White mates in 3

Bobby Fischer tops the list of the five favorite chessplayers of the past millennium according to a survey by Mark Crowther at his popular website "The Week in Chess" (http://www.chesscenter.com/twic/twic.htlm). More than 500 readers participated in the poll, suggesting 116 names for the list, including one vote for a film director, Woody Allen. In the final tally Fischer had 362 votes. Garry Kasparov 345 had votes. Three other world champions came next: Alexander Alekhine was a distant third with 230 votes, Mikhail Tal had 218 and Jose Raul Capablanca 196.

Fischer and Kasparov clearly outdistanced the others. What is the secret of their success and what would be the best specific advice they can give young players? It seems that their roads to victories lead through the center of the chessboard. In a 1964 radio interview the 20-year-old Fischer gave the following advice: "Occupy and control the center." Not to be outdone, Kasparov wrote in his 1985 teaching primer: "Try to get control of the center squares, protect the center and value it dearly."

On the last day of the last millennium, the English grandmaster Nigel Short took a page from this central strategy against one of the top Spanish grandmasters, Miguel Illescas Cordoba. With the help of a central pawn break Short opened up a long diagonal, planted a dominating knight in the center and finished the game with an irresistible attack. The game was played in a tournament in the Basque city of Pamplona, which ended last week with Short's victory. The English grandmaster scored 7 points in 9 games, a full point ahead of Boris Gelfand of Israel andZoltan Almasi of Hungary.

Illescas Cordoba-Short

1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 0-0 7.e3 b6 (The Tartakover variation of the Queen's gambit, one of Short's favorite defenses.) 8.Be2 Bb7 9.Bxf6 Bxf6 10.cxd5 exd5 11.0-0 (Short faced more often the queenside advance 11.b4. Last year, in the British championship he outplayed K. Arkell the following way: 11...c6 12.0-0 a5 13.a3 Nd7 14.Qb3 Re8 15.Bd3 axb4 16.axb4 Nf8 17.Rfd1 Ne6 18.Bf1 Qd6 19.Ne1 h5 20.g3 Rxa1 21.Rxa1 Bxd4! 22.exd4 Nxd4 23.Qa3 Rxe1 24.Rxe1 Nf3+ 25.Kh1 Nxe1 26.Qa7 Qe7 and white resigned.) 11...Qe7 12.Qb3 Rd8 13.Rfd1 (Where are the rooks placed best? Illescas goes with the latest trend, but more natural seems 13.Rad1 or 13.Rfe1.) 13...c6 14.Bf1 Na6 15.Rd2 Nc7 16.a4 Ne6 17.a5 b5 18.Qa2?! (The queen is out of place. But after 18.a6 Bc8, white has to worry about his a-pawn.) 18...a6 19.Rc1 (Black has no problems after 19.Rad1 c5! 20.dxc5 Bxc3 21.bxc3 Nxc5 with a good game. But now comes the break.)

19...c5! 20.dxc5 d4! (Opening up the long diagonal for his bishop.) 21.Nxd4 Bxd4 22.exd4 Nxd4 (The knight is a dominating centerpiece.) 23.Kh1 (Defending against a decisive knight check, e.g. 23.Rcd1 Nf3+! 24.gxf3 Rxd2 25.Rxd2 Qg5+ 26.Bg2 Bxf3 winning.) 23...Nf3! (Here it comes anyway!) 24.Rxd8+ Rxd8 25.c6 (After 25.gxf3 Bxf3+ 26.Bg2 Bxg2+ 27.Kxg2 Qg5+ wins.) 25...Bxc6 26.Ne2 (White tries to gain time for a defense by hitting the bishop, but Short plays precisely.) 26...Qh4! 27.gxf3 (On 27.h3 Qxf2 wins.) 27...Qxf2 28.Nf4 (After 28.Rxc6 Qxf1+ 29.Ng1 Rd2 30.Rg6 Qf2 and black mates.) 28...Bxf3+ 29.Bg2 Rd2 30.Rg1 (After 30.Rc8+ Kh7 31.Qb1+ g6 32.Qg1 Rd1 black wins the queen.) 30...Be4 (A complete domination. There is no defense to 31...Qxf4.) White resigned.

Fischer's winning tips

In an excellent book "The Unknown Bobby Fischer" by John Donaldson and Eric Tangborn, recently issued by International Chess Enterprises in Seattle, Fischer lists for young players four ingredients essential to winning chess:

1. Concentrate. Just one slip can cost the game. Many players use only a fraction of their energy. Chess requires total concentration. Keep your mind completely on the game. Play to win. Nobody's interested in excuses when you lose.

2.Think ahead. Distrust your first instinct in selecting a move. Sit on your hands. Look ahead to picture your opponent's best reply and how you will answer that. Remember, it's essential for your development as a chessplayer to adhere to touch move-once you touch a piece you must move it. Give no quarter and ask for none!

3.Learn from your losses. The Cuban World Champion Capablanca admitted that he only learned from his loses. Record all your offhand games and go over them later to try to find out where you made your mistakes-if you don't already know. You aren't likely to lose the same way twice and you also retain a permanent record of your own progress.

4. Study. Play over recent games of masters in books and magazines. Combine this study with actual play against strong opponents. And, of course, spend as much spare time at the game as you can.

Solution to today's problem by R. Pille (White:Ke1,Ne3,Nf4; Black:Kg1,Rg4,Rh1,Bf1,Bh2,P:e2,f5,g3,h3): 1.Neg2!! Rxf4 2.Nxf4 g2 3.Nxh3 mate; or 1....Rg7 2.Nh4 Re7 3.Nf3 mate; or 1...Bxg2 2.Nxe2 mate; or 1...hxg2 2.Nh3 mate.