THEY LOVE Nigel Short in Iceland. In a television poll for favourite personality last year, he came second. Madonna was third. Yesterday he won the right to challenge for the world chess championship by beating the Dutchman Jan Timman in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain. Now the British, too, are beginning to love Nigel Short.
At the start of the World Chess Championship Candidates' Final match three weeks ago, Short was asked about his prospects if he were to win through to meet Garry Kasparov. His reply, that he was not thinking about that possibility yet, was both predictable and evasive. For the problem of how to beat Kasparov has been high on Short's priorities for many years.
Yesterday Short successfully finished off Timman. Starting two games up with two to play, he managed a draw in 39 moves to clinch the match by 7 1/2 -5 1/2. Now thoughts of Kasparov will fill his life for the next eight months: six months of intense preparation, followed by eight weeks of bitter, face-to-face conflict.
Short's wishful thinking about winning the world championship began to turn into rational planning when he scored his first victory against Kasparov in a tournament in Brussels in 1986. The game itself was anything but a polished performance; Short overlooked the loss of a piece before obtaining, more by accident than design, compensatory attacking chances. But it proved to Short that Kasparov was capable of cracking under pressure.
In 1987, Kasparov came to London to play a speed chess match against Short and teach the young pretender a lesson. But Short's defeat by the comparatively narrow margin of 4-2 was far from the humiliation that the champion had intended. 'He knows more about chess than I ever will,' Short said after that match, 'but that doesn't mean that I'll never beat him.'
Since then, Short's dossier on Kasparov has been growing. He has noticed things about the man's behaviour that he believes he can turn to his advantage, or at least use to avoid falling into the traps that have killed off other opponents. According to Short, when Kasparov comes to the board to greet an opponent, he wears a big smile as he offers a friendly handshake. Shake his hand, says Short, but do not let yourself be lulled by his deceptive charm. For all his apparent bonhomie, Kasparov wants to destroy his opponents.
When Short won his Candidates quarter-final match against Boris Gelfand, his second and trainer, the experienced Czech-American grandmaster Lubomir Kavalek told him: 'From here on, it gets dirty.' Before playing Anatoly Karpov in the semi- finals, Short talked himself into a dirty mood to be ready for anything in the Soviet armoury of foul tricks.
On a television chat show last week, the comedienne Jo Brand contrasted English and American attitudes to sport by pointing out that while the US's leading heavyweight boxer is in jail convicted of rape, Britain's was playing Widow Twankey in pantomime. There used to be a similar discrepancy between British and Russian attitudes to chess: Short's calm, determined, ruthless performance against Karpov proved that he is no Widow Twankey.
Now he must prepare seriously for Kasparov. On paper, it must be admitted, Short cannot win. He is officially ranked only 12th in the world, and some of his tournament results, such as finishing last in Linares last year, are the sort of thing that world champions never do. But on paper he had no chance against Karpov either.
Over the past few years, Short has developed a style that is uniquely effective in matches. He has learnt to understand his opponents, to play on their weaknesses, and to undermine their confidence, while all the time his own composure remains imperturbable.
In all of his qualifying matches, Short came back from an early defeat. When Kasparov loses a game, it sometimes seems to take him days to recover. When Short loses, he has learnt the knack of bouncing back with a string of victories. He seems able to play a long match as though it were a single game, keeping his emotions under control for weeks on end.
When Kasparov was asked to predict, some months ago, who his challenger would be, and how the match would go, he said: 'It will be Short, and it will be short.'
He was correct on the first count. We shall see about the second. Short's only prediction: 'It will not be as easy as he imagines.' He is still clearly annoyed that Kasparov finished ahead of him and Madonna in that Icelandic television poll.
