Chess: Where grandmasters are the gladiators

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The Independent Culture
'I WANT gladiators, not tourists.' Luis Rentero, the organiser and sponsor of the Linares tournament, makes his requirements clear to contestants, writes William Hartston.

Running the strongest and most lucrative invitation event on the international calendar, Mr Rentero can afford to be firm. And if there is one thing that he cannot stand, it is a quick draw. A few years ago, he invited Boris Spassky to his tournament on condition that he renounce his pacifist tendencies and guarantee to fight each game until move forty. This year, a perfunctory draw between two grandmasters led to a firm statement that they would not be invited back.

The current Linares tournament is producing a magnificent battle between the two world champions, the first time Kasparov and Karpov have played in the same event since lst year's schism resulted in two title matches. In a field that includes all the world's top nine players (and the other five are not far behind), one would normally expect a large number of draws, yet Karpov won his first six games, while Kasparov conceded only two draws. The fierce rivalry between these two, and the desire to fulfil Sr Rentero's requirements, has forced the best out of both of them.

Kasparov must have been intensely irritated by the progress of the first half of the tournament. When, in the lot-drawing to determine the order of play, he picked number six and Karpov picked seven, it guaranteed that the other players would, in general, meet Karpov the round after they played Kasparov. So Kasparov found himself demoralising the opposition for his rival.

Bareyev, defeated brilliantly by Kasparov, blundered in a level position against Karpov to allow an instant mate; Ivanchuk, outplayed by Kasparov in a game of rare complexity, threw away a pawn and resigned instantly against Karpov the following day. And Judit Polgar, after giving Kasparov severe problems in the fifth round, collapsed horribly against Karpov in the sixth.

This all set the scene for a great Kasparov-Karpov battle in round seven: the PCA champion, a point behind the Fide champion, playing White and needing a win to come back into contention for first prize. We hope to bring you the full story of that game tomorrow. Meanwhile, here is how Anatoly duffed up Judit. Getting in a tangle to defend her Q-side weaknesses, Black ultimately mated her own rook.

----------------------------------------------------------------- White: Karpov Black: Polgar ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 e4 c5 18 Bb4 Kf7 2 c3 e6 19 Ra4 Qxc5 3 d4 d5 20 Bxc5 a6 4 exd5 exd5 21 f3 h4 5 Nf3 Nc6 22 Rfa1 Bc8 6 Bb5 c4 23 Kf2 Rb8 7 Ne5 Qb6 24 b4 Re8 8 Bxc6+ bxc6 25 Nb3 Bb7 9 0-0 Bd6 26 Na5 Ba8 10 b3 cxb3 27 R4a2 Re6 11 axb3 Ne7 28 Ba7 Rb5 12 Ba3 Bxe5 29 Nb3 Bb7 13 dxe5 Be6 30 g4 hxg3+ 14 Qd4 Nf5 31 hxg3 Re8 15 Qc5 h5 32 g4 Nd6 16 Nd2 f6 33 Nd4 1-0 17 exf6 gxf6 -----------------------------------------------------------------

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