Chess

The recent tournaments in Las Palmas and Linares have clarified the state at the top of world chess, where we can now divide the players into three groups. Alone at the top is Garry Kasparov. His convincing victories in both tournaments confirm that the younger generation has not quite caught up with him yet. Also, the last representative of the older generation, Anatoly Karpov, is finally beginning to fade.

Karpov is still part of the second group, comprising players whom one would not be surprised to see winning the occasional event ahead of Kasparov. The other members of that elite are Anand, Kramnik, Ivanchuk and Topalov.

And just behind them come the grandmasters who could pose a serious threat to Kasparov in a tournament, but it would be surprising to see them finish ahead of him. Among that number we should include both Nigel Short and Michael Adams, as well as Judit Polgar, Boris Gelfand, Alexei Shirov and Gata Kamsky (if the latter comes out of his recently announced retirement).

Of all these players, the most intriguing is the Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk. Unequalled, even by Kasparov, for sheer imagination, Ivanchuk has shown problems of temperament that have caused him too often to fall apart at critical moments in tournaments.

In Linares, he was in last place after seven rounds, then beat Kasparov. His confidence back, he then won this splendid King's Gambit against Piket. Black's opening experiment of 4...d5 left White in control of the centre, which is, after all, the positional justification of the King's Gambit.

White: Vassily Ivanchuk

Black: Jeroen Piket

1 e4 e5 19 Rhf1 Nc8

2 f4 exf4 20 Ne4 Ke7

3 Bc4 c6 21 Bh4 Rf8

4 Nc3 d5?! 22 c3 Bd6

5 exd5 Qh4+ 23 Kh1 b5

6 Kf1 f3 24 Bb3 Na6

7 d3 fxg2+ 25 a4 Nc7

8 Kxg2 Nf6 26 axb5 cxb5

9 Qe2+ Kd8 27 d4 a5

10 Qe5! Qf2+ 28 Rf3 a4

11 Kxf2 Ng4+ 29 Ba2 Ra6

12 Kg2 Nxe5 30 Rg1 Ne8

13 Bf4 Ng6 31 Rf5 a3

14 Bg3 f6 32 Rxb5 g5

15 Nf3 Bb4 33 Rb7+ Nc7

16 Nd4 Bd7 34 Nxd6 Rxd6

17 Ne6+ Bxe6 35 Rxc7+ Kd8

18 dxe6 Ne7 36 Rf7 resigns

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