SHORT ON KASPAROV
His mentality is Stalinist
He has very little respect in the chess world and I don't think you can ascribe all this to envy
I think he is a thoroughly unpleasant person
Kasparov is interested in money and power, especially in power, and in dominating everyone, and I don't mean just in chess
SHORT ON SHORT
I enjoy crushing people. I do. There is no doubt about that
In the past I have been very lazy
Just believing in yourself is not enough. You have to back this up with some good ideas. Positive thinking is all too often wishful thinking
GAME 10: Monday 25 January
Short increases his lead. Timman gave up his complicating tactics, choosing instead a supposedly solid opening variation. Short maintained a slight initiative throughout, then increased the pressure as Timman began to run out of time. Having to rush his last moves, Timman made errors and his game fell apart. Short 6, Timman 4.
White: Short Black: Timman 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 d6 8 c3 0-0 9 h3 Bb7 10 d4 Re8 11 Nbd2 Bf8 12 d5 Nb8 13 Nf1 Nbd7 14 Ng3 Nc5 15 Bc2 a5 16 N1h2 g6 17 Qf3 h5 18 Be3 Nfd7 19 Rad1 Qe7 20 Ngf1 Bg7 21 Bc1 c6 22 b4 axb4 23 cxb4 Na4 24 dxc6 Bxc6 25 Bb3 Rad8 26 Qg3 Nf8 27 Nf3 Ne6 28 Ng5 Nxg5 29 Bxg5 Bf6 30 Bxf6 Qxf6 31 Rd3 h4 32 Rf3 hxg3 33 Rxf6 gxf2+ 34 Kxf2 Re7 35 Rxg6+ Kh7 36 Rg3 d5 37 exd5 Bxd5 38 Rd3 Nb6 39 Ne3 Red7 40 Nxd5 1-0
GAME 11: Tuesday 26 & Wednesday 27 January
Timman fights back. Playing with great determination and restraint, the Dutch grandmaster manoeuvred patiently to force Short into a difficult endgame. The game was adjourned after 60 moves but, despite some fine overnight analysis, Short may have missed a chance to save himself towards the end of the second session. Short 6, Timman 5.
White: Timman Black: Short 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 cxd5 exd5 5 Bg5 c6 6 Qc2 Be7 7 e3 Nbd7 8 Bd3 Nh5 9 Bxe7 Qxe7 10 Nge2 Nb6 11 0-0-0 g6 12 Kb1 Ng7 13 Ng3 Bd7 14 Rc1 0-0-0 15 Na4 Nxa4 16 Qxa4 Kb8 17 Rc3 b6 18 Ra3 Be8 19 Qc2 Rc8 20 Rc1 Bd7 21 Qd2 h5 22 Rb3 Ne6 23 Rbc3 h4 24 Ne2 Qd6 25 h3 Rhd8 26 Ng1 g5 27 Nf3 f6 28 R3c2 Ng7 29 Ka1 Bf5 30 Ne1 Kb7 31 Rc3 Bxd3 32 Nxd3 Nf5 33 Qc2 Ne7 34 Qa4 Ka8 35 a3 Qd7 36 Nb4 Kb7 37 Rb3 c5 38 Qxd7+ Rxd7 39 dxc5 d4 40 exd4 Rxd4 41 Nd3 Nd5 42 Kb1 Re8 43 cxb6 axb6 44 a4 Ka7 45 a5 bxa5 46 Rc5 Nb4 47 Rxa5+ Kb6 48 Nxb4 Rxb4 49 Raa3 Re1+ 50 Kc2 Re2+ 51 Kc1 Kb5 52 Rxb4+ Kxb4 53 Rf3 Re1+ 54 Kd2 Rg1 55 Ke2 Kc4 56 Rxf6 Rxg2 57 Kf1 Rh2 58 Rf3 Rh1+ 59 Kg2 Rb1 60 Rf5 Rxb2 61 Kf3 Rb1 62 Rxg5 Rf1 63 Rf5 Rg1 64 Rh5 Rf1 65 Rxh4+ Kd5 66 Rf4 Ke5 67 Kg2 Ra1 68 Rf8 Ke6 69 h4 Ke7 70 Rf4 Ra8 71 Kh3 Rh8 72 Kg4 Rg8+ 73 Kh5 Ke6 74 Kh6 Ke5 75 Ra4 Rg2 76 f3 Rg3 77 Re4+ Kf5 78 Re8 Rg6+ 79 Kh7 Rf6 80 Kg7 Rg6+ 81 Kh7 Rf6 82 Re7 Ra6 83 Rf7+ Ke6 84 Kg7 Ra1 85 Rf6+ 1-0
GAME 12: Thursday 28 January
A wonderfully cool performance by Short to go two up, with two to play. In a game of high complexity and tension, a well- judged sacrifice of rook for bishop on move 34 seized the initiative, and a fiendishly complex 38th move provoked another time-trouble error from Timman. Short 7, Timman 5.
