Games: Chess

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The Independent Online
You would get a better idea of the progress of a chess game if they were scored like football matches. A dull and uneventful draw could be described as 0-0, while a thrilling, sacrificial draw by perpetual check could be a 4-4 draw. If you add the half-time scores too, then you can give a still better impression of the course of the play.

Today's game, from the latest round of the 4NCL which was played last week in Birmingham, would be something like a 3-4 victory for Black, with White leading 2-0 at half-time. Yet despite the turnabout in the second half, there was nothing that could really be described as an own goal. It was just that White seemed to make all the running, and show all the brilliant ideas, in the first half of the game, and Black fought back effectively at the end.

Black's 8...c4 is rarely a good idea in this type of position even if, as here, it gains a move by attacking the bishop on d3. Its main merit is to avoid the complications of 8...cxd4 9.Ne2, but by closing the Q-side, Black cuts off his own natural counterplay.

Black grabbed the white a-pawn - a common theme in this line of the French - but White's clever plan of 20.Nd2! (neatly prepared with 19.Be1) and 21.Nb3! forced open the Q-side. After 21...cxb3 22.cxb3 the bishop on a4 is lost and White's rooks rage into action.

White's subsequent play on the K-side looked a little fishy as he cut his queen off with Qh3 and f3, but his idea became clear with 32.g4?! and 33.Bxc4 when 33...dxc4 is met by 34.d5 exd5 35.Qxf5+.

But that was the end of White's fun. After 33...Qb6! and 34...Kd8! White saw that 35.Bxc6 would be met by 35...Qb1+ 36.Qf1 Qxf1+ 37.Kxf1 g2+ 38.Kg1 Rh8 and Black wins. As the game went, White's 36.Qe1 could have been met by 36...Rh8 37.Bh2 Rxh2 with a simple win for Black. I suspect that Black's 36...Nxd4! was the move intended against 36.Qc1 (to avoid 36...Rh8 37.Bg5+), but it proved a very effective finish in this case too.

White: N McDonald

Black: S Clarke

1 e4 e6 22 Qxh5 Nc6

2 d4 d5 23 Nc5 Rg5

3 Nc3 Bb4 24 Qh3 h5

4 e5 c5 25 Nxa4 bxa4

5 a3 Bxc3+ 26 Rxa4 Rhg8

6 bxc3 Ne7 27 Rb5 a5

7 Qg4 Qc7 28 Rc5 Rg4

8 Bd3 c4 29 f3 R4g5

9 Be2 Nf5 30 Bd2 R5g6

10 Nf3 Bd7 31 Bf4 h4

11 a4 Qa5 32 g4 hxg3

12 Bd2 Bxa4 33 Bxc4 Qb6

13 0-0 Nc6 34 Bb5 Kd8

14 Rfb1 b5 35 Qf1 g2

15 Ra2 0-0-0 36 Qe1 Ncxd4

16 Bf1 h6 37 cxd4 Nxd4

17 h4 Rdg8 38 Rxd4 Qxc5

18 h5 g6 39 Qf2 Rh8

19 Be1 Nce7 40 Bh2 Rxh2

20 Nd2 Qc7 White resigns

21 Nb3 gxh5