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There are four reasons short games are popular: they are less trouble to play through; it is less effort to reset the pieces at the end; they give better value because you can fit two of them into a single chess column; and there is the vast sense of relief that, whatever disaster befell the loser, it happened to him and not to me.

Both today's examples come from the current tournament at Wijk aan Zee and involve the Dutch grandmaster Paul van der Sterren. The first knocked him out of the main event when his two-game match with the Colombian Alonso Zapata was tied at 1-1. Two half-hour games failed to resolve the issue, and then, at 15 minutes for each player, this happened: White: Zapata Black: van der Sterren 1 e4 e5 12 Nf1 Nc5

2 Nf3 Nc6 13 Bc2 Re8

3 Bb5 a6 14 Ng3 Bf8

4 Ba4 Nf6 15 b4 Ncd7

5 0-0 Be7 16 Bb3 h6

6 Re1 b5 17 Nh4 Nxe4

7 Bb3 d6 18 Qh5 Nef6

8 c3 0-0 19 Bxf7+ Kh8

9 h3 Nb8 20 Ng6+ Kh7

10 d3 Nbd7 21 Qf5 resigns 11 Nbd2 Bb7

17...Nxe4?? is a blunder, intended to exploit the knight's unprotected state on h4, but encouraging it to participate in the deciding attack.

Eliminated from the invitation knock-out, van der Sterren slid into the subsidiary event where he found himself on the right side of a miniature.

White took three moves to undevelop his bishop to c1; Black took four moves to get his knight to g8; queens were exchanged at move 11, and still White won two moves more quickly than he had lost the previous day. 19.g6+! is a neat finish. After 19...hxg620.Ng5+ or 19...Kxg6 20.Rhg1+ Kf7 21.Ng5+, Black must walk into a fatal knight fork.

White: van der Sterren Black: Romero 1 d4 Nf6 11 Qxd8 Rxd8

2 c4 g6 12 Nd5 Nd7

3 Nc3 Bg7 13 h3 Nh6

4 e4 d6 14 Be3 Kf7

5 Nf3 0-0 15 0-0-0 b6

6 Be2 e5 16 g4 Ng8

7 Be3 Ng4 17 g5 f5

8 Bg5 f6 18 exf5 gxf5

9 Bc1 c5 19 g6+ resigns 10 dxc5 dxc5

Nigel Short won his second-round match at Wijk aan Zee by 11/2-1/2 against Valentin Onishuk. Michael Adams drew both games against Christopher Lutz and must now contest a half-hour play-off.

William Hartston