Pursuits: Chess

AS WITH other fields of human endeavour, the huge advances in computing of recent years have had a great effect on chess. Despite the high public profile of macho contests between man and machine this effect has really been most marked,

at the professional level, at least, in the development of databases, which, as the price of laptops goes down and the specification rises, are now routinely carried by almost all

international players.

It's now a decade since I was involved in my four world championship candidates' matches against Seirawan, Short, Timman and Short again (I won the first two and lost the second two). Until the Timman match, I was still in the blissfully innocent state of not owning a computer. Information- gathering had to be done "by hand". I well remember the several weeks of photocopying, cutting and pasting and then re-photocopying the pasted material which Bob Wade and several helpers - including myself - carried out for these first two matches: finally producing a pile of paper maybe nine inches or a foot high.

Nowadays, this whole operation is routinely carried out for each and every serious opponent. It takes between 10 and 20 minutes the way I do it, to collect up to a couple of thousand games, sort them by date and colour and stick on an opening key.

There is no paper and no mess, since the half-a-megabyte-or-so file can simply be deleted before starting work the next day.

On a broader front, the Internet is a wonderful medium for disseminating chess. I usually start at "Mark Crowther's Home Page" - http://www.chesscenter.com/twic/ twic.html - and follow the links from there. Fide's (Federation Internationale des Echecs) official site at Chess Planet http://www. chessweb.com/ is also very interesting (though those averse to receiving "cookies", that is, information from the distant computer on their own machines, may get irritated at hitting the "No" button when asked for permission.

Returning to the original (mis)conception, you can even play chess over the Net, particularly with computers. Personally, I use The Internet Chess Club (ICC) at http://www.chessclub.com though there's also a rival F(= free) ICC. This short game was between the French Grandmaster Igor Nataf and a gentleman using the handle Yotam. Officially, you shouldn't know the identity of such anonymous players, but I believe that the owner was born in the city of Baku; and for any who can't identify him from that, his first name is (possibly with two Rs) Gary. In the final position, the long white diagonal will be terminal for White: though there was no need to resign at once.

White: Nataf

Black: Yotam

Five-minute game

Sicilian Kan

jspeelman@compuserve.com

1 e4 c5

2 Nf3 e6

3 d4 cxd4

4 Nxd4 a6

5 Nc3 b5

6 Bd3 Qb6

7 Nb3 Qc7

8 0-0 Nf6

9 f4 b4

10 Ne2 Bb7

11 Ng3 h5

12 e5 h4

13 Nh1 h3 White resigned

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