Short takes lead after swashbuckling chess encounter

NIGEL SHORT defeated Jan Timman in the ninth game of the World Chess Championship Candidates Final in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain. With five games left Short leads 5-4; the winner will challenge Garry Kasparov for the world title.

The ninth game was probably the best and certainly the most exciting of the match so far. With both men in gloriously aggressive mood, taking what appeared to be the most outrageous risks in pursuit of victory, the game was characterised by the sort of non-stop tactical adventurousness rarely seen since the swashbuckling days of the last century.

On the fifth move, Short diverged from his play in the seventh game, choosing an unusual move known to lead to great complications. Timman played for the win of a pawn, then surprised everyone by chasing after several more. All this time, Timman had left a rook open to capture by Short's queen. Having had his queen trapped in game seven, Short declined the invitation.

Sources not far from the Timman camp were contentedly claiming that their man had prepared the whole variation at home up to move 40, but if this is true, he was quickly shown to have made a bad misjudgement. Perhaps he had underestimated Short's 20th move when, three pawns behind, the English grandmaster offered White an opportunity to force the exchange of queens. He had realised that even with queens off the board, his attack would still be strong enough to force a quick win.

Timman was forced to give up rook for bishop, after which the endgame always looked difficult for him. With both players running out of time, he did not defend well, and Short's rooks broke through to win. In contrast to the nervous, error-ridden early games, this was a marvellously uninhibited performance by both men.

The tenth game will be played today.

------------------------------------------------ White: Timman Black: Short ------------------------------------------------ Game Nine. ------------------------------------------------ 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Bxc6 dxc6 5 0-0 Ne7 6 Nxe5 Qd4 7 Qh5 g6 8 Qg5 Bg7 9 Nd3 f5 10 e5 c5 11 b3 h6 12 Qg3 f4 13 Qf3 Bf5 14 Qxb7 Be4 15 Qxc7 Bxd3 16 cxd3 Bxe5 17 Qb7 Rb8 18 Qxa6 f3 19 Nc3 fxg2 20 Re1 0-0 21 Qe6+ Rf7 22 Nd1 Qxa1 23 Qxe5 Qxe5 24 Rxe5 Nc6 25 Rxc5 Nb4 26 Ba3 Nxd3 27 Rc6 Ra8 28 Rd6 Rxa3 29 Rxd3 Rxa2 30 Ne3 Kg7 31 Kxg2 Ra5 32 Rd4 Rb5 33 b4 Rbb7 34 Rc4 Rfc7 35 Rg4 Rd7 36 h4 h5 37 Rg5 Rxb4 38 d4 Rf7 39 Rd5 Rb2 White resigns ------------------------------------------------