WITH A kiss for his wife, a hug from his mother and a slap on the palm for his trainer, Nigel Short, 27, celebrated his success in becoming the first Briton for more than a century to gain the right to challenge for the world chess championship.
On Saturday in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain, he drew the 13th game of his match against Jan Timman to give himself an unassailable lead of 71/2 -51/2 . Today's scheduled final game of the match will not be played. Short now goes on to a world championship match against the holder, Garry Kasparov, of Russia. He will also be the first player from outside the former Soviet Union to contest the finals since the American Bobby Fischer beat Boris Spassky in Iceland in 1972.
The International Chess Federation is considering offers from Barcelona, Berlin, Zagreb and Jakarta, with the prize fund playing a large part in the calculations. Barcelona is reported to have offered dollars 4m ( pounds 2.7m) to be shared by the contestants - dollars 2.5m to the winner. But last night, the British Chess Federation, together with a company called Mind Sports Promotions Ltd, said that it was attempting to secure sponsorship to bring the match to London.
Adam Black, of the federation, said: 'The venue is still up for grabs. An enterprising British sponsor could secure it for London by acting immediately. The International Chess Federation will open sealed bids for the match at midday on Monday 8 February in Lucerne.' Whatever happens, the rewards will dwarf the 187,500 Swiss francs ( pounds 82,500) that Short won by beating Timman.
On Saturday, Timman's play in the final game showed the frustration that must have been building in his mind during the three weeks of the match. Needing to win to prolong the contest, he found himself lured on to the attack sooner than was prudent. On his 15th move, he played a belligerent looking pawn advance that he must have known had no right to succeed.
By move 20, the Dutch grandmaster was already almost an hour behind on the clock against a confident opponent.
When queens were exchanged at move 25, White's winning hopes evaporated. The remaining moves were an anti-climax with Timman struggling to equalise and the match effectively over. When Short offered a draw a pawn ahead, Timman had no option but to sign the scoresheet.
Of the 13 completed games, Short won five, drew five and lost three. The ninth game was the turning point. Timman appeared to catch Short in a piece of prepared opening analysis, playing 20 moves quickly, but, as Short aptly summarised after the game, 'it was rubbish'. Timman lost the next game too and, though he pulled back one point by winning game 11, Short had, by now, moved up to a higher level of play. He came to within half a point of victory with a win in game 12, then rounded it off in the final game.
Short becomes the second Briton to challenge for the world title, the last being the Hungarian-born Isidor Gunsberg, who changed his name from Gunzburg and took British nationality, who lost to Wilhelm Steinitz in 1891.
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