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Short's blunder costs the game

NIGEL SHORT, England's world chess championship contender, lost the second game of his final eliminating match against Jan Timman thanks to a blunder at the 25th move. Timman leads 1 1/2 - 1/2 with 12 games to play.

Until the mistake, the game had been well balanced, though Short had looked slightly less comfortable in the heavy strategic manoeuvring of a battle in which the first exchange did not occur until the 20th move.

On his 25th move, Short pushed forward a pawn, further increasing the complexity in the centre of the board, but apparently overlooking a simple reply that won a knight for Timman.

Perhaps it was Timman's 26th move that Short missed, when the Dutch grandmaster, 41, moved his attacked queen to defend a crucial centre pawn. Whatever the precise nature of the miscalculation, it was an elementary error to decide a game at this level.

With the victor in this match promised the prize of a dollars 4m (pounds 2.68m) world title match against Garry Kasparov, both players and most commentators have said that it would be decided by nerves as much as chess skill. But nobody predicted anything quite as suicidally twitchy as Short's blunder yesterday.

Supporters of Short, 27, have, however, been quick to point out that in all the earlier rounds of the world championship, he suffered disastrous losses to go one down early on. With 12 games still to play, he will not be worried yet.

Today is a rest day. The third game will be played tomorrow. Full moves of the second game:

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 resigns