Games: Chess - Life and Style - The Independent

Games: Chess

There are two British players among the last eight survivors of the world championship in Groningen in the Netherlands. After a hair-raising day of play-off matches, both Nigel Short and Michael Adams held their nerve to win through to the next round.

The line-up for the quarter-final matches is as follows:

Boris Gelfand - Alexander Dreyev

Mikhail Krasenkov - Nigel Short

Viswanathan Anand - Alexei Shirov

Loek van Wely - Michael Adams

The match between Short and Belyavsky was decided in the play-off games at a rate of 25 minutes for each player, after they had each won one game at normal time limits. In the first game of the play-off match, Short played an excellent strategic game. In such Queen's Gambit positions, when Black finds himself with an isolated d-pawn, advances it to d4, and is sidestepped by the white pawn moving to e4, it is easy for the black pawn at d4 to become a weakness in the endgame. Short gave a beautiful demonstration of how to turn it into a strength. His idea of manoeuvring the knight to c2 was the key to the whole strategy.

White: Alexander Belyavsky

Black: Nigel Short

1 d4 e6 28 Re1 Qe6

2 c4 Nf6 29 Qc4 Qxc4

3 Nf3 d5 30 Rxc4 Nd4

4 Nc3 Be7 31 Rb1 h5

5 Bf4 0-0 32 a4 b5

6 e3 c5 33 axb5 axb5

7 dxc5 Bxc5 34 Rc3 Nc2

8 a3 Nc6 35 f3 Rd4

9 b4 Be7 36 Kf2 Ra8

10 cxd5 Nxd5 37 Rb2 Ra4

11 Nxd5 exd5 38 Rc5 Ra1

12 Bd3 Bf6 39 Rd5 Rd1

13 Rc1 a6 40 Nb1 Rxb4

14 0-0 Re8 41 Rxb4 Nxb4

15 Bb1 g6 42 Rd8+ Kg7

16 Ba2 Be6 43 Nc3 Rd2+

17 Qd3 d4 44 Ke3 Rxg2

18 Bxe6 Rxe6 45 Nxb5 Rxg3

19 e4 Qe7 46 Nd6 Nc6

20 Nd2 Be5 47 Ne8+ Kf8

21 Bg3 Bxg3 48 Rc8 Ne5

22 hxg3 Ne5 49 Kf4 d2

23 Qb3 Rd8 50 Rd8 d1=Q

24 Rc5 d3 51 Rxd1 Rxf3+

25 Rfc1 Nc6 52 Kxe5 Kxe8

26 Kf1 Red6 53 Ra1 Kf8

27 Qc3 R6d7 White resigned

Belyavsky put up little resistance as Black in the second game, and Short won the play-off match 2-0.

Meanwhile, Michael Adams was having a wonderful tussle against Peter Svidler. When Svidler won the first game with Black in 86 moves, he seemed to have booked his ticket into the next round, but Adams equalised with an impressive win on the black side of the Ruy Lopez. Taking just the right amount of risk, Adams advanced his Q-side pawns to ensure an endgame advantage - if he survived that long - then beat off Svidler's attack on the other wing.

The 1-1 score in the 25-minute games ensured that they then moved on the two 15-minute games. In the first of those, Adams played the Marshall Gambit against Svidler's Ruy Lopez, but soon found himself with only nebulous compensation for his pawn. The Russian, however, lost his way in some unnecessary complications, lost his pawn back, and emerged with a lost endgame.

That left Svidler needing to win with Black to stay in the contest. He outplayed Adams in the middlegame to win a pawn ahead but, just as in the previous game, he met with firm resistance and committed suicide trying to find a way to win. So just as at Wimbledon, we now have the prospect of an all-British semi-final.

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