Yugoslav play produces surprises

The Subotica, Yugoslavia, Interzonal featured many surprises, perhaps the principal one being that not a single Soviet qualified from this event, though the Soviets had three highly ranked grandmasters competing for the three favored positions. The co-winners and qualifiers, with 10 points out of 15 rounds, were Grandmaster Gyula Sax of Hungary and Nigel Short and Jonathan Speelman of England. That Short and Sax qualified was not particularly surprising; both had been playing very well in the past year. But Speelman's result must be considered an upset. His play must be of particular interest to Yasser Seirawan, the lone American qualifier, who is scheduled to meet him in the opening round of Candidates' matches in late January and early February next year in Saint John, New Brunswick.

The most famous of the Soviets, and the one who came closest to qualifying, was the veteran and former world champion, Mikhail Tal, who was actually leading going into the 13th round when he was upset and came a cropper against International Master Devaki Prasad of India. Tal finished with 10 points, as did GM Zoltan Ribli of Hungary, who lost a most crucial game against Speelman (which is featured in today's column.)

A most interesting theoretical debate in the opening was won by the young Britisher, who showed that the Soviets and Hungarians no longer have a monopoly on lengthy prepared analyses.

The full roster of candidates is Sokolov, Yusupov, Ehlvest, Vaganian, and Salov of the USSR; Short and Speelman of England; Seirawan of the US; Korchnoi of Switzerland; Timman of the Netherlands; Hjartarson of Iceland, Spraggett of Canada; and Sax and Portisch of Hungary. Portisch had tied with England's Nunn for a spot and the playoff, 4-2. Meran Slav Speelman Ribli 1. P-Q4 P-Q4 2. N-KB3 N-KB3 3. P-B4 P-B3 4. N-B3 P-K3 5. P-K3 QN-Q2 6. B-Q3 PxP 7. BxBP P-QN4 8. B-Q3 P-QR3 9. P-K4 P-B4 10. P-K5 (a) PxP 11. NxNP N-N5 (b) 12. Q-R4 KNxKP (c) 13. NxN NxN 14. N-Q6 ch (d) K-K2 15. NxB ch RxN (e) 16. BxQRP R-R1 17. Q-N5 Q-Q4 18. QxQ PxQ 19. B-N5 K-B3 (f) 20. O-O (g) B-N5 21. B-KB4 KR-QB1 22. P-QR4 N-B5 23. QR-Q1 NxP 24. RxP B-B6 25. RxP P-R3 (h) 26. R-Q6 ch K-K2 27. R-Q7 ch K-B1 28. R-R1 (i) B-B3 29. P-N3 K-N1 30. R-R3 R-B4 31. R-N7 B-Q5 32. B-K3 BxB 33. RxB NxP? (j) 34. R-R3 Resigns (k)

A.Also seen is 10.P-Q5, but the text, which is the older move, is currently enjoying a renaissance in popularity.

B.Now both 11.... PxN; 12.PxN, Q-N3, which used to be espoused by former world champion Mikhail Botvinnik, and 11.... NxP; 12.NxN, PxN are equally playable alternatives.

C.This surprising capture, which exposes Black to an uncommon double and discovered check, is actually the best shot for equality. Other moves such as 12.... B-N2 or 12.... R-QN1 have been tried and found wanting in maintaining the balance.

D.Unconvincing here is 14.N-B7 ch, K-K2; 15.NxR, NxB ch; 16.K-K2, N-B4, when neither side seems to stand well.

E.In Game 6 of a match between Miles and Kasparov, the world champion tried 15.... K-B3 and won after 16.B-K4? RxN. Subsequently, White was shown to have the edge after 16.BxQRP, N-Q6 ch; 17.K-B1. Even worse for Black is here 16.... QxN?; 17.QxP, QxB; 18.Q-R4 ch.

F.In view of White's bishop pair, the passed queenside pawns, and Black's weak doubled pawns, White must have the edge. Somewhat surprisingly, the Yugoslav Informant rates the position as even, which is probably why Ribli was willing to essay the opening variation. Apparently Speelman has seen more deeply into the position.

G.The English innovation first appears on Move 20. Previously White played 20.K-K2 to keep the king close to the scene.

Speelman judges that it is more important to remove his king from the center files, so as not to impede the mobility of his rooks. The initiative he obtains thereby is directly responsible for his well-earned victory.

H.After this, White remains a pawn up, with victory a virtual certainty, but attempting to regain his pawn with 25.... NxP; 26.B-N5 ch, K-K3 (26.... K-N3; 27.B-Q3 ch); 27.KR-Q1 seems even worse, when the threat of 28.B-Q7 is difficult to parry without grievous loss of material: e.g., 27.... N-B4; 28.B-QB4, with a nifty discovered check to follow.

I.The smoke has cleared and White has emerged from the complications a clear pawn to the good.

J.This foreshortens White's win.

K.Black will lose a piece after 34.... N-N3; 35.RxR ch, NxR; 36.R-N8 ch, K-R2; 37.B-Q3 ch. Even without the blunder, White's extra pawn, active rooks, and superior minor piece ensure a win. The queen rook pawn would cost Black a piece sooner or later.

International Grandmaster Arthur Bisguier is a former US champion and has won or shared the US Open title five times.

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