Chess: A right royal championship

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SIX OF the world's top players will shortly be arriving in Sanghi Nagar, India, for the quarter-finals of the Fide World Championship. 'The road to Sanghi Nagar is steeped in history,' says the official brochure of the event. 'It scythes off the highway, where regal caravans once passed on their way to the erstwhile royal state of Hyderabad, and cleaves through a vast plain dwarfed by towering mountains, whose summits are crowned with huge boulders, precariously balanced on top of each other, as if hurled there by a playful group of giants long ago in the mists of time.'

Anyway, Sanghi Industries, who built the entire town, are providing pounds 100,000 in prizes. They were no doubt prompted by the regal progress of Viswanathan Anand, who cleft, cleaved or clove his way to this stage of the championship through a vast plain of erstwhile towering grandmasters. On 24 July, Anand begins his match with Gata Kamsky, the surprise success of last month's PCA World Championship quarter-finals. Whether he wins or loses, Sanghi Industries have made a firm offer of over pounds 300,000 for the next round of matches, and have spoken of a pounds 2m final.

Anand's huge talent, confidence and phenomenal speed of play should be enough to overcome Kamsky's unrivalled capacity for hard work and concentration. Playing at home, however, may not be entirely to his advantage: huge crowds of fervent Indian supporters with high expectations can, as their cricketers have frequently found, put players under increased stress.

The other two matches are equally difficult to predict. Valeri Salov lost to Jan Timman in a world title eliminator in 1987. This time, he is favourite to gain revenge. Until last month, Vladimir Kramnik was strongly tipped to beat Boris Gelfand, but his elimination from the PCA cycle by Kamsky has cast doubts on Kramnik's match temperament. So Gelfand, Salov and Anand are now tipped to join Karpov in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, back with the PCA, Anand will play Michael Adams and Kamsky will play Nigel Short. The winners of those matches will play-off for the right to challenge Garry Kasparov. Next year, Anand could find himself involved in two separate world title matches and whoever plays him second will have a big advantage. After you, Garry. No, my dear Anatoly, after you. In the following game, from the recent Intel Grand Prix in New York, Anand shows his sleight of hand in escaping from a difficult situation.

Both players began the game with 30 minutes on their clock; Anand still had 27 left at the end after a string of moves precariously balanced on top of each other, in which both men had hurled their pieces playfully, like huge boulders. (Very catchy, this style. I can't wait for the press releases from the matches.)

White: Smirin

Black: Anand

1 e4 c5

2 Nf3 Nc6

3 Bb5 g6

4 0-0 Bg7

5 c3 Nf6

6 d4 Nxe4

7 d5 Nd6

8 Bd3 Na5

9 Bf4 0-0

10 Be5 b5

11 Bxg7 Kxg7

12 b4 cxb4

13 cxb4 Nac4

14 Nc3 Bb7

15 Nxb5 Bxd5

16 Bxc4 Bxc4

17 Nxd6 Bxf1

18 Qd4+ Kg8

19 Ng5 exd6

20 Ne4 f5

21 Qd5+ Kg7

22 Qd4+ Kh6

23 Qd2+ g5

24 Qxd6+ Kg7

25 Qd4+ Kg6

26 Qd6+ draw