This is certainly the silly season for chess tournaments. After three fine events earlier in the year with nearly all the world's top players, last week saw two tournaments at the other end of the spectrum of seriousness.

First, in The Hague, we had the Aegon "Man against Machine" extravaganza, in which 50 human players, ranging from top grandmaster to total amateur, faced 50 different computer programs. Although the machines emerged overall winners by the narrow margin of 1511/2-1481/2, they did not make much impact against the very best of the human side. The overall winner was the Israeli grandmaster Yona Kosashvili, who won all six of his games in a perfect demonstration of no-risk anti-computer chess.

Meanwhile, in Monte Carlo, the annual Melody Amber tournament has begun, in which a dozen of the world's best players meet each other first at quickplay then quickplay-blindfold. (No real blindfolds, but players are required to make their moves by clicking a computer mouse on a screen display of an empty board.

We'll catch up with some of the blindfold games later this week. meanwhile, here is an example of the uninhibited play a fast time-limit can encourage.

After 13...h6, Black dared not capture for some time on g5 for fear of the resulting open h-file. After 22.Rf1, White's threats looked formidable: 22...Kg7 loses to 23.Rxf7+! but Anand had prepared the brilliant 22...Bf6!! (when 23.exf6 loses the queen and 23.Rxf6 Qg1+ leads to mate). White thus had to force a draw. At the end, 25.Qf7+ gives perpetual check.

White: Alexei Shirov

Black: Viswanathan Anand

1 e4 c5 14 e5 dxe5

2 Nf3 d6 15 fxe5 Bc6

3 d4 cxd4 16 Qf4 Nh5

4 Nxd4 Nf6 17 Qg4 Rxd3

5 Nc3 Nc6 18 Rxd3 hxg5

6 Bg5 e6 19 Qxh5 gxh4

7 Qd2 Be7 20 Rd4 g6

8 0-0-0 0-0 21 Rg4 Qc5

9 f4 Nxd4 22 Rf1 Bf6

10 Qxd4 Qa5 23 Rxg6+ fxg6

11 Kb1 Rd8 24 Qxg6+ Bg7

12 h4 Bd7 25 Draw agreed

13 Bd3 h6

Comments