Henrique Mecking has been the pride and sorrow of Brazilian chess.
From the time Mecking won the South American zonal tournament in 1966 at
age 14, Mecking looked as if he could be a world title contender.
For the next decade Mecking moved steadily up the world rankings, coming
into his own after Bobby Fischer's departure by winning World Championship
Interzonal tournaments in 1973 and 1976.
Mecking created controversy by his aggressive on-board attitude and was
accused of disrespect by Viktor Korchnoi for wearing a sponsor's t-shirt in
a World Championship quarter-final match against him. (A suit and tie were
de rigeur for the Soviets in those days.)
Yet even Korchnoi (who won the match and went on to challenge for the world
title) could not argue with Mecking's talent and the Brazilian reached a
ranking of five at his peak.
Then Mecking was struck down by a mysterious illness. According to Mecking,
doctors were baffled, and at one stage gave him only months to live.
Then Mecking found God, was cured, and spent the 1980s explaining the cause
of his miracle cure to the Brazilian people.
Without Mecking, Brazilian chess struggled, and it was with great
expectations that Mecking began a come-back in 1991s. Mecking's results
were respectable but not outstanding and a few years later Mecking retired
Mecking's chess friends, and IM Herman Van Riemsdijk in particular,
convinced Mecking to try another come-back, and this week Mecking sat down
to play a six game match against the reigning Brazilian Champion,
32-year-old GM Giovanni Vescovi. As can be seen below, Mecking's statement
that he wanted to come back as a winner, is looking good.
Sao Paulo 2000
Opening: Sicilian Defence
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5
The Pelikan Sicilian, back in fashion tanks to Vladimir Kramnik.
6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Nd5 Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.c3 0-0 12.Nc2 Bg5
13.a4 bxa4 14.Rxa4 a5 15.Bc4 Ne7 16.0-0 Nxd5 17.Bxd5
A typical position. White has the d5 square and Black has pawn weaknesses
yet if Black stays active he is very much alive.
17...Bd7 18.Ra2 Rc8 19.Na3
The immediate 19.Qd3 may be better.
19...Be6 20.Qd3 Bxd5 21.Qxd5 Rc5 22.Qd3 Qb6 23.c4!?
Ambitious but necessary - 23...Qb3 was coming.
23...Qc6! 24.b3 f5! 25.Nb5
If 25.f3, Qb6 is very messy.
25...fxe4 26.Qxd6 e3 27.Re2 Rd8 28.Qxc6 Rxc6 (Diagram) 29.fxe3?
White's first real mistake - and it loses a pawn and the game. After 29.Nc3
Rd3 30.Ne4 White's great knight is insurance against any problems
29...Rd3! 30.g3 Rxb3 31.Ra1 Rxe3 32.Kf2 Rf6+ 33.Ke1 Ref3 34.Rea2 e4 35.Kd1
Rd3+ 36.Ke2 Rf8 37.Rxa5 Re3+ 38.Kd1 Rf1+ 39.Kc2 Rf2+ 40.Kd1 Rxh2 41.R5a2
Rd3+ 42.Ke1 Rdd2 0-1
ACT Lightning Championship
Leading final scores:
2eq.M.Wei, K.Kolossovski 9;
Leading final scores:
3eq.K.Hoang, K.Galli 4.