Chess

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The Independent Online
After making a medium-sized blunder and shedding a pawn or two, or even simply being forced to retreat and lose time after embarking on a faulty plan, many players will despair and shift immediately into swindling gear, as though determined to get the game over with as quickly as possible.

While proper mega-blunders do indeed leave no hope of survival, the average crude oversight, while still objective enough to cause eventual defeat, still leaves room to regroup and at the very least make the opponent work for his victory. And there is nothing more disconcerting than finding that you have to work after you have been led to believe that your opponent is in a generous mood.

Take the following game from the British Championship, which would have been a good candidate for the Best Recovery from the Brink of Disaster award. After 16 moves (see diagram), White had a clear advantage. Black is cramped, uncastled and any attempt to regain space in the centre only leads to pawn weaknesses.

Arkell's 17.b4? must have been a complete oversight. Black's only active piece, his knight on f5, is given the opportunity for a little pawn-winning combination with 18...Nxg3! After 19.fxg3 Qc5+, Black picks up the rook on b4. To his credit, White stayed calm, even when the black knight came back for another bite with 21...Nxh4. Ignoring his own losses - well, what else could he do? - White just got on with the game as best he could. Meanwhile Black began to lose the thread.

Instead of 22...Bh3 and 23...Bh6, going for further material gains, he should have been satisfied with 22...Nxg2. As the game went, neither man seemed in much control but the pieces, with a mind of their own, seemed to have decided that White deserved to win.

White: K Arkell Black: A Ledger

1 d4 g6 25 Qxc1 Nf5

2 c4 Bg7 26 Bf4 g5

3 Nf3 d6 27 Be3 Rb8

4 g3 Bg4 28 Bxb6 Nh4

5 Bg2 Nc6 29 Qe3 0-0

6 d5 Ne5 30 Kh2 Bf5

7 Nxe5 Bxe5 31 c5 Ng6

8 Nc3 Qc8 32 c6 a5

9 h3 Bd7 33 Rb5 Ne5

10 Be3 c5 34 Qd4 Bg6

11 Qd2 a6 35 c7 Ra8

12 a4 b6 36 d6 Qg4

13 h4 h5 37 dxe7 Qf4+

14 0-0 Bg7 38 Kg2 Bxe4+

15 Rab1 Nh6 39 Kg2 Bxe4+

16 Bg5 Nf5 40 Qxe4 Rfe8

17 b4 cxb4 41 Rd5 Qf4

18 Rxb4 Nxg3 42 Qxf4 gxf4

19 Rc1 f6 43 Kf1 f3

20 Bf4 Nf5 44 Rd8 Kf7

21 Ne4 Nxh4 45 exf3 Nc4

22 Bxd6! Bh3 46 Bc5 Rc8

23 Bh1 Bh6 47 f4 Ke6

24 Qc3 Bxc1 48 Bd5+ 1-0

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