Games: Chess

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The Independent Culture
AND THEN there were four. Alexander Khalifman from St Petersburg, who had already defeated Boris Gelfand and the magnificent (and utterly unexpected) Romanian Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, victor vs Alexei Shirov, were joined on Saturday in the Fide world championship semi-finals at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas by the winners of the play-offs between Vladimir Akopian and Sergei Movsesian and, with the ejection of Ivanchuk and Shirov, seen by many as "effectively the final": Michael Adams and Vladimir Kramnik.

I joined the virtual throng of over 700 at the Internet Chess Club (http://www.chessclub. com) early on Sunday morning (London time) as Michael was steering the first game to a draw in an inferior rook ending.

Meanwhile, Akopian had won as White. The next round started after a gap of a few minutes and saw Akopian hold fairly easily against Movsesian. Though Adams was now Black against Kramnik, he also made a draw without much difficulty.

So Adams and Kramnik were by themselves for the next two games, with a time limit of 15 minutes plus 10 seconds a move.

Adams got nothing or less than nothing from the opening but as Kramnik pressed forward his position came under stress. 19 ...c5? was wrong - 19 ...Rfe8 is much better and after 22 Bc1, although the two bishops look impressive, the long-term weakness of the b6 pawn is a more serious factor.

I expected 29 Rxe7 Qxe7 30 Qb8+ Kf7 31 Bg5 but Bd5 defends. After the crafty 29 Re2 Bd5? effectively lost - instead 29 ...Rf7 would have put up a reasonable defence.

Kramnik tried 30 ...Kf7! since 30 ...Re6 31 Rxe6 Bxe6 32 Bxe7 Qxe7 33 Qb8+ and 34 Qxb6 is utterly hopeless; but Adams displayed admirably calm technique. Kramnik had his chances as White in the next game but eventually blew them, so Adams had won through against the favourite.

White: Michael Adams

Black: Vladimir Kramnik

Sicilian Defence

Half-way through the semi-finals, Nisipeanu and Khalifman were tied one all, while Adams unfortunately trailed 0.5-1.5 to Akopian.

1 e4 c5

2 Nf3 Nc6

3 Bb5 Nf6

4 e5 Nd5

5 Nc3 Nc7

6 Bxc6 dxc6

7 h3 g6

8 0-0 Bg7

9 Re1 0-0

10 d3 Ne6

11 Ne4 f5

12 exf6 exf6

13 Rb1 b6

14 b3 a5

15 a4 Ra7

16 Bb2 Re7

17 Qd2 Nd4

18 Nxd4 cxd4

19 Ng3 c5

20 Rxe7 Qxe7

21 Re1 Qd6

22 Bc1 f5

23 Qf4 Qd7

24 Nf1 Bb7

25 f3 Bf6

26 Qg3 Qd8

27 Re6 Be7

28 Bh6 Rf6

29 Re2 Bd5

30 Bg5 Kf7

31 Bxf6 Bxf6

32 Nd2 Bh4

33 Qh2 Bg5

34 f4 Bf6

35 g3 h5

36 Nc4 Bb7

37 Kf2 Qd5

38 Ke1 Qd8

39 Kd2 Bd5

40 Ne5+ Kg7

41 Qg1 g5

42 Kc1 Qd6

43 Qe1 g4

44 hxg4 fxg4

45 Rh2 Bxe5

46 fxe5 Qh6+

47 Kb2 Kf7

48 e6+ Bxe6

49 Qe5 Qe3

50 Qxh5+ Ke7

51 Qg6 Kd6

52 Rh6 Qe1

53 Qxg4 Qc3+

54 Kb1 Qe1+

55 Ka2 Kd7

56 Qg7+ Kd6

57 Qb7 Qb4

58 Qb8+ Kd7

59 Rh7+ Kc6

60 Qc7+

Black resigns 1-0