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CHESS

Watching the autumn foliage cascading to the ground in bits of bright color, I am reminded that only months from now the trees will be dressed anew in a fresh covering of green. But succession is not such a simple linear matter in the world of chess. Witness the recent setback of 14-year-old prodigy Eugene Bacrot.

A year ago, Bacrot scored a surprisingly easy 5-1 victory over Vassily Smyslov, a former world champion who at 76 is still a formidable player. Months later Bacrot became the youngest grandmaster ever when he shared first place in a strong international tournament in France with the 68-year-old Swiss star Viktor Korchnoi -- after defeating him in their individual first-round game.

Perhaps Korchnoi, like Smyslov, had been taken by surprise. In a recent match -- held in Albert, France -- the truculent chess warrior gained revenge over Bacrot with a decisive 4-2 victory.

The French teen-ager is not the first to stumble after early and easy successes. Bobby Fischer astounded the chess world when he became champion of the United States in 1958 at age 14. But it took almost another 14 years before he fully matured and won the world title with a historic defeat of Boris Spassky.

Both in 1959 and in 1962 Fischer suffered painful comedowns when he scored below 50 percent against the world's best in qualifying tournaments for the world championship.

A little more than a month after earning the grandmaster title, another youthful talent recently experienced growing pains. Nineteen-year-old Tal Shaked of Phoenix, Ariz., lost his first seven games -- including the following 20-mover against Garry Kasparov -- in an elite tournament held in the Netherlands.
Shaked Kasparov
1. d4 Nf6
2. c4 g6
3. Nc3 d5
4. cxd5 Nxd5
5. e4 Nxc3
6. bxc3 Bg7
7. Be3 c5
8. Qd2 Qa5
9. Rb1 b6
10. Bb5ch Bd7
Shaked Kasparov
11. Be2 Bc6
12. Bd3 Nd7
13. Ne2 Rd8
14. f3 O-O
15. h4 h5
16. Bg5 R(f)e8
17. Rc1 Bb7
18. d5 Ne5
19. Bb1 Nc4
20. Qf4? Be5!
White resigns (a)
Note (a): The queen cannot escape capture.

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