Take your pick in Courchevel, Chamonix, Sainte-Foy, Megève, and Val Thorens

Playing in five dimensions

William Hartston devises the game to end all games - and to decide which ones suit you


There are undoubtedly some chess openings that ought not to be allowed in a civilised society. The Vulgar Benko gambit, in which Black gains an inordinate amount of pleasure by throwing away a pawn, is one such, though the worst offender by far is the French Defence.

Chess prodigy proves age is no barrier

Chess whizz-kid Etienne Bacrot has moved into the history books by becoming the youngest grandmaster. At the tender age of 14 years and two months, the French schoolboy gained the coveted title by winning a tournament at Enghien-les-Bains, near Paris, at the weekend.


The greatest difficulties arise when your calculations fail to support your intuitive judgement. Today's position, from the fourth round of the London-Peking match, is a good example of the potentially harmful results of such confusion. The diagram position occurred after Chris Ward's 34th move as White, in his game against Peng Xiaomin.

Kuvaannollisen hauskaal for all the family

William Hartston approaches some games with unaccustomed gravity

A flavour of oriental OXO

If we ever make contact with beings from another galaxy, it would be very surprising to discover that they played chess, bridge or backgammon. The rules are too intricate and arbitrary to expect them to have evolved independently among a different intelligence. They might just play a form of Go, though probably not on our 19 by 19 boards. What they would almost certainly do, however - if they have discovered the joys of games at all - is to play some version of Noughts and Crosses. The idea of making connected lines of symbols on a square grid is so natural, they must surely do it everywhere in the universe.

Do not pass go

Charles Arthur explains the attractions of an ancient oriental game

The pawnwho wouldbe king

Luke McShane, 12, is Britain's latest chess prodigy, but can he succeed where others have failed?

Too many rooks spoil the froth

William Hartston traces the history of a new experiment in group chess deviancy



First move for spherical chess

The tables at Cafe Baroque near Covent Garden in London have supported lots of chess boards - it is a well known haven for casual pawn- pushers - but none has looked so strange as the one William Gramolt brought in recently.

Game's up for secrets of the grave

A board game has been interrupted 2,000 years after the first moves were made.

Pastimes; Chess

Anyone can win a brilliant game. If you want to spot a really good player, look at the games he loses. Take this game lost by Luke McShane in round nine of the current British Championship. Taken by surprise by the Four Pawns Attack, he replied passively with 6...Nbd7? White barged on with 7.e5 and 11.h4 and after 12.h5, Black's game was critical. But 12-year-old Luke fought back resourcefully, correctly calculating at move 14 that 14...Ndf6 15.Nxe6 Bxe6 16.Qxe6+ Kh8 17.Rh3 would leave White with too strong an attack, and instead giving up the exchange for two pawns. White's attack persisted, but he needed to give back his extra material, then find the fine idea of 31.Rc1! (much better than the obvious Bc4) to win the game. Black's resistance in this game is as impressive as any he has won.

Pastimes: Chess

Anatoly Karpov has retained his Fide world championship by beating Gata Kamsky 101/2-71/2 in their match in Kalmykia. For Karpov, the result is a great triumph and sets a curious new record.

Fischer makes an unprecedented move

After 500 years, the greatest of the grandmasters has changed the rules of chess, says William Hartston
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