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The Independent Culture
ON THURSDAY at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, the slaughter was truly ferocious.

Of 14 second-round matches in the Fide world championship remaining undecided, an astonishing 12 were resolved by just two tie-break games. Among the victims were Tony Miles, who lost against Mihail Krasenkow; Ivan Sokolov, losing to Alexei Shirov; and Gata Kamsky who won wonderfully well against Alexander Khalifman in their first regular game but lost the second, then lost the play-off games 1.5-0.5.

After two hours just two of the 14 matches were still in progress, with Sergei Dolmatov facing Viktor Korchnoi and Veselin Topalov against the Ukrainian wunderkind Ruslan Ponomariov, 16 in October.

Viktor Korchnoi, now 68, displays the enthusiasm and energy of a man half his age. He eventually won both games against Sergei Dolmatov, the first a crushing position victory, the second on time after heroic defence. But the performance of the round, for me, was the superb grit shown by Ponomariov, who, as Nigel Short pointed out, has rather the look of the young Karpov.

Though Ponomariov did go down, he afforded huge resistance, particularly in this, the second quickplay game.

White quickly got the advantage, and 23 Rfd1! would have been very strong. If a6? 24 Rab1 simply wins. If 24 Rd7 Qb5! so Topalov had to start again. If 27 ...Qb5 28 Qe4! is strong. 38 ...Kh5! was splendid and 41 ...Qc6 might even have been better for Black. But Ponomariov quickly became worse again before drawing well.

White: Veselin Topalov

Black: Ruslan Ponomariov

English Opening

Daniel Gormally, aged 23, leads the field in the 11-round Smith & Williamson British Championship at Scarborough, with four straight wins.

1 Nf3 Nf6

2 c4 c5

3 g3 Nc6

4 d4 cxd4

5 Nxd4 e6

6 Bg2 Qb6

7 Nc2 d5

8 0-0 Be7

9 cxd5 Nxd5

10 Ne3 Nxe3

11 Bxe3 Qxb2

12 Bxc6+ bxc6

13 Bd4 Qb7

14 Bxg7 Rg8

15 Bc3 c5

16 Qc2 Rg6

17 Nd2 Qc6

18 Nc4 Bb7

19 f3 f6

20 Na5 Qc7

21 Nxb7 Qxb7

22 Qa4+ Kf7

23 Rad1? a6!

24 Rd2 Rd8

25 Rxd8 Bxd8

26 Rd1 Be7

27 Qc4 Rg5

28 a4 Rd5

29 Ra1 h5

30 Kf2 Rd7

31 e4 Qc6

32 f4 Bf8

33 Rb1 Qd6

34 Ke3 Bh6

35 a5 Kg6

36 Ke2 h4

37 Rf1 f5

38 Rb1 Kh5!

39 Rg1 Bg7

40 gxh4 Bh6

41 e5 Qd5

42 Qxd5 Rxd5

43 Bd2 Rd4

44 Be3 Ra4

45 Kf3 Rxa5

46 Rd1 Kg6

47 Rd6 Kf7

48 h5 Rb5

49 Rd7+ Kg8

50 Rd6 Kf7

51 Rxa6 Bf8

52 Ra7+ Kg8

53 Rc7 Rb3

54 h4 Rb5

55 Ke2 Rb2+

56 Kd3 Rb3+

57 Kd2 Rb2+

58 Kc3 Rh2

59 Bxc5 Bxc5

60 Rxc5 Rxh4

61 Rc8+ Kg7

62 Kd4 Rxf4+

63 Kc5 Ra4!

64 Rc6 Kh6

65 Kd6 Kxh5

66 Kxe6 Kg4

67 Kf6 f4

68 e6 f3

69 e7 f2 70.Rc1 Draw