Chess

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There is a small epidemic raging through Europe of a condition that affects most chess players from time to time. The disease is characterised by an irresistible desire to break away from convention, and the primary symptom is a sudden two-square advance of the g-pawn.

When White plays g4 to start a pawn storm against a Sicilian or King's Indian Defence, the move is strategically justified and quite normal behaviour. The pathological g4, however, is a nervous twitch, motivated by a desire to do something vulgar. In the past week, I have spotted two cases - one successful, the other a disaster.

The good one appeared in the game Stohl-Berzinsh, at the tournament in Olomouc in the Czech Republic. After the fairly placid opening moves 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.d4 Bb4 4.Qc2 c5 5.dxc5 Bxc5 6.Nf3 Qb6 7.e3 Qc7 (Black has sacrificed a move to prevent White's bishop from developing to g5) 8.Bd2 a6, White lurched forth with 9.g4!? Be7 (9...Nxg4 10.Rg1 Nxh2 11.Nxh2 Qxh2 12.Rxg7 leaves Black dangerously behind in development) 10.g5 Ng4 and after 11.h3 Ne5 12.Ne4 Nc6 13.c5 Qc7 14.Bc3 Kf8 15.f4, he had a very promising position and went on to win in 28 moves.

Here, however, is the g5 that went astray, in one of the weirdest games of the year. Black's 6...g5 is a wild way of fighting for control of the d4 square, but things rapidly got out of hand. Black gave up a bishop, confident that the white knight would be trapped on b7, but it was still there at the end of the game. It could have been captured at move 13, but Black did not trust his black squares to take care of themselves after 13...Qxb7 14.Nxd4. He should, however, have taken the knight two moves later instead of 15...Bxh2+. When Black decided that 23...Nxf1 24.Rxf1 would leave White with a winning attack, he must have known that all had gone wrong.

White: T Engqvist

Black: M Sjoberg

Stockholm 1997

1 c4 e6 15 Qxf3 Bxh2+

2 Nf3 b6 16 Kh1 Ne5

3 Nc3 Bb7 17 Bg5+ Ke8

4 e4 e5 18 Qd1 Ng4

5 Bd3 Nc6 19 Qf3 f6

6 0-0 g5 20 e5 Bxe5

7 Bb1 Bg7 21 Ne3 Nh2

8 d4 g4 22 Bg6+ Ke7

9 Ne1 Bxd4 23 Qe4 Ng4

10 Nb5 h5 24 Bh4 Bd4

11 Nd6+ Ke7 25 Nf5+ Kf8

12 Nxb7 Qb8 26 Bg3 exf5

13 Nc2 Be5 27 Qd5 resigns

14 f4 gxf3

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