Independent Pursuits: Chess

Alexei Shirov will challenge Garry Kasparov for the championship of the newly formed World Chess Council this October. By winning his ninth game against Vladimir Kramnik, he increased his lead to 51/2-31/2 to win the match.

After eight generally disappointing games had resulted in seven draws and one win for Shirov, the players finally showed in game nine the imaginative play we had been waiting for. It was Kramnik's last game with the white pieces, and therefore his best real chance to equalise the scores. He played more aggressively than in earlier games, but Shirov stunned him with a brilliant rook sacrifice.

With 27...Qb6!! (see diagram) he trapped Kramnik's king in the centre, and White had to return more material than he could afford.

White: Vladimir Kramnik

Black: Alexei Shirov

1 d4 Nf6 25 Kd2 axb6

2 c4 g6 26 fxe4 Rxe4

3 f3 d5 27 Kc2 Rg4

4 cxd5 Nxd5 28 Rd2 Be7

5 e4 Nb6 29 Rg1 Kg7

6 Nc3 Bg7 30 Nf2 Rf4

7 Be3 0-0 31 Nd3 Re4

8 Qd2 e5 32 Rgd1 Bb5

9 d5 c6 33 a4 Bc6

10 h4 h5 34 Re1 Rxe1

11 Be2 cxd5 35 Nxe1 Bb4

12 exd5 N8d7 36 Re2 Bxe1

13 d6 Nf6 37 Rxe1 Bxg2

14 Bg5 Re8 38 Kd2 h4

15 Rd1 Be6 39 Ke3 Bd5

16 Nh3 Nc4 40 b4 h3

17 Bxc4 Bxc4 41 Re2 f5

18 b3 Ba6 42 Rd2 Be4

19 Nd5 e4 43 Kf4 Bg2

20 Nxf6+ Bxf6 44 Rd7+ Kf6

21 d7 Qb6 45 Rh7 g5+

22 dxe8Q+ Rxe8 46 Kg3 f4+

23 Qe3 Bxg5 47 Kg4 Ke5

24 Qxb6 Bxh4+ 48 b5 0-1