Saturday, August 24

Australian Championship, Viner vs. Crakanthorp match: Crakanthorp wins 6th game; Viner takes 7th with Queen sacrifice; 8th game drawn

Challenger Spencer Crakanthorp scored his first victory by taking the sixth game from titleholder William S. Viner in their match for the Championship of Australia.  Crakanthorp's win reduced his deficit to 3-1 in the race to seven victories, but Viner immediately struck back in the following contest, unleashing a smashing attack that included a brilliant Queen sacrifice.  The eighth game was drawn, leaving the score at 4-1 in favor of the Champion, with three draws.  We present the latest installment of games below.

Crakanthorp selected the Vienna Gambit 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.d4 to open the sixth contest, to which Viner respond with 3...d5.  An early exchange of Queens did not preclude an interesting fight, and the game ultimately reached a Rook endgame that saw Crakanthorp, who had held the advantage through much of the course of play, in possession of passed a- and h-pawns, as opposed to the passed d-pawn of Viner.  By the 53rd move all three pawns stood but one step from the queening square, with the denouement coming at last when Crakanthorp sacrificed his Rook for Viner's pawn, thereby assuring the promotion of one of his own.


Viner immediately gained a full measure of revenge in the seventh contest, adopting the Center Game and offering a pawn at the 8th move in the interest of rapid development for his pieces.  This was but a foretaste of the Champion's coming sacrificial play, for at his 15th turn he placed a Knight en prise on g5, subject to capture by Black's h6-pawn.  When Crakanthorp declined the offered sacrifice, Viner two moves thereafter put his Bishop on the same g5 square, where it remained in jeopardy until the challenger at last removed it with his pawn at the 20st move, a decision he soon had cause to regret, as the Champion made quick use of the newly-opened h-file with the Queen sacrifice 23.Qh8+!, the opening blow of an annihilating attack. Viner might have ended matters sooner with 26.Nf6+, which wins a full Rook or leads to mate, but as played the outcome was never in doubt, and Crakanthorp resigned at the 33rd move.  This was easily the best game of the match to date.


In the eighth game Viner abandoned 1...e5 and opted for the Center Counter Game against Crakanthorp's opening move of the King's pawn.  The Champion achieved a perfectly satisfactory position and seemed to possess winning chances, first in an endgame of Rook and Knight against Crakanthorp's Rook and Bishop, and then in the pure Rook endgame that followed.  But Viner never quite found the proper moment to capture the weak White b-pawn, and the game was agreed drawn at the 39th move, with White clearly out of all possible danger.




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