Chess

Julian Hodgson is a grandmaster with an unusually versatile opening repertoire. On his first move, he plays 1.d4, one his second Bg5, but his third may be either h4 or Bf4.

Two or three years ago, Hodgson appeared to have decided it was time for a change from his favourite Trompowsky attack, 1.d4 and 2.Bg5. He passed the opening on to Michael Adams and began playing more conventional stuff. Now he has returned to his old favourite and his results seem to be improving.

Last week, he took first prize in the Volksbank Open in Bern, playing the Tromp in all his games with White. He drew most of them, but scored an important win against the Swedish woman grandmaster Pia Cramling in a game that opened 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4.

The following Hodgson game, however - against a well-known Georgian grandmaster in a recent Quickplay tournament at the King's Head in Bayswater - is much more fun than anything he produced in Berne. Employing the Hodgson special, 3.h4?!, Julian made five of his first 10 moves with his queen and seemed to have lost control of the game entirely when forced to castle Q-side directly into a Black attack.

Out-of-control positions, however, are just what Hodgson likes best. Gufeld's 16...b5 and 18...b4 seemed set to rip White's defences apart, but 20.Nh7! muddied the issue brilliantly. 23.g4 and 24.e4 looked a desperate attempt to keep the Black bishop out of f5, but their sting was revealed with 25.Nxf8, when the threat of 26.Rh8+! Kxh8 27.Qh7 mate left Black no time for Rxb2.

When 26.Bc4 threatened 27.Rf1+ Kg8 28.Qf7+ Kh8 29.Rh1+, Black could find no defence. The end was elegant with 30...Qe8 leading to mate after 31.Qg5+.

White: J. Hodgson

Black: E. Gufeld

1 d4 Nf6 16 c3 b5

2 Bg5 Ne4 17 fxg5 hxg5

3 h4 c5 18 Nh3 b4

4 d5 g6 19 Nxg5 bxc3

5 Qd3 Nxg5 20 Nh7 cxd2+

6 Qc3 f6 21 Rxd2 Qe5

7 hxg5 Bg7 22 Qg6 f4

8 Nd2 d6 23 g4 fxg3

9 gxf6 exf6 24 e4 Rb8

10 Qg3 0-0 25 Nxf8 Kxf8

11 Qh4 h6 26 Bc4 g2

12 Qg3 g5 27 Rf2+ Ke7

13 f4 Na6 28 Rf7+ Kd8

14 a3 f5 29 Rh8+ Bxh8

15 0-0-0 Qf6 30 Qg8+ resigns

All of which still leaves room for this little disaster from last year's PCA grandmaster tournament in Novgorod:

White: A. Shirov

Black: E. Bareyev

1 e4 e6 9 Bg2 Qc7

2 d3 d5 10 e5 Ng4?!

3 Nd2 Nf6 11 0-0 Nc6

4 Ngf3 b6 12 Ne4 Rd8

5 c3 c5 13 Qa4 Qd7

6 g3 Ba6 14 Bg5 Ncxe5?

7 c4 dxe4 15 Rad1! resigns

8 dxe4 Bb7

William Hartston

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