Pursuits: Chess

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The Independent Culture
LAST OCTOBER, Murugan Thiruchelvam from New Malden in Surrey created a new record when, still more than a month short of his 10th birthday, he became the youngest player ever to draw with a grandmaster - Bogdan Lalic. Now aged just over 10 years - he reached double figures on 11 December - he has breached a fresh barrier by becoming the youngest person ever to qualify for the British and probably any national championship.

Murugan's further success came in the Fulprint 12th Yorks Chess Congress last weekend, when he was clear second on 4.5/5 behind the winner Matthew Turner on a perfect 5. This excellent result gave him a performance rating on 226 - translating to 2,408, about par for an international master - entitling him to a place in the Smith and Williamson British Championship in Scarborough in August more than a year earlier than the previous youngest, Luke McShane and Simon Buckley.

Of course you shouldn't extrapolate from such things unreasonably. But it comes not as a flash in the pan but rather as part of a steady stream of excellence, both at a junior level (British under-8, Onyx under-10, England under-11, London under-12 titles) and in adult competition where he has progressed via minors and majors to feel comfortable in open tournaments.

Last month, Murugan was one of four juniors to face Gary Kasparov in simultaneous play as part of the launch of the new Internet-based service Play Games Now! for the BT games network Wireplay; and when I spoke to Kasparov the next day he said he was particularly impressed by him. So without in any way wishing to burden him with excessive expectations, it's more than likely that he will become a very strong player. Here is how he dispatched the experienced British Championship player and Fide arbiter Harry Lamb in the last round in York.

In a French Winawer, Murugan played the eccentric 12 Bb5, exchanging bishops, after which he initially had insufficient compensation for the weakened queenside.

19 Bb4! created some play by getting rid of an important defender. Murugan shocked his opponent with 32 Nxd4! which couldn't be taken in view of 32... Qxd4 33 Qe6+ Kh7 34 Qxc8 Qd5 35 Qh3! (35 Rg1 Nxg2 36 Rxg2 Qd1+ is perpetual check ). Black would still have been doing fine after 32... Rf8! eg 33 Nf3 Qf5 or 33 Qd3 Qf4! but went under with 32... Rc3? At the end there was no defence to the threat of 35 Rxe3!

White: Murugan Thiruchelvam

Black: Harry Lamb

French Winawer

1 e4 e6

2 d4 d5

3 Nc3 Bb4

4 e5 c5

5 a3 Bxc3+

6 bxc3 Ne7

7 Nf3 Bd7

8 Bd3 Ba4

9 0-0 Qa5

10 Bd2 Nbc6

11 Qb1 Qc7

12 Bb5 Bxb5

13 Qxb5 cxd4

14 cxd4 0-0

15 Qd3 h6

16 Nh4 Na5

17 f4 Nc4

18 Rf3 f6

19 Bb4 fxe5

20 dxe5 Rf7

21 Bxe7 Qxe7

22 Ng6 Qc5+

23 Kh1 Rc8

24 f5 exf5

25 Rxf5 Ne3

26 Rxf7 Kxf7

27 e6+ Kxe6

28 Re1 d4

29 Nf4+ Kf7

30 Qg6+ Kg8

31 Ne6 Qe5

32 Nxd4! Rc3?

33 Ne6 Rc8

34 h3 1-0