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The Independent Online
Two days ago, we mentioned the recent death of Lev Polugayevsky at the age of 61. He would have been sad to miss the current PCA world title match, with its promise of a glut of Sicilian Defences. Polugayevsky's own affection for that opening was so great that a couple of years ago a wealthy friend sponsored a tournament in which every game had to be a Sicilian Defence. He named the event in Polugayevsky's honour.

The following encounter is not a Sicilian, though it was played between two men who had Sicilian variations named after them. It is a fine example of Polugayevsky's meticulous approach to calculating tactical variations.

After 19.Nf4, White appears to be building dangerous threats of a sacrifice on e6. Polu's counter is brilliant. Giving up a pawn with 19...b3! then gaining time with 20...Be4, he was able to shunt the white queen off to a2. Then 23...Ng4! attacked the bishop on h6, but that was only the beginning.

White had relied on 24.Nxe6 fxe6 25.Qxe6+, missing the subtle 24...Qb6!! Finally the cool 26...Red8! ensured the win of a piece. All of which, Polugayevsky had to have worked out at move 19.

White: Najdorf Black: Polugayevsky

1 d4 Nf6 20 Bxb3 Be4

2 c4 e6 21 Qd1 Nxb3

3 Nc3 Bb4 22 Qxb3 Bc2

4 e3 0-0 23 Qa2 Ng4

5 Bd3 c5 24 Nxe6 Qb6

6 Nf3 d5 25 Ng7 Bb3

7 0-0 dxc4 26 Qb1 Red8

8 Bxc4 Nc6 27 Nf5 gxf5

9 Bd3 cxd4 28 Rxe7 Nxh6

10 exd4 Be7 29 Qd3 Qf6

11 a3 a6 30 Ra7 Bc4

12 Bc2 b5 31 Qd2 Bd5

13 Qd3 Bb7 32 Ne5 Ng4

14 Re1 g6 33 Qf4 Bxe5

15 Bb3 Rc8 34 dxe5 Qg6

16 Bh6 Re8 35 g3 Be4

17 Ba2 b4 36 Re1 Rd3

18 Ne2 Na5 37 e6 Qxe6

19 Nf4 b3 White resigns

That game against Miguel Najdorf was played at Mar del Plata in 1971 and strongly reminds me of a comment made by Mikhail Tal in the same year at the Hastings tournament. Tipping (incorrectly as it turned out) Polugayevsky to beat Karpov in the first round of the Candidates' matches, he said that in his own games against Polu, he felt "a force pushing against me from the other side of the board." Playing Karpov, Tal said, he never felt such a force.

Coming from one of the most forceful players of all time, there can hardly be any greater praise.

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