Games: chess

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The English team did not quite fulfil expectations at the World Team championship in Lucerne. After their gold medals in the European team Championship earlier this year, they started with high hopes, but never quite seemed to be firing on all cylinders.

On top board, Nigel Short drew all eight of his games. Once he got stuck in a drawish rut, nothing seemed capable of budging him. He would probably have done better if he had lost a game early on. The next three players in the team all did everything that could reasonably have been expected of them. Michael Adams scored three wins, four draws and one loss, while Matthew Sadler's five wins, two draws and two losses would have looked even better but for a last-round defeat. Jon Speelman's undefeated two wins and four draws were a very useful contribution on fourth board; John Nunn, as reserve, produced two solid draws, but Julian Hodgson managed only one draw and two losses.

Sadler was not quite on the all-conquering form of last year's Olympiad and the European teams, but he still made the best score in the team and showed again a rare ability to win with Black. His game from the match with Cuba was typical:

White: R Vera

Black: M Sadler

1 d4 d5 19 Qh3 Kg7

2 c4 dxc4 20 Rd3 Rc8

3 e3 Nf6 21 Bb1 Bc4

4 Bxc4 e6 22 Rg3 Qxd4

5 Nf3 c5 23 Nexf7 Rxf7

6 0-0 a6 24 Nxh7 Nxh7

7 Bb3 cxd4 25 Bxg6 Nf6

8 exd4 Nc6 26 Bd3+ Kf8

9 Nc3 Be7 27 Qh8+ Ke7

10 Bf4 0-0 28 Qxc8 Bxd3

11 Rc1 Na5 29 Re1 Nd7

12 Bc2 b5 30 Rge3 Bc4

13 Ne4 Nd5 31 b3 Bd5

14 Bg5 Bxg5 32 Qxa6 Nc6

15 Nexg5 Nf6 33 Qxb5 Ne5

16 Qd3 g6 34 h3 Rg7

17 Ne5 Bb7 White resigned

18 Rcd1 Bd5

One of Sadler's great strengths is the ability to analyse objectively attacking ideas for his opponent. He will not be bluffed into panicky defensive reactions when threats appear.

After 22.Rg3, Black must not be too greedy: 22...Bxf1 23.Nexf7! is good for White after 23...Rxf7 24.Nxe6+, while White also threatens a devastating attack with 24.Qh6+, 25.Nxe6 and a rook sacrifice on g6. Black's strategy from the opening, however, was directed against the isolated d-pawn, so it must have given Sadler some satisfaction to demonstrate that 22...Qxd4! was the right move to hold his game together.

White's ensuing double piece sacrifice looked very dangerous, but the cool 25...Nf6! left White without enough firepower to pursue his attack. At the end, his rook and four pawns could, on a purely point-count system, claim to be a match for the three black minor pieces, but in reality, Black's forces were an irresistible force.

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