Raymond Keene

True Blue

True Blue
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The Oxford v. Cambridge Varsity Match held at the Royal Automobile Club two weeks ago ended in a draw. This is the longest-running chess fixture in the world, dating originally from 1873, when such luminaries as Howard Staunton and Wilhelm Steinitz were in attendance. Cambridge now lead by 58 wins to 53 with 21 drawn matches. This week’s game is a fine win by Oxford.

Weaving-Chiu: Varsity Match, London 2014; Sicilian Defence

1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 e6 3 Nf3 d6 4 d4 cxd4 5 Nxd4 Nf6. After various transpositions we have reached a standard position from the Scheveningen Variation of the Sicilian Defence, one popularised by Kasparov in his world title matches against Karpov. 6 Be3 a6 7 Qd2 b5 8 f3 Bb7. The scene is set. White plans to castle queenside and hopes to obliterate the black king which would normally castle on the opposite side of the board. 9 0-0-0 Be7 10 g4 Nc6 11 Nxc6 Bxc6 12 Ne2 0-0 13 g5 Nd7 14 h4 Ne5 15 Nd4 Rc8 16 h5 (see diagram 1). The race is on. Black now has the choice of concentrating his forces against White’s king or striking out at once with 16 ... Nxf3 17 Nxf3 Bxe4 18 Be2 Bxc2 as, indeed, occurred in Horvath-Cawdery, St Lorenzo 1995, with a fascinating material imbalance and probably balanced chances. 16 ... Qc7. A new move. Black opts for the slower build up. 17 Bd3. I would prefer 17 Be2. It is unthematic to permit the immediate exchange of this valuable piece. 17 ... d5 18 Nxc6 Qxc6 19 Qg2 Nxd3+ 20 Rxd3 dxe4 21 fxe4 Rfd8 22 Rxd8+ Bxd8 23 h6. If 23 g6 fxg6 24 hxg6 h6 and ...Bf6. 23 ... g6 24 Rf1 e5 25 Rf2 f6 26 Qh3 Be7 27 gxf6 Bxf6 (see diagram 2) 28 Qxc8+. White suffers a brainstorm, doubtless believing that after the queen sacrifice it would be possible to nail the black king, which is considerably restricted in its movements. Sadly, this turns out not to be the case, and the simple 28 Qf3 would have been vastly preferable. 28 ... Qxc8 29 Rxf6 Qg4 30 b4. In his calculations White had possibly overlooked that the seemingly deadly 30 Bc5, tightening the noose around the black king, is summarily refuted by 30 ... Qg5+. 30 ... Qh4 31 Rf1 Qh5. The free-roaming black queen now eliminates any possibility of White being able to organise a decisive attack against Black’s king. 32 Re1 Kf7 33 Bd2 Ke6 34 Kb2 Qh4 35 Re2 g5 36 a3 g4 37 Be3 g3 38 Rg2 Qh3 39 Rg1 g2 40 Bc5 Qf3 41 Bb6 Qxe4. Apart from his material advantage, Black’s pawns now advance inexorably down the board. 42 Kc1 Qe2 43 Rd1 e4 44 Rd2 Qf1+ 45 Rd1 Qf4+ 46 Kb2 Qxh6 47 Re1 Qf4 48 Kc3 h5 49 Be3 Qf3 50 Kd2 h4 51 Bg1 h3 52 Bh2 Qf2+ 53 Kd1 e3 White resigns.

Our thanks go to Henry Mutkin, who sponsored the match, and the RAC, which acted as host.