Chess

The sixth round at Hastings saw the women contestants falling behind the men with Ildiko Madl (Hungary) losing to Thomas Luther (Germany) and Susan Lalic losing to John Nunn (both England).

Current scores: Luther 5; Nunn 4; Sher and Arakhamia 31/2; McNab and Maric 3; Madl and Howell 21/2; Kachiani-Gersinska and Lalic 11/2.

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, an even stronger grandmaster tournament has just finished with a victory for the 18-year-old Hungarian Zoltan Almasi ahead of a field that included four former world-title candidates. Final scores (out of 11 games) were Al

m asi 8; Yusupov 7; Belyavsky, Sokolov, van Wely and Tiviakov 6; Georgiev and Gulko 51/2. The two English contestants both finished in the bottom half of the table, with Miles scoring 5 and Hodgson 31/2.

Julian Hodgson's performance was one of the wonders of the event. With three rounds left to play he was firmly detached from the rest of the field, in last place with 1 point. Then he scored 21/2 from his last three games, caught up with John van der Wiel and avoided the loneliness of finishing last on his own. His fight-back began with a win against Boris Gulko that showed remarkable energy for a man with only one point from eight games.

White: Julian Hodgson Black: Boris Gulko 1 c4 c5 16 Ne4 e5

2 g3 g6 17 c5 Kf8

3 Bg2 Bg7 18 Nbd6 Bxd6

4 Nc3 Nc6 19 Nxd6 Rxd6

5 a3 e6 20 cxd6 Qxd6

6 b4 Nxb4 21 d4 exd4

7 axb4 cxb4 22 Rd5 Qc7

8 Nb5 Bxa1 23 Rxa5 Ne7

9 Qa4 Be5 24 Qxb4 d6

10 Nf3 Bb8 25 Rb5 Kg7

11 Bb2 f6 26 Qxd4 Rf8

12 h4 a5 27 g4 Qd7

13 h5 gxh5 28 Rh5 Kg8

14 Rxh5 Qe7 29 g5 Qg4

15 Ng5 Ra6 30 gxf6 resigns

Until recently, 6.b4 was considered a tactical error. The idea behind it is nice: after 6...cxb4 7.axb4 Nxb4 8.Ba3 Black runs into serious toruble on the a3-f8 diagonal. But 6...Nxb4 seems to refute the plan. After 7.axb4 cxb4, White either loses a pawn for nothing or must give up his rook.

Hodgson, never one to decline a challenge, gave up the rook, crawled around the edges and the black squares and never gave Gulko breathing space. When Black resigned, with material level, it was just in time to avoid being mated: 30...Qxd4 31.Bxd4 Nc6 32

.Bd5+ Kh8 33.Bxc6 bxc6 34.f7 mate.

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