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The era of Karpov and Kasparov is drawing to a close and every tournament now sees the pretenders to their crowns engaged in fierce jostling for position.

Vladimir Kramnik and Vassily Ivanchuk have proven themselves as good as anyone in tournament play, but both disappointment last time in the world championship qualifying matches, when Gata Kamsky and Viswanathan Anand won through.

And then there is Alexei Shirov. In a class of his own when it comes to raw imagination, Shirov - or Planet Shirov as he is respectfully known by his peers - is quite the most spectacular player around. Try this game for size, from the current tournament in Wijk aan Zee.

White sacrificed a piece in the opening, won it back with the unlikely 28.Bd8! and still had enough left for a mating attack in the endgame, with even his king making a contribution.

White: Alexei Shirov

Black: Boris Gelfand

1 e4 c5 22 Qg4 b5

2 Nf3 d6 23 Nf6+ Ke7

3 d4 cxd4 24 0-0-0 Qxg4

4 Nxd4 Nf6 25 Nxg4+ Kf8

5 Nc3 a6 26 Bh6+ Ke7

6 Be3 e6 27 Bg5+ Kf8

7 g4 e5 28 Bd8 Bxf5

8 Nf5 g6 29 Bxc7 Nc6

9 g5 gxf5 30 Nh6 Bg6

10 exf5 d5 31 Rd6 Nb4

11 gxf6 d4 32 cxb4 Kg7

12 Bc4 Qxf6 33 h4 Rhc8

13 Nd5 Qc6 34 h5 Rxc7+

14 Bxd4 Bb4+ 35 Kd2 Be4

15 c3 Qxc4 36 Rg1+ Kh8

16 Be3 Ba5 37 Ke3 Bb7

17 Nf6+ Ke7 38 Rgd1 Re8

18 Nd5+ Ke8 39 Nf5 Bc8

19 Nf6+ Ke7 40 Rd8 Bxf5

20 Bg5 Bc7 41 Rxe8+ Kg7

21 Ne4+ Ke8 42 Rxe5 1-0