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Alburt wins 1986 match of US, British champions

US champion Lev Alburt, originally from Odessa, USSR, but now an American citizen who has lived in New York City since 1979, won the second US-United Kingdom challenge match. Alburt and Jon Speelman, the British champion, played to a 4-4 tie. Then Alburt went on to win the playoff, which consisted of two speed games. The contest, held in London and sponsored by a prominent banking firm, offered a prize fund of 8,000 ($12,000), 5,000 of which went to the winner. In last year's contest, held in Foxboro, Mass., Alburt lost badly to Nigel Short. This year's match also started badly for Lev, who lost the first game. He rebounded to take the fourth and sixth games, lost the eighth to set up the tie, and drew the other games.

All the games were exciting and hard fought, the players obviously being evenly matched. Today's featured game was the critical fourth, which was Alburt's first win in the 12 games of the US-U.K. matches against Short and Speelman. As such, it must be seen as the turning point in the match. English Opening Alburt Speelman 1. N-KB3 N-KB3 2. P-B4 P-QN3 3. P-KN3 P-B4 4. B-N2 B-N2 5. O-O P-N3 6. P-Q3 (a) B-N2 7. P-K4 P-Q3 8. N-B3 O-O 9. N-KR4 N-B3 10. P-B4 P-QR3 (b) 11. P-B5 P-QN4! (c) 12. B-N5 N-K4 13. P-N3 P-R3 14. BxN (d) BxB 15. R-B1 P-K3 16. N-B3 Q-R4 17. NxN BxN 18. Q-Q2 B-Q5 ch (e) 19. K-R1 KPxP 20. KPxP BxB ch 21. KxB QR-K1? (f) 22. QxP! BxN (g) 23. RxB QxP ch (h) 24. K-N1 Q-K7 25. PxQNP RPxP 26. P-Q4 (i) NPxP 27. Q-N5 ch K-R1 28. Q-B6 ch K-N1 29. RxKBP Q-K8 ch 30. K-N2 Q-K7 ch 31. K-R3 Q-K3 32. Q-N5 ch Q-N3 (j) 33. PxP K-N2 34. PxP R-K5 35. R-Q3 R-R1 ch 36. K-N2 R-K7 ch 37. K-B3 R/KxP 38. P-Q7 R-Q1 39. QxQ ch KxQ 40. R-K5 R/R-R1 41. RxP K-B3 42. R-N4 R-R1 43. R-K3 R/KR-Q1 44. R-N7 K-N2 45. R-B7 K-B1 46. K-B4 P-B3 47. P-QN4 R/R-N1 48. R-K4 K-B2 49. P-N4 R-N4 50. K-K3 R-N4 51. K-Q4 P-B4 52. PxP RxP 53. K-B4 R-B8 54. K-B5 R-B4 ch 55. K-N6 R-B3 ch 56. R-B6 Resigns (k)

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A. Usual here is 6. P-Q4, when White enjoys a small but enduring positional advantage. Alburt aims for P-K4 and kingside attacking play.

B. Black refuses to stay passive and prepares queenside counterplay.

C. Having said a., Black nows says b. Now 12. QBPxP, RPxP; 13. NxQNP, B-QR3 and Black has a splendid initiative for the gambited pawn. The US champion refuses to be sidetracked from his kingside play.

D. Though there was no attractive retreat for the bishop, my own preference would have been 14. B-B1, retaining this piece.

E. Initiating a bad plan. 18. . . . K-R2 repulses the attack and Black, with two bishops and chances of exploiting White's pawn weaknesses, stands well.

F. The carefully prepared losing move. 21. . . . K-R2 would still be fine.

G. No better was 22. . . . B-K6; 23. R-B4, in view of White's diverse threats P-B6, PxNP, and N-Q5.

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H. If 23. . . . QxR; 24. P-B6 wins. From here on, Speelman defends well, but Alburt's implacable accuracy dooms all efforts.

I. Renewing the threat of P-B6 and avoiding a queen exchange on Black's K6.

J. Forced, or White unpins his rook with devastating effect after 32. . . . K-R1; 33. Q-R4 ch, K-N1; 34. Q-N4 ch.

K. After 36. . . . RxP; 37. RxR ch, KxR; 38. P-N5, the ending would reduce to the Lucena position, known to all schoolboys as a win for the extra pawn.