The Dos Hermanas tournament is Spain was the strongest event we have seen for many years. Some have even called it the strongest tournament of all time, citing its average rating of 2715 in support of their claim. That, however, ignores the recent inflation in rating numbers. But even if it was not truly as strong as AVRO 1938, Dos Hermanas 1996 was a magnificent contest with only one of the top 10 players of today not taking part.

The results confirmed the great changes that have come over world chess in the past few years. With Kasparov struggling to share third place with Anand, behind Kramnik and Topalov, it was a great success for the younger generation. Full scores: Kramnik and Topalov 6; Anand and Kasparov 51/2; Illescas 41/2; Kamsky and Gelfand 4; Ivanchuk 31/2; Shirov and Polgar 3.

Both the first-prize winners were undefeated, but Kramnik's performance, with wins against Kasparov and Anand, was the more impressive. All Topalov's three wins came against players in the bottom half of the table.

Despite never looking like winning the event, Kasparov's strong finish ensured that he will not lose any rating points. Yet he needed to win a drawn endgame against Polgar and swindle Gelfand in the final round from a lost position even to take third place. As Kasparov showed in his one-sided win over Anand last year, he will not readily give up his PCA world title in a match, but his reign as undisputed master of the tournament scene appears over.

In the following game, Kramnik launches a sacrificial attack directly from the opening. His 14...Ng4 must be the result of diligent homework, but even so it is most impressive. With 17.g3 needed to save the f-pawn. it is not difficult to analyse as far as 21.Nf2 (see diagram). Most players then, however, would find it impossible to restrain their hands from grabbing the rook on h1 and pausing for reflection only after 21...Bxh1 22.Nxh1, when material is level but Black can trouble bringing his rook into play.

Kramnik's 21...Bf6! and 22...Na4! is inspired play, letting White keep his rook while Black pusues his Q-side attack. With 25.Bxb5, White envisaged 25...axb5 26.Rxd5 exd5 27.Qe8 mate, but Kramnik's 25...Bxa2+ kept him in control. After 28.Rxe6, White would be mated by 28...Nc3+ 29.Kxb2 Qb4+ 30.Kc1 Na2 or 30.Ka1 Qa3.

White: Vassily Ivanchuk

Black: Vladimir Kramnik

Sicilian Defence

1 e4 c5 18 Qf3 Bb7

2 Nf3 Nc6 19 Ne4 f5

3 d4 cxd4 20 Qh5+ Kf8

4 Nxd4 Nf6 21 Nf2 Bf6

5 Nc3 d6 22 Bd3 Na4

6 Bg5 e6 23 Rhe1 Bxb2+

7 Qd2 a6 24 Kb1 Bd5

8 0-0-0 h6 25 Bxb5 Bxa2+

9 Be3 Be7 26 Kxa2 axb5

10 f4 Nxd4 27 Kb1 Qa5

11 Bxd4 b5 28 Nd3 Ba3

12 Qe3 Qc7 29 Ka2 Nc3+

13 e5 dxe5 30 Kb3 Nd5

14 Bxe5 Ng4 31 Ka2 Bb4+

15 Qf3 Nxe5 32 Kb1 Bc3

16 Qxa8 Nd7 White resigns

17 g3 Nb6

On Thursday, the world chess circus moves to Elista, the capital of the Russian state of Kalmykia, where Gata Kamsky and Anatoly Karpov will play their 20-game match for the Fide world championship.

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