I have always had a healthy contempt for computers. Having spent quite some years in Computer Support (making them work again when they have stopped doing what they are supposed to) I can sympathise with the poor unfortunate who lacks confidence with machines. They represent a kind of witchcraft which has the ability to turn perfectly rational human beings into gibbering wrecks. At the other end of the scale I have little time for the "computer nerd", traditionally a bespectacled spotty youth who spends all his time talking bits, bytes and widgets. For me, a computer is merely a tool which enables certain tasks to be performed more easily than would be the case otherwise.

Perhaps the one aspect of computing which has become synonymous with nerdery is the Internet. I have visions of strange people conversing with one another in incomprehensible jargon just as the advocates of "Citizen's Band" radio used to do about 15 years ago. It was therefore with considerable suspicion that I consented to my son's persistent persuasion that we should "take advantage" of a free month "on-line", an introductory offer from one of the service providers.

I have to say that I am more than impressed with what the Internet has to offer the chess player. For the cost of a local phone call, which links my PC at home to the computer belonging to the service provider, it is possible to access thousands of other computers all over the world. Within a few minutes of "logging on", I had copied from a computer in Canada four documents detailing educational development in school-children who had been taught chess in comparison with those who hadnot (well, now, there's a thing: chess players outstrip non chess players in almost all academic areas!). One of the most persuasive aspects of this research was not that it had been carried out in those nations one associates with strong players: Venezuela and Zaire were two countires whose academics have been particularly active publishing theses on chess and education, and a growing number of countries include chess as part of the curriculum. (Incidentally, one of the best chess playing schools in Essex recently had a marvellously successful OFSTED inspection in which the chess was singled out by the inspectors as being particularly praiseworthy).

There are also many excellent "Chess Pages", packed full of useful information. Exeter Chess Club has its own chess page, courtesy of Dave Regis at Exeter University. There is plenty of well-written material available from America, much of it in a format designed to persuade, coach and encourage. It is possible to read the chess articles from most of the British broadsheets, dating back a few several weeks. There are pages devoted to chess problems, mainly from continental Europe; I was able to download all the games played in the South African Championships in Chessbase format, and of course it is possible to play games against other internet users by electronic mail. I am certain that, so far, I have only scratched the surface with regard to what is available, but it seems to me that Chess is set to benefit more than any other game from the increase in the number of people with access to the Internet.

Now, what is necessary for a computer owner to log onto the internet? Firstly, your computer need a modem, a device which enables the computer to understand the electronic signals generated by the telephone, and vice versa. These operate at different speeds, but it is advisable to get a fast one as otherwise your phone bills will be too high. Secondly, most people will need to spend money with a service provider (Compuserve is one of the best known, but there are cheaper ones about) who will, for a fee, give you the necessary software to access the internet. Some service providers charge by the hour, others have a flat rate annual fee. Since internet access is a combination of computers and telephones, each of which is getting cheaper almost weekly, it seems reasonable to assume that internet access will also reduce in price. At the moment, it is possible to access the internet for about £90 per year, which is about the same price as a television licence, but on the internet you actually get some worthwhile chess!

Keserovic,M (2230) - Hirschowitz,S (2355)

SA Open, 1995

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 Be7 8.0-0-0 0-0 9.f4 b5 10.Bd3 Bb7 11.e5 dxe5 12.fxe5 Nfd7 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 14.Qf4 Nc5 15.Ne4 Nbd7 16.Ng5 h6 17.Ngf3 Nxd3+ 18.Rxd3 Nc5 19.Re3 Rad8 20.h4 f5 21.exf6 Rxf6 22.Qg4 Qd6 23.b4 Bxf3 24.Nxf3 Rxf3 25.Rxf3 Qd2+ 26.Kb1 Rd4 27.Qg6 Rxb4+ 28.Ka1 Re4 29.h5 Re1+ 30.Rxe1 Qxe1+ 31.Kb2 Qb4+ 32.Rb3 Na4+ 0-1

XABCDEFGHY 8-+k+-vl-tr( 7zp-zp-+p+p' 6-+-wqr+p+& 5+Q+p+lsN-% 4-+nzP-+-zP$ 3+-zP-zP-zP-# 2PzP-vL-zP-+" 1+-mKR+-sNR! xabcdefghy

Black to play and win.

Forsyth check: 2k2b1r/p1p2p1p/3qr1p1/1Q1p1bN1/2nP3P/2P1P1P1/PP1B1P2/2KR2NR.

Last week's solution (Chakhoyan v Turkestanishvili, Tblisi 1974): 1 ...Qd3 2 Qxd3 exd3 3 Rb1 Bxg4 0 -1