White: Short Black: Timman 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 Nxe4 6 d4 b5 7 Bb3 d5 8 dxe5 Be6 9 c3 Bc5 10 Nbd2 0-0 11 Bc2 f5 12 Nb3 Bb6 13 Nfd4 Nxd4 14 Nxd4 Bxd4 15 Qxd4 c5 16 Qd1 h6 17 f3 Ng5 18 Be3 Rc8 19 Qd2 a5 20 Rad1 Qe7 21 Bb1 Kh8 22 Rfe1 Rc7 23 Bf2 b4 24 h4 Nh7 25 Qd3 g5 26 Qa6 Rfc8 27 Re2 Rc6 28 Qd3 gxh4 29 f4 Rg8 30 Qf3 bxc3 31 bxc3 Rb6 32 Bc2 Rg4 33 Kh2 Rb8 34 Rxd5 Bxd5 35 Qxd5 Rxf4 36 Bxc5 Qg7 37 Bd4 Re8 38 Qd6 Qg3+ 39 Kg1 h3 40 Rf2 h2+ 41 Kh1 Rxd4 42 Qxd4 Nf6 43 Re2 Nh5 44 e6+ Qg7 45 Kxh2 f4 46 Bg6 1-0
GAME 13: Saturday 30 January
Timman nudged the self-destruct button with his 15th move. Trying to launch an all-out attack, he created only weaknesses. Over the first 20 moves, Short spent only 30 minutes to Timman's hour and a half. When the queens came off Timman's hopes of victory expired. Final score: Short 7 1/2 Timman 5 1/2.
White: Timman Black: Short 1 c4 e6 2 Nc3 d5 3 d4 Nf6 4 cxd5 exd5 5 Bg5 c6 6 Qc2 Be7 7 e3 Nbd7 8 Bd3 0-0 9 Nge2 Re8 10 0-0 g6 11 f3 Nh5 12 Bxe7Qxe7 13 e4Nb6 14 e5 c5 15 g4 Ng7 16 Nf4Be6 17 Qf2 Rce8 18 Nfe2 Bd7 19 Rae1 Ne6 20 f4 cxd4 21 Nxd4 Nxd4 22 Qxd4 Bxg4 23 e6 fxe6 24 f5 Qc5 25 Qxc5 Rxc5 26 fxg6 hxg6 27 Rf6 Rc7 28 Nb5 Rg7 29 Nd4 Nd7 30 Rf4 Bf5 31 Nxe6 Bxe6 32 Rxe6 Nc5 33 Re3 Nxd3 34 Rd7 35 Rfd4 Rad8 36 Kg2 Re8 37 Rxd5 Re2+ 38 Rxd5 Re2+ 39 Kg3 Rxb2 Draw
Short's winning idea from game 12: Facing threats to his king, he played 38. Qd6]] Qg3+ 39. Kg1 h3 40. Rf2]] h2+ 41. Kh1 and Black has no good move. 41 . . . Rxf2 loses the queen to 42. e6+] and Qxg3
(Photographs and graphic omitted)
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