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THE FIDE world championship starts at the end of this week in Las Vegas, with the Opening Ceremony on Friday evening. All 100 participants are required to be there and many, especially the 72 non-seeds who start battle the next day (Saturday, 31 July), have already crossed the Atlantic to mitigate the jet lag: indeed I'm currently in upstate New York (which is five of Las Vegas's eight hours behind London) before flying on in a few days.

I imagine that many others are already in Las Vegas; and even some of the 28 seeds, who join the fray three days later, on 3 August, have arrived, including my potential second-round opponent - should I get past Pablo Ricardi - Boris Gelfand, who's been there for a week or so already.

Each round consists of a mini-match - followed, if necessary, by tie- breaks working down eventually to sudden death, with White having four minutes plus 10 seconds per move and Black five minutes plus 10 seconds.

Knockouts are always somewhat "random", and with the first five rounds over just two games - the semi-finals are over four, while the final, beginning on 22 August is over six - nobody can be too confident. However, it's highly likely that it will be one of the seeds, indeed one of the top dozen, who will win.

Based on a weighted average of the July '98 and January '99 rating lists, they are Kramnik, Shirov, Morozevich, Kamsky, Michael Adams, Ivanchuk, Svidler, Karpov (if, in the end, he plays), Topalov, Short, Leko and Gelfand.

Of these, perhaps the most intriguing of all is Gata Kamsky, who quit chess three years ago to concentrate on medical studies but is now making a comeback. It will be fascinating to see how he gets on and indeed whether he can pass his first opponent: the winner of the match between Alexander Khalifman and Dibyendu Barua, and so very likely Khalifman, currently seriously underrated at just 2,628.

The only game I could find between Kamsky and Khalifman was a somewhat inconclusive draw at the Biel Interzonal 1993, so here instead is a powerful victory from the Melody Amber Rapidplay the following year.

Kamsky very much likes using bishops, and after 23 f5 he got a vicious attack which he finished with clinical precision.

White: Gata Kamsky

White: Yasser Seirawan

Melody Amber

Rapidplay 1994

Queen's Indian Defence

1 d4 Nf6

2 c4 e6

3 Nf3 b6

4 Nc3 Bb7

5 Bg5 Be7

6 e3 Ne4

7 Nxe4 Bxe4

8 Bf4 c5

9 Be2 0-0

10 0-0 Nc6

11 Nd2 Bg6

12 d5 Na5

13 Bf3 Rc8

14 Qe2 Bf6

15 Ne4 e5

16 Nxf6+Qxf6

17 Bg3 e4

18 Bg4 Bf5

19 Bxf5 Qxf5

20 Rad1 Rfe8

21 b3 Qf6

22 f4 Nb7

23 f5 d6

24 Rf4 Rc7

25 Rdf1 a6

26 Qh5 h6

27 Rg4 Kh7

28 Bf4 Rh8

29 Bg5 Qe5

30 Bxh6 gxh6

31 Rg6 Qg7

32 Rxg7+ Kxg7

33 f6+ Kf8

34 Rf4