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JUST OCCASIONALLY, a game is played that is so sensational that even in the old days it would have traversed the globe in a week: a game which today, with the proliferation of Internet access, will wing its way within minutes or at most hours to all five continents. Such a one was Gary Kimovich Kasparov's magnificent victory against Veselin Topalov at Wijk aan Zee on Wednesday.

Aesthetic appreciation of chess games is by its very nature subjective. Personally, I go most of all for the unexpected, with a reasonable - but not necessarily excessive - level of violence highly acceptable, good endgame technique to be applauded and a king hunt as in today's game a great bonus. Some people also require "absolute soundness" but I think this is rather prissy - a well contested game is bound to be a bit unclear.

After an admirably provocative opening, Topalov showed faith in his position with 19 ...d5!?. The storm broke first with Kasparov's splendid 24th and 25th moves - Black couldn't play 25 ...Qxe7 in view of 26 Qxd4+ Kb8 27 Qb6+ Bb7 28 Nc6+ Ka8 29 Qa7 mate.

Black could have tried to bail out with 26 ...Qc5 27 Qxf6+ Qd6 28 Qd4+ Qc5 but Topalov staunchly advanced his king into the lion's mouth.

If 28 ...Bxd5? 29 Kb2 with the unanswerable threat of 30 Qb3+ Bxb3 31 cxb3 mate! but the crisis came in the diagram. Now 30 ...Rd6 loses to 31 Rb6!! Rxb6 32 Kb2 but Black's best defence is 30 ...Rhe8 giving the queen e5 as well as d4 on which to pin after Kb2. After 31 Rb6 Ra8 a) My first thought was 32 Be6? Rxe6 33 Rxe6 but after Qc4!! 34 Qxc4 bxc4 35 Rxf6 Kxa3 Black is better. b) 32 Rd6! Qc4 33 Qxf6 a5 34 bxa5 Re1+ (Black might try 34 ...Kxa5!? 35 Rc6 Re6 36 Bxe6 Qxc6 37 Qxf7 and eg Qd6!?) 35 Kb2 Re2 36 Rd4 Rxc2+ 37 Kb1 Rc1+ is a draw.

If 36 ...Qxf1 37 Qc2+ Ke1 38 Re7+ Qe2 39 Qxe2 mate. 37 Rd7!! was the final blow, with a sting in 39 Qxh8.

White: Gary Kasparov

Black: Veselin Topalov

Wijk aan Zee 1999 (Round 4)

Pirc Defence

, b , b

,G, ,h,h

h, , vh,

,h,s, ,

aN , , ,


,H, , N

,A, , ,

1 e4 d6

2 d4 Nf6

3 Nc3 g6

4 Be3 Bg7

5 Qd2 c6

6 f3 b5

7 Nge2 Nbd7

8 Bh6 Bxh6

9 Qxh6 Bb7

10 a3 e5

11 0-0-0 Qe7

12 Kb1 a6

13 Nc1 0-0-0

14 Nb3 exd4

15 Rxd4 c5

16 Rd1 Nb6

17 g3 Kb8

18 Na5 Ba8

19 Bh3 d5!?

20 Qf4+ Ka7

21 Rhe1 d4

22 Nd5 Nbxd5

23 exd5 Qd6

24 Rxd4! cxd4

25 Re7+!! Kb6

26 Qxd4+ Kxa5

27 b4+ Ka4

28 Qc3 Qxd5

29 Ra7 Bb7

30 Rxb7 (see

diagram) Qc4

31 Qxf6 Kxa3

32 Qxa6+ Kxb4

33 c3+! Kxc3

34 Qa1+ Kd2

35 Qb2+ Kd1

36 Bf1 Rd2!

37 Rd7!! Rxd7

38 Bxc4 bxc4

39 Qxh8 Rd3

40 Qa8 c3

41 Qa4+ Ke1

42 f4 f5

43 Kc1 Rd2

44 Qa7 1-0