Short finds form to take the lead

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The Independent Online
NIGEL SHORT, 27, can be well satisfied with his first week's work in the World Chess Championship Candidates Final in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain.

England's top player faces Jan Timman, 41, of the Netherlands, for the right to challenge Garry Kasparov for the world championship later this year. After a nervous start by both men, Short scored a fine victory on Friday and a draw yesterday to lead by 3-2 in the 14-game series.

The winner will receive around pounds 140,000, but the real prize will be the lucrative world title match. With a promised total purse of dollars 4m ( pounds 2.6m), even losing against Kasparov would guarantee Short or Timman entry to the select group of chess millionaires.

The potential rewards may explain the unconvincing play. 'When you get nervous, you become mentally paralysed,' said Short. 'It's always at the back of your mind that you could blow a million pounds on a single move.'

The first three games were certainly below the standard one expects of players close to the world title. The first was a good scrap, with the advantage swaying back and forth as chances were missed, but the next two were worse. The score board registered a win for each player, though one might more accurately describe the results as one loss apiece. Short threw away the second game with his biggest blunder for years and in the third game, Timman gave the point back, letting his pieces wander while Short seized control.

Short's win in the fourth game, however, showed that he is capable of forgetting about a few bad games. Playing a consistent strategy from the opening to the endgame, he gradually made his opponent's position more difficult until Timman cracked under the strain.

Before the start, it was widely predicted that the match would be won by the man whose nerves stood up better. On the evidence of the first week's play, Timman has yet to settle. In Friday's game, Short was the first to play real chess. Yesterday, however, the nerves returned as he missed a good chance to increase his lead.

Nigel Short profile, page 23

THE GAMES

GAME ONE: Sunday 10 January

Both men were in belligerent mood. In a normally quiet opening Timman introduced complications with a forthright pawn advance at move 14; Short created turmoil with a pawn sacrifice on move 23. After a scramble to reach the time control at move 40, Timman looked in trouble, but found a way to liquidate to a draw. Short 1/2 - Timman 1/2

---------------------------------------------------- White: Timman Black: Short ---------------------------------------------------- 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Be7 5 e3 0-0 6 Nf3 h6 7 Bh4 b6 8 Be2 Bb7 9 Bxf6 Bxf6 10 cxd5 exd5 11 b4 c6 12 0-0 Re8 13 Qb3 a5 14 b5 c5 15 dxc5 bxc5 16 Rac1 Bxc3 17 Qxc3 Nd7 18 Rc2 Qb6 19 Rd1 Re7 20 h3 Rae8 21 Qb2 a4 22 Kf1 Qa5 23 Qa3 d4 24 exd4 Be4 25 Qc3 Qa8 26 Rcd2 cxd4 27 Rxd4 Nf6 28 Qa3 Qb7 29 Rd8 Nd5 30 Rxe8+ Rxe8 31 Bc4 Rc8 32 Ne5 Bxg2+ 33 Kg1 Be4 34 Rd4 Nf6 35 Bxf7+ Kh8 36 Kh2 Qxb5 37 Qg3 Qb1 38 Rxe4 Qxe4 39 Bg6 Qd4 40 Nf7+ Kg8 41 Nxh6+ Kf8 42 Nf5 Qc5 43 Nxg7 Kxg7 44 Bf5+ Kf8 45 Bxc8 Qxc8 46 Qa3+ Kg7 ----------------------------------------------------

Draw agreed

GAME TWO: Monday 11 January

A disaster for Short. In a position of great strategic complexity, he made a simple oversight on his 25th move. Two moves later, it was clear he had to lose a piece. Short 1/2 - Timman 1 1/2 .

---------------------------------------------------- White: Short Black: Timman ---------------------------------------------------- 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 d6 8 c3 0-0 9 h3 Bb7 10 d4 Re8 11 Nbd2 Bf8 12 Bc2 Nb8 13 a4 Nbd7 14 Bd3 c6 15 b3 g6 16 Qc2 Bg7 17 Bb2 Qc7 18 Rad1 Rac8 19 Qb1 Nh5 20 Bf1 bxa4 21 bxa4 d5 22 Qa2 Rcd8 23 Rc1 Bh6 24 exd5 cxd5 25 c4 e4 26 cxd5 Qf4 27 Rb1 exf3 28 Rxe8+ Rxe8 29 Nxf3 Qf5 30 Bc4 Nf4 31 Bc1 Bxd5 32 Bxd5 Nxd5 White resigned -----------------------------------------------------------------

GAME THREE: Wednesday 13 January

Timman's turn for a twitchy performance. His hesitant middle game was met with aggression by Short, culminating in a neat combination at move 26. Short won two pawns which decided the game. Short 1 1/2 - Timman 1 1/2 .

