Chess: 39 steps to victory for title holders

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The Independent Culture
THE RIVALRY between the two world champions seems to have attained such delicate refinement that they now even win their games in an identical number of moves. In the fourth round at Linares, Kasparov and Karpov each took 39 moves to demolish strong opposition, writes William Hartston.

Kasparov's game was the wilder of the two, exploring a fashionable line of the Semi-Slav. The position after 14 . . . Bh6 has been seen in several recent games, but 15. Bxf6 seems an improvement on Bxh6. With 16 . . . 0-0-0, Ivanchuk threw away his Q-side pawns in exchange for an imposing mass in the centre and the game became a race between the rival attacks. After 28 . . . Bb8, White has a worse endgame if he exchanges queens, while 29. Qxc5 would lose the initiative. Kasparov's 29. a5] was the right solution and his 30. Re8] was brilliant. If after Qh2+ Black plays 31 . . . Rxe8, then 32. a6] wins since Bc8 loses to Qc6+. Ivanchuk gave up his queen, but the game was lost.

White: Kasparov

Black: Ivanchuk

1 d4 Nf6 21 h4 Bf6

2 c4 c6 22 Qe1 Bxh4

3 Nc3 d5 23 Qa5 Be7

4 Nf3 e6 24 Qc7+ Ka8

5 Bg5 dxc4 25 Qa5+ Kb8

6 e4 b5 26 Qc7+ Ka8

7 e5 h6 27 Rfe1 Bd6

8 Bh4 g5 28 Qb6 Bb8

9 Nxg5 hxg5 29 a5 Rd7

10 Bxg5 Nbd7 30 Re8 Qh2+

11 exf6 Bb7 31 Kf1 Qxg2+

12 g3 c5 32 Kxg2 d4+

13 d5 Nxf6 33 Qxb7+ Rxb7

14 Bg2 Bh6 34 Rxh8 Rxb5

15 Bxf6 Qxf6 35 a6 Ka7

16 0-0 0-0-0 36 Rf8 Rxb2

17 Nxb5 exd5 37 Rxf7+ Ka8

18 Nxa7+ Kb8 38 a7 c3

19 Nb5 Bg7 39 Rf8 1-0

20 a4 Qh6

Karpov's game began more quietly with his 11. e3]? a strange-looking way to gain a grip on the centre. The softening-up began with 15. h4 and the real fun started with 18. Nc5] With 19 . . . Rc8 Topalov intended to meet 20. Bxc6 with Ra7, but Karpov's 20. Rxe6] sacrifice showed the hole in Black's calculations. After the rook had insisted on giving itself up with 21. Rxg6+ (21 . . . Kf8 loses amusingly to 22. Qh3 fxg6 23. Qh8+ Kf7 24. Bd5 mate, while 21 . . . Kh7 22. Qh3+ also leads to mate) Karpov obtained plenty of pawns for the exchange, but it was his second sacrifice of rook for minor piece that decided the game. After 28. Rxd4, White gained access to f6 with his queen, and the white minor pieces scurrying around the black king proved too much for the cumbersome rooks.

White: Karpov

Black: Topalov

1 d4 Nf6 21 Rxg6+ fxg6

2 c4 c5 22 Qe6+ Kg7

3 Nf3 cxd4 23 Bxc6 Rd8

4 Nxd4 e6 24 cxb5 Bf6

5 g3 Nc6 25 Ne4 Bd4

6 Bg2 Bc5 26 bxa6 Qb6

7 Nb3 Be7 27 Rd1 Qxa6

8 Nc3 0-0 28 Rxd4 Rxd4

9 0-0 d6 29 Qf6+ Kg8

10 Bf4 Nh5 30 Qxg6+ Kf8

11 e3 Nxf4 31 Qe8+ Kg7

12 exf4 Bd7 32 Qe5+ Kg8

13 Qd2 Qb8 33 Nf6+ Kf7

14 Rfe1 g6 34 Be8+ Kf8

15 h4 a6 35 Qxc5+ Qd6

16 h5 b5 36 Qxa7 Qxf6

17 hxg6 hxg6 37 Bh5 Rd2

18 Nc5 dxc5 38 b3 Rb2

19 Qxd7 Rc8 39 Kg2 1-0

20 Rxe6 Ra7

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