With seven of the world's top twenty players under the age of 25, the World Junior (under-21) championship has become almost an anachronism. Until recently, the World Junior title was a stepping stone on the way to the world championship. Only Bobby Fischer was sufficiently precocious to give the junior event a miss. Nowadays, however, if you are not a world title challenger by the time you are 21, it looks increasingly as though you might as well forget the whole thing. Gata Kamsky, it should be noted, had challenged for the world championship, been defeated, and announced his retirement from chess, all by the age of 22.

Nevertheless, the World Junior remains an important event for spotting the grandmasters of the future, even if the very top juniors tend to give it a miss. This year's event, currently in progress in Zagan, Poland, is one of the strongest ever, with five players who have already attained their grandmaster titles and another twenty or so International Masters. the top seed is Alexander Morozevich, the 20-year-old Russian whose rating of 2690 places him 80th in the world.

After four rounds, however, the lead was held by the other Russian nominee, Yevgeny Najer, the only player to start with four straight wins. Thien Hai Dao (Vietnam), Zoltan Gyimesi (Hungary), Hristos Banikas (Greece) and Vladimir Baklan (Ukraine) each have 31/2 points, with Morovevic in the group on 3. The British challenge is led by Jonathan Rowson (Scotland), also on 3 points, and Richard Bates (England) on 21/2.

Here is Bates's second-round win, an excellent demonstration of how to handle the Black side of the Sicilian Defence. His control of the centre never let White get on with his intended K-side attack. At the end 39.Rg1 Bf3 40.Kxf3 c2 wins easily for Black.

White: Vigen Mirumian

Black: Richard Bates

1 e4 c5 21 Bf4 Qa8

2 Nc3 d6 22 Qd2 Rxe1

3 Nf3 Nf6 23 Rxe1 Ne4

4 d4 cxd4 24 Nxe4 Bxe4

5 Nxd4 a6 25 Qe2 d5

6 Bc4 e6 26 Be5 Qc6

7 0-0 Be7 27 Ra1 Bf6

8 Bb3 Nc6 28 Bxf6 Qxf6

9 Kh1 0-0 29 Rf1 Qxb2

10 f4 Nxd4 30 Qd2 Qc3

11 Qxd4 b5 31 Qxc3 bxc3

12 a3 Rb8 32 Kg1 Rb8

13 f5 a5 33 g4 Kf8

14 Qd3 b4 34 Kf2 d4

15 axb4 axb4 35 Rc1 Rb6

16 Ne2 exf5 36 Ke2 Rxb3

17 exf5 Bb7 37 cxb3 d3+

18 Bg5 Ra8 38 Ke3 d2

19 Rae1 Ra5 White resigns

20 Ng3 Re5