Chess

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White to play and fail to win. Just as the cricket test matches have a "champagne moment" award, for the most sparkling piece of play, the Martell Chess Trophy, the exclusive competition for teams from London's clubland, ought to have a "Cognac moment".

Not that we are suggesting, even for a moment, that White's mind might have been befuddled by brandy when he played 39.Rxa7? in the above position. As the games of the great Mikhail Tal often showed, a decent Cognac can provide excellent lubrication for the thinking organs. And Mikhail Chigorin would drink nothing else during his (admittedly unsuccessful) world title matches against Wilhelm Steinitz.

No, our suspicion is that White had just found his glass empty. So he whipped off the a-pawn and went to fill it, only to find, on his return, that he had fallen into a stalemate trap. A pity, really, because he had played the game rather well up to that point, (though aided by the blunder 22...Bxe4??). Cognac can be a great comfort on such occasions.

White: A Freeman (Athenaeum)

Black: J Jason (RAC 'C')

1 c4 e5 23 Qc4+ Qf7

2 Nc3 Nf6 24 Qxf7+ Rxf7

3 g3 Nc6 25 Bxe4 Re7

4 Bg2 Bb4 26 Bd5+ Kh8

5 Nd5 0-0 27 e4 Ne5

6 Nxb4 Nxb4 28 Bxe5 Rxe5

7 a3 Nc6 29 Rxb7 c6

8 d3 d5 30 Bxc6 Rc5

9 cxd5 Nxd5 31 Bd5 Rc3

10 Nf3 Nde7 32 Rfb1 h5

11 0-0 Bg4 33 Re7 Rd8

12 h3 Bh5 34 Rbb7 hxg4

13 b4 Nd5 35 Rxg7 Rxh3

14 g4 Bg6 36 Rxg4 f5

15 b5 Nc3 37 Rgg7 fxe4

16 Qd2 Nxb5 38 Bxe4 Rxa3

17 Rb1 Nd6 39 Rxa7 Rd1+

18 Bb2 e4 40 Kg2 Rg1+

19 Qc3 f6 41 Kxg1 Rg3+

20 Ng5 Qe7 42 Rxg3

21 Nxe4 Nxe4 stalemate

22 dxe4 Bxe4

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