Chess: When winning isn't everything

AT A tournament in Monaco, a team of veterans led by Spassky and Smyslov were narrowly defeated, 37-35, by the best female players in the world, writes William Hartston.

Despite being significantly lower rated than their opponents, the women calculated more precisely and fought harder. Too often the men's promising positions faded into draws, while the women potted their points.

Boris Spassky infuriated his team captain on at least one occasion by agreeing a draw in a clearly better position, although in the following game the point was shared only after all ideas had been exhausted.

Playing an opening - the Tarrasch Defence to the Queen's Gambit - that had brought him success in the 1969 world championship match, Spassky introduced a beautiful idea with 18 . . . Be6] The point was revealed in a queen sacrifice on the following move. If White takes the queen, after 20. Bxd5 Bxe3+ 21. Kg2 Bxd5+ Black has all the winning chances.

As the game went, Black won a pawn, but 22. Rd6 posed an awkward threat of a back-rank mate. Spassky's solution was too cautious. Exchanging his white-squared bishop for a knight, he left f7 difficult to defend. The pawn fell, material equality was re- established and the draw became inevitable. But Boris will be happy to have played a nice queen sacrifice and an entertaining game. Winning is not so important at his age.

White: Joseliani

Black: Spassky

1 d4 d5 16 Nc5 Re5

2 c4 e6 17 e4 dxe3

3 Nc3 c5 18 fxe3 Be6

4 cxd5 exd5 19 Nxb7 Qxd5

5 Nf3 Nc6 20 Rxc6 Bxe3

6 g3 Nf6 21 Kh1 Qxa2

7 Bg2 Be7 22 Rd6 Re8

8 0-0 0-0 23 Rd8 Bc8

9 dxc5 Bxc5 24 Rxe8 Rxe8

10 Bg5 d4 25 Bd5 Bxb7

11 Bxf6 Qxf6 26 Bxb7 Kh8

12 Nd5 Qd8 27 Qd7 Qe6

13 Nd2 a6 28 Rxf7 Qxd7

14 Rc1 Ba7 29 Rxd7

15 Ne4 Re8 Draw agreed

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