Chess

TWENTY-three years after the Croatian grandmaster, Ognjen Cvitan, won the World Junior Championship, his enormous talent and appetite for chess remain undiminished. Whenever he is not engaged in an official tournament game, you will find him flashing out brilliant moves in "blitz" chess.

Going back seven years to February 1997, I recall that out of more than 500 competitors at the popular annual tournament in the little French town of Cappelle la Grande, Switzerland’s Martin Ballmann was the unlucky one who had to play Cvitan in the first round.

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The rapid debacle which followed suggests that someone was in a hurry to get back to his favourite and even faster "blitz" games. Black wraps things up quickly with an impressive display of power-chess, and the attractive finish would be ideal material for future inclusion in a sequel to It’s Your Move, a new Everyman book by GM Chris Ward. Many of his other fine works can also be obtained via top shops such as Chess Suppliers at 15 Hope Street, Glasgow G2 6AQ; tel./fax 0141-248-2887.

White: M. Ballmann; Black: O. Cvitan. Opening: London System.

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Bf4 This so-called "London system" always strikes me as being a rather timid approach by White. However, 3 Nc3 (intending to build an imposing pawn centre with 4 e4) 3 ... d5 4 Bf4 carries some sting, because the attack by the white bishop on f4 towards the c7 square can no longer be blocked by putting a black pawn on d6. That fact was underlined by the game M Hebden-E Spencer, 1993 Scottish Open Championship, which ended with 4 ... Bg7 5 e3 Nbd7? 6 Nb5! Black resigns. 3 ... Bg7 4 e3 d6 5 h3 This move means that Black cannot safely play ... Bg4, but it also allows the bishop on f4 to retreat to h2 if attacked by ... Nh5 for example. The down side of White’s fifth move is that it does not contribute to the development of his pieces. 5 ... 0-0 6 Be2 c5 7 Nbd2 7 dxc5 can be met by 7 ... Qa5+ 8 Nbd2 Qxc5. 7 ... Nc6 8 c3 cxd4 9 exd4 e5! An energetic pawn sacrifice which Cvitan had faced himself as White in a game 14 years earlier! 10 dxe5 dxe5 11 Nxe5 Nd5 12 Nxc6 bxc6 13 Bg3 Re8 14 Nc4 14 0-0 Bxc3!, intending 15 bxc3 Nxc3 16 Qc2 Nxe2+, occurred in the clash Cvitan vs. Sideif-Sade at Baku in 1983. 14 ... Qe7 15 Nd6 Ba6! 16 c4 16 Nxe8 Rxe8 is even worse for White because he cannot save his bishop on e2. 16 ... Bxb2! 17 Nxe8 Rxe8 18 Rb1 Nc3 The black knight lands a devastating fork against the white pieces on b1,d1 and e2. 19 Rxb2 Nxd1 20 Kxd1 Qf6 21 White resigned, faced with horrible possibilities like 21 Kc1 Rxe2! 22 Rxe2 Qa1+ 23 Kd2 Qxh1.