---------------------------------------------------- White: Timman Black: Short ---------------------------------------------------- 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Be7 5 e3 0-0 6 Nf3 h6 7 Bh4 b6 8 Be2 Bb7 9 Bxf6 Bxf6 10 cxd5 exd5 11 0-0 Re8 12 b4 c6 13 Qb3 a5 14 b5 c5 15 dxc5 bxc5 16 Rac1 Bxc3 17 Qxc3 Nd7 18 Rfd1 Qb6 19 Bf1 Rac8 20 h3 Nf6 21 Nd2 c4 22 a4 Re6 23 Rc2 Rce8 24 Nf3 Ne4 25 Qa1 Rf6 26 Rd4 Rxf3 27 gxf3 Rg6+ 28 Bg2 Ng5 29 Rc1 Nxf3+ 30 Kf1 Nh2+ 31 Kg1 Nf3+ 32 Kf1 Nxd4 33 Qxd4 Qf5 34 Kg1 Re5 35 Qa7 Qc8 36 Kf1 Rg5 37 Qd4 Qf5 38 f4 Rg6 39 Kf2 Kh7 40 Rd1 Qc2+ 41 Rd2 Qxa4 42 b6 Qb4 43 Rb2 Qe7 44 Ra2 Qh4+ ----------------------------------------------------

White resigned

GAME FOUR: Friday 15 January

Short takes the lead. A sharp opening led to a complex endgame in which Short gave up a pawn and put his faith in his bishops. His strategy paid off when Timman's 41st move, after long thought, permitted a breakthrough. Short 2 1/2 - Timman 1 1/2 .

---------------------------------------------------- White: Short Black: Timman ---------------------------------------------------- 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 Bg5 e6 7 Qd2 Be7 8 0-0-0 0-0 9 f4 h6 10 Bh4 e5 11 Nf5 Bxf5 12 exf5 Qa5 13 Kb1 Rfe8 14 Bc4 Qb4 15 Bb3 Qxf4 16 Qxf4 exf4 17 Rhf1 Nh5 18 Be1 Rad8 19 Nd5 Bg5 20 h4 Bf6 21 Nxf6+ Nxf6 22 Rxf4 Re2 23 g4 Rg2 24 g5 hxg5 25 hxg5 Rxg5 26 Bh4 Rh5 27 a3 Rf8 28 Bc4 Ne7 29 Rdf1 Rc8 30 Be2 Rh6 31 Bf2 Nc6 32 Rd1 Nd7 33 b3 Nde5 34 f6 Rd8 35 fxg7 Kxg7 36 Bh4 Rdh8 37 Bf2 Rg6 38 b4 Rh2 39 Rf1 b6 40 Bb5 Rh3 41 Kb2 Nd8 42 Bh4 Ne6 43 Bf6+ Rxf6 44 Rxf6 Nd4 45 Bd3 d5 46 R6f4 Ndf3 47 Rd1 Rh2 48 Ba6 d4 49 Rf1 Rh3 50 Be2 Nd2 51 Rg1+ Kh7 52 Kc1 Ndc4 53 Bxc4 Nxc4 54 Rxf7+ Kh6 55 Rxa7 Rc3 56 Ra8 Kh7 57 Rd1 Ne3 58 Rxd4 Rxc2+ 59 Kb1 Rh2 Black resigned -----------------------------------------------------------------

GAME FIVE: Saturday 16 January

A missed opportunity for Short in a bewildering game. With rook and two pawns for bishop and knight, he looked like winning, but allowed his rook to wander into a trap. He was still better in the endgame, but Timman saved himself by accurate defence. Short 3 Timman 2.

---------------------------------------------------- White: Timman Black: Short ---------------------------------------------------- 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 cxd5 exd5 5 Bg5 c6 6 e3 Bf5 7 Qf3 Bg6 8 Bxf6 Qxf6 9 Qxf6 gxf6 10 Rd1 Nd7 11 Bd3 Nb6 12 Nge2 Kd7 13 e4 dxe4 14 Bxe4 Re8 15 Bd3 Bb4 16 0-0 Kc7 17 Ng3 Bxc3 18 bxc3 Na4 19 f4 Nxc3 20 f5 Nxd1 21 Rxd1 Re7 22 Kf2 Rd8 23 fxg6 fxg6 24 Ne2 f5 25 g3 b5 26 Bc2 Kb6 27 Nc1 a5 28 a4 Rd6 29 Rd3 Rde6 30 Bd1 Re1 31 d5 Rh1 32 d6 Rd7 33 Kg2 Re1 34 Ne2 Kc5 35 Kf2 Rh1 36 Kg2 Rxd1 37 Rxd1 Rxd6 38 Rc1+ Kb4 39 axb5 cxb5 40 Rb1+ Kc5 41 Kf2 a4 42 Nc3 Rb6 43 Rc1 Kd4 44 Ne2+ Kd3 45 Rc3+ Kd2 46 Ra3 Rd6 Draw agreed ----------------------------------------------------

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