Games: Chess

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Just before Garry Kasparov's simultaneous display in aid of the Fragile X Society began at the Cobden Club in London last Saturday, the team of writers who had assembled to combine their efforts at one board asked me for some advice. Julian Barnes and his literary chess-playing colleagues had been debating which style was better to adopt in such a display: should they play an orthodox opening, or something heterodox to throw their opponent off-balance?

My advice - which they did not follow - was that the best strategy against a simul-giver is to play in an unorthodox manner at the start in order to ensure that your opponent thinks you are a beginner and mentally classifies your game among those he expects to win easily. Then he will treat you too casually and be unprepared when you fight back with some good moves in the middlegame. (That, come to think of it, was precisely the strategy that Deep Blue innocently employed to beat Kasparov.)

Sadly, the writers - as cultured a group as I have ever seen hunched over a chessboard, could not bring themselves to play in an uncouth manner. They defended a classical Queen's Gambit Declined, unwisely allowed themselves to be saddled with an isolated d-pawn, and promptly lost it when a white knight developed not at f3, as they had expected, but at e2, then f4. They hung on for some time a pawn behind, but finally resigned after about ten and a half chapters.

Meanwhile, a group of young ladies were demonstrating the right way of doing things. Rosalind Kieran, Claire Thrower, Jo Hart and Melanie Buckley - all aged 14 or 15 - were holding the champion to a draw after clearly fooling him into thinking they were a bunch of little girls. After the opening had left them very poorly placed, they scavenged their way into an endgame the exchange behind, then played well enough to confuse Kasparov

White was winning until he played 38.g3? which allowed the surprising switchback with 38...Be4! After that, he had nothing better than a drawn rook and pawn endgame.

White: Garry Kasparov

Black: The Chess Girls

1 e4 c5 27 Qxd8+ Rxd8

2 Nf3 Nc6 28 Bxg6 hxg6

3 Bb5 Nd4 29 Rxg6 Rc8

4 Nxd4 cxd4 30 Kg1 Rc2

5 0-0 g6 31 h4 Kf7

6 c3 dxc3 32 h5 Be4

7 Nxc3 Bg7 33 Rg3 e5

8 d4 e6 34 h6 f4

9 d5 Ne7 35 Rg7+ Kf6

10 d6 Nc6 36 Rf2 Rc1+

11 Be3 0-0 37 Kh2 Bf5

12 Qd2 f5 38 g3 Be4

13 Rad1 Ne5 39 gxf4 Rh1+

14 f4 Ng4 40 Kg3 Rg1+

15 Bd4 fxe4 41 Kh3 Rh1+

16 Nxe4 Nf6 42 Rh2 Bf5+

17 Nxf6+ Bxf6 43 Kg2 Be4+

18 Kh1 a6 44 Kg3 exf4+

19 Be2 Bxd4 45 Kxf4 Rxh2

20 Qxd4 b5 46 Kxe4 Rxh6

21 f5 gxf5 47 Rxd7 Ke6

22 Rd3 Rf6 48 Ra7 Rh2

23 Bh5 Bb7 49 Rxa6 Rxb2

24 Rg3+ Kf8 50 Kd4 Rc2

25 Qf4 Rc8 Draw agreed.

26 Qg5 Rg6

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