Chess

GARRY KASPAROV completed a hat-trick of victories this year at Wijk aan Zee, Linares and now Sarajevo, with the last-round victory against Michael Adams in just 31 moves below, which brought him up to a splendid 7/9.

With his two closest pursuers eventually drawing their last-round game, his slender lead going into the round increased to a full point ahead of Bareev and Shirov, who maintained second equal on 6, Morozevich 5.5, Adams 5, Leko 4.5, Topalov 4, Short 3, Ivan Sokolov 2.5 and Timman a miserable 1.5.

This string of victories against the very best in an age of multifarious world-class talent far removed from the time of Capablanca, say, when he could go a decade losing just a single game, puts Kasparov at the age of 36 (he was born on 13 April 1963), at the very apex of the greatest chess players of all time.

Kasparov's most impressive streak of all this year was the seven straight victories at Wijk aan Zee. He also had a run in Linares, winning four games in a row, finishing with his superb victory as Black against Anand in a murderously theoretical Sicilian Najdorf.

Following these inspired performances, Kasparov was arguably more workmanlike in Sarajevo, with the most spectacular of his five victories against Nigel Short (which I gave here on Tuesday), teetering on the brink of unsoundness. Nevertheless, when he looked in some danger of failing to win the event, he did pull out the stops to win his last three in a row.

In the opening, Kasparov varied with 9 Nc3 from 9 Nd2 which Timman had played against Adams three rounds earlier to bad effect.

As often happens in the Scotch, it quickly became extremely sharp and one interesting possibility is 16 ...cxb3!? 17 Bxa6 c5 18 Bb7 Rb8 19 Bxd5 Qxd5 with play for the piece. No doubt Kasparov has already investigated such lines with the help of both human seconds and computer(s). What is clear is that two moves later 17 ...cxb3? loses to 18 Qa4+!.

The position stabilised to a fairly quiet-looking middlegame in which Kasparov has some advantage owing to his better minor piece, but Adams fell apart uncharacteristically quickly with 26 ...Qd3? (though 26 ...c6 27 a4 Nc7 28 Qb7 is most unpleasant). If 27 ...Qe2 28 a4 wins but 29 ...Nc3! would have been the last chance to fight. At the end, 31 ...Qe2 32 Re1! wins easily.

White: Garry Kasparov

Black: Michael Adams

Scotch Game

1 e4 e5

2 Nf3 Nc6

3 d4 exd4

4 Nxd4 Nf6

5 Nxc6 bxc6

6 e5 Qe7

7 Qe2 Nd5

8 c4 Nb6

9 Nc3 Qe6

10 Qe4 Bb4

11 Bd2 Ba6

12 b3 Bxc3

13 Bxc3 d5

14 Qh4 dxc4

15 Be2 Nd5

16 Bd4 c5

17 Bxc5 Nc3

18 Bxc4 Qxe5+

19 Be3 Ne4

20 0-0 Bxc4

21 bxc4 0-0

22 Rfe1 Rfe8

23 f3 Nd6

24 Bf2 Qf5

25 c5 Nb5

26 Qb4 Qd3?

27 Red1 a5

28 Qa4 Qe2

29 Re1 Qd3

30 Rxe8+ Rxe8

31 Rd1

1-0

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