Chess

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A good combination, as Edison might have said, may well be 50 per cent inspiration and 50 per cent desperation. Any amount of perspiration is an optional extra. Today's game, at first sight, looks like an easy demolition job by White. He goes directly on to the attack from the opening with 12.Ng5 and a quick advance of his h-pawn, sacrifices a knight with 17.Nxh7 to break through the enemy defences, and even when Black tries to hold up the onslaught by returning some material, White still crashes through with his attack.

On looking at it in more detail, however, one begins to have some doubts. The crisis came in the diagram position after 16...e5.

Having weakened the black squares around his opponent's king, White ought to be reluctant to retreat his bishop, but he may also have been worried about the consequences of 17.Bg3 Nxh5!? It seems that White can force an immediate win with 18.Rxh5 gxh5 19.Rd5, threatening both Qxh7 mate and Rxa5, but Black meets 18.Rxh5 with 18...Bf5! when 19.e4 gxh5 is no longer at all clear.

Such a possibility ought to make White suspect that he is in danger of losing control of the game. Having played with such energy earlier, White should be looking for ways to keep up the momentum.

The decision to play 17.Nxh7 was probably motivated less by a conviction that it was sound than White's feeling that he would lose the initiative if he didn't play it. the sacrifice does at least give Black considerable problems to solve. 17...Nxh7 18.hxg6 fxg6? loses to 19.Rd7! with the fatal threat of Qxg6+. But after 17...nxh7 18.hxg6 Nf6! the position is far from clear. White has two pawns and an attack for his piece, but I do not see a forced win.

Perhaps scared of being on the wrong side of a brilliancy, Black decided to give up his rook in order to rid the board of two of White's attacking minor pieces, but he must have missed the force of 20.Rd5! After 20...Nxd5, White plays 21.Qxg6+ Bg7 22.Qe8+ Bf8 23.Rh5! and Black is helpless. This neat tactical trick enabled the rook to cross to g5, greatly adding to White's attack. At the end, Black collapsed with 22...Qf7? blundering away his queen to 23.Rh8+! Kxh8 24.Qxf7. Instead, he can fight on with 22...Qe7, though after either 23.exf4 or 23.e4 followed by e5, White has every chance to win.

White: B Alterman

Black: Liang Jinrong

Peking 1997

1 d4 d5 13 Bd3 g6

2 c4 e6 14 h4 Ne5

3 Nc3 Be7 15 h5 Nxd3+

4 Nf3 Nf6 16 Rxd3 e5

5 Bf4 0-0 17 Nxh7 exf4

6 e3 c5 18 Nxf8 Bxf8

7 dxc5 Bxc5 19 hxg6 fxg6

8 a3 Nc6 20 Rd5 Qc7

9 Qc2 Qa5 21 Rg5 Bg7

10 0-0-0 dxc4 22 Qxg6 Qf7

11 Bxc4 a6 23 Rh8+

12 Ng5 Be7 Black resigned

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