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Jun 19,2002

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Anthony Miles (1955-2001)
By Edwin Lam

As I sit here in my room in Melbourne on 12 November 2001 surfing the Internet, I suddenly came across the news of the death of Anthony Miles. It was first announced on the Chessbase web site (www.chessbase.com) and the news came two days after the news that International Master Nikolay Minev underwent a heart surgery. Two shocking news coming one after another turned out to be very hard to swallow. This is especially true about the news of Miles' sudden demise. I used the word 'sudden' because he was only in his forties and was still going strong in chess tournaments.

In this article, I am not attempting to write anything about Miles' life since you, dear readers would have read so much about it in the countless obituaries that appeared on the Internet after his death. What I am attempting to do here is to express my admiration of the character and strength that propelled him to the top of British chess in the 70s and early 80s. Throughout his chess career, he showed great determination. It is this same determination that pushed him towards successfully becoming Britain's first Grandmaster. It is also the same determination that drives him to defy the Soviet domination of the chess scene.

It is such determination that everyone should emulate. Never mine if there are people who labeled him as outrageous and eccentric. Look at the positive side of Miles' life that consists of: determination, courage, the will to win and an unparalleled fighting spirit.

Miles was well known for surprising his opponents with unusual, weird openings. In other words, his play can be best described with the word 'proactive'. By using unusual openings, he set problems for his opponents right at the beginning of the game. Just look at his historic victory against Karpov in the European Championship in 1980. In that game, Miles played the whole game proactively even though he only had the Black pieces. Karpov, being unable to solve the 'proactive' problems set by Miles lost the game.

However, there are times that Miles played 'reactive' chess too. When he did so, he was pretty good at it too. The game that I am presenting below best exemplifies the 'reactive' nature of Miles' game. Within such 'reactive' characteristic, the reader should be able to see the determination and fighting spirit of a man who never failed to work hard all his life.

Rowson,J (2514) - Miles,A (2565) [C67]
BCF-ch Scarborough (5.3), 03.08.2001

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6
The Berlin defence which leads to an early exchange of Queens. A good choice for the Black player when faced with an aggressive White player; the same reason why Kramnik chose the Berlin against Kasparov in their world championship encounter last year.

4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8
A standard position ever since Kramnik used it successfully against Kasparov. In this position, Black's position is relatively solid with almost no weakness on the pawn structure. White's pawn on e5 is doing a good job of limiting the scope of Black's pieces. By comparison, White's pieces have a relatively brighter future as compared to Black's pieces. Thus, one possible plan that can be pursued by White will be to double its Rooks on the d-file, develop the Bishop on b2, aiming at the pawn g7 (to reduce the mobility of Black's f8 Bishop) and place the White f-pawn at f4 to support the e5 pawn. Should Black succeed in controlling the d-file and limiting Black's development options, White would have built a strong advantage. Most Black players prefer to move the King to the queenside before developing the Queen's Rook. This is a safer option. An alternative plan would be to keep the King in the center and to immediately develop the Queen's Rook to d8. This option was tried by Kramnik against Kasparov from the Astana tournament this year. Due to the exposed nature of Black's King, Kramnik did not succeed in defending against the powerful build-up by Kasparov in the center. In fact, Kasparov ultimately pushed the e-pawn to e6 to break open the position.

9.Nc3 Bd7 10.Rd1
[10.h3 h6 11.b3 Kc8 12.Bb2 Ne7]

10...Kc8 11.Ng5 Be8 12.b3 b6 13.Bb2 Kb7
White has completed its development, succeeded in placing its Bishop on b2 and Rook on d1. Although Black is still a bit backward in its development, its position is relatively solid with no apparent weakness at the moment.

14.Rd3 Be7 15.Nge4 Rd8 16.Rad1 Kc8 17.h3 h5 18.Bc1 Rxd3 19.Rxd3 h4
Limiting the scope of White's activity on the kingside besides being a necessary move to develop the Black Rook via h5.

Why exchange Bishop at this moment? Wouldn't it be better to keep the Bishop on c1 to limit Black's choices in developing the h8 Rook? What I think is a better plan would be to play: [20.Ne2 By redeploying the Knight to f4, White can prevent Black's h8 Rook from going to h5 as well as support a possible future advance of the White e-pawn from e5 to e6. In addition, White has cleared the way for the White pawn to move from c2 to c4. 20...c5!? This is Black's only chance: to undermine the strong position of White's Knight on e4. 21.c4 Bc6 22.Ng5 Be8 23.Nf3 g6 This is necessary in order to deploy the f5 Knight to g7 to control the e6 square. 24.Nf4 Ng7 25.Nd5 Bd8 26.Bg5! Now is the right time to exchange the Bishop!

A) 26...Ne6? 27.Bxd8 Nxd8?? (The lesser evil will be: 27...Kxd8? 28.Nxb6+) 28.Ne7+ Wins the Knight.;

B) 26...Bxg5 27.Nxg5 Nf5 Necessary in order to prevent Ne7+ that would lead to White's invasion of the eighth rank. 28.Nf6 (Stronger would be: 28.e6! fxe6 29.Nxe6 c6 30.Nf6 Bf7 31.Ng5 Be8 32.Nge4 White has a very strong advantage.) 28...Nh6 29.e6! fxe6 30.Nxe6 Bc6 Black has thwarted most of its problems and its Bishop has gained greater scope in the ending that has arisen. ]

20...Rh5 21.Rf3!
[Also possible is: 21.Bxe7 Nxe7 22.f4 Rf5 23.Ne2 Ng6 24.Rf3 c5 25.Rf2 Bc6 26.Nd2 Ne7 27.Nf1 g6 28.Ne3 Rh5 29.c4 Rh8 30.Rf1 Rd8 31.Rd1 Nf5 32.Rxd8+ Kxd8 33.Nxf5 gxf5 34.Kf2 Ke7 35.g3 hxg3+ 36.Nxg3 Ke6 37.h4 f6 38.exf6 Kxf6 39.h5 Be8 40.Ke3 a5 41.Kd3 c6 42.Kc3 There is not much left in the position. It should be a draw here.]

21...Nd4 22.Bxe7 Nxf3+ 23.gxf3 Rxe5 24.Ba3
[Not good would be: 24.Bxh4?! f5 25.Nd2 Rc5 26.Ndb1 f4 Threatening g5 next. 27.Be7 Re5 28.Ba3 Rh5! And, White's position is in complete disarray.]

24...f5 25.Ng5 Re1+ 26.Kg2 c5!
Limiting the scope of the White Bishop.

27.f4 b5
Just a temporary pawn sacrifice.

28.Bxc5 Bc6+ 29.f3 Rc1 30.Bb4 Rxc2+ 31.Kg1 Bd7 32.Nd5 Rxa2 33.Bf8 a5 34.Bxg7 Rd2 35.Ne7+ Kb7 36.Ng6 c5 37.Kf1 a4 38.bxa4 bxa4 39.Ke1 Rh2 40.Bf8 c4 41.Kd1 Bb5 42.Bb4 Rb2 43.Bc3 Rb3 44.Kc2 Ra3 45.Kb2 Rb3+ 46.Kc2 Ra3 47.Kb2 1/2-1/2

"He who fears an isolated queen's pawn should give up chess". Siegbert Tarrasch

"The most powerful weapon in chess is to have the next move"! David Bronstein.

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