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The Independent Culture
DURING 1988-9 the Grandmasters' Association held a series of six World Cup tournaments in what later unfortunately turned out to be the only completed cycle of their Grand Prix. The second of these very fine events took place in the French city of Belfort, just a couple of dozen miles from Basle on the Swiss border.

The chief organiser, Jean-Paul Touze, is a far from insubstantial gentleman who, I am told, at one stage swam for France. The power behind a world junior championship which was held in Belfort in the early Eighties, M Touze has consistently produced a strong Belfort team for the ferociously competitive - and sometimes downright litigious - French league. And after something of a hiatus, he again started holding high-quality tournaments a few years ago.

This year's event, which started on 14 December and finishes tomorrow, is a six-player double-rounder averaging 2,572. After six of the ten rounds the lead was held by Mikhail Gurevich (Belgium) on 5/6 ahead of Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine) 4.5 well clear of Arnaud Hauchard (France) 3, Victor Bologan (Moldavia) 2.5, Eduardas Rozentalis (Lithuania) 2 and Jean-Marc Degraeve (France) on just 1.

Of these the most topical for us is 15-year-old Ruslan Ponomariov who is going on to Hastings, starting a week today. Already a tough player, he surely won't be favourite - that position must belong to Matthew Sadler or perhaps Ivan Sokolov: but Ponomariov is mighty dangerous, more it is true in the style of an anaconda than a cobra.

This was the instructive finish to a long grind. If 79 Rg8+ Kh4 80 Rf8 Rb6+ 81 Kg7 Rxb7+ wins.

Ruslan Ponomariov

(Black to play)

Arnaud Hauchard (White)

69... Kg1 70 Rg8+ Kh1 71 Rf8 Rb3+ 72 Kh4 Kg2 73 Rg8+ Kh2 74 Rf8 Rb4+ 75 .Kxh5 Kg3 76 Rg8+ Kh3 77 Rf8 Rb5+ 78 Kh6 Kg3 79 b8Q+ Rxb8 80 Rxb8 f1Q and White resigned on move 91.

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