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The Independent Online
DURING THE recent European Team Championships in Batumi, I was out of e-mail contact: a condition which led to mortal combat between myself and Mr Gates's Windows '98 as I tried to make my laptop speak to its so-called infra-red port, whence it could snuggle up to a mobile phone and hence access the world.

It was a ferocious contest, believe me, but I was ultimately vanquished, and the battle may well have precipitated the laptop's current sulk - as I write it is in a repair shop off Tottenham Court Road.

Anyway, as a result of these vicissitudes, certain events going on at the time totally passed me by, including today's subject: The Kilkenny Open. Together with the annual Bunratty Open which takes place in February, this is one of Ireland's two pre-eminent international weekend tournaments, and this year's event, the Norkom Invitational Masters held over the weekend of 26-28 November, was especially strong, boasting five grandmasters and two IMs.

As always, in such events, there was plenty of blood as Julian Hodgson and Bogdan Lalic ran out the winners on 5/6 with Lalic performing particularly meritoriously as he defeated both Jan Timman with White and Michael Adams in the last round with Black. They were followed by Mark Hebden, Timman and Paul Delaney on 4.5; Adams, Alex Baburin and Yuri Ryzhkov (Ukraine) 4; and seven players on 3.5, including IMs Luke McShane and Matthew Turner.

In today's game, Timman employed the line with 6...Qb6 which he used to defeat me the first time we met in an Islington Open nearly 30 years ago! 19...Nxd2 was critical though 20 Qxa6 bxa6 21 Bxd2 d4 22 Be1! looks good for White since if dxc3 23 Rxd7 cxb2 24 Rb1 Ba3 25 Rd3 the bishop must retreat - the sacrifice 25...Rxc2 26 Rxa3 is surely unsound. Timman had another chance with 21...Bc5 when 22 Rxc4?! Bd5 23 b4 Bxc4 24 Bxc4 Qb6! 25 bxc5 Qxc5 is good for Black; and 22 Bxc4 b5 23 Bxb5 Bxb5 24 Qxb5 Qxb5 25 Nxb5 a6 is unclear. Lalic won a pawn (not 23...Qxb2? 24 Rb1 Qa3 25 Rb3 trapping her) and, although Timman apparently got some play, he was ultimately downed.

Bogdan Lalic - Jan Timman

Kilkenny 1999 (Round 4)

Sicilian Defence

1 e4 c5

2 Nf3 Nc6

3 d4 cxd4

4 Nxd4 Nf6

5 Nc3 d6

6 Bc4 Qb6

7 Nde2 e6

8 0-0 Be7

9 a3 0-0

10 Ba2 Bd7

11 Ng3 Rac8

12 Kh1 Ne5

13 f4 Nc4

14 Qe2 Qa6

15 e5 Ne8

16 a4 Bh4

17 Nge4 d5

18 Rd1 Be7

19 Nd2 Bc6

20 Nxc4 dxc4

21 Rd4 Qb6

22 Rxc4 Nc7

23 Be3 Qa6

24 Qf2 Rcd8

25 Rd4 Rxd4

26 Bxd4 Bb4

27 Bb3 Bxc3

28 Bxc3 Bd5

29 Bxd5 Nxd5

30 Bd4 Rd8

31 b3 b6

32 h3 h6

33 a5 bxa5

34 Bxa7 Nxf4

35 Bb6 Rd5

36 Rf1 Ne2

37 c4 Rd7

38 Ra1 Rd2

39 Kh2 Rc2

40 Rxa5 Qc8

41 Ra7 Qe8

42 Qf3 1-0