Chess

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Prodigies are getting younger. When Bobby Fischer became a grandmaster at the age of 15 in 1958, his result was hailed as a Hale-Bopp of an achievement that would come round only once every 4,000 years or so. Yet in 1988 Judit Polgar broke the record by a few months, and a few years later along came Peter Leko, who became a grandmaster at the age of 14. Now the French prodigy, Etienne Bacrot, is chasing a final title norm that would knock another few months off the record.

Yet Fischer had had only one year's international experience before becoming a grandmaster. Today's top players are seasoned veterans by the time they leave school (if they bothered to go to school in the first place). There is no doubt that the start 'em young and work 'em hard philosophy can breed champions of quality, as this game from last year's Tilburg tournament shows.

Black's positional control is most impressive, apart from a small fault near the end. Instead of 55...Rxf2, he could have played 55...Re1+ 56.Kg2 Ne3+ 57.Kg3 Rg1+ 58.Kh4 g3! 59.Ra2 (59.hxg3 Rh1+) gxh2 60.Rxh2 Nf5+ and mate next move. Leko saw this but, tired after six hours' play, he opted for the technical win. How depressingly professional for a teenager!

White: Neil McDonald

Black: Peng Xiaomin

1 e4 c6 32 a3 Qxd3+

2 d4 d5 33 Rxd3 g6

3 Nc3 dxe4 34 Rf2 f6

4 Nxe4 Nd7 35 Bb4 Kf7

5 Bc4 Ngf6 36 Bc5 Re1+

6 Ng5 e6 37 Ka2 Rce8

7 Qe2 Nb6 38 a4 R8e3

8 Bd3 h6 39 Rxe3 Rxe3

9 N5f3 c5 40 axb5 axb5

10 Ne5 cxd4 41 Kb1 h5

11 Bd2 Bd6 42 Kc1 h4

12 Ngf3 Nbd7 43 gxh4 Rh3

13 0-0-0 0-0 44 Re2 Rxh4

14 Nxd7 Bxd7 45 Kd1 g5

15 Nxd4 Qc7 46 Ke1 Kg6

16 g3 Rac8 47 Kf1 Kf5

17 c3 a6 48 Kg1 Re4

18 f4 b5 49 Rc2 Re3

19 Kb1 Rfd8 50 b4 Ke4

20 Rhe1 Bc5 51 Ra2 g4

21 Nf3 Ng4 52 Rb2 Nf4

22 Rf1 Bc6 53 Rb1 Re2

23 Nd4 Bxd4 54 Rf1 Nd5

24 cxd4 Nf6 55 Rf2 Rxf2

25 Bc3 Bd5 56 Kxf2 f5

26 f5 Re8 57 Ke2 f4

27 Qd2 exf5 58 Kf2 Kd3

28 Ba5 Qb7 59 Bd6 Kxd4

29 Bxf5 Be4+ 60 Ke2 Nc3+

30 Bxe4 Qxe4+ 61 Kf1 Ke3

31 Qd3 Nd5 White resigned

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