Chess

ON TUESDAY I discussed Panfox from Breda's sterling victory in the

European Club Cup finals in Belgrade. This excellent event brought together no fewer than five players rated over 2,700 and 19 between 2,600 and 2,700, of the 57 who turned up for the eight teams.

In club chess, the players from each team are ranked in board order in (approximately) descending strength with the top boards facing each other, and so on down to the bottom. There were therefore a large number of heavyweight clashes in Belgrade, and one of the most intriguing was that between Alexei Shirov and Vladimir Kramnik - a continuation of their theoretical battle in their match in Cazorla last June.

Kramnik varied with 13 ...Bh4 from 13 ...Nxd2 14 Nxd2 Qd6 15 h3! with which Anand ultimately defeated him in Tilburg last November. 18 ...Ng5 was a concession but if 18 ...Rxe5 19 f3 Nxd2 20 Bxd2 Rxe1+ 21 Rxe1 Bxf3 22 Bg5 Qf8 23 Re7 is very dangerous, eg 23 ...Rb8 24 Qe6+ Kh8 25 Rxg7! Qxg7 (or 25 ...Kxg7 26 Bh6+) 26 Bf6 winning.

After carefully exchanging off a pair of rooks with Ra1-c1-c2-d2 and the queens, Shirov emerged with a safe extra pawn but plenty of work to convert it. The crisis came when he hurried with 44 a5!? rather than allowing counterplay after 44 cxb5 g5. Kramnik's 44 ...e3 looks rather panicky. Certainly if 44 ...Bxc4? 45 a6 Kc8 46 a7 Kb7 47 Rxc4! bxc4 48 e6 Rg6 49 Ke5 wins. But 44 ....bxc4 isn't clear to me, eg 45 a6 Kc8 46 Ra3 Kb8 seems to defend since if 47 a7+ Ka8 the rook can't get to the b file in time - if 48 Ra4 Rxg3 threatens mate and 49 e6 Bxe6 50 Rb4 Rb3! still holds.

At the end 64 ...Rxa7 65 Rh7+ skewers king and rook.

White: Alexei Shirov

Black: Vladimir Kramnik

Petroff Defence

, , , ,

, na,dn

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NhC Nh,

,HZhNgN

, B , N

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1 e4 e5

2 Nf3 Nf6

3 Nxe5 d6

4 Nf3 Nxe4

5 d4 d5

6 Bd3 Nc6

7 0-0 Be7

8 Re1 Bg4

9 c3 f5

10 Qb3 0-0

11 Nbd2 Na5

12 Qa4 Nc6

13 Bb5 Bh4

14 g3 Bf6

15 Bxc6 bxc6

16 Qxc6 Re8

17 Ne5 Bxe5

18 dxe5 Ng5

19 f4 Re6

20 Qc5 Ne4

21 Nxe4 dxe4

22 Be3 a6

23 Qc4 Qd7

24 Rac1 Rd8

25 Rc2 Qf7

26 Rd2 Rxd2

27 Bxd2 Rb6

28 Qxf7+ Kxf7

29 b4 Rc6

30 Kf2 Rh6

31 h4 Rc6

32 Ke3 Bh5

33 Kd4 Ke7

34 c4 Bf7

35 Rc1 Rb6

36 Kc5 Be8

37 Be3 Rc6+

38 Kd5 Rg6

39 Bc5+ Kd7

40 Rc3 Bf7+

41 Kd4 h6

42 a4 Rg4

43 b5 axb5

44 a5!? (see diagram) e3

45 Rxe3 g5

46 e6+ Bxe6

47 cxb5 gxf4

48 gxf4 Rxf4+

49 Ke5 Rc4

50 Rd3+ Kc8

51 Kxe6 Rxc5

52 Rd5 Rc4

53 Rxf5 Re4+

54 Kd5 Rxh4

55 a6 Ra4

56 Rf8+ Kd7

57 Rf7+ Kc8

58 Rf8+ Kd7

59 Ra8 Ra1

60 a7 Rd1+

61 Ke4 Re1+

62 Kf3 Ra1

63 b6 cxb6

64 Rh8 1-0

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