Independent Pursuits: Chess

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GARY KASPAROV completed a truly celestial performance at Linares on Wednesday with a long, hard grind against Veselin Topalov's King's Indian Defence in which he eventually won a piece but at the cost of running out of pawns.

The inevitable draw brought him to 10.5/14, way ahead of Kramnik and Anand - who caught up by beating Michael Adams in the last round - 8, Leko 6.5, Ivanchuk and Topalov 6, and Adams and Svidler 5.5.

Hard on the heels of his superb performance at Wijk aan Zee in January, this further triumph re-emphasises Kasparov's position as the world's absolute number one. Kramnik and Anand will have been pleased to fight their way so far clear of the rest but are currently far in his wake - even though Kramnik in individual games against the man is the one player who displays absolutely no inferiority complex.

Of the others, Leko, bottom rated at a mere 2,694, will presumably be fairly pleased. The others must be less happy, particularly poor Michael Adams who led after four rounds but seemed to suffer severe aftershocks after experiencing earthquake Kasparov in round five.

The ever-temperamental Vassily Ivanchuk played abysmally in the first half but recovered well in the second, losing to Kasparov but winning the vintage "Ivanchuk game" below, in the penultimate round.

The position after 6 Nc3 is well known, but with a black knight on f6 rather than c6. Instead this was very unusual and Topalov immediately had to solve difficult problems at the board.

8 Bd2 may be an improvement since if 8 ...dxc4 9 a3 Bxc3 10 Nd6+! Kf8 11 Bxc3 looks rather good though 8 ...d4 9 Ne4 Bxd2+ 10 Qxd2 Qxd2+ 11 Nxd2 Ke7 looks quite reasonable for Black.

9 Nxc3 d4 10 b4 Nxb4 11 axb4 Qxa1 12 Nb5 was conceivable, though this has been played at least once before and no doubt Ivanchuk was more than ready. With 14 ...e4!, Ivanchuk smashed the position open before White could castle. Perhaps Topalov should have tried 15 Bxe4, but it is repulsive.

In the diagram the beautifully thematic 18 ...Nxe2!! ripped White apart. At the end White is mated after 26 fxe4 Bg4+ 27 Kf2 Qxh2+ 28 Kf1 (or 28 Ke3 Qg3 mate) 28 ...Bh3.

White: Veselin Topalov

Black: Vassily Ivanchuk

English Opening

1 Nf3 c5

2 c4 Nc6

3 d4 cxd4

4 Nxd4 e6

5 g3 Bb4+

6 Nc3 Qa5

7 Ndb5 d5

8 a3?! Bxc3+

9 bxc3 Nf6

10 Bg2 0-0

11 Qb3 dxc4

12 Qxc4 e5

13 Nd6 Be6

14 Qd3 e4!

15 Nxe4 Nxe4

16 Bxe4 Rad8

17 Qc2 Nd4

18 Qb2 (see diagram) Nxe2!!

19 Kxe2 Rfe8

20 Qb4 Qh5+

21 f3 f5

22 g4 Qh3

23 gxf5 Bxf5

24 Qc4+ Kh8

25 Re1 Rxe4+0-1