

36 Rf1 Re2

37 Bc1 Ra2

38 Bf4 Qe6 0-1