The oddest annual event in the chess calendar is the Veterans v Ladies match organisation by the Dutch Association Max Euwe and sponsored by the businessman Joop van Oosterom. To judge from the many events that Mr Oosterom has supported, he has three strong beliefs about chess: that it should be played in the most comfortable conditions possible; that the elder statesmen of the world of top grandmasters should be accorded a high level of respect; and that women's chess deserves encouragement.

The annual Young Ladies v Old Men match satisfies all these criteria. Each year it is played in a different city and named after a national dance of the host country. Recent events have included the Polka tournament in Prague and the Foxtrot in London; this year it was the Hostdance in Copenhagen.

The results have reflected the continuous improvement in women's chess in recent times. In its early years, the men usually won, but the women gradually overhauled their lead and had won three of the first five matches. In Copenhagen, however, the men's team, led by former world champions Boris Spassky, 60, and Vassily Smyslov, 76, won by 27-23 to level the series. Smyslov made the best score with 61/2 points out of 10.

Boris Spassky lost two games and conceded seven draws, scoring his only victory in the final round to deny his opponent the grandmaster norm that she could have achieved by beating him. Black's calm defensive play on the Q-side, combined with a slow advance on the other wing, was good strategy, but the key to his victory was the temporary piece sacrifice with 33...Qxa4! Black's queen not only regained the material but was able to squeeze behind White's defences to launch a mating attack.

White: Ketevan Arakhamia

Black: Boris Spassky

1 e4 e5 22 Qc2 Rxb3

2 Nf3 Nc6 23 Qxb3 Ra7

3 Bb5 a6 24 Qb6 Rb7

4 Ba4 Nf6 25 Qa5 h6

5 0-0 Be7 26 Rb1 Rxb1+

6 Re1 b5 27 Nxb1 Nf4

7 Bb3 0-0 28 Bf1 g5

8 c3 d6 29 Nbd2 Neg6

9 h3 Bb7 30 Nh2 h5

10 d4 Re8 31 Bc1 Bf6

11 Nbd2 Bf8 32 Qb6 Kg7

12 a4 Qd7 33 Qb8 Qxa4

13 Bc2 g6 34 Qxc8 Qd1

14 d5 Ne7 35 Qxa6 Qxc1

15 b3 Bg7 36 Qa5 Ne2+

16 c4 c6 37 Kh1 Qe1

17 Ba3 Nh5 38 Nhf3 Qxf2

18 Bd3 bxa4 39 Bxe2 Qxe2

19 bxa4 c5 40 Qb6 Nf4

20 Rb1 Reb8 White resigns

21 Rb3 Bc8

Comments