Chess

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The Bulgarian grandmaster Veselin Topalov is a perplexing player. Over the past two years he has won, or at least shared first place in, more tournaments of the very highest class than anyone else, even when competing against the likes of Kasparov, Karpov, Kramnik and Anand. Yet in single combat against those top four in the world, he rarely looks a real threat. Perhaps his dynamic style, which is so appropriate for winning games against anything less than the very best opposition, lacks the depth for him to mount a serious challenge to the world championship.

At the moment, Topalov is destroying a high-class field in Madrid. After six rounds he leads with 5 points, followed, at a respectful distance, by Belyavsky, Illescas, Shirov and Akopyan 31/2; Short and Salov 3; Polgar 21/2; Piket 11/2; San Segundo 1.

Topalov is not the only one having fun there, as today's game shows. Nigel Short has often shown his skill in resuscitating ancient opening variations that had been given up for dead before he was born, but he rarely ventures anything as outlandish as the King's Gambit. On this occasion, he bemused Akopyan by using the 19th-century opening to secure a favourable endgame.

And it worked a treat. After having to return his extra pawn, the Russian grandmaster set some ingenious traps - 31...Ne8 was a nice idea, hoping for 32.Rxe8 Rxe8 33.Nxe8 g2 - but Short was always in control.

White: Nigel Short

Black: Vladimir Akopyan

1 e4 e5 25 Ng3 c5

2 f4 exf4 26 d5 Kg7

3 Nf3 d6 27 Nf5+ Kh8

4 d4 g5 28 Nd6 Rf8

5 h4 g4 29 Re1 g3

6 Ng1 Bh6 30 Bf5 Nb6

7 Nc3 c6 31 b3 Ne8

8 Nge2 Qf6 32 Nxb7 Ng7

9 g3 fxg3 33 Bh3 Rf4

10 Nxg3 Bxc1 34 Nxc5 Rxh4

11 Rxc1 Qh6 35 Bg2 Rh2

12 Bd3 Qe3+ 36 Re2 Nf5

13 Nce2 Ne7 37 Be4 Nd6

14 Qd2 Qxd2+ 38 Bf3 Rh6

15 Kxd2 d5 39 Ne6 Rf6

16 Rce1 Be6 40 Bg2 Nd7

17 Nf4 0-0 41 c5 Nf7

18 exd5 Nxd5 42 d6 Nfe5

19 Nxe6 fxe6 43 Bd5 Rf5

20 Rxe6 Nd7 44 c6 Nb6

21 Nf5 Kh8 45 Bg2 Rf2

22 Rf1 Rae8 46 Rxf2 gxf2

23 Rxe8 Rxe8 47 Ke2 resigns

24 c5 N5f6

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