Games: chess

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When in a position where you don't know what to do next, the great Danish player Bent Larsen used to recommend pushing a rook's pawn. The worst that can happen, he reasoned, was that you'll lose it, and then not only will you have an open file for your rook, but you'll probably find that it hasn't done much damage to your position. Losing a centre pawn, by contrast, will drastically reduce your influence in the most important sector of the board.

I do not know whether Jeroen Piket is a follower of Larsen, but if so, he didn't know what to do six times in the first 18 moves of the following game from the Monte Carlo Amber Rapidplay event, and it scored him a fine win. Even Larsen himself can hardly ever have raced pawns to a6 and h6 quite so quickly as White.

Black seemed to play this game as though he did not quite realise the danger until it was too late to do anything about it. Somewhere along the line, he should have not known what to do himself and pushed his h- pawn or a-pawn to stop White's from racing so far forwards.

After 8.h6, it was too late for 8...Nxc3, which is met by 9.hxg7! while 8...Bf6 9.Ne4 is also bad for Black. His decision to exchange both bishops was an acceptance that things had gone out of control. At least this way he would create weaknesses in White's camp.

When 18.a6 came, it was already too late for Black to save himself. 18...b6 loses to 19.Qe6+ Qd7 20.Qxd7+ Kxd7 (or Rxd7) 21.Bb5 and the pin on the knight cannot be broken. At the end 22...Nxf2 23.bxa7+ leads to mate.

White: Jeroen Piket

Black: Alexei Shirov

1 Nf3 Nf6 12 Qb3 f5

2 c4 g6 13 a4 e5

3 Nc3 d5 14 a5 e4

4 cxd5 Nxd5 15 f4 Nf6

5 h4 Bg7 16 0-0 Ng4

6 h5 Nc6 17 Ba3 Qxd2

7 g3 Bg4 18 a6 Na5

8 h6 Bxc3 19 axb7+ Kb8

9 bxc3 Bxf3 20 Qb5 e3

10 exf3 Qd6 21 Bc5 exf2+

11 Be2 0-0-0 22 Rxf2 resigns

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