Chess

The best-laid traps are the ones where the trap-laying move has an internal logic that conceals its intentions. A trap set for its own sake ought not to succeed against any reasonably suspicious opponent, but a trap introduced by an apparently pur poseful move is much harder to detect.

The best blunders are also well-intentioned and have an internal logic of their own. The six-move deep calculation with a glaring hole at move one is a far more satisfying blunder to behold than the one-move howler and is probably easier to make as well.

The game between Alisa Maric and Ketevan Arakhamia from the sixth round of the Hastings Premier Tournament this week produced an excellent trap and a splendid blunder which pushed Maric out of the leading group. The diagram position was reached after 30 moves on each side. Black (Arakhamia), with more space and a more active bishop, has a clear advantage.

White met the attack on her c-pawn with 31.Qa3 which also eyed the a-pawn. Black replied 31...Rb8. Now 32.Qxa7?? Bh2+ is too blatant a trap to fall for, so White continued 33.Kf1, cutting out the possibility of a check on h2.

Now comes the clever bit. Black played 32...Kh6! which at first glance seems pointless. White must have reasoned that the idea was to get the black king off the same rank as the queen, which would allow the knight to move from d5 without losing to Rd7. But why does the knight want to move? We soon learnt the answer.

White played 33.Qxa7, when 33...Ra8 34.Qb7 Qxc5 looks natural and strong, but instead Arakhamia played 33...Nc3!? And that's when White fell into the trap.

Her reasoning must have gone something like this: What happens after 34.Rd7? Since her bishop and queen are attacked, she must move the queen to create a threat of her own. 34...Qe6 looks strong, when my knight and rook are both attacked. That must be why she played Kh6 on the previous move. But after 34...Qe6 I have 35.Qxc7! Qxc4+ 36.Kg1 Nxd1 37.Rh7+ Kg5 38.h4+ and mate next move with Qe7 or Qg3.

Wonderful! So White played 34.Rd7?? and resigned after 34...Qxd7! After 35.Rxd7 Rb1+ she is mated.

Scores after round 7: Luther 51/2; Nunn 41/2; Arakhamia, Sher 4; McNab, Maric 31/2; Howell, Madl 3; Kachiani-Gersinska, Lalic 2.

William Hartston

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