Chess

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As the English men's team in Moscow were meeting triumph and disaster while all about them were content to keep their heads with quiet 2-2 draws, England's women timed their final sprint to perfection and finished with their best ever result in th e chess olympics.

After spending most of the tournament pottering around mid-table, they produced good results near the end, earning a last-round match with Russia I, when their best match of the event brought a 2-1 victory and a final placing of sixth. The team of Susan Lalic, Harriet Hunt, Jana Bellin and Natasha Regan are to be congratulated on a fine performance when (if we are to be brutally honest) considerably less was expected.

The result of Harriet Hunt, playing in her first Olympics at the age of 16, is particularly encouraging. She scored the deciding win against Russia and made a considerable contribution to the overall result.

Compared with her later efforts, the following first-round game is a lightweight display of efficient pawn-plucking. White is punished for a positionally dubious queen exchange, and a miscalculated adventure starting with 10.Bc7.

White: Oney (Turkey)

Black: Hunt (England)

1 d4 d5 17 0-0 h6

2 Nf3 Nf6 18 Rfd1 Ke7

3 Bf4 c5 19 Nd4 Nxd4

4 e3 Nc6 20 exd4 Ra5

5 h3 Bf5 21 Rdc1 Rha8

6 c3 Qb6 22 Kf1 Rxa2

7 Qb3 c4 23 Rxa2 Rxa2

8 Qxb6 axb6 24 Ke1 b5

9 Na3 Ra5! 25 Nf3 Ne4

10 Bc7 e6 26 Ne5 Ra3

11 Nb1 Kd7 27 Rb1 Nxc3

12 Bxb6 Rb5 28 Rb4 Ra1+ 13 Bc5 Bxc5 29 Kd2 Ne4+ 14 dxc5 Rxb2 30 Ke3 Ra3+ 15 Nbd2 Rb5 31 Kf4 g5 mate 16 Be2 Rxc5

The PCA world champion, Garry Kasparov, playing for Russia I, found a sparkling finish to defeat Joel Lautier of France in round seven.

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With the black queen tied to preventing mate on g7, Kasparov's 27.Rh5! threatened to force the win of material with Ng4. Lautier attacked White's queen with 27...Rg8 but was surprised by 28.Ng4!! anyway. After some thought, Black resigned. 28...Rxg5 29.Nxe5 leaves White threatening both Rxg5 and Nxf7+ and 29...Rxh5 30.Rd8+ Ng8 31.Nxf7 is a pleasant smothered mate.

William Hartston

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