Chess: Speelmania takes hold

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WHEN James Plakett lost to Jonathan Speelman in the seventh round of the Lloyds Bank Masters on Friday, the analysis between the players afterwards took almost as long as the game itself. Speelman games are like that sometimes, and this one produced a particularly inspired bit of Speelmania. 'I completely overlooked both his eight and ninth moves,' Plaskett said. The first of those moves was a most unlikely looking sacrifice.

When White plays 4. g3 against the Nimzo-Indian, he clearly expects his bishop to gain command of the long white diagonal. It is most unusual, and rather risky, for Black to contrive to develop his own bishop on b7, but Speelman set up an original formation starting with the awkward looking 5 . . . Nc6. Usually when Black moves his knight in front of his c-pawn in this fashion it signifies an intention to attack the centre with e5, but in this case Speelman's idea was to shield the long diagonal for long enough to get his bishop to b7.

Plaskett's 7. Ne5 was an attempt to take immediate advantage of Black's formation, but Speelman's 8 . . . Nxe5]] was a wondrous conception to turn the tables. After 9. Bxb7 Bxc3+ 10. bxc3 Nxc4 11. Bxa8 Qxa8 Black would have knight and pawn for the sacrificed rook and would dominate the white squares. After a long thought, Plaskett decided that the offer could not be accepted.

White had a small disadvantage the way the game went, which became worse after 13. c5? let Speelman develop a powerful initiative through a temporary pawn sacrifice. In fact, he quickly regained the pawn and won another, with White still struggling to complete his development.

Mercifully, the end came quickly for White, with 25 . . . Bxf3+] finishing things off neatly.

----------------------------------------------------------------- White: Plaskett Black: Speelman ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 d4 Nf6 14 cxd6 cxd6 2 c4 e6 15 Bxd6 Rd8 3 Nc3 Bb4 16 Bf4 Qxc3+ 4 g3 0-0 17 Kf1 Rxd4 5 Bg2 Nc6 18 Qc1 Qa5 6 Nf3 b6 19 Be3 Rd7 7 Ne5 Bb7 20 f3 Rc8 8 Bg5 Nxe5 21 Qb2 Rc3 9 Bxf6 Qc8 22 Bf2 Qe5 10 Bxe5 Bxg2 23 Rb1 Qc7 11 Rg1 Bxc3+ 24 Kg2 Rc2 12 bxc3 Bb7 25 Rgc1 Bxf3+ 13 c5 d6 White resigns -----------------------------------------------------------------