The field in Linares, which seemed to be spreading out nicely, has bunched again after round nine with the defeat of the leader, Alexei Shirov, by the back-marker, Vassily Ivanchuk. Scores are now as follows: Anand, Shirov and Kramnik 41/2; Kasparov 4; Svidler 31/2; Topalov and Ivanchuk 3. Kasparov and Topalov each have one game in hand, so effectively four of the seven players are now sharing first place.

Ivanchuk, after a poor first half to the tournament, scored his first win by completely outplaying Shirov. His unusual 5...Ndf6!? avoided the usual problems in this line of a white sacrifice on e6 or f7. White's 14.Nc4 was shown to be incorrect as Black took the pawn and held on to it. With 18.g4 met simply by Nxg4, White tried 18.c4, which was met by a powerful exchange sacrifice.

In the rest of the game, Black's central control was too strong. The end was neat: 48.bxc4 Rxa3+ leads to mate next move.

White: Alexei Shirov

Black: Vassily Ivanchuk

Linares 1998

1 e4 c6 25 Ba4 e5

2 d4 d5 26 Rhe1 Kg7

3 Nc3 dxe4 27 Bc2 Nh4

4 Nxe4 Nd7 28 Rd2 Rc8

5 Ng5 Ndf6 29 Kb1 Rxc4

6 Bc4 e6 30 Ng1 Rc5

7 Qe2 Bd6 31 g3 Ra5

8 Bd2 Qc7 32 Qd3 Ng6

9 0-0-0 b6 33 Bb3 Qd6

10 N1f3 h6 34 Rc2 e4

11 Nh3 Ne7 35 Qc4 Ne5

12 Ne5 c5 36 Qc7 Qb4

13 Bb5+ Kf8 37 Rd1 Bd5

14 Nc4 cxd4 38 Bxd5 Rxd5

15 Nxd6 Qxd6 39 fxe4 Nxe4

16 Bf4 Qd5 40 a3 Qb5

17 Be5 Nf5 41 Ka2 d3

18 c4 Qc5 42 Rcc1 d2

19 Qf3 Qxe5 43 Rc2 Nd3

20 Qxa8 Qc7 44 Rcxd2 Rc5

21 Qc6 Qb8 45 Qd8 Qc4+

22 Qf3 Bb7 46 b3 Nc3+

23 Qa3+ Kg8 47 Ka1 Ra5

24 f3 g5 White resigned