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WITH THE big boys slugging it out in Sarajevo and three strong tournaments elsewhere in Tel Aviv (10 players, category 14), Havana (the Capablanca Memorial - 14 players category 12), not to mention the tournament I'm involved in at Katrineholm (10 players in category 12), it's hard to keep up.

The main action is in Sarajevo (category 19, average 2,704!) where after two rounds Veselin Topalov led with 2/2, ahead of Shirov and Morozevich 1.5, Adams, Kasparov, Bareev and Sokolov 1, Leko and Short 0.5 and Timman 0.

They're only just getting going; the favourite Garry Kasparov in particular may soon start to cruise; he drew the potentially disadvantageous number 6 at the opening ceremony, which burdened him with a double Black to start with.

Not that he has looked in any trouble, playing the Grunfeld against Yevgeny Bareev in the first round or in today's game against Alexei Shirov.

Kasparov has played quite a number of games in this line. He used always to recapture on g4 with the bishop but switched to 11 ...hxg4 against Shirov himself at Wijk aan Zee at the end of January and eventually won. Then he had played the macho 12 ...e6 but 12 ...Nc6 looks much less committal.

Strange as it may seem, the simple 14 ...Qa5 may be a novelty since Black had previously always rushed to remove the powerful knight. Indeed, Kasparov resolutely refused to play ...Bxf5 and by the time he had recaptured 18 ...Qxe5, he had a very nice positional advantage, though Shirov had compensation in development and the general "looseness" of Black's position.

Matters came to a head after 23 Qxc3. Not then 23 ...Qxe4? 24 Nxd6+! exd6 25 Re1!. After the bishop capture, Shirov still played 24 Nxd6+! and generated just enough play to draw. Of course, not 26 Rxe4+?? Qe5!, but after 30 Rf1! and 33 Rfxf6+! they soon concluded peace.

White: Alexei Shirov

White: Gary Kasparov

Sicilian Najdorf

I was shocked to read in Mark Crowther's The Week in Chess (at http://www.chess centre.com/twic/twic.html) that the Estonian grandmaster Lembit Oll committed suicide on Sunday, aged just 33. No details, but unfortunately this has now been confirmed by the French magazine Europe Echecs. More details when they become available, and an appreciation soon.

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