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The tournament in Novgorod has taken several surprising turns over the past few days. In the opening rounds, Vassily Ivanchuk had looked the most likely winner, particularly after his victory over the favourite, Vladimir Kramnik in the first round. Kramnik then fought back to a challenging position only to be bashed flat by Veselin Topalov in round six. Kramnik's usual genius for creating complications was totally stifled by Topalov's slow build-up. When the White K-side attack broke, Black had neither counterplay nor any semblance of a defence. Note that 30...Nxd5 would have allowed 31.Qxh7+!

White: Veselin Topalov

Black: Vladimir Kramnik

1 e4 c5 13 f4 Bb7 25 Re1 Qc8

2 Nf3 Nc6 14 Rad1 Rae8 26 Ree3 Rg8

3 d4 cxd4 15 Rd3 c5 27 Nd1 Rd7

4 Nxd4 Nf6 16 Bb5 Bc6 28 f5 e5

5 Nc3 d6 17 Bxc6 Qxc6 29 Nc3 Bd8

6 Bc4 Qb6 18 c4 Rd8 30 Nd5 h6

7 Nxc6 bxc6 19 Rfd1 Rfe8 31 Bc1 Nxd5

8 0-0 e6 20 Qf3 Qc7 32 exd5 Bf6

9 Qe2 Nd7 21 Qg3 Nf6 33 Re4 Qf8

10 b3 Be7 22 Nc3 a6 34 Reg4 1-0

11 Bb2 0-0 23 Qh3 Qc6

12 Na4 Qc7 24 Rg3 Kh8

Meanwhile, Ivanchuk had also collapsed badly. he lost from a winning position against Judit Polgar in round five, then allowed Kramnik an overwhelming revenge for his earlier defeat when they met for the second time.

Black's 16...Qd6?! varied from the more usual 16...Qb5, but Kramnik demonstrated why the older move should be preferred. After 17.Bf4! and 18.Be3, the pressure was off White's centre leaving his free to develop his Q-side attack. 22...Rdg8? was a bad error, allowing an effective piece sacrifice. At the end, Ivanchuk resigned before waiting to see whether White would prefer 25.Qa3 or (perhaps even stronger) 25.Ra3 followed by Rfa1.

White: Vladimir Kramnik

Black: Vassily Ivanchuk

1 Nf3 d5 10 Bxg5 Nbd7 19 Qc1 Bxe3

2 d4 Nf6 11 g3 Bb7 20 Qxe3 Ba6

3 c4 c6 12 Bg2 Qb6 21 a3 Kb8

4 Nc3 e6 13 exf6 c5 22 h4 Rdg8

5 Bg5 h6 14 d5 0-0-0 23 Nxc5 Nxc5

6 Bh4 dxc4 15 0-0 b4 24 axb4 Nb7

7 e4 b5 16 Na4 Qd6 Black resigned

8 e5 g5 17 Bf4 e5

9 Nxg5 hxg5 18 Be3 Bh6

Leading scores after round seven: Topalov 5; Short 41/2.

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