Raymond Keene

Max Fuller

Max Fuller
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I am sorry to hear that the Australian master Max Fuller has died in Sydney at the age of 68. For about a decade Max was a fixture on the British chess scene and the high point of his career came when he was within just one move of tying for first prize in the British Championship, instead of sharing second. I was instrumental in the final outcome, since I was playing Black against Max in the last round. Had Max won, and my notes will reveal how this would have been possible, he would have shared first prize with fellow Antipodean, Bob Wade OBE. As it was, Wade won the championship outright. In 1975 Max also shared second place; he represented Australia many times in the Chess Olympiads, shared first prize in the Australian Championship and was appointed captain of their team in 1986. He was one of the heroes of Australian chess.

Fuller-Keene; British Championship, Coventry 1970; Tartakower Defence

1 Nf3 d6 2 d4 Bg4 3 h3 Bxf3 4 gxf3 Nd7 5 Bg2 Ngf6 6 f4 d5 White now proceeds to undermine Black’s centre with tremendous energy. 7 c4 c6 8 Nc3 Nb6 9 cxd5 cxd5 10 Qb3 e6 11 a4 a5 12 f5 Bb4 13 fxe6 fxe6 14 0-0 0-0 (diagram 1) White enjoys an excellent position, apart from the fact that his king is somewhat lacking in pawn shelter — one of the points of Black’s exchange of his queen’s bishop for White’s king’s knight. This factor comes to Black’s rescue in subsequent play. Whether it should have done is moot. 15 e4 Bxc3 16 bxc3 Nxe4 17 Rb1 Ra6 A clumsy development for the rook, but I saw no alternative way to proceed. In any case I had a cunning plan in mind. 18 c4 Qh4 19 Ba3 Rf6 20 cxd5 Nxd5 21 Qxb7 h6 This was my stellar idea, signalling the intention to sacrifice a whole rook to strike directly at White’s king. 21 ... h6 is an essential preliminary to give the Black king room to escape from the general conflagration which is about to sweep the board. 22 Qxa6 Rg6 (diagram 2) Black has offered a rook to whip up fantastic complications and White has to weather a furious combinative storm. Now White could have steered for a draw with 23 Qc8+ Kh7 24 Qc2 Nf4 25 Qxe4 Nxh3+ 26 Kh2 Nf4+ and half a point would have given Max second place on his own. However, by opting for the fearless 23 Kh2 Max could, in fact, have won and, this being the last round, ensured a tie for the championship title. He feared 23 ... Rxg2+ 24 Kxg2 Nf4+ and, indeed, at the time, I believed that I would be winning. Nevertheless, although White’s king appears to be in terrible danger from the maelstrom of Black forces whirling around it, Black has nothing, the king can run the gauntlet and escape, when the entire attack would have been revealed as bluff, more poker than chess! 23 Rb3? Qg5 24 Rg3 Nxg3 25 fxg3 Qxg3 26 Rf8+ Kh7 27 Qe2 Qxa3 White’s next is a horrible blunder caused by time pressure, but a pawn down and with a shattered king position he could already have resigned. 28 Kh1 Qxf8 White resigns