In chess as in real life, accidents sometimes happen. You can take every reasonable precaution and then be surprised by a large object falling from the sky and crushing you flat.

That is more or less what happened to the young French grandmaster Joel Lautier in today's game. The diagram position is typical of a Sicilian Defence in which White has played f4 and e5 to push a knight back from f6. White hopes for an attack against the black king; Black's counterplay lies in the isolated e-pawn.

Black's last move, 16...Bc5, aims to remove a defender from e5. Instead 16...Nxe5 would have invited such mischief as 17.Qh5 Ng6 18.Bxg7! Kxg7 19.Rxf7+ Kxf7 20.Qxh7+ Kf6 21.Rf1+ with a withering attack - 21...Ke5 22.Qg7+ Kd6 23.Qd4 is mate.

With only pawns protecting the black king, and Rxf7 in the air, Black must clearly be careful, but after calculating 17.Rxf7 Kxf7 18.Qh5+ Ke7 19.Qg5+ Kf8 20.Rf1+ Kg8, Lautier must have felt secure. Until 17.Nd5!! landed on his head.

After 17...exd5 18.Rxf7 Kxf7 White wins with 19.Bxd5+ Kf8 (or 19...Ke7 20.Qg5+) 20.Qf4+ Nf6 21.exf6!! Qxf4 22.Bxc5+. As play went, Black remained a piece ahead, but all White's pieces were ready to attack the king while Black's Q-side men were too far away to offer any assistance.

22.Rxg7! was a nice final touch, with 24.h4! leaving Black helpless against the threat of Be3+.

White: H Hamdouchi

Black: J Lautier

Cap D'Agde 1994

1 e4 c5 15 Qg4 dxe5

2 Nf3 e6 16 fxe5 Bc5

3 d4 cxd4 17 Nd5 exd5

4 Nxd4 Nc6 18 Rxf7 Bf8

5 Nc3 Qc7 19 Bxd5 Kh8

6 g3 a6 20 Raf1 Qd8

7 Bg2 Nf6 21 Qf3 Be7

8 0-0 Be7 22 Rxg7 Kxg7

9 Be3 0-0 23 Qf7+ Kh6

10 f4 d6 24 h4 Bg5

11 Kh1 Rb8 25 hxg5+ Qxg5

12 a4 Re8 26 Qxe8 Qxg3

13 e5 Nxd4 27 Qe6+ Qg6

14 Bxd4 Nd7 28 Be3+ 1-0