In the last rounds of two or three recent tournaments, we have seen , by pure chance, Kasparov facing Kramnik in a game that would decide first place. Kasparov is not playing in the current event in Belgrade, but matters are shaping up for a crucial last-round encounter between Kramnik and Ivanchuk. With three rounds left, scores are as follows: Ivanchuk 41/2; Anand and Shirov 4; Lautier and Kramnik 31/2; Gelfand 3; Georgiev 21/2; Ljubojevic and Belyavsky 2; Kovacevic 1.

In the sixth round, Ivanchuk moved into the lead with a heavyweight strategic victory over Belyavsky, while Anand and Shirov drew the following brief tactical skirmish. White seemed to be going straight for the throat from the opening, but his exchange sacrifice with 18.Rxf7 was good for no more than a draw. At the end, Black decided that he could not afford to allow White to play f5, so repeated moves to force the draw.

White: Viswanathan Anand

Black: Alexei Shirov

Ruy Lopez

1 e4 e5 13 Qc3 Ne7

2 Nf3 Nc6 14 Ra7 c5

3 Bb5 a6 15 e5 Nfd5

4 Ba4 Nf6 16 Bxd5 Nxd5

5 0-0 b5 17 Qf3 Qb6

6 Bb3 Bc5 18 Rxf7 c4+

7 a4 Rb8 19 Kh1 Kxf7

8 axb5 axb5 20 Qxd5+ Be6

9 Nxe5 Nxe5 21 Qd1 Bf5

10 d4 Bxd4 22 Qd5+ Be6

11 Qxd4 d6 23 Qd1

12 f4 Nc6 Draw agreed

Anand has not been performing as well as usual with White in this event. His first-round loss was brought about by underestimating his opponent's pawns. Lautier carried out a model strategy for Black in this complex variation, using his f-pawn to lure White's e-pawn aside, his b-pawn to tempt White's c-pawn away, and then the centre was clear for his pawn mass to win the game. At the end 42.Qg4 loses to 42...Rxf2 43.Rxf2 d1=Q+.

White: Viswanathan Anand

Black: Joel Lautier

Sicilian Defence

1 e4 c5 22 Nc3 e4

2 Nf3 e6 23 Rc1 d5

3 d4 cxd4 24 Na4 Rxc1

4 Nxd4 Nf6 25 Qxc1 d4

5 Nc3 Nc6 26 Nc5 Bd5

6 Ndb5 d6 27 Bc4 Kh8

7 Bf4 e5 28 Ne6 Bxe6

8 Bg5 a6 29 Bxe6 d3

9 Na3 b5 30 Qc4 Qf6

10 Bxf6 gxf6 31 b3 Re8

11 Nd5 Bg7 32 Bd5 Rd8

12 c4 f5 33 g3 Qe5

13 cxb5 Nd4 34 Bb7 Qe7

14 Bd3 Be6 35 Bd5 Qe5

15 0-0 0-0 36 Bb7 Qe7

16 Nc2 Nxc2 37 Bd5 Qd6

17 Bxc2 fxe4 38 Bb7 Qb6

18 bxa6 Rxa6 39 Qc6 Qd4

19 Bxe4 f5 40 Qe6 d2

20 Bd3 Rc6 41 Qxf5 Rf8

21 Be2 Rc5 White resigns