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McShane Shines (17.12.2011.)

Malcolm Pein’s excellently organised London Chess Classic, ended on Monday with a win for the Russian, Vladimir Kramnik who finished with a score of 16 points from 4 wins, 4 draws and no losses. Hikaru Nakamura was runner-up with 15 pts. and Magnus Carlsen third on 14.

The star of England’s quartet was Luke McShane, the only other player with a double digit score (13), while Westcountryman Michael Adams was completely out of form, coming last of the nine on just 3 points, having lost 5 games. This is in stark contrast to his recent performance at the European Team Championship where he won the gold medal for the best score by any Board 1 player. The two are probably not unconnected as, although a sedentary game, top level chess is extremely draining on the brain and nervous system and one needs adequate time to recuperate fully and be fresh for the next challenge.

McShane, who now works for Goldman-Sachs, beat all his English opponents, including this game between the two former child prodigies.

White: Nigel Short (2698). Black: Luke McShane (2671).

King’s Gambit Accepted [C34]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 h6 The Becker Defence, named after Albert Becker (1896–1984) not Boris, although he was present at the tournament. 4.d4 g5 5.Nc3 d6 6.g3 fxg3 7.hxg3 Bg7 8.Be3 Nf6 9.Qd3 Ng4 10.0–0–0 c6 11.Re1 Nd7 12.e5 dxe5 13.Bh3 Nxe3 14.Rxe3 0–0 Black must take the risk of castling K-side as his Q-side pieces will take too long to develop. 15.Ne4 Nf6 16.Bxc8 exd4 17.Bxb7 dxe3 18.Bxa8 Nxe4 19.Qxe4 Qb6 Protecting his advanced pawn and threatening mate. 20.Ne5 Rxa8 21.Qxc6 Qxc6 22.Nxc6 Re8 23.c3 Re6 24.Nxa7 Black doesn’t mind giving up this pawn as it sidelined the knight and allows him to concentrate on maximising his own dangerous e-pawn. 24…Be5 25.Nb5 e2 26.Kd2 Bxg3 27.Re1 Bxe1+ 28.Kxe1 White has sacrificed his e-pawn to win the exchange, but now his other pawns must race on. h5 29.Nd4 Ra6 30.a3 h4 31.Kxe2 g4 32.c4 h3 33.Kf2 h2 34.Kg2 Rh6 35.Kh1 g3 36.Nf5 g2+ 0-1 To the h-pawn goes the honour of queening, except that White has seen enough.

In last week’s position, Reinfeld’s “obvious” move was 1.Nf5 forcing Black to play Rg8, but then 2.Be5! adds a second mating threat that cannot be avoided.

This position came near the end of a 1953 game between Reshevsky (W) and Kotov. Black has just played 34…Qd3-e2 threatening the rook in the knowledge it can’t be taken because of the back rank mate. Yet White now found a winning move. Can you see it?

White to play and win.

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