Chess

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The annual Hastings international has begun in dramatic fashion: Michael Adams, the highest rated of the 10 contestants, has lost his first three games, and the lowest-ranked player, the former women's world champion Xie Jun, has won her first two.

After three rounds, the lead is shared by Rozentalis (Latvia) and Hebden (England) on 21/2 points, followed by Conquest (England), Lalic (Croatia), Nunn (England) and Xie (China) 2; Movsessyan (Armenia) 1/2 (one unfinished); Motwani (Scotland) 1/2; Flear (England) 0 (one unfinished); Adams (England) 0.

Here is the game that put an end to Xie Jun's opening sprint. Black's opening play can only be justified if she can prove that the white pawn on f3 is taking away a valuable square from his knight, but this never looked like being the case. When the f-pawn formed the base for a quick g4 and h4 advance, Black's king never looked as though it would be safe on the K-side, which left her facing problems after 10.Qb3. The natural 10...Qb6 leaves Black worse after 11.c5 Qxb3 12.axb3, when b4 and b5 will follow quickly; 10...Qd7 takes away the only good square from the knight on b8, while 10...Qc8 allows Nbd7, but then the queen gets in the way of Black's Q-side castling. All the same, 10...Qc8 looks better than creating white-square weaknesses with 10...b6 as played.

White's final moves were very clever. 25...Nxd3 loses to 26.Qe7! while on the next move 26...Nxd3 is met by 27.Qc6! Nc5 28.Rxc5. Black's 26...Re7 guarded the b7 square, but lost control of the back rank, thus allowing 27.Qxd4 (when Rxd4 allows Rc8 mate). At the end, there is no defence to the threat of Qc8+.

White: Stuart Conquest

Black: Xie Jun

1 d4 Nf6 15 e4 Nxc3

2 Bg5 Ne4 16 Qxc3 Nd7

3 Bf4 d5 17 h5 Bh7

4 e3 Bf5 18 Kb1 0-0-0

5 f3 Nf6 19 Ka1 Kb8

6 c4 e6 20 Nf2 f6

7 Nc3 c6 21 Ba6 c5

8 g4 Bg6 22 Qa3 Qg3

9 h4 h6 23 Rhf1 cxd4

10 Qb3 b6 24 Nd3 Ne5

11 Nh3 dxc4 25 Rc1 Rhe8

12 Bxc4 Nd5 26 Qa4 Re7

13 0-0-0 Bd6 27 Qxd4 Red7

14 Bxd6 Qxd6 28 Qc3 resigns

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